How to Enjoy the Tastes of Italy Without Destroying Your Diet

How to Enjoy the Tastes of Italy Without Destroying Your Diet

Question:

I’m headed to Italy for two weeks on vacation. While I want to indulge a bit on wine, pasta, and pizza, I don’t want to lose all the gains I have made. What is your advice for a calorie responsible, yet delectable, Italian vacation?

– Jim J.

Answer:

  • Italian food can be the model of a Mediterranean diet if it includes fresh vegetables, fish, fruit and nuts.

    Here are my tips for traveling or dining out Italian-style:

    • Look for primavera dishes and those with frutti di mare (seafood) or beans.
    • Limit cured meats like pancetta, prosciutto, and bacon.
    • Keep wine intake close to the amount you consume at home. It’s possible to taste a variety of wines without having a full 6 fl. oz. glass of each!
    • Skip the bread before/with meals, except for regional items (e.g., Pane Toscano, Coppia Ferrarese, or Pane di Segale).
    • For pasta, eat small portions while indulging in specialty sauces and toppings.
    • Keep cheese as a flavoring and topping, not the main ingredient. Sorry, lasagna!

    The point is to only “spend” your calories on something that’s unique for that venue. In buona salute!

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Our Podcast Favorites in Honor of International Podcast Day!

Our Podcast Favorites in Honor of International Podcast Day!

It’s International Podcast Day! So, for today’s article, we’d like to highlight some of our favorite episodes from 2019! 

On this episode of our podcast, our hosts Andrew Gabell and Candice Currie speak with Subbarao Myla, Medical Director at the HOAG Cardiovascular Institute, to talk about the physical, spiritual, and nutritional aspects of heart health.  

An interesting, and less commonly discussed, topic in heart health is love and heartbreak. You’ll hear about how the heart reacts to oxytocin, which Myla termed “the hormone of love” and you’ll learn how and why a person can actually die of heartbreak.  

Don’t worry, we also discuss the positive side of things like how to help “fix” a broken heart. Myla even gives us some great insight into heart healthy nutrition tips and shares how dark chocolate can help lower your risk for a stroke! 

In this episode, you will learn not only how to read the different sections of a nutrition label, you will also learn about macro-nutrients and what they are, which fats you should look out for, and even why popcorn has 2 sets of nutrition facts. Haven’t you ever been curious why anyone would need to know the nutrition facts for both popped AND un-popped popcorn? We’ve been curious, so we found out. 

You’ll also hear from Matt to get the History Lesson on Food Labels You Never Knew You Needed, and from our Registered Dietician, Debbie James, to get the full nutrition label breakdown. 

Dr. Neel Doshi, certified psychiatrist and our guest for Episode 23, talks about what it means to be mentally healthy. He explains that “mental health is just a state-of-being which takes into account our cognitive, psychological, and emotional health.” Many factors, including our biology, psychology, social lives, and our environment impact our mental well-being. 

Listening to this podcast, you will learn just how normative our interactions with each other should be, regardless of whether we are aware or not aware of someone’s mental wellness or illness. You will also learn about how social media, technology, and exercise play a role in your own mental health. 

One of the most important things we can do is to start de-stigmatizing mental illness. We hope this episode offers information you never knew and helps you find ways to improve your personal well-being. 

Debbie James, RDN and LA Fitness Master Trainer, Geoff Fox compete in a trivia battle on fitness and nutrition.

You’ll get answers to questions like “What type of exercise is proven to improve mood and feel-good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins?” and “Which non-meat-based product contains more protein than a chicken breast?” 

Burning questions paired with some light-hearted rivalry make this episode so much fun to listen to. Give it a listen and see for yourself!  

On Episode 29, you’ll hear from our registered dietician, Debbie James, on why metabolism declines with age, when it starts to do so for men and women, and what you can do to help rewind the clock on that decline.  

One of our favorite lines from Debbie in this episode is about how we are becoming spectators as we get older instead of participating. If you consider that, as children we would constantly be running and playing, and as adults we’d take our own children or our pets to the park and lounge in the shade as they play, that thought really comes into focus.  

We love the idea that we should go back to being participants in life instead of spectators, and it’s this physical activity that is key to reviving our metabolism. 

Now last, but by no means least of our favorite episodes, we have our discussion on fad diets. We’re talking about Paleo, Whole 30, Keto, Anti-Inflammatory, and Intermittent Fasting.  

We’ve probably all dabbled in some of these diet plans and maybe even found a favorite and stuck to it like glue. If you stop to think about it though, do you really know the effect these diets have on your body? In this episode, you can get informed about the pros and cons of each diet and get a more complete picture of what your nutrition plan might look like if you chose to try one of these popular diets. 

We hoped you enjoyed our featured episodes! Feel free to browse our full menu of podcasts to find other interesting and exciting topics. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today!

5 Minute Guided Relaxation for Stress Relief

5 Minute Guided Relaxation for Stress Relief

 

Every day holds its own set of stressors. We find it on the road, at work, at school, in our families, our friendships, and our romantic relationships.

Many people don’t take much time out of their day to practice self-care. Our busy lives seem to come first, and our own needs fall second.

In this article, you will be guided through a simple relaxation technique. It is easy enough to do on your own, and versatile enough that you can do it almost anywhere. You can take as much time as you like, but you can easily do it in just 5 minutes.

Getting Comfortable

Before we get started, find a comfortable seated position with your feet flat on the ground, or find a comfortable place to lie down. Make sure you are in a quiet space where you will not be disturbed or startled by noise as you settle into your relaxation. This is also a good time to silence your phone.

If you like, you can play soothing instrumental music or nature sounds to help you silence your mind from the to-do lists, worries, and turbulent emotions that may keep you from relaxing.

While it’s healthy to address our concerns and process our emotions, doing so is an entirely different exercise. This guided relaxation is meant to help you create a safe space that will give you the opportunity to relax any stress-tightened muscles and to enjoy a state of stillness and calm.

Preparing Your Mindset

 

 

 

 

 

Take in a deep breath. Fill your lungs with air and exhale it slowly.

Much of the tension we carry often sits in our shoulders and jaw muscles.

With another deep breath, exhale the tension out of your body.

Notice the way your body is resting. Notice the contact points between your body and your chosen furniture. Let your muscles relax into the space.

Scanning the Body

We will now scan the body from head to toe and focus on relaxing every muscle along the way.

Bring your attention to your forehead. Take another breath and as you exhale allow the muscles in your forehead to release and relax. Feel your eyebrows settle and your eyelids soften.

With another breath, bring your attention to your jaw. Notice any tightness in the muscles there. With your exhale, unclench your jaw and release the tension with your breath.

Now bring your attention to your neck. There is likely a lot of tension there as well. Take a deep, calming breath, and allow your neck muscles to loosen and relax with your exhale. You may notice your shoulders drop to a more relaxed position as well.

The shoulders are often tense and tight. As you inhale, notice the way your shoulders are resting. With your exhale, allow your shoulder muscles to loosen and drop away from your ears.

 

 

 

 

 

Now bring your attention to your arms and hands. As you take a breath in, notice any tightness you’re carrying here. As you exhale out, allow your arms and hands to go limp and rest softly in your lap or at your sides.

Turn your focus to your back and your chest. Take a deep breath and exhale out any stiffness or tightness residing in the muscles here. Feel your spine, your chest, and your ribcage lighten with the release of your breath.

Lower your focus to your thighs, your legs, and your feet. As you breathe in, notice any tightness. Your lower body contains your largest muscle groups, so scan this area slowly from your thighs all the way down to your feet. Let any tension here dissolve with your exhale.

Preparing to End the Session

Give your body one more brief scan from head to toe and unlock any muscles that may have returned to a tense position.

Take one more deep breath in and exhale it out. When you are ready, bring your awareness back to the room, to the sounds you can hear, to the temperature of the air, and to any smells that are present. Hopefully, you feel more relaxed now than you did several minutes ago.

How Do You Feel?

Body scans are a powerful piece of guided relaxation because they allow us to focus on and tend to the muscles that work the hardest and carry our stress. Of course, you can’t relax your way out of any injuries or physical pain, but the hope is that exercises like this will allow you to rest your mind and your body during an otherwise busy day.

For information on What it Means to be Mentally Healthy, (hint: it isn’t just the absence of a mental disorder), read our blog on that topic. To learn how you can Combat Stress with Food, read the post by our Registered Dietician, Debbie James. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today!

Calorie Consumption for Muscle Gain

Calorie Consumption for Muscle Gain

Question:

Hello, I am a 147 lb, 24 year old, male. I am very active in terms of working out and playing sports. How many calories should I eat daily to maintain my body weight and gain more muscle? I was 198 lbs and have dropped down to this weight. Thank you.

– Rafi H.

Answer:

Most equations would put your energy needs in the range of 2,800-3,000 calories per day, based on a height of 5 foot, 9 inches. Subtract 30 calories for every inch shorter or add 25 calories for every inch taller. That’s assuming your weight loss was intentional as you say you’d like to maintain now.

Your body doesn’t know such equations exist and your digestion, metabolism, genetics and hormones will act on their own. My recommendation would be to get a good look at how much you’re currently eating before making changes. You can do so using PersonalTracker from nutrihand.com or the Diet Analysis & Food Diary tool at happyforks.com.

Once you get a sense of your actual energy intake and carbohydrate, protein, and fat percentages, you can determine where you may need to make changes in macronutrient breakdown to build muscle.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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