So how did that New Year’s Resolution go for you? Are you fulfilling your goal to eat better and make better choices? On the first day of spring, did you feel anxiety about getting ready for shorts weather? Well guess what: you’re not alone AND we can help you set good intentions for the rest of the year.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I live a generally healthy lifestyle. I enjoy learning about nutrition, specifically the science behind the food we eat and how it affects our bodies. But with so many new studies debunking myths and other long-held beliefs about certain foods, it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s just written to sell magainzes and increase web traffic. I consulted with Bea Snowdon, nutritionist and owner of Thrive Princeton, to get the skinny on the latest research, myths and advice when it comes to eating and living well. Bea's holistic approach to her nutrition counseling addresses physical, social, cultural, spiritual, & psychological influences on our lives and our waistline. And that is why, as you’ll learn below, nutrition is not one-size-fits-all for everyone.
Q. I’ve heard that you should start the day with animal protein because it boosts the natural serotonin levels in our brains and sets us up to have a good mood for the day. Is this true and can you give an example of what that could mean for breakfast? And what could someone eat if they can’t do eggs?
A. Nutrients from digested proteins are essential to maintain adequate hormone levels, muscle mass, and critical functions in the body. When people don’t consume enough protein, they experience feelings of hunger, discomfort, and imbalance. Egg whites are the perfect animal sourced protein. Wild fishes are a smart protein choice, for those who can't eat eggs. Many plant-based protein sources, such as organic tofu, top quality vegan protein powders, and lentils (pulse seeds), also boost the nutrient value of breakfast in delicious ways. The healthy effect of consistently making smart food choices is experienced as a flow of good energy and well-being.
Q. We hear a lot about incorporating probiotics into our diet (I take one daily). What exactly do probiotics do/what are the benefits, and what are some good food sources?
A. Since bodily functions are fueled by nutrients from our food, our digestive system is the foundation for our ability to survive and thrive. Enzymes and resident microorganisms, called "gut flora", properly digest our food and destroy pathogens. Probiotics strengthen our immune system, by boosting the number of healthy microorganisms doing this work in the intestines. Adding probiotics to our diet replenishes the gut flora depleted by bad food choices, alcohol, illnesses, prescription drugs, stress, and disease. Some people enjoy aged, pickled, fermented, and probiotic-fortified foods to maintain healthy intestinal flora. When a client’s health history, genetic profile, or sensitivities make these choices unwise, I suggest safe probiotic alternatives.
Q. For those who sit for long hours a day at work, what would you recommend for snacks? I’ve been told in the past to save starchy carbs for when you’re active, and instead eat some like fruit & nuts if you’re going to be sitting. And what are some nut-free snack alternatives?
A. Every individual has a healthy amount of calories that he or she can eat, in any given week. This amount will vary from day to day, based on one’s chosen activity level and many other factors. Snacking within one's healthy zone maintains good energy between meals and calms hunger. An orange is an energizing, snack, with an aroma that refreshes the spirit. Pepitas (green pumpkins seeds) are a nutritionally balanced snack food. A serving of healthy soup can be a smart choice. A frozen banana, blended with spices until smooth, is a healthy substitute for ice cream. A serving of organic hummus with veggie strips can be a satisfying snack choice. Options for healthy snacking are as endless as the foods that turn energy and people on!
Q. What’s the beef over red meat? Is it okay to eat every week or should we limit to once a month?
A. The decision to eat red meat is a personal one, best based on an individual’s beliefs and health history. Those who wish to reduce green house gases in our atmosphere, conserve clean water resources, and avoid the risk of illness from inept meat processing have reason to be concerned about red meat production. Solid clinical research has proven that over-consumption of red meat increases inflammation in the body. In at-risk populations, the by-products of digesting red meat increase the incidence of kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. For those who can enjoy red meat, I recommend purchasing local, high quality, grass-fed beef products from Beechtree Farm, in Hopewell, N.J. Wild Idea Buffalo ships lean, free-range bison from our vast, clean Western prairies, and is another great red meat source.
Q. For people who workout regularly, should they be eating a pre and post workout snack? And what should that be?
A. I see people working out all the time who aren’t reaching their fitness goals because of poor food choices. They eat snacks that are trendy or popular, instead of foods targeted to their own body’s true needs. My custom-tailored approach to nutrition saves every client a lot of time, energy, and money, because they get great results. I deliver the right answers about available foods & regimens to support each individual's healthy goals.
Q. Is there a time of day that we shouldn’t eat past to not gain weight? I hear don’t eat past 8pm, 9pm? And then I hear it doesn’t matter as long as you eat something light.
A. Healthy patterns and calorie limits continually change over the course of the human lifespan. So, the answer to this question varies, depending on an individual’s age and circumstances. If one’s sleep quality is dependent on a feeling of fullness at bedtime, if one’s mood is driving a severe craving, if one’s schedule is thrown off by age, unusual demands, or working the night shift, there are ways to calm night hunger that do no harm.
Q. I’ve learned that healthy living is all about an 80-20 ratio: it’s 80% about the food and 20% about the fitness. Is that correct and can you explain how that is?
A. People need reality-based strategies to be successful in any endeavor. If one wants to achieve and maintain optimal health, the correct choices for healthy living depend on an individual’s health profile and chosen lifestyle. For example, a competitive athlete, a busy professional, a caregiver, a retiree, and a disabled child each need a different balance of food and fitness, suited to their unique lifestyle and needs.
Q. Finally - What is a typical day of eating like for you? What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and what are some things that you would never eat.
A. As a busy working professional, there’s no typical day. My food choices are tailored to my unique family health history, my desire to remain disease free, my chosen activities on any given day, and cultural influences. This tailored approach keeps my biomarkers and energy in the optimal range all day, every day. The foods I eat are organic and sustainably sourced. They include an abundance of herbs, spices, teas, vegetables, whole fruits, seeds, nuts, alternative milks, healthy oils, wild fish, clean seafood, protein-rich plant-based foods, and a few choice grains. The tastes and needs of family and friends are all different, so I’ll sometimes prepare organic chicken, wild turkey, or other game birds too. Honoring the challenges found in my family’s health history, I limit animal fats and completely avoid dairy foods, and organ meats. Despite these exclusions, my family and I enjoy an abundance of amazing, delicious meals. I find every client benefits from their own unique food plan, custom-designed to keep them healthy and delighted.
If you’re ready to take the next steps in time for summer, learn more about Bea’s approach at thriveprinceton.com. You’ll receive a nutrition and wellness plan that’s designed specifically to work for you.
About V Bea Snowdon, MS ACN CHC
A respected, clinically trained Nutritionist, Coach, Educator, and MS level clinically trained Nutritionist, Bea Snowdon focuses on the wisdom of prevention and the health of the body, mind and spirit. Through Thrive Princeton www.ThrivePrinceton.com, and the Whole Earth Center's Healthy Living program, Snowdon assists those wishing to improve their health and lifestyle. Her work for Georgetown University, Kaiser Permanente, the GMPHP, and other national and international health projects, demonstrates her lifelong devotion to healthy outcomes.
* Bea Snowdon is Princeton Online client and part of our Princeton, NJ Health Care Guide. Learn more at princetonwellbeing.com.
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