Bits and Bites

News from Jen Messer Nutrition

Happy Heart Month

Live Healthy, Stay Young at Heart!

February is bound to be fun! I’ll be turning 50 🤯, it is Black History month, Heart month, and Valentine’s Day too!

As a dietitian I love to talk heart health nutrition. As someone with a masters degree in Exercise Science Strength and Conditioning, I know that when we think of muscles we usually conjure up what we see on the outside like; quads, biceps, abs. It’s also a good idea not to forget about the workhorse muscle that we can’t see from the outside - our hearts! Hearts need strengthening exercises too.

With gym shut downs and some concerns about COVID the pandemic has some of us out of the habit of regular activity. Looking to get moving? Start out with 10-15 minutes at a time and then gradually build up. The AHA (American Heart Association) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate to vigorous activity per week. Thirty minutes a day five days a week is an easy goal to remember. Start with walking - like you are late for a meeting. This will get your heart rate up into that moderate level of activity. For those who are more fit you can cut the recommended time in half to 75 minutes for high intensity activity!

Following these physical activity recommendations can reduce the risk of many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Here are other evidence based benefits of physical activity;

  • Stress relief

  • Increase self-esteem

  • Improve mood

  • Increase Energy

  • Improve Sleep

  • Decrease Risk of Depression

  • Lowers Blood Glucose

  • Strengthens Bones

  • Decreases Risk of Dementia

  • Lowers Risk of Cancers

  • Increases Metabolism

  • Improves Weigh Control

“If exercise could be put in a bottle, it would be the strongest medicine money could buy” ~Robert Butler from the National Institute on Aging

I ❤️ Learning From Other Cultures! Tips from Japan.

Here are some interesting ideas borrowed from the Japanese culture that might help us support healthful behavior change and nutrition.

Hara hachi bu. Did you grow up being asked to finish everything on your plate? Eating past the point of fullness can be detrimental to our health and sabotage our goals. Pausing a minute before eating and staying in touch with your satiety cues might help you to avoid that “too full” feeling. A confucian teaching and originating from the city of Okinawa, the phrase of hara hachi bu is a phrase repeated before meals that serves as a reminder to eat until you are 80% full. This area of Japan is considered a “blue zone” and has little illness from heart disease, cancer, stroke, plus a long life expectancy boasting the highest number of centurions in the world! The next time you take a seat to eat think of the rough English translation of “Eat until you are eight parts (out of ten) full", or "belly 80 percent full.” We don’t really have to finish everything on our plates.

Consider the order in which you eat your foods. Traditionally sushi is ordered from light to heavy or lean to fatty. You may begin with whitefish, then moving onto yellowtails to tunas to "silver skin" fish, like mackerel. The meal typically concludes with sweet items like eel and tamago (a Japanese rolled omelette), or eggs. Consider getting your lighter items in first (broth based soups, salads, veggies, beans, and whole grains), then heavier foods (meats, seafoods, and healthy fats, lastly sweets (desserts.) You might find that when you are moving toward the end of the meal you have naturally consumed fewer calories by eating in this way. Especially when keeping Hara Hachi Bu in mind! You might be 79% full when you reach dessert and will be satisfied with a few bites of confection rather than needing two whole pieces of cake. This comes in handy when you arrive home and are hungry - while your meal cooks have a savory broth based soup, raw veggies, or a garden salad appetizer!

Umami! Want to feel satisfied with your meal? Increasing satiety comes to those who enjoy umami and when served up as a soup appetizer you may need to consume less of a meal. This might naturally help you reduce your overall calorie intake at meal time. What foods are highest in umami? Avocado, asparagus, tomatoes, onions, beets, seafood, meats, aged cheeses, seaweeds, soy foods, mushrooms, kimchi, and green tea. Click here to see a fun website about high umami foods. Have you tried nutritional yeast on popcorn? It is my favorite umami add on. My daughters love it on baked potatoes. However, if you deal with gout or issues with high levels of uric acid - don’t add this to your repertoire. This is a food high in purines.

Got questions?

I’m off to a great start in helping my clients achieve their 2022 goals. I have space for two more clients at this time so, if you are interested in working with a registered dietitian to improve your overall health through nutrition and physical activity. I am happy to check your insurance coverage. Easily schedule a discovery call with me here.

This is what a client recently had to say about working with me:

“Working with Jen has been a wonderful experience! Her knowledge and support were exactly what I needed to hit the next level on my health journey. No more guess work to if what I’m doing is right or sifting through internet for answers. Also, the feeling of support and someone cheering you on to set and meet goals and hold you accountable is an amazing feeling! I know she wants me to succeed and is always there to help whenever she can.”

This testimonial made my heart sing 💖