Claxton Dietetic Solutions Articles

New Year's Day Dinner (Courtesy of the South)
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Now that Christmas is over, many are looking forward to the coming new year. A fresh start with endless possibilities is at hand. And what better way to start off the new year than with a healthful, flavorful and potentially lucky dinner spread? That’s right, I said lucky. The southern part of the United States (otherwise known as “The South”) is known for its rich traditions and they bring a particularly lucky one to New Year’s Day. They believe there are certain lucky foods that you must eat on New Year’s Day in hopes of bringing prosperity into their lives in the coming year. Now, we know this is just a superstition, but there is nothing better than food, fun and tradition with the people you care about! So read below to discover more about these so called lucky foods and host a dinner party for your friends! Lucky Foods: Peas/Beans: These are supposed to symbolize coins or wealth indicating good fortune in the coming year. Black eyed peas are a favorite choice among southerners and pair well with the foods mentioned below. And as you may already know beans and peas are a good source of lean protein and fiber! Greens: Greens are supposed to represent dollar bills or good financial fortune as well. Southerners tend to choose cabbage or mustard/turnip/collard greens. Green leafy vegetables are high in fiber, folate, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Pork: Pork in some cultures represents prosperity because pigs root forward. This means they use their snout to push or nudge into something repeatedly and is considered a sign of progress. If you don’t want to cook an entire pork loin or cut of meat you can incorporate the pork into the beans or greens. Pork is a good source of lean protein. Cornbread: Cornbread can also be used to symbolize wealth as the corn kernels represent gold. But in all reality, southern people just REALLY like to get cornbread with their peas and greens. Since there are 2 other foods representing wealth in this list you can choose to skip the bread if you want. But I have to say it’s great for sopping up the liquids left from the bean, greens 😊. I hope you all have a great New Year’s and are surrounded by people you love! Head on over to the recipe page for a lucky southern new year’s staple.
Peppermint: Your Holiday Helper!
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We are about a week away from Christmas and the holiday bustle is in full swing. Last minute shopping is being done, recipes are being googled and Amazon prime boxes fill doorsteps across the country. Preparing for Christmas day, or even the days leading up to Christmas if you have family coming in town can lead to stress. And let’s be honest stress never stays in, it always manifests itself in some physical form. Whether it be a stomachache, appetite changes, headache, change in bowel habits…it always makes itself known. I have found one holiday ingredient staple that can help alleviate some of these unwanted, irritating symptoms. Read below to learn more about 4 positive benefits of our holiday helper, the peppermint. Calms GI Distress: Peppermint is known to relax the tissues in the GI tract and can help relieve nausea and vomiting. Research shows that coated peppermint oil capsules can alleviate side effects of IBS like stomach pain, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. Relieves Headaches: The active ingredient in peppermint is menthol which can ease symptoms of migraine headaches like pain, light sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting. Applying a peppermint oil solution to your forehead and temples can help take away tension headaches, as well. If you have any friends that sell essential oils, you have probably heard them talk about these benefits! Fights Bacteria: Not only does the flavor of peppermint freshen your breath, but its antibacterial properties may also help get rid of the germs that cause the bad breath in the first place and could also help you fight off the common cold. Sharpens Focus: If you want to feel more alert during the day, peppermint oil will do the trick. Research has shown that capsules of peppermint oil can help people process problems longer without getting mentally tired. The herb’s potent smell may also boost your memory. I don’t know about you, but in middle school our teachers gave us peppermint candies to eat whenever we took standardized tests! Now I know why! Whether you consume peppermint through leaf, candy, capsule or oil form the benefits are the same! Some forms are more potent than others so always follow the directions for capsules and oils. Head on over to the recipe page for a quick and easy holiday peppermint snack!
InstaPot vs. CrockPot
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I am not the cook in our household. My husband does ALL of the cooking. You may laugh and say, “You are a dietitian and you don’t know how to cook?!” It’s true. I have no real cooking skills. And to top it off, I don’t enjoy the process of cooking. Cooking comes very naturally to my husband and he even enjoys it so I leave that task to him and I clean up afterwards. All that to say…I had to do a little research before writing this article. Today I am comparing the CrockPot and the InstaPot. Which is better? How do they differ? What can you make in them? East Tennessee just experienced their second snow of the season so warm, hearty dishes are on my mind and these devices are just the ones to provide the goods. Let’s dig into the details. Instant Pot (AKA InstaPot): -          Type of Cookware: This is an electric pressure cooker. The lids of these electric pots create an extremely tight seal, lock the heat inside and cook food fast…. really fast. -          Functions: This item has seven different functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, sauté setting, rice cooker, yogurt maker and warmer. WOW! -          Ease of Use: Research shows the Instapot can be more difficult to use than the crockpot.  It’s important for the user to learn about cooking times, safety, and each different setting. Timing is important to consider the cooking times as well. Be sure to factor in how long it takes for the pot to come up to pressure and the time it takes to release that pressure. Crock-Pot -          Type of Cookware: This is a slow cooker. A slow cooker is also electric but has a stoneware insert that is used to heat the food. -          Functions: This item only functions as a slow cooker. It cooks food between 4 and 10 hours, depending on the recipe. -          Ease of Use: The Crock Pot appears to be much easier to use. All you have to do is put the ingredients in there and turn it on. Based on my research, I believe it’s hard to compare the two because they are essentially two completely different pieces of cookware. That being said, I think the CrockPot is the true winner for those who struggle with cooking (AKA me) and that the InstaPot is a great piece of cookware for those who feel more confident in their cooking abilities. But you decide for yourself! Check out the recipe page for an InstaPot friendly recipe you can try at home.
Seasonal Affective Disorder-- Nutritional Intervention
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As I pick my kids up from daycare now a days, the sky is already beginning to darken. I look to my watch to check the time and see it’s only 4:30 in the afternoon! Night comes much sooner than it has in the past and the temperatures are slowly creeping lower and lower. These two pieces of our changing environment can bring about a sadness or malaise in some people. It can get you feeling down. If you feel this way 1) you are not crazy and 2) you are not alone. This feeling of seasonal sadness actually has a name and effects many people each year. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that tends to recur during the fall/winter seasons each year with relief from symptoms occurring with the arrival of the spring/summer seasons. Symptoms are the same as major depressive disorder and can include, fatigue, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, changes in appetite and/or sleep patterns. The risk of developing SAD is higher for those who live further from the equator, those with a personal or family history of depression and females in general. There are multiple ways to go about treatment for SAD including medication, light therapy, psychotherapy and nutritional supplementation. Diet alone is not powerful enough to treat SAD but can be an effective supplemental treatment. Below I have outlined a few foods components that can help boost your mood/combat depressive symptoms. Omega 3 fatty acids Omega 3 fatty acids help strengthen the synapses or connections between neurotransmitters. They also have a positive effect on dopamine and serotonin, which have a calming nature. Sources that contain the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids include flax seeds, walnuts, and salmon. Whole Grains Whole grains are those that contain, you guessed it, the whole grain. Meaning parts of the grain have not been removed during processing. Processed grains/sugar may give you a little happy boost at first, but too much sugar will create a spike in blood sugar and then a crash after a sugar high is over, making you feel worse than before. Examples of whole grains include whole grain bread, pasta, brown/wild rice, beans, bulger, oats, quinoa. Dairy and Active Cultures Rich in calcium and vitamin D, which help reduce fatigue, repair cell damage and stabilize mood. Fermented foods with active cultures contain probiotics (healthy bacteria) which have shown to reduce anxiety and stress hormones. Examples of dairy and active cultures include:-Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Kefir, Kimchi, Pickled Vegetables Bananas Bananas contain tryptophan, which has a calming effect on the body like serotonin. It also contains carbohydrates from natural sugars and potassium to help fuel your brain. Magnesium, another present nutrient, may reduce anxiety and improve sleep— two symptoms of seasonal depression. I hope you are enjoying this season free from SAD, but if you are one of those who are suffering please try some of these nutritional interventions to supplement your other therapies! Check out the recipe page for a depression fighting meal/snack (depending on your hunger level)!
Navigating the Holidays When A Loved One Has An Eating Disorder
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Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be food focused holidays. One primary example is the list of my past few blog posts! It’s very easy to get wrapped up into what, when and how much we are eating this time of year. It’s equally easy to forget about a special population of people who struggle with the thought of food and weight…those with eating disorders. Thanks to our diet crazed, weight focused society, the percentage of people with diagnosed eating disorders is on the rise. And I’m betting that you even know someone personally who struggles with an eating disorder. Whether they are a family member, friend, client or co-worker many people are struggle with eating disorders nowadays and may even be at your Thanksgiving table this Thursday. So how can you help? How can you navigate conversation topics and mealtimes when a loved one or acquaintance has an eating disorder? I have listed three tips below to help prepare you for these encounters. What Loved Ones Should Do: Avoid “good” and “bad” food talk: Try and avoid labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” Sentences like “I’m going to have to work this off later” or “my diet starts Monday” confirm your loved one’s false beliefs that certain foods can and should induce shame. Shift the focus away from food (at the table): Try and find conversation topics that are not about the food. Go around and ask everyone what they are thankful for, talk about everyone’s favorite fall activities, or voice school/work updates. This will help alleviate some of the mental stress your loved one may be experiencing at the table. Shift the focus away from food (after the meal): After the holiday meal is complete find an activity to do other than sitting in front of the TV. Post meal shame and overthinking are very common in those with eating disorders and one way to combat this is through distraction. Find an activity that involves your hands, and your mind, like playing a board game or crafting to help your loved one be present in the moment and not focus on potential ED thoughts in his/her mind. Lastly, remember, you are only one part of your loved one’s support system. Eating disorders are very complex illnesses and should be treated from a multidisciplinary standpoint. Be sure to involve your loved one’s therapist and/or dietitian prior to the main holiday gatherings to ensure a strong plan of care is in place. In light of taking the focus away from food I have decided to do something different on the recipe page this week. You will see a “recipe” for a DIY holiday door wreath on the recipe page this week. The “Ingredients” will be the materials needed for the craft. This would be a great way to shift the focus away from food post mealtime craft Thursday! Happy crafting!
Let's Party!
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We are now at T minus 7 days until Thanksgiving and even less if you are participating in any “Friendsgiving” gatherings beforehand. Once Thanksgiving hits, your social calendar is going to switch into high gear as it fills with holiday office parties, church parties and family get-togethers with ALL the relatives; each side, every aunt, cousin and in law will have to be visited. Even as an introvert, socially celebrating the holiday season is one of my favorite things. To make things even better, I have discovered a way to enjoy all the parties without reaping any unwanted weight in the process. As dietitians, we are sure to field the question of “how do I maintain weight during the holiday season?!” I have created an acrostic to help you remember my basic tips towards weight maintenance during the holiday season. The acronym is PARTY because these tips are meant for when you (or your client) attend a party, gathering, potluck, etc. See below for further details! P: Peruse what’s offered Don’t go through the buffet line blind. This leads to piling more on your plate (some of which might not even sound good to you in the moment) and ultimately consuming more. Scan what’s all being offered first and decide what sounds best to you. A: Assess ACTUAL hunger level Become self-aware and determine how hungry you actually are. This will dictate the portion size you get of each food. Ideally you want to start eating when you are at about a three to four on a hunger scale of 1-10. Starting to eat when you are anywhere higher than a five will lead to overeating. Eat a snack before going to your said party if you need to keep your hunger at bay. R: Recognize when full (and stop). Just because it’s a party does not mean you have to overindulge. Many people attribute parties and the holiday season as a time to overdo everything (decorations, presents, food, you name it.) Remember that you can absolutely treat your self to delicious foods AND stop when you are full at the same time. Ideally, you want to stop eating when you are at about a 7 on a fullness scale of 1-10 T: TALK to those around you Parties are a full experience! And remember that the food is just one aspect of that experience. There will likely also be decorations, music and most importantly, OTHER PEOPLE! Talk to them. Engage in the experience around you. Y: Yield when going for second helpings I am not saying that you can not go back for second helpings at holiday parties. All I am saying is YIELD before you do. Pause for a minute and assess if you are actually still hungry OR if you are bored, anxious, etc. If you are experiencing one of the ladder emotions, try and deal with that specific emotion first before turning to food. If you are truly still hungry, please proceed to meet that hunger need. I hope this acrostic helps you enjoy the holiday season even more! Check out the recipe page for a delicious appetizer you can bring to any or all holiday parties you are invited to!
Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes
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There are 2 types of people in this world. Those that start decorating for Christmas the day after Halloween and those that believe you should wait until after Thanksgiving to start decorating for Christmas. Which one are you? I am 100% the person who believes you should wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas. Because after all…the next holiday in line for celebration is THANKSGIVING! No judgement though for those who believe differently. You do you. The fact of the matter is though, we are 2 weeks out from our next holiday, and of all the holidays throughout the year, this holiday is the one where the food is the number one player. The food has the spotlight. The food has priority. The food is the focus. Lots of fore thought goes into this day regarding meal planning, prep time, cook time, etc. And now, more than ever, personal preferences of the guests that are partaking in your meal must be given heavy consideration. A large amount of people these days are on special diets. They may be vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, or have multiple food allergies. So how do you create a meal that meets everyone’s needs. Today I am focusing on vegan recipes you can include in your thanksgiving meal that still provide the comfort of typical thanksgiving dishes. See below and pick your favorite. Stuffed Onions: This is filling enough to be used as a main course but can also be used as a side dish if desired. These onion are stuffed with potatoes, garlic, mushrooms and then baked. Mmm….my mouth is watering. Vegan Stuffing: This stuffing (or “dressing” depending on where you are from) uses vegetable broth in place of chicken broth. Sourdough bread is mixed with mushrooms and leeks to create this warm and hearty side dish. Braised Green Beans and Tomatoes: The vegan alternative to green bean casserole, this lighter dish is flavored with onions, tomatoes and pepper. Cranberry- Vanilla Compote: This is a bright and tangy dessert sure to bring a pop of color to your dessert table. It is a frozen dessert featuring orange, vanilla, cranberry and cinnamon flavors! Even though I don’t deem myself a vegan, these recipes sound delicious enough to make me want to incorporate them into my thanksgiving meal! I hope they make you feel the same way. Head on over to the recipe page to view the full recipe for one of these featured dishes. Happy cooking!
Food Drive Fun!
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I would say we have officially entered the season of food drives, especially here in east Tennessee. As Thanksgiving approaches in 3 weeks many organizations and businesses are sponsoring food drives to help those less fortunate than ourselves by providing them with shelf stable food to fill their pantries and plates. And their main need?  Canned foods. Typically, most people go to their cupboards and find those cans that have moved their way to back of the shelf and decide to donate those. And that is completely fine! But how can we provide those less fortunate with the best nutrition? What canned foods provide the most bang for their buck? Below I have outlined a few canned foods that pack a powerful nutrient punch in their convenient long-lasting package.   1)      Beans- Beans, whether black, white, green, kidney or navy, provided plant based protein and fiber to meals. They do lose folate in the canning process but their iron and calcium content is comparable to the dry beans you soak and cook at home. To decrease the sodium content of these beans, rinse them before using (reducing up to 35% of their sodium content!) and don’t add salt to the dish at the table. 2)      Corn—Canned corn delivers the same amount of fiber as fresh at 25% less cost. Canned corn does lose vitamin C during the canning procedure, but the prolonged heating that comes with canning actually boosts antioxidant activity. 3)      Pumpkin—Pumpkin is high carotenoids and these compounds are actually made more available through cooking and canning. Another plus: Canning ups the calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin K content of pumpkin 4)      Tomatoes- Canned tomatoes have lycopene released through the preservation process. And they come in just about any form you would need them (diced, chopped, whole, etc.) 5)      Tuna (in water)- This is a lean protein option high in omega 3 fatty acids which studies have shown can help relieve depression and anxiety by strengthening the synapse connections between neurotransmitters. 6)      Chick peas- Similar to the bean group, peas are a lean protein source, that are full of fiber. You can use these in soups or even place on top of a salad. Choosing theses canned foods to donate in your local food drive ensures those on the receiving end are getting versatile, healthy food options. You could even go the extra mile (which most dietitians like to do anyways 😊) and tape recipe suggestions to the cans to make meal time even easier for those who get them! You can even use the most recent recipe posted on our recipe page! Happy donating!
Exercising When It's Cold Outside
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As I sit to write this blog post, I am surrounded by Halloween candy. Chocolate, sweet, sour, tart, you name it, someone at my office is trying to hand me candy. And Halloween is just the beginning of the holiday season, soon followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means, my friends, it’s only the beginning of cookies, cakes, treats, etc.  And rightly so! Holidays are for celebrating and celebrating usually involves a treat (or 2 😊). But for some people, especially those on weight loss journeys or even those simply trying to maintain their current weight, the holiday season can be intimidating as it throws many challenges our way. My biggest piece of advice for balancing calorie intake and calorie output is 1) moderation and 2) exercise. Today we are going to talk about the second one, exercise. Now that the weather is cooler and daylight savings time is this weekend (bringing night time around  5:30 PM) exercising outside is not really an option anymore. And the early evening darkness may make it hard for you to find the motivation to leave the house and go to the gym after work. So what do you do? I have highlighted 5 exercise apps below that you can utilize indoors and most of them don’t require any equipment at all. Pricing for these apps is also listed and are very reasonable. Read on for more information. New Apps: TRX: This app offers real-time coaching on a variety of exercises- running, functional training, yoga, suspension training (requires equipment you have to buy ahead of time), or cycling. TRX does offer a 14 day free trial and subscriptions are $4.99 monthly or $39.99 annually. FITON App: This one is FREE and gives you the ability to personalize your profile by choosing how often (how many days) and for how long (duration of exercise) you want to work out and selecting your favorite types of exercise. Prenatal and postnatal exercises are available as well. Some require equipment, others do not. And did I mention it’s free?! Gixo: This app provides live trainers! They are available for 15-, 25-, or 40-minute sessions and guide you through running, walking, HIIT, or strength routines. Gixo offers a 7 day free trial, then subscriptions are 19.99/month or 14.99/month if you sign up for an annual contract. Studio Tone It Up: Who run the world? Girls! This app is geared towards women only. The coaches guide you through workouts like cardio, yoga, barre, boxing, strength training and kettle bell. They offer new classes every week which helps prevent you from burning out. They offer a 7 day free trial and then subscriptions are 12.99 + tax per month. Yoga Wake Up: This app encourages you to start your practice as soon as you wake up by playing calming music that eases you into 10 minutes of morning stretches. This is a great first step for first time exercisers or those who aren’t ready to commit to expending a lot of time or energy. Subscriptions are $9.99/ month, $34.99/6 months, or $53.99/year Any of these sound like great indoor exercise options to me and all are cheaper than a monthly subscription to a gym! Head on over to the recipe page for a no bake pre/post exercise snack option! Happy exercising!