Sound Bites! Vol. 2 #2

Sound Bites! Vol. 2 #2

Nutrition Tip of the the Month:

Be ready for hard spring practices this season by eating well a minimum of 5 out of 7 days.  Concentrate on eating 3 well-balanced meals and an afternoon snack each day during the work/school week.  Include a quality serving of protein, a fruit and/or vegetable, a dairy choice, and a serving of whole grains.  If you sleep in on the weekends and/or are less active, you might want to switch to 2 meals plus 2 snacks during the day.  Active boys have high energy needs so will likely need an evening snack, like a meat/cheese or peanutbutter sandwich and glass of milk, plus fruit or a couple cookies.

Quick-to-fix ideas might include a homemade breakfast sandwich or wrap with scrambled egg, sliced or chopped lean ham, lowfat grated cheese and salsa, plus a handful of blueberries, and a glass of 1% milk.  Lunch can be a simple throw-in-the-bag-as-you-run-out-the-door assortment including apple or grapes, cup of yogurt, 1-2 string cheese, whole grain Triscuits or Rye Crisp, and small tupperware of peanutbutter (don’t forget the plastic knife and spoon), a couple cookies or granola bar, and bottle of water.  An afternoon snack is easy to pack to school or work–try an apple, small snack-bag of unsalted almonds or walnuts from the bulk food bin, a string cheese, or container of Ultra SlimFast or Carnation Instant Breakfast.  Dinner depends on what’s cookin’ at home, but regardless of whether you’re on the Yo-Yo Diet (“you’re-on-your-own”) or a busy parent/spouse is cooking, you can always round out even a lowly tv dinner or leftover slice of pizza with carrot sticks or salad-from-a-bag, orange slices or dish of canned light peaches, glass of milk, whole grain roll, and small dish of pudding or light ice cream.

Update on Sweeteners:

Recently, I did a little research on agave syrup vs stevia for a friend.  Both sweeteners are from plant sources and have gained popularity among people wishing to cut back on granulated (table) sugar to reduce calories and improve healthfulness of their diet.

It appears to me that stevia is a bit better than agave because agave is a highly refined syrup that contains a large percentage of fructose.  Fructose can raise levels of triglyceride (a type of fat) in the blood and consequently may increase risk of heart disease.  Refined stevia is classified as a non-nutritive sweetener and is very low calorie; however, the use of the stevia leaf is not recommended as it does not have enough research to make sure it is safe.

Overall, my feeling is that it is healthiest (and cheapest) just to go ahead and use small amounts of regular table sugar for sweetening and baking purposes (use 1/3 to 1/2 the amount called for in the recipe), and avoid excessive use of all  highly sweetened foods and beverages, including, soda, sweetened teas/fruit drinks/energy drinks/fruit juice, lattes/flavored coffees, cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream, candy, etc.
While definitely not an exhaustive list, here are five links to websites that come from trustworthy sources.  The first one, from fitday.com (a food weight management website), is a good, short summary of agave, stevia, and xylitol.  For a very extensive, interesting but technical (ie, hard-to-read) position paper on sweeteners , check out this link for a review from The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly The American Dietetic Association, a dietitian’s professional association).  A review of various nutritive sweeteners (agave, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, honey) and non-nutritive sweeteners (aspartame, stevia, sucralose) can be found on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website.  Be sure to click on the webmd.com link listed on the USDA site for more on agave.   USDA has a wealth of nutrition and health information and it’s website is a great one with which to become familiar.  Lastly, I still like the LiveStrong website as it seems to have a good variety of generally research-based information (lots of ads, though, for products/services that may be less reliable); see their link for a discussion of agave vs stevia .
Food Habit Management: 
In the last edition of Sound Bites! (Vol.2 #1), I recommended the use of Food Habit Management (FHM) techniques to help you get a handle on what you’re eating now and develop strategies to overcome dysfunctional food habits that detract rather than enhance your chances of success in your chosen endeavors–rowing being the activity of choice for most of you readers.
The FHM process looks like this:
Awareness>>Collect Data>>Isolate Problems/Needs>>Develop Intervention Strategy>>Experiment>>Evaluate>>Practice
Actually, collecting data might be the first step to awareness that you have a problem or need.  Here’s a Food Data Record that you can use to get an idea of your current eating habits.  Try collecting this information for 3-7 days to see if you have a nutrition issue that might be hampering your performance–whether in rowing, learning, working, or dealing with others.  Next time, I’ll give you some examples of strategies that might help you with problem areas you’ve identified.
                                                                                                      FOOD DATA RECORD
                                                 Amount     Food      Time     Meal/     Hunger          Activity          Feeling/     Location      Social        Eating Control
                                                 of Food      Group    of Day   Snack     Level (0-3)    Before Eating    Mood       of Eating      Situation      Level (0-3)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
FOOD ITEM/BEVERAGE