Embrace Gut Health with Fermented Foods!

If you’re looking for a simple yet impactful way to boost your health this month, we’ve got just the suggestion for you—eat sauerkraut and yogurt, just not together 😊. Fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, among others we will explore shortly, have remarkable benefits for your well-being.

Fermented foods are foods and beverages that are produced through controlled microbial growth and have been shown to have a profound impact on our health. The magic behind these fermented wonders lies in the process of fermentation, where bacteria and yeast break down sugars into lactic acid. This lactic acid bacteria, often referred to as probiotics or “good bacteria,” do wonders for your gut health, and in turn, your overall health and wellness. These foods not only improve digestion and help maintain a healthy body weight but also play a vital role in reducing inflammation and supporting the body’s natural detoxification pathways.

To highlight this, a recent study from Stanford Medical School discovered that consuming fermented foods can assist in weight loss and reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. So, adding these probiotic-rich foods to your diet is a win-win for your taste buds and your health! Here are some examples of fermented foods that can help nurture your gut microbiome:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Tempeh
  • Natto
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Fermented pickles (made with salt instead of vinegar)
  • Olives

In the study highlighted above, the participants consumed up to 6 servings a day of fermented foods! Don’t worry, you do not need to go that far to experience the benefits. Aim for one serving of a fermented food per day. To help you get started, here’s a great recipe for Kimchi Egg Muffins – enjoy!

If you’re curious to learn more about harnessing the power of fermented foods and enhancing your gut health, don’t miss our upcoming event:

Gut Health: Fermented Foods Cooking Class (see details & what we’re cooking here!)
Friday, February 23rd
5:00pm
RVNAhealth Teaching Kitchen
SIGN UP HERE

One Nutrition Habit For Your New Year!

Nutrition - About Soy

If you could adopt just one nutrition habit for a lifetime of wellness, what would it be? The answer may surprise you—it’s regular soy consumption.

Tell Me More.

Soy contains phytoestrogens—plant hormones with a unique way of supporting your health. When you consume soy, these phytoestrogens gently bind to your estrogen receptors, effectively blocking more potent and potentially harmful forms of estrogen encountered in our environment (such as endocrine disruptors found in our cookware and products). Simultaneously, they may have mildly estrogen-stimulating effects, particularly beneficial for individuals with low estrogen levels, like those going through menopause. This dual action makes soy a potent ally in promoting your well-being.

What does the research say?

Numerous studies support the remarkable effects of soy phytoestrogens. Research indicates that regular consumption of 20-60 grams of soy isoflavones (equivalent to about 1/4 block of firm tofu) can significantly reduce hot flashes and night sweats in menopausal women. Additionally, evidence suggests that diets rich in natural sources of phytoestrogens, like soy, may lead to a reduction in osteoporosis, cognitive decline, and the risk of breast and colon cancers. Notably, soy is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, one of the most widely studied and supported diets worldwide.

What foods contain phytoestrogens?

Enjoying soy is both easy and delicious. You can savor it in various forms, including tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy milk.

How Often?

The good news is that you can incorporate soy into your daily diet! With its versatile options and proven benefits, it’s a choice that promises a lifetime of radiant health.

As you ponder your lifelong nutrition choices, consider the incredible benefits of soy. It’s a simple yet impactful choice for your long-term well-being. If you have questions or need personalized advice on incorporating soy into your diet, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Your health is our priority.

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So You Want to Go on a Diet?

Understood. Us too! Just a good re-set to lose weight, get back on track, break some recent habits, feel better, and start the year off right. There’s just one problem. Our RVNAhealth registered dietitian, Monica Marcello, MS RD, won’t let us. 😊

Why Not?

“To be clear, explains Marcello, “I am not anti-weight loss. But I am anti-deprivation. And deprivation is a key element of most diets.  As a registered dietitian, I want you to EAT! I want you to eat the foods that are going to make you feel great, give you energy, promote good health, and still allow joy in your life. That is going to be different for everybody.”

Here are Marcello’s concerns about diets:

  • Diets set you up for failure by neglecting your individual needs and promoting an unsustainable approach.
  • Diets don’t work. Studies show that many dieters regain more weight than they originally lost.
  • Diets are often expensive. Specific diet food plans may cost between $100-500 per week and dietary pills and supplements may cost between$50-$200 per package.
  • Diets and healthy eating are not synonymous. Low in calories does not mean high in nutrition.
  • Diets can mess with your metabolism. When you’re dieting and in a moderate to extreme calorie deficit, your  body learns how to adapt on fewer calories and can therefore stunt weight loss prematurely. Not only is this counter-intuitive to your goals, it can also add frustration and mental fatigue. 

Why the Diet Appeal?

“Diets continue to intrigue people for many reasons,” says Marcello, “in part, I believe, they’ve been part of our culture for a long time, and we’re just programmed to think that if we want to lose weight, a diet is the place to start.”

But there are other reasons too:

  • Diets are big business and have been for decades. According to marketresearch.com, diets were a $78 billion dollar business in the United States in 2019, and that number is on the rise.
  • There’s a certain quick-fix appeal. If this, then this, and all will be better.
  • Deprivation for a finite time sometimes seems easier than moderation for a lifetime.
  • The jumpstart effect. Sometime people just want a wholesale change to interrupt current habits and put themselves in a better position quickly.

What’s a Dieter to Do?

Assess Your Goals.

If you really want to lose weight —for good — a diet is not the answer. You need a plan that works for you, your lifestyle, your goals, and your personality.

Through sustainable and healthy weight loss, done right, you can learn long-lasting tips/tricks that do more for the body beyond weight loss. You can improve your health and wellness by recognizing and responding to your internal cues and realities — hunger, fullness, food likes/dislikes, time for cooking, budget, sustainability. If it’s going to work, it needs to work for you and your life.

Weight Loss 101

Whether your motive is good health, weight loss, or to manage a health condition, there are certain basic tenets to remember:

Foods First. Foods First is an evidence-based approach that encourages individuals to eat intuitively and consume a variety of foods that assist in achieving good health

Prioritize nutrition over calories and the rest will fall into place —if you’re patient and approach correctly!

Try not to make weight loss the absolute priority and only goal. Let other aspects of your life be the guiding force for changing your diet.

Back to Basics.
There is evidence-based research that supports a common eating style: Unprocessed, Plant-rich, Whole foods, High nutrition. All of the conditions below can be managed by adhering to these essential concepts. 

    • Family history of high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s
    • Struggling with mood and mental health disorders
    • Stomach or bowel issues
    • Diabetes and prediabetes
    • Skin
    • Inflammation and joint pain
    • Energy and brain fog
    • Creativity

I still want to diet to reset my habits. It’s worked in the past for me.

Oh, for goodness’ sake! You’re incorrigible! Let’s talk. If you must diet, you’ll want to do it as healthfully as possible, and be sure to transition from your diet to a subsequent plan that will reward your hard work.  If you have a particular diet that’s interesting to you, we can review the benefits and pitfalls; identify what to watch out for; plan for what to do when you’re ‘done,’ and consider other lifestyle habits that might help you along.

What Next?

If you’re serious about losing weight, getting healthy, managing a condition, or dieting safely, get in touch!  The first 25 people to click the link below will receive a 15-minute nutrition consultation and $50 off your first visit.  

Food for Thought

Many of us have had discomfiting moments with memory: the 'Doorway Effect' in which we can't recall why we've entered a room. Proper nouns that go missing, just when we need them the most. And other such lapses. And while there is no sure fire diet to prevent such decline, there are recommended choices that can help keep us cognitively fit . Continue reading

Back to School Fuel

It's back to school and for many a parent that means back-to-school lunches with all the trials and tribulations that go along with them. Here is RVNAhealth's registered dietitian and nutrition educator, Monica Marcello, MS, RD, with some ideas for keeping those lunches fresh and fun. Continue reading

On the Road with COVID Vaccines

It was a busy weekend for RVNAhealth as we took our show on the road bringing COVID-19 vaccines — and food — to local events in Danbury and Ridgefield.  In Danbury, we administered over 40 vaccines at the Assembly Church of God alongside our friends at the Community Food Rescue CT, who arrived with a refrigerated truck of food. After receiving COIVD-19 vaccines, attendees at the clinic received bags filled with goodies to take home with them.  

In Ridgefield, we joined the We All Shine On festival, offering COVID-19 vaccines to kids right there on Main Street and serving up delectable energy bites and chia seed pudding, handmade by RVNAhealth registered dietitian and nutrition educator, Monica Marcello, MS, RD, who was on hand with recipes and education. 

A Tale of Two Diets – a Primer on Intermittent Fasting and the Ketogenic Diet

Nuts, salmon, avocado, eggs and other high-fat and protein and low-carb food choices
On Jan. 25, RVNAhealth Registered Dietitian and nutrition educator, Ava Safir, JD, MS, RDN, presented A Tale of Two Diets at Fit Club in Ridgefield, offering education and information on Intermittent Fasting and the Ketogenic Diet. The presentation was fascinating, covering the science behind the diets as well as benefits and pitfalls of both. Following is key information from the presentation. Continue reading

It’s a Beauty, but is it Safe?

According to the CDC, handling poultry (chicken and turkey) incorrectly and undercooking it are the most common problems that lead to foodborne disease outbreaks linked to poultry. These outbreaks increase every November and December due to improper food handling at holiday parties and dinners.

Follow these five tips to safely prepare your next holiday turkey meal:

  • Thaw your turkey safely.
    • In the refrigerator in a container, or
    • In a leak-proof plastic bag in a sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or
    • In the microwave, following manufacturer’s instructions

NEVER thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter. Bacteria can grow quickly if left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. The danger zone for bacteria to grow is between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F.

  • Clean all surfaces that the turkey comes into contact with – including your hands! Raw poultry can contaminate anything it comes into contact with and the germs that cause food poisoning are stealthy — they can survive in many places and spread around your kitchen.
  • Separate raw poultry from ready-to-eat foods by using different cutting boards, utensils and plates while preparing the meal, and by separating raw poultry from other foods in the refrigerator.
  • Cook poultry to the right internal temperature. Place the turkey in a roasting pan that is at least 2″ to 2.5″ inches deep and set oven temperature to at least 325 degrees F. Cooking times will vary according to the weight of the turkey and whether it contains any stuffing. Use a food thermometer to be sure that the internal temperature of the turkey AND the stuffing is at least 165 degrees F. You cannot determine if a turkey is safely cooked by checking its color and texture. Check by inserting the food thermometer into the center of the stuffing and the thickest portions of the breast, thigh, wing joint. Even if your turkey has a pop-up thermometer, still use a meat thermometer to be absolutely certain that your turkey is safely cooked. Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before removing the stuffing or carving the turkey so that it can finish cooking.
  • Chill to the right temperature. Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible and within 2 hours of preparation (within 1 hour of preparation if outside temperature is greater than 90 degrees) in order to prevent food poisoning. Slice or divide big cuts of meat into smaller quantities for refrigeration so they cool quickly. Reheat all leftovers to at least 165 degrees F.

Eat WELL!

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

School Lunch Ideas

RVNAhealth wellness and healthy eating

The Question:

Help! I need creative lunch ideas for back to school. What do you recommend for a healthy school lunch? 

Meg’s Response:

Packing lunch for your child — every single day — can be a challenge. And a chore! You want to provide nutritious food to fuel your child’s brain, but at the same time, you want your child to actually eat what you pack, right?

Here are my tips for healthy school lunches:

  • Get your child involved: Make a back-to-school trip to the grocery store to pick out a few healthy school lunch items. Have your child pick one or two items from each section of the grocery store that he or she would enjoy in school lunch. If you leave the store with 2 fruits, 2 veggies, 2 meat/bean foods, 2 dairy foods and 2 grain foods that your child enjoys, that will help to ensure that your child will enjoy what you pack.
  • Have fun: Use cookie cutters to cut foods into fun and appealing shapes. Not a creative type? Find fun, reusable lunch containers in bright colors that will make lunch seem more…. ENTERTAINING!
  • Go for the nibble tray: Instead of packing a sandwich, pack a nibble tray! Find a reusable container with lots of small compartments, and fill each compartment with something different. Kids love variety! Include cream cheese, hummus, SunButter, bean dip, salsa, guacamole and other fun dips and spreads along with fruits and veggies to dip. Add a baggie of whole wheat crackers or a slice of multigrain bread on the side for some healthy whole grains.
  • Don’t feel guilty about combining healthy convenient foods with foods that you prepare from home. What do I mean when I say that? It is ok to purchase items like individual portion hummus cups, guacamole, and bean dips and pair those with baby carrots, grapes, sliced cheese, sliced cucumber circles and some whole-grain crackers for a “snacky” lunch. These “short cuts” can help to provide a healthy – and quick to assemble – lunch. What other healthy, but convenient foods can you think of to add to school snacks and lunches?
  • Keep portion size in mind. Often times parents think their children aren’t eating enough fruits and veggies. Did you know that the portion size of fruits and veggies for preschoolers and elementary-aged children is 1 tablespoon per year of age? That’s right, so a 5-year old would only need about 4 whole strawberries for a serving a fruit and 10 carrot coins for a serving of veggies.
  • Try School Lunch: If there is a meal offered in the cafeteria that your child enjoys, let them buy lunch. It teaches your child how to navigate a public food setting, getting them ready for middle school, high school and college. It also gives your child practice communicating needs and preferences. While school lunches historically have had a reputation of being less than perfect, things have changed. Stop by the school cafeteria and check it out for yourself. And hey – it gives you a break from packing! Can’t beat that.
  • Great Nut-Free Options: Food allergies and intolerances are an additional consideration to be made for many families packing school snacks and lunches. Depending on the school’s policy, you may or may not be able to include peanuts and tree nuts. Here is a list of nut-free protein-rich foods that can be packed as a part of a healthy school lunch
    Hard-boiled egg
    Hummus and other bean dips
    Low Fat Greek Yogurt
    Edamame
    Low Sodium Deli Meat and Cheese roll-ups
    Sunbutter (sunflower seed) and Wowbutter (soy nut butter)
    Cubed grilled chicken
    Beans (chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, pink beans, white beans)
    Cottage Cheese