Health

I love a good adventure and studying the Raw Diet movement has been just that: a compelling journey where diet is truly 100 percent a way of life. It reminds me of summer days growing up on our farm where in-season, local produce was a way of life and very often my whole dinner plate. We always had a plate full of color and, as any good raw foodie would say, “A plate full of life.”

 I began my research taking notes from raw enthusiasts like Natalie Rose who explained her love for raw: “When we drink our green juices and eat our raw salad and leave out harmful stuff that blocks our life force, we can be kids of summer forever.”

Now don’t you want to try raw?

With claims like this and others ranging from improved skin/hair, new energy, improved digestion to curing cancer, one can’t help but notice and be tempted to take a big sip of the raw Kool-Aid and let the journey begin. I am clearly not alone in my desire to go more raw, with the Wall Street Journal recently reporting in 2012 alone a 71 percent increase in US sales of raw juice extractors. This reflects what is very often the first step in a more raw, vegan-based diet: juices and smoothies. In Charlotte, it is clear the appetite for raw cuisine is growing; restaurants, food trucks, juicers and now even grocery stores are gearing up to meet the rawist’s demand.

What is the Raw Diet and is it REALLY good for YOU?

The Raw Diet is simply a plant-based vegan diet where nothing is cooked over a temperature of 105°-115°. (Rawists have differing opinions on exact temp.)

Typically foods are non GMO, organic and preferably fresh. A strict raw diet is based on a foundation of vegetables, fruits, nuts, sea vegetables, sprouts, seeds, herbs and nutritional yeast. Food is not cooked, but often dehydrated, chopped, pureed and fblended with lots of spices and natural flavors. Recipes are often delicious and usually light.

It is described to me as a “way of life that incorporates vibrant organic foods prepared in their natural state.” The Raw Diet health claims include, but are not limited to, “prevention and reversal of signs of aging and chronic disease, boosts energy levels, improves skin and hair and eliminates inflammation, arthritis, allergies and chronic

pain.” Much of the healing and health is attributed to the more active raw enzymes that foods contain when not cooked above 105°-115°.

What are the risks?

The precautions of eating a raw food diet are based on an increased risk of bacterial contamination and some believe it is impossible to meet calorie and nutrient needs with only raw vegan foods. On any commercial raw juice bottle, you will find a warning label that states that because the juices are not pasteurized, they may contain harmful bacteria.

When discussing a raw food diet with Dr. Russ Greenfield, well-known and respected integrative health MD, he stated clearly via email that he was not in favor of a 100 percent Raw Food Diet though he supports eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables and encourages a more vegetarianbased diet. He believes lightly steaming vegetables can increase their percentage of certain nutrients and clinical studies support this statement. Greenfield also cautioned against using a raw diet as treatment for any “given malady.”

Dr. Jim Boyd, a trusted and experienced oncologist, agreed with Greenfield’s views and added that most of his cancer patients are encouraged to avoid any raw food during treatment due to their compromised immunity and increased risk of infection. Are you 100 percent raw?

That was my next question to one of my favorite cousins Sarah Mangold, now a Hawaiian Raw Foodie, wife and mother of three. Sarah encapsulates the youth, energy and conviction of the Raw Diet philosophy. After completing a degree with the Graff Academy of Raw Food Education, Sarah became a certified raw vegan chef who teaches classes, coaches healthy lifestyles and shares recipes/tips on her site, www.facebook.com/SarahsRawKitchen.

Her story is one of healing and restored energy, which she credits to “simply reducing toxicity and adding powerful raw food nutrition that includes more active enzymes that are lost when we cook foods.”

Though Sarah confirms that she is NOT 100 percent raw, her belief is that more raw and less processed is the way of life for her and for many.

Similar to Sarah’s experience is that of Scott Harris, owner of Viva Raw, and a super nice guy who is also NOT 100 percent raw, but believes his body was able to “come alive again drinking raw juice presses” along with multifaceted lifestyle changes that included detox therapies, intensive exercise and starting a company that he is passionate about–Viva Raw. His mission is clearly stated on each Viva Raw juice label: “Embrace the Raw Revolution.”

My final stop on this raw journey was Luna’s Living Kitchen (LLK), which is best described as Charlotte’s Mecca for raw clean food. “An organic mostly raw restaurant,” LLK has been serving up vegan cuisine with Juliana Luna at the helm for three years. I geared up for our meeting, envisioning a militant rawist saying, “You must Eat RAW or Die!” This was not the case at all. I met with a very different kind of individual, petite and beautiful. Juli’s warm and gracious spirit left me just wanting to know more about the raw way of life. She models the diet by her walk and with few words.

South-American born, Juli moved to the US with a growing career in hospitality management. She was suffering from poor health, fatigue and unbalanced digestion.

With her new husband’s encouragement, she gradually left a meat-based processed food diet to become more vegetarian and then vegan and finally raw. Quick to avoid labels of any kind, Juli describes herself as self-educated and with one mission: to build a greater community of health, not to preach or prescribe any one diet.

She eats mostly raw, but admits to enjoying cooked grains with dinner and is even considering some wild seafood. She stresses the importance of fresh, organic produce from a diverse group of farmers and supplements her vegan diet with fresh raw vegetable/fruit juice presses throughout the day. She believes these juices are able to “uniquely retain the vitamins, nutrients and enzymes natural in whole fruits and vegetables.”

Does it have to be raw?

These days, everyone wants to tell you how to eat and usually the diets are strict, controlling and laced with guilt. But there can be a middle ground here. For my patients who want to begin a more raw lifestyle, I encourage the following five steps.*

1. Start simple. Add one raw fruit/vegetable medley per meal and snack. This can be done with a raw juice/smoothie in the morning, the addition of a fresh salad with lunch, and another juice/smoothie in the afternoon. Finish the day by adding a large chopped vegetable salad to a smaller main meal. The key here is fresh organic produce and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

2. Experiment with a more vegetarian diet. A new wonderful cookbook to help with this is Plenty. I am providing a delicious, almost raw Sea Kelp and Eggplant recipe that my kind new neighbors shared recently—see the bottom of this page.

If you don’t know where to begin, try eating out first; let the experts show you how good vegetarian can taste.

3. Build a community for support. When we have friends, family and coworkers coming beside us in new healthier ways to eat, it creates the wind behind our sail to keep it up and to make it more fun.

4. Dig into the many raw resources out there. My favorite raw websites with recipes include, but are hardly limited to, www.facebook.com/SarahsRawKitchen and thechalkboardmag.com. Whole Foods and EarthFare have wonderful raw juice presses as well as Viva Raw. Eat lunch at Luna’s Living Kitchen.

5. Take a class. Whole Foods recently provided a class on raw foods with 40 in attendance. Learn the basics and try one new recipe a week.

Remember: True health is a balance for each individual to discover. All the best in your pursuit.

Barret C. Butler is a registered dietitian with her Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a private nutrition practitioner specializing in the treatment of adult weight management, childhood obesity, abnormal eating dynamics and family wellness. Families Together For Wellness has been her private nutrition intervention and educational approach for the last six years. Butler is the dietitian at Signature HealthCare and Presbyterian Executive Health and provides nutrition seminars for the Cornwell Center and Reid’s Fine Foods.

 

 

Eggplant and Mango with Kelp Noodles.

From: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Ingredients

½ cup of rice vinegar

3 TB of turbinado sugar

½ teaspoon of sea salt

2 garlic cloves crushed

½ fresh red chili, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil

grated zest and juice of one lime

1 cup of sunflower oil (can use less)

2 eggplants, cut into ¾ inch dice

8 – 9 ounces of kelp noodles (Whole Foods refrigerator section)

1 large ripe mango, diced

1 2/3 cups of basil leaves

2 ½ cups of cilantro leaves, chopped

½ of a red onion

Procedures

In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chile, and sesame oil.

Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.

Heat up the sunflower oil in a large pan, and sautee the eggplant in three to four batches. Once golden remove to a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave to drain.

Follow kelp noodles prep with water and draining. Can cut into smaller noodles.

In a mixing bowl, toss noodles with dressing, mango, eggplant, half the herbs and onion. Can leave for an hour or two before serving.Recipe

 

A working mom’s guide to good nutrition on a budget

My local, organic, expensive cheese stopped being a priority. “Budget” became the family mantra and a greater pressure to find nutrient-dense whole foods for less was hanging around. I was frustrated to realize that my family was not entitled to each new and healthy product that I discovered. My thought was: “It’s good for us and so we will have it.” Well, no, not always.

As many of you know, hard knocks create great adventures if you are willing to get moving, stop whining and, as a friend suggested, “put on your big-girl pants and do what you’ve got to do.” And so I tried. I understand we all have different budgets. Each of our shoes pinch us in a different place and so I hope in sharing guiding principles of good, basic nutrition, some favorite, well-priced grocery staples, and one of my favorite three-minute meals under $20, you will find helpful suggestions for your own situation.

To begin planning around a tighter budget, I defined “needs” versus “wants.” I outlined what nutritional principles would create the healthy foundation that my family needed and avoid the extra “wants” that would have me spending unnecessarily.

Nutritional “needs”

Whether you are single, newly married, have a large or small family, or work in or out of the house, these nutritional habits will keep you healthier for a lifetime. Make them key priorities when you consider your shopping needs.
1. Nutritional balance. Balance each meal with a complex carbohydrate (the majority being fruits and vegetables), a complete protein and little to no saturated and trans fats. A balance of these three nutrients regulates your blood sugars, lowers the rise of insulin and keeps concentration and energy levels at a high. From my husband’s and my work demands to the children’s school and sports activities, this is No. 1.

2. Unprocessed foods 80 percent of the time. No fake sugar, tub margarines, Cheez-Its, Fruit Roll-Ups, etc. The most nutrient-dense foods should be in the pantry or on the table. Along with a higher percentage of vitamins and minerals, clinical studies show that there is a more rapid release of the hormone Leptin when you eat whole, high-fiber foods. This means that you feel fuller faster.

3. A fruit or a vegetable at every meal. Fresh, frozen, often organic (use the Dirty Dozen Pesticide list to guide you here) and local when in season. If your budget is super tight, use a lot of frozen.

4. Good taste. Children (yours or mine) won’t eat what doesn’t taste good. So a priority is to find healthy, inexpensive and tasty foods. This is where you can spend a bit more on certain items. It doesn’t matter whether you buy Fage yogurt at Costco or Whole Foods; it tastes the same. But an egg is different. Eggs are so good for kids and adults, as they are filled with biotin, choline and a complete protein. And eggs are not expensive.

5. Quick and simple. This is a top priority. Figure out how much time you can devote to cooking and start planning. If you have time for gardening and canning, go for it. If you have limited time, shoot for easy, one-dish meals that allow you to use canned tomatoes, fresh salsas, beans, frozen vegetables and lean meats. Chop and prep ahead on the weekends and look online for dishes like chicken adobo, vegetarian Sloppy Joes, grilled wild seafood, quiche or anything in the crockpot.

Once you have defined your nutritional needs, it’s time to go shopping and compare. I’m not a coupon clipper or weekly special hunter, so my staples are the ones that are always low-priced. Of course, if I run into the Harris Teeter and they are having a two for one special of organic lettuces, well then I am happy to oblige.

Many items, hands-down, are the least expensive at Trader Joe’s. They are able to offer a volume discount that even Super Walmart and the local farmer’s market can rarely beat. However, keep in mind that not all of Trader Joe’s items are organic and, unfortunately, they’re not local. Let your principles come into play.

Where my “wants” fit my “needs”
1. Trader Joe’s:for organic frozen fruits and vegetables, plus organic milk, yogurts and cheeses. Here, I’ll toss some Hemp Protein, protein bars and almond milk blends into my cart too.
2. The farmer’s market: for local, in-season goods.

3. Whole Foods:for canned vegetables and legumes. The store’s prices are competitive in the market for legumes, rice, wheatberry, farro and my favorite Italian Pomi Tomatoes.

4. Harris Teeter:my favorite stop for teas, Turbinado sugar, spices and my Morning Glory smoothie with unsweetened Ghirardelli natural cocoa.

5. Reid’s Fine Foods:for eggs. The place carries three of the local, most exquisite eggs that I can find.
6. Super Walmart: great when I need to get Whole Wheat Lance Peanut Butter Crackers, steel-cut oats and some of the Morning Star frozen vegetarian products that I keep for backup in the freezer.

7. Costco: for wild seafood and organic, grass-fed beef and chicken breasts. They offer many wonderful, frozen, wild choices – the family regular being the Wild Salmon Burgers.

Your mission
The possibilities of healthy meal planning are endless and I give you this small sampling of products in hopes that you will begin your own search-and-rescue mission for good food and fair prices. They are out there. And remember: true health is a balance for each individual to discover. Establish your own nutritional “needs” versus “wants” list and let these guide your weekly shopping. All the best in your pursuit.

Barret C. Butler is a registered dietitian with her Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a private nutrition practitioner specializing in the treatment of adult weight management, childhood obesity, abnormal eating dynamics and family wellness. Families Together For Wellness has been her private nutrition intervention and educational approach for the last six years. Butler is the dietitian at Signature HealthCare and Presbyterian Executive Health and provides nutrition seminars for the Cornwell Center and Reid’s Fine Foods.

We are hungry for a good fast. There is nothing new under the sun and fasting takes the cake. Denying yourself food is one of the oldest and most common rituals of self denial, protest, spiritual awakening and now to achieve the ultimate cleanse. It is so sexy too and provides the bragging rights of a true Spartan. What consumer in the United States could deny all of this?

To read about the virtues of fasting, you would have to be dull of soul not to be intrigued and downright smitten by some good old starvation.Kathie Swift, MS RD LDN, writes: “A short-term fast can increase your vitality, improve brain function, and even treat conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis. The National Institute of Aging interprets recent studies of the effects of intermittent fasting as being able to “protect the brain against some of the worst effects of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other ailments.”

Popular fasts to choose from

The selection of popular fasts to choose from are voluminous. The two that seem to be gathering the most attention and acclaim are raw juice fasts and 8-hour intermittent fasting. Both have their cheering section and both need more clinical research to stand on. The raw juice advocates state that these fasts are not for weight loss but to provide a “nutritional cleanse and to give your digestive tract a rest and to allow your body to eliminate toxins.” They believe that “freed of pulp and fiber, juiced vegetables deliver a fresh, super concentrated supply of nutrients to cells and tissues with minimum transit time compared with solids. Your bloodstream easily absorbs all of those minerals, vitamins and enzymes, giving your gastrointestinal tract a vacation.”

The Raw Juice Fast establishment began with companies such as the Pressed Juicery in California and the Blue Print Cleanse out of New York City. In Charlotte and the Triangle area it is taking flight with Viva Raw, Luna’s Living Kitchen and Triangle Raw, all of which offer raw pressed juices and some deliver.

The 8-Hour and Intermittent Fast experts claim that by eating in shorter bouts of the day, you are increasing your body’s ability to use fat as an energy source. A study published in Cell Metabolism showed obesity risk reduction in mice who ate food only in 8-hour increments.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has similar supporting evidence that suggests that concentrating any food intake into 8 hours of the day allows your metabolism to crank up and burn more calories throughout the whole day. It seems, “the longer you feed, the lazier your metabolism becomes.”
Even with these words of encouragement, starting in 2013 I still had my doubts about beginning any fast. Frederick Buechner puts it best to me: “If there is no room for doubt, there is no room for me.”

The fast adventure begins
So I created my own fast experiment and let my inner scientist rule. I began by picking a raw juice fast. I met with Scott Harris of Viva Raw and learned about his company, method, produce and the Viva Raw Three Day Raw Juice Cleanse. The cleanse begins before you start drinking his vegetable/fruit presses by stopping all caffeine and alcohol two days before the cleanse. Then you are to drink only the Viva Raw Juices (seven, 12-ounce servings of a variety of vegan specialties) for three days.

Next, my study population. I asked 10 adventurous friends to join me and promised that I would host a celebratory dinner when done if they would drink, participate and document their results.And so, 2013 began with a three-day raw juice cleanse. I instructed my study group that water, herbal teas and an avocado could be added to our low calorie stringent fast. I begged them to get a doctor’s approval and little to no exercise because I knew we were heading into low calorie territory.

Did we make it? Well, we all survived. Only half of the group was were successful, meaning they completed without eating off of the plan. The results were interesting. For those who completed it, all shared results of better sleep, bouts of incredible energy, clarity of mind, and all lost at least three pounds. Overall, I found it difficult because I love my coffee, warm and crunchy food, and I missed exercising every day.An unexpected challenge that I hadn’t prepared for was making dinner for my family. So if you want to try a fast and you are cooking for many, pick up some wholesome pre-cooked meals at Good Kitchen or one of your favorite local groceries such as Reids. Then hit the sack early while your family dines away. Overall, I did find it surprising how clear my thinking was on day two and three of the fast and liked the lightness and ease of not worrying about my meals.

Should we all do this? Maybe, maybe not. The juices are not pasteurized and I always support plans that the whole family can follow. The clinical studies are still lacking and I also believe in individualized nutrition, so it’s hard to recommend that these fasts will work for all.

So how do we proceed? I have created an outline of my favorite foundational types of fasts — taking the best of the best and not moving ahead of the science to support our best healthy efforts.

The best fasts of all
The Whole Foods Fast
Try eating only whole foods for three days and then keep going. Prepare foods as close to their natural state. Fill your days with vegetables, fruits, fiber rich whole grains, nuts, seeds, local eggs, steamed, grilled organic and wild fish, meat and poultry. If you want to enjoy fresh juice presses, try adding them to this diet in place of vitamin/mineral supplements.

The 8-10 Hour Fast
This means eat healthy whole food meals with balanced carbohydrate, proteins and fats all within an eight-to-10-hour period. It is that easy.

The No-Grains-at-Dinner Fast
I love this one too. Continue with a whole foods based meal plan, but enjoy your grains at breakfast, lunch and with an afternoon snack. At dinner, have two to three types of vegetables and organic meat and poultry, and wild fish. You will go to bed feeling lighter and I have gotten feedback that patients are sleeping better with this type of fast.

The Excuses Fast
Stop the excuses and start exercising every day. Reduced incidence of illness, better moods, improved metabolism, and reduced risk of every chronic disease out there. You know it, so do it. Start exercising.Remember the prize of healthy eating is not only normalized weight, blood sugar balance, reduced risk of chronic disease, and more energy; it is also the ability to focus on becoming the individual you are called to be. If your food begins to control you and obsession gets in the way, the joy of healthy eating is lost and disorder becomes the name of the game. True health is a balance for each individual to discover.
All the best in your pursuit.

Barret C. Butler is a registered dietitian with her Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a private nutrition practitioner specializing in the treatment of adult weight management, childhood obesity, abnormal eating dynamics and family wellness. Families Together For Wellness has been her private nutrition intervention and educational approach for the last six years. Butler is the dietitian at Signature HealthCare and provides nutrition seminars for the Cornwell Center and Reid’s Fine Foods.

As you celebrate and maneuver through the next month of holidays, open the gift of exercise and all of its benefits early this year. The season where exercise is most often left off the list is actually the perfect time to change your workout perspective and regimen.

Recent clinical studies have added more credence to the fundamental benefits of exercise and to the idea that new regimens result in better physical outcomes. For example, an hour-long jog on the treadmill is being replaced with high-intensity training interspersed with intervals of training that are shorter and more mentally engaging.

Whether you swim laps at a more rigorous pace – with minute breaks in between – use heavier weights and new routines for strength training, or sprint or walk circuits, less time in more concentrated exercise is showing better results for fat loss, muscle gain and metabolism boosts.

The clinical research is showing, more definitively than ever, that making time for exercise is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. A recent study more strongly supported exercise’s ability to improve our stress response and decrease anxiety. Need I say more than “Happy holidays?” Yes, a little muscle burn and shazam – more “Happy” for every kind soul you meet.

Along with attaining a better mood, we all want to burn a few more calories to at least neutralize the gift basket that just might land at our door. According to a study out of the University of Colorado, participants were able to burn an extra 200 calories in as little time as 2.5-minute intervals when charging through intense circuits of high anaerobic training. Some exercise in a shorter amount of time means less guilt and, it seems, more calories burned; now we can all sample the homemade cheese straws without being kicked to the curb by the Carb Police.

Not only can prioritizing exercise allow you to enjoy the holidays more, but it can allow you to live to enjoy more holidays. Increased life expectancy and reduced cancer-related deaths were the outcomes of a Taiwanese clinical trial showing that 15 minutes of exercise a day is being linked to longer life and better health.

Taking all of this into account, we may be convinced that exercise is a must. But the question is how to incorporate it when you are stuck at Uncle Ed’s with family members and with no “Insanity” tape in the stocking. How about a game of “capture the flag” or flag football for all? Or soccer with Granny?

I tried “capture the flag” last Christmas Day and it served as my introduction to the interval workout. There I was with the group, looking for a way to gather with friends and shed some energy. We found a field and took off in over-zealous sprinting and strategizing with equal teams of adults and kids. Ten minutes into the competition, a few of the adults laughingly agreed that next year we needed to invite more families with slower kids!

I found myself using all of my sprinting and agility skills from when I played a season of basketball in the eighth grade as I chased down the 11-year-old lacrosse star who had just stolen our flag. It was exhilarating, exhausting and a lot of fun. I found myself tired, hungry and sore – what was going on here?

Now I see – our game was a type of interval workout incorporating muscle confusion, anaerobic bouts of sprinting and then rest, full-on intense intervals during which I had to concentrate and move. Exercise physiologists are defining this form of workout, whether on a track, in a gym or in the pool, as the key to significant “metabolic disturbances” that allow you to burn significant calories both during and after exercise in recovery.

So the holidays are upon us. Enjoy them. Make each day count. And for exercise – do what you’ve got to do and don’t forget to stretch.

Barret C. Butler is a registered dietitian with her Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a private nutrition practitioner specializing in the treatment of adult weight management, childhood obesity, abnormal eating dynamics and family wellness. Families Together For Wellness has been her private nutrition intervention and educational approach for the last six years. Butler is the dietitian at Signature HealthCare and provides nutrition seminars for the Cornwell Center and Reid’s Fine Foods.

Whether it is the pursuit of happiness and health, the ideal faith, our purpose, our marriage, our family or our job, we all are on our own personal journey that gets us out of bed in the morning and puts us to sleep at night.

One of my many pursuits is finding the perfect calorie. Solving the mystery of what makes that perfect meal — the one that keeps you energized, balanced and loaded with vitamins and minerals — is an ongoing obsession. This search has allowed me to indulge in one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

I am not one for watching reality TV, reading Star Magazine or watching my neighbors across the street. But the monthly printed edition of the Wall Street Journal Magazine delivers the bite-size portions of snooping that I love. It comes in the form of a column called “TRACKED,” which can also be found at www.wsj.com.

It features not your typical celebrity but a successful musician, artist or marketing guru, for example, who flies just under the radar.

In “TRACKED,” an expanse of all things golden, successful and glamorous has been laid out in detail for all to view — sunrise to sunset. Pictures included.

It is my Sunday bath entertainment. I read what the latest icons eat and drink, and what their typical day involves from exercise, to sleep habits to phone calls taken and returned. Are these tidbits about seeking perfection in the right way or about how to be successful? If you follow their regimens of vegan or fries; water, espresso, alcohol or wine; boot camp or extreme yoga; sleep or no sleep; will you, too, be able to lead the extremely hip life of perfection?

October’s edition highlighted Steve Stoute, a successful, handsome and brilliant marketing guru. His days are filled with important meetings, fancy flowers and hard-working assistants. But it was the bottom-line tag that caught my eye: “90 pounds lost in 9 years.” My hero. Details please.

Let’s begin with breakfast: eggs, Greek yogurt with fruit, green smoothie. Check. Lunch: salad and seafood. Check. Dinner: salad, chicken, steak and a light sorbet. Check. I see a pattern: balanced meals of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Fruits or vegetables at every meal, plenty of water, smoothies of bananas, spirulina and almond milk.

Stoute is a perfect eater. His is a meal plan to espouse. Match the diet with an intense interval workout with a former middleweight champion boxer and I am not disappointed. (Of course, the 90 pounds are gone for good.) The day continues into evening: four espressos, two glasses of wine, steak, a cigar, to bed at 2 a.m. (He does sleep in until 9 a.m.) I am now reading about his inflammation and guilt. What has happened? The New York City streets are tough even for my healthy guy.
Back to the drawing board. Life is messy and that is why I am neat. The debate is still on. The perfect calorie, the perfect meal? Maybe an organic green salad with edamame, avocado, fresh tomatoes, peppers, extra virgin olive oil and crushed garlic? Or could it be fresh and local plain Greek yogurt with wild blueberries, a touch of turbinado sugar and marcona almonds? The possibilities are endless.The best way to start? Find fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables with lots of color, add to it whole foods, throw in a good bit of exercise and, most importantly, enjoy your pursuit of good health!

Barret C. Butler is a registered dietitian with her Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a private nutrition practitioner specializing in the treatment of adult weight management, childhood obesity, abnormal eating dynamics and family wellness. Families Together For Wellness has been her private nutrition intervention and educational approach for the last six years. Butler is the dietitian at Signature HealthCare and provides nutrition seminars for the Cornwell Center and Reid’s Fine Foods.

A recent conversation with a bright and healthy mother prompted me to think about bananas.
This was a bit strange only because we weren’t discussing that delicious tropical fruit. It was during our last nutrition consultation meeting for her family of four. We had covered almost everything in our sessions – grocery-store tour complete, children well-educated, menu plans and recipes reviewed. Everyone was on the same healthy page.

As we discussed a final and more challenging behavior goal, she asked: “Why is it that I feel I need your permission? I know that my husband’s and my logic is right. We love our children. We want the best for them and yet I still need your permission.”

Yes. I get it. Good nutrition has become an increasingly over-complex, emotional, guilt-ridden and ever-changing recipe and we just don’t trust ourselves anymore. We all want permission.
Now, let’s again bring in that yellow tropical fruit: the banana. What Dr. Gundry includes on his “Killer Fruits” list in his Evolution Diet. What the Adkins Diet calls a big NO NO. The banana is considered the fruit that will make you fat; thus, a true guilty pleasure.

I love a banana. I enjoy one sometimes with breakfast but most often after an especially rigorous workout. It just makes me feel better. I know a 4-ounce medium banana has approximately 27 grams of carbohydrates, 100 calories, 422 milligrams of potassium, and is a low-to-medium glycemic-index fruit. I knew it was OK, but I was looking for that big bowl of affirmation to down with my banana and organic skim milk. And this affirmation presented itself on my laptop one morning in the form of Dr. Nieman’s clinical research titled: “Bananas as an Energy Source During Exercise: A Metabolomics Approach.”

What is this? The article describes the banana as a “cost effective energy source with a unique mixture of carbohydrates, nutrients and antioxidants that provide good nutrition support.” When compared with Gatorade, the banana delivered recovery to athletes even more efficiently and with less sugar and fewer calories.

The researchers went on to say: “Bananas contain resistant starch, whose by-products block conversion of some carbohydrates into fuel, forcing your body to rely on fat stores as well.” Great! Permission granted.So when I think about my client’s thoughtful admission, my response now is: “It’s OK.”

It’s OK if dinner isn’t perfect, if the kids do or don’t eat. Just try to have meals together, as nutritiously as possible. Let your children know what you and your husband expect and keep emotions out of it. Finally, if they want half of a banana with their frozen waffle and organic peanut butter – that is OK too.

Barret C. Butler is a registered dietitian with her Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a private nutrition practitioner specializing in the treatment of adult weight management, childhood obesity, abnormal eating dynamics and family wellness. Families Together For Wellness has been her private nutrition intervention and educational approach for the last six years. Butler is the dietitian at Signature HealthCare and provides nutrition seminars for the Cornwell Center and Reid’s Fine Foods.

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