6 No-Cook Meals You Can Make in Your Dorm

dorm, no-cook meals, college

If you’re on a college campus this year, it may be a good idea to stock up on groceries so you can prepare meals in the privacy of your own dorm. Since many school dining halls are transitioning to take-out only models anyway, you won’t miss much in terms of the communal eating experience if you make your own meals. Plus, this way, you can control the quality of food you eat and make sure it works with your health needs. Browse this list for some ways to mix up your basic routine. Each option is a no-cook meal (which is helpful if your access to appliances is limited), and everything is totally customizable to suit your palate!

 

No-cook Meal 1: Sandwich Pinwheels

Tired: a boring sandwich. Wired: wrapping all your favorite proteins and toppings into a tortilla and slicing into bite-size pinwheel pieces. If you’re feeling extra fancy, secure it together with a toothpick and skewer a pickle or pickled onion on top. Tortillas take up less room than bread in your mini fridge, and eating your meal this way will definitely feel like a step up from your usual routine. If you eat meat, turkey is a great base for your pinwheels. For a veggie option, go for hummus instead. Then go wild with your favorite sandwich toppings.

Hot tip: If you’re adding veggies to your pinwheels (like cucumbers or carrots), cut them into strips rather than slices so that they roll up easier.

 

No-cook Meal 2: Loaded avocado toast

Top your favorite toasted bread with smashed avocado, then add a drizzle of olive oil, and layer on some sliced tomato. Garnish with red pepper flakes and a dash of salt and pepper. Many dorms come with common area kitchenettes that have basic appliances, like a microwave and toaster oven. But if you don’t have access to a toaster, this meal can still work with no appliances if you use a fresh bakery loaf that has a hearty crust.

Hot tip: To cut your avocado, use a sharp kitchen knife and cut vertically all the way around. Twist the halves to rip the avocado in two. Once the pit is exposed on one side, gently whack it with your knife so that the blade lands in the pit. Wiggle your knife back and forth to remove the pit cleanly. Store the unused half in the fridge. Take the half you are going to eat, and score it with your knife before scooping out the meat. Confused on technique? Here’s a video.

 

No-cook Meal 3: Salad in a jar

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like I’m way more likely to enjoy my meal when the presentation is on point. A big mason jar can go a long way. This recipe is quite flexible, and it allows you to prep multiple lunches at the same time, then grab-and-go when you need to eat between activities. Prep your favorite chopped vegetables, proteins, cheeses, and herbs into a jar. My go-to combination of ingredients is an antipasto-themed salad that includes lettuce, olives, bell pepper, banana peppers, provolone, basil, and sundried tomatoes. But I mean, it’s salad—you do you. To keep your meal fresh and crispy, hold off on adding your favorite dressing until the day you’re ready to eat. When you do add your dressing, shake the jar like crazy to get an even mix.

Hot tip: Canned black beans or chickpeas can go a long way toward elevating your salad. No cooking required, they just need a little rinse and you’re ready to eat!

 

No-cook Meal 4: Tuna salad pita pockets

Prepare some tuna salad by combining canned tuna with mayo and onion. Or, for a lighter option, opt for olive oil, lemon juice, onion, and capers. Store what you don’t use. For your pita pocket, cut off one side of the pita, leaving an opening to put your filling in. Line the pita pocket with your favorite greens, like green leaf lettuce or baby spinach, then add your tuna salad.

Hot tip: In your tuna salad, you can also add chopped celery and/or canned water chestnuts for extra crunch.

 

No-cook Meal 5: Veggie banh mi

Because this sandwich is jam-packed with exciting, spicy flavors, you can make it with raw tofu pieces and still feel like your sandwich is restaurant-quality. To prep your tofu, cut into flat slices, then wrap them in a paper towel to drain out any excess moisture. Start with a piece of fresh baguette, then pile on your tofu slices, thin carrot strips, cucumber, jalapeno slices, and cilantro. Smear on some light mayo or vegan mayo, and top with sriracha.

Hot tip: If you stumble upon access to a fuller kitchen, you can graduate to this recipe that involves marinating and searing your tofu.

 

No-cook Meal 6: Protein Bento Box

This is a fun meal idea if you are nearing the end of your groceries and want to use up a little bit of everything. Instead of eating “just leftovers,” you’ll feel like you’re indulging in a store-bought treat. Grab a reusable bento box container and fill it with items like grapes, nuts, raw veggies, hummus, pretzels, granola, yogurt, or whatever you have in your fridge, like extra pinwheels or tuna salad from meals you made earlier this week.

Hot tip: In addition to being more eco-friendly than individual plastic baggies, a reusable bento box is also a cute, discrete way to transport your meal for easy snacking. So if you find yourself across campus with no downtime between activities, you can quietly open your box and enjoy some mid-meeting nutrition without drawing too much attention.

 

 

Bonus hot tip: Pickling your own onions is super easy and requires no cooking. Give it a try, and you’ll have a garnish that can be added to any meal idea on this list!

 

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7 Tips for Healthy Eating When Life Gets Busy

busy nutrition

When it comes to making healthy changes and sticking to them, the number one barrier many of my clients experience is not having enough time. As a general rule of thumb, I like to remind people that planning ahead and doing the prep work up front can actually save you greatly (both in terms of time and money) in the long run. While this may seem like a daunting task, I have worked with incredibly busy clients who have successfully developed sustainable habits: people whose jobs require them to travel every week, busy collegiate student-athletes, high-powered diplomats and attorneys, and more. So it can be done! Below is a list of the top 7 tips that have helped my clients maintain healthy eating habits when life gets busy:

 

  1. Have a list of quick and convenient healthy snacks on hand

    If you have high-quality protein bars, nuts, fruit, or dried chick peas on hand, you don’t have to worry about being hungry and defaulting to a nutrient-poor option, like candy or chips, in a pinch. Foods that are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals will help to sustain energy for longer and may even boost mood and productivity

  2. Follow general guidelines for food groups at meals

    If you often must eat away from home due to travel, it’s not going to be possible to plan out every meal for the week. Instead, work ahead with your dietitian to determine the appropriate portion sizes and combinations of food groups you should aim for at each meal. If you know that you want a plate that is half vegetables, plus a protein the size of a deck of cards, and one starch the size of your fist, these guidelines will do a lot of the work for you when it comes to healthy eating, no matter the eating environment.

  3. Eat on a consistent schedule

    One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is going without food for 6 hours or more. If you do that, you may find yourself craving foods high in fat, carbohydrates, or sugar. Eating every 3-4 hours helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and makes it easier to focus on work and make healthier food choices throughout the day. Even if you can’t eat at the exact same times every day, the time between all meals and snacks should ideally be no longer than 3-4 hours.

  4. Prepare meals at home that can be frozen

    If you can’t afford to budget cooking time for every meal window, it’s a great strategy to cook meals that can be made in large batches and then frozen. This could be soups, crock pot meals, casseroles, breakfast sandwiches, protein waffles and pancakes, smoothies, homemade meatballs, etc. You can also keep frozen vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry, and fish. Plus, if you opt for individually-sized portions, you can also help reduce food waste.

  5. Use a meal prep delivery service

    If you really don’t enjoy cooking or need to minimize meal prep time as much as possible, a meal prep delivery service may be the answer for you. Some services will ship you all the ingredients you need for a particular recipe, and others will even prepare the meals for you and deliver them, ready-made, to your door. In terms of cost, this option may add up to an equivalent amount as eating at a restaurant, and can allow for healthy eating with minimal time and effort.

  6. Scope out restaurants you frequent often

    For restaurants that you go to often, begin creating a list of at least 1-2 menu options that you know fit well within your personal food guidelines. This will make the ordering process easier and will allow you to have some back-up options ready to go when you find yourself out at a business lunch or stuck at the office without any food prepared.

  7. Look at nutrition facts ahead of time for new restaurants if possible

    Before you try a new restaurant, scan the nutrition facts (or at least the menu) ahead of time by looking it up online. This will allow you to make a more informed decisions about which menu items will suit your needs best, and preparing ahead of time takes the pressure out of trying to make a decision on the fly.

If you have a busy schedule or frequently have to eat away from home, try these tips in whichever order feels most realistic or helpful. Remember, in order for a food plan to be sustainable, it has to fit into your life. If you feel that you would benefit from working with a professional to seek advice on your specific situation or to create a customized meal plan, please feel free to message me to set up a consult!

 

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Identifying Disordered Eating Patterns

disordered eating patterns

While specific criteria can identify a full-fledged eating disorder, disordered eating patterns may be more difficult to spot and understand. Disordered eating is defined as “a wide range of irregular eating behaviors that do not warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder.” This broad definition does not speak to what these behaviors might be or how they could impact health. To spread some awareness on this issue, I wanted to highlight the most common disordered eating patterns, common side effects, and what actions to take to seek help if needed.

 

Common Disordered Eating Patterns

  • History of dieting or weight yo-yoing
  • Viewing foods as either “good” or “bad”
  • Engaging in rituals with food or exercise (i.e. not eating after 6 pm no matter what, exercising more in response to eating more)
  • Frequently feeling guilty or ashamed about certain food choices or amounts eaten
  • Occupation with food, exercise, and/or body image that negatively impacts quality of life
  • Feeling a loss of control around eating behaviors and food choices
  • Experiencing anxiety in social situations involving food

 

When a client presents with one or more of the patterns above, a red flag immediately goes up. These behaviors tell me that a client doesn’t have an entirely healthy relationship with food. The priority needs to be raising awareness of and addressing these behaviors before anything else, regardless of why a client may have come to see me. In fact, many clients I have worked with have come to me to improve sports performance or to change body composition and through conversation, disordered eating tendencies have been discovered for the first time. For any health professional not aware of these warning signs, they may not see the red flag and simply address the clients concerns about weight loss or performance without addressing the underlying disordered relationship with food, which in the end can frequently cause more harm.

 

Effects of Disordered Eating Patterns

Common side effects of long-term disordered eating patterns can include:

  • Decreased metabolism
  • Frequent gastrointestinal issues (such as bloating, cramping, diarrhea, or nausea)
  • Increased rates of depression, anxiety, or social isolation
  • Decreased bone strength and increased risk of fractures
  • Significantly high or low blood pressure or heart rate
  • Electrolyte disturbances or other nutrient imbalances
  • Development of a clinically significant eating disorder

 

What Can You Do If You Suspect That You or A Loved One May Be Experiencing Disordered Eating?

The most important thing to do is reach out for help or additional resources as soon as possible. Both disordered eating and eating disorders have higher rates of recovery when these issues are addressed early. It’s important to find a trusted professional or team of professionals to help guide you or your loved one. Health professionals that can help include registered dietitians, counselors or therapists, psychiatrists, primary care doctors, and social workers. Please note that it’s important to seek out professionals that have experience working in the field of eating disorders or disordered eating in particular. Not all dietitians will be able to help with these issues, just like not all doctors are specialized in cardiology or orthopedics.

If you need help finding resources in your area, please click on the links below to find professionals in your area or reach out to me for help and recommendations:

 

If you would like to read more about this topic, please visit the links below for online resources or additional written materials:

 

 

References

https://www.eatright.org/health/diseases-and-conditions/eating-disorders/what-is-disordered-eating#:~:text=Symptoms%20of%20Disordered%20Eating&text=Rigid%20rituals%20and%20routines%20surrounding,food%2C%20including%20compulsive%20eating%20habits

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The Importance of Hydration

water, hydration

Proper hydration is important year round, but it can become particularly critical during the summer months. July and August are usually the hottest months of the year in the United States, which is also usually the time that people are engaging in more outdoor activities and athletes begin ramping up training for fall sports. Unfortunately, this time of year is also a prime time for a potentially serious condition to occur: dehydration.

How does dehydration occur?

Dehydration can occur by losing too much fluid (usually through sweating) or by not drinking enough fluid. You may recall from school that the human body is made up of approximately 70% water, so this fact alone illustrates how important proper hydration is for us!

The body has mechanisms in place to urge us to drink fluids, most notably the feeling of thirst. This is the most obvious sign that our body is running low on water; however, by the time you feel thirsty, you are actually already experiencing mild dehydration.

How can you tell if you are dehydrated?

There are many other symptoms that can signal dehydration. Some examples, according to Medline Plus, include the following:

  • Mild dehydration: Thirst; dry mouth; decreased urination; yellow urine
  • Moderate dehydration: Dry, cool skin; headache; darker yellow urine; muscle cramps
  • Severe dehydration: Irritability or confusion; dizziness; rapid heartbeat and/or rapid breathing; shock (decreased blood flow to important organs); unconsciousness.

Keeping an eye out for these signs are important for everyone, but they are particularly critical for two groups: older adults and athletes.

Who is most at risk for dehydration?

Older adults have a decreased response to thirst and are more likely to be on a diuretic. These factors make it important for this population to drink fluids constantly throughout the day, even when they may not feel thirsty. This is especially important during prolonged exposure to heat during activity, such as walking, gardening, mowing the lawn, etc. These activities may not always seem strenuous, but they can cause the body to sweat profusely. During activities that are of a more vigorous intensity (such as jogging/running, hiking, biking, etc.) the sweating effect is more pronounced and proper hydration more critical.

Athletes exercising in the heat can lose an average of 2.0 liters of water through sweat per hour (which is equal to a large bottle of soda!). Not replacing the lost water can cause serious fluid imbalances and dangerous rises in core temperatures. Unfortunately, student athletes are often the victims of poor monitoring of hydration status. According to sports nutrition experts William McCardle and Frank and Victor Katch, “Hyperthermia (dangerously high body temperatures) has occurred more than 100 times over the past 30 years among football players who died from excessive heat stress during practice or competition.” These situations are completely preventable by making sure to either have water or an electrolyte replacement beverage at all times during outdoor activity in the heat.

What can you do if you suspect dehydration?

If dehydration does occur for any reason, there are several steps that can be taken, depending on the severity of the condition:

  • Sip water or suck on ice cubes (or an electrolyte sports drink)
  • If heat exhaustion is also a problem, lie down somewhere cool and focus on breathing slowly
  • For severe situations, go to a hospital immediately

Notice that the first suggestion is to sip water. While replenishing fluids is a critical step to treating dehydration, it is possible to drink too much water at one time, which isn’t healthy either. Rehydrate slowly if you become dehydrated!

How much fluid should you be drinking?

A good rule of thumb is 2 cups of water 20 minutes before being active in the heat. For athletes or anyone engaging in vigorous exercise, you can weigh yourself before and after activity takes place to gauge how much fluid you need to take in to replace losses. The amount of weight lost in pounds should be replaced at least 100% to account for fluid loss in sweat and urine. For example: If 2 lbs., or 32 oz., is lost during an hour of activity, 32 oz. (or 4 cups) of water or a sports drink should be ingested over the next hour. In terms of choosing between water and a sports drink, always choose the sports drink if activity is lasting longer than an hour. Below an hour, water is usually sufficient.

So whenever you leave the house this summer, always bring a water bottle with you! And remember to always drink more when exercising or being active in the heat. Dehydration is 100% preventable, as long as you provide your body with the fluids it needs every day.

 

References

 

McArdle W, Katch FI, Katch VL (2013). Exercise, Thermoregulation, Fluid Balance, and Rehydration (4th ed.). Sports and Exercise Nutrition (pg. 319-335). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Popkin B, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH (2010). Water, Hydration, and Health. Nutrition Review; 68 (8): 439-458.

U.S. National Library of Medicine (2013). Dehydration. Retrieved from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000982.htm

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LiveLifeBig Podcast

podcast

One of the best parts of being a small business owner is connecting with other business owners in the community. In March of 2020, I was invited to appear on the LiveLifeBig podcast by host Ben Glass. In addition to hosting this podcast, Ben is the owner of Ben Glass Law, a personal injury and disability law firm. He also started his own marketing firm, Great Legal Marketing, to help other lawyers and small business owners learn how to market their businesses effectively. Ben is a great example of the importance of authenticity, networking, and personalized service for both his clients and his colleagues.

To learn more about Ben and the services he offers, visit the Ben Glass Law website to learn more!

Learn more about NOVA Sports Nutrition here

 

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My Top 5 Most Commonly Recommended Dietary Supplements

variety of dietary supplements

The world of dietary supplements can be difficult to navigate. It’s easy to get lost in supplement aisles at the grocery store or overwhelmed by the numerous products being advertised to us in the media for a variety of purposes.

While I always take a food-first approach with all of my clients (meaning that I aim to help them meet all of their nutrient needs through foods), there are often times when a dietary supplement is needed. Supplementation may be necessary due to certain dietary patterns, disease states, or training demands. Additionally, some people benefit from supplements to boost reserves of nutrients, hormones, or neurotransmitters that otherwise would become deficient.

To help you sort through what dietary supplements you can trust and which supplements may be right for you, I put together a list of my top 5 most commonly recommended dietary supplements and recommendations on what to look for when purchasing supplements.

 

1. Omega-3 Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, which means they help with decreasing inflammation caused by stress, toxins, or injury. They also are essential for forming the structure of cell membranes. Most Americans don’t consume enough omega-3 fatty acids; according to a recent analysis completed by the FASEB journal, 83.5% of Americans do not consume enough seafood to meet minimum omega-3 recommendations through the diet. The most current recommendations from Harvard Medical school are that anyone who does not eat enough omega-3 fatty acids through the diet should supplement with 1g of omega-3 fatty acids per day to decrease inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular events.

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D serves several critical functions in the body, including: promoting calcium absorption, which keeps bones strong; supporting immune function, cell growth, and cell division; and reducing inflammation. This nutrient is not found naturally in many foods aside from fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel) and several mushroom varieties, though it is added to several dairy products such as milk or yogurt. Vitamin D can also be synthesized with sufficient exposure of the skin to sunlight. Because these foods often comprise just a small part of the typical America diet and adequate sun exposure is not always possible (particularly in cooler climates), vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the US (about 42% of us are deficient). For someone who is deficient, supplementation is likely necessary, though dosage and length of supplementation will vary based on the severity of the deficiency.

3. GABA

GABA stands for Gamma Aminobutyric Acid and it is a neurotransmitter that is made naturally in the body. Its primary role is to reduce fear and anxiety. This neurotransmitter is not available in many food sources (only a few fermented foods, such as kimchi or tempeh), and GABA levels in the body can become deficient during periods of high stress. Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions tend to have low levels of GABA, including those with seizure disorders, ADHD, panic disorders, or mood disorders. GABA supplementation has shown to be most effective for those who experience anxiety. I have found it to be particularly useful for myself and clients who have difficulty falling asleep at night due to racing thoughts.

4. Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is essential for DNA and red blood cell production. This nutrient is only available from animal sources, which means that anyone following a vegan or predominantly plant-based diet will need to take a dietary supplement. Additionally, anyone who has undergone gastric bypass surgery will need to supplement with B-12 because absorption of vitamin B-12 occurs in the stomach (which has largely been bypassed), not the intestines as is the case with most other vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can also be common in the elderly because our digestive capabilities tend to weaken as we get older.

5. BCAAs

BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are a group of 3 amino acids that have been shown through research to assist with reducing muscle soreness after exercise. Some studies have also shown that they can help with increasing muscle growth. These amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are found naturally in many foods, including meat, dairy, and eggs. However, individuals following a vegan or plant-based diet may not consume enough through the diet to meet their needs. Additionally, anyone engaging in a strenuous weightlifting program requires additional protein intake for recovery, and a BCAA supplement can help with supporting these needs during and after exercise or between meals. You can learn more about BCAAs by visiting my earlier blog post on this topic.

 

These supplements represent the most common recommendations I make for my clients, which include athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all ages. Remember, dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and therefore you cannot trust that every supplement on the shelf or online is safe. I would always recommend talking with your doctor or dietitian first before starting any new dietary supplement. To see the brands I typically recommend for different supplements, visit the link to my Fullscript dispensary on the Products page of my website. Fullscript is an online dispensary that can only be used by licensed healthcare professionals (such as doctors and dietitians) to recommend professional-grade supplements of the highest quality, purity, and potency.

If you are ever looking for supplements yourself, please look for a third-party seal to ensure the supplement has been verified for quality, purity, and potency. Examples of third-party seals include USP, Informed Choice, NSF, and GMP.

 

Are there any dietary supplements you would like to learn more about? Any supplements I didn’t cover here that you would like for me to review? Comment below!

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Does Taking Antioxidants During Your Workout Improve Exercise Recovery?

Exercise, running, recovery

All athletes and fitness enthusiasts should be concerned with exercise recovery. If you don’t get in the nutrition and rest that you need to recover from each workout, this will negatively affect health and performance over time. One of common recommendation to assist with exercise recovery is consuming a diet rich in antioxidants to decrease inflammation and free radicals in the body.  Free radicals are molecules that can cause damage to tissues in the body and are typically produced in the body in response to certain physiological or pathological conditions. Common initiators of free radical production include air pollution, radiation, fried foods… and exercise. This doesn’t paint exercise in a particularly positive light, but the free radicals produced during aerobic training and weightlifting actually serve a good purpose: they trigger the release of proteins and enzymes necessary to begin muscle repair and recovery. This process is actually what makes our muscles stronger and helps us adapt to repetitive strenuous activity.

… free radicals produced during aerobic exercise and weightlifting actually serve an important purpose.

When you take antioxidants during your workout (such as vitamin A, C, or E), this dampens this response and can actually limit improvements to performance and exercise recovery. Multiple studies have proven this to be true for both strength and endurance athletes(1)(2).

The Takeaway

What this means is that you shouldn’t trust pre-workout or intra-workout supplements that contain high levels of antioxidants and purport that these nutrients will lengthen time to fatigue or increase strength. They will actually do the opposite! Keep in mind, however, that eating a moderate amount of antioxidant-rich foods (such as 1 cup of berries or a small handful of nuts) will not negatively affect your exercise performance; we are only talking about mega-doses that would be found in dietary supplements. If you do take a high-dose vitamin C supplement to support immune health or dietary insufficiency, try to avoid taking it immediately before or after your workout. High-dose vitamin E or A supplements should only be taken if recommended by a doctor or a dietitian to correct a nutrient deficiency.

Have additional questions on this topic? Comment below or visit the following links for more information on this topic and specific studies referenced:

(1) http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/26/why-antioxidants-dont-belong-in-your-workout/?_r=0

(2) https://examine.com/nutrition/antioxidants-muscle-building/

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5 Tips for Staying Sane During Self-Quarantine

While many of us may complain about having to go to school or work, once our routine is disrupted and we are forced to stay at home, it can quickly become apparent how important these obligations were to providing structure in our lives! Here are a few tips to help you stay mentally and physically healthy, even while social distancing:

1. Continue to have a schedule.

It can be easy to stop setting alarms or to become easily distracted by chores or technology when you are spending most of your time at home. While your time commitments and daily routine may be different during this time, that doesn’t mean you should start treating every day like a weekend. A recent study from Northwestern found that a lack of routine can cause stress, poor sleep, and ineffective use of time. So, continue to plan out your day to ensure you are making time for important tasks like work, self-care, sleeping, eating, and staying organized. You will feel better at the end of the day seeing how much you have accomplished!

2. Plan meal and snack times.

Grazing is a common problem for many people who work from home. This can lead to overeating or relying more on processed snack foods than whole foods for energy. Continue to plan meals and snacks on a daily or weekly basis and aim to eat every 2-4 hours during the day. Aim for a balance of nutrients at each meal and continue to prep food ahead of time to make healthier choices easier. If you need ideas for foods to have on hand during self-quarantine, check out our previous blog article.

3. Move your body every day.

Exercise has a multitude of benefits. It can boost mood, improve heart and bone health, and increase metabolism. It can also boost immunity by improving circulation and allowing the immune system to operate more effectively. Even if you can’t participate in exercise the same way you used to, find ways to stay active daily and get creative with the space or equipment you have at home. If you need some ideas, leave a comment on this page or check out these tips published last month by CNN.

4. Pick up a new (or old) hobby.

More free time could be a great opportunity to try something you always wanted to learn or get back into an activity that you haven’t had the time to pursue. Examples could be writing, painting, drawing, playing a musical instrument, photography, cooking, scrapbooking, or a host of other pursuits. You could also consider studying new subject matter, such as a foreign language or meditation. If you familiarize yourself with a new skill now, you will have an easier time continuing to utilize this skill once self-quarantine restrictions are lifted.

5. Schedule regular social time (from a distance).

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to how much social time they need to feel happy and complete. Whether you consider yourself to be more introverted or extroverted, keeping in contact with the people who are most important to you is critical for maintaining a sense of connection. Aim to reach out to at least one friend or family member daily, and schedule regular phone calls or video chats to keep in touch and prevent feelings of isolation or loneliness.

Thank you for reading! Please reach out if you need additional help with navigating nutrition and fitness routines– NOVA Sports Nutrition is offering all our services remotely at this time!

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The Best Foods to Have on Hand During Self-quarantine

This time of self-quarantine and social distancing poses some unique challenges for meal prepping and following a nutrition plan. Some foods that were once readily available are now scarce on the shelves or hard to keep on hand due to a short shelf life. For ideas on the best foods to look for by food group when you go shopping, read the list below to stay healthy and balanced!

  • Proteins. Protein is a nutrient that is critical to get in every day. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, we cannot store excess dietary protein, so we need to consume adequate protein daily to meet metabolic demands. The next time you go grocery shopping, look for the following items:
    • Packaged or canned fish/chicken
    • Frozen seafood, meat, or meat alternatives
    • Eggs/egg whites
    • Sliced deli meat (no nitrites or nitrates)
    • Beans, lentils, or peas (canned or dry)
    • Milk, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese
    • Protein bars/powders

 

  • Fruits and vegetables. Produce is one of the top sources of essential vitamins and minerals that offer antioxidant and immune-protecting benefits for the body. If you aren’t sure what to get, look for:
    • Frozen fruits or vegetables (frozen options are great because they retain high levels of vitamins and minerals – sometimes even more than fresh!)
    • Canned fruit or vegetables (no added sugar or artificial sweeteners for fruit and low- or no added sodium for vegetables)
    • Fruit pouches (such as apple sauce or mixed berries – these aren’t just for kids, but great for adults if you need fruit on-the-go or an easy-to-digest pre-workout snack)
    • Fresh potatoes, carrots, and onions or apples, pears, oranges (long shelf lives)
    • Do continue to get other fresh options weekly or as often as possible! As long as you plan ahead of time to intentionally use ingredients such as lettuce, mushrooms, or cucumbers in recipes, you can utilize these foods effectively and avoid waste.

 

  • Starches. These are typically easier to get at the store, but the source matters! High-nutrient options are best, such as:
    • Brown or wild rice, quinoa, cous cous, farro, etc.
    • Oatmeal, cream of rice, muesli
    • Whole grain wraps, bagels, or pasta
    • Potatoes, corn, or peas
    • Beans, lentils, or chick peas
    • Limit high-sugar, processed starches like chips, crackers, cookies, etc. Some comfort food is okay, but don’t rely on these foods for most meals and snacks!

 

  • Dairy. Dairy is important for getting in calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and more! These foods should be consumed on a regular basis for strong bones and balanced electrolyte levels:
    • Milk, regular yogurt, cheese
    • Note: You can get many of these nutrients from dairy alternatives, but some dairy alternatives like almond or coconut milk are much lower in protein and some products may not be calcium-fortified. Check labels to make sure you are getting the intended nutrients from a particular product.

 

  • Healthy fats. Important for healthy cell membranes and neural function, as well as the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. See if you can find:
    • Olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil
    • Nuts/seeds (any type of nut or seed is fine, but look for lightly salted or unsalted)
    • Black olives
    • Avocado/guacamole
    • Pesto
    • Limit butter, whole fat dairy, and high-fat meat, esp. if heart disease or high cholesterol are concerns.

 

  • Other ingredients to have on hand:
    • Corn starch
    • Chicken or vegetable stock
    • Bouillon cubes
    • Minced Garlic
    • Herbs and spices
    • Soy sauce or hot sauce
    • Vinegar (balsamic, white, red wine, etc.)

If you need help with meal planning, please reach out! I would be glad to assist you with developing a meal plan to meet your specific needs and preferences during this time. NOVA Sports Nutrition offers virtual nutrition counseling from the comfort of your home for ease and convenience.

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How Poor Posture Affects Your Entire Well-being

Most of us focus on getting in our cardio, weight training, meal prep, and sleep when we are trying to improve health and wellness. One aspect of health that is often neglected, however, is posture.

Forbes reveals that people today spend more time sitting down than ever before. One contributing factor is that physically active jobs now make up less than 20% of the total workforce. Excessive time sitting down causes adverse effects on the human body, mostly due to how it impacts one’s posture. The good news is that there are ways to counteract this. Read on to learn more about how poor posture can affect your body and what you can do to avoid these effects!

Effects of Bad Posture on our Body

Poor Circulation

Bad posture often stems from long bouts of standing and sitting, which you may experience in an average office job. Medical News Today details how standing or sitting for long periods can cause a slew of complications, many of which are due to the effects of poor circulation.

Having poor circulation means that some parts of your body are not getting the right amount of blood flow. If left untreated, poor circulation can cause a range of problems, such as fatigue, digestive issues, cognitive dysfunctions, joint and muscle cramping, numbness and tingling in your hands and feet.

Spine Damage

Nowadays, people can’t live without their phones, as most of our daily functions revolve around it. Unfortunately, our phones may also be causing complications with our posture. The Guardian reports how “text neck” or the position we assume when we use our phones puts a lot of weight on our cervical spine.

This is because the average human head weighs around five kilograms, or about 11 pounds, and. the way we tilt our heads towards our phones can place more pressure on our spines. This can cause head, neck, and arm pain, which can worsen over time.

How to Prevent These Effects

Walk Around

If staying stationary is one of the biggest contributors to bad posture, then it would only make sense that movement will counteract these effects. However, you can’t exactly spend your working hours constantly moving about. Thankfully, there’s a science behind movement, and a precise guide to how often you should get up and take a walk. Pain Free Working recommends following the “20-8-2” rule – sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight, and walk around for two. In an office setting, this means being conscious of how much of the day you’ve spent staying seated. Use a timer and a notebook to log your activity, and make simple changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or going for a walk during your lunch break.

Do Yoga

If you’re looking for a more active solution, then why not give yoga a try? An article on Bustle emphasizes the benefits of yoga for one’s posture, as it stretches your back and strengthens your core. It also makes you more aware of how your body is positioned. Indeed, taking up yoga will yield permanent benefits for your posture, and in the long run, your overall wellness and health.

If you found this helpful, you might want to check out our article on Why Lack of Sleep Affects More Than Just Your Energy Levels to help guide you further on your journey to a healthier lifestyle.

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