stephanie karpinske

8 Food Journal Red Flags

FLogg Journal

With free, easy-to-navigate food journals all over the web, many people use them all the time now. But doing this is only helpful if you actually review what you put in the journal! I reminded Tiffany of this just the other day. She’s diligent about keeping her online food journal up to date, but she doesn’t always go back and look at it.

My advice to her was to review her journal weekly. Here are some things that Tiffany—and everyone—should look for when reviewing their food journal.

1. Check for any patterns in your diet. Do you tend to snack more at work than at home? Do you snack on certain foods right before bed, like ice cream or potato chips? These can indicate that you’re eating out of habit or boredom rather than hunger.

2. Does your diet change when things get stressful? Review your journal from a stressful week and then compare it with one from a less stressful week and note any changes.

3. Are you eating mostly whole grain foods, such as whole wheat breads, cereals and pastas? Or are you eating more refined grains, such as white bread, white rice or pasta, and sugary cereals or snack bars?

4. How often do you eat out each week? What types of places do you eat at most often? What types of foods do you order? How can you cut back on dining out?

5. How much water do you drink? What other liquids are you drinking?

6. Do you tend to eat more prepackaged, processed foods than whole, unprocessed foods? Time to make a switch.

7. Count up the number of fruits/vegetables you had each day. Many people think they eat far more fruits and vegetables than they actually do.

8. Do you see anything missing in your food journal? Small bites eaten throughout the day can add up to weight gain over time so be sure you’re writing down everything—from those two Hershey’s Kisses you had to those lollipops—you eat.

When you’re done reviewing your journal, make a list of goals for improving your diet. Setting goals and regularly looking at your food intake will make recording what you eat each day worth the time and effort.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


Watch What Foods You Order

Subway 6-inch Veggie Delite Sub on Italian Bread, Subway Apple Slices, Small Bag of Baked Lay?s

When Andy eats out at lunch during the week, he often goes to Subway. This is a better choice than some restaurants but not all menu items are diet-friendly. For instance, one of Andy’s favorites, the BMT (Biggest, Meatiest, Tastiest) footlong sandwich made with salami, pepperoni and ham, has 1000 calories if you include cheese and light mayo. Add chips to that and he’s over 1000 calories for lunch!

It’s amazing to me that a basic lunch meat sandwich has that many calories. Many people would guess that it has far fewer. That’s the problem with eating out. You’re never sure how the food is made so it’s hard to figure out the calories count and most of us underestimate.

After seeing the BMT sandwich listed repeatedly on Andy’s journal, I asked him to try a different sandwich, such as the turkey or chicken breast footlong. These sandwiches have less fat and are a little lower in calories. The turkey footlong with cheese and light mayo has about 740 calories and the chicken breast version has just over 820 calories.

Andy continues to lunch at Subway and he has tried mixing up his sandwich order. But just being aware of how many calories are in these meals is important for all dieters. What seems like a healthy choice can be loaded with calories. In fact, restaurant salads often have more calories than a burger, especially when they’re loaded with cheese, bacon, and creamy dressing.

Check online before going out to see if the restaurant has nutrition information. That way, you’ll be able to identify the real “diet-friendly” choice.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


Stephanie: What’s Better Than A 100-Calorie Snack Pack?

Day 3: Midmorning Snack

The Lehman family loves to snack on 100-calorie packs, especially the cookie ones. But if you’ve ever tried one of these snack packs, I have to ask: Did they really cure your craving for something sweet? Did they fill you up when you were hungry in between meals? Probably not, because these foods are highly processed and low in nutrients.

I’ve been telling Tiffany for the past few months that there are so many better choices for her. She could have:

  • a tablespoon of peanut butter (one of her favorite foods),
  • a small handful of almonds,
  • half a turkey sandwich,
  • a piece of string cheese with some crackers,
  • a banana or a cup of chopped fruit.

I could go on and on with a list of better 100-calorie options. And they are all more satisfying than the measly 12 or 15 crackers or cookie thins you get in the packs.

Tiffany said the cookie packs help feed her craving for chocolate but she would be better off eating 100 calories worth of actual chocolate! If you, too, love the 100 calorie packs, try substituting a 100-calorie snack made from real, whole food such as ones listed above for just one week and see how you feel. Then post a comment and let ne know how it went!

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


Is Your Diet Keeping You Awake?

Too much fat

If you’re having trouble getting to sleep or if you wake up a lot in the night, your diet could be to blame. What you eat or drink before bed, or even earlier in the day, can affect the amount and quality of your sleep. Here’s what to watch out for.

Fat and Protein
Meals high in fat and/or protein take time to digest and your stomach has to work hard to break those nutrients down. All that digestion activity can keep you from falling asleep. Fatty meals can also give you indigestion, which can bar you from dreamland.

Acidic Foods
Eating acidic juices, citrus fruit or even tomato-based sauces before bed gives some people heartburn. The sensation may start as soon as you lie down or it might wake you up an hour after you go to bed. If heartburn is a problem, avoid eating acidic foods within several hours of bedtime.

Caffeine and Alcohol
You know that caffeine keeps you awake but you may not realize that the coffee you drank as early as 2 or 3 pm is causing insomnia. People assume that caffeine only affects you if it’s consumed an hour or two before bedtime but caffeine can remain active in your body for up to 8 hours.

Even if have no problem falling asleep after drinking caffeinated drinks, the stimulant may be disrupting your sleep without you even knowing it. It can prevent you from getting the deep, restorative sleep your body needs. The same is true for alcohol. That glass of wine at dinner may leave you feeling relaxed and sleepy, but alcohol disrupts deep sleep, leaving you tired the next day.

Other Causes
If you’re not sure if your diet is keeping you up, keep a food and sleep diary for a few days or weeks. Note when and what you eat during the day, along with any sleep difficulties. This can help you pinpoint what’s keeping you up at night. Or you may find that it’s not diet-related, in which case you should see your doctor to rule out a sleep disorder or other sleep issues.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


6 Perfect Bedtime Snacks

 

Maple-Walnut Oatmeal

You always hear that you shouldn’t eat before bedtime. But if you have trouble getting to sleep, a little snack can help. This is especially true if you’re hungry since an empty stomach can keep you awake.

What foods are best before bed? Small amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods. They’re easy to digest and raise your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone that helps calm the brain so you can sleep. Complex carbohydrates, such as:

  • a piece of fruit or
  • some whole wheat crackers

are best because they are digested slowly. Avoid candy, cookies and other high sugar, simple carbs. These types of foods are quickly digested, releasing a jolt of sugar into your blood that can keep you awake.

Foods with tryptophan, an amino acid, are also a good choice. Tryptophan is used to make serotonin, which can then make melatonin, the hormone that tells your body to go to sleep. Most protein-containing foods have tryptophan but that doesn’t mean you should eat a steak before bed. A small amount of protein is all you need. And it’s best if that protein is combined with a little carbohydrate. Consider:

  • Milk. It contains both nutrients, which explains the old “warm milk before bed” advice.
  • Half a packet of instant oatmeal
  • Some cottage cheese
  • A slice of toast with a thin layer of peanut butter.

Whatever food you choose, keep the portion small. Too much of any type of food can interfere with sleep.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.