From The Nutritionist

Lindsay Watts, RDN
Author:
Lindsay Watts, RDN

Yes, Small Steps Can Make a BIG Difference!





Every few years, a new fad diet lures people in and promises to transform their lives with drastic lifestyle changes.  These diets often come with a long list of foods that are off limits; carbs, wheat, fruit, beans, fat, sugar, caffeine  and countless others. Occasionally, they focus on a few “superfoods” that promise to boost metabolism, keep you energized, and prevent all health problems. These fads gain a lot of media attention and often contradict one another. Not surprisingly, people are confused about what they should eat to stay healthy and many doubt the food choices they make.1 Meanwhile, we know that approximately 70% of adult Americans are overweight or obese2 and that obesity-related diseases continue to rise because of an unhealthy lifestyle.3-4  

Ideally, everyone would adopt an overall healthy eating and exercise pattern across their lifespan. However, this amount of change is unrealistic for most of us. People have significant barriers that prevent them from reaching the ideal eating pattern, and previous efforts to encourage big changes had limited success.5-7 


How Nutrition Professionals Can Help

America did not enter the obesity crisis overnight. Over the course of years, the population’s body mass index crept higher.  On average, Americans only gain 1-2 pounds per year. This equates to overeating about 15 calories each day causing weight gain.5-6   In addition, about 78% of American adults do not meet the government’s national physical activity recommendations for both aerobic activity and muscle strengthening.8

A growing body of research suggests we may have more success improving the health of Americans by promoting smaller, consistent changes. This theory suggests making small, incremental lifestyle changes over time, instead of attempting to address all behaviors in a single intervention.4-7 Advocates of this approach hypothesize that it could first prevent further weight gain, and in time, lead to a slow, sustainable weight loss.5-6  

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans also promote a small steps approach by encouraging healthy shifts in eating. Shifts are small changes people can make to achieve an overall healthy diet. These shifts are adaptable and can be tailored to a person’s culture, taste preferences, and lifestyle.3,7


Go Beyond SMART Goals

Health professionals often encourage patients to set SMART health goals when trying to make a dietary change. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound goals. This is a well-accepted approach to making lifestyle changes and a great way to start small. This year, take SMART resolutions a step beyond cutting calories or eliminating negative nutrients:

  1. Be Positive: Focus on positive changes you can make to nourish your mind and body. Try a new recipe each week that is rich in vegetables, go for a walk with a friend, or take a few minutes for yourself.
  2. Be Holistic: Health is not just about what you eat and how much you exercise. Managing stress, spending time with friends and family, and doing activities you enjoy are also important to your health and well-being. Commit to spending time doing something you enjoy 1-2 times per week like going to yoga with a friend, reading, or journaling.
  3. Be Kind: Making changes is not easy and takes time. Be kind to yourself as you work towards your goals. People can fall short of their goals at first, and that is ok. Treat yourself as you would a friend trying to make a positive change.

For years, health professionals encouraged small, gradual changes to improve the health of patients. The theory of small changes, however, suggests an even slower approach to improving health that starts with first preventing weight gain, then working towards weight loss. This year, focus on small, positive changes to improve physical and emotional well-being for yourself and your clients.

Think Small,

Lindsay



Lindsay’s Bio

Lindsay is a nutrition communications analyst at the Campbell Soup Company where she coordinates health professional and consumer communications. She also works with internal and external partners on retail health and wellness programs. Prior to her role at Campbell, Lindsay worked as an in-store retail dietitian. She received her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from West Chester University and completed her dietetic internship with Pennsylvania State University. Currently, Lindsay is studying for her masters of science in Health Communications and Marketing with Boston University.



References:

  1. 2017 Food and Health Survey. International Food Information Council Foundation. Published May 2017. Accessed May 2017. Available at: http://www.foodinsight.org/2017-food-and-health-survey

  2. FastStats. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics. Obesity and Overweight. Published June 2016. Accessed May 2017. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm

  3. US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Shifts Needed to Align with Healthy Eating Patterns. January 2016. https:// health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-2/. Accessed May 2017.

  4. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Interventions for the Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. J Acad Nutri Diet. 2016/116:129-147. Accessed May 2017.

  5. Hill Jo, Wyatt HR, Reed GW, Peters JC. Obesity and the environment; where do we go from here? Science 2003;299:853-5. Accessed June 2017.

  6. Hill Jo. Can a small-changes approach help address the obesity epidemic? A report of the Joint Task Force of the American Society for Nutrition, Institute of Food Technologists, and International Food Information Council. Am. J Cin Nutr. 2009;89(2):477-484.

  7. Exercise or Physical Activity. National Center for Health Statistics. Centers for Diseas Control and Prevention. Accessed December 4, 2017. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/exercise.htm

  8. Rahvi, E and Psota, Tricia L. Use MyPlate, MyWins—A Small- Steps Approach—to Set Realistic Solutions for the New Year. J Aad Nut. Diet. 2017;116(1):129-147, Accessed June 2017.

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En Papillote Technique

1. Prepare the parchment paper
Get a large piece of parchment paper, approximately 2.5 times as large as a single portion of food. Cut the paper into a heart shape, lightly brushing one side with oil. This creates a slight barrier to water, preventing the paper from becoming soaked too quickly. Another option, though not as attractive, is to use tin foil instead of parchment paper.

2. Select the ingredients
This is a very quick-cooking approach, so it works best with tender proteins such as fish and shellfish. The accompanying ingredients, like julienned vegetables (matchstick size), must be small enough to cook at the same rate as the fish. In some cases the vegetables can be blanched, or quickly cooked in boiling water, to ensure proper doneness. Fresh herbs will go a long way in providing flavor.

3. Assemble the packet
Lay the oiled, heart-shaped paper on a baking tray, oiled side up. Season your vegetables with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and half of the herbs. Toss them around for an even coat. Place enough for one portion on half of the paper. Bunch them up to create a bed for your fish, leaving about two inches between the food and the edge of the paper. Place the seasoned fish on the vegetables and sprinkle the remaining herbs. Add a splash of the liquid on top of the fish, just enough to add moisture.

4. Seal the packet
To seal, fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables (so it resembles a teardrop). Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge toward the center. Fold over again to create a seal. Continue along the length of the parchment, folding each section twice. When you get to the point of the heart, twist and fold to finish the seal.

5. Bake your dinner
Bake the packet in a 425°F oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. The packet will puff and brown while in the oven and as the steam builds. When cooked, remove from the oven and carefully place the packet on a plate. With a knife or scissors cut an "X" on the top and fold back the edges for a dramatic presentation and a delicious, healthy meal.

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Spicy Flounder and Clams with Summer Vegetables

Prep Time: Less than 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-14 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup carrots, finely cut julienne
  • 1/3 cup sugar snap peas, cross cut thinly
  • 1/3 cup zucchini, yellow, finely cut julienne
  • 6 each cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. parsley, fresh, minced
  • Dash salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 6 oz. fillet, flounder (2 fillets, 3oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice
  • 3/4 lb. clams, in the shell

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine the carrots, sugar snap peas, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, shallot, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, half of the parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss well to combine.
  3. Lightly oil two large heart shaped pieces of parchment paper.
  4. With the parchment paper on a sheet tray, place half of the vegetable mixture in the center of one half of each heart leaving about a 2" border.
  5. Lightly season each fillet with salt and pepper. Fold or roll the fillet to create a uniform thickness and place on top of the vegetables.
  6. Top the fish with the remaining herbs and the Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice.
  7. Place half of the clams around each portion of vegetables and fish.
  8. Fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables so that it resembles a teardrop.
  9. Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge towards the center. Fold over again to create a seal.
  10. Continue with this method along the length of the parchment packet folding each section twice to make an attractive edge.
  11. When you get to the point of the heart twist and fold to finish the seal.
  12. Bake the packets for 10-14 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).
  13. Remove from the oven and serve by cutting an "X" in the top and folding back the edges.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories 180, Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 1g, Monounsaturated Fat 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1g, Cholesterol 50mg, Sodium 450mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Fiber 2g, Sugar 4g, Protein 16g.