Ask a dietician! All your healthy eating questions answered

May 29, 2018by Teresa Lopez
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Theresa Shank is the Philadelphia-based dietitian with all the need-to-knows on nutrition and health. She provides expert nutritional advice on everything from weight loss to disease, sports nutrition to women’s health, child weight management to food intolerances.

But although she’s a champion for healthy eating and exercise, she also believes that laughter, socialising, and a great glass of sauvignon blanc are never a bad thing. She thinks it’s finding the balance that works, maintaining a feeling of normalcy and freedom from diet journals and calorie counting.

So who better to ask all the food-related questions that keep popping up in the Stylight office? We caught up with her to ask all those healthy eating questions you always wanted to know…

How do you select the right diets and goals for your clients?
No diets are involved in my practice! My priority is to really understand a client’s level of motivation to change their relationship with food.  All of my recommendations are individualised based on a clients’ lifestyle and readiness to change. I really zero in on behaviour modification techniques over diet prescription since most individuals are more likely to make healthy eating part of a sustainable and healthy lifestyle when they don’t feel restricted. It is my job to help clients find an achievable balance between their efforts towards change, their relationship with food and their desired nutritional goals.

What are your 5 essential healthy eating tips?
1. Boring but good ol’ H20, first thing, pre-coffee is a MUST. I make sure to start my day off hydrated by drinking 12-16 ounces of water upon waking up.

2. I aim to consume a colour with every meal, meaning a fruit or a vegetable. I encourage clients to consume more vegetables than fruit during the day, especially if weight loss is a goal. I like to roast, grill and steam my veggies or nosh on them raw in between meals.

3. Focus on eating more whole based foods. I try to eat foods that are their own ingredients vs. foods that come from a box or package.

4. Choose snacks over treats 80% of the time. You’ll want to know the difference between a snack and a treat. Snacks are meant for nourishment (think two P’s, protein and produce) and to satisfy hunger between meals vs. treats (sweets and simple carbs) which are rarely consumed out of hunger and most often used to fulfill a craving or certain emotions such as stress, boredom etc.

5.  Take a probiotic: bodies are full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often referred to as “good” or “helpful” bacteria, because they help keep the gut healthy. They contribute to total wellness, including skin health! I take Garden of Life brand, plant based probiotic “Colon Care”. Not a fan of supplements? You can incorporate natural sources of probiotics into your diet such as yogurt, kimchi (fermented vegetables), kefir or kombucha.

6. After dinner, the kitchen is closed! I try to stop eating by 8pm on most nights to avoid “nightly treating”. This routine helps me to sleep better and wake up feeling more energised.

What’s the best way to stick to healthy diet?
The number one most important aspect of a healthy diet, in my opinion, is a healthy mindset. At the end of the day, eating is all in the mind.  Choose to eat with a mentality that supports your health and nourishment 80% of the time so then 20% of the time you can eat for an experience or pleasure. Keeping this mentality will not make you feel deprived physically or mentally so this style of eating is a win, win!

Should I eat differently if I’m exercising? Are there different diets for different types of exercise?
What you eat before your workout can make or break your results so I try to customise eating recommendations around my client’s schedule and workout routines.  Not one specific recommendation is suitable for every lifestyle but a general recommendation is to eat a healthful snack (carb + protein, 3:1 ratio) within 30-60 minutes before working out if a meal was not consumed in the last 2-3 hours. This recommendation will help fuel your body with enough energy to complete at least an hour of moderate-high intensity workout.

What should I add or remove from my diet for clear glowing skin?
1. Add a probiotic supplement or probiotic containing foods into your daily routine. 70% of the cells that make up our immune system are found in the GI tract so you’ll want to keep your gut healthy and balanced. A healthy GI track equals a healthy body inside and out.  .

2. Add Lemon. Lemon has antimicrobial properties and contains Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that neutralises free radicals and boosts collagen production. Simply add lemon to your daily water intake or squeeze over salads for a refreshing burst of citrus!

3. Add carrots, kale and bell peppers to your salads! Your skin needs vitamins and minerals to stay firm and healthy. These vegetables are potent and delicious sources of vitamins C and A, both of which been shown to help minimize the signs of aging.

4. Remove added sugar and fried foods from your diet as much as you can. Having a high intake of added sugar and fried food has been shown to cause or exacerbate acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.

Teresa Lopez

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