Dining Out? Top 10 Tips are Here!

Honesty time. The vast majority of us are not professional athletes or training for the Olympics, so a perfect diet is not necessary 100% of the time. However, it’s still important to keep balance in mind. Especially when someone else is cooking and controlling portion sizes. (aka dining out).

Tip #10 – Include a Stroll

Find a tasty restaurant near a park or outdoor mall that way you can enjoy the fresh air while taking a nice stroll with family or friends. If it’s reasonably close, maybe consider walking to and from the restaurant?


Tip #9 – Smart Salads

Selecting a salad to eat before your entrée or as your entrée may seem like a healthy choice but sometimes they can be loaded with trans-fat, saturated fat, and/or added sugar (bacon, creamy dressings, sugar coated nuts, fried protein/chips, sweetened dried fruits, macaroni salads etc.) Pinpoint salads with whole foods like beans, fresh fruit, eggs, veggies, plain or roasted nuts, olives, tofu, grilled protein etc.


Tip #8 – New or unfamiliar restaurant? Read the menu beforehand.

Reading the menu online before you get there allows you to focus on the details of the dish descriptions. Whereas when you’re already at the restaurant reading an unfamiliar menu, you may be distracted by your pleasant company and might not give the menu a thorough enough read to find the healthiest options. If you really want to read the ingredients of each meal thoroughly, most restaurants have nutrition facts available online.


Tip #7 – Zero Calorie Beverage

Water (with or without lemon), Seltzer, Unsweetened Iced Tea, Coffee. These options will hold you over until your meal arrives without adding extra empty calories. But I’m all for having an alcoholic drink for celebrations!


Tip #6 – Don’t arrive at the restaurant starving

Sometimes when people know they’re going out to dinner, sometimes they don’t eat much during the day. Odds are, those people won’t choose a very healthy option and/or will eat an extra portion or two at the restaurant. During the day, listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.


Tip #5 – Food Preparation

Deep-fried, barbecued, cream sauce: it’s guaranteed these preparation methods add extra fat and calories. Choose grilled, broiled or steamed options and ask for the sauce on the side.


Tip #4 – Side Side Side

Asking for dressing and/or sauce on the side will automatically knock off some calories from the meal. Chances are, you probably won’t use as much dressing/sauce as the chefs would’ve. Plus, sometimes a salad gets soggy with too much dressing, you know? Try the “fork dip”. Dip your empty fork into the dressing, then get a forkful of salad. Perfect balance of both dressing and greens.


Tip #3 – To-go Boxes?

It’s a tough choice, I know. Sitting there, towards the end of the meal, a few bites left, but you’re already feeling full. Do you find room for the rest because it was oh-so-tasty? Or do you sacrifice your current feelings, box it up & save it for lunch tomorrow? For me, I know that in that moment of decision, I have to intentionally think about how the remainder of my meal will make a nice addition to my lunch the next day. Only if you’re a leftovers person of course. According to James Hill, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Eating three-quarters of the meal served can eliminate up to about 300 calories of your meal.


Tip #2 – Split Dessert

It’s a win-win situation! Satisfy the sweet tooth without completely overdoing it + save a few dollars! It’s not necessary to order dessert each time you dine out, but when you do, this is a great solution!

Tip #1 – Do your best, we’re all human

You know you won’t be eating out for every meal in the future. I think it’s most important to check in with yourself, think about what type of food you want and how it will make you feel during and after you enjoy it. One over-indulgent meal shouldn’t ruin your day...allowing the meal to make you feel guilty and ashamed does.



This post was written by Kara Peters, a student intern of Valley Nutrition Counseling pursuing a Master's Degree in Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


Amherst & Hadley Restaurants with Healthy, Unique Options!

Breakfast & Lunch Restaurants

Bread and Butter – 68 Cowls Rd. Amherst, MA

  • Category: American, Vegan-friendly
  • Balanced menu serving meat, vegetarian, & vegan options
  • Nearly every dish made in-house from scratch
  • You can find plenty of greens served here!
  • Menu Standouts: Duck Confit Hash, Tofu Sandwich, Vegan/GF Pancakes!


Cushman Market & Café – 491 Pine St. Amherst, MA

  • Category: American, International, Vegan-friendly
  • Balanced menu serving meat, vegetarian & vegan options
  • Local & often organic products used
  • Freshly made sandwiches & baked goods
  • Menu Standouts: Right-O-Way & Flyer Hobo Potato Bowls!


The Lone Wolf – 63 Main Street. Amherst, MA

  • Category: American
  • Breakfast, Brunch & Catering
  • Balanced menu serving meat, vegetarian & vegan options
  • Menu Standouts: Vegan Omelette, Chili Rellenos, Soy Sausage, Multigrain Pancakes!


Lunch & Dinner Restaurants

Pulse Café – 270 Russel St. Hadley, MA

  • Category: Vegetarian, Vegan
  • 100% Plant-Based, Organic Ingredients
  • Pizza, Soups, Salads, Burgers, Sandwiches, variety of juices, smoothies, & other drinks
  • Menu Standouts: Haystack Bowls, Seitan Hoagie, Kale Lemonade, Almond Joy Smoothie!

Fresh Side Tea House & Restaurant – 39 S Pleasant St. Amherst, MA

  • Category: International, Asian, Vegan-friendly
  • Balanced menu serving meat, vegetarian & vegan options
  • Signature Tea Rolls, Salads, Soups, Rice & Pasta Dishes
  • 38 dishes can be made vegetarian or vegan
  • Menu Standouts: ANY Tea Roll, Shrimp Noodle Soup, Peking Pasta!


High Horse – 24 North Pleasant St. Amherst, MA

  • Category: American
  • Brunch, Lunch & Dinner
  • Meat, Vegetarian & a few vegan options
  • Food from local farms!
  • Menu Standouts: Baba Ganoush & Warm Pita, Watermelon Gazpacho Soup, Pan-seared Trout!

Ginger Garden – 351 Northampton Rd. Amherst, MA

  • Category: Pan-Asian
  • Balanced menu serving meat, vegetarian & vegan options
  • Over 47 Specially Made Rolls
  • Options range from Not Spicy, Spicy, Medium Spicy, Extremely Spicy
  • Menu Standouts: Sushi Sashimi Boat, Coral Shrimp/Scallop, Triple Delight!


Paradise of India – 87 Main St. Amherst, MA

  • Category: Indian, Vegan-Friendly
  • Balanced menu serving meat, vegetarian & vegan options
  • Signature Biryani dishes
  • 15 Different Vegetable Curries
  • Traditional Indian Desserts (Kheer, Gulabjaman, Kulfee)
  • Menu Standouts: Paradise of India Special Biryani, Channa Masala, Dal Makahi!


Alina’s Ristorante – 96 Russell St. Hadley, MA

  • Category: Italian with Mediterranean Flair
  • Mostly meat & seafood based dishes, a few vegetarian options
  • Daily Specials – Date Night, Wine & Dine, Jazz Weekends, Family Pasta Night
  • Gluten Free Pasta Available
  • Menu Standouts: Pistachio Shrimp Al Mango, Avocado Salad, Palermitana!


References: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; 

This blog was written by Kara Peters, a student intern of Valley Nutrition Counseling pursuing a Master's Degree in Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.



Juicing, consuming fruits and/or vegetables in liquid form, has been thought to be a great way to diet and detox your body for a number of years. Though juicing can have some health benefits, we don’t need anything to “detox” our bodies, our liver and kidneys do that job for us. American adults typically don’t consume the recommended amount of 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups (depending on gender and age) of vegetables per day. One benefit to juicing is that it can be a great way to add additional fruits and vegetables into your diet. Before you begin juicing, something to be aware of is most juicing machines actually remove the pulp from the fruit or veggie, but the pulp is where fiber is found. Fiber is important for helping us feel full and maintain a healthy and active digestive system. You may want to consider adding back the pulp that was removed or adding something like chia seeds which have about 5 grams of fiber per tablespoon. The use of a blender can be better for saving the skin and/or the pulp of the fruit or veggie. If you’re juicing, you will need to be adding other important nutrients like healthy fats and protein into your diet, because there are only trace amounts of them in fruits and vegetables.

Juicing is generally done for a day or even a week at a time, but what happens when that week is over? Typically the weight people lose during a juicing diet ends up coming back. That’s because we deprived our body of real, solid food and now that the opportunity is back people tend to go overboard. Before you consider turning to a liquid diet, talk to your doctor or dietitian. Juicing isn’t for everyone, such as someone with kidney disease or a diabetic. The amount of carbohydrate in fruits and vegetables could cause a spike in blood sugar, making over consumption dangerous for a diabetic. Someone with kidney disease may be asked to limit their potassium consumption, and fruits such as bananas, melon, dried apricots or raisins contain a potassium.  

Are juicing and smoothies the same thing?

No. Smoothies typically contain several different ingredients along with fruit and/or vegetables and are much thicker. Smoothies tend to be higher in calories because many are made with the addition of milk, yogurt, or protein powder. Smoothies can contain healthy fats and protein making them more of a meal, which you won’t find from juicing.

If you decide to give juicing a try, the best way to add it into your diet is to substitute a meal a day to be in liquid form instead of every meal. Try to put in mainly vegetables, with just one or 2 fruits. The more fruit you add to your juice, the higher the calories and sugar content are going to be. Juicing can have healthful benefits such as lowering ones risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity. Juice wisely, and your body will thank you.


This blog is written by Tracy Zaniewski, a student intern of Valley Nutrition Counseling with a major in Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst


Portion Control

Portion Control

Living in a place where the “American diet” is always plentiful and often far from healthy, it can be difficult to resist temptation and stay on track with our diet. Surrounded by fast-food chains and sweet treats, if we indulge we’re generally being given a much larger portion than what we should be having. Portion sizes have drastically increased within the last 20 years. Only recently, restaurants have added nutrition facts and calorie counts for their food choices, so consumers can at least be aware of what they’re eating. Learning the correct serving size for each food group will help our bodies stay healthier and our minds happier. Familiarize yourself by looking at visuals of what proper serving sizes are. Every food and drink choice we make is important, that’s why we should focus on variety, portion control, and nutrition. An excellent dinner would include a plate half full with fruits and vegetables, a quarter whole grains, and a quarter of lean protein.

Portion control is essential, especially with foods that are high in solid fats and added sugars, where extra calories are found. Pizza and pasta are typical meals households eat, but how many people actually eat just a slice or a serving of pasta? Instead of eating a whole pizza by yourself, put a slice on your plate and fill a bowl with a colorful side salad or steamed vegetables. That way you still get the satisfaction of eating pizza, but without the extra guilt and calories. Here are some additional portion control tips and guidelines:

Portion Control Tips and Guidelines:

·         To avoid over-eating, serve dinner from smaller plates and avoid going back for seconds.

·         Ask for a to-go container at restaurants, and pack away half of your meal as soon as it arrives.

·         Eat slowly. Doing so allows us to enjoy our food, and be more aware when we feel full.


Hand Chart

If you’re interested in finding out if your current diet meets your nutrient needs, Supertracker is very helpful. Supertracker is an online weight tracking tool that allows you to record the foods you eat, and shows you if you’ve hit your recommendation for each food group according to your weight and age. Click on this link: to create your own profile and start learning more about your diet today.


This blog is written by Tracy Zaniewski, a student intern of Valley Nutrition Counseling with a major in Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst


Living With Food Allergies

Living with Food Allergies

Food allergies are becoming more common in kids and adults today. Having allergies leaves many people faced with the task to cook allergen-free meals at home, or to find an allergen friendly meal at a restaurant. When you have allergies to specific foods, an allergic reaction can occur such as hives, trouble breathing, or swollen extremities. Many people think they have an allergy to a specific food; however, they may be confusing a food intolerance or sensitivity with having a food allergy. A food intolerance is when you feel symptoms such as digestive issues like an upset stomach, cramping, or diarrhea. Having a food intolerance may still allow you to eat the specific food in small quantities, just be cautious not to overdo it. Lactose intolerance is a good example of a food intolerance. For instance, if you have lactose intolerance you should avoid dairy products, but if you happen to eat dairy you won’t go into an anaphylaxis reaction. Generally your stomach will become upset or you may feel uncomfortable for a period of time. Consequences to having an allergic reaction can be life threatening for many, so knowing what specific ingredients your body reacts to is vital.

Know How to Substitute

The most common allergens today are tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, milk, fish and shellfish. If you’re someone living with allergies you may be left thinking, “What is there left that I’m able to eat?” It is possible to have a healthy diet even if you live with multiple allergies, as long as you know how to substitute for what foods you are eliminating. Here are a few suggestions:

  • If you can’t consume dairy products, where else can calcium and vitamin D be found? Be sure to look for fortified dairy substitutes (soy, hemp, oat, rice, almond, coconut milk or non-dairy yogurts) which would contain the calcium and vitamin D you are missing out on in regular dairy products.
  • Allergic to tree nuts? Substitute with seeds such as flax seed, chia, pumpkin or sunflower which are also high in omega 3’s. Allergies to fish or shellfish also make it hard to find omega 3’s, substitute with a vegetarian supplement of DHA (a type of omega 3 found in fish oil), or cook with flax seed, canola, or soybean oil.
  • Allergic to wheat? Look for gluten-free grains and flours such as almond, oat, or rice flour. Wheat can be hidden in a number of different foods, be sure to read product labels thoroughly.

If you’re someone living with multiple allergies, it’s difficult to ensure your body is getting enough vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Multivitamins or supplements can play an important role in your health, but do your research or ask your doctor and/or nutritionist what brand may be best for you. For example, many multivitamins contain fish oil, and have to be avoided by someone with a fish allergy.

All FDA regulated food products must put common allergens on the product label if the product contains them. Play it safe and always read product labels, even if it’s an item you’ve bought before. Manufacturers are always changing their products and it’s important to stay on top of what they’re using.

Eating Out?

Eating out can be a hassle for anyone with a food allergy since you can’t see how foods are being prepared. It’s important to tell your server about your food allergies, even if you know what you’re ordering doesn’t contain any foods that you are allergic to. That way your server is aware to keep your food separate, and she or he can pass the message along to the cook to ensure your food doesn’t cross paths with any potential allergens. Try to avoid options that have many ingredients, where allergens could possibly be hidden. It’s best to avoid eating at salad bars or buffets where cross contamination is likely to occur. Though it may look clean, utensils may have been switched or food could have spilled over into the next container.

When it comes to a life or death situation, it’s always better to play it on the safe side. Ask questions, cook with familiar foods, and keep up to date on ingredients being used in the foods you purchase.  


Food allergy. Mayo Clinic.2017.

This blog is written by Tracy Zaniewski, a student intern of Valley Nutrition Counseling with a major in Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst


Weight Loss Plateau. What is it and How Can We Fix it?

A weight loss plateau is when you’ve reached a point in your weight loss journey where the calories you’re taking in, equal the calories you’re burning, so your weight is remaining the same. This means the number on the scale you’ve been watching decline over the past few weeks or months is no longer budging. What gives?

You can follow your workout plan to the T, conscious of what you eat and put effort into working out every day. Eventually, most of us hit a plateau, and it’s very easy to become upset and discouraged about losing weight. Typically weight loss will occur rapidly after a weight loss plan has been started, mostly due to losing excess water weight. When your diet suddenly changes and you’re not taking in as many calories as you used to, your body goes into panic mode and begins to use its stored glycogen as energy. Glycogen is a form of carbohydrate which contains some water, so when it’s used for energy the weight loss we see is mainly from water weight.

As we know, when you lose weight, you’re losing both muscle and fat. Muscle is important to our bodies not only to keep us strong, but to help keep up our metabolism. Metabolism is the rate at which our bodies burn the food we eat for fuel. This means that when we lose weight, we lose some muscle, and in turn our metabolism decreases. A slower metabolism leads to a slower weight loss, thus contributing to the plateau many of us reach.

During a weight loss journey, a big part of success is sticking with counting the calories we eat and being aware of how many calories are burned from exercise and daily activities. One pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories. If you want to lose 2 pounds in a week you’ll need to be burning 1000 calories MORE than what you’re consuming each day. Today there are so many ways to help us stay on track like phone apps or fitness bracelets, but nothing beats the accuracy of writing down each and every food we eat and activity we do in a journal.

When we don’t see the number on the scale continue to move, it’s hard to find the motivation to keep up with a weight loss plan. If you’re not satisfied with the weight you’ve lost and you’ve hit that plateau, the first thing to try would be to decrease the calories you’re consuming a day (by just a couple hundred), and/or increase the amount or intensity of exercise. Outside of regular exercise, be aware of your day-to-day activities. When you’re at work take the stairs instead of the elevator, bike to where you need to be if you can, or take a walk at lunch time. Little changes in our daily lives can help us fight a plateau, and keep us happy and healthy.  


Getting past a weight-loss plateau. Mayo Clinic. 2015.

This blog is written by Tracy Zaniewski, a student intern of Valley Nutrition Counseling with a major in Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Stress Eating. Why We Do it and What can be Done Instead

Have you ever gotten home after a rough day at work and thought to yourself, “I deserve a treat”? Many of us live busy lives and have several things going on at once, which leaves us feeling stressed and our minds jumbled with endless thoughts. One way we try to relieve stress is through indulging in something we don’t regularly eat (ice cream, chocolate bar, potato chips etc.). This is known as stress eating. This type of stress relief is very common, however, it’s only good at distracting our minds temporarily from what’s going on in our busy lives.

When we indulge in something, our senses take over and every stress in the world seems to go away. Sight, smell, texture and of course taste are what attracts us to that specific “cheat” food. Before we make the choice to eat, it’s important to consider other ways to cope with stress. If you still find yourself reaching for your favorite (not-so-healthy) food, it’s essential to eat it slowly, enjoy every bite, and consciously think about how much is being eaten. The more aware we are of what we’re eating and why we’re eating it, the better chance there is at stopping after just a few bites.

Many people don’t realize the calories they’re consuming by quickly grabbing a few cookies off the counter until after they’ve already eaten them. That choice can leave us feeling regretful because many of us lack mindfulness, which means having the ability to keep our minds focused on what we’re doing in the moment. A clear mind is a great start when making healthful choices.

 It’s okay to splurge every now and then on a bowl of ice cream or chocolate bar, but controlling stress eating with a bit of mindfulness will help reduce weight gain and in turn leave us happier and our bodies healthier. Before you decide to stop stress eating all together, start by simply practicing mindfulness when you feel the urge to reach for your favorite food. Being conscious and aware of your choices can lessen the chances of over eating. If you’re looking for other ways to help reduce stress, here are a few suggestions:

Other ways to relax and find relief from stress:

·       Talk to a friend, being verbal about what’s stressful in your life can be enough to make you feel relieved

·       Listen to music

·       Take up a hobby: Painting, writing, reading, yoga, meditation

·       Exercise: Take up boxing, Tae kwon do, or push yourself to run farther or lift heavier than you usually do



Albers S. 50 more ways to soothe yourself without food. Oakland, CA. New Harbinger Publications, Inc; 2015.


This blog is written by Tracy Zaniewski, a student intern of Valley Nutrition Counseling with a major in Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Q&A: The Role of Nutrition in Parkinson’s Disease

1.     What is Parkinson’s Disease and why diet is important to mange or prevent symptoms?

Parkinson’s Disease is the most common neurological disease in aging people second to Alzeihmer’s Disease. Parkinson’s Disease affects 1 million people in the United States. In Parkinson’s Disease, a person’s brain slowly stops to produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for body movements and emotions. The cause could be genetic or environmental but still quite unknown.

Dopamine cannot be given directly to people because it cannot enter brain. There are, however, several medications which can enter brain to convert to dopamine like levodopa or are dopamine agonists which can mimic dopamine effects like Mirapex or inhibit brain enzymes that metabolize brain dopamine like Azilect.

Since amino acids in protein can compete with levodopa for gut absorption, protein modification of the diet is important. For those taking levodopa, the timing of protein intake and its ratio to carbohydrate intake can be adjusted.

Diet can also improve many symptoms of the disease or side effects of the medications. Osteoporosis, Vitamin D deficiency, constipation, nausea, loss of taste and smell are a few to mention.

2.     Which specific foods are highly recommended or not recommended?

Fava beans has gained high popularity as a food which contains levodopa but the amount varies in different species of this bean. The conditions like soil or rainfall or other crop factors can determine its levodopa concentration. It seems that the immature green beans inside the pods has the most levodopa. Doctors should be consulted if people with Parkinson’s Disease eat fava beans every day to adjust medication dosage. Another food called mucuna pruiens or velvet beans which is used in Ayurvedic Medicine in India contains levodopa.

Antioxidants can be useful to prevent cell death as free radical excavengers. A plant based diet containing colorful fruits and vegetables is beneficial.

Including foods high in omega- 3 fatty acids like fish and nuts which have anti inflammatory properties and play a role in cell membrane health is recommended. They can also prevent stroke and other sources of inflammation.

On the other hand, foods that contain pesticides and toxins can harm cell health and should be avoided. Some studies have shown correlation between milk intake and risk of Parkinson’s Disease which could be due to pesticide content of dairy products.

More studies are needed to confirm the role of certain nutrients and foods in Parkinson’s Disease but in general having a healthy diet which includes fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy and meats like fish, nuts and whole grains with plenty of fluids is highly recommended. Weight maintenance with a proper diet is also quite critical.

3.     Do you recommend supplements?

If there is vitamin or mineral deficiency like vitamin D or iron deficiency, supplements are prescribed. Taking extra vitamins or even antioxidants as a form of supplement has not shown to make much difference. In fact, recent studies have shown that antioxidant supplements can even increase the risk of certain conditions like cancer and heart disease. It is highly recommended that patients with Parkinson’s Disease take most of their nutrient needs from food unless they have some feeding issues or access problems. People losing weight can benefit from nutrition supplements like ensure and boost for added calories and protein to prevent malnutrition.

4.     How can people with Parkinson’s disease eat better when they lose their sense of smell and taste?

Many eat more sugar and salt when they lose their sense of taste and smell which can cause health risks. Loss of taste and smell can cause people lose interest in food and lose weight. There are a few recommendations to help people to eat better and gain some sense of smell and taste. Drinking water, serving the food the way it looks, exercise, eating when hungry, eating with other people, adding spices like garlic, ginger and herbs, chewing well, eating different foods and avoiding very hot foods are recommended to alleviate this problem.



Fats are friends….and food!


Almost all Americans fear fats but they should not.  Healthy fats found in nuts and fish are extremely beneficial.  Studies have proved that fats give the body long lasting energy.  As well as, helps in brain development and prevents blood clotting.  The healthy fats are a necessary part of every person’s diet.  However, consuming too much fat will eventually add to weight gain, so it is important to know ways to replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats.  Before anyone can replace fats they must know which are healthy and unhealthy.   Fat comes from nuts, dairy, meats, oils and butters.  Fat is found in and around every organ in our bodies to help functions run smoothly.  Some fat in the body is called storage fat.  Storage fat is exactly what the name implies; it is stored beneath the skin and found deep in the body to protect internal organs.  On average women should have 15% of their body weight be essential fat and storage fat.  It is healthy and normal to have fat in the body.    

So, what are the healthy fats? Olive and canola oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, walnuts, fish, and omega-3 eggs are all recognized as healthy fat foods.  Omega-3 fats are the healthiest fats out there.  They are known for controlling blood clotting, protecting against heart disease and stroke, as well as building cell membranes in the brain to prevent memory loss.  There’s only one downside to Omega-3s, the body doesn’t make it, and so it must be eaten!  Foods high in Omega-3s are flaxseeds and walnuts, soybeans and canola oil, brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, and all sorts of fish. 

What about the unhealthy fats? Well, unhealthy fats are very common in today’s meals. They consist of hydrogenated oils, butter, lard, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. The terms for these fats are saturated fats and trans fats.  These fats are unhealthy because they raise the cholesterol level in the blood stream.  Too much cholesterol in the arteries and veins can cause a build up around the walls. This build up can slow down or block the blood supply back to the heart, which can ultimately result in a heart attack.

It is time to replace the unhealthy fats for healthy fats! Imagine there are three plates, one has a ½ oz of almonds and a ½ oz of raisins, another has 1 oz of plain almonds and the last plate has 2 whole wheat crackers with extra sharp cheddar cheese on them.  Which plate has the least amount of fat and which plate has the most fat?  Many people would believe that the plate with the plain almonds would have the least amount of fat.  However, raisins contain little to no fat.  So the plate with the least amount of fat is the almond and raisin mix.  The almond raisin mix was made up of 5.8 grams of fat, next came the plain almonds that had 14.36 grams of fat, and finally the cheese and crackers had 21.4 grams.  Now, 14 grams is not that far away from 21 grams, but that is 7 grams less of fat.  It is very rare to only eat two cheese and crackers or 1 oz of almonds.  To make the serving size more realistic the plates were tripled.   Three 3oz of almonds were compared to 6 cheese and crackers, the difference was 21 grams of fat or 190 calories.  It is an easy switch with long-term results. Next time the urge for a snack arises, think of what can be switched out for something healthier.  Feel free comment below saying how you’ve replaced unhealthy fats for healthy fats!

This blog is written by Mikaela Blackmer, a student intern of Valley Nutrition Counseling with a major in Kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Exercise can be enjoyable!


Everyone has been told that exercise is important.  But it is not just important; it is crucial for daily living.  Multiple studies have proved that 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise a day, 5 days a week will prevent weight gain and type 2 diabetes. It will improve weight loss and decrease the risk of developing cancer and heart attacks.  30 minutes a day.  Everyone has 30 minutes to take a break from his or her hectic lives and focus on their health.  30 minutes a day is taking the dog out for a walk or going to a group fitness class at the gym.   It could be playing music and dancing while cooking dinner.  Guess how many calories can be burned dancing to 10 songs.  50? 100? 150? 400.  Up to 400 calories can be burned dancing to 10 of your favorite songs.   Dancing is considered a cardio exercise because of its intense body movement and how much the heart rate increases.   People of all sizes and ages have different maximum heart rates.  To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220 beats per min (bpm).  But remember to talk to the doctor before, to make sure you are healthy enough to exercise at that intensity.   Remember, exercise does not have to push your body to the brink of exhaustion.  It can be deemed a successful workout when the heart rate has remained above its resting level for 30 minutes and when there is sweat on your brow. 

   Many people do not feel comfortable at gyms.  Gyms are not meant for everyone. In order to exercise as often and as long as advised, people need to find a form of exercise they love.  Some people love running.  Other people would rather be eaten by the tiger than be forced to run away from it.  Finding the soul mate of exercise can only be revealed to you.  There is a form exercise for everyone.  Whether it’s spinning, rock climbing, Zumba, or hiking.  It is important to never give up on trying new things until you find your passion.  Once that passion is found, exercise will not feel miserable.  It will be something to look forward to every day.   

Exercise is known to be a stress reliever, so it is a luxury to leave work and perform an activity where the stressors are relinquished while the heart rate is raised.

  There are ways to trick the body to exercise.  The thought of performing an exercise can be daunting.  However, there are ways to “trick” the body to exercise.  A couple tricks are to park far away from work and walk then walk to the office.  Parking 15 minutes away will check off the 30 minutes of exercise for the day.    Another trick is to take the stairs.  It might seem tedious to do so but every bit of exercise counts.   Finally, an essential activity that everyone needs to schedule into his or her life is walking around for five minutes after every hour of sitting.  Standing up after an hour of sitting helps blood circulation flow better in the veins, arteries and all the capillaries.  Blood can pool in the extremities when a person is sitting for a long period of time.   Too often people stand up quickly, feel lightheaded and potentially pass out.  Standing up and walking around for 5 minutes will prevent the blood from pooling and keep the blood flow optimal.

It is very important to nourish the system.  Drinking plenty of fluids during and after exercise is crucial.  Water is the best fluid to consume because of the lack of sugar.  However, electrolyte drinks like Gatorade and PowerAde are useful in humid conditions, when there is a lot of sweat-loss.  Snacking afterwards is important for replenishment as well! Peanut butter on bananas, homemade energy bars, and granola and yogurt are delicious and nutritious snacks! 

See? Living a healthy and active lifestyle does not have to be miserable.  Feel free to leave a comment on what you do to stay fit!

This blog is written by Mikaela Blackmer, a student intern of Valley Nutrition Counseling with a major in Kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst