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Slim By Design

12 Oct

How do slim people stay slim?

Right now I am reading Brian Wansink’s new book, Slim By DesignI’m only about halfway through, but I can already tell it is a recommendation-worthy book. Brian’s theory is that it’s much easier to change our environments to be healthier than it is to change our brains (Amen, brother). Brian observed the habits of slim people in their native environments: their homes, restaurants, grocery store, workplace, and schools and discovered that everything from where you store your cereal to the size of your dinner plates can predict your weight.  Some of Brian’s strategies are already standard protocol in my home (fruit bowl front and center!), some are newly implemented based on his compelling research (check out my fridge below).

All of his advice revolves around one main concept:
Make unhealthy food less convenient and less visible, and make healthy food more convenient and more visible.

A few easy things you can do right now to design a slimmer home:

1) Store all of the snack foods out of sight and put a bowl of fruit on the counter.

photo (15)

2) Move all of your produce out of the produce bins and on an eye-level shelf in your fridge.

photo (16)

3) Mummify your treats! Simply opening the freezer and laying eyes on that carton of ice cream can trigger a craving, so wrap the carton in aluminum foil so it doesn’t catch your eye so readily. Every time I open my freezer our wedding cake topper taunts me. Although I would never consider digging in to it for fear of cursing our marriage (but mostly because I’m too lazy to undo they 10 layers of plastic wrap), it does trigger a craving for something sweet. So I mummified it in aluminum foil. Craving conquered.

If you want to know more about Brian’s Slim By Design tips, watch and read here and here.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple steps can make you slimmer!


And now for that LARABAR giveaway: Congratulations Stephanie Day! Email me at with your mailing address to get your LARABAR goodies!



Thanks for reading!

Go Nuts! A Handful of Nuts a Day May Help You Live Longer

21 Nov

Good news this week for nut fans! A new study found a strong link between regular nut consumption and lower risk of death. Over three decades participants who ate a 1-ounce serving of nuts every day had a 20% lower all-cause mortality risk compared to those who did not nosh on this healthy snack. In addition to decreased death rates, nut eaters were 25% less likely to die from heart disease, 10% less likely to die from cancer, and 20% less likely to die from diabetes or lung disease.

We have long known that nuts are chock-full of healthy unsaturated fats, fiber and protein. In fact, in 2003 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended eating 1.5 ounces of nuts per day for their heart-protective benefits. Nuts have also been linked to weight control.

My favorite part of this new finding is that the health benefits apply to ALL nuts. Study participants consumed an array of nuts including cashews, almonds, walnuts, and more. So no matter what your nut of choice is, you can reap the benefits. Many clients will ask “Which is healthier, walnuts or pecans?”, or my least favorite “Is it true that almonds are lower in carbs than other nuts?” No need to split hairs- the most important thing is to choose nuts you enjoy so you will actually eat them! Also, it’s best to avoid nuts and nut mixes drenched in sugar and/or sodium.

Serving size is a little different for each variety, but one serving is roughly  ¼ cup. Nuts are definitely nutrient dense, but they are also calorie-dense, meaning it is easy to over-do it. Try pre-portioning them into snack bags for perfect portable snacks.

Here’s some inspiration to put this nutty news into action now…

In Larabar form (digging this seasonal flavor right now- HIGHLY recommend!)

snickerdoodle larabar

Walnuts on my cereal


Pistachios paired with a piece of fruit

pistachios and apple

Homemade candied almonds  (add a dash of cayenne for an unexpected kick!)


A variety mixed into fiber-rich trail mix


Pecans in my salad

cran pecan salad

Cashews in my stirfry


Caution when interpreting this good news- it is not realistic to think you can simply add a serving of nuts to a couch potato fast-food lifestyle and expect to add years to your life. Researchers did their best to control for various lifestyle factors, but it is not likely that nuts single-handedly improved peoples’ health. It is possible that nut eaters have healthier overall habits than non-nut eaters.

The bottom line: regular nut consumption should be incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet active lifestyle. Not sure how to make that happen? That’s what a registered dietitian nutritionist is for 🙂

What are you waiting for, go nuts! Thanks for reading 🙂

Bigger Breakfast, Smaller Waist?

13 Aug

If I had to play favorites, I’d pick breakfast as my favorite meal of the day, hands down. I always wake up looking forward to brewing the coffee, blending the green juice, and building the main course.

I am always telling my clients that “diets don’t start at breakfast”. First thing in the morning, when our bodies just fasted for 7+ hours and need to be refueled the most,  is not the time to cut calories or skimp on nutrition!

A recent article from The Wall Street Journal gave me more ammo to back my broken-record breakfast advocating 😉 A study of overweight and obese women found that those who ate the bulk of their calories in the first part of the day lost more than 2x the weight, waist circumference, and BMI percent compared to those who ate the bulk of their calories toward the end of the day. The women in the breakfast group also showed improvements in markers for cardiovascular disease and diabetes including triglycerides, cholesterol, and insulin responses.

We find even more support for “breaking the fast” from the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks successful “losers” to help us better understand how to lose and maintain a healthy weight. Of the 10,000+ successful individuals tracked, 78% eat breakfast every day and 88% eat breakfast at least 5 days per week!

Now that we know eating breakfast is a good idea, let’s talk about what that breakfast looks like.

3 Keys to Building a Better Breakfast

  1. Invert the Pyramid: Rev your metabolism by aiming for at least 20% of your daily calories in your morning meal.

  2. Pick a Protein: Protein will give your breakfast staying power and keep you from reaching for the break room goodies before lunchtime. (eggs, yogurt, nut butter, Sunwarrior, cottage cheese, beans, soy milk)

  3. Choose a Complex Carb: Fiber-rich carbs provide a dose of energy for your brain and body and keep you feeling satisfied. (oatmeal, whole grain cereal/bread/tortilla, fruit)

Bonus: add a fruit! Give your body a healthy serving of antioxidants and fiber.

Some breakfast favorites:

Cereal w/ soy milk, fruit, and nut butter


Fruit, yogurt, and granola parfait


Oatmeal (try these make-ahead steel cut oats in the crockpot!)


Overnight oats (perfect way to enjoy oats in the summertime)


Scrambled eggs with veggies and toast (also great as a sandwich)


Homemade energy bites for those who are pressed for time in the morning


Fruit and protein smoothie (try my go-to recipe!)


Whole grain waffle with nut butter and fruit (great transition breakfast if you don’t have an appetite in the morning)


Thanks for reading 🙂

Meal Planning Part II: The Grocery Store Trip

23 Jul

Hi there! Today we are going to talk about part two of my meal planning strategy- the actual grocery store trip! Catching up? Check out Part I: Before the Grocery Store!


Although most of us spend quite a bit of time in them, grocery stores can be overwhelming and scary places!  I know I am of the minority when I profess my love for grocery shopping. Tiffany’s is to Holly Golightly what grocery stores are to me 🙂 I grew up with a mom who despised grocery shopping (and still does I think!), so I understand the pain of those of you who side with my mom. Here’s hoping a little guidance and streamlining will help ease the pain… 🙂

The first two steps are the most crucial! If you remember nothing else from this post, remember these rules:

1. ALWAYS go grocery shopping armed with a list! (see Part I)

2. NEVER go grocery shopping on anything less than a satisfied stomach!

(I have slipped up on these two steps before and next thing you know you’re standing in the checkout lane with double your $$grocery budget$$, ten empty sample cups, and a hodgepodge of items! Not good for the wallet, the waistline, or the meal planning.) 

Once you are prepared and properly fueled, you are ready to execute your plan. So grab your imaginary cart and let’s go on a virtual grocery store tour…



I always start with produce mainly because of the natural flow of most stores AND to fill my cart with the good stuff first! Aside from what’s on my list, this is what I look for…

– Whatever fruit is on sale for snacks. There is always something on sale! I get enough for at least 1 serving per day per person.

– Citrus for green juice and for flavoring dinners.

– Carrots/celery for snacking and adding cheap nutrition to various meals.

– Avocados for salads, sandwiches, eggs, and the inevitable Mexican night!

– Fresh greens (kale, salad greens, chard, etc.) if we don’t have a garden bounty.

– Anything else on sale/that looks good!


Next I move on to the middle of the store. I usually breeze through these aisles pretty quickly, trying to stick with just items on my list. The middle of the grocery store is the place that causes the most “off the list”/impulse buy/junk food trouble for me! Those darn food marketers…

Popular middle aisle necessities include…

– A quick stop in the meat department for the occasional fish. (technically not in the middle)

– Whole wheat or quinoa pasta, canned tomatoes, chips for JWD, nut butter, bars, and cereal.

– Any extras like sparkling water, crackers, hot sauce, coffee, trail mix.


This is one of my favorite features and the primary reason I go to Whole Foods! I load up on old-fashioned oats, beans, lentils, grains, nuts, and anything else needed for the upcoming week’s recipes.



This is the last stop!

– Frozen greens for green juices (much cheaper than buying all fresh!) and frozen fruit for smoothies.

– Sometimes a frozen pizza if one is on sale and it is going to be one of those weeks (I know you know the kind I’m talking about).

– Almond/soy milks (usually 2 half-gallons), tofu, tempeh, Food For Life bread, yogurts (one Greek, one regular), cheese (slices for JWD and something tangy for my lunch salads), and hummus.

*Note: We buy a dozen eggs every week from a small grocery store that stocks local eggs. We think it’s worth the extra trip!

I take a minute to recheck my list that I have been crossing off as I go to make sure all needed items made their way into the cart. 

And that’s a wrap! Time to pay! We have a set grocery budget and I’ve gotten pretty good at eyeballing the cart and staying within our budget.

Now it’s time to haul it all home… stay tuned for more!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Cheat Meals and an All-in-one Workout

23 Jun

Hi, happy weekend!

I’m not a huge fan of the term “cheat meal” because of its close proximity to the other bad word- “diet”. However, a cheat meal is a helpful concept for many people. I also loosely abide by this healthy eating guideline. JWD and I generally choose one meal per week to indulge- and by indulge I mean go out to eat. This is primarily a budgeting tool, but it helps keep us healthy too.

Many of my clients designate a cheat meal because it forces them to put thought into their splurges and gives them an incentive to stay on track the rest of the week. They plan ahead, pick a meal or event where splurging is inevitable (dinner with friends, birthday party, etc.), and savor and enjoy every bite when they sit down to that meal. It also stops them from eating so-not-worth-it stale birthday cake in the break room. Who wants to waste their cheat meal on that??

WARNING: a cheat meal is NOT an excuse to eat everything in sight. After all, it’s your cheat meal not last meal. Keep it reasonable.

So if I had to choose a cheat meal for last week, Thursday night’s pizza and beer would be it! First, let’s back up a bit…


I started Thursday with a tall green juice, coffee, and overnight oats (oats, soymilk, greek yogurt, blueberries, strawberries, stevia, and cinnamon).


I worked all morning, then threw together lunch with leftovers before heading to a meeting. Greens, salmon, millet, avocado dressing, and melon on the side.

The afternoon included a grocery store run, a bike ride, and a quick shower before a fun night out!

JWD and I went to an O.A.R. concert. Pre-concert festivities:

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Pizza and beer! The Pageant is an awesome venue in St. Louis. They serve craft beer and allow you to bring in your own food, so we ordered a Pi pizza to go. 

The show was AMAZING! We didn’t get home until after midnight (wayyy late for us), so I was a tired girl on Friday. To rebound from a “cheat meal” night, I drink plenty of water (the sodium is what kills me), resume my normal healthy eats, and get in a good workout. No need to deprive or “burn off extra calories”.

I want to share Friday’s workout with you because it was a fun one.


Cheat meals- yay or nay?

Hope you’re having a fantastic weekend! Thanks for reading 🙂

Is Fruit Bad For Me?

1 Mar

Hello and Happy National Nutrition Month!

People ask this question A LOT. Countless carb-phobic diet books and so-called “experts” have villainized the poor fruit group, convincing people that fruit is the sugar-laden diet enemy. New research pointing a blaming finger at fructose has also created confusion and caused many to shy away from trusty apples and bananas. You may have read the New York Times article “Is Sugar Toxic?”. This article and the research behind it warns of the health hazards of sugar, particularly a carbohydrate called fructose. Let’s clear up the confusion and tear this myth down once and for all!


As much as I hate the term “natural sugar”, I think it’s fitting in the case of fruit. Fruit does have naturally occurring sugar, primarily fructose (often nicknamed “fruit sugar”). When “fruit sugar” is eaten in its whole food form along with all of the glorious health benefits of fruit, it is perfectly healthy! Fruits are chockfull of vitamins and antioxidants that nourish your body, prevent disease, preserve your youth, and make your hair, skin, and eyes shine. They are also packed with fiber which keeps you satisfied and slows the absorption of those natural sugars.

We run into trouble with fructose when we eat this “natural sugar” in very unnatural ways. Because fructose is the sweetest of the simple carbohydrates (smarty pants Mother Nature wants to increase the allure of nutrient-packed fruits!), it has been kidnapped by the food industry and artificially added to countless processed foods. You’ll find it in soda, fat-free “diet” foods that are pumped full of sugar to make up for the lackluster fat-free flavor, packaged foods like cookies, pop-tarts, crackers, cereal, and pastries. It’s even in unsuspecting places like ketchup, sauces, salty snacks, bread, yogurt, and peanut butter. Most of these foods are empty calories. Unlike fruit, the sugars don’t come naturally wrapped up in a healthful bundle of nutrients. Because added sugar is in so many food products and in places it doesn’t need to be (ahem, peanut butter), we end up overdosing on it. THESE are the foods that warrant sugar stress, NOT whole fruits!


You are not going to overdose on sugars by eating a few pieces of fruit each day, so eat up! The more variety of color you eat,  the more variety of nutrients you’ll get. The issue with fruit is rarely too much and almost always not enough. Aim for 2-4 servings of fruit every day!


Thanks for reading 🙂

Heart-beet Smoothie

16 Feb

Hello there and happy weekend!

Whether or not you spent Thursday with someone else’s heart in mind, the first heart you should be caring for is your own!

Heart disease is serious business. It’s the leading cause of death in Americans. The good news is that most heart conditions (even if you have a family history) are preventable and food and fitness are your most effective arsenal.

One of my favorite heart-smart foods: beets! …Wait! Don’t close your browser yet. I know what you’re thinking: “This chick is a crazy freak of nature vegetable worshipper! If she thinks she’s going to convince me to eat beets, she’s out of her flippin’ mind!” Most people who tell me they despise beets are only acquainted with the gelatinous canned version of beets. They were forced to eat them as a child and still have nightmares of their mother dumping the cylindrical jelly glob out of the can and slicing it into circles of disgustingness (this is a real description from one of my clients 🙂 ).


{Boulder, CO farmers market}

Beets are rich in nitrates which lower blood pressure and in turn protect your heart. Newer research boasts the benefit of beets for exercise. Nitrates reduce the amount of oxygen that is required during exercise which improves exercise performance.

When I think of beets, I imagine the vibrant red root vegetable roasted up with olive oil and spices or peeled, steamed and blended into a smoothie. Yep, you read that right- a smoothie!

Heart-beet Smoothie

adapted from Cooking Light


  • 1/3 cup sliced cooked beets

  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries

  • ¼ cup plain non- or low-fat yogurt

  • ¼ cup orange juice

  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed

  • 1 tsp honey (optional)


Place all ingredients into a blender and blend for 1 minute or until a smooth consistency is achieved. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

PicMonkey Collage

Still not a fan of beets? No worries, nitrates are found in many other veggies including leafy greens like kale and spinach, lettuce, parsley, and celery.

Now, go do something for YOUR heart today: take a walk, eat a beet, have a salad.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Secrets From a Dietitian’s Kitchen: Invert the Pyramid

4 Feb

If I could give you only one tip- whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, run faster, get stronger, or just have more energy- this would be it.

As I write this, most Americans have already set up their day to eat like a pyramid. They rushed out the door with a measly 100 calorie granola bar in their hand or , worse, rushed out with no intentions of eating breakfast at all! Their briefcase was not equipped with a midmorning snack and lunch was quickly nibbled at their desk. Now they are arriving home totally ravenous, causing them to demolish a bag of chips during dinner prep before inhaling a hefty meal and following up with an impressive primetime TV snack fest.

They’ve eaten like a pyramid- the bulk of their calories fall at the end of the day. This pattern sets you up for failure no matter what your health goals. Eating like a pyramid can lead to poor quality sleep, eating more empty calories, and low energy levels.

So, I’m asking you to invert the pyramid! Eat the bulk of your calories in the first half of your day and taper as the day goes on. Start with a hearty breakfast, a balanced lunch, a healthy snack or two, and a smaller dinner (maybe just one helping instead of two or three?). Relative to your daily calorie needs, your day should look a little something like this:






Easiest ways to invert the pyramid:

  1. Bulk up your breakfast. Add some fruit and yogurt to that cereal or pair your eggs with some avocado and whole grain toast. 
  2. Fill half your dinner plate with veggies. Load pasta and rice dishes with vegetables or serve a salad with dinner every night.

Need more proof?

Are you trying to lose or maintain your weight? Research shows dieters who eat breakfast are more likely to lose and maintain a healthy weight compared to those who skip the most important meal of the day.

Are you an athlete? Elite athletes eat a whopping 20% of their daily calories at their first meal of the day!

I suggest this tip to my clients of all types and it’s usually the first place we start when revamping their diets. I challenge you to refresh your health tomorrow by turning that pyramid upside-down!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Drink Your Greens

3 Jan

Happy New Year! It’s the start of a brand new year and a very popular time for questions about detoxing and fasting. Today I’m going to share my advice on that and give you the lowdown on juicing and green smoothies.

So we are all feeling a little heavy, groggy and bloated from too much “holiday cheer”, but do you really need to “cleanse” your body to get rid of all that gunk?

Running on Sunshine verdict: not really. Here’s why…

  •  A normal digestive tract doesn’t need to be manually “cleansed” ESPECIALLY if you have plenty of fiber in your diet. Fiber is nature’s way of cleaning the pipes!
  • Most popular fasting programs have little to NO protein, fat, or fiber. I see this as a major problem. Without these wonderful nutrients, we feel hungry, irritated, and tired. The overall lack of calories also contributes to the fatigue which is the reason for the “no exercise” recommendation that often accompanies many cleansing regimens. A health plan that discourages exercise? Hmm… sounds pretty sketchy to me.
  • Contrary to popular belief, fasting is NOT a good option for weight loss! When you are slashing your calories so drastically, of course you are going to lose weight initially. But what type of “weight” are you losing? Because of the lack of activity, calories, and protein, much of it is muscle mass. NOT GOOD! Losing muscle mass puts the breaks on your metabolism, which is the exact opposite of what we want for weight loss.

I’ve posted about detox diets in more detail here. Check it out!

That being said, it IS a good idea to take steps to “get back on track” or give your body a delicious dose of nutrients to repair any damage done by the constant stream of toxins we take in through processed foods and pollutants.


A great way to help your body get lean and clean: drink your greens! This is a new commitment for JWD and I. We’ve done it sporadically for a couple years, but we’ve decided to make it a part of our daily routine. Why? I’ll tell you!

  • It’s an easy peasy way to get major nutrition into your body. I am a healthy food expert, and even I fall short of a hefty dose of veggies on some days.
  • Some people take pills, I drink greens. I am a whole-hearted believer in the power of veggies. It truly is the best medicine for whatever ails you. It is the medicine of prevention.
  • It sets the tone for your day! It’s like waking up on the right side of the bed, putting your best foot forward, you get the picture. When you start your morning with a big glass of liquid sunshine, you better believe you’ll be more inclined to put your health first for the rest of the day.
  • It makes you shine! There is something about drinking greens that makes you feel completely vibrant and alive. And if you do it for long enough, you will literally start to shine- hair, skin, eyes, the works. It starts on the inside and makes it’s way to the outside.

Blend it or juice it?

You can drink your greens by juicing or by blending.

Juicing: Juicing requires a juicer which can be a pricy and complex piece of kitchen equipment. I have a very nice juicer and I must admit it only graces the countertop on scarce occasions. When I do dust it off, it’s always worth it. The main benefit of juicing is the lightning fast absorption of nutrients since all the pulp or fiber is removed from the veggies. I know some folks that are completely devoted to their juicers, and for them I have much admiration. Personally, I prefer the simplicity of blending.

breville juicer

Blending: No fancy equipment needed, just a basic blender. A high-speed blender is needed for blending sturdier produce like apples and carrots. Since the fiber sticks around when you blend, you get to reap its rewards! It fills you up, helps steady your blood sugar, and gives your digestive tract some cleansing love.


Juice or blend, the choice is yours!

Due to the aforementioned downsides of fasting , Green drinks should not be your sole source of food. HOWEVER they can (and should!) be added to your diet as an extra shot of nutrition or used to replace 1 meal. If you choose to drink your greens as a meal replacement, add some protein and fat like soymilk, Greek yogurt, nut butter, or avocado. This will give it some staying power.

The combinations are endless, so toss the measuring cups aside and start experimenting!

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Sunshine Green Shake 

makes two servings

  • 2 cups coconut water or water
  • 1 banana
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cucumber (peeled and chopped if not using a high-powered blender)
  • 1 handful kale (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 handful spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • Stevia to taste
  • Bonus: for a yummy dose of healthy fats and vitamins, add 1/2 an avocado

Add ingredients to blender in order listed and blend until smooth. Add ice cubes and blend for a colder, thicker drink. Start shining!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Video Post: The Sunshine Smoothie

26 Jun

Hello, friends!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. JWD and I enjoyed an amazing weekend of wedding festivities. Love was certainly in the air.

Now, back to the purpose of this post.

I am a die-hard, heart fluttering, boy band-style fan of smoothies. We already know this. I have a Vitamix. Special smoothie straws. Special smoothie cups to be used only for smoothies and if they are seen being used for anything other than smoothies or, worse, being put in the dishwasher (I’m lookin’ at you, JWD) you will receive a death glare. I know all the best smoothie places in the city. I have seven, yes seven, smoothie recipe books.

But I don’t know why I bother with all of this because I always come back to the same recipe: the Sunshine Smoothie. Watch and learn, my friends.

Don’t I look tired? If you answered “no”, you are lying. I filmed this a few months ago when the internship was still in full swing. I look much less like a zombie today.

A few more smoothie tips:

  • My friend came up with the fabulous idea of using frozen spinach instead of fresh. Not only is it cheaper and lasts longer than fresh, it also adds thickness because it’s frozen. Genius!
  • Bananas going bad on you? Stick ’em in the freezer and they’ll be perfect smoothie additions. But don’t forget to peel them first! Otherwise, the peel basically freezes shut. It’s okay, don’t be embarrassed. We’ve all done it 🙂
  • Add less liquid for a thick soft-serve style smoothie. I love to put thick smoothies in a bowl, top with a sprinkle of granola, and eat it with a spoon.

I really love the video posts (and I think you do too?), so I want to do more. Any ideas? Do you want lunch ideas? Breakfast ideas? Workouts? Want to see what’s in my fridge? Q & A? Leave a comment here, on Twitter, or on the Running on Sunshine Facebook page to tell me what you want to see!

Have a fantastic week! Thanks for reading 🙂

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