Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lunch Boxes

I went to the container store today and I found all these cool plastic storage boxes that are perfect for taking your lunch, and other cool stuff!
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Buy this meal planner here
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How cool are these?
I got a few so i'll share with you my healthy lunches soon!


Goal Making

When wanting to make a change in your life regarding your diet and health, making goals is an important tool that can keep you on track and help you develop a plan of action.

Similar to my previous post about using a food contract (click here to read, if you haven't read it i highly recommend you to take a look.) Here is a goal making system by Ann Constance, RD I saw in this month's Today's Dietitian Journal.

WHAT system for setting goals 
Your goal should have all of these components, but you can have many goals, just each one will be focused and specific. 

  • W = What, When, Where? - What are you going to do? When are you doing it? Where are you doing it?
  • H = How much, How many, or How often? - How much are you going to exercise or workout? for how long will your exercise last? How many miles will you run? how often will you eat an apple in lunch? 
  • A = Achievable (and believable) - Is this a realistic goal? something you can actually achieve? Don't aim too high or too low, find a goal that is challenging yet attainable. Also, here is where you should identify any barriers to meeting your goal. Do you have all the tools you need to achieve your goal? do you need new sneakers? do you need to buy certain foods from the grocery store? Identify all the tools you will need to achieve your goal. 
  • T = Time frame for achieving the goal - How long are you giving your self to achieve this goal? be realistic. Find a method to keep your self on track, like a check off list or writing in your agenda a daily blurp about how you are doing with your goal. 
Hope this helps! 
Instead of talking in the air about "wanting to lose weight" or "exercising more" use this method to make an actual written plan, you are more likely to achieve your goal this way!

I also like using motivational tools such as the above picture to look at every day and to remind me of my goal!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Carrying a cold water bottle during exercise helps your workout

Being too hot while exercising can be a big obstacle for over weight women. This results is early exhaustion, rapid heart rate, fatigue, and exercising for less time. Fat tissue promotes insulation, which causes overweight people to heat up more easily when exercising and therefore causing less adherence to working out because of this barrier.

A new study looked at the effect of overweight subjects simply carrying a cold bottle of water in their hand while working out. The study had 24 subjects with a BMI between 30-35. The results showed that subjects who were holding on to the cold water finished a 1.5 mile walk in significantly less time then the subjects holding a room temperature water bottle. The subjects in the cooling group also had more improvement in blood pressure, waist circumference, heart rate, and aerobic fitness. 

The study concluded that by holding a cold water water, they were able to reduce the discomfort of being very hot and therefore increase exercise and heart health. 

So if you are overweight or not, if being too hot is an issue for you during exercise, try freezing a bottle of water and carrying throughout the workout. 

Hope these health tips and exercise advice helps you!

dont forget to drink that water while you exercise!
read my previous post on water health benefits and how drinking water can help you lose weight here: http://www.thenutritionvault.com/2012/01/drink-water-to-effortless-weight-loss.html


Monday, March 19, 2012

National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month, and here is a booth the dietitians at the hospital I work at set up to educate the public about health and nutrition! We had games, gifts, giveaways, fruit, handouts.

Do something for your health and wellness this month!


How to live longer!

A new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at how following 7 heart health metrics was associated with living longer.
The 7 health metrics they looked at were:

To find out what each metric means, and how to achieve them, check out my previous post here: http://www.thenutritionvault.com/2012/03/guidelines-for-heart-disease-prevention.html

Healthy Body weight: BMI calculator : http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm You put in your height and weight and it will tell you your BMI. You want to be in the normal range (less than 25.)

Blood Glucose Control: There is a blood test checking your blood glucose over a period of time call HbA1c. The optimal number is less than 5.7 

Normal Cholesterol: Total cholesterol less than 200 

Blood Pressure: Less than 120/80 

If you do not know your numbers, next time you are at the doctor office, ask him for your blood pressure numbers and to look at your last blood test to see your cholesterol panel. 

When They compared people who only followed 1 of these 7 metrics compared to 6 or more the deaths were 14.8 compared to 5.4 in a hundred people. Following more of these 7 metics was significantly associated with less death rates.

This study looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey and had 44,959 subjects.

All these metrics are associated with heart health. 1 in 3 deaths in the US is due to heart disease, and it is the leading cause of death. Maintaing heart health by following as many of the above metrics as you can, therefore, increases your life span.

Don't feel overwhelmed by this. Try to add between 1 to 3 changes into your life at a time per week, and work from there. You want to make this a lifestyle not something you do for a month and then throw away. So slowly incorporate these changes until they become habits.

Check back in daily for more health and wellness articles and posts. If you have a specific weight loss question or health topic you want to read about me email me at Daniellehamo@gmail.com


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Healthy Lunch

 Broccoli over pasta with low-fat feta cheese 

  • There is room for pasta in your healthy diet!
  • Make Barilla Plus pasta according to directions. This pasta is high fiber and high protein. 
  • team fresh broccoli (or if you are using frozen broccoli skip this step) 
  • When broccoli is ready, sauté it with fresh garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper (like in picture above)
  • Put it over the pasta, mix, add some low-fat cheese, and you are done! So easy and so good!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Guidelines for heart disease prevention in women

The american heart association released these guidelines which take into account all the available research out there on the topic.
Now this is super important because heart disease is the leading cause of death in american taking 599,413 lives each year. No one is exempt, and its never too early to start protecting your heart.
It is better to prevent heart disease then deal with healing its effects. I work in a hospital and I see so many people who suffer from heart disease, prevention is key!

Remember, you don't need to be perfect, or follow all these guidelines, do what you can! Any change toward these guidelines help

Lifestyle changes to prevent heart disease 

  • If you smoke, stop smoking 
  • Physical Activity - 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise, or an equal combination of both. Do aerobic activity at episodes of 10 minutes or more and engage in muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days a week.  
  • Weight management / reduction
    • With diet and exercise 
    • Aim towards a BMI of less than 25
    • Waist less than 35 inches
    • 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking on most days of the week. 
  • Omega 3 fatty acids -
    • Fish oil supplements of 1.8 grams per day 
    • Helps lower triglycerides and high cholesterol 
  • Blood Pressure -
    • Aim for <120/80 by lifestyle approaches such as weight control, increased physical activity, alcohol moderation, sodium restriction, and increased fruit and veggie consumption 
  • Cholesterol Panel - Ask your doctor for a copy of your latest blood work and compare:
    • LDL <100
    • HDL >50 
    • Triglycerides <150 
    • HbA1C <7% in diabetic people 
Specific Dietart recommendations to prevent heart disease in woman 
Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, may be less if you are consuming a lower amount of calories. Use this as a guide. 
This diet will move your cholesterol panel to the above recommendations. 
  • Fruits & Vegetables: 4.5 cups per day of all fruits and vegetables raw or cooked. 
  • Fish: 2 servings per week 
    • serving: 3.5 oz, or the size of your palm
  • Fiber: 30 grams per day 
    • found in: bran cereal, whole grains, oatmeal, berries, fruit, vegetables, beans
  • Whole Grains: 3 servings per day 
    • serving: 1 slice of whole wheat bread, 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta, 1 oz dry cereal 
  • Sugar: less than 5 servings per week 
    • less than 450 calories from sugary drinks like soda and juice 
    • serving: 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, jelly, or jam 
  • Nuts/Legumes/Seeds: 4 or more servings per day 
  • Saturated Fat: Less than 7% of total energy 
    • Found in: fried foods, fat on skin of meats and chicken, desserts, butter, cheese, sour cream, cookies, donuts 
  • Cholesterol: less than 150 mg per day 
    • found in animal meat, eggs, organ meats, animal products such as cheese
  • Alcohol: 1 or less drinks per day 
  • Sodium: Less than 1500 mg a day 
  • Trans Fat:

Try to choose 3 things to do this week, and follow them. 
Any change you make will help protect your heart!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Healthy Foods: Healthy Veggie sticks Snack

Amazzzinggggg healthy snack! 

source: http://healthyisalwaysbetter.tumblr.com/
This healthy snack is so delicious and easy to make. To make this healthy snack, cut up any fresh veggies you have (cucumber, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, celery, bell peppers) and use bell peppers as cups for dip (just cut the top of a bell pepper and scoop out the inside)
Use low-fat dip or my famous low fat ranch dip (ranch seasoning packet mixed with half low-fat sour cream and half greek yogurt)
Great as a snack and to serve when you have people over!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Healthy Lunch: Zucchini Pasta

Today I took this whole-wheat pasta and zucchini to work, it was so good and its healthy too 

The recipe is so easy!
Last night I made Barilla Plus pasta (or make any other whole-wheat or high fiber pasta.) In another pan i sautéed cubed fresh zucchini in olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper until the zucchini was translucent in color and tender. I also sprinkled some 2% milk cheese on top. I put this in the refrigerator and warmed it up at work the next day, and it held up perfect!


How to get rid of Stress

Stress is something that we all deal with, and it is so important to find a healthy way to handle the stress in your life.

Health Consequences of Stress

Stress increases risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and increases blood levels of cortisol, and can result in emotional eating and weight gain. Constant high levels of cortisol can impair digestion and your metabolism and weaken your immune system. Stress can also cause hair loss,  and effect the reproductive system negatively.
Read below for more:
source: Stress.org
How to cope with Stress 
  • Listening to relaxing music 
  • Yoga - Yoga is so good at relieving stress. To get my self to go more I pre-pay for 2 weeks of unlimited classes which pushes me to go more since I already paid! 
  • Meditation - I have assistive meditation apps on my phone that I use. Try to set aside 5-10 minutes a day and lay still, but awake, and think about nothing. It's so hard! that's why I use the apps to help me. 
  • Organization - I use to do lists, organize the things I have to do by priority, and make a plan. 
  • Time management 
  • Exercise - All forms of exercise relive stress, so when you are overwhelmed go for a run or a jog, or hit the gym. 
  • Healthy eating - Can make you feel better inside and out, and raise your mood and give you a positive attitude. 
Additional  Stress- Relieving techniques 
  • Cognitive Structuring - Substitue negative thoughts with positive ones. Catch your bad thoughts as they happen and say to your self "Stop" and substitute it for a positive statement. 
  • Journal Writing - Express your thoughts, feeling, ideas, and gratification in a journal. 
  • Art Therapy - Do anything creative like drawing or painting 
  • Humor Therapy - use comedy to alleviate a stressful situation. Make fun of your self! or pop in a funny movie or show like friends or super bad
  • Time Management - Prioritize your problems, schedule and carry out your daily activities, so you make better use of your time. 
  • Creative problem solving - Try solving your problems by describing your problem, brainstorming ideas, select a solution, implement that solution, and evaluate weather it was effective. 
when you are stress try to attempt one of these solutions rather then solving it with food. 
Hope this helps! Come back tomorrow for more weight loss advice :) 


Source: StatesmanJournal.com and Jeanine Stice, RD 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Healthy foods: Recipe

Steel Cut Oats in a Jar with Berries and Flax Seeds

Looks so good, can't wait to make this! 

You can make this in a bowl, but if you want it to look pretty like above, they sell mason jars at the dollar store and you can put it in there :) 

Come back daily for more health and wellness tips and weight loss advice! 


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Habits of Successful weight losers

The National Weight Control Registry tracks americans who lost over 30 pounds of weight and kept that weight off for over a year.
The American Journal of Lifestyle  Medicine outlined the habits of these successful weight losers, and this is what they reported:

Strategies that work: 

  1. Eating a low calorie low fat diet 
  2. Eating a routine diet 
  3. Self monitoring of food consumption and weight 
  4. Engaging in physical activity and exercise

Eating a low calorie diet 
  • They reported eating a low-fat diet 
  • Consuming about 1400 calories per day 
  • Less than 24% of calories were from fat 
Eating a consistent diet of similar foods and maintained throughout the year 
  • Most participants ate breakfast every day, and the breakfast usually was cereal and fruit. 
  • Consume a high fiber cereal with low-fat yogurt and fruit such as berries or banana 
  • This habit is an important one because eating breakfast can prevent overeating later in the day 
  • They ate food outside the home only about 2-3 times per week 
  • They reported not splurging too much on holidays and occasions 
  • They ate at fast food restaurants less than one time per week 
Self Monitoring of food intake and weight status 
  • An example of self monitoring is calorie counting 
  • You can use applications on your phone to aid you in this, look at my previous post on these apps here
  • They engaged in frequent self weighing - of one time a day or one time a week. 
    • Never weight your self more than one time a day, and weigh your self at the same time every day. 
    • I recommend weighing your self no more than 3 times per week 
  • Frequent self weighing helps you identify weight gain early on and fix the problem rather then continuing to gain more weight 
Physical Activity and Exercise 
  • Participants watched less than 10 hours per week of television, or about 1.5 hours per day maximum. 
  • They engaged in either 60-75 minutes of moderate exercise, for example brisk walking OR 35-45 minutes or vigorous exercise such as jogging and running. 
Perfection is not the goal 
Just start somewhere, and try to go up from there. I recommend using my food contract which helps you achieve this. Download the food contract and learn how to use it here


Come back for more health and wellness and weight loss tips here daily 

Healthy Snack

How good does this look? My friend put this up on Facebook and it looks so good! 
As a healthy snack cut up whatever fruits you have (My friend used pomegranates, bananas, kiwi, and coconut) and add some raw nuts and dark chocolate and voila! delicious and healthy snack. Top it off with coconut water, which is naturally high in electrolytes which helps hydrate you. 
Cant wait to make this myself!


Friday, March 9, 2012

Diet pills DON'T WORK

Before I even saw this study, I could have told you that all these over-the-counter diet pills are no bueno. In my book, there is no magic trick, no click you heels 3 times and saying "there is no place like i'm 10 pounds lighter," you want results that last you have to do it the right way!

But incase you need confirmation, a new study came out in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that tested the effectiveness of the 4 major types of diet pills: pills that block absorption of fat, stimulants that increase heat production, pills that suppress appetite, and pills that change metabolism. There is no research that supports that any of these diet pills will make you lose a significant amount of weight, and especially keep it off in the long term. The study also goes to note that any diet pills that contains caffeine, ephedra or synephrine should be avoided because they can produce adverse side effects. 

The study mentions certain foods that can aid in your weight loss and complement your diet. These foods are: green tea, high fiber foods, and low fat dairy products. 
Look at my previous post that talks about how tea can help you lose weight here, and another post on fiber here

Check back here daily for how to develop this healthy life style that will help you lose weight the right way and keep it off! 


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Coffee: Good or bad for your health?

I am sure you've heard that coffee was bad for you, and then you heard that coffee was good for you, and everything in between. To put this issue to rest, a new study came out, European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition –Germany study, that looked if there was a link between drinking coffee and increased risk for chronic diseases such as stroke, cancer, heart attack, or diabetes. The study comprised of 42,659 subjects and concluded, thankfully, that coffee  is not linked to any of those chronic diseases. 

This doesn't mean that you should drink 10 cups a day from Starbucks! You are not immune to the calories, sugar, and fat you get from your late or cappuccino. Also, this study is done over seas and weather it would be the same in the US is still uncertain. But for that 1 cup of coffee a day, I think you are ok. 


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March 8th is "What's on my plate?" Day!

March is National Nutrition Month, and tomorrow is "What's on my plate?" Day!
So celebrate this day by looking at all your meals tomorrow and making sure what's on your plate is nutritious foods that compose a healthy meal!

So for tomorrow (and hopefully the day after tomorrow,) the food on your plan should BE:

  • high in vegetables 
    • Cooked like carrots, broccoli, and brussels sprouts 
    • Raw like a salad of spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes. 
  • Lean proteins 
    • Fish, Chicken breast, Tofu, Beans 
  • Low-fat dairy 
  • Fruits 
    • As dessert have a fruit salad or a whole fruit 
  • Whole Grains - whole wheat bread, pasta, couscous, or brown rice 
Set up your plate similar to this!

download a worksheet from USDA that has all this information plus other tips to help you eat better:

Additional Healthy Tips:


Download the following sheet that has 10 tips for making a better plate:

Download sheet here: 

Checkout Choosemyplate.gov for more cool information!


All information was sourced from choosemyplate.gov

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Unlimited Foods to eat when on a diet

I saw this video of the Today Show, on a health segment with another Registered Dietitian that I really respect Joy Bauer.
Watch the video here: http://video.today.msnbc.msn.com/today/46588427/#46588427

Joy was asked if there are any foods you can have in unlimited amount while trying to lose weight. Her answer was yes, and that you can eat as much non starchy vegetables as you want. Below is information I got from her and more ideas that I had to add on the topic.
Unlimited "Free" Foods:
Non Starchy Vegetables  

These vegetables are mostly water, high in fiber, high in vitamins, minerals, and only about 30 calories per cup

source:american diabetic association

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Spinach
  • Green Beans 
  • Kale 
  • Artichoke
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Asparagus
  • Baby corn
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Beans (green, wax, Italian)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
  • Celery
  • Chayote
  • Coleslaw (packaged, no dressing)
  • Cucumber
  • Daikon
  • Eggplant
  • Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
  • Hearts of palm
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Pea pods
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Salad greens (chicory, endive, escarole, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress)
  • Sprouts
  • Squash (cushaw, summer, crookneck, zucchini)
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato
  • Turnips
  • Water chestnuts


  • Buy them fresh or frozen
  • Enjoy them:
    • Raw 
    • Steamed
    • Boiled 
    • Simmered in low-soduim chicken or vegetable broth 
    • Roasted in the oven 
    • sautéed with small amount of olive oil, garlic, and seasoning
    • Dip with dijon mustard, salsa, low calorie dressing, home-made ranch dip (ranch seasoning packet in greek yogurt)
  • Make sure to not add a lot of butter or oil while cooking these veggies! There is 100 - 110 calories per 1 tablespoon of fat which is more than 3 times the calories in a cup of these veggies! 

Come back for more weight loss tips!


Source: American Diabetes Association, Today Show, Joy Bauer, RD
Image: creativedoxfoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Omega 3 and your brain

Need another reason to be a believer in the benefits of omega 3?
A new study from the Journal of Neurology looked at the amount of omega 3 fatty acid levels in 1575 subjects and markers of accelerated brain again.
Lower DHA levels (an omega 3 fatty acid found in oily fish) was found to be associated with a smaller brain and cognitive impairment! subjects with low DHA levels scored lower on tests of visual memory and abstract thinking than subjects with higher levels of DHA.

So unless you eat salmon or herring three times a week, I am a strong believer in fish oil supplements!
Check out my previous post on how to choose the perfect supplement here. You should get over a gram per day of DHA+EPA (look on the nutrition label.)

Read more about omega-3 fatty acids and how they are proposed to work in my previous post here.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Healthy Lifestyle: Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices not only add flavor to your foods but they have health benefits beyond that. Due to this reason herbs and spices can be used to develop a healthy lifestyle. According to Food & Nutrition Magazine, a new publication from the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics, "Vitally all herbs and spices display antimicrobial and antioxidant activity." Also, using herbs and spices in your cooking allows you to use less salt, which is great because a high sodium diet can worsen blood pressure, and increases risk for  stomach cancer.

Here are a few herbs and spices worth stocking up on in your kitchen:


1. Cinnamon - Can help with controlling blood glucose which would benefit diabetics but also all people, because spikes in blood glucose are something all people should try to control.

  • Use in pasta sauces, sprinkle on top of fruit, use in baking, goes great with apples. 

2. Garlic - Helps by protecting you from developing heart disease and lowering blood pressure. Also reduces your risk for stomach and colon cancer.

  • Adds great flavor to all your recipes, can be also sprinkled on raw vegetables.

3. Ginger -  Helps with nausea, dizziness, and vomiting in both people who underwent surgery or women that are pregnant.

  • Can be used to make a tea

4. Turmeric - I wrote a whole post about the health benefits of turmeric, read that post here.

5. Onion Powder - Has an anti-depressant like effect and anti-cancer properties.

  • Can be added to all of your recipes

6. Paprika - Can help in management of type 2 diabetes, and has antioxidant properties which help reverse damage to our body from aging.

  • There is hot and sweet variations. I use both in my tomato sauce for pasta, sweet kind is great on potatoes. 

*Remember to store your spices in a dark, cool place. Best used within 12 months of purchase.*

A picture I took of spices sold by weight in Jerusalem, Israel at the market. 

Come back later this week for recipes including these and other spices and herbs. If you are uncomfortable using spices, start out by buying a spice blend from Mrs. Dash and use it in your usual cooking.  Read my post of spice blends such as Mrs. Dash here.


Source: Food and Nutrition Magazine, PubMed 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Workout challenge - day 7

Here is today's workout:
Incase you don't know what a certain move is google the name and an explanation will come up, they are all pretty simple workout moves. 
Try to do 3 songs, at once or at different times throughout the day. 
I included good workout songs here

Incase you missed the rest of the challenge here are the rest of the days of the workout challenge, use the checkoff list from day 1 to keep you on track! 

I think these motivational drawings are so effective, download them and print them out or keep them as the background of your computer. You can find more here

Thanks for reading my health blog! 


Pack a healthy lunch - day 1

Here is the lunch I packed for work today: 
I made Barilla Plus pasta yesterday ( a high protein, high fiber pasta that tastes great, so it is a healthy food) and ate it with tomato sauce for dinner last night and made it into a pasta salad for work today (killed 2 stones with one bird, and what.) Add whatever vegetables you have in your fridge, because all are considered a healthy food (I added cucumber, tomatoes, and olives) and low fat cheese (I added low-fat feta cheese.) Make a healthy dressing of lemon, olive oil, and salt and pre pack the night before for work! I also took with me grapes, a reusable water bottle, and a nutrition bar for a midmorning snack!

Snacks: I brought grapes and carrots as my healthy snack. You can bring for the carrots either hummus as a dip or the low-fat ranch dip I made by mixing a ranch seasoning mix with greek yogurt! 

Come back for more healthy foods and health and weight loss news and tips!