Due to the Coronavirus, Nutrition Energy is excited to offer phone and virtual appointments to all our clients!
Working in collaboration with our professional colleagues, including physicians, coaches, and therapists, Nutrition Energy is available to
any individuals who may desire/require nutritional counseling or medical nutritional therapy during this difficult time.
We completely understand how challenging it can be right now to buy food, plan meals and snacks, cook, and know when we want or need to eat. Some people tend to not be hungry under times of uncertainty or stress, while many others may turn to food during emotional times or when bored. We are here to help you navigate those challenges, and since we are doing phone and virtual video sessions right now, we can do virtual sessions with you right from your own home or even your kitchen. Let us help you listen to and acknowledge your hunger, or create a schedule for shopping, meal planning, cooking and snacking during this unprecedented time.
If you, your family, or friends need help managing your blood sugar, cholesterol, or just need help figuring out meals in the kitchen please schedule a virtual appointment by contacting our office!
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Hello Nutrition Energy Friends!
Welcome to June! Although Memorial Day weekend may not have felt like a typical summer holiday because our favorite places aren't open for business and we still have to limit our numbers in groups, but we at Nutrition Energy hope you were able to make the best of it. We don't know about you, but the rising temperatures leave us wanting to let our hair down, be outside as much as possible and enjoy the
sun's warmth into our pores.
While you may not know which day of the week it is or how many weeks we've been in quarantine, you may have noticed some tendencies you didn't have before you started working from home, including emotional/stress eating, more time sitting at your make shift home office desk (or on
the couch), or possibly over-exercising to combat loneliness/boredom or anxiety. Since quarantine began, most of us, including those who ordinarily do not consider themselves emotional eaters, may have turned to using food as a coping mechanism. This week, we want to explore stress eating and also highlight foods that can help boost our mood to combat feelings of anxiety.
First things first! Stress eating is a normal human behavior, so before we go any further, we want to emphasize that sometimes stress eating is ok! The act of eating diverts our focus away from whatever is stressing us out, and science has shown us that stress triggers our body's fight or flight response which releases cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol increases hunger because the body craves energy (specifically energy-dense foods high in calories, sugar and fat - enter "junk food") to fight said stress. So now that you know you can and should "go-easy" on yourself for whatever you have been doing and feeling over the past few months, lets talk about what we can do going forward, beginning with mom of boosting foods.
Part 1 - Nutrition
Mood Boosting Foods
We certainly do not want you to give up your favorite comfort foods when you
're feeling stressed or anxious, but we DO want to highlight foods that can boost your mood by giving your brain and body powerful nutrients they crave.
- We know that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are good for the heart, but they also play a role in mental health and may protect against depression. Studies show that 2-4 g/d is a good target for a therapeutic mood-boosting effect. We recommend 2 servings fatty fish per week including salmon, herring, or sardines plus a supplement (we love and trust this fish oil supplement from Previnex) to reach this goal. If you want to give it a try, click HERE and enjoy 15% off this quality fish oil supplement with code NutritionEnergy15!). Friendly reminder required here: Especially for anyone taking blood thinners or even aspirin daily, please consult your doctor before taking any omega-3 supplements as fish oil can further thin the blood.
- Green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are great sources of folate, which is essential for the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that contributes to wellbeing and happiness - the happy chemical!
- Probiotics found in fermented foods including yogurt and kimchi may help keep up your spirit up in addition to keeping digestion on track. Start your day off strong with a beautiful and delicious yogurt parfait with fruit and granola.
- Dark chocolate (yes, you heard us correctly!) contains caffeine and other compounds which may affect mood and may also boost serotonin levels (which combat the effects of cortisol). In moderate amounts, the antioxidants in this delicious treat can also help improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- It is well documented that carbohydrates increase serotonin levels- so there IS a scientific reason we crave them and why they make us feel so good. Unfortunately, with the recent popularity of low carb diets, we're hearing many clients speak of struggling to find the best balance for them. If you are looking to reduce anxiety and/or improve your mood, maybe it's time to reconsider bringing carbs back. To anyone currently following a lower carb (or no carb) diet, if this resonates with you and you are interested in finding out how changing your diet can improve your mood, please reach out to us by phone or email - we are here to help!
Stress Reduction Strategies
- Know your triggers. Knowing what exacerbates your stress (e.g. watching the news or not feeling like you have a moment to yourself) and how to mitigate your stress response is key to responding in a better way. Pro tip: keep a journal for a week including thoughts and feelings before and after you eat and see if you notice any trends.
- Embrace your favorite comfort foods. Nutrition Energy dietitians feel strongly that we should all include our favorite foods in our diet. Food provides us not only with sustenance and nutrition, but also joy, and comfort, which are especially valuable emotions during this pandemic when so many things in life are uncertain. Establishing a healthy relationship with your favorite foods may help you avoid the cycle of feeling guilty after eating in response to a stressful situation.
- Have a tea party. Sipping on some herbal tea can be a calming ritual to help us feel more in the moment. The magic is in L-theanine, an amino acid that can help promote relaxation without feeling drowsy - perfect for an afternoon tea party.
- Pre-portion snacks. Let's face it - sometimes none of the above works and you just want to munch on something. Here's where the effort of pre-portioning a few different snacks can pay off, because you can look into your cabinet and choose from the quart-size bag of popcorn, the snack-size bag of trail mix, or the sandwich bag of chocolate chips. This gives you time to munch on your favorite snack while you figure out your next move.
We all indulge in emotional eating, and we want to reiterate that you should never feel guilty about it! It's a common coping mechanism and during these uncertain times, it can be the perfect anxiety relief sometimes. But for those of you who feel that your emotional eating is interfering with your day or overall life goals, please reach out and let us help.
Summer is getting closer, but there is still a little chill in the air. We thought this week's recipe is a great transition from heavier dishes that kept us warm during the winter months. The vibrant and earthy colors remind us that warmer weather is on its way!
Lemony Green Pasta with Peas and Ricotta
Source: Cookie and Kate
The vibrant green of this fresh pasta has us yearning for warmer temperatures! It's a great dish to make for the whole family when you're really in an Iron Chef kind of mood and are looking for a creative way to sneak in nutritious kale to your kids' plates.
- Fine sea salt
- 1 large bunch (8 ounces) kale (any variety will work)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- Zest and juice from 1 medium lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (reduce or omit if sensitive to spice)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) rigatoni (may substitute any pasta you prefer - chickpea or lentil are good protein alternatives)
- 2 cups (8 ounces) peas, fresh or frozen
- 3/4 cup (2 ounces) coarsely grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
- Prepare kale by slicing or stripping the leaves from the stems (save them!). Discard the rough bottom of the stems, then slice the stems into pieces about 1/4 inch wide. Place the stem pieces in a fine mesh sieve.
- When the water is boiling, place the sieve in the water, resting the lip against the top of the pot. Cook the stems for 3 minutes, then remove the sieve and add all of the kale leaves to the pot. Put the sieve back in the water on top of the leaves and cook for 5 minutes (do not drain the water).
- Warm the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic begins to sizzle, then reduce heat to low. Cook gently until the garlic is soft and turning lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the contents into a stand blender.
- Add the cooked kale stems to the blender. Use tongs to transfer the kale leaves over to the blender. Add most of the zest from the lemon and 1 tablespoon of the juice. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, the red pepper flakes (if using), and pepper to taste.
- Blend until mixture is completely smooth and silky, adding more spoonfuls of water from the pot if necessary to gain traction. Taste and add more salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and lemon as needed. Set aside.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente according to the package directions. Place the peas in the sieve and cook them in the water until their warmed throughout, about 1-2 minutes (2-3 if frozen). Set peas aside.
- Before draining the pasta, scoop about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta, then return it to the pot. Pour in the green sauce, about 3/4 cup parmesan cheese and the peas, and add a small splash of the pasta water. Stir gently until the pasta is well coated, adding another splash or two of pasta water to loosen the sauce and it make it almost creamy.
- Divide into bowls immediately. Top each with a sprinkle of the remaining parmesan cheese, a few dollops of ricotta, and a sprinkle of lemon zest and red pepper flakes (if using).
Part 2 - Daily Movement
For this week's movement pillar, we turn to Nutrition Energy friend Chris
, a personal trainer who has provided us with a great at home workout routine that doesn't require any equipment!
5-Exercise Full Body No Gym Equipment at Home Routine
By Chris Campagnola Personal Trainer CSCS, ACE, LMT
This routine is meant for healthy, asymptomatic individuals. Perform each exercise in succession with 15 seconds rest between exercises. Do 3 to 5 sets.
1. Squats - if there's one exercise that has the ability to challenge most of the muscles in your body, it's the squat. Many of these muscles help power you through daily tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, bending, or carrying heavy loads. They also help you perform athletic-related activities. Start by standing straight, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and your arms at your sides. Brace your core and, keeping your chest and chin up, push your hips back and bend your knees as if you're going to sit in a chair. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground extending your arms out in front of you in a comfortable position, pause for one second, then extend your legs and return to the starting position. 10 to 20 reps.
2. Pushups - pushups are one of the most basic yet effective bodyweight exercises you can perform because of the number of muscles that are recruited to perform them. Start in a plank position on your hands. Keep your core tight, shoulders braced and your neck neutral. As you lower yourself down, focus on your chest touching the floor first before your stomach. Then, extend your elbows and return to the starting position. Keep your elbows about 45 degrees from your body during the movement. If you can't perform a regular pushup with good form, use a modified stance on your knees instead of your toes. Do as many repetitions as you can leaving 1 or 2 left in the tank.
3. Lunges - this exercise focuses on your glutes, hamstrings, and quads as well as your balance. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Take a step forward with your right leg bending your right knee as you do so. As your bending your right knee to lower yourself, lift the heel of your left foot to shift most of the weight to the right leg. Pay particular attention to NOT let the knee of the right leg pass your right foot. Push up off your right foot and return to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg. Do 6 to 10 repetitions each leg.
4. Dumbbell row (using a carry on suitcase or backpack filled with water bottles, books, etc. or a milk jug or laundry detergent bottle) - This exercise strengthens and tones multiple muscles in your back as well as your core. Rest the backpack on the ground in front of a sturdy thigh high platform where you can place one hand to lean on when doing this exercise. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart 2 to 3 feet away from the platform, lean forward at the hips and place your left hand on the platform. Reach down and pick up the backpack in your right hand with a neutral grip (palm facing you), then hold it with your arm extended, keeping your back straight. Bring the backpack up to your chest, concentrating on lifting it with your back and shoulder muscles rather than your arms. Stick your chest out as you lift. Lower the backpack slowly until your arm is fully extended again. Do 10 to 15 repetitions each side.
5. Side Plank - great exercise for strengthening the oblique abdominals, shoulder, and upper back muscles. Lie on your left side with your knees straight. Prop your body up on your left elbow and forearm. Raise your right hand until it's perpendicular with your torso. Your body should form a T. Brace your core by contracting your abs forcefully as if you were about to be punched in the gut. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Breathe deeply. Hold this position for 15 - 30 seconds on each side
Chris Campagnola is a CSCS certified personal trainer. With over 25 years of experience, Chris works with varied clientele from ages 16 to 99 whose needs range from strength training, weight loss,
and endurance. He resides in New York, NY. For more information, you can email him at
or by telephone at (917) 692-4661.
Part 3 - Mindfullness/Mental and Emotional Health
In honor of just rounding up the month of May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, we want to check in and see how you are doing. Everyone is experiencing different levels of anxiety and worry right now -which is totally normal. We want to remind you just how important it is to keep tabs on your mental health and to make time to hit pause every day, even if it's just for one minute. Being mindful can help you feel more aware of what's going on both internally and externally. It can help you to focus your attention, which is helpful when your home has also become an office and possibly even a school.
While being mindful looks different from person to person, the goal for everyone is the same: achievement of alert and focused relaxation to refocus on the present moment. We know that teaching your mind to be mindful can be challenging and intimidating for some, but since when did a good challenge deter you? Put on some music, change your atmosphere to help you feel more calm, talk to a friend (about something other than COVID-19). Take the time while you're in quarantine to train yourself to bring your focus inward. After each session, no matter what it looks like, we promise you'll feel reenergized and ready for your next task! Remember that mental health is part of overall health, so it's just as important as eating a wholesome diet, getting enough exercise, and keeping up on your medication.
If you have at all been wondering whether you might find it beneficial to speak with a professional, now might be the time. If you
've never had a therapist or have had one and lost touch, many therapists are still doing virtual sessions, so if you feel like you need to talk to someone, reach out! After all, who wouldn't benefit from speaking to a qualified professional about handling everything that's going on?
A Note from Lauren...
With the warmer weather approaching, we understand the difficulty spending time indoors and feeling 'cooped up'. Hopefully some of the workouts and mindfullness articles we've been listing in our newsletters have been helping to keep your body and mind active. We hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy at home, and have enjoyed our newest installment of our COVID-19 home health newsletter. Thanks to all of you who reached out to us the previous weeks with questions you wanted us to cover in future newsletters.
Please continue to reach out to us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone: 646-361-6803, or on social media:
on Twitter, and
, to let us know what you need to hear about, and we will include it in our next newsletter.
As always, the Dietitians at Nutrition Energy are here to support you during this difficult time, and
continue to offer telehealth nutrition sessions, (as video and phone sessions), for both existing and new
clients in order to help support you continuing (or beginning) to work towards your health and fitness
goals in the best way possible. If you, a friend, or family member could use some additional and
individualized help creating healthy nutrition, exercise and mindfulness habits right now, we are here to
Lauren Antonucci, Director