March Newsletter


In This Issue
Going Nuts for Nuts!
GERD: What it is and How to Prevent with Food
A Note from Lauren...
A Note from Lauren...
Nutrition Energy
In the News!

Lauren Antonucci, MS, RDN, CSSD, CDE, CDN
Lauren Antonucci, MS, RDN, CSSD, CDE, CDN 

**Upcoming Events**

Nutrition for Triathletes
Hosted By:  Empire Tri Club
When:  Thurs, April 6
Time:  6 :30 PM
Columbus Circle, Central Park
Lauren Antonucci, MS, RDN, CSSD, CDE, CDN

Sports Nutrition for Swimmers
Hosted By:  Asphalt Green
When: Wed , April 19
Time:  6 :30 PM
Asphalt Green, UES
Lauren Antonucci, MS, RDN, CSSD, CDE, CDN 
& Anne Ronzoni, RDN

Fueling Your Athletic Child/Teen at Asphalt Green
Hosted By: Asphalt Green
When: Thurs, April 20
Time: 6:30 PM
Asphalt Green, UES
Lauren Antonucci, MS, RDN, CSSD, CDE, CDN 
& Anne Ronzoni, RDN

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Issue: #77 March 2017
Going Nuts for Nuts!

March 1st was National Peanut Butter Lover's Day. If you are like us, you love peanuts and want to learn more about the health benefits and wonderful ways to use them. Peanuts and peanut butter sometimes get a bad wrap, competing with other nuts for the spotlight. But this versatile nut, which is actually a legume, can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle and enjoyed by every one of all ages.

All nuts contain varying amounts of protein, healthy fats and fiber! Peanuts, in particular, contain upwards of about 80% of unsaturated fats, referred to as monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). The benefits of unsaturated fats have been extensively studied and overall nut consumption has been linked to helping reduce LDL cholesterol levels, (the unhealthy/ or "lousy" cholesterol), and lowering the risk of heart disease with their anti-inflammatory properties. For an added one-two-three punch, the antioxidants (including vitamin E), and omega-3 fatty acids found in peanuts, also contribute to their anti-inflammatory effect, which may explain the role they play in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

So now that we have helped you to understand why you can and should include peanuts in your life-let's discuss how to best include them!

Natural nut butters have become very popular in recent years and for good reason: they're minimally processed and are made without hydrogenated oils or added sugars. And luckily, you don't have to grind your own, as many brands now make and sell it. When buying natural nut butter, we know it can be tempting, but please make sure you don't skim off the vitamin and mineral rich oil that separates on top. Instead use your muscles and mix that good stuff in. If you pour the oil on top off, you'll be left with dense nut butter at the bottom of the jar that you won't be able to get out! Final tip: once you mix it all together, don't forget to refrigerate so it stays mixed.

And what about powdered peanut butter? We think of this similar to the way we view vanilla extract or cinnamon flavoring. We do not recommend using this to substitute peanut butter in a sandwich, as there we want the real deal (real peanuts WITH the healthy and filling natural fats!). Powdered PB can be a good option when you want to add a peanut butter flavor to a shake without adding more calories.

The American Heart Association recommends eating about four servings of nuts per week. One serving is a handful of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. If portion control is a concern, many companies now sell individual sized packets or cups for a single serving you can take on the go. Nut butter options include Justin's (which offers flavored nut butters in 2 Tbs packets) and Skippy or Jif, though the latter contains hydrogenated oils and added sugars. Trader Joe's sells individual packets of nuts/trail mix which also help with portability and portion control. Emerald Nuts sells 100-cal packs of several types of nuts as well.

We hope you agree that nuts are delicious when eaten alone...but they can also work very well when incorporated into hot oatmeal or lightly pan roasted and tossed into salads. Peanuts are great to top off homemade Asian cuisine or sautéed vegetables. When used for a snack, you can make your own trail mix (recipe below), enjoy with crackers, or pair with fruit for a fiber filled snack. As mentioned above, for on-the-go snacks and easy portion control help, individual packets and cups can be very convenient.
Homemade Trail Mix (8 servings)

  • 1 cup unsalted mixed nuts
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)-or any seed of choice
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 cup unsweetened multigrain cereal


  1. Mix ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Portion out for snacks throughout the week!
Per serving: 230 calories, 8g protein, 15g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 17g fat

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: What GERD is and How to Prevent Flare-Ups with Food

Last week The New York Times published an article in their Well Section about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). As Dietitians we LOVE that we can help clients use food as fuel, for prevention and also to reverse/delay/change the course of many medical conditions. The author stressed the importance and relief reflux sufferers can find through simple changes in diet and exercise. We continue that theme here today and offer additional solutions for you and your family.
First, let's step and examine what GERD actually is.
Hold on for a quick science review here! After we chew and swallow our food, it travels down our esophagus, passes through the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) and enters our stomach. The stomach produces gastric acid, whose purpose is to further break food down before it moves on. Under normal conditions, the sphincter muscles tighten and close, preventing any stomach acids from going up the esophagus. With GERD, the sphincter muscle tone is weak and stomach acid can travel up and backwards into the esophagus, causing symptoms including heartburn, sour taste in the back of the throat, burning sensation, frequently clearing one's throat, or a hoarse voice. Having a hiatal hernia, or being in one's third-trimester of pregnancy can also increase the incidence of GERD. So after reading this, you may have already identified a family member or friend who deals with these symptoms...and carries Tums in their day bag.
The author of the NY Times article points to something commonly seen in our society today - the ease and preference with which most Americans try to fix their problems - by popping a pill. Not surprisingly, we at Nutrition Energy, always take a "food first" approach. Of course we agree that there are times, and medical conditions where there is a need to take medications, but we also acknowledge the role many foods (adding in some cases, reducing in others) play in either exacerbating or alleviating many of the major medical conditions faced in the US today.
Some great tips were given in the New York Times article to minimize the experience of GERD, including quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake. We would also add coffee to that list, including decaf!The caffeine in coffee (as well as in caffeinated sodas, some energy drinks and teas) stimulates our GI tract and relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which can again allow stomach acid to flow backwards, causing GERD. So what about decaf? Regardless of caffeine content, the natural acidity of these beverages also works in much the same way, increasing symptoms. If quitting coffee cold turkey is not an option, then try switching your Starbucks tall (12 oz) to a short (8 oz) to reduce your exposure to both caffeine and acidity. You can also try stepping down your caffeine intake by switching to black, green or herbal tea. Herbal teas are naturally caffeine free and there are so many amazing flavored tea options out there!
Additionally, you will want to avoid high-fat meals and fried foods, both of which delay digestion and encourage acid secretion. Avoid spicy foods - the capsaicin in spice can irritate the lining of the stomach and esophagus causing discomfort. Finally, eat your last meal or snack at least three hours before bedtime to ensure stomach contents are emptied so no acid travels up the esophagus when lying down.
Here are the five most common mistakes we see in our practice, and why and how to remedy them.
  1. Mistake: Consuming orange juice in the morning on an empty stomach.
The Fix: Once again, the acidity of citrus foods is the culprit. Ditch the juice and see how much better you feel, even within the first week.

  2.  Mistake: Switching from regular coffee to decaf. As we discussed above, the acidic nature of coffee remains regardless of caffeine content.
The Fix: Switch to green tea, or matcha, both of which are significantly lower in both caffeine and acidity, or herbal teas - all of which naturally have no caffeine.

  3.  Mistake: Eating three large meals. Larger meals mean a longer time to digest and gastric distention, which can put more pressure on the LES sphincter.
The Fix: Try smaller, more frequent meals, to avoid distention that keeps things moving.

4.  Mistake: Late night dinner. Between family, work hours or work related events, we get     that dinner sometimes happens too close to bedtime. Eating soon before laying down makes it more likely that stomach acids will reverse up and into the esophagus.
The Fix: This one is pretty principle. Make it a habit of eating earlier, and when that's not an option, simply have a balanced snack mid-afternoon and eat lightly at that late-night meal.

5.   The Mistake: Alcohol without restraint. One of the top GI irritants, alcohol, as you can now guess, is not only acidic, but also relaxes the LES sphincter.

The Fix: Just say no! Pass on the alcohol and sodas whenever possible. If you need something fizzy to drink, try club soda which may actually provide relief from symptoms because of the baking soda added to it.
As an aside, tight fitting clothing can also worsen reflux, especially after a meal, by increasing intra-abdominal pressure that pushes stomach acid into the esophagus. Keep this in mind when choosing clothing and always dress comfortably!
Finally, having GERD can serve as one additional motivator for reducing any excess body weight we have been carrying around, as it can lead to great reductions in symptoms as well. If losing weight is part of your goal in managing acid reflux, then we encourage you to view it as we do - as a process of making realistic and sustainable lifestyle changes - as opposed to "being on a diet."

Tweet us @NutritionEnergy and share some of your tips for managing acid reflux or let us know if any of the suggestions in the article were helpful for you.

Welcome Allie Matarasso to our Nutrition Energy Family!

   We are thrilled to welcome Registered Dietitian, Allie Matarasso, to our Nutrition Energy team. Allie has a strong passion for health, and has dedicated her life's work to improving individual's wellness through nutrition. Before joining our team, Allie engaged in research on the effect of vitamin D on the progression of prostate cancer, worked for Cooking up Energy, a youth-based cooking and nutrition education program, and completed her Master's thesis on the effect of different exercise interventions on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Allie is a Certified Diabetes Educator who works with individuals with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes to achieve nutritional balance and glycemic control.
   Allie also specializes in helping individuals with behavior change for long term successful weight loss/maintenance and changing their relation with food for the better, and enjoying the food they eat more while eating more mindfully and healthfully.
   Allie played tennis and ran track competitively in high school, then worked as a personal trainer during graduate school, and has developed both an understanding and appreciation of all aspects of exercise/training on health. When not helping clients, she enjoys visiting farmers markets for new produce, taking advance of the beauty of Central park and spending time with her family, including her two dogs Roxy and Elf. Allie looks forward to working with you, or your friends and family, at Nutrition Energy soon.

A Note from Lauren...

GERD is never a pleasant experience.  Knowing how to prevent or lessen the symptoms can greatly affect your day-to-day life, especially for chronic sufferers.  While the New York Times and our own articles touched on some simple dietary changes to help minimize the effects of GERD, there are many individualized changes that can be made without using medication.  All of the dietitians here at Nutrition Energy can help customize a plan specifically to you!  
Spring is around the corner, and that means more runners and bikers in Central Park and the surrounding areas.  Have you thought about training for this season's events?  Make sure to check out the Team in Training and New York Road Runner groups.  You can find a team or group that fits your schedule - and have the support you need to accomplish your training and event goals! Make sure to contact the dietitians at Nutrition Energy to help you figure out your body fueling needs and nutrition when training!

Also - congratulations to all our runners who participated in the New York City Half Marathon this past weekend!

Lauren Antonucci, Director
Nutrition Energy