Q + A, Part 5

Your nutrition and fitness questions answered! | The Slender Student

Do you ever take a break from eating all healthy and just stop at a fast food place to get a cheeseburger?

Do you think that overnight oats are good to eat everyday? I eat mine like so: 1/3 cup oats, 1 tub (170g) 0% fat free Chobani Greek yogurt, some cinnamon, 2 teaspoons chia seeds and in the morning I add 1 banana, 1/4 cup All Bran,  1/4 cup berries and sometimes a tablespoon of PB. I’m worried that this is too many calories for one meal?
So I checked this out, and it looks like that’s about a 500 calorie breakfast. It’s hard to say if that’s “too many” for one meal because I don’t know your activity level or what you eat for the rest of the day, but it’s definitely within the range of acceptability. If you’re still worried, though, there’s definitely some ways to get that number a little lower. Chia seeds and peanut butter are both fat sources, so I’d probably halve the amount of peanut butter (that’ll take you from 100 calories to 50…bonus points if you switch you all natural almond butter). While you’re at it, halve the banana as well since you already have carbohydrate from the oats, yogurt, and berries (this will also save you about 50 calories.) Since you’re getting in some grains from the oats, you could also decrease the All Bran. Oh, and to answer your first question, overnight oats is the breakfast of champs. A+.

I can not get it working in my head how foods high in fat like avocados and coconut oil are healthy? Fats are bad right?
No! Fats are not bad (though some are better choices than others), and eating fats won’t make you fat. Eating in excess of your caloric needs will make you fat. Get the full low down on what your best fat sources are and why in this post: Fat Decoded

See if your questions have been answered in past Q + As, or ask one of your own now!

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In Control

For most people, distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy foods isn’t much of an issue. If I were to tell you that an apple is more nutritious than a bag of chips, most of you would nod your head in agreement (and perhaps feel the urge to slap me for insulting your intelligence so flagrantly).

If I were to ask you how big that apple or bag of chips should be to constitute one serving, though, you might come up short. Most college students (and humans in general) go for those jumbo apples, assuming they’re a better value, without taking into account that they have twice the calories of what a true, single serving apple is. And the number of chips you ate last week, lying in bed after your accounting exam was likely far greater than the serving size on the nutrition label, despite whatever you told yourself.

The portion size issue runs far deeper than just a single snack, though. Restaurant portions and family size items have totally skewed our understanding of what one person really needs to be nutritionally satisfied. And while you don’t necessarily need to limit yourself to one serving of some foods at a time, if you’re going to double (or triple) up, it’s important that you do so consciously and perhaps reconcile it elsewhere in your daily intake.

Portion control by food group | The Slender Student [click to enlarge + print]

This chart made a huge difference in the way I eat. Last summer when I was doing Weight Watchers, I’d snack on cups and cups of fruit because I was hungry and because it was 0 PointsPlus. When the scale didn’t budge, it didn’t take long for me to attribute my plateau to the hundreds of calories I was consuming in fruit. Now I don’t see any problem with having a piece of fruit as a snack, but I know that having a cup or less of raspberries is going to do me more good than demolishing the whole box. These days my sandwiches are almost always served open face, allowing me to pile on more nutritious and satisfying toppings like turkey, avocado, and as many veggies as I can stack.

So, click on the chart, print it, stick it on your fridge, and use it. To see the daily number of recommended servings for each food group, check out this handy little poster from Choose My Plate.

If you have any questions about portion control (or anything else), ask away in the comments section!

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Meatless Monday: Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad

I’ve been standing on a sack lunch soapbox for a couple weeks now. I feel like it’s a pretty surefire way to slender down. Yeah, it might take a little more prep and planning than it does to stand in line at the campus Chik-Fil-A, but if you’re not willing to put forth that extra bit of effort, then you must not be that serious about making changes for your health.

Ooh, it’s like I’m getting all Jillian Michaels on you or something.

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad | The Slender Student

Despite my tough love, I do want to make this as easy as possible. That’s why I wrote Slender Essentials: Sack Lunch, which contains links to all of my portable meal gear, as well as Take It To Go, a post with sample meals and a grocery list.

Use today’s recipe to keep on keepin’ on with your slender lunch packing. I made this kale salad Sunday night and then divvied it up between my lunches last Monday through Thursday. Having a nutritious side dish ready to go really helped me out when I was spending my time online shopping instead of studying for my accounting and nutrition exams. Time management, y’all!

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad | The Slender Student

Makes: about 4 cups | Serving size: 1/2 cup | Calories per serving: 42.9
Fat: 2.3 g (Sat Fat: 0.5 g) | Carbohydrate: 4.7 g | Fiber: 1.4 g| Protein: 1.9 g

1 bunch of kale
3 T chopped onion
2 T minced garlic
1 T olive oil
juice of one lemon
2 T shredded parmesan cheese

1. Thoroughly rinse and dry your kale. Chop into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together your onion, minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese.
3. Pour the dressing over the kale and massage with your hands for a minute or two until the leaves are slightly wilted.
4. Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating to allow the kale to absorb the flavor.

Recipe inspired by CookSmarts.

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Take It To Go: Portable Lunch Inspiration

Not too long ago, I gave y’all the scoop on my essentials for sack lunches. Now that you have the gear, I assume you’re ready to fill it. But if you grew up with your mom packing your lunch, or if your go-to portable meal consists of white bread, peanut butter, and jelly, then you might need a little guidance. Fret not, today’s post has both meal inspiration and a grocery list to get you started. I’ll be here, e-holding your hand the whole way.

Take yourself from PB&J to inspired, healthy portable lunches! | The Slender Student

one: Flat Out wrap with 2 ounces low sodium turkey breast, mustard, and thinly sliced cucumber; 1/2 cup cereal (a mix of Kashi GoLean Crunch, Fiber One Original, and Fiber One 80 Calories Chocolate); 1/2 cup strawberries

two: 2 ounces chopped low sodium turkey breast, chopped veggies (cucumber, grape tomatoes, and bell pepper), 2 teaspoons of honey mustard; 1 slice of Ezekiel bread; Babybel Light cheese and celery sticks; 1/4 cup each of strawberries and blueberries (not pictured)

three: a half serving of Banyan Tofu Fried Rice (I found mine at Central Market but you could always substitute it with 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice or quinoa + 1 tablespoon of teriyaki sauce + 2 tablespoons of shelled edamame), 3 ounces of baked chicken (season it with a little garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper); 1/4 cup blueberries; small apple; 1/2 cup of cucumber salad

four (vegetarian): one Boca Burger (vegan or vegetarian), 3 tablespoons of hummus; cinnamon sweet potato slices (thinly slice a sweet potato, sprinkle with cinnamon, and bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes; one potato yields 2 servings); baby carrots and sliced bell pepper

five (vegetarian): 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa, 1/4 cup canned black beans (drained and rinsed), chopped veggies (cucumber, grape tomato, bell pepper, etc.), 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 ounce of reduced fat feta cheese; baby carrots; sliced strawberries

The following grocery list contains all of the ingredients for the lunches pictured and described above. Of course if something doesn’t appeal to you, just cross it off the list. And you’re not limited to the meals or ingredients I’ve shown, these are just the tried and true things that have gotten me through two semesters of meal prep.

A grocery list for creative and healthy sack lunches! (See linked blog post for sample meals and instructions ) | The Slender Student [click to enlarge + print this list]

Let me know if you have any questions or meal prepping tips of your own! I’m always looking for new things to bring to campus.

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Q + A, Part 3

Today I’m answering another handful of the questions y’all have submitted. Be sure to read part 1 and part 2 to see if I answered your question or just to check out the answer to something you probably wanted to know anyway. If you’re still feeling snubbed, please submit any question you’d like!
Your nutrition questions answered! | The Slender Student

How did you get into the whole healthy lifestyle thing? Is it how you were raised, or was it a decision you made for yourself as you got older?
I’d say that my inclination toward health has been a work in progress. As an overweight kid, I’ve always been very body conscious. Losing that weight occurred through a combination of simply growing into my body, Weight Watchers, and sessions with a registered dietitian. Plus, my mom’s a naturally thin woman with naturally healthy eating habits (ugh, lucky lady), and I’m sure that’s also played a significant role in how I ended up where I am today (though I’m definitely not nutritionally perfect by any means).

So, since nutrition was an interest of mine throughout my adolescence, it seemed like a natural choice to major in it. Since then, my passion for the subject has only grown, as manifested by The Slender Student. In about a year, I’ll be set to take the certification exam to become a Registered Dietitian, making it not just a hobby, but my full time career too. 

I am dependent on at least 2 cups of coffee a day (one in the morning and one in the early afternoon) to stay awake for a whole day of classes. Are there any healthy alternatives that pack the same punch? I love my coffee but worry it’s inhibiting my true slender potential!
Ah, a caffeine fiend; a reader after my own heart. Before you go any further, read my Coffee Talk post.

Are you back? K, great. So, if by “coffee” you mean coffee, then sit back and enjoy your two cups. But, if by “coffee” you mean a grande caramel macchiato double syrup with heavy whip, then it’s probably time to reevaluate. How do I get my slender caffeine fix while maintaining a bit of decadence? So glad you asked. On colder days, I’ll get my grande coffee with steamed nonfat milk and Splenda . The thick frothiness makes the drink a little creamier, which makes it seem more like a treat than its low calorie count lets on. In the summer, I’ll ask for a half pump of sugar free vanilla syrup in my grande iced coffee. Leave the sugar, whole milk, caramel drizzle and whipped cream behind the counter and it’ll stay off your waist too.

Hi, I am a lactose-intolerant vegetarian, and find it really hard to get enough protein in my diet. I normally end up with meals made majorly of carbohydrates. Do you have any suggestions of ways to incorporate more protein into my diet? Thanks :)
Hey! Ok, so I’m really excited to answer this question because as you may have noticed, I’ve been incorporating Meatless Mondays into my weekly routine so I’m just, like, super revved up about plant-based proteins. As a vegetarian, it’s crucial that you understand how to combine complementary foods to make complete proteins. Once you understand that concept, it’s time to shop. To prepare for my vegetarian meals, I make sure to purchase at least one alternative source of protein (tofu, tempeh), some sort of bean (canned black or garbanzo; reduced sodium is best), quinoa, almond butter, and, of course, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.  I’m able to combine these ingredients into nutritious, protein-packed vegetarian mealsSince you’re lactose intolerant, I also suggest you check out dairy alternatives made from soy, almonds, or coconut that are calcium fortified.

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