Happy Thursday! We are back with another edition of Ask the RD to answer some of the most frequent questions we get as dietitians. We love hearing from readers and clients on questions that you have, so as always, feel free to reach out to us!
What are your thoughts on frozen meals/ entrees, especially for a quick lunch on the go? What criteria should we use when selecting a frozen meal?
Frozen meals can be extremely convenient for busy people. And, they are usually a healthier option than eating out if you are unable to pack a lunch or bring leftovers from the night before, as long as you choose the right one! But, there can be some options available on the market that are not the healthiest. Some of our favorite brands are Kashi, Evol, Amy’s or the Simply line from Healthy Choice; however, it is important to review the nutrition label and ingredient list before making any purchases. Even some of the “healthier” brands can be loaded with saturated fat, sodium or a long list of ingredients. Some important aspects to consider while trying to choose a frozen meal include:
- Look for a good ratio of protein to carbohydrates. Ideally, look for a meal with as much protein as carbohydrates (if not more). In fact, I would recommend avoiding any meal that has a significantly higher amount of carbohydrates than protein.
- Choose a frozen meal that does not have more than 600 mg sodium per serving but definitely not over 800 mg. If your doctor has placed you on a sodium restricted diet, these markers may be even less.
- Look for a clean ingredient list – the less ingredients, the better.
A great option that meets all of these qualifications is the Grilled Chicken Pesto and Vegetables meal from Healthy Choice (Simply Cafe Steamers line). With 200 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrate, 27 grams of protein and 600 mg sodium per meal, this frozen entree makes our list for meals to consider!
Why is it so important to eat breakfast?
Because you go all night without eating, breakfast is found to be the most crucial meal of the day. Some of the reasons why eating breakfast is so important include:
- Weight control: Eating breakfast jump starts your metabolism. In fact, studies have shown that it helps prevent overeating later in the day.
- Skipping breakfast may increase your risk of diabetes.
- Studies show that eating breakfast is correlated with lowering your risk of heart disease in the future.
- If you eat breakfast you are more likely to have improved cognitive function and memory.
Check out our breakfast recipes for some great options that are easy to prepare for a quick breakfast on the go!
What can I eat that keeps me fuller for longer?
Fiber is one of the best nutrients to keep you fuller for longer. So, by choosing healthier, whole grain alternatives instead of white breads, pasta, and potatoes, you are consuming foods with substance. Some healthier options of carbohydrates that would include fiber would be natural popcorn, a piece of fruit, whole grain bread, Ezekiel bread (low sugar option), brown rice, etc. Also, try adding a protein to each carbohydrate you eat. For instance, for breakfast, don’t just eat a piece of whole grain toast but add a protein like an over easy egg or peanut butter/ almond butter on top. This combination will keep you fuller for longer, as protein and fat take longer to digest than carbohydrates alone.
Hydration is another key in feeling satisfied. Many times hunger is mistaken for thirst. Make sure to drink at least 64 oz of water per day to stay hydrated (plus more if you are physically active or sweating a lot).
Is hot tea really as good for you as some people say? If so, what kinds have the best health benefits?
Hot tea can be good for you – depending on what kind you are drinking and how it is prepared! If you are using it as a replacement for a sugary coffee drink in the morning (especially when it’s cold outside), it can definitely have added benefits. However, if you are drinking it instead of water, it can be dehydrating if it contains caffeine. Looking for a hot tea option? Try hot Green tea with lemon and honey for a naturally sweetened drink with an antioxidant boost!