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How Much Do You Know About Your Cup Of Joe?


How Much Do You Know About Your Cup Of Joe?

As a Registered Dietitian, one of the questions I get regularly is surrounding the topic of coffee and whether or not it is healthy or harmful. The answer, unfortunately (like everything regarding nutrition) is not black or white.

The average person in the US consumes about 3 cups of coffee per day. I’ve heard everything from people being “addicted to coffee” to “plugging their nose while downing an espresso shot” purely to reap the benefits of the caffeine. However, the majority of people I talk to genuinely enjoy the taste of their morning brew as well as their morning ritual of having their cup of coffee to start the day (myself included)!

In recent years, there have been numerous studies that indicate coffee delivers more health benefits than risk.  Coffee is one of the largest sources of antioxidants in the western culture diet.  Moderate consumption has been shown to lower cancer risk, decrease risk for developing Parkinson’s disease, help to control insulin levels and decrease risk for type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.  Coffee is also believed to increase cognitive function and athletic performance.

With these benefits – it seems like drinking coffee is a no brainer right? So what are the potential problems with coffee?

The first problem is what you put into your coffee.  The average Starbucks order is 300-400 calories.  This is like a dessert for breakfast.  Made with love, but also a whole lot of extra fat and calories.

Solution - Switch to a non-fat milk latte and try to decrease the sugar you add in (yes – honey, agave, and Sugar in the Raw is still sugar). Try jazzing up your coffee with cinnamon or vanilla powder (for more antioxidants and polyphenols). My favorite substitution when brewing my own coffee at home is using organic unsweetened Silk soy milk.  It provides a creamy/vanilla flavor while saving money!

Short on time in the morning? Easy! I set my coffee pot the night before! Oh, technology these days!

So how MUCH coffee should I drink?

Experts recommend 3 cups (8 ounces each) is “moderate consumption”.

Who should limit coffee/caffeine intake?

If you have hypertension, are elderly, are pregnant or breastfeeding it is suggested to limit intake to about 200mg of caffeine per day.

How to choose the best coffee?

Look at the quality and how it was grown. Fairtrade and organic ensure high quality coffee beans. Coffee is a heavily sprayed crop with pesticides so it is important to look into where your beans are coming from.

Does coffee affect hormones?

Caffeine has been found to exacerbate stress and increase cortisol levels (cortisol is your body's stress hormone that increases when your body is under physical/mental/emotional stress). If you are someone with an increased sensitivity or have thyroid issues, you may want to be mindful of your caffeine consumption.

When is the best time to drink coffee?

It is important to listen to your body and know how caffeine affects you.  For many people with sleep issues – caffeine is often a contributor.  I recommend drinking your coffee earlier in the day and limit it in the afternoon to avoid sleep disturbance.

The verdict?

Coffee is a win! The latest research is that coffee is not “bad” for you and can offer many health benefits. However, like all things in life, moderation is key and it is important to be mindful of how much you are drinking, what time of day, and those little additions (big calories) that you are putting into your coffee!

Image Source : Chevanon


Is Your Diet Naughty or Nice?


Is Your Diet Naughty or Nice?

Holiday season is upon us and for many people that means family, friends, and food. However, between the office parties, family gatherings, and food-based gifts, it is common for people to ditch their diets and skip exercise.  It becomes increasingly hard to make healthy choices when constantly bombarded with tempting options, which is why Americans gain more weight during the holidays than any other time of year.  The holiday weight gain then usually leads to the subsequent New Year’s resolution to begin a new diet and start fresh after the Holiday season.   At P4L we say – “Why not now?” Why wait until the New Year to be the best version of ourselves?

Here are a few tips to get you started in learning how you can improve your health immediately and successfully navigate this holiday season.

Start with planning your plate.

  • Set aside time at the beginning of each week to plan and prepare meals. This technique will save you time, reduce stress, and make it less likely you’ll resort to unhealthy convenience foods when your schedule gets busy.  
  • Keep meals simple and remember what your plate should look like: half should be filled with non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower); one fourth with lean protein (grilled chicken, fish, tofu, or legumes), and one fourth with whole grains (brown rice, quinoa or barley) or starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes). Using this plate method will help you create balanced meals that incorporate lean protein and fiber. Both protein and fiber take longer to digest and provide more sustainable energy.
  • Remember, the balanced plate method applies to breakfast too! Start your day with a protein-rich healthy breakfast, such as Greek yogurt. Avoid energy zappers like refined grains and sugars (think of bagels and cream cheese), and don’t forget to include fruits and whole grains, such as oatmeal or whole wheat bread.
  • At parties fill up a small plate with nutrient dense foods such as veggies, fruits and shrimp.  Allow yourself to choose your favorite foods in moderation, but be careful not to overeat.  Often times a small taste can satisfy your craving and prevent overeating later.

Be Mindful of What You Eat

  • Pay attention to how and why you are eating throughout the day. Keeping a food journal helps with accountability and may help you be more mindful about what you choose to eat or drink and why. The goal is to teach you to respond to your body’s physical hunger, not external influences such as emotion, stress, or boredom. Recognizing when and why you are eating can ultimately lead to better food choices.
  • If you find yourself reaching for food when you’re not hungry, get moving! Try walking around the block, dancing around the house, or drinking a glass of water. Exercise is wonderful for both the mind and body and will help you to feel more energized during the afternoon slump.

Instead of eating...

  • Full fat dip or sour cream...try veggies with Greek yogurt based dip.
  • Refined white flour...try whole wheat flour/bread products.
  • A bread basket...try a shrimp cocktail.
  • Dark meat turkey or ham...try white meat without skin.
  • Potato chips with onion dip...try whole grain crackers with hummus.
  • Full fat cheese...try reduced fat cheese.
  • Candied nuts...try roasted or lightly salted nuts.



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