The lifestyle of working professionals is getting busier and busier and over time, this stress can take a physical toll on your body. The lack of time can lead to reliance on fast, convenience foods (versus cooking at home) or “vegging out on the couch” after a long day at work (versus going out for a walk). However, contrary to what most people think, eating well and staying physically active can be easily incorporated into your daily life.
Making small changes in your daily life may have a significant impact on your health long-term, but it’s a matter of knowing which changes to make for maximum impact. Good nutrition is about a balanced and varied diet in the proper amounts (see the Proper Portions gallery for visuals). Knowing how certain foods affect your health can help you make choices that will be the most beneficial for your body. Listed below are a variety of nutrition topics that include general information along with basic tips to help you incorporate these changes into your daily routine.
Energy Balance – Weight Management
Weight maintenance is all about energy balance. If you consume more energy (calories) than you expend, you’ll likely gain weight. On the contrary, if you burn more calories than you eat, chances are, you’ll lose weight. Finding the right balance of intake and expenditure over time allows you to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
How much should I be eating?
This is a very common nutrition question but unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer. At the bare minimum, your body needs enough calories for three main processes:
- Normal bodily functions such as respiration, blood circulation and body temperature maintenance (this is called resting energy expenditure (REE) or resting metabolic rate (RMR))
- Digestion and absorption of food (called the thermic effect of food (TEF))
- Any movement or physical activity of the body
Furthermore, your recommended calorie intake depends on individual factors: gender, height, weight, age. Also, are you aiming to lose weight or gain weight? Do you exercise regularly? Do you have any diet-related conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol? All of this needs to be taken into consideration when trying to figure out what works for you.
Estimated Energy Needs
Although measuring exactly how many calories you need each day is quite difficult, there are ways to calculate your estimated energy needs. The National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine and the Food and Nutrition Board developed the estimated energy requirement (EER) formula for men, women and children (1). Enter your age, weight, height, gender and physical activity level in the calculator below to determine your estimated energy needs.
Shift the focus away from just calories
Calories in food refer to how much energy it provides the body. It’s a good reference to use when comparing the energy impact of different foods or increasing your awareness about “hidden calories.” For example, smoothies and coffee shakes can have up to 400 calories, the same amount as a ham and cheese croissant (2)! However, to calculate every single calorie of everything you eat during the day is not only time consuming, it misses the bigger picture. Vitamins and minerals are essential for your body but don’t contribute energy, so how do you know, for example, that you’re getting enough calcium if you’re only counting calories?
Instead of focusing on calories alone, consider the “nutrient density” of a food or beverage. Nutrient density refers to how nutritious a food is relative to how many calories it contains. USDA’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines “nutrient-dense” foods as “foods that provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) and relatively few calories (3). For example, a fresh small-sized apple has approximately 60 calories in addition to three grams of fiber and various vitamins and minerals. In comparison, one half cup (four fluid ounces) of apple juice also has about 60 calories, no fiber and fewer vitamins and minerals. In this case, the fresh apple would be the more nutrient-dense choice because it delivers more nutrients per calorie (4). Making food choices based on nutrient density may help you get the most “bang for your calorie,” so to speak.
Here are some tips to help you make more healthful food choices and increase physical activity in your daily life:
Color your plate with vegetables and fruits at all meals
The more nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables (especially fresh) you can eat, the better. They are high in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants (cancer-fighting molecules) and fiber while relatively low in calorie content.
Choose high-fiber foods
Fiber is not only beneficial for bowel health, it may also help lower your blood cholesterol levels. High-fiber foods include less refined carbohydrates such as whole grain breads and pastas, oatmeal, brown rice and flax seed. Beans, fruits and vegetables and are also good sources of fiber.
Opt for lean proteins
In general, skinless poultry, turkey, fish and shellfish tend to be lower in fat than other animal meats. Roasting, braising, steaming, and grilling (instead of frying) are healthier ways to prepare meats. Tofu (non-fried), beans and egg beaters are also great sources of protein with little fat.
Choose “better for you” fats
Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods such as olive and canola oils, nuts, and fatty fish. Use olive or canola oil-based salad dressings instead of cream-based ones. At Bon Appétit, all of our salad dressings are made from scratch using olive or canola oil. Snack on a handful of almonds, walnuts or cashews rather than chips or cookies.
Save sweets for special occasions
Desserts, particularly those that are creamy, buttery and/or rich in chocolate, tend to be high in calories and saturated fat yet few other nutrients. Try indulging every once in a while, rather than everyday.
Be aware of your “liquid calories”
Many people don’t realize that calories from beverages such as juices, sodas, sports drinks or smoothies can really add up. For example, a 20 ounce bottle of soda contains up to 250 calories. Even has approximately 120 calories. Try diluting juices and sports drinks with water. Mix natural fruit juice with sparkling water to substitute for soda. Exercise portion control and use large drinking cups for water but small cups for high-calorie beverages.
Be more physically active
Find ways to incorporate activity into your daily routine. Exercise (use hand weights, treadmill, or stationary bicycle) while watching TV at home. Take an afternoon fitness break during the day and walk around the building or stretch at your desk. Keep a pair of sneakers in your car or at your office so you can fit in a quick walk when you have time during the day.
Good nutrition isn’t about cutting out all sweets and snacks but rather balancing the composition of your diet over time. Instead of examining each and every meal, focus on how well you’re doing over a period of a few days or weeks. You can do this by using our Well Being Journal to keep track and become aware of what and how much you’re eating.
The same concept applies to physical activity evaluate your progress over time rather than day to day. Even though small individual changes may seem insignificant, when added up, they can make a difference in your long-term health and wellness.
Fad Diets – Weight Management
Most Americans have been on one type of diet or another at some point in their adult life. In fact, 70% of adults in the US report trying weight loss interventions such as increasing exercise, decreasing fat intake, reducing the amount of food and/or reducing calories at least once. So, how can you know what works and what doesn’t? What is sound nutrition and what may be harmful to your body?
Most popular diets can be divided into several broad categories based on the calorie breakdown.
|Type of diet||Fat
(% of calories)
(% of calories)
(% of calories)
moderate to high carbohydrate
|Low to very low fat,
Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off
Weight loss comes from eating fewer calories than you expend. However, severe calorie reduction is not healthy or sustainable. Successful weight loss is accomplished by making positive lifestyle changes to both eating habits and physical activity patterns.
Eat a wide variety of foods
Variety is the spice of life! Eating a wide range of foods helps provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber, all of which may help reduce chronic disease risk. Variety also keeps you from feeling deprived. You don’t need to give up all of your favorite foods when trying to maintain or lose weight. Just enjoy them in moderation.
Tailor portion sizes
An important part of healthful eating is monitoring portion sizes. Get to know recommended portion sizes so you can enjoy all your favorites, just in moderation. Visit our Portion Gallery for visual examples of recommended portion sizes.
Don’t skip meals
Contrary to what you might think, skipping meal can hinder, not help, your weight loss efforts. When you get too hungry, it’s hard to make healthy choices. Aim to eat a meal or snack every 3-5 hours during the day.
Cut where it doesn’t hurt
Take notice of times you nibble unconsciously, eat when you are not hungry or could skip a second portion. There calories are often easiest to cut and can add up quickly toward a healthier body weight.
Make your meals “balanced”
Bon Appétit offers “In Balance” meals that include a healthy portion of whole grains, plenty of vegetables and lean protein all prepared with minimal fat. This balance allows you to fill up on nutrient dense foods rather than those that are high-calorie and high-fat.
Sneak in more exercise
To establish a habit of regular physical activity, make simple, small changes. Try getting 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. This doesn’t have to be in the gym. Instead of meeting a friend for happy hour, meet for a sunset walk. Wash your car by hand instead of using the car wash. Make sure to incorporate different activities into your schedule to ward off boredom.
The basics for weight loss are still common sense – moderation and balance when it comes to your foods. Successful weight loss is accomplished by making positive yet sustainable changes to both eating habits and physical activity patterns. During this process, take note in our Well Being Journal of all the positive changes you make. Small steps will add up to a lifetime of good health.
High fat, high protein, low carbohydrate diets
Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, Protein Power, Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution, The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet, Life Without Bread and to a less strict degree, The Zone and Sugar Busters
- Promoters of this diet claim carbohydrates are the underlying cause of the rise in obesity
- Claim carbohydrate foods cause a metabolic cycle in which blood glucose (circulating carbohydrate) levels spike, then drop, leading to decreased satisfaction and increased hunger soon after a meal.
- All starches and grains, fruits, dairy and most vegetables are limited to promote ketosis for a short period of time
The Bottom Line
- No scientific studies support the idea that low carbohydrate diets create any type of metabolic advantage
- People do lose weight due initially to water weight lost with carbohydrate depletion and then caloric restriction
- Higher fat, higher protein foods tend to be self-limiting, thus helping to create a calorie deficit with little effort to plan, weigh or measure foods
- Tends to be low in calcium, fiber, vitamins and minerals as well as healthy phytochemicals (plant chemicals)
- Becomes monotonous due to restriction of many foods
Moderate fat, moderate protein, moderate to high carbohydrate diets
Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutri-Systems, as well as most diets promoted by government agencies such as the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, and the National Cholesterol Education Program
- Promotes moderate fat but a balanced intake of nutrients with an overall reduction in calories
- Food choices are not severely limited
- Foods viewed as unhealthy are allowed with consideration to overall balance and planning for calories
The Bottom Line
- Weight loss occurs when there is a reduction in calories
- People report a high degree of satisfaction with this type of diet and generally report fewer feelings of deprivation due to the lack of severe restrictions
- Initially the diet may feel more complex to follow than the others because of the lack of strict black and white rules
- Best chances for long term success
Low-fat or very low-fat, moderate protein and high carbohydrate diets
Dean Ornish’s Eat More, Weigh Less, Nathan and Robert Pritikin’s The New Pritikin Program, The Pritikin Weight Loss Breakthrough, and The Pritikin Principle
- Originally designed to treat heart disease
- Weight loss often occurs due to high intake of low calorie fruits and vegetables
- Focus on vegetables, fruits, high fiber grains and beans
- Limited quantities of lean proteins
The Bottom Line
- Numerous studies have demonstrated that overweight people who reduce fat generally lose weight primarily due to the associated reduction in calories
- Reducing fat without a reduction in calorie intake will not produce weight loss
- Many people find the very low-fat diets difficult to follow long term because of the severe restriction of all fat sources
Fats and Cholesterols – Heart Disease
You’re healthy, so why think about heart disease or stroke? These are diseases that only happen late in life, right? Think again. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in America. More than two out of every five Americans die of cardiovascular disease. Even more concerning is the fact that this silent killer is starting to attack younger people.
There is good news however; the choices you make now can minimize your risk for developing heart disease. Here are several ways you can improve your odds of enjoying a long and heart-healthy life!
Factors that increase your risk for developing heart disease:
|Factors you can control||Factors you can’t control|
|Smoking||Family history (genetics)|
|Diabetes||Gender (males are at higher risk earlier than females)|
|High blood cholesterol||Age|
|High blood pressure|
As you can see, many of the risk factors are in your control with some attention to your dietary patterns. By choosing healthy eating patterns you can maintain a healthy body weight, which reduces your chances of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and problems with cholesterol. More importantly, what you eat plays a big role in how much blood cholesterol is produced in the body.
When it comes to prevention, your main focus should be fat. The evidence is clear that dietary fat plays a major role in blood cholesterol as well as body weight. However, fat is not all evil. Fat is a nutrient that is needed in moderate amounts to help with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and to supply the essential fatty linoleic and linolenic acids, which your body cannot make. Current recommendations from the American Heart Association suggest a diet that contains up to 30% of calories from fat can be healthy…the trick is to recognize that not all fats are created equal.
Cholesterol, saturated fat, trans-fatty acid, omega-3, hydrogenated fat, monounsaturated fat…the list goes on and what does it all mean? All of these terms really refer to a group of fatty substances known as lipids. Lipids are packaged in foods in many different forms. Once eaten, these lipids are broken down and “repackaged” for multiple functions in the body. Depending on the type of lipid, some can actually be protective or “heart healthy” while others can promote fatty build up in the arteries that can lead to disease.
A quick guide to fats and cholesterols
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found among the lipids (fats) in the bloodstream and in all your body’s cells. It is essential for human life but the body makes most of the cholesterol that it needs. Some cholesterol is absorbed from the foods you choose.
Dietary cholesterol is found only in foods of animal origin.
Blood cholesterol is formed as a result of the body’s own production of cholesterol and is influenced by the fats that we eat. There are several kinds, but the ones to be most concerned about are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
LDL cholesterol is the major cholesterol carrier in the blood. If too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain.
HDL cholesterol tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it’s passed from the body. Some experts believe HDL removes excess cholesterol from plaques and thus slows their growth. HDL cholesterol is known as “good” cholesterol because a high HDL level seems to protect against heart attacks.
Fat refers to a group of compounds made of glycerol and fatty acids. Fat is one of the three calorie-containing nutrients. Although all fats contain the same amount of energy, or calories, they do not all have the same effect on your risk for disease. Saturated fats and cholesterol tend to raise blood cholesterol while unsaturated fats and omega-3s can be beneficial.
Trans fatty acids are harmful to your health because they raise your “bad” LDL cholesterol and also lowers your “good” HDL cholesterol. The higher your LDL cholesterol levels are over time, the greater your risk for developing atherosclerosis, a condition in which fat accumulates in the walls of you arteries. This can restrict blood flow to your heart and may eventually lead to coronary artery disease. All Bon Appétit cafés only use non-hydrogenated frying oil and have also eliminated trans fats in house-baked goods and butter substitute spreads.
|Lipids that raise cholesterol||Sources||Examples|
|Dietary cholesterol||Foods from animals||Meats, egg yolks, dairy products, organ meats (liver, etc), fish and poultry|
|Saturated fats||Foods from animals
Certain plant oils
|Whole milk, cream, ice cream, whole milk cheeses, butter, lard and meats
Palm, and coconut oils, cocoa butter
|Trans-fatty acids||Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils||Cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, fried onion rings, donuts and most commercially baked goods|
|Lipids that lower cholesterol||Sources||Examples|
|Polyunsaturated fats||Certain plant oils, nuts, seeds||Safflower, sesame, soy, corn and sunflower seed oils, nuts and seeds|
|Monounsaturated fats||Certain plant oils, nuts||Olive, canola and peanut oils, avocados, almonds|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||Mainly seafood with higher amounts in fatty fish, grass-fed beef (versus grain-fed beef)||Tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout, grass-fed beef, flaxseed|
Although the types of fat you choose play a crucial role in preventing heart disease, the amount of fat is important as well. Some research suggests that the type of fat may have a bigger impact on disease than the actual amount of fat. However, too much fat can certainly cause concerns with weight and displace other nutrient rich foods.
Here are some ways you can reduce your risk of heart disease by changing the fats you eat:
Learn to recognize your fat sources
Knowing the source of fat in your diet is the first step to reducing your intake. Balance your higher fat choices with grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats and non-fat or low-fat dairy.
Choose more fish, lean meats and skinless poultry
Trim visible fat and remove skin when possible for even leaner selections.
Go for “five-a-day” that is fruits and vegetables
These food groups provide vitamins, minerals and fiber, which have all been shown to help prevent heart disease.
Fill up on whole grains
Allow whole grains, fruits and vegetables to fill up 50-75% of your plate. Beware of high fat, refined carbohydrate options foods like donuts, muffins, cookies and cakes. Enjoy these in smaller amounts but aim for whole grains as a staple.
Choose skim, 1% or soy milk to meet your need for dairy
Rather than whole milk, heavy creams or yogurts made with whole milk, try lower fat options. Also, enjoy high-fat creamy cheese (such as brie and blue cheeses) occasionally instead of daily.
Go easy on added fat and oils
Learn to appreciate the flavors of foods, not just the fats that are on top of them. When ordering salads, ask for dressing on the side. Chances are you won’t use all the dressing they give you. Focus on using fats that do not raise your cholesterol…olive oil, canola oil, nuts and other unsaturated fats can actually help lower your cholesterol.
When reducing fat, add flavor from other sources
Use herbs, spices and low fat condiments such as soy sauce, vinegar, mustard and steak sauce to maximize flavor without adding fat.
Watch portion sizes
Higher fat foods can be enjoyed in smaller quantities while lower fat foods can provide the volume you need to feel full. Visit the Proper Portions gallery for serving sizes recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
A heart healthy diet is something to start now. Don’t wait until you develop a problem…prevention is the best way to keep your heart working for a lifetime!
Caffeine and Sugar – Anxiety and Stress
It’s 8:00 a.m., you’re late and you down two cups of coffee just to wake up. You just need enough energy to make it through a couple of projects. Of course you are also booked with social and family responsibilities. Sound familiar?
For working professionals in particular, stress is on the rise. It has been estimated that 75-90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related problems (1). Stress has an impact on diet, sleep patterns and activity level all of which affect health. Chronic stress has been linked to serious health problems like:
- Heart disease
- Decreased immune function
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Headaches and muscular pain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Loss of memory
Stress and Your Nutrition
Appetite, food preferences and even cravings can be affected by your emotions including those brought on by stress. During times of stress, balance with food is often first to suffer. In reality, eating a balanced diet will help you weather the stress by energizing your body and keeping your immune system ready for action. Choosing a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats is a great way to combat the effects of stress. In addition, making time to have regular meals (especially breakfast) and snacks is important to provide your body with energy.
But how do you resist the urge to turn to your “comfort foods”…ice cream, mashed potatoes and gravy, home-cooked desserts or whatever soothes your palate? Good news, you don’t have to resist, but do try to become more aware of why and how much of these foods you eat. Loading up on high fat, high sugar or high calorie foods can be comforting in times of stress, but relying on these too much can leave you feeling drained because you are not getting the nutrients that you need.
Caffeine and Sugar the Relationship to Stress
In times of stress do you turn to caffeine and sugar? Although these ingredients may seem to help you cope with stress, think about the bigger picture.
Caffeine is a mild central nervous system stimulant thus, many people use it for a “boost of energy” to start the day or get through a long night. Still very controversial, caffeine has been studied for its connection to cancer, heart disease, fibrocystic breast disease, birth defects, and attention deficit disorder. However, few studies have been able to link caffeine to any problems beyond dehydration, anxiety and insomnia which can certainly drag you down during crunch time!
If you experience any negative symptoms because of caffeine intake you might want to consider cutting back–but do it gradually. Going cold turkey may cause withdrawal headaches. According to the National Institutes of Health, moderate caffeine intake (about 250 mg or three 8 ounce cups per day) is not associated with any health risk. However, excessive caffeine intake can lead to rapid heart rate, restlessness, anxiety, nausea and vomiting.
To keep your caffeine intake in check:
- Try mixing half regular and half decaffeinated coffee. Gradually move to decaffeinated or use regular for one cup and choose decaffeinated for any additional coffee during the day.
- Brew tea for a shorter time. A tea bag in water for 1 minute will have half the caffeine of tea brewed for 3 minutes.
- If you sip all day long out of habit…keep water handy as a substitute. Beware of some of the “designer” waters…some actually have added caffeine.
- Check your soft drinks. Although colas tend to have caffeine, color is not always an indicator of caffeine content. Check the ingredient list of your beverages to make sure caffeine is not an additive.
Sugar is a form of carbohydrate that converts very quickly to blood glucose which is the energy used to fuel the cells of our body. Sugars come in many forms including table sugar, honey, corn syrup, pancake syrup, brown sugar, molasses, jam, jelly, and turbinado sugar. It is a common misperception that some sugars are more nutritious than others, but surprisingly they all nourish the body in the same way providing about 16 calories per teaspoon but very few, if any, nutrients.
During stressful times, many people find they are apt to skip meals. When they do get hungry, it is easy to reach for the “quick energy” sugar provides. Although sugar rapidly raises your blood glucose (and gives you energy), it falls just as quickly and can leave you feeling tired and sluggish. Therefore, sugar should not be considered a long lasting source of energy.
Sugar in moderation is part of a healthy diet but for long lasting energy and the best nutritional value.
Get your “carbs” from whole grain foods
Choose more complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, breads and pastas, brown rice and beans for longer lasting energy.
Go for the sweet flavor of fruit or fruit juice
Unlike many other sugars, fructose or fruit sugar also comes packaged with other nutrients such as vitamins A and C as well as folic acid, potassium and fiber.
Go light with added sugars on cereals, French toast or pancakes
Use just a sprinkle of sugar when you need it or try some cinnamon and fruit as an alternative.
Control calories with trade-offs
Have dessert at lunch and opt for fruit at dinner.
Keep in mind stress is a normal part of life. You are not going to be able to escape stress but with some attention to your diet, exercise and planning …you CAN manage stress!
Ways to manage your stress
- Simplify : Consider all the things you do and decide what you can do without. Chances are you are over-committed and saying “no” to just one or two things could reduce your stress level.
- Take control : Prioritize your schedule and decide what parts of your life are most important and which parts need less attention. Set realistic goals by turning your focus to what you can do instead of feeling guilty over what you do not have time to do.
- Relax and get enough rest : Make time to slow down…even if it’s just a few minutes. Close your eyes, watch a sunset or take a few deep breaths. Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Eat a balanced diet : Eating well gives you energy and boosts your immune system. You may be tempted to skip meals when you are busy but eating, even on the run, is important. Eating habits can really make or break your ability to handle stress: heavy, fat-laden lunches make for lethargic afternoons and caffeine and sugar can put your energy cycle on a roller coaster ride.
- Share your feelings : Laughing and talking with others allows you to vent and reduce stress. Laughing has also been shown to reduce pain and improve immune function.
- Shake it up with activity : Regular activity is good for emotional as well as physical health. Any type of activity can reduce stress, improve sleep and improve mood by allowing your body to release endorphins that reduce anxiety . Aim for 30 minutes of activity each day. It doesn’t even have to be at one time. Short bouts of activity add up.
Sodium and Potassium – Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Sodium is an essential mineral because it’s necessary for fluid and electrolyte balance in your body. However, consuming too much salt (also known as sodium) may lead to high blood pressure, a condition called hypertension. Consistent hypertension over time may increase your risk of congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Although sodium is found naturally in many foods, this only accounts for about twelve percent of total sodium intake by the average American, as seen in the graph below. The other 90 percent is added, either during food processing or when cooking.
Relative amounts of sodium in the American diet.
- 77% Food processing
- 12% Naturally occurring
- 6% At the table
- 5% During cooking
Maintaining your blood pressure within normal range will reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Here are several steps you can take to reduce or prevent high blood pressure:
Reduce sodium intake
The general recommendation is to consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day; that’s approximately one teaspoon of sodium per day. Although it’s difficult to measure exactly how much salt is in your food, checking the Nutrition Facts label can give you a general idea.
- Look out for “hidden” sodium in non-salty foods such as canned soups, canned vegetables, condiments, breads and vegetable juices. You don’t have to worry about this when dining at a Bon Appétit café because we make our food from scratch using fresh vegetables and ingredients.
- Choose low-sodium or unsalted options if they are available (e.g., soy sauce, soups, chips, pretzels, nuts).
- Take the salt shaker off the table.
Increase potassium intake
Potassium is also an essential mineral for fluid and electrolyte balance in your body. Eating a diet rich in potassium may counteract the effects of sodium on blood pressure and it may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. The general recommendation is 4,700 mg of potassium per day.
Potassium-rich foods include:
- Fruits (tomatoes, bananas, peaches, melons, oranges)
- Green leafy and root vegetables (spinach, potatoes, squash, carrots, beets)
- Fresh meat and milk products
Lose excess body weight if you’re overweight
Being overweight can make you two to six times more likely to develop hypertension than if you’re at a desirable weight. Keeping your weight in a normal range is not only beneficial for your overall health, it may help you maintain normal blood pressure as well. The Energy Balance section for nutrition and physical activity tips on weight management.
Allergens – Food Allergies
A queasy stomach, hives, a rash, or even difficulty breathing could this be a food allergy? Food allergies are becoming increasingly common in the United States. Scientists estimate that approximately 12 million Americans today suffer from true food allergies.
Because different people react to foods in varying degrees, it is important to find out exactly what foods you’re allergic to (if any) for your safety and well being. About two percent of adults suffer from food allergies, and although six percent of children are diagnosed with food allergies, many outgrow the symptoms before adulthood. So, if food allergies are fairly uncommon, why do millions of adults report that they are allergic to certain foods? The bottom line is allergies are easily misdiagnosed and the term is often applied very liberally to most any physical symptom associated with food intake.
First, let’s clarify what we mean by food allergy, which is different than food intolerance. Many people think the terms food allergy and food intolerance mean the same thing; however, there is a difference.
A food intolerance is an adverse food-induced reaction that does not involve the immune system. Lactose intolerance is one example of a food intolerance. A person with lactose intolerance lacks an enzyme that is needed to digest milk sugar. When the person eats milk products, symptoms such as gas, bloating, and abdominal pain may occur. Other common intolerances include gluten, sulfites and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
A food allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to a certain food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. The most common form of an immune system reaction occurs when the body creates immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to the food. The next time that food is consumed, the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, including histamine, in order to protect the body. These chemicals trigger a host of allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system.
At the present time, there is no cure for food allergies. Allergic reactions range from the mild discomfort of a rash or runny nose to more serious and potentially fatal anaphylactic reactions where breathing can become difficult. Avoidance is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction. Although an individual could be allergic to any food, such as fruits, vegetables, and meats, they are not as common as the following eight foods, which account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions:
Top Food Allergens
Milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts (walnuts, cashews), fish, shellfish, soy, wheat
Making Choices with Your Allergies in Mind*
*The following is a partial list of ingredients to be used as a general guide. Consult your health care professional for more information.
Ingredients that indicate milk: artificial butter flavor, butter, butter fat, butter oil, buttermilk, casein, caseinates, cheese, cream, cottage cheese, curds, ghee, half & half, lactalbumin, lactulose, milk (in all forms), nougat, pudding, rennet casein, sour cream, sour cream solids, whey, ice cream, sherbet, yogurt.
Milk protein: caramel, chocolate, flavorings, high protein flour, lactic acid starter culture, lactose, some luncheon meats, hotdogs and sausages, margarine, non-dairy margarine.
Ingredients that indicate egg: albumin, albumen, egg (all forms), eggnog, globulin, livetin, lysozyme, mayonnaise, meringue, surimi, custard, soufflé, quiche, Caesar dressings, some egg replacers.
Egg protein: flavoring, lecithin, macaroni, marzipan, marshmallows, nougat, pasta.
Ingredients that indicate peanut: artificial nuts, beer nuts, cold pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil, goobers, ground nuts, mandelonas, mixed nuts, monkey nuts, nutmeat, nut pieces, peanut, peanut butter, peanut flour, peanut protein, hydrolyzed peanut protein.
Peanut protein: African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese dishes as well as baked goods, candy, chili, eggs rolls, dried soups, enchilada sauce, flavoring, marzipan, nougat.
Artificial nuts can be peanuts that have been deflavored and reflavored with a nut, such as pecan or walnut.
Arachis oil is refined peanut oil that is used in non-food products such as skin creams.
It is advised that people with a peanut allergy should peanut-allergic patients avoid chocolate candies unless they are absolutely certain there is no risk of cross-contact during manufacturing procedures.
Experts advise patients with peanut allergy to avoid tree nuts as well.
Many brands of sunflower seeds are produced on equipment shared with peanuts.
Peanuts can cause severe allergic reactions. If prescribed, carry epinephrine at all times.
Ingredients that indicate tree nuts:
- artificial nuts,
- Brazil nuts,
- hickory nuts,
- macadamia nuts,
- almond paste,
- natural nut extracts,
- nan-gai nuts,
- nut butters,
- nut meal,
- nut oil,
- nut paste,
- nut pieces,
- pine nuts (also Indian, piono, pinyon, pignoli, pignolia or pignon nuts),
Some Hidden Sources of Tree Nuts
Artificial nuts can be peanuts that have been deflavored and reflavored with a nut, such as pecan or walnut. Mandelonas are peanuts soaked in almond flavoring.
“Natural” and “artificial flavoring” may contain tree nuts.
Mortadella, a version of smoked sausage, may contain pistachio nuts.
Tree nuts have been used in many foods including barbecue sauce, cereals, crackers, and ice cream.
Ingredients that indicate wheat: bran, bread crumbs, bulgur, couscous, cracker meal, durum, farina, flour (all-purpose, bread, cake, durum, enriched, graham, high-gluten, high-protein, instant, pastry, self-rising, soft-wheat, steel ground, stone ground, whole wheat), gluten, kamut, matzoh, matzoh meal, pasta, seitan, semolina, spelt, vital gluten, wheat (bran, germ, gluten, malt), whole wheat berries, vegetable gum.
Wheat protein: flavoring, hydrolyzed protein, soy sauce, starch, surimi.
Fish and Shellfish
Allergic reactions to fish and shellfish are commonly reported in both adults and children. It is generally recommended that individuals who have had an allergic reaction to one species of fish, avoid all fish. The same rule applies to shellfish. If you have a fish allergy but would like to have fish in your diet, speak with your allergist about the possibility of being challenged with various types of fish.
Ingredients that indicate shellfish: abalone, clams, cockle, crab, crawfish (crayfish, ecrevisse), lobster, mollusks, mussels, octopus, prawns, scallops, shrimp, snails, squid.
Shellfish protein: bouillabaisse, cuttlefish ink, fish stock, flavoring, seafood flavoring, surimi.
Allergic reactions to fish and shellfish can be severe and are often a cause of anaphylaxis (potentially fatal) so keep in mind:
- Cross-contamination may occur with any other seafood during the catching and storing processes.
- Caesar salad dressings and steak or Worcestershire sauces often contain anchovies.
- Carry medications in case of accidental exposure.
Ingredients that indicate soy: edamame, hydrolyzed soy protein, miso, natto, shoyu sauce, soy (albumin, soy fiber, soy flour, soy grits, soy milk, soy nuts, soy sprouts), soya, soybean, soy protein, soy sauce, Tamari, Tempeh, texturized vegetable protein (TVP), tofu, many Asian cuisines, vegetable broth, vegetable gum, vegetable starch.
Soybeans and soy products are found in baked goods, canned tuna, cereals, crackers, infant formulas, sauces, and soups. At least one brand of peanut butter lists soy on the label.
Studies show that most soy-allergic individuals may safely eat soybean oil (not cold pressed, expeller pressed, or extruded oil) and soy lecithin. Patients should ask their doctors whether or not to avoid these ingredients. Soybeans alone are not a major food in the diet, but because they’re in so many products, eliminating all those foods can result in an unbalanced diet. Consult with a dietitian to help you plan for proper nutrition.
How can you determine if you have a food allergy or intolerance?
Well, the first step is to seek professional advice from an allergist certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. You may be able to “scratch” the surface of your symptoms on your own, but to truly get to the root of the problem, it’s best to go to the experts. Once you identify your individual issues, you will want to seek the advice of a registered dietitian to really understand your dietary needs. Simply eliminating foods based on self-diagnosis or a hunch can leave you frustrated as well as nutrient deficient.
If you know you have a food allergy, follow these steps:
- Know what you’re eating and drinking. Be sure to read food labels and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The Bon Appétit chefs are your best source of information about foods served in our cafés.
- If you have already had a severe reaction, wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. Make sure people you spend time with are aware of your allergy and know what to do in case of emergency. No matter how cautious you are, talk with your doctor about carrying emergency medications in case of accidental exposure.
Bon Appétit’s approach to food is unique in the industry. We are dedicated to providing the freshest, highest quality selections that are planned specifically for each of our sites. As a result, we do not operate from a corporate recipe book that outlines all of our ingredients. If you have concerns, however, our chefs and/or registered dietitian will be glad to work with you on your personal choices. Since everything is cooked from scratch onsite, they can easily tell you what ingredients are in a specific dish and make modifications if necessary. Food allergens are present in all Bon Appétit cafés. If you have a food allergy, it is important that you talk with the manager at your site about how to safely eat in our café.
Vegetarianism – General Nutrition
More and more people are choosing to eat vegetarian for reasons including better health, environmental issues, religious principles, personal and world economics, compassion for animals and/or belief in non-violence. The American Dietetic Association has affirmed that a vegetarian diet can meet all known needs for nutrients. In fact, vegetarians generally have fewer occurrences of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer.
As a broad definition, vegetarians do not eat meat, fish or poultry but there are many different eating patterns that are considered vegetarian.
Vegans abstain from eating or using all animal products, including milk, cheese, other dairy items, eggs, wool, silk and leather.
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat egg and dairy products but do not include meat, poultry or fish.
Lacto-vegetarians include dairy products but do not eat meat, poultry, fish or eggs.
Ovo-vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, fowl or dairy products but include eggs.
Eating Vegetarian the Healthy Way
No matter the style, just eating vegetarian does not ensure that you are living a healthier lifestyle. The nutrient content of the foods you choose over time is what counts. The key to a healthy vegetarian diet, as with any other diet, is to eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes (peas and beans). Bon Appétit is committed to offering a number of vegetarian selections each day, but consider your overall intake to make sure your vegetarian diet provides all the necessary nutrients for a healthy body.
Include a wide variety of whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits
Don’t get in a rut with the same foods day after day. This will not only lead to boredom but may cause you to miss some important vitamins and minerals.
Beware of higher calorie, higher fat vegetarian selections
Even vegetarians can get too much fat if their diet contains large amounts of nuts, oils, processed foods, sweets, dairy products or eggs. Relying too heavily on these ingredients in a vegetarian diet can lead to excess calories.
Be relaxed about protein
As long as calories are sufficient and the diet is varied, most vegetarians easily meet protein needs. It’s easy to get plenty of protein from vegetarian foods, including dairy products, eggs, grains, beans, vegetables and nuts.
Include familiar foods such as cereals, bean soup, potatoes, peanut butter sandwiches and spaghetti but branch out and try less familiar foods as well like bulgur, adzuki beans, soy milk and textured vegetable protein (TVP) that comes in many “meat” forms such as vegetarian sausage, bacon, lunch meats and hamburgers.
Necessary Nutrients in the Vegan Diet
Vegetarians who eat absolutely no animal products need to be sure to include the following nutrients:
- Vitamin B12 : sources include fortified soy beverages, cereals and nutritional yeast. There are no plant sources of B12 unless fortified
- Vitamin D : sources include fortified soy or rice beverages, margarine and sunshine
- Calcium : sources include tofu processed with calcium, broccoli, seeds, nuts, kale, bok choy, legumes, greens, lime-processed tortillas, soy beverages, grain products and orange juice enriched with calcium
- Iron : sources include legumes, tofu, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, whole grains and iron-fortified cereals and breads, especially whole-wheat. Absorption is improved by vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli, peppers, dark-green leafy vegetables and potatoes with skins
- Zinc : sources include whole grains (especially the germ and bran), whole-wheat bread, legumes, nuts and tofu
- Protein : sources include tofu and other soy-based products, legumes, seeds, nuts, grains and vegetables
Vegetarianism can be simple and nutritious as long as you keep in mind the basics of balance and variety. Look for items in the café that are marked with the vegetarian or vegan icon and don’t be shy to ask questions about ingredients in specific dishes. Your Bon Appétit staff is concerned about helping you to eat a healthy, balanced diet.