Your Nutrition Questions Answered By Sarah of BodyBalance 365.

I asked our blog sponsor Sarah Davis of BodyBalance 365 to answer some of your questions about nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Sarah Davis is a Nutrition Counselor, wellness expert, and health coach. As a mother of three teenage athletes, Sarah knows the essential role nutrition plays in sports and academic performance. She is forever working in her own kitchen to create new healthy, allergy-safe, and delicious recipes for her family and clients.

To contact Sarah for more information or for more nutrition tip click HERE.

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Sarah received her training at Integrative Institute for Nutrition in New York City. She is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and has a degree in Continuing Education from Purchase College, State University Of New York. She is the nutrition consultant for the educational YourSelf series, taught in middle and high schools around the country. Sarah leads workshops on nutrition and offers individual health and nutrition coaching to teens and their families.

How would you describe a healthy diet?

I think a plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat — and that does not mean you need to become a vegan! But animal protein should not be the staple of our diets, as it often is in the Standard American Diet. If 1/2 your plate is plants, 1/4 is lean animal or plant protein, and 1/4 is high fiber, complex carbs you will be eating a nutrient-dense diet that is great for your gut health, your energy, your appearance, and your immune system — and it is also naturally low in calories. It’s a win/win! 

What did you normally recommend for breakfast?

I love plants and protein in the morning. I often do smoothies, or oatmeal made with almond milk topped with almond butter and berries, or a veggie egg scramble with a slice of GF toast, or a coconut yogurt bowl with gluten-free granola, chia seeds, and berries. YUM!

How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you recommend per day? 

While the USDA recommends 4-5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, I do not find that is nearly enough for adults. Honestly, I eat closer to 7 or 8. And a smoothie can get you 4 servings before you even leave the house in the morning! I think 6 is a happy medium for most people to strive to hit between 3 meals and a snack.

How often do you eat fish?

Fish is perfectly safe to eat 2-3 times a week as long as it is not all coming from fish that can contain a higher mercury content, such as tuna, swordfish, and shark — so watch the sushi rolls! Fish are high in Omega 3’s (especially fatty fish), a lean and low-calorie source of protein, and far lower in saturated fat than red meat. I eat fish 4x a week (because I don’t eat meat and chicken) and if you are eating fish like wild salmon, flounder, trout, cod, sole, tilapia, or sardines which have very little mercury you are fine doing the same.

How often do you eat red meat?

I do not eat red meat, but if you are buying organic grass-fed beef it is certainly safe to have it once a week — twice a week for kids, so no stress so if you make hamburgers one night and steak on the weekend for the kiddies. All good! BUT if you have high blood pressure, heart issues or high cholesterol I would recommend only 2x per month. (PS. We should ALL be eating a plant-based diet no matter if you like red meat or not!)

What is a healthy option for people who like to snack?

I love snacks! Snacks should simply be a smaller version of one of your meals. I recommend protein, plants, high-fiber carbs, and healthy fats at every meal, and your snacks should mirror this. And be roughly 150-200 cals. Think a cut-up apple with 1 Tbsp almond butter; 1 oz pistachios with a couple of clementines; 2 Tbsp hummus with rice crackers and baby carrots; a slice of avocado toast on GF bread with chia seeds and sea salt; 5 oz plain Greek or coconut yogurt with blueberries and 2 Tbsp of GF granola and a drizzle of honey; a hard-boiled egg and a pear; a rice cake with 1 Tbsp almond butter and sliced bananas; grain-free Siete chips or baked tortilla chips with 1/4c guacamole and salsa. Just to name a few…HAHA!

As far as alcohol is there a drink that is best to order when trying to maintain weight loss or prevent weight gain?

A cocktail or 2 a few nights a week is fine on a weight loss program (no more than 5 drinks a week for women please. Period!) but avoid all the sugary mixers (sour mix), blender drinks(daiquiri), soda (not seltzer but things like Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale), tonic water, and juices. A 6oz glass of white wine has 150 calories so even if you had 2 glasses at a birthday party, the 300 calories won’t show up on the scale. Better still would be 1 glass of wine followed by a glass of water to hydrate! White wine usually has about 1g of sugar which is only 1/4 tsp so not a deal breaker if you are watching your sugar. 
For mixed drinks, I recommend clear alcohol (vodka or tequila) with seltzer, lemon or lime, and a splash of cranberry or grapefruit juice if you like. A cocktail usually has 1.5 oz of alcohol so again, 1 or 2 over the course of an evening with food and plenty of water is safe on occasion. There are 140-150 cals in either one of those mixed drinks so also not a deal breaker! A lite beer or spiked seltzer is 100 calories so another safe option. 

How do you feel about intermittent fasting?

I recommend a 12-hour fast for EVERYONE — as in, you finish dinner at 7 pm, and the kitchen is closed until 7 am. If you want to push it to 14 hours and have breakfast @9 am I am ok with it but only IF you are not getting up early (like 6 am) and exercising before work. Then I want you to eat within an hour of finishing your workout! I wouldn’t say I like these 16-18 hour fasts that have become popular and I have not read anything to convince me otherwise. I feel 3 evenly spaced meals and 1 snack — eating roughly every 4 hours — and a 12-hour with window with NO food is the best formula for weight loss and maintenance. 

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