Between the crazy highs and unseasonably low temperatures this past week in CT (and freakish Tornadoes) it is hard to believe the fourth of July is just around the corner. However, before you know it, people will be firing up their grills and breaking out the dogs and burgers. Rather than throwing caution to the wind and deciding you’ll jump on the latest detox diet Tuesday, why not stay ahead of the game? There are plenty of ways to keep your holiday healthy, tasty and PCOS friendly for sure!
Sip Responsibly on the fourth of July
Yes – I know this a no brainer! But seriously the fourth of July seems like just like on other reason to carry on with summer drinking. As if people need a reason to drink, right? However, if you are going to imbibe then why not choose to do so responsibly.
Numero uno – avoid the carb bombs. Margaritas, frozen drinks and unfortunately the likes of craft beers tend to be very calorie and carbohydrate heavy. While Craft beers range in calories most clock in at about 200 – 250 calories per 12-ounce bottle. Thinking about knocking back 2-3? You are looking at an upward of 600 calories in alcohol alone.
Side note – back in the day when I used to bartend I would start my shift by making 5 gallon tubs of margaritas. In each batch I would put two full pounds of quick dissolve sugar! Yes – holy moley is right! Sugar rush for sure.
Instead, opt for clear spirits like vodka, gin, and rum mixed with a no/low-calorie mixer. For example, a Titos and Club Soda will only set you back about 95 calories. Plus did you know flavored vodkas (think Stoli Raspberry, Absolut Melon, Pinnacle Whipped Cream) have the same amount of calories as plain vodka? So you can even get fancy and mix a flavored vodka with a flavored club soda squeeze some lime on top and there you have your new favorite skinny summer cocktail.
Looking for the ultimate guide for alcohol and PCOS? The PCOS Dietitian has got you covered! Check out this blog and all things alcohol and PCOS.
Or if hard liquor is not your style – choose a light beer and you are only looking at about 100 calories as well. A glass of white or red wine is about 150 calories. Want to cut those those calories in half? Make yourself a wine spritzer! Fill a wine glass with crushed ice. Then pour 2-3 ounces of wine and 3-6 ounces of your favorite seltzer into a wine glass. Top with sliced fruit. Whallah!
Are the above options not really your jam? How about a low-calorie mojito? Coconut Water and Champagne Punch anyone? These low calorie cocktail from Proof are perfect for those watching their waistline. And let’s be honest – who IS NOT watching those waistlines even on the fourth of July!
Who says cocktails have to be unhealthy? Not this RD.
Photo by: Monika Grabkowska
Want more information about the calorie counts of your favorite beverages? Check out one of my recent posts on this very topic!
Pump up the Veggies
Often at picnics there are more veggies available than one might think. Sometimes you just need to do a little searching. Crudite platters, tossed salads and even the infamous toppings for burgers are all good places to get those veggies i
Are you trying to watch your carbs? Why not try a lettuce wrap instead of a bun? After all, if 5 Guys offers this option it has to be good, right? You can save yourself 200 calories and 30 grams of carbohydrates by this simple little swap.
Does the green salad look a little weak? Why not grab some of the ‘fixins’ for the burgers (think lettuce, tomato, onions) and ‘doctor’ up the salad (on your own plate, of course!) Or even better yet – offer to bring a kick-ass salad or some sort of veggie based side. Both options often require very little prep aside from assembly. This way you know you will have something to round your plate out aside from Grandma’s tuna mac salad 🙂
Don’t go Hungry
This rule holds fast for any type of celebration including the fourth of July. Never. Ever. Ever. Go to an event hungry.
I repeat. Never. Ever. Ever. Go to an event hungry.
Most of my patients head to an event like a Memorial Day picnic with the mentality they are going to save all their calories for the day for one big meal. They plan to white- knuckle it the whole day until they get to the picnic. This backfires HARD pretty much every time. As soon as they see the food they everything short of bury their face in pretty much everything and anything that is out.
Instead plan accordingly. Have a light breakfast or snack prior to the picnic. Scrambled eggs and fruit, greek yogurt with 1-2 tablespoons of granola, an apple with peanut butter or something even as small as nuts or a cheese stick will keep your hunger at bay.
I much rather see you spend more time on the ‘front end’ in preparing than leave the picnic feeling big, bloated and polluted with an underlying sense of guilt. We all know this feeling! But YOU are stronger than this. Don’t allow yourself to be defeated. Instead plan ahead like the champ you are and leave the picnic with your rock-star status intact.
Keep it Lean and and No one will be Mean
Be a lean mean grilling machine on the fourth of July. After all, nobody goes to a BBQ saying, “I cannot wait to eat super sloppy BBQ food.” If you are the grill master instead choose lean cuts of protein to throw on the coals. Your guests will thank you!
Think 93 % lean ground beef, flank steak, grilled chicken breast marinated in a little balsamic, rosemary and oil, or even a veggie burger (just watch the sodium on those puppies some brands are crazy high!)
Truth bomb – many people opt for a turkey burger thinking it is the best choice. Best as we know is a relative term. Well, it’s not a horrible choice but is it the best choice? I am not so sure.
Did you know that beef burgers and turkey burgers often contain the SAME amount of calories and fat?
Did you know a turkey burger made from “LEAN” ground turkey has just about the same amount of calories and fat (150 – 170 calories & 7 -10 grams of fat for a 4 oz. patty) as a burger made from ground sirloin (93 % lean ground beef)? Lean ground turkey is generally a mix of light and dark meat. So if you are craving a nice juicy burger but are feeling guilty about eating red meat please don’t!
The only exception from a ground turkey standpoint is when the package states “EXTRA” lean. This type of ground turkey has virtually no fat, is expensive and in my humble opinion does not taste very good. It is certainly not good for burgers on the grill. With virtually no fat the burger will be unfortunately very dry.
Be a Good Friend
From my experience as someone who loves to host parties and tells everyone NOT to bring anything – never believe the host. They lie. I love it when someone brings something. SO be that good friend and come bearing food 🙂 This is your prime opportunity to bring something healthy that everyone (including yourself) will likely enjoy.
I can’t tell you how many times my patients say, “There was nothing healthy to eat so I had to eat crap.” Really? Come on my friend. No need to be so lazy! Get off your little butt and avoid all those excuses.
Remember it does not have to be something fancy, complicated or expensive. Heck stop at Costco and grab a veggie platter for $9.99 or a simple fruit bowl (also may I add for only $9.99 at Costco). Even a big old tub of hummus with a bag of baby carrots will likely be appreciated. Pick up a whole watermelon and bring that! After all, who doesn’t like juicy watermelon? The list of healthy options you can bring are seemingly endless.
Want to step up your grame? Why not make a killer salad with everything but the kitchen sink in it? That way you can take whatever comes off the grill and and throw it on top of the salad. You will be surprised how many guests will follow suit. Because like I said, even though Memorial Day is typically synonymous with unhealthy foods, it does not have to be. More people than not are working hard to improve their health. Give people a handful of healthy options and they will thank you for it. A little effort goes a long way!
So whether or not it feels that way right now – the fourth of July is HERE. While I am by no means asking you to be a saint (what fun would that be?) – why not start the summer season on a good foot? You have worked SO hard all winter. Let’s go into summer strong!
Did you survive the fourth of July like a champ? What are your tried-and-true tips for a healthy summer holiday weekend? Leave your favorites in the comments below!
PCOS friendly cereals – Do they even exist?
So as a Powerful Chick with Outrageous Spirit I know what you are thinking.
PCOS friendly cereals do in fat exist. However, while I am certainly not advocating cereals along the like of Lucky Charms and Golden Grahams every day (although those do happen to be some of my favorites!) I do think there can be a place in the diet of the PCOSers for cereal. It is just as important to know which cereals to choose. Time to put our label reading glasses on and get to work.
Don’t Be Fooled
Information on the front of the box can be misleading. A lot of PCOSers look for products that state “low in sugar,” in an effort to watch their carbohydrates. Unfortunately, a cereal claiming to be “low in sugar” might not be as equally as awesome in terms of fat, whole grains, or sodium. Therefore, it important to read both the nutrition information panel as well as the ingredients to make the most educated decisions when it comes to PCOS friendly cereals.
I say it a lot, and I’ll continue to do so: Whole grains and foods that contain whole grains provide a heck of a lot health benefits (especially for women with PCOS!). Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain along with fiber and many other nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin E and magnesium.
Check the ingredient list on the cereal box. The first item listed should be a whole grain. Examples include but are not limited to whole wheat, whole-grain corn, barley, oats, oatmeal, millet, quinoa and wheat berries.
The words “multigrain,” “wheat,” “wheat germ,” and “bran” are not necessarily indicators of a whole grain. These terms may simply mean part of the grain is missing. Or in some cases the ingredient multigrain may imply many grains none of which are whole. Sneaky!
Fill up on Fiber
The health benefits of fiber and PCOS are endless. Research supports that diets that are high in fiber help lower blood sugar, assist with weight loss, lower cholesterol and help us poop. For women with PCOS, I would love for you get at least 30 grams of fiber per day. In an effort to meet these goals try to aim for cereal with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
As you can see here, quick 1-minute oats have a whopping 4 grams of fiber. This is an excellent example of a high fiber cereal.
Limit the unhealthy fats
Saturated and trans fats are the bad guys. Fortunately for us, most PCOS friendly cereals are low in saturated fat and most have no trans fat. But if you’re a granola groupie, look out, as many granolas may contain saturated fat and contain more total fat than a bowl of French fries! And you thought all granolas were healthy…sadly not.
Look for cereals with zero grams of saturated fat and choose those with fewer than 4 grams total fat per serving.
Steer clear of high-sugar cereals they are of no benefit for women with PCOS
As a PCOSer sugar is the first thing that often comes to mind when you hear the word cereal. Given the high sugar content of many cereals you are often better off eating a bowl of crumbled up cookies and milk for breakfast. A good rule of thumb is to stick with cereals that have no more than 8–10 grams of sugar per serving. That’s roughly two teaspoons of sugar. Less is even better!
Note – In effort to optimize blood glucose control, remember to also look at the total carbohydrate grams (after checking out the serving size, of course), not just the grams of sugar. Try to aim for less than 35 grams of total carbohydrates per serving. But as a matter of principle, it pays to check out the grams of sugar on cereal labels.
Women with PCOS should seek out cereals that contain a modest amount of protein
Protein, as well as fat, plays a key role in extinguishing hunger. Ingesting protein provides staying power, so it may help you control the munchies. Look for PCOS friendly cereals with 3 or more grams of protein per serving. You’ll also get protein from the milk you add to your cereal. By adding 1 cup of 1 % milk to your cereal you are adding 8 grams of protein to your meal. For even more protein stir your cereal into some plain greek yogurt for an extra 12-18 grams of protein. Boom!
Shy away from sodium
Cereal is probably not the first food to come to mind when you think about high sodium foods. But surprisingly, some cereals contain some hidden sources. For example, one half-cup of Post Grape-Nuts contains 290 milligrams of sodium. General Mills Wheat Chex contains 270 milligrams per 3/4 cup serving. Stick with PCOS friendly cereals that contain less than 200 milligrams per serving.
There is no denying it that you PCOSers love your cereal ♥ But by following the above guidelines you can steer away from cereals that damper your metabolism and choose those with some nutritional merit. As a rule of thumb I would recommend that women with PCOS consume cereal no more 1-2 times per week. While it certainly does have some nutritional value, there are other more quality breakfast foods I would love you to choose.
PCOS friendly snack of the Week
Happy Thursday Y’All! Today I wanted to share with you my favorite PCOS friendly snack of the week.
So I have been thinking lately — and one of the questions I often get from women who have PCOS is, “What can I snack on?” I thought it would be helpful to provide you with a PCOS friendly snack that checks all the boxes. These might be snacks that I am already recommending – or they might be new finds (you know I heart grocery stores!) I want to introduce to the PCOS community. So onward to the method to my madness!
If you have already worked with me you know that I look at all foods in context of the allowable carbohydrates for the whole day. What that means is – everything works around your daily carbohydrate budget.
So if you have a carbohydrate budget of 120 grams per day (think about it like I am giving you $120 to spend on carbs!) – and you spend 30 grams on each breakfast, lunch and dinner you have used 90 grams of your allowable carbohydrates. This leaves you with 30 grams of carbohydrates to spend on snacks! Yay – hooray! So what count as a PCOS friendly snack? I thought you would never ask!
What is a PCOS Friendly Snack?
Typically I like to see 2-3 snacks per day for women with PCOS. These snacks can range anywhere from 0 – 20 grams of carbohydrates and from 50 – 150 calories. I set the upper limit at around 20 grams of carbohydrates as I want to minimize any excessive spikes in insulin.
So now that you the know the “why” now let me tell you the PCOS friendly snack I am enjoying this week.
Just like everyone I get bored with snacks. So this week when I was in Traders I on the hunt for something different. The Trader Joes Unsalted Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels caught my eye for numerous reasons and of course ended up in my cart! But you may be asking ….
What Makes Trader Joes Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels a PCOS friendly snack ?
First check out the serving size! You get 11 pretzels for 140 calories. That’s not too shabby. Calorie wise this fits my criteria of being > 150 calories. Score!
Baby got fat! And that is a GOOD Thing!
Next – I love the fact that this snack has a decent amount of fat – 8 grams to be exact. I like snacks that have fat (and protein, too!) in them as I find they provide a certain level of fullness many women with PCOS need. When people eat foods that are low in fats – they tend to not be very filling. What this means is that in no time – their stomachs are growling and they are prowling for the next snack. Remember – the goal of snacking is to stabilize blood sugar and help curve hunger. The 8 grams of fat in these little nuggets should definitely help with that!
Low in Carbohydrates
Carbohydrate- wise these pretzels are a score – they only have 14 grams of carbs per 11 pretzels. They also have 2 grams of fiber in them as they are made from wheat flour. This should add to the fat content and contribute to your feeling of fullness when you eat this little suckers.
Push the Protein
While they are not what I would consider a high protein snack (I consider foods with > 8 grams of protein per serving a higher protein snack) – they do have 5 grams of protein. It is no surprise that high-protein snacks, as well as balanced meals, have been linked to increased satiety.
In fact, several studies have suggested that protein-containing snacking have the potential to boost satiety and facilitate weight loss. In a longitudinal study, researchers gave 17 men and women with type 2 diabetes moderately high-protein morning and afternoon snacks (5 g to 12 g of protein) for four weeks, and compared the results with their normal eating habits for four weeks. The subjects who ate the two high-protein snacks lost a modest but significant amount of weight (1 kg) during the four-week period. Researchers noted that the subjects’ weight reduction occurred without making any changes in total energy intake (1).
Therefore, not only are these pretzels delicious – they can help promote weight loss. Did someone say winner-winner chicken dinner!?!
Low in Sodium
Sodium wise – they this PCOS friendly snack is a home run. They only have 80 mg of sodium per serving. I like to keep snacks < 300 mg of sodium whenever possible. We know that many women who have PCOS are pre-disposed to heart disease and hypertension. So in light of that information there is no need to “sodium bomb” anyone! Of note – Trader Joe’s does sell a salted version of these pretzels – but they have about 200 mg more of salt per serving.
Magic in your Mouth
It goes without saying that these pretzels taste amazing. They have just the right amount of peanut butter – not too much and definitely not too little. I have tried both the salted and the non-salted version and I actually prefer this version to the former. Most pretzels all you taste is the salt – not these guys. All you taste is the crunchy goodness – and for only 14 grams of carbs these are a true winner in the PCOS snack bag. They are just SO good!
So I would love to know what YOU are snacking on. Have you tried Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter filled pretzels? If SO what ya’ think? Love or hate? What’s in your snack cabinet? Let us know in the comments below. As you know we can never have too many awesome snacks that are PCOS friendly!
Need other suggestions for PCOS friendly snacks? Check out one of my other blog posts that sure to delight your sweet tooth!
1. Navas-Carretero S, Abete I, Zulet MA, Martinez JA. Chronologically scheduled snacking with high-protein products within the habitual diet in type-2 diabetes patients leads to a fat mass loss: a longitudinal study. Nutr J. 2011;10:74.