This Month we celebrate National Nutrition Month with a 2 part interview with VIDA Fitness Nutritionist Catherine (Cat) Taylor, RD. Cat studied Dietetics and Gerontology at James Madison University and in the process discovered a great passion for helping others improve their lives through nutrition. Cat believes in a total diet approach to healthy eating based on the principles of balance, adequacy, moderation, variety, and portion control. There is no “one size fits all” in nutrition and Cat wants to empower VIDA’s members to find their “fit.”. Cat sat down with VIDA Fitness blogger Paris Achenbach to discuss a wide range of topics related to nutrition. Below please find Part 2 of this interview. If you would like to find out more about VIDA Fitness’s Nutritional Programs you can email Catherine Taylor.
P: What’s the Mediterranean diet?
C: A lot of chicken, fish, lean proteins, nuts and beans, fruits and vegetables, and oils.
P: No dairy?
C: Well, yogurt. And also, there’s nothing wrong with dairy. If you’re concerned about the hormones in milk, get organic. So many people are going to soymilk and almond milk when they’re not even lactose intolerant, and they’re removing a really, really beneficial nutrient and really the perfect formula, and replacing with something that’s not as good. People assume that because almond milk is a milk replacement, it’s going to be the same. But there’s only one gram of protein. And any sugar in soymilk is added, which isn’t as good as drinking sugar from its natural state in milk.
P: What do you think about bread?
C: I think it’s fine. Have a freakin’ sandwich! People struggle with lunch because they’re in meetings all the time, and it’s hard to sit down and eat a salads or something like that. And I just say, make a sandwich! Whole wheat bread, turkey, or a veggie burger, and avocado, or hummus, and mustard. A lot of people will do really fatty things instead. And fats add up in calories far faster than whole wheat piece of bread would. A piece of bread is a hundred calories, whereas that size amount of almonds is 400 calories. The same volume of almonds or oil or anything that’s mostly fat is going to be double the amount of calories of that volume of carbs and protein. Carbs and protein are four calories per gram of food. Fats are nine calories per gram of food.
P: I never thought about that.
C: Yeah, carbs have gotten a bad rep because we started making them processed and refined, stripping all the nutrients out of them to make white bread and sourdough and white pasta and white rice, and then filled our whole plate with it, instead of a portion of your plate. A portion would mean having meat with it, have veggies with it. It means having minimum 3 food groups per meal.
P: Do you suggest to your clients to go out to eat less?
C: Ideally they should. Even if you are making the healthiest choices at a restaurant, a restaurant’s number-one focus is to make you like the food, so they’re going to put more salt on it and more fat in it, than if you made the same thing at home. And the portions are just going to be bigger. So it’s always better to make it at home, but that’s not realistic, especially in DC. People are always going out. I just suggest to pack lunch at least, because it saves money, saves time, it’s healthier, you don’t have to leave the office to get it, you can come to VIDA on your lunch break and then eat your lunch at home.
P: So what do you eat in a typical day?
C: Unfortunately I am creature of habit, and I try to switch it up because I tell my clients to switch it up. But breakfast almost always the same: oatmeal or overnight oats, blueberries, walnuts for the omega-3s, sometimes flaxmeal or chia seeds, and skim milk. And a little glass of orange juice, because I can’t live without that. And coffee with skim milk. For a snack, I’ll have a banana with almonds or nut butter, and Chobani yogurt. For snacks I always try to have two or more food groups. For lunch, either a sandwich or a wrap with chicken or a veggie burger, and avocado, mustard, and lettuce, and I’ll pair that with a snack like yogurt or fruit. I always have something before I work out, too. After my workout, I try to have some protein powder with water, and a piece of fruit. And for dinner, my favorite thing to do is to make a big salad-bar-type salad, loaded with spinach and romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, peas, sunflower seeds, beets, always a protein of some kind, whether it’s a veggie burger from home, or salmon or chicken or tuna. I might throw on some brown rice or quinoa too, and use oil and vinegar as a dressing.
P: So no dessert usually, but maybe on special occasions…?
C: If I need something sweet I’ll eat dark chocolate. Or, since I’m lactose intolerant, I’ll go to a place like frozen yo, and I get frozen yogurt and top it with fruit and granola and nuts. That’s a good way to fix that sweet tooth in a healthy way.
P: Does a sweet tooth dissipate over time?
C: It does! Part of that, from my own personal experience is, when I cut out artificial sweeteners, my sweet tooth went away. A research study shows that artificial sweeteners don’t go through our body without any affect. For one, they show hormonal affects in in our insulin response. And they’re also increasing our need for sugar, for sweet. Because those artificial sweeteners are still having the same neurological responses as regular sugar would. It constantly keeps that sweet tooth going. So actually now that I’ve eliminated artificial sweeteners, I don’t need sugar like I used to. Before, if I had passed a cupcake, I had to eat one. Now I’m just like, eh. I don’t need it.
P: I strive to be like you.
C: Might want to cut out artificial sweeteners!
P: I don’t think I eat a lot of artificial sweeteners though. I wonder how many things have them without me knowing?
C: Probably more than you think. Any diet soda, any drink that’s “low-sugar,” they’ve added Splenda or Stevia. Some protein powder has artificial sugars in there, and some cereals still do it. And all the light yogurts, not low-fat but the “light” yogurts, so “Chobani Simply 100” or “Dannon Light and Fit” – all of those have either Stevia or Splenda, which in the ingredients label is sucralose.
P: Sucralose is Splenda?
C: Yep. Just as a P.S. – the “Extra” blue packet is aspartame, the pink “Sweet-and-Low” is saccharin, and Splenda is sucralose. A lot of people don’t realize that.