Hacking 20 Tips from the ADA

Yesterday I discussed some benefits of supplementing with whey protein, and the protein that I’m currently using.  (HERE is a link to that post.)  I’m going to continue on the let’s-talk-about-food trend and share with you 20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Dairy.  Thing is, I’m going to do it my way.

These 20 tips originally come from a list authored by staff dieticians of the American Dietetics Association.  The ADA is an important and arguably necessary organization, whose mission is “Empowering members to be the nation’s food and nutrition leaders.”  Unfortunately, I find that this empowerment is more influenced by food industry and less by food science, and as a result we’re taught an ‘everything-in-moderation’, fat phobic diet that focuses on processed ‘health’ foods, instead of all-natural healthy eating.  Make sense?  The original tips are based on the ADA recommendations, and while they’re good tips for improving on the typical Westernized diet, it’s still a typical Westernized diet.  You don’t need me to tell you that our country lives on processed chemical food-like products, and not real food.  Epidemiological data suggests that our ‘health food’ isn’t all that healthy.

Before I continue, let me share the original document with you right here.  THIS is the original document from the ADA. Let me clarify, I’m going to add my own notes and hack these tips for you, but I’m not a dietician or nutritionist, and this is not my area of expertise.  I do, however, take a natural and organic approach to eating, and think that wholesome foods are essential to maximizing health and wellness.

You’ll see that I’ve crossed out some words and added my own notes in parenthesis.  I used this so that you could distinguish between the original writing and my own.  It’s a bit of an experiment, but if it works it’s something that I’ll try again in the future.  Let me know what you think. Now, here’s my hack:

Eat Right: Food, Nutrition and Health Tips

(20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains and Dairy)

from the American Dietetic Association  Harold Gibbons

To get the most nutrition out of your calories, choose foods packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients—and lower in calories. Pick fruits, vegetables, whole grains (Hello, diabetes) and fat-free or low-fat (Why are we so scared of fat?!) dairy more often. Be aware of portion sizes. Even low-calorie foods can add up when portions are larger than you need. (This is true!)

1. Variety abounds when using vegetables as pizza topping. Try broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini.  (Really, eating pizza is on a healthy food list?  I’m sure that you can make a healthy pizza, but it’s not likely.  Instead, consider a veggie laden pizza part of your cheat meal, and avoid it the rest of the week.)

2. Get saucy with fruit: Puree berries, apples, peaches or pears for a thick, sweet sauce on grilled or broiled seafood or poultry, or on pancakes, French toast or waffles. (Pureed fruit sounds great, as long as it’s only fruit; not with added sweetners.  Seafood and poultry sounds awesome too, but pancakes, French toast and waffles?  Odds are, those are loaded with processed crap.)

3. Mix up a breakfast smoothie made with low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.  (Smoothies are awesome, when done right.  Add in a healthy fat (nuts, flax seed), a vegetable (spinach works really well), and swap the low-fat milk for whole milk or high-protein Greek yogurt.  I’m currently sipping on a walnut, blueberry, spinach, and Greek Yogurt concoction that is delicious and nutritious.)

4. Heat leftover whole-grain rice with chopped apple, nuts and cinnamon.  (Apples, nuts, and cinnamon sounds great, but hold the rice.  Whole grain doesn’t mean eat-as-much-as-you-want.)

5. Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables and lowfat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla. (Where’s the protein?  Where’s the fat?  Vegetables are great, but we’re missing out on nutrition.  I’d rather hold the tortilla and include full-fat cheese and a meat of your choice, whatever that may be.)

6. Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips with your favorite dip or low-fat salad dressing. (Crunchy vegetables in a minimally-processed dip.  Unless you want to dip (organic nitrate-free) beef jerky in guacamole.  That may be weird, but there’s plenty of healthy fats.)

7. Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions. (And steak, or chicken, or Bambi.)

8. Banana split: Top a sliced banana with a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of chopped nuts. (I made banana walnut frozen yogurt using Greek yogurt last week, and it was delicious.  Don’t skimp on the protein, or on the fat.)

9. Add color to salads with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, spinach leaves or mandarin oranges. (Top with steak, salmon, poultry, etc.)

10. Prepare instant oatmeal with low-fat or fat-free milk in place of water. Top with dried cranberries and almonds.  (Or eat eggs for breakfast…but this isn’t that bad.)

11. Stuff an omelet with vegetables. Turn any omelet into a hearty meal with broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes or onions with low-fat sharp cheddar cheese.   (Total win, and they didn’t even say egg whites!  Load that omelet up with veggies, and eat your eggs like a boss.)  (Added bonus; a friend just recommended ricotta cheese and red pepper flakes.  Give that a go and let me know what you think!)

12. “Sandwich” in fruits and vegetables. Add pizzazz to sandwiches with sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumbers and tomato as fillings.  (I would argue about breads being pretty useless nutritionally, but I’m all fo the inclusion of fruits here.  Bananas and peanut butter (and bacon!), apples and turkey and honey mustard; you can concoct some interesting plant laden sandwiches, if you’re still making sandwiches. 

13. Wake up to fruit. Make a habit of adding fruit to your morning oatmeal, ready-to-eat cereal, yogurt or toaster waffle.  (I’m a huge fan of yogurt, you already know that.  Oatmeal?  I can accept that as a post-workout carb.  The rest of these are highly processed, and you’d be better of with tip 11.  Let’s take a photo break though for a literal interpretation.)


14. Stock up: Fill your fridge with raw vegetables and fruits —“nature’s fast food”—cleaned, fresh and ready to eat.  (This suggestion is perfect, I have no changes to make!)

15. Top a baked potato with beans and salsa or broccoli and low-fat cheese.  (Potatoes aren’t as terrible as most anti-white carb zealots make them out to be, but I wouldn’t go crazy with these tubers.) 

16. Microwave a cup of tomato or vegetable soup for a quick afternoon snack. (Hahaha, are you serious?  Do you know how much sodium is in microwaveable soup?  I like soup, but I don’t like hypertension, so try very-low sodium versions or making your own.)

17. “Grate” complement: Add grated, shredded or chopped vegetables such as zucchini, spinach and carrots to lasagna, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce and rice dishes.  (Over the summer, I grated an entire 4 cup bag of spinach and an onion into 8 hamburgers that I made for my family.  The burgers were delicious, and I held off on telling them about the extra veggies until they were finished eating.  Imagine the look of horror when you find out that your burger included a serving of vegetables before you even put lettuce and a tomato on top.  What does this mean?  It’s surprisingly easy to do.)

18. Stuff a whole grain pita with ricotta cheese and Granny Smith apple slices. Add a dash of cinnamon.  (If you need a handheld meal, this is okay, but it’ll serve you better if you combine your ricotta and apples in a bowl with the cinnamon.  Do you really need that pita?)

19. Make your main dish a salad of dark, leafy greens and other colorful vegetables. Add chickpeas or edamame (fresh soybeans). Top with a low-fat dressing. (Salad should be your main dish…for holding other foods!  In this case, top those dark leafy greens with some steamed salmon, grilled goat, or a hunk of halibut.  All three will provide flavor, nutrition, and alliteration.)

The 20th fact is was a simple popcorn recipe, but I’m scrapping it for a tip of my own.  Popcorn isn’t the devil; it’s suprisingly low in calories. All of that butter they put on it IS high in calories though, so if you’re going to snack, which I know you are, find a topping-less version.  I’m a fan of kettlecorn, and I’d suggest sprinkling some cinnamon on top.  It adds flavor, and cinnamon has a number of health benefits.

Again, the original document can be found HERE, and is authored by American Dietetic Association staff registered dietitians.  It was a nicely written list of 20 tips to include more fruits and vegetables into the diet, but I wanted to suggest less reliance on low-fat processed foods and the inclusion of organic meats and vegetables.  It’s the food we’ve eaten for millions of years, and it’s the food that best supports our drive to survive.  That’s both poetic and poignant.  Now eat right!

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12 Replies to “Hacking 20 Tips from the ADA”

    1. Tara, what if they’re blueberry pancakes? That would be even healthier! Or you can put some strawberries on top! Or an apricot jam!

      I’m totally kidding, I’m glad you spotted that BS.

  1. I don’t know if you remember me but I have to comment finally. I periodically read your posts about “nutrition” and you’re making me cringe! Have you met a dietitian? Where do u get off hating them so badly. These handouts are meant to be modified and who says we use them in practice anyway? And no full fat cheese is in no way healthy. Have fun with high cholesterol. I’m sure you’re great at exercise science but leave us alone!
    From ,
    a concerned registered dietitian

    1. Of course I do, Meredith! We’ve come a long way since Rodney C, haven’t we? I really appreciate your comment, and I’m going to hold off on getting into detail because I think it would make a great blog post. Seriously, I admit that I’m stereotyping, and agree with you on everything except the cholesterol. When I finish the post later, I’ll reply back so you can read it if you’re interested. Please don’t hate me.

  2. Popping your own popcorn is super cheap, you control the salt and fat content, and if you pop it in a stainless steel pot, you don’t risk any nasty plastic endocrine disruptors getting into your system. Obviously, it shouldn’t be a staple, but it’s a great tasting alternative to the stuff in a bag.

    1. Exactly, Glenn! A ‘clean’ diet trumps all, but if if you’re snacking you should snack smart. The leached-plastic is treated like estrogen in our body; not a good look. Do you have any suggestions for a specific stainless steel pot that readers and myself can pick up to you?

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