A Journey to Better Health

Eat Healthy, Shop Smart with Ashley. www.cobornsblog.com

Well, it has officially been two years since I joined Coborn’s as their supermarket registered dietitian!  I can honestly tell you this has been such an amazing position to have; my favorite part; I am able to work with a variety of people in the community, like YOU.  So, instead of me writing another one of my blogs, I thought it would be a nice change to allow someone like YOU to write a guest blog for me on the ups/downs, challenges and ultimate successes with eating right and dieting.  I was so inspired by the story below and I know you will be as well!

I met Leni as he was cruising thru the aisles of his local Coborn’s scanning food items using the “lose it” app.  I introduced myself as the supermarket dietitian and asked him if he needed any help.  He was very excited to hear that I was a registered dietitian and began telling me about his current health situation and how he wanted to lose weight. After discussing his current eating habit, we set some obtainable goals.  I took Leni on a shopping tour pointing out the most nutritious foods and explained how we all should be eating at every meal.  Leni kept track of his daily intake with his app and would check in on a very regular basis, updating me on his progress throughout his weight loss journey. It was very motivating to see Leni not only reach his goals, but to see a more cheerful and happy person breaking through the wall of being overweight.  Now, that was incredible!  Leni wasn’t just focused on eating healthy, but living a healthy lifestyle that included regular exercise and being surrounded by positive people encouraging him along the way!  Now, that whole package was nothing but a recipe for success!!

Let’s give it up for Leni, here is his story…

A Journey to Better Health – by Leni DiMancari

A Journey to Better Health by Leni DiMancari - www.cobornsblog.com

I never in my wildest dreams thought that I could influence so many people to take better care of themselves and become healthy. I thought the only thing I could do to influence people was to be a better guitar player and manager. I didn’t realize that I was on the road to a shorter life because of the foods I was eating, the life I was living and not caring about what I put in my system. Here is my story that led up to my decision to live.

The choice to get healthy or die. www.cobornsblog.comIn the beginning

My journey to better health began in October of 2013 after finding out that I was on the road to heart issues and diabetes. There is a history of heart ailments in my family; my father and two sisters were both diabetic. I had consulted a physician about a lack of sleep and series of health issues that were starting to plague me. I was experiencing twitching, body aches, numbness in my fingers and shoulder, snoring, waking up every two hours, and not being able to focus at work. I was lethargic, unmotivated, and eating without thinking. At one point, I was drinking eight cans of Mountain Dew a day and eating fast food eight times a week with salt on everything. The doctor and I dug deep to find the root of my problems.

I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself physically until I found out that I was battling a lot of demons back then; I was swallowing a lot of depression. I began hating life and not caring if I lived or died, slowly poisoning myself with unhealthy foods, seasonings, soups and sugary treats. I didn’t realize that my eating was the problem until I went from a size 32 waist to a size 36 in just seven years.             

Over the course of 10 years since a divorce and quitting smoking, I had put on 60 lbs. I would un-tag myself in photos on Facebook, I would hide pictures of me on my timeline, and I would constantly graze. I would hide in my apartment with a case of Mountain Dew, a bag of chips, the TV, my PC and too much time on my hands. I would rarely go out in public.

 A turning point

It wasn’t until August of 2013 that I had a long talk with my sister about the negative effects of certain chemicals in food that could be a cause of the health problems I was starting to develop. She reminded me of her, my sister and Dad battling diabetes and heart issues, and after a long talk about the things I was eating and drinking, she thought I should talk to the doctor about how I was becoming. The doctor basically told me to “fix it or die.” I was depressed, lonely, and fat.  

I was overweight and on the road to the end. I had no idea of the amount of garbage I was putting in my system because you don’t think about the foods you eat sometimes; in turn, you just eat. I was physically inactive. My clothes were all oversized to hide my gut. My socks would tear, my pants didn’t fit, and my face was round. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with my food choices at the time, but I was wrong.

Quit Soda. Quit Liquor. Quit Smoking - www.cobornsblog.comI decided to make the changes. The doctor and I had a long discussion that really helped. He reminded me that I had already proven I was a strong-willed person when I had given up alcohol and cigarettes. If I could make those changes, I could certainly take on this challenge and win. Without health insurance, I was basically on my own and had to figure it out.

Meeting Ashley and beginning my journey

I then discovered that we had a registered dietician for free available through our grocery store. I went out to the store and met with her, and in two hours, I learned more about the negative influences of our food. I decided then that it was time to take the challenge head on and I did. I had a long talk with one of my close friends about smart phone apps, and then I downloaded the LoseIt.com program. 

I registered with the service, I picked up a mixed martial arts DVD, and I set out on a ten-month journey to a better life. The app keeps you in check, plus gives you a plan to work and goals to reach. It also sends you email stickers and awards for you when you reach peaks.

Ashley (the supermarket dietician) and I would look at the foods that had the worst issues on my list, and soda was the first to go. I tapered it down to zero soda by October 1st. I had no idea that the chemicals in soda were having such a negative effect on my health, until I had my first eight hours of uninterrupted sleep in years. I had no idea that my hypertension was caused by the amount of sodium I was ingesting daily. OMG, I was digesting over 4000 Mg a day; no wonder I was such a wreck. I cut my sodium levels down to under 2200 a day (less than the RDA). I was wide awake in the morning and I liked it a lot.

I eliminated the trans-fats and fried foods, too. I was starting to see changes, little by little. I also realized that I wasn’t getting enough fruits and vegetables. V8 doesn’t count; it’s too high in sodium. With the help of our dietician, the Lose It program, and a newfound confidence, I was ready to try and reach my target weight of 170 lbs. I was at 230 lbs. 

My goal

I wanted to be at that weight where I felt most confident (I wanted it to be the 1980s all over again). It was a huge goal, but I knew if I stuck with the program, dieted, exercised, made healthy food decisions, and eliminated the garbage foods, I could reach it within 8 to 10 months. Here’s what I did: I listened to our dietician. I took all of the high-sodium foods out of my diet and dumped the soda.

Coborn's Customer, Leni, shares his Journey to Better Health. - www.cobornsblog.com

The changes I made

Here’s what I changed from my diet:

I started my body furnace moving with breakfast: eggs, toast, turkey sausage, low-sodium cheeses, spinach, low-sodium tomatoes, flax seed, onions, and jalapenos. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

In the graphic below is the short list of foods that will never be in my house again.

13 Junk Food Alternatives - www.cobornsblog.com

You have to be willing to end your relationship with bad food, in order to appreciate all of the good food. I kept five foods that I still love in the mix, knowing now that my metabolism furnace can handle it now: Five Guys little burger, Culvers mushroom and Swiss, Ciatti’s (Because I’m Italian and it doesn’t taste corporate), La Casita (Mazatlan burrito with pulled chicken, artichoke and spinach), and my treat is the Dairy Queen small chocolate malt (high calories, but still high in protein). 

I calculate every meal based on calories and intake, along with a solid exercise program. I started slow to get into the groove so it became a routine daily, beginning with 15 minutes of cardio, and 30-second body planks to tighten my core. Since then, back aches are non-existent. I now do a routine of 30-45 minutes a day of cardio and kick boxing/MMA training, and I can plank for up to 25 total minutes, combining the first 15 minutes starting at a 5-minute hold, and going downward at 5-4-3-2-1. Then 5 minutes cool down planking (2 @ 2minutes, 1 at 1 minute.) The final 5 minutes is a combination of a circular plank that uses forearms, sides, back, alphabet abs and a mountain climber.  

In ten months, I’ve now lost 61 lbs. and have a new confidence, a girlfriend who works out with me, an entire new wardrobe (I was happy to donate all of the oversized clothes to charity) and a better attitude. To think back to where I was and to see where I am today, I will never relapse into food problems again. My biggest advice is to not be afraid to fix it and ask someone for help. READ THE LABELS on everything. If you slip, its ok, just get back on task, and always believe in yourself that you can do this, and you will feel great about yourself. There is nothing better than to have people you haven’t seen in a year tell you that you look great.

Here is the workout routine I use six days a week, with a light workout on the off day. I walk everywhere and I usually park far away from the door when shopping, rain or shine.

Mixed Martial Arts 30-40 Minute Workout Routine - www.cobornsblog.com

Leni DiMancari
Coborn’s Customer

I hope that Leni’s story was able to inspire you to make some positive changes in your diet and workout routine. Remember, if you ever need anything from me, I’m just an email away. Click Here and click on the “Ask Our Dietitian” button to connect with me today!

Peace and Wellness, Ashley
Coborn’s RD Supermarket Dietitian

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Eat Healthy Shop Smart with Ashley - www.cobornsblog.com


Which Nut Butter is Better?

Which Nut Butter is Better? Comparing Nutella, Peanut Butters, Sunbutter and Almond Butter. www.cobornsblog.com

www.cobornsblog.com - Eat Healthy, Shop Smart with Ashley

Are you under the Nutella spell, like most of us? Yes, this blog will be about Nutella, but I will also be discussing other nut butters out there on the shelves of your local Coborn’s.  Be ready to have many of your questions answered, including which nut butter is best for you.

Which Nut Butter is Better? Comparing Nutella, Peanut Butters, Sunbutter and Almond Butter. www.cobornsblog.comFirst of all, let’s talk about Nutella – here are the facts: 200 calories, 4 grams of saturated fat, 15 mg of sodium, and 21 grams of sugar in JUST TWO TBSP.  Nut butters will have a lot of fat, but the type of fat is more important according to recent studies.  Here are the concerns I have with this spread:
At most, we should have 20 total grams of fat for our day, however those with heart disease should have more like 12-15 grams; Nutella has 12 grams of total fat, with 4 grams coming from the saturated fat. Keep that in mind the next time you decide to spread it thick over some bread or crackers. Something else to consider is the amount of sugar (21 grams PER SERVING).  According to public health agencies adults should have no more than 24-36 grams of added sugar per day, and for Nutella’s 21 grams of sugar, you really aren’t getting any nutrition.  For example, I would prefer if you ate a yogurt with 21 grams of sugar, because at least you are getting some protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Finally, there is only 1 gram of fiber per serving.  As Americans we tend to not get enough fiber on a daily basis so it is of great importance to consider the amount of fiber you are consuming from foods.  Basically, think of this as a sometimes food, or a dessert.  This is not something I would encourage even though I know it is made with hazelnuts, which are the third ingredient behind sugar and palm oil. NuVal Score = 2

Which Nut Butter is Better? Comparing Nutella, Peanut Butters, Sunbutter and Almond Butter. www.cobornsblog.comLet’s increase our nutritional value by trading up to peanut butter. I choose Skippy creamy peanut butter. Looking at this compared to Nutella, we increased in the total fat, but lost a gram of saturated fat, went up a gram in fiber, lost 18 grams of added sugar, gained some B vitamins and Vitamin E. Whoa! Yes, I did say it went up in total fat, but the most important part is that we lost a gram in saturated fat.  Remember, I said the type of fat is more important according to recent studies so this is a great alternative to Nutella, however as I access the ingredient list I notice that there are hydrogenated vegetable oils listed.  This is something to avoid as it can increase the saturated fats.  Sodium is at 150mg, which I know can drop lower. Finally, the protein is at 7 grams, which is 5 more grams that Nutella. NuVal Score=20

Which Nut Butter is Better? Comparing Nutella, Peanut Butters, Sunbutter and Almond Butter. www.cobornsblog.comWhat about the “natural’’ versions of peanut butter? Well here we go…. I choose low sodium (see, I told you that sodium could go down) natural Jif creamy.  The fat stayed at 16 grams, the saturated fat stayed at 3 grams, sodium dropped to 80mg, fiber stayed at 2 grams and sugars stayed at 3 grams compared to Skippy creamy peanut butter. Protein is at 7 grams.  Now I move to the ingredient list and we have lost the hydrogenated oils so we have traded up even further to a NuVal Score of 25. NuVal Score =25

Which Nut Butter is Better? Comparing Nutella, Peanut Butters, Sunbutter and Almond Butter. www.cobornsblog.comNow let’s talk about Sunbutter. Total fat is the same, but the saturated fat dropped to 2 grams (any drop in saturated fat is great, even if it is just 1 gram) compared to Jif natural. The sodium did go up, however it is still considered low sodium. The fiber doubled to 4 grams, sugars and protein are the same. All of this brings the NuVal score up to 41. NuVal Score=41

Finally, we get to almond butter, my personal favorite, not only because it is so nutritious, but the taste is fabulous! The total fat went up to 17 grams… remember what I said before in regards to total fat… and the saturated fat dropped half of a gram.  Which Nut Butter is Better? Comparing Nutella, Peanut Butters, Sunbutter and Almond Butter. www.cobornsblog.comThe almond butter I choose is Full Circle (not all almond butter is the exact same in nutrition content, just as you saw with the peanut butters) and it’s SODIUM FREE! Now, for those of you who know me, THAT IS AMAZING; life can’t get any better at this point! Fiber is at 3 grams, and sugar is at 2 grams with protein at 6 grams compared to Sunbutter. Because of the NO sodium and all of the heart healthy fats in this product, the NuVal score is an 84. NuVal Score =84

Some of you may question why the score on almond butter is so high. I did discuss two reasons the score was higher, the no sodium, and the type of fats.  Let me elaborate on those fats.  Basically there are three types of fats: trans, saturated, and unsaturated. Trans fats… just say no! Now to the saturated fats; these fats are the ones we want to decrease in our diet as they are linked to increases in cholesterol levels, which put us at risk for heart disease.  The unsaturated fats… there are several types of these and we want to include a variety of all of them, however because of our food supply and typical American eating habits, we tend to get a lot of one type of these fats and the goal is to get all of the healthy fats. The most prominent type of heart healthy fat that is in almond butter is different than the type that is in peanut butter and sunbutter.  The type of fat in these nut butters we get so much of, but we really want to include that variety of heart healthy fats; that is most ideal! That is the main reason I recommend almond butter over the others.

All of these butters are great (minus the Nutella) and nutritious, some more than others, but it is really the type of fat found in almond butter that Americans could benefit from including in their diets more often. I hope this blog article helps to answer some of your questions regarding the different types of nut butters and their fats.

– Ashley
Coborn’s Dietitian

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Eat Healthy Shop Smart with Ashley - www.cobornsblog.com