Author: Jackie Mistretta BS, MSCN, HicksStrong Nutritional Coach
It's hard to believe that it is already nearing the end of January! I could have sworn that just last week there were fire works, popped corks and parties to celebrate the New Year. Gyms have filled up quickly, diets have been started, and old habits have been changed. Social media is filled with every intention of positivity, change and “new year, new me” vibes.
The tradition of New Years resolutions is as old as time. According to Jones-Schenk, this tradition dates back to the Roman Empire where Julius Caesar established a new calendar every January. (2022)
So what happens as the weeks continue? The gym numbers decrease, the fast food gets reincorporated and those old habits seem to pop up again. Now this isn’t true for all. But for many, we seem to quickly return to our old ways. In the civilian world, it’s no big deal. We don’t meet our goals, who cares? But what about the active duty members and veterans?
The military holds its members to a certain standard. Whether its job performance, organization, PT or regulations, there is always an added pressure. This learned behavior is engrained in all members and most continue to uphold this standard even when they leave. Because of this added pressure, there are increased feelings of failure, depression, and frustration in these individuals. As a result, there is often food restriction, purging, over exercising and dieting to meet their goals.
According to the United States Government Accountability Office, eating disorders in the military are more common then not. Often resulting in “co-occuring” conditions such as anxiety, depression and PTSD. (GAO, 2020) This impact on both physical and mental health can cause significant issues and danger with readiness of a service member.
So, why do diets NOT work?
They make you miserable! I mean, who wants to deprive themselves of the things they want and love? Not me!
Okay, so if diets do not work, then what?
One of the number one reasons why diets do not work is because they fail to address the root cause of the issue. Think of a diet like a Band-Aid, it is simply a quick fix. Engaging in poor habits such as over exercising, restricting intake and following extreme diet plans only set’s an individual up for failure.
If you are feeling lost and wondering what to do next, you are not alone. At #HicksStrong Inc. we offer both mental health and nutritional services to help support our active duty and veteran hero’s. Please reach out and request nutritional services with yours truly. I will teach you the skills you need in order to achieve your goals and never have to go on another diet again!
In this article we will discuss the importance of eating a colorful diet. The term “eat the Rainbow” is a simple and easy way to remember to fill your plate with a variety of colors! Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Often why these foods are called “super foods” which is really just a fancy way of saying these foods are good for you. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables not only can increase your nutrient intake, but it can also help with the regulation of blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, GI functions and body weight. Not to mention that they are very low in calories and have no fat. Who doesn’t love that?
Vitamins and Minerals.
Some of the vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables aid in the function of blood, vision, nervous system, nail growth and even healing that scrape on your knee. Do you remember your mom telling you as a kid to eat your carrots because they help you see at night? Well she wasn’t wrong, vitamin A or carotene is found in yellow-orange pigmented fruits and vegetables. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause nighttime blindness.
Vitamin E and K can affect your bodies ability to clot your blood. If you are on a blood thinner make sure to talk to your doctor before you pretend to be Popeye the Sailor Man. These vitamins can be found in kale, spinach, broccoli and healthy oils like olive and sunflower.
As for vitamin C, the history dates all the way back to the 1490s when Portuguese sailors presented with bleeding gums and poor wound healing from a lack of vitamin C! Once they determined this was from a vitamin C deficiency, sailors would travel loads of lemons and limes on board.
Calcium and Iron aid in many processes in the body, including muscular functions and even can help prevent anemia. Believe it or not dark leafy greens are extremely rich in both iron and calcium. So remember to load up on those dark greens the next time you are eating dinner.
What are Antioxidants and Phytochemicals?
Antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables help prevent cellular damage from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cellular damage leading to aging and chronic disease.
Tips and Ideas.
1. Did you know that Rainbow Carrots taste the same as orange? This is true for most fruits and vegetables that come in a variety of colors.
3. Tired of eating salad? Try adding vegetables into a fruit smoothie.
(AHA) American Heart Association. “Eating the Rainbow-Challenge Yourself to Try Fruits and Vegetables of Different Colors.” Empower your cart. Retrieved on March 24th, 2021 from, https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@fc/documents/downloadable/ucm_466712.pdf
BreastCA.org “Foods Containing Phytochemicals” (February 5th, 2015). Retrieved on March 24th 2021 from, https://www.breastcancer.org/tips/nutrition/reduce_risk/foods/phytochem
Collins, K.., Collins, K., & *, N. (July, 24th 2020.) “Difference between antioxidants and phytochemicals” (AIFCR) American Institute for Cancer Research. Retrieved on March 24th 2021 from, http://www.aicr.org/resources/blog/healthtalk-whats-the-difference-between-an-antioxidant-and-a-phytochemical/
Jean Inman’s Review of Dietetics. RD Exam Study Guide. (2017). Vitamins and Minerals. Retrieved on March 23, 2021.
Louis ED. The History of Scurvy and Vitamin C. Yale J Biol Med. 1987;60(1):59-60.
Oregon State University. Linus Pauling Institute, Micronutrient Information Center. “Resveratrol” Retrieved on March 24th 2021 from, https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/resveratrol#sources
Pérez-Jiménez J, Neveu V, Vos F, Scalbert A. Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database. Pub medicine. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;64 Suppl 3:S112-20. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.221. PMID: 21045839. Retrieved on March 23, 2021 from, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21045839/
In this article we will discuss the importance of vitamin D intake through proper nutrition and the beneficial effects on mental health. Vitamin D is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the United States. Affecting “more than one billion children and adults worldwide” as a result of inadequate sun exposure, dietary intake and in some cases poor vitamin D absorption. (Holick, 2017).
Where Can I find Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is found in various food sources such as fortified foods, or foods that have nutrients added to enhance overall nutritional quality. Some examples include:
One of the most common ways of obtaining vitamin D is though sunlight exposure, accounting for roughly 90% of ones vitamin D requirements! Contrary to popular belief, individuals of all skin pigmentation still need to wear sunscreen to protect themselves from the harmful Ultraviolet lights that come from the sun.
What may be making me deficient?
Some inhibiting factors include:
These same lifestyle factors have shown to have negative effects on mental health. In the brain, the neurotransmitters Dopamine and Serotonin (the feel good and happiness hormones) work with vitamin D to regulate mood and brain function.
Low levels have shown associations with Depression, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, Fibromyalgia, Secondary-hyperparathyroidism, and SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder or “SAD” for example, is a common mood disorder, related to decreased sunlight exposure, in the fall and winter months. This is especially common in people living in colder regions of the United States. (Greenblatt, 2011.)
What can YOU do?
Vitamin D has not only proven to have a beneficial role in regards to our mental health, but our physical health too. Vitamin D aids in the formation and maintenance of bone, teeth and muscular function.
Remember, before taking any supplements always check with your Doctor for adequate dosage and usage!
November 9, 2020. By Jackie Mistretta, Nutritional Coach.