Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm Not Eating Healthy on Thanksgiving!

Let me start today’s blog off by saying: I am not going to tell you to “eat healthy and eat less food at Thanksgiving.” In actuality, there are a lot of healthy options available at our Thanksgiving meal. Many lean meats, and vegetables are available. However, many casseroles and vegetables may be full of sugar and fat. Nonetheless, most of our problem on Thanksgiving is not the actual food, but how much of it we eat. We most often overeat during our Thanksgiving meal and don’t know how to push the plate away when we are full. Most of us will not be able to do it. Most of us see the holidays as our days to splurge. The allure of all the great looking, smelling, and tasting food is just too much for many of us to handle. And who wants to think about portion sizes, holding the salt or butter, or eating on smaller plates during this time(this goes against all I said on Monday’s blog, however, this is just for one day J)? So what is my advice to you on being healthy at Thanksgiving dinner? It is simple. Exercise it off before and after you eat it. The day before, the day of, and the day after Thanksgiving should be major workout days. Before you tune out, hear me out…
On Thanksgiving day, just for the Thanksgiving meal, you will more than likely eat anywhere from 2000-3000 calories. That does not include breakfast, snacks, or any other meals you might eat that day. If you don’t believe you could possibly eat that many calories at one meal, let’s do some math to add it up:
1 ½ med slice of turkey 
66 calories
½ cup cornbread dressing
180-200 calories
¼ cup of gravy for dressing
80-90 calories
1 med slice of ham
66 calories
Close to 1 cup of macaroni and cheese
250-320 calories
½ cup Cranberry sauce
105 calories
½ cup greens
40 calories
½ cup sweet potato casserole
200-250 calories
½ cup green beans and carrots
30 calories
½ cup Mashed potatoes and  ¼ cup gravy
140 calories
2 dinner rolls with butter
175-220 calories
1 cup of Something to drink (tea, fruit punch, or soda)
80-200 calories
1 slice of sweet potato pie
250-450 calories
1 slice of pumpkin pie
200-310  calories
1 slice of german chocolate cake
270-320 calories
Total Calories:
2132-2807 calories

(Calories are approximate averages and could be much more depending on how you cook, season, and prepare your food.)
What is reflected is one serving of each food. If you don’t eat all of this at one setting, take out what you don’t eat. But please remember, we often get more than one serving of WHAT WE DO EAT, so account for that too by multiplying what you do eat by 2-4, depending on how many servings you get. That is still a lot of food for one meal. If at all possible, don’t eat all of this food at one setting. Try to eat it throughout the day. Even still, that may be too many calories in even one day for a majority of us as most of us need a lot less than 2000 calories for the whole day.
So what is our goal on Thanksgiving when it comes to being healthy? Our goal is not to gain extra weight and feel like a glutton. At least, that is my goal. The best way to do this without abstaining from what we want to eat is to burn many more calories the day before, the day of, and the day after Thanksgiving. The point is to put your body at a calorie deficit before you eat so that it can be more fulfilled when you do eat that larger meal. My aim is to burn an extra 1500-2000 calories over the 3 days. Today, I plan to walk 30 minutes, and to do one of the Insanity DVD workouts. In the morning, I am doing the 4 mile Turkey Trot here in Little Rock, AR. I will probably also walk 30 minutes sometime tomorrow also. And on Friday, I will be doing an Insanity workout again, along with the 30 minute walk; and Saturday will be a 6 mile run. You may not have to do all of this. But my suggestion to you is for you to walk 30 minutes in the morning (or evening if you prefer) today, tomorrow, and Friday; and do a 1 hour vigorous workout each of those days. That should help you burn at least 1500-2000 calories.  A vigorous workout includes: running, jogging, power walking with weights, cycling, spin class, taebo, cardio-kickboxing, plyometrics, Insanity DVD, P90X DVD, dancing, and Zumba. If I didn’t mention something that you are able to do vigorously, just include it. The point is to just get moving, and do it vigorously! I promise you that if you make this sacrifice, the food will be worth it when you eat it on Thanksgiving, and you won’t feel as much guilt afterward….Happy Thanksgiving!!!
-Jenelle Robinson

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

8 R's of Eating...

I know how to lose weight.  I have done it at least 50 times in my lifetime. But what I have always had a hard time of doing, is creating a lifestyle of change to maintain the weight I loss.  What can help us create a lifestyle of change?  8 words.  Now I won’t say I always do things perfectly. But whenever I eat, I aim to meet at least one of these principles:

Replace fried sides with fruits or vegetables regularly. If you are eating a burger, instead of a fried side, have a fruit or cup of vegetables on the side. Replace caloric drinks with water, tea, or a low-calorie beverage.

So you ate a high fat lunch, eh? Or maybe you had a big breakfast. Redeem yourself by eating a low fat dinner, or a low caloric (<300 calories) meal for another mealtime.

Eat less calories. When you are full, stop eating…even if the food looks and tastes good. Another way to eat less calories during the day would be to let something go for the day. Don’t eat meat for a day. Or give up eating as much bread for the day. The point is, as a population, in general, we need to eat less calories.

Eat often. You need to eat at least 5-6 times a day.  This will help rev up your metabolism, as eating, in and of itself, helps you burn more calories. Aim to eat 3 full meals a day (protein, carb, vegetable/fruit, dairy), and 2-3 snacks (100-150 calories) a day.

Refuse to have meat at every meal. Refuse to have rolls every time you go out to eat. Refuse to have 3-5 refills of your drinks when you go out to eat. Refuse extra dressing. Refuse extra butter on your bread. Refuse something that you don’t normally refuse. Then make it a habit.

Use the bathroom regularly. It differs by person, but a good guideline is 1-3 good bowel movements a day. Again, it may differ by person. One of the biggest things that will help us stay regular is fiber. We are not getting enough of it. Major sources of it consist of whole grains, beans, and fruits and vegetables. So in addition to staying regular, fruits and vegetables should be eaten regularly.

Reform your body through exercise. Reformation usually comes through discipline. Discipline is more practiced than learned. Practice exercising 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes a day.

We eat to live, not live to eat. Constantly renew your mind to that principle, and the other 7 principles.  Remind yourself of these things often. Because more than these principles, what you need is A MIND CHANGE in order to commit to these principles.

If we can consistently meet these 8 principles, we will inevitably create a lifestyle of healthy eating and living, and will not suffer with yo-yo dieting. Learn the principles and incorporate them into your everyday life. I can only give you the information and principles…you must find the internal motivation to commit to them…

-Jenelle Robinson

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Kids Gotta Eat Too...

I have no kids. So, I do not make any claims to know how to raise them, nurture them, or feed them. I am sure you have that down packed. Though I have no experience in those areas, I do have a lot of experience in teaching kids how to eat healthy. I have taught nutrition and health classes for kids of all ages. I have also administrated a nutrition education program for low-income residents all across the state of Mississippi in which the major target group was kids. So I have just a little bit of knowledge in this area.  Though I worked a bit with kids, I often thought their parents should have been more of my focus. Most kids (looking at ages 10 and under) do not buy or fix their own food. That is usually the responsibility of a parent of caregiver. Most times, it is also the responsibility of a school or daycare.  So let me focus my attention on the adults…
I have many friends and family members (adults) who have come to me asking for “a diet plan” in efforts to lose weight or because their health was at risk. When I gave them a dietary regimen to lose weight, or just to eat healthy in general, they usually said, “Well, it’s going to be hard to eat like this, ‘cause I don’t know what I can give the kids to eat.” My response: What? Why can’t the kids eat healthy too? Is their health not at risk also?  It actually is….
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2011) report that obesity in children and adolescents (2-19) has almost tripled since 1980. 20% of 6-11 year olds are obese. 1 of 7 low-income preschool children (2-4) are obese. Obesity among children increases their risk of having to deal with other problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, breathing problems, etc.  The CDC’s claim is that childhood obesity is the result of “eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity.” I tend to more or less agree with this claim. So what do we do to help improve our kids health so they have a better chance of NOT having to deal with these issues?
8 things to do to improve the eating/health habits of your kids:
1.     Don’t let them eat whatever they want. If you have nothing but processed foods around the house (most anything that is packaged and put on your shelf), please do not just tell your kids they can have whatever they want to eat for lunch or dinner.  You are robbing them of a balanced meal.
2.    Let them eat whatever they want. In direct opposition to number 1, this only applies if you have only healthy options for them to choose from. I believe it is a great ideal to let kids choose what they want to eat…especially when all of the choices are good choices. For instance, if for dinner, you are giving them a choice of either rice, carrots, and baked fish, versus green beans, grilled chicken, and a roll…that would be 2 good choices.  Or if for a snack, you let them choose between 4 different kinds of fruit, that would be a way to give them all good choices.
3.    Pack their lunch for school at least 4 out of 5 days. Don’t always depend on the school lunch if at all possible (unless the school has made some major changes to what they are serving). Make sure to always pack a fruit and/or vegetable in their lunch.
4.    YOU practice eating healthy in front of them (and emphasize how much you like what you are eating). Don’t just cook it for them and then eat whatever YOU want to eat. You eat the healthy meal too.
5.    Stop giving them cookies and chips and cheese crackers for snacks. Yes they are convenient. Yes the kids like them. Yes you may do it every once in a while. But please don’t make a habit out of it (3-4 times a week). Wean them off of this stuff (because they will put up a fight if you just try to abolish it altogether), and get them to find a fruit or vegetable they enjoy that can be a frequent snack (I did ants on a log with kids and they loved them (FYI-ants on a log is a celery stick, laced with peanut butter, and raisins crawling across the top).
6.    Find food items that you and the kids can make together in the kitchen. Here are some great resources with recipes you and your kids can try together:;;
7.    Substitute the fries for a fruit. I know it is easy to just go through the drive-thru and get them a kid’s meal. Do what you have to do. Only don’t let them have fries with that meal all of the time. Also, please don’t let them have a soda pop with it every time. Opt for the milk (chocolate or plain).
8.    Make sure your kids get some play time---and that is not hand-held video game play time. Don’t depend on them to just get it at school. Make sure they get it at home.  This can be done through a game that includes lots of movement (Wii is acceptable), or just running and playing games outside. This is nutrition-related because it helps the kids to burn off any extra unnecessary calories that they may have consumed throughout the day.

I hope this helps you and your family! Until next time…

-Jenelle Robinson


CDC. Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved November 14, 2011 from

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Black beans...

Last week, Heady ( sent me a message asking about black beans. So I decided I would blog about black beans. I have always hated beans (legumes). When I was young, my parents used to make us eat our beans. They would always tell us, “when you get older, you are going to like to eat beans.” I am older, and I still do not like beans. What I can do, is TOLERATE beans. I tolerate them in my chili and in salsa.
Beans in general are usually great sources of fiber and protein. Studies have found lowered colon cancer risk with beans (black beans), better blood pressure management, and decreased coronary heart disease risk.
The beans that I usually can tolerate in my salsa are black beans. As well as having the noted health benefits, black beans are about 114-117 calories (1/2 cup), have 8-9 grams of fiber, 1-2 grams of fat, and 6-7 grams of protein. But watch out for the canned black beans. Though they boast these benefits, many are high in sodium, with 1 can giving a person over 1200 mg of sodium (only should have 2400 mg/day). So if using canned black beans, make sure to wash them off in order to lower the sodium content (the fresh/dried black beans have less than 1 mg of sodium).
Since I love tortilla chips and salsa (and also cheese dip J), I thought I would give you a great recipe for a salsa with black beans:
1 can of black beans (wash off the beans)
1 can of corn
2 cans of diced tomatoes
½ diced red onion
1/3 cup of cilantro
lime juice (2 limes squeezed)
(and mini tortilla chips for dipping!!!)

That’s all I have for today! Until next time…

Bazzano, L. A., Jiang, H., Ogden, L. G., Loria, C., Vupputuri, S., Myers, L., & Whelton, P. K. (2001). Legume Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in US Men and Women. Archives Of Internal Medicine, 161(21), 2573.
Black bean. Retrieved November 8, 2011 from
Consumption of black beans and navy beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) reduced azoxymethane-induced colon cancer in rats. Retrieved November 8, 2011 from

Lee, Y., Puddey, I., & Hodgson, J. (2008). Protein, Fibre and Blood Pressure: Potential Benefit of Legumes. Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology, 35(4), 473-476.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fruitopia...starting with Grapes...

In the last blog, I talked to you about my fettish with cupcakes and what I experienced in San Francisco. Lest you think poorly of me (as if you could…lol), I would like for you to know that I also ate sweets that were full of nutrients….fruit. While in San Francisco, I went to Pier 39 on the bay. There was a small market (like a farmer’s market) outside that had a variety of fresh fruit. I took pictures of all the fruit I could, though I only bought some strawberries (I will talk about the strawberries in another post). However, I thought that today I would talk about the beautiful grapes I saw….
I like grapes. They are sweet, taste good, and are filling. In view of the picture above, the grapes looked so much better in person…better than what you see at your local grocer. Here are 4 things you may not know concerning grapes and their health benefits (
1.       Grapes may exert certain physiological benefits in protection against atherosclerosis, and coronary heart disease (Frankel, Meyer, 1998). Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for U.S. men and women.
2.       Grapes may help lower blood pressure. About 1/3 of individuals have high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure may increase your risk of other diseases like stroke and heart disease.
3.       Grapes may help protect you against certain types of cancers. The American Cancer Society (2011) says that half of all men and a third of all women will develop cancer during their lifetimes. So it is important to use preventive measures (eating healthy, not smoking, being physically active) in order to reduce your chances of getting cancer.
4.       Grapes may promote brain/mental health. The Alzheimer’s Association (2011) states that  Alzheimer’s (attacks brain; most common form of dementia) is the sixth-leading cause of death in the country.

So in review of the health information above, I would say grapes are a great sweet that might help with your sweet tooth while providing health benefits at the same time. Plus, nutrition-wise, it is fat free, and low in calories (half a cup is about 55 calories). That is all I have for today…until next time…


Frankel, E., Meyer, A.(1998). Antioxidants in grapes and grape juices and their potential health effects. Pharmaceutical Biology, 36SS, 14-20.

Fresh Grapes and Health. Retrieved November 2, 2011 from

Cancer. Retrieved November 2, 2011 from

Alzheimer’s Disease. Retrieved November 2, 2011 from