January Blog Posts

Don't Turn to a Fad Diet to Make Your New Year's Resolution

Ringing in the New Year often means making resolutions. More than half of resolutions revolve around improving one's health and losing a few pounds. For everything we hear about resolutions each year, do they actually work?

While many Americans make New Year's resolutions every year, they rarely last more than a month. Why the high failure rate? Most often, their resolutions are too big and mentally overwhelming to manage in the long term.

To achieve lofty resolutions, individuals may turn to popular diets trending on social media. Many diets promise tremendous results in a short time period. But these diets are often too good to be true and will only provide short-term results. If a chosen diet encourages avoiding certain food groups, increasing intake of supplements, or requires a strict meal plan, you may want to find a different method of achieving a healthier you. Many eating styles are difficult to maintain and don't focus on changing eating behaviors. After feeling restricted, it's easy for people to return to habits that promote weight gain. Eating styles need to become behaviors that can be followed for a lifetime.

If you have resolutions for a healthier 2019, consider making small, specific goals rather than a fad diet or a vague set of rules. These goals are more manageable and increase your chances of long-term success.

For example, instead of saying “I’ll lose 20 pounds this year,” consider a resolution such as “I will focus on losing 5 pounds by the end of February by walking 30 minutes daily.” It is a specific, short-term goal that can help you reach that long-term goal of losing a certain number of pounds. Once you have met one personal goal, expand that goal or add others, such as drinking a glass of water with each meal or eating a fruit or vegetable with each meal.

These small steps can have a very positive impact on your health and will help you reach your wellness goals – this method is also backed by research. You will be less overwhelmed and more successful in the end, and there’s nothing better than the sense of pride and accomplishment you will experience with each goal you achieve. And remember, don't wait until the New Year to become healthier. You can take steps on any of the year to become a healthier you.

Small, actionable steps will get you to your goal. Make smaller decisions (salad instead) instead of something broad like “reducing portion sizes.” Remember to keep a positive mindset! It’s hard to meet your goals if you’re unhappy.

For a successful 2018, sit down and think about your lifestyle, what's important to you, and how you can make incremental changes to achieve a wellness goal. Even the smallest change can have giant results.

When you what to know the facts, not fiction, reach out to a nutritionist at Giant.

Melanie is a registered dietitian and in-store nutritionist for Giant Food who is all about evidence-based science. She loves to delve into the latest nutrition craze (or rumor) and get the facts. In her series, Putting the Science in Nutritional Sciences, she will sort through the hype and give you the information you need to make an informed decision about what you see on the news and all over your social media.

Healthy Eating on a Budget: Breakfast for $1.50 a serving

I’ll admit that I’m not always good about eating breakfast, but it’s typically because I’m pressed for time. On days when I plan, I feel full and satisfied. On days that I don’t, well, I either go hungry or a make a pit stop on the way to work. This is where it gets tricky – most breakfast foods aren’t that healthy or cheap.

Odds are your morning purchase will cost you between $5 and $8 depending on your impulse coffee order. Let’s save a few bucks with my favorite fast and easy breakfasts that are balanced, tasty, and budget-friendly.

First up: Smoothies

Smoothies are great because they can be made in less than 3 minutes and taken with you on the road if you’re pressed for time. They’re perfect for all ages and can be made single-serve in a Magic Bullet or in a blender for the entire family. Each recipe makes one serving.

Tips: You can substitute juice or water for milk if you prefer. You can also boost an adult smoothie with a scoop of protein powder – vanilla in the fruit/veg version and chocolate in the PB version. This adds $.50-$1 per breakfast, but if you need protein, it’s a great option.

Next: Oatmeal

This whole grain choice can be eaten hot or cold and is a great way to get heart-healthy fiber in your diet. It’s also fast and portable when you use recycled jelly jars or containers. Overnight oats can be made the night before or several days in advance. For hot oats, measure out your dry ingredients and nut butter in advance and just add hot water and milk when you are ready to eat!

Tips: When I make overnight oats I like to grab a flavored yogurt and add fruits and toppings that match. For example, I’ll combine apples + pecans + sprinkle of cinnamon for a flavor like apple pie. For hot oatmeal, I’ll take a premade jar to work and use the Keurig machine – just add water, stir, and eat! You can even use the creamer at the coffee station if you forget the milk. (No shame. I may or may not have done this in the past. Deduct $0.15 per serving if you do this.)

Last, but never least: Egg Cups

Sometimes you just need a super savory meal and only a classic breakfast food like eggs will do. Make these egg cups in advance and just toss them in the microwave to reheat. Recipe serves 4 at 2 egg cups per serving.

Tips: You can add ½ cup diced lean ham to up the protein on this meal (add $0.20). If you are craving a breakfast sandwich, grab a whole wheat English muffin, mini bagel , or wrap. (add $0.30-$0.80)

There you have it, 5 fast and easy breakfast ideas with limitless variations for $1.50 or less per serving.

Mandy is a registered dietitian and in-store nutritionist for Giant Food who is passionate about showing people how to eat healthy (and deliciously) on a budget. As a mom of two teenage boys she knows firsthand how difficult it can be to stay on budget, keep it interesting, AND keep it healthy-ish. Let Mandy check the prices and create a plan that will satisfy your taste buds, wallet, and schedule. In her Heathy on a Budget series, she will convince you that it’s NOT “too expensive” to eat healthy.

Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes

Ever wondered if swapping sweet potato fries for regular fries is better for you? Or if there is there is a difference between yams and sweet potatoes? You've come to the right place! Today in Food Explained we are tackling the tubers.

Though they are both called potatoes, sweet potatoes and white potatoes are actually not in the same family. Sweet potatoes are in the Convolvulaceae (or morning glory) family, while white potatoes are in the Solanaceae (or nightshade) family. What about yams? They belong to the Dioscoreaceae family.

Let’s look at how they compare nutritionally.

Of course, these values are just a snapshot – the exact amounts of nutrients will differ slightly depending on factors like size and varietal differences in the potatoes. However, the point here is that white potatoes and sweet potatoes stack up similarly when it comes to calories, carbs, fiber, and protein. Both have no fat or cholesterol (unless it’s introduced when cooking) and are excellent sources of Vitamin C.

There are a few notable nutrition differences. White potatoes have more potassium – in fact, one medium white potato has more potassium than a banana. On the flip side, sweet potatoes pack more vitamin A (which explains their coloring) than white potatoes. One medium sweet potato delivers more than 100% of your daily recommended intake! All in all, either potato is a great way to add nutrition and flavor into your meals and snacks.

So what’s a yam? Ironically, yams are more similar in appearance to a white potato. A true yam has a white, purple, or reddish hue inside and has black or brown bark-like skin. Some varieties of sweet potatoes are commonly referred to as yams, so don't be surprised if you see them used interchangeably in recipes. If you're confused at the store, the USDA requires sweet potatoes that are nicknamed "yams" to also bear the label "sweet potato." And when you see orange, remember that you’re slicing into a sweet potato.

While sweet potatoes are famous for their orange hue they come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors-- you can even find purple sweet potatoes! Similarly, there are many types of white potatoes, from the classic Russet potatoes to fingerling and petite.

The first step to cooking a potato is a good scrubbing to get any excess dirt off – they’ve been underground, after all. After cleaning, the opportunities are endless. Potatoes are one of the most versatile starches you can prepare. They can be roasted, boiled, fried, mixed into soups, casseroles, and much more. Leave the skin on if you can, it's packed with fiber and other nutrients.

Besides your typical mashed and baked potatoes, you can get creative with things like Sweet Potato Pizzas (using slices of sweet potato as mini crusts) or Potato Energy Bites (a granola-like power ball with nuts and seeds).

Here’s the bottom line: Both of these starchy veggies are great ways to add nutrition and flavor to your plate. They each have unique attributes, so eating a variety provides the greatest benefit.

Marissa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist for Giant Food who is passionate about helping people understand the story behind what they eat. She’s curious about everything, especially when it comes to food. Since Marissa asks all the questions, she is here to give you the answers. In her series, Food Explained, Marissa will dive into the differences between common foods and what they mean for you and your health!