Kitty Broihier, MS, RD is an experienced food industry professional, author, and freelance writer. She holds a BS in Dietetics from Michigan State University and a MS in Nutrition Communications from Boston University. She has worked as an editor at Good Housekeeping and in public relations for an international food company. She is currently an adjunct instructor in the Nutrition and Dietetics Department at Southern Maine Community College and has held numerous volunteer positions on the board of the Maine Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, including two terms as President, State Delegate to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Public Relations Chair, and Education Chair.
Yes, you do get some iron from cooking in a cast iron pan. The amount of iron transferred depends on variables such as the age of the pan, how long the food is cooked, if an acidic ingredient is included and more. The iron is non-heme iron, meaning it's not from an animal source. Transcript: "So the question is, when you cook in a cast iron pan, do you actually get some of the iron from the pan? And there's really two sides to this, but the short answer is yes, you do. The longer answer is it really depends on quite a few variables, as do many things in science and nutrition, right? So a 2021 systematic review study found that there were 14 studies, I think, included in this review, and most of them showed an increase in hemoglobin in the people consuming food from a cast iron pan. Four of those studies found substantial increases in hemoglobin, which would be a marker for iron in the body. So yes, there is an increase. Now, what the variables are include things like how old the cast iron pan is. With older pans, there's less iron transferred to the food. Another thing would be how long the item was cooked. So if you're making like a spaghetti sauce or a stew and you're stirring it and cooking it for a long time, then more iron would go into your food. Also, if you have an acidic ingredient like tomatoes in the food that you're cooking in the cast iron pan, you will usually get more iron migrating into that food from the pan. Other things can impact this as well, including how much the food is stirred and also like a surface area part. So the smaller the pieces of food, the more likely they are to come in contact with some of the iron. So that does impact. And lastly, it's important to realize that the iron you're getting from the pan is non-heme iron, meaning it's not from an animal source. So there's no blood involved there. It's less absorbed by us, but it is very plentiful in the food supply."2021 systematic review
You can infuse water with fruits, herbs, and spices to make it more enjoyable. Another option is to add frozen fruit juice cubes or mix it with regular fruit juice or seltzer water. Experiment with different tastes to find something you like. Transcript: "What should I put in my water so I can enjoy it more? One of my favorite questions and a good one. So a lot of people don't like the taste of plain water. I'm not one of those. I love plain water, but here are some ideas for you if you are one of those people. So infusing water, that basically means you're adding things to it and letting those ingredients sit in plain water and then you strain those ingredients out and drink the water. So a lot of people infuse water right in a water bottle or you could do it in a pitcher and they use things like fruit, grapes, berries, slices of citrus, whatever kind of fruit you like and if you let it sit there for six, eight, ten hours or up to a day, then usually that makes the water taste a lot better. You could also use fresh herbs, things like basil or dill or mint can be added and mixed nicely actually with some of the fruits and make a really nice tasting water. Very refreshing on a hot day. You can also do the same thing with something like a cinnamon stick or a couple of cloves. Make sure you strain that out and often those don't need as long of an infusion time to add flavor. Also you can simply throw in some frozen fruit as an ice cube for your water and that will help you enjoy it more. It lends a little taste and you can also just eat the fruit after. Fresh fruit you could do the same with and also you can freeze some fruit juice in an ice cube tray which would end up being a really juicy ice cube that only adds a couple of tablespoons of juice to your water. You can also mix some seltzers with plain water and just stretch that out or mix some regular fruit juice with plain water. There's a lot of different tastes you can create so give it some experimentation and I think you can find something that you'll really like. Good luck!"
You can tell if you're overeating by feeling bloated, noticing that your clothes fit tighter, having acid reflux or heartburn, and gaining weight. Pay attention to how your body feels after eating to really understand when you're overeating. Transcript: "How do I know when I'm overeating? Well, most people are pretty familiar with the feeling of being too full or overeating. And when we eat, our stomach expands. And when we overeat, it expands more than typical. And you can really feel that if you're paying attention by the way your clothes fit, your pants or your belt might feel tight, your stomach might feel bloated. You might feel like everything's just, there's discomfort and it's really not a great feeling. Another way that you can tell if you're overeating is if you are getting any acid reflux afterward. Where people call that heartburn, but acid reflux is the hydrochloric acid in your stomach coming back up your esophagus. And it is painful. If you're getting that, that can be a sign that you have overeaten. And then of course, if you're gaining weight, then you are probably overeating. So those are a few ways you can tell. Of course, everybody needs to know their own body and their own way that they feel their food and how they digest their food in order to truly know this."
Depending on what you want to track, you can either use paper and pencil or look for free/paid apps such as Lose It or MyFitnessPal. However, do not expect these apps to be perfect when it comes to calories and macros. You may also just want to track your habits around eating food. Transcript: "Can you provide any specific tips or tools for tracking what you eat? I would suggest first that you figure out or think about why you want to track exactly what you're eating. Make sure you know what you're looking for. Are you looking to just track the number of days that you eat breakfast? Or are you looking for a tracker that gives you information on macros or calories? Those characteristics will really define what kind of tracker you're looking for. If you are looking for something very simple, you can often do it just with paper and pencil. For instance, if you just want to track the time of day that you're eating, you can write that down yourself. You can also look online for free food tracking pages that you can print off and duplicate for yourself if you want to go that route. Again, there are free and paid apps. Things like Loseit or MyFitnessPal. They are not perfect. They have mistakes in them, so you just need to be careful when you're tracking your food and not really expect it to be the be-all, end-all of perfection for calories and things like that. Those would be some suggestions. Again, you don't have to track your food. You might just want to track your habits around eating food."
Strategies to hide vegetables in meals include shredding them finely and adding them to casseroles, making smoothies with lots of fruit, and blending soups. Transcript: "What are your top strategies to hide vegetables in meals? I've never really hidden vegetables except for one thing and that was zucchini that my kids did not like it when they were little, although now they do. And actually with mushrooms too, but I was never successful at hiding mushrooms. But with zucchini, what I did was shred it up very finely and add it to something I knew that they would already eat and they already liked, which were different casseroles, especially rice-based casseroles or pasta. So that would be one strategy and you can do that with a variety of vegetables, different summer squashes, carrots, things like that. Another technique you can use is to make a smoothie because you can pack a lot of veggies in a smoothie and as long as you have enough fruit in there or other flavorful components, the vegetables are harder to detect. Thirdly, you could focus on soups as a means to get a lot of vegetables in and if you blend up those soups, then those vegetables aren't as easy to pinpoint and can probably go down a little bit easier for people who are vegetable averse. And even if they're not, sometimes soup is an easy way to get things in."
Important skills to help promote a healthy lifestyle include slowing down your eating pace, tuning into your body's hunger and fullness cues, and planning ahead your food intake. Transcript: "What are some habits or skills that one can develop to promote a healthy lifestyle? Such a good question. So I looked at some of the other answers to this question and they are amazing, but they are more about what are the lifestyle changes or lifestyle characteristics for health. And I'm coming at it from a different viewpoint as an eating habits coach. So to me, the skills that are the most important for developing those characteristic healthy lifestyle behaviors are things like, number one, slowing down your eating pace, being able to take 20 minutes to get through your meal. There are ways to do that, but if you can develop that skill, you will then be able to do what I think is another very important skill, which is being able to tune into your own body's hunger and fullness cues. Once you can do that, then you are less likely to succumb to external cues for eating, which can pull you in all kinds of directions, when really we want to just be eating as much as we can according to our own body's cues. So those are two of the main ones. A third one that I think really does contribute to a healthy lifestyle is planning ahead your food intake. Now does that mean you have to plan every single food you're going to eat the next day? No it doesn't. But what can go a long way is getting in the habit of looking and seeing what you have on hand and thinking ahead to dinner. At least getting that one meal planned can really prevent you from having to order takeout or being tempted to go through the drive-thru or ordering pizza or whatever because you didn't plan ahead. All it takes is a few minutes in the morning, maybe do a little of the prep even if you can, but planning ahead gets you really far in the lifestyle game."