Tag Archives: diet

Changing your diet starts with changing your mind… and then your kitchen

change the way you think to change the way you eat

Changing your diet comes down to some really practical things. And if you can break it down and look at it as a series of small changes, it becomes much less daunting.

I love these seven strategies that Dr. Mark Hyman suggests for revolutionizing your eating habits. And I think the number one item is especially smart:

1. Change your mind about cooking. When you view cooking as an act of love that you share with your family, you strengthen bonds, teach important life-extending skills to your children, and enrich and nourish your bodies and your souls.

How would it change your kitchen if you saw preparing food as an awesome privilege?

This has certainly been the case for me! I used to view cooking dinner as drudgery; now I see it as a creative outlet, and a way to thank my husband for working hard all day! And to bless any friends or family who might be joining us.

(Yes, I work too, but I have more freedom in my schedule than he does, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. Creating a healthy, enjoyable meal is one of the ways I show that gratitude. When he retires, there will be more sharing of the load!)

2. Keep staples nearby. …3. Choose frozen. While fresh foods in the produce aisles are ideal, frozen berries, vegetables, and other foods make longer-lasting alternatives. You can stock up and have [them] on hand in your kitchen for healthy, easy meals when you can’t get to the market or these items are out of season.

Some items I try to always have stocked in my kitchen: a bag of onions, fresh spinach and/or romaine, carrots, celery, cooked/diced sweet potato, tuna, one or more kinds of already-cooked meat, eggs, avocado (or Wholly Guacamole singles), and coconut milk. In the freezer: more meat (cooked or not), mahi mahi, shrimp, frozen berries and/or cherries, green beans and other veggies. More detail in my how I stock my kitchen post.

4. Reclaim your kitchen. Establish your kitchen as the ground-zero family meeting place and establish it exclusively for cooking and socializing.

clear off the kitchen table!

This one challenges me! I think we (me and the hubs) need to kick the laptops out of our kitchen. The clutter we accumulate nearby quickly takes over. (True confession: I tidied up a bit before taking the above picture of my end of the kitchen table!)

5. Re-evaluate your time. Time is the biggest excuse why many of my patients don’t cook. Keep a journal for one week to monitor your time. You might be surprised at how you spend your time.

I highly recommend this! I think most of us would find ourselves much happier and healthier if we gave up a few rounds of Candy Crush or a couple hours of TV or internet or “retail therapy” on the weekend to spend a little more time planning and prepping meals for the week.

6. Make mistakes. If you’re new to cooking or your skills have gotten rusty, don’t aim for perfection with your first recipe—aim for experimenting and practicing. Start with… basic recipes with few ingredients and work your way up to something more complex.

Yes, yes, yes! Just try stuff! Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t come out great. Learn and move ahead!

7. Get everyone involved. Enlist help from family members—drag your kids away from their video games and ask them to measure ingredients, pull food from the fridge, or even chop veggies if they’re ready to take on this task. Decide on meals together to get everyone excited about what’s in store.

Again — Amen! If you don’t have kids, make it time with your spouse, friend, or sister. Or, if you’re an introvert, choose your favorite music, crank it up, and relish the alone time!

If you do have kids, and if having all the kids in the kitchen at once is a sure recipe for chaos and bickering, take one kid at a time and make it a special one-on-one time for the two of you. Let them choose the music. Infect them with a love for preparing good, healthy food! (Spoken from one who wishes she’d done it this way early on. Oh well, maybe with grandkids.)

Start kids (or yourself) off with something fun and easy, like cookies (they could be Paleo! like these coconut cookies), and work your way up to healthier, more complex stuff. My daughter’s love for cooking began early — mostly in her grandma’s kitchen!

changing your diet starts in the kitchen!

 

By the time she was twelve, she was able to make chicken noodle soup from scratch, all by herself. Ten (fast!) years later, she’s now married and easily handles the day-to-day cooking. (I’m so proud of you, Sweetie!)

So don’t make changing your diet overly complicated. Start with learning a little more about prepping and cooking food, with simple dishes, and with changing your mind about creating meals!

(One way to learn? Follow me on Instagram. I often shoot a quick pic of my easiest meals and post them there with brief notes about what went into them. @janalovesrealfood )

“Changing your mind” typography by dudebeawsome on Instagram

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Ready to cut refined sugar and/or grains out of your diet –

but still want to enjoy sweets?

Check out my cookbook…

 sugar-free dessert cookbook now available

What percentage of daily calories should come from fat?

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Excerpt from a Q & A with Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard School of Public Health and Amy Myrdal Miller, M.S., R.D. of The Culinary Institute of America. 

Do I need to watch my percentage of calories from fat?

Willett: No. When you cook or read nutrition labels, don’t fixate on fat percentages. As long as you use healthy fats, and you keep your portion sizes modest, it doesn’t matter if your dish or meal has 30 percent, 40 percent, or more of its calories from fat. The same is true for your overall diet: Don’t worry about the percentage of calories from fat. Focus on choosing foods with healthy fats.

(Now, if experts could only agree on what is and isn’t a healthy fat! Most everyone agrees that olive oil is healthy, and all agree that trans fats are nothing but bad. However, butter, cream, lard, beef fat, coconut oil, and peanut oil are all hotly debated.)

photo credit: USDAgov via photopin cc

Fat vs. low-fat: Low-fat diet means MORE heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.

Caprese Salad

There is growing evidence that the war on fat was misguided. One of the best studies to date compared a Mediterranean-type diet with added olive oil (at least 4 tablespoons daily) or nuts (a large handful daily) to a low-fat “prudent” diet. People consuming extra fat from olive oil or nuts had fewer heart attacks, strokes and deaths from cardiovascular causes (New England Journal of Medicine, April 4, 2013).
Not only did the Mediterranean diet with extra monounsaturated fats reduce heart risk, it also lowered the likelihood of developing diabetes (Annals of Internal Medicine, Jan. 7, 2014).

Source: Bradenton Herald 

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2014/04/29/5126434/eat-more-fat-to-lower-cholesterol.html#storylink=cpy

Your diet soda may be making you fat.

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Studies from multiple sources are discovering that diet soft drinks may not be the healthy choice that most people think they are.

Source of weight gain?

For one study, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio followed 474 diet soda drinkers for almost 10 years. They found that diet soda drinkers’ waists grew 70 percent more than non-drinkers. Even more shocking was their discovery that drinking two or more diet sodas a day increased waist sizes 500 percent more as compared to people who avoided the stuff entirely.
A few other reasons why diet pop may not be as good a friend as you think it is.

Greater risk for diabetes:

Drinking one diet soda a day was associated with a 36 percent increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes in a University of Minnesota study. Metabolic syndrome is a condition that includes increased waist size, and puts people at high risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

And it may not just be making you fatter, but sadder, too…

Possible link with depression:

A study presented at a the American Academy of Neurology meeting found that over the course of 10 years, people who drank more than four cups or cans of soda a day were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who steered clear of sugary drinks. The correlation held true for both regular and diet drinks, but researchers noted that the risk appeared to be greater for those who primarily drank diet sodas.

Possible factor in strokes and heart attacks:

Just one diet soft drink a day could boost your risk of having a vascular event such as stroke, heart attack or vascular death, according to researchers from the University of Miami and Columbia University. Their study found that diet soda devotees were 43 percent more likely to have experienced a vascular event than those who drank none. 

But how?

Other studies suggest a clue: “Artificial sweeteners could have the effect of triggering appetite but, unlike regular sugars, they don’t deliver something that will squelch the appetite,” says Sharon Fowler, obesity researcher at UT Health Science Center at San Diego.

Wikipedia weighs in:

(pun intended!)

The effectiveness of diet soda as a weight loss tool has been called into question. 

Changing the food energy intake from one food will not necessarily change a person’s overall food energy intake or cause a person to lose weight. One study at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, reported by Sharon Fowler at the ADA annual meeting, actually suggested the opposite, where consumption of diet soda correlated with weight gain. While Fowler did suggest that the undelivered expected calories from diet soda may stimulate the appetite, the correlation does not prove that consumption of diet soda caused the weight gain. The ADA has yet to issue an updated policy concerning diet soda. 

In an independent study by researchers with the Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts, soda consumption correlated with increased incidence of metabolic syndrome. Of the 9,000 males and females studied, soda drinkers were at 48% higher risk for metabolic syndrome, which involves weight gain and elevated blood sugar. No significant difference in these findings was observed between sugary sodas and diet drinks. The researchers noted that diet soda drinkers were less likely to consume healthy foods, and that drinking diet soda flavored with artificial sweeteners more than likely increases cravings for sugar-flavored sweets.

Learn more…
Sources:

Apology from a former weight loss consultant

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Excerpts from An Open Apology to All of My Weight Loss Clients, by Iris Higgins:

I’m sorry because I put you on a 1,200 calorie diet and told you that was healthy. I’m sorry because when you were running 5x a week, I encouraged you to switch from a 1,200 calorie diet to a 1,500 calorie diet, instead of telling you that you should be eating a hell of a lot more than that. I’m sorry because you were breastfeeding and there’s no way eating those 1,700 calories a day could have been enough for both you and your baby….
I’m sorry because it’s only years later that I realize just how unhealthy a 1,200 calorie diet was. I stayed on a 1,200-1,500 calorie diet for years, so I have the proof in myself. Thyroid issues, mood swings, depression, headaches… 
I’m sorry because you were in high school and an athlete, and I pray that you weren’t screwed up by that 1,500 calorie diet. Seriously, world? Seriously? A teenage girl walks in with no visible body fat and lots of muscle tone, tells you she’s a runner and is happy with her weight… but her mother says she’s fat and has to lose weight and so we help her do just that. As an individual, as women, as a company… as a nation, we don’t stand up for that girl? What is wrong with us?…
Because I’ve been played for years, and so have you, and inadvertently, I fed into the lies you’ve been told your whole life. The lies that say that being healthy means nothing unless you are also thin. The lies that say that you are never enough, that your body is not a beautiful work of art, but rather a piece of clay to be molded by society’s norms until it becomes a certain type of sculpture.
I owe you an apology, my former client and now friend, who I helped to lose too much weight. Who I watched gain the weight back, plus some. Because that’s what happens when you put someone on a 1,200 calorie diet. But I didn’t know. If you’re reading this, then I want you to know that you have always been beautiful. And that all these fad diets are crap meant to screw with your metabolism so that you have to keep buying into them. I think now that I was a really good weight loss consultant. Because I did exactly what the company wanted (but would never dare say). I helped you lose weight and then gain it back, so that you thought we were the solution and you were the failure. You became a repeat client and we kept you in the game. I guess I did my job really well.
And now I wonder, did I do more harm than good?…
I am sorry because many of you walked in healthy and walked out with disordered eating, disordered body image, and the feeling that you were a “failure.” None of you ever failed. Ever. I failed you. The weight loss company failed you. Our society is failing you.
Just eat food. Eat real food, be active, and live your life. Forget all the diet and weight loss nonsense. It’s really just that. Nonsense.

photo credit: madamepsychosis via photopin cc

Diet duel: the Mediterranean diet vs. the low-fat diet

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The Harvard School of Public Health recently conducted a study pitting the Mediterranean diet against a low fat diet. The results?

Weight change over 18 months:

  • Mediterranean dieters lost an average of 9 pounds.
  • Low-fat dieters gained (yes, gained) an average of 6 pounds.

Those who stuck with the diet:

  • Mediterranean dieters: 54% stuck with it the whole 18 months.
  • Low-fat dieters: 20% stuck with it.

Dr. Walter Willet, Chair of the Dept. of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health says:

“The real issue is not losing weight—people can cut back on calories and lose weight on almost any diet—but keeping weight off over the long run. Thus it is more important to find a way of eating that you can stay with for the rest of your life. For this reason, any eating plan you choose should be satisfying and allow variety, and should also be nutritionally sound.”

Here’s 12 Mediterranean recipes I want to try.

Quote source: Harvard School of Public Health website

Additional study: A small new study shows that following a Mediterranean Diet helped men at high risk for heart disease reduce their bad cholesterol, regardless of whether they lost weight.

Image source: The Boston Globe, “Mediterranean diet vs. low-fat Ornish plan,” April 15, 2013

Fructose is the new “Fat”

cholesterol-myth-bk-cover

So, last night, I picked up The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease and perused it in the book store. It’s by an MD and a PhD, and is backed up with lots of studies. In it, the authors explain why sugar, corn syrup and anything high in fructose are so harmful to our bodies in general and especially our heart health. The quick summary: because they’re processed first by the liver. (This article by the editor of Harvard Health Publications provides a quick and easy-to-understand summary of the subject.)

Which isn’t to say that ANY fructose is bad; it’s just the over-prevalence in the modern American diet that is problematic. A meta-analysis published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reached the conclusion that “obesity and diabetes rates were low when total [dietary] fructose intake was in the range of 25–40 g/d [grams per day],” adding the caution that, “Conclusions as to the safe and prudent amounts of fructose consumption will require carefully controlled dose-responses studies in different populations….”

This has prompted me to do some research on fructose found in various types of sweet substances. Here are some things I’ve discovered…

Here is a University of Vermont study (See Table 1) which found that higher grades of maple syrup — those that are lighter in color — may contain lower levels of fructose than their darker cousins.

A short list of the highest offenders, from the Wheat Belly Blog by Dr. William Davis:

Where do you find fructose? Fructose can be found in (roughly in order from most to least):

  • Agave
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Sucrose (white sugar)
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Maple syrup
Self Magazine’s incredibly helpful nutrition database has a page listing more than 700 foods highest in fructose.
And here’s the opinion of one Paleo dieter, from a forum thread on PaleoHacks:

The monosaccharide form of fructose, which is found in corn syrup, is supposed to be the most harmful. Surprisingly, the honey has about 42gm of monosaccharide fructose per 100gm serving, while molasses has about 13gm and maple syrup has about 4gm (source). So with regard to monosaccharide fructose, maple syrup would appear to be the least toxic.
However, in the previous thread on honey, studies are cited which show that honey does not have the same harmful effects as other sweeteners, and may even be beneficial. This is probably because honey is a whole food whose ingredients have complex interactions that somehow mitigate some of the possible harm from the fructose.

(Update, 3/12/13) And here’s a great post on Green Lite Bites, exploring the nutritional aspects of several natural sweeteners.

Probably more info to come…

I am not a health professional and this post is not intended to be professional medical advice.

photo credit: Wikimedia