Why are some foods popular and others aren’t? I’m not talking about foods that taste better than others, or are more fun to eat – I get that. But I do wonder why certain foods are trendy, while others just aren’t eaten all that much. It’s hard to find a restaurant in Los Angeles these days that doesn’t feature kale salad. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – kale salad is delicious, and kale is jam-packed with nutrients. But why is it that certain foods gain superstar status while others – equally healthy and equally delicious – get the short shrift?
Posts tagged: Discover Good Nutrition
If you keep up with the latest in dietary advice, you can probably list a few reasons why protein is such an important nutrient. It’s necessary, of course, to help you build and maintain your muscle mass, and it’s also known to be a much better at filling you up than either fat or carbohydrate – which is why we suggest that people aim to have a good source of protein at each meal or snack. The idea is simply this: high carb meals don’t stay with you, while higher protein meals can help control hunger from one meal to the next. But here’s something else… a recent study by Heather Leidy1 suggests that a high protein breakfast not only helps control your appetite until the next meal, it might reduce unhealthy snacking in the evening.
I’m nudging you now, because many people have the tendency to put this off. As in, “I’m going on a surfing trip next week and I can’t be seen looking like this” A crash diet to take off a couple of pounds in a week might make you slightly less self-conscious in your board shorts, but if you really want to make some headway before swimsuit season, the time to start is now.
You know what you should be eating because you’ve heard most diet advice before – but you just can’t quite figure out how to apply that diet advice to make it part of your daily eating routine. Here are some tips to help you put your nutrition knowledge into action.
For those of us in the US, mid-April means one thing – it’s tax time. Many dread it, and put it off to the last minute – in large part because completing your own tax return is difficult, it’s complicated, and just so darned…. well, taxing. But as tough as it may be, it’s apparently not nearly as hard as figuring out how to eat well… in an online survey1 of more than 1,000 Americans that was released last year, 52% said that it was harder to figure out “what you should and shouldn’t eat to be healthier” than it is to figure out “how to do your own taxes.”
“They call me the vacuum cleaner!” one of my patients told me recently. He’s been a fast eater his entire life. “I grew up with six brothers and sisters – so, counting my folks, there were nine of us at the dinner table,” he told me. “As soon as mom put the food down, we’d all scramble to get our share, and then eat it up as fast as we could – because the fastest eater had the best chance of getting a second helping before it was all gone!” Even though he no longer has nine people at his dinner table, those old eating habits die hard. This guy can still demolish a plate of food in seconds flat.
One key to maintaining a healthy weight is to balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn. But that’s sometimes easier said than done.
Balancing your calories sounds deceptively simple. Eat more calories than you burn and you’ll gain weight. Take in fewer calories than you burn and you’ll shed some pounds. Keep your “calories in” and “calories out” about the same, and your weight should stay pretty stable. So why is it that hardly a week goes by that someone doesn’t complain to me that they’re “exercising like a madman, but not losing any weight” or, “eating like a bird but the scale won’t budge”? It simply boils down to this: when it comes to counting calories accurately – the ones you eat and the one you spend – there are so many ways it can go wrong.
Think keeping a food journal is a waste of time? You might want to think again. Study after study consistently tells us that self-monitoring – that is, keeping track of what you eat, how much exercise you get, and how much you weigh – is one of the key components to successful weight loss. In a recent review of 22 studies1 on the subject, the authors concluded that, across the board, there was “a significant association between self-monitoring and weight loss.”
What the studies tell us is that when you’re accountable to someone – not just to yourself, but also to a healthcare provider, a life partner or a friend – you greatly improve your chances of losing weight and keeping it off. And, the more often you keep track, the more successful you’re likely to be. In one study involving nearly 1700 people2, those who kept food journals six days a week lost double the weight of those who kept food diaries only once a week or less.
I spend a good part of my day talking to people about their eating habits, which is not just enlightening, it’s entertaining, too. When someone reveals what they typically eat in a day, I can get a pretty good sense for how nutritious their diet is – but it’s the little ‘asides’ that tell me much, much more. Oftentimes, as we’re talking, they’ll suddenly say, “I know this is really bad, but I ….,” and then go on to describe their breach of some sort of “dietary commandment”. So – in my quest to be not just flexible, but to also help them find their own personal sweet spot when it comes to healthy eating – I try to help them see that what they think is a bad habit… might not be so bad after all.
Cheating – on your taxes, on a test, on your partner – is just plain wrong. And chances are, even if you were to consider cheating, you probably wouldn’t ask for permission from your accountant or your teacher…or your mate. So why are people always asking me if it’s “okay to cheat” on their diet? Does it feel “good” to be “bad”? Do they want to place the blame on my shoulders if their cheating doesn’t lead to weight loss? Or are they simply saying, “I just can’t be this strict with myself every single day – I need a break!”
You’ve probably heard the old expression, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”. Well, I’ve got plenty of clients who are just like that horse. They know water is important to their health and they’ve heard the common advice that they should drink about 8 glasses of water a day. But, as one client said to me recently, “this is going to sound strange, but I just hate water – there’s no way I can choke down 8 glasses of plain water a day”. Which leads to the question: does it have to be plain water? Do any other beverages count?
People often ask me if there are certain foods that they should – or shouldn’t – eat at the same time. Some people have heard, for example, that “if you don’t eat proteins and carbs at the same meal, you’ll lose weight” – but a study published about ten years ago1 debunked that idea. On the other hand, there is another concept around ‘food combining’– sometimes called food synergy – which recognizes that certain foods offer bit more nutritional benefit when eaten together than if you eat them separately. Think of it as a nutritional ‘one and one makes three’.
- Colorful veggies with a little fat. Many fruits and vegetables contain compounds called carotenoids – natural pigments that give foods like tomatoes, carrots and spinach their beautiful hues – from the pigments lycopene, beta-carotene and lutein, respectively. Carotenoids function as antioxidants in the body, which is one reason why fruits and vegetables are such an important part of a healthy diet. But if you eat your veggies with a little bit of fat, your body is able to take up more carotenoids. So adding some healthy fat from avocado or olive oil to your salad will help you absorb the lutein from the romaine lettuce, the beta-carotene from the carrots, and the lycopene from the tomatoes.
It’s late spring, and you’re standing in line at the supermarket, staring at the magazines. The covers are graced with people who are tanned, toned and fit and the headlines scream, “get your bikini body now!” or “there’s still time to shape up for summer!” And many of us do toss around the idea of getting rid of a little excess flab that’s been hiding under bulky sweaters and long coats all winter. But how many people actually attempt to get in shape for summer? And, when they slip into their swimsuits, how do they feel “letting it all hang out”? In order to find out, Herbalife sponsored a nationwide survey* – and the results were really surprising.
The survey asked 1000 men and women whether they tried to diet and exercise their way to a better body for the summer, and how they felt about being seen in swimwear. And a large majority – 69% of the women and 76% of the men – said that they put forth absolutely no effort to get in shape for the summer.
When my kids were little, I always braced myself for the ‘back-to-school cold’ that swept through the house during their first week back in the classroom. With the new school year upon us, kids are going to be bringing home more than just homework and new friends – they’re sure to bring home plenty of germs, too. And even if you don’t have kids at home, you’re still more likely to get sick as the weather turns colder – so now is a good time to look at all you can do nutritionally to help keep your immune system running in tip-top shape.
Despite what your parents or grandparents might have told you, you don’t catch cold from being out in the cold air (or, as my mother always insisted, from going outdoors with wet hair). But when the weather turns chilly, we spend more time indoors – which means we’re in closer contact with more people, and there’s less air circulating – so we’ve got more exposure to the germs that can make us sick.
One of the most common complaints that I hear from my weight-loss clients is that they’re “hungry all the time.” Often when I hear this, I first have to help them sort what it actually means to be hungry. True hunger is usually felt first in the stomach – as blood sugar drops, the body releases hormones that stimulate the stomach to contract, and you get hunger pangs. But some people confuse hunger with wanting to eat – which is actually appetite, not hunger. To help them learn the difference, I ask them to let a moderate amount of hunger to set in – to really recognize the body’s signals that say “time to eat” – and to put the fork down when they feel comfortable – not stuffed.
It also helps to incorporate healthier, filling foods along the way. Because in the end – no matter how you define it – if you feel hungry, it’s going to be a lot harder to stick with the program. So here’s my list of some of the most filling foods you can eat.
When you’re looking for something to sweeten your cereal or yogurt, you probably reach for the sugar bowl. Certain foods may call for a dab of added sweetness, and at 15 calories or so per teaspoon, a little extra sugar isn’t a huge deal – as long you use it sparingly. But maybe you’ve seen other forms of sugar on the grocery shelf – like agave syrup or barley malt – and wondered if there are any advantages to one over the other. From a nutritional standpoint, there’s no real ‘winner’. For one thing, the calories in sugar, syrups, honey and the like and comparable. And, while it’s true that some might contain small amounts of vitamins and minerals, they’re eaten in such small amounts that it hardly matters. In the end, what you choose may simply come down to a matter of taste.
•Honey and maple syrup are minimally refined – what you buy is pretty close to what you’d find in nature. Bees make honey from the nectar of all kinds of flowering plants, which is why honey flavor and color can vary a lot, depending on the source of the nectar. Most honey you buy is simply heated and strained before it’s packaged – although you can find raw, unprocessed honey, too. The sap produced by maple trees also undergoes minimal processing – it’s simply boiled to remove some of the water, which concentrates the syrup somewhat. Honey and maple syrup each have about 60 calories per tablespoon – a bit more than white sugar’s 50 calories – but they’re also sweeter, so you might use less.