Jill's Blog 2008

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December 20, 2008

Tuna Tips

You've probably heard the bad news; that the healthiest, most convenient low-calorie protien around, canned/bagged tuna may contain high levels of mercury. Well, here are 2 bits of good news:

1) You can now get skinless, boneless salmon in a packet or can, which looks and tastes almost like tuna

2) If you buy "chunk light" instead of "albacore" canned tuna, it typically has only 25% as much mercury and also has less fat.

December 18, 2008

Sweat the Small Stuff

Well, the latest numbers are in and Americans are now gaining 2 pounds per year, every year, on average. That's 20 pounds per decade--yikes!

Consider this: To gain 2 pounds per year you need to overeat by only 19 calories per day (1 saltine cracker.) On the bright side, this also means that you can lose 2 pounds per year by burning 19 calories more than you eat each day--that's only 2 extra minutes of exercise. Every little nibble or extra minute of physical activity adds up over time, so start sweating the small stuff.

December 17, 2008

The Dirty Dozen

Organic produce is wonderful for the planet and your body, but it sure costs a lot. If you're looking to save money on food, but also want to avoid pesticides, these are the foods for which organic matters most. According to the Environmental Working Group, common growing practices make these crops the most likely to contain pesticide residues.

  1. Apples
  2. Bell peppers
  3. Celery
  4. Cherries
  5. Imported grapes
  6. Nectarines
  7. Peaches
  8. Pears
  9. Potatoes
  10. Raspberries
  11. Spinach
  12. Strawberries

December 12, 2008

Sugar is finally proven addictive

Hello!

Psychology researchers at Princeton have finally proven what you may have already suspected. Granted, they studied rats (so they could look inside their brains) but they found that eating sugar produces similar results as taking addictive drugs. After allowing rats to binge on sugar, they found

A) Altered brain chemistry: The rats' dopamine receptors were fried, just like with drug addicts, B) Cravings: The rats went through withdrawal when their sugar was taken away, C) Relapse: The rats ate even larger amounts of sugar at their next opportunity. D) Alcoholism: The rats started drinking much more alcohol after becoming addicted to sugar.

Perhaps re-classifying sugar as an addictive substance will help us have the discipline not to buy it or keep it in the house.

Now perhaps those Princeton researchers can get working to find us something pleasurable that isn't illegal, immoral or fattening!

Have a good week!

Jill

December 10, 2008

Winter Weight Woes

Hello!

If you've noticed that it's harder to watch your weight lately, you're not crazy. Winter weather and shorter days are tough on will-power and fat-burning for a few reasons:

  1. Being cold increases your appetite.
  2. Cravings for comfort food increase after the sun sets and it's dark outside.
  3. Exercising in colder weather doesn't work your heart as hard. When your heart has to pump enough blood to simultaneously fuel you and cool you (i.e., sweat) you burn more calories.
  4. It's good TV season. Who can be bothered to be active after dinner when a new episode of 30 Rock is on?!

What should you do?

Fight your best fight until the weather gets warmer and be glad you live in Southern California! Think of all those poor folks who live up north and live like this until almost June!

Have a good week,

Jill

December 6, 2008

Your body's sugar "storage tanks"

Hello!

New research has found that some people are prone to release more insulin than others after eating carbohydrates. Insulin moves carbohydrates out of your blood stream and into storage-- which is usually your fat cells--so these high-insulin-releasers are more likely to gain weight unless they maintain a low-carb diet.

This explains why some lucky folks get away with eating more carbs than others.

If you believe you might be one of those unlucky carb-sensitive weight-gainers (or if you just love your carbs and want to avoid storing fat after eating them), here's a solution:

Build bigger muscles and use them regularly.

Before storing fat, your body will store sugar in your muscles, as glycogen...but only if there is space for it. When you exercise your muscles you burn up some of the muscle sugar, making room for more. Think of muscles as your sugar "storage tanks" that give you freedom to enjoy more carbs.

...now you know why I lift weights!

Have a good day, Jill

December 6, 2008

Tastebuds Gone Wild--The MSG Story

Yesterday I gobbled down an entire bag of white cheddar rice cakes. They were so delicious I couldn't stop. I was in a trance of pleasure and I was helpless! And after I polished off the bag and wished for more, it dawned on me that there must be some MSG hiding in there. That's the salty additive that makes sane folks eat like the world is ending.

But the label didn't list MSG. Instead the label said "yeast extract", which is code-word for MSG. How tricky!

So here's a quick primer on MSG:

  1. MSG is an "excitotoxin," which means that it makes food taste amazing . Your brain's pleasure center goes wild upon tasting it and your appetite balloons.

  2. People eat more quickly and much more food when their meals are laced with MSG.

  3. A Chinese study looked into why MSG-eaters were more likely to be overweight & obese. The simple explanation was that they were eating a whole lot more.

  4. MSG is often hard to identify on a label--it sneaks into things like: yeast extract hydrolyzed vegetable protein sodium and calcium caseinate autolyzed yeast hydrolyzed corn protein texturized vegetable protein

It is also sometimes sprayed on commercial crops to stimulate growth.

  1. There is some evidence that MSG can cause chronic overproduction of insulin and can also damage the hypothalamus, which controls hunger. The many claims about cancer don't have strong support.

Chances are that you will have a tough time identifying MSG, especially when eating out. My suggestion is to pay attention to which foods drive your tastebuds unnaturally wild and then assume the worst.

If you already struggle with overeating, MSG is probably a disaster for you. Do your best to avoid it and seek out some healthy herbs & spices instead.

December 3, 2008

Law and Order and Weight Gain

Hello!

You probably already knew that watching tv increases hunger (thanks to commercials) and contributes to body image problems (thanks to stars' perfect bodies), but here's a doozie: watching tv suppresses your metabolism below it's basal rate!

Researchers recently measured the calorie burn associated with watching tv versus reading. In both cases, the subjects were reclining and completely inactive. It was assumed that the calorie burn for both activities would be the same as resting metabolism.

The readers' metabolisms stayed at the basal level, as expected, but get this: Television watchers actually had their metabolisms go down by up to 16%! That's enough to pack on a few pounds per year for the average viewer.

The lower metabolism is thought to be caused by our brains shutting down during tv. Under normal circumstances, a brain burns a lot of calories throughout the day--about 450--but apparently only if you keep it engaged.

The takeaway message: Now you really can't justify munching on snacks while watching tv. How about some ab crunches instead?

November 9, 2008

Another great idea that didn't work

It's official. Another great weight-loss idea has backfired.

This time it's the 100-calorie-snack-packs of cookies, crackers and other treats. Recent studies show that people tend to eat more calories throughout the day when they include these foods in their diet.

How can this be?!

Apparently these single-serving treats feel so harmless that they don't get picked up by our personal "guilt radar." Experts believe that eating treats normally makes you compensate by eating healtier later on. The small-serving snack-packs don't.

I am especially convinced that this is true with children. When I ask kids to name healthy foods, they frequently mention Oreo snack-packs or Goldfish snack-packs right along with the fruits and veggies.

I think these snack packs can still be a good idea--just make sure to tell your kids or yourself that it's still junk.

November 9, 2008

Jill's Favorite Functional Flight Foods

Flying is hard on your body for many reasons--it can leave you dehydrated, constipated, exposed to extra germs & radiation, not to mention stressed. Here are a few tricks for protecting yourself:

  1. Carry Green, Red or White Tea Bags The antioxidants help protect you from the extra radiation at high alititudes and, of course, tea is hydrating. Get some hot water after you pass through security and enjoy your tea before, during or right after your flight.

  2. Garlic Approximately 20% of travellers catch a cold after flying, so eating this natural germ-killer (ideally raw) is a small price to pay for prevention. Try putting 2 cloves of crushed garlic in some salsa, bruschetta or any other meal right before or after you fly.

  3. Walnuts The omega-3 fatty acids help keep your stress level down and the usual nut-quantity-problem (so hard to stop at just one serving!) is avoided because you'll only pack 1 ounce to begin with. Eat nuts in place of starches on a flight because you don't need the carbs when you are so sedentary.

  4. Bran-a-Crisp Crackers Eat a couple of these with plenty of water and they will not only fill you up, but also solve any post-flight constipation problems. You can find them at Whole Foods, Gelson's or my office.

  5. Cottage Cheese & Frozen Berries This makes a great travel snack because the protein keeps your metabolism up and the frozen berries keep the whole thing cool for hours.

Happy travels!

November 8, 2008

Baker's Demise

Happy Holiday Season!

At the risk of sounding like the Grinch, I have a cautionary tale for you:

Last year my husband and I made a few teensy-tiny chocolate chip cookies. We only made 8, knowing we'd eat as many as we made. We used a banana instead of sugar and butter, used oats and oat bran instead of flour, used only the whites of the egg, and added only a few chocolate chips. While gobbling them up, we congratulated ourselves on our healthy choices.

Then we decided to calculate the calories.

Our 8 tiny cookies had 1,200 calories! Even though we had removed the most fattening ingredients, we still had some very caloric little treats.

Lesson: All baked goods are calorically dense because unlike fruits, veggies, lean meats or grains, they contain very little water.

Suggestion: Instead of baking this holiday season, try making wonderful soups and stews. Research shows that people who eat more broth-based soups eat fewer calories without even trying. Or make garlands out of cranberries and popcorn as a tasty, low-cal way to have fun with your kids.

November 8, 2008

Gifts of Health

Happy Holiday Shopping Season!

Why not give (and ask for) holiday gifts that will promote health and fitness all year long? Here are some suggestions.

Jill's Healthiest Gift Ideas

Exercise Gear: heart rate monitor pedometer hand weights exercise bands exerball Bosu ball exercise videos Camelback water pouch exercise clothes GPS pedometer walkman/IPod swimming walkman reflective clothing rollerblades treadmill, stair climber, etc. pilates equipment--mats, reformer, etc.

Gift Certificates: personal training massage gym membership spa treatments healthy cooking lessons dancing lessons a personal chef for a week

Healthy cooking accessories: George Foreman Grill popcorn air-popper vegetable juicer yogurt maker grain thermos veggie steamer tea and tea accessories milk foamer microwave egg poacher automatic egg boiler salad spinner

Other items: healthy magazine subscription health newsletter subscription books, cookbooks fruit-of-the-month club vegetable-of-the-month club spa item-of-the-month-club tempurpedic mattress body pillow massage chair air purifier small bowls and plates (because you eat less on small dinnerware)

Also, remind your family that you do not want to receive chocolates, candy or any other unhealthy gifts.

Happy Holiday Season!

October 31, 2008

Fall back into exercise

Daylight Savings Time ends soon, and that extra hour makes it the perfect time to start a morning exercise habit. Did you know...

  1. Morning exercisers are less likely to miss workouts than evening exercisers.
  2. Morning exercise gives your metabolism a nice boost for the day.
  3. There is less air pollution early in the day.
  4. Your body chemistry is best for burning fat and building muscle in the morning (because cortisol levels are highest, which mobilizes fat and sugar into your bloodstream.)

With all these incentives plus an extra hour, you are out of excuses not to exercise. And if you already have this wonderful habit, enjoy your well-deserved extra sleep!

October 20, 2008

Shoes to lose

Did you know that the type of shoes you typically wear can affect your weight? In a study of daily physical activity, people were more active when they were wearing more comfortable, less formal shoes. But here's the best part--they weren't trying to be more active, and they weren't even aware of it! So try putting away the stilettos and see if some pounds come off!

October 7, 2008

Potatoes Not Prozac

More evidence is emerging that some food tricks really do boost your mood and help you feel more relaxed and happy. A book by Kathleen DesMaisons, "Potatoes Not Prozac", gives the details, but here's the super-simplified version:

Tryphtophan is an amino acid in animal proteins. If you let a chicken/turkey/fish meal digest for a couple of hours, you'll have tryphtophan in your blood stream. Then, if you eat half a plain baked potato (or 100 calories of any high-glycemic carbohydrate), the insulin you produce will carry the tryphtophan into the brain, where it gets turned into serotonin, the neurochemical that makes you feel happy, calm & content.

For example, try eating chicken plus veggies at dinner and then eat a plain potato 2 hours later. It should have you feeling happy and relaxed at bedtime.

I was skeptical at first, but I think it worked on me. The trick is to have the self-control to not overeat those carbs. 100 calories is the amount that will give you the effect without going overboard and storing fat.

Give it a try and let me know how it works!

September 8, 2008

Food Combining Fads

There are lots of myths about food combining, most of which have never been proven with scientific research. Here are some of the few combinations with evidence to back them up. You'll see there aren't many.

The Good Combinations:

  1. Lemon in your Green tea boosts the anti-oxidant effect
  2. Vitamin C rich foods with iron rich foods boosts iron absorption
  3. Veggies with a little healthy fat (like olive oil) help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins

The Bad Combinations:

  1. Milk in your tea reduces the heart-healthy benefits
  2. Iron-rich foods with calcium-rich foods blocks absorption of both minerals

It is also common for people to have their own personal food combination preferences. Listen to your body, but don't listen to the hype that comes from unproven fad diets.

September 8, 2008

The Mind-Mouth Gap

Hello!

Here's a funny, depressing, but fixable statistic: According tothe September Berkeley Wellness Letter, we Americans are terrible at accurately remembering what we put in our mouths. They report that the average person underestimates their food intake by 800 calories per day.

Whoa! That's enough to pack on the pounds and hamper the best intentions for weight loss. It only takes 3500 excess calories to make a pound of fat.

This helps explain why people who measure and record their food get much better results. If you are struggling to lose weight, get out your measuring cup and re-commit to your food journal... at least for a few days, to make sure you aren't mis-estimating your way to failure.

Be especially mindful of the calorie-dense foods, like oils, butter, nuts, cheese and baked goods. These foods can add loads of calories in just a few easily-forgotten bites.

Have a good day!

Jill

September 8, 2008

The Mind-Mouth Gap

Here's a funny, depressing, but fixable statistic: According to the September 2008 Berkeley Wellness Letter, we Americans are terrible at accurately remembering what we put in our mouths. They report that the average person underestimates their food intake by 800 calories per day.

Whoa! That's enough to pack on the pounds and hamper the best intentions for weight loss. It only takes 3500 excess calories to make a pound of fat.

This helps explain why people who measure and record their food get much better results. If you are struggling to lose weight, get out your measuring cup and re-commit to your food journal, at least for a few days, to make sure you aren't mis-estimating.

Be especially mindful of the calorie-dense foods, like oils, butter, nuts, cheese and baked goods. These foods can add loads of calories in just a few easily-forgotten bites.

August 1, 2008

Salt Solutions

Do you sometimes eat chips, fries, pretzels and the like because you're craving salt? Well, stop it! You don't need to eat fatty, high-carb, processed junk if all you're craving is salt. Here are some snacks that give you salt without all that guilt:

Pickles (3 calories each) Hearts of Palm (10 calories each) Canned artichoke hearts (60 calories per 15 oz can) Sea's Gift Seaweed snack (10 calories for the whole package) Baked kale chips (negligable calories--bake kale pieces at 350 for about 7 minutes or until golden) Sliced water chestnuts with salt sprinkled on top (100 calories per cup) Cucumber slices with salt and herbs (negligable calories)

or how about just adding salt or salsa to your salad or steamed veggies?

Don't let a salt craving become a junk food fest when salty healthy foods will satisfy.

July 31, 2008

Protein Imposters

Lots of people are under the impression that peanut butter, nuts and regular cheeses are great sources of protein. It turns out they are not the best when you are trying to lose weight.

Although these foods have some protein, they are mostly fat, so you'd have to consume a bunch of (high-calorie) servings to get enough protein. For example, to get 25g protein (a good amount for one meal) from tuna, chicken or turkey you would need to eat 100-120 calories. To get that much protein from peanut butter or cheese you would have to eat over 500 calories!

That said, there are low-fat and non-fat cheeses (cottage, feta, string) that are good protein sources. Keep the other foods in the "fat" category and enjoy them in small quantities. Remember that a serving of nuts is only 1/4 cup or 1 ounce.

July 19, 2008

80 can be the new 40

This Wednesday is the 80th birthday of Joyce Ruygrok, the Founderof Diet for Health. If you know Joyce, you know she is physically and mentally more youthful than most of us and still has the knockout figure from when she was a Goldwyn Girl in the 1940's.

True to character, she is spending her birthday week taking care of her daughter (back surgery), throwing an all-night party for her grandson (3am Batman movie with a dozen teenagers) and spending hours playing Nintendo (Wii Fitness, no less!)

How does she do it?!

You can take heart in the fact that it's not just genetic luck. I've seen her mediocre metabolism (about 1200 calories/day) and she has to work at her fitness, just like the rest of us!

Here are some of her secrets:

  1. Joyce makes a splurge plan. With her active social life and travel schedule, Joyce always looks ahead to what special treats she wants to save up for. That helps her willpower in the interim.

  2. Joyce weighs herself each morning and especially right after she returns from a trip. It might sound obsessive, but research shows this helps people maintain their weight better.

  3. Joyce gives tirelessly & finds the good in everything. Joyce spends more hours volunteering than most of us spend working! There is conclusive evidence that volunteerism, optimism & having a life's purpose are great for health and longevity. In addition to making the world a better place, they help keep you from eating out of boredom, stress or lonliness.

  4. Joyce follows the Diet for Health menus when she's at home--which isn't very often--and watches her portions otherwise.

Joyce is proof that a little hard work can make 80 the new 40.

Thanks for inspiring us, Joyce!

July 6, 2008

The Swimming/Fat Burning Mystery

If you like to swim, it's good to be familiar with the Swim/Fat mystery. No, it's not a Nancy Drew novel (as far as I know), but a conundrum about why swimming doesn't seem to help average people lose weight.

I know--it sounds crazy! Swimming uses so many muscles at once and it sure feels like hard work. Alas, research shows that while swimming is excellent for your heart, muscles & joints, it doesn't take off the pounds as well as other forms of exercise.

Some possible explanations and solutions are:

  1. Swimming doesn't get your heart rate high enough, since your arms are doing almost all of the work. To fix this you can buy fins, large or small, that give your legs a killer workout and raise your heart rate.

  2. The water and horizontal body position makes it easier for your heart to pump blood than when you are on land, fighting gravity. To remedy this, just swim faster.

  3. Most people just get too relaxed in the water and don't push themselves hard enough.

  4. Swimming--especially in colder water--increases your appetite. Studies show that people eat about 30% more calories after swimming in a cold pool than in a very warm one. Whatever the reason, keep swimming! Just try pushing yourself alittle harder and make sure you don't overeat afterwards. And don't be surprised if you need to add some other forms of exercise to really see the pounds come off.

June 27, 2008

Five Pounds of Filling Food

Did you know that most people consume about five pounds of food each day? That's how much food it takes to make the average person feel satisfied. Studies show that the best way to lose weight is to eat bulky, heavy, low-calorie foods so that when you reach your five pounds you haven't eaten too many calories.

What are the heavy, low-calorie foods? You guessed it--they're the ones that are high in (heavy but calorie-free) fiber and water:

vegetables (about 90% water & fiber) fruits (about 80%) broth-based soups (95%)

That's why people lose more weight the more they bulk up on these foods and avoid processed foods, where the water and fiber has been removed. It makes sense--you'd have to eat about 10 cups of broccoli to get the calories in one water-less, fiber-less ounce of crackers. And a giant salad is just a big pile of water and fiber. Mmmm.....is your mouth watering?

June 22, 2008

Weekend Weakness

The weekend is never far off and for most people that means fun, relaxation and poor food choices. On average, Americans eat 500-1000 calories more on weekend days than on weekdays, without realizing it ! Those calories add up fast--you'd have to walk about 10-20 extra miles per weekend to work that off--so be mindful about your weekend food choices.

Be especially mindful on long weekends, like the Fourth of July. Make plans now to get active and have healthy options for your holiday festivities. Your weekend does not need to revolve around fattening food! How about an Independence day hike? Or re-enact Paul Revere's famous horseback ride! How about a Boston green tea party?

Whatever you do, remember that weekends are the most important time to watch your food intake. Monday morning will feel a whole lot better if you do.

June 12, 2008

Summer Snacks

Summer is here, so eat these super-foods while they are in season:

--Gazpacho soup (keep it handy as an anytime snack) --mango slices (with cinnamon, perhaps) --Corn on the cob (if you consider it a grain instead of a veggie, it's super nutritious) --berries & cherries (the fountain of youth and cherries fight pain) --grape tomatoes --button mushrooms (you can buy them pre-washed and ready-to-eat) --red peppers (they travel well as snacks. Slice them ahead of time, or just bring the entire pepper plus a paring knife) --papaya with lime --portobello mushrooms (grill them like hamburgers) --watermelon (sprinkle cocoa powder and splenda on top and it tastes like fudge cake) --anything else you find at the farmer's market

...well almost anything you find at the farmers market. When it comes to Kettle Korn and candied nuts, enjoy your free sample and don't even think of buying any!

April 17, 2008

A Nutty Solution

If you are trying to lose weight, you are probably struggling with"The Nut Problem": You know that nuts are nutritious, tasty & convenient, but you also know that a quarter cup serving has about 200 calories. Yikes!

Here's your solution: Almond Milk.

Almond milk tastes great and has only half the calories of nonfat milk. Almond Breeze, the most common brand (at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's) is a fabulous caloric bargain:

Original unsweetened has 40 calories per cup Vanilla unsweetened has 45 Chocolate unsweetened has 45

All without the hormones that often accompany dairy. The main ingredients are almonds, water and added calcium.

Enjoy!

April 1, 2008

April Foolin'

April Fool's Day is an appropriate time to remind you to always consider the source of any nutrition information before you accept it as true. Food and supplement companies have huge financial incentives to exaggerate or even mislead you about their products and unfortunately the FDA does not have the authority or resources to make sure all claims are true.

Vitamin and herbal supplements are especially known for making dubious claims. Independent testing laboratories have found that many supplements don’t contain the amounts of ingredients listed on the label and, even if they do, most are not proven to be safe and effective. Recent tests have also found that herbs and supplements from China sometimes contain scary contaminants, such as heavy metals and even prescription drugs.

You can generally trust nutrition information that comes from respected institutions, such as well-known universities and medical journals. Be especially suspicious of health information that comes from someone who stands to profit from it—like the manufacturer or seller of the item. Remember that testimonials are often used to sell products that don’t pass scientific muster.

When the truly miraculous health and weight loss supplement is discovered, it won’t be a secret for long. Our doctors, health insurance companies and political leaders will be quick to get us using any cure that helps us see results. Until then, good old exercise and healthy eating are the only sure bets.

Happy April Fool's Day!

March 20, 2008

Spend your willpower wisely

As Easter approaches (or Feaster , for some) it helps to focus your will-power where it will help most. So remember this: a single pig-out is not as bad as a bad habit . Why? It takes 3500 excess calories to gain a pound of fat. Even in your most indulgent feast you probably couldn't eat nearly that much. That's the good news. The bad news is that if you habitually overeat by only 9 calories per day you'll gain a pound of fat by the end of the year. In fact, the average American overeats by 19 calories per day, which is why they gain 20 pounds per decade--yikes!!

Knowing this, put your will-power in the right place. Enjoy a holiday feast if you like but make darn sure that you return to some squeaky clean good habits come Monday morning. The day-in day-out eating practices are what make or break you, not the occasional feast. Happy Easter!

March 14, 2008

Spring Forward

Daylight Savings Time is finally here and it's the perfect time to start a wonderful habit:

Get active after dinner!

This will make a big difference to your health and weight loss because: a) Physical activity helps reduce post-meal blood sugar spikes, which contribute to fat storage, b) After dinner is the most sedentary time of day for most people, and c) After dinner is when the most junk food gets eaten (and you can't eat junk if you're outside having fun, right?)

So get out there and walk around the neighborhood, play with your dog, throw a frisbee or just get out and enjoy summer. You'll be amazed what a difference it makes!

March 14, 2008

Protein Problems

Hello!

Oh-oh! America is doing it again. We're thinking that portions don't matter so long as we eat the right type of food--in this case protein. (In the 1980's we made the same mistake with carbs--remember when we thought we could eat unlimited bagels and SnackWell Cookies because they had no fat? Those were the days...until we gained weight and type 2 diabetes, anyway.)

Here's why gorging on protein is not ok:

  1. Protein has 4.5 calories per gram, the same as carbohydrate, and excess calories from any source will be stored as fat.

  2. When you metabolize protein for fuel it creates waste products that your kidneys must excrete. Too much protein can lead to kidney strain or damage. New findings from China show that people eating less animal protein tend to have better health and live longer.

The conflict is that animal protein aids weight loss because it is more satisfying and filling than carbs or fat and it also boosts your metabolism. What is a person to do?

Eat moderate amounts of protein and then load up on veggies!

Overeating of VEGETABLES is so far undocumented and research suggests that your health & weight improve the more you eat.

Have a good week!

Jill

March 14, 2008

Soy Story

If you don't want a double chin with that soymilk mustache, make sure to check the nutrition label!

Not all soymilks are created equal--They range from 60 to 210 calories per cup! Some have loads of added sugar, but even very natural ones (just soy and water) can be high in fat because of the natural fat in the soybean. The best for weight loss is Vitasoy Light Original. It has the fewest calories (60), fat (2g) and sugar (4g) of any I've seen. The most nutritious are the ones with the fewest ingredients--just soybeans and water. The same goes for rice milk and almond milk.

Also, remember that the soymilks used at Starbucks and other cafes are usually the tastiest ones, which are high in sugar. Nonfat milk is a better choice at Starbucks if you are watching calories and sugar.

February 23, 2008

Better than Water

I, your trusty nutritionist, don't drink much water. That's because I believe there are lots of things that hydrate you as well (or better) and which also come packed with lots of natural nutrients. New research is showing that getting nutrients in their natural form (as opposed to in man-made supplements) is very important, so here are my favorite ways to hydrate without water:

Green Tea White Tea Red Tea The water left over when you steam veggies Low-sodium veggie soup Fresh vegetables

Vegetables?! Yes! It turns out that these foods are mostly water, with lots of vitamins and minerals attached. That means your big salad is practically a big plate of electrolyte-enhanced water...with a whole bunch of healthy fiber added!

Happy hydrating!

February 22, 2008

Fat-Burning Date Nights

Here are some ideas for non-fattening ways to enjoy an evening out because the customary "stuff and sit" outings--where you overeat and then let it all turn to fat as you watch a show--lead to regret on Monday morning!

  1. Go dancing or take dance lessons
  2. Go for a hike
  3. Have a healthy picnic and play frisbee
  4. Get spa treatments together
  5. Have a Shabu Shabu or broth fondue dinner at home or at your favorite Shabu restaurant
  6. Go ice skating or rollerskating (Moonlight Roller Rink in Burbank has themed music nights and evenings reserved for skaters over 30)
  7. Play mini-golf
  8. Take a yoga or pilates class
  9. Enjoy a messy meal pulling fresh crab or lobster out of its shell (no butter sauce!)
  10. For the truly adventurous...take trapeze lessons! There is a circus school in Hollywood where anybody can learn.

Consider making these part of your weekend routine and please share your favorite healthy activities that I failed to mention!

January 1, 2008

Good Will-Power Hunting

We could all use a little extra will-power this time of year, so it's a good time to review the things you can do to help strenghten it:

  1. Get enough sleep (7+ hours for most people)
  2. Minimize stress
  3. Prevent low blood sugar by eating small snacks every few hours
  4. Pamper yourself with non-edible treats, like bubblebaths, massage, etc.

Research shows that these things make a big difference! Give it a try and remember that the best strategy is to minimize your dependence on will-power by getting all tempting treats out of your home ASAP!