Thursday, September 30, 2010

7th Day of Gluten Free

Last week I read the eye-opening post that Tim Ferriss had on his site about gluten!  I decided to give it up for a while and see how I felt.  I am now on day 7.  Here is a photo of tonight's supper, a giant salad with a steak on top.
The salad was chopped carrots, radishes, green onion and green pepper on leaf lettuce with some low calorie caesar dressing. The steak was herb rubbed and grilled. I found the crunchy veggies satisfying and filling with the steak.

Giving up grains was not too much of a struggle, but I am having a tougher time substituting celery with my peanut butter than the slice of toast I used to rely on for my mid-morning snack.

What is happening without bread or pasta in my life is that I am losing weight.  That part of giving up gluten works.  I don't notice any change in my energy, sleep patterns, digestion by not having it, but Tim's guest shot post indicated I would feel it more when I go back to eating grains.  I will keep you all posted.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Does it Take to Commit to Permanent Change?

Article first published as Wake Up Calls: What Does it Take to Commit To Permanent Change on Technorati.

A friend confided to me years ago he was pretty lax about his dental care. Until the day his dentist told him he had advanced gum disease, and he would begin to lose his teeth if he didn’t make a change.  From that moment forward he began brushing, flossing and rinsing.  He would do whatever it took to save his teeth.

Last Week Former President Bill Clinton explained to Wolf Blitzer about the reasons behind his new, nearly vegan diet:

“But I did it for a different reason. I mean, I wanted to lose a little weight but I didn’t ever dream this would happen. I did it because after I had this stent put in, I realized that even though it happens quite often that after you have bypasses, you lose the veins, because they’re thinner and weaker than arteries. The truth is that it clogged up, which means that the cholesterol was still causing build up in my vein that was part of my bypass. Thank God I could take the stents.

I didn’t want it to happen again. So I did all this research and I saw that 82 percent of the people, since 1986, who have gone on a plant-based, no dairy, no meat of any kind. No chicken, turkey. I eat very little fish. Once in a while I’ll have a little fish. Not often. If you can do it, 82 percent of people who have done that have begun to heal themselves. Their arterial blockage cleans up. The calcium deposit around their heart breaks up.”

Later in the interview, Clinton expressed his hope that with his new healthier regime, he would be around for his family and someday, for his grandkids.

Short term goals like losing weight to fit into a wedding dress can result in the five or ten pounds of weight loss you need, but what happens on the all inclusive honeymoon? 

Being on TV vying for a quarter million dollars and then follow-up TV exposure seems to work for those on the Biggest Loser and other weight loss shows, but how many people in the public eye fall back into bad habits and gain all the weight back, like Kirstie Alley? 

Does it take the fear of death or threat of severe illness to generate permanent change? 

If you are getting ready to go on your next diet, try to pick powerful reasons for losing the weight. Reasons that are going to mean more to you than momentary life stresses that drive snacking or reaching for processed convenience food when you are in a hurry. 

Put the list on the refrigerator, on the pantry door, on your desk at work, in your car, on your bathroom mirror.  Make certain you can see that list of reasons every time you are getting ready to make a food decision, and then remember why you are on a diet.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Healthy Food--Perceived as Negative Calories

Time recently wrote an article on a study done at Northwestern University on people’s perceptions of food, and the belief in “negative calories.”  In the study, 934 participants in an on line study were asked to estimate the calories in images of meals.  Turns out that when they saw a cheeseburger and fries, they gave it one estimate, but when they saw the same meal with a salad, they gave that a lower estimate, thinking that the healthy food lowered the total calorie content.

The study concluded that people overeat because they underestimate the calories of a meal with some healthy food in it.  What was more interesting in the study was that participants who self-identified as dieters underestimated the calorie count by a greater margin than the non-dieters—increasing their negative calorie count.  This study indicates that until people really know how many calories they are eating, they will continue to struggle with overeating.  Yet another friendly reminder about why conscious eating and food logging matters for weight loss success.

Here is the link to the Time article

And here is the link to the study summary

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Food Logs are a Diet Imperative

Article first published as Food Logs are a Diet Imperative on Technorati.

When I start a new weight loss class, I tell my students that they need to keep food logs of everything they eat.  Some people immediately get their hackles up, claiming that they “don’t want to be held hostage” to their food log and calorie counting.

I explain that for most of us Americans, because we have become such capable multi-taskers, we are eating more often and in larger quantities than we know.  We eat in front of the computer or TV at home.  We eat at our desks at work.  We eat in the car.  Because we are eating while we are doing other things, we do not realize and sometimes cannot even remember what and how much we eat.

The food log wakes us up to what we are putting in our mouths.  I suggest that my clients keep a small notebook or a post-it pad with them at all times and when they eat something, to immediately write it down.  That way the clients are less likely to forget about the half of a bagel they picked up in the break room or the slice of cake they enjoyed in the office to celebrate someone’s birthday.  If they are using computers to track their calories, given that there are so many free on line services now, they have their list of what they ate for later when they actually load it into the computer.

Even food logging for just a couple of weeks before starting a diet is a great way to get a handle on what foods a person is reaching for in what situations.  Once you can see that everything you ate for the last three days was a carbohydrate, you can begin to figure out why you have the sugar highs and carb crashes.  My clients balance out their diet, identify their “go-to” foods when they are stressed out or upset, and start to take control of what, when and how they eat.

After six weeks in my programs, I ask the participants to complete an evaluation of what they have learned, what they have changed and what they still need help with.  Overwhelmingly, participants list among what they have learned is that food logging helps, but they also say that staying consistent with their logging is where they need help.  Clinical studies show that the people who log their food lose more weight and keep it off longer than people did not keep track. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

The cost of obesity

I saw this article yesterday, but I think it came out on Wednesday.  Of course I knew that the medical costs of obesity were high, when you consider the extra doctor’s visits and the spendy prescription drugs obese people take for cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, acid reflux and type 2 diabetes, but also from sleep apnea and knee, ankle and back injuries from carrying all that weight around.   The study also threw in assumed costs of lost wages from discrimination from being fat, for women more so than for men, and a cost for shortened lifespan.  The study was sponsored by a gastric band manufacturer, which of course, is interested in broader reimbursement for gastric band surgeries.  If only this was the answer!

Another recent study reported that while the BMI calculations and weight did decline for people who had gastric band surgery from 47 to 30.5, the BMI a year after surgery is still in the overweight range.  I thought it was interesting because the study was conducted at a hospital in my home town in Wisconsin.

Giving everyone a gastric band and still letting them live into their lifetime of bad habits is not going to make any difference, except for the money paid to the gastric band companies and the doctors who insert them.  If you do not deal with the reasons why people overeat and adjust poor eating habits and choices, the problem of obesity in America is not going to be resolved. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Soy for Pain Reduction, The FDA and More Diet Pills, Food Labels and Adzuki Beans

A Canadian Researcher is going to look at soy’s impact on chronic pain.  Apparently, earlier studies showed that increased consumption of soy reduced pain in rats, so a new three year double blind study for humans is starting at McGill University Health Centre.

As a follow-up to our post saying that the FDA would be reviewing Abbott Lab’s Meridia after a European ban on the product, turns out the review panel split on a market removal.

But the FDA did recommend against approving Arena Pharmaceuticals’ lorcaserin because of potential problems with heart disease, tumors. Depression and memory loss.

A new study at Washington State University backs the idea that if you read your food labels, you are more likely to successfully lose weight.

Give adzuki beans a try as a vegetarian alternative to lentils, black or navy beans.  See this article about the bean:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Protein Bars--Good and Not So Good Choices at the Grocery Store

If you are using protein bars as one of your snack foods during the day, you must be mindful to read the nutritional label on the bars you buy at the grocery store.  Many bars have more carbs and sugar than protein, so the bulk of the calories are going to burn off quickly and you will be hungry again in no time.

Your goal is to find a bar that has 140 to 180 calories and 10 or more grams of protein.  Some of the grocery brands that meet these targets are: South Beach Living Breakfast Bars, Special K Protein MEAL Bars, Slim Fast Diet High Protein Meal Bars or HALF of a Snickers Marathon Protein Sports Bar.

Protein bars that I would look to avoid at the store, because they don't have enough protein relative to their caloric content are: Special K Protein SNACK Bars, Odwalla Super Protein Bars, Quaker Chewy Granola with Protein Bars.

Just remember, that reading the labels for nutritional content is very important.  Just because a product says that it is a protein bar, doesn't mean you will get the best protein bang for the caloric buck!

Monday, September 13, 2010

POPs, the FDA and Dr. Oz

I have discussed Kathy Freston's book, Quantum Wellness, in my classes when we review food fasts and cleanses.  I have also written about this book on my Review page on this website.  A critical element of her thesis on food fasting is that it gives the body a break from processed foods that contain artificial chemicals and from meats and dairy that have hormones and antibiotics, which all embed in your fat tissue.  Her point is that regular food cleanses allow these toxins to be released from your system. 

Now a new study from South Korea says that people who lost weight over 10 years seemed to have more of these persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in their blood stream on an ongoing basis than obese people who store toxins in their fat tissue.  So the greater issue would be the amount of chemically processed foods, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics thin and heavy people are consuming that results in the presence of these toxins in their bodies.  The article on the study seems to imply that it is better to stay fat and keep these toxins in your fat molecules than get rid of them. The article also notes that there are no long term studies of the impacts of getting rid of these pollutants or holding on to them.

Personally, I would rather minimize my exposure to these chemicals and hormones through eating more organic foods, cooking my meals from scratch at home, where I can control the salt and additives, and avoiding fast food and packaged convenience foods entirely,

Weight Loss May Cause Industrial Pollutant Release

The FDA is at it again, with new warnings to soft drink manufacturers who are advertising false claims on the benefits of green tea in their products.  I thought it was interesting that the article mentions that companies which received FDA warnings in March still had not revised their labels, so it seems the FDA may have more bark than bite if warnings are not enforced.

The FDA Warns Green Tea Drink Makers Against Health Claims,0,6545244.story

Today, Dr Oz is starting a new weight loss focus called Just 10 Pounds.  He will be highlighting the program on his TV show, radio program, syndicated newspaper column and in the O Magazine.  The attached article talks more about the program in an interview with Dr. Oz.

Dr. Oz to Start New Weight Loss Campaign, “Just 10” Pounds Today on his TV Show,FIT-News-Oz08.article

Friday, September 10, 2010

Late Summer Salads-Healthy and Nutritious Eating

Since hard frosts are upon us in Teton County, Wyoming, I am working to use up all the rest of my garden greens and veggies before they die off.  I made this yummy salad out of my salad greens, two organic tomatoes and an organic peach.  I used some light Caesar salad dressing.  This was filling enough for a dinner meal but contains only 175 calories.  I got the benefits of all the vitamins and antioxidants in the salad, as well. Yum!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Commentary on a Youtube video by Dr. Lisa Hark

I found Dr. Lisa Hark's video on youtube, and while I think she gives some terrific advice, I would add as a tip, eat breakfast every day and make sure you are eating something made with protein in that meal.  Whether it is a protein shake, peanut butter with an apple, an egg white omelet or even a hard boiled egg, protein will take longer to digest than that bowl of cereal or toast and will have you feel fuller longer.  You may make it all the way to lunch without needing a snack if you have a more nutritious breakfast.  See my comments below for more details.

How Far We Are from a Healthy Lifestyle...

I read an article today that shocked me.  It cited a 2005 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, that examined the top five healthy behaviors--not smoking, exercise, healthy diet, managing stress and preventative health care like mammograms and colonoscopies.  The study indicated that of the 153,000 people surveyed in 2000, only 2-4% of Americans do all of these things!

With the rising cost of health care--Obamacare or not--I guess I figured more people were living like me, trying to do everything to stay healthy and out of the doctor's office.  I guess that study only justifies why I should continue to write this blog and maintain this website!

Please comment on which of the five healthy behaviors you are doing, and which you are not.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Green Tea--Why you should drink more of it.

I found this terrific article on the benefits of green tea on  I have been feeling under the weather, and decided to drink lots and lots of green tea for a few days.  It seems to be helping to ward off whatever beginnings of a cold I was experiencing.

The Miracle of Green Tea

"Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one." (Ancient Chinese Proverb)
Is any other food or drink reported to have as many health benefits as green tea? The Chinese have known about the medicinal benefits of green tea since ancient times, using it to treat everything from headaches to depression. In her book Green Tea: The Natural Secret for a Healthier Life, Nadine Taylor states that green tea has been used as a medicine in China for at least 4,000 years.

Today, scientific research in both Asia and the west is providing hard evidence for the health benefits long associated with drinking green tea. For example, in 1994 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of an epidemiological study indicating that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly sixty percent. University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol.

To sum up, here are just a few medical conditions in which drinking green tea is reputed to be helpful:

    * cancer
    * rheumatoid arthritis
    * high cholesterol levels
    * cariovascular disease
    * infection
    * impaired immune function

What makes green tea so special?

The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. The latter takes on added importance when you consider that thrombosis (the formation of abnormal blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke.

Links are being made between the effects of drinking green tea and the "French Paradox." For years, researchers were puzzled by the fact that, despite consuming a diet rich in fat, the French have a lower incidence of heart disease than Americans. The answer was found to lie in red wine, which contains resveratrol, a polyphenol that limits the negative effects of smoking and a fatty diet. In a 1997 study, researchers from the University of Kansas determined that EGCG is twice as powerful as resveratrol, which may explain why the rate of heart disease among Japanese men is quite low, even though approximately seventy-five percent are smokers.

Why don't other Chinese teas have similar health-giving properties? Green, oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. What sets green tea apart is the way it is processed. Green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG compound from being oxidized. By contrast, black and oolong tea leaves are made from fermented leaves, which results in the EGCG being converted into other compounds that are not nearly as effective in preventing and fighting various diseases.

Other Benefits

New evidence is emerging that green tea can even help dieters. In November, 1999, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a study at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Researchers found that men who were given a combination of caffeine and green tea extract burned more calories than those given only caffeine or a placebo.

Green tea can even help prevent tooth decay! Just as its bacteria-destroying abilities can help prevent food poisoning, it can also kill the bacteria that causes dental plaque. Meanwhile, skin preparations containing green tea - from deodorants to creams - are starting to appear on the market.

Harmful Effects?

To date, the only negative side effect reported from drinking green tea is insomnia due to the fact that it contains caffeine. However, green tea contains less caffeine than coffee: there are approximately thirty to sixty mg. of caffeine in six - eight ounces of tea, compared to over one-hundred mg. in eight ounces of coffee.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meridia, DASH and Jump Start Diets, Sensa and Power Foods

After European regulators banned Meridia for its heart attack and stroke side effects, the FDA announced it would be reviewing the diet pill again this month.  If you are on Meridia and have family or personal risk of heart attack, you may want to suspend using it now.

The NIH has released details of its DASH diet, which lowers high blood pressure and focuses on eating non-processed foods.  I have included a link to the NIH website description of the diet.

I also found a "jump start" diet that, when combined with exercise, can get you motivated and back on track after a summer full of cook-outs and parties.  The diet is the design of the BMC Cycling Team doctor.

You may have seen Sensa advertised on line.  Its premise is that when sprinkled on food, it affects how you smell and makes you less hungry.  Doctor designed and advertised as all natural, it will now be sold in GNC stores.

Finally, there is a story about the top 10 Low Carb Power foods for you to review.  Have a great week!

Meridia Leads to Higher Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke—FDA to Review Drug Again this Month

DASH Diet Plan

Jump starting your diet with this two week diet and exercise from the BMC Cycling Team Doctor

Sensa Goes Retail at GNC Stores

Top Ten Low Carb Power Foods

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Water, Water, Water-Chefs Going Vegan and Running Away

I know that I beat the idea of drinking more water like a dead horse, but here is more proof that drinking more water aids in weight loss:

New Virginia Tech Study in the Economist Magazine

Big Name Chefs Move to Add More Veggies, Less Meat to Entrees

My program focus has been on diet, rather than exercise, but here is a good article on the benefits of running