Tag Archives: diet

The American Diet Dichotomy

shoppinggirlSusanBiconBy Susan Brown
Health Writer

Is the overconsumption of nutritionally devoid calories at the root of the obesity epidemic?  New studies suggest the interesting contradiction that obesity correlates with malnourishment.  Malnutrition develops when the body is deprived of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients required for proper functioning and health maintenance.  In the U.S. today, many people suffer from malnutrition due to dietary imbalances, nutrient deficient foods and the inability to digest and absorb the nutrients that foods contain.  Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is calorie dense but sadly lacking in the nutrients necessary for biochemical processes such as brain function, immune support, weight management and efficient energy production and usage. 

The overconsumption of an abundance of empty calorie foods means that we are not getting the vitamins and minerals our bodies need.  Many health care providers promote the idea of nutrition as natural medicine and that’s very healthy advice.  However, today’s SAD is not only deleterious to our health, it may slowly be starving us nutritionally.  (See article; The Standard American Diet – Time For a Revamp).  To properly maintain health and to function efficiently, our bodies require nutrients in the form of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, anti-inflammatory compounds, amino acids and fiber.  Our bodies thrive on a diet based on proteins, healthy fats and plant based carbohydrates. 

When we don’t feed our bodies the nutrients it requires, cyclical cravings result.  Our hunger is not satiated and, as a neurological response, our bodies cry out for more food.  Yet, when we just eat more nutritionally devoid foods that temporarily satisfy our hunger, we are not really listening.  Simply put, we are over-consuming too many of the wrong calories.  Possibly because for years we have been told that “a calorie is a calorie.”  However, science has shown that all calories are not created equally, and that believing otherwise may be the basis for the many health problems associated with SAD. 

  • While soda manufacturers would like us to believe that soda is healthy because it is “hydrating,” until we start to recognize that the 120 calories found in a glass of 2% milk are more nutritious than the 140 calories found in a can of soda, our health and the health of our children will not improve.  A can of cola contains carbonated water, 39 grams of sugar in the form of ultra refined high fructose corn syrup, sodium, caramel coloring, phosphoric acid, “secret ingredient” natural flavors and caffeine.  No vitamins, no minerals, no protein and no healthy fats.  By contrast, the milk contains healthy fats, sodium, 11 grams of natural sugar, 9 grams of protein, vitamins A, D and C, plus potassium, calcium and a trace amount of iron.  American kids today drink more soda than milk, which means they are not getting the nutritional benefits that milk naturally provides. 
  • We are not eating our vegetables.  Research shows that more than 30% of Americans are lacking in plant-derived nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, fiber and vitamins A, C and E.  According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a large majority of adults are deficient in vitamin D3 and omega-3 essential fatty acids.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that in addition, we are not getting enough vitamin B12 nor vitamin K. 
  • Convenient and inexpensive, processed foods have taken over our supermarket aisles.  Many of these foods contain high sodium, refined flours, trans-fats, chemical additives, artificial colors and flavorings, and the ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup.  Convenient and addictive?  Yes.  Nutritious?  Not likely. 
  • More often than not, our meals come from fast food restaurants.  Statistics show that one in four Americans visits a fast food restaurant every day.  While these foods are loaded with empty calories and unhealthy fats in super-sized portions that can easily contain a full day’s caloric need, they are designed only to satisfy taste and stuff our tummies, not to meet our nutritional needs. And, once again, we find ourselves eating more as our nutritional needs remain unsatiated.
  • Industrial agriculture increasingly results in poor soil management and degraded soil  quality.  For centuries, fruits and vegetables have traditionally received their vitamin, mineral and nutrient content from the earth.  Science shows that the plant foods grown today are less nutritious than the foods grown a few decades ago.  Many plant foods are now designed for rapid growth, yet their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients from the soil cannot keep pace.  This does not mean that they do not contain phytonutrients, but it may mean that we need to consume more of them in order to receive the same health benefits. 

At some point, we need to stop blaming food manufacturers and start taking responsibility for our own choices.  When we stop eating nutritionally devoid foods and take the time to prepare our food and opt for a more prudent and healthy diet, cravings naturally subside and our nutritional values improve along with our long term health.  A diet based on whole foods prepared at home means that we have only health benefits to gain and unhealthy weight to lose.  The choice is clear.  When we choose food that is healthy and nutritious it primes our bodies for optimal function, reduces body fat, restores energy and vigor and improves our chances of long term health and wellness.  What will you choose? 

Think Positive For Successful Weight Loss

ThinkPositiveBy Susan Brown

Before the new diet or exercise plan begins, a change of mindset may be in order.  Constantly telling ourselves that we are fat, even when we are not or are just a few pounds overweight, can actually make us more likely to become overweight later in life.  For many people, “fat talk” is not actually about “being fat” but rather about “feeling fat.”  Fat thoughts and harsh self-judgment can cause psychological stress, which can have long term effects on weight.  If you need to lose weight and get in shape for your own health and wellness, start “thinking thin,” as how we perceive ourselves can affect our actual weight gain or loss.  Instead of negative self-talk, focus on creating a healthy, physically active lifestyle. 

  • Finding enjoyment in healthy behaviors can help you change your mindset and stick to your goals.  If there is a certain kind of ethnic or international food you enjoy, such as Thai or French food, buy a new cookbook and get inspired to eat healthier by trying out new recipes.  Be adventurous; cooking can be an enjoyable activity.  When you are making quality food yourself, you know exactly what it doesn’t contain — hidden sugars, processed fats or unhealthy artificial ingredients. 
  • Sticking to a routine that you know can help keep you on an exercise track.  Upbeat visual reminders can inspire you to exercise more often and for longer periods of time.  Leave yourself sticky note messages on your computer, your TV remote, your dashboard or anywhere you’ll notice them.  Leave off the word “should” and replace it with positive, to the point messages such as “Play tennis with Ben on Saturday,”  “Take Mary’s Wednesday yoga class,” or Walk with Julie today.” 
  • Regular exercisers report better sleep, increased energy and a happier outlook.  Once you’ve established a regular exercise routine, you’ll find you won’t want to skip a day of exercising because it makes you feel great — getting fit becomes the side benefit.  If you’re sitting at a desk all day, stand and stretch every hour to boost your metabolism and increase calorie burn. 
  • Meal planning helps to keep you from making unhealthy last minute food choices.  When you are heading home at the end of the day and you have no plans for dinner, it’s tempting to zip through the fast food line.  Make extra food when you do cook and refrigerate or freeze in portion sized meals for later in the week when you may be stressed for time.  Make a big salad on the weekend and have it for lunch during the week. 
  • Creating your own small bags filled with healthy snacks such as unflavored nuts, fresh or dried fruit, or raw vegetables helps to rein in the temptation to grab a bag of chips and fill up on empty calorie junk foods. Make the switch from that snack sized 100 calorie bag of cookies to a piece of fresh fruit or a low-fat yogurt. 
  • Grocery shopping with a list and a time limit may help you save money and avoid all those processed food aisles.  Research has shown that paying with cash instead of a debit or credit card leads to buying significantly less unhealthy, calorie dense foods and helps avoid impulse buys. Skipping the processed food aisles altogether helps you to avoid high sodium foods, empty calories and added sugars while helping to cut down on your total grocery bill. 
  • Purge your pantry.  When you clean out your store of unhealthy foods and replace them with healthier ones, you’ll make better choices automatically.  This single exercise can help you slim down by simply making the switch from nutritionally-empty, high-calorie foods to nutritious snacks such as whole grain pita chips with guacamole or carrot sticks with hummus.   
  • Avoid nighttime eating 5 nights of the week.  Most of our mindless after dinner munching consists of sweet or salty junk food.  Decide what time of night works best for your schedule but eat dinner at least 3 hours before bed and don’t eat again until morning.  When we practice the 80/20 rule in which we eat healthy foods 80% of the time, we can still lose weight and can guiltlessly enjoy those occasional favorite sweet indulgences on weekends.   

So with 2014 here, be mindful of your health, nourish your body and enjoy your active life.  It may take time to change your mindset and eliminate unhealthy thoughts and habits, but the rewards are boundless.  As you take this new approach, remember the ultimate goal is not unrealistic and quickly forgotten resolutions but rather a continuing quest for a healthier lifestyle resulting in better overall health and fitness.  Happy New You!

Supplements to Aid Weight Loss

SuppsWeightBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

Each New Year 45% of us resolve to make positive changes largely to improve our lives and our health.  Although half of us give up on our resolutions within 6 months, studies reveal that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than those who make no resolutions at all.  Of the top 10 resolutions that we make each year, losing weight is number 1 followed by getting fit,  staying healthy, quitting smoking and spending more time with family. 

For those looking to aid weight loss with supplementation, here are some  products I highly recommend for weight loss support: 

CLA by Ortho Molecular –  Conjugated Linoleic Acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, is beneficial to heart and brain health and naturally aids weight loss.  By speeding up fat metabolism, CLA helps reduce existing fat deposits, especially in the abdominal area.  CLA also supports increased muscle tone when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise. 

Looz-IT Raspberry Ketone by Intensive Nutrition –  Each capsule contains 200 mg of pure raspberry ketone, which helps support body fat reduction, boosts the metabolism and aids in suppressing appetite.  This naturally occurring organic compound inhibits dietary fat absorption and storage and helps to regulate and maintain healthier, more ideal lipid levels.  

Super HCA by Douglas Laboratories –  One tablet provides 1,400 mg of high quality standardized Garcinia cambogia extract, which yields 840 mg of hydroxycitric acid or HCA.  This natural product derived from tropical fruit helps to maintain a healthy balance of hepatic de novo lipogenesis, which mediates the conversion of glucose to fats for storage or use.  Research shows that HCA also plays a role in regulation of normal appetite, which aids successful weight management. 

Weight Loss Support Packets by Designs for Health –  Each packet contains 2 Endotrim capsules designed to support safe fat metabolism, maintenance of lean body mass, and optimal insulin levels, 2 Carnitine Synergy capsules formulated to promote optimal fat burning by the mitrochondria, and 2 CLA softgels that promote natural fat metabolism and inhibit the growth of fat cells. 

Sweet Trim by Brightcore NutritionThis whole food based product combines 11 natural ingredients to support weight loss efforts including green coffee bean, raspberry ketone, African mango, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and organic sweet wheat grass.  This synergistic combination supports increased energy, enhanced metabolism, appetite control, improved sleep quality and helps to curb cravings.