Tag Archives: nutrition

Low And Slow May Be The Way To Go When It Comes To Dieting

Reposted from NPR’s food blog article. I’m curious what readers’ favorite low-glycemic foods are. Let me know!

Eating low-glycemic foods, or foods that take longer to digest, may help you feel fuller for a longer period of time.

Eating low-glycemic foods, or foods that take longer to digest, may help you feel fuller for a longer period of time.

If you’re dieting, you know you’ve got to count calories, carbs and fats. But if you really want to take off the weight and keep it off, you might want to pay more attention to the glycemic index, which is essentially a measure of how quickly foods are digested.

That’s because high glycemic foods cause a surge in blood sugar, followed by a crash. That biological reaction releases hormones that stimulate hunger and, according to David Ludwig of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, actually lower metabolism, adding up to a dismal recipe for people who want to lose weight and keep it off.

“One of the unfortunate aspects of weight loss maintenance is that it takes fewer and fewer calories to just stay the same,” Ludwig says. “As the body loses weight, it becomes more efficient and requires fewer calories,” making it harder and harder to continue losing and making it difficult to maintain weight loss without continually dieting. By some estimates, only 1 in 6 Americans who lose weight are able to keep it off after one year.

But Ludwig and colleagues recently published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that offers some tools you might use to fight back. Researchers compared the low-carb, low-fat and low-glycemic diets to see which one burned the most calories per day. The low-carb diet was the clear winner. The low-fat diet was the loser. But it was the diet in the middle, the low-glycemic index diet, that Ludwig suggests is more promising. It burned more calories per day than the low-fat diet and proved easier to stick to over the long term than the low-carb diet.

Mike Rogers, 43, was a participant who managed to keep off the 40 pounds he lost. He says the difference in the three diets was “enormous,” adding that “the low-glycemic diet reminded me of the way my mom and grandmom cooked while I was growing up; I felt far better on the low-glycemic diet than on either of the other two.”

Still trim, Rogers now eats far more fruits and vegetables than he did in the past, and, when it comes to carbohydrates, he opts for those with a lower glycemic index. That means brown rice versus white, whole grain pasta and steel cut oats instead of “quick-cooking” oats. He pretty much stays away from all processed foods.

Highly processed and refined foods, like packaged items, white bread, white rice, prepared breakfast cereals and crackers have a high glycemic index. “The body can digest these foods into sugar literally within moments after eating,” says Ludwig.

Low-glycemic foods tend to be natural foods like most vegetables and fruits, nuts, beans and whole grains. They actually wend their way slowly through the body’s digestion system, using up more energy and burning more calories in the process. And, best of all, says Ludwig, they actually “increase the metabolic rate and decrease hunger, giving us a biological advantage” in losing and maintaining weight.

Ludwig is quick to caution that his study was short and not conclusive. He’s working now to design a long-term study that looks at diet and weight loss maintenance over a number of years.

Registered dietitian Joy Dubost, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says the low-glycemic diet is hard to follow. In large part, that’s because there are many factors that affect how the body digests food, including the combination of food we eat, food preparation, whether vegetables and fruits are ripe, and our individual differences in how we digest food.

And eating too many low-glycemic foods that are also high in calories, sugar or saturated fats can be problematic.

Dubost urges moderation of carbs and fats. But equally important, she says, is a “part of the equation often ignored”: exercise. She points to research that shows people who were successful in maintaining their weight a year after losing it added a significant ingredient to their daily regimen: at least 60 to 90 minutes of moderate exercise every single day.


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Top 10 GMO Foods to Avoid

Too busy this week to come up with some original material, this article from truththeory.com caught my eye. This is for all of us foodies out there that want to avoid genetically modified foods (GMOs). Notice one corporation keeps popping up on the list. I consider Monsanto to be one of the most evil corporations in the world, and I don’t use the word “evil” lightly.

Article by Elizabeth Renter

Genetically modified foods have been shown to cause harm to humans, animals, and the environmental, and despite growing opposition, more and more foods continue to be genetically altered. It’s important to note that steering clear from these foods completely may be difficult, and you should merely try finding other sources than your big chain grocer. If produce is certified USDA-organic, it’s non-GMO (or supposed to be!) Also, seek out local farmers and booths at farmer’s markets where you can be ensured the crops aren’t GMO. Even better, if you are so inclined: Start organic gardening and grow them yourself. Until then, here are the top 10 worst GMO foods for your “do not eat” GMO foods list.

Top 10 Worst GMO Foods for Your GMO Foods List

1Corn: This is a no-brainer. If you’ve watched any food documentary, you know corn is highly modified. “As many as half of all U.S. farms growing corn for Monsanto are using genetically modified corn,” and much of it is intended for human consumption. Monsanto’s GMO corn has been tied to numerous health issues, including weight gain and organ disruption.

2. Soy: Found in tofu, vegetarian products, soybean oil, soy flour, and numerous other products, soy is also modified to resist herbicides. As of now, biotech giant Monsanto still has a tight grasp on the soybean market, with approximately 90 percent of soy being genetically engineered to resist Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. In one single year, 2006, 96.7 million pounds of glyphosate was sprayed on soybeans alone

3. Sugar: According to NaturalNews, genetically-modified sugar beets were introduced to the U.S. market in 2009. Like others, they’ve been modified by Monsanto to resist herbicides. Monsanto has even had USDA and court-related issues with the planting of it’s sugarbeets, being ordered to remove seeds from the soil due to illegal approval.

4. Aspartame: Aspartame is a toxic additive used in numerous food products, and should be avoided for numerous reasons, including the fact that it is created with genetically modified bacteria.

5. Papayas: This one may come as a surprise to all of you tropical-fruit lovers. GMO papayas have been grown in Hawaii for consumption since 1999. Though they can’t be sold to countries in the European Union, they are welcome with open arms in the U.S. and Canada.

6. Canola: One of the most chemically altered foods in the U.S. diet, canola oil is obtained from rapeseed through a series of chemical actions.

7. Cotton: Found in cotton oil, cotton originating in India and China in particular has serious risks.

8. Dairy: Your dairy products contain growth hormones, with as many as one-fifth of all dairy cows in America are pumped with these hormones. In fact, Monasnto’s health-hazardous rBGH has been banned in 27 countries, but is still in most US cows. If you must drink milk, buy organic.

9. and 10. Zucchini and Yellow Squash: Closely related, these two squash varieties are modified to resist viruses.

The dangers of some of these foods are well-known. The Bt toxin being used in GMO corn, for example, was recently detected in the blood of pregnant women and their babies. But perhaps more frightening are the risks that are still unknown.

With little regulation and safety tests performed by the companies doing the genetic modifications themselves, we have no way of knowing for certain what risks these lab-created foods pose to us outside of what we already know.

The best advice: steer clear of them altogether.

Additional Sources:


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I have one of those “pill minder” thingies that I put my daily batch of vitamins and other supplements in. Once a week, I have to refill it, and once I pulled out all the bottles, it just sort of shocked me how many different supplements I am taking. I simply had to take a picture:

I feel like these are making a difference for my overall energy level. Although I must say, nothing quite gives me the energy of a bright sunny day, something I don’t expect to see much of for the next six months. I’m thinking of doubling down on my D. (Alliterative of me, don’t you think?)

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Why Is Fat So Confusing?

I have been on a health kick lately. Part of my new program is to eat better, or at least eat less bad food. (I consider my consumption of a Bratwurst sausage and french fries the other day to be a total outlier of my new regime. But we were having a weekend at Leavenworth, WA, a town done up in a Bavarian theme. I left my liederhosen at home this time.)

The obvious items in my crosshairs are fat, dietary cholesterol, and refined carbs. A case in point is peanut butter which I wrote about in a previous blog post where  I compared the nutrition information between Skippy and Trader Joes. At the time, I noticed that Skippy’s label said “zero trans fats”, yet the ingredients included “hydrogenated oils”. I thought that hydrogenated oils are trans fats, but apparently, the FDA let the Skippy folks off the hook based on such a low amount of hydrogenated oils used. However, if one eats more than one serving, you will consume an unhealthy amount of trans fats. Meanwhile, my wife bought a new jar of Skippy and it no longer claims to be trans fat free. Instead, they point out that each serving contains “7 grams of natural protein”. Someone must have called them out on the trans-fat-free claim.

But all this got me wondering about hydrogenated oils and trans fats, and in my googling around, I discovered that sometimes, hydrogenated oils are trans fats, sometimes they’re not, and there are different kinds of trans fats that aren’t bad for you, supposedly, based on what they do to increase/decrease HDL/LDL. Confused? You bet!

Then there is the issue of rapeseed oil. Rapeseed oil has been used historically as an industrial lubricant, and it wasn’t until a hybrid variety called Canola oil was invented that rapeseed oil became widely used for human and feedlot consumption. “Canola”, by the way, is an acronym for “Canadian Oilseed, Low-Acid”, meaning low in erucic acid. A link between erucic acid and autism has been found, so Canola at least is better than rapeseed in that regard. However, some studies indicate that Canola oil, while low in erucic acid, not only contains trans fats, but is shown to increase the levels of the bad cholesterol, LDL.

Notice I put “some studies” in italics? That’s because other folks say that Canola is the healthiest oil of all, especially to cook with, since it won’t break down as quickly when it is heated, unlike olive oil, which releases toxins as soon as it starts smoking.

All to say, I’m conflicted. I have a bottle of Canola and Olive oil blend to prove it. Canola still concerns me because it is by far the most-consumed vegetable oil today. And rapeseed is now being used for biodiesel production. Think about it.

Meanwhile, I have moved on from “healthy” Trader Joes peanut butter to raw almond butter ever since I found out that peanuts are not nuts at all and contain a toxic fungus. I fear that I am becoming such a nutritional buzz kill that I will eating nothing but grass soon. Of course, I will need to make sure it isn’t a genetically modified Roundup-resistant variety.


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What I Learned From the Europeans

Okay, I haven’t been to most of Europe and I have learned more than just this, of course. But this became a breakfast staple for me ever since (when I’m not having my oatmeal): Some sort of roll or bread buttered, a couple slices of deli meat, a small slice of Havarti, and some thinly sliced cucumber. There was always some variation of this available for breakfast when I was in Germany, Sweden, and Netherlands. Not having convenient access to a real European style deli ’round these parts, I typically use a slice of 9-grain (or Ciabatta if I have it) (which I toast), deli ham, a small amount of Havarti, and cucumber. Pretty tasty for only a few hundred calories.

I think the French girl peeking out behind the sandwich adds a nice touch to the presentation, don’t you think?


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Nutritional Data for an Apple

It’s amazing how much information overload is out there in cyberspace. In my quest for keeping track of my calories, I tried to find a simple site. I found this one. Here is everything I ever would want to know about an apple. Actually, way more. Complete with complicated color charts and an ad with Jillian on it.

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To Skippy or Not to Skippy

I’ve been trying to watch what I eat lately, as well as eat LESS. I just saw my niece and family the other day–up from Cali to visit my parents. (By the way, I hate it when people say “Cali”. I just did it to make myself wince, thinking perhaps that would burn an extra calorie or two.) Anyway, I hadn’t seen them in almost two years and my niece’s husband had lost 90 lbs. He looks so trim and fit now that I didn’t recognize him. I am both envious and inspired. If he can lose 90 lbs. then certainly I can lose the 25 that has been my constant companion for the past 15+ years!

So, I am making all sorts of little choices that I hope will add up to form my lifestyle change. (The term diet is SO 20th century.) Case in point: peanut butter. Here are the front and back labels of the ubiquitous Skippy alongside Trader Joe’s brand:

Due to the less than stellar photo taken by my cell phone, here are the ingredients and nutritional info:

Skippy: Roasted peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed, soybean, and rapeseed), salt. Sat fat: 3g, sugar: 3g, fiber: 2g, protein: 7g

TJ’s: Dry roasted peanuts, salt. Sat fat: 2g, sugar: 1g, fiber: 3g, protein: 8g, and it contains magnesium.

About Skippy. Until recently, Skippy had “Zero Trans Fats” on its front label. They must have taken a lot of flack from somebody due to the hydrogenated oils (which are trans fats). These are what gives Skippy its creamy, no need to stir, quality. The inclusion of rapeseed oil in particular concerns me. (I will write a separate blog about that.) Rapeseed oil was originally used as a lubricant in diesel engines for trains. What is it doing in our peanut butter?

Lately, I fill the half-pipe of celery with a couple of teaspoons of TJ’s peanut butter for a mid-day snack. Delicious!

Personally, I choose NOT to Skippy, although I’ve heard that choosy mothers choose Jif.


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Here’s a healthy snack I discovered when reading the Change Your Brain, Change Your Body book by Dr. Daniel Amen (giving credit where credit is due). Hard boil an egg, discard the egg yolk (full of evil cholesterol and bad fat) and replace it with hummus.

Yes, I would rather go to a bag of tortilla chips. (And yes, I need to stop thinking that way.) But I can’t stop eating from a bag of chips once I start, so I can’t go there. The important thing about a snack is it keeps me eating more frequently, but eating less. And the snacks should be healthy and include some protein. Other snack ideas:

  • Apple and a string-cheese stick
  • Celery with natural peanut butter (think Trader Joes, not Skippy)
  • A Wasa or Ak-Mak cracker (or two) with some tuna or smoked salmon
  • Some baby carrots with a small handful of almonds or walnuts
I would LOVE to hear your suggestions for other healthy snacks. Yes, I’m asking for reader participation.




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Several months ago I responded to one of those public television fund raising drives. Never done that before. The featured content was Dr. Daniel Amen presenting information from his latest book, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body”. Think of Dr. Amen as the Dr. Oz of neuroscience. Merrilyn and I are gaining interest in the brain and in neuroscience, so this sort of thing gets our attention.

I started reading the book after putting it off for these many months, as I already had a pretty good idea what to find in its pages. Yep, I need to make some major changes in my nutrition and lifestyle if I am going to get healthier, and I SO need to improve my health. What is intriguing is the author’s assertion that our inability to change behavior, and consequently improve our self care, is not necessarily a willpower issue, but a brain chemistry/activity issue. I am starting to suspect that I have diminished activity in my Pre-Frontal Cortex (or PFC), the part of the brain that is responsible for attention, planning, and followthrough. Hey, I have ADD, so this sort of makes sense.

I have only read the first few chapters. I am sure to have more to share. Later…

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