Weight loss advice is so common and contentious now. There are competing opinions everywhere. I say, forget about “who is right” and let’s focus on “what is right”. Let us focus on what gets results. I am not going to make any empty promises and try to sell you something that doesn’t work.
There are too many weight loss myths out there. I am going to tackle the top ones I come across in my practice.
Myth: Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss.
Calories are important for weight loss. If you eat and absorb a ton more than you use, then your body’s wisdom will store some for later. Calories matter.
Calories – they are not the “be-all and end-all” of weight loss; they are important but, they are the symptom, not the cause. Let’s think about the reasons people eat more calories. Let’s focus on the causes.
People eat too many calories, not because they are hungry!!! We overeat because we feel sad, lonely, or bored. We eat because we are tired or stressed out. We may even be eating because we are happy and want to celebrate. All these feelings interact with our gastrointestinal, nervous and hormonal systems; all of which influence our calorie intake.
Myth: “Eat less move more” is good advice
One year my car died and I decided not to replace it right away. My commute to work suddenly included a 3 mile (minimum) daily walk. Guess how much weight I lost??? NONE.
The premise of this myth is based on the above myth that calories in minus calories out equals your weight. So, eat fewer calories, and burn off more calories. QUESTION -Is human physiology a simple math equation?
Even if people can happily and sustainable follow this advise, which they can’t: it completely negates other factors that contribute to weight problems. Things like the causes of overeating we mentioned above. Not to mention our genetics, health conditions we are dealing with or our exposure to compounds that are “obesogenic”.
Myth: A calorie is a calorie
Can we please put this one to bed already?
Science has confirmed several caloric components of feed differ from others. For example, the “thermic effect of food” (TEF) is that some nutrients require calories to be metabolized. They can slightly increase your metabolism, just by eating them.
For example, when you metabolize protein you burn more calories that when you metabolize carbohydrates. Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories/gram; but the TEF of protein = 15-30%;ad the TEF for carbohydrates = 5-10%.
Here is anther example of a calorie not being a calorie. Different fats are metabolized differently. Medium chain triglycerides (fats) (MCTs) have the same 9 calories/gram that other fats do; but, they are metabolized by the liver before getting into the bloodstream and therefore are not utilized or stored the same way as other fats. #acalorieisnotacalorie
Myth: Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight
There is not magic pill for wight loss. No supplement, tea, food, or other potion will do the trick.
There are products that make these claims, and thy are full of garbage, they are marking gold. The only thing you will lose is your money and possibly your hope. So, please do not believe this myth. There is a reason most people who lose weight can’t keep it off. The real magic is n adopting a sustainable holistic and healthy approach to living your life. What you need is a long-term lifestyle makeover, not a product.
Divide salad ingredients into two bowls.
Add all dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until creamy. You may need to add water to thin. Add slowly, a tablespoon at a time until desired thickness is reached.
Add dressing to salads and gently toss.
Serve & Enjoy!!!!!
Tip: Extra dressing can be stored in refrigerator for a few days.
I have very painful memories of the summer of 2015. I was working in the school system, therefore, was looking forward to the summer off. Unfortunately, my last day of work we had a death in the family. That pain of heart was quickly followed by real physical pain. For some unexplained reason my legs began to hurt so badly that I had to borrow my mothers cane to attend my sisters funeral.
My acupuncturist feverish to find the source of the pain. It was finally decided that I had a Vitamin D deficiency. I started taking supplements and had near immediate relief. Later in the year, when I had my annual physical, my general physician told me that Vitamin D deficiencies is very common in African-Americans. It is difficult to get enough Vitamin D, therefore, a it is a very common deficiency.
So, let’s talk about how much of this critical fat-soluble vitamin we need, and how you can get enough. The tree ways to get Vitamin D are exposure to the sun, consuming Vitamin D containing or fortified foods, and through supplements.
Why is Vitamin D important, and how much do we need?
Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from our food and acts like a hormone to help us build strong bones. Vitamin D can also help with immune function, cellular growth, and help to prevent mood imbalances such a depression and seasonal addective disorder (SAD).
Not getting enough Vitamin D can lead to bone diseases like osteomalacia. Inadequate Vitamin D can also increase your risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, and even death. The ‘official” minimum amount of Vitamin D to strive for each day is merely 400-600 IU. Many experts think that this is not nearly enough for optimal health. To ensure you get adequate amounts you can implement any combination of the three Vitamin D sources mentioned above on a weekly basis.
How can I get enough Vitamin D from the sun?
Your skin makes Vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun; that is why it is referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”. How much Vitamin D your skin makes depends on many things. Location, season, clouds, clothing, all effect the amount of Vitamin D your skin can produce from the sun. One standard recommendation is to get about 5-30 minutes of sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to the face, arms, legs, or back. This should be done without sunscreen, at least twice a week. Always avoid sunburns. In some locations and seasons it is not easy to get sun exposure.
How do I get enough Vitamin D from food?
Vitamin D is naturally found in fatty fish, liver and egg yolks. Some mushrooms make Vitamin D when they are exposed to the sun. A lot of processed foods are “fortified” with Vitamin D, which means it has been added to these foods. These include milk, some orange juices, breakfast cereals, and yogurt. It will say on the label how much Vitamin D has been added per serving.
Because Vitamin D is fat-soluble, you can increase absorption of it from your food if you eat it with some healthy fat. Between sun exposure and food, it still may be difficult to get even the minimum of 400 IU per day. This is why supplements are quite popular.
How can I get enough Vitamin D from supplements?
It’s easy enough to “pop a pill” or take some cod liver oil, which also contains Vitamin A. Either of these can ensure that you get the minimum amount plus a bit extra. Before you start taking a supplement, make sure you check that it won;t interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking. Always read your labels, and ask a healthcare professional for advice.
Do not take more than the suggested dosage on the label, except under medical care.
The maximum amount recommended, for the general population is 4,00 IU/day. Too much Vitamin D can raise your blood levels of calcium to an unsafe level. This can affect your heart and kidneys.
The best thing, if you are concerned, it to ask your healthcare professional to do a blood test and make a recommendation about how much vitamin supplements is right for your. Your healthcare practitioner may recommend higher amounts of Vitamin D supplementation for a short time while under their care.
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin which; many people have a hard time maintaining adequate levels of this vitamin. There are three ways to get enough Vitamin D: sun exposure, through certain foods, and in supplements. I have giving you some ideas how you can get the minimum 400-600 IU daily.
If you are concerned, it is best to request a blood test that tests your vitamin levels to be sure what is right for you. Always take supplements as directed.
Preheat the oven broiler and raise the oven rack.
Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and place fish on top, skin side down. Surround with a single layer of asparagus.
Sprinkle the fish and asparagus with sea salt, pepper, parsley, and dill. Drizzle with olive oil.
Broil for 8-10 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Serve & Enjoy>
Do you ever feel a bit “overextended”in the belly after a meal? Gassy? Have you ever felt you were carrying a “food baby”?
Bloating is common, 25-30% of people experience it regularly. It happens when you have trouble digesting. The symptoms come from excess gas, reactions to foods, or food not moving through the digestive system as well as it could.
There are many reasons you might experience these symptoms. They many be a sign of a serious condition, or a feed allergy, or intolerance (what you eat). It could result from how you eat.. If you have a serious digestive issue like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS, consult your doctor and eat according to his/her recommendations. Also, if you know certain foods give you gas. Simply avoid them.
If you are already doing those things, and still experience bloating, here are some great tips for dealing with it naturally.
Don’t Over Eat
If you overeat at a meal, then you will feel bigger around the mid-section. You’ll feel more pressure in your abdomen. Plus, you are giving your digestive system a hard time. It is better to eat until you feel almost full and not overindulge. Grab an extra snack or small meals throughout the day if you have to but, don’t over stuff yourself in on sitting.
2. Avoid sugar alcohols
Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners made from sugar. In an ingredients list, they end in “ol”, and include things like sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol. They are found in some chewing gums and sugar-free foods. Some people experience bloating after eating feeds containing these ingredients Try avoiding them for two weeks and see how you feel.
3. Avoid Swallowing Air
Sometimes the gas that causes pressure in your digestive system is from swallowing air. Carbonated drinks are the biggest culprit here. You can also swallow air when you chew gum or drink through a straw. Excess air can be swallowed when eating too quickly or whole talking. Which leads me to…
4 Eat Slower, More Mindfully, and Less Stressed
Eating too fast isn’t doing your digestive system any favors. You can help the food move along by chewing it thoroughly and slowing down your eating habits. Be mindful and enjoy the tie you are spending eating your meals. Savor them. The feeling of stress can also cause increased bloating. Stress reducing techniques can help improve your digestion. Try meditating or deep breathing but, not while your are eating. 🙂
5. Try Peppermint
Peppermint oil has been shown to improve bloating. It is thought to increase transit time by relaxing the stomach muscles and increasing the flow of bile. Try steeping fresh peppermint leaves or peppermint tea bag, and drinking it slowly. See if this helps reduce your symptoms.
There are a number of natural ways to deal with bloating.
Fits, avoid it by not eating things that give you gas or aggravate a digestive issue. Try not to overeat, consume sugar alcohols, or swallow air. Also, eating more mindfully and recuding stress can help too. Finally, if you are experiencing bloating, enjoy a cup of peppermint tea.
If you do all these things and still experience bloating, you may have a feel intolerance. Please see your doctor. He/she can help to rule out a serious and/or chronic condition.
No-one want to be chained to the scale. Sometimes is seems our “weight” defines who we are. What you weight can matter but only to a certain extent. Let’s look at your waist circumference, you look at yours and I’ll look at mine.
Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”)
Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is round around the middle, beer belly, and the pear is rounder abound the hips/thigh. The difference between the two is waist circumference.
One of these shapes is associated with higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g.insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat,and arterial diseases).
It’s not because of the subcutaneous, under the skin, fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”. The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other internal organs. The internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is. It’s this “unpinchable” fat.
The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure. The apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.
So as you can see where your fat is stored is more important than how much you weigh.
Am I an Apple or a Pear?
It’s pretty simple to find out if you are in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way s to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape.
Women, if your waist is 35″ or more you could be considered to have abdominal obesity and be in the higher risk category. Of course, pregnant ladies are exempt. For men the number is 40″
This isn’t a diagnostic tool. There a lots of risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them. If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.
Tips for Helping Reduce Some Belly Fat:
Eat more fiber. Fiber can help reduce belly fat in a few ways. First of all it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food. Some examples of high-fiber foods are Brussels sprouts, flax and chis seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer. It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
Nix the added sugar. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especial those sweet drinks, even 100% pure juice.
Move more. Get some aerobic exercise. Lift some weights. Walk and take the stairs. It all adds up.
Stress less. Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.
Get more sleep.. Tray making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel and look.
When was the last time you had Brussels Sprouts? This easy recipe with show you what you have been missing.
Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts contain the fat-soluble vitamin K. You may want to eat them more often.
It’s official! Organizations and governments are declaring a maximum amount of daily sugar intake. While this is a step forward, there are still a few problems. One, They don’t all agree with each other. And two, I don’t necessarily agree with them either.
We all know sugar is NOT a health food. It isn’t full of nutrition, and excess consumption is not associated with great health. The problem is that sugar is everywhere. It’s naturally occurring. It’s also added to just about every processed food there is. This “added sugar” is a factor in many chronic diseases we see today. Sugar is inflammatory. Too much is associated with weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cavities. Too much sugar is a huge health risk, no matter how you look at it.
So let’s talk about how much sugar is “too much.” The average American consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar in one year. This equal to 3 pounds or sugar consumed in a week. This is “too much” sugar.
Added sugar vs naturally occurring sugar. What do some of the officials say?
Before we talk about the “official” numbers, we need to know the difference between “added” sugar and “naturally occurring” sugar.
Fruit and other healthy whole foods contain sugar. They also contain water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals. They are good for you. Eating fruits and vegetables is a well-proven way to reduce your risk of many chronic diseases.
“Added sugars,” on the other hand, are concerning. In 2013, the American Heart Association calculated that about 25,000 deaths per year were due to sweetened beverages. “Added sugars” are also in baked good, candies, soups, sauces, and other processed foods. You can find sugar on the ingredient list of many names, often ending in “-ose.” These include glucose, fructose, sucrose, etc….
So, “Total Sugars” = “Naturally Occurring Sugars” + “Added Sugars.”
The “official” change is the new “Nutrition Facts tables. You may remember that in Canada and the USA, they declare the amount of sugar, but don’t give it a %DV (% daily value); this means, they’ve never had a “benchmark” maximum daily value to use. They haven’t declared how much is too much Now, both countries are implementing a %DV for sugar.
In Canada, the %DV is based on 100g/day of total sugar. Unfortunately, this number is large because it includes both naturally occurring and added sugars. The %DV is in-line with the Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation’s recommendation of no more the 90g of total sugars per day.
In 2008, the average daily total sugar intake in the USA was 76.7 grams per day; this is less than these two benchmarks. Yet, it doesn’t seem that people are getting healthier. I would argue that 100g per day total sugar is still too high
In the USA, the labels are changing too. They are not declaring “total” sugar but will differentiate between naturally occurring and added sugars. They have decided on a maximum of 50g of “added” sugars each day. Unfortunately, this is still more that the American Heart Association’s recommended maximum of 24g/day added sugar for women, and 36g/day added sugar for men.
What is a Better Daily Sugar Goal?
While these official numbers are a step in the right direction, they are not what I would personally recommend.
For one thing, I would ditch as much processed food as possible, regardless of their sugar content. There are a ton of studies that show that processed foods are bad for your health. Do your best to eliminate processed foods from your diet or at least don’t make them your go to foods for your 50g of “added” sugar per day. Get your sugar from whole, unprocessed fruits first.
Second, you do not need to max out your daily sugar intake. Try to reduce your sugar intake below these “official” amounts for an even better goal.
Tips to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Here are some of recommendations to reduce your sugar intake.
Reduce (or eliminate) sugar-sweetened beverages; this includes soda pop, sweetened coffee/tea, sports drinks, etc. Instead, have fruit-infused water. Or try drinking your coffee/tea “black” or with a pinch of cinnamon or vanilla instead.
Reduce (or eliminate) your desserts and baked goods. Bake our own instead,, You can easily reduce the sugar in a recipe by half. Try my delicious (no added sugar) dessert recipe below.
Instead of a granola bar ( or other sugary snack), try fruit, a handful of nuts, or veggies with hummus. These are easy grab-and-go snacks that you can prepare to-go ahead of time.
Let me know in the comments your favorite tips to reduce your sugar intake!
Coffee – Who can drink it and who should avoid it?
Coffee is one of those things – you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.)
Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!
There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It’s a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you’re used to drinking.
NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some.
Let’s look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.
Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40 x faster in some people than others.
About half of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel “wired” for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is “fast” metabolizers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later. This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!
The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body
NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.
The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.
Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):
Stimulates the brain
Boosts energy and exercise performance
Increases your stress hormone cortisol
So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.
Coffee and health risks
There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.
Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:
Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
Increased sleep disruption
Lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Lower risk of certain liver diseases
Lower risk of death (“all cause mortality”)
Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease
Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).
NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.
Should you drink coffee or not?
There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.
Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:
People with arrhythmia’s (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
People who often feel anxious
People who have trouble sleeping
People who are pregnant
Children and teens
If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:
Give you the jitters?
Increase anxious feelings?
Affect your sleep?
Give you heart palpitations?
Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?
Depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while and see the difference.
Recipe (Latte): Pumpkin Spice Latte
3 tbsp coconut milk
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin puree
½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 cup coffee (decaf if preferred)
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can use tea instead of milk if you prefer.