Monday, December 14, 2009

Are our kids pouring on the pounds ?

I can clearly state that the disproportionate availability of sugary beverages in schools is not in the best interest of children. After attending the recent California Senate Hearing on Sugar Beverages and Childhood Obesity, and, as an individual concerned about increases in childhood obesity, I was disheartened to hear that 1) free drinking fountain water is not widely available in most schools and 2) bottled water is often more expensive than sugary drinks in cafeterias leaving many thirsty students with few options other than sugary beverages.

As a means of reducing childhood obesity, the NYC Health Department is funding a new billboard ad and television commercial to help curtail consumption of sugary beverages. The ads, intended to steer our kids away from drinking these sugary beverages in a shocking manner, portray a boy opening a can of soda which then appears as a glassful of fat that he drinks.

Yes, the ad is shocking and disgusting. The ad's effectiveness can be debated and measured. The message of reducing childhood obesity is of critical importance. However, to this nutritionist, food researcher and new product developer the analogy is most concerning.

If you look at the label of most sugary beverages, you will not see fat as an ingredient because there is no fat in the beverage - it's our bodies that efficiently convert the sugar to fat in our bodies. You may say, well, all that matters is that we scare our children into not drinking these beverages since the bottom line is that obesity may result. To that, I respond that we spend more money than one would likely imagine to label products accurately for what they are. Further, although few would consider drinking a glass of fat, we should not want to convey the image that all fat consumption is bad. Truth in labeling is important as is truth in advertising. So, I repeat my communication mantra to those who are trying to reach consumers - if consumers seem confused, it's often because they receive confusing information. There has to be a better way to make this point and educate our children truthfully. Perhaps after drinking the soda, showing fat oozing from the boy or removing a five pound chunk or two from him would be offensive enough and not undermine what has been well communicated by nutrition educators.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Food allergies can effect your brain and behavior

Remember that food is a drug.  Food affects hormonal reactions which signal your brain to react. So you are not only are what you eat, but you behave according to how you eat.  Beware of  food allergies. Food allergens shut down your brain since the body sees the allergen as a substance that is bad for you and wants to protect your brain. In deactivating your brain, it deactivates your better sense! .Listen to Daniel Amen, author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life at to learn more on the issue.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Does one diet fit all?

The answer is clearly with varying degrees of success. Just as there are many products on the grocery shelf to choose from, there are many diets to choose from. Some are probably better than others for you, personally.

How do we choose? By starting with the individual rather than the latest new diet. That involves knowing individual food preferences, health considerations, eating patterns, etc. 

A FoodFitter can help. Follow me, FoodFitter on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Providing healthier alternatives

This week, County supervisors approved several initiatives to promote healthy living in Los Angeles including community gardens, bike paths and the introduction of healthier food alternatives in county facilities. Adopting these initiatives qualifies the county to receive Federal Stimulus funds.

What is notable is that supervisors did not approve an initiative banning sugar-sweetened beverages from county facilities on the grounds that adults should be allowed to make their own beverages choices. Their intention was to differentiate this decision from a decision they made earlier this year banning sugar sweetened beverages from school vending machines.  Beverages in school vending machines are purchased principally by children.

While the role sugar-sweetened beverages plays in the both adult and childhood obesity epidemic remains controversial, what is important is that healthier options are provided and are easy to adopt. This is a step in the right direction. If we all just move in the direction of healthier choices, we will be well on our way to more significant consumption changes in the future.

Do you think that manufacturers should self police to limit availability of products that are less nutritionally dense to the relative proportion they should likely represent in our diet?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How to make grocery shopping more fun and entertaining!

I've been enjoying grocery shopping as long as I can remember but is it fun or a chore for most of us? With a little help to sort through the maze of products, it can be much more entertaining. Always start your shopping around the perimeter of the store - the perishable foods you find there tend to be healthiest. Here's one way to get our attention in the fruit and vegetable section....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shouldn't all foods be "healthy"?

Actually, we eat for health and pleasure. But too much pleasure at the expense of our health isn't really good for us.

Why don't we take responsibility for maintaining balance in our lives? Are we being fooled or are we fooling ourselves? Do food companies give us the permission to eat whatever we want or do we choose to make unhealthy choices?

The FDA is the latest to weigh in on the issue of what constitutes a healthy food product by working on a definition of the word, "healthy", and suggestions for revising labeling on our foods.

Yet, is the reason there are so many claims and "seals of approval" on packaging because the standard label not work? If the one food label on all packages is confusing then additional claims and seals of approval on today's grocery shelf won't make it clearer until we all agree on the standards for a product to be considered "healthy".

Helping the consumer make better food choices for health with a single definition of healthy and a label that informs consumer choices is clearly an important goal. When we are all working together to clarify what constitutes a healthy food product, it will be harder for us to fool ourselves, but still likely. After all, we are human. Maintaining balance in our lives has never been a simple task. So let's head in the right direction. Government, food manufacturers and retailers, please make it as easy as possible for us all to maintain good health.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sugar is sweet and so are you

Children crave sweets for energy since they are more active typically than adults and because their bodies are growing. Once growth is complete, sugar can do more harm than good to our bodies so as adults we need to curb our sugar consumption.

Here in lies the issue we all struggle with. Since children are influenced easily liking what is what is familiar to them and tastes good especially when given as a reward or treat by an adult, the child forms a positive emotional connection with what they eat and it lasts for a lifetime. As adults, we want to limit sweets to kids because we don't want them to "learn" to eat empty calories and associate this behavior with being good to themselves when in fact, eaten in excess can be quite negative. We want our children to be healthy and be good to themselves which means being able to say no to sweets if they are overweight. Too much of anything isn't being good to oneself. So too much of a positive experience can turn negative. The crux of the issue is teaching our children how to set limits so we are eating appropriately and ultimately being good to ourselves. Since food is always around us we need to learn from an early age about how much to eat, moderation and making good choices.

Basics : 10,000 steps and lots of water

When I'm frustrated with my weight loss, I start again with the basics of eating well and then do one thing differently. For me, it's sticking to a high protein diet from lean meat, fish or whey isolates. 1) no sugar, 2) no dairy and 3) no wheat. 5 servings of fruit is a must. I eat some greens, lots of reds, and some brown or white daily (lean protein and some oatmeal or egg white for breakfast). I take fish oil capsules, Vitamin D, Cal/Mag and a multivitamin daily.

Oh did I mention 10,000 steps. I struggle daily to get in the exercise.

I keep a diary and look at the nutritional profile of diet on

Keeping it interesting is easy enough through variety and no or low calorie condiments such as flavored vinegars, or basting with sauces used sparingly for flavor. For example, if I'm missing the taste of dairy, I'll use tablespoon of goat cheese or yogurt in a recipe.

I wish there was a magic formula for my body but there isn't. Genetics rule.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Squeezing your waist, not your budget

With the down economy, many are resorting to less expensive but less nutritious food choices. How can we make the squeeze work for us?

The answer lies in buying in bulk and preparing in advance. It doesn't have to be more work overall, it just means that we need to think ahead and dedicate some upfront time which will likely save you time. With meals ready that we can eat for weeks at home or on the go, we can avoid spending too much on meals on the go and convenience foods which still take time out of our day.

Keep meals pure and simple. If you want to save time and control portion size, use inexpensive bags or wraps. For example, if you want french toast - instead of buying it in the freezer section you can buy a loaf of bread and a few eggs or maybe better 100% egg whites, fry in a teflon pan with a drop of butter spray or spread and put in a freezer bag. You can heat two pieces for breakfast in 15 seconds in the microwave. Add an orange (bought in bulk) and you have a great meal for under 50 cents. Most frozen pancakes, waffles, omelets and egg sandwiches you buy prepared at retail come with nutritional baggage like excess sodium, sugar, saturated fat and trans fats.

If you had purchased frozen waffles and refrigerated orange juice instead, your meal would be closer to $2.00. If you went out to a restaurant the meal would be a minimum of $4.00 and likely higher. And that's just breakfast. If watching your family's weight and nutrition doesn't motivate doesn't motivate you, the money you save might!

Send your comments and let me know if I can help you watch your nutrition, budget and simplify meal preparation for you!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's a new world sooner or later?

Post October 2008, it is clear that things have changed but how is still unclear. All are trying to figure out the new normal and when the chaos will settle? How have changes in our economy impacted you and your family's health and eating patterns? Which of these changes do you expect to incorporate for the long term or do you see them more as temporary?

Solutions to daily meal challenges

Planning ahead just like meeting other goals is the way to meet challenges head on. It's kind of like deciding what you'll wear the next day the night before. Always have a snack with you in case your schedule doesn't allow you to eat when you want. If you tend to work late, pick up dinner at lunch so you can eat on a timely basis.

A dose of "Natural"

The Natural Food Expo West is growing each year now filling not just one but spilling over into two floors of the Anaheim Convention Center. While it's a fun filled show with every kind of food bar, chips, tea and chocolate you can imagine, I'd hardly want to be consuming these types of food all the time, in fact, these foods are essentially snacks. Since natural foods are defined as minimally processed, rather than pure, fruits and vegetables, etc. that come to us naturally, I get it but would have rather immersed myself in the Garden of Eden!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Study A Day?

Reading a study a day in the latest health magazine doesn't necessarily keep the doctor away.

Sometimes it's not clear how you should apply this information to your particular diet. Sometimes another study is more information out of context that you need to sort through. Sometimes too much information complicates the picture instead of sorting it out. Knowing about the research is fine but how you use what you've learned may be a whole different exercise.

Color your plate for healthy eating

Think in color themes - if your plate isn't colorful at each full meal think again about what you are eating.

Some fun suggestions to start...

Breakfast - think American flag colors
Dinner - think Fall colors - orange, beige, brown, yellow, red and green

How will you paint your plate?

Simple cooking or do you do microwave?

In a nutshell that's microwaving for most because you don't have to watch the burner, you can eat out of the same dish you cook in and it's fast.

I'm giving seniors who have never cooked before lessons in how to simplify the meal process. It's that easy.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Food is art

All this input can be confusing so how do we keep eating simple? Think of your plate as art - anykind of art you like as long as it's colorful and multi-textured. If not consider changing your plate!

Chaos means a lot of choices

Maybe too many but maybe just what you need. And a lot of choices means a lot of variety which is good for our diet.

Picky Eating

It's great to be a picky eater if you know what your picking! Don't just pick what is in front of you, know what to select, how much and remember to mix it up and pick a lot of different foods.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Vitamin D

Have you had your Vitamin D checked? It's not part of a standard annual exam but a good idea to ask your doctor to check at your next physical. With all the advice to stay out of the sun to avoid skin cancer, most use sunscreens and are staying out of the sun. Combined with the fact that many are lactose intolerant and don't drink milk fortified with Vitamin D likely the best source in our diet, many of us don't consume enough Vitamin D nor have enough sun exposure for our bodies to produce. Lack of sufficient Vitamin D can result in premature osteoporosis, a weakened immune system, stones, etc.

If you need a supplement consider taking D3 with Vitamin K to facilitate absorption.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A touch of this and that

Try adding "a touch" to your foods - little nutrient content and usually big on taste. When eating well, have you tried adding "a touch" of what you love eating to your food but not going overboard? For example, if you add a tablespoon of sorbet to your fruit and nut snack, it turns the snack to an indulgent one and still permissible. Similarly, an ounce or two of a healthy version of cream of mushroom soup, asparagus soup, etc. could make all the difference to your vegetable servings and meal. Go for the lowest saturated fat, calorie and carbohydrate version you can find. Some of us may need to watch sodium added and sodium labels. If you can stick to grocery foods under 500 mg of sodium per serving, it might be a good thing. I keep my saturated fat as low as possible while still getting enough mono and unsaturated fat in my diet. I'm on a stay away from dairy diet right now.

Enjoy your touch ups!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Listening to Our Bodies

What ever happened to listening to our bodies? When we eat something how does it make your body feel health wise? If the first time you eat a fatty food in a while feels bad, that should tell you something. Getting used to a bad thing is never good. Our bodies are very intelligent and we need to remember to listen.

Whole nutrition

We seem to be practicing nutrition by dissection more and more these days. If cocoa is good, chocolate must be great. Say what about the sugar content? Avocado oil is great but what's in that guacamole? When we choose a food, we should think about it in the context of your whole diet and the portion you really eat.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Free Calorie Counter, Diet & Exercise Journal -

Have you tried It's free and easy to use to track what you eat. My diet is very, very healthy but the site is not accurate in terms of weight loss predictions.


About Me

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First trained as a food chemist and nutritionist, my career began enriching a Twinkie, comparing the nutrition of a Twinkie to an apple and studying the role of sugar in the diet. With an M.B.A. and years in food and pharma understanding consumers and manufacturers, I'm back to where I started - food should taste great and serve to keep us healthy. To do so, there needs to be consumer awareness. Consumers need to vote for what they want by buying what they really want. If they buy impulsively, that's what they will see more of. They need to practice balance and responsible choices. That's when change will come. Please engage me with your conversation so that I can help you make and stick to better food choices that you enjoy. You'll gain a deeper appreciation of food not only from farm to table but farm to health. My vision is to promote solutions for healthful food and food practices you can happily embody and embrace!