step away from the cookie….

I remember as a kid standing at the checkout in virtually any store in America and feeling like I was in candy heaven. All the choices; gum, mints, chocolate… was blissfully overwhelming. I would grab one or two candy bars and argue endlessly until my mother gave in. Have you ever wondered though, why is so much sugary junk food placed in such strategic areas? Did the American Dietary Association think we needed to “refuel” after strenuously shopping?

A few days ago I was standing in line at CVS watching a gentleman in front of me purchase a bag of chips, a candy bar and a soda. I thought “wow that’s a lot of sugar”! But what is a lot of sugar? Does anyone really know how many grams of sugar they should eat per day? America has guidelines for protein, dairy, vegetables, grains…….but what about sugar?

According to Euromonitor (a global market research company), Americans eat approximately 120 grams of sugar a day! That’s 17.5% of your 2100 calories per day. What I could not find though were any US guidelines for sugar. Denmark, Sweden and Iceland all suggest less than 10% per day. Italy and the Czech Republic suggests less than 15% per day. There are still several countries including the United States without guidelines though.

There is so much nutrition based research why haven’t any guidelines been established for sugar consumption? I believe people understand frequent consumption of sugar is not healthy but how many people actually know how much they are eating on a daily bases? Do you know there is sugar in certain vegetables? How about the giant glass of juice you have every morning? Bread, cereal, peanut butter……all have sugar and it adds up!

So in conclusion of my sugar rant I have a challenge for everyone. Download a nutrition app. I personally like MyFitness Pal, but there are many others. Start logging your food. Yes it can be tedious, but just try it for 2 weeks. I guarantee you will be surprised by some of the numbers and hopefully motivated to improve your nutrition!



if i had $1…….

The title of this weeks post pretty much says it all. I’m certain I’d be a millionaire by now if I had $1 for everyone that has said to me, “I just want to lose weight in my stomach” or “I really want a six-pack”. The issues most people deal with during weight loss is patience and understanding. You didn’t gain weight overnight therefore you will not lose it overnight. Also, there isn’t a supplement on the market that will speed things along. However, I’m sure some scientist somewhere is feverishly working on it (and all the ugly side effects that will come with it).

I always tell people to remember the 75/25 rule. Your diet is 75% of the solution and exercise is 25%. Tracking what you eat is crucial to understanding the cause and effect of what you eat. Just because you think you don’t eat that much sugar doesn’t compare to actually seeing a daily number. And for God’s sake please don’t obsess over calories. (I will tackle the calorie conundrum next week). Take small steps every week with your food and before you know it you’ll be on the fast track to healthy! Stop drinking sugar filled drinks, slowly cut back on the gluten and processed franken-foods, try some new veggies and add some healthy fats to keep you satiated.

Exercising is the other smaller part of the equation. Don’t feel like you have to be in shape in order to go to the gym. That’s what gyms are actually for-to get you in shape. One of the best things you can do is talk to people either at the gym or in a class. Talk to the people working out. If they are in good shape, (you can easily spot the sleek muscles or matching tights and tank). These people work to look good and chances are they’ve been where you are. Also, PLEASE DO NOT GET STUCK IN THE CARDIO RUT. Yes cardio is good, but not 5 days a week for an hour. Your body will adjust to cardio quickly especially if it’s the same type of cardio (i.e. dreadmill or elliptical). As we age we lose muscle and balance. It’s extremely important to stimulate muscle growth to slow aging and regulate metabolism. Weights can seem confusing to most people who do not lift-again ask someone, talk to people, step out of your comfort zone and I guarantee you will not regret it!

your special power

As I entered the grocery store this week I grabbed the same “compact” style cart I always use and headed down the same produce aisle I usually start my shopping trip. As I looked around I realized the amount of choices people make every day. Everything we do is basically a choice. So why did I gravitate to the same aisle with the same size cart as countless times before? The simple answer is habit. Think of how many things you do just out of habit. Have you ever stopped and thought for a moment, “what if I take this route instead of the usual route today?” or “what if I eat this instead of that?” You truly have all the power when making choices. So why not choose the best possible option?

When the choice involves eating it’s very easy to mindlessly grab something and quickly ingest it without any thought. At the 2011 American Psychological Association’s annual meeting psychologist Dr. Brian Wansink, described one of his experiments into mindless eating.

“We asked 150 Parisians how they knew they were through with dinner and they said, ‘When we’re full.’ When we asked 150 Chicagoans the same question, they said, ‘When the plate is empty,'” Wansink says

Eating shouldn’t be viewed as an everyday mindless task. YOU have the power of choice when food is involved. Most people have become so accustomed to grabbing something quick that they sacrifice taste, nutrition and quality. How often do you think about the nutritional content of what you’re eating, or the amount of what you are eating?

If you stop for a split second and think about how you feel, actually listen to your body, most unhealthy nutritional habits would become obsolete. The snickers bar you habitually retrieve from a machine mid afternoon, with 27 grams of sugar, wouldn’t be considered because you would know 30 minutes after eating it you’d want something else. So many healthy choices are just as quick and easy. But, you have to use your power and choose. Candy, chips and cookies or almonds, avocados and veggies? Throwing some almonds in a container is just as easy as pushing coins into a machine!

So next time you are hungry just pause for 15 seconds and remember, YOU HAVE THE POWER OF CHOICE! Every small positive mindful choice leads to big positive changes…..

You ate what??

Do you know what you’re eating? I mean KNOW what you’re eating? Do you sometimes flip the package over to read the ingredients and still eat it? Some of the most commonly used chemicals found in food are sodium benzoate, propylene glycol, acesulfame potassium, caramel color and artificial flavorings. You know these things probably aren’t healthy, but have you considered what they really are and how many times a day you eat them?

Sodium benzoate is a benzene compound produced by mixing benzoic acid with sodium hydroxide. It’s a common preservative in processed foods and soft drinks and has been associated with a vast array of health problems. Sodium benzoate is considerably more toxic than processed sugar or high fructose corn syrup, yet it gets very little media coverage. Outside of our foods, benzene is the main ingredient of Liquid Wrench, various paint stripper products, rubber cements, and spot removers. It was discontinued in rubber manufacture in the U.S. because it caused a large percentage of workers to get leukemia.

Propylene glycol, otherwise known as antifreeze. The FDA acknowledges that propylene glycol can cause kidney damage when consumed in large doses and skin irritation when it comes in direct contact with flesh. In the U.S., products can contain five grams of propylene glycol for every kilogram of body weight. European formulas, however, can only contain 0 .1 gram per kilogram of the ingredient.

Acesulfame potassium is a calorie-free sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than sugar. The sweetener is used in a wide variety of foods in the United States. It contains methylene chloride which has been linked to headaches, depression, nausea, visual disturbances, kidney and liver damage.

Caramel color is the single most used food coloring in the world, according to a 2013 report from market research firms Mintel and Leatherhead Food Research. It’s added to many soft drinks and some foods to turn them brown. But in no way does it resemble real caramel. Some types of this artificial coloring contain a potentially carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI). Under California’s Proposition 65 law, any food or beverage sold in the state that exposes consumers to more than 29 micrograms of 4-MeI per day is supposed to carry a health-warning label. In recent Consumer Reports’ tests, each of the 12-ounce samples of Pepsi One  had more than 29 micrograms per can or bottle.

Artificial flavors come from anything that is inedible (i.e petroleum), that is processed to create chemicals of flavorings.
In 2006, Japanese researcher Mayu Yamamoto figured out how to extract vanillin from cow poop. Vanillin, as you may have guessed is vanilla flavor. She was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize at Harvard University for this development. Although some artificial flavors aren’t necessarily dangerous, I wouldn’t want to eat them….

So the next time you are eating some prepackaged frankenfood from the gas station or vending take a moment to read the ingredients. Are these things really what you want to be eating?