What’s with Pinkberry?

July 29, 2008

Recently, my fiance and I discovered a new Pinkberry that just opened down the street from us.  With very low expectations of this new trendy frozen yogurt place, we decided to give it a try. We ordered a small cup of the original flavor and topped it off with fresh blueberry, strawberry and kiwi.  To our surprise, we LOVED it!  It’s been 2 weeks since our discovery and we have already become regulars! This sudden and almost scary new addiction has made me wonder…what’s in this stuff, what is it doing to my body and is this really good for me?

So, of course, I got curious and did a little research…

It turns out the main ingredients of Pinkberry frozen yogurt include skim milk, nonfat yogurt, sucrose, fructose, dextrose, nonfat dry milk, nonfat dry yogurt, and then less than 2% food additives (to preserve flavor and to improve taste and appearance).

One small cup of the original flavor has only 98 calories, 0 grams of fat,  and 4.2 grams of protein.  Even the large (which is enormous!) has only 252 calories and 0 fat!  The other flavors are green tea (small- 70 calories, 0 fat; large-180 calories, 0 fat) and coffee (small- 126 calories, 0 fat; large- 324 calories, 0 fat).

Not only is this sweet, refreshing dessert low in fat and calories, it is a good source of calcium (which helps to keep your bones strong). And, by choosing to add fruit as a topping, can help you to meet your daily fruit servings!

Additionally, it was recently given the “Live and Active Cultures” seal from the National Yogurt Associaton, which means that it contains more than 10 million live and active cultures per gram at the time of manufacture.  There is a lot of evidence suggesting that certain live and active cultures can have potential health benefits.  Although the total health benefits of these cultures are not conclusive at this time, at the minimum they can help individuals who have trouble digesting lactose. For these people, this means that they can get the health benefits of milk products, without all the discomfort.

Perhaps this is my way of rationalizing my new obsession, but, I do believe it is certainly a good choice and alternative to many high calorie desserts. 🙂

Yesterday, California became the first state to ban trans fats from restaurants and baked goods. So what’s the big deal you might ask?

Trans fats, like saturated fats and dietary cholesterol (found primarily in animal products) increase your risk of heart disease. Trans fats are made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil–a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation increases the shelf life and flavor stability of foods containing these fats. This process turns liquid oils into solid fats. Trans fats are found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils.

So, basically, the new law which was signed by Governor Schwarzenager, will help Californians to maintain and improve their health….Yay Arnold! 🙂 This law will go into effect in 2010. Hopefully other states will follow suit…..

Anti-craving techniques

July 22, 2008

At one time or another, we all get cravings.  I often hear of cravings for red meat, chocolate, potato chips or other fatty foods, but, many times people also have cravings for healthier things like fruits, vegetables, or milk.  Whatever the craving may be, I view it as something the we are lacking in our diet and a way that the body speaks to us about what we need. For example, if it’s red meat that you are craving, it may be that your body is needing more protein, iron, or vitamin B12.  I usually advise my clients to give into their cravings so that they can satisfy their need.  However, in some cases, cravings are not satisfied by consuming the food and they are experienced as very intense and almost out of control.  For some people, their cravings are beyond the physical need for a food.  Instead, their cravings could be linked to an emotion, feeling, or they could even just be a habit.  Here are some strategies by Dr. Judith Beck that may be helpful for dealing with cravings.   

Mindset Techniques

  1. Label it.  Tell yourself, This feeling is just a craving…It’s uncomfortable and intense, but (like hunger) it’ not an emergency.
  2. Stand firm.  Tell yourself that you’re absolutely not going to eat the food that you’re craving.  Ask yourself whether giving in to this craving will be worth the momentary pleasure you’ll get from eating.
  3. Don’t give yourself a choice.   The emotionally painful part about a craving is the struggle you feel. Once you can tell yourself with total conviction, NO CHOICE, and so something else, the craving will diminish.
  4. Imagine the aftermath of giving in.  Think about eating the food you’re craving.  Imagine it in your mouth.  How many seconds does it take to it?  How many seconds do you feel pleasure?  Now visualize the rest of the picture- the part of the experience you usually don’t think about until it’s too late.   Picture yourself feeling weak and out of control.  See yourself feeling upset, giving up, continuing to eat more and more, feeling worse and worse.  As you become upset in the image, remind yourself how many times you’ve given in before, how you promised yourself you wouldn’t do it again, and how hopeless you felt.   Now that you’ve seen the entire picture, which seems better: eating or not eating?
  5. Remind yourself why you want to learn to withstand cravings.  You won’t be able to attain the wonderful benefits of losing weight unless you tolerate your cravings.  If you continue to give in to them, you’ll always be at risk for gaining weight.


Behavioral Techniques

  1. Distance yourself from the food you crave.  When you experience a craving because you see or smell food, you might be able to move that food to an inconvenient place or get rid of it.  If you can’t remove the food, you might be able to remove yourself from the scene (go to another room, outside, or bathroom).
  2. Drink a no- or low-calorie beverage.  Thirst can mask as hunger and trigger you to eat. Try drinking water, club soda or low-calorie drink.
  3. Relax.  Find a relaxation technique that works for you and do this for 3 minutes.  At the end of 3 minutes, you should feel calmer and more in control of your cravings.  One simple relaxation technique involves focusing on your breathing.
  4. Distract yourself. Focus your attention on something else and your craving will most likely weaken or pass.

You probably remember your mom telling you to eat your vegetables.  But, how many of us as adults get the recommended 3 or more servings of vegetables each day? Very few, despite their amazing health benefits.  Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet since they are packed with essential vitamins and minerals and fiber, which can enhance health, well-being, and prevent certain types of diseases.  Here are some tips to help you to add more color to your plate:

          Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking on the stove or in microwave.

          Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Use pre-washed bags of salad greens; add baby carrots and grape tomatoes for a quick salad.

          Include a green salad or cooked vegetable with your dinner each night.

          Have salad as your main dish (add some protein to keep you satisfied).

          Try making a main dish of vegetables such as stir-fry or soup, then add other foods to complement.

          Add vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes and peppers to sandwiches.

          Include chopped vegetable in pasta sauce or lasagna.

          Order a pizza with vegetable toppings such as green peppers, mushrooms, or spinach. Have a salad with the pizza.

          Try grilled veggies on the bbq.

          Add veggies to egg omelets- spinach, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms work well.

          For snacks at work or home, try packages of baby carrots or celery sticks with peanut butter.

          Keep cut up vegetables like broccoli, peppers, carrots, and celery at home for easy access to a healthy snack. Try with hummus or a low fat dressing to use as dip.

          When you’re out at restaurants, substitute the fries for a salad or steamed vegetables.

          If you’re still having trouble, drink 1 cup of vegetable juice (provides 2 servings of vegetables). Try to avoid some juices which have sugar added.

One way to practice mindful eating is to pay attention to each sensation during eating, such as chewing, tasting, and swallowing. This allows you to slow down your eating and focus on your food. It also allows you to listen to your body’s needs.  Here is an exercise that you can do alone or with a friend. You will both need a slice of apple.  One person reads the instructions below while the other person does the exercise.

  1. Take one bite of an apple slice and then close your eyes. Do not begin chewing yet.
  2. Try not to pay attention to the ides running through your mind, just focus on the apple. Notice anything that comes to mind about taste, texture, temperature and sensation going on in your mouth.
  3. Begin chewing now.  Chew slowly, just noticing what it feels like. It’s normal that your mind will wander off. If you notice you’re paying more attention to your thinking than to the chewing, just let go of the thought for the moment and come back to the chewing.
  4. In these moments you find yourself wanting to swallow the apple. See if ou can stay present and notice the subtle transition from chewing to swallowing.
  5. As you prepare to swallow the apple, try to follow it moving toward the back of your tongue and into your throat. Swallow the apple, following it until you can no longer feel any sensation of the food remaining.
  6. Take a deep breath and exhale.

The point of this exercise is not to suggest that all your meals should be consumed in this way. Instead, it may help you to realize your own eating habits. Do you eat too fast and barely taste the food in your mouth? Maybe you eat too quickly and end up feeling sick due to overeating? Some people find this technique helpful to do at the first bite of the meal in order to set the tone for the rest of the meal. Try and see how it feels for you!

What is Mindful Eating?

July 14, 2008

Our lives have become so busy not only with work, family and the usual responsibilities, but, also we are constantly distracted by phone calls, emails, text messages, tv etc. Most of us are multitasking in order to get everything done. While we realize that driving and talking on the phone can be dangerous, how many people realize that multitasking while eating can cause a tremendous amount of health problems??

Mindless eating or eating without awareness can contribute to overeating and poor food choices. This type of repetitive behavior may lead to many health problems including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

One way to stop this behavior is become more mindful during eating. Mindful eating involves:

  • eating with awareness;
  • eating based on physiological hunger and satiety cues rather than situation and emotional cues;
  • being present moment by moment, for each sensation that happens during eating, such as chewing, tasting and swallowing.

Stay tuned for another blog on how to practice mindful eating…..

Well, it’s actually exactly as it appears….pro (for) biotic (life) = for life.

According to the FAO/WHO, probiotics are “live microorganisims that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”. In essence, probiotics are “good” microbes that can enhance human health.

Why do we need them??

There are over literally trillions of bacteria in our digestive system…some “good”, “bad”, and “neutral”. When there is an imbalance of bacteria in our digestive system (due to stress, antibiotics, poor diet, aging, alcohol or tobacco use), our health may become impaired. Probiotics help to maintain our health by contributing good bacteria.

What are the health benefits of probiotics?

Probiotics have been found to improve symptoms of irritable bowel disease, improve tolerance to anti-biotic therapy, reduce inflammation, improve mineral absorption, manage lactose intolerance, enhance immune system, and more.

Keep in mind that not all probiotics have the same effect.

What is most important when choosing a probiotic?

Many food products claim that they have probiotics. However, because there is no legal definition and FDA-approved health claim for probiotics, food companies can claim to have probiotics even without substantial scientific evidence. Products that state “Live active cultures” do not necessarily mean they have any probiotic effect.

Its important when choosing a probiotic, to find out information about genre (e.g. Lactobacillus); species (e.g. Casei); and strain (e.g. Shirota). If it is not listed on the label, you can contact the manufacturer directly and ask. You should also find out what human studies have been conducted on the product or the specific strains in the product and what were the observed benefits in the studies.

Also keep in mind that oftentimes a certain level of the probiotic is needed to be effective. It is important to know that the level contained in the product is adequate to produce an effect and also to know that the product contains the same level of probiotic through the end of shelf life.

Iron-deficiency Anemia

July 2, 2008

A client I am seeing today has iron-deficiency anemia, so, I thought I would write my first post about that.
Iron-deficiency anemia is a common condition, which occurs when there is not enough iron in the body. Iron is necessary to carry oxygen in the blood so that it can be transported to the rest of the body and also to make new red blood cells.

The causes of it are usually due to bleeding, inadequate iron intake through diet, or problems absorbing iron from foods. Menstruating and pregnant women, young children and adults who have intestinal bleeding are among the highest at risk. Other adults such as those on dialysis, vegetarians, and older adults who have a poor diet are also at risk for iron-deficiency.
The major symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia include fatigue, pale skin, weakness, shortness of breath, headache, lightheadedness, and cold hands or feet.
If you have iron-deficiency anemia or would like to prevent it, it’s important to have adequate iron intake. The best way to ensure you are getting enough iron is to eat a well-balanced diet- one that includes grains, fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products.

There are two types of iron in foods- heme and non-heme. Heme-iron is found in meat, poultry, and fish and is more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is found primarily in plant foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables. Absorption of non-heme iron in enhanced when consumed with meats or with Vitamin C-containing foods (e.g. citrus foods). An example of an iron-enhancing meal would be: ½ cup orange juice; Iron-fortified cereal; 1 cup milk; 2 slices whole grain toast with margarine.
Foods with the highest sources of iron include- liver, clams, shrimp, oysters, beans, spinach, cashews, sunflower seeds, fortified cereals.
Foods with the highest sources of Vitamin-C include- orange juice and oranges; green peppers; grapefruit; strawberries; broccoli; cauliflower; and tomatoes.
For some people, a high-iron diet is not enough, so, an iron-supplement may be needed. It’s always good to check with your doctor.

Hello world!

July 1, 2008

I am excited to have finally started my very own nutriton blog! My intention here is to open your mind to the most current information on how to optimize your health and well-being through healthful nutrition practices. I hope you enjoy!