Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise for Elementary School Parents - Preparing for SOLs

Hi everyone! Here is a Powerpoint Presentation I prepared to talk to parents of elementary-aged kids who teachers have identified as high-risk due to poor performance in school. 

Often, lifestyle factors (insufficient sleep, poor nutrition/no breakfast, lack of exercise, excess screen time) contribute to their high-risk profile, so the purpose of the talk was to raise awareness & empower parents to make better choices. Hope it's useful!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Game's Over, Let's Eat!

Game's Over, Let's Eat!

Regardless of whether your team won or lost, you worked your body hard at today's game. So, now it's time to refuel your empty tank (aka stomach). But stop and think for a minute before you run over to get that burger and fries.

Would you rather drag your body around for the rest of the day feeling like your muscles are stuck in quicksand and your brain is still back at the soccer field, as you try to slog through that mountain of homework that's due tomorrow? Or would you rather get home feeling so energized that you finish your homework in record time and have plenty of time left over to hang out with your buddies?  Believe it or not, what you eat after the game will likely dictate what the rest of your day will look like.
Source: Jenny Rain Photography | Yellow Bubbly Fun! {and a Confession} - 3274 × 2260 - More sizes
Not only will your post-game snack affect the rest of your day today, it'll also make a big difference in how your body will perform at practice tomorrow! Why? Because once you finish a tough game or workout, the body uses whatever food you put into it to get your muscles ready for future exercise. It needs two things to do this--carbohydrates (found in fruits, grains, starchy vegetables, beans, etc.) to replenish glycogen stores in the muscles and liver (which is like filling up your body's fuel tank); and protein (found in nuts, seeds, dairy products, eggs, poultry, fish, lean meats, tofu and soy foods) to repair muscle damage. 

And it needs to have those carbs and protein fast--research shows that it's critical to eat at least a small snack within the first 45 minutes after a game or practice.  After that, your body can't replenish the lost glycogen as effectively, and the consequences are that your muscles won't be able to work as hard for as long, the next time you practice or play.      

But I don't get why I can't just eat french fries and a burger after a game, you say, since french fries come from a starchy vegetable and a burger has protein?  Well, the problem is they've got massive amounts of FAT, which acts like quicksand for the body and brain. With all that fat (and without much fiber to help speed things up), your body will take its own sweet time to digest that calorie-filled meal, which takes all the blood away from your brain, diverts it to your gut and saps your energy in the process. Meanwhile, your muscles and liver don't get the nutrients they need to make more fuel, or glycogen, for the next game or practice until it's too late.

So do yourself, your teammates and your coach a favor--forget the fries and go for a glass of milk (or chocolate milk), a grilled chicken sandwich and an apple, instead.  Or try some of these other ideas for post-game snacks or meals:

§  100% Whole grain crackers & cheese
§  Apples & peanut butter
§  Granola bar or protein bar
§  Trail mix (dried fruit, breakfast cereal and nuts)
§  Smoothie (with fruit & veggies and one or more: nut butter, milk, yogurt, protein powder, silken tofu)
§  Pasta with meat sauce (choose lean ground beef, turkey, chicken or soy protein)
§  PB&J
§  Low-fat cheese/veggie pizza slice with a side salad or soup
§  Lean meat sandwich or “wrap” style sandwich

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Breast for Success: Breastfed Children More Likely to Become Upwardly Mobile Adults

So says a new British study published online on June 24, 2013 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Researchers defined upward mobility as a social class higher than what the father's social class was when the child was 10 or 11. 

The new study just adds to the many benefits that families reap when they breastfeed their babies, such as:
  1. Helping mom get her body back by shrinking mom’s uterus.
  2. Increasing baby's I.Q.
  3. Convenience: Breast milk is always ready and requires no prep work.
  4. Building baby's immune system and preventing diseases lifelong (talk about the best gift you could ever give)!
  5. Setting your baby up to be emotionally strong and creating strong family bonds.
  6. Giving baby the best possible nutrition.
  7. Lowering cancer risks for mom and baby.
  8. Helping mom lose weight.
  9. Helping baby have a healthy weight throughout life.
  10. Lowering risk for many diseases--including asthma, allergies, digestive problems, ear infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), diarrhea, diabetes, high cholesterol, Crohn’s disease, meningitis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Hodgkin's Disease, osteoporosis, hernia, and many more.
  11. Easy and Free! 
  12. Reduces stress and improves sleep for the entire family.
  13. Great for the environment--no packaging to throw away, no GMOs, synthetic hormones, etc..
  14. Safe--NEVER contaminated with bacteria.
  15. Better lifelong dental health for baby
  16. Less mess--less spit-up, less messy diapers, cleaner smelling
In short, smart moms breastfeed. And the smartest moms take the best possible care of themselves and their babies before, during and after breastfeeding by eating well, getting enough exercise, drinking lots of water and taking the best quality vitamins and fish oil. 

Vitamins and ultra pure fish oil are absolutely critical for building baby's brain and protecting mom's physical and mental health, not to mention balancing her emotions and mood.  

When selecting vitamins, make sure the company you choose manufactures their products in a facility that has been FDA-registered for producing pharmaceuticals so you know you're getting the purest, best quality products. Usana Health Sciences has the best rated products on the market, so it's the one I recommend (and give to my own family).

For more information on the new British study, read the full story on the National Institutes of Health HealthDay website. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Nutrition for young athletes: Smart eating for top performance 

We’ve all heard people say, “you are what you eat,” right? Well, when it comes to soccer (and any other sport), it’s also true that how you eat affects how you play. It makes sense when you think about it—give your body the best fuel (good food) and it’ll give you its best performance--on the soccer field, at school and everywhere else. 

Power Foods

Young athletes need power foods with lots of nutrients and minimal amounts of fat and added sugar. High-energy carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy foods are especially important. Young athletes need extra energy for their sport’s practices and games, beyond the normal amount needed for growth and brainpower at school. Here’s how to get the carbs your body craves:

•              Eat a Champion’s Breakfast. Eat whole-grain cereals or muffins made with whole grains and fruit, like bananas, blueberries and raisins. Create an instant yogurt parfait with layers of low-fat vanilla yogurt; fresh, frozen or canned fruit; and crunchy granola or whole-grain cereal.
•              Pack Breakfast to Go. When early morning games make sit-down breakfasts difficult, pack a bag with bananas, apples, string cheese, yogurt cups, homemade trail mix with some granola or whole grain cereal included in the mix, and a box of 100% veggie/fruit juice, a smoothie or low-fat milk, for eating on the run.
•              Pack a Super-Snack Bag. Traveling athletes need smart fuel. Fill an insulated bag with high-energy snacks. Use frozen juice boxes, water bottles or reusable gel packs to keep items cold. Prepare for pre- and post-game snack attacks with crackers and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix, containers of cut-up fruit and sliced vegetables with dip. Take it easy on the cheese, peanut butter, nuts and dips until after the game, though--too much fat will slow you down.

Landon Donovan, right, played for his high schools team before going on to lead the U.S. national team in the World Cup. Gar-Field High student Dario Redondo, left, played for D.C. United Academy during his senior year instead of the Indians. (/D.C. United photo/1999 photo by Gabriel Luis Acosta/San Bernadino Sun)

Why eat carbohydrates?

Soccer players need plenty of good carbohydrates for energy during practice and games. If you don’t eat enough, you’ll get tired easily and you’ll slow down and feel exhausted before the game’s half over!

A little more than half of your calories should come from carbohydrates. The trick is to choose your carbs wisely. There are two main types of carbs: refined carbs (think: foods made with lots of sugar or highly processed grains, like white bread) and complex carbs (the “good” kind).

Simple sugars in foods like fruit juice, jams and jellies, sodas and candy have lots of calories, but no vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients. Eating a little of these is ok, but eating lot will give you a quick burst of energy that’ll last maybe 15 minutes or so. After that, your energy levels will drop, you won’t be able to think straight, and you’ll be worn out before you know it. In other words, they set you up to crash and burn.   

Complex carbohydrates are the kind that’ll keep you going strong for the entire game. You can find them in foods like pasta, whole grain breads and cereals (not sugary cereals like Frosted Flakes!), beans, peas, corn, sweet potatoes, potatoes and fruits. They give you long-lasting energy, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

When it comes to bread, pasta and other foods made from flour, you’ll get a lot more nutrition and power from the kinds made with whole grains (i.e. 100% whole wheat flour, whole oats, stone-ground corn, popcorn, etc.), so make sure you read the ingredients on the labels carefully (not just the front of the label) and don’t be fooled by marketing—“All Natural” does NOT mean it’s healthy, and “made with whole grain” is NOT the same as “100% whole grain." The latter is truly good for you, while the former may have just a pinch of whole grain flour and a ton of the refined stuff (which is sometimes cleverly called "wheat flour" or "unbleached wheat flour" on the label--just remember that if it doesn't say ""100% whole," it't not whole grain!). 


Protein is important for muscle growth and to repair body tissues. It won’t give you more muscle—only exercise can do that—but it will give your body the tools it needs to build strong muscles during and after exercise.

But soccer players and other athletes don’t need a ton of extra protein, either. Most people already eat almost twice as much protein as they need, so the needs for muscle development are already met. You can easily cover your daily protein needs by eating 3-5 servings of any of the following: meat, poultry, fish or tofu (3 oz), eggs (1), dairy foods (1 cup), nuts or peanuts (1 oz), or a grain-bean combo such as beans and rice (1 cup).   

Steer clear of eating too many protein bars or powders and choose your bars, powders and shakes carefully. Some of the bars are just candy bars in disguise, while some actually give you too much protein! Too much protein can actually hurt your performance on the field because it can dehydrate you (which will slow you down and hurt your ability to think and make good decisions), and it makes your body excrete (get rid of) calcium. And in addition to building strong bones, calcium is important for moving your muscles, so it’s not something you want to lose! If you're going to eat them, look for bars or shakes that give you no more than 20 g of protein per serving (I like Usana Health Sciences gluten-free protein snacks and Nutrimeal shakes--especially their Nutrimeal Free, which tastes great, and is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free and fructose-free) --and make sure to drink lots of water along with your bar or shake. 

Water and fluids

Water is the most important, and overlooked, nutrient for athletes. Water and fluids are essential to body hydrated and at the right temperature. Your body can lose several liters of sweat in a 1-hour period.

Clear urine is a good sign that you have fully rehydrated. Some suggestions for keeping hydrated are:

•              Drink plenty of fluids with every meal, whether or not you will be exercising. It’ll help your body get the most nutrients from your food.
•              Drink about 16 ounces (2 cups) of water 2 hours before a game or practice.  Having enough water will help your muscles perform better; it’ll also help you think clearly enough to make split-second decisions on the field.
•              Sip water during and after the game/practice -- about 1/2 to 1 cup every 15 to 20 minutes. Water is best for the first hour.  After an hour of hard playing, water mixed with 100% fruit juice or sports drinks are ok, but not energy drinks—they’re loaded with caffeine. Drink even if you don’t feel thirsty. Kids don’t respond to thirst as well as adults.
•              After the game, drink your milk. New research shows low-fat chocolate milk, may be one of the most effective beverages for muscle recovery after intense activity.

What about fruits and veggies?

Eat as many—and as many different colors--as you can (green broccoli, oranges, blueberries, red tomatoes, and more)! They give you the vitamins and minerals your body needs to convert the energy in food to fuel for your muscles; and they’ll keep you from getting sick and missing a game. Plus, they’ve got tons of phytonutrients, plant chemicals that help heal sore muscles and will even help keep your skin and hair looking great!

Your body needs plenty of fruits and veggies—at least 5-9 servings every day, to be exact. If you can’t eat that many, you may want to consider taking a good quality multi-vitamin to get all the nutrition you need.   "Nearly two-thirds of children fail to get the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin E and zinc.  Half do not meet the RDA for calcium, and close to one-third fall short of the RDA of vitamin B6," says pediatrician and author Dr. Christine Wood. In her practice, Dr. Wood recommends vitamins from Usana Health Sciences (and so do I) because they’re made to pharmaceutical quality and they’ve earned top ratings year after year.  [You can learn more about Usana at]

Practice and game days: When and what to eat

You need to eat good-quality carbs on practice and game days, and any time when you’ll be exercising for more than 1 hour. You might have a light carb snack such as a piece of fruit (bananas or oranges are great!), a cup of low-fat yogurt, a low-fat granola bar, or a whole grain English muffin with a little jelly an hour or two beforehand.

During practice or a game, you really only need carbohydrates if you’re on the field and working hard most of the time (more than an hour) or on really hot days. Here are a few snack ideas that will give you the energy you need without weighing you down:

·         Two to three handfuls of pretzels
·         One-half to two-thirds cup of low-fat granola
·         A banana, apple or orange

After exercise, eat a small snack with carbohydrates and a little protein (i.e. low-fat chocolate milk, a granola bar, a banana with peanut butter, a yogurt and an apple, small bowl of cereal and milk, etc.) within 30-45 minutes after your game or practice. This fuels your muscles and helps you perform better next time you play, kind of like filling your own, personal gas tank.

Think of eating healthy as your “secret weapon” against your opponents—something that’ll give you the edge you need to take your game to the next level. The one thing you need to know to make this weapon work for you is that you’ve got to use it almost every day. It won’t work if you eat healthy one day, then go out and have a triple cheeseburger, fries and a shake every other day of the week.  Now, I’m not saying you can’t ever have another milkshake. Having a treat once in a while (say once a week) is ok. Just make sure to get back on track after that, and you’re sure to start noticing a difference in your game before long. 

Kathy Sanchez, MS
Adjunct Professor of Nutrition, George Mason University
Nutrition and Health Communication Consultant

Friday, March 2, 2012

Smarter, faster, better with…rosemary?

We’re only just starting to grasp the many complex ways our diet affects our health. We know that we can guard against disease and even improve our mood by eating healthy. But who would have thought that certain foods—and herbs—can actually help us think better and faster, and to remember what we’ve learned longer!  

And here’s the kicker. The latest research shows that we may not even have to eat them! Believe it or not, just the scent of some herbs, such as peppermint and rosemary, can improve our cognitive performance (translation: how quickly and well we can solve problems).  

Nutrition for the mind

Researchers at Northumbria University in the UK recently reported that people who were exposed to rosemary essential oil showed improvements in working memory and scored better on a math test, compared to people who were not exposed, and that there were "medium to large effects."[i]

Nutrition for the body

This doesn’t mean we should sniff rosemary instead of eating it, though. Earlier research has shown that actually eating the herb may help protect against diseases that affect the brain and nervous system, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.[ii] It’s also a known anti-inflammatory and has been shown to protect against cancer.[iii]

So, go ahead and sprinkle some rosemary on your chicken, turkey or fish before you bake it. Or add some rosemary to your bread or stuffing for a great-tasting healthy boost. 

Nutrition for the spirit

Interestingly, all this new research just confirms what the ancients already knew. At least as far back as the Middle Ages, brides wore rosemary at their weddings to symbolize remembrance of the life they had led before their marriage; and Greek scholars wore rosemary in their hair when studying for exams.[iv] Rosemary was also used at funerals, again for remembrance.

Since the ancients believed it contained powerful, purifying energies, it has been used for centuries in religious and spiritual rituals for protection against negativity. In the Middle Ages, it was even reputed to ward off witches and evildoers. [v]  

[i] Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology published online 24 February 2012
Photo Source=[ Flowering Rosemary] |Date=April 22, 2006 at 18:39 |Author=[ THOR] |Permission= |other_vers)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Self check-in before you eat a treat

Have you been eyeing the delicious-looking [you fill in the blank] that your colleague brought into the office to celebrate Friday? Here's a suggestion to keep both your mind and taste buds happy.

STOP resisting the temptation and give yourself permission to try a small piece or serving (however, it's key to make sure you stick to having just one serving). Forcing yourself to resist temptation for a long period of time will only wear you down and make you feel deprived, which increases the likelihood of a big splurge later on.

But you'll feel guilty if you give in and have some, you say? Look at it this way. If you allow yourself to try the treat, you get the pleasure of satisfying a craving now and are less likely to overdo it later on because you deprived yourself throughout the day. Which would make you feel more guilty at the end of the day, having a little piece of a special treat now, or owning up to splurging later on because you "deserved it" for being so good all day long?

However, BEFORE you take that first delectable bite, here are some suggestions to help you to enjoy the experience to the max.

  • Tell your inner judge to take a vacation. You've consciously decided to enjoy this treat, so by all means do it without guilt trips! 
  • Use all your senses to savor your treat. Appreciate its physical beauty, its delightful scent, how it feels in your mouth, and of course, how it tastes. Chew slowly and allow the treat to remain in your mouth as long as you can so you can appreciate it as fully as possible. 
  • After you swallow the first bite, ask yourself--did one bite satisfy your craving, or do you really want to eat another bite? 
  • If you do want to eat more now, that's fine--keep eating until you're no longer savoring each and every bite or until you finish your small serving, whichever comes first. 
  • If instead you realize that just having one bite really took the edge off your craving, then stop and put down your plate and fork right away.
  • Remind yourself that you can always save the rest for later--especially if you like it, but you're not really hungry right now. 
  • If the treat didn't really taste as good as you thought it would, do a self-check before you eat any more of it. Ask yourself if the pleasure you'd feel from eating more of this treat is really worth the calories it would "cost," or if you'd rather "spend" those calories elsewhere today. 
  • Remind yourself that if this treat doesn't taste out-of-this-world delicious, maybe you'd be better off saving your "calorie budget" for something that's more worthy of the "expense" later on.  
  • Whether you eat the whole thing or stop after one bite, always remember that everyone deserves to enjoy simple pleasures every once in a while--especially you!  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Single-tasking at the table

So, here’s where we left off yesterday. Our new year’s resolution: This year, I will eat the foods I love, enjoy every bite and stay the same weight. In fact, I may even lose a few pounds.

Seem counterintuitive or even impossible?  Maybe on the surface; but it’s actually very doable IF you’re willing to be mindful while you eat and become conscious of what your body and emotions are saying to you.

While this may sound super easy, it’s actually anything but. Why? Because very few of us take the time to sit down and eat our meals without distractions. Instead, most of us multitask while we eat.

Maybe we swallow a sandwich while answering our email, inhale a bag of chips while watching the big game, or drink our latte while rushing to our next appointment. Next thing we know, we reach into the bag and find that all the chips are gone—did we really eat that many?!?

If we want to follow our resolution, the first thing we need to do is to single-task when we eat. This means whenever we eat and drink, we do nothing else. We put our meal on a plate, sit down, and just eat and drink.  This can be done alone or with others (yes, conversation is allowed!), but the key is to really focus on our food and the dining experience with all our senses.

Weird as it sounds, some people (including me!) may find this hard to do at first. We’ve gotten so used to multi-tasking in every other area of our lives that just sitting and eating may actually seem strange or even boring. Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you find it hard to just eat:

  • ·        How does my food look on the plate? Are many colors and textures are present?
  • ·         Do I like how my food smells? How would I describe it, if I had to tell someone else what it smells like?
  • ·         Is my food hot, cold, or lukewarm? Is this the optimal temperature at which to eat this food? Is it creamy and smooth, spongy and moist, dry and crisp?  
  • ·         What does the food sound like when I bite into it? Is it fresh, or a little limp or stale?
  • ·         What does it taste like? Salty, sweet, juicy, savory, spicy, bland, or a combination of these? If I were a food critic and had to write a review, what would I say?  
  • ·         Does it taste good enough for me to take another bite? Or have I had enough to satisfy myself for now?

It may take a while to get used to this, but it gets easier with practice. You may even want to set up a few reminder-to-self messages up on your smart phone until you get into the habit. But if you consistently start focusing on just eating whenever you eat, you’re well on your way to keeping this resolution. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A different kind of resolution

This year, I will eat the foods I love, enjoy every bite and stay the same weight. In fact, I may even lose a few pounds.

Sound way too good to be true? With all the hype out there about how hard it is to lose weight and keep it off, I wouldn’t blame you for being skeptical. After all, just about every health and nutrition website, blog and advice column out there talks about eating low-fat foods, cutting carbs and counting calories. And lots of people want to convince us that to lose weight and be healthy, we just need to ban foods x, y and z, and instead, just eat superfoods a, b and c; or buy their newly discovered magical elixir that sheds pounds while we sleep. Yeah, right!

The truth is, almost everyone is capable of enjoying all the foods they love while not only maintaining their weight, but even losing a few pounds, and feeling healthier, too.


Not by stuffing our faces until we’re too full to move—sorry to disappoint you—but by REALLY PAYING ATTENTION to our bodies, our moods, and our foods. Over the next few months, this blog will focus on providing tools and tips to help you do just that.

Why read it?

Because if you’re like me, you don’t want to feel deprived of foods you love, or guilty when you indulge. You want to be able to enjoy your favorite foods—even chocolate and full-fat cheese—without feeling guilty or gaining weight. And you want your food to be healthy, but taste delicious. The blog will give you plenty of ideas on how to do both.

One caveat

You knew it was coming, right? But don’t worry, it’s nothing awful or impossible. Just this—can you commit to keeping an open mind and becoming more aware of how you feel, physically and emotionally, this year?  If so, you’re well on your way to actually keeping your resolution this year! 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

How to Eat to End Constipation

Constipation can be a literal pain in the butt, but how many people are brave enough to ask their doctors (or anyone else) what to do about it? It may seem too gross to think about, but the fact is, what goes in most definitely affects what comes out. The good news is, in most cases, the key to putting a stop to constipation is figuring out what to put on your dinner table.*

# 1. The best way to get things moving again is to focus on two simple things: drinking plenty of water or other clear fluids (at least 8 cups, or about as much as in a two liter soda bottle, per day) and eating foods that give you enough fiber (25 grams for women and 38 grams for men) each day.
# 2. Considering that most Americans get less than half the water and fiber they need each day, this may seem too hard to do. But check out the tips for a few easy ways to do both.  

5 strategies for drinking 8 cups of water per day:
 - Sip away the day. Keep refillable, chilled water bottles on hand at your desk or workplace and take little sips all day long.
 - Keep it handy. Always carry a filled water bottle with you, wherever you go. Even if it's just to the grocery store.
 - Eat your water. Eat low-salt, broth soups and plenty of fresh or frozen fruits and veggies for lunch or dinner. (bonus: soups, fruits and veggies fill you up fast and are low-calorie, too, so you'll be more likely to eat less and keep your waistline in check, too.)
 - Ramp up the flavor. Add lemon or lime slices (or other fruits) to your water to keep things interesting and flavorful. Or if you get bored with drinking water, try making a spritzer using 1 oz (about one finger's width) of juice and 7 oz of seltzer water.
 - Water at the table. Always set the table with glasses of water, and ask for water at restaurants.

5 ways to eat more fiber
 - Eat plenty of fruits and veggies--plenty means at least half your plate! Have fresh fruit for breakfast, or add veggies to your eggs. Have a salad as a side and tuck veggies into your sandwich or wrap. Eat soups with plenty of veggies for dinner. Take a bag of raw veggies or fruit with you in the morning so they're handy when you get hungry mid-morning and mid-afternoon. (Bonus: be prepared for the compliments you'll start getting on how great your skin looks after you've started eating tons of fruits and veggies--you'll be amazed at the difference!)
- Bite into some beans. Add rinsed, canned beans to salads, soups, omelets, stews, casseroles, pasta, meatloaf and hamburgers, and even brownies (seriously! but mash them first), for a big fiber boost. (Bonus: beans are low-calorie, filling and ultra nutritious, too).
 - Grab some whole grains. Read ingredient labels and look for whole grain flours as the first ingredient in breads and baked goods. (Note: Multi-grain, Wheat flour, Unbleached wheat flour and Enriched wheat flour are NOT whole grain. Look for 100% WHOLE wheat or other whole grain flour. Key word: WHOLE!). Choose brown rice over white, stone-ground tortilla chips over potato chips and whole grain pasta over white pasta. If you're going to eat potatoes, wash them carefully, but don't peel the skins. (Bonus: Popcorn is a whole grain and it has tons of fiber and not too many calories if you don't slather it in butter!)
    - Drink your fiber. Make a smoothie with berries (fiber powerhouses!), apples (their fiber clears out cholesterol and improves heart health, too), avocados for creaminess, fiber and healthy fat, and even carrots or other veggies, along with your favorite ingredients.
 - Powerful powders. If you still can't get enough fiber, try adding good quality fiber powders like USANA Health Science's Fibergy Plus, to any dish--even to cold cereal. (Go to, click on shop online and search for Fibergy).

* When adding more fiber to your diet, do it gradually. Making sudden, drastic changes may give rise to other digestive problems such as bloating or gas. Try adding one extra serving of a high-fiber food every day for a week, then increase to 2 servings the next week.
*  If the extra fiber gives you gas, try using a good digestive enzyme, such as USANA's Digestive Enzyme to reduce the discomfort and better absorb the nutrients in your food. (Go to, click on shop online and search for Digestive Enzyme)
*  Only add more fiber if you're also drinking at least 6-8 cups of water per day, to reduce the chances of bloating, gas and constipation.
*  Expect to see changes in your elimination patterns in the beginning, such as increased frequency of going to the bathroom and looser stools (that's the point, after all!). These kinds of changes are completely normal.
*  If you still experience constipation after following the recommendations above, consult your doctor to rule out diseases or other medical conditions.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Eleven Weight Loss Tips for 2011

Want some help keeping your resolution to lose weight, get healthy and feel better than ever in this new year? The truth is, losing weight is much easier than everyone would have you believe. Here are a few simple tips to make this year's resolution into a keeper:

1. Start the year with a easy five-day program called Reset that totally gets rid of cravings for high fat, sugar and salt foods.  Doing this will set the stage for your success.

2. Decide on a specific goal (number of pounds you'll lose, your desired weight or even your new, skinny pants size) and write it down in a visible place--or even draw a picture of what you'll look like when you achieve your goal! 

3. Set and write down realistic exercise goals for yourself.  For sustained weight loss, you'll need to exercise at least 30 minutes per day, six days per week. At least 2 days should focus on strength training--start with elastic bands for resistance moves or light weights. The rest should be cardiovascular exercises, such as moderate to fast walking, dancing, and so on. Why bother with weight training? The bigger your muscles are, the more calories your body will burn 24/7.

4. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Lots of research has come out in the past few years showing how hormones released during sleep are essential for slimming down AND keeping the weight off.

5. Clean out your cupboards and throw out all the foods that may threaten your success (salty snacks, sweets, and so on). If it's not in the house, you won't eat it! (If you don't have the willpower to do it yourself, ask your spouse or a friend to do it with, or even for, you.)

6. Buy a set of small plates, bowls and glasses and sell your large ones. Research shows that even healthcare professionals (who are supposed to be ultra-knowledgeable about health) serve themselves less food when eating on smaller plates vs. larger ones.

7. Keep food well sealed in cupboards, the fridge, or the freezer. Having food out and in plain view in the office or at home invites frequent snacking--just what you don't want. The less you see it, the less you'll eat.

8. Have a healthy snack with some fiber and maybe a little protein (think: an apple or pear with a slice of cheese, or whole grain crackers with a dab of nut butter) and a glass of water 30 minutes before going out to eat or to a social event.  

9. Find a partner or family member to help you stay on track. If possible, choose someone who has a similar goal. Set regular "dates" with this buddy to exercise together, share recipes, and give and get moral support. If you don't know anyone who's trying to lose weight, still try to find someone who'll commit to helping you stay on target and set a regular time to check in with that person and do something fun together, like going dancing, or even taking a walk in the park.

10. Make eating an event in itself. Rather than multitasking, set the table, turn off the TV, sit down and really taste and enjoy your food at each and every meal. Eat foods that you really enjoy (even ones that aren't low calorie)--carefully chew them thoroughly and notice how they taste. If you notice that you're eating something you don't really like, stop eating it and choose something else. Pay close attention to your body and notice when you're full. Drink a cup of water or a hot liquid such as unsweetened tea or coffee after a meal, or brush your teeth to tell your body that the meal has ended.   

11. Reward yourself--if you have a big goal, break it down into smaller increments and give yourself rewards (i.e. a night at the movies, a new book, a night out with friends, etc.) each time you reach a partial goal. When you are close to reaching your whole goal, celebrate in style! Throw a party, give yourself a day at the spa, or a long weekend at the beach in your new skinny swimsuit--you've earned it!  

If you're really ready to get started and you'd like more tips, I'm more than happy to help. Email me at and I'll do everything I can to help you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fruits' and Veggies' Secret Weapons

Fruits and vegetables have long been held up as the vitamin, mineral and fiber powerhouses of any diet. Health professionals have long told us that if we want to control our weight and enjoy good health, we need to eat more fruits and veggies, since they’re so high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Yet when scientists study the effects of vitamins, minerals and fiber on preventing disease and improving health, they come up empty half the time. So, what gives?

It turns out that fruits and veggies have a whole stockpile of secret weapons that we (scientists included) have long overlooked. Collectively, they’re called “phytonutrients” or “phytochemicals,” because “phyto-” (pronounced Fi-toh) is Greek for “from plants.” Phytonutrients are natural chemicals that plants make to protect themselves from threats such as damaging UV rays from the sun (we’re not the only ones who can get sunburned!), insects and pests, and pollution in the environment. They also give fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds and spices, their color, flavor and aroma.

Why have they been ignored for so long? There are probably several reasons. First, unlike vitamins and minerals, they aren’t essential in the sense that people don’t need to eat phytonutrients to stay alive. Also, there are literally thousands of them; most fruits and veggies have well over 100 phytonutrients; many have several times that number, and most have some pretty long names. (1) (Hint: if you’ve seen strange words like “lycopene” on tomato sauce jars or ketchup bottles, or “resveratrol” on jars of peanuts or dark chocolate bars, welcome to hard-to-pronounce world of phytonutrients!) Finally, scientists have only recently begun to discover their power to prevent disease as well as protect and improve our health.

Given the huge health benefits that we can reap from our new-found phytonutrients friends, it’s shocking to find out that a full 94% of all Americans over the age of 18 are not getting even close to enough of them, according to the recently published study. In the 18-44 year-old age group, the number is even higher—97% don’t get enough. (2) That’s probably because the typical US diet is so low in fruits and veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds and spices. In order to get enough phytonutrients, men need to eat 5 cups of fruits and veggies per day, and women need to eat 4 to 4 ½ cups per day.

Although the best way to get your phytonutrients is through whole foods (i.e. eating fruits and veggies!), many people choose to take supplements to make sure they are getting what they need to stay well, as a kind of insurance policy. If you choose to go with supplements, make sure that you do your research before you buy. At a minimum, you want to choose a product that has both NSF (NSF International) and (USP (US Pharmacopia) seals, to ensure that the supplements actually contain what the labels claims, and that the ingredients are pure and easily absorbed in the body.

To be extra safe, you’d be wise to choose a supplement that is produced to pharmaceutical quality and is listed in the Physicians’ Desk Reference. Unfortunately, there are very few supplements that meet such tough criteria. However, if you’d like to check out one that does, take a look at the supplements and other health and skincare products made by USANA Health Sciences, Inc. My family and I have been taking them for seven years, and have never been healthier or felt more energetic and alive.

Nutrition for the Body: According to the Agricultural Research Service at the US Department of Agriculture, phytonutrients can do everything from killing cancer cells after they have started to grow, to turning certain of our genes on and off (i.e. turning on a gene that protects against diabetes, for example, or turning off one that would otherwise predispose us to heart disease). They can also fix some of the damage to our genes caused by things such as pollution (i.e. the fumes we accidentally breathe from our cars, household cleaners, or second-hand smoke), eating fatty foods, stress, sun exposure or intense workouts. Some of them can even keep us from getting sick when we’re exposed to germs; and others, such as catechins found in green tea, can reduce body fat, particularly around our middles. (3)

Nutrition for the Mind: Certain phytonutrients have been found to improve brain function and protect against diseases of the mind. For example, compounds called anthocyanidins in purple and blue fruits and veggies such as grapes and blueberries have been found to improve memory. (4) Several compounds in tea (black, green, white and oolong) have been shown to help us maintain our attention and mental focus, remain alert all day long, and protect against Alzheimer’s disease. (3,4)

Nutrition for the Spirit: Phytonutrients are precious gifts that Mother Earth (or God) gives us to preserve our bodies. When we take them into our bodies, we gratefully accept Her/His gifts, using them to protect and strengthen our physical form. Since our bodies are the physical “houses” for our souls, they are as sacred as any church, synagogue or temple. And as spiritual and/or religious beings, we have a duty to protect and care for our bodies as lovingly and responsibly as we care for our houses of worship and our own families. Making sure we get enough phytonutrients, whether through supplements or food, is a great way to honor God (or Mother Earth) and show that we understand and commit to doing our part as our own personal caretakers.
1. Davidson, Michael W. The Phytochemical Collection, Florida State University,

2. America’s Phytonutrient Report: Quantifying the Gap, Nutrilite Institute for Health. 2010.

3. Kovacs, Eva MR. The Growing Evidence for Supporting the Goodness of Tea. Newsletter of the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine, American Dietetics Association, 2010; 12(4): 69-71.

4. Lau FC, Shukitt-Hale B. Joseph JA. Nutritional intervention in brain aging: reducing the effects of inflammation and oxidative stress. Subcell Biochemistry 2007; 42:299-318.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Milking your weight training work-out

You work hard to keep your muscles toned and your body in shape. Two times per week, you grunt and strain to lift heavy weights and drip with sweat from the intense exertion. Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated, yet you do it anyway because weight training brings so many benefits.
But did you know that the actual workout is only half the strength-training story? What you do after your workout is just as important as the workout itself, because that’s the time when your muscles repair themselves and rebuild even stronger than before. You can optimize this repair process to maximize the benefits by doing one simple thing: drink milk.

Drinking 16 ounces of skim milk (chocolate or regular) within two hours of a strength-training workout has been shown in studies to strengthen and restore muscles better than sports drinks and other foods. (1, 2, 3, 4) Not only does milk help build stronger muscles, it also prepares muscles to work out again, sooner. And get this, scientists at Canada’s McMaster University found that women who drink milk after a workout burn more fat all day long than those who don’t. (5) So drink up, ladies and gents!

Nutrition for the body: Obviously, weight training builds strong muscles and strengthens bones---important for helping you do everyday activities like lifting the kids up in the air, digging in the garden, and carrying the groceries into the house. Plus, it has been shown to reduce pain in people suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, lower back pain, and other chronic sources of pain. Drinking milk after a workout ramps up the benefits by helping muscles rebuild even stronger and shortening recovery time, all while reducing body fat.

Nutrition for the mind: A couple of less obvious benefits of weight lifting are its ability to help you lose weight. Studies have found that weight training offers mental benefits in the form of better and faster decision-making skills, improved sleep quality and self esteem, and significantly reductions in depression and anxiety. (6, 7) Since drinking milk helps the body become stronger more quickly, all of a sudden, working out next time doesn’t seem so hard after all! Especially when you look in the mirror and see how your body is changing for the better!

Nutrition for the spirit: Where does the milk you drink come from? Even most preschoolers know the answer to that question—a cow, of course. But when you think about it, cows, like humans, make milk for their young and making milk is one of the many ways a mother (human or cow) shows her love for her child. When we drink the milk of a cow, we are taking that act of love into our bodies. That may be why in Hinduism, the cow is a symbol of food, life and the earth. Vedic scripture dictates that cows should be treated “with the same respect as one’s mother.” Remember this as you drink your milk; say a quick prayer or word of thanks to the cow; and that milk will do much more than nourish your body and mind. It will also nourish your soul.

1. Lunn WR, Colletto MR, Karfonta KE, Anderson JM, Pasiakos SM, Ferrando AA, Wolfe RR, Rodriguez NR. Chocolate milk consumption following endurance exercise affects skeletal muscle protein fractional synthetic rate and intracellular signaling. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 2010;42:S48.

2. Karfonta KE, Lunn WR, Colletto MR, Anderson JM, Rodriguez NR. Chocolate milk enhances glycogen replenishment after endurance exercise in moderately trained males. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 2010;42:S64.

3. Colletto MR, Lunn W, Karfonta K, Anderson J, Rogriguez N. Effects of chocolate milk consumption on leucine kinetics during recovery from endurance exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 2010;42:S126.

4. Ferguson-Stegall L, McCleave E, Doerner PG, Ding Z, Dessard B, Kammer L, Wang B, Liu Y, Ivy J. Effects of chocolate milk supplementation on recovery from cycling exercise and subsequent time trial performance. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 2010;42:S536.

5. News release, McMaster University., Josse, A. American College of Sports Medicine, pp 1122-1128.

6 Teresa Liu-Ambrose; Lindsay S. Nagamatsu; Peter Graf; B. Lynn Beattie; Maureen C. Ashe; Todd C. Handy. Resistance Training and Executive Functions: A 12-Month Randomized Controlled Trial, Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(2):170-178.

7 Doyne, Elizabeth J.; Ossip-Klein, Deborah J.; Bowman, Eric D.; Osborn, Kent M.; McDougall-Wilson, Ilona B.; Neimeyer, Robert A. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 55(5), Oct 1987, 748-754. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.55.5.748

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Purple power punch

Summer means hot days and thirsty kids (and adults!). But before you grab for that bottle of Kool-Aid, Hi C or soda, consider this. Do you really want to deal with spastic, hyper kids all day? Probably not! Yet research shows that the artificial colors and mega-doses of sugar your kids take in when they down one of those drinks tends to make even normal kids behave as if they had attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). (1, 2, 3, 4)
But your kids don’t like water and you’re kind of bored with it yourself, you say? No worries! Give this punch a try—it’s easy to make, easy on the wallet, extraordinarily healthy, totally refreshing and great-tasting, to boot. You can make a huge batch and have enough for a whole week or more. Or serve it at your summer BBQ—not only will you save tons of money on drinks, you’ll help the environment, too (no bottles to transport or recycle). Just be prepared to share the recipe (below) with your guests--believe me, they’ll ask you for it!

Nutrition for the body: Excellent as it tastes, you may be surprised to find out that purple power punch is extraordinarily healthy, too. Purple corn is full of powerful antioxidants called proanthocyanidins and phenolic acids. Research has shown that proanthocyanins can prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease, protect against (and even cure if consumed in large amounts over several days) urinary tract infections and sinus infections, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, protect against colon, breast, liver and other cancers, reduced blood clots, and even fight obesity and aging (drink up, grown-ups!). (5, 6) Cinnamon and cloves also have huge disease-fighting benefits—cloves will even protect your teeth from decay.

Nutrition for the mind: The proanthocyanidins in purple corn have been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. Since they are natural anti-inflammatories, they help the brain’s blood vessels stay healthy and reduce the likelihood of stroke. They’re also reported to improve mental acuity and help fight senility. In other words, they can help make you smarter and keep you that way as you get older.

Nutrition for the spirit: Purple corn is native to indigenous cultures in South and North America. There is a Hopi prophecy that says "when purple corn reaches the west there will be great change in the world." The Incas in Peru used chicha morada (aka purple power punch) to toast Pachamama (Mother Earth) in ceremonies and drank it to celebrate spiritual connection with the Divine. It is still used today for that purpose by Paqos and Pampa Mesayoqs (people who follow the Inka spiritual traditions). There are also some people who claim that purple corn can help us open our third eye (sixth) chakra, since its color is purple. The third eye chakra is responsible for increased intuition, and opening up to spiritual truths.

Purple Power Punch Recipe


15 oz bag of dried purple corn on the cob (find it in the ethnic section of your local supermarket)
1 whole pineapple (buy organic if possible)
40 or so whole cloves
2-4 sticks of cinnamon (Note: use the sticks, not ground cinnamon)
8-10 lemons
Sugar to taste (brown sugar or honey may be used, as well)
Large pot of water


1) Fill the largest pot you own with water, 3 or 4 corn cobs (keep the corn on the cob), cinnamon sticks and cloves, and put it on the stove to boil.
2) Wash the skin of the pineapple with soap and water (especially if your pineapple is not organic, to remove pesticides). Cut the peel off the pineapple and add it (the peel) to the pot. (We only use the peel for this recipe, so you can cut up the pineapple and store it in the fridge).
3) Once the water in the pot boils, turn the heat down enough to maintain a gentle boil/simmer, and continue to cook for an hour.
4) Carefully remove the corn cobs from the pot and slide lengthwise down the center of cob (caution—they will be very hot). Return the cut cobs or corn to the pot to boil/simmer for an addition hour or so.
5) When the liquid has become dark purple, turn off the heat and allow the punch to cool to room temperature.
6) Once the punch reaches room temperature, use a colander to remove the cloves, cinnamon, corn and pineapple peels. These you can discard (preferably into your compost pile).
7) Add sugar to taste and stir the punch gently until it dissolves.
8) Put the punch in the fridge to chill. When serving, transfer some of the punch into a pitcher. Squeeze the juice out of 2-3 lemons and add to the pitcher of chilled punch (you may need to add a little more sugar to compensate).
9) If you want to be fancy, finely chop a few apples and add them to the punch. That’s how they drink it in Peru (there, it is called chicha morada).
10) Tell the kids (and adults) to come get their purple power punch and watch them gulp it down and ask for more!

1. “Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial", Lancet, Sept 2007

2. 1997 Graduate Student Research Project conducted at the University of South Florida. Author: Richard W. Pressinger M.Ed.

3. "Food Additives May Affect Kids' Hyperactivity", WebMD Medical News, May 24, 2004.

4. "The Impact of a Low Food Additive and Sucrose Diet on Academic Performance in 803 New York City Public Schools," Schoenthaler SJ, Doraz WE, Wakefield JA, Int J Biosocial Res., 1986, 8(2); 185–195

5. “Dietary cyanidin 3-O-beta-D-glucoside-rich purple corn color prevents obesity and ameliorates hyperglycemia in mice.” J Nutr. 2003 Jul;133(7):2125-30. Research Center for Biomarkers of Preventive Medicine, Doshisha University, Imadegawa-dori, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto Japan.

6. “Purple corn anthocyanins: chemical structure, chemoprotective activity and structure/function relationships,” Pu Jing, MS, Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University, 2006.,%20Pu.pdf?acc_num=osu1155738398

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quinoa: Grain for the Body, Mind and Spirit

The Incas of Peru revered quinoa (a small seed-like grain) as nothing less than sacred, and for good reason! Not only is it delicious and filling, it also is has complete protein--something very few grains can claim--that's as high quality as animal protein. With quinoa, you get your carbs and your protein in a single place, plus plenty of good fiber and a little bit of "good" fat, as well. (1)

Studies have found that quinoa can do everything from helping people lose weight (because it keeps you feeling full longer than most other foods made from flour or grain) (2), to preventing cancer, heart disease and diabetes, in part thanks to its high antioxidant content (potent polyphenols called quercetin glycosides). (3)

Easy to cook, you can add it to any recipe in place of rice. I've even seen recipes for such things as quinoa sushi on the Internet (don't believe me? Google it!). Just put it in the rice cooker with 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa, or cook it on the stove using the same proportions. From there, you can eat it plain with a little salt as a side dish; add a little milk, honey, chopped nuts and dried fruit to create a breakfast porridge for days when you need your brain to be at its best; or add some cheese, veggies and your choice of seasonings for a hearty casserole main dish. You get the idea...

Nutrition for the body: Quinoa provides slowly digested carbs for sustained energy, complete protein for building strong muscles, fiber for good digestive health, and highly bioactive antioxidants that can help prevent diabetes and heart disease. Plus, its tendency to keep you feeling full for a long time makes it great for weight loss, too.

Nutrition for the mind: Starting your day with quinoa gives your brain a sustained source of fuel and all the essential amino acids you need to feel "on the ball" and mentally alert all day long. Quinoa's a great breakfast choice on days when you've got a test to pass or a tough problem to solve.

Nutrition for the spirit: As you sit down to eat your quinoa, take a minute to meditate, pray or just think about how you're about to eat a grain that sustained a great ancient civilization (the Incas) for centuries. We are all connected to the past through the food we eat. Acknowledge that fact and be grateful for the gift you are about to receive. Even if you aren't a spiritual or religious person, be aware that eating consciously has been shown by science to improve digestion and increase nutrient absorption. (4)   

(1) “Cultivos Andinos: Importancia nutricional y posibilidades de procesamiento,” Ritva Repo et al, Centro de Estudios Rurales Andinos “Bartolom√© de Las Casas,” 1988.
(2) “In vitro starch digestibility and in vivo glucose response of gluten-free foods and their gluten counterparts,” Berti et al, Eur J Nutr (2004) 43 : 198–204
(3) “Evaluation of Indigenous Grains from the Peruvian Andean Region for Antidiabetes and Antihypertension Potential Using In Vitro Methods,” J Med Food 12:4 (704-713) 2009.
(4) "Enlightened Diet," Kesten, Deborah, 2003,