Heart-healthy food in 10 easy steps – Chicago Tribune

Heart-healthy food in 10 easy steps - Chicago Tribune

“There is not one single food that will help you lower or raise your cholesterol. Variety is the key. The less processed the food, the better,” said Sonia Angel, registered dietitian and coordinator of the Diabetes and Nutrition Center at Memorial Regional Hospital.

“Choosing foods in their most natural form is one way to avoid eating added sugars hidden in packaged foods and beverages,” said Lucette Talamas, registered dietitian with Baptist Health South Florida. “The American Heart Association recommends daily limits of six teaspoons (24 grams) for women and nine teaspoons (36 grams) for men of added sugar from both food and beverages.”

via Heart-healthy food in 10 easy steps – Chicago Tribune.

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Behind New Dietary Guidelines, Better Science – NYTimes.com

For decades, many dietary recommendations have revolved around consuming a low percentage of your daily calories from fat. It has been widely thought that doing so would reduce your chance of having coronary heart disease. Most of the evidence for that recommendation has come from epidemiologic studies, which can be flawed.

Use of these types of studies happens far more often than we would like, leading to dietary guidelines that may not be based on the best available evidence. But last week, the government started to address that problem, proposing new guidelines that in some cases are more in line with evidence from randomized controlled trials, a more rigorous form of scientific research.

via Behind New Dietary Guidelines, Better Science – NYTimes.com.

‘Food shaming,’ or why guilt is bad for dieting – The Washington Post

‘Food shaming,’ or why guilt is bad for dieting - The Washington Post

Guilt is useful for taming a lot of bad behavior: It’s a good thing to feel guilty about hurting an innocent person, say, or not picking up after your dog.

But it’s not a productive emotion when it comes to dieting, some experts argue in an article on the Web site of Women’s Health magazine. “Here’s the problem,” says Michelle May, a doctor who wrote “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.” “When we judge food as being ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ we also judge ourselves and other people as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ depending on what we ate.” This can lead to oversimplifying nutritional information, suffering low self-esteem, and what May calls the “eat-repent-repeat cycle”: A dieter who overindulges will punish herself by extremely depriving herself, “which is one of the most powerful triggers for overeating.”

The article, by Robin Hilmantel, also says that spending emotional energy on what you “should” eat — what she calls “food shaming” — weakens your ability to trust your own body to make food choices. And when people disconnect from their natural signals of hunger and fullness, she writes, they can wind up with eating disorders.

It’s an interesting argument, put in the context of the larger culture that glorifies both decadent desserts and size-zero figures. And for a little food-shaming entertainment, it links to the “I’m So Bad” clip on misplaced guilt from the TV series “Inside Amy Schumer.”

via ‘Food shaming,’ or why guilt is bad for dieting – The Washington Post.

The Lure of Forbidden Food – NYTimes.com – NYTimes.com

The Lure of Forbidden Food

By TARA PARKER-POPE APRIL 21, 2014, 5:21 PM 45 Comments

How hard will your child work for food?

In an experiment, researchers at Pennsylvania State University gave preschool children the opportunity to “work” for a food reward. All the child had to do was click a computer mouse four times to earn a cinnamon-flavored graham cracker.

But earning additional treats required progressively more effort. A second treat required eight clicks. Then 16. Then 32.

Some children were satisfied after one cracker, while others kept clicking for a few additional crackers. Most of the preschoolers were done after about 15 minutes, but some children stayed with it, accumulating as many as 2,000 clicks before the researchers ended the task after 30 minutes.

Children who are highly motivated by food — researchers have called them “reactive eaters” — are of particular interest to childhood health experts. Were they born this way? Or do parents create reactive eaters by imposing too many food rules and imposing restrictive eating practices at home?

The answer is probably a little bit of both. Genetics and biology play a role in the foods we like and the amounts we tend to eat. At the same time, studies show that children who grow up in homes with restrictive food rules, where a parent is constantly dieting or desirable foods are forbidden or placed out of reach, often develop stronger reactions to food and want more of it when the opportunity presents itself.

In the Penn State experiments, the same preschoolers who worked for food were later offered two types of graham crackers (Scooby-Doo or SpongeBob SquarePants) during their snack time. On five occasions, one type of graham cracker treat was freely available, while the other was placed in a glass bowl with a lid and put off limits. The restricted snacks were available for only five minutes of snack time.

Not surprisingly, the graham crackers that were off limits were enticing to all the preschoolers. But the children who had worked hardest in the clicking task — the “reactive” ones — also had the strongest response to the forbidden food.

They showed more interest in the off-limit snacks, and once they were available, took more and ate more than the children who had been less interested in clicking for food during the first experiment.

“The message is that restriction is counterproductive — it just doesn’t work very well,” said Brandi Rollins, a Penn State postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the study, which was published in February in the journal Appetite. “Restriction just increases a child’s focus and intake of the food that the parent is trying to restrict.”

Leann Birch, senior author of the Penn State studies and now food and nutrition professor at the University of Georgia, said additional research has shown that parents who impose highly restrictive food rules, such as putting desirable foods out of reach, tend to have children who are the most reactive to food in the laboratory.

“It’s hard to talk cause-and-effect,” said Dr. Birch. “The parents are responding to kids’ reactivity, and the child is reacting to the parenting and to a general genetic predisposition. The only way to break the cycle is to try to get the parents to respond differently.”

While restrictive feeding practices can backfire, that doesn’t mean children should have unfettered access to all foods. Instead, parents should be aware that tight control over food can set off overeating in some children. The solution is to control the quality of the food in the home.

Don’t buy soda, candy and chips and place them off limits on the top shelf of the pantry. Stock the house with healthful foods, and then allow children access and a reasonable amount of control over what they eat. At snack time, for instance, give them a choice between an apple or orange or vegetables with different dips.

The primary food rule should be “a high quality diet for all,” said Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Parents should not have different rules for themselves, or allow a thin child to eat junk food freely and restrict a sibling with a weight issue. Parents typically don’t have to worry about an overweight child overeating when they are serving high-quality unprocessed foods. For instance, it’s almost impossible to binge on apples. But process the apple into applesauce or juice, and it becomes a junk food that is easy to overeat.

Occasional treats outside the home are fine. “Take the kid out for ice cream once or twice a week, but don’t keep it in the house,” Dr. Birch said. Dr. Ludwig noted that with young children, parents needed to set more limits. But adolescents should be given more freedom to eat.

“I don’t like the concept of telling a hungry child you can’t eat,” said Dr. Ludwig. “Ultimately, we want children to gain better connection to their inner satiety cues. So if their body is telling them they are hungry, don’t ignore that — just pay close attention to the quality of the foods that are offered.”

via The Lure of Forbidden Food – NYTimes.com – NYTimes.com.

Can Mom’s Pregnancy Diet Rewire Baby’s Brain For Obesity? : The Salt : NPR

Moms-to-be are often reminded that they\’re eating for two. It\’s tempting to take this as an excuse to go for that extra scoop of the ice cream. (Believe me, I\’ve been there.)

But a solid body of research suggests that expectant mothers should be walking away with the opposite message: Pregnancy should be a time to double-down on healthful eating if you want to avoid setting up your unborn child for a lifetime of wrestling with obesity.

Now, research published this week offers tantalizing clues from mice of one way that a poor maternal diet may be laying the groundwork for obesity: by rewiring a part of the brain that\’s critical to regulating appetite. And these changes appear to happen in the third trimester of pregnancy, suggest the findings, which appear in the journal Cell.

First, it\’s crucial to stress that we\’re talking about mouse moms here, not human ones. Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine and the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research in Germany used them to find out how maternal diet influenced brain development in offspring.

So they played around with feeding mouse mothers a high-fat diet before and during pregnancy and lactation. Pups born to obese mothers \”had different metabolic profiles than those of pups from mothers who were on a normal diet,\” explains study co-author Tamas Horvath, a professor of neurobiology and obstetrics at Yale.

Specifically, he says, the pups whose mothers ate a high-fat diet while they were in utero had impaired connections in brain neurons that regulate glucose and help control when they\’re hungry and full and how fat gets broken down.

That wasn\’t entirely unexpected, since plenty of studies in animals and humans have established that obese mothers beget obese children.

What really surprised the researchers, says Horvath, is that these neural changes also showed up in the offspring of mice who weren\’t obese but were fed the high-fat diet only during lactation. This period of brain development in mice corresponds to the third trimester of pregnancy in humans.

This suggests that even normal-weight moms-to-be need to watch their diet if they want to avoid setting the stage for obesity in their kids, he says. But it also suggests that researchers should look more closely at late pregnancy as a period when it might not be too late to intervene in a mom\’s diet to help break the cycle of obesity.

\”This study is another important piece to the puzzle that early-life influences can have long-lasting consequences to the offspring,\” says Dr. David Ludwig, a Harvard researcher who studies obesity in children.

He warns, though, that we should be careful in how far we extrapolate the findings to humans. After all, he notes, \”humans and rodents diverged in evolution 60 million years ago.\”

For one thing, Ludwig says, a high-fat diet for rodents isn\’t the same as one for humans, so we can\’t apply the findings directly to human moms. But that said, the general principle that nutrition in the womb and during early life is key to long-term health risks like obesity still applies, says Ludwig, who directs the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children\’s Hospital. It\’s not simply genetics or home environment that explains a family\’s tendency toward obesity, he says.

Last October, Ludwig and his colleagues published a study of more than 40,000 mothers and their more than 90,000 children. To factor out the role of genes and environment, the researchers looked only at siblings, comparing how much weight a mother gained in different pregnancies and how that related to her children\’s weight years later. Maternal weight gain, he notes, is a good proxy for the quality of diet during pregnancy.

They found that kids born to moms who put on too much weight — which they defined as 40 pounds or more — during pregnancy had an increased risk of becoming obese even more than 10 years down the road.

The takeaway message for expectant mothers, he says, is that, regardless of your genes, what you eat during those 40 weeks of pregnancy really does matter:

\”Genes, at this point, are not modifiable, whereas diet and pregnancy weight gain are.\”

via Can Mom’s Pregnancy Diet Rewire Baby’s Brain For Obesity? : The Salt : NPR.

Practical Nutrition: Breast cancer studies guide food choices – Richmond Times-Dispatch: Food & Dining

Practical Nutrition: Breast cancer studies guide food choices

Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 9:15 am, Wed Oct 2, 2013.

Mary-Jo Sawyer

You probably have a friend or a family member who has dealt with breast cancer, or you might be a breast cancer survivor yourself. While you can’t change your genes or health history, you can make food and beverage choices that decrease breast cancer risk.

The American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) suggests that those choices could possibly prevent recurrences, too.

via Practical Nutrition: Breast cancer studies guide food choices – Richmond Times-Dispatch: Food & Dining.

NYC passes ban on supersized sugary drinks: NBC

By NBC News and wire reports

The New York City Board of Health voted Thursday in support of the ban on large, sugary drinks on Thursday, in a controversial move to reduce obesity.

The ban is an unprecedented 16-ounce limit on sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, delis and movie theaters.

By a vote of eight members in favor, with one abstaining, the mayoral-appointed city health board outlawed sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces nearly everywhere they are sold, except groceries and convenience stores. Violators of the ban, which does not include diet sodas, face a $200 fine. Continue reading

One Small Change: Eat Better and Eat More at the Same Time | Healthy Eats

One Small Change: Eat Better and Eat More at the Same Time

by jmachowsky in Healthy TipsComments (3)

Ever wonder how some people can just eat  all day and never gain weight? While some are just born with a naturally high metabolism (thank your parents), the vast majority of us frequent eaters must choose foods that give us the nutrients and energy we need to function throughout the day for less calories.

Notice it’s not about less food, but less calories. “Nutrient density” represents a food’s nutrient bang for its calorie buck. Understanding nutrient density and learning how to choose nutrient dense foods is the key to eating better . . . and more.

An example: Let’s say you want a snack. Consider one of these three options:

A candy bar

A low-fat yogurt, medium peach and a few almonds

15 baby carrots, a whole 10 oz. package of cherry tomatoes, a full bunch of celery and a couple tablespoons of hummus or low-fat dressing

You could eat the first option very easily and possibly still be hungry (or crash) an hour later. You’d probably be satisfied with the second.  How about the third option, sound like a bit much? Sound like it’s impossible to eat at one sitting? That’s the point.

All three of these snacks have one thing in common: the calories; each has about 250-275.  But the second two options provide you with a lot more food to eat than the first. Which means you can eat a bunch more throughout the day and have the same or fewer calories. And when you eat fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight.

Furthermore, nutrient dense foods provide you with tons of nutrients (i.e. water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc.) that help keep you full and prevent you from “crashing” during the day. And you get to eat more of them every few hours to boot. You can truly never go hungry again, as long as you choose the right foods.

So what are the most nutrient dense foods?  That’s right, fruits and veggies (maybe the example gave it away?).  For some of my clients, our initial goal is to eat more fruits and veggies, rather than eliminating any foods. By eating more produce, you will likely eat better anyways since they:

Displace other, higher-calorie foods from your diet.

Leave more food over at meals because you got full sooner.

Are less affected by temptations and cravings since the fruits and veggies help stabilize your blood sugars and reduce hunger pangs.

Even if you don’t want to eat fruits and vegetables all the time, ask yourself at every meal: “What can I get more nutrients in for fewer calories?” Sometimes it’s as simple as ordering a leaner cut of meat or getting a baked potato without as much butter, sour cream or bacon.

My challenge to you: For the next month, have at least one fruit- or vegetable-based snack every day. Some example would be celery and hummus, an apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter, carrots and low-fat dressing or low-fat yogurt with some berries.

Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS is a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, author of Savor Fitness & Nutrition wellness blog and avid proponent of MyBodyTutor, a health coaching website dedicated to helping people stay consistent with their healthy eating and exercise goals.

via One Small Change: Eat Better and Eat More at the Same Time | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog.

6 reasons to give up diet soda | Well+Good NYC

Do you have a dirty little dietary secret? And is it called Diet Coke?

For lots of healthy types, the frequently stated fact that Diet Coke might be “empty calories” actually goes down just fine compared to office cupcakes, which they’re not regularly scarfing.

And reaching for a diet soda fits nicely into the “allowable-exceptions” category of a healthy New York lifestyle. You know, along with a glass of Sancerre, the occasional dinner at Eataly, and watching the Real Housewives.

But should you allow Diet Coke a free pass? (Ditto: Housewives.)

Studies abound that caution against drinking diet soda

While sipping diet soda seems harmless, especially in the context of a generally healthy life, a surprising number of substantial studies show the opposite, that drinking Diet Coke and Aspartame can greatly interfere with your health.

As Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor of medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, found last year, “[Diet soda] may be free of calories, but not of consequences.” And she wasn’t talking about the caffeine.

Interpreting the data of two studies, Dr. Hazuda pointed out that it caused a blood sugar spike in mice, and suggested that diet sodas may inhibit the signal that tells you when you’re full.

Here are 6 more reasons to give up diet soda:

1. It messes with your skin. Diet Coke lowers your pH levels, which can cause acne, and zap you of radiance. We need a high level of alkalinity for our bodies to be healthy and expressed in our glowing complexion, explains Dr. Jeanette Graf, author of Stop Aging, Start Living: The Revolutionary 2-Week pH Diet. As Dr. Graf told us recently, “If there’s one thing you should never consume, it’s soda. Soda is an extreme acid-forming substance which will lower your pH level dramatically.”

2. It alters your mood. The mood-food connection is ever-rising, and Aspartame in Diet Coke can really do a doozey on those with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Aspartame is also on an EPA list of potentially dangerous chemicals contributing to neurotoxicity, right under Arsenic. So that’s kind of saying it could alter your brain, too.

3. Weight gain and belly fat. Ironically, we actually gain weight from Diet Coke. Two servings or more a day increases waistline by 500%, found two 2011 studies conducted by the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

4. It causes diabetes and heart disease. When waist circumference (belly fat) increases, this contributes to diabetes and heart disease, which a 2010 study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine confirmed.

5. It makes your kidneys sluggish. Diet soda may interfere with the kidneys, found the Harvard Nurse’s Study, which reported a 30% drop in kidney function with just two servings of diet soda each day.

6. Aspartame’s been linked to cancer. A lot. Aspartame is “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA while substantial data has shown its link to cancer. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) cautions against Aspartame because it’s poorly tested, and contains three well-recognized neurotoxins. Aspartame was found to increase cancer risk if exposure begins in the womb, reported a study at the Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center. And various studies have linked lymphoma and tumors in rats. And beware the BPA of cans and caramel coloring, reports Grist.

Kind of takes the fizz out of it, right?

Do the best experiment out there—the one on your own body. We dare you to lower your soda intake for a week and see if you notice any changes in skin, weight, or mood. Report back in the Comments! —Jennifer Kass and Melisse Gelula

via 6 reasons to give up diet soda | Well+Good NYC.

Top 10 Worst GMO Foods for Your GMO Foods List

Personal note – while I post about reducing pesticides and GMOs in your diet, and I do try myself, I can’t say I’m perfect. Still I think it’s good to have these things in the back of your mind. For me I’m moving slowly with the change as I find ways that work for myself.

by Elizabeth Renter

Genetically modified foods have been shown to cause harm to humans, animals, and the environment, and despite growing opposition, more and more foods continue to be genetically altered. It’s important to note that steering clear of these foods completely may be difficult, and you should merely try to find other sources than your big chain grocer. If produce is certified USDA-organic, it’s non-GMO (or supposed to be!) Also, seek out local farmers and booths at farmer’s markets where you can be ensured that the crops aren’t GMO. Even better, if you are so inclined: Start organic gardening and grow them yourself. Until then, here are the top 10 worst GMO foods for your “do not eat” GMO foods list.

Top 10 Worst GMO Foods for Your GMO Foods List

1. Corn: This is a no-brainer. If you’ve watched any food documentary, you know corn is highly modified. “As many as half of all U.S. farms growing corn for Monsanto are using genetically modified corn,” and much of it is intended for human consumption. Monsanto’s GMO corn has been tied to numerous health issues, including weight gain and organ disruption.

2. Soy: Found in tofu, vegetarian products, soybean oil, soy flour, and numerous other products, soy is also modified to resist herbicides. As of now, biotech giant Monsanto still has a tight grasp on the soybean market, with approximately 90 percent of soy being genetically engineered to resist Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. In one single year, 2006, there was 96.7 million pounds of glyphosate sprayed on soybeans alone.

3. Sugar: According to NaturalNews, genetically-modified sugar beets were introduced to the U.S. market in 2009. Like others, they’ve been modified by Monsanto to resist herbicides. Monsanto has even had USDA and court-related issues with the planting of it’s sugarbeets, being ordered to remove seeds from the soil due to illegal approval.

4. Aspartame: Aspartame is a toxic additive used in numerous food products, and should be avoided for numerous reasons, including the fact that it is created with genetically modified bacteria.

5. Papayas: This one may come as a surprise to all of you tropical-fruit lovers. GMO papayas have been grown in Hawaii for consumption since 1999. Though they can’t be sold to countries in the European Union, they are welcome with open arms in the U.S. and Canada.

6. Canola: One of the most chemically altered foods in the U.S. diet, canola oil is obtained from rapeseed through a series of chemical actions.

7. Cotton: Found in cotton oil, cotton originating in India and China in particular has serious risks.

8. Dairy: Your dairy products may contain growth hormones, since as many as one-fifth of all dairy cows in America are pumped with these hormones. In fact, Monasnto’s health-hazardous rBGH has been banned in 27 countries, but is still in most US cows. If you must drink milk, buy organic.

9. and 10. Zucchini and Yellow Squash: Closely related, these two squash varieties are modified to resist viruses.

The dangers of some of these foods are well-known. The Bt toxin being used in GMO corn, for example, was recently detected in the blood of pregnant women and their babies. But perhaps more frightening are the risks that are still unknown.

With little regulation and safety tests performed by the companies doing the genetic modifications themselves, we have no way of knowing for certain what risks these lab-created foods pose to us outside of what we already know.

The best advice: steer clear of them altogether.

via Top 10 Worst GMO Foods for Your GMO Foods List.