Category Archives: diet food

How to Boost Your Mood Through Food – AHA

You’ve had a bad breakup, a rotten day at work or you’re just too exhausted to cook. You’re craving comfort, something to soothe your mood. So, you reach for … a salad?

Probably not. But if it’s happiness you want, those leafy greens are a far better choice than a tub of ice cream or a bowl of mac and cheese, according to the American Heart Association News (AHA)

“You might have an initial nice feeling, but comfort foods are ultimately discomfort for the brain,” said Dr. Uma Naidoo, a nutritional psychiatrist, chef and director of nutritional and metabolic psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

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Eating ice cream and high-carb foods feels good because it sends tryptophan to the brain, said Naidoo, who wrote a book published in 2020 that explored the connections between food, mood and the brain. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body make serotonin, a mood-boosting hormone. But that good feeling can become addictive, causing the body to crave foods that will ultimately lower mood as it also raises blood sugar. Foods high in sugar, refined flour or saturated fats activate inflammation, which is strongly linked to depression.

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Scientists working on personalized diet to prevent disease – AHA

You know that phrase “you are what you eat”? Nutrition scientists are getting to the bottom of what that means with an emerging area of research called precision nutrition.

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It’s a growing field of study that assumes each person may have unique responses to eating specific foods and nutrients – and blends data based on genetics, behavior, socioeconomics, environment and eating patterns to potentially develop diets that are personalized to improve health and help prevent chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease.

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Certain Foods Can Damage Your Ability To Think Flexibly

“We’ve known for a while that too much fat and sugar are not good for you.

This work suggests that fat and sugar are altering your healthy bacterial systems, and that’s one of the reasons those foods aren’t good for you.

It’s not just the food that could be influencing your brain, but an interaction between the food and microbial changes.”

The ‘Western diet’ that many consume daily is high in sugar, fat and simple carbohydrates.

I am fascinated by the workings of the brain, and in this case, how we can mess up a perfectly good system with bad diet. I think this post makes clear that we need to eat well and exercise in order to stay healthy. We don’t just adopt a few changes to drop a couple of pounds and then revert to our bad eating.


Our Better Health

A high-fat, high-sugar diet causes significant damage to cognitive flexibility, a new study finds.

Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adjust and adapt to changing situations.

The high-sugar diet was most damaging, the research on mice found.

This caused impairments in both long- and short-term memory.

This is just the latest in a line of studies showing the potentially dramatic effects of diet on mental performance.

Professor Kathy Magnusson, who co-led the study, said:

“The impairment of cognitive flexibility in this study was pretty strong.

Think about driving home on a route that’s very familiar to you, something you’re used to doing.

Then one day that road is closed and you suddenly have to find a new way home.”

With lower cognitive flexibility, adapting to these kinds of changes would be more difficult.

Professor Magnusson said it wasn’t yet clear how these damaging effects were caused:

“It’s increasingly clear that…

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Does Crunchy or Smooth Texture Contain More Calories?

When researchers at the University of South Florida asked volunteers about calorie intake, they got some fascinating results.

“We studied the link between how a food feels in your mouth and the amount we eat, the types of food we choose, and how many calories we think we are consuming,” wrote study authors Dipayan Biswas and Courtney Szocs, both from the University of South Florida, and others, HealthDay reported.

The folks in the study who had been asked about calorie count chose the crunchy brownies over the smooth. On the other hand, the majority of the non diet-conscious individuals went for the smooth ones.

“Understanding how the texture of food can influence calorie perceptions, food choice, and consumption amount can help nudge consumers towards making healthier choices,” the researchers concluded. Continue reading

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Filed under calories, diet food, health, University of South Florida, Weight, weight control, weight loss

Green Ginger Grapefruit Smoothie – Guest Post Kelli Jennings

Regular readers know that I am a nearly daily bike rider here in Chicago. As such I read some cycling blogs, too. One of my faves is Loving the Bike.

And, one of that blog’s regular contributors is Kelli Jennings, an Expert Sports Nutritionist who writes Ask the Sports Nutritionist.

Kelli is not only a world class athlete, but also a first rate nutritionist who writes clearly and accurately about her subject.

She recently wrote an item Green Ginger Grapefruit Smoothie   that I thought would interest you.



I hate to be a downer, but I’ve got some bad news.  Grapefruits are tough to come by in the summer.  The prices go up and they’re not as plentiful.  I know, this likely ruined your Thursday.  I guess the only thing to do is eat ‘em up, while you can.

This week, we’ll review why grapefruits should be one of your go-to fruits and we’ll “wake it up” with a wonderfully refreshing grapefruit smoothie.  Grapefruits go above and beyond the nutrients of many foods, even other ones found in produce section.  Did I mention they can help you lose weight?  Bring on the grapefruits!

Recipe of the Week: Green Ginger Grapefruit Smoothie

3/4 cup Greek yogurt or 1/2 scoop protein powder
1/2-1 pink grapefruit, peeled well
3/4 cup berries
1/4 avocado
1 cup spinach or other greens
1/2″ slice ginger
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup water ice, if desired for consistency

Place all ingredients in the blender and process until smooth. Enjoy!

Nutrition information: Approximately: 385 calories, 44 gm carbs, 11 gm fiber, 15 gm protein.


1) In the picture, this smoothie is obviously not green. I call it “green” because it includes a grapefruitsmoothie1-225x300whole cup of green. The berries’ color overtake the green. Either way, it’s not easy being green, and it’s all good stuff.

2) This is not Jamba Juice. If you want your smoothie to taste like Jamba Juice, you’ll have to go there and pay for a smoothie much higher in sugar and processed ingredients. If not, I think you’ll feel refreshed and satisfied having started your day with some ginger, greens, and grapefruit. I know I do!

Next, there’s lots of good reasons to eat grapefruits while you still can. On the list, is potential weight/fat loss. You’ve heard of the grapefruit diet, right? Eat grapefruits and lose weight. And of course, most cyclists wouldn’t mind losing fat and improving strength to weight ratio. But, is it science or quackery? Is there something magic to the grapefruit? Well, you can rest assured that I’m certainly NOT recommending you eat nothing but grapefruits. But, it may help to add them. Here’s some food for thought: Continue reading

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Filed under biking, diet food, Exercise, ginger, LDL Cholesterol, Weight, weight control, weight loss

Let Ginger Be Your Medicine – Guest Post Kelli Jennings

Regular readers know that I am a nearly daily bike rider here in Chicago. As such I read some cycling blogs, too. One of my faves is Loving the Bike.

And, one of that blog’s regular contributors is Kelli Jennings, an Expert Sports Nutritionist who writes Ask the Sports Nutritionist.

Kelli is not only a world class athlete, but also a first rate nutritionist who writes clearly and accurately about her subject.

She recently wrote an item Let Ginger Be Your Medicine which I thought would interest you.


With an average 80 revolutions per minute on the bike, knee flexion and extension occurs about 4800 times an hour. That’s a lot of joint use. Perhaps joint overuse throughout an entire season. It’s estimated that 50% of cyclists experience knee joint pain as an overuse injury, in addition to other joint overuse pain in the back, hands, and shoulders.

As you head into the on-season, you can plan to protect your joints. In fact, you can do so with your foods.

This week, we’re heading into the kitchen to whip up a wonderful dip for vegetables, meats, sandwiches, and more. It’s loaded with foods that protect, heal, and reduce pain in joints.


Recipe of the Week: Delicious Spicy Ginger Dip

Avocado Mayo:
1 avocado
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
6 Tbsp. olive or avocado oil
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp water

Ginger Dip:
1 Tbsp. liquid aminos or soy sauce
1 teaspoon white vinegar
5 Tbsp. fresh ginger (finely chopped) or 2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 dash habanero garlic hot pepper sauce


First, mix all ingredients of avocado mayo until smooth in food processor (or by hand if okay with more coarse mix). Then, add in the remaining 5 ingredients to make ginger dip. Use as a dip/sauce on chicken, beef, seafoods, vegetables or kale chips.

***Ginger tip: If using fresh ginger, easily remove the skin of ginger by scraping it with the edge of a spoon.

To a cyclist, joints are supremely important. They are what make the pedals go round. And when they hurt, they put the ride to a halt fast. Revolution after revolution, you need healthy, happy joints. And, believe it or not, some foods are pro-healthy-joint. This week, we’re reviewing the benefits and research on ginger and joints.

First, ginger is loaded with anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, and phytochemicals (trust me, all good things!), and specifically it has benefits for joint pain and joint health. Additionally, studies in the last few years show that it’s effective in reducing muscle soreness in athletes. In fact, in one study, participants took either 2 grams ginger or placebo each day for several days before strenuous exercise, and the ginger participants had a 25% reduction in soreness indicators vs. those on placebo.

To use ginger to reduce soreness (along with rest days, l-glutamine, recovery snacks, hydration, and activities like foam rolling), aim to get 2 grams per day. You can choose 4 ginger pill supplements per day (check out the label, but most are 500 mg each), 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger each day, or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.

Reduced muscle soreness is great, but what else do you get from ginger? You’ll get strong anti-inflammatory nutrients with (anti) inflammation score of +129, slightly better than garlic. Since inflammation plays a role with almost every chronic disease, oxidative stress, obesity, and fatigue, it is very beneficial to include as many anti-inflammatory foods in our diets as possible. Ginger also promotes gut health, may be anti-cancerous, is immune boosting, and anti-inflammatory.

Bonus: Find additional ginger recipes here.

Bonus: More joint health with dark cherry juice here.

You can keep your joints feeling great, and rotating smoothly this season. You can proactively nourish them. Let your food be your medicine.

Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.


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Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid – Infographic


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February 14, 2013 · 5:33 pm

Some Facts About Weight Loss That Work

Since eating temptations abound around Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share these observations on weight.

“…. There are facts about obesity of which we may be reasonably certain — facts that are useful today,” says researcher Krista Casazza, PhD, RD, from the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in a prepared statement, WebMD reported.

Here they are:

1. “Your genes are not your destiny. Moderate environmental changes can promote as much weight loss as even the best weight-loss drugs.”

I love this one. So often people use ‘bad genes’ as an excuse for their weight problems, ignoring completely their own bad eating habits.

2.”Even without weight loss, physical activity improves health.”

Another winner. I have reiterated this statement in at least 25 different posts on this blog. Eat less; move more; live longer.

3. “Physical activity or exercise in the right amounts does help people lose weight.”

Amen. Listen to Uncle Sam.

4. “Continuation of conditions that promote weight loss helps people keep the weight off. Think of obesity as a chronic condition.”

Likewise, I think of good eating and exercise habits as chronic, too.

5. “For overweight children, involving the family and home environment in weight-loss efforts is ideal.”

6. “Providing actual meals or meal replacements works better for weight loss than does general advice about food choices.”

Both 5 and 6 sound like first rate advice.

7. “Weight-loss drugs can help some people lose weight.”

I am not going to argue with the experts here, but I sincerely doubt that the weight stays off if they don’t change their eating and exercise habits. I repeat my recommendation to pay attention to what you eat and exercise regularly. That will melt the pounds away. You won’t need drugs.

8. “Bariatric surgery can help achieve long-term weight loss in some people.”

The study was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health. Our tax dollars at work.

I would like to say for the record that I don’t believe losing weight works. It is only temporary at best. If, instead, you get your head on straight and aim to live a healthy life by eating intelligently and exercising regularly, I can promise that you will never have a weight problem.



Filed under bariatric surgery, calories, diet food, Exercise, weight loss drugs

How Many Calories in McDonald’s Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken Wrap?

I have had problems with a number of offerings from McDonald’s over the past couple of years of blogging, so I am very happy to be able to recommend one of their latest offerings.

Their Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken Wrap qualifies as a ‘Best Bet’ on WebMD’s
slideshow of fast food sandwiches.

McDonald's Honey Mustard Chicken Wrap

McDonald’s Honey Mustard Chicken Wrap

WebMD says the Wrap “pleases the palate without plumping the waistline. Each flour tortilla contains grilled chicken, shredded cheese, and lettuce for 250 calories, 8 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, and 650 mg sodium. Ranch or chipotle versions have just a few more calories. Add a fruit and walnut salad, chock full of apples, for 210 calories and a meal under 500 calories.”

Bravo, McDonald’s! Encore!


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Filed under calories, cholesterol, diet food, fast food, healthy eating, healthy living, McDonald's, portion control, portion size, Weight

Oleda Baker Gives Some Tips on Losing Weight: Guest Post

As you can see from her photo, Senior Supermodel Oleda Baker is aging magnificently . I interviewed Oleda last month. She is a treasure trove of information on everything this blog stands for, namely healthy living and healthy aging, so I asked her if she would share some of her ideas with us. She has written 10 books on beauty and health. Her latest, written at the age of 75, Breaking the Age Barrier – Great Looks and Health at Every Age – was released in November 2010 and is available from Amazon or from her website where she also sells her own line of health and beauty aids.

Septuagenarian Oleda Baker

Septuagenarian Oleda Baker

Here are some of Oleda’s thoughts on losing weight:

So often an “expert” will tell you what you MUST do … I only explain why it’s best for your long range healthy life … and tell you also that you most certainly can lose weight IF it’s most important to you.

First of all, forget about diet books and structured diets. If you find one that works, you’re lucky. More often than not they merely serve as a temporary crutch that people revert from. The high recidivism rate among dieters is well documented. Fad diets are a waste of time and money.

Next, you must realize this is a job for you and you alone … no diet book, or person, can be responsible for YOUR weight loss. 
If you’re not serious about it, read no further, but, if you are, consider what I’m about to say; it could change your life for the better.

You KNOW that you’re gaining weight or eating too much when your clothes begin to tighten up a little. At that point, you have two choices … Cut back on your food intake so you can fit into that favorite garment again OR go out and buy the next size up. We all have the same choices …. Of course, the correct one is just eat less. That’s all I do. I check the fit whenever I put my favorite jeans on, and then do what I have to do.

What does it mean Just Eat Less … less than what?

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Filed under body fat, brain, diet food, fat, healthy eating, Oleda Baker, portion control, portion size, Snacking, Weight

Some Declines Seen in Childhood Obesity

Several cities and states throughout the country have recently reported declines in their childhood obesity rates, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Declines occurred in locales where comprehensive action took place to address the problem. Nonetheless, obesity rates persist in various socionomic and geographic areas. Racial and ethnic disparities also persist.


The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period, according to The Centers for Disease Control.

The long term health risks are ominous. The New York Times reports that “Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults, creating a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Cancer Society says that being overweight or obese is the culprit in one of seven cancer deaths. Diabetes in children is up by a fifth since 2000, according to federal data.”

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Filed under body fat, calories, childhood obesity, diet food, diet soda, Exercise, fast food, fat, fat kids, heart problems, Weight

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

Christmas season is in full flourish now in the first week of December. Shoppers are shopping and holiday get-togethers are being planned and taking place. This is the red zone for weight control weakness.

With that in mind, here are helpful tips on dealing with the holiday social events from Dr. Griffin Rodgers Institute Director of the National Institutes of Health.

1. Holiday pressures can interrupt a person’s routine and make it even more challenging to follow plans to stay healthy.

2. Don’t “save up” for big meals, rather have a light snack beforehand; keep an eye on the drinks, alcohol in particular adds calories and enhances appetite; and go easy on dessert. He also recommends being realistic.

3. Regular physical activity during the holiday season may boost your energy, clear your mind, manage any health problems like diabetes or high blood pressure, and help get some items checked off your holiday “to do” list.

4 The holiday season is not the time to abandon healthy eating and exercise habits.

5. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity. If you do overindulge in eating too much, don’t be too hard on yourself up. Get back on track at the next meal.

6. Share your family health history. Ask questions. Talk about common health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure and whether anyone in the family has these conditions.

You can have happy holidays and still remain aware of your body’s real needs. Doctor Rodgers offers some useful advice. I hope you can put it to good use.

Eat less; move more. Words to live by.


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Filed under calories, diet food, Exercise, fat, happiness, holiday eating, life challenges, men and healthy eating, portion size, stress, sugar

U.S. Obesity is on the Rise Again, New Study Finds

U.S. obesity rates, which some recent surveys have said had been stabilizing, seem to be on the rise gain, if a new Gallup poll is to be believed, reports the Huffington Post.

“Gallup analyzed obesity rates in American adults classified in four-year age ranges to avoid any overlapping between groups. Since nearly all groups saw an increase in obesity percentage, it only makes sense that the national average has grown over the past four years as well: in 2012, 26.1 percent of Americans are considered to be obese, compared to 25.5 percent in 2008,” the Post reports.

Obesity is on the rise again.

The increases seem to be across virtually all age groups.  “Most dramatically, 30.4 percent of Americans in their mid-40s (ages 44 to 47) are obese, a notable 2.5 percent increase from 2008,” it says.

Sad news for America. Ironically for me, I’m moving in the opposite direction since my angioplasty in August, having lost 19 pounds in 12 weeks since the surgery and being put on a no-salt, no-sugar, no-fat diet. I’m doing my part to reverse the obesity trend, join me.



Filed under diet food, life challenges, obesity

What’s in Kroger’s New Simple Truth Line of Foods?

Kroger, the largest supermarket holding company in the United States, announced a new private label line of food products recently that will be called Simple Truth.

The name reflects what Kroger is trying to accomplish with this line. The food business increasingly is getting the message these days that people want less junk in their foods and more of the main ingredients that are supposed to be in there. The industry is calling it clean labels, which means the fewer ingredients in a processed product, the better some consumers will like it.

Kroger’s new Simple Truth Organic products.

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Win A Slow-Cooker By Leaving A Comment

Here’s a fun challenge for our readers, leave a comment to this post suggesting a fun, creative fitness or diet challenge and you could win a Hamilton Beach 6-quart slow-cooker, courtesy of is a calorie counting site/app that goes a bit beyond other calorie counters in that it also has a game aspect that involves accumulating points to achieve certain rewards and goals.  You upload pictures of rewards you intend to give yourself for reaching a given diet or exercise goal, and it reminds you by showing you the image once you reach the goal. The site also has groups to discuss various dieting and exercise topics, so it appears a very social way to attack eating and exercise issues.

Win this 6-quart slow cooker by leaving a comment.

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How Many Calories are in Pepsi Next?

I recently tried Pepsi Next, a new version of Pepsi with fewer calories than regular Pepsi but more than diet Pepsi. The offering is part of a trend that soft drink makers are calling mid-calorie sodas, their efforts to respond to the obesity issues — and to the finger-pointing at high-calorie soft drinks as a major cause of the obesity epidemic. Some 60 per cent of us are overweight and 30 per cent obese.

Pepsi Next has 60 calories in a 12-ounce can compared to 150 in a similar size can of regular Pepsi. Pepsi Next 100 calories in a 20-ounce bottle, which is what I bought. The lower calorie count is achieved with a mixture of lower-calorie sweeteners added to some high fructose corn syrup, the sweetener used in regular Pepsi.

The result is a drink that tastes more like regular Pepsi than does its diet cousin. I liked the taste of it but those 100 calories put me off. For a gain in taste, I was spending 100 calories, and still getting some of the other, lower-calorie sweeteners that many health advocates warn against as well. Continue reading

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