Exercising the Truth – What Doesn’t Work?

  • If you exercise, its okay to sit for the rest of the day ­what you do the whole day is just as important. Stand up, sit less,
    move more & more often, ­at least every 30 
    minutes throughout the day.

  • You’ve got to feel some pain if your going to gain any fitness benefits ­ if an activity hurts you may already have an injury or you are doing it wrong.

source: Adapted from Nutrition Action

Skim Milk, the Obesity Culprit?

If you are an NPR junkie like myself you may have heard this story reporting that full fat milk is linked to slimmer kids. And if you do an Internet search you will find ‘compelling” stories that report skim milk is detrimental to our health. Before you rush to the grocery store in search of full fat milk, you may want to think about a few points.

As with any science, not all studies are well designed. In this particular study, researchers failed to look at how many calories these children were eating or other food choices they were making.

At this point I do not think there is enough data to warrant the switch from skim to whole milk. The jury is still out on this and there are many factors that contribute to weight gain or loss. That said, if your overall diet is rich in plant foods & low in saturated fat, a glass a whole milk occasionally is not likely to make a significant difference in your weight or cholesterol profile. Research shows that the real culprits in weight gain are the sugary drinks we consume on a regular basis (soda, juice, energy drinks, etc) & our limited physical activity. In addition, the standard American Diet (dubbed SAD by Mark Bittman) consists of largely refined carbohydrates, which in turn has led to poor health. I do not think skim milk is the culprit of the obesity epidemic.

Food Rules…Don’t Overlook the Oily Little Fishes

  • Wild fish are among the healthiest foods you can eat, but at risk due to overfishing
  • Avoid big fish at the top of the food chain – ­tuna, swordfish, shark
    - ­due to endangerment & mercury
  • Choose the most nutritious & well managed wild fish species
source: Michael Pollan Food Rules


Clean Eating. What Does it Mean?


I had lunch with an old friend the other day.  She & I got to know each other very well about 15 years ago when we were enrolled in the same weight loss program.  The program wasn’t too bad-it was offered through a local hospital/medical group.  There were weekly meetings with a group that included a dietician.  The biggest weakness of the program, in my opinion, was that it was very ‘diet’ focused.  It was all about calories in & calories out.  It didn’t go into any of the emotional/psychological reasons people overeat.  It also didn’t distinguish between ‘bad’ calories & ‘good’ calories.  As long as my daily caloric net was at a certain level, there wasn’t much discussion about how I hit that mark.  Did I eat 10lbs of fruits & vegetables, or did I starve all day & scarf a double whopper w biggie fries for dinner?

Pat (the afore mentioned friend) & I have both gained back almost all we lost on that program (ok, she gained back half what she lost, I gained back all of it plus another 50# for good measure).  So what happened?  I believe it was the failure to address the underlying emotional issues, but also the failure to talk about those good & bad calories.

Fast forward a few years, and everyone’s talking about ‘clean eating’.  Finally, a concept that aligns personal health with environmental & community health.  Clean eating, to me, means I’m eating food I prepare, as close to it’s natural state as possible, with ingredients I can name…and spell.  No more processed foods.  Sounds pretty simple, but when I tried to explain it to Pat, I don’t feel I did a very good job.   Then I happened upon the article below.  Thank you Cynthia Sass for doing such a wonderful job of saying what I tried to say!

What is clean eating?

The primary principle of eating clean is to replace processed foods with fresh and natural foods.

By Cynthia Sass, Health.com

updated 7:09 AM EST, Thu January 23, 2014


Editor’s note: Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health, and the author of “S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.” Connect with Cynthia on Facebook, Twitter andPinterest.


(Health.com) – The first time I heard the word “clean” in relation to food was way back in the mid-1990s. I attended a conference about supermarket trends, and learned that grocery chains were starting to “clean up” store brand ingredient lists by removing unrecognizable terms.

Back then, this move was considered controversial, because it involved doing away with added nutrients, listed by their technical, non-household names (like pantothenic acid, a B vitamin), as well as eliminating preservatives, which meant short shelf lives (e.g., would consumers really want bread that gets hard or moldy within a few days?).

But, the writing was on the wall. Consumers were starting to pay attention to how foods were made, and what they were made of, health food stores were attracting more and more customers, and Wild Oats Markets (a chain of natural food stores and farmer’s markets, later acquired by Whole Foods) experienced a remarkable 4-year growth of 544% between 1989 and 1993, making it one of the fastest growing small companies in America.

Today, two decades down the road, clean eating, or eating clean, is a major movement, spurred by people from all walks of life who want to feel good about what they’re putting in their bodies.

When I asked via Twitter, “What does clean eating mean to you?” I received a variety of replies, from simply “eating fresh fruits and veggies,” to “not eating anything artificial.”

Over the years, I’ve honed my personal definition of what it means to eat clean, and while I’m sure it will continue to evolve, here’s my current take on what this philosophy (which I’m a huge fan of) is all about:

Eat whole foods

This one is pretty straightforward — instead of a banana nut muffin, eat a banana and some nuts! The primary principle of eating clean is to replace processed foods with fresh and natural foods. To me, this means foods that haven’t had anything added to them, and haven’t had anything valuable taken away.

So, even if you’re not growing quinoa in your back yard, you can buy this whole grain in the bulk section of your market, or in a box, where the only ingredient is quinoa, and only quinoa. That’s a far cry from a refined grain, that’s been stripped of its fiber-rich bran (outer skin) and nutritious germ (the inner part that sprouts into a new plant), bleached, and doctored up with preservatives.

Let ingredients guide you

I don’t think it’s realistic to never eat anything that comes out of a jar, box, or bag, but when you do, the very first thing a clean eater looks at is the ingredient list. Reading it is the only way to really know what’s in your food, and choose foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.

For example, I was once at the market with a client who was on a mission to clean up her diet. She said, “I bet crackers are out of the question, right?” My response was, “Let’s look at the ingredients!”

I picked up one of my favorite brands, which are made with: organic short grain brown rice, organic whole quinoa, organic pumpkin seeds, organic sunflower seeds, organic brown flax seeds, organic brown sesame seeds, organic poppyseeds, filtered water, sea salt, organic sea weed, organic black pepper, organic herbs — all “real” and recognizable ingredients; a list that practically reads like a recipe I could recreate in my own kitchen.

We then checked out her usual brand, made with (among other things): sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate, and TBHQ (short for tertiary butylhydroquinone). Dumfounded, she said, “I saw reduced fat on the box and assumed it was OK, I never even thought about reading the ingredients.”

Bingo! Clean eating is about focusing on quality first, and not letting terms like zero trans fat, low sodium, or sugar free fool you into thinking that a processed food is healthy.

Think big picture

In addition to reading ingredient lists, so you can ditch products made with artificial additives including flavors, sweeteners, colors, and preservatives, clean eating is about steering clear of foods made from genetically modified organisms, and those treated with hormones and antibiotics, and going organic when possible, to reduce foods grown with man-made pesticides and fertilizers.

In my opinion, clean eating considers how these issues affect you, as well as how they influence the planet, and their bearing on a sustainable food supply. In other words, in addition to choosing not to pollute your body with substances that serve no biological purpose, clean eating is also about connecting the dots regarding how food production impacts issues like the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, algae blooms and “dead zones” in our oceans, and the effects of substances like BPA on our metabolisms.

This is why clean eating is a movement, not a trend.


One aspect of clean eating I really love is replacing packaged foods with homemade versions, from salad dressing to energy bars and everything in between. I call it “retrotarian” eating, because it harkens back to a time before things like frozen chicken nuggets existed, and many of the do-it-yourself substitutes are very simple.

For example, when I make a stir fry, instead of buying a pre-made sauce, laden with sodium, sugar and preservatives, I whisk together a little brown rice vinegar, fresh squeezed citrus juice, minced garlic, and fresh grated ginger.

These days, you can find a clean recipe for just about anything, including five-ingredient ice cream, and “old school” food trends, like homemade baby food and pickling veggies in Mason jars, are making major comebacks.

Listen to your body

To me, part of eating clean is thinking of food as preventative medicine. After all, the phrase “you are what you eat” is literally true, so being thoughtful about your food just makes sense.

Nutrients create the foundation for the structure and function of every cell in your body, and because your body is in a continuous state of maintenance and repair, the health and functioning of your cells is directly determined by what you’ve been eating.

Whole, natural foods provide the building blocks that go to work to uphold your muscles, bones, organs, immune system, and hormones. So cleaning up your diet is a lot like starting to build and support your body with the highest quality raw materials.

For these reasons, I’ve seen a commitment to clean eating truly transform my clients’ lives, from clearer, glowing skin and shinier hair to more energy, better mood and sleep quality, clearer thinking, less aches and pains, and even a greater sex drive.

And if they slip back into old patterns, they really feel the effects. After going on a trip, relying on processed “road food” for a long weekend, and feeling like a zombie, one client couldn’t wait to get back to eating clean. And when she did, her bloating, fatigue, and apathy disappeared. Pretty powerful! So if you’re just getting started, begin by pulling out the foods in your fridge, freezer, and cupboards, reading the ingredients, and cleaning house, no pun intended.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Exercising the Truth – What Works?

  • You can lose as much weight walking as running as long as you work hard enough to
    raise your heart rate & break a
    sweat bear in mind moderate intensity exercise (walking)
    longer to burn calories than vigorous intensity (running)
  • Wearing a fitness tracker can help you lose weight – this tool lets you know how physically active you are throughout the day. Aim for 10,000 daily steps.

Source: Nutrition Action

Get to the Farmer’s Market!

Recently I was lamenting to my husband about the lack of inspiration for winter meals. Normally, I get my ideas from the produce available at the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market, but with the weather being unusually cold, I was relying on my husband to make our Saturday morning trip (in my defense I stay home and feed my hungry boys). Last week however, I decided that I was due for a market visit. My son Oliver and I put on our heavy winter coats and headed out the door in 20-degree temperatures. My husband had warned me I may only find cabbage and be very cold, but I was pleasantly surprised at the selections. Feeling energized I took in all the cold weather vegetables on hand; broccoli, cabbage (Tom’s inspiration for a modified Tom Yum soup), butternut squash, baby spinach (my daily salad) & of course kale. Though I am certainly not ready to start planning my summer garden, I stumbled upon a display of heirloom bean & vegetable seeds to plant come warmer temperatures. We ended our visit off by purchasing freshly ground whole grain flour from Wildflour Mill along with some tasty pasty treats from Lorraine Bakery. Oliver had no problem helping me haul the fresh eggs and apples knowing a warm homemade pop tart was nestled in the bakery bag ready for consumption.


Cure those winter blues by finding some winter inspiration at your local farmer’s market!

Food Rules…Eat wild food (when you can)

  • Make frequent use of wild greens, ­they are their own natural defenders and tend
    to be higher in antioxidants 
    (lamb’s quarters & purslane)
  • Wild fish, animals & game eat a more diverse diet and therefore are generally lower
    in saturated fat & higher in 
    healthy fats than typical meats

Source: Michael Pollan Food Rules

Food Rules…Eat wild food (when you can)

  • Make frequent use of wild greens, ­they are their own natural defenders and tend
    to be higher in antioxidants 
    (lamb’s quarters & purslane)
  • Wild fish, animals & game eat a more diverse diet and therefore are generally lower
    in saturated fat & higher in 
    healthy fats than typical meats

Source: Michael Pollan Food Rules

Looking Back on Thanksgiving


I wrote this blog about a month ago. As I say in the first paragraph, it was to be posted while I was out recovering from surgery. It ended up being extra, but the sentiment behind it is so strong, I wanted to put it out there. I’ve had a lot of time to recover-both from dads passing & from my surgery. Funny how things happen-I know I wouldn’t have taken the time to mourn had I not been forced to remain inactive to allow my body to recover from surgery. I’m still counting my many blessings. Thank you, dad, for showing me to always look at the glass as half full.

I’m sitting here thinking about a topic for a blog post. I have to get a post ready…I’m going to be out for several weeks for surgery, starting tomorrow. I’m racking my brain, as I usually do, when thinking about something to write about. I really enjoyed writing my last post, about making split pea soup. I look forward to doing many more posts about food & cooking. But today I’m short on time, and short on ideas.

Thinking back over the past few weeks, it’s been pretty rough. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday…in fact I’ve blogged about it before. Showing love by preparing delicious family favorites, the recipes handed down through the generations. Coming together with loved ones, be they friends, family, or new acquaintances that we’re excited about getting to know better. All of us, sitting around the table, set with mom’s beautiful china, laughing over stories we’ve told over & over, all part of the Thanksgiving tradition. And an entire day devoted to giving thanks for all our blessings…could it get any better?!

This year though, Thanksgiving was more melancholy than joyous. Dad was in the hospital, so we weren’t all together. The stories were more serious, not about funny happenings, but about his tremendous strength & determination. We still counted our blessings, very thankful that he was still fighting, not ready to let go. Hopeful that he would stay with us, for a few more Thanksgivings, a few more Christmases, a few more opportunities to create memories that we can share & laugh about in the years to come.

I realize now his spirit will always be with us. He lives on in our hearts, in our own determination to live up what he hoped we would be, what he worked hard his entire life to make sure we could be. I’m very thankful he was my dad, and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to spend so many Thanksgivings with him. And look forward to all the Thanksgivings of tomorrow, honoring him by living my life to the fullest.

3 Resolutions…To Ditch – Part 2

  • Losing 10 # in one week: losing weight quickly results in regain (and more). Think slow & steady­ – no more than 1­2 # week
  • Cutting out fat completely: choose healthy fats: plant oils, olives, avocados, nuts, seeds
  • Banning dessert: restricting certain foods can lead to uncontrollable urges & overeating. Instead of good vs. bad foods think “sometimes” vs. “all the times foods.”

Source: Eatingwell