22nd September 2007

Is Diet Soda better than Regular Soda?

Diet Soda vs Regular SodaThe answer is no. It’s not. It does have fewer calories, but that doesn’t make it better. Recently CNN posted this item about the link between [regular] soda pop and obesity, which should come as no surprise to anyone. However, in my opinion, the author of the article did readers a disservice by ignoring the dangers of diet soda, and by this omission misleads people into believing that diet soda pop is somehow better for you. The truth is that diet soda is just as bad as regular soda, and in some ways is actually worse.

The key lies in an old cliche – “all things in moderation”. One can of soda pop a day, whether it’s diet or regular, won’t kill you, but if you’re in the habit of downing several every day, or stopping at the local gas mart for that 64-oz. gynormous Big Gulp of soda, then you need to be aware of what you’re really doing to yourself. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in The Daily Diet by Trisha

16th September 2007

When is Organic not good for you?

When the giant, multi-billion-dollar food industry tries to fool consumers into buying a product – any product – by simply slapping the word “organic” on the packaging.  As consumers, it’s up to us to be aware that the word “organic” alone does not signify healthy.   It simply means that (some of) the ingredients were (supposed to have been) grown without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or growth hormones.  It does not mean that whatever is in the package is low in fat (or trans-fats free) or low in sugar.

Today I was at the grocery store and was struck by how many of the “store brand” options now have that word – organic – in big bold letters right on the packaging.  However, a quick glance at the label was enough for me to leave it on the shelf.  For example, I was buying cereal, and I generally buy Special K High Protein (as a vegetarian I am always looking to make sure I get enough protein), which has only 2 grams of sugar per serving.  Nearby on the shelf was a box of (store brand) “Organic” cereal (similar – lightly sweetened crunchy flake stuff), but it had over 18 grams of sugar per serving, and more fat.

This is just one example – I’m sure you’d find hundreds more if you spend time comparing labels, but the point is this:  know when it’s good to buy organic (with fresh produce, juices, breads, and dairy products), and when it’s just a waste of money (snacks, cereals, dry goods, canned goods, etc).   Don’t be fooled by the hype – read the labels and make smart decisions based on the nutritional content.  Look for foods that are high in protein, fiber, and vitamins/minerals, and low in sugar (including artificial sweeteners) and fats.

Don’t be taken in by a word on a box!

posted in The Daily Diet by Trisha

4th September 2007

Shaklee Cinch Recipes: Chocolate Berry Parfait

I have to admit I really enjoy a decadent treat now and then! However, I’ve taken to creating my own treats so that they are healthier without sacrificing a sinful taste.

One of my favorite after dinner desserts (but only if I’ve been “good” that day with my diet) is a yogurt-based parfait made with fresh berries and Shaklee’s Chocolate Flavor Cinch Shake mix. The Cinch Shake mix adds both extra protein and extra fiber, which makes the dish both filling and satisfying.

Cinch Chocolate Berry Parfait: (serves 2)

1 single serve packet of Shaklee Cinch Shake mix, chocolate flavor
8 oz. Plain non-fat yogurt **
8 oz. fresh blueberries and raspberries, rinsed and mixed
1 small banana, sliced

  1. First mix together the yogurt and Shaklee Cinch shake mix thoroughly, then let sit in the freezer for a short while to “firm up” – how firm you like your parfait is a personal preference, but I let mine sit for 20 minutes or so.
  2. Next, rinse and mix the blueberries and raspberries – you can slightly crush them if you like a juicy mixture, but since raspberries are naturally pretty sweet I don’t add any sugar or sweetener.
  3. Serve the sliced banana and berries over top of the chocolate-yogurt mixture and enjoy!

** I prefer the plain, non-fat yogurt to keep this dessert as healthy as possible, but you can use any brand of vanilla low fat/low sugar yogurt as well.

posted in The Daily Diet by Trisha

1st September 2007

Happy Meals for Adults

No, I’m not talking about super sized kids meals without the toy when I speak of Happy Meals for Adults. What I’m referring to are meals that make us happy! Meals that don’t drag us down, giving us that full feeling and leave us without energy. I’m talking about meals that contain smart foods. Pasta, Beans, dark greens, nuts and fish.

Beans of which there are numerous sorts, help to regulate our blood sugar. Beans also have about the same amount of protein as meats and some, such as soy when reduce to flour have more. Beans have great fiber and can be served so many ways. You can use beans in soups, salads, with rice or pastas, you can mash them for sandwich fillers. If you have time to cook your beans from scratch you can choose from two methods. You can soak them overnight and the next day add sufficient water to cook usually for 1 to 2 hrs. Or, you can simmer them for 2 minutes and set aside for an hour to soak, returning them to cook for 1 to 2 hours. Either way, always rinse well first and never boil or add salt because this causes the bean to become tough. You can season after cooking or with vegetables while cooking. My favorite way for cooking almost any bean is to add onion, celery and bay leaf. Black beans are good if when finished cooking you add jalapeno peppers and a bit of cumin. Beans take well to olive oil when added before serving.

We have wonderful pasta’s to choose from to obtain our carbohydrates. Remember that pasta like beans; 1/2 cup constitutes a portion. With greens you can go crazy, having a cup or more. Go for the dark greens; spinach, chard, mustard greens, collard greens because these are the ones that are rich in folic acid, a B Vitamin that is often linked to mood disorders. If you’re not into fish, remember to add the omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.

Eat and be happy!

posted in Recipes, The Daily Diet by Joann

1st September 2007

Avoid Eating Mindlessly

One of the leading causes of weight problems is that often we don’t stop to think about what we’re eating. We may have a perception that we’re eating healthy, but without any real knowledge of exactly how many calories we’re consuming, or precisely what those calories are composed of – fats, sugars, protein, etc.

Yesterday I was reading this very interesting article posted at WebMD and realized that I was one of those guilty of the very same thing. On occasion when I’m out running errands and hungry, I’ll stop at a Subway to get what I consider to be a healthier alternative to the usual burgers-and-fries fast food fare, and then proud of myself for my choice (and with the thought that I’ve consumed fewer calories), I’ll indulge in a cookie or other treat. Yikes!

Another choice made often mindlessly? Alcohol. While studies show that a glass or two of red wine has several health benefits, it also has on average over 120 calories per glass. And many people don’t realize that while some of the alcohol you consume is converted the fat, the rest is converted to acetate, which your body uses as fuel in place of fat. Which means that the more alcohol you consume, the less efficiently your body can burn the fat you consume, which leads to weight gain (unless you are highly active every day).

I’m not advocating giving up alcohol, or forever swearing off all fast food (even the healthier alternatives), but I do think that if you’re trying to lose weight (or just maintain a healthy weight) it would be wise to be aware of how many calories you are eating from all your daily sources. Keep a food log and write down everything you eat or drink, then look up the calorie and nutrition content online to help you find ways you can modify your diet to stay within your recommended daily calorie intake.

Turn “mindless eating” into “mindful eating” and you’re much more likely to succeed with your diet!

posted in The Daily Diet by Trisha