Tag Archives: mary hartley

Cheat Days Only Cheat Yourself: Why Healthy Eaters Treat Themselves Instead

cheat-days-cheat

As a dietitian/nutritionist, I am often asked if I recommend having a cheat day. (A “cheat day,” cheat meal,” or “cheat food” — is a mini-break from a calorie-restricted diet for weight loss.) My answer is that it all depends on how you define cheat. If a cheat day is a feeding frenzy that packs in lots of extra calories, then I’m against it. But if it means making room for high-calorie favorite treats, then I’m all for it. No diet should be so restricted that it doesn’t make room for favorite foods.

Normal variations in day-to-day calorie intake may be in the best interests of health. Studies of intermittent fasting schedules in animals suggest that an intake pattern of highs and lows enhances the body’s ability to cope with biological stress and, maybe, to resist disease.* Variation is the natural course of events and evolution seems to make it work to an advantage.

Consider that healthy eaters who maintain steady weights don’t usually eat the same amount of food every day.

  • They expect day-to-day variation and they use regular exercise to balance extra calories.
  • They eat more or fewer calories largely depending on the social situation.
  • They give themselves permission to eat favorite foods (within reason) as if it’s no big deal.
  • They may choose to eat more at a special dinner or not. (more…)

Monk Fruit Will Save Your Sweet Tooth and Your Diet: Zero Calories up to 500 Times Sweeter than Sugar

monk fruit sweetener

Here in the new year, millions of Americans will try to cut back on sugar or drop it altogether. It’s a noble effort because sugar is devoid of nutrients, except for calories, which it has in spades.

Quick fact: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports each of us consumes 31 five-pound bags of sugar a year. That’s 267,840 empty calories from sugar alone. Still, people will be jonesing for something sweet to eat. Enter: monk fruit.

Traditionally, people used zero-calorie sweeteners to satisfy their sugar cravings at no caloric cost. Synthetic sugar substitutes, including aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda) and others, are added at the table but are mostly taken as carbonated diet drinks and low­ calorie foods. But consumption of those foods has taken a nosedive as of late as health conscious consumers flock to natural sweeteners. Stevia, the zero-calorie herb extract, is gaining appeal, but monk fruit is the real one to watch. (more…)

Nuking the Microwave Myth: Microwaved Foods are Actually Safe and Nutritious

microwave-safety

More than 90 percent of Americans have a microwave primarily to reheat leftovers and coffee. Yet a growing legion of eco-lovers want no part of the convenient device. The microwave oven may be falling out of fashion. Perhaps the internet is to blame.

Article after article claims microwave ovens leak radiation, and since high levels of direct radiation cause DNA damage and cancer, then microwave ovens cannot possibly be safe. Except that’s not true.

Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation, something like radio waves, that make water molecules in food vibrate, producing heat that cooks the food. Microwave ovens leak no more radiation than a cellphone, laptop computer, or an airplane flight. The Food and Drug Administration enforces strict standards for the amount of radiation that is allowed to leak. Consumer Reports says the vast majority of microwave ovens show very little leakage of radiation. And the level of exposure drops dramatically as you move away from the oven.

But because the risks of long-term exposure to low-level radiation emissions is unknown, to be absolutely safe, avoid all electronic contraptions. (Yeah right.) (more…)

Is Your Target Weight Loss Realistic? It Probably Doesn’t Matter.

shattered-scale

When it comes to setting weight loss goals, most dieters are unrealistic. Medical experts, concerned with adequate nutrition and physical and psychological health, recommend an average weight loss of a half to one pound per week. But dieters want nothing to do with that. They expect to lose at a rate twice as high, at a minimum.

Scientists have studied, at length, dieters’ expectations about losing weight. Dr. Thomas Wadden, Director of the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania, found that even when patients were “informed repeatedly” that their weight loss goals were unrealistic, they still wanted to lose more than was recommended.

In another study, a group of women expected to lose 22 to 34 percent of their weight in six months, and when told that average weight loss is 8 to 10 percent during the first six months of dieting, they said that number was “unacceptable” and “disappointing.”

Patients undergoing gastric lap band surgery were no different. They expected to lose almost 100 percent of their excess weight when typical results are 20 to 25 percent.

But does it matter if a dieter’s weight loss goals are realistic? Apparently not. (more…)

3 Most Important Hormones for a Woman’s Good Health

women

It’s a popular punchline in movies and TV sitcoms when a woman is acting irrational — “It’s her hormones.” As it turns out, there’s more than a kernel of truth in this stereotype. While wonky hormone levels can’t be blamed for every strange thing a woman says or does, they can be the culprit in a variety of areas. Shape Magazine’s talking about the 20 most important hormones for our health (yes, 20!). We’re looking at the ones most key for women.

3 Important Hormones for Women’s General Health

Estrogens

This household-name hormone is produced in the ovaries and helps control sexual development (puberty, menstrual cycle, pregnancy) and also maintain bone strength. When levels are too high, it can cause increased risk of breast cancer, dementia and even uterine cancer.

Progestogens

As the uterus prepares for fertilization, these levels rise after ovulation, maintaining the uterine lining in preparation for implantation and throughout gestation. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, levels drop, causing menstruation to start. (more…)

Your Grades are What You Eat! 10 Smart Back to School Foods to Boost Kids’ Grades

As the school year kicks off, it’s safe to say that good grades are at the top of many people’s school wishlists. While you can’t deny that paying attention in class and doing the assigned work makes up a major part of the grade, there are other, usually overlooked, ways to earn fridge-worthy grade cards.

We spoke with with our resident nutrition expert, Mary Hartley, RD, and nutritionist and author Dr. Keith Kantor about which healthy habits may boost grades and improve performance in school.

judah rainbow smoothie

Nutrition

Eat Healthy Foods

Mary shared that getting the right nutrients can boost the speed at which the brain works. “So many nutrients have a role in cognition, including cholesterol from egg yolks and dairy products, essential fatty acids from fatty fish, nuts and olive oil, and carotenoids and flavonoids found in colorful fruits and vegetables.”

Back to School Food: Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Donut Sandwiches

Get Your Vitamins and Minerals

“A host of micronutrients also play key roles in processes that run the brain, including iron, zinc, choline, selenium, iodine, magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamins A and C,” Mary added.

Back to School Food: Rainbow Smoothie

(more…)

What to Feed the Reluctant Breakfast Eater and 9 Quick Options to Mix and Match

back to school breakfast

The school year is fast-approaching for my little family, and may already be in session for yours. With this change of seasons comes the hustle of the morning routine.

Ugh.

Two different kids off to two different schools and a teenager who hates eating breakfast, unless its served after 11:00 a.m.

I know I can’t send him out the door with an empty belly or a Pop-Tart clutched in his fist, so I did a little research and I think I found a few tweaks we can make to our schedule, and compromise foods that will make us both happy.

Come on, Mom, just 5 more minutes.

As children get older their sleep patterns change. Teens fall asleep later so the snooze button (slash mom’s forgiveness) gets pushed to maximum capacity until finally there is no time for breakfast. To combat this, I’m instituting a decent school night bedtime and declaring that NO electronics will be allowed in his room past that time.

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Congress Slaps Dr. Oz, Saying His Medical Advice Harms Consumers

After more than a decade of using colorful language such as “miracle pill,” silver bullet,” and personally endorsing diet supplements and plans, Dr. Oz was taken to task by Senator Claire McCaskill during a Commerce subcommittee meeting telling him frankly, “You have an amazing megaphone. Why would you cheapen your show when you say things like that?”

dr oz mccaskill

Speaking in front of the Senate as part of a hearing on false claims made in advertisements for weight loss supplements, the popular television host defended his position saying that although his “passion” may have led him to use language he now regrets. He also feels his “enthusiastic” descriptions have been used, “out of context.”

The doctor admitted that the products he touts don’t pass “scientific muster.” You think?

Doctor Jazz Hands

Dr. Oz is a TV personality with a penchant for the absurd, often sharing the stage with life size body parts and organs to illustrate his point. First and foremost, however, he is a licensed physician, which is why he was asked to join supplement manufacturers, advertisers, nutrition advocates, and other entities who make up the $2.4 billion diet supplement industry. McCaskill spoke about his responsibility as a doctor saying, “It is hard to tell sometimes with Dr. Oz where the doctor begins and ends, and where the entertainer begins and ends.”

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Soylent: The Anti-Food of the Future. Or Is It?

How would you feel about giving up food? Not for a fast, not for a cleanse, but giving up food completely and instead consuming pure nutrients in a daily “smoothie.”

eating together

That’s the idea Rob Rhinehart and his team stumbled upon when they were working on a technology startup at the end of 2012. Funds had run low, and they realized food costs were draining what little funds they had left.

He added he tried cheap food options, but they weren’t what he needed. So he decided to approach food like he would any other engineering problem.

“You need amino acids and lipids, not milk itself,” he said in an interview with the New Yorker. “You need carbohydrates, not bread. Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, but they’re mostly water.”

“It just seemed like a system that’s too complex and too expensive and too fragile.”

(more…)

Don’t Believe the Hype of Super Food Powders! Dietitian Says They Aren’t Worth It

Lucuma, camu, maqui – their names alone sound like something exotic and wonderful. In fact, they’re some of the more common “super food” powders that many people are adding to their diet for added nutrition.

superfood powders

However, they may not be as beneficial as claimed. Many of these powders aren’t quite what they appear to be. Dr. Mike Roussell discussed some of the reasons to avoid these powders in Shape Magazine.

“The trap that we fall into with many of these super food powders has to do with their exotic origins and the nutritional buzzwords attached to them,” he told the magazine. “There is something alluring about these foods being used by ancient cultures in faraway jungles that causes us to assume that they must be better for us than the ‘regular’ foods we are currently eating.”

That’s really the gimmick of super food powders. Sure, some of them may include nutrients that do wonders for the body, but those nutrients aren’t exclusive to the powders. They can be found in more common foods as well. (more…)