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melissa spiesman



Guest Blog: Coconut; Friend or Foe?

Melissa Spiesman, CHHC, AADP, is the Featured Guest Blogger at DietsInReview.com for September. She is the director of Nutrition for Your Life, a nutrition program that focuses on health and wellness through whole foods. Melissa develops individual integrative nutrition plans that focus on the total health of her clients. In her private practice, she regularly counsels individuals and groups on a variety of health/nutrition issues, including: cravings, weight loss and management, healthy food preparation, coping with stress, and having more energy.

Melissa received her professional training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which is affiliated with Columbia University in New York City. She is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.girlawhirl

Melissa is a featured contributor of girlawhirl.com. Girlawhirl.com is an online magazine for busy women. It’s updated every weekday with the latest fashion and beauty news, home decorating, nutrition, fitness advice and more.

The science of nutrition is relatively young, and there seems to be an ongoing stream of contradictory data – what is good for us and what is not so good.  One area where we are continually faced with conflicting information is the area of fats; we learned that saturated fat could have harmful effects on our health. Big businesses campaigned against saturated fats and there was a rise in the promotion of margarine and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. We tried to eliminate saturated fat products from our diets.

But now, as with many things in our lives, everything old is new again and the latest re-entry is coconuts.  Nutrient dense coconuts (milk, meat, water and oil) are now being classified as a functional food. Research shows that the fat in coconut oil is different from most other saturated fats, as it is made up of medium chain fatty acids that are easily converted into energy, not stored as fat, and has no cholesterol.

coconut milk

Studies have been conducted on the health of people who live in tropical climates and whose main staple of their diets is coconut. It has been found that they do not suffer from any of the heart disease and cholesterol problems associated with saturated fats and they are benefiting from many of the coconut’s health promoting properties.

Coconut oil has the largest concentration of lauric acid, outside of human breast milk. Some of the oil’s health benefits include but are not limited to: immune system support, heart health, protection from certain cancers, known to be an anti-viral and anti-bacterial, supports thyroid function, and assists in menopause and diabetes care. Because it is burned easily for energy, it can boost metabolism and has been successfully used in weight loss programs.  Additionally, coconut oil is shelf stable, resistant to rancidity, and can withstand very high cooking temperatures.

In an effort to re-educate consumers and uncover the truth, there are many books on the benefits of coconut oils as well as books dedicated not only to educating but demonstrating ways to include coconut products as an addition to a healthy diet. Coconut has been showing up in many new food products. Girlawahirl especially loves Purely Decadent coconut milk ice cream and has been enjoying coconut water.

Those who are health conscious and willing to learn about and explore new foods and trends will be able to see the positive health benefits of coconut oil and once again enjoy the rich, creamy texture and smooth unique flavor it imparts on our food and drink.

As it is difficult to keep up with the latest nutrition recommendations, I still believe that everything is healthy in moderation.

Guest Blog Series: Look for the following badge on your favorite health sites to see if they have been a featured guest blogger on DietsInReview.com.

Diets in Review - Weight Loss and Health Blog

See other posts in the Guest Blog series. If you would like to apply to be featured as a guest blogger, please contact us.



Guest Blog: Get to the Bottom of Food Issues

Melissa Spiesman, CHHC, AADP, is the Featured Guest Blogger at DietsInReview.com for September. She is the director of Nutrition for Your Life, a nutrition program that focuses on health and wellness through whole foods. Melissa develops individual integrative nutrition plans that focus on the total health of her clients. In her private practice, she regularly counsels individuals and groups on a variety of health/nutrition issues, including: cravings, weight loss and management, healthy food preparation, coping with stress, and having more energy.

Melissa received her professional training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which is affiliated with Columbia University in New York City. She is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.girlawhirl

Melissa is a featured contributor of girlawhirl.com. Girlawhirl.com is an online magazine for busy women. It’s updated every weekday with the latest fashion and beauty news, home decorating, nutrition, fitness advice and more.

Our society is obsessed with food.  The strongest, most committed relationship we have is our relationship with food.

There are people who eat to live and people who live to eat, people whose appetites are altered with any change in their emotional or physical temperature.

It is rare to find a person who does not have some sort of disordered eating; calorie counting, safe food, comfort foods, diet of the day, secrecy or addiction. There is so much conflicting nutritional information that it is difficult to eat without some sort of food neuroses and it seems that everyone finds something, we follow food rules to give up control and to not deal with choices.  We have become a society of dysfunctional diners, never ordering from the menu as it appears but rather, “dressing on the side, no sauce, no carbs, plain grilled”. We have comfort foods and we have celebratory foods and we have foods that connect us to the best (and worst) times of our lives.

We talk about food all the time, for some it defines who they are.  We talk about good food, bad food and confess our “food sins”.

Some plan vacations around a specific food experience or spend time researching the “best of” food at their destination.  Why is it that some people have to eat all of the food at a buffet because it is there, and there are those that can peruse the buffet and make choices? There are people who spend hours in the supermarket reading nutrition labels and looking for new products and those who do not stray from their lists.

Food is sustenance; it is nourishment, it is a response to a physical hunger.  It is gratifying, fulfilling and fun; it can be interesting, creative and social.  Food is versatile; it can be used as a reward, a distraction, or an ice breaker. Food is also dangerous, addicting, frightening.  It is often used as response to an emotional hunger. Food can bring pleasure and food can bring pain.girl on scale

If we could make peace with food, get in touch with our intuitive eating, change our way of thinking and our behaviors, feed our emotional hungers, we could learn to truly experience and enjoy food without the angst that so many have attached to it.

What is your food issue?  Are you in touch with it?

Do you want to share a story?

Guest Blog Series: Look for the following badge on your favorite health sites to see if they have been a featured guest blogger on DietsInReview.com.

Diets in Review - Weight Loss and Health Blog

See other posts in the Guest Blog series. If you would like to apply to be featured as a guest blogger, please contact us.



Guest Blog: Agave the Natural Sweetener

Melissa Spiesman, CHHC, AADP, will be the Featured Guest Blogger at DietsInReview.com for September. She is the director of Nutrition for Your Life, a nutrition program that focuses on health and wellness through whole foods. Melissa develops individual integrative nutrition plans that focus on the total health of her clients. In her private practice, she regularly counsels individuals and groups on a variety of health/nutrition issues, including: cravings, weight loss and management, healthy food preparation, coping with stress, and having more energy.

Melissa received her professional training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which is affiliated with Columbia University in New York City. She is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.

Melissa is a featured contributor of girlawhirl.com. Girlawhirl.com is an online magazine for busy women. It’s updated every weekday with the latest fashion and beauty news, home decorating, nutrition, fitness advice and more.

girlawhirl.com logo

After hearing about the health concerns associated with highly processed foods, we began to read food labels more closely. Some of the most significant changes we made were to replace partially hydrogenated vegetable oil with trans fat free foods as well as to buy only 100% whole grains and look for ways to upgrade refined foods with natural whole foods. It is now time to upgrade our sweetener.

We are what we eat and what we eat affects how we feel – and of course, we all want to feel our best.

Everyone has dealt with a 3PM slump by grabbing a cookie, a piece of candy, or something packaged from the vending machine, only to find themselves feeling worse than before, just 1 hour later. Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy your favorite sweetened foods without feeling the ups and downs of the sugar rollercoaster? Wouldn’t you love a sweetener that is natural plant-based, organic, gluten and allergen free, kosher, and shelf stable? Of course you would; AGAVE NECTAR is the answer.

Agave

The Agave plant grows wild in Mexico. The juice of the plant is cleaned and filtered with no chemical processing to produce deliciously sweet Agave Nectar. As with most of the whole foods we are learning about and enjoying today, the sweetness of Agave has been enjoyed for a very long time by Native Americans.

You can include this sweetener as part of your overall health and wellness plan, as Agave rates low on the glycemic index (ranking of how quickly a food is processed and turned into glucose), and therefore does not result in the roller coaster effects of simple sugar. Agave Nectar is sweeter than sugar, so less is needed and fewer calories are consumed.

Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is important in managing many health concerns and this sweetener is a great alternative for weight management, diabetics and those at risk for heart disease and high cholesterol.

The versatile and easy-to-use sweetener will blend and dissolve quickly in all of your recipes. You can chose your favorite of Agave’s 3 varieties which each have their own individual flavor; light-mild, neutral flavor, amber-medium intensity flavor, most similar to maple syrup, with a dark-strong, distinct flavor. They are a great substitute for all other sugar alternatives.

Over 150 new products sweetened with Agave Nectar were introduced this past year including waters and juices, sauces and salad dressings, and granola and rice cakes.

My favorites are Wholemato, Agave sweetened ketchup and Purely Decadent Coconut Milk frozen dessert, sweetened with Agave and Baking with Agave Nectar: 100 Recipes Using Nature’s Ultimate Sweetener, a cookbook using only Agave as the sweetener.

Girlawhirl enjoys the benefits of this alternative sweetener and has found that she can carry it in her purse and keep it in her desk to ensure that she always has it on hand.

Using Agave Nectar, I can enjoy my favorite sweetened treats without the palpitations, sweats, and shakes associated with hypoglycemia. Agave Nectar is a great tasting, healthier alternative to other refined and artificial sweeteners, but sugar is sugar and should be enjoyed in moderation.



Guest Blog: Super Foods

Melissa Spiesman, CHHC, AADP, will be the Featured Guest Blogger at DietsInReview.com for September. She is the director of Nutrition for Your Life, a nutrition program that focuses on health and wellness through whole foods. Melissa develops individual integrative nutrition plans that focus on the total health of her clients. In her private practice, she regularly counsels individuals and groups on a variety of health/nutrition issues, including: cravings, weight loss and management, healthy food preparation, coping with stress, and having more energy.

Melissa received her professional training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which is affiliated with Columbia University in New York City. She is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.

Melissa is a featured contributor of girlawhirl.com. Girlawhirl.com is an online magazine for busy women. It’s updated every weekday with the latest fashion and beauty news, home decorating, nutrition, fitness advice and more.

girlawhirl.com

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to snack on blueberries (the whole pint), my favorite breakfast and comfort food is thick and creamy, very hot oatmeal and my side dish of choice is sweet potatoes-roasted, fried, hot or cold. There were no classifications of super foods or conversations about their health benefits, but I do believe in the power of food, good food is necessary for good health and what you eat significantly impacts how you feel.

Can eating the right foods actually help prevent disease?  Scientists have identified chemicals in many nutrient dense foods that can prevent or reduce the risk of disease and many of these foods may be lacking in the standard American diet. Whole foods contain a unique combination of nutrients, vitamins and minerals which make them a better source for these compounds than supplements.

While there is a long list of SUPER FOODS, the one thing they all have in common is that they are all WHOLE FOODS. These nutritional power houses can be used as the foundation for healthy eating.  Eating a diet rich in whole foods is a diet rich in super foods.  These are MY 3 super foods:

Blueberries:blueberries and oats
Mixed into plain yogurt, blueberries offer a sweet alternative to the over sugared commercial products available. Blueberries contain the antioxidant compound anthocyanins which reduce free radicals, improve memory and cognition and can lower cholesterol.  This colorful sweet fruit is also low in calories and full of fiber.
The frozen variety is delicious blended into smoothies or in your favorite muffin mix.

Oats:
Not just for breakfast anymore, oatmeal can be enjoyed as an addition to cookies, muffins and cake batter, in your own homemade granola or to add texture to a savory loaf.  Known for its cholesterol lowering effects due to its high level of soluble fiber, oatmeal is also low in fat, contains more healthy oils than any other grain and is high in protein. Oats are also low on the glycemic index, so diabetics and those with insulin resistance will benefit from their ability to stabilize blood sugar.

sweet potatoesSweet Potatoes/Squash:
Pumpkins and sweet potatoes have drifted beyond their traditional place as autumn holiday staples.   These hearty vegetables are an excellent source of beta carotene the antioxidant that converts to Vitamin A in the body and gives these super foods their bright color.  They are rich in calcium and support healthy skin. The lutein and lycopene found in orange colored produce can also reduce the risk for macular degeneration.  The sweet satisfying flavor of these rich vegetables will help curb sugar cravings.  For a change in texture and color, puree these vegetables into soups or as an addition to oatmeal cookie dough for an extra boost of sweetness.

Using simple whole food nutrition you can ensure a healthy life, and by eating well you can reduce the risk of disease.

Guest Blog Series: Look for the following badge on your favorite health sites to see if they have been a featured guest blogger on DietsInReview.com.

Diets in Review - Weight Loss and Health Blog

See other posts in the Guest Blog series. If you would like to apply to be featured as a guest blogger, please contact us.