Would you say you’re an organized or disorganized eater? You know, are you a regular 3-square-meals-a-day person? Or, do you eat at different times, depending on your schedule or how you feel? New research has found that your answer to these questions can change the rate at which your body burns calories (metabolism), your appetite, and even your blood sugar levels, all of which affect the amount of calories you eat and your ability to maintain or lose body fat.
The study, published in this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, gave two groups of women either a regular meal pattern or an irregular meal pattern, then reversed the conditions for each group. What they found confirmed what I have observed over my 25-plus years of clinical practice: A regular meal pattern, ie, three meals and 3 snacks per day, increased metabolism, lowered appetite, and even reduced blood sugar levels after meals.
As I’ve said for many years, planning and eating regular meals is one of the most important factors contributing to weight loss success. Conversely, undereating and poor planning are major causes of overeating. Eating on a whim – or catch-as-catch-can – sets you up for failure in so many ways. And now, according to this study, it’s official and not just my own observation!
Read more about how to fix your disorganized eating in my book, Diet Simple…
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What is a “healthy” food? Everyone has their own opinion! “We used to believe sugary cereals were fine, as long as they were fortified with certain vitamins and minerals [according to the Food & Drug Administration’s definition],” I told Tom Costello, NBC Nightly News Correspondent on the NBC Nightly News on May 11.
But that definition was based on 30-year-old standards when “low fat” was the science of the day. And today, “some of the healthiest foods on the planet are high in fat,” I told Costello on The Today Show on May 12.
The FDA sets standards for labels indicating the food’s fat, saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and nutrient content, and whether or not a food qualifies, and can be labeled as: “Healthy.” Since nutrition is an evolving science, some of those standards have changed, and the FDA is in the process of revising them.
For instance, when a company produces a product, say, a granola or a snack which contains nuts – which we know today are healthy, but high in fat – the word “healthy” cannot be on the label, as the FDA guidelines have not caught up with today’s science that some fats are actually good for you.
But that does not mean that we should trash everything we ever learned about. It is still important to balance our lives with fruits and vegetables, exercise, and keeping our calorie needs in mind. Healthy fats, such as those in nuts, avocadoes, olive oil, salmon, and certain fried foods and dressings, are important, but that isn’t a license to binge, or … to fear and abstain from any foods containing sugar – fruit, 100% fruit juice, sweet vegetables like carrots, milk, and yogurt (even with fruit on the bottom!).
Balance is everything! Eating sugar-free is just as unhealthy as eating fat-free. Avoiding foods containing any hint of sugar, and even natural sugar, I believe, will be the next diet fad you’ll want to avoid!
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Recent studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce body weight gain and chronic inflammation through the improvement of the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract (the microbiota).
The authors of this new study published in the International Journal of Obesity found feeding your child salmon may prevent obesity later in life, too. But how? The authors theorize the reason is that these increased tissue levels of omega-3 fatty acids [found in abundance in salmon, herring, anchovies and sardines], may prevent antibiotic-induced alteration in gut microbiota in children, and obesity later in life.
“Elevated tissue levels of omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce body weight gain and the severity of insulin resistance, fatty liver and dyslipidemia [high cholesterol] resulting from early life exposure to ezithromycin [an antibiotic],” said the authors.
These results makes sense to me for at least two reasons:
It’s already been established that babies who are breast fed – and breast milk is loaded with probiotics – are less likely to be overweight later in life. Also, probiotics (for instance, found in yogurt) improve the health of the microbiota. So, apparently, an improvement in the microbiota is one reason why probiotics may help manage weight in children through their lifespan. This study showed that probiotics can help undo the harm to the gastrointestinal tract caused by early antibiotic use. Learn more about probiotics and the microbiota…
Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They have been hailed for decreasing heart disease risk, cancer risk, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s Disease -and now – increase of healthy gut bacteria and obesity. Learn more about omega-3 fatty acids…
So, eat your salmon – or any fatty fish – to lose weight! The American Heart Association recommends 12 ounces per week.
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What’s one of the most effective, enjoyable, and simple changes – for weight loss and health – you can make in your eating? Simple: Add breakfast to your day. Katherine explains to Washingtonian Magazine…
Also, CNN spoke with Katherine about breakfast. Here’s a part of that conversation.
What exactly is it about breakfast that makes it so beneficial? And are all are breakfasts created equal? A study from Pediatrics looked at 2,000 teenagers and found that teens who ate breakfast weighed less, exercised more and ate healthier food than their classmates who didn’t eat breakfast. More studies have confirmed this link with breakfast and adults, too.
CNN: Explain the real benefits of eating breakfast. In your experience, have you seen among your patients the same results this study showed: that people who aren’t eating breakfast actually weigh more? How is that?
Tallmadge: In one study, people who ate more in the beginning [of] the day ate fewer overall. As soon as you start eating, you start raising your metabolism; your whole body is burning calories earlier in the day. Helps control your appetite. People who skip breakfast — victims of vending machines. The pickers — they eat overall more calories, tend to eat more. In another study, people who ate larger breakfasts and lunches, with lighter dinners, were more likely to manage their weight.
CNN: What about for the people who say, “I just don’t have time to eat breakfast”? What are your tips?
Tallmadge: I know we’re all busy, but everyone has to make time to eat breakfast. In Diet Simple I have tons of ways people can fit breakfast into a busy day!
Scientific studies confirm breakfast eaters get more nutrients for the whole day, are more likely to lose and maintain healthy weights, have more energy, concentrate better, and eat fewer overall calories during the day.
I have great ideas for easy and delicious breakfasts in Diet Simple. My favorite breakfast? a warm bowl of oatmeal cooked in milk with fruit and nuts… even a peanut butter sandwich with yogurt and fruit, or eggs on whole grain toast with spicy chicken sausage… Do you like lox on a whole grain bagel? How about whole grain blueberry pecan pancakes? All excellent choices… Bon Appetit!
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Are you ready for summer? I mean, is your body ready … to shed the heavy coats and sweaters, to wear lighter weight, more form-fitting clothes? If not, or if you would just like to learn some good tips, follow me here every Monday with proven strategies to lose weight, improve your health or just increase your knowledge about nutrition. Through early summer, we’ll be losing weight together, so you’ll be ready for the warmer days to come!
Losing weight is not about discipline or will power. It’s about controlling your environment. Period.
We all have different strengths and weaknesses which must be considered when cutting calories or making any other healthful lifestyle changes. Let’s talk about me, Katherine Tallmadge. One of my main weaknesses is chocolate. I can’t stop with one piece. That’s simply not “normal” for me. I’ll occansionally indulge my passion with a small piece of dark chocolate, but I’ve learned never to bring home a full box of chocolate-covered caramels. It will be gone in a day or two, max.
I’m no better with chips. I have no self-control, and I know it. So I’ll occasionally buy a 1-ounce bag. But a big bag? Never!
One of my strengths (finally, something positive!) is that I love fruit. I stock up on cut-up fruit so I always have it at my fingertips.
You have to recognize your own “mines.” I advise everyone to minesweep the kitchen for those calorie bombs that can explode your weight. Have a hard time resisting ice cream? Then get rid of the half gallon. Candy bar pitfall? Toss out the leftovers from the Easter season.
Minesweeping your kitchen periodically to get rid of things you shouldn’t have in the house in the first place will save a tremendous amount of calories over time. Add the things that you like and should be eating, and you’ll do even better! Be good to yourself and make your negative behaviors hard and your good behaviors easy.
If just one candy bar is replaced by an apple every day, you’ll save 175 calories. That adds up to about 18 pounds lost in one year!
* Excerpted from “Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations” (LifeLine Press) by Katherine Tallmadge
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Some of the most interesting nutrition studies I’ve read have to do with the prenatal diet and subsequent effects in children. The subject is vast and the outcomes amazing. Did you know that when pregnant moms drink high amounts of carrot juice during pregnancy, their toddlers are more likely to choose carrots over other vegetables? Or, that the more varied a pregnant mom’s diet, the more her child will choose and enjoy a wider variety of foods? All proven by science!
So it’s no surprise that a new study published in The Lancet found that prenatal fruit consumption is correlated with superior cognition in the mothers’ one-year-old infants – though there was no effect if fruit was only fed to the child during the year after birth. So, what may explain this finding?
Evolution may explain, in part, this advantage of fruit-eating. During the neolithic (stone age) period about 12,000 years ago and for thousands of years thereafter, we subsisted mainly on fruits and vegetables; which comprised about 65% of our calories, according to S. Boyd Eaton, from the department of Anthropology at Emory University in an interview and in his essay, “Evolution, Diet and Health.” That may mean that brain development is still dependent on the same high level of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other positive nutrients that kind of diet would provide. And this could help explain why, even today, a high fruit diet is correlated with so many positive health benefits: reduced incidence of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, eye disease, and other conditions. Keep in mind, too, that the health-giving Mediterranean Diet had 12 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and it’s known as one of the healthiest diets on the planet.
Fruit is so easy to eat every day, and the local fruit season is just beginning to get exciting. I was most fortunate to receive one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever eaten this weekend when my friend and neighbor, Mike Gardner, brought me his salad:
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For the first time, scientists have discovered certain fruits and vegetables – and not others – are associated with preventing weight gain over the course of many years regardless of calories, according to a recent Harvard study published in the British Medical Journal. These fruits and vegetables contain a class of phytonutrients called flavonoids, a plant compound with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, among other benefits.
“The particular fruits and vegetables associated with less weight gain are rich sources of several flavonoid subclasses, particularly flavonols, anthocyanins, and flavones. Animal models and short term human studies provide evidence for underlying mechanisms that relate flavonoids to weight: several flavonoid subclasses have been shown to decrease calorie intake, increase blood sugar uptake in muscle in humans, and decrease blood sugar uptake in fat tissue in test tube studies. Other studies, predominantly focusing on green tea, a rich source of the flavan-3-ol subclass of flavonoids, provide evidence to suggest that flavonoids may decrease fat absorption, increase energy expenditure, and inhibit body fat synthesis,” according to the study.
In the study, anthocyaninins, the blue pigment in many fruits and vegetables, were mainly found in blueberries and strawberries, among others. Flavan-3-ols were mainly from tea, apples, pears, and peppers.
So, while it’s important for your health and weight management to eat at least 5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, you may want to consider adding these very specific fruits and vegetables to your routine. “An Apple A Day…”
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Can anything relieve stress in today’s high stress world? This is an important question to answer as studies show high stress can reduce your ability to think straight and increase your blood pressure; conditions which could be dangerous in certain complex, every-day tasks, such as driving. A University of Leeds study of one of the most harried population groups – working moms – found just 12 ounces of concord grape juice daily improved their ability to think by increasing their spatial memory in a driving performance test. And the effect lasted over time.
Concord grapes are high in a class of phytochemicals (beneficial plant chemicals) called polyphenols, antioxidants which are concentrated in many fruits, some vegetables and in wine, tea and cocoa. They protect against heart disease by reducing blood clot formation. They also prevent cellular and organ damage caused by oxygen radicals, molecules which are believed to be a primary cause of many diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Certain polyphenols, such as anthocyanins, which give grapes and blueberries their purple pigment, have been found to reverse both physical and mental deficits in aging rats. Preliminary studies in humans, including this study, are showing similar promising results.
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Kale and Spinach Gratin with Garlic, Rosemary, and Thyme
(excerpted from Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes)
1 pound Kale, cleaned and stems removed
2 pounds Spinach, cleaned and stems removed
1 Tablespoon Olive or Canola Oil
1 Large Garlic Clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh Rosemary, chopped (or 1 tsp dry)
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme leaves, chopped (or ½ tsp dry)
1 recipe Olive Oil Bechamel Sauce (see recipe)
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
¼ Cup Parmesan or Gruyere Cheese, freshly grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the Kale and Spinach and remove the tough stems. Chop roughly. Heat the oil in a large iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until it just begins to color. Add the greens, the rosemary, and thyme to the pan, and let cook a couple of more minutes while stirring until the greens are wilted.
Stir the Bechamel sauce into the greens. Add salt and pepper. Pour into an oiled 2-quart soufflé or heat resistant glass dish and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is just beginning to brown.
Olive Oil Bechamel Sauce
This is a classic French white sauce, but using healthy olive oil instead of butter.
Makes 2.5 cups
3 Cups 1% Milk
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Flour
Salt and Ground Pepper to taste
Pinch of grated nutmeg (optional)
Simmer the milk in a saucepan on medium-low heat. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add a bit of flour, and when it sizzles, add the rest. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk over medium heat. Do not brown. Whisk in the hot milk. Return the mixture to the heat, stirring until the sauce thickens. Reduce to low making sure it does not burn. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Deep Green Leafy Vegetables have the highest antioxidant content of all vegetables. High in fiber, they are rich in minerals, B-vitamins, beta-carotene, and lutein, a compound which may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of preventable blindness) and other eye diseases such as cataracts. Absorption of carotenoids, such as lutein, in your body is increased by cooking and by the presence of fat (so cook in a little healthy olive or canola oil!).
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The “Glycemic Index” may not be so cut-and-dry. What’s healthy for other people may not be healthy for you!
We all have friends who, no matter what they eat, stay skinny. But the opposite is more common: most of us are incredibly frustrated because, it seems, no matter how hard we try, we just cannot lose weight. Now we may understand at least one reason why.
A study published in the journal, Cell, in November, analyzed people’s glycemic (blood glucose) response, or blood sugar’s rise and fall after a meal. Controlling blood sugar is important for preventing and controlling diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight, and general all-around health. What you eat affects your blood sugar, insulin, and health levels, so a healthy diet containing mostly low glycemic index foods has been thought to be one way to control your health.
Some of the study’s results were typical and expected; glucose levels correlated with weight and age. The more overweight or older we are, the higher our blood sugar rises after meals – that is, we become more diabetic-like.
But the scientists also found important differences between individuals. First, and this was predictable: if the same person ate the same meal at different times, their blood sugar level responses remained relatively the same. But – and this was the unpredictable result of the study – different people eating the same meal at the same time produced highly variable results.
Researchers believe the differences might be explained by the quality of the gut microbiome, the understanding of which may revolutionize nutrition and health. It turns out that the bacterial organisms in the digestive tract — about 100 million of them (10 times the number of human cells), collectively called the microbiome — are akin to a fully functioning organ, and can have a positive or negative effect on human health. For instance, a healthy microbiome improves insulin sensitivity – reducing your chances of getting diabetes – and enhances your ability to lose body fat.
This – the quality of your microbiome, for instance – calls into question things like the glycemic index (GI), which assigns a food’s value based on peoples’ average glycemic response to a food. That’s because, if each person’s blood sugar responds differently at different times with different foods, then the GI index would be incorrect for people with different-than-average blood sugar responses, even for foods generally believed to be healthy.
There is some good news, though! The researchers used the data to create an algorithm that predicted the glycemic response of the participants. When they used this data to tailor diets for people, they saw improved blood sugar responses. These findings could be used to develop personalized and individual diets that don’t rely on averages. This just may crack the case for those having difficulty getting fit.
This is why I find it so important to PERSONALIZE your diet. One size doesn’t fit all!