Stop eating these now

A recent blog post here highlighted the importance of creating a food diary.

The best place to start with a review of your diet is with a food diary; simply record everything you eat and drink for a week.  If you’ve already done this – good!  If not, start your food diary today and I will show you how to do a simple review of the things you consume in order to identify things to skip or minimize, and reinforce some the good things in your diet.

This post focuses on things that you need to stop or limit to an occasional treat (circle these things in your food diary in red).  While this is not a comprehensive list, this list of 10 items is a start – not necessarily the “top ten” or ten worst, but a starting place for your review of the things you consume. This review is not a substitute for an in-depth nutritional analysis, it is intended to help you move toward a healthier diet.


Sodas – both diet and sugary. Empty sugar calories at best.
May also contain unhealthy artificial sweeteners.
Juice drinks Most of these are sweetened beverages with some added fruit juices – you have to read the labels!
White stuff: White bread, white rice, white potatoes, white pasta  – these are simple starches/sugar without much fiber – they can lead to blood sugar/insulin spikes and increased body fat
Fried food Too many bad things to list here! Let’s leave it at the high fat content for now (how about grilled instead?)  Fried food will get its own post in the future.
Cakes, cookies, pies, etc. High sugar, often high fat with little or no fiber, and lots of calories.
Packaged/processed foods Read the labels – usually high sodium, low in fiber, added sugar, and lots of things you can’t pronounce that you probably shouldn’t be putting in your body
Alcoholic beverages High in empty calories (almost as much as pure fat)
Can both dehydrate you and displace other nutrients
Effects on heart, liver, brain and other organs
Bacon, sausage, cured meats Recent studies have shown that regular consumption of even a small amount of these results in a measurably increased risk of cancer and other issues
Sauces, dressings, and toppings Often high calorie with lots of added sugar, salt, and fat.   These can make a healthy dish unhealthy, or turn something  already unhealthy into something very bad for you.
Candy Added sugar that nobody needs.
Kudos if you have dark chocolate – just don’t have too much.

Coming next – suggestions on how to move away from these with substitutes and healthier choices.


Want to know more about anything mentioned in this post?  Let me know – leave a comment.


five tips to help you make that next trip a healthier one

Over the last week I traveled several hundred miles on the road and thousands of miles in the air on a trip from North America to South America and made a few observations about health traps that you can avoid when traveling with a little forethought.  Here are five tips to help you make that next trip a healthier one – even if it’s just an over-night in another town.

  1. Carry some healthy snacks with you.  This is probably one of the biggest problems for people.  They forget or decide not to carry something with them and end up buying candy or a “snack pack” or just eating cookies or peanuts or pretzels or whatever snack is provided.  A few suggestions:  raw almonds, an apple, dried fruit (a small amount – it’s concentrated), carrots and or celery.   Avoid candy bars, packs of cookies and most packaged trail mix; these are all high in sugar; you can be creative about finding healthy things to bring with you.
  2. Try to eat regularly.  Many people forget to snack on something healthy (see above), and skip meals because of flight schedules, etc.   Plan to grab a small healthy meal or have something healthy to munch on so that you won’t gorge yourself.  Waiting too long between meals also slows down your metabolism, signals your body that you might be starving, and actually causes you to retain and store more body fat.  The compounded effects of waiting too long to eat can include weight (fat) gain, unhealthy swings in insulin levels, and gorging.
  3. Make some deliberate exercise part of your plan.  Throw a pair of running shoes in your bag and spend a few minutes at hitting the treadmill, doing flights of stairs, walking around town or around the hotel.  It’s important that you plan to spend time doing some physical exercise otherwise you will find yourself going to bed at the end of a day that largely consisted of sitting and eating.  Even if you’re waiting in the airport, spend some time walking around before your flight – you’ll have more than enough seat time once you’re on that flight.
  4. Maintain a healthy diet.  Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean that you should get that rich meal or that large dessert.  One big meal or large dessert does matter.   You wouldn’t want someone to put a spoonful of water or sugar in your car’s gas tank every once in a while and you shouldn’t do the nutritional equivalent of that to your body either.  You’ll feel better when you return home if you maintain a healthy diet and don’t feel like you have to undo or make up for poor dietary choices on your trip.  Remember – it’s more important to develop a healthy lifestyle than to find a “diet” for after your trip.
  5. Drink plenty of water.  Depending upon where you’re traveling, you may want to skip the ice and stick to bottled water, but it’s important to make sure you take in enough fluids when traveling.  Avoid the “free” in-flight soda (and its sugar or high fructose corn syrup) and stick to water or seltzer water.
    Staying properly hydrated can help protect your throat and sinuses on that trip and also help you avoid eating when your body is actually craving water, not food.


Want to know more about anything mentioned in this post?  Let me know – leave a comment.


ONE change in your diet to have the biggest impact on your health

What  ONE change could you make in your diet that would probably Have the biggest impact on your health?

Ready for the bottom line on this one?  Don’t open another can of soda!  Whether you call it pop, soda, or coke – this is THE one item you should eliminate from your diet if you haven’t already done so.  For most people, this is the one dietary change that will yield the biggest and most dramatic results.  For many people this may be the one biggest source of calories; the biggest “food group” that they consume.  Consider that one 20 oz bottle of soda a day adds up to be a total of about 87000 calories over the course of a year –  that’s the rough equivalent of the calories in over 24 lbs of fat.

If you think you’re off the hook because you drink diet soda – think again.  Diet soda has many other different issues, but still falls in the category of “stop now” foods.  Two of the biggest reasons to avoid diet sodas are:

1. Studies have shown a link between consumption of diet sodas and the development of obesity.  Most people are shocked the first time they hear this.  Studies indicate many possible reasons for this, which we’ll explore further in future posts.

2. Studies have also linked consumption of diet sodas with metabolic syndrome and the development of type 2 diabetes.  (Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems).

Options instead of soda are many, including coffee, tea (black, green, white, herbal), seltzer water, or perhaps the best option – just plain water.

Upcoming posts will include a breakdown of the most commonly used sweeteners – both natural and artificial.  This will include info you may not know (but should), and disinformation about various sweeteners (that needs to be cleared up).

Questions about soda, sweeteners, or any of the above?  Leave me a comment – I’d like to hear from you!

what are you eating?

What are you eating?

Do you really know what you are eating?   I’m not talking specifically about organic vs. conventional or nutritional analysis – I’m talking about all of the things you regularly consume.

Three of the top question I get from people wanting to “get healthy” are:

–       What should I eat to lose weight?
–       What should I eat to help me get fit?   (i.e. exercise better, gain muscle)
–       What should I eat to lower my cholesterol and/or blood pressure ?
You could also change each of these to read  “What should I stop eating to ….”

For many people the best place to start is finding out exactly where they’re at right now.   Just like when using a map or mapping software to find a route to a destination, you have to figure out where you are right now to know how to get to where you want to be.

Start with a food diary and record everything you eat and drink for a week.
A week is a good amount of time because it will average out some of the day-to-day changes in your diet and will also tend to include that  Friday or Saturday night binge.  Most people will be surprised (and feel a little bad) when they look back on that week and review all of the things they ate that they never even would have remembered had they not been written it down.

Don’t cheat!   Make sure you write everything down.   Do this consistently for one week and maintain your “normal” diet during this time.  This is where I start with people wanting to make changes to their diet.  You might decide as you’re recording it that you don’t want to wait one week to start making positive changes – good!  In some of the next few posts we’ll look at some specific things that you can identify to begin make changes that count, both immediate and long-term.

Don’t wait until tomorrow – go back and start with that first cup of coffee, glass of milk, juice, or for some of you – soda that you started your day with today and fill in everything you’ve had today.   Keep going for a week and be complete.

Coming soon will be some posts on things to look for that are good (in your food log – circle those in green), and things that you should limit (circle those in yellow), and things that you really need to stop or limit to an occasional treat (circle these in red red).   I’ll give you some specific reasons for these so that you can understand why you should make some of these changes, and what those changes can do for you.  These suggestions will highlight just a few of most significant things too look for – I’ll give you tips on how you can find more things to circle, and why.

Have questions about this post, or something else you want to see covered here?  Feel free to leave a comment!

healthy oils

The next time you’re tempted to reach for that bottle of corn oil – don’t.  Corn oil is high in omega 6 fatty acids.  Omega 6 fatty acids are important, but the typical American diet tends to contain 14 – 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids.   A healthier balance of fatty acids can have many overall health benefits.

There are many healthier oils out there, and I’m not just talking about canola oil.  Both corn oil and canola oil tend to come from GMO (genetically modified) plants and the both of those oils are processed with hexane (a product of crude oil) and some reports indicate that hexane can persist in the final product.

Here are three alternatives to consider:

Raw virgin coconut oil
A very healthy alternative that is largely made up of about 50 percent lauric acid, a rare medium-chain fatty acid found in mother’s milk that supports healthy metabolism. Overall, coconut oil contains 92% saturated fats, and only 1% Omega-6, the fat Americans get way too much of.   Look for cold process expeller processed coconut oil.  Coconut oil has a high smoke point (smoke point is where an oil burn and starts to breakdown) making it great for sauteing.  Coconut oil deserves its own post here and will be highlighted in the future.

Olive oil
A key component of the often touted “Mediterranean diet” – olive oil is another heart healthy alternative.
Olive oil has been used for literally thousands of years, and the basic process for obtaining oil from olives is largely unchanged.  A repeated series of pressing and then filtering yields the oil.
There are many different varieties of olive oil – some with a very mild taste, and some with a heartier full-bodied flavor.  Try the different varieties and see what taste you prefer.  Many reports indicate beneficial effects on many aspects of your health including digestion, metabolism, cardiovascular and blood cholesterol to mention a few.

Grapeseed oil
Grapeseed oil is a clean light tasting oil.   With virtually no taste, grapeseed oil can be used in a variety of recipes and leaves no discernible taste of its own.  Use of grapeseed oil also has been shown in some studies to increase levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and lower levels of LDL.  Grapeseed oil also has a high smoke point making great for sauteing.   Some brands are processed with hexane, so look for one that is expeller processed and produced without solvents.

Want to know more about anything mentioned in this post?  Let me know – leave a comment.