Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top 8 Reasons to Eat a More Nutritious Diet

Oh sure, we'd all like to eat a healthier diet.  If only it came in donut and french-fry form. If only our children pleaded with us for V-8 juice, right? If only we weren't lactose intolerant. And of course, if only it were cheaper, better, faster, and easier! Guess what, it can be cheaper, better, faster, and easier than you fear it to be...  but first, you have to be mo-tee-vated, sister.

Chew on these for a minute? My Top 8 Reasons to Eat a More Nutritious Diet are:

  1. To get off the yo-yo diet train. By most recent study estimates, 80 to 95% of people who lose weight on a diet gain half or all of it back in one to three years. Forming the habit of putting nutrition first in your food choices helps your goal of "keeping it off" immensely.

  2. To finish that run-walk for your favorite charity. If you're carrying a lot of extra weight around the middle, or have to worry about your blood glucose the whole time, it's going to be a lot harder.

  3. To show your children how to "grow up big and strong" with strong bones and teeth and a body fit for the school soccer field. They need a parental example... guess what, you're IT.

  4. To be ready when the boss sends you on a high-pressure business trip.  Eating a well-balanced diet helps elevate those anti-stress hormones in your brain.

  5. You plan to have a baby, and you want to avoid some common complications of pregnancy.  Or you're going to be a baby daddy, and you're going to have to be present for him/her right through graduation day.

  6. To still have health and stamina when your parent(s) get old and need you either to care for them, or at least to manage their care, from medications and transportation to finances and moving to assisted living.

  7. To look in the mirror and know that because you take care of and manage yourself, you can care about and manage other things that matter to you, whether it's working to stop pollution, being a rock star, or beating your buddy at tennis.

  8. And last, since these are perhaps the most obvious, but not stressed enough. Please think before you randomly eat in front of the TV; consistently eating a more nutritious diet will help stave off obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, pancreatic cancer, diabetes related conditions like poor eyesight, and diseases of malnutrition.

2012 is coming and you know what they say, feel the fear and do it anyway.
Best wishes! See you in '012.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Who's your Nanny? Fast Food, Children, and Iron Man

Last month I didn't post on The Bountiful Bite. I guess I felt overwhelmed by the proliferation of magazine, newspaper articles, and blogs on dieting and eating better, the TV appearances by guest nutritionists and neatly packaged eating lessons of Dr. Oz. One question keeps beating through my mind... with all this helpful advice and places to buy less processed, less salty, and less junky food, why is obesity rising so rapidly?

Why oh why? Why don't our kids come bursting in the door asking for low fat milk and home-made granola bars? OK, let's start with that question.

Of the roughly $110 billion a year Americans spend buying fast food*, it's estimated that close to a third of this is purchased by and for children and teenagers.  Not that surprisingly, teens ordered more fast food than any other age group during non-meal times after school and in the evening. While most fast food restaurants have begun touting their "healthy choices" for children, it's largely a veneer over the ugly fact that they're still selling most kids very fatty, salty, high calorie junk food. According to the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity (Yale University), Just 12 of 3,039 possible kids' meal combinations met nutrition criteria for preschoolers; 15 met nutrition criteria for older children. Digest THAT for a second.

Guess how much is spent marketing and advertising soda and fast food to children? Over 4, Billion dollars, also reported by the Rudd Center. So, what can a mom or dad, or teenager do... what should we expect or insist on? I mean, wouldn't it be cool if you could get a Thomas the Train toy with your organic strawberries, Iron Man stickers with a bowl of whole wheat noodles, and Justin Beiber's signature on roller blades? Wouldn't it be cool if California avocados and Florida oranges were subsidized the way the stuff that makes high-fructose corn syrup is, and all the fast food joints were spending millions trying to get your kids to eat them?

But they don't.

  • McDonald's 13 websites got 365,000 unique child visitors and 294,000 unique teen visitors on average each month in 2009.**
Our kids are getting bombarded with brightly colored character-driven fast food, soda and candy marketing on facebook, YouTube, spiral notebooks, billboards, TV, t-shirts, at the high school football game... you name it, 'McDiabetes' companies are present and promoting.

People, especially politicians like to complain about "the Government" creating a "Nanny State" to oversee what our children eat. I'd like to see kids come home from first grade or 4th grade and say hey Mom hey Dad "Spiderman came to our school today and showed us how to make roasted sweet potato"  But I know, the minute they turn on the computer, the TV, or skip down the supermarket aisle, it's not braised broccoli Big Food will be pushing.

So who's your nanny now?


 For more marketing facts/insights, go to

Friday, July 15, 2011

An Egg, by Any Other Hen

Deciding to include eggs in your weekly diet is the easy part. Deciding where to buy your eggs and how picky to be, is the hard part. At least it was for me. I mean, I want to buy the tastiest, healthiest ones, but I don't have the time or budget to drive to a small-town New Hampshire farm stand and spend $4.50 every time I want a carton of eggs. So I decided to check out what you get for your money here in the city, and what all those carton labels really mean.

A year ago in July 2010, TIME magazine reported in bold headlines that organic cage-free eggs are "More Expensive but No Healthier" than other supermarket eggs. I'm going to go out on a limb and say, that is incorrect! Not because I want hens to run around the barnyard like they used to (although I do), but because... well, I'll get to that. First, a little snooping around the dairy aisle, a farm in Lincoln, MA and the Internet.

First, my trip to the farm, to find out where brown eggs come from.

From chickens with brown feathers. White eggs come from chickens with white feathers. So there you have it. Pink and blue Easter eggs... I'm not sure, and the farmer assured me he'd not raised any blue chickens. Both brown and white hens produce equally edible, equally nutritious eggs.

Next question, does the color of the yoke make a difference?

You can see evidence of beta-carotenes. They give carrots that lovely orange color, and they give egg yolks an orangey tint. The carotenes eggs contain are Lutein and Zeaxanthin. (There won't be a quiz later.) Both are antioxidants that protect against macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over 55 yrs old. So yes, when the yolks are more orange, the eggs have higher amounts of health-enhancing carotenoids.

How do you decipher an egg carton label?

  1. Cage Free vs. Free Range. The label "cage free" means that the chickens were not caged. However, that doesn't mean they got any exercise with their little chicken legs. On commercial farms they are often packed tightly into barns with virtually no room to "roam". And if you think that's a misleading label, try "Free-range". Commercial free-range eggs are given outdoor access as little as 5 minutes a day.* We're kind of being fleeced by these labels, doncha think? I mean, if I told you my dog lived "cage free" you wouldn't expect to find him confined to a closet, would you?

  2. Omega-3 Enriched. This label means that the chickens laying these eggs were given flaxseed in their feed. Flaxseed is rich in Omega-3 antioxidants, or EFA's. Since our body can't make it's own omega-3 EFA's, we have to get them from food. Research shows that these same antioxidants help build cell membranes in our brains and protect our vision. So, omega-3 eggs may indeed be better-for-you eggs.

  3. Vegetarian Fed. That means the chickens weren't given any animal products or by-products to eat. I can't find a report that they are any healthier for humans than non-vegetarian fed eggs, so this is a matter of personal preference and how you feel about feeding chickens bits of animals higher on the food chain than they are.

OK, NOW I'm going to throw in the monkey wrench. There's another egg category, Pasture Raised. Those are hens who actually graze on pasture, outside. Like the pictures in children's books. Often on organic farms. (They cost more to buy.) And that is a bird of a different feather. (sorry, these puns are sooo easy!) Remember that TIME article I mentioned? Well, Mother Earth News did their own test, and dispute TIME's egg findings, too. They say:

"Most of the eggs currently sold in supermarkets are nutritionally inferior to eggs produced by hens raised on pasture. Our testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain: ~averages from 14 studies, compared with USDA results~

• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene"

So how can the USDA study, reported by TIME, say that organic, cage-free eggs are no healthier? Easy, they only analyzed the egg-white. No yoke. (I know, please don't shoot me.) The USDA study used
an egg-quality metric developed by food technologist Raymond Haugh in 1937 that measures only the protein in the egg-white. You read that right, 1937. You know, ten years before the disposable diaper was invented. Now that's what I call a low-tech study. Low tech, irrelevant... I rest my case.

* source:
** blogger would like to thank NPR, Mother Earth News online, and
Read more:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Eggsactly is Going on Here?

One egg a week, one a day, egg whites only, brown eggs only, pasture-raised, vegetarian fed... enough choices to crack open your brain, aren't they? OK, I'll lay off the puns. (oops) Starting now. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how many eggs you should eat and what kind of eggs to buy, from the makers of Eggland's Best to the urban chicken owner.

It's another Bountiful Bite conundrum. So I decided to see if I could unscramble (dang, sorry) the differences between one egg and another, and to figure out how many eggs we should feel comfortable eating in say, a week.

How Many eggs per week?

Eggs are often shunned by dieters hoping to avoid a doctor's report of high cholesterol. Eggs do contain about 70% of the USDA's recommended daily 300 grams of cholesterol. A large chicken egg also contains 6 grams of protein (more than your average breakfast bar). The USDA used to recommend no more than three eggs a week, but has since withdrawn that, and replaced it with advice to consume no more than 300 grams of cholesterol per day. Translate to my breakfast plate, please?

Yes, eggs top the cholesterol list. But butter, cream, cheese, sausage, shrimp, and organ meats (like liver) are all high in cholesterol. A Harvard University study of almost 120,000 health professionals (mostly nurses) who ate one to four eggs per week showed no increase in their likelihood of getting heart disease. Not the folks who ate one, or the folks who ate four. Of course, they had to factor in all the other reasons these subjects might get heart disease and then compare.

So lets lay it on the breakfast table. Let's say, every Tuesday and Sunday "Carter" sits down in front of a 2-egg cheese omelet cooked in lots of margarine, with a side of bacon, and his girl "Tamra" opts for one hard-boiled egg sliced and topped with salsa. Who's playing heart-disease roulette, Carter, Tamra, both or neither? Nutritionists might never have the answer to the chicken or egg question, but they may be able to answer that one.

Until recently, I believed in a myth. I thought when you eat an egg, all that cholesterol goes straight to your bloodstream and then into your arteries. Wrong city, says Harvard Medical School. I thought saturated fat and cholesterol were just two names for the same thing. Wrong again.

"For most people, only a small amount of the cholesterol in food passes into the blood.
Saturated and trans fats have much bigger effects on blood cholesterol levels.
So you see, it's likely that Tamra's twice-weekly breakfast would be Harvard approved but Carter's would come with a side of Caution.
Reminder: a lot of baked goods contain eggs.

Bon Apetit!

Next up: Eggsactly, part II. Free-range eggs or what?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Losing Weight is not for Sissies

People have been asking me lately, at work, at the gym, over the phone, do I have any suggestions? They generally start by saying they're trying to "eat healthier" or "lose my belly", and then mention some friend who trying some"new" diet they saw on TV. (Don't even get me started about the baby-food diet.) I feel like saying to every one "go talk to a dietitian!" but losing weight is perceived as some kind of semi-secret recipe that anyone can follow if they have the "will power".

In fact, losing weight and keeping it off is a fairly complicated process, because your body will resist you. Eating healthy isn't complicated but it takes a bit of education, some planning and getting used to. From what I've been reading lately, all compasses point to an annoying fact: your body will try to settle at a weight that you accidentally climbed to in the last 5 or 10 years.

First of all, recent liposuction studies indicate that your fat cells kind of stick around, and even if lipo doesn't cause you to gain fat elsewhere (some researchers say it does), a 2008 study found the number of fat cells after adolescence remain constant, and those cells can get larger or smaller. Freaky, huh? But don't despair, you are not doomed to fail at reasonable goals, not at all.

Secondly, you live in a society where the dairy and sugar industries are revered for their contributions to the economy. Corn farming is heavily subsidized (think, corn syrup and nachos). We are raised to celebrate everything from a baby shower to a birthday to a business dinner with a high-calorie low-nutrient meal, or cake. So it's kind of like, if you want to eat in healthful ways you have to swim a little harder to resist the undertow.

I know, happens to me all the time. Yesterday, I took my 5th grade buddy to dinner and he asked for a salad with his kid's meal burger. The chef "forgot" and gave him french fries. The nice server brought out a salad after that. She said the kids almost always order fries. Well, this kid wanted a salad. This is the atmosphere we live and diet in.

So you want suggestions? Um, I'll try.

1. Be more physical, like those folks on the reality shows. The losing weight ones. That could mean mowing the lawn with a power push-mower, riding a bike, going more often to the gym, or actually pushing PLAY on the P90x DVD before opening your chem textbook.

2. Don't eliminate healthy food from your diet like eggs, avocado, or whole milk yogurt. Believe me, that caramel macchiatto you had did a lot more damage than the whole milk in the yogurt.

3. Ask your teen to stash the chips and cookies in their room away from you.

4. Try having 6-8 oz. of milk or a handful of nuts (almonds or peanuts, if you're not allergic) about 20 minutes before dinner. This will help curb your appetite.

5. Don't assume that a food labeled "low fat" is a low calorie food. Sugars have lots of calories, too. Whole unprocessed food generally has fewer calories, and the higher-cal unprocessed food 'burns' slower, keeping you full longer. So, the more you stay away from boxed, prepared foods the easier it is to eat fewer calories, especially the "empty" kind.

And here's my bonus hint: when cutting back, never eat without putting the items on a plate. Why? Because you're not going to count it as food if it's not on a plate. Are you?

I guess you can see, I'm all about you getting the help you need to change your diet and not giving up if you slip back to your old habits. Whole food... whole food! And help from doctors and restaurant menus. Nutrition and weight are not rocket science but there's a lot of good science in it, and a lot still to be revealed. If there is a secret to dieting, it's to change what you did that didn't work. And the hard part is finding a new plan that does work. The genies are working on it, I promise.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Do you Dukan?

Sound the Royal horns… Here comes the best-selling Dukan Diet book, amidst widely publicized rumors that Kate Middleton and her Mom used the now famous diet to slim down for the big day. Written by eminent French nutritionist Dr Pierre Dukan, the four phase program is being touted as the French dieter’s secret. Dr. Dukan developed this diet to treat his morbidly obese patients, not for a duchess-to-be who wanted to lose a couple of inches off her slim waist.

I was going to bulldoze the Dukan Diet’s credibility until nothing but a paper-thin smudge was left, because I don’t like “diets”, especially the trendy variety. Fad diets tend to create failure by making promises they can’t keep, until the dieter becomes so frustrated, weight and food obsessed, they’ll try an even more risky or unproven diet.

Here comes the lowdown. This is probably a slightly risky, rather inconvenient way to lose weight. You can lose weight with nasty side effects, roller-coaster trips up and down the scale, food-obsessions and a sense of deprivation, or without those things. Here are my “Bests” and “Worsts” of the Dukan Diet. You can apply these to any eating regimen/diet and test it like a paper airplane to see if it’ll fly.


Once you eliminate sugary treats, baked goods, and oily french fries
you can actually start to taste, with pleasure, the more subtle flavors and textures of protein and vegetables that are not smothered in rich, gooey or sweet sauces or toppings. Something about sugar, cream sauces, and butter triggers cravings in us, and the habit of it makes us less adventurous with herbs, spices and cooking methods that bring out the subtle aromas and tastes of fresh food.

The Dukan Diet encourages walking and other aerobic exercise.
Thirty minutes or more of consistent exercise releases endorphins, which are little reward chemicals for your brain. When you are trying to stay out of the kitchen and remove yourself from places where you normally eat your extra or junk calories, going for exercise is great not just for burning calories but for enhancing your mood, without extra food.

The Dukan Diet doesn’t rely on counting calories...
which can be a nuisance, and a tempting rule to break. But, if you want to lose weight, you still have to have a basic idea of your daily calorie intake.


It’s not Practical.
The Dukan Diet has four official phases. In the first phase you are on a strictly lean protein and water diet, plus a couple of spoonfuls of oat bran each day. Can you see being at a conference, a restaurant, or your aunt’s 50th birthday dinner? What are you going to do, pull some deli turkey out of your purse and munch on it? There are ways to start a diet without all that social embarrassment and self-torture.

You can eat “all you want”.
What could be wrong with that, eh? How are you going to learn to recognize what is “enough” and when you are full, if you can eat “all you want”? For most Americans, all you want means, go ahead, stuff yourself. This is not a way to keep your BMI in the zone.

It makes you Obsess about Food.
Even in phase two and three, the Dukan Diet is very particular about which proteins and especially vegetables you can eat, and how many days of the week you follow a certain regimen. It would make a crazy food obsessed person out of me, I’m sure. The last thing you should do to your relationship with the food you eat, is to let it devour all your attention, and trigger your guilt switch every time you see a sweet potato.

It throws you Out of Balance.
The more I learn about nutrition the more I see why cutting out whole food groups for more than say, a few days, is a really bad idea. A natural, varied diet contains a whole carnival of vitamin interactions, fiber, fatty acids (the Omega 3’s and 6’s), minerals and nutrients that regulate your blood sugar, iron levels, liver function, skin structure and immune response. You name it, if it involves your cells and organs there’s a group of foods for that. They all work together, and that’s why eliminating say, 99% of your carbs will lead to some sort of deficiency.

If you aren’t morbidly obese or trying to shed ten quick pounds for your wedding day, (and don’t care if you gain it back) I suggest you skip the Dukan Diet and try something less complicated, safer, and more long term. So, hey Princess (and Prince Charming) lay off the second helpings, hide the cookies and cream, and look for a diet that’s going to keep you physically and emotionally in balance.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bountiful Bite: Craving Conundrums

Have you kept your New Year's resolution to slim down, exercise regularly, and eat smarter? Yes, until it snowed, until your daughter left a big bowl of chips and onion dip on the counter? Until your best friend's baby shower/cake fest, or the Call of the PMS? I understand, really I do.

Ah, the craving monster, or should I say the Monster Craving. It gets inside your brain, literally, and gets your mouth watering. It would be nice to pop a pill and stop the craving, but there is no safe snake-oil remedy, so listen up. You were biologically programmed from cave-guy (and cave-chick) days to crave food when it was available, and your brain was included in this programming. To this day, we still respond like neanderthals to delicious smells and visually appealing food. What to do?

The first action I recommend is biological, and for those women suffering the cravings of PMS. During PMS the amount of serotonin in a woman's brain tends to drop, and so she craves fatty snacks or chocolate. While this is natural, it's not that helpful. Exercise, sex, and a sense of accomplishment can also raise serotonin. So -ahem- go full throttle, ladies. You should also have your calcium levels checked because several studies, like this one published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, show that ovarian hormones affect our levels of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Magnesium helps regulate muscle relaxation and blood sugar levels, and helps you absorb calcium. Blood sugar ups and downs = cravings.


Male or female, young or old, none are totally immune to the allure of every brownie, pizza pie, french fry and donut we pass.

Like any behavior you'd like to change, you can get a handle on the Craving Monster and the way "it" makes you behave. Let's say I want to be more positive. Oprah and dozens of well-known psychologists advise us to surround ourselves with positive role models, give ourselves positive internal dialog, give negativity a wide berth, and set reasonable goals. My money's on this working for food cravings.

Surround yourself with positive role models. In the case of food, this may mean you need to get your significant other to be an ally as your anti-craving advocate. Stopping for lunch? Walk the extra two blocks to the healthy spot. Read books or blogs by chefs or nutritionists who inspire you. And flip the channel when the 'chip-i-tos' commercial comes on. Stock your pantry with fruit, whole grain snacks and other healthy snack choices.

Positive internal dialog.
Here are examples: "I don't need to eat that, because I had some last week." "I'll just have one square of dark chocolate with this tangerine." "When I go home tonight I'll be so glad I didn't eat all those fries." "There's a smoothie with my name on it after my workout."

Give negativity a wide berth: In the case of cravings this means walking down the other hall to avoid the break room where the red velvet cake sits. Bring a non-food gift to the party. Don't anticipate cravings by bringing junk food home. Don't give any credit to those who say "You have to try this!" or "You know you'll give in, you always do."

Set reasonable goals:
You know what this means. Have you seen someone try to flip from a pastry and fast-food diet to 100% macrobiotic in one day? It didn't work, did it? There will be times, like before a big test or after a particularly stressful day that you will oblige the craving monster (in a hopefully not too egregious way). No reason to beat yourself up over it.

So if you're ready, as I am, start applying a little positive psychology to your cravings. Kudos, from
the Bountiful Bite.

Additonal Reference:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bountiful Bite - 10 Food Additives to Avoid

Hey, guess what? March was "National Nutrition Month". No, I never knew this before, either. And with all the free nutrition "advice" floating around 365 days a year, who needs a special month? Most of us feel pretty good about at least 2/3 of what we eat, anyway. 

There's an easy way to self-asses if you're eating well or not. How do you feel? How much energy do you have? Do you get winded going up stairs due to extra body weight? Do you suffer from indigestion? Does the doctor say your liver's overworked? Do your kids fall asleep in class? Are your teeth healthy? Do you have high blood pressure? These are all not so subtle hints that maybe you could use a healthier diet and celebrate your own personal nutrition month.

According to FoodMatters, "A typical American household spends about 90 percent of their food budget on processed foods." Ninety percent! Are we crazy? For "National Nutrition Month" I'd like to discuss two main nutritional bad habits that need much more focus in this country.

1. Serving size. No wait, I want to discuss the other one...

Food additives, or, things in your food that weren't in your grandfather's food when it came from the local small farm. National agencies and NGO's such as the US Department of Agriculture, the CDC, the National Center Health Statistics, and the Dairy Council, as well as diet book authors, periodically point the finger at something organically based in our food and say THAT is the evil ingredient. Saturated fat, margarine, sugars, salt, carbs, and red meat have all been on the healthy eating chopping block at some point. But how often do you hear officials or TV diet pundits talking about the things that don't occur naturally in your food? Maybe these sources of information are ignoring the obvious... what occurs naturally in our food has a healthy purpose, when eaten wisely, but what we add to our food may pose an actual threat to our health.

If you shop in a "regular" big box grocery store, up to 90% of what you buy there could have things added to it that are made in a lab, not grown in the ground or naturally occurring in say, a fish. (Hint: shop the periphery of the supermarket first, and bring cook from scratch recipes for ideas.) So what's the big deal?

Well, let's look at the time frame. In the last 20 years diabetes has been on the rise, heart disease in on the rise, some cancers are on the rise including pancreatic cancer, food allergies are on the rise, and people are getting fatter. Maybe, just maybe, when we ate fresh whole ingredients our bodies were better able to regulate our metabolism, our appetites, our digestive systems, and our ability to fight off illness and disease.

Indeed, there's quite a lot of evidence supporting this idea*. For example, the outcome of some scientific studies of certain food additives have borne ominous results.
This month I'm passing along FoodMattters' list of the Top 10 food additives to avoid. Even if you know what they are, check out the source for a handy listing of what food products may contain them, and why you should avoid them even though they aren't illegal yet.
Hint - what's lurking in your rice mix, crackers, lunch meat, mac and cheese, candy and gum?

10. Potassium Bromate
9. Sulphur Dioxide

8. BHA and BHT
7. Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite

6. Sodium Sulphate
5. Food coloring: Blue #1, Blue#2, Red dye #3, Red #40, Yellow #6
4. Trans Fat (at least this one has gotten some attention)
3. MSG

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

and number one:

1. Artificial Sweeteners.

* <----British Study, creepy findings

Note to self: bring reading glasses to grocery store to read ingredients.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bountiful Bite: The Sugar Craving Monster

I work part-time in a bookstore. For the past two months I've watched dozens of diet books practically fly themselves out the door, along with carb counters, vegan cookbooks, and exercise manuals promising to give women flat tummies and guys six-pack abs. It's hard not to be a cynic and wonder how many new year's resolutions to be thinner and more robust will blow away with the first spring breeze.
"Thousands of Resolutions, Killed by Junk Food Cravings
and Lack of Consistent Dietary Advice" at 10.

On Valentine's Day I plan to eat a cupcake (with a glass of soymilk and no guilt). Yep folks, it's a cruel world out there. My housemate is Chinese. She rarely wants to eat desserts or sweet treats. She has a dislike for cheese. Is she "dieting"? Nope. Is she thin and healthy? You bet. Cruel world? Maybe not.

Maybe there's a perfectly good explanation for her lack of cravings, and it's not that "she's Asian." What happens to make us crave chocolate and other sugary snacks? Basically, our insulin or serotonin levels drop, or we are thirsty or fatigued, or our hormones go wacky (out of balance). According to one dietitian, when we crave sugar we're actually craving the micro nutrients found in fruit!**

So, why doesn't my Chinese housemate have these cravings?
She usually gets a good night's rest. At every meal, she has rice or noodles, a protein or two, and a vegetable or two. Occasionally she'll have toast for breakfast, with unsweetened peanut butter. In between she "snacks" mostly on green tea, water, fruit and a few nuts. Are we going to eat exactly like her this year? Probably not. But there are some hints we can take... I've snooped around on the net for "stop sugar cravings" and found suggestions, that fit in with her way of eating. Guess what, she follows the first four suggestions without thinking about it. I think I might be having an "Aha! moment".

Craving Sugar? Here are some of the more popular suggestions.
  1. Drink water or unsweetened tea. You might actually be a bit dehydrated.
  2. Have a little protein with breakfast, and every snack. (Egg, fish, or milk, soy milk, nuts or cheese, or even a couple oz. of meat)
  3. Don't start your day with something sugary. Read the nutrition labels on ALL your breakfast choices!
  4. Eat enough. It may seem obvious, but if you short-change yourself with doll-size portions of pasta or broccoli, you'll just feel hungry before the next meal-time.
  5. Take a walk or run. (Raises serotonin levels).
  6. Distract yourself. Helloooo ' Angry Birds'!
  7. Wait 15 minutes, the craving might pass.
  8. Go public. Tell your coworkers you're laying off baked goods and candy because you feel better when you do. If you eat the cupcake, you'll have to eat your words.

I'm resolved to stick to these habits. Really. ... At least until Spring.