You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘weight watching’ category.

It’s not quite Halloween, but grocery store shelves have been exploding with bags and bags of candy since the first day of school. Avoiding candy might be easy for you – but throughout our days we are constantly invited to add sweet treats.

Photo License: CC0 Public Domain

Photo License: CC0 Public Domain

Starting with the sugar-laden morning drinks offered at your favorite cafe – or the snacks people bring in to share at work – or even the glorified candy bars labeled as “high fiber” that we are convinced we need as a post workout snack… We are constantly invited to load up on Sugar in some way, shape or form.

Yes, there are sugar substitutes that many people have turned to because they are lower in calories. These may be good options, especially if you are living with diabetes. The only issue is that once your tongue tastes sweet, your body wants more.

Photo license: CC0 Public Domain

So, in the long run, these sugar substitutes may increase cravings for (and therefore your consumption of) more sugary snacks. Ultimately, though we might avoid calories with one snack, that good deed is often undone by the increased desire for more sugar-coated calories.

Avoiding sugar takes some willpower, but honestly, almost everyone I know who has gone cold turkey to eliminate sugar says that once they get through the first 2-3 days, their taste for sugar decreases and they don’t really look for it any more.

Whether you’re ready to kick the sugar habit or just want understand more about it, I invite you to join me at one of these two upcoming sugar workshops to find out all the names for sugar that may hide in popular products, to get tips on reducing cravings and to find ways to live without it.

Thursday, October 8 at 7 pm at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mt. Rainer, MD. Click here for registration and details.

Monday, November 2 at 7:30 pm at Center Point Healing in College Park, MD. Details and registration will be posted soon – I will post the links when they are available!

If you don’t live in the DC Metropolitan area and are interested in either of these workshops, or on working on your own relationship with sugar, contact me to schedule a 30 minute phone or Skype call to assess your needs and to work out a plan of action!

So many clients I work with are concerned with the way they look. When these concerns turn into self-loathing, unhealthy lifestyle habits set in and interfere with their ability to live life with abundance.

Singer and songwriter Colbie Caillat expresses this extremely well in her recent video available on You Tube. Take a look:

It should not be such a challenge to like what we see when we look at ourselves. Bottom line is that Photoshop and media outlets around the world continuously present us with a notion of beauty that really does not exist. We don’t have to live up to impossible standards!

Health and Wellness coaching is only one tool to help a person set their own standards for beauty, health and wellbeing. Pass this on if you know someone who has difficulty practicing self-love!

It’s that time of year when the weather outside is less than inviting and you find yourself craving all those familiar dishes you shared with your family when you were growing up. Perhaps you’ve left many of them behind because they were loaded with carbohydrates and not as healthy as eating a salad… But still, on cold winter days those cravings persist…

One way around it is to make healthier versions of the foods that you once loved. I did this last Sunday by making shepherd’s pie. I started with a recipe I found at and switched out the white potatoes for sweet potatoes — mashed with chicken broth and butter; and using lean ground turkey rather than ground beef. Instead of including peas, I added fennel, celery, kale, and carrots; and then threw in a few cranberries, and fresh pear to give it a hint of Thanksgiving. I have to say it really did the trick – satisfying a comfort food craving – with 70% less guilt about the carb loading…

Ground Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 50 minutes


  • 1-1/2 lbs of sweet potatoes (3 large potatoes, peeled & chopped)
  • 2 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 6 medium sized mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 cup of chopped Anjou pear (1 good-sized pear)
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey breast
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or turkey broth
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of dried  savory
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning (including dried oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary)Read how to make your own at:
  • pinch of salt
  • black pepper to taste

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 2 inch chunks, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, after all vegetables are cleaned and chopped, melt 2 Tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large frying pan.
  4. Sauté mushrooms in butter and olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add carrots, celery and cook until the celery and carrots begin to soften
  5. Add ground turkey and sauté until no longer pink. Once meat has browned add spices, salt and pepper. When mixture dries, add 2 tbsp of chicken or turkey broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more broth as necessary to keep moist.
  6. When meat is cooked thoroughly, add cranberries and chopped pear and cook for another 3-5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  7. Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of broth and butter (add broth first, let the potatoes soak up the broth, then add butter and mash). Season to taste.
  8. Place turkey/vegetable mix in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.
  9. Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last 3-5 minutes if necessary to brown. Watch the oven to ensure that the potatoes brown, but do not blacken.

Yield: Serves four to 8 people — depending on how strong those cravings may be!

Credit: Inspired by recipe found at:


When you walk through the aisles of any supermarket you’ll see a lot of different packages carrying messages to tell you how wonderfully nutritious the food is inside of them. One of the most popular of these is the “sugar free” label. I am sure you’ve seen it on countless occasions – especially on foods you know are not all that great for you. So what do these labels actually mean?

First off – these kinds of labels are called nutrient content claims that either directly describe or imply how much nutrient content is in a food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates what these labels can or cannot say. And according to the rules there is a bit of wiggle room – so when something says it’s sugar free – what it actually means is that

It’s important to know that when something says “transfat free” it is not actually required to have 0 trans fats; rather, the amount of trans fats it contains is such a small percentage that the FDA deems it “free.” For the common adjectives that you will see on labels see how they are defined by the FDA below:

Free “Free” can also by indicated in other words such as: “Zero,”  “No,”/ “Without,” “Trivial,” “Source of,” “Negligible Source of,” “Dietarily Insignificant Source of.”Key to this labeling is that the food or meal does not have to be free of a substance (such as calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium) if it contains trivial amounts (usually .05 g per labeled serving). This may also come with a disclosure statement – required as part of the claim – with phrasing like: “See nutrition information for fat content” that exceed the prescribed levels). So:Calorie Free = Less than 5 calories labeled serving.

Fat free (total fat) = Less than 0.5 g per labeled serving.

Saturated fat-free = Less than 0.5g saturated fat/trans fatty acids per labeled serving.

Cholesterol free: = Less than 2 mg of cholesterol per labeled serving, and could include “trivial or no amount of Cholesterol.”

Sodium free: = Less than 5 mg of sodium per labeled serving – foods labeled “salt free” must meet criterion for “sodium free.”

Sugar free = Less than 0.5 g sugars per labeled serving.

Low Otherwise stated as “Low,” “Little,” “Few” (for Calories), “Contains a Small Amount of,” “Low Source of,” and refers to a meal or dish that contains varying amounts of calories or substances – see the definitions below:Low Calorie = meals that contain 120 calories or less per 100 g.Note: a “Light” or “Lite” meal or main meets definition for a “Low Calorie” or “Low Fat” meal – and the labeling will reflect which definition is met by the contents of the meal. And for dietary supplements, Calorie claims can only be made when the reference product is greater than 40 calories per serving.

Low Fat = Meals and main dishes that contain 3 g of fat or less per 100 g and not more than 30% of calories from fat.

Low Saturated Fat = Meals/main dishes should contain 1 g saturated fat or less per 100 g and less than 10% of calories from saturated fat.

Low Cholesterol = Meals/main dishes should have 20 mg or less cholesterol per 100 g.

Low Sodium = Meals and main dishes that have 40 mg or less sodium per 100g; and “Very Low Sodium” should have 35 mg or less sodium per 100g

Low Sugar = Not Defined. May not be used.

Reduced/ Less “Reduced,” “Less,” “Lower,” “Fewer” (for Calories), and “Modified” may be used to indicate Low or reduced. Definitions for meals and main dishes are same as for individual foods on a per 100 g basis.Reduced Calories = At least 25% fewer calories per 100 g.  Reference food may not be “Low Calorie”Uses term “Fewer” rather than “Less”

Reduced Fat = At least 25% less fat per 100g; Reference food may not be “Low Fat”

Reduced Saturated Fat = At least 25% less saturated fat per 100g; Reference food may not be “Low Saturated Fat”

Reduced Cholesterol = At least 25% less cholesterol 100g; Reference food may not be “Low Cholesterol”

Reduced Sodium = At least 25% less sodium 100g. Reference food may not be “Low Sodium”

Reduced Sugar = At least 25% less sugars per 100g. May not use this claim on dietary supplements of vitamins and minerals


So, based on these above definitions some popular nutrient claims mean something slightly different than you might think… Informed choices are the best choices. Enjoy!

It’s the season for holiday parties – and everywhere you look there’s a cheese platter. Of course cheese is a good source of calcium, all packaged in a high sodium, high calorie treat that should be consumed in moderation. So here are a few tips on how to hold back when you find yourself drooling over the cheese plate:

  • Fill up on low-calorie vegetables and fruits and garnish the plate with a little cheese on the side.
  • Choose a small piece of cheese you know you really enjoy – eat it slowly and savor every nibble.
  • Opt for no more than one or two ounces every few days, and make those ounces count by choosing a high quality, organic version.
  • If you are pregnant – choose hard cheeses like Swiss or Parmesan and avoid soft cheeses like feta, goat, brie and blue cheese. Softer cheese could contain Listeria – a bacteria that can do harm to a growing fetus.

You know the old story of the tortoise and the hare – every new year I fancy myself the hare – come January 1, my life is destined for drastic change. Out go the sweets, the coffee, the alcoholic beverages, the wasteful purchases I made in the previous year and in comes the fruit smoothies, the fitness gear, ardent recycling and loads of veggies – all the tools I need to excel at living an enthusiastically healthy, green and virtuous year.

Big changes like the big, fast start the hare had in the famous race, are hard to maintain. If you want proof check out that expensive exercise equipment sitting in the corner and collecting dust since last January. When I look back at my life, I find that the most lasting changes have been the slow and steady ones – not the radical changes I vowed to make overnight.

So below I list seven slow and simple changes that can improve your health, and fitness while contributing to greening our planet. Happy New Year!

  1. Add more laughter. Physiological changes take place when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues. Some researchers believe that laughter may offer some of the same advantages as a workout. Maciej Buchowski, a researcher from Vanderbilt University, conducted a small study in which he measured the amount of calories burned in laughing — 50 calories burned in only 10-15 minutes of laughter.
  2. Drink green tea. Tea contains antioxidants that can help slow down aging and help your cells to regenerate and repair. Teas of all varieties contain high levels of antioxidant polyphenols that can help keep your body healthier and some studies suggest even ward of some cancers. Tea has less caffeine than coffee, and drinking lots of caffeine is hard on your heart and other organs. Tea can provide the pick-me-up of coffee with less caffeine, making you less jittery and helping you get to sleep when you want. Personally, I like to drink tea in the morning – I feel that my breath feels fresher after a cup of tea than it would after a cup of coffee!
  3. Drink more tap water.  Most North Americans walk around somewhat dehydrated – and often mistake thirst for hunger. Hydration, through drinking more water is a positive change that can improve your health; and choosing tap water can have a positive impact on the environment. The energy required to produce and transport plastic bottles could fuel an estimated 1.5 million cars for a year! More often than not, plastic water bottles are not recycled—they end up in landfills, litter roadsides, and pollute waterways and oceans. The bottled water industry sold 8.8 billion gallons of water in 2010, generating nearly $11 billion in profits. Yet the industry is not required to report testing results for its products. Independent studies have shown that some of the most popular brands of bottled water contain pollutants like pharmaceuticals, fertilizer residue and arsenic. Public tap water, on the other hand, is subject to strict safety regulations, and you are paying for it anyway –so drink more! If you have any concerns about your tap water, install a water filter.
  4. Buy local! Instead of relying exclusively on large supermarkets, consider farmers markets and local farms for your produce, eggs, dairy, and meat. Food from these sources is usually fresher and more flavorful, and your money will be going directly to these food producers. Author and consumer advocate Michael Shuman argues that local small businesses are more sustainable because they are often more accountable for their actions, have smaller environmental footprints, and innovate to meet local conditions—providing models for others to learn from.
  5. Go for a ride. Carpooling and using public transportation helps cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, and your gasoline usage. This year I renewed my membership to City Bikes in Washington D.C., a bike sharing programs that allows me to rent a cool red bike for short trips. As long as I keep the bike for under 30 minutes, my one-time a year membership fee pays for it. More time comes at extremely affordable rates. Similar programs exist in other cities, and are in the planning stages in other places. This is a great baby step for my health and for the planet. It takes me about the same time to ride the bike from one stop to the next as it does to ride the metro – it saves me the metro fare and gets me moving at the same time!
  6. Reduce your meat consumption. You don’t have to become a vegetarian or vegan, but the small baby step of substituting one meal day with a vegetarian option can go a long way toward improving your health and that of the planet. In general, meat consumption is higher than the daily recommended amount, so cutting back one meal a week is a great baby step. Meat lacks fiber and other nutrients that have been shown to have cancer-protective properties; it is also high in saturated fat –which contributes to a number of preventable diseases. Livestock production accounts for about 18 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for about 23 percent of all global water used in agriculture. Websites such as Meatless Monday  offer numerous vegetarian recipes that are healthy for you and the environment. 
  7. Take 20 minute walks. It turns out that simple, regular walking may provide all the mental and physical health benefits you need. Walking has been proven to lower “bad” cholesterol, raise “good” cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, manage weight, and improve mood and energy. And what’s more, walking is convenient and cheap – you don’t need a gym membership or any fancy equipment. It’s good for the environment as well – cutting down on the greenhouse gas emissions your car would be making. Try walking to work, and if you work miles from your home try other strategies – short walks through your neighborhood, parking in the last row of the parking lot when shopping or parking at work. Remember it’s about small steps and every step helps!
  1. Get rid of products loaded with simple sugars and those that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup. These kinds of things are high in calories and wreak havoc on your digestive process making your body dependent on regular “sugar hits.” Replace these simple sugars with natural sweeteners like agave nectar, honey or brown rice sugar which much sweeter than sugar – so you will use less. Agave nectar, in particular, does not create a sugar rush, and is much less disturbing to the body’s blood sugar levels than white sugar.
  2. Get rid of products with chemical additives like preservatives, flavors and coloring. A good rule of thumb, highlighted by Michael Pollan in his book Food Rules, is to avoid eating anything you cannot pronounce. This is especially important if you have kids, food additives may have a disproportionately greater health impact on children.
  3. Get rid of soda and energy drinks. Sodas and energy drinks are loaded with sugars, artificial coloring and flavoring. Many people forget to count the calories in these kinds of drinks, and they really add up.  Instead, drink lots of purified water; and if you are addicted to a sweet fizzy treat, try sparkling mineral water with a slice of cucumber, lemon or lime. You can also add a dash of juice to give it a soda-like feel and taste.
  4. If you cannot live with out crackers or chips around the house; choose ones that have three to five ingredients which you can recognize and pronounce. Stay away from anything partially hydrogenated and check sodium content. According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines you should not exceed 2,300 mg of sodium a day if you’re a healthy adult, and not over 1,500 mg if you have high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes;  if you are African-American; or you’re middle-aged or older.
  5. Clean out your supply of white rice; and replace it with brown rice – which takes longer to cook, but as a whole food, it takes longer to digest than white rice, providing the body with sustained energy throughout the day. Brown rice contains the highest amount of B vitamins out of all grains. Additionally, it contains iron, vitamin E, amino acids, and linoleic acid. It is high in fiber and is extremely low in sodium.
  6. Break your habit of eating refined white flour bread and semolina or white flour pastas. Replace white bread with whole grain or sprouted wheat bread, and try whole grain or brown rice pastas.
  7. Get rid of sugar-filled breakfast cereals. Select instead all natural, whole grain breakfast cereals – look for the cereals with fewer ingredients and remember you will want to be able to pronounce each of the ingredients. You can also turn left over brown rice into rice porridge, or make up some old-fashioned or steel-cut oats for the fiber of a whole grains.
  8. Check the ingredients on your peanut butter and get rid of it if it contains added sugar and hydrogenated oils. Replace it with all natural peanut butter – to be certain read the label. If it has more than three ingredients and you have trouble pronouncing any of them, look for another brand. You can also try other varieties of nut butters such as almond, cashew or macadamia butters. My personal favorite is sunflower butter. Please note that these can be pricey, you can also try making your own by putting nuts through a food processor.
  9. Get rid of sugary yogurt filled with artificial flavors, gelatin, and preservatives. Replace them with all-natural yogurt with live cultures. You might want to try Greek yogurt, since it is strained through a cloth, it’s thicker, more filling and it contains twice the protein than other yogurt. If you want to sweeten your yogurt add fresh fruit – especially berries, or sliced bananas.
  10. LOOK at “sell by” dates and throw out old condiments and spices that have expired. Spices can grow moldy and lose their flavor. Try shopping at a food co-op or similar place where you can buy fresh spices in bulk – getting only as much as you need for a week or two of recipes. The most expensive aspect of spices is the packaging, so buying in bulk is both a fresher and more economic alternative. You can also grow one or two of your favorite spices in a garden box outside your window – some will even do well in a flower-pot inside the house. Use your home-grown spices fresh or dry them to add to your dishes.

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2010. That’s about 3 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 32 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 42 posts. There were 12 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 6th with 70 views. The most popular post that day was Gluten-free Pancakes and Chocolate Chip Cookies .

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were, WordPress Dashboard,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for corn on the cob, kale vegetable, corn cob, truth about caffeine blog, and nutrition blog.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

  1. Gluten-free Pancakes and Chocolate Chip Cookies January 2010
  2. Recipes November 2009 3 comments
  3. Thanksgiving Holiday Survival tips: November 2010
  4. Events December 2010 1 comment
  5. Resources December 2009

This is the time of year that we crave some traditional foods associated with the holiday. Maybe it’s your grandmother’s famous stuffing recipe or the chicken and dumplings, or maybe the tamales, or perhaps it’s the cranberry sauce, or the pie or the Christmas cookies…

There’s always a dish that just calls out to you – bringing back memories of family, friends and holidays past. This food nostalgia is strong especially around the winter holidays when many of us in northern climates tend to eat heavier meals to fortify us against the cold, icy climate.

A few of these festive favorites really help us celebrate, but overindulging often leads to some regret when the holidays are just a memory. One way of reducing the damage caused by holiday foods is to dream up some healthier substitutes for the traditional dishes. For example cranberry sauce can be made by using a wee bit of maple syrup to save you from the high fructose corn syrup or sugar in store-bought brands.

We live in a society of over-achievers and as North Americans over-indulgence is just one of the many areas where we can really excel!  We comfort ourselves by thinking “it’s only once a year,” but we are now powerless. This holiday season, begin now to incorporate some strategies to not sharpen the old sweet tooth too an extent that it’s difficult to find our way back to everyday fare.

If you choose to excel and fall totally off the wagon, then find your way back by creating new year’s resolutions to make your 2011 really bright!

  1. Keep up your exercise routines. Schedule exercise in your calendar. Make exercise a priority and hold yourself to it. It’s for you!
  2. No time to exercise? Try “occupational exercise! If you have a thousand things to do before house guests arrive, make cleaning your house your workout. Cleaning involves constant motion – bending, squatting, stretching, pushing and lifting. Does that sounding familiar? Aren’t these the same activities that we do when we go to the gym? What’s more, if you think about the physical benefits of cleaning, you might just make those bends and squats a bit deeper, and throw in a few more trips up and down stairs to retrieve cleaning supplies just for good measure. Try it; you’ll be breaking a bead (and breaking down fat cells) in no time!
  3. If you are entertaining, serve low-calorie favorites. Serve raw vegetables with a dip for an appetizer, a low-fat main course with one or two vegetables, and a fruit and low-fat cheese platter for dessert. Your guests will appreciate eating sensibly – remember they are being bombarded with the same holiday over-indulgence madness.
  4. Avoid skipping meals before a dinner party or big holiday meal. If you arrive starving, you are more likely to stuff yourself on unhealthy foods (including sweets).
  5. Strategically plan your arrival time at a party. Avoid the appetizers and before dinner high calorie drinks by arriving at mealtime for a dinner party.
  6. Prioritize – attend only the parties you really want to go to. You’ll save a lot of calories, time and stress.
  7. Be choosy about the foods available at holiday functions. There are usually a few acceptable healthy choices available to you. Concentrate on fresh vegetable or fruit plates, but don’t dabble too heavily in the sauces and dips. Mixed nuts can be good sources of protein, but be wary of candied nuts or extremely salty nut mixes.
  8. Do not deprive yourself, set realistic healthy eating goals. Do not restrict yourself so much that you crave every food offering you see. Allow yourself to indulge in some goodies at a holiday dinner or party by limiting yourself to smaller potions. Have only one glass of wine or Champagne, split a portion of dessert with a friend.
  9. Go for quality, not quantity. When you do indulge, pass up anything that doesn’t really excite and interest you. Take a small portion of what you love, and savor it by taking small bites and chewing completely. Slow way down, enjoy the moment.
  10. Avoid the hot chocolate. Many hot beverages are filled with sugar. There are plenty of herbal and fruit teas and infusions that are great alternatives. If you prefer your tea sweetened, use a little honey which helps build your immunity during cold and flu season.

Health & Nutrition Counseling

An integrative approach to health and nutrition which includes Earth consciousness.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 320 other followers