Category Archives: Food

Calorie Counts Change Some Eating Habits

This past April, New York City mandated that chain restaurants must post calorie counts on their menu. Ever since they were posted, I’ve wondered if it has changed the way people eat. I know that, for myself, I’m much less likely to pick up a sweet snack to go with my tea from Starbucks when I can see how many empty calories I would consume if I ate it.

I took an informal poll of my coworkers to see if their eating habits have changed, and here’s what I discovered:

  • Most liked seeing the calorie counts of different foods
  • They also noted that they were more likely to go for a healthier option once they saw how many calories were in the more indulgent dish
  • One person noted that calorie counts give her the same reinforcement of good habits as a food diary – she makes better choices because she would be otherwise embarrassed to admit to herself that she ate too much or ate something unhealthy
  • A few people said that they sometimes worried about what other people in line or behind the counter would think of their eating habits if they ordered a pastry instead of a healthier choice

What about you? Have seeing the calorie counts changed the way you eat? If you’re not in New York or another city that posts calories on menus, how do you feel about your food choices when you know the calorie count or have it posted in front of you


Carpe Eat-em: the Omnivore’s hundred

Yesterday, I wrote about the 100 things you must do before you die. Today, we take a look at it from a delicious life perspective – that is, yes, eating and living healthfully but also enjoying life and all its deliciousness.

From Very Good Taste, here’s a list of 100 things an omnivore should eat in his/her life time. I have tried 76 out of 100 – everything that is in bold text:

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras

24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

How many have you tried?

Olympic Diet

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh

I’m not really into sports, but I love watching the Olympics. The stamina, dedication and nearly flawless performances of these elite athletes is astonishing.  I’m inspired to work harder and take better care of myself watching their amazingly strong bodies compete in what looks like effortless competitions.

How do Olympians keep their energy up? Most of them follow regular healthy diets and get to sleep as early as they can to recharge. You can’t get into amazing shape and be able to compete at your best if you’re not taking good care of yourself. Here’s a great slideshow about the training and diet regimens of many of the top U.S. Olympians: How to get an Olympic body.

Michael Phelps’ regimen, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily the healthiest – he’s more focused on bulking up his caloric load to make sure that he has the energy to keep winning the gold metals.

Most healthy men consume about 2,000 calories a day; upping consumption to 12,000 calories a day would make any ordinary man obese. But for Phelps, he needs this staggering amount of calories just so that he can perform.

And another article about Phelps’ diet is here: Pasta and Pizza? That’s Phelps’ Gold Metal Secret?

Older neighborhoods = less weight gain

I saw this interesting article from the NY Times‘ health section: a study shows that residents of  older neighborhoods (e.g., ones that were built decades ago) are less likely to gain weight. It points to the fact that you can walk to places – like stores – in older neighborhoods.

I grew up in an older town that had a main street several blocks from my house. As kids, we used to walk down to “town” or ride our bikes there. Of course, we were going to town looking for candy, but at least we were getting out and walking towards it instead of having mom drive us to it.

7 ways to stay healthy without breaking your budget

Has inflation hit you through your grocery bill? I’ve noticed recently that my food shopping has become much more expensive over the past few months. Here are some ways to cut costs without sacrificing your health:

1. Eat in season – If you’re buying fresh produce, it’s always better to eat whatever is available right now. Sure, you can get apples in spring or early summer, but they’re more expensive – and less fresh – than the seasonally-ready strawberries or blueberries.

2. Buy local – farmer’s markets often have comparable or better prices on certain items that you might find in your grocery story. By buying from the farmer’s markets, you’re supporting smaller businesses, helping the environment and getting fresher food (since the produce doesn’t travel as far).

3. Buy organic selectively – some conventionally-grown produce is so highly sprayed that you would be better off buying organic to avoid the massive amounts of pesticides you’d otherwise be consuming. For some other items, it’s not as crucial that you choose organic. See this article on MSNBC for more about which items should be organic.

4. Go veg – Eating vegetarian meals can save you a lot of money as veg sources of protein cost substantially less than animal products. If you’re opposed to becoming vegetarian full time, you can try it part time – plan to have some vegetarian meals during the week. You can get protein from plant sources such as tofu, tempeh, and beans.

5. Reduce your protein – If you are still adamant about keeping meat in your diet, use the Chinese Medicine philosophy of eating meat – eat mostly vegetables, with meat as a flavoring or condiment in your meal. One serving of chicken, beef or pork should only be 3 oz. This is much less than you’d get in a typical restaurant or takeout meal, but this is all you really need.

6. Eat less – It may sound drastic, but frequently we Americans are eating more than we actually need. Slow down your eating, and tune into your body. Do you really need the next bite? Or are you satisfied? If you’re hungry later, you can always have another small meal.

7. Fast – It sounds extreme, but a one-day fast will not only save you money, it can also help you live longer and healthier. Fasting allows your body to take a break from digesting all of the time, giving it the crucial rest it needs to renew and repair. But before you jump into fasting, you should get guidance from an experienced health coach or professional.

Birth Control Pills, Sunscreen and Local Eats

So much health news, so little time. Here are a few articles from the headlines I’ve read recently that may be of interest:

Birth control pill risk: Are you on the pill? You might want to consider these possible side effects from long-term birth control use.

Sunscreen and cancer: Is your brand of sunscreen actually increasing your risk for certain cancers? Read more about the controversy.

Grow it yourself: Locally-grown food — grown by yourself or someone you hire to tend your garden — is suddenly the new fashion. Learn why

Milk thistle: a head ache cure?

Many visitors to this blog arrive via my newsletter or through a news feed. But some end up here through a search engine keyword result. So, to answer one of those questions, I’ve decided to write about milk thistle and head aches: specifically, does milk thistle cure head aches?

First of all, what is milk thistle?

From the Mayo Clinic Website:

Milk thistle has been used medicinally for over 2,000 years, most commonly for the treatment of liver and gallbladder disorders. A flavonoid complex called silymarin can be extracted from the seeds of milk thistle and is believed to be the biologically active component. The terms “milk thistle” and “silymarin” are often used interchangeably.

Milk thistle is an herbal extract that usually comes in a liquid form. It is typically used to help rejuvenate an overextended liver. The liver can become weakened from diseases, overindulgence in rich foods, alcohol, prescription and recreational drugs.

The liver is one of the main organs of digestion and helps filter waste out of the body and nutrients into the body. When the liver is weak and unable to perform its job to peak capacity, the immune system can also become weakened – more impurities in the system means more work for the immune system which leads to an overtaxed immune system.

So, can milk thistle help headaches? Well, maybe not most of them. But one type that it may be able to help is the migraine.

Migraine headaches may be triggered by many different things, including allergic reactions and sensitivities to foods or beverages containing nitrates, MSG, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, or alcohol. Now, if you’re willing to experiment with your diet by eating cleaner food (e.g., by cutting out foods that don’t trigger congestion, allergic reactions, or make you feel sluggish), doing a diet detox or cleanse, and adding in supplements such as milk thistle to heal the liver and strengthen your digestive system, it may help you decrease or eliminate your migraine headaches.

You can also supplement with milk thistle during a cleanse and detox diet. The milk thistle can help you strengthen your liver as you cleanse your whole digestive system. By adding more fiber to your diet while you clean it up, cutting back on heavy foods such as meats, cheese, refined flour products, caffeine and alcohol, while adding in more greens, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, you may gain more energy, have healthier-looking skin and hair, and start shedding pounds.

If you are interested in a cleanse or detox diet, please contact me.