Ditch the Diets

Ditch the diets

Over 45 million Americans will go on a diet this year, but calorie restricted diets are not the best way to sustain a healthy weight. Although low calorie diets help people to lose weight in the short term, 97 percent of people regain the weight lost within three years. Yo-yo dieting is linked to heart disease, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, inflammation, and long-term weight gain. If low calorie diets are not the answer, what is?

The $66 billion weight-loss industry promotes the idea that it is best to be thin, no matter what you have to do to get there. In reality, if you want to lose weight, it is best to aim for a slow and steady weight loss of one to two pounds per week. Everyone wants a quick fix, but gradual weight loss that promotes healthy diet and exercise is the most sustainable.

Although crash diets that result in rapid weight loss are tempting to try, they can put your health at risk. Because they are restrictive, it is difficult to meet nutrient needs for essential vitamins, minerals and macronutrients. Furthermore, when you don’t consume enough energy, your body goes into survival mode and starts breaking down muscle to release glucose for energy. Your body slows down your metabolism in an effort to conserve energy. When people start to eat more, however, their metabolism remains low, making it even harder to maintain weight loss. In fact, studies have shown that when people on a crash diet with a rapid weight loss over a relatively short period of time started to gain back some weight, their metabolism remained low and they burned about 500 fewer calories per day then before they started losing weight in the first place. Calorie restriction also produces stress hormones, which can increase the amount of abdominal fat.

The best diet for you is likely not the best diet for everyone. Although weight loss is not easy for anyone, the key to successful weight loss is highly personalized. It’s important to take into account behavior, budget, and personal preferences; there is not one plan that works for everyone. People who are successful maintaining weight loss, however, modify their diets and increase physical activity. The vast majority of people who successfully keep weight off eat breakfast every day, weigh themselves once a week, watch fewer than 10 hours of television per week and exercise about an hour per day. Other strategies that tend to work include: paying attention to portion sizes, writing down food intake in a journal, and eating more frequent, small meals throughout the day. Furthermore, people with long-term weight loss also tend to be motivated by something other than weight, such as good health, the desire to live a longer life, or to be able to spend time with loved ones.

Fortunately, most people do not need to be at an ideal weight in order to reap health benefits. Research has shown that with just a 10% weight loss, people will experience noticeable changes in blood pressure and blood sugar control, which is linked with risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. It is also important to develop a healthy relationship with food. Dieting teaches us to rely on strict rules rather than hunger to control eating, which can lead to anxiety around eating, emotional eating and binge eating. Mindful eating, on the other hand, encourages a healthy connection with food and focuses on paying attention to signals of hunger and fullness without judgement. This strategy promotes internal self-regulation about what and how much to eat rather than relying on calorie counting or lists of “good” and “bad” food. People who practice mindful eating eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. They are more likely to maintain a healthy weight over time, and spend less time thinking about food. Mindful eating is a powerful tool to maintain a healthy weight without deprivation.

Dieting is rarely effective in the long run, but establishing healthy lifestyle habits does improve health. A Registered Dietitian can help you to make positive nutrition and behavior changes to promote lifelong wellbeing.

Nutrition Strategies for GERD

Many people experience indigestion from time to time, but when it occurs frequently, it could be an indication of gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD. This condition affects about 20 percent of Americans of all ages. Many pregnant women as well as people who are overweight suffer from GERD.

GERD is a digestive disorder in which stomach acids, food and fluids flow back into the esophagus from the stomach. You may notice a burning feeling in the chest and throat or a bitter taste in your mouth. The burning, pressure or pain may last as long as 2 hours and is often worse after eating. Other signs that you may have GERD include: bad breath, coughing, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing and erosion of your teeth. GERD can become problematic and may cause health problems such as inflammation of the esophagus, esophageal bleeding or ulcers, and esophageal cancer. It may also lead to respiratory problems, such as asthma, fluid in the lungs, chest congestion, wheezing and pneumonia.

A physician can sometimes diagnose GERD based on your symptoms and medical history. Other times, an upper GI series (X-ray examination of the digestive organs) or an endoscopy (procedure during which a flexible tube passes through the GI tract to take pictures) may be ordered. An instrument called a pH probe can be used to measure the flow of acid from the stomach.

If you have been diagnosed with GERD, nutrition and lifestyle changes may help. Some strategies to alleviate symptoms include: quitting smoking, losing weight, wearing loose-fitting clothing, staying upright after meals and sleeping with the head of the bed elevated six to eight inches. It is also helpful to limit the use of chewing gum, hard candies, and straws because they can contribute to swallowing air, which often leads to belching and reflux.

Fatty foods may contribute GERD symptoms because fat takes longer to digest than protein and carbohydrates. It is helpful to choose lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu and beans as protein sources. Cut back on dietary fat by limiting the amount of butter and oil in your meals, choose baked foods instead of fried, select low-fat dairy, and limit desserts. Certain foods may worsen GERD symptoms, so try to avoid peppermint, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, citrus, acidic foods and spicy foods.

The timing of your meals can also make a difference in how you feel. Avoid large meals and opt for smaller, frequent meals throughout the day. Eat slowly, taking about 30 minutes for a meal while chewing foods well. Avoid eating within 2 to 3 hours before bedtime to allow time for your meal to be digested.

Although GERD can be uncomfortable, you may be able to find relief with nutrition and lifestyle changes. Stay in contact with your doctor and Registered Dietitian for guidance on the best prevention and treatment strategies.

Nutrition for Men

Men and women differ in many ways, including their nutritional requirements. Many problems related to nutrition are common in both men and women, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Men, however, do have unique nutrition considerations in order to maintain optimal health.

Men generally need to consume more calories than women due to having a greater amount of lean body mass. Men tend to have more lean body mass than women because testosterone increases muscle mass. Higher levels of testosterone also make men more susceptible to gaining weight around the abdomen as they age. Fat around the waist is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. If a man’s waist measurement is greater than 40 inches around, take a look at lifestyle behaviors, including diet, exercise and sleep. In order to promote a healthy weight, get at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days per week. This will help to boost metabolism, build and strengthen muscle, maintain bone health, increase energy levels, and lift mood.

Both men and women need good sources of protein in their diets, however, men’s protein requirements tend to be greater due to a larger amount of muscle mass. Red meat is high in protein, but excessive intake of saturated fat from red meat is linked to heart disease and colorectal cancer in men. Rather than eating foods high in saturated fats, such as meat, cheese, and fried foods, opt for foods high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats including: olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds and avocadoes. To get adequate protein intake, focus on more plant-based protein sources, such as beans, lentils, tempeh and tofu. Plant-based proteins are high in fiber, which is associated with a decreased risk of developing cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Calcium is important for both men and women. Osteoporosis is oftentimes thought of as a woman’s disease, however, one in four men will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in his lifetime. As men age, they need to be sure to get adequate dietary vitamin D and calcium to maintain strong and healthy bones. Men should aim for three servings of calcium-rich foods daily, including: milk, yogurt, calcium-fortified cereals, non-dairy milks, dark green leafy vegetables, and canned fish with soft bones.

A healthy diet for men includes:
• At least 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day for vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
• Whole grains for adequate fiber intake. At least half of all grains should be whole grains, including whole-grain bread, cereal, pasta, brown rice, oats or barley. Fiber-rich foods help to manage hunger and fend of certain cancers, such as prostate and colon. Younger men need at least 38 grams of fiber per day, and men older than 50 need at least 30 grams of fiber per day.
• Lean sources of protein, such as chicken, turkey, lentils, and fish. Aim for at least two to three servings of fish per week to provide heart -healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
• Stay hydrated with water. Beverages can pack on the calories, so limit high-calorie drinks including: soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks.

Good nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices play a big role in keeping men healthy. You can decrease your risk of developing chronic disease by making smart food choices.

How to grow your own Food

Nothing compares to the taste of a tomato just picked from the vine. Gardening is a fun and satisfying physical activity that gives you access to fresh, affordable produce. Here are a few easy steps to get started with gardening and growing your own nutritious food.

1. Know what grows. When buying plants, ask which varieties will do best in the conditions you have work with. Some plants need lots of sun while others tolerate shade. In general, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, peas, beans, corn and squash require six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Carrots, radishes, beets and other root vegetables benefit from at least three to four hours of direct sunlight. Leafy greens and lettuce can tolerate shade.
2. Be sure that you have the right soil conditions. The soil should be well draining and loose rather than clay soil or too sandy. Remove rocks and use a tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches. In addition, vegetables need organic material, such as compost or manure, to provide nutrients the plants need to thrive. Plants also need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which you can get in a fertilizer. If you don’t have good soil, consider building a raised bed.
3. Consider container gardening. If you have limited space or poor soil conditions, you can grow vegetables in barrels or buckets. Finding a container with adequate drainage is key. If the container doesn’t have holes in it, make a few half-inch holes near the bottom to allow water to run out in order to keep the plant roots from rotting.
4. Go herbal. Herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow and are a good place to start. Choose a few varieties, such as parsley, basil and rosemary. Don’t worry if you end up with too much by the end of the summer. Basil can be used to make pesto, and all herbs can be dried.
5. Start small. You don’t have to grow an extravagant garden right away. Start with a few vegetables that are easy to grow, such as cherry tomatoes, green beans or sugar snap peas. You can either use seed packets or starter plants from your greenhouse.
6. Protect your plants. You may have to put up a chicken wire fence to keep out the rabbits and deer. They love to eat vegetables!
7. Care for your garden. Water your garden regularly. Vegetable gardens need about 1 inch of water per week during cooler weather and two to three inches during peak growing stages. In addition, weed regularly because weeds harbor insects and disease and can crowd out your vegetables. Get rid of rotting or dead vegetation because they can also be a haven for pests.
8. Harvest your garden. Pick vegetables as soon as they are ripe and enjoy your delicious produce.
9. Enjoy gardening year-round. Gardening doesn’t have to end after the harvest. You can have fun looking at seed catalogs during cold winter months and start planning what to plant in the spring. You can even buy an indoor grow light to start growing tomato, bean and squash plants early in the spring.
10. Involve your kids. Research shows that kids who live in a home with a garden eat significantly more vegetables than those without access to a home garden. Gardening helps kids to engage their curiosity, learn to be resourceful and gain self-confidence. It is a great family activity that promotes physical activity.

Growing a garden is a wonderful way to eat local foods, save money, and promote a healthy diet. No matter what you plant, gardening is a fun way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air!

Tips to get your Kids to eat more Fruits and Vegetables


Spring is here, and you will start to see more fresh produce at your local grocery store and farmer’s market. This is the perfect time to talk to your kids about the benefits of fruits and vegetables. They are loaded with the nutrients your kids need to grow and to be healthy. Here are some ideas to get your kids excited about incorporating fruits and vegetables into their meals.

1. Fill half the plate with fruits and vegetables. Include fruits and veggies that your kids enjoy at every meal and offer generous helpings.
2. Be a positive role model. Be sure to include lots of fresh fruits and veggies in your diet. If your kids see you model positive behaviors, they are more likely to follow them.
3. Mix it up. Eating the same old plate of steamed veggies can be boring, so offer a variety of options. Try different cooking methods, such as roasting with herbs or sautéing with garlic.
4. Include veggies at breakfast. Make a breakfast smoothie with spinach or carrots, fill omelets with a rainbow of diced veggies, or serve toast topped with avocado.
5. Make caterpillar kabobs. Let your kids assemble chunks of melon, apple, orange and pear on skewers. For a vegetable version, use zucchini, cucumber, peppers or tomatoes.
6. Pack fruit in lunchboxes. Fruit is a good way to add a natural sweetness to the lunch meal. Include an apple, tangerine, orange, kiwi, grapes, banana, plum or berries to your child’s lunch. Fruit is “nature’s candy.”
7. Add vegetables to sandwiches. Serve your kids a healthy sandwich with whole-grain breads, lean meats, cheese and plenty of vegetables. Good ideas are tomato, onion, spinach, shredded carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, lettuce, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, or avocado slices.
8. Make “delicious dippers.” Kids love to dip their foods. Cut up some broccoli, carrots or broccoli and let kids dip them into yogurt or hummus.
9. Try personal pizzas for dinner. Set up a pizza-making station and let kids assemble their own pizzas. Use whole-wheat English muffins, bagels or pita bread for the crust. Let kids top the pizzas with tomato sauce, cheese, and a variety of cut-up vegetables. Pop in the oven or microwave to warm.
10. Fire up the grill. Try grilling yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, onions and cherry tomatoes on a kabob. Brush them with olive oil to prevent them from drying out. You can also grill fruits such as peaches, pineapple or mango for a fun dessert.
11. Incorporate veggies into other foods. Add mushrooms to your favorite meatloaf recipe, shred carrots into spaghetti sauce, mix tomatoes into a casserole, or fold butternut squash into mac and cheese.
12. Encourage your kids to try new flavors. Ask your kids to try one new fruit or vegetable this week. Let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try at the grocery store or farmers market.

If these efforts don’t immediately change your children’s eating habits, don’t be discouraged. It can take several times of being exposed to a new food before many kids will try it. Don’t force your kids to eat something, because that generally backfires and leads to negative feelings about food. Continue to make fruits and vegetables a part of every meal and be sure to eat them yourself. Eventually your kids will start to try them and will learn to enjoy them as part of a healthy diet.

Try the recipe below as an alternative to popsicles in the upcoming summer months:

Frozen Fruit Cups
16 ounces strawberries
12 ounces orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 (20 ounce) cans crushed pineapple, undrained
2 (11 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, undrained
6 bananas, diced
1/3 cup lemon juice
16 ounces blueberries

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
Portion in 1-cup increments, and allow to freeze overnight.
Place in lunch box in the morning, and will be a slushy consistency by lunch time

10 Tips for Weight Loss Success

UHH Nutrition For Life

Medical Health

  • It is important for the Registered Dietitian and other health care providers to know your medical history before you begin a weight-loss program. A medical examination and possibly laboratory tests can be helpful to determine if there is any underlying medical conditions that could be affecting your weight.
  • Your health assessment includes the medications you take along with your sleep patterns. Some medications may alter your ability to lose weight. Consistent and adequate sleep contribute to your ability to lose weight.

Behavioral Health

  • Set and track realistic goals. Start with goals that are reasonable and build from there. Stay on track by recording your food and activity. Try apps on your smartphone or computer and use a fitness tracker. Ask a friend, co-worker or family member to follow along with you to help you to reach your goals.
  • Develop healthy ways to deal with stress. This may help to prevent emotional eating and keep you motivated to continue to reach your goals. To keep your life in balance, try yoga, tai chi, meditation, walking, hobbies or support groups.
  • Before you eat, use a hunger scale (1-10) to determine if you are hungry or eating for other reasons.


  • Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time so that you will have healthy food choices available when you are busy.
  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Local farmers markets are a great place to find fresh produce in season. Limit processed foods, fast food and dining out.


  • Design and schedule a fitness program that fits your lifestyle. Meet with a personal trainer to develop a plan that works for you.
  • Move as much as possible. Take the stairs, park farther away, play with your kids in the yard or walk with a co-worker. Vary your activities to keep them fun and enjoyable.

Best for Last

  • Make sustainable lifestyle change to achieve your goals and be as healthy as possible.

If you are ready to make lifestyle changes to promote a healthy weight, the Upland Hills Healthy Living Program may be for you! It is a 3 month intensive weight management program which provides weekly appointments with a registered dietitian or personal trainer (6 dietitian visits and 6 personal trainer visits.) and a free membership to Upland Hills Health Wellness Center while in the program. We will work with you to provide individualized consultation to promote healthy nutrition and exercise. The goal of this program is to help you to adopt positive lifestyle behaviors that you will be able to maintain. To participate in the program, a patient can call our Wellness Center to make an appointment (608) 930-7147. You will need a medical release from your physician to participate in the program. The first 10 patients to sign up will receive a free Fitbit! The details of the program are below:

Comprehensive 3 Month Program:

Require medical clearance from PCP

RD: 60 minute appointment every other week (6 visits.)

Personal trainer: 60 minute appointment every other week (6 visits.) Includes 3 month membership to Wellness Center.

Cost: $600 ($50 per visit) or $540 if paying entire cost upfront ($45 each visit.) Payment is due at the time of service.


Additional 3 Month Program (after completion of comprehensive 3 month program)

RD: 60 minute appointment monthly for 3 months.

Personal trainer: 60 minute appointment monthly for 3 months. Includes 3 month membership to Wellness Center.

Cost: $300 ($50 per visit) or $270 if paying entire cost upfront ($45 each visit.) Payment is due at the time of service.


A La Carte Services:

UHH Wellness Center Membership: $200 per year

60 minute Nutrition Guidance appointment with Registered Dietitian: $60

1 hour personal trainer session: $40

It’s All in Your Gut

gut microbiome

Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates stated that “all disease begins in the gut.” The primary function of your GI tract is to break down food and to absorb nutrients, but it does so much more than that. In order to have a true appreciation for the digestive system and why it is so important, let’s review some important facts. First, if you were to take your entire small intestine and stretch it out, it would cover the surface of a basketball court. The digestive tract has 10 times the number of cells found in the rest of the body. In addition, the lining of the GI tract contains 70-80% of the immune system to protect against the many potential pathogens that pass through your gut every day. Your gut contains 100 trillion bacteria made up of 500 different species, and research shows that optimizing gut function helps to improve overall well-being. Gut function is connected to and influences the health of the entire body.

Although some microbes are harmful, many positively impact your health. The microbes help with digestion of fiber, production of some vitamins such as vitamins K and B12, regulation of metabolism, detoxification of chemicals, regulation of the immune system, and prevention of the growth of dangerous pathogens. The proper balance and diversity of these microbes is essential for health.

We know that the number of digestive complaints and diseases are increasing. According to the National Institutes of Health, 60-70 million people are affective by digestive diseases resulting in over 200,000 deaths annually. The imbalance of gut microbes, called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, occurs when there is a reduction in beneficial microbes, increased harmful microorganisms, or loss of overall diversity. Many conditions have been linked to this disruption in microbial balance including allergies, eczema, acne, celiac disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, asthma, autism, cancers, cystic fibrosis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, mental disorders, obesity and cardiovascular disease. The real question seems to be, “Is there any condition not associated with the balance of gut microbes?”

The gut microbiota varies from person to person, but depends on many factors, including your age, genes, your mother’s microbiota, environment, exercise, sleep, stress, and your diet. Microbial colonization of the gut begins at birth. Interestingly, diet during the first three years of life likely has the biggest impact on the gut microbiome.

Your gut is sometimes referred to as your “second brain” and is involved in many important functions. It has its own nervous system, known as the enteric nervous system, containing 50-100 million nerve cells. In fact, there are more neurons in the gut than the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system. This “second brain” controls peristalsis and enzyme secretion that fuels the digestive process. It can also influence the way we feel. For example the feeling of having “butterflies” in your stomach is the gut’s signaling during a stress response. There is an emerging understanding of how the gut can influence mood and psychiatric disorders due to the fact that 75% of your body’s neurotransmitters and 95% of your body’s serotonin are produced there. A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger released by a nerve. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in sleep, appetite, pain sensitivity, and mood. Oftentimes, people with depression who have inadequate levels of serotonin often have gastrointestinal issues. On the other hand, irritable bowel syndrome can arise in part from too much serotonin in the intestines. The connection between the gut and the brain is truly integrated and complex and is called the brain-gut axis. Research is demonstrating the important role of the gut microbiota and the microbe’s ability to communicate with the gut to influence anxiety, pain, cognition and mood.

Engaging in activities that will improve the ability to handle stress can have a significant impact not only on the quality of life, but also helps to reduce inflammation caused by the stress response. There are many ways to help to control stress, including meditation, acupuncture, yoga, and deep breathing exercises.

There are several things you can do to promote a healthy gut microbiome. First, switch from an animal-based to plant-based diet. Regular intake of a diet high in animal fat can trigger persistent low-grade inflammation. Inflammation is a defense mechanism triggered by your immune system that helps your body to heal. When you have an infection or wound, the inflammatory response is beneficial and necessary to help to heal tissue. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is harmful and can cause damage to your body. In order to manage inflammation, an anti-inflammatory diet, including lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (beans and nuts,) plant-based fats (olive oil, canola oil and avocado,) and fatty fish is helpful. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods, such as processed foods and excessive amounts of sugar. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 6 tsp of sugar per day, or 25 g. The top anti-inflammatory foods are: fiber, turmeric, green and black tea, omega-3 fatty acids (fish), onions, apples, citrus fruits, berries, and purple grapes/red wine.

You’ve probably heard of The Mediterranean Diet, which incorporates the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It is a heart healthy diet and is very similar to the anti-inflammatory diet. The Mediterranean Diet incorporates fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant based proteins and fats. This diet recommends that you consume fish (which is anti-inflammatory) 2-4 times/week and red meat (which is pro-inflammatory) no more than once/week. Furthermore, this diet encourages a moderate intake of red wine if desired, enjoying meals with family and friends, and getting plenty of exercise. Physical activity is a wonderful way to reduce stress and to reduce inflammation.

Include a diet high in prebiotics, probiotics, and fermented foods to maintain gut microbial diversity. Prebiotics are a non-digestible fiber that promote the growth of beneficial gut microorganisms. They essentially act as food for probiotics. Foods that contain prebiotics include: artichokes, greens, garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, wheat bran, wheat flour, and banana. Probiotics are good bacteria that keep your digestive system healthy by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria. Fermented foods contain probiotics. Kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso soup, kefir, and yogurt are examples of probiotic containing foods to include. Look for live and active cultures on the label of your yogurt.

There are other lifestyle changes you can besides your diet to decrease inflammation and to promote a healthy gut microbiome. In order to decrease stress, practice mindfulness, which is a “non-judgmental attention to experiences in the present moment.” This technique helps you to gain control over your eating habits and to develop a healthy and satisfying relationship with food. In our culture, we often eat mindlessly while being distracted by televisions, computers and smartphones. This is problematic and can lead to overeating, especially since it takes your brain up to 20 minutes to realize that you are full. By eating mindfully, you intentionally slow down and will learn to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. Mindful eating includes:

  1. Before eating, ask: “Am I hungry? Am I thirsty?” It is important to distinguish between hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating, such as stress, boredom, sadness and anger.
  2. Eating slowing without distraction. Eat at a table and not in front of the TV or computer.
  3. Take 3 deep breaths. Be in the present.
  4. Engage your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, texture and tastes of the food you are eating.
  5. Check your hunger cues every few minutes and stop eating when you feel full.
  6. Focus on how food makes you feel
  7. Enjoy your meal!You can incorporate mindfulness by practicing mindful eating. At the beginning of each meal, practice taking a mindful bite by following the steps below:
  1. Close your eyes
  2. Imagine you are holding a piece of food (orange, raisin, chocolate.)
  3. Imagine what the food looks like. Examine the shape, color, texture.
  4. Imagine bringing the food to your nose and smelling it.
  5. Imagine placing the food on your tongue. Notice the response of your salivary glands.
  6. Imagine taking a bite. Pay attention to the sounds in your mouth and the texture on your tongue. Notice how the texture changes as you chew.
  7. Imagine swallowing the food. Pay attention as the food travels down your throat to your stomach.
  8. Say the name of the food silently to yourself.
  9. Practice taking a mindful bite once each meal.

To sum things up, science is rapidly evolving and we are gaining a greater understanding of the complex relationship between the gut microbiome and your overall health and well-being. Your diet is one of the most modifiable determinants of your health. Start incorporating some of these nutritional modifications, and you will soon notice a difference in your overall health.

Check out the video below for more information:


Almond Crusted Orange Chicken

Ingredients:almond crusted chicken
1 orange
2 egg whites
¾ cup sliced almonds coarsely chopped
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. Finely zest the orange and set the zest aside.
4. In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg white until slightly frothy. In a separate shallow bowl, combine orange zest, almonds, salt and pepper.
5. Put the flour on a large plate.
6. Dip the chicken breast first in the flour, then into the egg whites, and then into the almond mixture.
7. Place the chicken breast on the baking sheet and spray the top with cooking spray. Bake for 6 minutes. Turn and bake for 6 minutes more until the chicken is cooked through.

National Almond Day


February 16th is National Almond Day. Did you know that this nutritious snack has been popular for the past 6,000 years? Originally from Asia, 80% of the world’s almonds are now grown in California.

Packed with Vitamin E, protein, magnesium and fiber, almonds are a heart healthy food. Studies suggest that eating 1.5 ounces of almonds per day may help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Other studies have shown that people who have a diet high in almonds and other nuts reduced the risk of developing breast cancer by 2-3 times. In addition, almonds are a good source of magnesium and may help to keep blood sugar under better control. Almonds are low in carbohydrates and are packed with protein and fiber, which helps you to feel fuller for longer and can help to manage weight. A one ounce serving, or about a handful, contains 160 calories, so be mindful of your portions.

Almonds are the perfect mid-day snack. They are available in many forms, including raw, toasted, flour, oil, and even as almond milk. You can also use crushed almonds as a crust on chicken or fish, in baked goods, on top of salads, or in cereal or yogurt.

Check out this interview on Wisconsin Public Radio to learn more about the health benefits of including nuts in your diet:

Try this healthy recipe to incorporate more almonds into your diet:

Almond Crusted Orange Chicken
1 orange
2 egg whites
¾ cup sliced almonds coarsely chopped
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. Finely zest the orange and set the zest aside.
4. In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg white until slightly frothy. In a separate shallow bowl, combine orange zest, almonds, salt and pepper.
5. Put the flour on a large plate.
6. Dip the chicken breast first in the flour, then into the egg whites, and then into the almond mixture.
7. Place the chicken breast on the baking sheet and spray the top with cooking spray. Bake for 6 minutes. Turn and bake for 6 minutes more until the chicken is cooked through.

The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting

You may have heard of intermittent fasting, which essentially is starvation done in a strategic manner. People who follow this practice take periodic breaks from eating, for up to 24 hours, once or twice a week. This popular diet touts intermittent fasting as an effective way to lose weight and to improve health. But is it for you?

Proponents of intermittent fasting suggest that you eat sensibly most of the time, fast for an extended period of time, and indulge on a designated cheat day. A common method is the 5:2 diet, in which one restricts calories for two non-consecutive days a week and eats normally the other five days. Another method is to eat every day, but only during a specific six or eight hour time window. The research that has been done on intermittent fasting has been conducted on animals rather than humans. Some results are promising, including reduction in oxidative stress, inflammation, and LDL (bad) cholesterol. While your body is fasting, cells are under mild stress. The cells respond to stress by enhancing their ability to cope with stress and to possibly resist disease. Other possible benefits include weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, protection of memory, and lower risk of chronic disease. The long-term effects of intermittent fasting are not well understood, and more studies need to be done before it can be widely recommended.

Intermittent fasting may help to promote weight loss because it could result in an overall reduction in calorie intake as long as one does not overeat on non-fasting days. The problem is that when people go for long periods without eating, they often crave high-calorie, high-fat foods, which may result in binge eating on non-fasting days. For many people, it may be more effective to cut back on food intake slightly seven days per week rather than fasting for two days and then eating normally for five days.

Intermittent fasting is not practical or sustainable for everyone. It may not be safe if you have diabetes because prolonged fasting could result in low blood sugar. Before you try intermittent fasting, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider to see if it is something that is safe for you to incorporate into your lifestyle. A healthcare provider can help to be sure that you are including the right foods in your diet. Remember that what you eat is probably more important than when you are eating.