Hunger, a bowl, a spoon and a bite of heaven - homemade granola packed with great-tasting nuts and seeds and sweetened with treats from nature like raw honey and real maple syrup.  That’s the taste I love. So delicious, so satisfying (and Yay! - not a single 18-syllable, unpronounceable chemical anywhere in the bowl). 

I love granolas, and over the years I started to make my own – like this and this. So worth it to me. And my husband loves them too.

One thing I noticed though was that my husband had just as much in his bowl as he did when he was eating fluffy chemicalized flakes. These granolas are dense real food and a portion size is about ½ that of standard flaked or puffed grain cereals. I couldn’t believe how much he was eating and just had to mention it to him, of course very cautiously in that way that loving, non-nagging wife sort of way. ;-)

I even had a study from Penn State to show him how deceptive volume was, versus density or weight. But I didn’t need to go there as he reflected for a brief moment and then reminded me that he usually filled his bowl twice with the other stuff.

Ah yes!  That’s right, he’s a lot bigger than me and can, and does, eat a lot more than me.  And to be quite honest - that sometimes ticks me off – I wish I could eat like that.  I digress…

The point in all this is that size does matter – portion size, that is.

And it matters in two ways – both in the volume of the food and in its density.

Most of us are aware that the amount of food being served has grown exponentially over the past 20 years.  Check out this chart for a reminder. 


But often we are fooled by the density of the food.  According to Barbara Rolls professor of nutritional sciences and Helen A. Guthrie Chair in Nutrition at Penn State, "People have a really hard time judging appropriate portions. On top of that you have these huge variations in volume that are due to the physical characteristics of foods, such as the size of individual pieces, aeration and how things pile up in a bowl. That adds another dimension to the difficulty of knowing how much to take and eat."

And most dietary guidelines typically define recommended amounts of food groups in terms of measures of volume such as cups.

"This can be a problem because, for most foods, the recommended amounts have not been adjusted for variations in physical properties that affect volume, such as aeration, cooking, and the size and shape of individual pieces." Rolls said. "The food weight and energy required to fill a given volume can vary, and this variation in the energy content of recommended amounts could be a challenge to the maintenance of energy balance."

So what’s the solution? Well, you could weigh your food, which is certainly not very convenient or practical. But if you’re concerned, or even just curious, you can consider weighing your food, or particular food items just for a few days. That will give you a clearer idea of what your serving size should look like. 

Another suggestion is to be more mindful when you eat. Look at the food. Is it light and airy? Compact and heavy? Slow down and listen to your body.  Are you feeling full? If so, then stop – just because there’s food left on the dish, that doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Isn’t it great to be an adult and not have a mother over you telling you to clean your plate?! Save it for another meal.

And here’s another handy (no pun intended) guide.  It’s a nice tool to help you gauge serving sizes for many foods.

Wishing you well!



P.S.  Are you struggling to make the right food choices?  Knowingly eating too much but can’t get motivated to stop? I can help and would love to chat. Let’s find out if working together is a good fit. I offer a complimentary session and scheduling is easy with my online booking system: Schedule Now

Please join us on the KTC's Let's Eat REAL Facebook group! It's a fun community to share tips and recipes for eating and living well. Just click the link above and then click “Join.” 

The "Health Halo"?

Happy December!  Can you believe it’s here already? 

This week, I have a confession.  After a much-needed trip to the grocery for some essentials, I returned to discover that I had succumbed to the “Halo effect.” 

“Argh” I cried. 

You see, I arrived home with this (see photo), and shortly thereafter read an article in my Wellness Letter, a UC Berkeley publication entitled “Health halo effect, revisited.” In the article, they discuss the “health halo” effect that occurs when a food or behavior that has some healthy attributes is “perceived as being virtuous in all respects.” 

An example of the “health halo” is people who think anything labeled organic is fair game and can be eaten without giving it a second thought, while the reality is that there are plenty of foods out there that are organic junk food (sadly if it’s mostly sugar, even organic sugar, while it may have virtues over a non-organic counterpart, it’s still sugar, which has miniscule known nutritional value.  More on that another time).

The article referenced two studies in the Journal of Marketing Research and Journal of Marketing which reported rather unexpected findings “because it’s likely that many people fall victim to a health aura, even if they think they know better.”

“In the first study, people who were trying to lose weight consumed more trail mix when the package labeled it as a “Fitness” snack (and had an image of running shoes) rather than just plain “Trail Mix.” Moreover, when given the opportunity to use a stationary bike, the weight-conscious participants exercised less after consuming the trail mix labeled “Fitness” than when they ate the snack with the plain label. Rather than prime the participants to be more active, as might be expected, the fitness-branded food apparently served as a substitute for exercise. Fitness branding may put dieters “in double jeopardy, because it makes them eat more and exercise less,” the researchers concluded.

The 2nd study -  my “violation”

“The second study, from Harvard Business School and Duke University, looked at data from more than 2 million shopping trips at a major grocery store in California and found that people who brought reusable shopping bags bought more organic foods. That’s not surprising since people who are more environmentally conscientious are more likely to support organic farming. But incongruously, they also chose more “indulgent” foods, like candy and chips. The laudable act of reusing bags, the authors noted, seems to give shoppers free license to indulge by helping them “feel more deserving and less guilty about doing so.”

I used my own shopping bags, and as you can see, the contents were all veggies and fruits (most organic, I might add), except for the 8 lbs (3.6 kg) of sugar. I had to laugh at the irony. If I had been in that study with this purchase – I wonder what the the results would have been!   

I  didn't really cry “Argh,” - actually it was more of a laugh. I was very aware of what I was doing as my kitchen is Holiday Cookie Baking Central for my family. I gather with my sisters, and several nieces and nephews, and we make a day of it. It’s a wonderful family tradition and we supply goodies for multiple gatherings and dozens of people. So that sugar goes a long way.

I may - who’s kidding who?! – I will indulge, but just a bit.  

While we still have our traditions, some of us have gotten far more conscientious about what we eat, so this year we’ll be adding more “virtuous” treats to our festivities.  I’ll be sure to share some of those recipes with you.

The article concluded with this solid advice. “Bottom line: To avoid being influenced by the health halo effect, ignore buzzwords, slogans, and images that make foods appear more healthful than they really are (flip the package over to read the nutrition facts). And be mindful that behaving “virtuously” in one area of your life (like using your own shopping bag) doesn’t give a green light to act in a negative or overindulgent way elsewhere.”


NOTE: Not that I need to further justify my purchase, but I feel compelled to share that I did buy Pure Cane sugar, a plant which has not yet been genetically modified vs.  Pure Sugar, which comes from beets and in the U.S., most assuredly is genetically modified. 


Wishing you a great December,

P.S.  Ready to start 2016 on the path to a healthier you? It can all start with a simple phone call.  Let’s chat about what that path can look like – just for You. The session is complimentary, and guaranteed to make you feel better. Scheduling is easy with my online booking system: Schedule Now

I’ll be posting recipes through the month for those “virtuous” treats I mentioned and you don’t want to miss out! If you haven't yet, please join KTC's Let's Eat REAL Facebook group! It's a great community to share tips and recipes for eating and living well. Just click the link above and then click “Join.” 



There's WHAT in My Snack?!



Don't you just hate it when you think you're making a relatively healthy snack choice and find out - No, not so much?!   



Don't you just hate it when you think you're making a relatively healthy snack choice and find out - No, not so much?!  While SunChips have never claimed to be a "health" food, their positioning has always been geared around being a relatively better choice (versus other bagged snack foods).  I even know of people who didn't really enjoy the chips, but chose them over potato chips or other bagged options thinking it was "at least a little healthier."  (Those clever Marketers, once again - even the name sounds happy and healthy!) If you are one of these people, here's another reason to skip the snack chips altogether and reach for the apple or carrot sticks (preferable organic, of course).   

A post in Rodale shares that this popular item is actually full of some pretty disturbing ingredients.

"GMO Free USA, a national advocacy group, recently announced that Frito Lay's SunChips tested positive for glyphosate, a popular weed-killing chemical and the active ingredient in Roundup. The testing also revealed the chips contained genetically engineered ingredients. (GE technology often relies on heavy applications of glyphosate on food crops, and the chemical winds up in the food you eat.)

The public advocacy group, whose mission is to harness independent science and agroecological concepts to advocate for sustainable food and ecological systems, found that a quantitative test verified by DNA analysis discovered that 100 percent of the corn in the SunChips came from GMO sources, containing DNA sequences known to be present in insecticide-producing Bt and Roundup Ready corn."

Why should you be concerned?  Because this chemical "has been linked to certain cancers, including lymphoma, and to DNA damage, premature births, birth defects, and ADHD, according to previous research."  Studies continue to be published linking GMOs to obesity, diabetes, heart problems and circulatory disorders. 

So what should you choose instead?  As a health coach, of course I'm going to encourage you to choose fresh fruits and vegetables. Nuts and seeds make great choices too. Make them an easy grab and go option by:

  1. Buying them!
  2. Prepping them as soon as you get home. Cut up carrots, celery, bell peppers or whichever veggies you prefer and store them in easy to grab containers or plastic bags.  
  3. Keeping them visible so you remember to take them with you.  Place apples, oranges and those prepared veggies at eye level in the fridge.  Tip:  Put your car keys in the fridge on top of them so you can't leave the house without seeing them!  (Yes, I'm kidding!)
  4. Packing nuts and seeds in "To Go" containers or snack bags and put them in your purse, messenger bag or on by your cell phone - you certainly won't forget that!

And remember that by definition, GMOs are not allowed in organic food.  So you can limit exposure to these chemicals by choosing organic - whether you're choosing fresh fruits and veggies or packaged snack foods. 

For the full Rodale post, click here 

Just Being Honest - I LOVE CHOCOLATE!


Chocolate is finally earning a righteous place as its own food group! Well, I at least I think so...

I think chocolate should legitimately be its own food group.  I adore it - and just like my love interests (you lucky husband!), I'm a snob about my choices.  I have to admit my love affair has had it's ups and downs. Over the years I struggled with guilt about it.  Is he good for me or bad for me?  Is he good for my heart or will he break it?  Does he feel as euphoric after being with me as I do after being with him?

Well, as a strong confident woman, I was not about to quit!  I stuck it out and continued to learn about the benefits of our relationship.  And the good news keeps coming!  

In this article by John Robbins in Food Revolution "Chocolates Startling Health Benefits," many of the benefits of chocolate are listed, and for you skeptics out there, the science behind the benefits is listed as well.  I'll share some highlights here:

"The food police may find this hard to take, but chocolate has gotten a bad rap. People say it causes acne, that you should eat carob instead, that it’s junk food. But these accusations are not only undeserved and inaccurate, they falsely incriminate a delicious food that turns out to have profoundly important healing powers.

There is in fact a growing body of credible scientific evidence that chocolate contains a host of heart-healthy and mood-enhancing phytochemicals, with benefits to both body and mind."

BODY:  Chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants, substances that reduce the ongoing cellular and arterial damage caused by oxidative reactions. Chocolate is particularly rich in a type of antioxidants called polyphenols:  These do great things for the body:

  • help to prevent heart disease by inhibiting oxidation of LDL cholesterol
  • inhibit the clumping of blood platelets, reducing the risks of atherosclerosis
  • reduce blood pressure in people with mild hypertension
  • thin the blood and perform the same anti-clotting activity as aspirin

MIND: Chocolate has long been renown for its remarkable effects on human containing substances such as theobromine, phenethylamine, anandamide and seratonin that are known for:

  • mood enhancement  
  • the release of pleasurable endorphins, and a reaction associated with sexual arousal and pleasure. 
  • producing feelings of elation and exhilaration.

To get these benefits though, stick to dark chocolate - at least 70% cocoa (drop me a note if you'd some info on my favorites - we can compare notes on style and taste!).  Milk chocolate has more added sugar, and often unpronounceable additives that put it in another category altogether.

Trust me - I'm an expert on this subject, and knew a long time ago that in its pure state, chocolate could not possibly be anything but good for us, just like love.... Happy Valentines Day!  Gotta go - I have a dark gorgeous hunk waiting for me........

To read the whole article: click here


Artificial Sweeteners May Make You Fat, or Worse!


Think saving calories with artificial sweeteners is a good idea?  Think again!

I had a really nice lunch with a friend at our favorite sushi place - great food and conversation.  As usual, the subject of weight came up (it's a menopausal girl thing!), and while we talked about it a lot, a piece of our conversation that really struck me was around sugar, artificial sweeteners and yogurt.

My friend mentioned that while she hasn't made the change to eating plain yogurt, the vanilla yogurt that she does eat "at least doesn't have sugar."  She thought she was doing her body a favor by choosing one with artificial, calorie-free sweeteners instead.  Sadly, she's not doing her body a favor at all, and a number of scientific studies are really proving the point.  I could name several here, but one study that I really like was reported by the Huffington Post.  Bottom-line - it found that artificial sweeteners mess with gut bacteria in a way that causes glucose intolerance, which leads to weight gain.

"People who drink diet sodas over regular sodas are more likely to be overweight or obese, but scientists weren't sure why. The theories fell into two camps: one, something inherent to artificial sweeteners causes weight gain or two, diet sodas imply a diet and heavy people are more likely to be on one.

While we can't discount either quite yet, put down one more point for the first theory. A new study from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel reveals that artificial sweeteners may have a deleterious effect on our gut bacteria.

Researchers found that artificial sweeteners changed the composition of gut bacteria over time, which could explain why subjects became more glucose intolerant over time. Prolonged glucose intolerance leads to conditions like obesity and diabetes -- the very things that people drinking diet sodas are trying to avoid."

In the study, they found  that those who reported eating more artificial sweeteners were more likely to be heavier, have larger waists and higher blood glucose levels when fasting.

"Artificial sweeteners were extensively introduced into our diets with the intention of reducing caloric intake and normalizing blood glucose levels without compromising the human 'sweet tooth,'" write the study authors. "Our findings suggest that [artificial sweeteners] may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight."

A solution - look for and choose natural sweeteners. For my friend, a great choice would be fresh fruit (berries are my personal choice) and a touch of vanilla extract.  More information on other safe sweeteners coming soon........ 

For the full Huffington Post article, click here