Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why You Should Eat Breakfast Like a King and Dinner Like a Pauper.

Photo Source: Boston Globe

Over 30 years ago, I thought I had the answer to losing weight.  I was so excited about this hunch that I decided to do my master thesis on this topic.  My hypothesis was this: If you ate the majority of your daily calories earlier in the day rather than banking them at night (which the majority of currently do), this eating pattern would be kinder to your waist.  At that time, there was very limited research on this topic so all I had to go on was a couple of puny human study and some rat studies. I obtained my Master of Science degree in nutrition, bound the thesis, and let it sit on a bookshelf collecting dust for decades.

Ongoing research appears to support this hunch. In a study that was presented at a recent Endocrine Society conference, 29 adults who had both obesity and type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to two different weight loss diets containing 1,500 to 1,800 calories.  One group ate three meals daily with a large breakfast, medium-sized lunch and a small dinner.  The other group ate the diet distributed among six small meals throughout the day.  At the end of the three-month study, the folks in breakfast group lost a little over 11 pounds while the other group gained about a half a pound, on average.  Those in the breakfast group also had a significantly greater drop in their blood glucose levels during and after the end of the study.  “The hour of the day—when you eat and how frequently you eat—is more important than what you eat and how many calories you eat,” claims Daniela Jakubowicz MD, who was the lead researcher on this study.

This isn’t the first time that Dr. Jakubowicz’s research has showed this effect.  In another study published in Obesity, she and her research team randomly assigned 50 overweight women to a 1,400-calorie diet that consisted of a breakfast of 700 calories, a lunch of 500 calories, and a dinner of 200 calories or the same calories but with the breakfast and dinner meals were switched.  While it’s not surprising that both groups shed a significant amount of pounds on this very low calorie diet, surprisingly, those in the big breakfast group lost an average of just over 19 pounds compared to only about 8 pounds in the large dinner group.  The breakfast group also lost twice as many inches around their waists than the large dinner eaters.  Since the hormone ghrelin, which increases your appetite, was lower during the day in the breakfast group, these women also experienced higher levels of satiety, or that filling of fullness, throughout the day.

Researchers speculate that the body’s circadian rhythms may be the reason .  Circadian rhythms are the 24-hour rhythms in your body and are driven by the master clock in your hypothalamus, which are in lockstep with your everyday light and dark cycle.  There are also similar clocks in your peripheral organs such as your liver and gut and in your muscle and fat tissues, which respond to the timing and the content of your meals.  Since these circadian clocks can influence the activity of enzymes and hormones so are involved in your metabolism, eating the majority of your calories later in the day fouls up the circadian rhythms in your body. “Our body metabolism changes throughout the day. A slice of bread consumed at breakfast leads to a lower glucose response and is less fattening than an identical slice of bread consumed in the evening,” states Dr, Jakubowicz.

This phenomenon is not new.  Earlier research conducted in the 1950s identified that folks who routinely skipped breakfast and consumed the majority of their daily calories later in the evening tended to be overweight.  Identified as the Night Eating Syndrome in the research world, these folks weren’t hungry in the morning, which perpetuated this vicious cycle eating less during the day and more at night.

Based on this emerging research, there may be some credence to the old adage to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.  You may end up a trimmer looking pauper.

What do you have to lose?

This article was originally in the Boston Globe.




Why I Love Eggs


Click here for my short YouTube segment

What’s not to love about them? They are an inexpensive source of protein, contain bone-strengthening vitamin D, and provide choline, a compound needed for healthy cells and nerves, especially during pregnancy.  They also contain phytochemicals that are good for you eyes.  The only nutrient blemish is that an egg is high in dietary cholesterol.

But this setback can be be forgotten.  Research suggests that consuming up to one egg daily will not significantly increase blood cholesterol levels or the risk of heart disease in healthy people.  Currently, Americans adults are consuming slightly less than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol.  An egg contain a mere 186 milligrams of dietary cholesterol, all of it in the yolk.

Eating more egg whites rather than the whole egg is also an option.  When using egg whites in place of whole eggs in a recipe, substitute two egg whites for one whole egg.  Since more than half of the protein in the egg is in the white part, an one egg and many egg whites  can give you a fluffy, protein-packed omelet.

Here are some egg tips and recipes from the American Egg Board:

Easy Hard Cooked Eggs

A Farmer’s Market Omelet

Microwave Coffee Cup Scramble

Muffin Frittatas

The Take-Home Message: When it comes to enjoying eggs, consuming up to an egg daily by healthy folks probably won’t be a problem.

Be well, Joan




What is Raw Water and Should You Drink It?

Raw water

Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced food poisoning. If you’re one of the spared Americans who hasn’t, let me describe it to you:  You wake up in the morning. The sun is shining. All is good in the world – until you eat or drink something tainted with an unwanted pathogen. At first, you may not even notice. But within a few days or even hours, you start to feel a few cramps and experience just a tad of diarrhea. Then, the diarrhea comes on full force, moving through your gut like the Amtrak Acela speeding from Boston to New York City. At this point, you are seat belted to the toilet bargaining with a higher authority to make it stop.

All this could happen simply because you drank some raw water, or water derived from sources in the environment like underground springs that hasn’t been treated to remove dirt, debris and foodborne-illness-carrying pathogens.

To continue reading this article, click here:

The Hottest Food Trends in 2018

Food trends

Move over fashion designers.  When it comes to hot trends, what you eat is making more headlines than what you wear.

Over the last several years, we have seen kale become as famous as the Kardashians, and gluten-free foods having a cult following beyond Hollywood.   Sriracha sauce is the new ketchup, avocado toasts are a morning must, and cauliflower has become the king of white foods.  Whole wheat flour is yesterday’s news as chickpea flour is making its way into the shopping carts of Americans.

So which foods will be the hottest trends in 2018?  My money is on figs.  They can be a savory afternoon snack, tossed in salads, or grilled on skewers as a sweet dessert.  Figs are packed with fiber and iron and provide a smidgen of calcium to boot.  Because Americans are trying to cut back on the added sugars in their diets, we need to find a natural way to satisfy our voracious desire for sweets.  One bite into a fig, and you will immediately know that Mother Nature has answered our sweet tooth prayers.

Here are other 2018 food trend predictions from my nutrition colleagues:

Collagen-Rich Bone Broth

“The next superfood isn't green.  Collagen has moved over from the cosmetics aisle and become the trendiest new superfood. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and found in muscles, bones, skin, and tendons. Our body’s collagen production naturally begins to slow down as we age. A boost in collagen has shown to improve the health of skin, strengthen nails, hair and teeth. You can buy powders to add to your morning smoothies, coffee, or consume bone broth instead of stock.”

Kate Wilson McGowan, RDN of Brooklyn, NY


“It's one of the world's largest fruits that's popular in some parts of Asia and Africa, but generally unknown to most Americans. With the texture of chicken or pulled pork the green (unripe) varieties of jackfruit have a mild taste that readily absorbs flavors from the spices and sauces it is cooked with.  From tacos, curries and “meatballs”  to soups and salads, jackfruit’s versatility will make it a popular ingredient in both plant based and meat containing diets.  While it does not contain as much protein as other meat alternatives, jackfruit is low in fat and sodium but high in magnesium and potassium, two nutrients that help regulate blood pressure but are generally lacking in the standard American diet.  Jackfruit also contains some fiber, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.”  

Cordialis Msora-Kasago, MA, RD, Founder of The African Pot Nutrition and Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Broccoli Rabe

“This vegetable has shown up on a few menus, and while it’s not abundant in all areas of the country’s supermarkets, I think it’s time has come to go mainstream.  It’s actually related to the turnip family and is popular in Italian cuisine (I grew up eating it!).  Broccoli rabe is very simple to prepare and loaded with fiber, vitamins A and C and potassium and tastier than kale!”

Rosanne Rust, coauthor of DASH Diet For Dummies®


“Many Americans have been enjoying seaweed as a salad or a wrapping for their sushi, but seaweed is now emerging as an addition to crackers and smoothies as well as being infused into pasta. This sea vegetable is a natural source of numerous vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, calcium, iron, and iodine. Most types of seaweed contain omega-3 fatty acids, which may offer anti-inflammatory benefits and improve heart health.  The only caveat is excessive consumption of iodine can be harmful so watching your portions of this sea vegetable is important.”

Kristen Smith, MS, RDN, Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Creator of 360 Family Nutrition


“A prebiotic is a plant fiber that is food for the good bacteria that lives in our colon. Without them, the good bacteria also known as probiotics cannot flourish.  Probiotics may improve digestion, boost immunity and possibly even help with weight control. Good sources of prebiotics include: onions, spinach, oats, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, whole grains, asparagus and apples."

Keri Gans, registered dietitian nutritionist, author, The Small Change Diet

Grain-Free Everything

“I'm seeing more and more products on the store shelves catering to grain-free diets, such as grain-free granolas, grain-free cookies, and cauliflower pizza crusts. These items tend to contain plant-based fats such as nuts, seeds, and avocados, and may help you sneak in an extra serving of veggies.”

Melissa Groves, RDN, Retail Dietitian for Hannaford Markets and Owner of Avocado Grove Nutrition & Wellness

Resistant Starch

“With gut health garnering a lot of attention in the media and by health care professionals, I think resistant starch will rise to become a trendy ingredient.  Resistant starch is a prebiotic that acts similar to fiber to feed the good bacteria in our gut.  This type of starch can help to improve blood sugar levels and control appetite possibly leading to weight loss.  Resistant starch is created by cooking and then cooling foods like rice or potatoes before you consume them. It's also found in green bananas so expect to see more products on the shelves with green banana flour. “

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club


“Cardamom is an underutilized spice from India that will be showing up in more recipes and on restaurant menus in 2018.  Cardamom provides a pungent sweet flavor to foods and you'll be seeing it in baked goods, oatmeal, pancakes, yogurt, and almond milk.  It's especially delicious in warm drinks such as mulled wine and apple cider.  Cardamon contains a compound called cineole, which has antibacterial effects.  Similar to ginger, current cell and animal research suggests that cardamom can boost the immune system and enhance the activity of natural killer cells, which aid in the destruction of cancer cells.”

Christy Brissette, MS, RD, President of 80 Twenty Nutrition

This article originally appeared on the US News & World Report website.





5 Easy Tips That Will Help You Trim Down in 2018


Make 2018 the year that you tackle your weight by changing daily habits, which could have been sabotaging your waist. Try these easy 5 tips to help you slim down in the New Year:

Sleep Your Way Trimmer:

Did you ever notice that if you become sleep deprived, you tend to be “hungry all day long?”   Research suggest that those who slept less than 8 hours nightly not only had a higher body weight but also had higher levels of  ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger, and lower levels of leptin, a hormone which suppresses hunger in the body, than those who enjoy a longer nightly slumber.

Tip: Make getting to bed earlier your top 2018 resolution, which could help with your other resolution: to lose weight.

Close Down the Kitchen after Dinner:

If you are a post-dinner nosher, you could be noshing your way to an expanding waist.    A study in the American Journal Clinical Nutrition of almost 95 adults uncovered that those who habitually ate late at night ate more daily calories and gained approximately 10 pounds more, on average,  during a follow up period compared to those who avoided snacking in the evening.

 Tip:  To put an end to the habit of evening snacking, shut off the kitchen lights after dinner and declare the kitchen off limits until the morning   If you must have an after-dinner sweet, brew a mug of decaffeinated tea, such as French Vanilla or Chocolate Chai for a sweet, low calorie ending to your day.

Pick Your Dining Partners Wisely:

There could be a hefty price to pay in the morning for an enjoyable evening out with friends and family members.  Research suggests that dining with familiar and pleasant company feeds into a longer, more relaxed dining experience, and thus, increases the likelihood that you will overeat.   To add more fuel to the fire, if your dining partners tend to be less healthy, hefty eaters, you’ll be more likely to mirror their same weighty consumption patterns.

Tip:  Dine out more frequently with individuals who are healthier eaters and role models, which can help set the tone for lighter diner choices for all.   When socializing with less healthy eaters, plan outings such as attending a concert that doesn’t make the meal the focus of the evening.   If dining out is a must, make a reservation for lunch rather than dinner as the portions will be smaller.

Shrink Your Wine Glass:

Did you know that a bottle of wine is supposed to provide five servings?  The size of your wine glasses could have you pouring more than an serving in your gigantic goblet.  Research has shown that individuals tend to pour less of a beverage in a tall, narrow glass than in a glass that is short and wide, even though both hold the same volume of fluid. While 5 ounces of a red or white wine is only approximately 100 calories, if your wine glass resembles a wide water goblet, you may be pouring closer to 2 drinks and twice the calories.

Tip:  If you enjoy a glass of wine at night, consider the size and shape of your stemware.   Buy only one bottle of wine a week and make it last until Friday.  If you run out, don’t buy another bottle until the weekend.  Using a taller, more narrow glass may provide an illusion of a larger, more substantive, yet adequate and appropriate serving of wine and help you to stretch that bottle until the end of the week.

Waist-Proof Your Surroundings:

Research suggests that just seeing palatable foods such as a candy dish at work or cookies left on the kitchen counter can increase unplanned, impulsive snacking.   Let’s face it, the more often you see it, the more often you will be reminded to eat it.

Tip: Camouflage the sweet and treats in opaque containers and bury them in an office drawer, a cupboard, or better yet, the freezer so that they aren’t continually “calling out your name.”  On the flipside, visibly display fresh whole fruit such as clementines and apples at the office and on the kitchen counter.  Place cut-up produce front and center in the refrigerator so that you will be reminded to grab these waist-friendly foods every time you open up the frig.

Happy New Year!






Spread Holiday Joy, Not Food Poisoning, This Season

            food poisoning

One of the most rewarding parts of throwing a holiday bash is the text messages you get the next day from your guests reminiscing about how delicious and fun the prior evening was for all.  What you don’t want to receive are messages, or even worse, selfies illustrating that there was an impromptu after-party thrown at your local hospital ER exclusively for all of your ill-stricken guests.  Food poisoning is a horrific holiday present to give as it’s a gift that keeps giving for days.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 48 million people get sick from food poisoning each year with 128,000 of them having to be hospitalized.  Bouts of nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea are not only unpleasant painful reminders that you ate some bad food, but this type of foodborne illness can accelerate to the point that is life-threatening.  According to the CDC, 3,000 folks die annually because they ate something that contained a pathogen that caused food poisoning.

Keep in mind that if children, pregnant women, older adults, and/or folks with certain chronic conditions are on your guest list, these folks are even more susceptible to food poisoning.  For kids, the combination of their immature immune system and less stomach acids being produced in their stomachs makes them more susceptible.  Pregnancy also reduces the vigor of a woman’s immune system to fight food poisoning, and in your later years, aging causes your body to provide less ammunition to fight pathogens compared to your youth.   Finally, individuals with medical conditions such as diabetes, and liver and kidney disease, or those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment therapy, all of which weaken a person’s immune system, are also at a higher risk of getting sick.

To help you enjoy your holiday season without regret, here are some tips to keep your party merry and bright:

Making Cookies and Dough Ornaments:

If you are baking cookies or making raw dough ornaments at your party, you could be asking for trouble.  While you shouldn’t eat raw, egg-containing cookie dough or batter because of the increased risk of getting Salmonella, that’s only part of the problem.  According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), flour can contain bacteria that can also sicken you.  In 2016, there was outbreak of foodborne illness by the bacteria, Shiga toxin-producing E.coli O121 found in the flour.  Because of this, the FDA is now recommending that you don’t let kids play with raw dough.   If you and your guest come in contact flour, make sure that all hands, work surfaces, and utensils are thoroughly washed when the baking or craft making are done.

Whipping Up Homemade Eggnog:

While I will admit that sipping eggnog topped with ground cinnamon and nutmeg just screams out holiday cheer, making it with a traditional recipe that calls for raw eggs will put you and your guests at a food poisoning risk.  The CDC recommends that you swap out the raw eggs from the eggnog recipe and swap in pasteurized eggs that can be found at many supermarkets.  Even better, save yourself from this unnecessary worry by just buying pre-made eggnog that is already pasteurized.

Carving a Turkey or Chicken

In a study done by researchers at the CDC, poultry was found to be the most common cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States.  The good news is that proper cooking will kill off this problem in poultry.  To avoid food poisoning, get yourself a reliable food thermometer and make sure that it is inserted in the innermost part of the thigh, wing, and breast of the poultry.  If the thermometer reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F, you are good to go.  Contrary to popular thought, don’t wash the poultry before cooking it.  Giving your bird a bath in your kitchen sink will not wash away all the bacteria.  Rather, it could increase your risk of getting sick by potentially splattering the pathogens in the sink and contaminating surrounding surfaces

Buffering the Buffet Table:

When putting food out on a buffet table, you need to remember to keep cold foods COLD and hot foods HOT.  Cold foods such as cooked shrimp and salads should be placed on a pan of ice in to keep these items at 40 degrees F or colder.  Hot foods need to be held at 140 degrees F or higher by using heating trays in order to keep bacteria from multiplying to levels that can make folks sick.  Better yet, only put out small portions of these foods at a time.  When the tray is empty, replenish the buffet table with new platters of foods from the refrigerator or oven.   Keep in mind that when the party is over, perishable foods left at room temperature for 2 hours or more should be tossed.

Providing Parting Gifts:

If you are sending your guests home with leftovers, be mindful of the distance they have to travel.  If they aren’t going to reach their home in less than 2 hours, make sure these edible parting gifts are pack safely.  Perishables should be packed in a cooler with ice or cold packs that will keep the food at least 40 degrees F until arriving at home.

This post originally appeared in the Boston Globe.

5 Hacks to Make Overeating on Thanksgiving Almost Impossible


Why do we do it to ourselves every year?  We approach Thanksgiving as though it was the “Last Supper” and wake up the next day with a pumpkin pie hanger.  Each year, we stuff ourselves silly on the last Thursday in November because we know that we will have to wait another 12 months before we can indulge in the whole turkey feast again.

Let’s keep this in perspective.  If you want a turkey with stuffing and apple pie à la mode in July, these ingredients are yours for the asking in any supermarket all year round.  In fact, if we all got in the habit of repeating this Thanksgiving meal a couple of times a year, it would lessen this impulse to furiously gobble it up to an excess on this one day.

Here are my 5 hacks that can help you break with the tradition of over doing it on Thanksgiving but still allow you to deliciously enjoy the day:

Hack No. 1: Carve out an earlier time to eat.

carve out

The time of day that you eat your dinner may have an impact on how your body stores the excess calories from your feast.  Emerging research is suggesting that eating a higher percentage of your daily calories closer to the time you go to sleep may increase your body fat.  It appears your metabolism is at play here. Your metabolism is impacted by the body’s circadian rhythms, which are the biological process that the body follows over a 24-hour cycle.  The time of day that we eat can have an impact on your metabolism and the way the body stores fat.

Rather than serving your Thanksgiving feast at 6 pm or later, move the starting time to a 1 pm launch. Bonus Hack:  An earlier starting time for your Thanksgiving meal eliminates the need for high calorie appetizers that are typically served to hold you over until the bird is carved.

Hack No. 2: Downsize the menu.

Downside menu

Make an executive planning decision to serve less, especially those side dishes.  Research suggests that increasing the number of food options available at a meal, increases the amount of food and calories you’ll likely consume. It is not mandatory to have both mashed and sweet potatoes, nor do you have to serve nor do you have to serve both whole cranberry sauce and the gelatinous kind that fans out on dish like a turkey’s feathers.

Keep this in mind when you also plan the dessert menu.  How many varieties of pies do you really need to cover the table for it to be Thanksgiving?  If there are five different pies available, you will be more likely to eat a slice of most, if not all, of them rather than just being satisfied with one slice of a single dessert.  Decrease the number of desserts you traditionally serve by 50 percent, and you could possibly cut your dessert calories in half.

Hack No. 3: Set the table with grandma’s china.

grandma china

According to research, the average size of a dinner plate has increased by over 20 percent over the decades.  This year, pay homage to grandma and serve your Thanksgiving dinner using her petite china.  (It is likely stored in a family member’s attic so start the hunt early.)  The smaller the plate, the less food you are likely to heap on and eat.   Grandma will be grinning ear to ear at the dinner table.

Hack No. 4: Take the food out of the limelight

Thanksgiving FLowers

Research also suggests that staring at platters of food, especially enticingly yummy favorites, can motivate you to unconsciously eat more even if you are not hungry.  This is what happens when the meal is in the limelight in the middle of the dinner table teasing you to consume more and more.

Rather, serve dinner buffet style and fill the dinner table with flowers and candles instead of platters of food.  My festive favorite is to carve out the center of a medium pumpkin and a few mini pumpkins and fill them with fresh flowers or candles.  Feast your eyes on these seasonal beauties rather than the food during dinner.

Having the food at a separate table will also force you to get up and move to get seconds.

Hack No. 5: Couch the couch potato mentality.

Couch couch potato

Instead of watching football on the couch all afternoon, why don't you gather up the crew for a family scrimmage in the backyard or take a long group walk?  If you implement Hack No. 1, you will have all afternoon to walk off the mound of stuffing you ate earlier in the day. A one-hour trek through the neighborhood could burn off over 200 calories (about the number of calories in that sliver of pumpkin pie you had).

Happy Thanksgiving!

This post originally appeared on the US News & World Report website.

FDA Warns: Black Licorice Can Be a Harmful Trick Rather Than Treat


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that over consuming black licorice may cause abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, swelling, lethargy, and congestive heart failure in some people.  The culprit appears to be  glycyrrhizin, a compound in licorice root.  Click on this FDA video to learn more:

Here's the FDA's advice from their website about black licorice:

  • No matter what your age, don’t eat large amounts of black licorice at one time.
  • If you have been eating a lot of black licorice and have an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness, stop eating it immediately and contact your healthcare provider.
  • Black licorice can interact with some medications, herbs and dietary supplements. Consult a health care professional if you have questions about possible interactions with a drug or supplement you take.

Be well, Joan