Mindful Eating and Weight Loss

MP900443279Mindful Eating and Weight Loss

Did you know that simply being mindful when you eat can help you to lose weight? There are two big reasons to be mindful when you eat:

  1. You will eat less and enjoy your food more.
  2. You will metabolize and burn food better rather than store it in your belly.

Study after study shows when we eat unconsciously, we eat more. In one particular study, participants were given snack food bags that automatically refilled from a secret compartment under the table. They were compared to people who just had a single bag full. The group that had the auto-refillable bags just kept eating.

Studies also show that when you eat in a stressed state, you store fat in your belly and don’t metabolize your food well. Same food, but eating this way creates more weight gain and inflammation.

Here’s what you can do to be more mindful and create better habits around food:

  • Say a blessing of thanks before each meal-gratitude and prayer help focus the mind and bring you to the present.
  • Always sit down and sit still-don’t eat while watching TV, talking on the phone, driving, standing or walking down the street with food in your mouth.
  • Eat from smaller plates-eating out of a package, bag or container is a good way to overeat and eat unconsciously.
  • Stop and breathe before eating-take 3-5 deep breaths in and out through your nose before every meal.
  • Create a peaceful environment-soft light, candles, quiet music-all of these encourage attention, slow eating and pleasure.
  • Chew each bite multiple times-you’ll improve digestion of your food and your enjoyment of it.
  • Serve food before you put the plate on the table-leave the serving dish on the counter rather than in the center of the table.
  • Don’t reward exercise by thinking, I just walked 3 miles, so I can have a (fill in the blank). Exercise is its own reward.You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.
  • Don’t shop hungry-if you are hungry when you shop, you’ll likely buy more quick snacks, processed foods, and fewer fruits and vegetables.
  • Buy in bulk-then put food into small bags or containers.
  • Make your home a safe zone-don’t keep tempting junk food, poor quality snacks and processed foods in the house.


Fat Cells and Sleep

Sick Young Woman Lying in Bed --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

In a study that challenges the long-held notion that the primary function of sleep is to give rest to the brain, researchers have found that not getting enough shut-eye has a harmful impact on fat cells, reducing by 30 percent their ability to respond to insulin, a hormone that regulates energy.

Sleep deprivation has long been associated with impaired brain function, causing decreased alertness and reduced cognitive ability. The latest finding — published by University of Chicago Medicine researchers in the Oct. 16 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine — is the first description of a molecular mechanism directly connecting sleep loss to the disruption of energy regulation in humans, a process that can lead over time to weight gain, diabetes and other health problems. The study suggests that sleep’s role in energy metabolism is at least as important as it is in brain function.

“We found that fat cells need sleep to function properly,” said study author Matthew Brady, PhD, associate professor of medicine and vice-chair of the Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition at the University of Chicago.

Brady said body fat plays an important role in humans.

“Many people think of fat as a problem, but it serves a vital function,” he said. “Body fat, also known as adipose tissue, stores and releases energy. In storage mode, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from the circulation where they can damage other tissues. When fat cells cannot respond effectively to insulin, these lipids leach out into the circulation, leading to serious complications.”

Esra Tasali, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and co-senior author, led the recruitment of six men and one woman, all young, lean and healthy. Each volunteer went through two study conditions, at least four weeks apart. In one, they spent 8.5 hours a night in bed for four consecutive nights. In the other, they spent 4.5 hours in bed for four nights. Food intake, strictly controlled, was identical under both study conditions.

On the morning after the fourth night following both the long and short sleep conditions, each volunteer took an intravenous glucose tolerance test, which measures total-body insulin sensitivity. The researchers performed a biopsy, removing abdominal fat cells from the area near each volunteer’s navel. Then they measured how these fat cells responded to insulin.

The researchers assessed insulin sensitivity at the molecular level by measuring the phosphorylation of a protein called Akt within fat cells. Akt phosphorylation is a crucial early chemical step in the cell’s response to insulin.

After four nights of short sleep, total-body insulin response decreased by an average of 16 percent. The insulin sensitivity of fat cells decreased by 30 percent. This reduction is comparable to the difference between cells from obese vs. lean participants or from people with diabetes versus non-diabetic controls.

They found that the sleep-deprived study participants had a decreased response to a range of doses of insulin. It took nearly three times as much insulin to provoke half of the maximum Akt response in volunteers who had been deprived of sleep.

“Sleeping four to five hours a night, at least on work days, is now a common behavior” said study author and sleep specialist Esra Tasali.

“Some people claim they can tolerate the cognitive effects of routine sleep deprivation,” said co-author Eve Van Cauter, PhD, the Frederick H. Rawson Professor of Medicine and director of the sleep, metabolism and health center at the University of Chicago. “In this small but thorough study, however, we found that seven out of seven subjects had a significant change in insulin sensitivity. They are not tolerating the metabolic consequences.”

The study was one of the first to bring together sleep research experts and biologists focused on energy regulation and metabolism in adipose tissue. The impetus came from a sleep-research graduate student, Josiane Broussard, PhD ’10, lead author of the study and now a Society in Science-Branco Weiss fellow at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She wanted to combine her interest in sleep and metabolism with research at the molecular level.

So she pulled together a team for this project that included the two sleep researchers, Tasali and Van Cauter, plus two specialists from the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center, David Ehrmann, MD, and Brady, who studies how insulin regulates energy storage in fat and liver cells.

They focused on fat cells because of their direct links to metabolic disruption and weight gain. These cells store energy for the body, are exquisitely sensitive to insulin and help regulate appetite.

Witnessing the direct effect of sleep deprivation on a peripheral tissue such as fat at the cellular level “was an eye-opener,” Broussard said. It helps cement the link between sleep and diabetes and “suggests that we could use sleep like diet and exercise to prevent or treat this common disease.”

Brady said the study opens up many new questions.

“What signals from sleep loss affect the fat cell? What effect does dysfunctional fat have at the whole-body level?” Brady wondered. “And if we can deprive healthy people of sleep and make them worse, can we take sick people, such as those with the common combination of sleep apnea, obesity and diabetes, improve their sleep and make them better? That’s the missing link in the sleep-obesity-diabetes connection.”

This study is “a valuable contribution to the understanding of the causal pathways by which reduced sleep duration may directly contribute to diabetes and obesity,” according to an editorial in the journal by Francesco Cappuccio, MD, DSc, and Michelle Miller, PhD, of the University of Warwick, in Coventry, United Kingdom. “These results point to a much wider influence of sleep on bodily functions, including metabolism, adipose tissue, cardiovascular function, and possibly more.”

National Sleep Foundation

Toxic Sunscreens

sunblockThe Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently published their guide to safe sunscreens. They reviewed over 2000 sunscreens and over 257 brands. They found more than 75% of the sunscreens contained toxic chemicals that can increase your risk of cancer and other health issues.

The Dangers of Conventional Sunscreens
According to research from the EWG: Our review…shows that some sunscreen ingredients absorb into the blood, and some have toxic effects. Some release skin-damaging free radicals in sunlight, some act like estrogen and disrupt hormones, and several can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. The FDA has not established rigorous safety standards for sunscreen ingredients. Sunscreens haven’t been regulated since 1978 in the USA, and the SPF factor only tells you how effective a sunscreen is against UVB rays which cause sunburn.

A recent study published in Environmental Science Technology has also shown the common sunscreen ingredients oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate, and PABA are estrogenic chemicals linked to cancer. Reading labels not only on food products but also sunscreen and body care products is very important because toxins are absorbed into the bloodstream.

List of Unsafe, Toxic Chemicals in Sunscreen

  • Para amino benzoic acid
  • Octyl salicyclate
  • Oxybenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Homosalate
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Octocrylene
  • Methoxycinnamate
  • Parabens

There are two types of sunscreens: non-mineral and mineral.  And some that combine both.

Non-mineral sunscreens penetrate the skin, are potentially disruptive to hormones, are allergenic, and like I mentioned earlier, can release free radicals when they break down. Oxybenzone is the most common ingredient found in sunscreens. Scientists recommend not using sunscreens containing oxybenzone on children because of this hormone disruption.

Mineral sunscreens are ones containing zinc, or titanium. These do not breakdown in sunlight, are not usually absorbed ( so do not disrupt the body’s hormones), are not allergenic and are more effective at blocking UVA rays than non-minerals. These sunscreens are a good choice for children and according to EWG have the best safety profiles of the choices in the United States.

Some of the best brands include: Kiss My Face, Jason and Aubrey Organics.

Actions Steps
1. Get 20+ minutes of sunshine daily
2. Cover up with light clothing before you get burnt
3. Wear natural sunscreen if you’re going to stay out for a long period of time
4. Eat a diet high in anti-oxidants to protect your skin
5. If you get burnt, use a mixture of aloe, coconut oil and vitamin E on your skin


Is Wheat Giving You A Belly

wheat before harvestMany of us are constantly struggling with the battle of the bulge and can’t just seem to get the weight off. We are not alone, as over 1/3 of the US population is obese. What many of us don’t realize is that a common “staple” of our diet may be a huge culprit in the obesity epidemic. The old food pyramid features bread, pasta, and other grains as the predominant food in our diets. But, many experts believe that an increase in wheat consumption and hybridization of wheat may be a big contributing factor to the obesity epidemic.

Modern wheat, which is different from the wheat found 50 years ago, no longer resembles the wheat of our ancestors.  Wheat has been hybridized which means it has been cross-bred with other grains and species so it has a higher yield and contains less nutrients and more carbohydrates.  The history of the genetic changes in wheat can actually be connected to the increase in chronic diseases and obesity across the globe. The hybridization of wheat has caused changes in the starch and gluten which has also made wheat highly addictive.

The Starch thats worse than Table Sugar

The carbohydrate found in wheat is about 75% amylopectin A which has been called a “super carbohydrate” as it has the ability to increase blood sugar faster than other carbohydrates. The molecular structure of amylopectin causes it to be more easily digested than other more complex starches. Ends up, due to this digestibility it can raise blood sugar even faster than a candy bar!

In this study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants were given a diet of 70% amylose or 70% amylopectin. Those on the amylopectin diet had higher glucose and insulin responses after a meal. Chronically elevated insulin levels leads to fat storage, specifically in the abdominal area. The only way to get rid of fat is to allow insulin levels to decrease enough in the body so that your body will start burning fat again. So, due to its high amylopectin content, wheat causes not only excess weight, but a whole myriad of other health problems.

Gluten, the protein found in wheat, has also been modified into “super gluten” from its original form that has been linked to a whole host of health problems. The amount of gluten has actually been doubled in hybridized wheat. Gluten triggers inflammation system-wide which causes weight gain, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and multiple chronic diseases. In the digestive system, gluten can actually damage the gut lining triggering full-body inflammation and susceptibility to other bacteria or viruses crossing gut barrier. This syndrome is called “leaky gut” and can be a trigger for a variety of illnesses, especially autoimmune diseases.

Exorphin Addiction

Lastly, wheat is digested into short proteins called exorphins which act similarly to endorphins, the neurotransmitters released during a “runners high”.  Exorphins bind to and stimulate morphine receptors in the brain, making them just as addictive as any other drug. When we eat gluten, it soothes us and makes us feel calmer. This causes us to look for more of this food during stressful times to help calm us down, leading to overeating and weight gain. The FDA is actually looking into opiate blocking medication to help people lose weight.

If you are having difficulty losing weight, have an autoimmune condition, thyroid condition or diabetes, consider following a gluten-free diet for at least 6 weeks to see if you lose weight or if your symptoms resolve. But, don’t just remove gluten in your diet then add gluten-free junk food. Adopt a whole food, gluten free diet and avoid highly processed foods, even if they are gluten-free. Your body and your weight will thank you.

 Key Points:

  • Modern wheat has been hybridized and is different from the wheat commonly consumed 50 years ago.
  • Amylopectin A is the main starch in wheat and has been linked to weight gain and significant elevations in blood sugar.
  • Gluten, the protein in wheat, causes systemic inflammation and can also lead to weight gain and diabetes.
  • Wheat contains morphine-like substances that create an addiction.


Balancing Women’s Hormones Naturally

MP900443279Hormones affect every biological system.  They are the body’s chemical messengers and without them, nothing works correctly.  In women, they govern reproduction, plus metabolizing food, proper immune function, physical and emotional responses to stress and the aging of cells. Hormone imbalance can occur at any age.  In young women, imbalances are caused by obesity, and the presence of toxic estrogenic chemicals in today’s dairy products and meat, personal care products, plastics, food containers, pesticides and herbicides, as well as car exhaust.

During the reproductive years, weight gain, blood sugar imbalance and sex hormone imbalances occur due to the stress of modern lifestyles.  Women find it hard to properly take care of themselves as they are busy working and taking care of families.  They don’t get the amount of exercise they once did and are eating high fat and high sugar comfort foods.

Weight gain is a particular concern during perimenopause.  Too much estrogen causes weight gain in the belly area, and belly fat produces more estrogen.  It is a vicious cycle.  Some women in menopause are still experiencing hot flashes and other perimenopause symptoms.

At any age, getting blood sugar under control is key.  Diet and lifestyle choices need to be addressed. Using herbal supplements for hormone balance can be helpful.  Here are 8 steps to help balance hormones naturally.

  1. Clean up your diet by avoiding sugar and processed foods as much as possible.
  2.  Add plenty of organic fruits and vegetables to your diet.  Choose meats and dairy products that are organic or raised without hormones and antibiotics.
  3. Exercise regularly.
  4. Avoid plastic bottles and food containers whenever possible.
  5. Choose natural personal care products including shampoos, lotions & cosmetics.
  6. Use natural household cleaning products.
  7. Find a good stress management technique.
  8. Use phytoestrogens such as chasteberry or black cohosh to balance excess estrogen.




3 Myths That Keep Us Fat

MP900409011-scaleMyth # 1 – You must count calories to lose weight

This myth has been busted by science time and time again. Here are the results from one study:

Over 12 weeks people on a low-carb diet lost 223% more weight than people on a low-fat diet.

Here’s the kicker… The low-carb group ate 63% MORE CALORIES than the low-fat group!


Myth # 2 – Exercise is the best way to lose weight

When it comes to losing weight, diet trumps exercise every time.


Now does this mean you shouldn’t exercise? Hardly. There are a zillion reasons to exercise,
starting with heart health and extending to a
reduction in the risk for diabetes, depression and
even cancer.


But if you’re looking to those 20 minutes three
times a week on the treadmill to help shed
pounds, forget about it. It’s not going to happen.


Myth # 3 – Fat makes you fat

Walter Willet, MD, PhD, is the head of nutrition
at the Harvard School of Public Health and
arguably the most respected nutrition researcher
in the country. Here’s what he says…

“The relationship of fat intake to health is one of the areas that we have examined in detail over the last 20 years. We have found virtually no relationship between the percentage of calories from fat and any important health outcome.”

Did you hear that? Percentage of fat in the diet is related to… exactly nothing. Not the risk for diabetes, not the risk for cancer, not the risk for heart disease and not even the risk for obesity!

5 Ways to Eat Healthy at Work

Healthy-Diet5 Ways to Eat Healthy at Work

1. Make it the Night Before

If you’re like many who have limited time in the morning and you know you’ll be rushing out the door-make it the night before. Throw a salad together with a form of protein, pack some nuts and or fruit and you’ve got a quick, healthy meal.

2. Take Leftovers

Don’t want to make anything at all? Just cook enough dinner so you have leftovers for lunch the next day. Put them in a Tupperware container after you’ve eaten at night and you’re ready to go.

3. Use a Blender

If your stuck in the office having a blender around comes in handy. In a pinch you can whip up a great smoothie simply by using whey protein, fruit and water or juice. It’s easy, quick and nutritious for when you’re short on time.

4. Keep Canned Tuna and Salmon at Work

If you’ve got limited choices and you know there is nothing else good around, go to protein from tuna or salmon. Make sure the salmon is wild, keep some mayo or mustard at work and have with crackers and or fruit. Tuna and salmon are 100% protein, will support balanced blood sugar levels and are easy to make.

5. Keep Temptations Away

So many office spaces these days are filled with bagels, chocolates, pretzels or other sugar-laden temptations that someone brought to work to share. The simple solution is to move these treats away from you so you can’t smell them or see them. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” is a cliché for a very good reason: It’s true!  Your number one goal is to minimize the number of temptations that surround you, as that’s the easiest way to guarantee that you won’t get off track.

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Roasted Root Veggies with Turkey






  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until well combined. Place in a baking dish and cover. Bake for 20 minutes, then bake uncovered for another 10 minutes to crisp vegetables.


Raw Kale Salad



  1. Place the kale in a large salad bowl and add the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. Massage the mixture with your hands for 1–2 minutes to soften the kale.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
  3. Allow the salad to rest and soften for about 15 minutes before serving. Kale salad is best if eaten the same day but can be stored overnight in the refrigerator.

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Slivered Almonds



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the almonds on a baking tray and bake for 6–7 minutes, until lightly toasted.
  2. In a sauté pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the Swiss chard and salt and continue to sauté until the chard is tender. Add the almonds and serve.

Chocolate Drizzled Winter Fruit



  1. Wash and pat dry pears.
  2. Quarter each pear
  3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler
  4. Take a spoon and lightly drizzle melted chocolate over each slice.
  5. Refrigerate for later or serve immediately

 From The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook


7 Weight Loss “AHA’S”

1. Attempting to lose weight by eating less and exercising more only works well if your metabolism is healthy and you have good adrenal function.

2. If you have a damaged metabolism (which most have from constant dieting) then caloric restriction and excessive cardiovascular exercise can lead to weight loss resistance.

3. High cortisol leads to problems with fat burning and low cortisol compounds the problem. Cortisol needs to be balanced in order to burn fat at an optimal level.

4. Missing even a few nights of good sleep can cause you to gain weight-lack of sleep changes the biology of fat cells. This is a great example of why it’s not all about calories. Even those eating a good diet but struggle with sleep and only get 5-6 hours will have a tougher time losing weight.

5. Women who crave sweets, chocolate and carbs just before their period are usually in adrenal exhaustion. When you crave it’s also a sign your blood sugar levels are not balanced. If you’re not balancing your blood sugar throughout the day you’ll have a harder time losing weight. Eating protein with each meal can help to diminish cravings.

6. High cortisol levels lower serotonin the feel good neurotransmitter and leads to over eating of carbs which can be reversed with amino acid therapy or adrenal programs. Low serotonin levels also impacts mood and how well you sleep.

7. Food intolerances play a major role in why many struggle to lose weight. Gluten and dairy are the top two culprits that cause gi issues like bloating, gas and inflammation in the gut. This leads to poor digestion and metabolic function.


New Drug for Hot Flashes

24 million women suffer from hot flashes and now there will be a new drug offered-should you take it? The drug called Brisdelle will be available in November 2013, is a non-hormonal medicine similar to Paxil. In clinical trials women having 10 hot flashes per day dropped to 4 after taking the drug for 12 weeks. Sounds pretty good right? But those taking a placebo dropped from 10 to an average of 5-6 per day.

Dr. Iffath Hoskins states the drug is known to have increased suicidal tendencies in women along with thinning of bones.

There are many other options for women I feel are much better than resorting to a drug with possible side effects. Working on dietary intake, exercise and stress management all support hormone balance. When more is needed bio-identical hormones are an excellent option. There are also many herbal products that can offer relief including maca, black cohosh and red clover.

As with many health conditions the question arises-do you want to get to the root cause of the problem or simply take a pill to mask symptoms? Addressing the root cause of hormone imbalances requires work and attention to what you’re putting in your body especially foods and liquids that create heat in the body such as alcohol and caffeine. Looking at stress levels and adrenal gland function is also related to hormone imbalances. Those with altered cortisol levels disrupt progesterone output and the progesterone-estrogen balance needed.

For more information attend Healthy Hormones Naturally on Aug. 7. Details on the classes tab.