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Nutrition (555)

Nutrition, diet and health blogs by CalMWM Head Nutritionist Elaine Murphy (BA, CNS). For our patients.

Monday, 29 April 2013 09:23

Nutrition for Our Kids

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Have you heard about the Senate Bill 464, called the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity act? It talks about improving both nutrition and physical activity for the parents and day care providers of school-age children. Even though this may be aimed more at pre-schools, why hasn't this been more broadly advertised, especially when diabetes and heart disease are currently epidemic with both parents and children now? These diseases are directly related to how we eat and live, and can be totally prevented with the right nutrition education.

Thursday, 25 April 2013 09:39

What is ORAC?

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ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It was developed by the National Institute on Aging by the National Institutes of Health. It is a standardized method of measuring the antioxidant capacity of special foods and supplements. The higher the antioxidant value of a food, the higher the ORAC score will be, and the more effective a food is at combating free radicals. The less free radicals you have, the healthier you will be. It may even help prevent heart disease and diabetes. It might even help reduce some wrinkling!

Monday, 22 April 2013 09:18

Can You Resist Temptation?

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Here is a special insight for both compulsive eaters and dieters: A study from the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that "...impulsive eaters are more likely to resist junk food when they took the time to recall a time when they caved into temptation – the memory may have compelled them to balance indulgent choices with healthier ones." The trick is to stay in the moment, be aware, hold on to your thoughts about the decision and focus, then actually take the time to think about the consequences your action will bring. This can take place almost in any tempting situation, whether it be in the lunchroom or at a social gathering.

Monday, 15 April 2013 11:48

Conquer a Sweet Tooth

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Many people struggle with cravings for sweets yet fail to think of fruit which really can actually appease the sweet tooth. Patients are actually pleasantly surprised when they trade in their sweets for fruit and find they are just as happy and satisfied. (Happier on the scale too!) Patients readily admit they can hardly believe this themselves.

Replace regular sweets with fresh seasonal fruit. With spring here there's a bigger choice. Who doesn't love fresh strawberries with a dollop of whipped cream? Or try fresh peaches and a little cream? What about some creamy rich Greek yogurt and blueberries? (In winter taste new fruits, like a crispy Asian pear, a juicy sweet Cutie orange, or a new variety of a fresh crispy, crunchy apple.)

When tempted with office sweets, or at a social gathering bring some fresh fruit to share. If you are just doing errands think ahead and bring some with you. And even though it's not quite as nutritious, grocery stores make it even easier by selling it already cut up and ready to eat. (After produce has been cut it starts to lose its nutrition values.)

Fruit is much lower in calories, sugar and fat, and has fiber filling capacity. Couple it with a small handful of nuts or a low-fat cheese stick and it won't trigger blood sugar spikes resulting in more cravings like sugary items do. Think about it, how often do you really crave things after consuming fruit compared to eating sweets?

There are numerous reasons why people crave sweets and this is just one solution.

Sunday, 14 April 2013 10:47

Food Label Lies

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Even though a food label can give you some information about the food you consume, you still can't believe everything you read on a label. Last fall for example, 7Up was sued over its false claims suggesting it contained antioxidants. "There's never been a more delicious way to cherry pick your antioxidant!" the company touted.

All sodas in general are probably the worst kind of food item contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemic prevalent today. Even if a soda did contain small amounts of antioxidants from real juice, it could never undo the damage all sodas incur with 36 grams of sugar equal to 10 sugar cubes! (Would you dare eat that? That's what you are consuming in the small 12 ounce size soda.)

Other food labeling lies:

  • "No added hormones": Sure, farmers are not allowed to feed hormones to animals so they use antibiotics instead, which speeds growth in animals the same way as hormones do.
  • Similar to the "no added hormones" lie, "antibiotic free" is also a meaningless term, and it's actually illegal to use it on packages, (except meat, and there's still issues with that) according to the USDA, although manufacturers use other similar terms to imply the same thing. You have to buy organic to get "clean food.
  • "Natural" is my biggest pet peeve. According to the government there is no legal definition of the word for most products. So, essentially there can added artificial sweeteners and even genetically modified foods, and, an animal can still be fed hormones.

Where are you being misled with food labeling? Go to to find more.

Thursday, 11 April 2013 09:14

Where's the Motivation for Weight Loss?

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Is your motivation to lose weight waning? Or maybe you don't even have it to begin with. Try this:

Write out your reasons why you think you can't get motivated with your weight loss. (This can apply to other things as well.) Some of your reasons may be valid ones but many are simply excuses. The key here is to actually write, not just think about it. (Quick diversion here: According to Ron Klug, "The writing process is a valid tool for self-discovery, an aid to concentration, a mirror for the soul, a place to generate and capture ideas, a safety valve for the emotions, and a good friend and confidant." Another aspect to this is that by writing you will find both objective and subjective dimensions that you may simply not get by merely thinking of our answers.)

So, take just a few minutes, and write out at least 3 to 5 reasons why you think you struggle with your motivation around weight loss. Explore those why's and examine them honestly from your heart as to why you get stuck. Then after you have written out your reasons or excuses, directly next to each reason or excuse, brainstorm to find the solution. There really is one if you are sincere about wanting to lose weight.

For example some people say they don't have time to focus on all the aspects of weight loss. The reality is you make time for what's really important to you and what you truly value in life. You find the ways to make things work. Don't you value your health, how you physically feel, your self-esteem, your self-confidence and even how you look?

Food for thought: "There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them." ~ Dr. Denis Waitley

Monday, 08 April 2013 16:32

Salad Dressing for Diabetes

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Yesterday I posted a blog regarding some current valid research about vinegar and regulating blood sugar. Today I have a recipe using vinegar so it's easy to put vinegar into your diet especially if you are eating those healthy greens that promote other great health benefits as well. This is a great way to incorporate vinegar into your daily diet. I suggest using organic Bragg's apple cider vinegar as it has all its nutrients intact. Include at least 2 teaspoons of vinegar with your salad to reap its benefits in blood sugar and appetite control. If you don't eat a salad a day just mix some vinegar in a cup of water, mix and consume before your meal (add stevia for sweetness if needed).

Vinegar Salad Dressing


  • 1/2-3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp of onion powder
  • 2 tbsp mustard (Dijon is great)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp of dried basil
  • Pinch of oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Approved sweetener to taste
  • Water as needed


Add all ingredients except sweetener and water. Add them in last according to personal taste. The apple cider is a bit tart so these additions soften the taste. Olive oil or flax seed oil of course, can be also added in as a healthy fat. Use desired amount of vinegar blend, add the oil and toss with some healthy dark leafy greens.


Use vinegar freely. If adding in oil, remember 1 teaspoon equals 1 healthy fat and about 50 calories.

Monday, 08 April 2013 08:14

Vinegar for Diabetes?

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"Scientific studies over the past 10 years show benefits from vinegar consumption.." states Carol Johnston, Ph.D., head of the nutrition department at Arizona State University. (In fact, apple cider vinegar in particular has been around for decades. Health authorities have been citing its benefits for years.) Now studies are finally being done on regular vinegar. Johnston says it has the capacity decrease both fasting and after-meal glucose levels. Research comes from Johnston's laboratory and from Elin Ostman, Ph.D., at Lund University in Lund, Sweden. And it might also just lower appetite too according to other studies. Is this too good to be true? The good news is that vinegar is not another medication to take for diabetes, is cost effective, and relatively easy to work into the diet in everyday salads, so why not give it a try?

So how does vinegar work? Acetic acid is the active ingredient in vinegar. This acid inhibits the activity of several carbohydrate-digesting enzymes. So, when vinegar is present in the intestines, some sugars/starches temporarily pass through without being digested, and produces less of an impact on blood sugar. Johnston also documented small but still important average decreases in hemoglobin A1C tests in people with type 2 diabetes. The suggested amount of vinegar is 2 teaspoons of vinegar prior or with a meal. Use it in a salad dressing or dilute it in half cup of water. (Too tart? Use a little stevia with the mixture. It is insulin sparing unlike other artificial sweeteners can be.)

I personally suggest the use of organic apple cider vinegar because of its other beneficial nutrients. Later this week I'll post a salad recipe using apple cider vinegar so you can work it into your daily diet.

Thursday, 04 April 2013 07:50

Other Ways Alcohol Impacts Weight Loss

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The other day I started discussing April as Alcohol Awareness Month. I am not against drinking alcohol in moderation, I enjoy a few glasses of wine on the weekends myself. However, from a weight loss and health perspective there are some things people should be aware of. Besides the obvious reasons how alcohol interferes with weight loss, here are some other concerns:

  • Numerous studies confirm that alcohol depletes vitamin D. You need adequate vitamin D to lose weight. Many people are vitamin D deficient to start with. And, even if you are just slightly overweight, vitamin D is fat-soluble and usually accumulates in body fat, making it less available to other parts of the body important to general health besides weight loss alone. (Heavy drinkers frequently have a higher body fat percentage even if they are "thin" drinkers.) Other research has also identified an inverse association between vitamin D status with diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
  • Alcohol also depletes the vitamin B complex, the "stress fighting" vitamins. Stress, anxiety and depression in particular may emotionally compromise ability to control weight. Numerous dieters are "stress eaters."
  • Inadequate intake of any nutrient, especially specific B vitamins (which are water soluble and especially vulnerable to loss with alcohol because alcohol is also a diuretic) are also important to fat metabolism and inhibit the fat burning process needed in weight loss. Water soluble essential nutrients are rapidly eliminated or not processed through the effects of alcohol. In fact, almost all nutrients affect emotional health in specific or subtle ways. In weight management in particular, there is need to keep a sharp mental focus to overcome the numerous challenges that are continually around food choices, especially while socializing and drinking.

Beyond weight management issues and the few health concerns mentioned above, there are other even more serious ramifications that can occur when drinking alcohol becomes chronic and excessive. More on that later.

Monday, 01 April 2013 09:35

A Slip on your Diet

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How did you do after the spring holiday weekend? Good for you, for those who did not succumb to eating the chocolate bunny ears! For those who did not do as well, it's OK. Just learn from your mistakes. The actual process of losing weight requires having a slip now and then, it's normal. Anyone who has dieted has had slip-ups along the way. You are not a failure just because of one lapse, or even five or more. You are only a failure if you give up permanently. Staying down is when you are a failure.

Real recovery after a slip does require action on your part. The most important thing is to forgive yourself and "let it go." No good ever comes from beating yourself up. What did you learn from the experience? What changes can you make to prevent a similar slip from happening again? If you do not view it as a real learning experience the slip will not teach you anything, so take time to examine this. Then get back on track with a positive attitude and renewed commitment.

Remember you can have a "fresh start" any day of the week. For many this may take a day or two but the longer the stall, the harder it may become to get back on track.

You can never learn less; you can only learn more. The reason I know so much is because I have made so many mistakes. - Buckmaster Fuller. He was a mathematician and philosopher who never graduated from college but received 46 doctorates in the end.

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*Disclaimer: Results are typical but not guaranteed. Your actual results may vary. Real CalMWM patients shown with permission.

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