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Nutrition (555)

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

Sunday, 10 March 2013 14:16

Willpower and Focus

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How's your willpower around food? Do you give in to temptation easily? Here's one solution if you say you do not have willpower. Make it a point to stay really aware, "in the moment" and question what you are doing. It's really all about focus. Just like walking on a tightrope, it takes this ongoing focus.

Get into a daily habit of frequently asking yourself, "Why am I doing what I'm doing?" "What is the underlying reason for eating something which is not on my food plan?" You might take this even a step further and ask, "How will I feel afterwards if I choose to eat this? How will I feel if I don't eat this?"

With any goal, and particularly with weight loss goals, your focal point on your motivation is core to the end result you will have. First it's about knowing exactly why you want to lose your weight and then making it a point to maintain your focus on that motivation at any given moment. It's amazing how many people I see who cannot even give me any specific reason why they want to lose weight, let alone focus on it! So be specific about the "whys" and then keep your focus on them.

Readers how do you keep your focus on what you really want when you are tempted to eat something off plan?

"A good intention clothes itself with power." –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, 04 March 2013 09:36

March is National Nutrition Month

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March is National Nutrition Month. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, "It is a campaign month dedicated to nutrition education and information created annually in March. It focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits to reap the great benefits health brings. This year is its 40th anniversary."

Friday, 01 March 2013 18:58

How Much is Too Much Sugar?

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The other day I discussed how high sugar consumption and heart disease are so related. So how much would be safe to consume? According to the American Heart Association it is suggested that women should consume no more than 100 calories of added sugars a day or six teaspoons of sugar a day. Men should limit their intake to 150 added calories a day, or about nine teaspoons of sugar a day.

This is hard for consumers because of a few things. Unfortunately the public consumes too many processed foods containing sugar (and often in disguised forms). A food label only lists grams of sugar. At the very least, choose products with only a few grams of sugar per serving.

Also review the actual ingredient list. Sugar and all its forms should be at the end on the list. Be aware though now manufacturers list sugar and its various forms throughout the entire ingredient list. The good news is if there is that much sugar you probably should avoid it anyway. The best option then is to choose whole unprocessed foods as much as possible over refined foods. And then limit or even eliminate sweet treats in your normal day-to-day diet and save them for special social events.

With processed food manufacturers could help by listing sugar content in terms of teaspoonfuls rather than grams of sugar. The sad news is, this is probably unlikely to occur because they really do not want us to know how much sugar we are consuming so we will keep buying their products. All in the name of profit, never mind our health.

More studies are coming out regularly confirmig the the dangers of high carb and sugar intake being associated with heart disease. HealthDay News also reported a study: the high sugar/carbohydrate content contained in processed foods are a threat to cardiovascular health. They lower the good HDL cholesterol and raise triglycerides. This was according to Dr. Miriam B. Vos, from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, who reported the finding in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study, based on interviews and measurements of 6,113 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study from 1999-2006, found a significant increase in sugar consumption  - from 10.6% of daily calories consumed in 1977-78 to 15.8% presently. This is equal to 3.2 ounces or 21.4 teaspoons (359 calories) of added daily sugar!

The effect on cholesterol and other blood lipid levels, (major factors in cardiovascular disease), was obvious in the study. For those who consumed 10 percent or more of their daily calories from sugar, the odds of low HDL cholesterol levels (the good cholesterol), were 50 percent to 300 percent greater than for those getting less than 5 percent of their calories from sugar.

Although most sugar comes from sodas (8 teaspoons of sugar per can), all processed foods contain sugar of some kind (processed carbohydrates are basically the same in the way they convert to sugar in the body). Later I'll go into exactly how much sugar is safe to consume and how to figure that out on a food label.

High carbohydrate and sugary food intake is no longer just about just diabetes. News has finally been leaking out how these foods are also a big link to heart disease, despite the fact people and the medical profession still cling on to the old school theory that it is high fat and cholesterol that cause heart disease. New research from Tel Aviv University (as well as other reliable sources) now shows us specifically how high carb/sugar foods increase the risk for heart problems.

Dr. Michael Shechter of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine and the Heart Institute of Sheba Medical Center, along with the collaboration of the Endocrinology Institute, determined exactly what happens inside the body (particularly the arteries) when certain foods, those especially high in carbohydrates, are consumed. They found that these foods literally expand the arteries causing an enormous stress on the artery walls. Dr. Shechter termed this "brachial reactive testing."

When this expansion occurs over and over it reduces the elasticity of artery walls, which then can cause heart disease to the artery walls. The results were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. This kind of clarity on how specific foods affect heart health clearly reflects a very strong correlation between high carbohydrate/sugar intake and heart health.

Sunday, 24 February 2013 12:33

Low Carb, Low Calorie "Pasta"

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Most veteran carb watchers are already familiar with Sharatiki noodles. Even though they aren't exactly like the traditional flour version they can taste quite good. You can use them to replace almost any pasta that calls for noodles. Thoroughly rinse the noodles as they have a bit of a sour smell which is characteristic of them when you first open them up. Then cut them up with scissors as they are very long. They are available in Asian markets and most grocery stores usually in the tofu section. Note they require no cooking. Add them in your recipe at the very end and heat lightly.

And, as a bonus there is evidence that Glucomannan, the fibrous root of Amorphophallus Konjac plant, which this noodle is made from, can play a positive role in blood sugar control, as well as improve cholesterol.

Here are a few starter recipes you can easily implement in your food plan:

Spaghetti and Asian noodles: Use lean turkey or beef with low-carb marinara sauce and season with Italian herbs like regular spaghetti, using the Shirataki noodles instead of regular noodles.

Fresh Cabbage Asian Salad: Make a a bowl of chopped cabbage, snow peas, water chestnuts, fresh grated ginger, and protein of choice. Simply add the noodles and low-carb Asian salad dressing, then mix well. Top your salad with toasted almonds or sesame seeds.

Chicken Noodle Soup: Gently cook some shredded cabbage, onions, water, favorite seasonings, and noodles and add chicken bouillon for flavor. You can add celery, tofu or chicken.


Noodles are mostly fiber and essentially calorie-free, so you can consume generously. Count your vegetables and protein according to how much you consume.

Thursday, 21 February 2013 10:17

Conquer your Sweet Cravings

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Many people struggle with their cravings for sweets yet fail to think of consuming simple fruit as an alternative, which not only appeases the sweet tooth but provides nutrition. Try replacing regular sweets with fresh seasonal fruit. Even though winter may not be your favorite season for fruit there are still great choices out there (and grocery stores are even making summer fruits more of an option these days.) The trick too might be to taste new ones. Try an Asian pear, a Clementine orange, a kiwi, a nutrient dense pomegranite or new variety of a fresh crispy crunchy apple.
But you must think ahead and keep fruit readily available to eat on the spot. Grocery stores also make it easy these days by selling it already cut up and ready to eat. Fruit is much lower in calories, carbs, 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 your blood sugar spikes resulting in more cravings. Fruit benefits your health and appeases the sweet tooth cravings if you give it a chance. Excess sugar depletes your health and leaves you craving for more.
Monday, 18 February 2013 09:30

Vegetables Just as Important as Medication!

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Sounds like mom was right again about having to eat your vegetables. Fruits and vegetables might come in first over medication in prevention of second heart attacks according to a five year study from McMaster University's Population Health Research Institute, headed by author and nutritionist Mahshid Dehghan involving almost 32,000 patients (average age 66.5) in over 40 countries. Data indicated that those who ate a heart healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables had a:

  • 35 per cent reduction in risk for cardiovascular death
  • 14 per cent reduction in risk for new heart attacks
  • 28 per cent reduction in risk for congestive heart failure
  • 19 per cent reduction in risk for stroke

This study was recently published by the American Heart Association Journal Circulation. To be clear, a healthy diet in this study consisted of a high intake of fruits, vegetables, limited amounts of whole grains and nuts, in addition to a generous intake of fish compared to meat, poultry and eggs. Lifestyle choices were also considered regarding alcohol consumption, smoking and exercise.

This is actually the first study to report on the protective impact of healthy eating for individuals with cardiovascular disease and those already taking medication to prevent a second heart attack, stroke or death. While medication reduces the risk, dietary and lifestyle choices can impact it even more so.

The important message here, is that it's a very false belief for patients to think they don't need to worry about how they eat as long as they take their medication. The facts clearly indicate that a healthy diet and lifestyle add significant health benefits along with heart medication for cardiovascular conditions. This is especially important to high risk heart patients.

Thursday, 14 February 2013 08:13

Valentine's Day - Give your Own Heart some Love

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February 14th is notoriously the month for love, candy, valentine fun and romance. But it should also be the day to remember your own heart, the organ in your body which is all about supporting your very life and the quality of it.

People frequently talk about commitment as an attribute of love. When a couple is committed there is the kind of caring that no matter what happens that special person is always there for you, regardless of any circumstances. The same holds true when applying that same kind of commitment to your heart health too. Commit to loving your own body and the heart beating within it.

What this means is eating right and maintaining a healthy weight regardless of the circumstances. Sure, we do a lot of general socializing around food and we may even temporary splurge, but do we use it as an excuse on every occasion to overeat? A healthy diet does not include excess processed food, white flour starches, high-fat trans fats and high fructose corn syrup all the time. We want to consume whole foods as much as possible, rich in their nutrient dense state full of phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and fiber – all the components that promote health.

Are you committed to exercising regularly, and not just to lose weight ? It's been proven that exercise benefits our bodies in a multitude of ways in controlling most disease conditions, especially heart health and diabetes.

What is your general lifestyle like? Do you have unmanaged stress and what measures do you take to overcome it? Do you drink alcohol in excess? Do you smoke? Are you the hard-driven type A personality type? Even bad sleep habits can make you vulnerable to health problems. Have you altered your lifestyle to alleviate unhealthy habits that work against your health?

Happy Valentine's Day but don't forget your commitment to your own heart.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013 14:39

Raspberry Cream and Chocolate Shake

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Since berries and chocolate are considered especially heart healthy foods, here is a shake which combines both of them together in a unique and delicious combination, just in time for American Heart Awareness Month and  Valentine's Day.


  • 1 scoop of CMWM Whey Protein Powder
  • 1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/8 tsp mint extract
  • Low carb chocolate syrup, to taste, from:
  • 1 tbsp plain unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Sugar-free maple syrup to taste, available at most grocery stores or the above website
  • Approved sweetener, to taste
  • Soft tofu, 3 ounces
  • Water/ice as needed
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp of xanthan gum, optional, but gives it a creamier/thicker texture; available at health food stores or in many grocery stores in the baking section.


Place all ingredients in a blender, except whey powder. Blend well. Adjust sweetener and/or extracts as needed. Always add protein powder last and blend just enough to mix ingredients.
Serves one


Calories: (140 calories of protein)

Protein: 26 grams

Fruit: one

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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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