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Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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Color, Mood and Food

An interesting article on how colors affect the brain in the May 2009 issue of Mind, Mood & Memory (published by Massachusetts General Hospital) might help tweak your eating for the better. Scientists concluded that certain colors stimulate creativity, focus, attention to detail, problem-solving, and relaxation. This information is not earth-shattering, but I offer it in the hope that you can use it to make your kitchen and dining area the most supportive it can be for “normal” eating. Here’s what the article (“Color Me Creative: How Colors Affect the Brain”) has to say:RED is stimulating, increases blood pressure, pulse and respiration rate; energizes, increases attention and vigilance; promotes anxiety, improves memory; promotes interest in food and sex.ORANGE increases blood pressure, respiration, heart rate; increases appetite, reduces fatigue, fosters sociability.YELLOW stimulates memory, awareness, and perception; raises pulse and respiration rates; engenders hope and optimism.GREEN is soothing, relaxing, calming; reduces anxiety; fosters...

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Chocolate and Depression

Most of us agree that chocolate is a special food. Sure, occasionally we find people who can take it or leave it, but they’re the exception. Delicious as it is, what do we make of the link between depression and craving chocolate? Does it relieve symptoms or worsen them? What do we really know about the effect chocolate has on us? According to a July 2010 article in the TUFTS UNIVERSITY HEALTH AND NUTRITION LETTER, although people who have depression generally crave chocolate, it might make the condition worse. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine says the jury is still out on whether chocolate eases or exacerbates symptoms of depression. Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD of the University of California-San Diego and the studies’ other authors are unable to discern the effects of chocolate on depression. They do tell us, however, that “people who are clinically depressed are more likely...

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Food As Nutrients

Although I’m anti-diet, as you know, and am disinclined to follow health gurus, an article by Dr. Mehmet Oz in TIME MAGAZINE (9/12/11), The Oz Diet, highlights a sensible approach to eating. Even though he calls it a “diet,” he doesn’t focus on restriction. In fact, what he talks about sounds suspiciously like “normal,” healthy eating to me. To review terms, “normal” eating follows the rules for hunger, food preference, conscious eating, and satiation. Healthy eating involves choosing foods because they are nutritious and generally avoiding those that aren’t or are harmful. I recommend that disregulated eaters engage in successful “normal” eating for many months—at least three to six—before focusing on making healthier food choices because a push in a healthy direction may feel like dieting or restriction, sparking rebellion or rebound eating. Returning to Dr. Oz, his sensible assertion is to ingest sufficient and proper nutrients to be healthy. Although...

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The Importance of Phytochemicals

Raise your hand if you know what a phytochemical is! I didn’t know the half of it until I read Fat-Phyting Phytochemicals (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 3/27/12). No, I’m not encouraging you to focus on weight loss. The neat thing about phytochemicals is that they keep you healthy and, as a byproduct, may help you lose weight. The article describes phytochemicals as “a huge group of nutritious plant-derived compounds and powerful antioxidants found in many fruits, vegetables, beans, cereals, and beverages like tea and red wine.” Eating them in “small, steady amounts from several sources” can actually promote weight loss while enhancing your health. According to Stephen Pratt, MD, these types of foods target total fat mass, drive up fat-burning metabolism, and “mimic the effect of caloric restriction” without negative effects. Your body has some 40 billion fat cells, about 1/10 of which die each year and are replaced by new ones. Eating...

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Cues to Eat Healthy

Most of my blogs are on the psychology of eating—the why and how of it. However, there’s a different set of whys and hows that are based on perceptions regarding food—how it’s presented or served and why our appetites react as they do. In addition to changing our brains, we can change our environment to eat more healthfully.According to author Brian Wansink, a professor in the fields of consumer behavior and nutritional science (“Fooled by Food,” Nutrition Action Healthletter, 4/13, pp. 3-7), people overeat or choose non-nutritious over nutritious foods for many reasons, some of which are outside of our awareness. Here are his easy, effective suggestions. Did you know that you’re better off using a tall, thin bowl or glass than a short, wide one? According to his research, people eat less using the former than the latter. Make nutritious foods more visible and non-nutritious foods less visible. Just switch...

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Do You Need to Eat Breakfast?

I frequently have discussions with clients about whether or not to eat breakfast. Although we’ve been told repeatedly that we “should” eat it, many people simply have little appetite in the morning or, wanting to save time, prefer to have breakfast when they get to work. Here’s the latest on your morning meal.The debate rages in “Breakfast Downgraded From 'Most Important Meal of the Day' to 'Meal'” by James Hamblin (MSN news, originally printed in the 8/22/14 issue of The Atlantic). One small nutrition study from the University of Bath, “found that resting metabolic rates, cholesterol levels, and blood-sugar profiles were the same after six weeks of eating or skipping breakfast. Breakfast-skippers ate less over the course of the day than did breakfast-eaters, though they also burned fewer calories.” Another study concludes: “300 people ate or skipped breakfast and showed no subsequent difference in their weight gained or lost.” And “a...

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The Skinny on Fats

For decades we’ve been taught to be wary of fats—especially saturated fats—because they cause heart disease and weight gain. Now we’re told that they’re not such villains after all. “Don’t blame fat” (Time, 6/23/14, pages 28-35) gives us the history of the anti-fats movement as well as the reasons for the scientific turnaround in thinking. A few points stand out in this article that are relevant to becoming a “normal” eater. One is an explanation of how certain carbs can hurt you. According to Dr. Dariush Mozzaffarian, incoming dean of nutrition science at Tufts University, “It has to do with blood chemistry. Simple carbs like bread and corn may not look like sugar on your plate, but in your body, that’s what they’re converted to when digested.” This doesn’t make carbs bad, but it’s helpful to understand this process when trying to cut sugar intake. If you’re trying to eat when...

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Foods to Help You Feel Satisfied

Sometimes we have only a short time to eat, and know we won’t be getting any nourishment for a long while. Other times we’re ravenously hungry, and want foods that will fill us up quickly and healthfully. “Top foods to boost satiety” (Environmental Nutrition newsletter, 10/15, p. 6) gives us the best choices to eat in these situations. The article tells us that “satiety-boosting foods are rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats…because these components are digested slower in our bodies, we feel full for longer. Such foods also prevent a blood sugar spike and subsequent crash, which can cause feelings of hunger shortly after eating.” Here are the recommended:Oatmeal: The high level of soluble fiber fills you up by forming a gel in your stomach to slow down digestion.Eggs: Eggs provide lots of protein for relatively few calories.Almonds: They’re high in healthy fat, protein and fiber. Try other nuts like...

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Can What You Eat Make You Happier?

If you were convinced that certain foods could increase your happiness, would you eat them? Science tells us that there’s a link between the foods we eat and how good we feel (HealthNews, “Want to Feel Good? Eat More Fruits and Vegetables,”10/16, p. 3). It might surprise you to find out what those foods are.Dysregulated eaters might assume that foods that are high in sugar and fat would raise our spirits. The fact is that a “new study (from the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health) reveals that eating up to eight daily servings of fruits and vegetables provides a ‘happiness’ factor that kicks in within 24 months.” Wait two years, you may think, to feel happy? No way. Fortunately, that’s not what the study is saying. It states that, “Happiness, or well-being increased incrementally for each extra daily serving of fruit and vegetables, up to eight servings...

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How Your Eating Can Cause Brain Fog

We all suffer from brain fog occasionally, often when we’re fatigued or stressed, so I wouldn’t worry if this is a rare occurrence. I’d be concerned, however, if this condition happens to you regularly. According to “Brain fog and diet” (Environmental Nutrition, 10/16, p. 3), this condition can occur due to certain behavioral patterns. The symptoms of brain fog are “difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, fatigue, reduced mental acuity, and a feeling of ‘haziness’ around cognition.” Although there aren’t a slew of scientific studies on the subject, the article explains that certain nutrients foster “brain health and cognition, including B-vitamins, fatty acids, vitamin E, iron and zinc, among others.” Many restrictive eaters only pay attention to calorie, fat or sugar content in foods because they’re focused on weight loss. When this happens, they may miss out on the numerous nutrients that support clear thinking. Here are some tips to keep your brain...

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