Category Archives: Nutrition Know How

Stress and Weight Management

Managing your weight can seem like an uphill battle, what with so much daily temptation from snacking at work to unhealthy meals on the run to the simple fact that you’re a person with a healthy appetite and those Lean Cuisines you’ve been eating seem to be portioned for children. (I’m sorry, Lean Cuisine, but it’s true. )

So the cards are already stacked against us. Throw in years of yo-yo dieting, daily stressors, and the hormonal and biochemical interactions that stress has on the body, and it’s easy to feel like you’re constantly fighting a losing battle.

But don’t give up!

While stress can’t be eliminated from a person’s life, stress relief can be found in a variety of “mind-body” interventions. Meditation, yoga or even a long walk can go a long way to improving your mind/body relations.

Effectively managing your stress is a key component to success in just about everything- from achieving your diet goals to career goals. Stress can overwhelm your mind, deplete your motivation and make you physically unhealthy.

Why do you get stressed? How can you relieve it? Here is the scientific skinny on stress and hormones!

  • Levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, increase in response to any psychological or physical stress in the body, such as illness, trauma or temperature extremes.
  • Endorphins are brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters.
  • Stress and pain are among the most common stimulators of endorphin release. Endorphin secretion results in reduced pain perception, feelings of euphoria and increased immune response.

So basically, stress puts your body in gear, whether to deal with a trauma and illness or an intense physical activity.

Problems arise when you hold too much stress, too much of the time. Identify the basis of your anxiety. Set achievable goals and watch your stress level diminish.

Self help: helping yourself to success rather than helping yourself to seconds

If you believe it’s possible to make your dreams come true, but don’t act on it, there’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be.

That gap is comprised of your attitudes and beliefs. The bigger the negative beliefs, the wider the gap. Perhaps the voice of your doubter has gotten louder than the voice of your dreamer.

Attitudes and beliefs are never neutral. They either move you forward or hold you back. If your dream is to lose weight but you believe it’s too hard of an undertaking and you’ll almost certainly fail, then you’ll probably never even attempt it.

But the same dream with a belief such as “I can do this” or “I believe in my dream,” will take you to thoughts and feelings of excitement and hope, and ultimately to the choice to go for it.

There’s a different kind of energy, and much more joy, when you are moving toward your dreams than when you are mired in reality or just trying to fix something. So rather than saying “I don’t want to be overweight” tell yourself “I want to be healthy.” That subtle shift can be the difference between success and failure.

Reality does have a place in self help though. Reality can keep you from setting unattainable goals.

When reality seeps into your thoughts and prevents you from setting lofty goals that aren’t possible at the moment, it keeps you from failing and becoming depressed by your failures. For example, saying you’re going to lose 75 pounds sounds impossible. But saying you’re going to lose 5 lbs this month? And 5 lbs next month? Totally doable.

So in this sense reality steers you to set short-term attainable goals, allowing you to enjoy the confidence that comes with reaching these realistic goals and encourage you to go for the bigger ones.

Yellow snow is not lemon flavor

…Unless you’re talking about Italian ice. But generally speaking, no, no it’s not lemon flavor. But that’s okay because when it comes to sweets, Americans don’t care for lemon anyways.

What do we want? Chocolate!

Anything else? Some peanut butter! Thank you for asking!

When do we want it? (already chewing)

For years M&M’s have not only been the most popular candy in the US, they held the world title as well. However, as of October 30, 2013 Reece’s has officially surpassed M&Ms as the nation’s top selling candy.

This year’s top 10 selling candy list is as follows:

10. Almond Joy

9. Milky Way

8. Hershey’s Cookies N’ Cream

7. Three Musketeers

6. Twix

5. Kit Kat

4. Hershey Bar

3. Snickers

2. M&Ms

1. Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups

Interestingly, 3 of the top 4 candy bars have been around for over 70 years. The Hershey Bar was introduced in 1900, Reece’s in 1928 and M&Ms is the young’un of the group debuting in 1941. It just goes to show, candy has a nostalgic value to it. For many people it quite literally tastes like childhood.

What’s YOUR favorite candy? What was it when you were little?

What’s your favorite chocolate combination?

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Chewing gum does lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight

Have you ever stopped to wonder why chewing gum loses its flavor?

It’s not as if any other food stops tasting like the thing you originally put in your mouth after a few chomps. Could you imagine if you took a bite of shrimp cocktail and before it reached your stomach it started tasting a little bit like a tire and had the consistency of one too?

You’d spit it out faster than anyone could make a joke about “see food”.

However, in all fairness I eat too quickly to know what food tastes like after more than a couple chews anyways. It tends to be in my stomach so fast one may be left wondering if I tasted it at all. (Answer: not always.)

Gum, on the other hand, has a special place in the hearts of consumers. Despite the whole losing-its-flavor-and-turning-rubbery phenomenon we just talked about, we still eat it up like it’s, well, inedible candy.

Unlike regular food, gum should never reach the stomach. Humans are unable to digest it, which is part of the reason it loses its flavor in the first place.


Gum is made from gum base which is a form of synthetic rubber. (Yum.) However, the softeners and sweeteners that make gum so delicious and chewy are all digestible.

Therefore when you chew a piece of gum, the saliva in your mouth gets to work digesting those flavors and leaves the gum base behind in all its flavorless and rubbery glory.

So there you have it. Gum is not food, but the flavors are. And that is the science behind your chewing obsession.

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Eat Samoas, not Samoans

And while you’re at it, eat Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Trefoils too. Girl Scouts have been selling cookies since 1917. (Aside from a brief period during World War II when they sold calendars while flour, sugar and butter were being rationed.)

Samoas are the 2nd highest grossing Girl Scout Cookie, after Thin Mints.

In case you’re having a hard time picturing them, they’re the ones in the purple box made with caramel, toasted coconut and a drizzle of chocolate on top. You know, the ones with the hole in the middle that you would put your finger through when you were little and pretend to have a cookie ring. (Just me? S’cool.)

Or you can look at the bottom of this post to jog your memory. Either way.

Many of us have a hard time controlling ourselves around a box of Girl Scout cookies. Personally, I have many times fallen victim to that crazy phenomena during which that “one cookie” I was originally in the mood for somehow turns into “one sleeve” before I even realized what happened.

Cookies are perfectly fine and delicious in moderation, but moderation is key. If you’re in the mood for cookies, eat fruit as well. The sugar in the fruit will help satisfy that sweet craving and the water content will fill you up quicker than the cookies will. Plus you’ll better afterwards.

Now back to the tip. Samoans, on the other hand, are a Polynesian ethnic group of the Samoan Islands. Famous Samoans include Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) and Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Trying to take a bite out of one of these guys would probably result in immediate danger to your physical well being. Stick to Samoas.

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