Stress Busting Foods…a healthy diet can counter stress, Part 1

Weekly Wisdom
  • Choose Complex carbs (are digested more slowly): whole grain cereals, breads, pastas & “old­ fashioned” oats.
  • Citrus foods (orange) are high in Vitamin C which can curb levels of stress hormones.
  • Leafy greens(spinach): rich source of stress busting vitamin magnesium.

Gluten Free, is it Worth it?

It seems like everywhere you look, from the grocery store to the bookstore, there are articles and books claiming “gluten free” is the way to go.  For example, books such as Grain Brain and  Wheat Belly, report that by cutting gluten from our diet, we would not only be full of energy but that our brain function would improve significantly.  Does this sound too good to be true? Unfortunately, it probably is and all this misinformation about gluten free diets often gets in the way of educating consumers about the real reasons for following a gluten free diet.  Celiac Disease? Gluten Allergy?  Gluten Sensitivity?  What are the differences and the true incidence of these diseases? Celiac disease is a genetically linked autoimmune disorder that sets off an immune response that causes damage to the small intestine.  Celiac disease is life long & the only treatment for true celiac disease is a gluten-free lifestyle, a diet free of wheat, barley, rye & oats. Diagnosing celiac disease requires blood tests & an intestinal biopsy. Celiac disease is not to be confused with gluten sensitivity, which unfortunately has no tools to diagnose this condition.  Gluten sensitivity describes persons who exhibit symptoms similar to those with celiac disease, but test negative for celiac disease. It is important to note that these individuals do not have the antibodies and intestinal damage seen in celiac disease.


So, why do people report feeling so fantastic after going gluten free? First, the Standard American Diet, dubbed S.A.D., is high in sugars, refined flour & processed foods.  Many of the health benefits people claim from going gluten free are simply from eliminating the processed food in our diets.  Speaking of processed food, going gluten free does not mean an automatic elimination of these types of foods.  Browsing through our local grocery store I was amazed at the amount of highly processed gluten free products available.  The basis of gluten free diet is inherently healthy, no processed flours, high in fruits, vegetables & lean sources of protein.   It is important to note, however, that research does not support elimination of gluten from the diet unless diagnosed with one of the conditions described above.


So, what to do if you suspect an issue with gluten tolerance?  First, avoid self-diagnosis, which may result in unnecessary elimination of certain food groups.  It is best to make an appointment with a trusted physician and discuss your options for getting  an accurate diagnosis.



Gluten Intolerance Group of North America

Celiac Support Association



Yield: 13 cookies

Total Time: 20 minutes max!


1 cup bananas, ripe and mashed, about 2 large bananas
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips,

1 cup gluten free rolled oats
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, optional


Preheat the oven to 375F. Line two cookie sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients and mix well. With a medium cookie scoop drop cookie batter onto the lined cookie sheets a few inches apart. Flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand and bake for 10 minutes.

Let them cool on the baking sheet for five minutes. Store in an air tight container for up to 2 days.

Food Rules…Eat Foods Predigested by Fungi or Bacteria

  • Many traditional cultures swear by fermented foods (food that have been
    transformed by live microorganisms) ­
    yogurt, sauerkraut, soy sauce, kimchi, sourdough.
  • These foods can provide Vitamin B12 & probiotics ­beneficial bacteria that improves
    immunity & may reduce harmful inflammation

source: Michael Pollan Food Rules

Exercising the Truth – What Doesn’t Work?

  • If you exercise, its okay to sit for the rest of the day ­what you do the whole day is just as important. Stand up, sit less,
    move more & more often, ­at least every 30 
    minutes throughout the day.

  • You’ve got to feel some pain if your going to gain any fitness benefits ­ if an activity hurts you may already have an injury or you are doing it wrong.

source: Adapted from Nutrition Action

Skim Milk, the Obesity Culprit?

If you are an NPR junkie like myself you may have heard this story reporting that full fat milk is linked to slimmer kids. And if you do an Internet search you will find ‘compelling” stories that report skim milk is detrimental to our health. Before you rush to the grocery store in search of full fat milk, you may want to think about a few points.

As with any science, not all studies are well designed. In this particular study, researchers failed to look at how many calories these children were eating or other food choices they were making.

At this point I do not think there is enough data to warrant the switch from skim to whole milk. The jury is still out on this and there are many factors that contribute to weight gain or loss. That said, if your overall diet is rich in plant foods & low in saturated fat, a glass a whole milk occasionally is not likely to make a significant difference in your weight or cholesterol profile. Research shows that the real culprits in weight gain are the sugary drinks we consume on a regular basis (soda, juice, energy drinks, etc) & our limited physical activity. In addition, the standard American Diet (dubbed SAD by Mark Bittman) consists of largely refined carbohydrates, which in turn has led to poor health. I do not think skim milk is the culprit of the obesity epidemic.

Food Rules…Don’t Overlook the Oily Little Fishes

  • Wild fish are among the healthiest foods you can eat, but at risk due to overfishing
  • Avoid big fish at the top of the food chain – ­tuna, swordfish, shark
    - ­due to endangerment & mercury
  • Choose the most nutritious & well managed wild fish species
source: Michael Pollan Food Rules


Exercising the Truth – What Works?

  • You can lose as much weight walking as running as long as you work hard enough to
    raise your heart rate & break a
    sweat bear in mind moderate intensity exercise (walking)
    longer to burn calories than vigorous intensity (running)
  • Wearing a fitness tracker can help you lose weight – this tool lets you know how physically active you are throughout the day. Aim for 10,000 daily steps.

Source: Nutrition Action

Get to the Farmer’s Market!

Recently I was lamenting to my husband about the lack of inspiration for winter meals. Normally, I get my ideas from the produce available at the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market, but with the weather being unusually cold, I was relying on my husband to make our Saturday morning trip (in my defense I stay home and feed my hungry boys). Last week however, I decided that I was due for a market visit. My son Oliver and I put on our heavy winter coats and headed out the door in 20-degree temperatures. My husband had warned me I may only find cabbage and be very cold, but I was pleasantly surprised at the selections. Feeling energized I took in all the cold weather vegetables on hand; broccoli, cabbage (Tom’s inspiration for a modified Tom Yum soup), butternut squash, baby spinach (my daily salad) & of course kale. Though I am certainly not ready to start planning my summer garden, I stumbled upon a display of heirloom bean & vegetable seeds to plant come warmer temperatures. We ended our visit off by purchasing freshly ground whole grain flour from Wildflour Mill along with some tasty pasty treats from Lorraine Bakery. Oliver had no problem helping me haul the fresh eggs and apples knowing a warm homemade pop tart was nestled in the bakery bag ready for consumption.


Cure those winter blues by finding some winter inspiration at your local farmer’s market!

Food Rules…Eat wild food (when you can)

  • Make frequent use of wild greens, ­they are their own natural defenders and tend
    to be higher in antioxidants 
    (lamb’s quarters & purslane)
  • Wild fish, animals & game eat a more diverse diet and therefore are generally lower
    in saturated fat & higher in 
    healthy fats than typical meats

Source: Michael Pollan Food Rules

3 Resolutions…To Ditch – Part 2

  • Losing 10 # in one week: losing weight quickly results in regain (and more). Think slow & steady­ – no more than 1­2 # week
  • Cutting out fat completely: choose healthy fats: plant oils, olives, avocados, nuts, seeds
  • Banning dessert: restricting certain foods can lead to uncontrollable urges & overeating. Instead of good vs. bad foods think “sometimes” vs. “all the times foods.”

Source: Eatingwell