Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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You can make friends with salad

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In the wake of the hate on almonds, kale, and countless other vegetables comes the defamation of salads. And dietitians everywhere wept into their leafy greens.

Now, while the author is proclaiming that “salad vegetables are pitifully low in nutrition” his real points wilt down to derision for two things: lettuce and fast food salads.

The problem with lettuce is that it contains very few nutrients and uses a lot of water to grow. The problem with fast food salads is that they’re often packed with calorific ingredients like candied nuts, deep-fried croutons, and creamy dressings while containing few vitamins and minerals as they’re predominantly lettuce-based. No argument here. Let’s look a little closer at the first claim though.

Yes, lettuce is not exactly an outstanding vegetable in the land of superfoods. That doesn’t mean that we should quit it entirely. It does contain some nutrients and precisely because it contains relatively few calories it can be a great choice for anyone who’s trying to manage their weight. Four cups of romaine lettuce contains only 40 calories! For one of the very reasons that the author eschews lettuce many people choose to eat it. The water in that lettuce also contributes to your hydration; it’s not like it’s just going to waste.

Even if lettuce isn’t the greatest. That’s no reason to dismiss salads entirely. Lettuce is not an essential salad ingredient. If you want some nutrient-packed salad greens go for spinach, kale, or shredded brussels sprouts. Salads can include loads of nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits, everything from apples to zucchini. You can include grains, nuts, seeds, cheese, meat. The salad combinations are endless, delicious, and nutritious. Salads are so much more than just lettuce.


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Follow Friday: Do you know what 100 calories look like?

Just in case the video won’t play on here for you, here’s the link to it on YouTube. If you ignore some of the silly comments the people make (like the olive oil is what makes you sleepy after an Italian meal) it’s a pretty good lesson in volumetrics.


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Follow Friday: Me in Best Health Mag

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Before the holidays I was interviewed by Lisa Bendall for Best Health Mag, a companion web magazine for Reader’s Digest. The article: 8 ways to feel full faster just went up the other day. Of course I had a lot more to say than made the cut but at least the content seems to be fairly accurate :)

A couple of things I wish had made it in there: discussion about Brian Wansink’s research, discussion about volumetrics. Volumetrics is the use of eating foods with low calorie density so that you can eat a larger quantity. As we tend to eat with our eyes a big plate of salad can be more satisfying than a candy bar even though it has fewer calories. In addition, there’s been research showing that recipes that have been modified to decrease caloric content by increasing vegetable content (e.g. mac and cheese incorporating pureed cauliflower) are just as satisfying as their full-calorie original counterparts.

We also talked about some things that have frequently been touted as ways to feel full and lose weight that have been disproved. For example, the consumption of a glass of water prior to a meal. Water can be satisfying when we’re mistaking thirst for hunger, but consuming water before supper does not lead to consuming fewer calories at the meal.

What it really all boils down to are a few key tips: preventative eating (eat before you get too hungry so that you can make rational dietary decisions), eat more vegetables, chew your food, include protein with all meals (especially breakfast) and snacks.