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Diet Detective: What a NYC breakfast ad can teach parents

The other day, I noticed an interesting advertisement in a New York City subway. The ad showed an upside-down croissant with a sail inserted to make it look like a sailboat, along with the slogan, “WIND IN YOUR SAILS! FREE. HEALTHY BREAKFAST IN THE CLASSROOM.”

At first glance, I thought it was an advertisement for a bakery. I certainly didn’t think it was going to be an ad for schoolchildren and their parents, put out by the New York City Department of Education and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Both organizations offer wonderful programs and often have a positive impact on healthy eating.

That’s why I was surprised to see this ad, and wondered if it was a mistake. If they wanted to capture children’s attention with unhealthy food, wouldn’t they have been better off showing an image of a doughnut? How many little kids (in the Breakfast in the Classroom program or not) actually know what a croissant is? This is one of three posters created for the program; both of the others show healthier images.

What is healthy? Is a croissant so bad?

First, let’s take a peek at the term “healthy.” Under Merriam-Webster’s definition of healthy you’ll see phrases such as “free from disease or pain” or “beneficial to one’s physical, mental or emotional state; conducive to health.” Not sure a croissant fits in here.

It’s not that you can’t or shouldn’t have the occasional croissant, but what kind of message does it send to tell children and parents that a croissant is a healthy breakfast? It can be hard enough for parents to get their kids to eat fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. But when a croissant is defined as healthy by the New York City Department of Education, it’s essentially a stamp of approval saying that a croissant is OK to eat — whenever. And while this particular croissant may meet NYC DOE standards, the photo doesn’t tell us that. The reality is that a croissant can have as many as 500-600 calories — much more than a kid should eat for breakfast.

Food advertising stimulates unhealthy or healthy eating

There is a plethora of research demonstrating that images of unhealthy foods stimulate unhealthy eating. A meta-analysis in Obesity Reviews demonstrated that children exposed to unhealthy food images in marketing showed a significant increase in unhealthy food consumption. How many, for example, saw that ad and thought, “Wow, I could really go for a croissant right now.”

The good news is that there is also strong research demonstrating that images of healthy foods can increase the consumption of healthy foods.

What experts say

We reached out to several experts to get their opinions on the poster.

  • “I’m in favor of kids getting breakfast in schools. … With that said, the devil is in the details. I assume that all breakfasts meet USDA nutrition standards … but croissants? These can be delicious — all that butter — but I wouldn’t exactly call them “healthy,” and I’m wondering whose bright idea it was to choose that item to display.” — Marion Nestle, PhD, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health, New York University
  • “Putting a croissant as the featured food in this poster was a very odd choice. I imagine there are croissants on the market that are small enough, and perhaps made with less fat and some whole grains, that would fit into the nutrition standards, but it still isn’t what I would have chosen to feature in an ad. It would have made more sense to feature fresh fruit in the poster.” — Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD, director, Rudd Center for Food Policy Obesity; professor, human development and family studies, University of Connecticut
  • “The notion that a croissant is the right response to a hungry child’s need for breakfast is terribly misguided. A croissant is a treat when visiting Paris, perhaps, but it is very far from an ideal breakfast.” — David L. Katz, MD, MPH, director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, Griffin Hospital
  • “New York City’s students are taught not to judge a book by its cover, and its adults should, too — these are healthy, low-sodium, whole-wheat croissants.” — Toya Holness, New York City DOE spokesperson

What parents can do to get their kids to eat healthier

Watch Out for the “Nag Factor”: Practice the art of saying NO to your kids when they ask for unhealthy foods at the supermarket, in restaurants or at home.

Warn Kids About Unhealthy Ads Ahead of Time: Warn your kids in advance that they may be targeted by food companies and others to eat unhealthy foods. This helps to offset the marketing impact. See: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976102/

Photographs and Images of Healthy Foods Help: Try hanging images of fruits and vegetables in your kitchen. Change them often.

Keep Fruits and Veggies Handy: If you have lots of fruits and vegetables visible and ready to eat, you and your family will be more likely to choose them over other, less healthy foods.

Veggies First: Always offer your kids vegetables first, when they’re hungriest.

When Introducing New Foods to Your Kids, Use the Familiar Along with the New: Try to introduce new foods along with a familiar one.

Copying Behaviors: Kids mimic the eating behaviors of their parents, teachers, siblings, peers and people they see on TV and in advertisements. If you want them to eat healthier, model healthy eating.

Don’t be the Diet Police: Instead of criticizing, try showing support when family members actually eat healthier foods.

Shape Your Food: Make the food look good by presenting it in familiar, fun shapes.

Eat Healthy Meals Together: Sitting down at a table (no TV) and eating meals as a family increases the likelihood that your family will eat more fruits and vegetables and decreases the consumption of unhealthy foods (e.g., soda).

Charles Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com.

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Eating this food helps you burn an extra 100 calories a day

Researchers have found that is one simple thing you can do to burn more calories.

Making this one change can help you burn an extra 100 calories a day, according to the Tufts University study.

The Boston-based researchers split 81 people into two groups: One group ate a diet rich in whole grains, with a fibre content around 40 grams a day.

The other consumed mostly refined grains, with only around half the fibre.

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Diet Doc Offers Comprehensive Nutritional Counseling And Safer Weight Loss Solutions For hCG Diet

PHOENIX, AZ–(Marketwired – February 13, 2017) – Despite an excess of weight loss solutions, most people are not clear enough about their dietary goals to lose weight quickly and effectively. If dieters were more specific about their dietary goals and knowledgeable about past weight loss failures, dieting would be an easier process. According to Dr. Nishant Rao, the resident medical expert at Diet Doc, a nationally recognized weight loss center, when most people say “weight loss,” they mean “fat loss.” However, the ideal solution for most individuals, based on Dr. Rao’s observations, is “optimal fat loss with minimal muscle loss.” To achieve this, it is necessary to clearly identify dietary goals and establish the “macro targets” of the diet, which include the protein, carbohydrate and fat components. With the variety of options available, dieters can choose between high-protein, low-carb diets like the Ketogenic Diet or more varied options like the Mediterranean Diet or the Paleo Diet. In many cases, according to Dr. Rao, Diet Doc tends to favor the Paleo Diet, Wild Diet, Ketogenic Diet and the Jumpstart Diet as “blueprints for diet target macros for patients.”

In moderate to extreme cases, however, simple lifestyle changes and dieting alone aren’t enough. In these situations, a customized hCG diet plan may be recommended. The Diet Doc hCG plan is not to be confused with the original Simeons hCG diet, which was developed in the 1950s and discouraged by Diet Doc as it was practically a starvation diet that limited daily consumption to 500 calories. Diet Doc, instead, has worked with medical experts to better understand hCG and the dietary conditions it requires to be simultaneously safe and effective. After continuous research lasting several decades, Diet Doc has created a flexible diet program that involves consuming no less than 800 calories (and up to 1250 calories) daily without negatively affecting the rate of rapid weight loss. These high-calorie programs offer safe weight loss and are advised for patients considering hCG treatment.

At Diet Doc, patients are urged to fully understand personal dietary needs and obtain a customized diet based on nutritional recommendations. Because dieting involves major lifestyle changes and continuous reduction of calories consumed, Diet Doc offers weight loss and diet consulting to all patients, regardless of their dietary needs or history. With a safe, doctor-supervised diet plan and guidance for life, Diet Doc patients gain the following benefits within the very first month:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • An understanding of why previous weight loss attempts have failed
  • Customized diet plans that curb hunger
  • Avoidance of the starvation approach to dieting and focusing instead on specific nutritional needs based on body chemistry

Diet Doc programs and aids have a long history of alleviating issues like heart disease, high blood pressure and hypertension through healthy weight loss. And with a team of doctors, nurses, nutritionists and motivational coaches, Diet Doc helps patients curb hunger and lose weight fast, no matter how extreme the case may be. In fact, more than 90% of Diet Doc patients lose 20 or more pounds every month.

Patients can get started immediately, with materials shipped directly to their home or office. They can also maintain weight loss in the long-term through weekly consultations, customized diet plans, motivational coaches and a powerful prescription program. With Diet Doc, the doctor is only a short phone call away and a fully dedicated team of qualified professionals is available 6 days per week to answer questions, address concerns and support patients.

Getting started with Diet Doc is very simple and affordable. New patients can easily visit https://www.dietdoc.com to quickly complete a health questionnaire and schedule an immediate, free online consultation.

About the Company:

Diet Doc Weight Loss is the nation’s leader in medical, weight loss offering a full line of prescription medication, doctor, nurse and nutritional coaching support. For over a decade, Diet Doc has produced a sophisticated, doctor designed weight loss program that addresses each individual specific health need to promote fast, safe and long term weight loss.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DietDocMedical

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To lose weight, and keep it off, be prepared to navigate interpersonal challenges

“Many times, when someone loses weight, that person’s efforts are undermined by friends, family or coworkers,” says Lynsey Romo, an assistant professor of communication at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the recent study. “This study found that people experience a ‘lean stigma’ after losing weight, such as receiving snide remarks about healthy eating habits or having people tell them that they’re going to gain all of the weight back.”

For this study, Romo conducted 40 in-depth interviews with people who reported themselves as having been formerly overweight or obese, but considered themselves thin at the time of the interview. Twenty-one of the study participants were women, 19 were men, and the participants reported an average weight loss of 76.9 pounds.

“All 40 of the study participants reported having people in their lives try to belittle or undermine their weight loss efforts,” Romo says. “This negative behavior is caused by what I call lean stigma. However, the study found participants used specific communication strategies to cope with lean stigma and maintain both their weight loss and their personal relationships.”

The communication strategies fell into two different categories. The first category focused on study participants helping other people “save face,” or not feel uncomfortable about the study participant’s weight loss and healthy eating habits. The second category focused on damage control: participants finding ways to mitigate discomfort people felt about an individual’s weight loss and related lifestyle changes.

Techniques used to avoid discomfort included telling other people about one’s intentions and rationale before losing weight. Study participants also reported taking steps to conceal the scope of their lifestyle changes, such as eating smaller portions of unhealthy foods at family gatherings, accepting food from people but not eating it (e.g., taking a piece of cake at an office birthday party, but saying they’ll eat it later), or saving their “cheat day” for a night out with friends.

Meanwhile, techniques used to mitigate discomfort tended to focus on making excuses for changes in behavior.

“Study participants would go out of their way to make clear that they were not judging other people’s choices,” Romo says. “For example, participants would stress that they had changed their eating habits for health reasons, or in order to have more energy.

“Overall, the study highlights how important relationships are to making sustainable lifestyle changes — and the importance of communication in how we navigate those relationships,” she adds.

The paper, “An Examination of How People Who Have Lost Weight Communicatively Negotiate Interpersonal Challenges to Weight Management,” is in press in the journal Health Communication.

Journal Reference: Lynsey K. Romo. An Examination of How People Who Have Lost Weight Communicatively Negotiate Interpersonal Challenges to Weight ManagementHealth Communication, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.1080/10410236.2016.1278497

How to make your diet heart-healthy


With February declared Heart Month, many countries and organizations around the world are encouraging us all to start good habits now that will improve heart health not just for February but for life.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease is the leading global cause of death, with 2,200 Americans dying each day from heart disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that a poor diet is one of the most influential lifestyle choices that put people at a higher risk for heart disease, and a nutritious, balanced diet is a major factor in combating the most common type of heart disease, coronary artery disease, which results from a build-up in coronary arteries.

Thankfully though diet can be easily modified, with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) also adding that even if already have a heart condition, a healthy diet can still benefit your heart and overall health.

Here we round up some expert advice from the AHA, CDC, and BHF on how everyone can maintain and enjoy a heart-healthy diet.

Fruit and vegetables

Aim for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day for a well-balanced diet.

Try to vary the types of fruit and vegetables you eat; Carleton Rivers, MS, RDN, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences in the University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Health Professions and program director of the UAB Dietetic Internship advises, “Choose vegetables that have a rich color like dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and zucchini.”

“Just be sure not to substitute fresh fruits with 100 percent fruit juice or dried fruit,” she adds, which can be higher in sugar and lower in fiber than fresh fruit.

However although fresh is great, the BHF notes that frozen and tinned also count.

And as a guide a portion is around a handful (80g or 3oz) of fruit or veg, for example 4 broccoli florets, 1 pear, 3 heaped tablespoons of carrots, and 7-8 strawberries.

Saturated fat

Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Try to reduce your intake of fatty cuts of beef, lamb, and pork and poultry skin, and dairy products such as lard, cream, butter, and cheese.

Unsaturated fats

Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated “good” fats can help boost heart health. Add in monounsaturated fats, for example olive oil, rapeseed oil, almonds, unsalted cashews and avocado, or polyunsaturated fats, such as sunflower oil and vegetable oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds and oily fish.

However remember that all fats and oils — including the healthier ones — are high in calories, so even unsaturated fats should only be used in small amounts.

Fiber and protein

“Fiber is important for gastrointestinal motility, blood sugar control and lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol,” Rivers said. “Fiber is great for appetite control because it can fill you up and keep you feeling fuller for longer.”

Whole, fresh fruit and vegetables are good sources of fiber, as are whole grains such as brown rice, wild rice, whole oats, and wholegrain barley, and legumes, beans and peas.

Protein is also needed as part of a balanced diet to build and maintain muscles and can be found in a variety of sources such as lean meats cooked using a low-fat method, such as baking.


Eating too much salt can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, which in turn can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Try seasoning your food with herbs and spices for extra flavor to reduce your salt intake.


Stick to the recommended guidelines and remember, everything in moderation.

Treat yourself too

Although the AHA, CDC, and BHF all encourage a heart-healthy diet, Rivers says a “cheat day” is OK occasionally and a little bit of what you like rather than depriving yourself entirely will help you stick to a nutritious eating plan.

Your favorite piece of chocolate or guacamole and tortilla chips are what Rivers recommends as two heart-healthy treats to have on “cheat days,” adding that, “The occasional bite of dark chocolate or a nice glass of pinot noir is a perfect reward for your efforts to sustain your heart health.”


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