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Food investments

As February is a month of budgets — or namely, the Budget — it made me think about food in a similar way. If getting the best out of your investments is indeed the goal, why not maximise the time and resources spent on food? The fact is that all food aren’t created equal and some do absolutely nothing for either your well-being or your health. To that end, I thought I’d chime in with those that offer the best returns on investment.


Carbs



I think one the biggest and most consistent reactions from my clients is one of shock when I prescribe a healthy dose of carbs on my meal plans. So many people are shocked that I prescribe pretty much everything in moderation, including rice (starchy water drained out), pasta (same), bread, rotis, rava and noodles. Carbs are fuel, carbs are beautiful, they spare my proteins for its important functions and, eaten in moderation, work beautifully to provide you with better sleep, more energy, and leave you with a better mood.

Antioxidant-rich Food

Antioxidant foods combat disease and ageing. Environmental stressors, unhealthy foods, excessive drinking as well as smoking, elevate the levels of free radicals in our bodies. While some amount of free radicals are naturally flushed out, an excess of free radicals in the body have been linked to cancer and ageing. Fruits, vegetables and vegetable juices are packed with antioxidants.

Egg Whites

Clocking in at 16 calories per egg white, this food is the best source of protein in existence. Egg white is a 100% reference protein, which basically means that 100% of the protein in it is absorbed by your body, making it a very efficient food to eat. Quinoa is another great complete protein, and is an alternative for vegetarians.

Water

When it comes to investments, water is the best kind of SIP. Research shows that water helps your body burn more calories, produce bile (that in turn digests fat), and also helps you feel fuller.

Probiotics

Probiotics (derived from ‘pro’ and ‘biota’, which means ‘for life’) are friendly microorganisms that are essentially good bacteria and help with digestion, hunger management, absorption and elimination. Probiotic drinks are available as standalone foods, and even probiotic enhanced milk/ milk products are available as well. Drink up. Eat well.

By: Pooja Makhija

(Consulting Nutritionist Clinical Dietician)

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More Than Half of Americans Cheat On Their Diet With This Food

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Why go back to junk food diet for retirement investors?


WASHINGTON Let’s hear it for unhealthy retirement advice!

The Donald Trump administration ordered a review last week of a new federal rule prohibiting conflicted advice to retirement savers, a move that signals its intention to withdraw or defang the regulation. As things stand now, companies have until April 10 to comply with the rule.

What is the White House’s complaint against the so-called fiduciary standard promulgated by the U.S. Department of Labor? “This is like putting only healthy food on the menu, because unhealthy food tastes good but you still shouldn’t eat it because you might die younger,” Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal.

This is the sound of ideology roaring loudly – free markets and consumer choice over paternalistic government regulation.

Much is at stake. The DoL rule does require anyone advising clients on their retirement accounts to act in the client’s best interest and earn only “reasonable” compensation – and disclose information to clients about fees and conflicts. (A U.S. District Court judge on Wednesday upheld the rule, in a stunning defeat for the business and financial services groups that had sought to overturn it. )

Investors can sue advisers who fail to meet those standards. And an Obama administration study found that middle-class families are ripped off to the tune of $17 billion annually due to backdoor payments and hidden fees.

If we are going to repeal and revert to a free market-ideology, consumers will at least need reliable, high-quality information to help them make judgments about what is good for them, and what is financial junk food.

‘FIDUCIARY LITE’

A growing number of retirement investors understand the difference. Recent research shows a rising understanding of the value of paying for financial planning advice, and a preference for paying a fee rather than commissions on product sales, which often appear to be “free” to the investor but often lead to conflicts that cost them money over time (reut.rs/2k1nJ5k). And the industry has seen a tectonic shift to low-cost passive investing and software-driven “robo advisory” services.

But investors still must sort through the equivalent of

a clever head feint toward a customer-first pledge from the banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies that have fought the DoL standard tooth and nail, as the Consumer Federation of America noted in a recent study (reut.rs/2jAXnDB).

Call it fiduciary-lite. Consider the marketing pitches you can find online right now:

J.P. Morgan Chase: “Our advisors focus on what YOU need.”

Raymond James Financial: “We believe financial advice is about more than just having a plan. It’s about having the right plan for you.”

Voya Financial: “We’ve already done most of the vetting for you. With a Voya retirement consultant, you know you’re getting a qualified professional who is thoroughly familiar with all of our products and services, able to offer good advice and make sound financial decisions on your behalf.”

This week I contacted these companies and three others – Wells Fargo Co, Edward Jones and Lincoln Financial Group – for comment on the apparent contradiction between this type of language and their opposition to the DoL rule.

I also posed five other questions about transparency they provide to clients to help them understand the cost of their services and competitors’ products; whether they sell only their own proprietary products; how they ensure that client best interests are served when deciding whether to roll over funds from 401(k)s into individual retirement accounts, and how their compensation models have changed to avoid adviser conflicts.

Five of the six companies either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to my query.

NO ‘RIGHT OF ACTION’

Lincoln Financial Group offered via a representative that it supports the “intent of the DOL rule and its overarching goal to further ensure that client best interest is served by increasing transparency of cost and by allowing clients to choose how their financial advisors should be compensated.”

Lincoln added it supports a single standard for all financial products via the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and that it opposes a “right of action” created through regulation that applies only to “qualified markets.”

But the SEC has had a decade to approve a standard – as authorized under Dodd-Frank – and has failed to do it.

Ask the trade lobby groups that represent these companies, and they will tell you they support a best-interest standard, but that the DoL standard would raise the cost of advice for middle-class households to prohibitive levels.

This argument has always struck me as nonsense, and a 2015 survey by fiduciary advocates of investment advisers and brokers confirms this. More than 90 percent see no reason that working with a fiduciary adviser should cost more; 83 percent say a fiduciary standard would not price investors out of the market for advice.

The survey solicited anonymous responses to this question: “Do you believe a fiduciary duty for brokers who provide advice would reduce product and service availability for investors?”

Said one dually registered broker and fiduciary adviser: “No. The marketplace would change. Isn’t it time?”

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Food As Medicine, The Blood Type Diet and The Ketogenic Diet

My hope is that in five years or less, we will be able to customize our diets based on a simple drop of blood. But until then, my advice is to look at the whole picture instead of just one factor. You can do this by working with a Functional Medicine practitioner who can test you for food intolerances, check out the state of your gut, identify nutritional deficiencies among other factors, to give you a complete picture of the state of your body. From there, they can create a plan to customize your diet to get you back on track and optimize your nutritional intake.

Worried about your diet? This app lets your phone scan food for harmful chemicals


The phone’s display acts as the light source, beaming colors at an object while the camera captures details about the reflected color.


Image: Udo Seiffert/Fraunhofer IFF

The makers of an industrial hyperspectral camera called HawkSpex have created an app that lets you use your smartphone’s existing camera and display to scan an object and see what’s inside it.

German firm Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation hopes consumers will find its HawkSpex app useful for things such as testing for pesticides in fruit sold as organic or scanning cosmetics to tell whether they’re authentic.

The company targets its existing industrial scanner at manufacturing processes, but it requires a special spectral camera to capture and analyze the light reflected from the surface of an object.

Knowing that certain spectrum ranges are associated with a substance allows the sensor, combined with software analysis, to generate a fingerprint for each substance.

The forthcoming consumer app, scheduled for release towards the end of 2017, can perform similar analyses with a smartphone’s camera. This capability has been achieved by reversing the process it uses to acquire fingerprints using the spectral camera, according to professor Udo Seiffert of the Fraunhofer IFF.

“The [phone’s] camera gives us a broadband three-channel sensor, that is, one that scans every wavelength and illuminates an object with different colored light,” he said.

The phone’s display acts as the light source, rapidly beaming a series of colors at an object while the camera captures details about the reflected color. An algorithm, optimized for the smartphone’s hardware, performs an analysis of the object’s chemical composition.

According to Fraunhofer IFF, the company has finished the first version of the app, but is holding off on a private beta until it’s developed features to support scanning different objects.

If the app works as planned, Fraunhofer IFF may find it easier to distribute to consumers than similar technology in the recently announced H2 phone, which features a dedicated material sensor from Consumer Physics.

Consumer Physics has sold a handheld molecular scanner called SCiO for several years, but scaled it down to a sensor format small enough for smartphone. It will rely on third-party developed apps that are customized to analyze different objects.

In contrast, Fraunhofer IFF says it will be taking a “Wikipedia approach” to its app, allowing consumers to add support for different objects. Consumers would send data from each scan to Fraunhofer IFF, whose engineers would verify the measurements and then update the app.

“Once the app is launched on the market by the end of this year, active users will be able to contribute to the whole big thing and create new applications, for instance, that test pesticide exposure of heads of lettuce, by teaching the system such problems,” Seiffert said.

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Diet to Go: Fairfax County Meal Delivery Company Does $15 Million in Sales Per Year

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA — Having a hard time keeping your New Year’s resolution to get healthy? Need a boost? A longtime company based right here in Northern Virginia that does business nationwide might be your answer. Diet to Go offers delivery of fresh low-calorie meals. There’s no cooking involved — all you do is heat up the meal. The company, based in Lorton, is run by its founder, CEO Hilton Davis, who answered some questions Patch sent him recently about his business:

Q: How did you get the idea for starting Diet to Go?

A: I had been in the food business for over 10 years as a wholesaler and had done a project in 1985 with a major retailer of fresh, prepared meals produced and supplied by my company and sold through the deli department. That gave me the inspiration to produce healthy meals and offer them to the general public directly. I started working on the business in 1989 and launched on a very small scale in February 1991.

Q: How has the business changed since it’s beginnings?

A: The basic concept has changed very little. We were local in the DC area until 2000 at which time we developed shipping capabilities so that we could ship our product nationwide. We also opened a partner facility on the West Coast in 2000. We have added different types of meal plans (low carb, diabetic, vegetarian) and constantly upgrade the meal plans to improve quality and keep abreast of new information as to what “healthy eating” is.

Q: How many employees are there? What do they do (cooks, drivers, etc.)?

A: About 100 employees. Kitchen personnel, customer service reps, sales reps and management.

Q: How is your company different than other meal delivery companies?

A: We’ve strictly adhered to the health guidelines and evidence-based knowledge. Through operation efficiency we remain the most economical for food of our quality. Our food also tastes better! We’ve never compromised on that, the food has to be good, very good. We’ve worked with many expert chefs and nutritionists, and don’t outsource so we have tight controls on our products, the process and the distribution. Combined with our twice-weekly distribution, our meals are extremely fresh, so it’s like having a personal chef. We really do consider this more like a personal chef service.

Q: How many different items are there to choose from?

A: Over 450 different meals in four basic types of meal plans. Customers are set up on a meal plan and have countless meal options to choose from; variety is key. You really do get to pick what you get and we think that’s important. We know if customers stick with it they’ll lose 1-3 pounds a week and we hear these types of results every day.

Q: If someone is not on a diet/trying to lose weight, do they still order Diet to Go food?

A: Yes. We believe 30 percent of our customers are “convenience seekers.” Our slogan is “Healthy Eating Made Easy” and we provide that in a delicious, affordable way. We offer smaller plans, too, and can customize to meet individual needs. Often after customers lose the weight, they’ll keep ordering from us. For example… lunches and dinners three days a week, or just dinners five days a week for convenience. Maintaining is a big part of weight loss, so we’re here for all of that!

Q: How often do you change the menu? Is there anything on the menu today that was on the menu when you started out?

A: We are “foodies” so we love exploring new menu items and offering them to our customers. We keep up with the latest food trends and try to offer a variety of dishes so customers can decide how adventurous they’d like to be. Of our approximately 450 meals, probably 50 were served in “Year 1.” Popular meals become classics and stay on the menu.

Q: How do you get ideas for new menu items?

A: We have a team that meets weekly to review our current menus, use customer data as to popularity of meals and develop new meals. Our chefs make new ideas for us and serve them at our weekly management meetings and written feedback is provided. Over the years we’ve worked with many professional chefs in our Guest Chef program and with dietitians, nutritionists and medical doctors.

Q: Can you give us an idea of how much you have grown from when you started to now? (number of deliveries each year/customers)

A: Year one sales were about $250,000, year 2-$660,000 and now about $15 million. We currently serve almost 2 million meals per year and have served over an estimated 20 million total.

You can read 71 Yelp reviews of Diet to Go here and find out more about the company on its Web site here.

PHOTO: Diet to Go’s John Stewart, vice president of operations, Hilton Davis, CEO and Rachel Burdo, vice president of administrative services.

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