Posts Tagged ‘wellness’

Turmeric: the “Holy Powder” That’s a Nutrition Powerhouse

February 28, 2011

Recently I touted the anti-inflammatory benefits of ginger. Another nutritional powerhouse, turmeric  (the spice in curry that makes it yellow) is so treasured in India, that people there refer  to it as “holy powder”. It’s no wonder since curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is believed to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, digestive aid and Alzheimer’s Disease preventative.

Turmeric has been shown to be as effective as non-steriodal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) for arthritis sufferers, but without the negative side effects associated with NSAIDs. While turmeric is available in supplement form, I recommend adding the whole spice to your meals – it can add flavor and color to many dishes (keep reading for my suggestions)!

Furthermore, new research shows that eating curry once or twice a week could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Apparently, curcumin prevents the spread of amyloid protein plaques, which are thought to cause dementia. Scientists speculate that the high consumption of turmeric among Indian people is one of the reasons why they have lower rates of Alzheimer’s.

Turmeric has a warm, peppery flavor and is delicious when used in cooking. I particularly like using it during the winter months because like ginger it warms you up and, also like ginger, it aids in digestion. While I love the taste of curry powder, for maximum benefit I recommend using pure turmeric powder as research has found curry powders typically contain less curcumin than turmeric powder. I sprinkle turmeric powder on my salads, my steamed veggies, in soups – even on broiled chicken. Be forewarned, however, that the strong, vibrant yellow spice stains easily – everything from your porcelain sink to the porcelain crowns in your mouth to your fingernails, so use with caution. Wash your countertops and/or your sink immediately after cooking with turmeric and brush your teeth after eating dishes containing it.

Be Well,


The Dangers of Running Myopically- Part I

October 16, 2009

You’ve seen them running down the road – perhaps you’re even one of them – pounding the pavement mile after mile, sometimes twice a day.  Their upper bodies are shrunken while their hamstrings and calves are solid as rock, and probably just as flexible. I call these people who think running is all they need to be fit and healthy  “myopic runners”. They’d never think, for example, of taking a yoga class  – what good would that do when they wouldn’t get their heart rate up or barely break a sweat. Few get in the pool unless they’re badly injured or they’re cooling off after a summer run. It’s also rare to find them in a spinning class or Pilates studio.

For those who love to and can run, running is a wonderful part of a well-rounded fitness program. But, while running is an excellent cardiovascular and muscular endurance exercise, it doesn’t promote muscular strength, flexibility, or agility, other key components of fitness. Plus, most runners’ bodies cannot tolerate excessive mileage without some physiological cost.  

Furthermore, when running becomes a compulsion, a healthy habit can become a harmful obsession. Inadequate rest between high mileage and/or high intensity workouts can lead to muscle breakdown and injury. This is why cross-training is so essential to long-term running success. By  balancing the body’s strength and flexibility of opposing muscle groups, performing a variety of activities helps keep injuries at bay.

When Dedication Becomes A Dependency

In some cases, over-dedicated runners develop a psychological dependency on running as a means of controlling the rest of their life. Certain personality types may also be at a higher risk, including highly driven Type As, perfectionists, and those who lack communication and coping skills. If you find yourself feeling guilty, depressed and irritable after skipping even one workout or if you feel compelled to run even when you’re ill or tired, you may want to examine your commitment to running. Running can help get you through tough, stressful life events, but if it becomes your only means of coping emotionally, you run the risk of making it a higher priority than relationships and/or work.

In my next post I’ll discuss how to recognize a running addiction and ways to bring balance back into your fitness program if your running has started running your life.

Be Well,





Wellness Coaching: Key Role in Preventative Healthcare

October 7, 2009

With doctors increasingly  squeezed for patient time and education, wellness coaching is evolving to provide a valuable liaison in preventative healthcare.

So what exactly defines a “wellness coach“? A wellness coach encourages and motivates individuals to make positive lifestyle behavior changes to improve their well-being. These changes might include exercising regularly, adopting healthier eating habits, sleeping more, and reducing stress. These changes may be life-promoting and, in some cases, even life-saving.

But wellness isn’t just the absence of disease, illness or injury. Wellness is a dynamic state where an individual’s body and mind are operating at an optimal level. Certain parameters help us gauge our wellness, including: maintaining a healthy weight, being physically fit sleeping restfully and having plenty of energy. 

As every aspect of wellness affects another, wellness coaching offers a whole-person approach. Typically a wellness coach has a multi-disciplinary background that may include nutrition, exercise physiology, physical therapy and stress management. A wellness coach applies this expertise in developing comprehensive, customized programs that best fit the needs and goals of their clients, ideally resulting in fewer doctors visits, greater productivity at work and a better overall sense of well-being.

Be Well, 


Adventures in French Grocery Shopping

August 10, 2009

I just returned from a whirlwind, 10-day trip to France. On the last leg of the trip, we went to a grocery store in Nice to pick up some snacks and picnic items.  This “supermarche” was about the size of a US grocery store with many similarities, but some distinct differences as well.

One difference I noticed was that the serving sizes were much smaller than those you’d find in a US store. French yogurt, for example comes in 3-4oz containers rather than 6-8oz. It is, however, sold in 4-packs of individual servings. When examining the ingredients of French yogurt and cottage cheese I was impressed to see how few there were. And the taste – fantastique!

Fromage Blanc“, another French dairy staple, is sold in the same section. It’s sort of a cross between yogurt, sour cream and creme fraiche. While in France I had it a few times in restaurants as an alternative to the rich French cheeses offered at the end of a meal. Often it was served floating in a raspberry syrup for dessert. It makes a light and delicious end to a meal.

Another distinct difference I discovered while shopping for produce. In the produce section I selected my fruit and placed it in plastic bags the same as I would do in the US. Much to my embarrassment, however, when I got to the head of the checkout stand (5 minutes before closing time with several people behind me in line) I discovered that I was supposed to weigh and tag my own fruit using special scales located back in the produce section. I pleaded ignorance and fortunately was escorted back to the scales and shown how to work them, while my the rest of my items remained at the checkout stand. It’s actually a smart system. Rather than have the checkout people memorize a bunch of codes, not to mention weigh each bag of produce – the customer is responsible, so it makes the line at the checkout stand move more swiftly. The scales  feature a touch pad with pictures of all of the different fruits and vegetables for sale. The customer places their bag of apples, for example, on the scale, punches the picture and a sticker with the price is produced which they then attach to their bag. When prices change, the store staff only has to change one machine.

The French are also ahead of us in already charging for grocery bags if you don’t bring your own (which of course I didn’t). For a nominal price I did, however, walk away with a colorful bag that made a great beach tote.

More to come on my gastronomic adventures in France in future posts. 

Be Well,


Slow Down and Savor Your Food

August 8, 2009

I’m always telling my clients (and myself!!) to eat more slowly and savor and enjoy their food. I just returned from vacationing in France where I was struck by the way the French linger over a meal – even breakfast! In fact when dining out, we had to ask our servers for the check – they never hurry you to leave. The French take time to experience their food which is probably one of the reasons they have a far lower rate of obesity than Americans. That and the fact that they eat smaller portions and they walk everywhere.

Now, here is a list of  5 reasons of why slowing down to enjoy our food is so important  for both physical and emotional health. Our fast-food/fast-eating culture mirrors our fast-paced, impatient lifestyle. Perhaps slowing down the former can help us in managing the latter.

More on my gastronomic adventures in France in future posts. 

Be Well, 


10 Surprising Superfoods

July 25, 2009

Bon Appetite magazine has come up with a somewhat surprising list of healthful superfoods, Most of them I agree with, but some I find  a bit of a stretch (bacon as a “health food” – I don’t think so)! Still it’s a list worth perusing as it contains some foods that may not be on your radar. As you know, variety is the spice of life and a part of a good insurance policy that you’re meeting all of your nutritional needs through your diet, rather than relying on supplements. I encourage you to check it out and try a superfood new to you. You may also be interested in reading my own list(s) of favorite superfoods.

Be Well, 


Top Ten Tips for Teen Nutrition

July 18, 2009

For those of you who attended my “Nutrition for Teens and Parents Workshop” on Sat, July 18th – thanks for coming! Here is a summary of the key points we covered:

1. Eat mostly whole foods – foods that are unprocessed or unrefined or processed and refined as little as possible before you consume them. When you do eat from a package – the fewer ingredients the better and you should be able to identify those ingredients. Know and understand what you put in your body!

2. Eat more vegetables! The more the better! Vegetables have the highest nutrient density of all foods and they’re delicious if you know what to do with them

3. Beware of misleading marketing when purchasing whole grains – particularly cereals and breads. Branch out and try some new whole grains if you’ve gotten into a rut. Try quinoa for example, which contains the highest protein content of all whole grains and is a complete vegetarian protein.  

4. Teens need lots of bone building nutrients as well as iron. Speaking of bone-building nutrients, drink milk – it’s the original sports drink!

5. Make sure you’re eating adequate lean protein – growing, active teens need plenty of it. A simple gauge is to eat half of your body weight in protein grams.  

6. Don’t be afraid of fat – just choose the healthy kind. The beneficial fats are polyunsaturated fats found primarily in cold water fish, some nuts, seeds and oils and monounsaturated fats, found in nuts, seeds, avocados and olives and vegetable oils. Polyunsaturated fats also help decrease inflammation and can help alleviate mild depression. 

7. A healthful, easy-to-digest, low-fat snack combining complex carbohydrates, lean protein and a little healthy fat will facilitate a high-quality workout. Here are some suggested pre- and post-practice snacks or mini-meals:

 -Whole grain cereal and milk

-Plain Greek yogurt with berries and a few chopped walnuts or slivered almonds

-1/2 of a turkey or peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread

-Small handful of nuts and a piece of fruit

-apple and a hard-boiled egg

-Banana dipped in natural, no-sugar-added peanut butter or almond butter

8. If you want to keep your skin acne-free, avoid eating a lot of sugar and other simple carbohydrates but do eat a lot of vegetables and fruits.

9. Eat “brain foods”, those high in Omega 3 fatty acids,  the night before a big exam. Salmon, tuna, scallops, walnuts, flax oil and chia seeds are all good sources. The morning of your test, eat a good breakfast containing complex carbohydrates, lean protein and a a little healthy  fat.

10. Strive for a healthy weight –one you can maintain by eating nutritiously and exercising regularly, but also one that allows for some indulgences.

These suggestions are geared toward a general audience. For a comprehensive, customized nutrition plan tailored to your family or teen’s needs, please visit my website for more information.

Be Well,


An Excellent Handbook For Knowing What’s in Your Food

July 17, 2009

With so many artificial ingredients being added to processed foods these days, you practically need a chemistry degree to know what’s in the foods and beverages you’re consuming.  I just came across A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives,  an excellent resource to help unravel some of the mystery. This up-to-date handbook includes 12,000 ingredients from a to z and describes what they do whether or not you should avoid them. This is a book worth having on your kitchen shelf. Of course, if you eat a mostly whole-foods diet as I’m always advocating, you really don’t need this book :)!

Be Well,


Teen/Parent Nutrition Workshop this Saturday

July 15, 2009

Just a reminder that I’m offering a Parent & Teen Nutrition Workshop this Sat, July 18th from 10:30 to 11:45 am at Ladera Oaks Swim and Tennis Club in Portola Valley, CA. This workshop will cover a variety of nutrition topics related to teens, including: eating for athletic performance, pre-and post-practice snacks, nutrition for optimal test taking, acne prevention through diet, and “food and mood”.

The charge is $20 for members, $25 for guests and $30 for parent/teen duos. Though not required, reservations can be made by calling Elizabeth at 650-854-3101, ext 163 or emailing For more information, please visit my website at If you can’t make it, I will be posting a summary on my blog next weekend.

Be Well, 


How to Love Your Vegetables: Part II

July 11, 2009

Recently I wrote about the importance of eating vegetables – how they have the highest nutrient density of all foods, but they are the category most people fall short nutritionally. Vegetables can be delicious – it’s just a matter of knowing what to do them. Here are more ideas for getting more into your daily diet:

If you’re not a vegetable fan or your kids aren’t, try adding vegetables to other dishes. Vegetable purees are a  great way to go. Try mashed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes – it has a nice, sweet flavor to it. Add pureed carrots or zucchini to meatloaf, casseroles, pancake batter, muffins and quick breads, and chopped broccoli, mushrooms, or green beans to spaghetti sauce. Vegetable purees can even be snuck into desserts  thereby enhancing their nutrition as well as their flavor. There’s a great book called “Deceptively Delicious” by Jessica Seinfeld with great recipes for kid-tested desserts and snacks using butternut squash, cauliflower, spinach, carrot and banana purees. I also recommend keeping a can of pumpkin on your shelf year-round, not just during the holidays. It’s loaded with betacarotene and potassium – great for blending into smoothies, home-made soups, pancakes or puddings.

Dip into vegetables. For snacking, instead of chips and salsa, dip raw or lightly steamed veggies in salsa, hummus, mashed avocado or home-made guacamole, marinara sauce or a lowfat yogurt cucumber dip. This is another way of getting kids to eat more vegetables – just find a topping they like (ketchup and mustard work, too!).

Add vegetables to egg dishes. If you’re scrambling eggs or making an omelet, toss in some mushrooms, chopped onions, bell pepper and cooked asparagus.

Serve chicken or fish warm over a bed of wilted greens instead of rice or pasta.

Pile vegetables into your sandwiches.  And don’t stop at lettuce and tomato –add cucumbers, shredded carrots, onions or peppers to name a few. Or, make a lettuce wrap instead of a regular sandwich (substitute romaine lettuce leaves for the bread).  

Top your pizza! This another great way to sneak more veggies into your kid’s diets. Whether you make your own pizza, buy it frozen, or get it as takeout, load it up with extra veggies, including broccoli, tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, red onions, and mushrooms.  If you’re making your own, go easy on the cheese to reduce saturated fat, but load on the tomato sauce for extra lycopene.

Make vegetables the main dish. Plan your meal around an entree salad, vegetable soup, or stir fry. Add small servings of other foods — lean meat or poultry or low-fat dairy products — as side dishes. Entrée salads are great for summer – toss some fish, chicken or lean beef on the grill and then add it to a big salad

Legumes are a class of vegetables that include lentils, beans (including soybeans) and peas. Low in fat with zero cholesterol, legumes are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium and are an important vegetarian source of protein.  Legumes are also very versatile and inexpensive. Keep cans of beans and lentils on your shelf  and you can add accent to a salad, create a healthful soup, stew or casserole, puree them for dips and spreads or soups or combine them with rice for a main vegetarian entrée.

If you already eat plenty of veggies, good for you, but branch out and try some new ones, such as artichokes, eggplant, asparagus, Swiss chard, bok choy, beets, parsnips turnip or mustard greens and jicama. The greater the variety the better insurance that you are getting all of the phytonutrients vegetables contain. So mix it up!

Be Well,