Processed Food vs Real Food: Why Nutrition Science is So Confusing (and what to do about it)

by | Jul 30, 2014

Photo by Daniel Gois

Recently a reader asked me a simple question that I’m surprised I don’t hear more often, “Why are processed foods so bad?”

She had been having a nutrition debate with her boyfriend. She reads Summer Tomato regularly, but was having trouble describing the health difference between the Real Food I recommend daily and the processed foods I warn against. What exactly is the evidence?

Great question.

The answer in some ways is just as simple: we don’t know. Unfortunately that isn’t very satisfying intellectually, and our attempts to create theories around the observational fact that obesity and most chronic diseases only appeared after the introduction of processed foods has opened the door to a world of speculation and confusion.
Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , ,

The Convenience Illusion

by | Jul 28, 2014

Photo by dickuhne

The number one excuse I hear for why someone can’t eat healthier is lack of time. Fast food is just so convenient, they argue. Cooking is so much work, they insist. Then there’s the shopping. Who has time for that?

Why can’t there just be healthy fast food?

Healthy fast food is the holy grail for some, but if you look more carefully you’ll see it is an illusion.

Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , , , ,

For the Love of Food

by | Jul 25, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week eating with others transcends better health, the new tastebuds on the block, and why to avoid certain peaches.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).
Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Detox Without Starving Yourself

by | Jul 21, 2014

Photo by Robert Gourley

Earlier this year my husband and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. If you were following along, you might remember that we didn’t get to have much of a honeymoon after our wedding since my book was scheduled to launch just four weeks later. (Yes, I regret these events being so close together. C’est la vie.)

So for our first anniversary we felt we deserved a real break, a relaxing trip with no friends, family or even Toaster. We took five glorious days off and chilled on a beach in Mexico, making a point to spend more time in the spa than in the gym.

As you might expect we felt a little doughy when we got home, so we immediately called our local juice company and ordered a 7 day detox cleanse to make up for it.

JUST KIDDING.
Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , ,

For the Love of Food

by | Jul 18, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week organics are better for you (again), a new vitamin supplement is considered dangerous and ineffective, and scary news about food packages.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).
Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Breaking Bad: How to Kick the Late Night Snacking Habit

by | Jul 16, 2014

Photo by nettsu

Whenever I ask people what the most difficult habit is for them to break, late night snacking is often the first thing they say. This doesn’t surprise me.

If you feel like a zombie every night when you get home from work, it’s because you pretty much are one. Even if you enjoy your job, you are still subject to countless stressors throughout the day that deplete your cognitive resources––especially those required for self-control. Without a well of willpower to rely on at the end of the day, our brains go into autopilot to avoid more heavy lifting.

For these reasons, more than at any other time of day our evening actions are guided by habit. All the cues and triggers around our home––the TV, computer, couch, etc.––guide us mindlessly to the pantry for the cookies, or the freezer for the ice cream, and we eat to our heart’s content (not our mind’s or stomach’s content, those guys stopped caring hours ago). Stopping doesn’t even occur to us. We just continue until the cookies are gone, or the carton is empty.

It makes sense that these late night eating habits are particularly difficult to kick. Bad food habits are hard to break as is, but at night we have even less self-control than at other times of day for reshaping them, so we usually don’t even try. These habits are also especially strong, since they are deeply entrenched through weeks, months and years of repetition.

So what should we do?

Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , , , , ,

How To Have Healthier Lunch Meetings (Willpower Not Required)

by | Jul 14, 2014

Photo by Yarden Sachs

Len Markidan writes about productivity and work/life balance at Home Office Hero. He’s also the Director of Marketing at Groove. To get his latest posts, sign up for his newsletter or follow him on Twitter.

How To Have Healthier Lunch Meetings (Willpower Not Required)

by Len Markidan

A few years ago, I decided to start making healthier food choices.

I threw out the cookies and processed junk in my house and went on a farmers market shopping spree, where I finally learned to properly pronounce “jicama.”

I felt GREAT. I was a new man.

For the first eighteen hours or so, anyway.

Because eighteen hours later, you see, I had to meet a client for lunch.

And while I walked in confident about my commitment and eager to pick the healthiest salad on the menu, here’s what actually happened:

Len: [Open the menu and catch myself lingering on the cheeseburger description. Quickly flip to the salads.] Mmm, the spinach and chicken salad looks good. The avocado jicama one, too. [Look up to make sure everyone caught me pronouncing jicama like a boss.]

Client: I’ll have the bacon cheeseburger.

Len: [Slam menu closed, hate myself.] Make that two, please!

Willpower has never been my strong suit.

To deal with that, I’ve had to build systems to make myself less dependent on willpower, in all areas of life.
Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , , , ,

For the Love of Food

by | Jul 11, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week learn how to become an “exercise person,” disturbing news about who is selling their tweets, and a compelling new reason to choose chicken over beef.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).
Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Realistic Ways to Be Less Sedentary at Work

by | Jul 7, 2014

Photo by bark

I’ve always considered myself an active person. I joined my first gym at age twelve (my mom lied and told them I was fourteen to get around the age limit––a terrible idea, but that’s another story), and spent my high school years as a ballerina dancing nearly 20 hours per week. In college I stopped dancing but focused more on the gym, then dabbled in tennis, then long-distance running in graduate school.

As an adult I settled into a comfortable routine of working at my desk or lab bench, then spending at least an hour at the gym 5-6 days per week. Most of us would not consider this a sedentary lifestyle, and indeed it is far more active than most Americans. Unfortunately, spending long stretches of time sitting throughout the day is considered sedentary and has been shown to increase metabolic risk and mortality, even in normal weight and otherwise active people. And that meant me. Scary, right?

Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

How to Know When You’ve Eaten Enough

by | Jul 2, 2014

Photo by Wiertz Sébastien

When I was in college I was pretty much always on a diet. Except when I wasn’t.

The way it worked was I’d grab either a protein bar or diet shake from my kitchen on my way out the door in the morning. At lunch time I would hit one of my favorite three salad places near campus. In the evening I’d either get another salad or make a chicken and vegetable stir fry at home.

I should have weighed nothing, but I was nearly 20 lbs heavier than I am now. Or, more accurately, I’d fluctuate between 10 and 20 lbs heavier, depending on how long I’d be able to go without having a burrito or ice cream meltdown.

My problem was that I was basically starving myself as much as I could, then would periodically eat a 15″ tortilla filled with rice, beans, cheese, guac and a mountain of carne asada. Or maybe in my weakness I’d buy a pint or two of Ben & Jerry’s and eat the entire thing during The Simpsons.

So much wrongness.

I could point to dozens of reasons my actions were idiotic, and I have. But today I want to focus on one of the long-term consequences of restricted eating (then overeating) that recovering dieters need to learn to overcome: knowing the amount of food you really should be eating.
Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , , ,