Category Archives: Book Recommendations

What Doritos Have to Do with Your Health

dorito effect

I just love reading books about the relationship between nutrition and health! How about you?

My latest read, The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker, offers a fascinating look at how the development of so-called “natural flavors” have contributed to our current health crisis of rising rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

It turns out that Doritos are the first food that don’t taste like what they actually are. Prior to Doritos, corn chips tasted like corn chips and potato chips tasted like potato chips. Doritos are corn chips that taste like tacos! And buffalo chicken, and ranch dressing, etc., etc., etc. The use of “natural flavors” has expanded exponentially, so that you are consuming them when you eat almost anything.

What does this have to do with health? According to Schatzker, over the last century food producers have been breeding for yield, not flavor. Bite into any supermarket sold tomato and this fact will instantly be confirmed. However, this also apparently extends to livestock – for example, chicken today is bland and tasteless when compared to how chickens tasted at the turn of last century.

Schatzker provides a very convincing argument that science has established that nutrition and flavor go hand in hand. The more nutrients, the better the flavor. The less flavor, the less nutrients. He also explains that we have inner sensors that “turn off” hunger and provide a sense of satiation when we have taken in enough nutrients. When we eat foods like Doritos, in which the flavor comes from “natural flavorings”, and not from actual nutrients, our bodies will keep on eating as they are awaiting nutrients. This explains why we can eat an entire bag of Doritos, but have no interest in bingeing out on broccoli.

Your takeaway? Here is another reason to eat whole foods. Foods that contain the nutrients that are bodies need for ideal, healthy functioning. When you do this, you will be working with your body’s natural shut-off valve, thereby reducing cravings that lead to over-eating.

Do you find this topic as fascinating as I do? Then order Schatzker’s book!



A Health Coach’s Summer Reading List

You know how kids have to write book reports when they return to school in September on the books they read over the summer? I thought you might be interested in what kinds of books a health coach reads. Although each of the following books are very different, they each provide a unique spark of inspiration in terms of what each of us can do to ensure that our bodies are as healthy as they can be. I greatly enjoyed each one – if they were a dud, they wouldn’t make it onto my list.

If you choose to read any of the books, or have read them already, please share your comments below. We can have a little informal Happy Belly book club!

“The Hormone Cure”
My apologies in advance to my male readers, but don’t run away so soon – you might want to recommend this book to the women in your life. This is the book I wish someone had put into my hands when I was 15 years old and bent over with pain with menstrual cramps and chills while stuck on the school bus!

In her book, Dr. Sara Gottfried discusses how women’s hormones have long been overlooked by the medical establishment. She makes the point that symptoms that we associate as being “normal”, e.g. PMS mood swings, menstrual pain, and menopausal symptoms, are due to imbalances in our hormones – imbalances that are the result of our stressful lifestyles, unhealthy foods and exposure to chemicals.

Dr. Gottfried includes questionnaires at the beginning of the book to help you to identify your own particular hormonal imbalances She then offers targeted treatment plans for establishing healthy hormonal balances through lifestyle changes, supplements and when necessary, medications. Although many of us suffer from a variety of imbalances, this book may be of particular interest if you find that your IBS symptoms are worse at “that time of the month”. There is the possibility that Dr. Gottfried’s protocols may help to ease your symptoms.

“The Third Plate”
Now for something completely different. In this book, Dan Barber, a top chef, discusses what is needed to fix our broken food supply system. He presents many tales as to how good taste, good nutrition and good environmental stewardship go hand in hand. If you have any interest in good food and/or organic gardening, you will enjoy this tale-based read.

One particular tale – an interview with a plant breeder – stands out for me. The man stated something that I already knew – that plants are being bred for yield and pest resistance. They are also being bred for their ability to withstand Roundup, a chemical herbicide, and to be seedless, forcing farmers to buy new seeds each year. What they are not being bred for is nutrition or taste! This book will open your eyes to what we are all passively supporting – the production of foods that are good for corporate bottom lines, but not good for our health, our taste buds, or the health of our planet.

“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”
Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite novelists. In this book, she writes about her family’s year-long quest to eat locally. She had an advantage that many of us don’t have, in that she moved onto some farm-able property in Southern Appalachia. However, she offers plenty of suggestions for increasing your local food consumption regardless of your ability to grow your own.

Written with her usual excellent writing style, the book serves as an inspiration to grow more of your own food and to support local farmers through visits to farmer’s markets. One of the things that I loved about the book was the simplicity and homey goodness of local eating. Since I live with a bunch of men, who are not rushing to drink green smoothies, the recipes included were of great appeal.

Similar to “The Third Plate”, the Kingsolver book serves as a reminder that we need to switch away from consuming the nutritionally deficient foods that fill our supermarkets. We have a right to eat foods that were raised without a ton of artificial chemicals and that are not filled with more chemicals. Eating real food allows our bodies to be as healthy as they can be.

Related Reading:


Could You Get Through a Whole Year with No Sugar?

nosugar If you work with me in an individual coaching program, you will see that my giving you gifts is a special perk. One of my lovely clients just reversed the tables and gave me a gift—the book, “Year of No Sugar“, by Eve Shaub. I have always been an avid reader, but lately my interest seems to be focused solely on nutrition books so I was thrilled! And I was not disappointed, as Ms. Shaub’s book is an enjoyable read, combined with a very serious message– that the sugar that predominates our diets is killing us.

Ms. Shaub took on the challenge of placing her entire family, including her two young children, on a sugar-free diet for one year. This does not mean that they simply avoided sweets. No, Ms. Shaub took it up a level to avoid all foods that had added sugar. Believe me, this was not easy! However, her struggles, often quite humorous, can serve to make us more aware of how ever-present sugar has become in so many (close to all!) of the foods we eat.

Of interest to some of you, Ms. Shaub discusses the fact that cutting sugar out of her diet cleared up her long-term struggles with chronic constipation. Might be something to think about trying! 2014-04-25 07.59.04 (1) As I was in the midst of reading the book, I walked into the break room of the offices that I share with a bunch of accountants, and the above is what I found. Seriously, watermelon Oreos?

I highly recommend this book to all. In spite of the seriousness of the sugar problem, the book is written in a light-hearted way. And, if she can inspire you to re-think your relationship with sugar, then her family’s odyssey was well worth it.

buy now from Amazon




The Advantages of Eating Slowly

slowdowncorrMany mindfulness/meditation training programs include the classic “raisin eating” experiment. In this experiment, they recommend that you spend five minutes eating a single raisin. I kid you not. Your five minutes is spent looking at the raisin, feeling its texture, smelling it, and then ever so slowly savoring lots of small bites of the raisin. The point of the exercise is to increase your awareness of the here-and-now. The recommendation is that you then bring this mindfulness to all of your activities, including your meals.

I don’t know about you, but I have not found it quite so easy to slow down and be mindful of the foods that I am eating. My brain likes to be busy and I often want to get to the next thing on my to-do list.  However, I have just read a pretty cool book that has been inspiring me to try to slow it down.

The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy & Weight Loss” is written as if it is a diet book, but it is also an excellent digestive health book. The author, Marc David, offers the premise that if you slow down, you optimize metabolism – this will help you to lose weight, have more energy and experience smoother digestion! That’s a lot to be gained by simply changing the way that you approach your meals.

The book is a quick read and offers an eight week framework to help you to gradually change the way that you eat. Throughout the book, Mr. David does an excellent job of describing how the digestive system works and what you can do in order to maximize digestive health, i.e. slowing down when eating and eating according to our inner biological clocks. He does not offer a specific food plan, but does encourage that you choose quality foods, foods that your body was designed to be eating. Naturally when you slow down and becoming more aware of what you are eating, you will want your food to be of the highest quality.

One easy takeaway from the book is the need to calm your body down before eating.  Our stress response is tied tightly with digestion – and not in a good way.  When we are stressed, the process of digestion is impaired.  Thus it is important to take a few moments before eating to ensure that our bodies are as relaxed as possible.  You could accomplish this through taking three long slow breaths.  You can also bring spirituality into the mix and take a moment to be aware of the bounty of food in front of you and to say thanks.

Whether or not you are looking to lose weight, we all could use a reminder to eat the way that we were designed to. If you are struggling with chronic digestive symptoms, this book will provide you with some easy changes that you can make to make the process of digestion less troublesome. Obviously, I highly recommend it.

The one habit the book has not changed for me is the habit of eating while reading. When I am alone, I find it very soothing to read while I eat. I rationalize this habit with an anecdote told by Geneen Roth. She described a famous meditation guru, who insisted, “When you eat, eat. When you read, read”. She said one day his students caught him eating and reading. He responded, “When you eat and read, eat and read!” So for now, I’m sticking with that.

You can order the book through Amazon by clicking here.

Like what you read? Maybe it is time for you to take a step toward creating vibrant health for yourself. I will work side by side with you to achieve your health goals, whether that be having a trouble-free digestive system, reducing pain, losing weight, having more energy or getting better sleep. Get started today! Click here to sign up for your health breakthrough session.

Be Grateful and Write It Down!


Photo: Nicholas Alchin/Bing Images

There is something about the human mind that draws it to a focus on the negative. It probably has some evolutionary advantage in terms of being attentive to threats in our environment. But what is good for us as a species is not necessarily good for our own individual happiness. Most of us live with many blessings, but our negative obsessions tend to obscure the positive.

A great way to overcome this negative slant is through the use of a “Gratitude Journal.” As my friend Elizabeth Scott writes in her book “8 Keys to Stress Management” (a book I highly recommend), gratitude journals not only boost your sense of happiness, but can alleviate symptoms of depression. And it is remarkably simple!

Even if you hate journaling, or keep telling yourself that you should start, I highly recommend that you spend a couple of moments each day writing down three to five things that you are grateful for. Some people like to do it in the morning when anxious obsessions are at their loudest. For me, I like to do it right before bed. As I recollect the events of my day looking for the things that I am most grateful for, it helps me to focus on and appreciate the many wonderful aspects of my varied life. This has proven itself to be very effective in quieting the voice that seems insistent on solving whatever it feels is the day’s most pressing problem.

A deeper sense of fulfillment in life and brain quiet is something that we all could use. So be grateful and be sure to write it down.

Like what you read? Maybe it is time for you to take a step toward creating vibrant health for yourself. I will work side by side with you to achieve your health goals, whether that be having a trouble-free digestive system, reducing pain, losing weight, having more energy or getting better sleep. Get started today! Click here to sign up for your health breakthrough session.