All Posts By Amy Reiter

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire and Wine Spectator, among other print publications, as well as for websites including The Daily Beast, MSN, Babble, AOL/Huffington Post and Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.

Nutrition News: Planning Ahead for Health, Salt and Kids, and Reducing Ingredients

by in Food News, August 19, 2016

Grocery ShoppingDepartment of Advance Planning

Spontaneity has its charms, but if you want to make better food choices, you may want to plan ahead. When people experienced a delay between the time they ordered their food and the time they intended to eat it, they consistently made healthier, lower-calorie choices. And they generally weren’t even aware they were doing so, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found. Eric M. VanEpps, who led the research, said it’s not just that people are less hungry when they order in advance and therefore order less; it’s also due to their “bias toward the present,” he said. “If a decision is going to be implemented immediately, we just care about the immediate consequences, and we discount the long-term costs and benefits,” he told The New York Times. “In the case of food, we care about what’s happening right now — like how tasty it is — but discount the long-term costs of an unhealthy meal.” However, when you order a meal ahead of time, he said, “you’re more evenly weighing the short-term and the long-term costs and benefits. You still care about the taste, but you’re more able to exert self control.”

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Nutrition News: Diet Discrepancies, Curbing Cravings, Nutrition-Trained Doctors

by in Food News, August 12, 2016

Where our diets go wrong

When it comes to the healthfulness of Americans’ diets, something’s not adding up. Even though more than 80 percent of us don’t eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables, many of us overdo it with refined grains and sugar, and 36 percent of us are obese, 75 percent of us claim our diets are healthy, NPR reports, citing a recent national poll it co-conducted. What gives? Experts tell NPR it could be a matter of portion size — that we’re overeating foods that are healthy when consumed in moderation. Another factor in the discrepancy might be that we’re eating foods — like sugar-loaded granola bars — that we think are healthy, perhaps because they are marketed to us that way, but that really are not so good for us.   Read more

Nutrition News: Foods We Crave, GMO Labeling, Light and Obesity

by in Food News, August 5, 2016

Can’t eat just one …
We eat in hopes of satisfying our hunger, but some foods actually do the opposite, activating areas in our brain and gut that stir our desire for more. “The sight, smell, or taste of some food will trigger the cephalic food response,” Dr. Belinda Lennerz, an endocrinologist affiliated with Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told Time. The news magazine’s website fingers nine foods that create, rather than curb, cravings. They are … processed carbs like 1) potato chips, 2) crackers and 3) bread; sugary foods like 4) cookies, 5) cake and 6) sweets; easy-to-swallow foods like 7) low-fat, single-serve yogurt; and 8) diet drinks and 9) artificially sweetened snack foods. Read more

Nutrition News: Healthy Food Pairings, Subsidized Obesity, Small Meals Overrated

by in Food News, July 29, 2016

Underwriting obesity
Is the American government underwriting your weakness for junk food? A new study appears to confirm what health advocates have been saying for a while: that federally subsidized crops — corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, sorghum, milk and meat — are key ingredients in the foods that account for the most calories in the American diet, fueling the U.S. obesity crisis. At the very top of that list, The New York Times reports, are “grain-based desserts like cookies, doughnuts and granola bars.” Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that people who consumed the most federally subsidized foods were 37 percent more likely to be obese, the Times notes, and were “significantly more likely to have belly fat, abnormal cholesterol, and high levels of blood sugar and CRP, a marker of inflammation.” The study’s authors say they hope their findings help policy makers re-examine how they allocate subsidies. Read more

Nutrition News: BMI Risk; Water and Weight; Allergy-Causing Additive?

by in Food News, July 22, 2016

Can water help you lose weight?
One way to lower your BMI may be to drink more water. A new study, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, has found a link between hydration and weight. Examining data from approximately 9,500 U.S. adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers at the University of Michigan found that 33 percent of participants were not properly hydrated, and that those who were not tended to have a higher body mass index than those who were. Time notes that the best way to tell if you are adequately hydrated is to gauge the color of your urine: If it’s dark, you need to drink more water or eat more hydrating foods — like fresh fruits and vegetables. If it’s light, you should be A-OK. More research is needed to understand the link between hydration and weight. “But,” study author Dr. Tammy Chang told Time, “staying hydrated is good for you no matter what.” Read more

Nutrition News: Kids and Vegetables, Losing Belly Fat, Probiotics and Weight Loss

by in Food News, July 15, 2016

This is a job for Veggie-Man!

As parents know, it can be tough to get kids to eat their greens. But a new study indicates that the methods marketers employ to sell junk food to kids can be used to compel them to eat fruits and vegetables. For the study, elementary-school kids were divvied into groups that either received no intervention, had banners featuring vegetable superheroes posted near their cafeteria salad bars, were shown (really rather cute) TV cartoons depicting those same veggie superhero characters, or were shown both the TV cartoons and the banners. The TV segments alone barely budged veggie consumption, but the banners increased it by 90.5 percent. And when kids were shown both the banners and the TV ads, their veggie intake shot up by 239.2 percent. “It’s possible to use marketing techniques to do some good things,” study author David R. Just, of Cornell University, told The New York Times. Read more

Nutrition News: FDA Cookie Dough Warning, Coffee Benefits, The Skinny on Pasta

by in Food News, July 8, 2016

Oh, no! No more dough?

Eating a furtive spoonful (or three) of raw cookie dough before you pop the baking sheet in the oven or letting your kids lick the bowl is one of life’s great pleasures, but alas, the killjoys at the FDA are strongly warning against it. “Eating raw dough or batter — whether it’s for bread, cookies, pizza or tortillas — could make you, and your kids, sick,” the FDA warned in a recent blog post, noting that the uncooked flour in the dough — no matter what brand it is — “can contain bacteria that cause disease.” Apparently there’s been an outbreak of a strain of E. coli linked to the flour in raw dough or batter. In fact, the FDA says, even letting kids play with raw dough or clay made with flour “could be a problem.” Sheesh. On the bright side: Less raw-cookie-dough sneaking means more actual cookies! Read more

Nutrition News: Workday Walking, Gut Speed, Meal Timing

by in Food News, July 1, 2016

Optimal meal timing? The jury is out.

We know what we eat is important, but does it matter when we eat it? A new research review has concluded that national dietary guidelines ought to provide us with stronger recommendations about optimal meal timing. “Whilst we have a much better understanding today of what we should be eating, we are still left with the question as to which meal should provide us with the most energy. Although the evidence suggests that eating more calories later in the evening is associated with obesity, we are still far from understanding whether our energy intake should be distributed equally across the day or whether breakfast should contribute the greatest proportion of energy, followed by lunch and dinner,” Dr. Gerda Pot, who was involved with the study at the King’s College London, said in a release. “There seems to be some truth in the saying ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper,’ however, this warrants further investigation.” Read more

Nutrition News: Diet and Diabetes, Workplace Wellness, Soda Tax

by in Food News, June 24, 2016

Veg out (if only a little)

The advice to eat your veggies is better than ever. Eating just a few more servings of healthful plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains) and slightly fewer servings of animal-based foods (meat, fish, eggs, dairy) every day can significantly reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, a new study published in PLOS Medicine has found. Interestingly, while those who ate a plant-based diet with a modest amount of animal products lowered their Type 2 diabetes risk by 20 percent, the kind of plant-based foods they ate was key. Those who ate healthy plant-based foods saw a 34 percent drop in diabetes risk, while those who ate unhealthy plant-based foods (refined carbs, sugary foods, starchy veggies) actually slightly increased their Type 2 diabetes risk. “What we’re talking about is a moderate shift – replacing one or two servings of animal food a day with one or two plant-based foods,” senior author Frank Hu, a professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told The New York Times. Read more

Nutrition News: Whole Grains, Diet and Metabolism, Sleep and Weight

by in Food News, June 17, 2016

The whole truth about whole grains

We know whole grains are good for us, but do they have the same health benefits if they are ground up and used, say, as an ingredient in smoothies or flour in cereals? The New York Times’ Well blog has taken that question to nutrition experts and the answer is, basically, yes. “Whole” grains, in which the bran, the germ and the endosperm are all left intact (as opposed to “refined” grains, where the bran and the germ are stripped away), are beneficial either way. Some grains lose a bit of their fiber when ground, but taste better that way, the experts say, whereas others, like flax seed, are more nutritious when ground, because the body can absorb them better. The most-important thing, dietitian Maria Elena Rodriguez tells the Times, is to make sure products have three or more grams of fiber per serving and are marked “whole grains.” Read more

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