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.

Manly Burgers, Feminine Salads: Does Gender Affect Our Diets?

by in Food News, February 16, 2017

We all know the stereotypes: Men like red meat and hefty portions. Women like salads and eat modestly, picking delicately at their meals. Men like it spicy. Women like it sweet.

Fries or fruit on the side? Men, we imagine, may be more likely to choose the former, women the latter. Ditto when choosing between, say, wine or beer.

Whether or not there is intrinsic truth in these cultural preconceptions about gender and food, societal reinforcement of them may influence the decisions we make about what we eat, the Washington Post suggests. What’s more, the paper recently posited, given the body of research indicating that eating plant, rather than animal, proteins, is better for your health and longevity, that may not be great news for men.

One key issue may be the way different foods are marketed to men and women, the messages sent out via advertising and packaging, says Kerri-Ann Jennings, a registered dietitian and nutritionist who writes about food and health trends. Read more

Exercise May Not Only Make You Fitter, But Happier Too

by in Fitness, February 9, 2017

Those of us who (try to) exercise regularly often do so with our weight or overall health in mind. Both great reasons, obviously. But there’s another benefit to staying active: It could make you a happier person.

“Exercise on a regular basis can keep your mood elevated,” says Ramona Braganza, a fitness expert and celebrity trainer whose clients have included, among others, Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, Scarlett Johansson, Zac Efron and Ryan Reynolds. “Mood swings don’t occur as much, and overall wellness is achieved when balance takes place in the body.”

Exercise’s mood-boosting benefits were recently underscored by researchers at the University of Cambridge in England, who asked more than 10,000 study participants to track their happiness and physical activity using a specially developed smartphone app. The participants’ self-reported activity data (the researchers asked them what activities they were engaged in the last 15 minutes) was then tracked against information collected directly from built-in activity monitors (accelerometers) on their phones.

At the end of the 17-month-long study, published in the journal PLoS One, the researchers concluded that people who are more physically active are happier than those who are less active. “We found that, regardless of whether we looked at self-reported physical activity or physical activity sensed via the accelerometer on their phones, people who were on average more active were also on average happier,” says study co-author Gillian M. Sandstrom, Ph.D., who contributed to the work as a postdoctoral research assistant at Cambridge and is now a lecturer at the University of Essex. Read more

Which Airlines Have the Healthiest Food?

by in Food News, January 31, 2017

When we book airplane tickets, most of us consider things like timing, cost, and whether or not a given flight includes a layover. We probably don’t factor in the healthfulness of the airline’s food. But maybe we should.

Some airlines serve healthier meals than others, and a new study helps travelers figure out which keep calories and cost to a minimum in the meals and snacks they offer, while maximizing nutrition, taste and sustainability.

“Transparency is critical, and consumers are very interested in know about the foods they eat,” Charles Platkin, PhD, JD, MPH, the director of the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College, who conducted the study and edits DietDetective.com, tells Healthy Eats. “Often, travelers don’t have the time to plan out and pack their own meals. Their only choice at 30,000 feet is the food on the plane.”

Platkin’s airline food study found that, overall, the average calories per in-flight food item has risen slowly and steadily in years past — from 360 in 2012 to 388 in 2013 to 297 in 2014 and 400 in 2015 — before decreasing 8 percent last year, to 392.  Read more

6 Tips for Integrating Exercise Into Your Workday

by in Fitness, January 29, 2017

So many of us worker bees spend our weekdays glued to our desk chairs, wondering, perhaps, if tapping at our keyboards counts as exercise. (Sadly, it doesn’t.)

But the prospect of spending a huge chunk of our day working out may seem daunting and frankly, unworkable. A new study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity indicates that, in fact, spending just five minutes getting up and engaging in moderately intense exercise (like a walk) every hour may actually be better for us, in many respects, than a solid 30-minute daily workout before we slide into our cubicles in the morning and start our long sit.

The study, conducted by researchers affiliated with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, among others, concluded that introducing short periods of activity spread throughout the day would help not only boost workers’ energy levels, but also elevate their moods and lower their sense of fatigue and appetite, calling it “a promising approach to improve overall well-being at work.” Read more

What You Should Know About Hydroponic Vegetables

by in Food News, Trends, January 27, 2017

Soil seems so essential to our concept of vegetables that those grown hydroponically – that is, in water rather than soil – may seem confusing. Even futuristic. But hydroponic crop farming is in fact here now. In the last five years, the hydroponic crop farming industry has shown an annual growth of 4.5 percent, according to the U.S. market research firm IBISWorld, and new companies are projected to continue to expand over the next five years.

Hydroponic farms produce high yields in a small area. Often grown indoors – in warehouses or greenhouses and in artificial light instead of sunlight – they are protected from extreme weather. Hydroponically grown vegetables, which are fed by nutrient solutions in the water, may be just as nutritious as field-grown vegetables and, depending on the solutions they’re fertilized with, can help meet the rising demand for organic produce.

Curious to learn more about hydroponic vegetables, we asked Rebecca Elbaum, MPH, RD, CDN, a clinical dietician in New York City who has worked with hydroponic farms, particularly small, rooftop gardens, to fill us in on some of the basics:

 

What, exactly, are hydroponic vegetables?

Hydroponic literally means “water-grow or survive,” so basically hydroponic vegetables are those that survive, and likely thrive, in water. Hydroponic vegetables are grown in a closed system in which their roots are submerged in water. This water is fortified or “spiked” with nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. In conventional farming, natural soil contains vitamins, minerals and trace elements that water does not, so hydroponic farmers need to add those nutrients into the water. Conventional farming also uses the natural light of the sun, which helps vegetables develop their nutrients.  Hydroponic farming mimics sunlight through greenhouses.  Read more

Are You An Exercise “Non-Responder?” Don’t Give Up Hope!

by in Fitness, January 21, 2017

Exercise is supposed to be the answer for myriad health concerns – from cardio-respiratory fitness and blood pressure maintenance to weight control – but there are those of us who may feel that, no matter how much we exercise, we don’t see much in the way of results. Turns out, it may not be in our heads.

Fitness experts estimate that anywhere from 20 to 45 percent of those who undertake a form of regular exercise experience no measurable physiological change as a result – and they even have a name for us: non-responders.

“Although it would appear to be intuitive that all previously untrained and sedentary individuals undertaking exercise can expect positive changes to their physiological function and overall health, the scientific literature is quite clear that for a segment of the population this is indeed not the case,” says Lance Dalleck, associate professor of exercise and sport science and director of the Center for Wellness and Human Performance at Western State Colorado University, who has done research on non-responders.

One unfortunate effect of the phenomenon is that non-responders can become frustrated with their lack of progress and decide it’s not worth it to stick with their exercise program – or, really, any exercise program.

But recent research has indicated non-responders to one form of exercise may yet respond to another, and so it may be just a matter of finding the right exercise program for you. That study, which was conducted Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and the University of Ottawa, determined that non-responders could benefit by swapping out one form of exercise for another. Read more

Why Exercise Doesn’t Always Lead to Weight Loss

by in Fitness, January 8, 2017

Exercise more and lose weight: So many of us resolve to do both those things in the new year. Every year. But do they actually go hand in hand? And why does it sometimes feel like we actually gain weight when we increase the amount of exercise we get, and lose weight when we moon around the house like a lump? (I know, it’s cold outside, but still…).

That question was recently put to the Well bloggers at the New York Times, who confirmed that studies show that our hunch is correct: We don’t always lose – and sometimes gain – weight when we exercise more. That’s mostly because exercise makes us hungrier and so we eat more – off-setting the calories we’ve burned.

What’s a health-minded person to do? We asked nutrition coach, consultant and yoga teacher Alexandra Caspero MA, RD, CLT, RYT of Delish Knowledge, and the author of the book Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation, for her perspective. She works to help clients find their “happy weight.” Here’s what she had to say:

Why do we sometimes gain weight when we start exercising? Shouldn’t it be the opposite? And does that mean we should not exercise if we want to lose weight?

Weight loss is just one of the many benefits to exercise, so I still encourage movement, even if weight gain is a side effect. It’s beneficial for cardiovascular, mental and skeletal health, among other things. And, this isn’t true across the board. The more important thing to focus on is that exercise alone doesn’t equal weight loss; the diet still counts. I break it down to 80/20: Exercise is 20 percent of the equation; diet is 80 percent. Spending 30 minutes on the treadmill likely burns 300-400 calories for the average person, which can easily be negated by an extra serving of pasta. Additionally, exercise may increase appetite and many of my clients think exercising gives them a reason to “eat more,” which isn’t always the case. Read more

Re-Examining the Health Benefits of Fitness Trackers

by in Fitness, January 1, 2017

Do you wear a fitness tracker, a doohickey that counts the steps you take and/or the calories you burn every day? If so, you’re in good company. An estimated 21 percent of U.S. Internet-connected adults — yep, more than one in five — use some form of wearable technology, according to research firm Forrester.

Although some pricier wearable fitness trackers promise complicated analytics, most people use wearable fitness trackers to count steps or track distance “with a weight loss goal in mind,” says nutrition consultant, registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and Healthy Eats contributor Dana Angelo White.

A clinical trial conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, however, suggests those wearable fitness trackers may not actually help us lose weight. In fact, the study indicated, just the opposite may be true. The devices may actually backfire, prompting people to eat more and undercutting weight-loss efforts. “It’s somewhat common for people to use exercise as an excuse to overindulge,” White notes.

The study’s research team put 471 overweight study participants on a low-calorie diet and urged them to exercise more, providing them with support such as group counseling. All began to lose weight. After about six months, half the study cohort was asked to self-report their diet and exercise behaviors; the other half was given wearable devices to monitor them. Two years later, both groups remained active, but those who were using the fitness trackers lost less weight than those who were not, prompting the researchers to conclude that “devices that monitor and provide feedback on physical activity may not offer an advantage over standard behavioral weight loss approaches.  Read more

How to Combat Holiday Weight Gain

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Healthy Holidays, December 7, 2016

Merry as they may be to many, for those of us who try to eat healthy and keep our weight under control, the holidays can be brutal. We step on the scale, cookie crumbs barely brushed from our lips, and watch as the pounds tick up into the danger zone. Ho-ho-how did this happen to us again this year?

Of course, we know how it happened. We made a few too many trips to the snack table, drank more eggnog than we knew was good for us and indulged a little too enthusiastically at family dinnertime. The good news is that it all tasted delicious and we enjoyed it in the company of family and friends. The bad news is that feeling festive as we eat those holiday delicacies doesn’t make them any less fattening — for proof, just look at Santa.

Sure, we’ll resolve to be better next year: “Lose weight and eat healthier” is penned in at the No. 1 spot on our New Year’s resolution lists every year. But what if we could do something to start the year without all the disadvantages of those holiday pounds?

Writing in the Washington Post, nutrition expert Jae Berman offers 11 (count them!) tips for keeping the pounds at bay over the holidays. Her suggestions include eating a small balanced meal before you go to a holiday gathering and eating your vegetables and drinking water once you’re there. Savor every bite, don’t drink too much alcohol, bring snacks in your bag to make sure you don’t get super hungry between meals (and then go crazy heaping your plate when dinner is served), she advises, and don’t forget to exercise.

Possibly Berman’s most-important piece of advice? Don’t beat yourself up for the moments you fall short. “Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break,” she writes. “Acknowledge the successes.” Read more

Will Soda in Your City Soon Cost More?

by in Food News, November 23, 2016

Is it time for budget- and health-minded beverage buyers to switch to seltzer or stick to water? If you live in a growing number of U.S. cities, sucking down sodas and other sugary beverages will now cost you more, thanks to new taxes.

Here’s a rundown of cities and counties that have enacted soda taxes, starting with five that did so just this month:

Cook County, Ill.: The populous Illinois county that is home to Chicago will see a penny-per-ounce beverage tax — over and above the usual sales tax — added to the purchase of sweetened drinks such as soda, iced tea, lemonade and sports drinks, whether bottled, canned or from a fountain. The tax, which goes into effect July 1, was approved by the Cook County Board on Thursday, November 10, and is expected to raise $224 million in revenue per year.

San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, Calif.: Voters in these Bay Area municipalities overwhelmingly passed soda taxes on Tuesday, November 8, in an effort to lower rates of diabetes and obesity — and raise revenues. Read more

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