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: Getting Kids to Eat Healthy; the Case for Pale Veggies; a Breakfast Challenge

by in Food News, October 21, 2016

Raise healthy eaters
Trick-or-treating will soon be upon us, scattering bite-size candies in its wake. Given that, how can you nudge your kids toward healthier eating? Writing in The New York Times, psychologist and author Lisa Damour offers a trio of suggestions. No. 1: Frame eating as a “zero-sum game.” Let children know they can take in only so much food, and explain to them that unprocessed foods are better than processed foods at providing their bodies with the nutritional elements needed to lower inflammation, prevent disease and boost immune systems. No. 2: Make it about “self-care.” Damour recommends we remind children that eating healthily is key to taking care of themselves and that they can generally rely on their own appetites to regulate consumption. No. 3: Find broader, “beyond-the-self” motivations. Damour suggests underscoring the broader environmental effects of food choices when discussing them with your kids, telling them, for instance, “Eating a real green apple is way better for the environment than a green-apple-flavored Starburst.” And, she reminds us that the behavior we model sends our kids a message as well. In other words, we should probably all put down the Starburst and reach for an apple. Read more

Nutrition News: Naked Juice Is Sued, Junk Food Is Jettisoned and Big Soda Displays Strange Behavior

by in Food News, October 14, 2016

Duped by Juice
When you reach for a Naked Juice, you probably think you’re doing something good for yourself. After all, its label promises “goodness inside.” But, in a class-action lawsuit filed last week, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has accused Naked Juice parent company PepsiCo of misleading consumers by suggesting that the fruit and veggie juices are primarily filled with ultra-healthy “acai berry, blueberries, kale, and mango,” when in reality the product lines’ chief ingredients are orange juice or “cheap, nutrient-poor apple juice.” CSPI contends the juices’ “no sugar added” claim is misleading as well, suggesting that the juices’ sugar content is low, when actually it’s quite high — nearly as much per bottle as a 12-ounce can of Pepsi. It also accuses PepsiCo of flouting Food and Drug Administration regulations by failing to not make clear that the drinks are “not a low-calorie food.” Consumers, CSPI litigation director Maia Kats said, are “not getting what they paid for.” PepsiCo has called the allegations in the suit “baseless.” Read more

Nutrition News: Autumn Weight Gain, Salt Reduction, Kids and Online Ads

by in Food News, October 7, 2016

Adver-games exposed
Once upon a time, parents’ fears about advertising’s sneaky effects on their kids were more or less confined to TV ads. Nowadays food and drink companies are able to reach kids online in ways parents aren’t even aware of — and research indicates that exposure to these marketing efforts does influence kids’ consumption habits. Writing in the Washington Post, nutrition expert Casey Seidenberg ticks off a few of those methods. They include using “adver-games” featuring the products, directing kids to their products to retrieve “codes” and incentivizing them to invite their friends to play; using GPS tracking and notifications to push coupons and discounts to them on their phones based on their locations; using social media to track and reach them and encourage them to influence others in their peer network; and collecting and analyzing kids’ personal data via mobile apps to better target them and build loyalty. Creepy. Read more

Nutrition News: Best Metabolism Booster; Sleep, Stress and Belly Fat; and Gardening and Kids’ Health

by in Food News, September 30, 2016

Reaping What We Sow

Want to raise kids who are lifelong healthy eaters? Hand them a trowel, some seeds and a watering can, and point them to the garden. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida suggests that college kids who either gardened when they were kids or currently garden consumed more fruits and vegetables — 2.9 cups daily, on average, about a half-cup more — than those who did not. “We found that if your parents gardened but you did not, just watching them did not make a difference in how much fruits and vegetables you eat in college,” lead author Anne Mathews told HealthDay News. “Hands-on experience seems to matter.” Read more

Nutrition News: Sparkling Water Safety, Parsing Probiotics, Eating and Reading

by in Food News, September 23, 2016

Eating and reading
You want your kids to eat healthy for all sorts of reasons. Here’s a new one: It may make them better readers. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyvaskyla found that students’ reading skills showed greater improvement between first and third grade if they ate a diet composed primarily of vegetables and fruits (especially berries), along with fish, whole grains and unsaturated fats, and ate very few sugary treats and red meats, HealthDay News reports. “The associations of diet quality with reading skills were … independent of many confounding factors, such as socioeconomic status, physical activity, body adiposity [fat] and physical fitness,” study author Eero Haapala said in a study news release. But don’t worry too much if your kid is a picky eater — the study showed only a correlation, not cause and effect.

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Nutrition News: Exercise and Brain Hunger, Vitamin D and Asthma, and Mediterranean Diet Tips

by in Food News, September 16, 2016

Brain hunger

You know how, sometimes, after you’ve completed a big, stressful, mentally taxing assignment — a college term paper, say, or a complex work project — you suddenly feel ravenous? That may be because your brain, depleted of energy after working hard, signals you to eat more calories in order to fuel further efforts (thus explaining the much-feared Freshman 15). However, exercise may subvert this mental-stress-induced craving for calories, a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, noted in The New York Times, indicates, because it increases the amount of blood sugar and lactate in the blood and increases blood flow to the head. Worth a try.

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Nutrition News: B-12 for the Brain, Commuter Weight Gain, Cooking Methods and Diabetes Risk

by in Food News, September 9, 2016

Is Your Commute Making You Fat?
A new study of British commuters conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health has found that those with long, “non-active” work commutes — passive rides in trains, buses or cars – may suffer consequences including heightened stress, blood pressure and BMI and decreased time for healthy activities, such as cooking nutritious meals, exercising and getting adequate sleep. Almost 38 percent of those polled said their long commute meant they had less time to make healthy meals at home, and 29 percent said their commute compelled them to eat more fast food. Noting that the survey found, too, that workers were consuming an extra 767 calories per week due to their long commutes, suggests eating a healthy breakfast (prepared ahead of time, if necessary) before leaving the house. Read more

Nutrition News: Granola and Other “Healthy” Food Myths, Busted; Nutritionally Sound Grocery Savings

by in Food News, September 2, 2016

Granola: Snack at Your Own Risk

Americans think of granola as healthy, but the granola we buy in stores or, often, make at home is usually so loaded with sugar we may as well be eating a piece of cake, a handful of cookies or a doughnut. In some cases, that cup of granola we eat for breakfast may actually contain more sugar than some of those dessert items, The New York Times notes, which explains why the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines categorize granola as a “grain-based dessert.” Some nutritionists say you can manage a healthier workaround by buying unsweetened granola and preparing it without adding sugar, but others just advise avoiding it altogether. Read more

Nutrition News: Healthy Eating and Teens, TV Ads and Kids, and Fatty Fish and Eyesight

by in Food News, Uncategorized, August 26, 2016

Healthy Eating: The Teen Scene
If you want to instill healthy-eating habits in your children, obsessing about your own weight around them is not a great idea; it may increase the risk that they will develop eating disorders or obesity during their adolescent years and beyond. That’s according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has released new guidelines on preventing obesity and eating disorders in adolescents. The AAP recommends that parents discourage their children from dieting, severely restricting their calorie intake or skipping meals. Parents should encourage healthy eating and physical activity; make family meals, where adults model healthy eating, a priority; refrain from “weight talk,” either about their own or their children’s weight, and instead focus on “healthful-eating behaviors”; steer clear of “weight teasing” and try to encourage a healthy body image overall; and be aware of bullying or extreme weight-loss efforts in overweight or obese teens. Overall, UPI notes, a focus on a healthy lifestyle, rather than a weight, is the way to go. Read more

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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