Monday, September 29, 2014

5 Health Benefits of Pomegranate Fruit

'Tis the season of pomegranates!  The fall and winter months from October to January mark prime pomegranate season.  This delicious "super-fruit" has been around since ancient times and is growing in popularity due to its abundant health benefits.

The delicious ruby-red edible gems found inside the pomegranate are used in cooking, baking, smoothies, juice blends, and alcoholic beverages such as cocktails and wine. 

If you are not currently adding pomegranate fruit to your meals or drinking its wonderful juice, perhaps these 5 health benefits will convince you to start.

 Fights Cancer
Numerous studies conclude that pomegranates may fight cancer due to the jam-packed concentration of antioxidants found in the sweet fruit.  Antioxidants protect the body from disease and contain anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing properties.  Studies have suggested the ellagitannins found in pomegranates may have a potential role in decreasing certain cancers such as prostate, breast, colon and lung cancer.  According to a study from the National Cancer Institute, human prostate cancer cells can be treated with components of the pomegranate fruit to inhibit cell growth.  Furthermore, "pomegranate extracts have also been shown to inhibit the proliferation of human prostate cancer cells in vitro."  
The full study provided by the National Cancer Institute from June 2014 can be found via:

  Promotes Heart Health
Laboratory studies reveal the rich antioxidant content of pomegranate fruit decreases inflammation and thickening of the artery walls.  Studies also indicate the addition of pomegranate to a well-balanced diet may promote heart health by decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) aka "bad" cholesterol in the blood, reduce the buildup of cholesterol and arterial plaque, improve blood flow to the heart, and lower systolic blood pressure. 
  Dental Health
Pomegranate helps keep those "pearly whites" healthy because it is effective against oral bacteria and has an antimicrobial activity.  Pomegranates contain powerful antioxidants including polyphenols, tannins, ellagic acid and anthocyanins which inhibit the formation of dental plaque, prevent acid formation, and reduce adherence of bacteria and microorganisms on our teeth.  Studies published by the National Institute of Health provide evidence to support pomegranate is active against oral bacteria and has an antimicrobial activity.  (
  Weight Management
Raw pomegranate seeds are low in calories and high in fiber and vitamins.  One serving (1/2 cup) provides approximately 70 calories, 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of fat, and 3.5 grams of fiber.  Pomegranate seeds and other fiber-rich foods such as whole grains assist individuals to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.  The amount of vitamin C and vitamin K is also very good.  Vitamin C keeps your immune system healthy and vitamin K keeps your bones healthy and strong.   
  Boosts Digestive Health

The "seeded apple" is high in fiber and may prevent constipation and gas.  Digestive health may be improved because foods high in fiber promote smooth, easy digestion which in turn increases the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals along the digestive tract.  As a result, you may have improved digestion and overall health!   
There are plenty of ways to incorporate pomegranate into your diet including adding it to your favorite dessert, smoothie recipe, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, or cottage cheese.  Pure, unsweetened pomegranate juice is a very common alternative that can be diluted with a small amount of water if the flavor is too pungent.
The pomegranate fruit is a "super-food" packed with nutrients and offers fantastic health benefits.  If you haven't started to incorporate this sweet food into your daily diet, I highly recommend you give it a try! 
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.  ~Hippocrates


Monday, September 15, 2014

Desire, Passion, and Healthy Lifestyle

Have you ever wanted something to happen so badly in your life that you could visualize exactly how it would feel?  The fantasy of having that dream job, the perfect figure, the house on the lake...this list could continue indefinitely.   

The emotion of desire is extremely powerful and we make a lot of decisions in life based on our human desires. 

According to philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1687), "human desire is the fundamental motivation of all human action."

Scientific evidence also suggests basic human desires are both evolutionary and instinctual.  The human emotion of desire feeds our instinct for human survival.  In other words, desire motivates us to obtain basic human needs such as air, food, water, sex, and shelter.

If I could choose any emotion to be paired with desire, I would choose passion.  We experience the feeling of desire on a daily basis.  But, do we all experience passion?  Passion is a feeling of love, affection, appreciation, devotion, and respect.  Is passion needed for human survival?  Is passion a "fundamental motivation of all human action?"

According to Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, we need to have psychological and safety needs met before we have the ability to fulfill the need of love (passion) and belongingness  (

So, what do the emotions, desire and passion have to do with living a healthy lifestyle? 

First of all, some individuals may not even have a desire to live a healthy lifestyle.  There are individuals that may have a desire to obtain a healthy weight, but the motivation piece is missing for them to actively seek a healthy lifestyle. 

For those of us that desire to obtain a healthy weight, the motivation of having a thin or muscular figure may be enough to fulfill the need to obtain a healthy lifestyle.

And finally, there are other individuals who obtain a healthy weight because they have a passion for living a healthy lifestyle.  These individuals appreciate life as an individual journey of learning and growth.  These individuals appreciate and respect their bodies as a whole (mentally, physically and spiritually) rather than just a part (physical body).  

Living a healthy lifestyle is not easy.  If it were easy, two-thirds of our country would not be overweight, obese, or super-obese.  We are faced with distractions that take our minds away from living a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis.  For example, the temptation to grab a burger and fries, or to purchase convenience food products at the grocery store are extremely high. 

But, what if we learned to appreciate our bodies as a whole, and not just a part. If we fell in love with ourselves and accepted all of the qualities we liked and didn't like about ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually, then would we be willing to make healthier choices on a continual basis because we have a passion for our lives?

"Healthy" is more than a noun.  "Healthy" is also a verb.  To be "healthy" one must take action. 

If I could create a pyramid for living a healthy lifestyle, it would be in accordance to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  To begin with, the fundamental psychological need required would be desire.  In my opinion, a desire to be healthy needs to exist before any action takes place. 

After a desire is present for living a healthy life, one must take action.  Actions may include purchasing healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and proteins), or using the stairs rather than the elevator.  A feeling of love for yourself may occur as a result because you made choices that positively impacted your lifestyle.

In addition, by increasing activity levels and consuming healthy foods, you may have increased self-esteem, confidence and self-respect because you are taking actions to achieve a healthy lifestyle. 

And finally, with self-actualization you will be able to problem solve challenges you face on a daily basis that interfere with the desire to live a healthy lifestyle. By analyzing the facts in your personal life that may distract from your personal goal of health, you can then create alternative goals to assist you to continue down the healthy lifestyle pathway.  

The hardest obstacles that we need to overcome in life are not easy, but completely worthwhile.  Living a healthy lifestyle takes strength, accountability, desire, and an element of passion.  Becoming passionate about your health can lead to a healthier lifestyle. 

If we stop caring about our health, then we stop caring about our life.  If we do not have a balance within our mind, body, and spirit, then our health will be jeopardized as a result. 

If you haven't taken the first step down the healthy living journey, I am hoping I provided a sense of desire for you to do so after reading this post.  YOU ARE WORTH IT!    

Monday, September 8, 2014

Scantily Clad Photos and Burgers

I am not going to hold my breath until I see images portrayed of people together with their families, strangers, and friends eating mouth watering fruits and vegetables rather than McDonald's hamburgers and Hershey's chocolate bars.

At an elementary school age I remember looking through a women's magazine showing models in bikinis and halter tops.  I remember looking at the models thinking they were so pretty and how I couldn't wait until I grew up so I could look like them.

At the age of 10, I didn't have a big chest, I was under 5 feet tall, and I didn't have the magazine body.  As a child looking at the models in the magazine, I couldn't wait for the day to come when I was going to look like a pretty model too. 

Beautiful men and women would constantly show up in magazines, on television, and on billboards.  I learned quickly that the images portrayed in the media were considered to be the ideal.  I wanted to look like the scantily clad pictures of women with thin figures because they were not only beautiful but because I wanted to be "ideal" too.

As a child, I sensed the media world somehow preceded over the real world.  I remember seeing pretty faces at school, in the neighborhood, and in the public setting.  But, the real faces and bodies I would see in the real world still didn't seem to match the images of people I would see in the magazines, on television, or in movies.  It seemed as if the media world magically found all of these beautiful perfect people for the magazines, the television and the big screen. 

As I grew older, I eventually learned that the images portrayed in the media were computerized images of the same people I saw at school, in the neighborhood and in the public setting.  I learned how technology can turn a human being into what the media considers to be the perfect image. 

The media is here for a reason.  The media "sells."  Real human beings work behind the scenes by using advanced technology to create perfect images.  The media uses technology to stimulate our human eyes which in turn creates an emotional response for us to desire to purchase the product.  Visual enhancement sells. 

At the age of 10, I was focused on more than the "product" in the fashion magazine.  The little polka dotted halter top was cute, but I was also focused on the pictures of beautiful and happy young women.  I thought, "When I am in my early 20's, I will be happy, have nice boobs, and have a thin body.  Life will be perfect when I am around 20 years old." 

The problem was that I was only 10 years old and I didn't want to wait 10 more years to be happy and have the perfect body and life.  It wasn't that I wasn't happy as a child.  I had a great childhood.  But the idea of permanence existed when looking at the models.  Every time I opened magazines, the same happy faces and beautiful bodies appeared wearing the most adorable clothing or lack-there-of. 

To this day, I remember how badly I wanted to have the polka dotted halter top.  But I was only 10 and I didn't have cleavage.  I figured by the age of 20 that my boobs would grow to at least the size of the pretty model's boobs and by that time I could happily wear adorable halter tops too.  My body image was subconsciously being affected just by viewing the pretty, happy, thin, big-breasted models.

At the age of 34, I continue to notice the same effects the media has on society's perception of the perfect body and our body image can be affected as a result. For example, there seems to be an increase in the number of individuals going under the knife in an effort to obtain the "perfect body". 

So my questions begin...Are we relying on the media to tell us what the perfect body should look like?  Do we believe that if we obtain the "perfect body" then the result will be happiness?  Is the media powerful because it stimulates emotions of desire and happiness?  If the media portrayed natural, unedited images to the world, then would we be a more "humanized" society?  

These questions don't have absolute answers.  These questions may trigger personal thoughts and beliefs about our society in general, however. 

As I stated in the first paragraph, I will not be waiting to see computerized photos of individuals eating mouth watering fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.  Most likely we will continue to see beautiful models and the American family eating Hardee's double cheese burgers and fries.  The media will continue to market unhealthy foods to society.  Our emotions will continue to be triggered as a response.  But as human beings we also have the ability to refocus our thinking.

The next time you see a commercial or billboard showing perfectly golden crispy french fries beside a fresh ground meat patty oozing with melted cheese and toppings all between a soft risen sesame bun, try to focus on the commercial or billboard itself.  Challenge yourself and pick out specific marketing words that are used, shadowing effects, enhanced coloring or other marketing strategies that are used to make the commercial or billboard visually enhanced.  Understand that the images portrayed from the media have been technologically enhanced.

And the next time you see a magazine or internet photo of a smoking hot model, keep in mind these images have been edited and enhanced for "beauty."  A great deal of time is spent fine-tuning these photos with enhancements such as: color contrast, cropping, shadowing, wrinkle smoothing, blemish fixing, weight adjusting, facial and body part shaping, hair smoothing, teeth whitening, eye pop and tinting.

These perfect face and body images as well as food images are here to stay.  We can chose to let the media portray to us what we should believe the benchmark of health and happiness should be or we can choose to think for ourselves.  We can choose to take responsibility for our own health and happiness and do our own research on what is scientifically proven to be beneficial for our health. 

I am positive you will not find scientific evidence that fast food hamburgers and french fries provides the essential vitamins and minerals our bodies needs for optimal health and happiness.  I am positive you will find scientific evidence that a diet filled with fruits and vegetables coupled with exercise not only provides our bodies with essential vitamins and minerals but also leads to better health and happiness.

And finally, I am nearly positive we will continue to have enhanced computerized images with models eating double bacon cheeseburgers and triple chocolate ice cream bars surrounding us on a daily basis. 

Perhaps the next time a product is trying to be sold, you will be able to focus solely on the product versus the product's deliverance. 

If you would like to experiment yourself to see just how easy it is to change the way something looks with the use of technology, try one of the on-line photo editing programs.  I used to get a taste of how the media impacts our society.

100% Natural

Close Up Of A Hamburger Stock Photo
100% Computer Enhanced

100% Natural

Visit the following blogs written by other authors participating in Food Day’s first-ever Coordinated Blogging Event:


Friday, September 5, 2014

Tips To Thrive In a Fast Food Nation

As I waited in the Kohl's check-out line, I heard a woman's telephone conversation as she stood behind me saying, "You wanted 2 double bacon cheeseburgers right?"

I turned around to see who was speaking and it happened to be a middle-aged woman dressed in a work uniform.  Since it was midday, I assumed she was on her lunch break and her next stop would be a fast food restaurant to pick up some burgers. 

Whether my assumption was accurate or not, this is a classic example of grabbing food on the go.  We wake in the morning. We get dressed.  We either eat breakfast at home or run to the nearest drive-thru for our morning grub.

There is a reason why fast food restaurants offer tasty and fairly inexpensive foods to us...We buy it!  I included the chart below so that you can see the statistics from January, 1, 2014 verifying that approximately 50 million Americans purchase fast food on a daily basis.

Because of our high demand for fast food, the industry supplies it to us and receives $110 billion as a result. 

Number of Fast Food Restaurants in America160,000
Number of Americans served daily50 Million
Annual Fast Food Revenue$110 Billion
Once per week44%
Three or more14%
Percent of Daily Nutrition from Eating a Fast Food Meal 
Percent of Daily Calories37%
Percent of Daily Carbs42.6%
Percent of Daily Fat33.6%
 Percent of Daily Protien15.4%
Statistic chart can be found at:

The other figure included in this chart that I would like to point out is the percentage of daily fat associated with eating one fast food meal. 

If you take a look at the right column, the percentage of daily fat associated with eating one fast food meal is 33.6%.  The recommended percentage of calories that should come from fat for the entire day is 30%

This chart illustrates that if you consume just one fast food meal, then you will already be in the red for your daily fat intake.  Wow!

Therefore, when choosing fast food, you will be getting food that is produced very quick, food that is tasty, and food that is full of the gooey, glycerin substance known as fat. 

The formula below confirms this fact:

[Fast Food - (s)] = Fat Food
100%  A+ Correct!
My concern is that Americans are consuming far too many fast food meals.  It is very difficult to consume healthy foods if you are eating at fast food restaurants on a regular basis.

Most fast food options do not provide the essential nutrients our bodies need.  Fast food tends to have minimal amounts of the good stuff:  fruits, vegetables, and fiber.  Alternately, fast food is loaded with fat, sodium, and calories.

Have you ever thought about how you felt after eating a couple of cheeseburgers, fries, and a soda? 
After I eat fast food I can tell you that I feel weighed down and lethargic. 

But, the cause of these symptoms relates to the fact that I am not feeding my body the fuel it needs. 

Fast food does not provide the fuel our bodies require to optimally function.  Would you put diesel fuel in your daily driver?  Probably not. 

Fast food for our body can be compared to putting diesel fuel into our cars.  If we were to put diesel fuel into a gasoline engine most likely it won't run.  If the engine does run, it will likely give poor performance. 

The same is true for our bodies.  If we continue to consume foods that do not provide the essential nutrients (fuel) that our bodies require, then our bodies will not function properly. 

You do not need to avoid fast food altogether.  Remember, moderation is the key.  Minimize your visits to the fast food chains and choose healthier meal options when you are there.

For the days you find yourself at the fast food chain, the following list may help you to choose healthier alternatives to the value menu burgers and fries:
  • Choose grilled chicken sandwiches vs. fried
  • Watch the condiments - ask for "No Mayo" and use mustard, BBQ sauce, or ketchup
  • Use low-fat or vinaigrette salad dressings vs. regular
  • Skip the bacon on burgers and add lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, and mustard instead
  • Hold the fries - but, if you r-e-a-l-l-y want them, choose a small order
  • Get a kid's meal - the calories provided in kid's meals are actually very appropriate for adults. The calories provided in some value meals are enough to provide energy to feed a meal for an entire family!
Another suggestion that may be helpful is to visit all of your favorite fast food joints and ask for their Nutrition Facts Menu.  If you don't feel like asking face-to-face, the majority of fast food restaraunts now post the nutrition facts for most available menu options on their website.

The next step is to circle all menu options that will provide a meal of around 500 calories.  There are many fast food options over 500 calories and these foods are off limits if you are trying to be mindful of your daily food consumption. 

There are many benefits of making healthier food choices from your favorite fast food places. 

First, by making better food choices, you will gain confidence in the fact that you have the ability to control what goes into your mouth.  You may start to feel empowered because you are taking control of your health.

Second, by making better food choices you will be on your way to living a healthier lifestyle which has endless benefits mentally and physically.

Third, by making better food choices you may start to notice your numbers decrease on the scale as well as your loosely fitting clothes!

Finally, by putting together meal options to your favorite fast food places ahead of time you will not be making decisions based on emotion and visually enhanced photos.  Instead, you will be making decisions based on logical thought and reasoning. 

The smallest changes can lead to the largest results.  Making healthier food choices at fast food restaurants can be one of the small changes that lead to a healthy lifestyle. 

Drive Change, don't wait for change to drive you.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What's In Your Child's Lunchbox?

It's the time of year when the kids are off to school.  As a parent of two preschool age children I know how hectic the days may be.  This is the first year my son will be going to school 4 out of 5 days during the week.  To be honest, this is also the first year I am ensuring he has a healthy lunch packed. 

I understand how tempting it is to want to give your child money for lunch to purchase cafeteria foods rather than sending your child with a midday brown bag meal.

Previously, my son was going to preschool two days per week and I threw leftovers into his lunchbox.  I threw random food items into Ziploc lunch bags and didn't give much thought about the meal being "balanced."  This may be surprising for some individuals to read considering I am a dietitian.  The truth is that I am also a parent and I understand how chaotic the days can become.  There are times I scramble and grab anything in the refrigerator or freezer to feed my kids forgetting about the snacks or foods they previously had during the day.

I am now starting to realize, however, just how important it is to take some time out of the day to plan ahead for meals. 

In the past, I would put random food items into my son's lunchbox about 10 minutes before I had to take him to preschool.  But this year is going to be different. 

Every evening before I go to bed, I will make it a new habit to prepare my son's lunch so that I don't have to struggle to prepare a lunch for him in 5 minutes during our busy morning.  With a little preparation, his lunchbox will be filled with delicious healthy foods and I will feel like one proud mama! 

This year I spent under $5.00 to purchase portioned plastic containers and a freezer pack to ensure my son has a balanced lunch.  By doing so, I am confident my son will now have a variety of healthy foods to choose from. 

It is up to me (the parent) to make sure I fill the containers with healthy food options.  It may also be confusing to know what foods and beverages are considered "healthy" to pack into your child's lunchbox. 

Listed below are suggested healthy meal options.

  • Multi-grain bagels, whole-grain English muffins, tortillas and colorful wraps, whole- grain bread slices, crackers and pita pockets are all great options instead of white bread 
  • Light canned tuna fish, chicken, and egg salads mixed with a small amount of mayonnaise
  • Lean, low sodium lunch meats such as ham or turkey
  • Peanut butter or almond butter spread with slices of apples, bananas, raisins, or granola
  • Veggie or turkey burgers topped with a slice of cheese or guacamole
  • Sliced veggies such as carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, colorful peppers and don't forget to pack your child's favorite veggie dip on the side!
  • Sliced fruits including strawberries, grapes, pears, peaches
  • Whole fruits including bananas, blueberries, apples
  • Dried or freeze-dried fruits
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Raisins
  • Cottage cheese
  • Baked chips
  • Veggie straws
  • Trail mixes
  • Pita bread and hummus
  • Granola bars
  • Low-fat  or fat-free milk
  • Water
  • 100% Fruit juices
  • Water with a splash of fruit juice for extra flavor
  • Avoid soda and high sugar beverages such as fruit punch
By packing a serving of food from the protein group, whole-grain/multi-grain group, fruit group and vegetable group, your child will be consuming the essential vitamins and nutrients he or she needs. 

The benefits of children consuming healthy foods is not only important for their long term optimal health, but also their academic performance.  Studies have shown that students with poorly rated diets perform lower on standardized tests.  In addition, experts have found that skipping meals or consuming unbalanced meals interferes with concentration at school.

The benefits of packing healthy foods and beverages into your child's lunchbox are endless.  If you haven't given much thought about your child's lunch in the past, start thinking today!