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- Low cal foods
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Family Diet
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Diet Solutions: Young kids

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7 Scary Things In Your Food
by BrandDoctorKerry

Rate: TerribleRate: OkayRate: AverageRate: Pretty goodRate: Excellent    (89 votes)

By one estimate, there are over 3,000 food additives being used with the approval of our government. Knowing which additives are safe and which ones may be toxic or carcinogenic can be a tricky proposition – even for the most seasoned label reader!

Here’s what we’ve done to make this matter easier to digest. We’ve compiled a list of the 7 worst and most commonly used junk ingredients that are found in leading brand name foods (even in many foods portrayed as healthy).

Make it a point to avoid these deadly 7 additives and you and your family will be well ahead of the health and weight loss curve!

7 Worst Junk Ingredients to Avoid

1. Sodium nitrate (also called sodium nitrite)

This is a preservative, coloring, and flavoring commonly found in processed meats like bacon, ham, hot dogs, cold cuts and smoked fish. Studies have shown that it reacts with the body’s digestive acids to form a cancer-causing agent called nitrosamines. So double-check that “healthy” turkey for carcinogens before you gobble down your sandwich!

2. Aspartame (aka NutraSweet/Equal)

In scientific terms, this is a chemical combination of two amino acids and methanol. It’s better known by the brand names NutraSweet and Equal, which are sweeteners found in countless “diet” desserts, drink mixes and soft drinks. Aspartame was once thought to be a safe artificial sweetener, but it is now believed to cause cancer and neurological problems such as dizziness and hallucinations.

3. Acesulfame-K

This artificial sweetener is 200 times sweeter than sugar and is often found in chewing gum and soft drinks. When tested in the laboratory, it caused cancer in rats. And that makes this additive a lot less sweet in our opinion!

4. Artificial food colorings

There are food colorings being used that are linked with cancer in animal testing as well as behavioral disorders in children. These include Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3 and Yellow 6. Amazingly, these colors have been banned in the United Kingdom yet remain in many American foods. They can easily be avoided by choosing natural foods that aren’t chemically or colorfully enhanced.

5. MSG

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in many soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees and restaurant food. This nasty additive can tinker with the nervous system causing side effects like migraines and overeating in some individuals. MSG appears on labels under several aliases, including yeast extract and calcium caseinate. It’s even been found on the labels of organic products! Here’s a list of the common aliases for MSG.

6. Trans fats

Trans fats cause heart disease. It’s a proven fact. Before purchasing any packaged food, check the ingredients list. Even if the label boasts “0g trans fats” BEWARE… the product may still contain up to a 0.5g of trans fats per serving, if you see the words partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredients list. It’s important to avoid even the smallest amount because it can raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol, making you susceptible to all kinds of health problems!

7. Sodium benzoate

Sodium benzoate is a preservative used in many foods and beverages. This ingredient is known to cause hives, asthma and other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. New research shows that it may also cause behavioral disorders in children. One more reason to avoid this harmful ingredient: When used in beverages that also contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C) it forms benzene, a known carcinogen. Some drink manufacturers are still using this toxic duo, so you may have benzene lurking in your favorite drink!

Kerry McLeod is the founder and Chief Brand Doctor of, a bi-weekly e-newsletter that educates shoppers on how to find the healthiest and best-tasting foods at the local grocery store. McLeod has recently been featured on CBS 46 News, Martha Stewart Living Radio,,, and the Vancouver Sun. She has been a contributing writer for,, Atlanta Sports and Fitness and Jezebel magazines. She has also authored the popular diet and nutrition book The Last Diet Book Standing. For more information visit

January 15, 2009


Happy Halloween: Best, Worst Candy
by ShaunaS

Rate: TerribleRate: OkayRate: AverageRate: Pretty goodRate: Excellent    (64 votes)

We’ve officially kicked off the candy-themed holidays with a big bang – Halloween! If you’re scared by the candy invading your home, office, school and every business you walk into, I understand!

It can be hard to stick with a healthy eating plan when candy is staring you down everywhere you turn.

While it may seem impossible to keep your hand out of the candy jar, it’s not impossible. Read on for some tips on sticking with your plan and which candies are not so spooky.

13 Spook-tacular Tips
• Buy candy the day before Halloween and buy only what you need.

• If you buy candy - buy something you do not like or try lollipops (they are harder to overindulge in!).

• Discard leftovers or donate leftovers to your local church, charity or neighbors and set a specific date to rid of candy.

• Don’t shop for candy when you are hungry.

• Try to give away all of the candy you bought – a good deal for late trick or treaters!

• Try non-food treats such as stickers, pencils, erasers, bracelets or plastic spiders.

• Try healthier treats such as 100-calories packs (crackers, cookies or fruit snacks), juice boxes, microwave popcorn, mini boxes of raisins, sugarless gum, mini packs of baby carrots or peanuts.

• Vow to keep a munch log and record every innocent treat you eat!

• Read the nutrition facts before you empty the bag and throw it away.

• Plan a treat into your day but try to keep it under 150 calories. You can use this as a substitution for your normal treat.

• Vow to walk 10-minutes for every extra treat that you eat.

• Follow the same rules your kids follow – you probably don’t let them indulge in Halloween candy whenever they want!

• Make your dentist proud and brush your teeth after each treat – this will also help signal that you are done with the treats.

Some candy facts are downright scary and others not so much – take a look at my top 5 best and worst picks.

Say no to these candies in the jack-o-lantern (these “snack” sized treats can easily add up to more than a regular candy bar!):

1. Snack Size Twizzlers: 130 calories
2. Snack Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup: 110 calories
3. Snack Size Butterfinger: 100 calories
4. Fun Size M&M’s: 100 calories
5. Snack Size Milky Way: 90 calories

Say yes to these candies in the jack-o-lantern in moderation (remember, just because they’re little doesn’t mean they don’t add up!)

1. Mini Tootsie Roll: 13 calories
2. Reese’s Mini Cup: 35 calories
3. Treat Size Box Milk Duds: 40 calories
4. Miniature Box Raisins: 45 calories
5. Treat Size SweetTarts: 50 calories

Have a lot of trick and a little treat this Halloween!

Shauna Schultz, RD

October 31, 2008


The Weight Conscious Kitchen: What To Stock
by ShaunaS

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Have you ever thought about stocking your kitchen according to your goals? Well, give it a try - you’ll benefit by meeting your health and weight goals.

The following ideas are grouped according to common health goals. If you have multiple health goals, you don’t have to stick with one of the below – try mixing and matching or alternating!

Weight Conscious Kitchen
(fiber filled and low calorie)

Produce: apples, bananas, berries, broccoli, dark green lettuce, dates, green beans, kale, pears, pineapple, spinach

Grains: whole wheat bread, pumpernickel and rye breads, flax, whole grain cereal, brown rice, whole wheat pasta (or blend), whole wheat pitas, oat bran pancake mix, low-fat granola, whole wheat couscous

Protein: soybeans (edamame), lentils, all types of beans, chicken breast, turkey, lean ham, lean roast beef, extra lean ground turkey, fish or shellfish, tofu or tempeh

Dairy: non-fat or low-fat milk and yogurt, soy milk, reduced-fat cheese, part-skim mozzarella

Healthy Fats: almonds, peanuts and peanut butter, walnuts, olive oil, olives

Frozen: low-fat ice cream, sorbet, fruit juice bars, fudgesicles, frozen unsweetened fruit, frozen veggies, veggie burgers, healthy frozen meals, vegetarian low-fat burritos

Snacks: hummus, baby carrots, low-fat string cheese or individual cheese (try Babybel Light or Laughing Cow Light), whole grain crackers (try Ak-Mak), snack-size 94% fat free popcorn, 100-calorie packs

Stay Healthy Kitchen (rich in antioxidants, folic acid, lutein and fiber)

Produce: apples, apricots, avocados, beets, bell peppers, berries, broccoli, Brussels spouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, dried plums, grapefruit, kale, kiwi, shitake mushrooms, oranges, raisins, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes (and tomato sauce)

Grains: whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, bran cereal, oatmeal

Protein: beans, lentils, low-fat chili
Beverages: purple 100% grape juice, pomegranate juice, grapefruit juice, green tea (moderation for juices)

Freezer: frozen fruits and veggies, bean-based burgers

Heart Healthy Kitchen (rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber)

Produce: avocados, bell peppers, berries, garlic, kiwis, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots

Grains: oatmeal, brown rice, bran cereal, wheat germ, wheat barely

Protein: soy products (soy milk, tofu, tempeh, soy burgers), beans, lentils, fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines or trout, eggs fortified with omega-3’s, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, hazlenuts

Healthier Spreads: vegetable spreads fortified with plant sterol/stanol esters such as Take Control or Benecol or try lower fat/trans fat free spreads such as Brummel and Brown

Beverages: 100% orange juice, red wine (moderation of course!)

Freezer: frozen fruits and veggies, veggie burgers, frozen fish

September 29, 2008


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