Archive for nutrition

“Hey Clickbait, there’s something wrong with you.”

“Hey Clickbait, there’s something wrong with you.”
~ internet of things

From viewing today’s twitter feed:
@wrongwrong – You’re doing abs all wrong (running, exercising, eating, etc)
@wrongfood – Forget everything you know about food.
@wrongway – Why you are not getting the belly you want – 6 weeks to a flat belly!
@wrongsecret – Secret yoga poses to lean you out.
@secretscience – 6 foods for 6-pack abs
@buymyshit – Try this at night, you’ll wake up gorgeous.
@glamsquadtricks – Celebrity secrets to the beach body you want.

Scroll down the timeline. Click on the link. Read. Click on another super sounding link. Read. It’s a different sensational headline about how I am not doing this or that right, how I should change, be better, be like this, and be like that. What you are really telling me is I’m broken – and I need your help. I need your product, your fix, to be all that I should be. I’m not good enough. I better click and see what I’m missing. Yes, I am somewhat insecure, and self-conscious about what I see in the mirror. I don’t look like any of the women in the magazines or the advertising. If only I try this or that …

STOP. What the hell is going on? Smart advertising, neuro marketing, that’s what. Slick images that are photo-shopped, or even completely computer generated. Teaser phrasing – and wording to pique your curiosity. Professional athletes, or fitness models/competitors that spend hours every day in the gym. Don’t think for a minute these advertisers haven’t done their research, and know you are scrolling through the social media feeds until some headline captures your attention, or hits home (my hips) a certain way. Wait, I can re-shape my hips with one easy to use product? Before and after pics don’t ever lie … right?
It’s called Clickbait. And it’s effective. Let’s explore.

Clickbait is a pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks. Clickbait headlines typically aim to exploit the “curiosity gap”, providing just enough information to make the reader curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content.
The key words here, quality and accuracy. Sounds like we digressed to the current state of politics, right? Well, the 80/20 rule applies here. 80% of what you’re clicking through on these sensational headlines doesn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny. Simply put, its bullshit, designed to get you on the path of a purchase somewhere down the road. If you re-tweet or ‘like” – it’s more likely for your friends to think you’ve researched or checked this out already, so a peer endorsement is way better than an advertiser’s claim. That’s where the socially influencing systems are at work, spreading junk science to the masses, many times without the re-poster even being aware that the claim is false. We want easy, we yearn for shortcuts – this is the society we live in.

The truth is … there is truth, and there is bullshit. The old saying, ‘if it sounds too good to be true’ has stood the test of time. You are worth more – take the time to do your own research on the facts before you try, or buy. Be your own best advocate. Question everything. There’s no one size fits all. You’re not doing everything wrong. You are doing many things right – reward yourself for that. At the end of the day, it really is all about those small daily smart decisions that add up over time, to significant change. You are not clickbait, you are smarter than that. Stay curious. Adapt good things into your world as you find them. Designing your life, your way, takes time. Have fun with the process!

metabolism – myths and facts

via The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Reviewed by Wendy Marcason, RD, LDN

Why can one person eat like a growing teenager and not gain a pound, while another person’s every indulgence shows up on the scale?  Chalk it up to individual differences in metabolism, muscle mass and physical activity. Metabolism is the process by which our bodies convert what we eat into the energy we need to survive and function. It powers everything from breathing to blinking. A fast metabolism is like a hot furnace that burns through fuel (calories) quickly. A slow metabolism needs less fuel to keep a body running.

It’s tempting to throw up our hands and blame weight issues on a slow metabolism, but there are ways to support metabolism and maintain a healthy weight.

Claim: Our metabolic rates can’t change.

The truth: While it’s true that genetics help determine our metabolic rates, we can boost metabolism by increasing lean muscle mass.  Muscle burns more calories per hour than fat, which means that people with lean, muscular bodies need more calories to function than people with a higher percentage of body fat.

Our muscle mass decreases as we age, which slows metabolic rates by 2 to 8 percent per decade. But you can counteract this process by picking up the weights. “Having good muscle mass, especially towards your 40s and 50s, is important,” says Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, CSSD, registered dietitian. “If you start with a good baseline, your metabolism isn’t going to decrease as much.”

Claim: A diet of green tea and chili peppers will boost metabolism.

The truth: No magic food will speed up metabolism. Some studies have shown that green tea and hot chilies temporarily boost metabolic rates, but the lift isn’t enough to offset eating too many calories.

“Just because you’re putting a lot of chili peppers in your food doesn’t mean you can eat more of it,” says Villacorta. The path to healthy weight loss is through portion control and a balanced diet filled with nutrient-rich foods, not through a diet doused in chili peppers.

Claim: Eating late at night slows metabolism.

The truth: It’s the extra calories – not when you eat them – that cause weight gain. There is little evidence to support the fact that eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain. However, you may be more likely to snack mindlessly in the evenings while watching television. Calories in these snacks add up, and that can cause weight gain.

Claim: Very low calorie diets and skipping meals can jumpstart weight loss.

The truth: Weight loss is all about creating an energy deficit – ingesting fewer calories than your body expends each day – but creating too large of a calorie deficit can backfire. Our bodies are smart, and programmed for survival. Severely limiting calories can make your body think it’s entering a famine, and that it needs to do more with fewer calories. Your body adapts to the restricted caloric intake, and uses fewer calories to perform the same tasks.

“We encounter people who are burning lots of calories, but not eating much, and they can’t lose those last 10 pounds. Their metabolism is essentially on lock down,” says Villacorta.


a good way to start your day

Editor’s Note:  With fall in full swing, we get to thinking about nice welcoming mugs of goodness to warm our bones.   Research has shown a strong association of teas with long life and health in many ancient cultures.  After reading this WebMD article, you will find that green tea is very beneficial for your health.  We enjoy iced green tea in the summer, now it’s time to make it a year round drink, a daily ritual!  Drink it to relax, and for your health.  Enjoy the article!  Cheers!   

A cup of green tea is a good way to start your day.

By: Paula Spencer Scott A WebMD Feature

“It’s the healthiest thing I can think of to drink,” says Christopher Ochner, PhD. He is a research scientist in nutrition at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Green tea is beyond a super food.”

In the past 20 years, thousands of studies have shown green tea’s benefits.

Healthy Cells

Why is green tea so good for you? “It’s all about the catechin content,” says Beth Reardon, RD, a Boston nutritionist. Catechins are antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage. Green tea is not processed much before it is poured in your cup, so it is rich in catechins.

Healthy Heart

Green tea has been shown to improve blood flow and lower cholesterol. A 2013 review of many studies found green tea helped prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure.

Brain Health

What’s good for the heart is usually good for the brain, and your brain needs healthy blood vessels, too. In one Swiss study, MRIs revealed that people who drank green tea had greater activity in the working-memory area of their brains.  Green tea has also been shown to help block the formation of plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.


Green tea seems to help keep blood sugar stable in people with diabetes. Because catechins lower cholesterol and blood pressure, they can protect against the damage a high-fat diet can cause, Ochner says.

Weight Loss

Green tea can help increase and even change your metabolism, so you burn more calories from fat. Studies show that green tea can also help you keep weight off once you’ve lost it.

It’s also a smart swap for sugary drinks. “All things being equal, if you sub 1-2 cups of green tea for one can of soda, over the next year you’d save over 50,000 calories,” says Ochner. That’s more than 15 pounds.

Cancer Role

Studies on green tea’s impact on cancer have been mixed.  But green tea is known to aid healthy cells in all stages of growth. There are some indications green tea may help destroy cancer cells.

Less Stress

Sipping tea helps you slow down and relax, Reardon says. An amino acid called theanine found in green tea can provide a calming effect.

For a healthy cuppa:

  • Don’t add green tea to boiling water. You’ll kill helpful catechins. Better: 160-170 degree water.
  • Add lemon. Vitamin C makes the healthy compounds in green tea easier to absorb. Dairy, on the other hand, makes it harder to absorb the catechins.
  • Levels of the healthful compounds in green tea can vary. Rule of thumb: Pricier teas usually have more, and canned green-tea drinks have less.

Aim for at least four cups a day, two with caffeine and two without. Even more than that seems to have little health downside, other than the possible effects of caffeine, Ochner says. “There could not be a more simple way to improve your health,” he says.

demystifying the food label

Editor’s Note:  We recently received an e-mail from Cheryl M. in Little Rock, “I’ve recently started your Sofa2Success  program, and I am wondering if you’ll be adding more information on how to select the best food to go along with my increased activity?”

We always say it’s the little things that make the big difference.  With food labels it’s no different.  Once we know and understand the basics, we can navigate the endless choices that are presented to us at the grocery stores.  If you are not familiar with all the information presented on food labels, this article is for you.  We’ll be doing another article on ingredients/additives as well as the advertising claims some companies make versus the real nutrition facts soon. You will laugh out loud at some of the claims!  Please be thoughtful about what fuel you put in you and your family’s bodies!  The more you know …   

Article Via:  American Heart Association

Learning how to read and understand food labels can help you make healthier food choices.

Here are some tips for making the most of the information on the Nutrition Facts label.

Start here. Note the size of a single serving and how many servings are in the package.

Check total calories per serving. Look at the serving size and how many servings you’re really consuming. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories and nutrients, including the Percent Daily Value (% DV).

Limit these nutrients. Remember, you need to limit your total fat to no more than 56–78 grams a day — including no more than 16 grams of saturated fat, less than two grams of trans fat, and less than 300 mg cholesterol (for a 2,000 calorie diet).

Get enough of these nutrients. Make sure you get 100 percent of the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients you need every day.

Quick guide to % DV. The % DV section tells you the percent of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient (such as saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium), choose foods with a lower % DV — 5 percent or less is low. If you want to consume more of a nutrient (such as fiber), seek foods with a higher % DV — 20 percent or more is high.

Here are more tips for getting as much health information as possible from the Nutrition Facts label:

  • Remember that the information shown in these panels is based on 2,000 calories a day. You may need to consume less or more than 2,000 calories depending upon your age, gender, activity level, and whether you’re trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. Find out your personal daily limits on My Fats Translator (  In general, as you think about the amount of calories in a food per serving, remember that for a 2,000-calorie diet:
    • 40 calories per serving is considered low;
    • 100 calories per serving is considered moderate; and
    • 400 calories or more per serving is considered high.
  • There is no % DV shown for trans fat on the panel because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have enough scientific information to set this value. We recommend eating less than 20 calories or (less than two grams of trans fat) a day – that’s less than 1 percent of your total daily calories (for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet).
  • When the Nutrition Facts panel says the food contains “0 g” of trans fat, it means the food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.
  • When the Nutrition Facts label says a food contains “0 g” of trans fat, but includes “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list, it means the food contains trans fat, but less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. So, if you eat more than one serving, you could quickly reach your daily limit of trans fat.

In addition to the Nutrition Facts label, a lot of foods today also come with nutrient content claims provided by the manufacturer. These claims are typically featured in ads for the foods or in the promotional copy on the food packages themselves. They are strictly defined by the FDA. The chart below provides some of the most commonly used nutrient content claims, along with a detailed description of what the claim means.


If a food claims to be… It means that one serving of the product contains…
Calorie free Less than 5 calories
Sugar free Less than 0.5 grams of sugar
Fat free Less than 0.5 grams of fat
Low fat 3 grams of fat or less
Reduced fat or less fat At least 25 percent less fat than the regular product
Low in saturated fat 1 gram of saturated fat or less, with not more than 15 percent of the calories coming from saturated fat
Lean Less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
Extra lean Less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
Light (lite) At least one-third fewer calories or no more than half the fat of the regular product, or no more than half the sodium of the regular product
Cholesterol free Less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams (or less) of saturated fat
Low cholesterol 20 or fewer milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
Reduced cholesterol At least 25 percent less cholesterol than the regular product and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
Sodium free or no sodium Less than 5 milligrams of sodium and no sodium chloride in ingredients
Very low sodium 35 milligrams or less of sodium
Low sodium 140 milligrams or less of sodium
Reduced or less sodium At least 25 percent less sodium than the regular product
High fiber 5 grams or more of fiber

If you can’t remember the definitions of all of the terms, don’t worry.  You can use these general guidelines instead:

  • “Free” means a food has the least possible amount of the specified nutrient.
  • “Very Low” and “Low” means the food has a little more than foods labeled “Free.”
  • “Reduced” or “Less” mean the food has 25 percent less of a specific nutrient than the regular version of the food.





happy healthy holidays

Editor’s note:We are really thrilled that Alyson connected with us!  Her passion and enthusiasm for getting people educated on food is amazing.  Alyson is a Registered Dietician/Licensed Dietician with the communication skills to bridge terms/information about nutrition and food to simple, easily understandable messages we can use every day.  How to read food labels, understanding nutrition needs and content, how to shop smart at a grocery store and saving money are topics she addresses and will continue to address with individual conversations or presentations!  Thanks Alyson!

Happy Holidays everyone!  I absolutely love this magical time of year!  As my career has advanced over the past few years, my travels home have decreased significantly.  The holiday season allows me to spend precious time spent with the ones I love the most, my family!  This year I have been extremely blessed by the wonderful new friends I have met through runhers.  You have encouraged me, pushed me, and challenged me to be a better person.  I now know that you have to set goals to be able to achieve them, you will survive running in 102 or 20 degree temps, and most importantly running shoes are more than just pretty accessories.  You have given me so much that I wanted to give something back.  My passion is food.  Food is much more than just something we eat.  It becomes a part of us, the way it nourishes our body, the way it bring us together, and through the culture it creates.   However, it can be overwhelming for us who struggle with balancing our health.  My best advice, enjoy traditional holiday meals and party foods with family and friends while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, too.  You can have it all, you just have to BALANCE.Ultimately you are in the driver’s seat, you are in control.   Keeping in mind a few simple steps can make a big impact on your holiday intake.  Start with taking the edge off your hunger before you go to a party.  If you skip meals throughout the day you will be more likely to over indulge from hunger.  Food options at parties tend to be less nutrient dense so fill up during the day.  Party buffets can keep you coming back for more, but one trip can do the trick.  Fill up your plate the first time with lots of fiber by eating fruits, vegetables and whole grainsThen go back for some of your favorites.  You’ll be less likely to overindulge if you’re already full.  Use a smaller plate, if a salad plate is available use it for your entrees.  This will keep your portion sizes in check.  Alcohol calories can add up fast so for every alcoholic beverage you have, rotate with a glass of water.  This will keep you hydrated and prevent you from doing anything inappropriate at the holiday office party.  You can also try sparkling water and a lime twist rather than alcohol.

The best way to ensure there will be something healthy and delicious at a party is to bring a dish yourself.  There are lots of easy to prepare recipes such as zucchini and brown rice casserole, bean salad with variety of beans; green beans, lima beans, pinto and black beans, or whole-grain pasta salad.  You can also use can help find healthy recipes.  Simple substitutions in your holiday food prep can save you precious calories and fat!  Using two egg whites in place of one egg can reduce the cholesterol and produce the same tasty result.  Use low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth in your mashed potatoes to add flavor and lighten holiday fat content.   Substitute applesauce for oil, margarine or butter in muffins and quick breads like banana bread.   For dips, sauces and pie toppings use non-fat greek yogurt, sour cream and whipped topping.   Sliced almonds make a delicious, crunchy topping in place of fried onion rings.   Choose reduced-fat or non-fat cheeses for salads and casseroles.

The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping can be exhausting.  You want to make sure you continue to stay active and keep on track so don’t forget the fruits and vegetables.  Here’s some “on the go” options:

  • Pack raw fruits or vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, apples or bananas
  • Snack on hummus and vegetables on whole-grain bread or crackers
  • Make lettuce wraps filled with black beans, peppers and onions
  • Fill a thermos with vegetable or tomato soup

Let’s face it, you want to spend your money on presents for your loved ones, not your food budget.  It‘s easy to save money on groceries during the season.  Start by buying frozen vegetables and fruit.  Many fruits and veggies aren’t in season this time of year which can really spike your grocery bill.  Shop from bulk bins so you can buy smaller amounts, especially for those specialty recipes you’ll probably not make again anytime soon.  Buy produce that keeps longer in the refrigerator such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage or carrots.  And lastly, use leftovers for weekly meals.  For example, here is a great soup recipe using your leftover turkey and mashed potatoes!


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups chopped cooked turkey (about 1 pound)
  • 2 1/2 cups mashed cooked peeled baking potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, carrots; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add broth, turkey, potatoes, and chopped sage, stirring with a whisk until blended; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in pepper. Garnish with sage sprigs, if desired.

Here’s to staying happy and healthy during the holiday season!  All the best!

~ Alyson

the sugary facts about sugar

I was grabbing lunch with a friend the other day, and she was telling me about how she’s trying to eat a more healthful diet, and her main focus is on unprocessed foods and to eat more organically.  This diet she has put herself on includes staying away from refined sugar, but sugars such as honey, molasses, and raw sugars are ok.  Let’s look at the sugary details:

Is honey the healthy option?

Many in the media are saying that eating organically is the way to go, but are they telling the truth?  Are all sugars created equal?  Or, is honey better than molasses which is better than table sugar, because of its natural, unprocessed, nature?

Are all sugars the same, or are some better than others?

Sucrose, the form of sugar that we find in vegetables, fruits, honey, maple syrup, as well as table/baking sugars, is a disaccharide composed of one glucose molecule and one fructose molecule.  Therefore, from a chemical perspective, the make-up of honey and table sugar is almost identical.  They both are made of the same components, in the same amounts.  But, what about the different look between the two? Honey gets its distinctive syrup quality and coloring from the enzymes in bees’ stomachs, as well as the humidity process created by bee’s wings in the actual honey comb.

Nutritionally, honey does not contain any more nutrients than any other sugar source.  In fact, in a comparison, honey has more energy/calories per tablespoon than table sugar (a comparison chart between some common sugars are at the bottom).  Once again, this is attributed to the unique structure of honey vs. table sugar.

Also, it is important to note, that because of the process that creates the product, honey commonly contains bacteria that can cause fatal food poisoning in infants.  This fatal poisoning lessens with a maturing digestive system, but children under the age of 12 months should never be given honey because of this reason.

Well, what about raw sugar (Sugar in the Raw) or molasses? Are these more healthful alternatives then table sugar?

Raw sugar that is available in the US is a misconception.  There is not an actual “raw sugar” available to American citizens because of our health codes.  True raw sugar is made up of the first crystals obtained when sugar is gathered, but in this form the sugar contains dirt, insects, and other by-products that would not be a delicious addition to your morning coffee.

Products such as “Sugar in the Raw” have actually gone through more than half of the same steps in the refining process used to make regular table sugar.  The main difference between raw sugar and table sugar is essentially the course texture and its unbleached quality, which allows the product to have a heftier price tag. In all actuality, there is very little difference between the two.

Molasses can be a slightly healthier option, in the fact that molasses does frequently contain iron. However, this is an addition that is not natural, the iron comes from the machines that process the sugarcane, and it is in very small amounts.  Also, blackstrap molasses does contain more minerals due to a third boiling process, but it contains less sugar, and therefore is not commonly seen on the market place.

The moral of the story?  Your body cannot tell a difference between these sugars, and process all the same way.  The health value of all of these items boils down to the same thing: a sugar source that will up your blood-glucose levels and, in turn, stimulate the release of insulin, a powerful hormone that signals your body to store fat and can put you at a greater risk for diseases such as diabetes and obesity if used in excess.  Don’t let the absence of fat confuse you, sugar tells your body to store fat, regardless if it’s in the sugar itself or not.  All sugars should be seen as food sources to use sparingly when at all possible, and, when used, should be treated as a yummy treat.

Table Sugar*

Nutrition// Energy 49 calories, Carbs 12.6g, Protein 0g, Fat 0g, Sodium 0mg, Calcium 0g, Iron 0g

Raw Sugar*

Nutrition// Energy 49 calories, Carbs 12.6g, Protein 0g, Fat 0g, Sodium 0mg, Calcium 0.042g, Iron 0g


Nutrition// Energy 64 calories, Carbs 17.3g, Protein 0.06g, Fat 0g, Sodium 1mg, Calcium 1g, Iron 0.09g


Nutrition// Energy 58 calories, Carbs 14.95g, Protein 0g, Fat 0g, Sodium 7mg, Calcium 41g, Iron 0.94g

*All figures are for one tablespoon of each substance.

Knowledge is power readers, know what you are putting into your body, and your body will thank you for it!

Happi Living!

– Petra

About Petra Lusche

I am a reformed graphic designer and advertiser, I have always had a passion for cooking and good nutrition.  As a marketer, I have seen our society and the way it manipulates what is true health and true beauty.  I have seen my friends, family and even myself feel inadequate for a large part, if not all, of their life as a result. Not wanting to live my life in this way, I made a change; I wanted to start living free and to the best of my abilities, in essence, to live “happi”.  This change has affected me in many blessed ways, so much it even encouraged a career change on my part. I am now a personal trainer and nutritionist, and have yet to look back.  My website is  Happi Lives is  a reflection of what’s missing in the health field. We’re not a quick fix, a list of dos and don’ts, eat this not that, but a process that, given the time, will sprout into a lifelong change accompanied with happiness. I hope it inspires you as much as it does me.