Avoid These New Year’s Diet Blunders

By avoiding these common diet blunders, the New Year will bring a new you!

By avoiding these common diet blunders, the New Year will bring a new you!

The New Year provides a chance to start fresh and dream big. Many people will be making resolutions for 2016, myself included.

If your resolution has anything to do with improving your health or fitness, you’re not alone. Over half of us will make some sort of health resolution. Unfortunately, 90 percent of us will fail to follow through with our goal by Valentine’s Day.

While we can blame lack of willpower, there are a few diet blunders that can easily be avoided to make sure you reach your goal. Don’t let these diet roadblocks ruin your New Year’s resolution:

1. Cut out entire food groups or nutrients.

Low-fat, no sugar, gluten-free—if you’re jumping on board with these elimination diets to drop a few pounds, you’re not going to get lasting results. After all, these diets do not build realistic lifestyle habits.

One of the most common diet trends is to cut out carbohydrates or sugar. First, let me just say that carbohydrates are not to blame. When you choose the wrong kind of carbohydrate (think cookies, candy, and soda) and eat excessive amounts then, yes, that will inevitably end a greater waistline. But it’s also important to remember that carbs are an important source of fuel for your body. If you regularly feel sluggish and fatigued, it may be a good idea to look at your carbohydrate intake and ensure you’re getting the right kind in the right amount throughout the day.

One serving of carbs is about 1 cup (or the size of your fist). Stick with carbohydrates that are a good source of fiber and provide protein as well. Here are a few suggestions: Ezekiel sprouted-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta and bread, and Qrunch Organics quinoa burger. Of course, fruits and vegetables are always good sources of carbohydrates.

2. Skip meals or snacks to cut back on calories.

While it may seem easy to just cut calories by skipping snacks and meals, it’s important to eat every 3 to 4 hours. Go much longer than that and you’ll become hungry and angry, or “hangry” as us Millennials call it. Once “hangry” sets in, a salad with grilled chicken just won’t do.

Keeping healthy snacks on hand is the best way to avoid becoming “hangry.” Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Trail mix with nuts, raisins, wasabi peas, and dried edamame
  • Hummus with bell pepper slices and snap peas
  • Cottage cheese with a bit of salsa and 3 tortilla chips crumbled on top

3. Keep tempting foods in the pantry or refrigerator.

If your kitchen is anything like mine after the holidays, it’s littered with canisters of caramel popcorn and tupperware of homemade cookies. At this point, come to the realization that you’ve had your change to enjoy these indulgences and it’s now time to say goodbye.
The first thing to do when embarking on a health goal is to clean out your refrigerator and pantry. Get rid of any tempting treats that you know will sabotage your diet and instead full your fridge and pantry with delicious, clean foods you’ll be excited to eat. Be sure to put my staple items on your grocery list:

  • Fruit: Berries, Apples, Bananas
  • Vegetables: Lettuce, Broccoli, Bell Peppers, Carrots, Snap Peas
  • Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Almond butter (or other nut butter)
  • Protein bars and shakes
  • Turkey or Ham Lunchmeat
  • Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • String Cheese
  • 100% Whole-Wheat Bread
  • Nuts
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Sparking water

4. Forget about exercise.

What you eat is about 70 percent of the weight loss equation. Exercise is the other 30 percent. If you want to reach your goals quicker and plan for them to stick for years to come, you cannot neglect exercise.

A couple things to consider:

  • Do a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training. Cardiovascular training will get your heart rate up and resistance training will build muscle fast (and in turn, boost metabolism).
  • Go shopping for fashionable workout gear. Use those gift cards you got from Santa to treat yourself to stylish apparel. You’ll be more motivated to workout hard when you feel good about yourself.
  • Don’t have a gym membership? No problem! Run hills at a park near by, check out doyogawithme.com, or follow workout routines found in health magazines like Women’s Health.


ABC segment

I loved sharing these tips on ABC 15 Arizona!


6 Health Food Myths Debunked

Don't fall victim to health food myths. Credit: Stiftelsen Elektronikkbransjen

Don’t fall victim to health food myths. Credit: Stiftelsen Elektronikkbransjen

Do you ever feel confused about what you should eat to be healthy or to drop a few pounds? With so much misinformation on the Internet and passed on by self-professed experts, it can be hard to decipher fact from fiction when it comes to nutrition. In my first published article on Verily, I debunk six of the most trendy health food myths.


“Oh, I don’t eat carrots,” she said to me. “They’re starchy carbohydrates, and I heard they will make me gain weight.”

I looked down at the floor and cleared my throat to hide the grin and laughter bubbling up from my stomach. It wasn’t professional to laugh at a client during a nutritional counseling session.

Was she serious? This seemingly intelligent middle-aged woman really thought eating carrots would derail her weight-loss goals?

Unfortunately, she’s not a unique case. Too many people fall victim to diet myths that lack any scientific evidence to back them up. Some of these myths become so pervasive that some enterprising person even turns them into cringe-worthy diet trends.

It’s hard to place blame on the average consumer for believing in diet myths because of the suffocating amount of misinformation on the Internet. A tiny spark of fallacy can transform into a wildfire of lies in a matter of minutes. Before you know it, “low carb” dieters are turning down nutrient-rich carrots because their friend’s blog said they’re “bad.”

In an effort to help people make truly healthy choices, I’ve tackled six of the myths-turned-diet trends that dietitians hate most. 

To find out what they are, click here.

Hold The Gluten

Gluten-free labels don't equate to healthy foods.

Gluten-free labels on foods doesn’t mean they are healthy.

In the 1960s, the link between saturated fats and heart disease resulted in a low-fat diet craze with a corresponding spike in carbohydrate consumption. Although originally introduced in the 1970s, the Atkins diet hit its peak at the end of the century, telling people to put down bread and pick up bacon. Today, the gluten-free diet—which focuses on avoiding foods that contain the grain protein—has taken the diet community by storm.

Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt, making most bread, pasta and tortillas off limits for gluten-free dieters. Because of gluten’s stabilizing characteristic (meaning it helps hold food products together), it’s also found in unexpected foods—soy sauce, salad dressings, and beer, to name a few. Although more and more gluten-free products are a popping up on grocery store shelves, it can be hard to completely avoid gluten in your diet.

Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity

For people with celiac disease, avoiding gluten is not a choice; it’s a necessity. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that effects about 1 percent of the population (1). If a person with celiac disease eats gluten, the body sees it as a foreign invader and attacks, resulting in a destroyed intestinal tract and decreased absorption of essential nutrients. A range of symptoms can arise from the disease including digestive problems, migraines, rashes, fatigue, ulcers, and muscle cramps.

This array of symptoms can make diagnosis of celiac disease difficult. Additionally, antibody testing or genetic testing results can suggest the prevalence of celiac disease, but cannot confirm it. If the screening tests come back positive, an invasive biopsy of the small intestine is need to diagnose a patient.

Because symptoms are not black and white, many people with celiac disease undergo years of discomfort and illness before being diagnosed. In fact, the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center estimates that 97 percent of people with symptoms don’t know they have the disease (2). Additionally, some people may have gluten sensitivity, meaning they have negative reactions when they eat gluten—bloating, constipation, headaches, and joint pain—but don’t test positive for celiac disease or a wheat allergy.

Cut gluten to lose weight

While a gluten-free diet is very effective for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, it has turned into a fad weight-loss diet. A survey found that 30 percent of adults find a gluten-free diet appealing because it’s considered to be “healthy” (3).

Similar to the low-fat diet craze or the Adkin’s diet revolution, the gluten-free diet acts as an elimination diet. If you cut out a large portion of foods that you commonly consume—whether that be carbohydrates, fats, or foods with gluten—you are likely to lose weight.

Think of it this way: You’re at a work potluck and avoiding all things gluten. The pasta dish with Italian sausage and mozzarella cheese is off limits. Don’t even reach for one of Susie’s famous butter-baked rolls. Keep walking past the gluten-filled cake topped with frosting.

By avoiding these foods that you would normally indulge in, you’re cutting back on calories consumed, which supports weight loss.

The ideal situation would be for you to replace foods with gluten (plus excess fat, sodium, and sugar) with healthier options—fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats. Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case.

Even special gluten-free foods you find at the grocery store have added fat to make up for flavor and texture and many times are higher in calories than version with gluten. Food companies are cashing in on the gluten-free hype by slapping GF labels on foods like cookies, chips, and candy. A gluten-free label doesn’t always equate to healthy.

Should you go gluten-free?

With so many undiagnosed people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, should you go gluten-free? If you experience extreme symptoms like those mentioned above, it may be worth it to do a little trial and error. Commit to cutting out gluten for a week and see how you feel. (Remember celiac disease only affects 1 percent of healthy people or 1 out of 133 people.)

But beware of the placebo effect—assuming that the intervention is effective when it’s really just in your head. Many times taking control of your diet (and possibly experiencing weight loss) can make you feel like the gluten in your diet was holding you back. If your positive improvements are the result of a placebo effect, it’s likely that your commitment to gluten-free will dwindle away because the benefit isn’t worth the difficulty of the lifestyle change.

If you continue with the gluten-free lifestyle, experience drastic improvements in how you feel, and think you may have an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten, visit your doctor and get the appropriate testing.

Just remember, going gluten-free isn’t as easy as it sounds, doesn’t always mean weight loss, and cuts out a lot of options at your work potluck.


  1. Rubio-Tapia A, Ludvigsson JF, Brantner TL, et al. The prevalence of celiac disease in the United States. Am J Gastoenterol 2012; 107(10):1158-44.
  2. University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. Facts and Figures: http://www.uchospitals.edu/pdf/uch_007937.pdf
  3. NPD Group. Percentage of US adults trying to cut down or avoid gluten in their diets reaches new high in 2013, reports NPD. 2013. https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/percentage-of-us-adults-trying-to-cut-down-or-avoid-gluten-in-their-diets-reaches-new-high-in-2013-reports-npd/



Delicious superfood salad with wholesome quinoa. 

The term “superfood” has been thrown around a lot in marketing jargen and nutrition promotion. But what are superfoods? Many of you might be disappointed that they do not give you any kind of super powers such as the ability to bypass traffic by flying home or read your boss’s mind through telepathy. However, superfoods are packed with antioxidants and essential nutrients (those our body needs but does not make on its own) that can help lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease, as well as boost your energy and mood. Eating super foods will make you feel like you actually do have those super powers!

Blueberries, walnuts, spinach, and tea are just a few of the superfoods. Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) is also a food in this category but has received little attention. Although quinoa is considered a grain, it’s actually a seed. However, it can be prepared like grains such as rice or barley. The taste and texture is a bit like brown rice crossed with oatmeal—fluffy, crunchy, and nutty. It’s loaded with nutrients and is very easy to prepare. Check out the benefits of incorporating this super food into your diet:

  • One cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of protein, nearly twice the amount found in other grains. It’s a complete protein source meaning it provides the body with all 9 essential nutrients, hence the reason it is called the “mother of all grains”.
  • Quinoa is a high-fiber food (5 grams per cup) that promotes digestive health and may also reduce the risk of cancer in pre-menopausal women.
  • It’s gluten-free, making it a great alternative for people with wheat allergies or gluten sensitivities.
  • Quinoa contains vitamin E, zinc, and selenium that may reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Eating this superfood will keep you fuller longer and aid in weight management.

Satisfy your taste buds and gain these benefits of quinoa with this recipe!

Ingredients: 1 1/2 Cups Quinoa, 3 Cups Water, 1 Large Handful fresh cilantro, 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, 1 Haas Avocado, 1 Drizzlel honey or Agave nectar (optional), 1 1/2 Cups Grape Tomatoes, 1 Lemon or Lime


  1. First, rinse quinoa thoroughly in a small strainer. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Put quinoa in water and reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook until all water is absorbed (10-15 minutes).
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, halve your tomatoes and cut up your avocado and cilantro.
  3. Once the quinoa is cooked, drizzle w/ olive oil and agave or honey and sprinkle with salt, pepper.
  4. Stir up the quinoa to release some heat and bring to room temp.
  5. Stir in avocado, tomato and cilantro, squeeze your citrus over this, toss and enjoy!

Recipe brought to you from tablespoon.com

Is Gluten-Free the Way to Be?

Is Gluten-Free the Way to Be?People who have Celiac disease cannot tolerate ingestion of products containing gluten. Gluten is the protein portion of wheat, rye, barley, and other grains. It is not solely in bread and baked goods; soy sauce, lipstick, and beer are also on the list of products that contain gluten.

Recently, there has been a lot of hype in the media promoting gluten-free diets as an effective method of losing weight. Hollywood A-Listers such as Anne Hathaway and Gwyneth Paltrow swear that by eliminating wheat, rye, and barley from their diets they stay in shape and have more energy. Chelsea Clinton even opted for a gluten-free wedding cake!

So, is the gluten-free diet a reasonable way to shed those pounds? Before you clean out your pantry, consider the “dark side” of the gluten-free diet:

1. Dollars and Cents: Gluten-free foods, on average, cost a whopping 242% more than foods with gluten (Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, 2008).

2. Lack Nutrients: Gluten-free products are generally not fortified and are low in fiber, folate, and iron. If you suffer from Celiac disease, you should be working with a nutritionist to ensure you are getting adequate vitamins and minerals.

3. Hidden Sugars and Fat: Consumers are choosing gluten-free products because they assume they are a healthier, low-calorie alternative. However, the fact is that gluten-free foods generally contain more fat and sugar to add flavor.

The bottom line is that a gluten-free diet as a means to lose weight works like any other fad diet through calorie restriction. People look for a “villain” to cut out of their eating habits in order to lower their overall calorie consumption; in this case, all gluten products. If you have weight loss goals, save your money, hit the gym, and eat a healthy, balanced diet.

Note: If you believe you suffer from Celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity, see your doctor to get tested.