The Scents of Summer (& recipes!) by Chef Silvia

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 2:05
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The scents of summer are all around…in full bloom, ready to greet me: the smell of freshly cut grass or sliced watermelon; smoke from the barbeque or nearby fireworks; Coppertone and salt air; strawberries and peaches; tomato plants and roses. These are the smells of my childhood and they’re still with me. All summer long familiar whiffs are everywhere; in the garden, the beach, the local fair, or on city streets, and for a moment I am a child again. After years of noticing the beneficial effects of indulging my youthful memories, it has become a part of my daily routine…if I remember. And nothing else can trigger my memory as quickly as a comforting smell…yummm.

I carry that small capsule of bliss inside me, its content spilling out when I least expect it. In the kitchen I become an alchemist mixing a sprinkle or two in with the mayonnaise for the potato salad. Or sometimes a dusting gets into the Vidalia onions I’m sautéing for an omelet. Somehow the marinara sauce for tonight’s dinner tastes that much sweeter if I can take in and appreciate how the sun felt on my face that afternoon. And how can I not feel joy when the kitchen fills with the aroma of blueberries and apples from the cobbler baking in the oven and my friends are standing around ready to top it with ice cream?

I’m in heaven and I want to feed it to everyone at the table. I know the food I prepare doesn’t have to be fancy to be memorable. Some of the best meals I’ve served have been the simplest. I think it has something to do with the purity of the dish. It’s savored but doesn’t get in the way of the conversation. The food is fine with knowing it plays a supporting role to the diners. I think – and this is funny coming from a chef – that an unforgetable meal is not primarily about the food, but rather the company.

The memory of good food stays with me but the scent of a shared summer meal lingers longer. Who remembers what they ate at an exquisitely prepared banquet if everyone was fighting at the table? But who wouldn’t be nourished by a simple slice of warm, freshly baked bread if it was prepared and offered with love…just when you needed it?

For me the scents of summer are most potent when I snip the stalks of basil growing in my garden and slice it in ribbons, topping the pasta at the last minute before serving. Or when I take a bite of a ripe tomato plucked from the plant and the fragrance of its leaves lingers on my hands. I can practically smell the sun. So I take the feeling with me and spread it around.

It doesn’t matter that this summer – the first time in years – I don’t have a vegetable garden and I have to buy most of my produce from the supermarket…I can still enjoy the shopping and dream of a time when I will have a garden again. In the meantime I can boost the nutrients in the lettuce simply by having fun making the salad. My joy gets tossed along with the greens then makes its way to the risotto I’m still stirring on the stove until it’s ready to blend with the fragrant summer pesto I made from the basil, parsley and arugula growing in pots on my deck. Aha….the smells of summer…

Spaghetti Marinara with Arugula Pesto and Goat Cheese
This recipe is a reworking of one of my favorite sauces, tomato pesto. Here however I don’t mix the pesto with the tomato sauce but rather top it with dollops of it. Then when you twirl the pasta with your fork it gathers a small burst of fragrant herbs mixed with oil, parmesan and nuts. Add to that the dollops of goat cheese, melting over the warm pasta and you have a truly memorable and amazing dish.

1 lb spaghetti or linguine
2 cups marinara sauce (recipe below)
1 cup pesto (recipe below)
¼ cup goat cheese

Cook linguine according to package directions, making sure it is al dente (cooked but still firm). Drain pasta and toss with half the sauce. Divide pasta onto individual plates. Top with additional sauce, and dollops of the pesto. Finnish with sprinkled goat cheese. Serve immediately.

Marinara Sauce
1 can crushed tomatoes (with no added puree – look for brands that use only vine ripened tomatoes) ?
2 tablespoons olive oil (or enough to just cover the bottom of the pan
1 clove fresh garlic–finely chopped?
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes?
1/4 chicken broth? (this is optional, however it adds flavor and liquid to a sauce that may be too thick.
1 sprig of fresh basil (stem attached)?
Salt and pepper to taste??

In a medium saucepan over medium heat add oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds or until golden. Follow quickly with the tomatoes. Add the basil, lower the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes until the sauce is cooked (no raw tomato taste) and sweet.

Arugula Pesto
You can make a pesto with almost any herb, not just basil. In fact I feel using basil alone makes it too intense so I usually use basil and parsley for a basic pesto. Using arugula gives this pesto the richly aromatic peppery flavor that is distinctive.

2 cups baby arugula
1 cup basil (stems removed)
1 cup flat leaf Italian parsley (stems removed)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
2 medium cloves garlic
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the basil, parsley, pine nuts, and garlic in the work bowl of a food processor and process until it becomes a paste. Add the oil slowly and process until incorporated. Pour the sauce into a bowl, stir in the cheese, and season.

Thanks Chef Silvia, we love your “notes from the chef” and of course your wonderful recipes!!

1200 calorie diet for women

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 20:51
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Dieting is one of the ways to lose weight but from the questions we get from our readers it seems that many people do not know where to start. This is normal since the word ‘diet’ has been associated with deprivation and this keeps people away from even trying to control what they eat. As a result their weight is increasing and the problem becomes even more difficult to handle.

Our goal with this article is to give you an idea of a diet you can follow to lose weight quickly but at the same time healthy and without restricting any food group from your meals. The diet is easy to follow and will give you about 1200 calories per day. See below some common questions/answers about this diet.

How many pounds can you lose by following a 1200 calorie diet? This depends on your BMR and your daily calorie requirements. If for example you need 1500 calories per day to maintain your normal weight then by following this diet correctly for 1 month you can lose up to 2 ½ pounds. The logic is the following: You need 45,000 calories per month (1500 calories per day x 30 days) to maintain your normal weight. If you consume 36000 calories per month (1200 calories per day x 30 days) then you will save 9000 calories per month (45000 – 36000). Taking into account that 1 pound = 3500 calories, this means you will lose about 2 ½ pounds per month.

Is it safe? As a general rule you should always consult your doctor before making drastic changes to your diet. The average woman needs about 1500-1800 calories per day to maintain normal weight. The suggested diet is for about 1200 calories per day which is just 300 calories less than the average. You can also read how to lose 5 pounds quickly for more information on quick weight loss and calorie burning.

For how long should I follow this diet? A month is the shortest period you can follow this diet if you want to get fast results. Depending on your results you can choose to stay within the 1200 calories per day or gradually increase it to 1500 and 1800. This of course depends on your activity level, age and exercise.

Do I have to exercise? Yes. Dieting alone cannot help you lose weight and keep it off. We mentioned above that dieting is one of the ways to lose weight but you also need to exercise regularly in order to increase your metabolism, accelerate the fat burning process and convert the fat tissues into muscles. Cardio exercises for 3-4 times per week are sufficient for beginners.

How to you call this diet? This is an example of a balanced diet where you get to eat all kinds of foods but in moderate quantities. More attention is given to carbohydrates and protein and less to fat (but it is not eliminated completely).

What do I need to get started? You should first download and print the diet and read it carefully. Take note of the items that you do not have available and create your shopping list. Have a look at the recipes and make sure that you can prepare those meals using the correct ingredients in the proper portions. Once you have everything ready take a note of your weight (early in the morning) and start with the diet. Make sure that you do not break the diet rules very often and once per week take note of your weight and mark your progress.

Is this diet for women only? No. Both men and women can follow this diet but it will be easier for women to adjust to the proposed meals because it is closer to the recommended amount of calories they consume per day.

I still have questions, who can I contact? If you still have questions about the diet you can contact our team of experts at

1200 calorie diet for women ( download as PDF )

Day 1


Breakfast: whole grain bar with yogurt and fruit

1 wholemeal cereal bar

1 / 2 yogurt, (Low fat 0% -2%)

1 fruit of your choice (apple, orange etc.)


Snack: Croissant with butter and honey or jam

1 / 2 butter croissants

1 teaspoon honey or jam

Lunch: Spaghetti with tomato sauce with peppers and mushrooms and salad

1 cup cooked pasta

3 tablespoons tomato sauce with peppers and mushrooms

2 cups salad of your choice

Snack: Half a sandwich with wholemeal bread, ham (pork or turkey), cream cheese, tomato and lettuce

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 / 2 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

1 tablespoon cream cheese

1-2 slices tomato

1 leaf lettuce


Dinner: Peas with cheese, salad and bread

1 / 2 cup cooked peas

1 piece (30 g) cheese (feta cheese or yellow cheese, low fat or 2 tablespoons of cream cheese)

1 cup salad of your choice

1 slice whole wheat bread

DAY 1 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 224 137 371 137 323 1192
Protein (g) 10.31 2.36 10.72 7.11 11.39 41.89
Total Fat (g) 4.03 5.99 13.24 5.13 18.8 47.19
Saturated (g) 0.38 3.32 1.92 2.36 6.11 14.09
Carbohydrates (g) 39.03 18.82 53.58 16.61 29.98 158.02
Sugars (g) 19.96 8.95 7.45 3.01 10.46 49.83
Vitamin C (mg) 83.74 0.09 53.64 7.42 33.63 178.52


Day 2


Breakfast: whole grain cereals with fruit and milk, bread, margarine and honey or jam

1 / 2 cup whole grain cereal with fruit

1 / 2 cup low-fat milk (1% -1.5%)

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 teaspoon margarine

1 teaspoon honey or jam


Snack: Half a sandwich with whole wheat bread, smoked salmon and cream cheese

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 thin slice (30gr.) smoked salmon

1 tablespoon cream cheese

Freshly ground pepper


Lunch: Chicken soup with cheese and salad

1 cup of chicken soup

1 piece (30 g) cheese (feta cheese or yellow cheese and low fat)

1 cup salad of your choice


Snack: Cookie with yogurt

1 cookie

1 / 2 yogurt (0% -2%)


Dinner: Omelet with vegetables and ham and salad

1 egg

2 egg whites

1 / 2 cup vegetables of your choice

1 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup salad of your choice

DAY 2 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 223 137 337 137 298 1132
Protein (g) 8.8 9.49 19.81 8.95 20.27 67.32
Total Fat (g) 5.35 5.04 21.22 5.14 19.21 55.96
Saturated (g) 1.55 2.18 6.56 1.29 4.18 15.76
Carbohydrates (g) 37.25 13.96 16.5 14.29 12.32 94.32
Sugars (g) 18.64 1.59 3.87 2.04 6.68 32.82
Vitamin C (mg) 10.53 0 19.14 1 88.71 119.38



Day 3


Breakfast: Half a sandwich with wholemeal bread, ham (pork or turkey) and cottage cheese and milk

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 / 2 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

2 tablespoons cottage cheese

1 cup low-fat milk (1% -1.5%)


Snack: Fruit

2 fruit of your choice


Lunch: Artichokes with potato, cheese and salad

3 / 4 cup artichokes

1 piece (30 g) cheese (feta cheese or yellow cheese and low fat)

1 cup salad of your choice

1 small boiled potato (125gr.)


Snack: Cream crackers with ham

2 cream Crackers

1 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet


Dinner: Fish soup (with rice) and bread

1 cup of soup (with rice)

2 slices whole wheat bread

DAY 3 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 223 137 407 136 350 1253
Protein (g) 16.79 2.55 11.92 7.19 19.85 58.3
Total Fat (g) 6.02 0.42 21.22 5.13 12.38 45.17
Saturated (g) 3.02 0.05 6.38 1.76 1.98 13.19
Carbohydrates (g) 26.38 35.11 47.39 14.81 41.09 164.78
Sugars (g) 14.33 23.8 7.37 0.86 4.9 51.26
Vitamin C (mg) 0.56 165.48 42.23 1.12 2.65 212.04


Day 4


Breakfast: Cereal maize (corn flakes) with milk and fruit

1 / 2 cup corn cereal (corn flakes)

1 cup low-fat milk (1% -1.5%)

1 fruit of your choice


Snack: Croissant with butter and honey or jam

1 / 2 butter croissants

1 teaspoon honey or jam


Lunch: Fish soup (with rice) with bread and mayonnaise

1 cup of soup (with rice)

1 slice whole wheat bread

2 tablespoons light mayonnaise


Snack: Half a sandwich with wholemeal bread, ham (pork or turkey), cream cheese, tomato and lettuce

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 / 2 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

1 tablespoon cream cheese

1-2 slices tomato

1 leaf lettuce


Dinner: Risotto with prawns and salad

1 / 2 cup cooked rice (3 tablespoons uncooked)

5 shrimp (large)

1 teaspoon olive oil

Fresh chives, parsley

2 cups salad of your choice

DAY 4 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 222 137 378 137 320 1194
Protein (g) 10.42 2.36 17.39 7.11 10.38 47.66
Total Fat (g) 2.66 5.99 21.13 5.13 14.34 49.25
Saturated (g) 1.59 3.32 3.28 2.36 2.06 12.61
Carbohydrates (g) 41.93 18.82 30.64 16.61 38.05 146.05
Sugars (g) 26.06 8.95 4.64 3.01 5.41 48.07
Vitamin C (mg) 85.82 0.09 2.65 7.42 38.88 134.86


Day 5


Breakfast: whole grain cereals with fruit and milk, bread, margarine and honey or jam

1 / 2 cup whole grain cereal with fruit

1 / 2 cup low-fat milk (1% -1.5%)

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 teaspoon margarine

1 teaspoon honey or jam


Snack: Breadsticks with ham

2 breadsticks

1 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet


Lunch: salad with Giants

1 cup cooked beans

1 cup salad of your choice


Snack: Half a sandwich with whole wheat bread, smoked salmon and cream cheese

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 thin slice (30gr.) smoked salmon

1 tablespoon cream cheese

Freshly ground pepper


Dinner: Salad with pasta, tuna and mayonnaise

1 / 2 cup pasta (cooked)

1 / 2 cup chopped tomato

1 / 2 cup chopped bell peppers

80g. tuna in water

1 tablespoon light mayonnaise

1 teaspoon of mustard or ketchup

Fresh chives, basil

DAY 5 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 223 136 331 137 298 1125
Protein (g) 8.8 7.25 10.76 9.49 24.45 60.75
Total Fat (g) 5.35 6.21 18.62 5.04 8.3 43.52
Saturated (g) 1.55 2.36 2.62 2.18 1.62 10.33
Carbohydrates (g) 37.25 12.37 33.5 13.96 31.07 128.15
Sugars (g) 18.64 2 7.13 1.59 6.34 35.7
Vitamin C (mg) 10.53 1.12 56.38 0 72.08 140.11


Day 6


Breakfast: Half a sandwich with wholemeal bread, ham (pork or turkey) and cottage cheese and milk

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 / 2 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

2 tablespoons cottage cheese

1 cup low-fat milk (1% -1.5%)


Snack: Yogurt with fruit

1 / 2 yogurt (0% -2%)

1 fruit of your choice


Lunch: Fried Prawns with salad

10 shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 / 3 cup tomato juice

45gr. slice

1 cup salad of your choice


Snack: Half a sandwich with wholemeal bread, ham (pork or turkey), cream cheese, tomato and lettuce

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 / 2 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

1 tablespoon cream cheese

1-2 slices tomato

1 leaf lettuce


Dinner: Pizza cheese and salad

1 slice of pizza with cheese

1 cup salad of your choice

DAY 6 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 223 135 373 137 320 1188
Protein (g) 16.79 9.27 19.88 7.11 12.27 65.32
Total Fat (g) 6.02 2.21 27.9 5.13 16.18 57.44
Saturated (g) 3.02 0.02 9.05 2.36 6.51 20.96
Carbohydrates (g) 26.38 21.56 12.9 16.61 32.09 109.54
Sugars (g) 14.33 11.9 10.21 3.01 7.41 46.86
Vitamin C (mg) 0.56 83.74 49.97 7.42 21.4 163.09


Day 7


Breakfast: Cereal maize (corn flakes) with milk and fruit

1 / 2 cup corn cereal (corn flakes)

1 cup low-fat milk (1% -1.5%)

1 fruit of your choice


Snack: Breadsticks

3 breadsticks


Lunch: Meat soups with bread and salad

1 cup consommé

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 cup salad of your choice


Snack: Croissant with butter and honey or jam

1 / 2 butter croissants

1 teaspoon honey or jam


Dinner: Half a sandwich with wholemeal bread, ham (pork or turkey), egg and cream cheese and salad

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 / 2 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

1 egg (boiled or scrambled eggs without oil)

1 tablespoon cream cheese

2 cups salad of your choice

DAY 7 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 222 135 378 137 325 1197
Protein (g) 10.42 3.9 19.79 2.36 15.13 51.6
Total Fat (g) 2.66 5.7 18.87 5.99 19.67 52.89
Saturated (g) 1.59 2.31 3.66 3.32 5.28 16.16
Carbohydrates (g) 41.93 16.95 33.94 18.82 23.65 135.29
Sugars (g) 26.06 3 6.57 8.95 7.56 52.14
Vitamin C (mg) 85.82 0 25.62 0.09 38.84 150.37


How to lose 5 pounds quickly?

Sunday, July 10, 2011 15:04
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Fast weight loss is always a very popular subject among people who want to lose weight for a special occasion. Last week we got a simple but yet very interesting question from a reader that ended: How can I lose 5 pounds quickly? The full question was the following:

I don’t normally have an issue with my weight, i am slightly overweight but not by much, i am still happy with the way i look. i need to know how to lose about 5 pounds fast, i bought my graduation dress two months ago and when i put it on today it was too small, my graduation is in  week and a half, how can i lose five pounds that quickly?

Here is the reply from our team of weight loss experts.

The graduation day fast approaching, you bought the dress a few months ago but when you do a trial before the big day is too small. That is a very familiar picture for a number of people; it may not be a graduation but it may be a wedding or a special occasion. Time left to fit in the dress? 1 ½ weeks. What do you do to lose those extra 5 pounds?

Well to be very honest there is no way you can actually lose 5 pounds of fat in 1½ weeks. It could appear like to do lose 5 pounds in that time scale but it would mainly be water. Some people will argue that it is good enough to just fit in the dress whether it is water or fat they lost.

Safer diets

Now that we have made it clear that you will not be losing 5lbs worth fat, one could say that it doesn’t matter which diet you follow. All fast diets will bring the same result. As tempting as it is to follow a fad, fast style diet try not to. All of these fad style, 7-10 day diets have been criticized about their safety and the strain they place on the body. In addition, chances are that you will not do it just once but most probably every time an outfit doesn’t fit. Yo-yo style dieting can have negative health effects. Below are some suggestions.


Calories do matter. Even if you do follow a healthy balanced diet, if you consume more calories than you use then you will store them as fat. It is harder to do so with a healthier diet as this kind of diets consist of a high amount of foods which are low in calories, such as vegetables. Think about it, how much salad would you need to consume in a day to reach 3000kcal? Moreover, you are likely to suffer from gastrointestinal complaints after all that green, with the most common being the ‘embracing wind’.

To stir back to the main point now; and that is calories. If you want to lose weight you need to create a negative calorie balance. This means consume fewer calories than you need. By how much should you cut? Some authors suggest that 1 lb of fat translates to 3.500kcal. Therefore, if you want to lose 1lb of fat you need to use 3.500kcal. It sounds a lot? It is. So if you were to lose 5lbs of fat in a week you would need to burn:

3.500kcal x 5lbs = 17.500 kcal per week

If you divide this number by 7 days in a week then:

17.500 kcal / 7days = 2500 kcal per day

Let me thing, does that mean you will have to starve yourself completely?

A point to make

In reality all these calorie calculations do not work to the letter. The business of losing weight and dieting is a lot more complicated than simple numerical calculations.

The calculations assume that people burn calories at a constant rate and it is all of it fat. However, in reality metabolism can slow down as part of energy/calorie restriction and also the body will be losing glycogen, water and protein as well. Use them as a guide only

Apart from some very few exceptions (severe illness being one of them) the task of losing 5 lbs of fat in 1 week or even 10 days is more like mission impossible. So concentrate in lowering calorie intake within safe and healthy ranges. The average recommended calorie intake for women is approximately 1500 – 2000kcal and for men and young adults is 2000 – 2500 kcal. The amount of calories used everyday depends on many factors such as body size, age, and physical activity.

In general, if you are consuming astronomical numbers of calories then try to lower it down to the recommended values and do account for factors which may influence calorie usage. For an average calorie intake aim for about 500 kcal reduction and is recommended not to go bellow 1200kcal intake per day.

What will you get with a 500kcal reduction? If we go back to the calculations you have:

500kcal x 7 days = 3.500kcal in a week which is about 1 lb of fat.


Exercise will increase the amount of calories you burn, simple. If you lower your food intake by 500kcal you burn 1lb of fat so if you use 500kcal through exercise you just increased your fat burning potential. As mentioned above in reality it doesn’t work like that; however the truth is that you will increase the amount of calories you use and increase your weight loss with exercise. See 10 fitness tips for women for more details.

Be aware: It does make sense that the more you exercise the more calories you will burn. However, it may be tempting but do not take on a really heavy and intense workout 2 hrs a week for a week in order to maximize weight loss. If new to exercise you will get DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which means that every muscle you worked will hurt. You don’t want to be the girl/guy in the party who ‘looks really good in that outfit but what is it all about with the Robocop movements?’

Aim for 1 hour a day. Start with light exercises or a run. Maybe try adding exercises from Pilates which can help you cheat a bit with a flat stomach effect. Do consult a medical professional and a fitness professional to make sure is safe and appropriate before taking on any exercise.

Be strict but choose healthy

You only have 7 – 10 days to lose the extra pounds. It will require being strict with food intake. However, do be healthy and do make healthy food choices. Consuming 1200kcal from McDonalds is not healthy and the pickles do not count towards your 5 a day regardless what the advert said. Follow a balanced diet such as a modified Mediterranean, the zone diet, the new Atkins diet etc. Some diets are more general some can be more specific with meal plans. Choose what suits you as an individual. In general aim for loads of vegetables and fruit, a moderate amount of protein and a low amount of carbohydrates and sugars. I would say if you can avoid any refined sugars is the best. See some of my other articles for more details on healthy diets such as Diet Tips: The role of proteins in weight loss and Weight loss: an introduction to a healthier life.

Some easy ways to cut down calories is to avoid alcohol, refined sugars, fizzy drinks, milkshakes, snacks such as energy or cereal bars and finally hot drinks such as sugary coffees, and rich hot chocolate. Coffee is actually considered by some researchers as a way to increase metabolism and fat burning. However, too much coffee is not good for your nervous system and can give you palpitations, increased heart rate and can make you feel anxious and restless. You don’t want that so don’t drink yourself senseless with coffee.


There are small little things you can do to cheat your way to the outfit without necessarily losing all the weight.

1. Avoid foods that can make you bloat. A large amount of vegetables, especially if eaten raw can make you feel bloated and as mentioned above can give you gastrointestinal complaints. It may contradict previous advice of adding fruit and veg in your diet. Well you can do both. In moderation is the answer. Maybe steam your veg especially carrots which can be hard to digest, and have a mixture of raw salads and cooked vegetables instead of just salads.

Breads and refined carbs can also make you feel bloated. As I have mentioned above try to avoid them.

2. If there is still an inch left, then try some of the control underwear. This is not a weight loss tip and most definitely will not help you lose weight; however some of the control underwear can help shave an inch from the body. Don’t go for the really tight, I can’t breathe type, just normal control.

For future reference

It may be too late now but you will find that for the future this is a very valuable point. Allow more time for losing the extra pounds. Make it a rule that you will try the outfit at least 2 weeks before the big event. What can you do in 2 weeks? A lot more and you have a lot more chances in actually losing 5 lbs in 2 weeks. You may still have to be strict with your diet and all the above but you will get better results with less heartache.

Make long term changes

Eating healthier and exercising is best kept for long term. Why only use them as a remedy for emergencies and not adapt our lifestyle to a healthier option? It doesn’t have to be a forever dieting and exercising life or even be massively dissatisfied about your weight. Make small changes in your diet and add 30min of exercise is good enough. This way you will be able to control your weight better and also lose weight easier for when you need to.

How to Lose 5 pounds summary

1. You will most probably not lose 5lbs of fat in 7 – 10 days. Even if you lose 5lbs it will be some fat but mainly glycogen, water and some protein.

2. It is best to follow a healthy diet combined with exercise and do not lower your calorie intake to much. It is not good and you will not lose more fat.

3. Do little things which can help you cheat your way in the outfit.

The above are only weight loss tips. It is always recommended to consult the appropriate health professionals before making any changes to your diet and lifestyle.


Raw food diet voted second best weight loss diet

Sunday, July 3, 2011 16:41
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The raw food diet was voted second best weight loss diet according to a diet ranking contest performed by health department. The diets were rated by a group of 22 experts that included nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, health professionals and weight loss researches. The study took about 6 months and examined 20 diets on how effective they are in losing weight in the short term, how easy they are to follow, how safe they are and how they can help you maintain your weight in the long term.

What is the raw food diet?

The raw food diet is similar to vegetarian diet and its roots go back to 1800 when a doctor with the name Maximillian Benner invented the first form of a raw diet. Since then it has evolved but the main idea of the raw food diet is that you consume mainly plant based foods and foods that are not processed, cooked or genetically altered. By adopting the raw food diet you can expect to eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, virgin olive oil and other natural and organic foods. There are more food choices and recipes than you can initially think that fall into the category of raw food and in accordance with this diet. It takes more time to prepare your raw food meals but once you get used to the habit of eating raw or nearly raw food you can speed up the process and invent your own ways to cook.

Can you lose weight with raw food diet?

Yes you can. If you follow the raw food diet for a couple of weeks or more you will lose weight because you will eat mainly fruits, vegetables and other items that are high in fibre and protein. These 2 components can generate fast weight loss results mainly because they can keep the feeling of fuller longer.

Is the raw food diet suitable for everyone?

We always encourage our readers to consult their doctor before engaging in drastic weight loss diets or techniques. The raw food diet restricts certain food items from your diet and this can generate adverse effects to people who are suffering from various diseases. The American Diabetic Association has also rated the raw food diet as inappropriate for infants and children.

The available research about the raw food diet does not expose any side effects but on the contrary it suggests that people who have followed the raw food diet successfully have managed to lose weight. It is no secret that a lot of celebrities are using the raw food diet to get fit before their appearances or get ready for their new movies. It should be noted though that it is not an easy diet to follow especially if you are new to dieting.

A final word

The raw food diet was voted among the best weight loss diets because it is guaranteed that you can lose weight. It can generate both short-term and long term results and it is safe to use provided that your doctor approves. On the negative side it is not easy to follow and you need to spend some time learning about what to eat and how to prepare your meals. If you are anxious to lose weight fast then you can try it out and come back to share your opinion and experience with our readers.

Weight loss tips for controlling hunger

Sunday, July 3, 2011 13:55
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Hunger is a common issue for many dieters and a point in which a lot can struggle. Another difficult point is weight loss motivation. Both these issues in combination can make dieting to look like mission impossible. So what can you do and/or eat to overcome these difficulties.


I am 37 years old I am 60lbs overweight and I have no drive what so ever. I am trying to put myself on a diet but I get very hungry mid way thru the day to wear I get shaky and feel sick. I eat a breakfast and have fruit for snack but I am constantly hungry. What can I eat that will keep be not feeling hungry?

Answer by Hara Hagikalfa. View more answers in our Weight loss Advice section

I have looked at some of these issues in previous articles so for some points I will only give a brief outline.

  • Breakfast is quite an important meal for the day. If you start your day in the wrong foot you will spend all day chasing your feet to get in line. What does that mean in terms of diet and hunger? As I have mentioned before if you have a breakfast full of carbohydrates results in your insulin levels to hit the roof very fast. When all sugar has been absorbed from your blood insulin falls again and your body receives the signal that you need food. The result: you feel hungry, shaky, sick, irritable and so on.

The solution is to eat protein for breakfast. Protein can make you feel full for longer and you have a better insulin response.

  • Snacks: If you have to have a snack, again aim for a protein based one or a handful of nuts. Studies suggest that nuts tend to make you feel full and they are also a good source of essential fats. But they are quite calorie dense so keep it to a handful.
  • Best carry snacks such as nuts in your bag or have them handy. If you are out and you start feeling hungry you are more likely to get just anything you can find. In addition, the longer you let yourself be hungry the worst you are going to feel. As a result you will again end up eating anything and everything under the sun to satisfy your hunger.
  • There is also what they call the ‘emotional’ hunger. The solution for this is trying to modify your behavior and relationship towards food. One of the main ways is try to associate your feelings with other activities rather than food. See also emotional eating
  • One area which I haven’t mentioned so far is actually the physiological aspects of being overweight. Adipose tissue (fat) is actually seen by many researches as biologically active and it produces hormones. Many of these are involved in metabolic regulations such as food intake and energy expenditure. One such hormone produced by adipose tissue, is leptin which is believed to be involved in food intake regulation. In simple words one of the jobs of leptin is to make you feel less hungry. Majority of overweight and obese people have high levels of leptin however; they tend to also have leptin resistance which means that they are less reactive to the effects of leptin.

What does that mean in very simple words is that they feel hungry and find it hard to regulate their appetite. Food restriction also can result in levels of leptin to decrease which again wouldn’t help.

Suggestion box

Breakfast: Cereal, toast, bagels, marmalade, fruit with yogurt and honey etc. all sound very healthy. However they are full of sugar and quite frankly full of calories. You have this breakfast by 8am and by 10am you want to kill everybody in the office for food.

Substitute all of the above with eggs, ham, grilled bacon, cheese, smoked salmon and so on. You can have a couple rye crackers instead of toast with it. It sounds like a big full of calories meal; however you will feel full for the day and is unlikely that you will be attacking the snacks.

Snacks: Mid day snacks usually include cereal/energy bars, biscuits, crisps etc. Fruits are a healthy snack however they too contain a lot of sugar. A fruit after a carb loaded breakfast will only continue the hunger cycle. Try dried fruit and nuts or an avocado maybe a couple of rye crackers with some cheese. They tend to settle the stomach.

In many ways this one of the reasons why many overweight people may find it hard to control hunger and follow diets. Some studies suggest that a low fat diet may help in improving leptin resistance. Do make sure that you do eat essential fats such as olive oil, fish oils etc. but maybe substitute foods high in fat with those with less fat content. I prefer to recommend not choosing low fat versions such as low fat mayonnaise, but choose foods which normally contain less fat (i.e. cottage cheese instead of yellow cheese, lean cuts of meat instead of just eating chicken etc.).

  • Use some of the tips which I have included in my article in regards to emotional eating (‘How to control your desire for food. Tips such as doing others activities or eating smaller portion can help in controlling hunger in general.
    • Persevere. Unless the reason why you could be feeling hungry is based on a different health complain, losing weight should improve things like insulin and leptin sensitivity. So hunger can improve. It is a little bit like the chicken and egg predicament; you need a chicken to make the egg but you need an egg to produce the chicken. However, this does not mean that there is no solution. Following a healthy, low fat but balanced diet and cutting down moderately on calories should help. It may be hard to begin with but if you make a list of things you can do to battle hunger and cravings then it is already made easier.
    • Exercise is one more thing you can add. Exercise does help in weight loss as it does increase metabolism in general and also you burn more calories with exercise (see ‘10 Fitness Tips for Women for more details). Some studies also indicate that exercise per se can help in improving insulin and leptin regulation, amongst other health benefits.
    • Consult a medical professional. As I mentioned above there may be other health reasons why you may feel hungry or have symptoms such as feeling shaky, dizzy, and sick. One such reason could be thyroid dysfunction. However, this is up to a medical professional to carry out the appropriate assessment and tests and include or exclude any other problems. In addition, is always recommended that you consult a medical professional before going on a diet or taking on exercise.
    • Finally, work on your motivation. One point to start from is by actually making a list of why you want to lose weight. Going on a diet because is what you should be doing and going on a diet because you want to and you know why are 2 different things. Find the reasons why losing weight is important to you and why it means a lot to you.

Once you have the list ready place a copy on your wallet, and one on the fridge. When you feel you lose the will to continue look at your list and remind yourself why you are doing it.

  • Get a diet buddy or join a club. Studies show that diet clubs can have a high rate of achieving weight loss. This is not because they actually use a more effective diet, but because they have support systems which help people in adhering to dieting and losing weight. Your diet buddy could well be a spouse or your partner. Support coming from the family is as important, effective and valuable as weight watchers.
  • Set goals and reward yourself. Set weekly goals based preferably on diet adherence not on pounds lost. Best not reward yourself with food though as it could be creating emotional connections. Example could be that if you manage to follow your diet plan all week (fortnightly or monthly etc.) you will go for a massage, a manicure etc. Set your little rewards according to what you enjoy. See your rewards as saying well done you achieved something, instead of buying yourself out.

10 fitness tips for women

Sunday, June 26, 2011 13:56
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There are many fitness tips for women but not all of them work for every woman. In this post our fitness experts have gathered the 10 most important fitness tips for women that can give you optimum weight loss results in the fastest way possible.

Fitness tips for women – Introduction

So you bought the book, joined the club, and read the myriads of articles, tips, and advice pages. You have the diet arranged; however, majority of them say ‘for best weight loss results exercise’. If only it was that simple… Where do you start?

Well some of you may have already bought the gym membership or you are already killing yourself on the elliptical machine and you are nowhere near in looking like a Baywatch babe. What can you do?

Bellow I have listed 10 fitness tips to help you with the Baywatch body quest.

1. Consult a medical professional and the appropriate exercise/fitness professional.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… you heard it all before. No really. Exercise is actually a form of a stress response for the body. Everybody tells you that exercise is healthy and how many health benefits you will get from exercising. Yes you will but it also increases heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and a number of stress hormones take over your body. Don’t be a casualty. You do need to know if there is anything which could contradict any form of exercise so you can choose the best weight loss exercise or workout to suit your needs.

In addition to a medical professional, the appropriate fitness professional should be able to advise you on a workout, and show you the correct techniques for exercises. I am sure you want to enjoy it and skip heart attacks and injuries.

No pain no gain

The no pain no gain slogan is often used by the fitness fanatics. The body uses pain signals to warm you about something potentially harmful. Pain could be indicating that a specific load/exercise is too much for the body’s structures. There is the principle of overloading the muscles but this is done progressively and it doesn’t mean destroying them. Exercising through pain could lean to injuries or health complaints.

2. Pace yourself and work on your own level.

Maybe you have read about this super high intensity – fat burning army style workout and you want to try it out. No doubt you will get there, but if you never done any exercise in your life then be prepared to be hit by a tone a bricks. Your body is not used to work and as a result your muscles will ache, you will feel sick and maybe be able to only move your finger without being in pain.

The solution? Pace yourself through exercising. Start by walking around the block 2 – 3 times a day instead of running a marathon, or go swimming for 30min; basically do small and light workouts and build on them in time.

You may be thinking that you hardly burn any calories this way, but believe me you do. If your muscles are not used to be doing a lot, walking around the block is hard work for them. Moreover, working on your own level and ability will minimise the risk of injuries.

Every day fitness ideas

1. Why not take the kids to the garden or park and play an active game with them. Play with a ball or do some skipping. You will be spending some quality time with your family, have fun and exercise at the same time.

2. Try doing a couple of bicep curls while you are carrying the shopping bags to the car or a couple of squats while you putting the shopping in the cupboards *(make sure you are doing exercise activities in the correct technique and at your own level and ability).

3. If you have stairs in your house why not go up and down the stairs for a couple of times. It will not be that much different than using the elliptical machine in the gym.


3. Make everyday life activities work for you.

Whether it is time, money or convenience going to the gym, running or taking on a sport it is not possible for everybody. That doesn’t mean that you cannot exercise. Use everyday life activities to make up your daily workout. For example use the stairs instead of taking a lift, walk to the shops, walk to work or get off the bus one stop earlier and brisk walk the rest. If you look around your environment and everyday life you can find tones of activities which can be turned into an exercise opportunity.

Use some of the rest of the fitness tips for women (i.e. tips 4 & 7) in combination with your daily activities to get the most of it.

4.  Break the workout in 2 sessions.

Breaking the workout into 2 sessions per day can help in increasing your metabolism. In other words you could be potentially burning more calories. You don’t have to increase the amount of time or exercises you do in a day or do your usual workout twice. Just cut it in half and do one half in the morning and one half in the evening. For example if you go running for an hour a day, go 30min in the morning and 30min in the afternoon/evening.

If you do use the gym and going twice per day is not feasible then do a slightly shorter workout in the gym and go for a brisk walk for your 2nd daily workout.

One thing you need to be careful is not to overload your body too much. When doing 2 workouts it is easy to fall in the trap of adding more exercises or more time. Too much exercising can place a lot of stress in the body and you could be having the opposite results.

Fitness tips for women

Fitness Tips for Women – 5 more tips

5. Do resistance exercise.

It is often advocated that people burn calories and fat with aerobic exercise and is better for weight loss. The idea is that during moderate intensity aerobic exercise the body burns a combination of glycogen (sugar) and fat whereas with resistance exercise the body burns mostly glycogen. However, studies indicate that in terms of post training results resistance exercise tends to increase metabolic rate and fat burning. One of the reasons is that resistance/weight training increases the body’s muscle mass which is one of the main factors of increasing metabolic rate during rest.

The effect of exercise in using fat and energy (and therefore aiding in weight loss) is not only in terms of how many calories we burn while we exercise but also how many calories we burn once we stopped. Therefore, for best results do add some resistance exercises in your workout.

One important fitness tip: Make sure you warm up. A 5-10min warm up with light aerobic exercises is fine. A lot of people use the treadmill or elliptical to warm up. Don’t skip the warm up and go straight into lifting weights as you could damage your muscles and incur injuries

6. Do resistance exercise first and aerobic exercise second.

We worked out above that it is good to add resistance exercises in your workout. Now plan your workout in that you start with the resistance part and finish with the aerobic exercise.

With resistance exercise the body will be using mostly glycogen (sugar stores) for energy. When coming to do the aerobic part most of the glycogen will have been used and therefore the body will be mobilising your fat stores to fuel the exercise. Needless to say you will be potentially be burning a lot more fat.?

7. You burn what you eat.

A common conception used in advising people is eating carbs before exercise and protein after. The principle for that is that carbs will give you the energy to fuel the exercise and protein is beneficial for muscle building post exercise. Well if you are going to run a marathon you do need to be stocked up with your carbs as you will need the energy. However, for the average daily workout if you pack yourself before exercising with loads of carbs all you will be burning during exercise is sugar. Yes the post exercise fat burning effect does count as well, but if you want to optimise the fat you are using, then avoid overloading yourself with loads of carbs before exercising.

If your diet in general includes a moderate amount of carbohydrates anyway, then that should provide sufficient energy for exercise. Some studies also suggest supplementing with protein before exercise. This is suggested to aid in increasing muscle mass. However, I tend to say that if your diet includes a moderate amount of protein (see also protein diet tips) then that should be sufficient. In addition, not all protein supplements, powders, shake and so on are off good quality, and choosing the ‘best’ can be a mind field.

8. Have a coffee.

Coffee increases the sympathetic nervous activity in the body and in result it can increase the metabolic rate and fat mobilisation. Studies also suggest that it can improve performance during exercise. As a result having a cup of coffee before exercise could potentially help in burning more calories and quite importantly more fat. The intensity and kind of exercise will affect which fuel your body will use more off; look at fitness tips for women 6 and 9 as well.

Be aware: Stimulating the sympathetic nervous system also results in increasing heart rate and having a few stress hormones floating around. Exercise can have the same effect as mentioned earlier, so be aware. Do not drink too much coffee (or a very strong one) as what you don’t want is effects such as palpitations, anxiety etc. If you are sensitive to coffee or if you have any conditions (example high blood pressure) which may be made worst don’t use coffee or consult a medical professional before you do.

9. Alternate the intensity.

Alternating the intensity of exercise can help in using the different energy systems of the body and also different muscle fibres. Alternating the intensity means exercising in high intensity then low intensity then high again and so on. Example run fast for 5min then walk for 5min then run again etc.

The theory behind it is that you use mainly glycogen during high intensity then mobilizing fat as a fuel during low intensity. Some studies suggest that this exercise intensity alternation can increase the amount of fat you burn and potentially can increase the amount of calories you use.

10. Have a rest day.

Last but not least, have a rest once a week. How can rest optimise weight loss? Well muscles recuperate and grow (adapt to the overload of exercise) during rest. To be perfectly honest for all the structures and systems of the body (tendons, nerves, ligaments, cardiopulmonary etc) to adapt to exercise, need rest. If you overload the body and its structures with too much exercise you could potentially get the opposite result. In addition it would increase the risk of injuries and illness.

A day’s rest will help your body to recover and make any adaptations to exercise. This way you can enjoy all the benefits and gains of exercise which extend beyond than just losing weight.

Follow the above 10 fitness tips for women and you are on your way to a healthier body and mind. See also weight loss tips for women for 12 more weight loss tips.

Mom was Right! You need to eat your breakfast….

Thursday, June 23, 2011 14:07
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Cindy Lai Fitness

Fitness Guru Cindy Lai is our guest blogger. Her advice is right on.

“Almost everyone tells me that they eat healthy or eat right, but do they really know what consists of a “healthy” meal? A boiled egg, a piece of fruit or a slice of bread? How is that supposed to satisfy your appetite for at least 3 hours? This is nearly impossible unless you have trained your body to go into starvation mode. Instead, your body will constantly go after muscle for fuel, basically eating away at itself. How does this affect your fitness goals? You are guaranteeing a decreased metabolism and what you put into your body next gets stored as fat instead of it becoming a fat burning mechanism.

This is an all too common mistake where many people skimp on good carbs, good fats or lean protein. If your physique is still the same after months or years of unsuccessful dieting, stop dieting and start eating right! If it is important for you to stay on top of your health and fitness goals, you need to look at the big picture. You also need to make time to eat a proper meal. Below are some easy suggestions for a better balanced breakfast.

Lowfat greek yogurt with almonds and Optimum Slim High Fiber Cereal (Nature’s Path)

(I like the Chobani brand and normally opt for 2% lowfat. I do love the pineapple flavored but do not have it all the time. Other good brands are Fage and Oikos)

1 egg + 2-3 egg whites with spinach and Kashi Go Lean Hot Cereal

Pacific Breeze Almond milk with Optimum Power Cereal (Nature’s Path) + blueberries

Tofu Scramble or Soy patties with spinach or broccoli on 2 slices of Whole wheat bread

2 Slices of Ezekiel Sprouted Cinammon Raisin Bread + Almond Butter

3 egg whites + all natural Al Fresco Apple maple chicken sausage + grated goat gouda cheese in whole wheat wrap. (sausage found only at West Side Market on 14th and 7th avenue)

DeWafflebakers Cinammon and Sweet Potato Pancakes, 2 Slices toasted with melted non processed almond butter (with 4 gms of protein + 4 gms of fiber, this is one of my favorite snacks and tastes like dessert! )

Lisanatti Almond milk Mozzarella – the healthy cheese alternative which goes great with avocado and tomato whole wheat wrap .

Pure Organic bars – vegan friendly and sweetened with fruits and nuts. They come in a variety of flavors such as cherry cashew, blueberry, mixed nuts, chocolate brownie and is a great snack. This is a sweet bar so try one before you buy the box.

unsalted mixed nuts with banana or apple as a snack

Lowfat cottage cheese with pineapple or berries as a snack

The majority of these foods can be found at Whole Foods, gourmet or your neighborhood deli. These are just suggestions of healthy meals to help start your day. Many of these meals may not keep you full for 3 hours throughout your day but are quick ideas for a good breakfast instead of no breakfast. Other ideas are of easy snack suggestions. We all have individual needs so you need to pay attention to what your body is asking of you. You may have higher nutritional needs on the day that you exercise and not so much on the days that you don’t.

The one pitfall you must avoid at all times is to skip breakfast completely. Although you may be used to it or think you can handle your day, you will almost definitely end up bingeing later and sabotaging your efforts. Eat consistently every 3-4 hours while snacks may last 1-2 hours. Fill up on fruits and veggies but don’t neglect your complex carbs (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potato, whole grains, beans, etc.) along with your lean protein. If you are constantly hungry after your meals, you are lacking some kind of a balance.

In addition, everyone has different allergies and food restrictions as well. Find what works for you. There is no single solution for all. Do some experimenting and re-evaluate how your body responds. Tweak your nutrition according to your daily needs.

Nutrition is often the most challenging and sometimes neglected part of a healthy fitness regimen. As long as you stay healthy in mind and body, you will discover what works best for you. Eat well and eat right.”

Thanks, Cindy! Great advise!

The Flex diet review

Sunday, June 19, 2011 15:59
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We have already reviewed the most popular weight loss diets and today we add another diet review to our existing collection and this is the flex diet review. Our experts outline and explain what you need to know about the flex diet and help you decide if the flex diet is suitable for you. If you are interested in diets you can also read about the effectiveness of quick weight loss diets.

Review by: Hara Hagikalfa


Handsome, male, young doctor?  Check! Eye catching cover? Check! Magical properties? Not very sure about that… Promises weight loss without fail? Of course!

One more well marketed book came in the weight loss world in 2010. The flex diet, as it is called, has been created by cardiologist Dr. James Beckerman, who also acts as an expert in WebMD. As with many other diets before it, it guarantees weight loss and a life change. In its essence the diet claims to provide 200 ways to lose 200 pounds.

The flex diet details

The flex diet is divided into 3 phases which are the ‘today’, the ‘every day’ and the ‘your way’.

The today phase lasts for 2 weeks and the main aim is introducing small changes. It essentially consists of a list of 30 ‘solutions’ which dieters can follow during those 2 weeks. Some of the solutions suggested in the ‘today’ phase are: keeping a diary, taking a multivitamin, getting more sleep, apples, grapes, close the kitchen after dinner, wear a pedometer, don’t use exercise as a punishment, try taking whey protein after exercise, blog, call your doctor, become someone’s coach, follow people who inspire you on twitter do calisthenics and so on.

The every day phase is about making every day changes in diet and lifestyle and lasts 3 weeks; according to the flex diet it takes 21 days for behaviours to become habits. Dr Beckerman recons that there are 5 senses of wellness and changes are meant to be made in each of the senses. The 5 senses are eat, drink, exercise, act, and live and the book provides lists of ‘solutions’ for each sense such as:

Eat – eat breakfast every day, avoid bagels, switch to a healthier cereal, use spreads sparingly, use microwave meals, eat tofu once a week, eat salad most days of the week,

Drink – limit alcohol to once a week, switch to skim, save your starbucks don’t drink fruit juices etc.

Exercise – curls, lateral raises, push ups, the fly, chair dips, split squats etc.

Act – walk after meals, walk your dog, etc

Live – read the labels, in restaurants ask questions, make your Mexican food healthier etc.

The your way phase for infinity and consists by more than 100 lifestyle changes and solutions for every day.  Like the ‘every day’ phase changes are made in the 5 senses of wellbeing.

The advice is to pick 2 solutions from every category to follow. If possible pick more solutions; however, the author explains that not all solutions are for everybody thus and it is a ‘flexible’ diet. Dieters are advised to make the diet and lifestyle changes as it suits them.

Something new? Something borrowed? Something blue?

Has the flex diet got anything new to offer? Well to be honest there is probably nothing you haven’t heard before. It is a collection of all the usual things which majority of weight loss professionals, doctors, nutritionists and so on, have said over and over again until they have turned blue in the face. Make lifestyle changes, follow a healthy diet, exercise and try to do it for life in a way that it fits your lifestyle. No doubt it is the right way to go, but is nothing new I would say.

The book does contain some valuable tips (or solutions as Dr Beckerman names them) which can help in achieving a healthier diet and lifestyle. However, that all it is. It does contain some recipes which dieters can use as a guide and also some workouts. I would not go as far as to call it a diet, but I would call it a weight loss tips guide. It does cost to buy and you could possibly get a lot of that information from a number of free weight loss/health/fitness websites, magazines, newspapers and so on.

To the point. Does the diet work?

The flex diet could be described as the cross between a self help book and a weight loss tips manual. Will it help you to lose weight? In theory if people make simple changes to their diet and life style should be on the right way in losing some weight. However, it feels as if the flex manual fails to see diet, lifestyle and behaviours as a whole one picture and suggests that a couple of remedies will solve all the problems. I would question if choosing 2 tips from each category and nothing else, will necessarily work in achieving weight loss (see example box).

The point I am trying to make is that weight loss is not as simple as choosing 10 random tips (2 from each category). Possibly, if you follow each and every one of the 200 tips in the book then you may see some results.

Each tip is explained and backed with scientific research; however a lot of the areas explained are seen in isolation. I would personally question the validity or effectiveness of some of the things he suggests, but overall there is nothing too extreme. Dr. Beckerman seems to not have taken into account the multiple and interrelated factors which can affect weight, metabolism, and behaviours. He does say ‘make the changes as its suit you’ but I wonder if just that is sufficient to account for individualism and individual needs.

Moreover, not all changes are health appropriate for all the people, not every exercise is safe for everybody (see example box 2) and also research cannot always be generalised.

The author does say inform your doctor as a tip in the 1st phase and I could not stress enough the importance of seeking the appropriate professional’s advice. Certain people for example those of older age or those who are obese and/or morbidly obese, and those with specific health conditions may need more specialised advice than Dr. Beckerman’s 200 tips. The complexities involved with some specific populations may be they cannot be covered only by just 200 general tips.

Who is it for?

If you are looking for somewhere to start from and are none the wiser in filtering the plethora of tips and information from other sources then you will find the book helpful. Also if you belong in the category of people who don’t like to follow specific diets and are just looking for a couple of ways to make a few improvements, then you may find it helpful as well. If you use the flex manual as a supplement to a weight loss diet and implement a few changes which you feel comfortable with, that may work as well.

If you are looking for a specific diet then this book is probably not for you. If you still have the trampoline, the Wii-fit games, the hand weights or the fitness video sitting along with the last revolutionary diet you bought, well you can try some of the tips in the book and find those who suit you. On the other hand there may be a reason why none of the previous diet and life changes worked. A good start would be to find that reason.

How to control your desire for food?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 20:02
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When I get questions from readers I often see them explain that there are certain foods which they are their ‘weaknesses’. These foods are never in the category of vegetables and are more likely to be sweets or takeaways. Moreover, giving up those ‘weaknesses’ is what most people find as ‘the hardest thing to do’. Sometimes it is not certain foods the issue. Is food in general, and some people will describe being hungry all the time and can’t stop

Embarking on a weight loss diet most of the time means restricting or minimising sweets, sugars, junk food, takeaways and so on along with restricting calories and often the amount of food consumed. So how do you control the desire for certain foods if it is ‘the hardest thing to do’?

This article will look at what makes us crave or desire certain foods and food in general and will suggest weight loss tips in controlling the desire for food.

Tip1. I will start the article with the first tip which is read this article. This may sound vain; however I will just say knowledge is power. If you know why you are hungry then you will be more able to deal and control your desire for food. How can you follow some tips if you don’t know why or what is going on?

So to move on, what is going on?

Eating yourself happy

In nature’s terms, hunger is one of the ways for the body letting us know that it needs fuel. However, hunger for the modern human is a lot more complicated than the simple ‘run out of fuel’ terms.

One area in which research has looked at is emotional eating. In emotional eating hunger is not just a fuel signal but is influenced by our emotions.

If we say: ‘Those who have got ‘comfort’ foods for the hard times’ to put their hands up; and ‘those who at some point have said lets go out (or cook) for a nice meal to celebrate’ to put their hands up. I think just about everybody would put their hands up. Emotional eating takes place whether we are happy or sad and it can be connected with getting a ‘good feeling’ or in other words eating yourself happy. If we are sad we can comfort eat to feel better, if we are happy we comfort eat to sustain the good feeling.

Emotional v physical hunger

Physical hunger is considered to start slowly and gradually and is often accompanied by physical symptoms such as headache, weakness, sickness, fatigue, stomach growling etc. The more we delay eating the stronger/or worst hunger and its symptom will become. When physically hungry we do not carve for a specific food but anything will do.

Emotional hunger is considered to start suddenly and people do crave a specific food. In simple words nothing else will do but only that food to satisfy the craving.

The results

The after effect of emotional eating usually has the opposite result from getting a good feeling. Studies do suggest that people don’t actually feel better after comfort eating. They can feel content while eating that specific food but feel bad or guilty afterwards.

This tends to create a cycle in which people emotionally eat to feel better, they feel bad or guilty afterwards so they eat more or eat comfort foods to feel better, they may put on weight and may feel low or unhappy so they comfort eat…..and so on.

Tip 2. Break the cycle of emotional eating.

First recognise if it is emotional hunger or not. Ask yourself: ‘Do I crave a specific food?’ ‘Do I have any other physical symptoms such as stomach growling, fatigue, feeling like I will faint etc?’ ‘If I have a glass of water will it stop my hunger?’


Second keep a food and drinks diary for a week. Include how you feel before eating the food and after. This will help recognise which foods you are most likely to have or crave in combination to which feelings you have and then see how you feel after. Better, worst, unhappy and so on.


Third once you know which feelings are connected with which foods you can start by replacing these associations. For example you crave chocolate when you feel depressed, instead of having chocolate find a different food like fruit or a different pleasurable activity like have a nice bath for when you crave chocolate and feel sad.


Make a list of activities you enjoy and place it on the fridge and have it in your bag. When you get ‘emotional’ cravings look at your list.


Fourth if you can’t beat the craving have a small portion of the food you want. For example, have little bags of small portions of chocolate and have only one small portion.


Fifth if you have an ‘emotional’ craving do something else for 5-10min. Clean the house, go for a walk, phone a friend. Is the craving still there after 5-10min? If you take your mind off a specific thing you may forget about it.

Sugar-insulin hunger

In simple terms carbohydrates are sugars. When eating foods high in carbohydrate content the insulin (hormone which helps absorb sugar from the blood) blood levels rise sharply. Once blood sugar levels have fallen then insulin falls sharply as well. The result is to feel hungry and usually crave carbohydrate based foods. Often enough people who are on high carbohydrate diets will describe as ‘if I don’t eat I will drop’ and can feel irritable. So what happens? They usually eat more carbohydrates.

A lot of the weight loss diets suggest a higher protein – lower carbohydrate intake. If the body is used to a high carbohydrate diet when changing to a higher protein intake and decreasing carbs, the body is not used to it and it will crave for carbs. Although some changes will take place from the 1st day of changing a diet, it takes approximately 2 weeks for the body to fully adapt. Those 2 weeks can be the hardest to stick with as you can feel tired, crave sugar, and feel irritable.

Tip 3. Be prepared and persevere. Easier said than done, but if you know what to expect you can be more prepared about it and if more prepared then you are more likely to deal better with it.

Tip 4. Eat a protein based breakfast. It will make you feel full for longer and it will help break the sugar – insulin cycle. Cereal is a very common breakfast and high in sugars. If you have a bowl of carbs (simple most of the time) you are setting yourself in for the sugar crave from the beginning of the day.

Tip 5. Opt for complex carbs instead of simple carbs. Studies suggest that foods which have a low Glycemic Load (GL) tend to slow the insulin release in the blood. Eating foods with low glycemic load (GL= Glycemic Index x g total carbohydrate) could promote satiety and thus result in a reduction in energy consumption and weight loss.

Tip 6. Add some vinegar in your food. Some studies indicate that vinegar ingested with food, can promote satiety (make you feel full) and also decrease the glucose response (amount of insulin in the blood in response to eating the food). However, do not start drinking vinegar as if it was water as it can have health complications if over-consumed.

Learned to be hungry

Well we can actually learn to eat more or eat the wrong kind of foods. Maybe that doesn’t come to some people as a surprise; however, these learned behaviours can start as early as birth (if not even pre-birth). For example, research suggests that infants who are being over-fed from birth tend to eat more and have difficulty in controlling their appetite when they grow older.

So maybe you do crave food more because your body has simple learned to eat more. Does that mean that you are doomed? No; the ‘I blame my mother’ is just the easy way out. It is very hard to break habits and/or behaviours which are adopted since birth. However, the body can be conditioned and re-learn behaviours.

Tip 7. As with emotional eating it is about breaking a cycle. Re-associate food with other activities or with healthier foods. If you are trying to follow a weight loss diet and still feel very hungry then try having fruit or vegetables such as carrot sticks. Tips here are in similar fashion with all of the above. Higher protein can make you feel full for longer and it tends to have less calories per gram than high in carbohydrates foods (pasta, bread, pastries etc) and junk foods.

Tip 8. Always consult a medical professional before making any changes to your diet especially if there are pre-existing health complaints or if you have any concerns.

Sometimes uncontrollable hunger or food cravings could be due to hormonal imbalances, diseases, and/or could be a sign of a more serious health issue. It is always best to speak to a medical professional first.

Author: Hara Hagikalfa

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011 22:28
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