Hello Loyal Soup People! A lot of people look for the “best” ways to lose weight. Using apps to count calories, joining clubs, resorting to fad diets, and more. I’d like to propose that the traditional technique of simply counting calories should no longer be used. While it may work for some people, it doesn’t encourage people to take a holistic view of their diet and overall health.

We now know that not all calories are created equal. A 100 calorie snack pack may have the same amount of calories as an apple, but those calories are lacking in fiber, vitamins, nutrients, and anti-oxidants. You’re fueling your body with calories that will do nothing but satiate you for a very short amount of time.

I encourage people to approach weight loss as a longer journey, not a short term solution. Calorie counting isn’t something that most people can do forever. And if you haven’t truly adopted new healthy eating patterns, the minute you stop counting, the pounds creep back on.

Instead, try mindful eating, retraining your palate, listening to your body, and slowly adopting new eating habits.  Start adding more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds into your diet. Don’t do it all at once! Start selecting single meals on certain days, and then add more and more. See how you feel. Eat slowly. Become aware of why you are selecting the foods that you are eating.

While it might take a little longer, you’ll probably find that the pounds will stay off, and you’ll have embraced healthier eating habits for life!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! We all know the benefits of eating foods containing plant based protein, fiber, anti-oxidants, etc. But did you know that eating certain foods together boosts their health benefits even more? This concept is called food synergy – the benefits of two foods eaten together is greater than the sum of their two parts. It turns out that adding spices to your soup provides more than just flavor!

Here are a few tips to harness the power of food synergy:

– Add fat to your salad. A study published in the 2017 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate salads containing healthy fat improved their absorption rates of important vitamins and nutrients including vitamins A, E, & K, beta-carotene, and lutein. So, while it may seem like a healthy choice to eat a “naked” salad – adding healthy fat will make it even better for you! Add nuts, avocado, seeds, and/or a light olive oil based dressing (not ranch!!).

– Add spices to your cooking. We’ve all heard about the potential health benefits of turmeric. The benefits are tied to its high levels of curcumin – a bioactive compound that we have trouble absorbing on its own. However, when turmeric is combined with piperine, a naturally occurring chemical found in black pepper, our curcumin absorption rates go up. Add turmeric root or powder to your cooking, season with salt and pepper, and start absorbing that curcumin!

– Pair probiotics with fiber. We’re learning so much about how probiotics (beneficial gut bacteria) can help our digestive systems. However, they can’t survive on their own! These bacteria need plant-based fiber to grow and thrive. If you’re consuming foods that contain probiotics such as saukeraut and kombucha, be sure to eat a lot of fiber-rich foods as well – such as legumes, whole grains, fruits, and nuts.

– Pair iron with vitamin C. The type of iron found in plant based foods such as lentils, tofu, and spinach is not well absorbed by our bodies on its own. Luckily, vitamin C can come to the rescue. Pairing iron-rich foods with those heavy in vitamin-C such as bell peppers, citrus fruits, and broccoli, aid in our bodies’ absorption of plant-based iron.

What does all this mean? Have fun in the kitchen! Spice up your foods, add fat to your salads, and get creative with your flavors. Your taste buds aren’t the only things benefiting!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! Every day I read about another reason to avoid the “Western Diet” (heavy in processed foods, sugar, and red meat) and focus on the foods in the “Mediterranean Diet.” Researchers at Harvard University just published the results of a study in JAMA Oncology that connect diets that promote chronic inflammation (i.e. the “Western Diet”) with higher rates of colorectal cancer.

Participants in the study who ate inflammatory promoting food – such as red and processed meats, soda, and simple carbohydrates like white bread – had higher rates of colorectal cancer over those who avoided these foods. The connection was alarming. Men had a 44% elevated risk, and women had a 22% higher risk. The study also noted that people who ate these types of food also consumed fewer vegetables.

Other studies have shown connections between diets that promote chronic inflammation and other diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. We can now add colorectal cancer to that list. In short – eating a traditional “Western Diet” is simply not a good idea. It actually is quite dangerous. Focusing on a diet that incorporates whole grains, plants, and natural foods can quite literally save your life!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! Every few weeks, I sound the alarm bells about the dangers of obesity and diabetes. I just read another article on this subject that propelled me to dedicate another column to this matter.

According to research, excess weight and diabetes are directly linked to higher rates of cancer. Researchers recently found that four percent of cancer cases were caused by obesity, or even just excess weight, and two percent were caused by diabetes.

Even more, both conditions (obesity and diabetes), lead to biological differences including high sugar levels and chronic inflammation – both of which can cause cancer and other illnesses such as heart disease.

According to recent data, approximately 422 million people worldwide have diabetes and more than two billion adults are obese. We clearly have our work cut out for us. The need to focus on proper diet and exercise has never been more urgent.

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I’d like to chat about washing your produce. Unfortunately, fresh fruits and vegetables can harbor harmful bacteria that can lead to some troublesome food borne illnesses. This can cause anything from an uncomfortable few hours in the bathroom to a trip to the hospital. In extreme cases, consuming bacteria can have fatal consequences.

The good news is that proper washing can remove most of the harmful bacteria. There is no need to purchase expensive produce washes. Instead, a dedicated produce brush, a spray bottle, and white vinegar will do the trick. Fill 3/4 of your bottle with vinegar and the rest with water, and you’re ready to go.

For firm produce such as cucumber and apple, spray the produce and scrub it with your brush to remove bacteria and wax. For soft fruits such as peaches and plums, fill up a bowl with 75% vinegar and 25% water. Soak the fruit and then rinse gently with cold water. Put berries in a colander, spray thoroughly, and rinse. For cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, separate the florets, and then soak in the “vinegar bowl” for a few minutes. Swish the contents around to get the dirt out and then rinse with cold water. Do the same thing for greens and herbs.

Most people don’t clean fruits that have a rind, such as pineapple, oranges, and melon. This is not a good practice! If you don’t wash the fruit, the bacteria adheres to the knife and contaminates the flesh of the produce. The bacteria and dirt also get onto your cutting board. Wash these fruits the same way as you wash firm produce – with a scrub brush and spray. To keep your brush clean, toss it in the dish washer whenever you run the machine!

The few extra minutes it takes to properly wash your produce will keep you and your family safe and healthy!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I’d like to chat about energy. Too often I see people consuming “energy shots,” “energy bars,” and sugary drinks and smoothies in an attempt to get a boost of energy. While these products will indeed give you a quick jolt of energy from the injection of sugar directly into your bloodstream, you’ll soon feel even more fatigued as the effects wear off, and you’ll be craving another quick “shot” of sugar. This is not a healthy cycle! If you’re looking for true, sustained energy throughout the day, look to real, whole foods that will provide a steady supply of energy.

Whole grains, high quality proteins, fruits, and vegetables are digested slowly by your body. As you digest these nutritious foods, their energy is slowly and steadily released into your body. So, instead of a quick jolt of extreme, sugar-induced energy, you’ll have a steady supply and no sugar crash!

The best foods to provide steady energy are high fiber, complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, quinoa, freekah, and bulgur, as well as seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. A snack of carrots and pita, or apples and nuts, is going to keep you far more energized than a can of soda. Also, try to avoid huge meals in the middle of the day. People can often feel lethargic after a large, unhealthy meal as the body attempts to digest all the fat, salt, and sugar. If you snack periodically, you won’t approach lunch in a state of extreme hunger. You’ll be more likely to eat a lower calorie, healthy lunch.

Also, be sure to stay hydrated. One of the primary signs of dehydration is lethargy. Sip water or tea throughout the day to stay energized and hydrated.

Remember – any product that promises a quick fix is exactly that – a short term band-aid rather than a long term solution. Take the extra time to properly fuel your body, and you’ll be more energized and productive throughout the day!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I’d like to chat about a study that was just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The news was picked up by major news outlets including PBS, NPR, and the New York Times. Researchers from Stanford University monitored the diets of over 600 overweight individuals. They discovered that individuals who focused on the quality of their food and not the quantity lost substantially more weight than those who did the opposite. They also were much more likely to keep the weight off.’

To be clear, the study is not saying to ignore portion size and food amounts completely. But people who focus strictly on counting calories, and don’t pay much attention to the quality of their calories, are not as likely to experience long term weight loss success. Basically, like we’ve been saying here at Soupergirl for many years – you want to get the most gain for your caloric buck!

This concept is something I’ve been advocating for quite a while. It is something we’ve tried to incorporate into our “cleanse” program. The key to long term health (and weight loss) is to change your palate to crave healthy food – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. Once you fill your daily plate with truly healthy food and stop counting every calorie you eat, you’re more likely to see significant long term weight loss.

There were, of course, exceptions to the study’s findings. And many people have experienced success using calorie counting techniques. It is important to find a solution that works for you. However, if you’ve tried many different diets and programs, and haven’t found sustained success, consider starting over from scratch and changing your approach to food entirely. You might be pleased with the results!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Meet my friend Magnolia. She’s six years old, and, as you can see, adorable and souper. What you don’t see in this picture is that Magnolia is suffering from a rare disease called Rett Syndrome. Until the age of three, Magnolia was progressing beautifully – running around, singing, talking, dancing. And then things changed. Rett began to slowly take hold of her little body. Rett is progressive, so far Magnolia has lost her ability to speak and use her hands. She experiences frequent seizures and often has difficulty breathing. She also requires an eye gaze technology computer to communicate.

I met Maggie this past summer via a blog post written by her mother. After watching the destruction and havoc wreaked by the storms and hurricanes of the summer, Maggie’s mom asked – would they survive such a storm? Would they be able to evacuate with all of Maggie’s equipment necessary for her special needs?

Unfortunately, this is the case for thousands of other girls and boys that are victims of this vicious disease. Rett knows no boundaries – economic, geographic, race – Rett is equally cruel to everyone.

The good news? A cure is on the horizon. Urgent funding is needed for more research. Can you imagine knowing that money is the only obstacle preventing a healthy life for your child?

So we here at Soupergirl thought we’d try to help. February is Magnolia’s Month at Soupergirl. Every day at the shop, one of the soups will be Magnolia’s Soup. A portion of the revenue from the sales of that soup will be donated to the cause.

You can also help out by making a donation online. We’ve set up a special Souper Magnolia campaign online. Quite literally, every dollar helps us get one step closer to a cure. A cure for Magnolia, and the thousands of other children gripped by Rett.

Hello Loyal Soup People! It’s time to talk about the flu. It is serious this year and not showing any signs of abating. And unfortunately, this year’s flu strain is very dangerous – potentially fatal. I’d like to share a few tips to help get you through this year’s flu season:

– Help stop its spread. Wash your hands and then wash them again. The moment you arrive at work or home, vigorously wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Scrub in between your fingers and on the backs of your hands. Washing your hands is the single most effective way of preventing the spread of the flu. Also, keep your hands away from your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.

– If you get sick – stay home and rest. I’ve read about too many stories about people who try to “push through” and go to work or on a planned vacation. Unfortunately, in some of these cases, the flu got much worse and these people succumbed to the illness. The flu should not be taken lightly. You should stay home, rest, and drink a lot of fluids. Do not leave your home unless your fever has dropped for at least 24 hours without the aid of medication such as Tylenol.

– Call your doctor. If you have the flu, call your doctor because they may be able to prescribe anti-viral flu medication. This medicine may shorten the illness’ duration and lessen its symptoms. Do not take an antibiotic. The flu is not caused by bacteria, and antibiotics will not help. Also, be very careful when taking medications. Mixing certain medications such as Tylenol and anti-viral drugs can be dangerous. Only go to the emergency room if your flu symptoms worsen significantly.

Hopefully, by washing your hands and staying clear of those that are sick, you can avoid catching the flu. If you do get sick, stay home!! That’s the best thing you can do to prevent the flu from spreading to someone else!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! If you’re like me, you love a good snack. Snacks can take on a bad reputation if we associate them with trips to the vending machine for salt/sugar/fatty foods. Of course, food companies have found a way to convince us to keep snacking unhealthfully, while keeping our calories in check. I’m referring to those 100-calorie snack packs. By pre-portioning out our snacks, we’re able to still eat cookies and chips, but consume only 100 calories at a time. However, too many of us eat more than one snack pack in one sitting (remember – fat + salt + sugar = addictive!). In addition, this concept also has us focusing only on calorie counting. To really embrace healthy eating, we should be focusing on the quality of our calories, not just the numbers. A 100-calorie snack should be healthy enough to keep us full until our next meal. Here are a few healthy and delicious 100 calorie snacks:

– Almonds (15-20)
– 1/4 of mashed avocado with red pepper
– 1/2 cup edamame
– 1 kiwi fruit
– 3 cups air-popped popcorn
– 1 tablespoon of nut butter with 1/4 cup of apple slices
– 2 whole wheat mini pitas and 1 tablespoon of hummus

All of these snacks contain protein and fiber and will keep you full for several hours. Skip the pre-measured processed food and grab a truly healthy and delicious snack!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!