Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is Coffee Making You Fat?

We all love coffee for the energy it gives us but did you ever think about the fact it may be a leading cause behind weight gain? Up until 2 years ago I believed coffee was not a bad choice as long as it was drank black. I really thought the real “fat” culprit seemed to be all the whipped cream, whole milk and sugary syrups that were the source of weight gain surrounding coffee. 

But there’s more….

How Caffeine Triggers Weight Gain
Cortisol – the stress hormone. Research is now available that links caffeine with the stress hormone, cortisol. Numerous studies show that stress and increased cortisol in the human body lead to the deposition of excess fat in the abdomen. Reports now show how stress caused by caffeine, specifically in coffee can lead to increased eating and elevated levels of cortisol. In addition, increased levels of cortisol are associated with insulin resistance, fat cravings, and increased appetite.

I know some of you reading this post may be say, but coffee stimulates metabolism and suppresses your appetite, and I say are these benefits worth the risk of the elevated cortisol, and the other health risks?

Caffeine Interferes With Sleep

Chronic stress disrupts sleep, which also inhibits the body’s ability to repair itself. When there are increased levels of stress-related hormones in the body, like cortisol which is stimulated by coffee drinking, insomnia and sleep disruption become more frequent. Did you know that caffeine can remain in the body up to 18 hours and affect your ability to sleep!

A recent report came out in U.S. News and World Report entitled “Lack of Sleep Causes weight gain in just a few days”. The study showed how people who are sleep deprived for just one work week tend to overeat and gain weight.

Caffeine, Stress Hormones and Your Immune System

Your immune system is weakened when stress hormones are chronically elevated. This accelerates a number of disease processes, including cardiovascular disease and immune system dysfunction. All too often people will increase their consumption of coffee during times of stress as they try to juggle all the stress-factors by staying awake longer each day to cope. This is the opposite of what is necessary for healthy immune system.

Caffeine Aggravates Heartburn and Ulcers
Stress and heightened anxiety, as well as regular coffee and decaf, which are both highly acidic, can raise the incidence of heartburn and ulcers. Heartburn is also referred to acid reflux and when it becomes chronic, it can be an indicator of something more serious going on.

Caffeine and the Nervous System
James D. Lane, PhD, professor of medical psychology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. and long-time caffeine researcher tells us, “Caffeine exaggerates the stress response," he goes on to say . "At the cellular level, caffeine locks the receptor normally used by adenosine, a brain modulator that provides feedback to avoid over stimulation of nerve cells. If adenosine is locked up, nothing keeps the nervous system from getting too excited at a cellular level."

Other Health Risks

Caffeine can lead to insulin resistance and contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, decreased glucose metabolism and increased cholesterol levels.

Studies suggest that the parts of our brain, which is responsible for decision making, reasoning, planning and goal making, are all compromised by stress. These same studies suggest that increased experiences of stress also lead to higher incidences of depression. In addition, caffeine inhibits the blood flow to the brain and can interfere with our memory and mental performance.


U.S. News and World Report

U.S. National Library of Medicine

Acheson, K.J., Zahorska-Markeiwicz, B., Pitter, P., Anantharaman, K., Jequier, E. "Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals" American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 33.1980:989-997.

Haffner, S.M., Knapp J.A., Stern M.P., Hazuda H.P., Rosenthal M., Franco L.J. "Coffee consumption, diet and lipids" American Journal of Epidemiology 122.1985:1-12.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sassy Salsa Burgers

Servings: 4


1 1/3 lbs. Ground Sirloin
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Perfect Pinch Southwest Sweet & Smoky (Salt Free)
1 cup Fat Free Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Fresh Garden Salsa
2 thin slices sweet onion (optional)


Spray a skillet or griddle with Butter Flavored Crisco and saute the onion slices until tender and lightly brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the first four ingredients and form into four equally sized patties. Cook burgers until nearly done, topping with sauteed onions, cheese. (I like to add another sprinkle of Southwest seasoning on the cheese.) Place burger with slightly melted cheese on a plate and top with 1/4 of the salsa. Serve hot with your favorite veggies!

These burgers are great with or without the salsa!

A great lean and green recipe from our Chef Sheree!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti made from spaghetti squash and it is oh, so good!  

Servings: 2

Per serving
One Lean protein
3 vegetables servings
3 condiments


1 spaghetti squash (about 4.5 lbs.)

Meatballs Ingredients
12 oz. raw extra lean ground beef – 2 lean
¼ cup fat-free egg substitute
(like Egg Beaters Original)
1/2 tsp. dried parsley – 1 condiment
1/2 tsp. minced garlic – 1 condiment
1/8 tsp. salt – ½ condiment
1/8 tsp. black pepper - ¼ condiment

1/2 cup diced green onion – 1 vegetable
1/2 cup diced cauliflower – 1 vegetable
1 tsp. chopped garlic – 1 condiment
1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes = 3 vegetables
1/4 cup chopped basil (fresh) – ¼ condiment
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (this really makes it pop) – ½ condiment
1/4 tsp. ground cumin – ½ condiment
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese – 1 condiment


Oven needs to be preheated to 400 degrees.

Microwave whole squash for 3 - 4 minutes, until soft enough to cut. Cut in half and scoop out seeds. Place the two halves cut-side down in a shallow tray or baking pan add an inch of water.Bake for approximately 35 - 40 minutes, until tender. 

Remove squash from oven. Turn the two halves over and let cool. Use a fork to scrape out the squash strands. Scrape lengthwise for best results. The squash should come out easily in long strands. Cover to keep warm.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Mix meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Form 12 meatballs and place on a baking sheet, evenly spaced. Bake until just cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Bring a medium pot sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Cook and stir green onion and cauliflower until slightly softened, 6 - 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 - 2 minutes. Add all remaining sauce ingredients except Parmesan cheese. Add meatballs and bring sauce to a low boil. Reduce heat to low. Gently stirring occasionally, simmer until veggies have softened and meatballs are hot, about 8 minutes.

Add half of the sauce to 1/2 cup of the spaghetti squash strands and stir to coat. Serve topped with 6 meatballs and Parmesan cheese topping!

You will be so happy you took the time to make this Medifast Lean & Green recipe!  Like me, I think this will become one of your favorites.  Substitute the beef with ground turkey, for even leaner protein.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Junk Food Nation

That’s what we are being called. When you think about the acronym for the Standard American Diet it is SAD. 

In 2012 the CDC (Center for Disease Control) issued a report stating that more than two-thirds (68%) of Americans adults are either overweight or obese. The numbers can be staggering when you look at the reports. In 2009, about 2.4 million more adults were obese than in 2007. Now in every state, more than 15% of adults are obese, and in 9 states, over 30% of the adults are obese! Two states, Hawaii and Colorado use to be exempt from the statistics but now they, too, join the ranks with 15% of adults being obese.

Decrease Portion Sizes

Most dietary guidelines encourage everyone to enjoy their food, but focus on eating less. The picture above is a great illustration of what types of food s and their portions size relevant to a 7 inch plate.

Study after study shows how the amount of food you eat or drink plays vital role in how much energy you have available to use throughout the day. Most Americans eat and drink more due to the amount of food they are served. For a helpful exercise to help your own health, pay attention to all the servings sizes you are served for one week. This includes meals at home and in restaurants. Being aware of smaller portions and choosing to decrease the amount you eat for each meal can help you lose weight and keep it off.

The pattern of eating too much food at one time is a habit that is keeping America fat. Portions have increased over time. It has come on so slowly over time that many do not realize how much they are eating. Some meals like a bagel can include your entire days total for grains. That bagel seems like such a small food item

I've included the USDA guidelines to follow to help with your portion control below.

Figure out how big your portions really are:

  •  Measure how much the bowls, glasses, cups, and plates you usually use hold. Pour your breakfast cereal into your regular bowl. Then, pour it into a measuring cup. How many cups of cereal do you eat each day? 
  •  Measure a fixed amount of some foods and drinks to see what they look like in your glasses and plates. For example, measure 1 cup of juice to see what 1 cup of liquid looks like in your favorite glass. 
  • To see what 1 cup, ½ cup, or 1 ounce of some different foods looks like, visit the food gallery and find some of the foods you eat in each group. 
  •  Prepare, serve, and eat smaller portions of food. Start by portioning out small amounts to eat and drink. Only go back for more if you are still hungry. 
  • Pay attention to feelings of hunger. Stop eating when you are satisfied, not full. If there is still food on your plate or on the table, put it away (or throw it out). Repeat the phrase "a moment on the lips, a year on the hips" as you do this. 
  • A simple trick to help you eat less is to use a smaller plate, bowl, or glass. One cup of food on a small plate looks like more than the same cup of food on a large plate. 
  • It is important to think about portion sizes when eating out. Order a smaller size option, when it's available. Manage larger portions by sharing or taking home part of your meal. 
  • If you tend to overeat, be aware of the time of day, place, and your mood while eating so you can better control the amount you eat. Some people overeat when stressed or upset. Try walking instead of eating, or snack on a healthier option. For example, instead of eating a bag of chips, crunch on some celery, or instead of eating a bowl of ice cream, enjoy a low-fat yogurt with fresh blueberries. Making healthier choices is better for your weight and can also help you feel better. 
From Your Diet Diva

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Take Baby Steps To Lose Weight

One of the main reasons, I believe some people fail at losing weight is they begin our program with an “all or nothing” attitude. When thinking like this it is easy for a person to get discouraged and give up the first time they think they have eaten off plan or fallen short of what they expected to happen.

Established habits take time to be replaced with new ones. For this reason I tell my clients that are using the Medifast diet plan, it is a process of taking small baby steps.

Here’s an example.

For instance, if I’m dealing with a mom that works outside of the house and at the end of most work days she feels overwhelmed and exhausted, she may not feel like being on a weight loss plan. In the past, this is the time of day when she has established the habit of using food for comfort. She knows that thawing a Marie Callender’s Chicken Pot Pie and a drinking a glass of wine will not help her shed unwanted pounds. Neither will picking up dinner at a fast-food restaurant for the family, but she’s tired and it has become a routine, a habit. Chances are she’ll chalk up her weight loss efforts as one more failure at dieting.

In all likelihood, she has forgotten how to plan her day so that her kitchen is set up in a way where the right kind of food is in the house, and meals will be easy to prepare. For this to happen, her baby step to change may simply be to go to the grocery store, walk around the produce section and lean meat isle to just start thinking about the kind of healthy foods she would enjoy cooking? That’s a baby step. She needs to feel like it is a something she can truly fit into her busy life. If it isn't, she won’t do it and it will compound her feelings of frustration.

Whether or not you are on the Medifast diet or not, below are some baby step tips that can help.

• Find one way, every day to move just a little bit more. It can be as simple as using a light hand weight while watching television.

• Find a way to fit one more glass of water into your day.

• Practice sitting down every time you eat; for the next 3 days.

• Practice chewing your food slowly; focus on that for just one day.

• Create a graph so you can monitor their weight loss pattern.

I believe we need to give ourselves permission to take baby steps toward our weight loss goals. By doing so, you are giving yourself the chance to really change from the inside out and connect the brain to the body.

Maybe this sounds like you? There is hope and help. Your can conquer your emotional eating habits.

Contact me at:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fajita Chicken Salad

One of the many things I absolutely love about being in the weight loss industry is the sense of "community" you build over time with your clients.  Many of my clients, who are on the Medifast diet, and I have never met face-to-face and I still consider them my friends.

This Medifast-compliant recipe came from a client in the Midwest who is doing fabulous on the program.  Thank you, Chef Sheree, for this great Medifast plan recipe!

Servings: 2 Leaner

Fajita Chicken Marinade

2 Tbsp. of Real Lemon
2 Tbsp. of Real Lime
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 1/2 tsp. Minced Garlic
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breast (approximately)

In a glass bowl blend all ingredients well. In a large, zip top, freezer bag place chicken breasts with all traces of fat removed. Pour seasoned mixture over the chicken. Shake to coat thoroughly. Place the bag flat on a plate, separating the chicken so they don't overlap. Place in the refrigerator overnight. Cook thoroughly on a griddle or in a skillet. Allow to cool slightly. Slice into strips or cubes.

I have used this recipe on round steak and it is great!

We like this chicken served warm over a bed of chopped baby spinach, field greens, endive hearts, cucumbers, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, and a few sliced green onions. Shown here, 5 oz. Fajita Chicken topped with 1 oz of Low Fat Cheddar Cheese.

Compliments of Chef Sheree

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Healthy, Power-Packed Guacamole

I am a HUGE fan of Pure Hawaiian Spirulina.  I've been taking it daily and really do feel a difference in my energy level.  I recommend it as a regular addition for a healthy diet. 

This is a recipe I use now that I am following the Medifast maintenance plan. The powdered form of this Spirulina has < 1 gram of carbohydrate.  Pure Hawaiian Spirulina is also available in capsule form.  Nutrex-Hawaii is the manufacture & this low-carbohydrate Guacamole recipe is one of their own. They have an impressive facility here on the Big Island of Hawaii.

This healthy guacamole dip recipe below taste exceptionally good and is power-packed with nutrients so I wanted to share you with you.

Servings: 4 - 6
Prep time: 5 minutes


2 Ripe Avocados
1/2 Cup Salsa of choice
1 TB Hawaiian Spirulina Pacific Powder
1/2 TB Minced Garlic


Slice open & scoop out the flesh of the avocados.
Combine all indredients into a bowl.
Mix thoroughly.
Let chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so the flavors can blend.
Serve with chopped vieggies or your favorite chips!
Store in the fridge.

From Your Diet Diva in Hawaii