Living Lite

To Curb Cravings, Eat a Sweet at Every Meal

March 3, 2019

My client, Debbie, said sweet cravings were destroying her health and her weight loss attempts. She was "eating practically a box of chocolates every day" and couldn't stop. And while chocolate fits into a healthy diet - I prescribe daily chocolate for my clients who need to gain weight - the amount she was eating was not helping her high cholesterol, her fatty liver, and was causing her weight to soar higher and higher.

What seemed like an impossible problem was a cinch to fix. All we did was add sweet foods to her routine. You see, your body craves a variety of flavors, textures, colors and shapes, preferably in each meal, to feel satisfied. If one of those flavors, such as sweet, is missing from your meal, you are less likely to feel satisfied and you will crave that missing flavor. Pay attention to your next large savory meal. Even if you are no longer hungry, you will probably crave sweets afterwards. If, on the other hand, you include fruit as a part of your meal, you will crave fewer sweets, which is something I advise in my book, Diet Simple.

Evolution created our drive for food variety, as it gave us more nutrients, allowing us to survive. Sweets were particularly important because they provided more calories to withstand frequent famines.

Simply make fruit a part of every meal and snack. You may be surprised at how your sweet cravings become more manageable. This technique works for my clients with excess sweet cravings, even for a recovering alcoholic who lived on sweets. 

Will fruit take the place of chocolate? Well... No! At least not all the time. But will it reduce your cravings and allow you to be satisfied with a more reasonable and healthy amount? My experience says: Yes! Give it a try yourself. The mandarine oranges I recently purchased from Trader Joe's really hit the spot for me, and allow me to enjoy a little chocolate, too.


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A Simple & Proven Method for Becoming Happier

February 25, 2019

Can you live a happier life, with a heightened sense of well-being? Yes! And science proves it. Start with this simple exercise.

You can change from being a pessimistic person to an optimistic person, says Martin Seligman, professor of positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. You can become happier, more likely to achieve your life's goals.

The Dalai Lama is well-known for his joyfulness, despite being banished from his own country (Photo by: Wikipedia.org) The Dalai Lama is well-known for his joyfulness, despite being banished from his own country

Decades of studies have found being more positive improves your feelings of well-being, your chances for success in life - personally and professionally, and even increases longevity. I know that feeling optimistic may seem impossible if you're going through a tough time, feel depressed or anxious, or have health concerns. But there is hope. The well-being of those who do this simple exercise is better, and can last months, in fact, the rest of your life.

After years of placebo-controlled testing, the gold standard of scientific study, Seligman suggests this simple assignment to start with:

"Every night for the next week, write down three things that went well today and why they went well."

"... Turns out, six months later, if you start to do that, you statistically have less depression, less anxiety and higher life satisfaction. And importantly, it's addicting. People like doing positive psychology exercises, and they are self-reinforcing," said Seligman in a lecture on positive psychology.

You may have heard about this technique before; I admit it seems simplistic and corny. I never took it seriously until I learned how strong the scientific evidence is. The exercise is basically a form of cognitive therapy, which states that thoughts, feelings and behavior are all connected, and that individuals can move toward overcoming difficulties and meeting their goals by identifying and changing unhelpful or inaccurate thinking, problematic behavior, and distressing emotional responses.

Psychoanalysis can go just so far... Once you've unearthed your demons, ultimately, cognitive/behavioral therapy needs to take over so you can make real changes in your life. It's brave and open-minded to be willing to let go of your skepticism and try to change your thinking, emotions, and behavior. And it may not always be easy... But it works! Please give it a try.

I'd love it if you would contact me and let me know how you feel after one week of doing this exercise. I will be sharing more about the science of becoming happier in my upcoming series of articles ...


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Let's Play Some Football! Super Bowl Chili, Fresh Salsa & Guac

January 31, 2019

When The Washington Post was considering doing a feature story about my book, Diet Simple, among the recipes they tested was my chili. They loved it!  The whole-front-page "Food" section feature was written. No one would ever guess my chili is healthy. That's why I call it "stealthy healthy!"

Katherine’s Chili Non Carne
(excerpted from Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations (LifeLine Press)

Try making this recipe a day ahead of time so the flavors and textures have a time to develop. I love this simple, quick chili recipe.  It’s meatless but you don’t miss the meat because it’s so flavorful and the meat-like texture is deceptive.  You should use the amount of garlic or chili powder that appeals to you.  I like it hot and spicy! I double the recipe, using a whole pound of dried black beans,  so I have plenty for the week.  I use this dish as a lunch or dinner alongside a green salad.  I also serve it at parties as a dip next to my fresh tomato salsa, nonfat Greek yogurt, and guacamole.  It’s perfect rolled up in a tortilla or stuffed in a taco with some reduced fat cheese.  

Serves 4 as a main course, 8 or more as a dip or topping

1 Tbsp Olive or Canola Oil, or more
1 Large Onion, Chopped
3 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced (more or less)
3 Tbsp Hot Chili Powder (try 50/50 Chipotle Chili, maybe a dash of smoked paprika, called "Pimentón," and just a pinch of Cinnamon)
1 Large Fresh Green Pepper, Chopped
1 28- oz. Can Italian Plum Tomatoes, chopped, including the liquid
1 Pound Can Kidney or Black Beans, whichever is preferred
1/2 Cup Water (To Hydrate the Bulgur)
1/2 Cup Bulgur (Cracked Wheat)
2 Seeded Jalapeño Peppers, chopped, if desired
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil over low heat in a large pot until soft, 15 or more minutes.  Add the chili powder and simmer for a few more minutes.  Add the Fresh Green Pepper and cook until al dente.  Meanwhile, soak the bulgur in the boiling water for 15 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients including the bulgur and simmer slowly over low to medium heat until flavors are well blended and vegetables are cooked to the desired consistency ... a few minutes or longer, if desired. Adjust seasonings to your preference.  Since many canned items were used, additional salt will probably not be needed.

Calories per serving 320, Total Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 1g, Carbohydrate 59g, Fiber 13g,  Protein 12g

Katherine’s Spicy Fresh Mexican Salsa with Mild Guacamole
(excerpted from Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations (LifeLine Press)

Fresh salsa - Pico de Gallo - doesn't really need a recipe. These are proportions I have found pleasing. But you may want your salsa, with more or less onions, spice, sweet (try adding watermelon), parsley instead of cilantro... The options are endless.

22 servings

Ingredients

1 large onion, peeled and chopped (about ½ pound)
2 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (start with about 3-1/2 lbs) (Use canned tomatoes, if good tomatoes aren’t available)
3 – 4 jalapeño peppers (1 – 2 ounces), to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp salt, or to taste
3 – 4 Tbsp fresh lime juice or the juice from 1 – 2 limes (optional. I often skip the limes)

Add the onion to the tomatoes. Finely chop 2 of the jalapeño peppers to start with. Taste. If you desire more heat, add 1 – 2 more jalapeños. Mix in the cilantro. Add the salt depending on your taste. Mix in the lime juice. Best served within one or two days.

20 calories, 0g fat, 5g carb, 1g fiber, 1g protein

Katherine's Guacamole

There's a million recipes for Guacamole. You can keep it mild, or make it hot by adding hot peppers. Throwing in fresh salsa makes it chunky and yummy, too.

12 Servings

Ingredients

2 ripe avocados
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp lime juice (optional)
¼ tsp salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cut avocados in half lengthwise and pull out the pits. Scoop out the meat. Place in a medium bowl and mash, keeping some large chunks. Mix in the cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Taste to adjust seasoning. Serve the same day.

50 calories, 5g fat, 1g sat fat, 3g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g protein


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