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Is This Food as Toxic as Cigarettes?

By Sarah Jio, Glamour magazine

Cigarettes are at the top of health no-no lists, but what about this food? One doctor's group is warning that its just as risky...

Related: 21 Flirty Little Date Outfit Ideas

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington, D.C., group that promotes preventive medicine recently debuted a billboard near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the message: "Warning: Hot dogs can wreck your health."

The billboard, which features a picture of hot dogs in a cigarette pack complete with a skull and crossbones points out the risk of colorectal cancer and processed meats, like hot dogs. "A hot dog a day could send you to an early grave," said Levin, a registered dietitian. "People think feeding their kids these foods (is) safe, but (it's) not." Past research has linked daily consumption of processed meats (from hot dogs and pepperoni to deli lunch meats) to a 21 percent increase in certain types of cancer. Experts have said that it's the nitrites/nitrates (preservatives) in these meats that may be to blame.

Related: 12 Secret Signs He's Into You

Critics of the billboard say it's too harsh, since a hot dog now and then isn't going to "wreck" anyone's health. But, Americans do eat a lot of hot dogs, so it's a good reminder, in general.

I buy all of my hot dogs and deli meats nitrite/nitrate-free (look for "uncured" hot dogs--which are made with sea salt and brine--they taste just as good!). 

Who won "Body of the Year"? You might be surprised

Don't you just love it when one of these awards is given out to someone unexpected, someone so not cookie cutter, someone above a size zero, relatively un-Botoxed, and admittedly over the age of 30? The time has come.

OK, so this particular honor -- "Body of the Year", deemed by LA Fitness -- could be one of the most inconsequential accolades out there. But the win is so big for the non-Brooklyn Deckers of the world that we will cheer like the Grand Prix has just been given out at the Cannes Film Festival or this lady's just crossed the finish line of the Tour de France or there's a Nobel prize for lady bad-assedness.

Meet the winner...and the otherwise-predictables she beat out.

Get lean with this protein

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., Nutrition Editor, EatingWell Magazine

The one pitfall of being a registered dietitian and nutrition editor is that people always come to me for weight-loss tips. But they don't want to hear "eat less, move more" (even though it works!), particularly because they're usually asking me in a party setting with a cocktail in one hand, reaching for a decadent and delicious appetizer with their other hand.

They—and really everyone else—want something that feels easy. And if eating food can deliver those results, well then I'm their diet savior! 

Related: 4 Secrets of Skinny People
7 Foods That Do The Weight Loss Work For You
The No-Diet Meal Plan

Here's the good news, which Karen Ansel reported in the July/August issue of EatingWell Magazine: New research in The Journal of Nutrition shows that whey protein (found naturally in dairy) may give you an extra edge if you're looking to get leaner.

Mice fed a high-fat diet that included whey gained 42 percent less weight, nearly a third less body fat and packed on 7 percent more lean body mass (read: muscle) than mice that didn't eat whey, though both groups ate roughly the same number of calories.

Howard Shertzer, Ph.D., the study's lead researcher and a professor of molecular toxicology at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, hypothesizes that whey protein is beneficial because its unique combination of amino acids (protein building blocks) may block fat from being metabolized and so prevent some fat from being stored and weight gained. (Here's another tip for fighting fat with breakfast.) The extra amino acids also help build muscle.

Here's the not-so-good news: To get as much whey as the mice did, you'd have to take a supplement (such as protein powders or whey-based protein bars). You can get some whey naturally—though in lower doses—from ricotta, milk and yogurt. And really any protein when you're dieting is a good thing—compared to carbs and fat, protein keeps you feeling fuller longer.

Guess: What Trivial Habit Gives a Giant Boost of Happiness?



Is it...getting enough sleep? Yes, but that's not what I'm thinking of.

Is it...getting some exercise? Yes, but that's not what I'm thinking of.

Give up?

It's....putting things away in the proper place! Zoikes, this (admittedly fairly insignificant) habit gives a disproportionate boost of happiness. Just this weekend, I tried to find:

-- the cord that connects my camera to my computer
-- the headphones for my husband's iTouch
-- my younger daughter's swimming goggles
-- a copy of Patricia Clapp's novel, Jane-Emily, for my older daughter (a terrific young-adult book, by the way)
-- a business card I'd picked up at a meeting I attended three weeks ago
-- the flight information for my upcoming trip
-- a legal pad
-- a pair of AA batteries
-- my video camera

It gives me a small but real jolt of happiness to walk straight to a thing and lay my hands on it, without having to hunt around. Knowing where things are stored saves time; gives me a feeling of orderliness and comfort at home; saves me from frustration and worry -- not to mention redundant purchases.

Also, I find that just as it's deeply satisfying to be able to find something when I want it, it's also surprisingly satisfying to put something away in the right place. One of life's small pleasures is to return something to its proper and precise place; placing the flashlight on the second shelf in the coat closet gives me the archer's satisfaction of hitting a mark. Have you ever seen those peg boards where people have outlined their tools or their kitchen implements, to show where each thing belongs? (I think Julia Child had one.) That's exactly what I'm talking about.

Now I strive to have an exact place for everything in my whole apartment (except toys – I just throw plastic dishes and stuffed animals into whatever box, drawer, or shelf is closest, or else I'd never have time to do anything else). Obviously, this system makes it easier to find the things I need without frustration, which boosts my happiness, but it also boosts my happiness to have that deep sense of placement.

It can be tiresome to decide, "Where exactly does this belong?" when I'm putting away a particular thing. Often, it would be easier just to chuck it into a closet or a drawer someplace. But taking the time to put things away in a proper place is worth the effort -- more than I would've expected.

How about you? Do you get satisfaction out of having an exact place for your possessions? Or do you think it's not very important?

* There's always a lot of interesting material on Flavorwire -- "cultural news and critique." For instance, I loved this link to Slate's color wheel of cartoon characters, which I found there.

The Best & Worst Ways to Stay Hydrated This Summer

By Sarah Jio, Glamour magazine

Are you staying hydrated? Water is the best choice, of course, but if you're bored by H20 here are the do's and don'ts of summer hydration...

Related: 12 Secret Signs He's Into You

The Huffington Post ran an interesting piece on the do's and don'ts of summer hydration, and here were the top and bottom three:

Hydration Do's:

1. Coconut water: It's all the rage now, and if you like the taste, go for it! It's low cal, and packed with electrolytes.

2. Fruit! Don't forget that most fruit has high water content (like watermelon) so you can hydrate and eat at the same time!

3. Infused water: Think fruit-enhanced water, herbal water (you can make both yourself easily!)

Related: 21 Flirty Little Date Outfit Ideas

Hydration Don'ts:

1. Soda (sorry!): Most have high sugar and sodium content, which does not do a body good.

2. Seltzer: While it's fine for sipping at the office, you don't want to be drinking seltzer before or during a workout. It can cause bloating and gas, which can slow you down in the yoga studio or on the treadmill!

3. Super-cold beverages: If your drink is too cold, it could cause muscle cramping during workouts (who knew?). 

What are your hydration do's?

Small Changes Can Yield Big Results

Quit cold turkey. Run a marathon. Cut out carbohydrates. Reduce calorie intake by half. You may believe that drastic changes are the only ways to achieve the results you want, but that's hardly the case.

"When changes are too big, they may be too overwhelming," said registered dietitian Ellie Krieger, author of "Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life." "People don't want to start, or they don't know where to begin so they don't at all."

Small lifestyle changes are easier to achieve and maintain. When successful, they are more likely to become habits and can lead to increased self-confidence.

"Most successful goals or changes are things you can literally check off and say, 'I did this,'" Krieger said. "If you say, 'I am going to eat better,' you can't track or net that goal. But when you set and accomplish small, tangible changes, you get an immediate sense of gratification, and that is self-motivating."

So whether you're looking to improve your finances, health, fitness or relationships, focusing on frequent, achievable little goals will lead you to success.

Stop Before You're Full

"On a scale of one to 10, with one being you're famished and 10 being you're Thanksgiving full, stop eating when you're at a five or six," said Krieger.

To stay satisfied yet never stuffed, give your snack or meal undivided attention. So-called "mindful eating" means not eating in front of the TV or anything that would distract you from the food.

Take small bites. Chew slowly. Smell your food. Focus on the texture and taste. After a few bites or one serving, ask yourself if you want more or are satisfied.

Using smaller plates and bowls can also help.

In a Cornell University study published in the September 2006 issue of the "American Journal of Preventative Medicine," 85 nutrition experts were given either a small or a large bowl for ice cream. Participants with the larger bowl served themselves and ate 31 percent more calories than those with the smaller bowl.

According to Brian Wansink, Cornell Food and Brand Lab director and lead author of the study, people are likely to serve themselves 22 percent fewer calories if they use a 10-inch plate instead of a 12-inch plate.

Portion half of the dinner plate with vegetables and fruits, says Elisa Zied, registered dietitian and author of "Nutrition at Your Fingertips." This way you fill up on fruits and veggies instead of the high-caloric food.

Take a Relaxing Bath

If you're struggling to fall asleep at night, Harvard University sleep experts suggest establishing a soothing pre-sleep routine. Read a book, practice relaxation exercises or take a bath (the rise and fall in body temperature induces drowsiness). Keep your room slightly cool, and avoid the glow of your computer at night.

After all, sleep is important for your well-being as well as your waistline. A study presented at the 2011 meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies shows that not getting enough shuteye may make junk food more tempting. Researchers say daytime sleepiness may impair your brain's inhibitory control when viewing tantalizing, high-caloric food.

Shower With Your Eyes Closed

Blocking or combining one or more of your senses, such as showering with your eyes closed or eating blindfolded, can improve memory and your mental fitness, according to the Franklin Institute.

When you use your senses in unexpected ways, you're stimulating nerve cells in the brain so that pathways and circuits get activated.

Listen to the rain and tap your fingers, or smell flowers while listening to music. Close your eyes when buying fresh produce and rely only on your spatial reasoning and sense of smell and touch.

Eat More, Drink Less

Whether it's a 140-calorie can of soda can or a 190-calorie soy latte, "liquid calories add up," said Zied.

Limit beverages that add to your daily caloric intake yet do little to make you feel full. And although low in calories, diet soda is not the solution. Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio reported that drinking diet soda is associated with a wider waistline. And a second study found that aspartame -- an artificial sweetener in diet sodas -- raised the blood sugar levels in mice.

Stick to water or unsweetened coffee/tea, or make fresh-fruit-infused water: Blend two cups of water with a cup of melon and pour over ice.

Sprint Your Workout

Burn fat, build muscles, boost endurance and improve your cardiovascular health in the shortest time possible with interval training, or short bursts of high-intensity exercises, says Jeff Plasschaert, an exercise physiologist at the University of Florida.

An effective way of incorporating interval training is to make part of your workout a circuit, such as a six-exercise set completed for one minute each with 30-second rests and repeated three times for a 30-minute workout. Be sure to include a warm-up and cool-down routine.

"If you know how much time you have to work out, then you can pick a set number of exercises and repeat those exercises for the duration of the workout," said Plasschaert.

Spend 15 Minutes Saving

The average U.S. family carries $8,000 in credit-card debt. Rather than making drastic sacrifices --- such as downsizing from a two-car to a one-car household --- financial expert Ellie Kay suggests small, workable changes that add up to major savings.

Before you shop, Kay recommends seeking online coupon codes and promotions. Cut your grocery bill in half with deals from the newspaper or other online coupon sites, and before traveling, use sites that let you know where the cheapest gas is along your route.

"Devote 15 minutes a day to saving, and determine to never pay full price for anything," said Kay.

The 'Chewing Diet' could be the next South Beach

Weight loss experts remind us over and over again that if we eat too fast, our brain might not recognize that we are full until after we've already consumed more than enough calories. And, here's yet another reason to slow down at mealtimes: Chewing more could make you eat less.

More from The StirBaby Food Diet Fad Is The Fastest Way to Look Like an Idiot

A new study showed that participants who chewed about 2.5 times more than the typical 15 times caused them to eat almost 12 percent less calories. Do you know what this means? If further research produces similar results, it's only a matter of time before the "Chewing Diet" catches on among people looking to drop some poundage.

First, some explanation of the science behind the study: By comparing a group that chewed their food 40 times to a group that chewed it only 15 times, researchers found that more chewing showed lower blood levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone called ghrelin and higher levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone called CCK.

In other words, the group that chewed 40 times ate less calories because their brain told them to stop eating. The obvious takeaway from this study? More chewing could lead to significant weight loss.

More from The Stir8 Glasses of Water is Bad for You? Then I'll Take a Soda

Can you even imagine how potentially attractive a "Chewing Diet" could be to dieters (should further research prove conclusive on this topic)? People could eat whatever they want -- cheeseburgers, French fries, cheesecake! -- as long as they chewed it a significant number of times. Along with nutritional information and calorie counts, menu offerings and groceries would come with a chewing label instructing people about how many times they need to chew it to lose weight. Not to mention the fact the gum industry would be even more successful than it already is (which makes me wonder who actually funded the study in the first place ...).

Regardless of whether there's any merit to this study, the reminder to slow down when we eat is a good one. Maybe it won't lead directly to weight loss, but at least it will help us to appreciate and enjoy our food.

Would you consider chewing more as a way to lose weight?

6 Ways to Reward Weight Loss Success—without Using Food

Weight Loss Rewards Intro

Granting rewards is a great way to stay motivated when dieting, until you pat yourself on the back with two giant scoops of rocky road. You definitely deserve kudos for dropping 5 pounds, but if your gift includes chowing down on an entire day's worth of saturated fat, you could be setting yourself back. "When it comes to weight loss, all of the gifts or rewards along the way should help you work toward your ultimate goal—not against it," says Michael Bronco, a personal trainer and owner of Bronco's Gym in Charlotte, SC. So here's a novel idea: Treat yourself to things that will help you hit another milestone. The fun that follows is calorie-free and will keep you motivated for the long haul.

Common Dieting Mistakes
Best Tips For Healthy Eating
The Healthiest Foods You Can Find

Take a Healthy Cooking Class

Mastery of the microwave can get you only so much culinary clout, especially when it comes to preparing healthy meals. And if your menu du jour tends to include entrées from the freezer aisle, there's a good chance you're getting more sodium and saturated fat than you'd like. Not only will a cooking class help you learn the difference between sautéing and simmering, but also develop a skill that will become part of your continued success, says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, and author of The SuperFoods Rx Diet.

Potential Risk of Rapid Weight Loss

Show Your Tootsies Some TLC

Pampering yourself doesn't have to put a huge hole in your pocket. Celebrate all your feet do for you—walk, run, hike, and bike—with a relaxing pedicure. You'll leave with sparkling toes, smoother skin, and even less pain and fatigue. Pedicures often include a mini foot massage that mimics techniques used in reflexology, a holistic treatment that involves applying pressure to the feet to improve health. Reflexology sessions can cost from $50 to $200, but when you have a pedicure you get a taste of the treatment for free.

Tips To Losing Weight and Controlling Blood Sugar

Strike a Pose

Did you ever dream of strutting down the catwalk? Schedule a photo shoot for yourself 4, 5, or 6 months in the future and start getting ready for your close-up now. "Photo shoots can be a really great motivator," says Bronco. "When you buy that bathing suit ahead of the season and hang it on your closet door, you can't help but think, 'Oh my gosh, I'm going to be modeling that?'" The experience might sound scary at first, but it's actually the ultimate confidence booster, says Bronco. "We walk around feeling like the world sees us as fat, or gawky, or whatever. Then suddenly a photographer is telling you how great you look and it really changes your perception of who you are."

Simple Ways to Make the Switch to Organic Foods

Spring for Something Sparkly

Tying a string around your finger to help jog your memory is so last century. Instead, treat yourself to a jeweled bracelet or fancy watch to serve as a reminder of your weight loss goal and the healthy behavior that it took to achieve it. "Every time you see the bangle that you bought for yourself after losing 5 pounds, or after completing a week of nutritious eating, it'll be like a little pat on the back," says Bazilian. "Keep it on your eating hand or the hand you gesture with often so you're less likely to forget and slip up." (And you can still use sparkle as a healthy eating cue even if you don't want to drop big bucks on bling. Opt for a manicure in a vibrant color and your shiny new nails will help you keep your hands out of the cookie jar.)

Nutrition Diets and Bodybuilding Can Help You Gain Weight

Share Your Success With FriendsIt takes two to tango and nine to field a soccer team, so maybe working out is just more fun with friends. Seek a personal trainer or boot camp instructor to lead a special session for you and a buddy. (Sometimes a trainer will even coach two for the price of one!) Not only will you feed off of each other's energy, but also you might inspire your bestie to get started on his or her own health and wellness journey.

Eating Well to Improve your Personal Life

Escape for a Spa Week

What's the ultimate gift to yourself? How about peace, serenity, and delicious portion-controlled spa food? Enjoy your own Eat, Pray, Love experience during a week that's truly all about you—and your wellness, of course! All-inclusive spas like Golden Door combine fitness, healthy gourmet food, spa treatments, rest, and renewal into one blissful getaway. It's a complete celebration of your health and your journey, says Bazilian.

10 Foods to Eat Your Way to Flatter Abs

photo 1 of 10

Veggie Soup

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that people who ate broth-based (or low-fat cream-based) soups two times a day were more successful in losing weight than those who ate the same amount of calories in snack food. Soup eaters also maintained, on average, a total weight loss of 16 pounds after one year. "Plus, it's a simple way to get your vegetables," says Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, author of Power Eating (Human Kinetics, 2001). Try for: At least one cup of low-calorie, low-sodium vegetable soup every day.

Photo by: Evan Sklar
By: Julie Meyer, RD

The Real Deal On Post-Baby Bodies, From An OB/GYN

I had a flat belly like yours until I had you.

No, I wasn't born with stretch marks. You gave them to me.

I used to be skinny too, but the baby weight never came off.

Oh, and that surgery I had to lift my bladder and tighten up my vagina so I didn't leak pee all over the place—all your fault.

Okay, so maybe those weren't Mom's exact words, but that's what I remember from growing up. The take home message was "Enjoy your hot, toned, young bod now, because as soon as you have a baby, Bye Bye Body."

And it wasn't just my mom. Aunties, my sister, and friends with babies echoed the same kind of comments. And as an OB/GYN physician, I had personally witnessed the worst scars pregnancy can leave on a body (I'll spare you the details.)

Wowsers. It's enough to make a sexy, svelte wanna-be mother buckle up her chastity belt and ditch dreams of mommyhood for good.

'The Body Positive' Week Is Here!

Body After Baby & Mommyrexia

The media doesn't help. As if we don't get enough flack from our mothers, aunties, sisters, and friends, we've got the media blasting us with "Body After Baby" articles all over People magazine.  Heidi, Katie, Angelina, and Victoria are back in their skinny jeans two weeks postpartum and flaunting their bikini bodies six weeks out. I mean seriously, people.

As if that's not enough pressure, now we have the Mommyrexia trend to contend with.  All these celebrities who gain only 10 pounds during their pregnancy and don't even look pregnant from behind are rubbing off on mothers who are ignoring the advice to gain 25-30 healthy pounds, leading to underweight babies and dangerous pregnancies.

And why? So we can get back in our skinny jeans and strut around in bikinis when our milk just came in?

As both an OB/GYN and a mother, I call "BULLs---!" (link to First off, most women don't have nannies, personal trainers, in-house chefs, and plastic surgeons at their beck and call to give them a little quickie nip and tuck before their next photo shoot. Plus, most mommies have better things to do with their time than spend all day at the gym. There are parks to visit, strollers to push through the zoo, and breastfeeding snuggles. And oh…uh…for many of us, just trying to pump and transition the baby from the boob to a bottle so Mommy can make it back to work six weeks later is a full time job. The last thing we need to add to our already overburdened To Do lists is "Attain perfect figure in time for postpartum check up."  Not to mention the damaging message that lies at the core of such behavior- you're not valuable unless you're skinny, young, and toned.'Nuff said.

The Body Positive: Less-Than-Perfect Is Good Enough For Me

Making Peace With My Body

At 35, I finally managed to silence the voice of my mother enough to conceive and give birth. Then, after my C-section, I breast-fed and waited for the pounds to just melt off. Only they didn't. I always told my patients "Nine months on, nine months off." But after gaining 30 pounds during my pregnancy, 15 of them melted away and the other 15 stayed put right where my waist used to be, even nine months later. And although I managed to miss the stretch mark bullet, the varicose veins that course all the way down my left leg from my groin to my ankle pretty much ensure that anyone seeing me in a skirt can tell I am a mother. And I won't even start on my boobs…

After having a baby, I found myself occasionally looking back at photos of my pre-baby body, feeling pangs of longing. But then I'd glance over at my gorgeous daughter, and any question in my mind about whether it's worth it melted away in an instant. This yo-yo back-and-forth between missing my old body and feeling grateful for what I got in return went on for three years, until one day, a switch flipped, almost overnight.

I finally gave up the magical thinking that I might wake up one day and find my old body back, and instead, I marveled in what my body had been able to achieve. Instead of cursing my varicose veins or badgering my beleaguered boobs, I thanked them for allowing me to be part of the miracle of bringing a life into the world. I honored my belly for expanding to allow my daughter safe harbor as she gestated. I thanked my vagina for helping me become a mother. And I made peace with my new shape and finally gave away all the beautiful clothes that no longer fit.

The Body Positive: What I Do To Look Like An Equinox Personal Trainer

The Transformation

I've come to realize that, as women, there's a key step in the maturation process that we must learn in order to be healthy, happy, whole adults. As young women, too many of us cling to our vanity and misguidedly believe our value lies in our perky breasts, our skinny figures, our unmarked bellies, and our wrinkle-free skin. Society affirms what we suspect- just look at the media- so as we age, we tend to cling to our youth and beauty, which may lead us to feel less valuable as we age and our bodies change.

If we continue to believe we must be young, svelte, and smooth-skinned in order to be valuable, we start chasing what we will never reclaim through fad diets, plastic surgery, Botox, and radical exercise regimens. But healthy, wise women know better. We know our true value lies within.  When we make this healthy transition, we can let go of unnatural expectations of how our bodies should look.

I know I matter beyond how my body appears. I am championing Pink Medicine (link, a heart-centered, self-healing approach to feminizing the health care system. I am helping people heal, connect, and thrive at (link And I'm raising the most amazing 5 year old ever. But it's still not what I do that gives me value. I now know I am inherently valuable just because I'm me. And you are valuable because you're YOU.

This is the ticket, my loves.  This is the secret sauce. This is how to ROCK your post-baby body, how to age gracefully, how to be sexy at 85, and how to let the light of your true beauty (which I call your "Inner Pilot Light") shine forth.

Are you ready to let your inner beauty radiate? Can you love and accept your body just the way it is, knowing that your true value lies within? If you need help, sign up for The Daily Flame  (link )(little love letters from your Inner Pilot Light). If not, YOU GO GIRL. Either way, tell us your body image stories in the comments below.

The Body Positive: When A Fat-Loss Expert Gets Called Fat

Basking in your inner beauty,

Lissa Rankin, MD

Founder of, Pink Medicine revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of What's Up Down There?