Jill's Blog

Since 2007, Jill has been sharing health and weight loss tips and tricks here on her blog.

She also writes about nutrition for chronic illness at NutritionWithJill.com and about nutrition for gut health at the LDN Research Trust.

1 - 10 of 310 Next

New Year's Res-illusions Mistake

Happy new year!

Some surprising nutrition findings explain why many Americans don't lose weight after the holidays, despite eating healthier. Here's the (rather humbling) summary, after grocery bills were examined for 207 households:

On average, households bought more unhealthy food during the holiday season (between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day) compared to the previous months. No surprise. After January 1, they bought more healthy foods. Again, no surprise.

HOWEVER, after January 1, while buying more healthy food, they still purchased holiday levels of UNhealthy food. They just bought MORE food and MORE calories. Doh!

If you want to see the gory details, the complete article can be read at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0110561

Since I'm currently in Truckee, where the Donner Party famously starved to the point of cannibalism, I'm reminded that over-buying food is a survival instinct baked deep into our biology. But...if your New Year's weight loss has been stymied, you might want to pay closer attention to your grocery purchases.

8 ways to make veggies feel like treats

If you are getting tired of conventional veggie form factors, here are our favorite ways to make them feel like special treats:

  1. Zucchini spiralized into noodles.

    You can eat them raw or cooked, and they have a different taste and texture depending on how long you heat them. Mix them heated with marinara, parmesan, turkey meatballs, or your own creation. Or try them in a cold pasta salad, mixed with your favorite confettied veggies, olive oil, queso fresco crumbles, black beans, or whatever you like on noodles. Toasted sesame seeds and a little sesame oil works on either hot or cold noodles. Yellow squash work great, too.

  2. A grilled or roasted portobello mushroom turned into pizza.

    Just fill with spinach, onion, garlic, pesto, cheese or whatever you like.

  3. Grilled eggplant slices as taco shells or "bread" for a grilled cheese sandwich.

    Just slice them thin, grill each side with a spriz of oil and voila.

  4. Cabbage roasted into steaks.

    Slice purple or green cabbage into 1/2" disks, spray with a little oil, then top with herbs, garlic, spices or whatever you like.

  5. Cauliflower diced into rice or risotto.

    You can either put cauliflower in your food processor and chop it to bits before cooking, or just buy it ready-to-go at Trader Joe's. As an extra perk, it cooks very quickly.

  6. Riced cauliflower pizza crust.

    Here is a recipe from Cacique that I've been meaning to try: http://www.caciqueinc.com/blog/2016/01/cauliflower-crust-pizza/#.VtdLaZWCOrU.

  7. Cauliflower as mashed faux-tatoes.

    Boil cauliflower and blend it 'til it looks like your favorite Thanksgiving treat. Optionally, add some salt, garlic, spices, bit of cheese, cream, or other delights, if that will make it a true treat.

  8. Zucchini French fries.

    Roast or grill thin slices of zucchini, with salt and pepper sprinkled on, and perhaps a spritz of oil. Sliced portobello mushroom strips also work well.

Thanks to our clients, who taught us these tricks. We know you have more great ideas...will you share them with us?

How to think about food like a Success Story

If you struggle with making good food decisions, here's a little insight into the thought processes of people who become Success Stories:

They don't use will power much. In fact, they don't think about food very much, especially when it gets close to mealtime.

On-the-fly food decisions are the enemy.

People who have successfully changed their eating habits use routines, habits, environmental engineering and personal policies to cut down on the number of food decisions they make each day. This is smart because research proves that will power wanes when you get hungry, distracted, stressed or tired.

So here's how (and when) they think about food:

  • They plan meals ahead of time, when not hungry or stressed.
  • They rely on regular "go-to" meals and snacks, to cement routines faster.
  • They make a master grocery list, to use every time.
  • While planning, they ask themselves "what is the healthiest meal/snack that will satisfy me?"
  • They remove tempting junk from the home before it starts calling to them.
  • They prepare healthy choices, so they'll be convenient.
  • For times they can't plan or control food options, they make personal policies to guide their actions (e.g., I only eat cookies if they are home-made; my first trip through the buffet is always salad/veggies; I don't drink wine unless it's a weekend, etc.) Personal policies are thoughtfully made ahead of time, then are turned into ever-easier automatic habits with practice.

With plans and policies like these, there is no need for major decision-making, which only invites will power battles.

So take a little time this week to start thinking about next week's meals like a person who is a Success Story. See if you eat healthier AND ditch the mental burden of on-the-fly food decisions.

Taste more sugar while using less

Read this before your next ice cream cone: The temperature of your sweet food affects the strength of the taste.

Sweet flavors taste sweeter when eaten hot, and taste less sweet when cold.

A classic example is that when people make homemade jam, the warm cooked fruit needs to taste super overly-sweet, so that when it cools off it will taste just right. The sugar content is the same; it just tastes much sweeter when warm.

How can you use this to eat healthier? You probably already guessed it: If you must have sweets, favor warmer ones. Ice cream needs extra sugar to taste as sweet as hot cocoa. An iced tea needs more sugar to taste as sweet as a hot tea. Cold pie tastes less sweet than warm pie. ...one more reason to swear off Frappucinos.

Use this to cut your sugar consumption this summer without even sacrificing any flavor!

P.s. Interestingly, bitter flavor is the opposite. It's stronger when cold.

Chewing boosts cognitive function

Just chewing more can improve your life in several different interesting ways.

You probably already know that chewing promotes good digestion, better nutrient absorption, and helps you eat more slowly so that you don't overeat. But research also suggests that chewing more can improve cognitive function. Chewing food or gum has been shown to...

  • improve memory,
  • decrease reaction times,
  • decrease stress,
  • improve attention, and
  • slow cognitive decline in the elderly.

All that from chewing more?!

Yes, it appears that chewing promotes better circulation to the brain, so maybe it's no surprise that executive function improves.

You can read the details in the study links below. In the meantime, happy chewing!

Study links:

Better crackers

If you love crackers, but not inflammation, here are some options made with sprouted seeds instead of baked flour:

  • Flackers, made from sprouted flax seeds, apple cider vinegar, herbs and salt. 5 different flavors.

  • Go Raw, made from sprouted sunflower and other seeds, with various savory herbs and spices. Our favorite flavor is pizza.

  • Jilz Crackers*, made from sprouted sesame seeds and herbs. 3 different flavors, some with amazing herb combos.

  • Livin’ Spoonful, made from a variety of sprouted seeds, lemon juice, dates (adding 2g sugar) and herbs. Our favorite flavor is pesto pumpkin seed.

There are many more brands, but these are among the easiest to find. They aren’t cheap, but they are much healthier than conventional crackers, and you can always make your own in a food dehydrator if you like, as online recipes abound.

Signs you should slow down your weight loss

Happy almost-summer!

We know...there’s lots of pressure to have a beach body ASAP. But here are some signs that you may be pushing your body or brain too hard to lose weight--and are at risk for sabotaging your long-term results or health.

  • You've become dull, depressed, dizzy or dumb.

Your mood, memory, creativity, sense of humor and general brain function are very sensitive to your blood sugar, which is the brain's main fuel. It can suffer when that fuel gets too low. Getting dizzy is dangerous--especially while driving!--so have a small carbohydrate snack, like a few crackers, if that ever starts to happen.

  • Your inner athlete is sidelined.

Injuries, constant soreness or lethargy might mean you are undernourished or undereating. Burning fat (which requires lower blood sugar) while remaining energetic (which can be tough with lower blood sugar) is admittedly tricky, so come talk to us if you are struggling.

  • You are losing strength.

Losing too much muscle is bad for health and long-term results because muscle boosts metabolism, strength, immunity, and blood sugar control. Muscle is always good weight. Slower weight loss helps preserve it.

  • You find yourself "blowing it" too often.

Here's why: Burning fat inevitably involves lowering blood sugar, but if your blood sugar goes too low for too long, your will power suffers. Research suggests you may "blow it" and eat back more calories than you suffered to burn in the first place.

If any of these sounds like you, don't worry. Just slow down a bit. Even losing 1/4 pound of fat per week is a whole stick of butter off your body!

Broccoli sprouts for air pollution

With recent news of Hawaiian volcano smog and spring air quality alerts, I'm reminded that nature has generously provided us with a partial antidote to harm from air pollution: Broccoli sprouts!

Studies involving diesel emissions and highly polluted parts of China suggest that consuming broccoli sprouts may help to prevent long-term health damage from air pollution. To quote researchers, "intervention with broccoli sprouts enhances the detoxication of some airborne pollutants and may provide a frugal means to attenuate their associated long-term health risks."

You can buy broccoli sprouts in the produce section or easily grow them yourself in mason jars. They have numerous health and anti-aging properties, so enjoy them anytime, but air quality alerts are my reminder to stock up.

Here are links to two research studies, if you'd like more details:



Affordable family meal ideas

Need new ideas for yummy, affordable, family-friendly meals or snacks? Check out this lovely website created by a local eighth-grader who wants to help fight childhood obesity: https://mkenny22.wixsite.com/healthyhabits

Bravo, Maya!

Scrape that avocado!

Quick tip: The avocados are AMAZING right now, so don't miss out on the most nutritious part, which is the dark green part next to the peel. Scrape it good and be rewarded with over 10x the nutrients of the part closer to the pit.

That's all. Enjoy!

1 - 10 of 310 Next