Is Breakfast Really the Most Important Meal of the Day When It Comes to Your Weight?

How many times have we heard it? Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. By now, probably about as many times as we’ve heard people dispute that old saying! Nutrition-wise, it’s probably not so true. But when it comes to our weight? Well, things are a little more complicated. There’s been a lot of popular advice floating around regarding the timing of meals and weight loss, and there are also studies that have pointed to eating earlier as the key to losing weight. But now, there’s evidence suggesting that we might be able to rethink this. So, what should we think if we’re trying to lose weight? To breakfast big or not to breakfast big? That is the question!assortment of breakfast food and coffee on a white table with the article title


So why should we even think about or care what time of day we’re eating? Other than getting some pretty wicked heartburn if you’re scarfing down nachos at 1 am, scientists in recent years have begun to link various aspects of our health to the times of day we eat. This emerging field, known as “chrono-nutrition,” builds on the relationship between our eating patterns in regards to time, circadian rhythms, and metabolic health. Think of it this way: disruption to our circadian rhythms can be pretty hard on our bodies. And our metabolism aligns with a circadian rhythm, too. So eating out of alignment with that can be problematic for our bodies. 


So in this field, a growing body of evidence indicates that aligning our food intake to the times of day when circadian rhythms in metabolic processes are “optimized for nutrition,” according to one study, “may be effective for improving metabolic health.” Does that mean it can also aid in weight loss? Maybe. Two studies from 2013 suggested that eating a big breakfast, smaller lunch, and even smaller dinner could help you lose weight. What they found even suggested that it is true that eating more at breakfast keeps you satisfied.


But there’s always a “but,” right? Yup. Just this past fall, a major new study on this subject was published. And it is forcing us to question again whether breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

The New Studybasket full of various foods like a pepper and apples

To investigate the link between the size of breakfast and dinner and their effect on hunger, a team of researchers at the universities of Aberdeen and Surrey conducted a controlled study on healthy but overweight people.


The participants were fed two diets, each for four weeks. A big breakfast and a small dinner, and a small breakfast with a big dinner (lunches were kept the same). The meals were given to the participants so the researchers knew exactly what they were eating. They measured the participants’ metabolism, including monitoring how many calories they burned. All of the participants had periods of eating both diets, so that the researchers could not only compare the different people in the different groups, but also how the individuals reacted to each diet. 


They predicted that they would have similar findings to the 2013 studies. That a big breakfast and small dinner would increase calories burned and weight lost. But that just wasn’t the case. The results of the experiment found no differences in body weight or any biological measures of energy usage between the two meal patterns.


There were also no differences in daily levels of blood glucose, insulin, or lipids. This is important because changes of these factors in the blood are associated with metabolic health.


So a rare thing happened: the scientists were surprised! Contrary to what they thought would happen, their research suggests that the way our bodies process calories in the morning versus the evening does not influence weight loss the way other studies suggest.


But – yes, there’s another but! – they did find one thing that might make you stick to your breakfast regime. If you’re a breakfast eater and have your weight on your mind. When the participants were eating the meal pattern of a big breakfast and small dinner, they reported less hunger throughout the day. So if you’re looking to lose weight, there’s still a chance that eating that way might help you to better control your hunger and eat less.

Breakfasting the Right Way

So we’re sorry to say that we can’t definitively say if eating breakfast is the way to go for weight loss. But nutritionists still recommend starting your day with breakfast. Since they say it can set you up for better choices during the rest of your day. And it can also help you to meet the daily recommendations for certain food groups and nutrients. The jury is out on their other assertion that it means burning more calories throughout the day. But one thing we can say for sure: eating breakfast is only healthy if you’re doing it right!plates of breakfast with eggs oranges meat and coffee on a table


If you’re a breakfast eater, and want to make it your most important meal of the day, look for foods that are energizing, satiating, and packed with a wide variety of important nutrients. Consider these tips for upping your breakfast game:

  • Include an antioxidant source (like blueberries and kale – hello, smoothie!) to combat stress to your body.
  • Choose whole grains over refined ones to help keep you feeling fuller longer, and to keep that bad cholesterol in check.
  • Opt for whole foods whenever possible to get more fiber, and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
  • Limit sugar to avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes, which can lead to anxiety, fatigue, irritability, headaches, and difficulty concentrating, not to mention craving more high-carb foods, leading to a vicious cycle of overeating. And get this: studies have found that people who eat sugary breakfasts have about 10% higher total daily sugar intake compared to people who chose non-sugary breakfasts.
  • Eat some protein before your carbs/fruit: this may reduce blood glucose spikes compared with eating carbs first. Studies also show that having a meal combining both protein and carbs “can slow the digestive process. Making your breakfast more satisfying and reducing your post-breakfast cravings,” according to Corinne Kohlen, registered dietitian.
  • Don’t forget the fruits and veggies!
  • Prep your breakfast ahead of time to avoid unhealthy choices.
  • Get nutty with some nuts or nut butter. Did you know that eating a few more nuts a day can lead to a lower risk of weight gain and obesity?
  • Choose solids over liquids, since they keep you fuller longer. But if a smoothie is the way you’ll get all those good, nutritious things into your body, we won’t tell!
  • Consider eating your breakfast in two mini meals, to trick yourself into thinking you’re getting more.
  • Don’t fear the fat, or the good fats at least, especially since you’re more likely to burn them off during the day if you eat them at breakfast. 


Your mom might still be insisting that you eat your breakfast. Because – say it all together now – it’s the most important meal of the day. But not everyone is 100% convinced, at least when it comes to weight loss. With that being said, though, there is still evidence that eating your big meal early in the day can be good for weight loss. And your health overall. Especially since it can lead to healthier choices and fitting in more nutrition throughout the day (as long as you do it right!). And it’s certainly better than nachos at 1 am…most of the time.

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Does Fast Food Put You on the Fast Track to Depression?

What’s your idea of comfort food? Freshly baked homemade cookies? Your mom’s gooey mac and cheese? Or maybe you prefer something a little bit, um, faster? As in, fast food? Do you crave things like hamburgers, fries, and chicken nuggets from a famous franchise when you need a little belly-based comfort? Well, if that’s the case, you might just want to start turning elsewhere for your comfort. In addition to the things we already know that fast food can do to our bodies, it might also have some surprising – and disturbing – effects on our brain and mood. Studies now seem to show that there is a link between anxiety and depression and the fast food that so many of us love.

Why It’s Hard to Quit the Fast Stuff

You might be thinking, “Hey, it just tastes good,” and that’s that. But it might not actually be that simple. There might be more scientific reasons why you’re craving fast food, and why you continue to eat it, even though it’s no secret that it’s bad for you. 

First of all, yes, it does taste good. Otherwise why would an estimated 36.6% of the U.S. population devour drive-through deals on a daily basis? But it tastes good to many of us because food scientists have spent decades adjusting the flavors of ultra-processed foods so that we keep coming back for more. But studies also suggest that:

  • The trans fats in many fried foods might hinder your brain’s ability to discern how much you’ve eaten and how hungry you are.
  • person holding McDonald's fries and eating oneFast food can even trigger the pleasure centers of the brain to release dopamine, the same chemical that fuels addictions, so you might end up needing more and more fast food to feed your cravings. 
  • Brain scans also reveal how sugar can be addictive: the more you eat, the more you’re likely to keep craving it. And what does sugar have to do with fast food? It’s not just that the soda that you drink to wash down your meal is loaded with sugar, it’s also that some of the dishes themselves have much more sugar than you might think. For example, one salad on the menu at a popular fast food chain packs a whopping 40 grams of sugar – and keep in mind that most public health organizations recommend that you consume no more than 24 grams of sugar per day
  • In 2019, a landmark study found that those on an ultra-processed diet consumed 508 more calories on average compared to those who ate whole and plant-based foods, leading experts to speculate whether these foods are somehow addictive. Researchers don’t know exactly why, but processed foods seemed to encourage more snacking. “There may be something about the textural or sensory properties of the food that made the [participants in the study] eat more quickly,” said Kevin Hall, of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “If you’re eating very quickly, perhaps you’re not giving your gastrointestinal tract enough time to signal to your brain that you’re full. When this happens, you might easily overeat.”

All of that is definitely food for thought. You might think that heading to the drive-through for lunch or dinner is just a quick way to get some comfort food to fill you up, but turns out you’re not doing either: comforting yourself OR filling yourself up. And so you’ll just end up going back for more, and risk not only overeating and expanding your waistline, but also changing your mood for the worse. 

Your Brain on Fast Food

So fast food messes with your brain in that it triggers cravings, but what does fast food, or any ultra-processed type of food, have to do with your mood and mental health? Let’s take a look at a few studies that suggest a disturbing link between them: 

  • Research published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience found that adults under 30 who ate fast food three times a week scored higher on levels of mental distress. The researchers think this is because fast food is typically high in saturated fats, trans fats, and omega-6 fatty acids. While some of these fats are beneficial and, in fact, necessary for brain function in smaller doses, an excess can trigger an inflammatory response. Past research has linked this inflammation to anxiety and depression.many sugar cubes on a table
  • Remember those crazy sweet salads? A study of around 8,000 adult participants found that men who regularly consumed around 67 grams per sugar per day were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression, which could, again, be caused in part by an inflammatory response.
  • A 2019 study of teenagers found that higher urine levels of sodium, and low potassium levels, both of which you’d expect from a diet of highly processed fast food, predicted more signs of depression a year and a half after the study, even after adjusting for variables such as blood pressure, weight, age and sex.
  • A meta-analysis of research from the United States, Spain, France, Australia, Greece and Iran published in the journal Nature also found a “robust association” between diet and depression. Their results showed people who avoided a highly processed diet, and instead followed a Mediterranean diet of things like fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and little red meat or processed foods, had reduced risk of depression.
  • A Spanish study published in the Public Health Nutrition journal found that consumers of fast food, compared to those who eat little or none, are 51% more likely to develop depression. Not only that, but they found that “the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression,” according to Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, lead author of the study.
  • Studies have shown that excessive fast food consumption is also linked to anxiety symptoms, probably because the refined carbohydrates in many fast food items can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate. Extremely low blood sugar can cause panic attacks, insomnia, and other anxiety symptoms. Not only that, but the lack of omega-3 fatty acids in fried food can cause your brain to mimic anxiety symptoms.

More worrying food for thought. And while some researchers say they’re not really sure if eating fast food causes depression, or if those who are predisposed to depression are more likely to consume fast food (after all, we do call it comfort food, right?), it seems pretty clear that eating fast food can be a big problem for your body and mind.

Is There an Antidote?

whole cooked fish on a plate with lemons on it and olives next to it
The Mediterranean diet is a great diet to follow because it is full of omega-3 fatty acids and other great vitamins.

We don’t want to sound like your mom, but you know what we’re going to say. The solution is less junk food, and more healthy foods like fresh fruits and veggies. And that’s not just the mom in us talking: it’s science. 

While scientists are still studying the link between diet and depression, studies do suggest that certain nutrients and foods can play a preventative role. B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and folates, as well as the foods that make up healthy diets like the Mediterranean diet, like fish and olive oil, have been linked to a lower risk of developing depression.

And, the same study that found that adults under 30 suffered from mental distress after eating too much fast food had some interesting findings for older adults. It found that eating more fruits and veggies, as well as eating fewer carbohydrates of other types, actually reduced anxiety and depression. That’s because fruits and veggies are bursting with antioxidants, which help protect the brain. 

Our days are filled with decisions we need to make, not least being what we should put into our bodies to fuel them. And that decision might have a little more weight than we sometimes give it: those quick trips to the drive-through could start adding up and wreaking havoc on your body and mind. We’re not saying that you should never indulge in your favorite comfort foods, but you just might want to re-evaluate how comforting your choice of indulgence actually is. 

Want to Join the Century Club? 10 Tips for Getting to 100

Does anyone remember those feel-good segments they used to do on morning news shows, highlighting smiling seniors who were celebrating their 100th birthdays? Those special people were among the few to join the century club, and everyone always eagerly asked them how they did it; the answers could be anything from the simple (eating healthy and having good friends!) to the slightly, well, unusual (a shot of gin every day), but they all seemed to have their own ideas of how they managed to make it to a healthy 100.

different colored balloons with 100 on them
With a few tips, you can become one of “the few” who reach 100 years old.

And, you know, we say “the few” to reach 100, but more and more people are reaching that milestone these days; in fact, according to the CDC, the number of Americans 100 years old or older increased by nearly 41% between 2000 and 2014! So reaching 100 is an attainable goal, within certain constraints – your genes do play a part in your life expectancy, but maybe less than you might think.

According to Dan Beuttner, author of the book The Blue Zones, which looks at five places around the world with the highest populations of people who live to 100, “For the average American, about 20% of life expectancy is genes, and the other 80% is lifestyle.” Beuttner points out that “Healthy habits can help eliminate the diseases that tend to shorten your life – such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.” So, while there is no magic potion – or even one lifestyle change that will work for everyone and keep every disease at bay – there are some things you can do to keep yourself as healthy as possible, and moving towards a healthy and happy 100th birthday!

1. Get Off Your You-Know-What

You know what’s one thing we haven’t put on this list? Smoking! Too obvious, right? Well, health experts are now saying that “sitting is the new smoking,” meaning that doing too much of it can be as bad as lighting up a cigarette. In fact, one study found that those who spent more than six hours a day sitting had a 19% higher mortality rate than those who spent less than three hours of their leisure time on the couch. 

Sounds like it’s time to ditch that couch potato lifestyle! Simply getting up and walking around once every 30 minutes is a good start, but you’ll definitely need to get more active to see the most benefits. According to research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, women aged 65-99 who averaged just 30 minutes of light physical activity (dusting, washing dishes) each day reduced their risk of dying by 12% and those who got an hour of moderate activity (brisk walking, taking the stairs) lowered their mortality risk by 39%.

And if you want to kick things up another notch, consider adding in some more intense activities: for example, adults who reported frequently playing tennis lived 9.7 years longer than people who were sedentary. Not only that, but according to several large studies, while walking is a great way to increase your longevity, runners live an average of 3 years longer than non-runners, and for every hour you run, you add around 7 hours to your life! Wow! Now where did we put those running shoes…

2. Watch Your Waistlinea senior couple running along the beach

Maybe it’s not a surprise to you, but being overweight or obese has been linked to an increased mortality risk, mostly because not maintaining a healthy weight can lead to some of the major diseases that could cut your life short, like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. And the advice to combat this issue probably won’t surprise you all that much, either: eat right, and get plenty of exercise. But maybe you haven’t heard these stats: according to one study, individuals who had at least five home-cooked meals per week were 28% less likely to be overweight, and 24% less likely to have excess body fat than individuals who ate less than three home-cooked meals per week. So maybe it’s time to take up cooking!

3. Pay Attention to Your Proteins and Fats

It’s no secret that red meat isn’t great for you: in fact, eating it can increase the likelihood of dying from cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, infections, kidney disease, and liver disease. Simply reducing the amount of red meat you eat, or even swapping out red meat for chicken is a great start, but your best bet is to add other protein sources into your diet. Try:

  • Pulses, like beans, chickpeas, peas, and lentils. Studies suggest just one serving a day can lower your bad cholesterol.
  • Fish, which will also give you a boost of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Nuts– In a study of nearly 120,000 adults, those who ate nuts every day were 20% less likely to have died during the 30-year follow up than those who reported eating no nuts.

Sure, nuts are high in fat, but it’s actually the healthy, unsaturated kind. And while we’re on the subject, while you’re swapping out unhealthy protein sources, don’t forget to also swap out unhealthy fats: a recent study found that for every 2% increase in trans fat in your diet, your risk of premature death jumps by 16%, and just a 5% increase in saturated fat boosts your risk of early death by 8%.

older man picking up trash along the beach while holding a black garbage bag
Find you purpose in life, such as using your spare time to volunteer.

4. Find Your Purpose

Some people’s whole goal in life is taking early retirement, but you know what? It’s not right for everyone – if you love your work, there can be health benefits to continuing on with something that gives you a purpose in life. But if that’s not how you feel about your job, think about how you can bring purpose to your life after retirement, whether that’s volunteering or getting involved in other ways. Think about this: according to a 2016 review of 10 studies, a sense of purpose in life can be linked to an 83% reduction in death from all causes and a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular events such as stroke or heart attack – so find what you love and get out there!

5. Keep on Top of Your Health

If you want to live to 100, you need to make friends with your doctor! Ok, we don’t mean it’s time to take them out to dinner; you need to stay on top of your health, and that means not skipping your annual physical, and making sure to talk to your doctor about referrals for screenings for the common cancers that shorten many people’s lives. So get that colonoscopy, mammogram, prostate check, or pap smear, and talk to a dermatologist about melanoma risks. 

6. Be Wholly Nutritious

One way to live a longer, healthier life is to swap out simple carbs for whole grain or unprocessed options; for example, consider this amazing stat: swapping a little more than two servings of your normal white rice to brown rice will lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 16%, and the added fiber in the brown rice will also help to lower your bad cholesterol levels. Not only that, but in one study, people who ate whole grains had a 20% lower risk of death than those who ate little or no whole grains! 

7. Breathe Out the Negative, Breathe in the Positive!

Stress can be toxic, but, hey, it’s a part of almost all of our lives, right? There’s no magic wand you can wave to get rid of it, but it is important to manage it, as well as to bring more positivity into your life. Keep stress under control by meditating, practicing yoga, or even just engaging in simple breathing activities; consider pushing out negativity and adding in positivity by starting a gratitude journal – according to one study, people who are more grateful feel healthier and report fewer aches and pains.benefits of optimism infographic

Not only that, but your outlook on life matters, so try to ditch the pessimism: A recent study out of Harvard University found that people who scored highest on measures of optimism had a 16% lower risk of death from cancer, a 38% lower risk of death from heart disease and respiratory disease, and a 39% lower risk of dying from stroke. Well, looks like it all comes back to finding your happiness, and that might include the following tip…

8. Stay Connected

There’s not really too much need to push the benefits of having friends and other close connections in your life, is there – the joy you get from friendships, sexual relationships, and even having a pet kind of speaks for itself, right? But just in case, consider this: having strong social connections (in other words, you actually spend meaningful time connecting with friends and other loved ones) has been shown to reduce your risk of early death by 50%! 

As for sex, staying connected to someone in that way can also help you live longer: one study has linked having sex at least once a week to having longer telomeres (the protective caps on your DNA strands), which generally equals longer life. And pets? Even connecting with our furry friends can keep us alive: studies show that both dog and cat owners are less likely to have heart attacks, or die of heart disease or stroke. 

One final thing to consider: on the flip side of all of this, some health experts believe that loneliness can be as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. So reach out and touch someone!

older man in a park practicing tai chi
Stay balanced by trying some tai chi, which has many benefits. 

9. Keep Your Focus

Eye problems can be a nuisance, but not taking care of them can actually shorten your life! In a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, women who had cataract surgery were less likely to die of any cause than women who did not have their vision corrected. Keep your independence, and your health, and take care of those peepers!

10. Stay Balanced

Did you know that elderly women who fall and break a hip are five times more likely to die within a year than women of the same age who don’t break a hip? That’s an extremely worrying statistic, so take it to heart and prevent falls before they start happening! One way to do this? Maintain your balance by practicing tai chi, and keep yourself out of the hospital and enjoying a long life. 

Age is just a number, but most of us want to see that number steadily rising, right? And not only that, but even as the years go by, we want to continue to feel vital, healthy, and happy – so try the simple tips above and see how far you can go!

Treat Yourself To Brunch (At Home!)

Ah, weekends. For many of us, weekends are a chance to decompress after a long week at work by doing something that feeds our souls. But what about feeding yourself? Weekends are perfect for brunching, and with these easy and healthy recipes you can cook up a delicious brunch at home.

Diner-style Potatoes potatoes that are fried and seasoned

To make perfect diner-style fried potatoes, the trick is to microwave them first. Use a fork to poke holes on all sides of a potato, and place it in a shallow, microwave-safe dish with a little water. Microwave for 3-7 minutes, depending on the size. When the potato is cool enough to handle, roughly chop and toss in a bowl with paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Then just fry it up with your preferred oil! 

Clean-out-the-fridge Quichequiche with eggs on a table and peppers

A quiche is the perfect low-maintenance brunch dish that looks like it took more effort than it did. For this version, make a standard quiche filling:  4-6 eggs and ½ cup of milk or cream, beaten. Then simply add in whatever leftovers you have in your fridge: the last of a bag of salad greens, a few wilted tomatoes, half an onion, and any cheese are all welcome additions to this creamy egg pie. Pour everything into a pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. To avoid a soggy crust, bake the quiche on a preheated oven sheet.

Breakfast Saladsalad with lox and fried egg on top with yolk coming out.

Another dish inspired by the “whatever’s in the fridge” philosophy of food prep, a breakfast salad can take on many forms: European style, with lentils, thick-cut bacon, and a dijon vinaigrette; taco salad with chorizo, cheddar, and chiles; or Asian-inspired, with rice, kimchi, and a soy dressing, to name a few. The unifying ingredient, and what makes them all “breakfast” salads, is a perfectly fried egg. The heat of the egg perfectly wilts the greens, and a runny yolk gives the dressing a fabulous creamy texture. 

Slow-cooker Short Rib Hashup close picture of a cut rib

Unless you happen to have leftover short ribs, this dish requires a bit of planning, as you will need to set your crockpot the night before to cook the ribs. Aside from that, it’s minimal effort for show-stopping results. Make the simple “diner-style potatoes”,  chop them into smaller bits and add to an oiled pan. Add the cooked short ribs, also roughly chopped, to the potato pan along with one diced onion. You can also add any vegetables you have around the kitchen – this goes particularly well with brussels sprouts, asparagus, or zucchini. Cook them all together over medium-low heat for 6-8 minutes, until the onions and vegetables have softened. Serve with fried eggs and crispy toast for a rich and hearty meal. 

These easy, but luxurious, brunch dishes are a great way to bring friends together over freshly made mimosas, or to just treat yourself to something healthy, homemade, and delicious. Whether you spend your free time catching up on chores or catching up with friends and family, you deserve to have a weekend that leaves you refreshed and rejuvenated for the week ahead.

Herbs: Just Tasty or Something More?

Cooking with herbs: Health Benefits

We’ve all been there. You’re in the kitchen, grabbing food, and hurriedly throwing it in the pot while a hungry group of friends stares at your back.

But how often do you sacrifice healthy meals for quick ones??

More people are realizing how closely diet affects their overall health nowadays. Considering the amount of people struggling with weight loss, irritable bowel syndrome, or even simply an upset stomach, it is easy to see why. Research shows that food can not only fill our stomachs but can also heal our bodies. As Hippocrates says: “Let food be thy medicine.”

And the best medicine comes from our gardens.

Rosemary, For Nose and Allergies

Ah, Rosmarinus officinalis,  our lovely perennial herb that makes chicken (or tofu) so, so tasty. Rosemary gives a savory, earthy flavor to your meals. Some call it “woody” or compare it to mustard. But what exactly do these needle-like leaves do for our body?

This attractive plant contains phytochemicals such as rosmarinic acid and camphor.  Camphor was used in ancient India as a medicine for fever; its benefits are the ability to reduce fever and aid with swelling. The small amounts in rosemary can also help with congestion.

herbs health body benefits
The delicious smell of rosemary can make your house inviting as a bonus benefit!

The rosmarinic acid, of course, is the main player here. It’s anti-everything bad for you: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial.

Next time you’re sick consider adding rosemary to your chicken noodle soup, or add a dash to any meal for additional health benefits with a delicious flavor!

Thyme, For Protection

When it comes to standard kitchen fare, thyme is a reliable standby in the herbs and spices rack. This herb imparts a subtle aroma, likened to mint. Not only does it play well with others, but it also doubles the antibacterial properties of whatever you’re cooking.

The active ingredient here is thymol.  This fierce antiseptic was used to soak bandages in ancient times to guard us against infection. Now how do we use it? In mouthwashes. That’s right. Thyme is in that bottle of Listerine.

If it’s helping keep your mouth clean, what lovely things is it doing for us farther inside?

Garlic, For Heart Health

A close cousin to the onion, garlic has been used for thousands of years as a food and medicine. This garden gem will set off your spice sensors with its warm taste. Usually, you’re going to want to roast it to mellow it out. Other than its warrior nature against things like the common cold (Seriously folks, rosemary, garlic, hot water. It knocks it right out of me.), the plant can also be used to help your heart.

The powerhouse is allicin which is activated by crushing or chopping garlic and letting the air reach it. Allicin reduces cholesterol levels in the blood and regulates blood pressure.  Research suggests an effect on muscle soreness, and the heart is the hardest working muscle in the body. Is that a reach? Of course, but it’s nice to think about.

Garlic is so easy to work with. You can roast, fry, or eat it raw if you’re feeling adventurous.

Basically, you’re doing yourself a favor by ordering that garlic bread. Tell them I sent ya.

Turmeric, for Inflammation

This herb grows wild in South and Southeast Asian forests, and it gives curry its bright orange color. The herb is aromatic and more on the bitter side. Some compare it to ginger with a dab of orange. It’s found easily in stores in a ground powder form. This was something easy for me to grab during a grocery run and slap into a dish at home.

Born in Ayurvedic medicine, the herb adds a beautiful flavor to most savory dishes as well as its anti-inflammatory properties. This comes from a phytochemical inside called curcumin, and also where the vibrant color comes from.

Looking at our traditional Western diet, we could all use a little turmeric at our side to fight inflammation. Sugar is great but wow does it swell us up.

Lemon Balm, for Sleep & Digestion

This herb is one you’ve probably seen as an essential oil, but you can also use it in food. “Balm,” or “Mint Balm,” not to be confused with “Bee Balm,” is from the mint family. This may be used more in sweet dishes and teas, but anything (like fish) that could use some uplifting lemon notes to its flavor profile would benefit.

Lemon balm also contains rosmarinic acid, but with its other eugenols, tannins, and terpenes, the plants overall chemical effects are changed. Instead of just anti-everything-bad-for-you, it’s a soothing effect that helps you sleep. Lemon balm is still the main ingredient in Carmelite water which is still for sale in German pharmacies to this day.

A close friend suggested a simple recipe of cooking heirloom tomatoes with lemon balm and goat cheese. It’s a light, refreshing dish you can serve by itself, or with some toasted bread, similar to bruschetta.

Coriander(Cilantro), for Vitamins

While I’m one of the small percentages of people that taste soap when I eat this herb, I still try to include it in my diet. It’s also included here simply because it’s healthier than people realize. Similar to the earlier lemon balm, this plant has a lemony flavor, but it also has notes of orange, nuts, and a general spice aroma.

Native to Iran, coriander grows wild all over Western Asia and Southern Europe. Studies have shown that the plant’s leaves contain major amounts of vitamin A, C, and K, plus a large helping of beneficial dietary minerals. If you want, you can also use the seeds in your cooking. While they have less of those vitamins, they do make up for it in fiber, calcium, iron, and magnesium.

cilantro healthy herb cooking
Cilantro is as fresh and green as your helpings of spinach or kale, with just enough vitamins in it!

Basically, you’ve got a great arsenal of supplements all ready for you either growing in your garden or easily picked up at the store. Try a new recipe, and you may find something delicious and nutritious. Your body will thank you.

Indulge, But Don’t Overdo It: Holiday Eating

Beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, chicken, turkey, you name it! The holidays are filled with buffet-style delicious food, which includes a lot of unhealthy ones such as pies, eggnog, cookies, and pastries. It is very easy to get caught up during the holidays with overeating, especially with large portions, or having a second or third helping of food. We tend to indulge during the holidays, and can easily pack on four or more pounds over the season. There is a way to eat some treats without the guilt or the weight gain. Moderation is key, and there is a way to approach the holidays with a healthy eating plan and strategies.

Eat Breakfast

Stop and take the time in the morning to eat a breakfast. Everyone always says it is the most important meal of the day, because it is. Eating breakfast is food for your brain, as well as your body. It helps start off the day more efficiently, and it especially helps you from overeating later in the day.

Eating a salad before your meal will help with digestion, and make you feel more full.
Eating a salad before your meal will help with digestion, and make you feel more full.

Eat A Salad

Eating a salad before eating a meal not only helps fill you up, but it also helps your stomach digest food better.

Eat A Meatless Meal

Make at least one of your meals throughout the day a meatless one. Incorporate fruits and vegetables in your meal so that your body can receive all the nutrients and vitamins it needs. At the same time, a meatless meal will help your stomach from overworking breaking down meat.

Keep Healthy Snacks Around

When you are at work or at home, try to opt for the healthier snacks. Try almonds, a piece of fruit, carrots, or a rice cake. Trust me, no one wants flaming hot cheetos more than me, but your body deserves the good stuff more. Resist the temptations by keeping them out of sight.

Portion Control

Portion control? On a holiday meal? It is tough to pass up all the foods that come your way when getting passed around, but you can have it. The key is to have a little of everything. Take a spoonful of whatever you would like to eat and limit how much food is on your plate. Did you know that it takes a couple of minutes for our brain to get the signal it is full? It does, so just when you think you want more, take a 10 minute break, drink some water, and make some conversation. After that, check if you are still hungry.

Avoid Too Much Alcohol

Eggnog, as tasty as it is to some people, it has a lot of calories in it. This goes for any alcoholic beverage, so make sure to not drink on an empty stomach, because alcohol increases your appetite. For every glass of alcohol you have, then have a glass of water after to stay on the healthy side.

Stay Away From The Snack Table!

When we are at parties, well when I am at a party, I tend to never be too far from the delicious looking snack table. It is very tempting to stand next to it. It is also where a lot of people mingle. And when you are in arm’s reach, you don’t think twice of popping some treats in your mouth in the middle of conversation. Try to avoid the snack table, and if you’re talking with someone at the table, start to walk with the person, or as hard as it may be, avoid grabbing a snack.

Take the time to go for a quick run before or after a meal so you can stay healthy.
Take the time to go for a quick run before or after a meal so you can stay healthy.


After eating a meal, go for a walk with some friends, play some basketball, or go for a quick run! Try to get the recommended 30 minutes a day exercise in, whether through walking, biking, or going to the gym. Staying fit and physically active is the best thing you can do for your body.

Try to follow these easy healthy eating habits during the holiday season, and the rest of the year. It is okay to give into your favorite guilty treat here and there, as long as you do not make it an all day event. It is easy to get lost in the indulgence, and push off getting back on the healthy track. But if you practice these good habits everyday, then in no time it will become routine. Enjoy the holidays, just try to be more health conscious while doing so.