Wednesday, May 28, 2008


So I'm heading out to San Francisco and Napa in T-4 hours. Very excited for a long, relaxing weekend. I'll return on Monday with a full foodie-report on the restaurant and wine scene out there!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why French Women Really Aren't Fat...

I had to share the scoop on this study recently released in the journal, Obesity. If you've ever travelled to France, you've surely encountered the mind-boggling "French paradox" -- why the French are able to indulge in butter-flaked croissants, cream-of-the-crop cheeses, to-die-for crusty bread, wine....and then a little more cheese, bread, wine and dessert without looking like the Eiffel Tower.
Clearly the French are on to something -- that or there's a secret the entire country's not sharing. The food-loving French have lower levels of obesity and lower levels of heart disease than Americans. What?! The secret's no big secret. Researchers from Cornell University who led the study found that the French understand satiety cues and stop eating when they're full. They've successfully tapped into internal signals about how the food tastes and when they're no longer hungry...and then they put the fork down. Americans in the study however, used external cues to know when to stop eating and were influenced by their environment, like watching tv when eating or stopping when their plate is clean and there's not a lick left. Those who were significantly more overweight relied primarily on environmental signals to stop eating. 6.7 percent of French subjects were overweight or obese while 24.3 percent of American subjects were.
Take home message: turn the tv off, take a moment to taste and enjoy what's on your plate, stop eating sooner, and then hop a cheap flight to Paris (ok, so the 'cheap' part's not so realistic these days, but you know what I mean).
And by the way, French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano actually is one of my fave books, an adorable, speedy read that really will make you want to hop that plane to Paris!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Skinny on Sleep

I'll just come out and say it, I'm tired and my bed's been missing me. For the past three weeks, I've been waking up at the crack of dawn every Tuesday and Thursday to sweat it up with fitness expert Lacey Stone and her incredibly challenging outdoor boot-camp, 'BootyCamp', on the West Side Highway. And trust me, I've been getting my booty kicked!
It's been an exhilarating experience, but I've definitely noticed a shift in how my body responds when I deprive it of a few extra hours of sleep each night before Booty Camp (I wish I could get into bed by 10 or 10:30pm, but that'd be a miracle). After the first morning of camp, I remember I could barely form a coherent sentence and my memory was shot. Somehow I made it through a long work day without crashing around 4pm...possibly because I made sure I continued to eat properly, despite visions of bagels and brownies runnig through my head (yes, even nutritionists get cravings sometimes!).
I've mentioned the sleep-sugar-scale connection to many of you before, but waking up earlier the past few weeks, has really hammered it home for me. According to Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep disorders specialist, research studies show that sleep deprivation can cause a spike in grehlin, the "go hormone" that tells us it's time to eat, and a significant decrease in leptin, the hormone that signals we're satiated--step away from the plate. A University of Chicago study found that when we're not well-rested all bets are off, our bodies tend to be drawn to high-calorie, carbohydrate-rich foods like candy, cookies, pastas, breads, chips, donughts, etc. We're sniffing out serotonin wherever we can find it (serotonin's a hormone that releases a calming effect). We think we need a boost in energy, err...sugar, when in actuality, what our body's really craving is just a few extra hours of good solid slumber. To top everything off, chronic sleep deprivation is shown to play a role in obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other serious health problems.
So what's the "skinny on sleep"? Get a good amount each night, at least 7-8 hours on average! You might be pleasantly surprised the next time you step on the scale.

*Two other quick interesting mentions around sleep:
Check out the series that recently aired on 60 Minutes about sleep and weight gain, The Science of Sleep. Super interesting!
If you're looking for more reading material, check out Michael Breus' book, Beauty Sleep. I love the chapter titled, "From Waistlines to Facelines: You are What You Sleep".

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Weighted Waistline

America's expanding waistlines are in the news once again (not a big surprise). Check out this interesting article posted in the New York Times yesterday that reports on a recent Harvard Med School study that found normal-weight women faced an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer if they carry weight around their mid-section and abdomen--other studies show the same for men. Not exactly revolutionary news, the importance of waist circumference on disease risk has been around for a while, but it's certainly something to be reminded of. I think we often focus so much on the dreaded number on the scale and our 'weight', that it's easy to overlook other factors that can impact health. Visceral fat, the unhealthful type that collects around the abdomen, takes the cake (hopefully not literally) when it comes to potentially harmful health factors. What's the take-home message from all of this? Well, if you liken yourself to J. Lo with her well-endowed bum, you might just be in better shape than you think. Bearing weight around your hips and tush may lessen risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. So go ahead, shake that booty!

Food Love of the Week...Ramp it Up!

Each week, I'll feature a 'food love'--maybe it's something you've never heard of, or something you're just as excited about or intrigued by as I am.

On the chopping block this's officially RAMP season! Sadly, the season, at least in NYC, is just a few days from being all-said-and-done. I'm not refering to a bike ramp or exit ramp on the highway. In the food world, ramps are a type of wild leek or onion. They look a bit like scallions, have a mild, versatile flavor and are pretty darn tasty. Unfortunately, they have a very short-lived season, anywhere from 6 to just 2 weeks...a delicate breed indeed. I discovered ramps about 3 or 4 years ago at Otto Enoteca in Greenwich Village where Mario Batali and his chefs ingeniously paired ramps and eggs as an insanely delicious pizza topping, who knew. Toss them in with fresh pasta and a drizzle of olive oil, garnish scrambled eggs with them, throw them into salad dressings...I even took the green leafy portion and wrapped it around shrimp before grilling. What's your secret use for ramps?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Fresh Start

Welcome to the inaugural blog entry of 'DIET is a four letter word,' a sounding-board and smattering of thoughts around eating well, loving food, and living smart and healthfully without compromising fun, flavor or your sanity.

A brief disclaimer before we embark: this is NOT a blog about the best 'diet' around, the fastest way to drop 10lbs without starving yourself or suffering through a stomach virus, or the newest so-called-food on the market without calories, fat, cholesterol (or taste...I'm not a lover of cardboard myself--are you?). I AM however, a nutritionist (a nice one, I promise I don't bite). In fact, if you know me, you know that I'm just as much a nutritionist as a foodie. I love food and all that it can do--from improving your health to making events with family and friends so exciting and meaningful.

So let's kick this blog off. It's May, the spring season is in full-gear, so I figured, what better time for a fresh start. When I think of 'fresh', clearly one of the first things that comes to mind is food...and close behind is the farmer's market. My local greenmarket, pictured here, is just blocks away from my apartment smack in the middle of Manhattan (yes, I realize I'm extraordinarily lucky and I'm grateful for it). One of the first things I do on a given weekend is stroll through the market and stock up on fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, cheese, whole grain bread and even fish on occasion. I can confidently say that you can't beat the taste, quality and often the price of grocery shopping at the greenmarket. Not only that, I'm always inspired when I walk through the market surrounded by mountains of apples and heaps of asparagus--every single weekend. I realize this may sound cheesy and trite, but it's true. Real, fresh food, good food straight from the source (whether a farm or local bakery etc) is exciting and intriguing (we'll leave the local/organic discussion for another blog). It encourages me to taste new things, get creative when cooking and get to know where my food's coming from, always a bonus. Try it sometime...hit up your own local market and challenge yourself to purchase one new food item and test it out. What would you want to try?

To find a greenmarket near you, check out the following websites:

New York City --

Across the country --

Post your comments, questions, insights, your favorite new restaurant, food, wine etc. We're in for a real tasty ride people!

for more about Marissa and Nourish nutrition counseling & communications, see