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As a sports nutritionist who works with pro athletes,Â I fully expected to be bombarded with questions after Tom Brady and Gisele BÃ¼ndchen’s personalÂ chef toldÂ Boston.comÂ allÂ aboutÂ the powerÂ couple’s strict diet. But instead, most of my clients had just oneÂ question: “Why don’t they eat nightshades?â€
Even if you’re notÂ familiar with the term “nightshades,” you’re probablyÂ very familiar the produce that falls into this category. ThinkÂ tomatoes, peppers, eggplantâ€”foods most of us would consider superÂ healthy. So why are theyÂ a dietary no-no for Brady andÂ BÃ¼ndchen? Here’s the lowdown on the controversial veggies, and why you probably don’tÂ need to nix them.
What are nightshades?
Nightshades include a diverse group of plants (more than 2,000 species!)Â that belong to a specific botanical family calledÂ Solanaceae. They include potatoes, artichokes, okra, cayenne, and paprika.
Why do theyÂ get a bad rap?
The plantsÂ have been a subjectÂ of debate amongÂ nutritionists for years because theyÂ contain chemical compounds called alkaloids thatÂ are thought to cause inflammation in the body. As a result, some practitioners believe eating the plantsÂ could potentially lead toÂ joint pain, digestive problems, sleep disturbances,Â premature aging,Â and chronic diseases.
Nightshades continue to be controversial because there’s a lack of solid research about the true impact of alkaloid substances on joints and the nervous andÂ immune systems. Plus,Â the amount of alkaloids in most nightshadesÂ is prettyÂ small. And ifÂ you steam, boil, or bake them, the alkaloid content drops by about 40 to 50%. It’s alsoÂ worth noting thatÂ veggies in this family are hardly unhealthy. NightshadesÂ are loadedÂ with importantÂ nutrients and antioxidants.
Could they be problematic for athletes?
Some people believe nightshades affect enzymes related to nervous system and muscle function, whichÂ may interfere with muscle recovery. But many athletes I’ve worked with whoÂ tookÂ a break fromÂ nightshades didn’tÂ experience any difference in performance, muscle recovery, or pain levels.
Is it worth tryingÂ a nightshade-free diet?
As with any major diet decision, the answer really depends on your body. If you have a chronic inflammatory condition (like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis), an autoimmune illness (such as lupus, celiac, MS, or psoriasis), or your body is just sensitive to nightshades,Â eliminatingÂ them may be right for you, but try it systematically.Â Without making any other changes to your diet, cut out nightshades for two to three weeks, and monitor how you feel. If you notice changes in your body (like reduced bloating, fatigue, brain fog, aches, orÂ pains) which return after you reintroduce nightshades to your diet, you may have a sensitivity. In that case, considerÂ partnering with a nutritionist. She or he can help you avoidÂ problem foods without being overlyÂ restrictive or compromising your nutrient intake.
However, if you regularly eat nightshadesÂ and feel great,Â there’s really no reason to ditchÂ these nutritious foods.Â Iâ€™m no stranger to food sensitivities, butÂ I personally feel fantastic after eating meals that include raw or cooked tomatoes, oven-roasted eggplant, and cayenne.Â However, I don’t eat them every single day or in huge quantities. Maintaining a healthy, balanced, and varied diet is key.
In short: Rather than mimicking Tom and Gisele, tune into your own body. It will rarely steer you wrong.
Cynthia SassÂ is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with masterâ€™s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen onÂ national TV, sheâ€™s Healthâ€™s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counselsÂ clientsÂ in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Yankees, previously consulted for three other professional sports teams, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Sass is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her brand new book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her onÂ Facebook,Â TwitterÂ andÂ Pinterest.
Can’t lose those last ten pounds? It might be time to give up some of your go-to “diet” foods. Think soy, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts and artificial sweeteners.
According to nutritionist JJ Virgin, author of The Virgin Diet, foods you think are healthy could be sabotaging your weight-loss efforts. Virgin says that food intolerance is a hidden cause of weight gain and if you eliminate “diet” foods that may be causing intolerance, you can lose up to seven pounds in seven days.
Sounds easy but does it work? We caught up with the weight loss guru to learn more:
What is food intolerance?
Food intolerance isn’t the same as a food allergy, Virgin explains. “Food intolerance is a series of physiological responses that your body has to certain types of food,” she says. “They can be immune mediated, including delayed food sensitivities, hormonal— including elevated insulin or cortisol response, or genetic —including lactose intolerance or celiac disease.”
How can food intolerance affect me and my diet?
“Many of the foods you might consider ‘healthy’ could be triggering intolerances,” Virgin explains. Examples include whole grain bread, Greek-style yogurt, egg-white omelets and soy milk. If your body doesn’t tolerate any or all of these foods, “they can create cravings, inflammation and ultimately the inability to lose weight,” she says.
How do I find out if I have food intolerance(s)?
According to Virgin, there’s no need to call a doctor. “An integrative practitioner might do an IgG test, which lists the most common food sensitivities that are unique to you,” she says, but that examination “misses genetic or hormonal intolerances.” Instead, Virgin recommends “testing” your own body by pulling the hi-FI (food intolerant) foods out for three weeks and then challenging your body by adding them one by one to see how you feel.
“Most people test negative for food allergies but find that they feel better when they pull out these foods,” she says. When they’re re-challenged into their bodies, people discover that one or more of these foods cause a variety of negative reactions, she adds.
Furthermore, “Food allergies are acute and can trigger severe reactions. Intolerances are more chronic and sneak up on you. Many of the symptoms intolerances create can feel ‘normal’ so you’re not always making the connection between the food you ate and symptoms it creates.”
What are the most common symptoms?
“Food-intolerance symptoms include bloating, gas, indigestion, fatigue, mental fog, irritability, moodiness — and weight gain,” she says. “If you’re eating foods that your body can’t tolerate, you’re likely to gain weight, feel awful, and look older than you actually are.”
“The Virgin Diet” is your solution to food intolerance. How does it work?
“The Virgin Diet” treats food as “information” rather than simply “calories,” and uses your own body to uncover your unique food intolerance(s). It consists of three cycles:
- Cycle 1: Pull the seven highly reactive foods for 21 days.
- Cycle 2: Personalize the program by discovering which foods are hurting you and which are helping you on your long-term road to health and weight management. Do this by reintroducing one of the seven foods into your body each week for four weeks.
- Cycle 3: Maintain your new diet by learning strategies that will help you stay lean and healthy for life.
So what are the seven foods to drop?
“Dairy, eggs, soy, gluten, peanuts, corn, sugar and artificial sweeteners,” Virgin says.
Is “The Virgin Diet” for everyone?
“Everyone will benefit from pulling these seven highly reactive foods for 21 days,” Virgin claims. And for those who doubt or resist her diet plan, she says after trying it, they lose those last 10 pounds, look and feel better, have clearer skin, and “realize pulling these foods is one of the smartest things they’ve ever done.”
According to Registered Dietician Robin Barrie Kaiden, “there are many who may benefit” from the plan but says the diet is not for everyone.
“Yes, these foods are common allergens, but everyone has different sensitivities,” she says. “For example, some people are sensitive to certain fruits and vegetables and these are not on this list.”
Diana Le Dean, a wellness expert in weight loss, diet and nutrition, warns that detoxing from sugar “is not an easy task.” And while she supports the elimination of these seven foods, she recommends making “these changes very slowly and with the help of a weight loss counselor.”
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Laura Kelly, 27, 5’3″, from Melrose, Mass.
Before: 196 lb., size 8/10
After: 133 lb., size 4
Total pounds lost: 63 lb.
Total sizes lost: 2/3
I blame grad school for my weight gain. As a full-time student who was also working a part-time job and holding down an internship, I had no time to eat on a regular schedule, let alone make mindful eating a priority. Every night, I’d have a huge dinner and then go right to bed. By the beginning of 2015, my last semester, my bad habits had caught up with me. I didn’t realize how much so until I stepped on a friend’s scale and saw the number 196 staring back at me. I thought the scale was broken, but it wasn’t.
Choosing better eats
For the next week, I didn’t know where to turn. At my cousin’s suggestion, I joined Weight Watchers. Though initially skeptical, I got hooked when the results came fast: I lost 15 pounds in the first month. I learned how to rein in portions and build balanced meals, which changed both what and when I ate. I turned to meals like overnight oats for breakfast and roasted veggies and hummus on whole-wheat bread for lunch, which kept me full throughout the day. No longer famished by dinner, I kicked the vicious cycle of going to sleep stuffed and packing on weight because of it. By May, I was down another 15 pounds.
Amping up workouts
Since exercising earned me more Weight Watchers points, I upped my routine from twice-weekly Zumba and yoga classes to four workouts per week, adding in runs, barre classes, and personal training. While I never used to think my size messed with my workouts, the more I lost, the easier exercising became. Today I’m sweating regularly and eating clean to maintain my 135-pound frame. And as a Weight Watchers ambassador, I get to help others reach their goals. Knowing that my story inspires people to get healthy makes my low point and all my hard work feel worth it.
RELATED: 9 Science-Backed Weight Loss Tips
Laura’s get-fit crib sheet
1. Set a curfew. Gorging on a late dinner used to leave me feeling too full, so I wouldn’t have a meal until noon the next day. Now I try to finish my last meal before 8 p.m. to help keep my eating schedule regular and my portions in line.
2. Make a sweat date. My mom and I weight lift with a trainer one night a week. Not only is it a time for us to catch up, but showing up for each other keeps us accountable no matter what!
3. Master your cravings. When I need a treat, I reach for avocado or almonds first. Their healthy fats are satisfying enough to curb my need for sweets, so I’m less tempted to grab junky alternatives.
4. DIY comfort food. Rich in antioxidants and complex carbs, sweet potatoes are one of my favorite healthy foods to dress up. I top them with melted ghee and cinnamon to make them taste indulgent.
As told to Anthea Levi
It’s true that losing weight can reduce the number of calories you burn, but I wouldn’t dwell on it. It’s tough to predict just how much your metabolism will drag and how long the slowdown will persist; the scientific research on the metabolic effects of weight loss is a little all over the place. Some studies have found that overweight or obese people who lose weight do suffer lasting metabolic damage that makes it hard to keep the pounds off later. But other research has found that those same groups can drop pounds with no long-term penalty at all. Don’t forget: Metabolism is partly genetic. That means that even if you and your best friend shed the same amount of weight, your bodies could respond differently.
Interestingly, some experts now believe that the speed at which you lose weight may be an important factor in what happens to your basal metabolic rate (that is, the calorie burn at rest). There’s evidence that people who lose weight quickly through intense calorie restriction see a significant metabolic slowdown. That’s because when you create a dramatic calorie deficit—by slashing calorie intake big time or going crazy with exercise—your body fights back and tries to hold on to energy by reducing the number of calories you burn; this is often referred to as “starvation mode.”
Until the research is more definitive, the best piece of advice I can give (and you’ve probably heard it before) is to slim down slowly, whether you have five pounds to lose or 50. Metabolism aside, a slow and steady weight-loss plan is a more sustainable lifestyle change than a crash diet. Most experts recommend losing at a rate of one pound per week, by creating a calorie deficit of roughly 500 calories a day (a registered dietitian can help you craft a more tailored nutrition plan). One more bit of advice: Make time for strength training. Increasing your muscle mass will help you burn more calories at rest.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.
You know that classic diet advice “Everything in moderation”? Well, it may be failing you, says Robb Wolf, author of Wired to Eat ($27; amazon.com). For starters, it’s an ambiguous concept; research shows we tend to have varying definitions of “moderate” portions. What’s more, some people are better than others at stopping after a few bites of an indulgence, says Wolf, a former research biochemist who has provided nutrition counseling for NASA and the U.S. Marine Corps.
In his book, he advises readers to consider whether they’re a “moderator” or an “abstainer” (a concept he borrowed from habit expert Gretchen Rubin). Moderators feel satisfied after enjoying a small amount of a favorite treat (say, one oatmeal cookie), and that helps them stay on track. But for abstainers, a taste of their so-called trigger foods can send them off the rails. (In other words, if they have one cookie, they’ll inhale the entire sleeve.) So it’s ideal for abstainers to give up trigger foods entirely. Wolf suggests getting them out of the house ASAP. And soon, thanks to your evolving neurocircuitry, you’ll likely crave those foods less.
Even two months after giving birth to baby number two, Ciara’s body is still #goals. But according to an Instagram post the singer shared a few weeks ago, she put on more weight than she planned to while pregnant with her second child.
“I said I wasn’t going to gain 60lbs Carrying Sienna, and… I did exactly that!!” Ciara captioned the photo of her feet standing on a scale that read 178.6 pounds. “4 weeks after her birth I lost 20 lbs. This Weeks Goal is 10lbs. I was 183 yesterday.”
Ciara has since shared two more scale updates: On June 13, she was down to 175.2. Then on June 20, the singer reported she had a “no movement week”—and was still hovering around 175 pounds: “Started my stretch mark removal process this week, and the Doc told me I couldn’t work out…so I ate healthy & added a few [cookies] in the mix!” But Ciara didn’t let the exercise restriction squash her motivation: “This weeks goal 3lbs. #BounceBack”
While the notion of posting scale pics on Insta may seem daunting, Ciara is on to something. For a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, researchers looked at people who belonged to an online weight loss community for six months. They found that those who regularly logged in, “friended” others, and shared the number on their scale shed more pounds —8.3% of their body weight, on average—compared to those who didn’t network on the site, and lost only 4.1% of their body weight.
Another study, published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Informatics Association, found that people who posted slim-down updates on Twitter reported receiving more support from their Twitter followers than their real-life friends and family. What’s more, greater support from social media friends was associated with greater weight loss success.
Meanwhile, research on weight-loss bloggers has found that the longer they maintain a blog, the more pounds they ditch. In a 2016 study, bloggers reported that sharing their progress online helped them stay focused on their goals, kept them accountable, and led to social support.
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There’s no question that encouraging words can go a long way when you’re trying to make a big change. And it might be easier to get that kind of support online: Posting about your weight loss journey on social media may feel less intimidating than talking about it IRL, points out Sherry Pagoto, PhD, co-founder of the UMass Center for Health and Social Media.
“Some people say they like the anonymity [online],” she explains. “On Twitter, you can choose a handle and use an avatar on your profile, which makes some people feel like they can speak more freely and not be ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their weight.”
And it’s worth noting that you don’t need 16.7 million followers like Ciara to leverage social media for your health. A small but mighty group of virtual supporters may be enough, says Pagoto. “It’s takes time to create an online community. But if you engage and stick with it, you can experience a lot of weight loss benefits. It just takes a little bit of work.”
According to Shonda Rhimes, the only thing worse than shedding a lot of weight is getting the wrong kind of attention for it afterward. In a newsletter sent to Shondaland subscribers last week, Rhimes, 47, reveals that it wasn’t until she lost nearly 150 pounds that people seemed to find her “valuable.”
Though the Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator dropped the weight about two years ago, she’s still stunned and disturbed by the way people, even strangers, reacted to her transformation.
“I did not do it because I thought I would become beautiful like in the movies,” Rhimes explains. “I did it because I could not walk up a short flight up stairs without stopping to take a break and wiping sweat from my brow. I did it because my body was physically rebelling against the brain that had been ignoring it for so long.”
And don’t get her wrong, Rhimes still isn’t taken with #cleanliving. In fact, she loathed what it took to lose so many pounds.
“Losing weight is not a topic I like discussing,” she writes. “Why? Because there is nothing fun or interesting or great about it. I hated losing weight. I hated every single second of it. And I hate every single second of maintaining my weight, too.”
What Rhimes hated even more was how slimming down changed the way people reacted to her. “But you know what was worse than losing weight? What was SO MUCH MORE HORRIFYING? How people treated me after I lost weight,” she explains.
“I mean, things got weird,” writes Rhimes. Especially when women she hardly knew gushed over her new look. “Like I was holding-a-new-baby-gushed. Only there was no new baby. It was just me. In a dress. With makeup on and my hair all did, yes. But…still the same me.”
Men began to take notice of Rhimes too, she recalls. “THEY SPOKE TO ME. Like stood still and had long conversations with me about things. It was disconcerting.”
The newfound attention wasn’t the only thing that made this high-powered TV producer uncomfortable. She was also appalled by how breezily people commented on her appearance, calling her “hot” or telling her they were were “proud of her.”
“After I lost weight, I discovered that people found me valuable. Worthy of conversation. A person one could look at. A person one could compliment. A person one could admire,” she continues.
To Rhimes, it felt like others only considered her worthy of conversation once she looked a certain way. After that realization, she began to wonder. “What the hell did they see me as before? How invisible was I to them? How hard did they work to avoid me?” she writes.
WATCH THE VIDEO: What 5 Olympic Athletes Can Teach You About Body Confidence
Of course Rhimes also infuses her newsletter with humor. While lamenting how hard it was to drop the 150 pounds, she says she misses eating “all the fried chicken,” and not just when it was on her plate. “No. I miss eating ALL THE FRIED CHICKEN,” she writes. “All of it. Every piece, everywhere.”
Jokes aside, Rhimes makes a powerful point in a world where unrealistic body ideals are everywhere and a person’s size is often linked to their value. “Being thinner doesn’t make you a different person,” she says. “It just makes you thinner.”
This article originally appeared on Time.com.
The global obesity epidemic continues, and a new report shows that about two billion people worldwide are overweight or obese. That’s about 30% of the world’s population.
The new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that about a third of the global population—including adults and children—exceed a healthy weight. About 10% of people in the world are obese, according to the findings. Studies have linked overweight and obesity to a higher risk for health complications like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, respiratory problems, major cancers and more.
The study authors looked at data from people in 195 countries and territories from 1980 through 2015. They found that in 2015, there were 107 million children and 603 million adults with obesity. Having a high body mass index accounted for 4 million deaths in 2015, and more than two thirds of these deaths were from heart disease.
Since 1980, obesity rates in 70 countries have doubled, the study found, and the rate of childhood obesity has increased faster in many countries than the adult obesity rate.
As TIME recently reported, several factors have contributed to the growing obesity epidemic, including greater access to fast food, larger portion sizes and ubiquitous processed food. Emerging science also suggests that chemicals from food and household products may have an effect.
This article originally appeared on People.com.
Tara Kavanagh has several obese family members, so she always believed she was “destined to be fat.”
The 5’7″ self-employed mom-of-three from Rapid City, South Dakota, 35, was already over 200 lbs. when she started having children, but her pregnancy weight brought her up to 304 lbs. After having her second child, she knew she wanted to make a change.
“I was a young mother of two little girls and in my early 20s when I decided I didn’t want to live the rest of my life obese and unhealthy anymore,” she tells PEOPLE. “I wanted to be an active mother and be able to play with my kids. I also wanted to live my life, not just exist. I wanted to experience new things and felt my size was holding me back.”
Some of Kavanagh’s family members had opted to undergo weight loss surgery, but had all ended up gaining their weight back. So she became determined to go a different route.
“For a long time I felt surgery was my only option for how big I was — there was no way I could lose so much weight on my own — but after seeing my relatives gain their weight back, I knew it wasn’t about the surgery,” she says. “It had to be about lifestyle, and I was determined to figure it out to prevent myself from spending all that money and going through all the pain of surgery for something that I never saw work long-term for anyone I knew who had it done.”
Kavanagh admits she had never stuck to workout routines in the past because she would get bored before seeing any results. When she started doing Jillian Michaels’ workouts (available on her app and FitFusion), she finally found a fitness program that she could stick to.
“Jillian’s workouts are always fun and I look forward to doing them,” she says. “Right when I would be getting the hang of one workout, another would come out, so I never got bored. Over the years I have also appreciated that there are a variety of intensity levels to most moves, so no matter what weight I was at I could get a good workout. I still do the same workouts as a fit person that I did as a 300-lb. person, I just up the intensity level now to get my killer workout!”
She also began paying more attention to what she ate.
“I used to eat because I was bored,” says Kavanagh. “I never thought about what I was eating, how many calories were in it, the quality of it, etc. I ate because it made me feel good.”
Initially, Kavanagh ate the same foods she always had, but started decreasing her portions.
“I knew if I changed too much too fast I would get overwhelmed and quit,” she says. “After the weight started to come off, it was addictive for me to learn healthier ways of eating. I turned my focus on calories after that, living by what I learned from Jillian: my calories in needed to be less than my calories out. I used her app along with a fitness tracker, and the weight came off so easily!”
Now Kavanagh focuses on eating unprocessed, non-GMO and organic as much as possible, and follows the 80/20 rule when it comes to eating.
“I still need my treats once in a while!” she says.
Losing 145 lbs. has given Kavanagh a whole new lease on life.
“The best part of losing the weight has been gaining the confidence to really live my life and try new things,” she says. “I don’t let my body hold me back anymore.”
Women pay more attention to—and feel better after looking at—models who are average and plus-size compared to models who are thin. That’s the conclusion of a new study from Florida State University researchers, published last week in the journal Communication Monographs.
Women in the study also remembered more details about fashion models who were not super skinny, and they were less likely to compare themselves to women of more realistic proportions.
The study involved 49 college-age women, all of whom considered themselves “average” weight but aspired to be thinner. The women were shown various images of fashion models—taken from the Macy’s and Target websites—who’d been classified by the researchers as either thin, average, or plus-size. (The plus-size models all appeared to be overweight or obese, but none were morbidly obese.)
After the women observed each image, they were asked to categorize the model based on her body type, rate how attractive and pleasant they perceived her, and indicate how much they compared themselves to her. They were also asked about their own levels of body satisfaction, and—as a “distractor question” meant to mask the true intent of the study—whether they planned to buy the clothing depicted in the image. The women were then shown an unrelated short video, and afterward were asked some questions to evaluate their memory about the models.
Their responses revealed very different opinions toward models of different sizes. When thin women were on the screen, the participants made more comparisons to their own bodies, paid less attention, and remembered less about the models. They also reported less body satisfaction, which the researchers say can be bad for mental and physical health.
When viewing average and plus-size women, on the other hand, the participants paid better attention, remembered more, made fewer self-comparisons, and reported higher body satisfaction—despite the fact that they all admitted they wanted to be thinner.
“We found overwhelmingly that there is a clear psychological advantage of depicting the non-ideal body type in media campaigns,” the authors wrote in their paper. “These findings suggest that incorporating more realistically sized fashion models in the media might have its benefits in terms of improved health outcomes,” they add, including less dejection and more body satisfaction for a female audience.
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The study’s sample size was small and only included college-age women who wanted to lose weight, and the authors say their findings should be replicated with people of different genders, ages, ethnicities, and body images. But lead researcher Russell Clayton, PhD, director of the Cognition and Emotion Lab at FSU, tells Health that the findings “tell an interesting story about the current trend of depicting plus-size models in media campaigns.”
Clayton also says the study results can be eye-opening for women who do want to be thinner, in terms of how viewing images of realistic versus “ideal” body types might affect their self-confidence and personal body satisfaction. (That’s especially important in a world where media is inundated with unrealistic body goals—which, by the way, are often altered or strategically photographed.) The bottom line? Pay attention to how images of other women truly make you feel, not just whether they match your idea of the perfect figure.