The Mind-Blowing Answer to “How to eat a Healthy Diet”

A guest post today by Lynn Stiff MD, RD, MS

Whenever people hear I’m a dietitian, they often make comments like – 

“Oh that’s so cool! I wish medical school spent more time on this. I know nothing about diet.”

“I bet you have so much knowledge for your patients! They must all be so healthy!”

Awesome! I just started a _[enter fad diet]_!”

“Don’t look at my plate.”

These people think I am going to make a HUGE impact because of this super secret education I have about nutrition. But the fact of the matter is this – nutrition isn’t that hard

I know, mind-blowing, right?

Disclaimer – Before all the RDs out there start sending me hate mail, hear me out. Nutrition itself is pretty straight forward. A general healthy diet can be explained in detail in 30 min or less. The biochemistry and nuances of various medical conditions, tube feeding, and supplements – that’s where things get more challenging. But that’s not what the general population needs or cares to know about. And remember, all that training you did also included much more than just nutrition. So you’re still super valuable in my opinion!

While the various nutrition organizations may beg to differ, here’s the deal. Nutrition as the average person sees it is actually super simple. Our food system has complicated it.  There is a whole world of herbal supplements and supplements as medicine. I’m not talking about that (and FYI – that is NOT taught while training to become a dietitian).

What I’m talking about is eating on a day-to-day basis. The secret to a healthy diet is actually quite simple. Michael Pollan sums it up well in his book “In Defense of Food” – 

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

That’s it. So what does this mean? 

  1. Eat food: eat real food. This is the “shop the perimeter” stuff you hear about. Put fresh, whole foods into your meals, not processed items. Take the time to make a dish from scratch instead of the “just add water” box or “hot and ready in 5 min” from the freezer. The perfect example – eat real butter not that crazy margarine that comes in a 1lb tub.
  2. Not too much: Easier said than done, right? Most people eat much more than they need. We go through the day distracted and stressed, eating because it’s a necessity, not because we enjoy it. Sit down. Eat mindfully. Stop a few bites before you feel full and assess if you need more. This alone could cut out hundreds of calories a day.
  3. Mostly plants: most adults do not get the recommended servings of vegetables a day. If I had it my way, everyone would eat 1 serving at breakfast, 2 at lunch and 2 a dinner. The choice to eat fruits and vegetables should be the easy one. They should be a default side at a restaurant. Kids should get vegetables throughout the day so they are used to seeing them on their plate. If our default was vegetable over starch we would leave a meal more satisfied with more stabilized glucose/insulin levels. We would lower our cancer and (insert any chronic disease here) disease risk. And we’d all poop more often (the added bonus no one talks about).

The truth is, eating healthy is not rocket science. Doing what we all know we should do…now that is where the challenge lies. And that’s where I can help. Check out my free starter guide at to get started on your healty eating journey!

What’s your take on Pollan’s quote? What do you do to try to eat a healthy diet?

Weekend Morning Oatmeal

When I decided to get processed carbs out of my pantry, that meant giving up my beloved boxes of cereal… Cereal has been a comfort in my life for as long as I can remember. Rough spelling test, Lucky Charms can fix that. Boyfriend dumped you, Peanut Butter Captain Crunch to the rescue. Finally get the tiny tyrant children to bed after a long day of parenting, enjoy a bowl of Frosted Flakes with that Chardonnay.

Sadly, those delicious varieties of colorful childhood memories are chocked full of sugar, artificial flavorings and empty calories. So, I cut them out of my life like a toxic ex boyfriend! But that left a Toucan Sam sized hole in my heart and stomach for something delicious and indulgent on weekend mornings.

Enter oatmeal! Yes, oatmeal, that wallpaper paste your grandparents used to eat can actually be really delicious and pretty healthy! Now, this recipe is pretty indulgent, probably a little high in carbs for every day, but a really good alternative to those other sugary processed options. It’s packed full of nutrients and protein, and will keep you full all morning long. Add some sausage patties or bacon, and a mimosa on the side and its a full brunch!

Weekend Oatmeal

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 3/4 cups old fashion oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (I like Craisins or Raisins)
  • 1/2 banana sliced
  • Peanut or almond butter
  • Real Maple Syrup

First the oats, they need to be old fashion oats that look like they just came out of a grain bin, remember, the less processed the better. I haven’t tried this recipe with steel cut oats, but I bet it would work great.

Bring the milk and water to a simmer, over medium heat, until you start to see little bubbles on your spoon and the sides of the pan.

Add the oats and salt. It will look like way too much liquid, but don’t worry, it thickens up!

Stir continuously on medium heat while the mixture comes to a boil and bubbles away, then reduce heat to medium-low and continue to stir until it is pretty thick and about half the liquid is absorbed.

This is the stage when I like to add my dry fruit and nuts. It gives the fruit a minute or two in the warm liquid to plump up a bit and infuses the while batch of oatmeal with delicious nutty flavor.

Now for the toppings!!!! The best part. I love mine with a few slices of banana for sweetness, a big spoonful of peanut butter and a tablespoon of Real maple syrup. (None of that processed sugary crap your kids put on waffles). You can add a scoop of high quality protein powder for extra oomph, pumpkin puree and spices for chilly fall mornings, apples and cinnamon for a Christmas treat, or whatever else your heart desires!

I’m enjoying mine right now with a big glass of water and a cup of coffee.

(Please excuse my lack of photography skills and my messy kitchen, ya’ll know I’m not fancy like those real bloggers.)

Nutrition November is just getting started!!

Ok ladies and gentlemen, get your hearts and minds ready for some fire! In honor of what I am calling Nutrition November, I’ll be having two guest blog posts next week. Drum roll please…..My good friend, fellow Family Doctor, mom of three Aaannnnddd Registered Dietician, doctor Lynn Stiff will be brining the heat with some awesome wellness tips and nutrition truth bombs.

Here is a link to her kick a**, totally free, going to change your life, wellness challenge! I joined the group and you should too. Her page is chock Full if real, tactical advice on healthy eating, body love and the power of mindset. The challenge runs from 11/20 – 12/3, perfect for getting through the holidays happier and healthier! Did I mention, it’s totally free!!!

Stay tuned next week for more wisdom and encouragement from Dr. Stiff and some fun with Nutrition November! And find her at her blog using this link –

Fed is Best!!!

The breast feeding vs formula feeding debate rages on in this country and sadly exhausted new moms and innocent babies are getting caught in the crosshairs. A little departure from my usual format. This won’t be funny and I did not write this article, but it’s message is so important I have to share it.

I’ve been saying this for years. Feed the baby, with whatever you want, just feed it. Stop shaming new moms into breastfeeding if they don’t want to or aren’t able to. Support the heck out of them at every step if they do want to breast feed. If they ask for formula or a pacifier, give it to them. Let new moms have a break and stop requiring them to room in with baby 24-7 after laboring for hours or enduring a c-section. Give these moms and dads, and their tiny babies a break. And as always, be kind! You never know what someone else is going through.

U.S. Study Shows Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative Does Not Work

Here We Go H2O, Here We GO! Rah Rah!!

It’s November and football season is in Full Swing. WoooHooo go Bobcats! We all love a good cheer right?! I mean, who doesn’t love rooting for the home team, wearing the jersey with pride, waving your pom-poms in the air like you just don’t care! Well let’s all stand up and cheer for the real start of the team, the water cooler!

I know what you’re thinking. “She’s gonna tell us to drink more water. Everyone already knows that. Why do we nee a whole blog post about water Dr. Hathaway?” And then you are going to tell me with that snarly voice inside your head, “I drink lots of water!” Well, let me just tell you… no one drinks enough water. Like no-one. Ok maybe someone, but generally speaking, every single one of us could be doing a better job with our water intake, myself included.

Your body is 75% water and all of your organ systems depend on you being well hydrated to function at their highest level. Your brain needs water to process and make higher order decisions. Your gut depends on an adequate intake of water to keep things moving the right direction. Staying well hydrated promotes healthy weight loss and energy. Water provides cushion to your joints and keeps your muscles loose and able to regenerate. And of course, your kidneys rely on a healthy supply of water to flush toxins out of your system as urine.

Here are a few parameters I’ll throw out there for you. Are you peeing every hour on the hour? Is your pee clear? Did you drink at least 75 ounces of water today? No?? See, I told you. You should be drinking more water! A good rule of thumb is to divide you body weight in half and drink that in ounces of water per day. So if you weight 150 pounds that means you need to drink 75 ounces of water!

No Derrick, coffee does not count as water. I don’t care that you poured 12 cups of H2O into the Kehrig before you started brewing that delicious brown nectar from the gods. It doesn’t count. In fact all that wonderful caffeine is actually dehydrating you even more.

Caffeine acts as a mild diuretic by inhibiting the reabsorption if sodium in the loop of Henle within the kidney, and increasing the glomerular filtration rate. It also moderately suppressed Anti-diuretic hormone which in turn causes less water to come back into the body tissues and more of it to be excreted as urine. (Boom Science! Yes I did bring up the loop of Henle!)

So, coffee, tea and soda don’t count. Alcohol also doesn’t count… that should go without saying. So what does count as water? Well, I’m gonna make it easy here. Water. Like, a fish can swim in it, water. Yep, that’s right. You have to actually drink good ol fashion water to hydrate yourself.

Now what about the new found trend of sparking water?? I love me some La Croix, with its hint of flavor and effervescent bubbles. It’s a great alternative to soda and doesn’t have the caffeine to dehydrate you like iced coffee. Some “sparking water” can have sodium in it, artificial flavors, sugar, and other additives. So those would not count and would not hydrate you very well. But truly pure sparkling water with no additives, other than the carbon dioxide to make it bubble, is probably fine. It is worth noting, that those bubbles can cause bloating and sense of fullness and may prevent you from being able to drink your full 75 ounces. A good rule of thumb is that no more than 12 ounces of your daily H20 should come from sparking water, most of it should be flat or “still” water.

If I drink all that water, won’t I have to pee all the time?? Yes Janet, that’s kind of the whole point. Think of how many times a day you change a baby’s diaper. You’d be worried if it was only once? Yet many of us go through our work day with little more than one bathroom break. And checking your hair at lunch doesn’t count. Drink the water, use the extra bathroom breaks to stretch your legs, escape the desk for a few minutes and catch up on your blog reading 😜

So, 3 cheers for water!!! Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray!!! You know its good for you. You know you should be drinking it. So head on down to the local Target, find a cute 32 ounce water bottle, fill that puppy up 3 times a day and you’re there! You can do it. I believe in you. Now excuse me, I’ve got to go pee.

The Views expressed in this blog are soley that of its author and are not meant to serve as medical advice. Instead, go see your family doctor. They are super cool and love to help people.

Dr. Hathaway’s Book Club!!!

OK, so I’m not Oprah, obviously, no one is getting a car, but I do love a good book! Recently, I’ve developed a particular fondness for a good ol’, kick it into gear, get rid of the excuses, make your life better, non-fiction book. So that’s where we are going to start. Don’t worry, there will be some heart pounding, smutty romance novels thrown in here every now and then 😉

Book #1 – The Obesity Code, by Dr. James Fung. (I make no money recommending these books, I just really happen to think they are great)

When I was wallowing in post partum depression, stress and anxiety, I comfort ate my way to about 50 pounds over weight… I know…GASP…doctors can be overweight?!?! Sadly, yes. In fact, a lot of us are. Our lives are busy, super stressful and we tend take care of everyone else except ourselves. And truth be told, we didn’t exactly get a great education in nutrition and exercise when I went to Med school. Apparently learning the Krebs cycle was way more important… face palm. (My biology nerds will appreciate that one). Yes, of course, we were trained to tell our patients to “eat healthy and exercise regularly”, and that “calories in = calories out” but that’s about the extent of it.

Turns out, its a lot more complicated than that! I wasted years of my life counting calories and not losing a single pound, rather I gained, and gained my way to the most uncomfortable I’d ever been. When I finally decided to turn it around, get my sh** together and lose the weight, I started with a personal trainer and started really counting my calories, but after a few months I still wasn’t losing much weight. I thought, how can this be!?! I’m eating “heathy” and exercising just like they told me to in med school. They Lied To Me!! They told me if I just at 1500 calories a day I’d look like a Kardashian!!

 A friend recommended this book, I bought it immediately, and then it literally sat on my nightstand for 3 months… Finally on a cross country flight I had the uninterrupted time to read it. Let me just tell you, it change my life! I’m not saying that lightly, I’ll state it again. This book will change the way you think about food and calories and all the things!!

It starts with a great history lesson about why America became so obese. And why, even in the era of the “Low Fat” and “Diet food” craze of the 80s and 90s, we just continued to get More Obese. Spoiler alert, Fat is not the enemy, refined carbohydrates and sugar is. Spoiler alert #2, not all calories are created equal. Turns out eating 1500 calories of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch a day, will not help you lose weight. Also, remember how mom always told you to never skip breakfast, “its the most important meal of the day”. Well turns out that may not be true for all of us.

OK I don’t want to spoil the ending, so let me just say, do yourself a favor and read this book! Check it out at the local library, get it at any fine book retailer, or listen to the audio book while you are driving to your great aunts house for Thanksgiving. And don’t hate me when the book convinces you to put back your second helping of marshmallow covered yams and skip that hydrogenated oil whipped topping on your pie. You’ll thank me later 😉 Then send me a comment or a message about what your thought of it!

Pour Some Sugar On ME!

It’s Halloween and the Reese’s peanut butter cups are flowing! Kids are trick-or-treating in their finest unicorn and Ninja costumes, you’ve undoubtedly had to endure 2 neighborhood costume parties, a classroom holiday bash, and “trunk-or-treat” at the local mall. Now your house is full to the brim with Tootsie Rolls, KitKats, Mike and Ikes and Laughy Taffy. And a few of those terrible packs of Necco Wafers, who gives those out!?! Who hurt you as a child, and why do you hate us?! Anyway, by November 1st you’ve eaten your weight in refined sugar and can hear your grandmas voice in the back of your head telling you, “You’re going to get diabetes!” Well she’s not completely correct, you don’t get diabetes from eating candy, but she’s not wrong to tell you to avoid eating too much sugar.

So, let’s talk diabetes, “the sugars” as your great uncle from Alabama would call it. More specifically, let’s talk Preventing diabetes. We are, after all, in a series about preventative medicine. Here’s the really simple, down and dirty, college 101 about Diabetes. It is a condition where the body doesn’t process carbohydrates very well. Typically, when you eat a Snickers bar, tortilla chips, or PB and J, carbohydrates in the food break down in the gut, and your blood sugar rises. Your body gets to work, cranks out some insulin to help turn it into energy, the liver stores a little of that sugar for later, and your blood sugar goes back down to a healthy range. When you have diabetes, the body’s usual mechanisms for lowering blood sugar don’t work so great. And having high blood sugar all the time comes with a host of health problems. Increased risk of heart attack, blindness, kidney failure, stroke and nerve damage.

For clarity sake, there are two commonly recognized types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, previously called Juvenile diabetes, is an auto-immune condition that attacks the pancreas, (an organ in the belly responsible for producing insulin) and there’s not much you can do to prevent it. Its just rotten luck. Kids and adults with Type 1 diabetes have to manage the carbohydrates they eat by injecting insulin, and it stinks. But they can generally eat anything they want and live normal, healthy lives.

We will be talking about Type 2 Diabetes, known by many as adult onset diabetes. This type of diabetes is much more preventable, more often managed with diet modifications and is the target of your Grandma’s candy rants. (Unfortunately, with obesity rates soaring, and childhood obesity on the rise, Type 2 Diabetes is actually being diagnosed younger and younger, so “adult onset” doesn’t always fit any more. But I digress…)

So how do we prevent this plight of Type 2 Diabetes. Grandma would say, “Eat a salad”. Eating a healthy diet can help you avoid getting diabetes. But eating “healthy” is complicated, and you get lots of opinions about what is healthy these days. Spoiler alert, Snickers did not make the list and neither did Lean Cuisine. Here’s the quick highlight real.

Eat real food! Stuff that looks the same way it did coming out of the earth. And lots of vegetables. They really are good for you. (fyi Candy Corn is NOT a vegetable) Find some protein you enjoy and eat a little of that every day. And avoid eating a lot of processed grains and refined sugars. This is all the white fluffy stuff. Bread, pasta, tortillas, white rice and potatoes. And of course, avoid added sugar. Sugar sneaks its way into a lot of things, mostly processed and packaged foods. Manufacturers add sugar to things you’d never expect to make it taste better so you’ll eat more of it. Stay tuned for a deeper dive into nutrition next month!

Next up, everyone favorite, Diet Soda. Its diet, Zero sugar and a healthier alternative right? WRONG!! Artificial sweeteners are just as bad for you, probably worse than actual sugar. They raise insulin levels and can put you on a path for obesity and diabetes. I know, I know, I love me some Diet Dr Pepper as much as the next guy. But I sure as heck don’t want diabetes, so I gave it up a few years ago, and you can too. Stop eating “diet” food in general. It’s all full of artificial sweeteners and additives. If something says it is “sugar free” but tastes sweet, it really is too good to be true. It has an artificial sweetener in it and should be a no-go. Instead, drink more water!

Exercise is also really important. When you exert yourself, your cells require less insulin to process blood sugars and your body is better able to stay in a normal blood sugar range. Studies show a brisk 20-30 minute walk every day, above and beyond your usual routine, can help lower blood pressure and blood sugars, and prevent diabetes. Find some sort of exercise you enjoy doing and do it often!

I can’t even believe I have to type this one out….Quit Smoking…. For goodness sake, quit smoking!!! I’m not even going to waste time citing sources or copying and pasting pretty pictures on this one. You already know, so I’m just going to say it one more time for extra oomph, just in case you thought I’d let you get away with it, QUIT SMOKING!

Be sure to get adequate Vitamin D. Studies have shown that people who had very low vitamin D levels had higher rates of diabetes, and those with higher levels of vitamin D had a 43% lower chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Vitamin D can be hard to come by this time of year when we see less sunshine and more snow. And, No Becky, that does not mean you should head on down to the local tanning bed, melanoma kills people! You can get Vitamin D in fatty fish and Cod Liver Oil, but That Sounds Terrible! Instead, find a Vitamin D supplement in the local grocery store and ingest somewhere around 1000-2000 international units per day, or better yet just take 25,000 units per week. Ask your friend family doctor for more info about vitamin D supplementation.

Some of us are just cursed with bad genetics and everyone since great, great grandma Jolene has had type 2 diabetes. And it’s true, sometimes you can’t beat your genes. But you can put up a good fight! So, put down the Milky Way Bar, throw away the Captain Crunch and Crystal Light and jump on that treadmill. That one collecting dust in the basement (yes, you’ll have to fold all the clothes draped over it first, I know, I’ve been there). Then pick up a big ol’ cup of water and make yourself a delicious salad. Take your vitamin D tonight and rest easy knowing you are doing your best to prevent diabetes!

The views expressed in this blog are solely that of its author. Do not use these posts as medical advice, instead go see your own family doctor. I do not own the rights to these pictures, I cut and pasted them off Google just like everyone else does.

Check the girls out!

October is widely celebrated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month!! Wooo Hooo pink cups at the coffee shop and the NFL players are rocking those pink shoes! But come on guys, its not about getting a discount on your favorite fuchsia brand of lip stick, its about getting your boobs checked for cancer!

Breast cancer is the number 2 cause of cancer deaths in women in the united states, right behind lung cancer (so don’t smoke, that will be another blog post for another day) and other than skin cancer, is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. About 1 in 8 of your girlfriends, aunts, grandmothers and sisters will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, and in 2019, in the US alone, an estimated 41,760 women will die of breast cancer!

So, let’s get those girls checked! Starting with monthly self-breast exams. I want you to get to know those ladies like they are your two best friends. That way, when one of them decides to goes rogue on you and grows a lump, you’ll know it immediately. Just like that time you knew Jennifer’s husband was secretly stopping at Becky’s house on his way home from work by the new perfume you smelled in his truck! Jennifer wouldn’t be caught dead wearing Clinique Happy, that is so last year. You are your own best detective when it comes to breast lumps/bumps and skin changes. So, check yourself out in the mirror, look at how good you look! Feel em up in the shower and get to know your own body.

And for heck sake ladies, get your mammogram!!! Take home point for those in the back, GET YOUR MAMMOGRAM

When to get a mammogram depends on several factors, your age, family history, overall health, etc. And the recommendations aren’t always crystal clear on your google search. So I’m going to make it easy for you. Call your family doctor, make an appointment for your annual physical, and when you are there, ask them, “Do I need my mammogram this year?” We get paid to stay up on this stuff so you don’t have to. Remember, keeping people healthy is my favorite thing! Don’t have a family doctor?? WHAT??? Your killing me here. But don’t worry, the friendly folks at your local health department can help you out as well. (but seriously, get a family doctor!)

There are a few new Buzz words around mammograms, lets unpack those a bit.

#1-Digital Mammography, this is basically standard of care now, and just means the images are stored on a computer and not the old timey black films of yesteryear. Picture in your head for me camera film vs. an SD card. (does anyone under 30 even know what camera film looks like?)

#2-3D Mammography, this is a computer software program taking multiple 2D images and combining them into one 3D image. It takes a few seconds longer and there is a slightly higher amount of radiation exposure but it is still well within the FDA guidelines for safety. Be sure to check with your insurance if they will cover the 3D mammogram, many do, but some may not.

Breast cancer detected on mammogram image.

There is a new test on the market called Breast Thermography, but let me just say from the top it is not a substitute for mammography! There is no independent scientific research to show Thermography is effective at detecting breast cancer, there just isn’t any data guys! Even the makers of the test say it Does Not detect cancer, just increased blood flow. So, don’t rely on it as a stand-alone test for breast cancer screening. It has only been approved by the FDA as an “adjunctive” tool, meaning use alongside primary screening tests – Mammograms. What is particularly concerning is the test has an unacceptably high rate of false negatives, meaning the thermogram tells you everything is fine, when in reality there is a cancer growing in your boob! The internet, and your friend Debby, are full of unfounded claims, that are literally Killing women by given them false senses of security. Mammography has been proven over and over and over again to find breast cancers early and they are safe. So, don’t be fooled, and trust your family doctor!

Mammogram image vs, thermogram image.

Now let’s be honest, if men had boobs, they would have come up with a better way to screen them for cancer. No one loves getting the girls squeezed within an inch of their life in 3 directions. But its your best change at catching breast cancers early, when they are still very treatable. So just do it, now, go!

Most cities have walk-in mammogram locations, no appointment needed, All insurance carriers, Medicare and Medicaid cover the cost of screening mammograms and many states offer free mammograms to women who do not have insurance. Here is a great tool to find a free mammogram near you!  

So, you literally have NO EXCUSES!

OK, we are talking about prevention right, well technically speaking mammography is “Screening” and early detection. But there are some things you can do to help prevent and reduce your risk of breast cancer.

First and foremost, eat a healthy diet, avoid processed foods and added chemicals whenever possible. All of us need to eat more veggies and drink more water. And here’s the thing about water, it has to be actual water, like a Fish Can Swim in it Water! Crystal Lite does not count, sorry Karen. Maintaining a healthy weight is also an important way to reduce your risk of breast cancer. Avoid exposure to large doses of radiation, chemicals and excessive hormones. And here’s the one that hurts a little bit even as I type it…avoid excessive alcohol. I know, I know, mamma needs her wine. But try to limit it to a reasonable amount, the jury is still out on what exactly that means, but everyone would agree that large amounts of alcohol is bad for you.

So go get your mammogram, just get it. I’m pretty sure they give you free cookies at the imaging centers! And talk to your doctor about your breast health. And since it is Breast Cancer Awareness month, check out some of the fine retailers around the country doing good work and supporting breast cancer research. You know you want to shop anyway, so while you are in the waiting room at your doctors office, get something nice for yourself, or your friend Jennifer, since her husband is a jerk.

Here is the CDCs link to breast cancer awareness if you need more information.

Ode to the Halloween Oreo

Alright, so this doesn’t exactly fit our October theme of preventative medicine, but it is an important medical question I think we need to ponder… Why do the Orange Halloween Oreos taste soooo much better? Everyone agrees they are far superior to the traditional white ones, (this is fact and not up for debate, Debby) but why? What are they putting in there?!

Now, the folks at Nabisco claim the orange filling in its Halloween cookie is exactly the same as the regular Oreo, just with food coloring added, but I’m not buying it. There’s got to be some explanation as to why they are so much tastier. Well let’s turn to science, because science is pretty rad and has answers for everything!

Experimental psychologist Charles Spence studied how all of our senses affect our sense of taste. His book, Gastrophysics, The New Science of Eating, explains it all. In one experiment, people perceived foods to be 10% sweeter when colored with pink-red-orange hues. They also reported the intensity of the color enhanced and amplified the amount of flavor they detected in a particular food.

We also associate colors with certain foods known by that color. Orange of course, will be expected to taste like an orange. And a common and Very delicious dessert combination is Orange and Chocolate. Like those sweet little Christmas time balls that break into slices of deliciousness. (Anyone else think these were developed by a mom who just really needed to forcefully slam something on to the counter after dealing with her children during the holidays? Anyone?? Just me? ok….)

Turns out the color of our food really does change our perception of how it tastes. Science once again saves the day, confirming that the Orange Halloween Oreo, with it’s 10% sweeter, more intensely colored, chocolate and orange reminiscent filling, is the superior Oreo! Case Closed. Now pardon me while I go on a 2-mile run to burn off that entire sleeve of deliciousness I just ate in one sitting. Hey, they are vegan, that must mean their good for you, right? 😉

Let me know your favorite Oreo flavor below. But don’t you dare say the fat free ones, we can not be friends. Nobody puts Oreo in the fat free corner!

An Ounce of Prevention…

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I don’t know who said it first, but I say it almost every day. As a primary care doctor, at least half of my day is spent on preventative medicine. My goal is to get and keep people healthy. Being healthy is the Best! It’s my favorite! So for the next month my blog will focus on some prevention recommendations and discussion about how to stay healthy.

It’s October, pumpkin spice lattes are flowing, sweater weather is upon us, and the leaves are changing, so let’s talk about some very fall-specific preventative medicine! The flu shot (No it does not come in Pumpkin flavor, yet. Science you should work on that) I’m gonna go ahead and start by saying, Get your Darn Flu Shot! Just get it, now, you’ll thank me later.

But for the sceptics in the back, let’s dive a little deeper. What’s the big deal with the flu anyway? It’s just a bad cold right? Wrong! Influenza (the respiratory flu virus) killed about 79,000 people in the 2017-2018 season. 79,000 people! And it hospitalized 960,000 people. ( This is way different than what most Americans think of as “the flu”. This is not your garden variety stomach bug or cold. Influenza is a really serious, particularly virulent, bug that takes no prisoners and shows no mercy! It often causes high fevers, severe body aches, respiratory distress, and pneumonia, and can last for weeks.

Side note for my history buffs out there. The “Spanish Flu” pandemic of 1918 killed almost 100 million people, a lot of them being otherwise healthy teen agers and young adults, that’s 100,000,000 if you want to see it with ALL those zeros… to Spain’s credit, it didn’t start there, they just got hit particularly hard. (

I hear it all the time, “I never get the flu, so I don’t need the flu shot,” Well that’s like saying, I’m a good drive and I never get in car accidents so I don’t need to wear my seatbelt… see how silly that sounds? You could get exposed to the flu just about anywhere. Your local grocery store, the bank, McDonalds drive through when the cashier lady sneezes on your 10 pack of chicken nuggets! It is everywhere. The typical flu season starts in the fall and goes through spring, but every year is a little different. Now is the time to get the flu shot!

Many of my patients tell me they get sick from the flu shot, so let’s put that one to bed. You can’t “get the flu” from a flu shot. It is a killed vaccine, so it has no ability to actually infect you. However, it does take about 2 weeks for full immunity to take effect, so it’s certainly possible you could still get the flu from the McDonalds drive-thru lady, or your pesky kindergartener within that time frame. You can also get a common cold or other virus around the same time as getting your flu vaccine, just by walking around town during cold and flu season. The other thing people sometimes complain of as “getting the flu” from their influenza immunization, is actually the symptoms of your immune system learning about the vaccine. We call this a cytokine response. A sore arm, stiff muscles, the sniffles for a day or two, is a small price to pay for good immunity to the actual flu. See above for a reminder about how terrible it really can be.

Now, no one will claim the flu vaccine is perfect. It relies on scientist correctly matching the vaccine with the strains of the flu that will make their way across the globe. It is also less effective than other vaccines because too small of a percentage of adults get the vaccine. (We need about 80% of you getting it to ensure good herd immunity, mooooo). It is however, the best chance you’ve got at preventing and beating the flu. Worst case scenario, you take my word for and get your flu shot. Then darn it, 2 month later you end up testing positive for influenza anyway. Well, good news! Evidence shows that the flu vaccine still helps prevent you from getting more serious complications like pneumonia, hospital admission, respiratory failure and death. So I’d say it’s worth it! (

On final plug or getting the flu shot. You’d never doubt your doctor’s decision to put you on an antibiotic for an ear infection right? You’d just head off to the pharmacy, fill that bad boy prescription, and heal up your middle ear space with some good ol’ amoxicillin. So why would you doubt your physicians when they recommend a lifesaving, low risk ounce of prevention like the flu shot?! You can trust us, we go to school for literally 12+ years after high school to learn all this mumbo jumbo. That’s way more than Nancy has from local Facebook mom’s group. 😉

For more fun facts about the flu and the Influenza vaccine go see your family doctor, or check out the CDC’s website, and this site that has a nice reader friendly synopsis.

(The opinions expressed in this blog belong to the author and should not be a substitute for medical advice. Instead, go see your own family doctor to discuss your health and wellness concerns.)