The Questionable Science of Nutrition

We know that nutrition plays a large role in our health, but in all honesty, I don’t think we truly know much more than that. What about nutrition science, you ask? Well, it’s not simply science. It’s also a lot of lobbying, policy, Dr. Oz, and business interests. For example, the dairy industry has convinced us that milk is a necessity for healthy growth and bones, yet there are few real, reputable studies to back the claim. Large scale studies have shown that female milk drinkers even face an increased risk of fractures later in life. Keep in mind that milk is not necessarily related to the increased risk, but it certainly shows that drinking milk may not have the protective power we are told it has.

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This problem extends far beyond “Got Milk?” campaigns; there are so many misconceptions surrounding nutrition, especially when nutrition is so heavily influenced by business interests. Since March is National Nutrition Month, I thought this was the perfect time to share my thoughts on the current state of nutrition. And it’s a mess.

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While I am not a nutritionist or registered dietitian, I do consider myself a scientist and strive to be an informed consumer, but being an informed consumer is FAR from easy. Those nutrition articles in Shape magazine, or even in reputable news sources or some research journals, are not always accurate. Those clinical studies shown on websites may not be factual. Many companies hire an external group to conduct studies, which means that many of those studies are funded by the brand and designed in a way to produce the most convincing results to support the product’s claims.

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Mark Twain said it first.

I feel like this post has been a bomb of negativity, but I think it is so important to address. My advice for you is to always look for scholarly sources (peer-reviewed medical journals) for information, and make sure to read the note on any potential conflicts of interest the study or researchers might have. Beyond that, listen to your body. All of the nutrition advice in the world can’t compare to the specific ways your body functions. I think this is part of the challenge in the field, everyone’s body is different. We process and metabolize foods so differently depending on genes, the bacteria in our gut microbiome, or our past dietary choices. Keep this in mind, and take those nutrition articles with a grain of salt–something that may not be so bad for you after all.

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References:

Michaëlsson, K., Wolk, A., Langenskiöld, S., Basu, S., Lemming, E. W., Melhus, H., & Byberg, L. (2014). Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies. Bmj, 349, g6015.

 

Ted Talk Friday: Flow

Now I am a self-proclaimed Positive Psychology addict, but this Ted Talk by researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi gives information that everyone can appreciate. The idea of flow is that moment when you “lose yourself” in something you love; it is a combination of skill and a challenge that extends a little further than we were able to go in the past. As a college student thinking about the next step I want to take in life, I am thinking about what activities put me into a state of flow and how I can find a career to match.

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What activity puts you in flow? Has it changed over time?

New Bagels on the Block

Growing up, I would often walk to Panera after school and get a cinnamon crunch bagel and I would get hungry again an hour later. Looking back now, I cannot say that I’m surprised. Those gigantic, refined flour, sugar-laden treats are are not exactly a wholesome snack–they pack 430 calories and 32 grams of sugar. That is eight teaspoons of sugar. Now I don’t want to demonize sugar or bagels, but so many of our modern day products have ballooned in size; a plain bagel twenty years ago was about half the size of today’s bagel.

Luckily, not all bagels are created equal and there are some great options out there that pack a great nutritional punch and taste amazing.

Enter: Western Bagel. The brand was generous enough to send me a sample pack of their Perfect 10 line bagels,which comes in Healthy Grain and Everything flavor.

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Curious where the name comes from? Check out the nutrition stats:

 

The bagels have a whopping 19 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber–that’s what I would call a filling, healthy afternoon snack!

 

You can make it sweet with jam (I love Nature’s Hollow)…

 

 

 

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Or savory…

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It goes without saying that my freezer is fully stocked and ready; these are the perfect on-the-go snack for a long day at school or at work.

 

 

Use code “Hannah15” for 15% off your order! Note that you must finish making an account and refresh the page (logged in) before you can apply the code.

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What’s your favorite bagel topping?

Ted Talk Friday: Grit

I think grit is what differentiates people who excel versus individuals who do well and “make it by.” Everyone I know who has achieved amazing things has an immense amount of grit. While hard work is not always everything–I don’t think that people who struggle simply aren’t trying–grit is the key to accomplishing many tasks. You’ll notice that this talk ties in very well with last week’s Ted Talk on growth mindset with Dr. Carol Dweck. Grit is so important, especially for people who don’t feel particularly gifted with one skill or “special” talent. Being smart, funny, or gifted is not everything…it’s about putting in the work.

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Do you feel like you have grit? Where did you learn it?

On Being Nice

I am lucky in that I am not often confronted by individuals who are simply mean. I typically pretend that those people do not exist, but every once in a while I get a very ugly wake up call. This past weekend I was studying at the local public library. As I packed up my things and began browsing the DVD collection by the check-out desk, I couldn’t help but overhear a terrible conversation. A library patron was indignantly (and loudly) attacking the librarian saying she was “sighing” and had “such an attitude.” And she went on and on. It was 4:40pm and the library closes at 5pm.

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While I did not see the full interaction, I did see the entire scene of the patron criticizing the librarian for a solid five minutes straight at a volume that seemed to echo throughout the library. I work part-time in retail, and I know first-hand how humiliating these experiences can be. She was trapped behind the desk; she couldn’t say anything in response as the employee, yet had to stand there and listen. I know I would have been in tears after those five minutes.

These are the moments when it is important to remember we are all human; maybe the librarian had a bad day, maybe she was exhausted and waiting the twenty minutes until closing time, or maybe she is just a grumpy person, but none of these things make it acceptable for someone to treat her so poorly. We owe respect and kindness to everyone.

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While this was not a momentous event by any means, it represents a microcosm of something that I find deeply important: treat others the way you want to be treated. Be nice. Be thoughtful. Be compassionate. It is easy to get caught up in the moment at frustrating times like this, but taking a step back and acting with compassion will always lead to a better outcome for everyone involved.

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What is your take on kindness? How do you practice compassion, even when you’re frustrated?

 

 

Ted Talk Friday: The Power of Believing You Can Improve

It’s all about mindset. If you aren’t convinced of that yet, see how you feel after watching this Ted Talk! I first learned about Dweck’s work in my Positive Psychology class and have been intrigued ever since. In our education system, we are usually praised for “being smart” rather than receiving praise for working hard. I think the more we change our language around success, both academic and personal, the more we will start to believe in our own ability to improve. Growth-mindset changes everything and is so empowering; I hope you enjoy the talk!

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What do you think of growth mindset? Do you feel like you need constant reassurance of your ability?

Wake Shake Cinnamon Bun Cookies

I recently got the chance to try Super Body Breakthrough Wake Shake (I got cinnamon bun and caramel latte flavors)! Now I love a good protein shake or smoothie bowl, but I was dying to turn the amazing cinnamon bun flavor into a baked good form. I love the shake mix; it is not the typical “protein shake.” The mix provides a great balance of fats, protein, and fiber…we do need more than just protein (check out the linked article to learn more).

I decided to try and make cookies and they turned out perfectly! I love throwing ingredients together and seeing what comes out of the oven. These cookies have the perfect buttery flavor from the grass-fed butter in the Wake Shake mix (yay healthy fats) and the collagen blend is perfect for healthy hair, skin, and nails.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 scoop cinnamon bun Wake Shake 
  2. 1/2 cup NuNaturals Oat fiber (can sub in oat flour)
  3. 1 egg (or 3 tbsp egg whites)
  4. 3-4tsp water
  5. Dash of NuNaturals stevia
  6. 3/4 tsp baking powder
  7. Cinnamon to taste


First, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all dry ingredients and stir until well mixed. Add in wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Drop dough by the tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Place in oven for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, turn off the oven and leave the cookies in for 10 more minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch. Enjoy!


These cookies are delicious dipped in peanut butter–don’t blame me if you can’t stop dunking! Use discount code “CH10” for 10% off anything from Super Body Breakthrough!

I haven’t tried the recipe with other mixes, but let me know if you do. I would recommend using a shake blend with a higher fat content to get a similar texture. I hope you enjoy!

Ted Talk Friday: Emotional First Aid

I LOVE the idea of emotional first aid. It sounds bizarre, but this Ted Talk does a great job of explaining the importance of practicing self-care from a young age. In mental health, we often focus on treatment and solving problems once they begin. Unfortunately, this does not allow us to prevent issues. The vast differences in how we treat mental vs. physical illness is striking. If we learn how to take better care of ourselves, cope more effectively, and provide a space to discuss mental wellbeing, we can both prevent potential crises and increase mental wellbeing overall–sounds like a pretty good deal to me. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the talk!

https://embed.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_the_case_for_emotional_hygiene

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What do you think of mental first aid? Can you imagine a world where we give mental health the same priority as physical health?

Relationships and Growing Up Today

There is a scarcity of research on friendship compared to the obsession with romantic relationship advice and research. I think my generation (if I can speak to that) has a certain fear of attachment. The new trend of hook-up culture will inevitably change relationships at some level. While it is too early to know what the effects might be, I am curious how it might play out.


A huge part of long-term dating is learning about your partner; learning their values, quirks, ambitions. So much of that simply requires time. Everyone has different ways of expressing love or addressing disagreement. Some people need time to cool off, whereas other people want to immediately discuss the issue and find a solution. Obviously these two people can still be compatible, but they need to find a happy medium.  


I highly value giving in relationships, and often feel that I express friendship by inviting friends to events, including them in plans, or sending them a gratitude letter. If you are interested in learning more about what matters most to you in relationships, I recommend you check out Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages site and take the free quiz. I can’t vouch for the scientific support behind all of his work, but I have found it useful in my own life.

While relationships are complex, I’ll echo what I said in a previous post about family, we all want happiness. Take a breath. Try and empathize, which means trying to understand where your partner is coming from. 

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What’s your love language? What tools to you use to create happiness in your relationships?   

Ted Talk Friday: Givers and Takers

Adam Grant is an amazing researcher and writer; I loved his book “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success”. The book is basically an extended version of his talk that I’ve posted here today. This is a great introduction into the world of behavioral economics. Grant does a great job of sharing the basic types of people and explaining altruism, and how you can use the information to your advantage in the workplace or in everyday life. I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do!

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Do you think you are a giver, a taker, or a matcher? Why?