20 Minute Rule

How to Increase Satiety with Lesser Food IntakeBy: Nikki Nies

We’ve all heard of the five second rule, right? Where if you drop food on the floor, if you pick it up within 5 seconds of dropping it, it’s socially acceptable to eat the food! Next question: How familiar are you with the 20 minute rule?  This rule suggests that eating more slowly can help one feel fuller longer and maintain a healthier weight.  Specifically, the 20 minute rule advocates for slower eating with more chewing and less consumption of food, in comparison to if foods are eaten quickly.

Feeling satisfied is a two fold component. First, the satisfied feeling one’s stomach, but also digestive hormones that are secreted by the gastrointestinal tract must also send signals via digestive hormones to the brain of fullness.  gut_hormones_ghrelin

When  the stomach is filled with food or water, stretch receptors signal the brain through the vagus nerve, which connects the gut and brainstem.  After hormonal signals are released in the form of partially digested food, called chyme, it enters the small intestine. Examples of such hormone signals include cholecystokinin (CCK) and leptin.  Based on the amount of the body’s energy stores, leptin’s produced by fat cells that communicates with the brain about long range needs and satiety with the brain about long-range needs and satiety.  In addition, leptin amplifies CCK signals to enhance satiety.  Research suggests that leptin amplifies the CCK signals, to enhance the feeling of fullness. It’s suggested that eating too quickly can limit the ability for this complex hormonal “communication” system enough time to work.

Eating slower should not be solely synonymous with weight loss, as overweight or obese may have leptin resistance, which inhibits responsiveness to satiety and/or pleasure signals. Furthermore, sensitively to environmental cues (i.e. inviting smell of chocolate chip cookies or the TV commercial advertisement of a juicy burger) can be too enticing to resist.

For those of you not familiar with mindful eating or Brian Wansink, it’s a technique that I firmly believe is a successful technique for more enjoyable, quality eating! So, next time you’re eating, why not wait at least 20 minutes for second helpings or to double up on portions. What are your thoughts about this theory? Has chewing slowly enabled you to feel full faster?

Photo Credit:Sampateek and Nutridesk 


Why eating slowly may help you feel full faster




Students Team Up to Fight Hunger (STUFH)

By: Nikki Nies


In 2011, the USDA reported nearly 15% of American households experience some level of food insecurity. With the help of Students Team Up to Fight Hunger (STUFH), a national organization that links college campuses to local food banks, allowing students to come together for the greater good. Founded by Dan Kahn in 2008,  students are at the forefront of the distribution of foods, it allows community members to connect with campus students they may not otherwise interact with.

Partnered with  Circle K International (CKI), STUFH and CKI are able to make a greater impact, with the mutual goal of serving the needy.

If you’re interested in joining the food drive program,contact Program Director Dan Kahn at e-mail address dkahn@stufh.org or(518) 506-5491. State your college, geographic location and dates of your final semester week

Photo Credit:STUFH


Emotional Eating

emo-eatingBy: Nikki Nies

Alright, I admit I’m an emotional person.  People always say they can tell what I’m thinking with my facial expressions.  Scary, I know! However, I know I’m not alone with this classification.  We all know we don’t necessarily “choose” where we land on the  emotion scale, yet as the old saying goes, we can control our response to situations, issues and/or problems.  With that said, being  emotional tends to have a negative connotation.  When one gets emotional and there’s food around to comfort, that can turn into a scary, vicious cycle.

As someone who gravitates to the ice cream and cookies for comfort, I’m not stranger to seeking comfort for my array of emotions.  Still, it doesn’t have to be that way.  This brings us to the concept of emotional eating.  It can be hard to identify emotional eating as we have to eat for sustenance.  Realistically, many people turn to food as an escape, a source of comfort from stress, worries and/or use as a reward.

Have you ever indulged in a carton of ice cream or splurged at the nearest drive thru?  While every situation is different, if you find yourself feeling guilty for what you’ve eaten and/or overly stuffed, you may find that at times you eat as a way to deal with emotions, not only due to hunger.

As with any issue one wants to combat, recognizing the struggle with certain foods is an important vital step.  When food has become a coping mechanism that can become a cause for concern.

How to recognize the difference between physical and emotional hunger:  

  • Hunger often occurs gradually, emotional eating tends to occur suddenly
  • When you’re eating to  fill a void with a particular food, specifically ice cream or pizza, and only that specific food will meet your needs. When you eat for hunger, you’re more open to options.  With emotional foods, people tend to eat foods that they consider “comforting” to maintain a certain feeling
  • Emotional hunger persuades you that it has to be dealt with instantly, while real hunger can wait
  • Even when your body tells you you’re full, you continue to eat to curb feelings and/or emotions with emotional eating
  • With emotional eating it often times leads to guilty while physical hunger does not
  • When eating becomes the only way to manage emotions and those foods tends to be unhealthy (i.e. chips, pizza, cookies, steak, chocolate), that can be indicative of of emotional eating

Yes, life is not a sprint, but a marathon. That means that small changes can and will make a difference.  As long as I’m headed in the right direction, with each day better than the last, then I can be content with where I am.  It’s important to note that incorporating small changes are more likely to shape long term success!

Photo Credit: Soza Clinic 

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342








Hummus and Guacamole Showdown


Source: http://www.prevention.com/which-healthier-hummus-vs-guacamole?cid=socFO_20140813_29676476


By: Nikki Nies


There’s a common thought process that one should do what ever it takes to maintain their size and/or lose weight.  Unfortunately, a lot of changes can include adding diet pills into daily routines, but what if I told you there is a more fortuitous, natural way to make life long changes?  With the help of FoodTweeks, not only can you make healthier changes, but for every 600 calories one slashes from meals, FoodTweeks will donate a meal to a local food bank.  Win-win, right?

Here’s how it works! Download the Foodtweeks app now and tell it what you’re planning to eat! The app then shows you various ways to choose healthier options without trading in taste or flavor!

By joining the Foodtweeks community, you are able to eat healthier snacks and meals and help a local food bank distribute the same kind of nutritious calories to someone in need!

With 3 simple steps you’re on your way:

1. Report desired food to be eaten from restaurants, supermarket and/or homemade!

2. Choose a tweek!

3. Hungry are fed!

These simple steps helps Foodtweeks help others by helping others eat in a more sustainable fashion and to help fight hunger! Know of a potentially interested food bank to help the cause? Let them know the benefits of joining in:increased awareness of food bank and the issue of hunger; new donor pipeline social media messaging and continued source of funding and support!  If your a food bank reading this, sign up today!

Sources: https://www.takepart.com/article/2014/08/10/foodtweeks-cut-calories-feed-hungry-app?cmpid=foodinc-fb


Congregate Meals

By: Nikki Nies  ????????

Congregate meals are meals provided in group setting to those 60 years and older to reduce hunger and curb food insecurity,promote elder socialization and the well-being of older individuals to delay adverse health conditions.  Meals are usually served five to seven days a week often times at schools, senior centers, community centers, churches and/or senior house complexes.  Aside from serving daily meals, congregate meals help celebrate birthdays, holidays and special dinners.

Many sites also offer a diabetic menu and/or ethnic meals, such as Italian, Chinese or Mexican.  Nutrition education is offered before or after meals depending on the facility’s schedule.

While any one and his or her spouse are welcome to join the congregate meals programs, they are intended for seniors most in need.  Some programs even offer meals to those younger with disabilities.

Meals are funding by the local Area Agency of Aging.  While there are no set admission fees, people are encouraged to provide donations.  Meals sites with limited budgeting may not offer meals daily.  For information on meal programs, call your Area Agency on Aging. To find your local Area Agency on Aging, call the national Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.

Sources: http://aoa.gov/AoAroot/AoA_Programs/HCLTC/Nutrition_Services/index.aspx







Debunking Weight Loss Myths!

By: Nikki Nies Weight-Loss-Myths460

“Magic pills” and “detoxification systems” that promise instant weight loss have been around for years.  In the 21st century, the market continues to meet the demand of the such products, yet many of these so called products do not provide the advertised weight loss.

While the bombardment of which products can be overwhelming, be careful what you shell out money for.  The table I’ve created below provides examples of weight loss claims that have not been found efficacious with using such products.

Instead, diet and regular bouts of exercise are the still proven tried and trued method of losing and maintaining weight loss.

If I skip meals, I’ll lose weight quicker
  • Can lead to becoming overly hungry → overeat at next meal
  • Those that skip breakfast tend to be heavier than those that consume at least 3 meals/day

o   Quick breakfast options: whole wheat toast with fruit spread or oatmeal with low fat yogurt and berries

Fad diets will help me lose weight and keep it off
  • Often promise quick fixes with food restrictions and/or avoidance of food groups/types of food
  • Hard to follow
  • May not provide all nutrients one needs
  • Being on a diet of fewer than 800 calories a day for a long time may lead to serious heart problems.
  • Losing >3#/wk can increase risk of developing gallstones

o   Safe wt loss: 0.5-2#/wk

Carbs are fattening. I should limit.
  • Carbs are body’s main source of energy
  • Limit simple, not complex!

o   Simple: candy, cake, cookies, sugar sweetened desserts/drinks and alcohol

o   Complex: fruits, vegetables, whole grains

  • Opt for brown rice, whole-wheat bread, cereal, and pasta
“Low fat” and “Fat free”=0 Calories
  • Low fat and fat free products have calories, but may be less than full fat
  • Many processed foods have the same amount of calories whether low fat or full fat
  • Processed foods that state they’re low fat/fat free may have added flour, salt, starch, or sugar to improve flavor and texture after fat is removed, which contain added calories
When dieting, one can’t eat fast food!
  • Yes, fast food can be bad for you
  • Opt for:

o   Avoid “value” combo meals as more calories than you need in one meal.

o   Choose fresh fruit or nonfat yogurt for dessert

o   Limit use of high fat/calorie toppings

  • i. e. bacon, cheese, reg mayo, salad dressing

o   Pick steamed or baked items over fried

o   Sip on water or fat-free milk instead of soda

o   Choose soft instead of hard tacos

Snacking is always a bad idea!
  • In between meal snacking can prevent overeating at meals
  • Can benefit from 5 small meals a day
  • Great choice: nuts, low fat cheese, yogurt or an apple
Eating healthy costs more!
  • Canned and frozen fruits and veggies can provide same nutrients as fresh at a lower cost
  • Great sources of protein: tuna, lentils, beans and peas
  • In the end, health care costs will be less expensive!

What weight loss claims have you encountered that isn’t listed in the table? Have any specific questions regarding weight loss claims you’ve heard that you’re not sure about? Ask away!






The Frequency Question


By: Nikki Nies

Like many, when it’s time for me to shed a few pounds, I want all the best and latest tips at hand to make the job easier and to guarantee weight loss. So, I started researching to see if the number of times a person eats in a day makes a difference in our ability to lose weight.

We all know the standard recommendation: Eat three meals a day and breakfast is the most important. However, newer research has suggested that eating between six to as many as fourteen times a day is more effective to promote weight loss because it encourages a constant feeling of fullness, which suppresses appetite. Eating that frequently limits chances of starvation, can increase metabolism and, for some, can increase and speed up weight loss. On the other hand, researchers on the opposite side argue that increasing the number of times we eat in a day could actually cause us to gain weight because the more times we eat in a day, more chances we have to  overeat.

After evaluating five research studies, I concluded that four of the five did indeed favor more frequent eating to promote weight loss. However, all five studies made one thing clear: There is no universal definition of what a “snack” or “meal” is. Without portion guides, it’s easy to see how someone could overeat. In my evaluation, one study defined a snack as greater than 50 calories, another study classified it as a food eaten within a 15-minute period, while a third study only stated that people should eat three meals and three snacks per day without providing sizes of those meals and snacks. With such room for interpretation and no clear description of portion size, it is hard to compare the studies equally.

These studies all provided mixed results as to how often and how many meals should be eaten in a day to promote weight loss. Many studies used the basis of three meals a day as the control, while high meal frequency ranged from five to fourteen meals. Clearly, more research is needed in this area, and we shouldn’t forget that quality of food consumed should also be considered. There is a fair amount of evidence that says small, frequent meals can produce a greater chance of weight loss. Yet, the lack of consistent evidence in regards to how often one should eat reinforces the idea that weight loss is a personal, individual journey and there is no one-size-fits-all diet plan. So go ahead and experiment – what works for you?


  1. Bachman JL, Phelan S, Wing RR, Raynor HA. Eating frequency is higher in weight loss maintainers and normal-weight individuals than in overweight individuals. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011;111(11):1730-4.

  2. Bachman JL, Raynor HA. Effects of manipulating eating frequency during a behavioral weight loss intervention: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012;20(5):985-92.

  3. Cameron, D. Jameson; Doucet, Eric and Cyr, Marie-Josee. Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed 8 week-equi energy restricted diet. British Journal of Nutrition. November 30th, 2009. Accessed October 13, 2013.

  4. Ritchie LD. Less frequent eating predicts greater BMI and waist circumference in female adolescents. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95(2):290-6.

  5. Saris, Wim, Dr. Effect of feeding frequency on glucose and insulin metabolism and substrate partitioning. Maastricht University Medical Center. December 2011. http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01456754. Accessed October 13, 2013

  6. http://cutthefatpodcast.com/1809/cut-the-fat-blog/eating-for-fat-loss/how-often-should-you-eat-the-truth-about-meal-frequency

Skip the Fork, Use Chopsticks

Original Image by THOR via Flickr
Original Image by THOR via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Did you know it takes 20 minutes for your brain to register you’re full?  Staying healthy isn’t only about eating the right kind of foods, but how much one eats as well.  If you’ve been struggling with portions or just want to regain your love of food without it controlling you, why not try your hand with chopsticks.

The use of chopsticks also improves hand eye coordination, brain development, improving self confidence and awareness and brings an added element to the dinner table.

For those not as skilled in the chopsticks department, it requires smaller bites and more time in between spoonfuls.  Need to brush up on your chopstick skills? Play around and give it a try!

 So, don’t limit the use of chopsticks to eating Asian cuisine.  Yes, you might get a few stares, but so what?  You’re not only mindfully eating you’re food, but you’re enjoying every bite!