Healthy Living

Articles to Better Your Health

Nutrition – Do You Really Give a Damn?

One of the most frustrating things in being a Chef is nutrition – do your really give a damn? I currently work with a company that can not disclose nutritional information because we just don’t have the resources to do it. Menu’s change every 3 to 6 months in multiple locations. With fast food and chain restaurants it is a bit easier because it is the same menu across the country. When you change the menu you do it for all locations. Where I work… it would almost seem “mission impossible”.

But what bothers me even more is that people don’t seem to care about nutrition. Do you really give a damn?  I get the impression that you don’t. How can I say this? Well, I see over 800 people a day come through just the restaurant. I know what the top items are that are being consumed and they are the highest in calories and fat content.  For breakfast we carry an items that is estimated to be  over 3000 calories and it is one of the top 2 sellers. We tried taking it off the menu but we got hate mail and guest complaints. People wanted their calorie loaded breakfast. I even told a guest the estimated calorie count and they were shock but still ordered it. That blew me away. I personally have not tried this breakfast item because even a small bite can’t be healthy.

My other personal favorite is those that request desert after breakfast… so after eating a calorie loaded breakfast… can I get a cheesecake now??? Are you kidding me?? But then have you been to any restaurant recently… breakfast is starting to look like dessert. I saw pancakes with ice cream being served for breakfast at a local restaurant!!! Okay maybe I am the only one finding this appalling.

As for lunch and dinner… I constantly see more plates go out with double carbs. Meaning that if there is a vegetable on the plate it gets substituted out for fries or mashed potatoes. Anything fried is likely to sell. French fries are not a vegetable, they are a starch for those that didn’t know. They only add to the waist line, not take away from. Burgers still seem to be the choice for lunch and steak the choice for dinner. Starting to see more people ordering fish for their entrée. Grilled seems to be the preferred choice and baked is the next best thing. I have also started to notice a slight increase in the request for green vegetables. So not all is doom and gloom.

I have also had the privilege of working in a high volume food court serving over 9,000 guest daily. You want to know where the longest lines were? You guessed it… the hamburger line and the pizza line. Very little demand for the sandwich/salad or healthy option lines. I have had guest repeatedly tell me that their kid only eats hot dogs or pancakes or french fries or chicken nuggets. Very rarely do I get a parent that complains about better food options for their kid. Better yet… I rarely get a complaint from the guest that demands better nutrition and portion control.

I always seem to hear the biggest complaint,  people were not given enough food to eat. Personally I think our portion sizes are out of control. Really do you need an all you can eat buffet? Do you need what the industry calls “family style” eating where the server keeps bringing food to the table from a set menu? Olive Garden would be a good example of this with their all you can eat pasta dish. Seriously… there really is only so much pasta you can eat. Oh and not to be the bad guy but all those carbs can not be good for your waist line or your health.  The only all you can eat that I enjoy is a salad bar… but even that can be a dangerous thing. All those adds extra’s on the salad… how much dressing can you add? 

Back to portion control. Biggest offenders to me is the fast food industry. I remember when a small was a small. The other day I went to a fast food chain, (yep… it is a treat for myself) and ordered a medium drink and fries… HOLY COW… when did a medium become a Large size???? I was shocked… this is not what I grew up consuming. I looked at my friend and said, “And I am surprised that obesity is on the rise and we are in a health care crisis.” (sarcasm was the tone)

I am constantly telling my cooks to watch portion control. But we have become a society where bigger is better, from your house, car, TV, and food. We want more bang for our buck so we see having more food as having better value for our dollar. The amount of food that comes back into the kitchen to be thrown away is mind-blowing.

So my question to you… do you really care about what you are eating? Does it bother you that food portion is out of control? Does it bother you that your kids are getting more chemically processed foods then ever before? There is all this hype about nutrition and how nutrition can prevent many illnesses that we are facing today… but do you really give a damn?

Comment below… share your thoughts on this topic. Curious to hear what you are really thinking.

Cheers to Your Optimal Health!

Katrina van Oudheusden


June 29, 2010 Posted by | Diets, Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Sports Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Research Shows Pycnogenol May Help with Allergies

There is good news for people that suffer with hay fever. A recent study shows that pycnogenol many prevent or reduce hay fever. Published findings have demonstrated Pycnogenol’s beneficial effects in cardiovascular health, osteoarthritis, skincare, cognitive function, diabetes health, inflammation, sports nutrition, asthma and allergy relief and menstrual disorders, among others.

An estimated 60 million people in the U.S. are affected by allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. Hay fever is an allergic inflammation of the nasal airways that causes itching, swelling, mucus production, hives and rashes. A study published in the June 14, 2010 issue of Phytotherapy Research demonstrates Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract derived from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, substantially improves the symptoms of hay fever.

“Allergic rhinitis is often mistakenly believed to be a trivial health problem, while people suffering from hay fever may disagree as they experience a dramatic impairment to their quality of life,” said Dr. Malkanthi Evans Scientific Director KGK Synergize Inc., a lead researcher on the study. “This study confirmed that taking Pycnogenol® naturally relieves eye and nasal symptoms of hay-fever patients owing to lower pollen-specific antibodies, particularly for ocular and nasal distress.”

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted by KGK Synergize, Inc.,60 subjects between the ages of 18 and 65 began treatment three to eight weeks prior to the onset of birch allergy season in Ontario, Canada. All subjects tested positive for birch pollen allergies, a seasonal trigger of hay fever, as determined by skin prick tests. Patients were assigned to a Pycnogenol® group or placebo group according to a computer-generated, randomized schedule. Neither the patient, the investigator nor research staff was informed to which test order the subjects were assigned. Subjects were instructed to take either one 50 mg Pycnogenol® tablet or one placebo tablet twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening throughout the allergy season. Patients were allowed to use non-prescription antihistamines as needed and recorded usage and dosage in treatment journals. The study was approved by an ethical committee as well as the “Health Canada” authorities.

Blood was collected before and after treatment throughout the entire birch pollen season for the measurement of birch specific IgE antibodies. Upon recognition of a specific allergen the IgE class of antibodies stimulates the release of histamine, an inflammatory mediator responsible for the hay-fever symptoms. During exposure to pollen allergic people develop higher levels of the corresponding IgE antibody, which goes along with increasing hay-fever symptoms. Comparison of birch specific IgE levels from the start of the trial and the end of allergy season showed an increase of 31.9 percent in the placebo group but only 19.4 percent in the Pycnogenol® group.

To read more on this article go to Medical News Today

Side note:

I didn’t know much about Pycnogenol until a few years ago when Reliv International came out with a nutritional supplement for Diabetes. One of the key ingredients is pycnogenol and so when I see it start to become more popular in the health industry, I am shown again that Reliv really is on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to nutrition.

Did you find this educational? Do you have any thoughts to share? What are you doing to achieve optimal health? Please feel free to comment below and share this blog with your family and friends.

Cheers to Your Optimal Health!

Katrina van Oudheusden

June 26, 2010 Posted by | Allergies, Health, Health and Wellness, Nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Food Allergies: The Financial Strain on Families

With more and more people getting diagnosed with food allergies we are seeing the financial toll it is taking on families. I am surprised to meet so many guest that are getting diagnose with food allergies late in life. I see more and more people over the age of 40 tell me they were recently diagnosed with food allergies. They had been eating fine all their lives and then suddenly they are allergic to food. My concern then starts to move towards the foods that we are eating. With so many chemicals and byproducts that we have introduced to foods over the recent years it doesn’t surprise me that our food is now killing us.

Those with food allergies the cost of watching what you eat can be very expensive. I want to share with you this article that I found about the financial the financial strain on families that have food allergies.

A DEBATE has broken out over how many people in this country really have food allergies. But whatever the numbers, parents whose children have serious reactions to certain foods can attest to the distress — and high financial costs — such allergies can cause.

Just ask the Delgadillo family of San Diego. The day Oscar put a little dab of peanut butter on his year-old son Andrew’s tongue was the day everything changed. Andrew immediately broke out in hives, his throat started to swell and he began wheezing and having trouble breathing.

Mr. Delgadillo and his wife, Martha, raced their child to the emergency room for treatment. Andrew, now 11, had experienced the first of what would be several severe allergic reactions to a variety of foods.

As the months and years went by, the Delgadillos learned that Andrew had multiple food allergies that included a life-threatening reaction to peanuts (but not tree nuts) and a severe reaction to soy, milk, egg, shellfish and other foods.

Even the smallest exposure to peanuts — a classmate eats a granola bar for breakfast at home, does not wash his hands, then touches Andrew — can cause at least a mild reaction.

Andrew’s allergies have also led to a rare inflammatory disease of the esophagus. His diet is so limited that he must be tube-fed to make sure he gets the nutrition he needs.

“He is a healthy, happy boy with rosy cheeks,” said Mr. Delgadillo. “But every day at 12:15 he heads to the nurse’s office for a feeding.”

In a study published earlier this week, research commissioned by the federal government found that while 30 percent of the population say they believe they have a food allergy, only about 8 percent of children and less than 5 percent of adults actually have one.

But for families like the Delgadillos, true food allergies can require careful navigation of everyday life and create all sorts of extra expenses.

Grocery shopping can mean weekly trips to four or five health food stores and multiple Internet sites to find allergen-free cereals, baked goods and other products.

Diligent research is an everyday task.

“You know that brand of mild soap products called Cetaphil?” Mr. Delgadillo asks. “Well, it turns out the moisturizer has macadamia nut oil in it. You have to check absolutely everything.”

Mr. Delgadillo, whose family has insurance coverage under his employer’s health plan, estimates they spend an extra $400 a month in the form of co-payments and other out-of-pocket medical bills, special foods and medicines.

“I’m an engineer, and I need to quantify things for my own sake,” said Mr. Delgadillo. “So I’ve taken a good look at this.”

Families with food allergies can also incur financial strains because constant monitoring for dangerous foods often means one spouse stops working or significantly cuts back on hours, said Dr. Tamara T. Perry, a researcher at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

“The loss of income and the additional costs associated with food allergies can have a significant financial impact,” Dr. Perry said.

There are three main financial challenges for families with food allergies. Here is advice on how to go about managing them:

A CLEAR DIAGNOSIS Pinpointing a food allergy is not easy. In most cases, doctors use a skin prick test during which they inject a small amount of a food under the skin to see if swelling or other symptoms occur within an hour or so. Also common are blood tests that show whether the body is making antibodies to fight certain foods.

But both tests generate a large number of false positives, said Matthew Fenton, chief of the asthma, allergy and inflammation branch of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, a unit of the federal National Institutes of Health.

The most reliable test is called a food challenge. It entails gradually exposing the individual to the suspected foods through the skin and mouth to see what type of reaction is produced. This can take a series of days and must be done in a setting close to an emergency facility.

Food challenges can be expensive because of the time and expertise involved, Mr. Fenton explained. Not all insurance covers these elaborate tests.

Another big problem is that not all doctors approach food allergies the same way.

“Your dermatologist, family doctor, pediatrician and allergist may all be on a different page in terms of how they classify and diagnose food allergies,” Mr. Fenton said. That can mean a lot of extra or unnecessary testing and doctor visits.

The national institute plans to release soon a comprehensive list of clinical guidelines for food allergies that can be used across all medical specialties and that may be a useful tool for parents and adult food allergy sufferers.

Patients and parents can check in with patient advocacy groups like the Food Allergy Initiative and the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network for the latest research on all types of food allergies and intolerances.

To continue reading this article please click on

Why do you think people are suffering from more allergic reactions than in the past? Share you comments below.

Cheers to Your Optimal Health!

Katrina van Oudheusden

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Food Allergies, Health, Nutrition | , , , , | 1 Comment

Healthy Tea – 7 Benefits

Just read an article about Healthy Tea — 7 benefits, and was surprised by what I read. I know that tea was good for you but did you know there are studies going on to prove it could help with sun protection? This was a new and interesting find for me.

I like how this article talks about the benefits of tea on a variety of health issues and keeps it simple. Nothing worst then reading an article and there is a lot of medical talk. Though I am getting better at reading those from a layman’s perspective. Here is the article so you can see the health benefits for yourself.

9 Healthy Reasons to Quench Your Thirst With Tea


Iced tea is a summer staple, whether you’re sipping it straight, flavored with lemon or mint, or sweetened up. Not only is iced tea refreshing on a sweltering day, it’s also healthy.

Tea is steeped in beneficial compounds such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. Whether you choose iced tea or hot tea, black or green tea, you’re making a healthy choice.

Check out some of tea’s specific benefits:

 Arthritis. Tea reduces inflammation and slows cartilage breakdown to improve arthritis. Research has also shown that tea-drinking older women are 60 percent less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

Cancer. Studies are showing tea’s polyphenols, especially those in green tea, may play a role in preventing or delaying several types of cancer, from colon cancer to ovarian cancer. For example, researchers in a large clinical study compared green tea drinkers with non-drinkers and found that those who drank the most tea were significantly less likely to develop pancreatic cancer.

Heart. Drinking tea regularly has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis (clogged arteries). Tea also keeps blood vessels functioning properly.

Immune System. Tea contains a component that research finds can strengthen the immune system against infection, bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Oral health. The antioxidants in tea suppress the growth of bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum diseases.

Diabetes. A study showed green tea promoted glucose metabolism in healthy human volunteers while it also lowered blood sugar levels in those who already had diabetes. Compounds in black, green and oolong teas have been shown to increase insulin activity, which can help those with type 2 diabetes. Those who drank more than three to four cups of tea per day had about a one-fifth lower risk of diabetes than those who didn’t drink tea.

Cholesterol. Some studies have shown both green and black tea can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both risk factors for heart disease.

Sun protection. Tea may reduce the risk of skin cancer due to UV exposure, according to studies.

Weight loss. Studies on tea and green tea extract show they increase the number of calories burned and increased the rate of fat burned, which both lead to weight loss.

How to Sip Sweetly
If sweet tea is your favorite thirst-quencher, skip the sugar and spoon in Relìvables All-Natural Sweetener with zero calories and a full gram of healthy fiber. Using Relìvables sweetener is a delicious, guilt-free way to enjoy the sweet sips of summer.

I do like my tea sweetened and this is the best sweetener I have tried yet. Doesn’t have the artificial sweetener taste and they added a gram of healthy fiber to make it good for you! You have got to love the brilliance at Reliv.

If you found this article educational please comment below. Would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Cheers to Your Optimal Health!

Katrina van Oudheusden

June 17, 2010 Posted by | Health, Health and Wellness, Heart Disease, Nutrition, weight loss | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Osteoporosis – 6 foods that weaken bones

We all know that osteoporosis is a disease where there is loss of bone density. We have not figures out a way to increase bone density medically. I am sure the scientist of the world are working on it. So when I stumbled upon an article that talks about 6 foods that weaken bones, I was curious.

Some of the foods they talked about made sense… Soda because of the sugar and fizzy content. Coffee because of the caffeine. Salt was number one for weakening bones… more like processed foods and fast food. Table salt doesn’t have the impact as people believe but high sodium foods… Look Out!

Alcohol was also mention because it blocks the absorption of calcium and the last noted food to stay away from is hydrogenated oils.

The only one I totally disagree with is Vitamin A. I was reading this segment and was thinking…. well there are two sides to every coin. What people are forgetting is that you need minerals also when you talk vitamins. If you take a high concentration of any vitamin it is not good for you but if you are not taking any minerals which can make vitamin’s successful and kick out excess of vitamins.  I think people take way too much interest in just one vitamin and don’t realize that they need a balanced blend of vitamins, minerals, and herbs in order to achieve optimal health.  Also we really don’t know how long a vitamin sits on a shelf at the store and the vitamin companies can’t guarantee that what is on the labels is the potency that you will ingest. Most of the time they make a higher IU or % because your body is only going to be able to absorb a small percentage of that pill. With such a high concentration and your body not knowing how to use it… Most of the time it gets flushed out in the urine.

Did some research and found that Zinc helps kick vitamin A out of the liver. So you need a correct balance of both. If you want to learn more about the importance of vitamin A,  and Zinc this is a must read article.

Overall I liked this article and it made some great corrective advice.  You can find this article at:

As for nutrition and osteoporosis I think they go hand in hand. A balanced diet can help with a lot of health issues. I have seen it first hand for myself when I talk to guest that dine in my restaurant and through personal experience.

If you are looking for total optimal nutrition just for women, you have to take a look at SoySentials. Check out the benefits link. I found it really interesting. They say the unique blend of soy protein, potent antioxidants, probiotics, and herbs included in great tasting SoySentials provides you with the key nutrients you need every day to promote wellness, ease the symptoms of menopause, and PMS, and keeps your body performing at its peak. AND it carries a money back guarantee… that is awesome!

If you liked this post please comment below. Would love to hear from you!

Cheers to Your Optimal Health!

Katrina van Oudheusden

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Health, Nutrition, Wellness | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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