Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Machu Picchu drinks and kitten at the discoteca

Hello friends,

It’s 4:30 AM and I can’t sleep. What to do? Blog! Since we both need a break from nutrition I decided to write about my lovely trip to Peru. Overall, my trip was really incredible and besides the fact that I was sick, it was probably the best trip of my life (so far). I will briefly discuss the highlights of my month long excursion.

Ayacucho– This was the first stop. I was volunteering with PAMS which is an amazing foundation that provides much needed medical care to the people of Ayaycucho ( a region in Peru that was terrorized in the 80’s/ 90’s). The people in Ayacucho truly touched my heart and I can only wish that I impacted them as much as they impacted me.

Inca Trail- The Inca Trail was one of the most amazing, challenging, breath takingly beautiful hikes I have ever done. Not to mention there was great company and amazing food. I also had the best guides you could ever ask for.

The Jungle- The jungle was hot, sticky, and beautiful. Got to see some piranhas and weird pig-like mammals.

Cusco- The city of Cusco is absolutely amazing. If the air was cleaner I would in fact still be living there. In Cusco I learned Spanish and went clubbing. Every day. I also may have thrown back a few Pisco Sours and Machu Picchu’s.

Camino Inca

Lima- Lima is known as the “sad and strange city.” Interestingly, I did not find it at all sad, strange maybe. My last night in Peru was spent at The Point Hostel. I pretty much had the time of my life at this place and almost missed my taxi to the airport- partially because I didn’t have a watch and neither did my friend. Partially because I didn’t want to leave Peru. Love love love Lima.

Oh, since I am a nutritionist and all. I will take a moment to explain the cuisine. Amazing avocado, lots of meat, guinea pig, alpaca, quinoa, and aji!

Delicious Peruvian Food

Take my completely random poll, por favor.


Heather Mason


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Being Emo with my Diet Coke Lime

Is diet soda a good alternative to regular? I get this question ALL the time. Over the years, I have found that people have really strong opinions on diet soda. Either they think its God’s gift to the earth or it’s devils blood. There are hardly any middle roaders when it comes to diet soda. But there is one sitting right here. ME!

The Good

  • Diet soda is calorie free. If you replace exactly one diet soda for one regular soda each day this can help you lose weight. However, if you alter your diet or exercise routine in any other way to compensate for the diet soda you may not see results.
  • For some, diet soda tastes good and is more refreshing than water. It may possibly help you satisfy a sweet tooth and has a lot less calories than chocolate cake.

The Bad

  • Several studies have shown that diet soda drinkers are just as fat as regular soda drinkers. To learn more see this LA TIMES Article. It turns out its not so much about metabolism but more about the mental act of drinking diet soda.
  • Diet soda contains aspartame, citric acid, acesulfame, caffeine, and sodium. All of these substances are approved by the FDA, but that does NOT mean they are “healthy.”

Overall, I would like  for you to make your own conclusions. As for me, I chose water, 100% fruit juice with sparkling water, and the occasional Diet Coke Lime. If a company could make diet Sprite that actually tasted like Sprite I would be all over that.

Do you drink diet? Regular? Any favorite flavors or non-carbonated substitutions?

P.S. Massage Envy gave me a free upgrade 🙂


Heather Mason

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As a nutritionist, this is a question that I am constantly hearing. The truth is that eating a lot of sugar DOES NOT give you diabetes mellitus (DM).

Slightly embarrassed I had Cocoa flavored cereal in my pantry...

“The myth that sugar causes diabetes is commonly accepted by many people. Research has shown that it isn’t true. Eating sugar has nothing to do with developing diabetes” (American Diabetes Association).

There you have it, straight from the horses mouth. Then why do people believe that they will develop DM from eating a lot of sugar?

  1. The greatest risk factor for developing type two diabetes is central adiposity, AKA, being overweight. If you are overweight or obese you are at greater risk for developing diabetes.
  2. It is true, that once you have DM it is important to monitor and limit the amount of carbohydrates and sugars consumed.
  3. I am a nutritionist; of course I don’t think it’s a good idea to eat a lot of sugar. However, if you are of a healthy body weight, and are metabolically healthy in terms of lipids, go ahead and eat some cake.

Of course, like most chronic diseases, there is a huge genetic component to diabetes. If anyone in your family has DM, you are at greater risk. In this case, it is even more important to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly, and to see a registered dietitian if you need help.

I would love to hear your opinions and questions on this subject. Have you been told that eating too much sugar will give you DM?

Happy Eating,

Heather Mason, MS

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Its almost New Years and you know what that means? New Years Resolutions! Undoubtedly one of the most popular resolutions involves improving one’s health and fitness. Over 50% of Americans will vow to lose weight come January 1st.  And sadly, the majority of them will fall off the wagon by February 1st *. The reason that many people find it hard to sustain a weight loss diet is that they search for a quick fix and get sucked into these so called “detox diets.”

There is a wide spectrum of detox diets out there ranging anywhere from an all liquid vegetable diet to a coffee enema. Now doesn’t that sound like fun? One of my favorite detox diets is the Lemonade Master Cleanse made popular by Beyonce. This is a diet where you consume only lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper for a few weeks. Yum-O.

In addition to weight loss, detox diets promise to “rid your body of harmful toxins”. This is simply not true. There is absolutely zero scientific evidence that these diets work. In fact, your body is great at cleansing itself. The main function of your liver and kidneys are to act as detoxification organs to keep the good stuff in and excrete what may be harmful or unnecessary. While there is nothing wrong with following a diet that promotes more fruit and veggies, reduced sugar, or eating less processed foods, the type of detox diets promoted in the media are simply too extreme and are likely to do more harm than good.

Reasons NOT to follow a detox diet:

  1. Detox diets are short term and promote yo-yo dieting. Fluctuating weight can be more harmful to your health than being overweight.
  2. Detox diets are often very calorie restrictive. Severe calorie restriction may actually slow down your metabolism because your body tries to conserve energy as it prepares for “starvation mode.”
  3. Most detox diets are lacking essential macro and micro nutrients that you need for optimal health.

Hopefully, these diets can be left behind in 2010. If you’re looking to have a healthier New Year the best way to do it is to make small lifestyle changes and set attainable goals for yourself. Finding a support group or speaking with a registered dietitian is also a great way to make a healthy change. Some simple changes you can make right now include:

  1. Cut back on soda and high calorie juice drinks. Replace with water, non-fat milk, or diet soda (if you have to).
  2. Replace at least one high calorie snack a day such as chips or cookies with a fruit or vegetable snack.
  3. Limit fast food to once a week or less.
  4. Snacks are great, but be careful of mindlessly “snacking” throughout the day. If you’re going to have a snack measure out a portion instead of bringing the entire bag along with you.
  5. Last but not least, make time to exercise at least 5 times per week. Find an activity that makes you happy.

Heres to a healthy, happy, non colon-cleansing 2011. I’m spending my holiday in Mammoth snowboarding 🙂

* Alright, so I made this statistic up, but I think you get my point.

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