Is MSG Making You Fat?

Is MSG Making You Fat?

I haven’t heard much about MSG in a while. Actually, the first time I heard about MSG was when I was working at Flat Top Grill during college. We had to specially label all of our stir fry sauces that contained MSG to differentiate them, and customers would often come in and tell me they were allergic to MSG. This was back when I was still an early childhood education major, not a nutritional sciences major, so I didn’t really have any idea what they were talking about. I just assured them that we had everything labeled and that there wouldn’t be any MSG cross contamination.

When I got more involved in the nutritional world, I learned why those customers were avoiding MSG. MSG is a flavor additive and it can be found in a wide variety of foods, but is most common in Asian cuisines (which explains why people were asking about it so often at Flat Top). Concerns about MSG have been around for many years; people complain of a smorgasbord of reactions after consuming MSG and many nutritional and scientific experts believe that MSG has dangerous addictive effects. There are studies to bak up these concerns, but currently, MSG has Generally Recognized as Safe status as a food additive. So it can be found in many processed foods, and it can hide in labels under different names.

Even more interesting, or alarming, is that new research suggests that MSG causes weight gain no matter how many calories you eat. A study conduced by the University of North Carolina and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that people who ate 5 grams of MSG per day on average were 33% more likely to be overweight than those people who ate less than .5 grams per day on average.

This link held true when confounding factors of age, physical activity, calorie intake and other lifestyle factors were removed.

Many professionals and experts had already come to the conclusion that MSG had something to do with weight gain, but they believed that the weight gain arose from people eating more because MSG makes it tastes better. This study shows that weight gain happens independent of calorie intake, so that theory is false. More research is needed, but the idea now is that MSG may cause disruptions in appetite regulation.

So go check the labels your canned soup and bagged chips. I don’t advocate eating anything that has these sorts of additives that were made off in a lab somewhere. If you’re reading a food label and you don’t recognize an ingredient as a food, don’t put it into your body.

Also, for some great take-out meals sans MSG, check out our Take-out Fake-out cooking class recipes.

Gray, Nathan. “MSG linked with weight gain: Study” May 31, 2011.

Is MSG Making You Fat?

Wondering Where your Willpower is?

Do you ever wonder why you can’t just walk by the candy dish at work without helping yourself to a handful or why you can’t stop thinking about the ice cream in your freezer until you break it out and eat half of if right out of the carton? Where is your willpower?


Is MSG Making You Fat?

Do You Have a Sugar Addiction: Part 3

So, I think we can all agree that at least eating less sugar would be better for all of us. But what about those of us that can’t simply eat less?

If sugar is addictive, what how are you supposed to overcome you addiction to something that you need to survive? Dr. Mark Hymen has some suggestions:

  • Eat regular, balanced meals to balance your blood sugar and reduce cravings.
  • Eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners. If you want to end cravings, you must reset the brain.
  • Determine if you have any underlying food allergies or intolerances. We often crave foods that we are allergic to.
  • Get more sleep. Lack of sleep intensifies cravings.
  • Talk to a doctor about supplements. There are many supplements that act as natural appetite suppressants and can reduce cravings or modulate dopamine receptor function to regulate appetite.

It is also possible to re-train your brian. You can actually re-wire your brain to eliminate you sugar addiction and even start craving healthier foods. And it only takes 30 days! Read this blog post for more details.

Miss Part 1 or Part 2 of the sugar series? Here they are:

Do You Have a Sugar Addiction: Part 1

Do You Have a Sugar Addiction: Part 2

Is MSG Making You Fat?

Judi’s Optimal Body Balance Story

Congratulations Judi! We can’t wait to see you reach your goal!

Judi before Optimal Body Balance...

Judi 40 pounds lighter!

If we’re looking at weight loss; I’m halfway to my goal. I lost about 40 pounds working with Sheila at OBB (and 34 inches!). I have another 60 to go.
But, if we’re looking at attitude shifts, I’m 100% there!  I finally ‘get it’!
I thought I knew how to lose weight. I’ve certainly done it enough times over the past 40 years. But I didn’t know the relationships formed between food and my body.
It isn’t just eat less, move more.  As a wise woman once said; our body is not a bank account where you need to spend more than you put into it, rather it’s a chemistry  lab.
My body reacts very differently to different nutrients.   I knew little about gut dysbiosis and food sensitivities, but wanted to see what  I was ‘sensitive’ to.   I took a blood test for food sensitivities in April 2011.
I’ve ALWAYS had sore joints, kneeling was impossible and I took MSM and chondratin daily.  My food sensitivity test said to cut out cane sugar. Well guess what? My joints don’t hurt if I stay away from white sugar.  It’s no big loss, I can still enjoy dates, maple syrup and honey.
The test also pointed out a strong reaction to onions. I LOVE onions, truly.  But now that I don’t eat them, I noticed my sinuses clear up and throat clearing is not an issue anymore. I do indulge in scallions and shallots sometimes.  The final food on my sensitivity list was peanuts. I have no idea how they affected me. I still haven’t eaten them to find out.
My huge take away from this program is that I’ve learned to listen to the cues and signals provided by my body.  For example, I no longer need my prescription omeprazole for heartburn. If I eat too much bread, I feel the heartburn coming back. If my joints start hurting, I review my food intake for the past couple of days to see where I might have slipped up.
Thank you Sheila for helping me learn how to eat to live. I don’t count calories, which was a major departure for me. In fact, for at least a month, I was stealth tracking my calories, even though Sheila said it wasn’t necessary.
But now  I focus on the balanced plate and continue to enjoy four meals a day. Six days a week, I have a delicious fruit smoothie for breakfast. (Sunday is a veggie omelet.) The late afternoon meal is a lifesaver to get me through to supper.
I hope to reach my goal weight by next August (2012) and will reward myself with a long weekend in New York City with family and friends.
Is MSG Making You Fat?

Food Allergy and Intolerance Guide

 I thought I’d share this article I found……


Food Allergy and Intolerance Guide

It’s tough to host a dinner party these days, given everyone’s digestive challenges: No gluten. No dairy. No sugar. No wine or beer with sulfites. What’s going on?

Gastrointestinal experts call it food intolerance, and it’s increasingly an issue. Some estimate that 10 to 25 percent of Americans have a sensitivity to at least one food, while others say the prevalence is much higher.

“Percentages are only guesstimates at this point,” explains Steven M. Dandalides, M.D., a spokesperson for the American College of Gastroenterology and an assistant clinical professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk. “Judging by the number of people who come to see us, this seems to be a common problem.”

When seemingly good foods are sidelined, it’s hard not to question whether food intolerance is really a problem of the gut or simply an excuse for picky eaters. New research points to just how common it is — and how to cope if you’re diagnosed.

Intolerance Versus Allergies
To understand what food intolerance is, you first have to understand how it differs from allergies. An allergy is an immune-system response in which your body mistakes a certain food for a harmful invader and creates antibodies to fight it.

Symptoms can be mild or life-threatening — from nausea and hives to shortness of breath and anaphylaxis — and tend to come on immediately. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, only 3 to 4 percent of adults in the U.S. have a true food allergy.

Unlike an allergy, a food intolerance is a response from the gastrointestinal system. When certain foods are poorly absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream, the result can be symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, or abdominal pain one-half to eight hours after consumption.

Another big difference: Food intolerances are often but not always dose dependent. This means that even if you’re predisposed to intolerance for a food, you can likely eat a certain amount of it without experiencing an unpleasant GI reaction — and that dose varies by individual.

Another misconception: You don’t necessarily have an intolerance if you get gassy and bloated after drinking milk or eating pasta. (Though these days, having a food intolerance seems almost fashionable.) You’ll need to see a medical professional to determine whether you really have a food sensitivity, and if you eliminate suspect foods without seeing a doctor, you’ll likely miss out on vital nutrients.

“If you’re not gluten intolerant, a gluten-free diet is not healthier,” stresses Stefano Guandalini, M.D., a food-intolerance specialist who is director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. Restricting your diet unnecessarily can keep you from getting an accurate diagnosis of a more serious condition.

Why the Rise?
There’s been a great deal more food-intolerance research in Europe than in the U.S., yet the cause is still somewhat mysterious. There are a couple of respected hypotheses: One is that as we evolved from hunter-gatherers and began eating foods we produced ourselves, such as wheat and cow’s milk, some of us weren’t able to adapt and developed intolerances.

Other experts say that the food we eat today is too “clean.”

“We don’t get exposed to good bacteria found in places like soil anymore,” says Scot Lewey, D.O., a Colorado Springs gastroenterologist and fellow at the American College of Gastroenterology.

Chemicals purify our water; we don’t eat fresh-picked produce; our meat has been dosed with antibiotics to keep it disease-free. Plus, we’re now more likely to consume commercially processed multi-ingredient foods, increasing the number of potential irritants.

Anxiety and poor lifestyle habits can also take a toll on your GI tract.

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, the primary intolerance culprits are foods containing lactose, gluten, and fructose. Here’s how they all break down. If one of these descriptions resonates with you, you might want to make a doctor’s appointment.


From Whole Living, September 2010

Read more at Food Allergy and Intolerance Guide