5 Myths About Weight Loss

Aloha Nutrition Lovers! I’ve made some exciting shifts in my practice lately. I’ve decided to start focusing on nourishing and sustainable weight loss! People have been coming to me for different sorts of things, but weight loss is a recurrent theme. And when people embrace this new way of living, many of them find that they are doing just that…. Experiencing weight loss that seems pretty effortless. So, in honor of my new title as a Holistic Weight Loss Coach, here’s a blog post about 5 common myths about weight loss and to really drive the idea home that yo yo dieting and starving yourself thin are really NOT the way to do it.

5 Myths of Weight Loss

Fat Makes Us Fat

For years, we’ve been conditioned that eating fat will make us fat. Many of us still buy low fat dairy products, don’t eat the skin on chicken, and are scared of using butter. The thing is though, our bodies need fat. We love fat. It allows us to absorb nutrients, it helps keep our blood sugar stable, and fat and cholesterol are the building blocks of many of our hormones, which we really, truly need. If you eat dairy, buy whole milk. Buy whole plain yogurt (organic of course.) Never buy something that is advertised as low fat, and eat the skin on your organic chicken! It makes things taste a whole lot better and fat is what makes us feel full.

Vegetable Oils are Healthy

I advise my clients to throw these suckers out. Maybe with the bottle you have in your cupboard, you can grease your bike chain, or clean some goo off your hardwood floors, but do NOT put this stuff into your body. You can read a bit more about why not in my blog post about cooking oils, but the basics are that vegetable oils (corn, soybean, Wessen for example) are extremely delicate oils, and most are extracted using high heat and solvents, and are often damaged before they even get to your house. Then you cook with them and damage them further. Or they are chemically processed (hydrogenated) to look like butter (margarine), and instead are just a heaping pile of transfats. Don’t


use them.

Diet Sodas Will Help Me Lose Weight

We drink diet sodas because we think that we don’t want any more calories, but there are studies out that show that just the sweet taste alone is enough to cause insulin secretions...which will cause us to store fat. Not to mention that artificial sweeteners have been linked to cause headaches, sleep problems, fatigue, and a whole host of other problems. There are many people who have written about this subject at length, Joseph Mercola being on them. Read more. Just the word artificial is an accost to my whole foods, nature loving sensibility. Are you with me?

I Just Need to Exercise More

Gary Taubes’ 2011 book Why We Get Fat and What do to About it, addresses the idea that it’s not as simple as eating less and exercising more. Exercise has plenty of benefits and everyone should be doing it, but it’s not the end all be all of losing weight. Taubes points out that exercise will invariably make us hungrier, and that while exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, we won’t necessarily exercise ourselves thin. Losing weight because of activity level has a lot do with our individual metabolism, and honestly and most importantly…because of WHAT YOU EAT. More fabulous info by Taubes here.

The Less I Eat the Better

Deprivation has not been shown to aid in sustained weight loss. Gary Taubes points out that according to the Women’s Health initiative, which was a 15 year research study looking at the habits of post menopausal women, women who were eating 360 calories less a day for 8 years lost an average of 2 pounds each! I often look at clients’ diet journals and see that they aren’t eating ENOUGH. When the body doesn’t eat enough calories, our metabolism slows down and we start to store fat. Instead of depriving ourselves, we need to nourish and create an awareness between the food that we eat and how we feel. You should feel happy and satiated when you eat the right things.

Ok people. Get out of the old paradigm, and into the new.

Happy Nourishing, Tammy

Benefits of Ghee

Last week I posted all of the many amazing qualities of coconut oil.  Have you used it yet?  I used it this week making baked sliced sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of cinnamon.  They were delicious. Home made Ghee

Ghee is used widely in Indian cooking, and is used in various religious ceremonies.  It’s made by simmering butter, which evaporates the moisture (butter can be 18% water) and causes the milk solids to sink to the bottom.  Therefore,  some people who are lactose intolerant, are able to tolerate ghee as opposed to butter.  Clarified butter is made in a similar manner, but not simmered as long.  In ghee, the milk solids are browned which give it a nuttier taste.

Ghee is regarded as anti-inflammatory and is said to boost memory.  In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used to cure a whole host of ailments, from treating burns to aiding in digestion.

Ghee is ideal for frying since the smoke point (when molecules start to break down) is 482 degrees F.  It is probably the only oil that I would feel comfortable using in deep frying.  It does not need to be refrigerated, and can last about 6 months in a cool dark place.  With refrigeration, it can last up to a year.  Be careful not to add any moisture as this will cause spoilage.

Since it is so simple and relatively quick to make, I don't make large batches at once.  I use it pretty frequently, so I keep it in my pantry, which keeps it soft and easy to scoop out.  Note: I have noticed that after a few months, it loses its nutty aroma and starts to smell stale, so I try to use it regularly.

Making Ghee

Making ghee yourself is very economical.  A jar of ghee at the store can cost anywhere from $8-12 dollars.  Start with organic unsalted butter (conventional butter has other chemicals and a whole HOST of other problems.)  I usually use 2-3 sticks at a time, which will give you about 3/4 of a cup. In a saucepan, heat butter on low until it starts to simmer.  A white foam will rise to the top and it should start to bubble.  Check every few minutes and stir occasionally.  You will start to see white milk solids cling to the bottom of the pan.  When they turn nice, golden brown the ghee is done!   Some say the aroma is like popcorn, but to me it smells like a buttery croissant.  Careful not to burn the solids on the bottom as this will affect the flavor.  You can also simmer with different herbs to add flavor:  thyme, rosemary, basil and garlic are good options.  Strain and place in a glass jar, opaque if possible, but otherwise store in a cool dark place.  Some people sprinkle the browned milk solids on toast or over potatoes.  Use frequently and feel proud that you make it yourself!

Relish using ghee, it has a long history, and is extremely nourishing.  It will add a beautiful flavor to your meals and add a foundation of clean wholesome nutrition to your diet.

Fallon, Sally and Mary Enig, Ph.D. (2001) Nourishing Traditions. Washington D.C.: New Trends Publishing
Murray, M. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: ATRIA Books.
Wood, Rebecca. (2010)  The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  New York.  Penguin Books.

Coconut Oil and Ghee: A Love Affair Part 1

In my practice and classes, I often get asked about the healthiest cooking oils.  If you remember my last posting about which cooking oils to use, you will remember that I’m a fan of using saturated fats.  I use butter pretty often, but if I was honest and true to myself...dairy, unfortunately, is not my friend.  Did you know that about 90% of Asian Americans are lactose intolerant?  And 75% of African Americans?  It’s sad, but true. Cooking oils are fundamental in your cooking practice.  They not only provide a subtle flavor that permeates the entire dish, but they also provide the healthy fats that make you feel satiated.  In my kitchen, coconut oil and ghee are my fats of choice.  They are both highly saturated fats, heat stable, and can be stored outside of the refrigerator.  I'll wait until my next posting to talk about ghee, read on to find out all about coconut oil.

Coconut Oil:

Coconuts in general find their way into my diet pretty regularly.  Coconut water for after exercising, coconut milk for curries and desserts (Native Forest is a good brand to buy, no BPA in the lining), and coconut oil from frying eggs to baking.  Coconut has really exploded in the last few years, but I’m rather fond of this fad because it actually has extremely healthful properties.  Coconut oil originally received a bad reputation when a Minnesota researcher fed fully hydrogenated coconut oil to rats and watched a sharp increase in their cholesterol levels.  We now know that it was the hydrogenation of the oil and the resulting trans fats, which raised the cholesterol.  However, even today, coconut oil still has a stigma of being a “heart attack” oil.

For a number of reasons, coconut oil is extremely beneficial.  First off, it is 92% saturated fat, making it extremely stable when heated, and furthermore,  over 2/3 of its fatty acids are medium chain fatty acids.  There are three types of fatty acids: short, medium, and long.  Long chain fatty acids require bile from our gall bladder to be broken down.  Since bile is not required to breakdown medium chain fatty acids, research shows that these types of fats are much more easily used by the body for energy.   Coconut oil has also been shown to increase metabolism.

Coconuts are also one of the few plant sources of a fatty acid called lauric acid, the only other abundant source being in human breast milk.  Keeping in mind that breast milk passes on many healthful, immune enhancing properties to a newborn, the lauric acid in coconut oil is a pretty amazing thing.  It enhances both brain and immune system function.   Capric acid also makes up 7% of the fatty acid content and it is known for being antiviral, antibacterial, and anti fungal.  Pretty powerful stuff.

You can substitute coconut oil for lard or butter (please don’t say you use vegetable shortening!  Trans fat fest…..).  However reduce the amount you use in the recipe by about quarter, otherwise it will be too greasy.  It’s also great for massages or moisturizing.  Have you ever heard the saying, "don’t use anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat?"  Coconut oil is thus perfect...and it smells great.

I love using coconut oil in baking, but one of my favorite ways to use it is with kale and coconut shreds. The fat in the coconut oil helps to make the carotenes in the kale more absorbable....

Kale with Coconut Oil and Coconut shreds

1 bunch Kale (any type) roughly chopped

1 clove garlic (minced)

1 T of coconut shreds

1 T soy sauce

Heat a large saute pan and place in a spoonful of coconut oil.  Add chopped kale, stirring to make sure each leaf is covered with the oil. Add coconut shreds, a splash of water and cover for about 30 seconds.  Uncover and stir in minced garlic and stir continuously until leaves are a nice, dark green.  Add soy sauce and serve!  (Serves 2-3)

Enjoy and stay tuned for the next posting about ghee and why it always has a place in my kitchen....



Fallon, Sally and Mary Enig, Ph.D. (2001) Nourishing Traditions. Washington D.C.: New Trends Publishing

Murray, M. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: ATRIA Books.

Ross, Julia. (1999) The Diet Cure.  New York: Penguin Books.

Wood, Rebecca. (2010)  The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  New York.  Penguin Books.


The Right Cooking Oil (and Why)

What oil should you cook with? Before we get into that answer, it makes sense to talk about the myth around saturated fats and all dietary fat in general.   Current conventional wisdom states that saturated fats clog your arteries and dietary fat will make you fat.  I constantly hear someone referring to a burger and fries as "a heart attack waiting to happen."  It has become SO normal and so widely known that fat will kill you.  Or will it?  It turns out that we have been wrong all these years.  What's worse, is that all the dietary advice that we've followed in the last 30 years has actually worsened our health, and led to more heart disease and more girth around our waists.  So where did this start from? Well, it all started with a man named Ancel Keys, and his theory called the Lipid Hypothesis.

Keys believed that dietary fats caused chronic disease, and specifically, heart disease.  Gary Taubes, in his book Good Calories, Bad Calories, describes Keys in this way: “Key’s abilities as a scientist are arguable – he was more often wrong than right – but his force of will was indomitable.” Keys firmly believed that dietary fat caused heart disease, and in the 1950’s went about to try and prove it.  It turns out however, that he used extremely questionable practices to prove his theory.  For example, Keys had data from 22 different countries, but used only the results from 6 of them to prove his hypothesis.  Originally, even the American Heart Association came out criticizing Keys, but suddenly, changed its stance in 1957 based on a report from 6 men, including, (gasp) Ancel Keys.  Once this report was released, Time Magazine reported it and it suddenly became gospel.  Saturated fat and cholesterol were targeted as culprits, mainly in animal and dairy products, and there was a nation wide push to lower the total percentage of dietary fat.

Many people, however, have opposed the Lipid Hypothesis from the beginning. In recent decades, more people have come forward to dispel this myth.  Michael Pollan, in his fabulous book In Defense of Food, spells it out by quoting a Harvard article from 2001. “It is now increasingly recognized that the low-fat campaign has been based on little scientific evidence and may have caused unintended health consequences.”   Ooof.

The same article did come up with a link between trans fats and heart disease.  Which, unfortunately, is exactly the type of fat that is promoted in supposedly “heart healthy” foods.   Margarine and vegetable cooking oils are the primary culprits.

Which leads us back to….what oils SHOULD you be using at home?

It turns out, that saturated fats, which have been so villainized in the past, are the best oils to use.   To make sure that you don’t create trans fats in your very own home, stay away from polyunsaturated vegetable oils while you are cooking.  Oils like corn, soybean, sunflower, and safflower are extremely delicate and will oxidize, or become rancid when you cook with them.   Imagine the molecules of these oils as squiggly lines, and at every curve and bend is a weak spot.  At these points, oxygen and heat can penetrate and damage the molecule. You’ve heard of antioxidants.  We eat them to combat the oxidative stress that happens in our bodies.  When you  eat these oils, it’s like eating a heaping bowl of oxidative stress.

The best oils to cook with are saturated fats, whose molecules look like nice flat bricks that line up nice and tight when stacked together.  (That’s why these fats are solid at room temperature)  This also means they are more stable when exposed to heat; examples are coconut oil, butter, beef tallow, and ghee.  Second best are oils that are mostly monounsaturated (imagine just one curve or bend in the molecule) such as lard, macadamia nut, and olive.

Follow the helpful chart below:

The Best Cooking Fats

(Adapted from Nina Planck’s book Real Food)


Heat Stable and Ideal for Cooking

Moderately Stable

Cook only at moderate heat


Only use COLD!

Beef Tallow

Chicken Fat



Coconut Oil


Macadamia Nut Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fish Oil

Flaxseed Oil

Walnut Oil


It’s always important to think about what you are cooking in deciding which oil to use.  Temperature and flavor are important things to think about, as the wrong oil could add a contrasting flavor to your dish.  Or conversely, it can add an incredible flavor.  Remember that if the oil smokes, it’s being burned.  Throw it out.  Furthermore, don’t be afraid of these oils!  Fat, in the right proportions, is extremely healthy and it is what helps you feel full and happy.

So try a new, safer, healthier, yummier oil.  Remember, fat adds flavor! Don’t be afraid to throw out your vegetable oils, or maybe just use them to grease your bike chain.

Note:  Many people ask about grapeseed oil and peanut oil because of their “high heat” properties.  I do not recommend using either of these oils because they both have an extremely high Omega 6 content and very low Omega 3.  This can lead to excess inflammation in the body…..which is another interesting, but lengthy topic.

Planck, Nina (2006) Real Food; What to Eat and Why.  New York; Bloomsbury.

Pollan, Michael (2008) In Defense of Food, An Eater’s Manifesto.  New York; Penguin Press.

Taubes, Gary.  (2008) Good Calories, Bad Calories.  New York; Anchor Books.