Healthy Bites 4/7/21

Here's how you can eat, think, and move this week in order to live your healthiest life.

How to Eat

What’s the scoop on noncaloric artificial or natural sweeteners (also called nonnutritive sweeteners)? Many people realize that they need to steer away from sugar wherever they can and in doing so, substitute these sweeteners instead. The upside is that you get the sweetness without the sugar. The downside is that these sweeteners can raise your blood sugar, cause an insulin release, and continue your brain’s reliance on sweets to stimulate pleasure centers. In short, the powder forms of these sweeteners often contain a hidden sugar called maltodextrin. If you are going to use these sweeteners, go with the liquid forms (which usually don’t contain maltodextrin), but be sure to check ingredient labels for hidden sugars.

How to Think

Want to feel happy in less than 5 minutes? That’s the power of visualization. Set a timer for 5 minutes, sit in a quiet spot, close your eyes, and bring to mind some of the things you would do if you were to celebrate a big win. See yourself cheering, high fiving your pals, jumping up and down, grinning ear to ear, or hugging your loved ones. Engage the emotions that come up by seeing these things in your mind’s eye. Savor the feeling you get with your celebration. When the timer goes off, I dare you to not have a big ole smile on your face.

How to Move

Begin a 5 minute exercise habit. Here’s how: pick 2 or 3 exercises such as push ups, jumping jacks, squats, jogging in place, plank, sit ups/crunches, or burpees (if you are already in shape). When you put on your underwear in the morning (or anything else that you do everyday 😎), do three reps or 15 seconds of each of your chosen exercises. That’s it, just three reps or 15 seconds. The point is to work some movement into your daily routine. After a few days or weeks, try to up the number of repetitions. Don’t think of this as your workout - it’s just a way to get your blood pumping. And you will feel better for it!

In the news

Monk Fruit Extract

Monk fruit is a small melon that has been grown in southern China for hundreds of years. It is much sweeter than other fruits and table sugar. At the same time, it has only a fraction of the calories found in sugar. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (Luo Han Guo) for cough and sore throat. The juice of the melon is used as a beverage itself and to sweeten other beverages without adding too many calories. Since 2010, it has been available as a food sweetener in the US. Monk fruit extract has been marketed as a “natural” sweetener alternative to sugar and has zero calories. It can be found in both liquid and powder forms and has been added to many processed foods as a natural sweetener. But is it really good for you?

That depends. If you are looking for a low calorie alternative to sugar, this might be a reasonable option for you. However, if you are diabetic, it might not be the best solution. While monk fruit extract does not raise blood sugars, it may raise insulin levels which is exactly what a type 2 diabetic does not want.

Monk fruit gets its sweetness from compounds called mogrosides. Mogrosides have been found to reduce oxidative stress (which means they are antioxidants). Unfortunately, these mogrosides may also be what stimulates insulin production. Monk fruit extracts are relatively new to the US market compared to other nonnutritive sweeteners, and have been hyped as a healthy and natural alternative to sugar. Monk fruit will probably live up to that hype for most people, as long as you are not diabetic. 

Supplement Your Health

Cinnamon may help lower blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol. The bark of plants in the Cinnamomum genus contains the essential oil that gives cinnamon its unique flavor as a spice. While the results of clinical trials of cinnamon to help control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes are conflicting, a meta analysis (a collection of multiple trials) did suggest that it may help with blood sugar control. A separate meta analysis of data suggested that it may lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides. Additional uses are to lower insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), improve markers in metabolic syndrome, and help with wound healing. Cinnamon can be a tasty addition to your food, but be sure to consult with your physician before taking any supplements.

Tasty Tip

The tasty tip for this week is a low carb and easy breakfast.

Popeye Breakfast in a Cup

Serves 1


2 large eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

2 T heavy cream

2 T shredded cheddar 

½ cup fresh spinach


  1. Whip the eggs in a small bowl with a fork or whisk. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add cream and cheese and mix together.
  3. Place the spinach in a 10 oz coffee mug and pour egg mixture on top.
  4. Microwave on high for 30 sec and then stir. Microwave for an additional 1 ½ min or until eggs are completely cooked. Enjoy!

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