Why your morning coffee could leave you craving for sugar

Just about any doctor will tell you that cutting down on sugar is a great first step to losing weight. But a recent study shows that this can be a lot harder for some consumers who enjoy their morning coffee.

Researchers from Cornell University have found that coffee can temporarily alter a person’s taste buds to make foods and drinks taste less sweet. While this isn’t necessarily a debilitating side effect on its own, senior author Robin Dando says that it may also make consumers crave sugar more, which could lead to overeating or consuming unhealthy snacks.

“When you drink caffeinated coffee, it will change how you perceive taste — for however long that effect lasts. So if you eat food directly after drinking a caffeinated coffee or other caffeinated drinks, you will likely perceive food differently,” Dando said.

Sugar cravings and alertness

To test this effect, the researchers conducted a blind study where participants were either given the equivalent of a strong cup of coffee or decaffeinated coffee, both of which contained sugar. Overall, panelists who were given the caffeinated beverage were more likely to say that their drink was less sweet.

In a second part of the study, participants were once again split into two groups and received either a caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee. After drinking their beverage, the panelists were asked to estimate how much caffeine was in their drink and report on how alert they felt.

The researchers found that all participants reported the same increase in alertness after drinking their beverage, regardless of whether it was caffeinated. The team believes that the trial may have discovered a sort of placebo or conditioning effect tied to the act of drinking coffee.

“Think Pavlov’s dog. The act of drinking coffee – with the aroma and taste – is usually followed by alertness. So the panelists felt alert even if the caffeine was not there,” Dando said. “What seems to be important is the action of drinking that coffee. Just the action of thinking that you’ve done the things that make you feel more awake, makes you feel more awake.”

Whether that finding will have consumers reaching for decaf is more doubtful, but it could be a viable option for consumers who want to avoid sugar cravings.

The full study has been published in the Journal of Food Science.

Three things to focus on to lose weight and get in shape

Halloween is nearly at the doorstep, and consumers across the country are stocking up on candy for eager trick-or-treaters. Unfortunately, leftover treats may cause some people to put on a few pounds before November arrives.

As with any other time of the year, there are plenty of ways consumers can burn off those extra calories and get in shape. Three methods that should jump to the top of the list include exercise, dieting, and proper meal preparation.

Exercising on a tight schedule

One of the favorite mantras of any gym nut or personal trainer is that if exercise was easy, everyone would be doing it. Unfortunately, dragging yourself outside to take a run, walk around the block, or drive to the gym takes a certain amount of willpower that many consumers find elusive.

If you — like many others — run on a tight work or home schedule, you might start your fitness journey by finding little ways to burn calories at home or at work.

For example, try walking or taking your bike to work (if possible) instead of driving; opt to take the stairs over the elevator; and try to incorporate walking meetings into your workday wherever possible.

In some cases, buying fitness equipment that you can keep at home can also be a huge benefit. Taking a half hour in the morning or at night to use a treadmill or elliptical can do wonders for your health and can compensate for a sedentary job or lifestyle.

Meal preparation and dieting

Like exercising, preparing healthy meals takes time; however, replacing unhealthy meals is a must if you want to keep your weight under control. Luckily, there are various options for streamlining better nutrition, whatever your schedule may be.

Instead of cooking up big meals that require many ingredients and a lot of time and attention, consumers should make some meals that are quick and easy to put together. For example, whipping up some healthy parfaits made with fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola can be the perfect way to start your day instead of a labor-intensive breakfast.

Consumers should also consider frozen foods that pack a nutritional punch, such as organic fruits and vegetables. Lean meats like chicken and turkey are also good options and can be kept frozen until there’s time to cook them up later.

Of course, if finding time to go to the grocery store or cook meals is a difficult task, you might consider having meals delivered to you. Meal delivery services like HelloFresh and Personal Trainer Food – as well as weight loss programs like Nutrisystem and Beachbody — can provide pre-portioned ingredients and meals that make meal preparation and dieting a snap.

Strategies for avoiding holiday weight gain

Amid an endless string of holiday parties and food-filled celebrations, it can be all too easy to veer off course with regard to diet and nutrition. But in order to avoid the post-holiday bulge, it’s important to make sure you don’t overindulge.

The average person puts on about a pound from November to January. While it might not seem like a lot, that extra pound can linger — sometimes well into the next year.

Research shows some of the weight people tend to gain over the holidays isn’t lost until five months later –and some people don’t shed their winter weight the following year. In the case of the latter, holiday weight gain can continue to accumulate year after year.

To avoid starting the New Year off with weight to lose, nutrition experts recommend making a plan to help yourself avoid extra sweet treats and rich meals around the holidays. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

Eat before the party

Eat healthy in the hours leading up to the holiday party you plan to attend. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends focusing on lean protein, whole grains, and simply prepared fruits and vegetables.

And make sure you eat enough. Consuming too few calories in hopes that it will give you leeway to indulge later is a bad idea, experts say. Similar to grocery shopping on an empty stomach, showing up to a party hungry can result in going overboard on food.

Count your drinks

It’s no secret that alcoholic beverages are full of calories. If you’re trying to maintain your ideal weight, go easy on alcohol — especially if you have more than one social gathering to attend per week.

“If you choose to consume alcohol this holiday season, opting for a light beer or a glass of dry wine, which comes in at about 100 to 150 calories, is a far better option and contains less sugar than homemade cider or a seasonal beer, which can often have as many as 200 calories per drink,” Courtney McCormick, Corporate Dietitian at Nutrisystem, told ConsumerAffairs.

Keep a tally in your head of how many drinks you have had, or use a calorie-counting app. To pace yourself and stay hydrated, have a glass of water between drinks.

Choose healthy options

If you’re not confident there will be a healthy holiday dish available at the party, bring your own. Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes can be a nice swap for a traditional Mashed Potato dish, McCormick said.

Be sure to load up on healthy food options (like fruits and vegetables that may be set out as appetizers) first, even if that doesn’t leave much room for the main course. Avoid reaching for too many calorie-dense appetizers, like mixed nuts or mini hot dogs.

While eating healthy is the goal, you don’t have to forgo holiday treats altogether. Lindsey Joe, a registered dietitian and nutritionist has one key rule for holiday parties: “eat what you love, leave what you like.” Avoid nibbling on food that doesn’t give you true enjoyment.

Be social

Another way to keep yourself from overeating? Socialize–and do so away from the buffet or appetizer trays to minimize unconscious snacking.

Spending the party socializing can help you avoid the temptation to eat too many diet-sabotaging foods. If you’re still hungry after the party, you can always get a healthy snack or meal at home.

Cut calories this holiday season by making healthy food swaps

Several studies have suggested that there’s a link between the holiday season and overeating that leads to weight gain. A recent analysis of data found that the last week of November to the first or second week of January is a critical time when many consumers gain weight.

Researchers say that most adults are bound to pack on a few pounds around the holiday, even if they’re seeking to lose weight and are self-monitoring their eating habits. However, some health experts don’t necessarily agree.

In an interview with ConsumerAffairs, nutritionist Allison Bradfield said that it’s important to be careful about which holiday foods you allow yourself to enjoy, since certain staples can lead to unintended weight gain.

She points out that some classic holiday foods can be diet downfalls, but others can be healthy when enjoyed in moderation.

Healthier holiday foods

Bradfield says some of the least healthy holiday foods include creamy dips, casseroles, and pecan pie. But other traditional holiday foods — such as sweet potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin, and fresh green beans — can offer health benefits, especially when prepared via simple cooking methods such as roasting, baking, or steaming.

Here are a few healthy foods to seek out at your next holiday gathering:

  • Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and have just 113 calories per half-cup. Since they’re naturally sweet when baked, you won’t need to add sugar, butter, or marshmallows. Instead, add a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.

  • Pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is a better choice than pecan pie (which can have up to 800 calories per slice), says Bradfield. Pumpkin is lower in fat and calories and also provides a good dose of beta-carotene. Another way to cut calories? Avoid the crust.

  • White turkey meat. Lower-fat white turkey meat is healthier than dark meat smothered in gravy. Bradfield says the healthiest way to enjoy white turkey meat is without the skin and with just a drizzle of gravy made with defatted pan juices, dry white wine, and low-sodium chicken broth.

  • Hot cocoa. Instead of egg nog (which can have up to 500 calories a cup), Bradfield recommends warming up with a cup of low-fat dark chocolate hot cocoa.

  • Lower-calorie spirits. Wine spritzers and light beer have fewer calories than mixed, sweetened alcoholic beverages. Since alcohol is a high calorie drink, Bradfield recommends setting a limit on the number of alcoholic beverages you allow yourself to have. Drinking water between beverages can also help prevent overindulgence.

Everything in moderation

To avoid consuming excess calories this holiday season, take a mindful approach when eating. Listening to your body can help you avoid overindulgence.

“I’m all for enjoying fabulous food around the holidays; with that being said, I also want to be mindful and balance my diet with healthy foods,” Bradfield said. “I recommend savoring favorite foods in moderation and forgoing anything that is not amazing.”

“It is important to be mindful while choosing foods to eat. Pay attention to your body (hunger and feelings of fullness), slow down, and stay in the moment. Avoid skipping meals, since that strategy can backfire and cause overindulgence later.”

Dempsey Marks’ Strawberry Banana Crunch Smoothie Bowl


The most delicious post-workout snack your body needs to recover!

Strawberry Banana Crunch Smoothie Bowl Photo

Yield: serves 1



  • 1/2 sliced banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp. – 1/4 cup water, depending on the strength of your blender


1/2 banana, sliced 1 1/2 Tbsp. granola 1 tsp. chia seeds 1 tsp. flax seeds 1 Tbsp. unsweetened coconut Drizzle of Honey




  1. In a blender, combine banana, frozen strawberries and blueberries, Greek yogurt, almond milk, and water. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour in a bowl and top with sliced banana, granola, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut, and a drizzle of honey. Enjoy!

Recipe by Dempsey Marks ; Photos by Kacy Meinecke





Back to School Cookies



14 cookies


  • 3 mashed bananas (ripe)
  • 1/3 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 2 cups oats (gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (we prefer almonds, walnuts are also good)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or carob chips*, optional

*adds sugar to the recipe, but a great way to moderate the sweet tooth!


Click Here to see the rest of the instructions

TRY THIS Trader Joe’s DIY Bistro Salad


A fully loaded entree salad that’s better than TJ’s original.

Trader Joe's DIY Bistro Salad Photo

Yield: Serves 2




  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. dried Italian herb blend
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt


  • 4 cups finely chopped tuscan kale
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup edamame beans, cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped or shredded
  • fresh mint and/or basil, optional




  1. Add all dressing ingredients to a large salad bowl and whisk until well combined.
  2. Into that same bowl, first add the chopped kale, massaging the leaves with your hands until dressing has been distributed and leaves soften a bit. Throw in all remaining ingredients.
  3. Toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

Photos by Kacy Meinecke for DietsInReview.com






TRY THIS Chocolate Covered Pretzel Protein Balls


Treat your workout with an easy, indulgent homemade “Larabar.”

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Protein Balls Photo

Yield: Serves 12



  • 18 pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almonds
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsalted mini pretzels
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate pieces




  1. Place the dates in a food processor and chop until broken in to small pieces. Then add the remaining ingredients and mix until a fine, crumbly mixture remains. If you can pinch the batter and it sticks between your fingers, you’re there.
  2. Measure 1 Tbsp. scoops and carefully form the balls with your hands.
  3. Optional Prep: A) Press into a cake pan to make bars. B) Drizzle melted chocolate over the tops.

Recipe by DietsInReview.com; Images by Kacy Meinecke for DietsInReview.com






Vegetarian Dinner with Garbanzo Beans


Garbanzo beans never tasted so good!

Chickpea Fritters Photo

Yield: serves 4



  • 1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice + lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. oil, safflower or sunflower recommended
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano, divided
  • 1 tsp. raw honey
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1, 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs*


  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced

*use almond flour for gluten-free option




  1. In a sealed jar, shake together shallot, lemon juice, 2 tsp. water, 2 tsp. oil, 2 tsp. oregano, honey, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash chickpeas, egg, bread crumbs, remaining oregano and lemon zest. If you are adding greens into the fritters, use a food processor to blend all ingredients together.
  3. Stir in cheese. Mix well and shape into a large ball. Divide ball into four patties, flattening each into 1/2″ thickness.
  4. In a medium nonstick skilled, heat remaining 1/2 tsp. oil on medium, add patties and cook until both sides are lightly golden and cooked through. About 4 minutes per side.
  5. In a medium bowl, toss together arugula and fennel, then pour dressing over top and toss.
  6. Divide salad and fritters among plates and enjoy!

photos by Kacy Meinecke for DietsInReview.com






Kale and White Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes


A hearty vegetarian dinner that’s light, easy, and satisfying.

Kale and White Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes Photo

Yield: serves 4



  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1, 4″ sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 12 oz. cooked and drained white beans
  • 6 cups kale, trimmed and sliced into ribbons
  • 1/4 lemon, juiced
  • sea salt & pepper, to taste




  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Scrub the sweet potatoes and poke them in a few places with a fork. Place them on a baking sheet and bake until soft all the way through, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Start the beans and greens about 15-20 minutes before potatoes are done. In a wide, deep saucepan with a cover, heat olive oil over low-med heat. Add shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes, stirring for about 1 minute.
  4. Add the beans, cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the kale, cover the pan, and cook until the kale is soft, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove the rosemary sprig, stir in the lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. To serve, slice each sweet potato lengthwise and push on the ends to open up the middle. Spoon the beans and greens into the center. Enjoy!

Photos by Kacy Meinecke for DietsInReview.com