6 Signs Your “Lifestyle Plan” Is a Risky Diet in Disguise

The number of people who say they are dieting is at an all-time low, according to research released in 2013. To anyone who realizes how risky dieting is, fueling everything from nutrient deficiencies to obesity, this could seem like spectacular news. But here’s the thing:

Many people are now dieting without realizing it.

The weight loss industry is extremely smart from a financial standpoint. (They must be, to profit over $60 billion per year.) As dieting’s risks and almost zero percent success rate became widespread knowledge, many diet makers have responded by changing their packaging. “It’s not a diet,” many claim. “It’s a lifestyle plan!”

While this may be true in some cases, I’ve come across loads of “lifestyle plans” that are merely risky diets in disguise. If you’ve developed one or more of the below problems since adopting a dietary plan, it’s time to make some changes.

An unhealthy diet can take many different forms.

6 Signs Your “Lifestyle Plan” is a Risky Diet in Disguise

1. You have wretched breath. Halitosis is a common side effect of ultra-low carbohydrate, aka ketogenic, diets. Without enough carbs, the body releases chemicals that stink up your breath—and that’s only one of many known risks. When I was working as a consulting nutritionist, I could almost always tell if someone was “low-carbing” with one whiff.

2. You’re lethargic and grumpy. There’s a reason psychologists coined the term “Atkins Blues.” Carbohydrates are your body’s main fuel source—and the cells in your brain need twice as much as the rest of your body’s cells to function normally, stay energized and produce the feel-good chemical serotonin. (Ideally, most of your carbs will derive from nutritious sources.)

3. You’re anxious and stressed. Stress and anxiety are two of the most common downsides of dieting, and derive from physical and emotional factors. Without enough carbs, your body can’t efficiently produce calming brain chemicals. The highly restrictive nature of many diets also brings a sense of deprivation, which is stressful. You can’t dine out with ease or end up fighting perpetual hunger—which is another red flag.

4. Sleep is a problem. The same chemicals that promote positive moods make way for restful sleep. Consuming too few carbs or calories can make it really difficult to snooze restfully. Stress and anxiety from dieting (aka “lifestyle planning”) can also fuel insomnia. You could also end up exhausted over all, feeling as though all you want to do is stay in bed.

5. You’re prone to diarrhea, constipation or kidney stones. High-protein diets commonly contribute hugely to constipation and kidney stones, especially if you skimp of fiber-rich carb sources, such as legumes. If you can’t stick to a diet plan without taking laxatives (including herbal forms, such as senna or “detox tea”), it’s not a sound plan. Juice fasts that promise detoxification often also cause digestive upset, along with a slew of other complications.

6. Your sex life is suffering. Risky diet plans lack balance. They’re often way too high in protein or far too low in calories, carbs and sometimes fat. All of this can tinker with blood flow, which is crucial for arousal and sexual function, and brain chemicals linked with turn-on and orgasm. Low moods and bad breath from dieting can also make the naked tango less appealing.

So what’s the answer? Listen to your body. Respect it, rather than starve it. Aim for a diet based on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Eat when you’re slightly hungry, stop when you’re comfortably full. Avoid diets that make grandiose promises, while, of course, avoiding any foods you’d don’t tolerate. Incorporate enjoyable activity into your lifestyle, cultivate a healthy sleep routine and pursue your passions. (Stress and unhappiness play a huge role in physical health.) Allow some wiggle room for foods you eat purely for enjoyment, keeping in mind that no one eats perfectly. The good news is, you don’t need to.

*If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and they don’t seem diet or lifestyle related, or if they’re severe or long-lasting, seek guidance from your doctor. 

Related articles:

Can you relate to this post? What have dietary plans taught you? What steps do you take to gain wellness without losing your self? I love hearing from you! ♥

Cleansing Kids? 4 Facts Adults Should Know About Detox Diets

“Kids don’t need a cleanse, they need good food.” — Keith Ayoob, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine

They can sound near miraculous. By drinking particular juices and avoiding food for several days or more, “cleansing” plans state, the digestive system rests and your body flushes out toxic substances, leading to improved weight control, energy, immune function and longevity. Many of the plans claim that taking various supplements, many of which contain stimulants or laxatives, take this process further. Any ill effects you feel meanwhile, from grogginess and stomach aches to anal leakage, are supposedly signs that your body is detoxing. On the contrary, they are signs of body harm and could very well lead to heightened toxicity. Research shows that so-called “colon cleanses” raise your risk for kidney failure, seizures, electrolyte imbalances and even death.

As some of you know, I recently turned down an article assignment on “cleansing your way to a bikini body” because creating damaging materials isn’t worth even the biggest of paychecks, IMO. This morning I caught a Good Morning America feature on “trendy cleanses for Kids.” (Yikes!) Thankfully, doctors and dietitians are speaking out against the trend, stating that not only are the plans ineffective, but risky—particularly for youth. I sincerely hope parents of these young cleansers are taking their messages to heart.

I’m sure many of the involved parents have good intentions, desiring greater health for their wee ones. And it’s tough to sort through the overabundance of conflicting information on diet and wellness, particularly when hundreds of billions of dollars go into convincing the masses that harmful and/or useless and unsubstantiated dietary tactics work wonders. Since the topic seems to be cropping up a great deal lately, I thought I’d put my nutritionist cap on and share a few facts worth recognizing if you or your loved ones are considering a cleanse.

4 Little Known Facts About “Detox” and “Cleansing” Plans

♦ Modern detox diets and cleansing plans derive from the Master Cleanse—a plan created by a man with no relevant credentials or dietary expertise who was later convicted of medical fraud. Anyone who know the ins and outs of digestive function and physiology will tell you that the plans are based on hype, not science. (And nutrition is a science.) There’s not a shred of proof or medical text that upholds the legitimacy of cleansing.

♦ The body cleanses itself, but it won’t if you don’t feed it.  Sure, you might feel rejuvenated by drinking only particular fluids because you feel as though you’re creating a fresh slate and because starvation can cause a release of endorphins (out of panic), but your organs won’t release toxins in the process. That’s just not how food or the body work. When you eat a balanced diet sufficient in calories and nutrients (which isn’t hard to do!), your kidneys, liver and even your skin flush out toxins. If you fail to eat enough, on the other hand, organ function reduces, leading to more toxicity, not less.

♦ They don’t promote fat loss. Weight lost from juice fasts and cleansing derives from water loss and/or diarrhea. The pounds will not only return once you start eating but lead to even more gain later on, because consuming too few calories slows the metabolism down. A balanced diet based on nutritious food, regular physical activity and emotional self-care may not provide rapid results, but they are safe, proven steps to lasting weight control. Besides, eating is fun! At least, it should be.

♦ They can have scary long-term effects. Fasting on water or juice can not only lead to nutrient deficiencies, poor brain function, fatigue, dizziness and other symptoms straight away, but hinder a child’s development. She’s more likely to develop osteoporosis, metabolic problems and obesity later on (which are risks of all restrictive diets), but develop severe psychological complications, such as poor body image, depression and eating disorders. To learn ways to cultivate healthy body image in your kids, check out 50 Ways to Lose the 3-Ds via the National Eating Disorders Association.

This is also super common.

This is also common.


How about we all eat food?

Food is awesome! I’m namely talking about whole foods our bodies are designed to eat, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, though less-healthy fare is perfectly fine in moderation. If you really want to cleanse, eat only whole foods for awhile. Stay moderately active, well-rested and hydrated. Aim to eat mindfully, slowly and with awareness. Rather than avoid food, rid your life of toxic influences—people in your life who make you feel inadequate, the job you hate, diet trends intended to fatten makers’ wallets while your health suffers. Increase the good in your life, and fitness of all kinds will follow. I truly believe that.

For more in-depth information on detox and cleansing plans, read my article published by DAME Magazine: Toxic Cleanse: Debunking Detox Diet Myths.

detox diet article

That’s my two-cents! How do you feel about cleansing? Do you think children, or anyone, should cleanse? Any questions for me while I still have my nutritionist cap secured? 😉 I love hearing from you!

Move Over Weight Loss! 8 Wellness Resolutions Worth Setting

“It is only possible to live happily everafter on a day to day basis.” – Margaret Bonnano

About 45 percent of Americans typically set New Year’s resolutions, according to University of Scranton research conducted in 2012, and weight loss tops the charts in popularity.

Not exactly the most joyful outlook of the new year...

Not exactly the most joyful outlook of the new year…

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather focus on gaining something wondrous than losing something I loathe. Luckily, positivity isn’t only enjoyable, but makes obtaining our goals easier. Here’s a prime example: Saying we want to lose weight immediately places focus on what we find detrimental, working like a mega-volt highlighter on those added pounds. We walk around hyperaware of our “flaw,” a state that can trigger food cravings, stress, depression and even weight gain. This is only one reason weight loss efforts tend not to work for long or at all.

The solution isn’t giving up on weight-related issues, in my opinion, but meeting them in alternate ways. More often than not, lifestyle problems are rooted much deeper than how many servings of ice cream we eat or workouts we skip. It only makes sense that we dig deeper when setting our sights on change.

Rather than aiming to diet, struggling through workouts you hate or fill-in-the-self-tortorous-blank, why not prioritize self-care? Taking care of ourselves makes way for goodness of all kinds. Doing so is also fun, healthier and safer than typical wellness-related resolutions and the closest thing I know of to a superpower. When we embrace it…MAGIC!

wondrous quote self care

That’s more like it!

Whether you plan to set New Year’s resolutions by January or simply strive to better yourself in general, I hope you’ll consider taking a positive stance. All of the following goals can help pave the way for enhanced weight control, wellness and, most importantly, overall happiness.

8 Wellness Resolutions Worth Setting

1. Look in the mirror and express self-love daily. “I love you.” “You’re beautiful.” Say them out loud! Look into your own eyes and mean it. Stare until you see something embraceable. It may sound silly, but I’m telling you, it works. Choose an affirmation that suits your area of challenge, or change it up with new affirmations every week. For a list of ideas, pop by the Huffington Post: Body Image Affirmations: 10 Mantras to Help Stressing Over Your Appearance.

2. Eat more nutritious, whole foods. Focus on more (of you, of wellness, of healthy fare…), not less (of you, of “bad” foods…). Seek tasty ways to savor healthy dishes. Restrictive diets don’t work, but nourishing your body and soul so do! The more you enjoy them, the more you’ll crave the same. If you work best with guidelines, dodge diets and consider these Intuitive Eating principles instead.

3. Engage in physical activities you enjoy. Take a dance class. Hike with friends. Walk your dog. While hitting the gym isn’t a bad thing, particularly if you enjoy it, we’re more likely to stick to and have success with activities we delight in. (Makes sense, right?) The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that most adults aim for 2.5 hours of moderately-intense activity per week. Aim to spend that time not in misery.

4. Prioritize sex! Speaking of enjoyable exercise… 😉 Routine sex promotes everything from strong immune function and libido to improved energy levels and a longer life. (Sign. Me. Up!) Prioritize physical intimacy with a partner and engage in solo sex. Seek ways to enhance all of your sensual experiences. Remind yourself that doing so isn’t selfish, but respectful and healthy. To learn more about the benefits, check out Girl Boner Perks for Jollier Holidays.

5. Keep a gratitude or dream-seeking journal. As many of you know, I mentor and provide nutritional counseling for people suffering from eating disorders. A technique that works well for them—shifting their focus from body and food fixation to emotional fulfillment—works brilliantly for weight control and overall wellness. If you find yourself stressed about food or shunning your physicality, don’t aim to shrink your body; expand your dreams and your willingness to pursue them. Journaling grateful thoughts is a proven way to boost inner and outer wellness.

6. Allow yourself some wiggle room! I wrote an article last year about research headed by Katrina Leupp, a doctoral student of sociology at the University of Washington, on the tendency for “Super Moms” to get the blues. The study showed that women who cut themselves some slack—ask for help as needed and learn to “let things slide,” have lower instances of depression. The same holds true for our lifestyle habits. If we aim too high, we’re likely to fall flat. In whatever area you tend to be hardest on yourself, commit to easing up.

7. Say ‘no’ when it means saying ‘yes’ to your wellbeing. It’s been called the “disease to please,” the common tendency to feel so compelled to please others, that we get lost in the shuffle, overextending and often compromising ourselves on others’ behalf. Committing to saying ‘no’ when saying ‘yes’ would stand in the way of your physical or emotional wellbeing is a primo goal worth setting. As etiquette specialists Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh smartly said, “A gift isn’t a gift if it’s an obligation.”

8. Practice mindfulness. With few exceptions, this one does not come naturally to me—but lordy, is it important! Learning to eat mindfully instead of diet can turn something stressful or blasé into a gratitude-filled, fortifying experience. Staying present while we’re driving can literally save lives.  Too many times over the past year, I’ve caught myself physically in one place and mentally in another. While I’ll always embrace daydreaming (it’s arguably a writer’s job, right?? ;)), I’m committing myself to being more present in my daily life.

What goals or resolutions are you working toward? What are your favorite ways to stay physically and emotionally fit? Any questions or items to add to my list? I love hearing from you—so much so, I’ll even don my nutritionist’s cap if you have dietary questions. 🙂

Wishing you wondrous holidays! ♥

#GirlBoner Wellness: 5 Ways Dieting Zaps Libido

Today I’m donning my nutritionist cap. Who knew it paired so well with my Girl Boner? Then again, don’t Girl Boners go beautifully with just about anything? Whew! I thought so. 😉 Okay, back to business.

I’ve long believed that the way we approach food and eating says a heck of a lot about the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us. Well guess what: Our food attitudes can also reflect a great deal about our sexual selves.

And healthy! Yes, even that veggie-loaded pizza, as part of a balanced diet.

And healthy! Yes, even that veggie-loaded pizza, as part of a balanced diet.

5 Seriously Unsexy Dieting Risks

The diet industry is a mega-machine, pulling in over $40 billion in the United States each year. As the industry flourishes, our nation’s overall health steadily declines, along with female sexual desire—and not by chance, in my opinion. Whether we call them diets, cleanses, programs or lifestyle plans, most eating patterns that impose heavy restriction are risky for our physical and emotional wellbeing. Restrictive plans can also zap our libido and make sex less pleasurable when we have it. Here are some of the ways dieting can detract from our ability to enjoy sensual, savory sex lives:

1. Exhaustion. Trying to stay energized with a deficient nutritional tank is like trying to run your vibrator on a fizzling out battery. Exactly! It won’t work. This is important because tiredness is a leading cause of libido loss in women and men. When we eat too few calories or carbohydrates, the body and brain’s main fuel source, we’re likely to feel drained. Skipping meals and under-eating interferes with blood sugar control, leading to that groggy “crash” feeling. Dieting also raises the risk of binge eating significantly, according to the National Eating Disorders Association—another common cause of exhaustion and fatigue.

2. Bad breath. Low-carb diets, such as the Atkins Diet, encourage partakers to reach a state of ketosis, a risky state in which the body tries to utilize fat, rather than carbs, as energy. The chemicals the body releases during ketosis cause putrid-smelling breath, among other problems. I don’t know about you, but stinky breath is not on my turn-on list.

3. Brain fog. Foggy thinking makes it difficult to desire or engage in sex. It’s tiresome, makes us feel overall low and tinkers with brain chemicals vital for sexual arousal. Restrictive diets typically don’t provide sufficient amounts of glucose—the natural sugar derived from carbohydrates, which allows for brain function. Each cell in your brain requires twice as much glucose as the rest of your body’s cells. I’m no math genius, but it’s not tough to configure those consequences. A strict vegetarian diet that lacks protein, and a diet lacking in omega-3s (prevalent in cold-water fish, flaxseeds, soy and walnuts) can also stimulate brain fog.

4. Bloating, gas and constipation. Digestive issues are about as tantalizing as, well, diarrhea. Juice fasts, detox diets and any plan that encourages fiber or laxative supplements (very common in low-carb plans) cause a slew of digestive side effects. The excessive amounts of sugar in juices often causes gassiness. If you juice for days on end or repeatedly, you run the risk of experiencing abdominal cramping and loose stools. Laxatives, including natural supplements such as psyllium husk, cause similar effects. Eating a high-protein, low-fiber diet is likely to cause constipation, which triggers bloating, uncomfortable fullness and gassiness.

5. Anxiety, stress and depression. One of the most common side effects of dieting is heightened stress—a major sex drive tanker. Diets tend to be difficult to follow and stick to, making way for frustration. Dieting can also make it difficult to dine out or anywhere with non-dieting loved ones. If you eat too few carbs, you run the risk of developing what psychologists have coined the “Atkin’s Blues,” a state in which your brain produces too few feel-good chemicals. (Sufficient carbohydrate intake allows your brain to produce these chemicals.) And with a less than 5 percent success rate, dieters’ chances of a slowed metabolism, eventual weight gain and a sense of failure run extremely high. All of these issues move lovemaking far from the forefront of our minds, in a sense teaching us that we’re not deserving of a nourishing dietary or sexual lifestyle.


A Healthy Alternative

But there is hope! Lucky for all of us, the same dietary principles that promote physical and emotional health also support a vibrant libido and sex life. While the specifics of our dietary needs may vary, there are a few universal, scientific facts. We all need macronutrients, which include carbohydrates, protein and fat, and micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. By emphasizing nutritious sources (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish…), eating balanced meals and/or snacks at regular time intervals and cutting ourselves some slack (low-nutrient fare is fine in moderation), generally healthy folks can rest assured that our needs will be met. We also won’t starve our bodies or our Girl Boners in the process. THANK GOODNESS! 

How much should we eat? 

Rather than count calories or grams, I recommend honing in and listening to your body. When we eat primarily whole foods, which provide all of those essential nutrients, and do so mindfully—paying attention to the food, our bodies and our hungry/full signals—we know when enough is enough. If you’re not quite there yet, the ‘plate method’ can be helpful. Fill half of your meal plates with produce, one quarter with a healthy carb, and one quarter with lean protein. (Use fat sources sparingly. Prepare fish or chicken in olive oil, for example, or sprinkle your salad with nuts.) If you carry excess weight, really emphasize fiber-rich foods and amp up your fruit and veggie intake. Mindful eating is another great way to keep our appetites, weight and food portions in check. Instead of focusing on eating less or what to avoid, focus on gratitude, eating more of the super healthy stuff and listening to your body.

One more tip: While you’re increasing your intake of those healthy, fiber-rich foods, do so gradually. Otherwise you might need to bulk up on candles and aromatherapy during playtime *clears throat* – IYKWIM. If you’re wondering about other foods to limit before naked fun, stay tuned! We’ll be delving into that topic soon.

Are you guilty of the above dieting don’ts? Have you noticed a correlation between sex drive and your diet? Any questions for me while I have this fruit and veggie sculpture on my head? (What did you think a nutritionist’s cap would look like?) I adore your thoughts, so share, ask and gab away! ♥ And remember to join me in Girl Boner chit chat on Twitter and Facebook throughout the week. I don’t know about you, but I have a tough time limiting such chatter to Mondays.

Living Well to Write Well When Feeling @%$#-y

Illness is part of wellness, and strikes all of us on occasion. If only we could choose the timing…

If only we could choose the timing.

I caught a nasty bug last week, while up against a tight deadline. Like many writers, I have multiple work-streams and projects ongoing. The assignment plunked down like an elephant on that pile.

Some years ago, I would have worked my butt off, eaten low-cal foods and hit the gym while sick. I’m so glad I’ve learned since then. I now appreciate the fact that food fuels the body and brain, and that during sickness, it needs ample glucose. Since we only have one source of glucose (carbohydrates), eating enough (if possible) and at regular time intervals is vital. So is rest, since glucose also fuels activity. While enduring illness or injury, our glucose should fuel recovery instead.

Rather than fight the virus with stubborn ignorance, I hit the pause button. For the first day, I barely moved from the sofa—sans laptop—other than to grab food and such. The next day, fueled up with rest and nourishment, I completed the assignment. While it may not have been my greatest work, it turned out significantly better than it would have, practicing my former habits.

Back-flat on the sofa afterward, I couldn’t help but marvel at the way our brains and bodies work. They not only respond to self-nurturing, but help and heal themselves—given the proper TLC. (I don’t know about you, but that seems super power-esque to me.)

The experience reminded me of a few things. First, the work we do as writers takes a lot of energy. Second, the healthy habits needed to overcome illness promote writing health (sharp brain function, productivity and creativity) as well. And third, we can’t starve away illnesses, regardless of what old adages say.

If you’re feeling under-the-weather, or simply bogged down by the pressures of a hectic life, you may find the following tips useful. They’re far from revolutionary, but guess what. They work! 😉 If you’re like me, you can use the occasional reminder.

Living Well to Write Well When Feeling &%^#-y

1. Try to get enough sleep. I can hear some of you groaning. This isn’t my strong suit, either. But sharp thinking and creativity are some of the first things to go when we’re sleep deprived. The key, I feel, is trying to stick to a healthy sleep routine, and allowing time for our brain and body to decompress before bed. (This means turning off light-up everythings.) A positive sleep environment—dark and comfortable—also helps.

2. Eat well. In general, this means eating balanced meals and snacks at reasonable time intervals, and emphasizing whole, natural foods. Remember, the brain needs more carbohydrates than any other nutrient. Rather than skimp on carbs, emphasize healthy sources, such as whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Lean protein sources, like fish and legumes, and essential fat sources, such as nuts and seeds, promote positive brain function in other ways. We should also limit processed and low-nutrient food and avoid dieting; both can damage our work and wellness.

3. Balance rest with activity. When we’re ill, easing up on all activity is important. If you’re up against a deadline or have other obstacles tinkering with your rest, short breaks are better than none. Ask for more time or for help. (We may seem super-human, but…) Even when we aren’t sick, working our typing fingers into the grindstone 24/7 does little to help our work quality or health. When we’re well enough, routine exercise is important.

4. Breathe. Stress and illness can cause our bodies to tense up, disrupting breathing. Regardless of ailments, we women often suck our bellies in, attempting to appear thinner. This makes proper breathing near impossible. Pausing to inhale and exhale slowly—using our diaphragm, not our chest or shoulders—can help reduce stress, increase energy levels and enhance healing. Breathing exercises can also help.

5. Seek support. As writers, many of us are used to going it alone. We not only run the ship, but build it, clean it, repair it, renovate it, market it, Tweet about it and—you get the picture. Learning to rely on others and cutting ourselves some slack may not come naturally, but it can be lifesaving, particularly when we’re down and out. There’s no shame in asking, and plentiful reward in self-care.

Do you work or rest your way through illness? Which of these tips have you mastered? Which are works-in-progress? Happy to put on my nutritionist cap if you have food-related questions. (Yep, I love you that much!)

Does Dirt Have Calories? My Story

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.” — Audrey Hepburn

Today I’m taking a brief detour from my Monday series to share a story I posted last year about an important turning point in my life. It’s one of the inspirations behind the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest, which will reoccur on February 22nd. If you’d like to participate, pop back here Thursday for details. I can’t wait to sing, dance, laugh, shout and think about beauty again with all of you.


I awoke that morning as I did most mornings while living in Paris—woozy, exhausted and determined. During what should have been a pinnacle in the modeling career I’d held dear, I was enraptured and controlled by an eating disorder. Where logic would’ve told me to get some rest, nourish my body and tend to the day’s work responsibilities, E.D. commanded I wake up and run! Breakfast, castings, agency meetings and photo shoots would have to wait; my sole priority was the upkeep of my disease.

My emaciated body had been surviving on carrots, sugarless ice tea and Coke Light, yet felt gigantic and punishable. If I could eat as little as possible and burn far more than I chewed, I might finally reach thinness—i.e., happiness, success, perfection. I had to run.

I slipped my feet into my worn out, blood-stained sneakers, stepped out of my tiny Parisian flat and headed toward the Seine. The Eiffel Tower came into full view atop the pastel haze of the sunrise—a living, breathing Monet. It’s beauty could’ve taken a blind man’s breath away, I wrote in my journal. I didn’t deserve it.

The dewy earth squished beneath my feet as I ran to the rhythm of calorie-counting. Forty-five plus six plus ten…plus five plus ten plus three… I estimated the previous day’s “damage” then plotted an itinerary of exercise and occasional food bits to compensate. So accustomed to ignoring the dizziness and fatigue accompanying me, anything else would’ve felt foreign. But this time was different.

Pushing aside the added sense of off-ness in my gut, I observed the dip in the ground ahead: It looks like an adult-size cradle... Perhaps I knew what was coming.

I ran with increasing dizziness and pain, as though a metal clamp squeezed my brain. RUN. Don’t stop! You can’t. Tears stung at my eyes as I tried to outrun the inevitable. I fell to the ground, as though in slow motion. For a brief, savory moment, I felt weightless.

I awoke later, lying in the grassy cradle, the taste of blood and dirt in my mouth. Rather than contemplate how long I’d been there or if I’d been hurt, one thought filled me with terror: Does dirt have calories?

I don’t recall who found me or how I made it to the medical center, only the words of the British doctor: “You have anorexia. Do you understand what that means? You could’ve died. You…could die.”

Her words blurred together like fog on a windshield as my thoughts went wild. She’s crazy! I can’t have anorexia. Please don’t make me eat… I felt neither thin nor “skilled” enough to have a disorder characterized by starvation. Sure, I had problems—the “cancer in my soul” I’d journaled about. I felt physically and emotionally rotted and weak, but couldn’t make sense of anything. I only knew I had to go home.

The week after I arrived in Minneapolis, I began treatment and fought harder to remain ill. Once I accepted my diagnosis, anorexia seemed the one special thing about me. If I let it go, what was left? The word ‘recovery’ seemed synonymous with ‘fatness,’ ‘failure’ and ‘mediocrity.’

As my starving measures increased, my emotional and physical self tolerated them less and less. My therapist repeatedly threatened in-patient treatment. I lied, promising I would eat more and gain necessary weight.

Finally, one of my worst nightmares came true. In a moment of despair, I gave in to my longing for a single bite of chocolate ice cream. As I placed the dollop of creamy cold sweetness into my mouth, my entire body trembled. I felt intoxicated, a sense of danger, head-to-toe orgasm and temporary relief. But one bite turned into two, then six, then all that remained of the half gallon. The fatty cream sat like a putrid rock in my shrunken stomach. I’d never felt so ashamed.

The bingeing/starving roller coaster that followed was the most excruciating and important occurrences in my recovery. At its worst, I entered what my therapist called a “bulimic trance.” The bingeing took over and I had little awareness of all I’d consumed until I found myself sobbing amidst wrappers and crumbs.

As weight returned to my body, friends and family told me how healthy I looked: “You’re filling out so nicely!” The well-intended comment haunted me for months.

Desperate to stop bingeing, I decided to take my treatment more seriously.

“I will do anything to stop this,” I told my therapist.

“Good,” she said. “It starts with eating. After you binge, don’t skip your next meal.”

Anything but that. I resisted her instructions, holding staunchly to the belief that if I were just strong enough, I could attain the thinness I desired and stop bingeing at once. It sounded Utopian. Meanwhile, I mourned the loss of my anorexia like a lost soulmate.

One night, after a fast ended in a gargantuan binge, I hit a new bottom. I considered gulping the poison I’d used on occasion to vomit, aware of the life-threatening risks. I didn’t want to die, but I couldn’t bear life as I knew it. In a fury, I scavenged the house for the tiny bottle. When I couldn’t find it, my heart raced. I struggled to breathe.

Then something remarkable happened. Incapable of purging in any of my viable methods, I calmed down. That calmness, paired with tired frustration and an inability to foresee life continuing as Hell, brought clarity. Try something new. You have to.

I walked with trepidation to my wall mirror, as though nearing a fatal cliff. For the first time in too long, I looked not at my hips, belly or thighs, but into my eyes. The head-on stare punctured the swollen balloon of hurt inside me, releasing sobs.

“You can’t live like this anymore!” I told my reflection. “I won’t let you hate yourself so much. This is not who you are.” I didn’t know what I was fighting for, but my instincts said, Don’t give up.

My anger at ED and proclamations in the mirror were the first signs of self-love I’d displayed in years, the light switch in the dark cave I lived in. If I managed to turn it on, I knew my life would change. But the decision was only part of it… Rather than plot restriction strategies for the coming days, I had to plot a future free of ED.

The night became a Good Riddance Ed rampage. I threw my “skinny clothes” and scale in a dumpster and removed the size tags from clothes that fit. I trashed every fashion mag, food journal and diet book, sang my feelings into made-up songs. I vowed to myself that for one year, I would not diet, starve or make any other attempts at weight loss. If I gained weight during that year, so be it. The next morning, with trembling hands and tears flooding my cheeks, I ate breakfast, forcing thoughts of I love you, You deserve this, You’re going to be okay, with every bite.

Though I wanted to forego my commitments frequently over the subsequent weeks, I held fast. The bingeing continued at first, as did my weight gain, until I nearly doubled my lowest weight. If I have to start over every day, I will, I wrote. And start over again and again I did. I had nothing to lose by trying and everything to lose by not.

Gradually, I fought less with myself and slip-ups drew further between. Months later, I was no longer dieting, starving or bingeing and my life was beginning to feel like a life. I was in college, making friends, writing songs and even, on occasion, laughing. But my recovery had reached a plateau. I felt awkward eating around others, anxious about eating too much or too little. The slightest pangs of hunger or fullness put me on edge. I saw plates of calories and felt guilty when I indulged. And though I resisted, I longed to diet. ED hadn’t left. He’d merely grown quieter.

One day over steaming cups of Indian tea, my mom handed me a CD with a song she and my dad wanted me to hear: Lee Ann Womack’s, “I Hope You Dance.”

“It’s time to find joy,” she said. (And here I’d thought I had everyone fooled…)

The song’s message about “dancing,” which I took to mean many joyful things, hit me with profound force.

That evening I sat at a park watching a group of friends picnicking, captivated by a woman around my age. After a bite of her hearty sandwich, she closed her eyes, tipped her head back, exclaiming, “This is so good!” I longed for an ounce of her joy.

I’d been eating because I was “supposed” to, promised others I would and never wanted to go off the bingeing/starving deep end again. In order to fully recover, I had to manifest joy around eating.

I knew it was possible because I’d experienced it. My childhood love affair with food seemed insatiable. Family photographs portray a bubbly, smiling girl holding an ice cream cone, sitting before a luminous birthday cake or about to take a chomp out of a fresh red apple from our backyard tree. Before bed, I often asked my parents what the next day’s breakfast would entail, “so I could dream about it.”

Food for my family meant togetherness, birthday celebrations, picnics by the lake, nightly home cooked meals—a special bond and clay with which we built memories. Until fear and ED had creeped in. No more, I decided.

I began studying food with a velocity I’d only previously applied to treadmills. I wanted to discover its goodness and stop dreaming of ways to avoid it. What did particular foods do for me? If not for managing weight, why did people eat them? How could I eat healthfully, and not by diet book standards of what that was?

I began addressing a self-compiled “I’m afraid of” list: Eat in public. Eat at a restaurant, alone. Eat a meal prepared by others without demanding particulars. Eat the ice cream that triggered my first binge, one serving at a time.

I traded my diet books for medical and dietetic texts that defined food as fuel, a necessary means of nutrients, and obtained my first certification in nutrition. I cooked, experimented with foods I’d never tried and volunteered at soup kitchens. I stopped aiming for dietary perfection. Multiple studies had convinced me that such increased my risk for bingeing, obesity, anxiety, depression and sleep problems—pretty much everything on my “No, thank you” list.

It took numerous attempts of arriving at an upscale restaurant alone before I dined there and several more before I enjoyed the food sans heavy sweating or heart palpitations. I wept over a homemade candlelit dinner for one, served on my grandmother’s china. I stocked my kitchen with food until it felt warm, loved and lived-in. Rather than cold and frightening, it felt like home. I took a Buddhist philosophy course and applied its principles to my meals. Eating slowly and without distraction soon went from mortifying to pacifying. On difficult days, I asked myself what I’d feed a dear friend then treated myself to just that—until gradually, finally I became her.


On a cool spring evening, I sat at my kitchen table with a bowl of spicy chili and fresh-baked corn bread. An unexpected breeze blew through my apartment window, carrying a flower from outside into my bowl. Plunk! As the pink petals swam amongst the diced tomatoes and cannelloni beans, I laughed. Struck my own amusement, I realized that nothing but goodness sat at my table. All anxiety, shame and feelings of inadequacy had dissipated, leaving me with a palpable sense of peace.

I returned to Paris that summer to celebrate my recovery. Near the grassy patch where I’d fallen, I buried a capsule filled with cards from loved ones, photographs, under-sized clothes and copies of my songs and journal entries. ED’s funeral, I called it—a memorial service for my self. I ran along the Seine, this time grateful for the strong legs that carried me, the absence of pain and my second chance at a happy, healthy life.


What events or decisions have helped you turn your life around? If you have thoughts or questions to share, I’d love to hear them.

5 Simple, Healthy Holiday Treats

Don’t you just love quickies? Whoops, wrong series.

Kidding. Sort of…

I don’t know about you all, but this holiday season seems to be flying by, leaving me little time to bake up a storm in the kitchen. Rather than prepare my family’s traditional cardamom bread, which is scrumptious yet labor intensive, I’ve been relying on quick throw-it-together concoctions. The result? A healthy, happy, aromatic home and plenty of time for writing. And shopping. ‘Tis the season, right? Okay, I lied. I primarily shop online. But not for most groceries, of which you’ll need few for the following.

These recipes are far from gourmet, but they’re pretty darn tasty, if I may say so. They’re also healthier than your typical treats, making them a sweet tooth/wellness win-win, and require very little time and cleanup. *sigh* Just the sound of that last bit lifts my spirits…

Chocolate Banana Pudding


12-oz package tofu
2 bananas, cut into chunks
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Splash of soy milk (or any milk)
Pinch of cinnamon


Combine all ingredients in a bowl or mixer. Blend until smooth, then chill in a pie pan or prepared crust for an hour or more. Top with whipped topping and fruit, if desired. Serves about 6.

Egg Nog Smoothie


1 banana
1 cup eggnog
1/2 cup milk
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds or walnuts
Optional addition: 1/4 cup pureed, unsweetened pumpkin


Blend all ingredients together. Vwa-la! Serves 2.

Cinnamon Baked Pears

2 large pears, sliced
2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp whole wheat or almond flour
4 Tbsp old-fashioned oats
Pinch of cinnamon
Slivered almonds and ice cream (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine butter or coconut oil, brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon in a freezer bag. Shake to combine. Add pear slices to bag, and shake until they’re coated. Arrange coated pears on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly golden. Serve plain or topped with vanilla ice cream and almonds. Serves 4.

Quick Apple Sauce (adapted from the Food Network’s recipe)


3 sweet apples, peeled, cored and quartered
3 tart apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
1 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, softened or sliced
3 tablespoons agave or honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Remove the lid carefully then mash the apples with a fork or potato masher. (If you prefer, you can heat the mixture on the stove until soft, or 30 to 45 minutes.) Serve hot or chilled.

No-Bake Coconut Cookies


2 cups chopped nuts
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup almond or peanut butter
4 Tbsp honey or agave
1/4 – 1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips


Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir well. Freeze for 20 minutes or so then form into balls and refrigerate. Makes about 24 small or 12 larger cookies.

For more fabulous recipes, check out the appropriately titled Yum Blog Hop, hosted by K.B. Owen. Bon appetit!

What’s your favorite holiday treat? Any super simple recipes to share below? 

Food Anxiety and Disordered Eating: Holiday Survival Strategies

“Change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest.” — Geneen Roth

From festive tunes and decor to gift exchanges and gatherings, the holiday season fills me with child-like glee. All throughout, however, I’m cognizant of the fact that many people have near opposite views due to food angst. As someone who’s endured it and now mentors folks in its grasp, I know too well the depth of disordered eating pain. I wish I could multiply and divvy up my joy and inject it into every person suffering. Since I lack that super power, I’ll instead share some useful strategies with hopes that they might find appropriate eyes.

Even when food is the enemy and everywhere, you’re not as alone as you feel.

8 Ways to Manage Food-Related Anxiety Through the Holidays

1. Know you’re not alone. Little feels as lonely as fighting inner-food demons amidst gleeful bashes, and little fuels those demons like loneliness. One-third of holiday stress derives from overindulgence, according to Mental Health America. Add to that the fear of being judged or watched and  general food-related discomfort and it’s safe to say that you’re far from solitary. Considering how hidden many of these issues are, it’s likely that someone nearby struggles similarly. While you’d never wish your challenges on others, viewing yourself as one of many courageous folks who “get” it can help.

2. Confide in a personal cheerleader. Many of us have at least one person in our court who we can openly confide in during tough times. Share your concerns with that person before stressful events. If you fear mid-feast panic, have a code word or signal ready, along with a plan of action. When you ask your cheerleader a particular question, for example, he or she could ask you to step away to help you with something. If the person is a distance away, keep your phone at the ready for an SOS text or call.

3. Plan ahead food-wise. Keep “safe foods,” foods you’re comfortable with, well-stocked in your kitchen and workplace. Bring dishes you can eat with ease to holiday events, with plenty to share. Avoid arriving to parties and feasts on an empty, rumbling stomach. Eating a balanced snack beforehand can help reduce anxiety physically and emotionally. Balanced snacks, containing complex carbohydrates and protein, help your brain produce and utilize calming brain chemicals and staves off overeating. Have whole grain cereal with low-fat milk, for example, or yogurt topped with fruit. (Neither will make you “fat.”)

4. Get creativeI’m not talking about creative ways of food avoidance or pound shedding, which can fuel anxiety. Invest that energy into something therapeutic. Creativity helps take our minds off of stress, allows us to work through challenging emotions and provides emotional fulfillment. Sing. Write. Bake (if you’re comfortable doing so). Draw. Paint. Dance. I’ve personally found free writing, writing quickly and without judgment, near miraculous. For a useful free-writing exercise, check out Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages.

5. If you’re concerned about overeating or riddled with guilt for doing so, try to cut yourself some slack. Everyone feasts on occasion. One calorie-laden meal or day, or even several, won’t break your wellness or trigger “fatness.” Starving ourselves to make up for overeating by depriving the body of nourishment and making way for the bingeing/starving roller coaster, however, can. Even if you don’t attempt to compensate, guilt and self-loathing aren’t helpful to anyone. If you end up bingeing, forgive yourself and move on by eating, rather than skipping, your next meal.

6. Try not to view foods as “good” or “bad.” Demonizing certain foods makes them more tempting, increases stress and perpetuates negative attitudes and behaviors. All foods provide nutrients. Our bodies need carbohydrates, protein and fat to function and thrive. Many holiday foods, such as turkey, whole grain bread, potatoes, pumpkin and cranberries, are chock-full of vitamins and minerals. Emphasize healthy fare and, if you’re able and interested, allow yourself treats. Eating a modest-sized, rich dessert when you’re desiring it keeps it from turning into a craving, which can facilitate bingeing. Once you’re finished, engage in something non-food related, pronto.

7. Give yourself permission to opt out. If a particular event is too much to manage emotionally, decline. Tell the organizer you’re not feeling well and make tentative plans to catch up with friends and family another time on more comfortable grounds. People who care about you wouldn’t want you to attend a function that feels debilitating. (Would you force a friend who’s deathly afraid of flying onto an airplane?) Opting out when it “in” seems impossible isn’t selfish, but self-nurturing.

8. Focus on others. When the food monster overtakes your brain, it can feel all-consuming. While it’s understandable and not your fault, it’s a highly selfish state. What can you do to brighten another’s day? Seek the good in people and offer compliments. Ask questions about people’s lives with genuine curiosity. Hug loved ones. Send greeting cards. Volunteer. A bit of warmth will help others who may be equally anxious, and give you far more in return.

For more information on eating to quell food-related angst, check out my recent articles:

Love the Skin You’re In: Putting Order Back in Disordered Eating LIVESTRONG.com
Nourish Your Body, Nurture YourSELF: Bolstering Your Self-Esteem with a Healthy Diet LIVESTRONG.com
Food Cravings: Demystifying Intense Desires for Certain Foods LIVESTRONG.com
Foods That Increase Serotonin and Induce Sleep The Nest Magazine
The FulFillment Diet: Pursuing Passion FIRST Bartlett’s Integrated Health Journal

I’d love to hear from you. Have you or a loved one grappled with food stress over the holidays? Any pointers to add? Questions to share? If you’d prefer to share thoughts privately, feel free to write me directly. I’ll also be having a quiet Thanksgiving, so if you’re struggling and feel like chatting, find me on Facebook or Twitter.

Time-Saving Cooking Tips for Healthy Writers

I knew for certain I loved writing when within weeks of committing to the craft my kitchen looked more like a college dude’s than a health conscious adult’s. What should I make for dinner? Let’s see… We have mustard, ancient beer and an entree formerly known as fish. I think. (Ew.)

“Hello..oh…oh…? Is anybody in there?”

Writing like crazy and with gusto is a great thing. Starving ourselves or existing on cereal, Pop Tarts and fast food, not so much. As we’ve discussed here before, our brains require a healthy, balanced diet for proper function. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my creativity and works-in-progress, I’ll take any effective tool I can get. Whether you’re gearing up for NaNoWriMo or simply wish to up the ante on your wellness, the following tips can help.

10 Time-Saving Ways to Cook Your Way to Better Writing

1. Dust off your crock pot. They aren’t just for savvy grannies anymore. I was living in Paris with a kitchen that consisted of a pop-out burner and a cooler when my mom suggested a slow-cooker. They are the time and money-saving bomb. Recipes for particularly brain-healthy options: Salmon, Veggies & Rice, Quinoa Red Lentil Soup, Chicken with Kale

2. Prepare large batches. Make a big batch of veggie-loaded lasagna, turkey meatloaf, soup or chili to last you several days or more. For healthy frozen meals, freeze single or family-size portions in secure containers. This Whole Wheat Spinach Lasagna is one great option. For you gluten-free folks, use sliced zucchini or brown rice lasagna noodles.

3. Stock up on frozen fruits and veggies. Frozen fruits and vegetables are flash frozen at their nutritional prime, so they’re at least as nutritious as produce-bin items. For healthier throw-it-together meals, add frozen greens or mixed veggies to pasta sauce, leftover mashed potatoes and soups. To add brain-healthy nutrients to oatmeal, add frozen or thawed berries while cooking.

4. Freeze leftover and over-ripe fruits and vegetables. Freezing changes the texture of fruits and vegetables, but maintains their freshness. Freeze peeled bananas and other fruit for use in smoothies. For an ultra-filling smoothie, blend 2/3 cup frozen blueberries with 1 banana, a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds and 1 cup of Greek yogurt or milk. Chop up leftover greens, such as kale and spinach, for use in sauces, soups and smoothies. Bonus: No thawing required.

Berry smoothies knock OJ out of the park.

5. Freeze batches of cooked grains. Preparing large batches of brown rice, wild rice and quinoa then freezing single or family-size portions in freezer bags can cut an hour or more of cooking time, plus cleaning time, from your days. You can also purchase pre-cooked frozen whole grains at most grocery stores, which cost more, but save time.

6. Become a one-pot rockstar. There are zillions of healthy one-pot recipes available, which reduce prep and cleanup time significantly. (Hallelujah for that!) For some delicious, nutritious ideas, check out these Healthy One-Pot Soup, Stew and Chili Recipes at Epicurious.com.

7. Give your restaurant leftovers healthy makeovers. We all dine out occasionally, sometimes due to an empty refrigerator. When you do, reserve leftovers to work into a healthy meal the next day. Roasted, steamed and seasoned vegetables work well in soups, pasta and rice dishes. Leftover meats can be diced up for salad topping and sliced up for sandwich filling. Breads (preferably whole grain) can be dried and crumbled into breadcrumbs for use in meatloaf and baked, chicken parmesan.

My favorite use of leftover Indian food: whole grain, veggie-loaded, chicken tikka pizza. Stir tamarind chutney into tomato sauce for added zest.

8. Stock your pantry with healthy staples. Whole grain rice and quinoa mixes, whole grain pastas and canned goods, such as diced tomatoes (which aren’t typically as nutritious fresh during winter months), reduced sodium beans and organic soups, such as Amy’s brand, provide nutritious meal additions without a soon-coming expiration date. To save shopping time, purchase healthy pantry staples online. Organic Kingdom, True Foods Market and even Amazon provide useful options.

9. Keep healthy foods readily available. Fill an attractive jar with nuts or trail mix and a bowl with ready-to-eat fruit to keep in your kitchen. If you’re prone to salty food cravings, nuts, low-fat or air-popped popcorn, pickles and olives provide healthy alternatives to potato chips. For sweet teeth, turn to unsweetened dried fruit, fresh fruit, berry-filled yogurt or small dark chocolate bars. Less healthy treats are okay in moderation, but they shouldn’t take center stage.

Move over pretzels. How scrumptious do these look?!?

10. Shop with a list, then stock, cook and chop. Take a list for your one-pot-wonder or crock pot recipe, plus healthy staples, to the grocery store once per week—or whenever you can. Once you’re home, begin cooking a meal. While it bakes, stews or simmers, chop up fresh fruit and vegetables, or boil grains for those freezer options in #5. Turn on relaxing music and have fun with it. The couple of hours shopping plus food prep can take is a worthy investment that will save you time, stress and brain fog.

Lastly, ask for help as needed. None of us go it alone, in writing or life. Your loved ones want to support you and so do I. So, any questions? Challenges? Tips to add? Thoughts to share? My blog living room is yours, too. 🙂

Foods for Better Sex

No, I’m not talking about oysters. Oysters do contain nutrients without which the body suffers, and some people feel they look like male genitalia. But when I see or smell the squishy buggers, I just want to gag—not exactly sexy. Aphrodisiac foods are fun to read about, and some provide modest benefits. And really, any food that gets you in the mood, I say enjoy it—as part of a balanced, healthy diet. 😉

Here’s what I find exciting: A variety of nutritious foods actually promote positive sexual function and make way for sensual moods. From a scientific perspective, the following foods could do your body and sex life good.

Colorful fruits and veggies. “What’s good for the heart is good for the genitals,” says Lynn Edlen-Nezin, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist and coauthor of Great Food, Great Sex: The Three Food Factors for Sexual Fitness. An antioxidant-rich diet guards against poor circulation (which keeps you-know-whats firm and strong) and cell damage that can nuke your sex drive. Edlen-Nezin suggests amping up your intake of colorful produce, including red bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, grapes, spinach, beets and berries, and aiming for variety.

Bananas. If anxiety or stress interferes with your bedroom life, eating a banana several hours before love-making might help. Bananas provide carbohydrates and the amino acid tryptophan—a combo that allows your brain to produce feel-good, calming chemicals. The potassium in bananas enhances muscle strength, which is vital for orgasm, says Lou Paget, author of The Great Lover Playbook. If the shape inspires you, BONUS.

Low-fat milk and yogurt. Low-fat milk and yogurt also provide carbohydrates and tryptophan. For antioxidant benefits, top yogurt with colorful fruit and a touch of honey for added energy, or throw it all in your blender for a healthy pre-sex smoothie. It takes about 30 minutes for your body to convert glucose from honey into energy, so time your honey-kissed treats accordingly. 😉

Salmon and flaxseeds. Salmon and flaxseeds are top suppliers of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote positive circulation and  dopamine production. Without enough omega-3s, the normal for most Americans, you’re likely to experience low moods, skin problems and a lack of natural lubrication. Most people need about two servings of cold-water fish, such as salmon, weekly or plant sources, like ground flaxseeds, daily to meet their omega-3 needs.

Sushi rolls, ginger and edamame. Sushi rolls provide healthy fats, energy-boosting carbohydrates and the staying power of protein. Rice is the one starch that does not stimulate gas during digestion; needless to say, gassiness isn’t a turn on and can cause physical and emotional discomfort. “Ginger is a natural blood thinner,” says Paget, “so it aids overall circulation, and edamame contains phytoestrogens, which help lubricate the vagina.”

Dark chocolate. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that phenylethylamine, a compound in dark chocolate, releases sex-related endorphins and increases attraction between pairs. A Journal of Sexual Medicine study showed that consuming a cube of dark chocolate daily increases sexual desire and overall sexual function than non-chocolate eaters. Yum, yum and yum.

A glass of red wine. Boozing it up can hinder sexual performance, but the occasional glass of red wine provides valuable antioxidants without posing side effects. Research at Chicago’s Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation showed that kisses laced with alcohol are a turn-on for singles. Red wine also increases estrogen levels and improves circulation during sex, according to experts featured in Women’sHealth magazine.

Do certain foods or flavors rev your sexual engine? Which turn it off? Do any of these foods surprise you? I love hearing your thoughts.