With Nutritional Sciences as my major, I feel it is my duty to share what I have learned so far in university (as well as my daily life) with you.  As I continue to learn, I will update this page.


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Click on the links below to skip to its location on this page:

1. Definitions: Hunger vs. Appetite

2. Why the Body Stores Fat

3. Cravings and Snacking

4. The Secrets Behind Fat-Free and Sugar-Free Products at the Grocery Store

5. Some Warnings About Food Fads

6. Seeking Balance (in food, the body and life)

7. You Should Add These To Your Diet!

8. Nutrient Guide for Vitamins and Minerals

**Click Here for a very helpful and comprehensive Sweetener Comparison Guide (compares sweetness, nutrition, general aspects and more)!

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Hunger vs. Appetite

     Hunger:  physical drive to find and eat food (stimulated by a lack of nutrients, empty GI tract, the brain…)

     Appetite:  psychological desire to eat certain foods (provoked by social events, location, stress, boredom…)
     … are you hungry, or do you just have an appetite?
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What Your Body Fears: Starvation

By storing fat.  Your body can store unlimited amounts of it, as a method for survival.  Fat provides long-lasting energy compared to carbohydrate and protein, so if there was a day without food, your body can be somewhat prepared for it  (but that does not mean fasting is recommended for fat loss:  fasting slows down the body’s metabolism, and the weight lost is mostly water weight and lean muscle mass, not fat.  However, healthy eating and taking some classes at the gym is recommended!).  So, what are some ways the body can store fat?
The “Dangerous-Three.”  You know what I’m talking about!  Sugarsalt and fat*!  In my opinion, the combination of those 3 things is the number one cause for weight gain, more so than boredom and emotional eating put together.  The “dangerous-three” are flavor enhancers, they are not foods you eat by themselves.  No one eats a bowl of granulated white sugar for breakfast, no one can swallow a palm full of sea salt, and surely, no one eats a couple sticks of butter for dinner (and if they did, I would be worried!).  The human body evolved to favor these three enhancers because they are the easiest (and most of the time, tastiest) ways to get a person to eat too much, or, consume too many calories and therefore store the extras as fat.  The body was designed to gain fat, not lose it.  Because that is what your body wants, those three things are extremely addicting… you will always want more.  I discovered this with a jar of Skippy’s natural peanut butter (ingredients:  roasted peanuts, sugar, palm oil and salt).  After finishing a decadently filled PB&J sandwich, I would never be satisfied…  I always wanted another sandwich (okay, maybe just a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter…  but still!).  No one can have just one Oreo, no one can take one Doritos chip, and no one can eat only one roasted walnut covered in a sugary maple glaze!  It is amazing how much sugar is added into the foods we eat.  From salsas to deli meats, from ketchup to mustard, and from pasta sauces to Boyardee’s canned ravioli!  It’s crazy how much salt can be added to something, and the same with fat.
*Don’t get me wrong, though, healthy fats are not bad or dangerous.  In fact, healthy fats are beneficial to the human body and for countless reasons!  It’s the bad fats (trans fats, hydrogenated oils, GMO canola oil) that are harmful to your arteries, organs and overall health.


My Experience with “The Dangerous-Three”:

After New Year’s Day from 2010-2011, I changed my life around.  I started exercising, I started eating healthy, and I tried changing the attitudes I had towards people and myself to positive ones.  I cut out added sugars (like plain old granulated sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, etc), and eating whole foods rather than processed was a goal of mine, no matter how hard it got, and no matter what situation I was in–I was always going to be prepared (in a day out running errands, I would take a healthy snack with me to avoid hunger and reaching out to the nearest fast food restaurant.  For a long day of classes, I would take a few bars with me and try to keep everything low-glycemic to sustain my energy.  I would schedule times to go to the gym, because we all know how going to the gym “on the fly” works out!  Anything to stay healthy and motivated.  I was tired of living an unhealthy lifestyle deprived of nutrition and pleasure–chocolate bars stopped making me happy after a while!)

Clean and whole foods made eating a whole new experience.  It opened up a whole new world that I wasn’t even aware existed!  Sure, things tasted different without added sugar, but I just needed to work around that and find foods that still tasted good.  When healthy food is hard to find, it should not be discouraging, it should be motivating!  If there is a deep pothole in front of you on the road, would you just shut off the car and sit there?  No, whether that pothole likes it or not, you will get around it and to your destination.

One food I “gave up” first was Skippy’s peanut butter, but then I discovered “old-fashioned peanut butter” at my grocery store, it’s just 100% peanuts, no sugar, salt or oil added.  The texture took some getting used to, but it was still mighty tasty!  But, there was something different about that peanut butter… it didn’t make me feel like licking the entire jar clean after making a PB&J, just like how the Skippy’s peanut butter made me feel.  I mean, does peanut butter really need any roasting, sugar, salt and oil?  The flavor is so powerful by itself!

The second type of food I “gave up” were the baked goods. The banana bread slices sold on campus, the chocolate chip muffins I used to buy everyday, etc.  I like to think that I was “depriving myself” of baked goods, and that’s why I started baking, and then, that’s why I started blogging.  I realized that circumventing that “pothole” mentioned above was easier than I thought… just start making the food you eat!  It makes things a whole bunch easier (oh, and did I mention, FUN!)

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Cravings and Snacking

Reason #1:  You snack because you are unusually hungry:

Have you ever experienced a day or two where you were unusually hungry?  Where you couldn’t stop snacking, and food was on your mind all day?  There may be a reason for it!  The next time you experience that feeling, ask yourself these questions when looking over the past couple of days:

  1. Did I eat enough?
  2. Did I consume enough fat, carbohydrate or protein?
  3. Did I have any nutrient-filled foods?
To answer the first question, Did I eat enough, I mean, was your calorie intake (calories in the food you ate) equal to your calorie expenditure (how many calories you burned that day)?  It’s easy to forget to eat on those busy days on the go — you might wake up late and skip breakfast, have plans all the way to dinner, so that lunch is diminished to a snack bar and bottle of juice.  You are beat by dinnertime, and just heat up a frozen Lean Cuisine.  Today, your calorie intake is far below your calorie expenditure (don’t think this is a good thing because you will lose weight!  It is a bad thing, because the weight lost was most likely not fat, but rather water weight and lean muscle mass) — With a calorie deficit, your brain will make you “feel hungrier” than usual for the next couple of days, where every food looks irresistible!  That “hunger mechanism” is just your body’s way of protecting itself against another day with too little food, it is a way of getting you to eat more than you need for the next couple of days and to store the extra calories that you don’t burn as fat:  it’s the human body’s method for survival!
To answer the second question, Did I consume enough fat, carbohydrate or protein, I mean, was the ratio of the calories you consumed balanced?  25% – 35% of your daily calories should come from healthy fats, while 45% – 65% should come from carbohydrates–45% if inactive/no exercise, 65% if very active/lots of exercise–and 10% – 30% of your daily calories should come from lean protein.  Let’s say that yesterday, you ran a couple miles on the treadmill but all you ate that day consisted of fats and protein… for the next couple of days (if not the same day) you will most likely crave of breads, pastas and sugary confections.  Don’t worry though, it’s not because your cravings are taunting you, it’s just your body telling you that it needs more carbs!
To answer the third question, Did I have any nutrient-filled foods, I’m talking about those “off-days” where nothing you eat seems to be healthy or beneficial at all and also those busy days (as mentioned above answering Question #1).  When you don’t obtain enough nutrients from your food, your brain will most likely tell you to eat more food (in hope that the food you choose contains vitamins and minerals).  Too little food means too little nutrients!  It is impossible to get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs with a snack bar, juice and frozen meal.
Tip:  Whenever you get that overwhelming feeling of hunger, ask yourself the three questions above.  Did I eat enough?  Did I consume enough fat, carbohydrate or protein?  Did I have any nutrient-filled foods?  If you realize that maybe you didn’t have enough fat yesterday, make yourself an sandwich with some avocado, or a slice of toast with peanut butter.  Don’t grab the nearest chocolate cake you find.  It takes a few hours for that feeling to die down even after the sandwich or toast, but just be patient.  During that time, do something you love!  Read, write, relax, walk on the treadmill, run some errands.  Just don’t give in when your body is telling you, “Eat the whole peanut butter jar!”

Reason #2:  You snack because you are constantly hungry:
My friend once told me that she was always hungry and always needed to munch on something.  Although constant snacking is usually from boredom or stress, it can also be from what you are eating.  When she told me what she ate, everything consisted of carbohydrates and nothing else–no fat, no fiber and no protein: the three things that fill you up!  Out of the three macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates and protein), carbohydrates digest the fastest.  No wonder my friend was always hungry!
Tip:  Eat low glycemic foods, or foods that contain healthy fats, complex carbs, fiber and protein (many of my recipes are low glycemic!)  Some food products are starting to put “low glycemic” on their labels so try and look for that.
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Beware: Fat-Free &
Sugar-Free Products


Something we need to watch out for these days, are foods advertising that they are “fat-free” or “sugar-free.”  These terms are not metaphors for “healthy.”  Healthy fats are needed in the daily diet to sustain life and regular bodily functions, like providing cell membrane structure, protecting organs and regulating body temperature.  Fat-free foods generally tend to be high in sugars, which is a diet-backlash–sugars are carbohydrates, and too many carbohydrates are easily converted into fat in the body.  In the end, that fat-free snack equals more sugar (aka, more carbs), which packs on the body fat.  A balanced meal with fat, fiber and protein is the way to go, even if the fat level is low.

As for the sugar-free products, they tend to contain sucralose and other sugar alternatives.  It’s hard to say what these ingredients can do longterm, as they are new to the food industry and there has not been enough time to show the effects of longterm use.  Aspartame, another additive, on the other hand has been shown to have detrimental effects on the human body.  If you are trying to cut added sugars, don’t keep making the foods you used to eat with Splenda or Sweet n Low, but instead, incorporate fruits into your diet (like pineapples and grapes) or use coconut sugardate sugarpure maple sugar, honey, brown rice syrup, molasses or stevia extract instead of granulated white sugar or brown sugar.

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Beware: Food Fads

Vegan!  Gluten Free!  Paleo!  Low Carb!  Ahhh!

These terms might reel you in (maybe not the “ahhh” but the other ones might!) but they do not necessarily mean HEALTHY!  In fact it could mean the opposite.  On a regular basis I find recipes that prove this — I see recipes that shout VEGAN from the rooftops but are filled with refined sugar, pounds of margarine or butter substitutes and bleached flour…  that’s what I call not healthy.  I see gluten free recipes comprised of starches and sugar rather than whole grain flours so we are sent into a tailspin (sugar crashes from the high glycemic ingredients, constipation from the lack of fiber, etc)…  also what I call not healthy.

Next time you hear about a fad, just think:  will cutting out all animal products (vegan), all gluten (gluten free), all grains (paleo), all fruit (low carb), etc be beneficial for my muscles, my brain chemistry, my hormones, my feelings, and my body as a whole?  Probably not.  Health is about balance and moderation, not extreme dieting and cutting out foods for good.


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Seek: Balance

Like I said above, health is about balance.  Moderation is key in discovering health and wellness, there isn’t anything extreme about it.

With food (and life) my goal is to reach and maintain balance (in science verbiage, “homeostasis“).  Speaking of food though, that means a balance of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, fiber and complete proteins — a meal is not balanced without one of those things.  Typical desserts are most often never balanced as they are comprised of fats and refined carbohydrates, no fiber or protein in sight!  I aim to make all of my recipes high in fiber and protein because dessert should be a balanced meal, so now we can eat it on a daily basis!  How great does that sound?

My Peanut Butter & Chocolate Krispy Treats could easily be made up of only fats and carbohydrates but that combination isn’t nearly as satisfying as the version I made with a kick of protein!  Protein lowers the glycemic index of a food so it takes a longer time to digest (keeps you fuller for longer and provides a constant and steady stream of energy — no one likes sugar rushes and sugar crashes!)

It takes time for our bodies to digest real food (especially with the balance of fats, carbs, fiber and protein) so we can live our lives without constant hunger pangs.  When we consume unnatural, refined foods (like high fructose corn syrups, bleached sugar and flours stripped of their nutrients), our bodies digest the food at a rapid rate causing spikes in blood sugar, our capacity for fat storage and sometimes even food addictions and chemical imbalances.

If we consume disproportionate, irregular things then we will feel disproportionate and irregular.

If we strive for balance, we can acquire balance.


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Why You Should:

  • More Omega-3′s:
    • Omega-3′s can be found in walnuts, salmon, tuna, flax, Barlean’s Omega Swirls (I like the lemon and mango peach flavors)
    • Helps you burn fat when you’re asleep
  • More Protein:
    • Curbs your appetite
    • Increases your metabolic rate when awake and asleep (of the calories you consume from protein, your body can burn up to 30% of it just from digesting it!)
  • Spinach:
    • It is a superfood full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which can will keep you healthy as you age!
    • It is a low-calorie veggie that can help us reach our recommended vegetable intake as well as help us lose weight
  • Green Tea:
    • Raises metabolism (increases heart rate throughout the day, which increases fat burn)
  • Green Monsters:
    • When spinach is consumed with other fruits high in Vitamin C (like in Green Monsters) the body can absorb the iron in the spinach, whereas spinach by itself cannot release its iron
    • They are tasty (and you can’t taste the spinach!)
    • They can help us reach our recommended fruit and veggie intake (7 servings a day)
  • More Water:
    • The body is 50%-70% water, and helps dissolve substances like sugars, minerals and vitamins as well as regulate body temperature and flush out toxins
    • Not enough water causes dehydration and possibly heat stroke if in a hot, humid environment
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Nutrient Guide

Vitamins:  organic compounds that help the regulate body processes;  cannot be stored in the body, so they need to be included in your daily diet!)
  • Water-Soluble Vitamins:
    • B Vitamins
      • Facilitates energy metabolism from the food you eat (fat, carbs, protein)
      • Includes: Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin, Pantothenic Acid (B5), B6, Biotin (B7), Folate, B12
      • Found in: egg yolks, meat, fish, poultry, liver, milk, enriched grain products, starchy vegetables
    • Vitamin C
      • Enhances the immune system, protects against pollutants, synthesizes collagen (good for the skin!), enhances iron absorption
      • Note: cooking/heat destroys vitamin C (for example, baked-until-crisp broccoli would not be a great source of vitamin C)
      • Found in: fruits and vegetables
  • Fat-Soluble Vitamins: vitamins absorbed into the intestine with dietary fat;  can be stored in the body, therefore, do not need to be consumed daily as they become toxic in excess amounts;  found in many fat-containing foods
    • Vitamin A
      • Assists bone growth, enhances the immune system, protects eyes, skin + cells from UV light, sun damage and damage, and is essential for proper vision
      • Found in: liver, eggs, fortified milk, spinach, kale, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, mango
    • Vitamin D
      • Required for calcium and phosphorous absorption while helping regulate blood calcium levels in the body, can be synthesized in the body from exposure to UV light (sunlight… not those tanning beds!), keeps your bones strong, can help prevent breast + colon cancer
      • Found in: fish, eggs, mushrooms, fortified milk
    • Vitamin E
      • Protects red blood cells and lung cells (it’s an antioxidant too!)
      • Found in: nuts (almonds) + seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ, soybeans, avocado
    • Vitamin K
      • Required for blood coagulation (without it, your cuts would never clot and you could bleed excessively)
      • Found in: leafy green veggies, canola oil


Minerals:  inorganic substances that are required for body processes and assist different functions
  • Calcium
    • Helps form and maintain strong teeth and bones, works together with vitamin D for absorption
    • Helps prevent osteoporosis
    • Found in: dairy, leafy vegetables
  • Potassium
    • Balances the body’s fluid and sodium levels
    • High intake lowers blood pressure (a good thing for most people!)
    • Found in: fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains
  • Phosphorous
    • Assists proper bone formation
    • Major component of cell membranes
    • Found in: meat, milk, eggs (many foods with protein)
  • Magnesium
    • Helps in blood clotting
    • Found in: grains, nuts, vegetables
  • Sulfur
    • Important component in connective tissue
    • Found in: egg yolks, meat, broccoli, cauliflower, legumes


Antioxidants: chemicals that protect cells against free radical damage from oxidation (free radicals are unstable atoms caused by pollution, UV light and toxic substances, and cause damage to cell membranes, cell proteins and DNA)
  • Found in: Vitamin C + E, Beta-Carotene (precursor to Vitamin A) and Selenium
  • Also found in: Fruits (such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries)
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Click Here for a very helpful and comprehensive Sweetener Comparison Guide (compares sweetness, nutrition, general aspects and more)!

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Comments (9)

  1. Angee: February 9, 2013

    So helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this up and make the information not only available but easy to digest for those of us not pursuing a degree in dietetics, haha! Love your page, keep it up! :)

  2. Anonymous: February 9, 2013

    This is so helpful! I’m a 15 year old high school student with a passion for healthy eating and exercise. I also plan to do a degree in nutrition. Your blog is amazing!

  3. Anonymous: February 9, 2013

    So many awesome helpful info here! THANK YOU :D You might want to check… I’m pretty sure spinach has some of it’s own vitamin C, which of course helps with iron absorption. Another (the best) source of vitamin B is in nutritional yeast flakes, available at any health food store. Lucky it’s water soluble because with just a pinch of it in my smoothies every morning my B vitamins sky rocket! My doctor couldn’t believe I’m vegan haha (there isn’t much B12 in many vegan foods)
    Thanks again xx Kotty

  4. Anonymous: February 9, 2013

    *much haha

  5. Spinach has vitamin C but there needs to be another source to help with iron absorption (like a squeeze of orange or lemon over a salad) Oh yeah, nutritional yeast is great! I’m so glad you incorporate that food into your diet, so many people don’t know about it :(

  6. tllel: February 10, 2013

    I am curious of your opinion and what research you have done into the types of sweeteners you use. I am also a university student studying science (behavioral neuroscience and human physiology to be exact) and from what I have seen there is much conflicting research over new sweeteners such as stevia and erythritol. I am sure you have done extensive research into this since you use them so much. Have you found any negative, confirmed side effects of eating these sweeteners. Or do you believe they to be significantly healthier than regular granulated sugar? Thank you! When I have time/money to stock my pantry like yours I will definitely start to use some of your recipes :)

  7. I have done quite a bit of research regarding stevia and erythritol, and I have not found one credible study that has obtained negative/concrete evidence on the sweeteners. I do believe erythritol and stevia to be MUCH healthier than white sugar, because they do not have a large effect on blood sugar levels (helpful for diabetics), do not contribute to obesity (as they are basically calorie-free), and are not refined to the point white sugar is.

    White sugar is not only high glycemic and causes blood sugar levels to spike (and subsequently crash), but it has no nutritional value, is mass produced, increases fat gain, and is a toxin. Here is a good video to watch:

    If you don’t feel comfortable consuming these products, you don’t have to :) Erythritol can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio with other granulated sweeteners (preferably natural and unrefined ones, like sucanat, date sugar, maple sugar, etc). Good luck in your studies!


  8. Jules: April 4, 2014

    Hi Jessica ~

    I love this section as it is very informative. What are your thoughts on brown sugar or Sugar In The Raw?

    Can you please provide the link for this section:

    “Aspartame, another additive, on the other hand has been shown to have detrimental effects on the human body (read more about it here)”

  9. dessertswithbenefits: April 4, 2014

    Oops! I don’t know why the link was removed in that section. I don’t recall which study I referred to when I wrote that, but I found quite a few scientific studies on aspartame and its (negative) side effects just now. Here are a couple:

    The first thing I should mention is that people with Phenylketonuria (PKU) MUST avoid aspartame.

    I also want to mention that everyone has the freedom and opportunity to make their own choices and consume what they want. I choose to avoid aspartame while others may not. I don’t want to force anyone into making any decisions, I just want people to make educated choices :)
    We must also be cognizant of studies showing extreme favor for aspartame — they were most likely endorsed by an aspartame-using company (such as this one: … which was authored by NutraSweet)! Such a shame :(

    As for brown sugar, I’m not gonna lie, I’m really not a fan. It’s actually more processed than white sugar (white sugar is stripped of its natural molasses, then it’s added back in later after more processing). I would recommend using sucanat, date sugar or coconut sugar instead :)

    Sugar in the Raw is less processed than white sugar, but it is still processed. Again, I would recommend sucanat, date sugar or coconut sugar. Sucanat is the most unrefined sugar on the market (it’s actually tan in color from the molasses and comes in slightly larger “chunks”). Date sugar pretty much tastes like dates (I don’t really like dates, but the sugar is really good in cakes, cookies and oatmeal). Coconut sugar was strange to me at first, but now I like it. I try to use it in recipes with chocolate and PB because it tastes kind of like caramel :)

    The sugar and chocolate industries promote slavery in less fortunate countries around the world, so please try to purchase fair-trade! I wish I knew this when I used to eat Hershey’s by the box :(

    Hope this helps! :)


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