This week we’ve got some excellent healthy eating tips from Andy Weil, as well as David Edelberg’s thoughts about why we become overweight. Enjoy.

First off, David Edelberg MD, founder of WholeHealth Chicago, shares his thoughts about the connection between weight and inactivity.

Overweight? Blame Your Car

The endless and usually irritating “Which is better?” debate between city dwellers and suburbanites came to a grinding halt in 2003 when a study was published showing suburbanites were on average several pounds heavier than their urban counterparts. Suddenly, no matter what compelling arguments suburbanites came up with–better schools, lower crime rates, cleaner air—they were demolished by a withering, “Not worth getting fat” or “It’s okay for your kids, but love handles are quite a price for good schools.”

The difference in poundage, geographically speaking, was pretty much attributed to the suburban inactivity that comes from a near-total dependence on cars. Even suburbanites will admit that you need a car for just about every activity imaginable…except getting to your car.

Professor Sheldon H. Jacobson, PhD, of the University of Illinois recently published his findings on the relationship between driving and obesity in the journal Transport Policy. He views this relationship in terms of energy imbalances. Since we basically sit and do absolutely nothing except breathe when we’re driving, Dr Jacobson sees the annual number of miles driven as a new way to look at time spent being completely sedentary. This sedentary time, virtually equivalent to being asleep, can be added to our other big no-calorie-burner, watching TV (or sitting and staring at your phone, computer, or hand-held game).

The energy we once burned walking to the grocery, chopping wood, tilling fields, grinding corn, or churning butter, for example, is now being burned as energy by the gas in our cars. City dwellers may protest they walk to various shops and stores, but one look at Chicago traffic on a Saturday says otherwise.

Not only have we been rendered inactive by our cars, but every decade we’re eating more and more food every day. We’re piling our plates with fats, sugars, and refined carbohydrates, and then there we sit in front of our dashboards. For those who must drive, you sort of wonder if maybe a stick shift would be preferable to an automatic transmission, just to burn a calorie or two.

Read the full story at the WholeHealth Chicago Blog

Here are a few of Andrew Weil's Good Nutrition Tips:

Avoiding Anxious Eating - When stressed out or anxious, some people turn to food as a way to comfort themselves. If you tend to turn to food as a way to cope with a stressful situation, consider the following nutritional tips:

  • Don't drink caffeine or alcohol (and don't smoke) when stressed. These can heighten or prolong your anxiety and its side effects.

  • Drink plenty of water - between six and eight glasses per day. This can help offset an empty stomach and promote a healthy digestive system.

  • Keep your blood sugar levels stable by eating several small, nutritious meals rather than three large ones.

  • Make sure your meals or snacks incorporate Omega-3 fatty acids. Include walnuts, salmon and freshly ground flaxseed into your diet.

  • Incorporate foods rich in magnesium, which help relax muscles, into your diet. Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds are good sources.

Ways to Eat Better - Every year, many of us take the time to clean out the closets, clear out the garage, and give the house a good dusting. Why not apply that same vigor to "cleaning up" your diet? Try these simple suggestions to help optimize the way you eat:

  • Cut out saturated fats. Avoid margarine, vegetable shortening, and foods that contain palm kernel or coconut oil. Instead, use heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil. Eat whole grains instead of refined grains. You will feel fuller, in part because of the higher fiber content whole grains provide.

  • Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Make a colorful salad - red and yellow peppers, dark leafy greens, ripe tomatoes - part of one meal every day. And add a fresh fruit salad as a delicious and healthful alternative to high-fat desserts.

  • Take in fewer calories. A simple way to do this is to substitute low-fat ingredients for high-fat ones. Plus - make it a point to skip the fast food.

More of Andy Weil's Good Nutrition Tips can be found at

And don't miss the Joy of Eating Well by Andrew Weil, MD & Carolyn Ross; a practical guide for transforming your relationship with food, and overcoming emotional eating.

Be Well,
The Health Journeys Staff