Stress and Emotional Eating

Stress is a state of emotional tension and can be classified into mild anxiety and pathological or chronic stress. Mild stress can help the body to react in resolving faster situations that need immediate attention such as daily life problems. Pathological stress is usually accompanied by feelings of guilt, fear, tension and anxiety for an extended period of time and it often causes symptoms such as tachycardia (hart rate that exceeds the normal range), digestive disorders, diarrhea, headaches, dry mouth and depression. It can also cause a series of hormonal and emotional reactions in the body leading to the accumulation of excess weight.

In pathological or chronic stress, the brain triggers the production of a hormone called cortisol which in combination with other hormones such as norepinephrine, glucagon and somatropin, have adverse effects on the body. Cortisol reduces the body’s ability to burn fat and encourages its storage in the abdomen. The development of abdominal fat is often a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. The production of cortisol by the body is generally linked with obesity, resistance to insulin action and reduction of memory.

Humans with stressful lifestyles that consistently fail to have nutritious meals due to time constraints or other factors are usually led to the consumption of ready meals that are high in fat. Also, they tent to take increasing quantities of caffeine which causes dehydration that increases production of cortisol by the body.

Pathological stress is often accompanied by a host of negative emotions leading to large numbers of humans developing emotional polyphagia (excessive eating). Emotional overeating is amongst the most common forms of eating disorders. Humans who suffer from this disorder find refuge in the easiest form of pleasure: food consuming and in particular foods rich in salt and sugar.  These types of food provide a temporary relief from problems but result to the increase of body weight.

Although total stress relief is difficult to achieve, it can be significantly reduced in several ways. A key factor of reducing stress is to adopt a diet rich in nutrition. The consumption of fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, strawberries and peppers that are rich in vitamin C, contribute to the reduction of cortisol which subsequently leads to stress reduction and therefore prevents accumulation of fat in the abdomen. Scientific researches showed that a diet rich in seafood results in humans feeling emotionally better as these foods are rich in omega-3 oils which can reduce mild depression. Limiting the consumption of coffee to 2 cups a day and increasing hydration will help reduce cortisol levels therefore prevent the accumulation of abdominal fat. Also, the consumption of carbohydrates (bread, bulgur, rice, etc.) increases serotonin levels a substance that improves the mood.

Working out regularly can also contribute towards the reduction of stress. Exercising causes the production of endorphins in the body that improve the mood and help in weight loss with the result of increasing the confidence.

In general if the stress derives from the fact of being overweight, it should be considered as a sign to loose weight, begin a diet balanced in nutrition and start exercising.

Studies suggest that sleeping 7-8 hours daily will result to a 37-48% reduction of cortisol which will prevent accumulation of abdomen fat.

In conclusion, pathological or chronic stress can be reduced once a balanced diet rich in nutrition is adopted amongst with exercising and sufficient sleeping.  In addition, these factors will also lead to the reduction of excess weight.

Yiannis Kerimis MSc, R.D (USA)

Clinical Dietitian


Myths and Truths about Nutrition

On a daily basis we receive a wealth of information in regards to nutrition and weight loss. Often the source of this type of information originates from non-specialists thus false impressions are made. What are the myths and truths related to diet?

“Olive oil has fewer calories than other oils.”

Olive oil in comparison with other oils has the same caloric value as all oils are in fact fats that contain 9 calories per gram.  The reason olive oil is recommended instead of other oils is due to its high nutritional value. It contains mainly monounsaturated fats, which are positive qualities for the health of the heart, and also contains vitamin C which acts as an anti-ageing and anti-cancer agent.  Although olive oil is a healthy choice it should be consumed in moderation as 1 teaspoon contains 45 calories.

“Whole grain products contain fewer calories in comparison to the non-whole grain ones.”

This is a false perception as whole grains products have exactly the same calories with the difference that they provide more nutritional value. For example, a slice of brown bread has the same calories as a slice of white bread. Whole grain products provide a large amount of dietary fiber which is responsible for the health of gut.

Also, they contribute towards maintaining blood sugars in balance and they are undoubtedly richer in complex B vitamins that maintain the smooth functioning of the metabolism and nervous system.

“It’s better to consume honey and brown sugar rather than white sugar when trying to lose weight.”

Brown sugar has the same calories as white sugar.  The difference is that it has a higher nutritional value and provides nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and sodium. Honey also offers more vitamins and minerals than white sugar, which is nutritionally valueless, but many are not aware that it contains more calories.

“Aspartame sweeteners are carcinogenic”

Large organizations, such as the World Health Organization, suggest that aspartame is completely safe and it is not associated in any way with carcinogenesis.

There are no good or bad foods but instead good and bad eating habits.  All foods can be part of a diet as long as they are chosen correctly and consumed in moderation.  Food of same groups may contain the same value in calories but certainly some contain more nutrients than others and provide vitamins and fiber important to the human body.

In general, for matters related to correct nutrition one should seek the advice of a specialist and trust only scientific studies with validity that have their sources in the researches of experts.

Yiannis Kerimis MSc RD

Clinical Dietitian


Ways to increase metabolism

Energy and the caloric requirements of each individual are dependent on four different aspects. The metabolic requirements of each individual are affected by the daily physical activity, the movements made subconsciously, the thermogenic effect of food (i.e. the energy needed for digesting food) and the basal metabolism.

The definition of basal metabolism can be described as the body’s chemical reactions that are designed for its smooth functioning. These reactions are responsible for a large number of functions in the body such as the cell metabolism, the maintenance of body temperature, the smooth function of the gastrointestinal tract, the glands and many other. In order for these chemical reactions to be accomplished the human body requires energy and the measure to count energy is called calorie. The higher the intensity of these chemical reactions is the more calories are required.

Metabolism in the human body is influenced by several factors. Men in general have increased basal metabolism than women and thus they achieve easier weight loss.  Also, men usually have a higher percentage of muscle tissue than women. Increase in muscle tissue and also weight gain in general leads to the increase of the basal metabolism. Also, the age of an individual can be another factor affecting basal metabolism. During growth energy and metabolic needs are increased, while after the age of 20 metabolism begins to decrease by 1-2% per decade. Besides the sex, age, weight gain, muscle mass, etc metabolism is influenced by various hormonal disorders. Poor functions in the thyroid gland, which has the effect of reducing a hormone called thyroxin, reduces metabolism by 40% while in a state of hyperthyroidism metabolism can be increased by 80%. Other factors that increase metabolism and energy needs are pregnancy and breastfeeding, increased body temperature (i.e. fever), cold climate, caffeine intake and some catabolic diseases and injuries.

Metabolism increases mainly in two ways: by exercising and by following a correct diet. Physical exercise helps to burn more calories and causes an increase in muscle tissue which also increases metabolism and energy needs.  When talking of nutrition it is suggested to reduce fat and simple carbohydrates (i.e. sugar) and avoid or reduce the consumption of sweets, fried foods and processed meat. Food consumed should mainly consist of vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates (whole grains, oatmeal, etc.) and protein (fish, chicken, etc). Surveys suggest that protein increases metabolism by 40%. It is advised not to skip meals during the day as the consumption of 5-6 meals daily increases metabolism. When following a weight loss diet one must be patient and not reduce excessively calories consumed as this will have a negative impact on the metabolism in the long run.  Finally, consumption of plenty water is advised in order to increase metabolism, hydration and detoxification of the body.

The way of measuring basal metabolism is achieved by using indirect calorimetry. The method of inducing one to indirect calorimetry is by lying down comfortably and wearing a mask which is connected to a special apparatus that measures combustion accomplished in the body according to the proportion of oxygen inhaled and carbon dioxide exhaled.

Yiannis Kerimis MSc RD

Clinical Dietitian


Child Obesity

Child obesity is considered a major problem of our contemporary society. It is becoming common for children and teenagers to develop health problems, such as type II diabetes and hypercholesterolemia, which usually appears in adulthood. Childhood obesity is due to the influence of various factors such as heredity, family and social circle influences and last but not least the psychology of the child.
Children have a 50% chance of becoming obese if one of the parents is obese while the chances are increased if both parents are obese. Obesity can also be influenced by the fact that when a child lives in an environment unsuitable for outdoor games it is natural to find some forms of entertainment that promote physical inactivity such as television, computers, video games, etc. Accumulation of unwanted weight in children is also linked to the replacement of certain emotions with food. Many parents tend to reward their children with food.  Usually, a child is given sweets or is rewarded with a meal in a fast food restaurant when it performs well in a school project with the result of linking food with positive feelings.  Eventually food becomes an action related to positive emotions and later in adulthood overeating subconsciously sooths them when they are struggling to overcome a stressful situation or a negative emotion.

Childhood obesity can be treated with a proper diet, exercise and emotional support.  Overweight children should not be encouraged to follow grueling diets as this might influence their natural and biological growth in a negative manner.  It is a real challenge to stabilize a child’s weight in harmony with their increasing height during growth. In some severe cases of obesity weight loss should not exceed the amount of 2.2-4.4 pounds per month. With the help of an expert, a child should follow a balanced diet containing a combination of all food groups.

Scientific researches suggest that when a nutritionally balanced breakfast becomes a part of a child’s routine, children have less chances of becoming overweight. Children should also consume two main meals and two snacks that are nutritionally rich such as yogurt with fruit. Soft drinks or concentrated fruit juices should be replaced with fresh juices and water. Vegetables should always be a part of a main meal and when parents are accustomed to consuming vegetables children will eventually imitate them. Parents should also discover which vegetables are more likeable to their children and present them in an attractive way. Children over the age of 2-3 years can consume dairy products reduced in fat (semi-skimmed) as they contain the exact same vitamins as the full fat ones.

The combination of a balanced diet with physical exercise such as cycling, swimming or team sports guarantees a child’s good physical condition and a body weight that is close to their ideal.

In addition to promoting a balanced diet and exercise, parents should provide emotional support to their children. When a child is overweight parents should approach it in a diplomatic way and explain in a polite but yet comprehensive manner why the child has to pay attention to its nutritional intake and offer some examples.  When speaking to children in need of a diet change, parents should avoid adjectives such as “fat” or “obese”.

Food should never be associated with emotion thus rewarding or punishing a child should not be supported with food.  For example, many parents promise to reward their children with ice cream if they do well in their school exams or threaten them not to give ice cream if they do not eat their vegetables first. Ice cream in this case is used as a reward (positive emotion) and vegetables as something oppressive (negative emotion).

Parents have to realize that children imitate them in general and food consumption is not an exception. When parents follow a well balanced diet then children will follow and learn how to adopt a healthy way of eating.

In conclusion, one can say that children that follow a well balanced diet combined with exercise and adequate emotional support will have a healthy and natural growth and will maintain their ideal weight for their height.

Yiannis Kerimis MSc RD

Clinical Dietitian


Basic Rules of Food Storage

Properly storing foods helps to maintain quality and prevent foodborne illness. Storing foods for shorter rather than longer periods of time at proper temperatures and away from light will improve quality, taste and safety. Follow these basic rules for safe foods storage:

  • Store leftovers in airtight, shallow containers (two inches deep or less).
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of cooking.
  • Use or freeze packaged items by the “sell-by” or “use-by” date.
  • Set your refrigerator temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use a refrigerator thermometer to ensure food is stored at proper temperatures.

Freezing is a smart storage option to extend the shelf life of perishable foods beyond expiration dates. But whether you are freezing or refrigerating, one basic rule applies: When in doubt, throw it out!

Eggs and Milk

  • Store eggs in the original packaging in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Do not use the pre-made egg cups in the door where they are susceptible to warmer air from opening and closing the door.
  • Do not keep raw eggs for more than three weeks in the refrigerator. Hard-boiled eggs can last a week in the refrigerator in or out of the shell.
  • Do not store milk in the refrigerator door where it is susceptible to warmer air from opening and closing the door.
  • Discard all milk after the container has been opened one week, regardless of the “sell-by” date.


  • Promptly store produce that needs refrigeration. Fresh, whole produce such as bananas and potatoes don’t need refrigeration.
  • Refrigerate fresh produce within two hours of peeling or cutting.
  • Throw away cut produce left at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Discard cooked vegetables after three to four days.

Meat and Poultry

  • Store meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator or in the refrigerator’s meat bin.
  • Place raw meat, poultry and seafood on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so juices don’t drip onto other foods.
  • Use fresh, raw meat stored in the refrigerator within three to four days of purchase.
  • Use deli meat within four days of purchase.
  • Throw away ground meat, sausage and organ meat after two days.
  • Use or freeze poultry products by the “sell-by” date. Frozen poultry can be kept for nine months to a year in a freezer set below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Eat or freeze cooked meat within three to four days.


  • Refrigerate or freeze seafood immediately after purchasing.
  • Store fresh, pasteurized or smoked seafood products in a refrigerator set at 32 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wrap fresh seafood in cellophane or place in air-tight containers.
  • Store frozen seafood in a freezer until ready to use. Keep it in the original moisture and vapor-proof packages.
  • Use packaged, frozen seafood before the expiration date. If an expiration date has passed, don’t consume the product; throw it away.

Canned Goods

  • Store canned or jarred goods in cool, dry settings.
  • Consume the oldest products in your pantry first.


Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega –3 fatty acids belong to the category of the fats which are not produced by the human body and as a result they should be added in the diet. There are 3 kinds of fatty acids, decahexaonic acid (DHA), the eicosipentanoic acid(EPA) and finally the linoleic acid(ALA). Main sources of the omega-3 fatty acids  are  fish oils and fatty fish such as scambi ,salmon, kippers, fresh tuna and sardines. Vegetarian sources of omega-3 are linseeds, sea wheat, walnuts, soya products, and green leaf vegetables such as kale and spinach

Scientific evidence supports that the omega-3 fatty acids have a positive effect on the physical and brain health.

Omega-3 helps to reduce the cardiovascular disease due to their  antihypertensive properties, the regulation of cardiac arrhythmias, the reduction of thrombotic episodes due to the antiplatelet properties and their ability to reduce the inflammation of the arteries. Finally diet reach in fatty acids reduces the blood levels of the harmful lipids such as cholesterol(LDL) and triglycerides however they increase the beneficial cholesterol(HDL)

Except of the benefits on the heart  the omega -3 lipids have a positive effect on the regulation of glucose by reducing the cellular insulin resistance which is beneficial for the diabetes sufferers. Osteoarthritis sufferers can be helped with the use of omega -3 fatty acids because they reduce the inflammation in the joints.  Additionally fatty acids can reduce  osteoporosis and they can prevent the development of certain cancers such as prostate cancer and small bowel cancer.

Certain studies support that the use of omega-3 enhances the memory and they are particularly beneficial for the improvement of mood and reduces depression because of the omega-3 they are absorbed in the membranes of our nervous cells as they make them more flexible and elastic. Pregnant women whom take omega-3 during pregnancy have less chances of developing depression during pregnancy.

Generally, we must increase the omega-3 because they give us a lot of positive advantages to our body such as protection from heart disease, better regulation of our glucose in  our blood, reduction of oesteroporosis and less chances of depression etc. Taking these in mind, it is an advantage to consume 2-3 portions of fish a week, to add salad with green leafed vegetables and linseed and to eat walnuts but with caution. In connection with fish and seafood we must prefer the ones that grow naturally in the sea and not in fishponds because they have more omega-3 due to the food they eat.

Yiannis Kerimis MSc RD

Clinical Dietitian


Coffee: Positive- Negative Effects

Many have difficulties to begin their day without consuming a cup of coffee.  The question that arises is: Does coffee have positive effects on the human body or should it be avoided?

When the intake of coffee is kept to a maximum of 1-2 cups daily its effects are positive.  A Harvard University research suggested that women who consume 1-2 cups of filter coffee have reduced chances of developing breast cancer.  Other researches also support that coffee reduces the chances of developing colon cancer. The main reason that coffee is considered to protect against various forms of cancer is due to its richness in antioxidants that protect the genetic material of cells from free radicals which cause diseases and premature ageing. Asthmatics may benefit from consuming a small amount of coffee as it contains a substance called theophylline which relaxes the bronchial muscles. The daily consumption of 1-2 cups of coffee also reduces the chance of gall and kidney stones, the occurrence of liver cirrhosis, provides relieve from some allergies and reduces the likelihood of developing type II diabetes by 30%.  It also acts as a stimulant and helps concentration.

Filter coffee, according to various surveys, is much more beneficial than the instant one. It is known that coffee itself has no calories but when combined with sugar, cream, caramel and various syrups adds calories that result in fat accumulation.

Increased amounts of coffee intake can cause a number of long-term problems to the human body. When suffering with hypertension coffee should be limited as it increases blood pressure.  Also, patients with heart problems should limit their coffee intake as it may increase blood lipids and cause atherosclerosis a condition in which artery walls thicken as the result of a build-up of fatty materials.

Excessive coffee intake reduces iron absorption and thus increases the risk of osteoporosis.  In some, coffee can also cause palpitations, anxiety, insomnia and intense headaches. It is suggested that pregnant women limit coffee to its minimum due to the fact that they are more likely to develop hypertension.  Excessive coffee intake during pregnancy may also lead to premature birth or even miscarriage.

Overall, the daily consumption of 1-2 cups of coffee has a positive impact on the human body.  On the contrary, when consumed in high quantities it can cause numerous problems therefore a moderate intake is advised.

Yiannis Kerimis MSc RD

Clinical Dietitian