Column: What We Eat and Drink Matters

By Julia Chiappetta

We have all heard that we are what we eat, but I go a step further and add, we are also what we drink. And, in many cases, we are eating and drinking more harm than good.

I point to sugar as an example.  If you are a soda drinker, then you are “a whole lotta sugar.”  While sugar boosts flavors and adds sweetness, it has many down sides.  Did you know that glucose, a form of sugar, is the primary source of energy for every cell in the body, and because the brain is so rich in neurons, it is the most energy-demanding organ, using one-half of all the sugar energy in the body? Sugar is also associated with feeding cancer cells, disrupting the insulin system and linked with heart disease. 

If you are like me and read nutrition labels on foods you are purchasing for consumption, you may wonder what all those grams of sugar actually mean. Well, a while back, when I became interested in learning about sugar, I learned that a teaspoon of sugar is approximately equal to 4 grams. So, imagine consuming a beverage with 20 grams? The result is that you have just sat down and consumed 5 heaping teaspoons of white sugar.  It is crazy to think about it that way, but this also applies to the other ingredients in the foods we consume.    

I hope that, together we can take steps to look at our diets and lifestyles and seek ways to make positive adjustments. We know….

WHAT we eat matters

There is NO perfect human diet that fits every one of us

BE AWARE that consumption of deep-fried foods, chemically-laden foods, artificial sweeteners and other additives (flavors, dyes, etc.) are harmful. 

There are many healthy dietary options, and evidence shows they work to promote wellness and healing.  What we read and hear in the media is often conflicting, confusing and misleading.  I encourage you to dig deeper, look at research studies and reports written by experts on alternative healing platforms, and make better diet and lifestyle decisions. The media often reports on certain food and drink products, using press releases from big PR firms, who are getting paid to promote these items, thus making them look good, exciting and safe. Think about it. While many processed foods are promoted in advertising and slick commercials, there is not a lot of similar coverage for healthy fruits and vegetables.   

I recently read an article which mentioned, the “New American Plate.” This isn’t a diet or a complex system for calculating calories, fat grams or carbohydrates. It’s a fresh way of looking at what you eat every day. Create meals that lower your risk for cancer and other chronic diseases and manage your weight at the same time.

What do you see?

Look at your plate. Think about what foods you are choosing.


Aim for meals made up of 2/3 (or more) vegetables, fruits whole grains or beans and 1/3 (or less) animal protein.

Portion size

Portion sizes in America have grown too large. If you’re eating a packaged food, take a look at the serving size on the nutrition label. Then ask yourself how many standard servings go into the portion you regularly eat? If you are overweight, consider gradually reducing that number. Controlling portion size at home and in restaurants makes a long-lasting difference in controlling your weight.

Some Strategies for Success:

1. Eat mostly plant-based foods, which are low in energy density

2. Be physically active each day

3. Maintain a healthy weight

4. Eat organic, whenever possible.

Looking at a single food, or nutrient, or worse, a single “active element” of a food will never be the answer. There is no magic bullet and it is the wrong direction for research to take. What makes a human being healthiest is real food and wise choices.    

As always, I am enthusiastic about my green drinks in the morning and hope you will try a tall, organic elixir of greens to start your day. Mint is quickly growing with all the rain we’ve had as of late and makes a great iced tea with fresh squeezed lemon. I must say that my heart is lighter with the onset of more hours of daylight, which allows us to be outdoors at the beaches or parks, so why not say hello to a stranger you might pass – hey, you never know, your smile could really make a difference in someone’s day as well as yours.

Julia Chiappetta is the author of “Breast Cancer: The Notebook” (Gemini Media, 2006) and is also the owner of Julia Chiappetta Consulting. She lives in Cos Cob. More information and past columns can be found at