• The word “salad” comes from the Latin word “sal” which means salt. This is so, because the main ingredient in the dressing was salt.
  • Today, salads are served and eaten at any point during a meal and can be served cold or warm.
  • Each culture has its philosophy as to why they serve salad in a particular time during the meal.
  • Many of the chicken’s inedible parts do NOT go to waste. We eat them in a form of a chicken nugget or a crispy chicken steak. And we love it.
  • Differences between Greek (non fat) yogurt and plain (non fat) yogurt.
  • Modifying an unhealthy salad into a healthy one.
  • Salad recipes and their nutritional value.
  • It’s essential to love what we eat. If unhealthy and greasy – modify it and make it healthy.

Yes, that’s what I wrote. That is the name of this post. There are salads and there are salads.

The word “salad” comes from the Latin word “sal” which means salt. This is so, because the main ingredient in the dressing was salt. The word (in Latin) “salata” means salted things. The Romans and Greeks popularized the trend of cutting raw vegetables and putting salt, oil and vinegar on top.

If we go chronologically through history, we’ll find the word salad mentioned many times, and in different cultures’ histories. From medieval Spain to Renaissance Italy to the Victorian Era in the UK, and further more to the time of the World Wars and Post Cold War era (or postmodernity), the salad is part of people’s meals. As time went by, salads became more and more complicated, though simple salads are still present on people’s dining tables (or computer desks, or front – TV tables…).


Today, salads are served and eaten at any point during a meal and can be served cold or warm. They can be:

  • Appetizers – these are smaller portion – salads that stimulate the appetite as the first course of the meal.
  • Side salads – these accompany the main dish as a side dish.
  • Main course salads – these are usually sizable and more nourishing salads.
  • Dessert salads – these are sweet salads.

In different cultures salad is served in different times during the meal. In Italy and Germany, for example, it is served at the end of the meal. In France it is served before the meal, and in America (mostly) it is served with the main dish. Each culture has its philosophy as to why they serve salad in that particular time during the meal.

If served before the main dish – the salad fills you up more and you eat less, or control how much you eat from the rest of the meal (unless the salad is super tasty appetizer that prepares you to eat more food – then you’re screwed).

If served during the meal – the fat from the main course helps the absorption of the salad’s nutrients.

If served at the end of the meal – it helps digestion and accentuates the taste of the wine (if you drink wine with your main meal).

These theories are still widely disputed and discussed.

But, why did I choose to talk about salads?

First – for people that have a very fast lifestyle, salads are a good idea to make at home and pack them to work, and it’s good for them to know, which ingredients in a salad, or which type of salad is the healthiest choice.

Second – I think folks are very confused as to what healthy food means these days. Many people think that, if they eat a bowl of salad, they’ve eaten less calories, because… It’s only salad, right? Right? Wrong! It’s not only salad. It’s salad, (probably pesticides, too – yummy!), salt, dressing, and maybe bread goes well with it, too. And if it’s white bread – all the better, right? Right? 



Let’s take a look at an attractive salad, and then break it down to its most basic ingredients. 


OK, so – quite obvious – not very healthy: crispy chicken, white dough croutons and yogurt (or mayo) topping. Beside these ingredients we see: rocket, tomato, some sweet corn, red onions and soya sprouts. Lovely.

Let’s dive in deeper.

Watch this YouTube video. They talk about chicken nuggets, but this potentially applies to a lot of industrially made crispy chicken varieties. 

What do they talk about? They talk about the chicken nuggets (and potentially many other crispy chicken varieties) containing very little actual chicken meat and much more fat, along with epithelium, bone, nerve, and connective tissue. There is a study published in the American Journal of Medicine that proves all that’s been said. (1)

Many of the chicken’s inedible parts do NOT go to waste. We eat them in a form of a chicken nugget or a crispy chicken steak. And we love it.


If we only take the calories of (some) industrial fried and prepackaged chicken varieties out there (remember, there’s very little chicken in a lot of them!) – we are roughly talking about 440 kcal per item (one steak, or 10 nuggets).

Additionally, let’s look at this video, where Jamie Oliver demonstrates to the children and to us, that we would eat anything, as long as it looks attractive and we are hungry: 

When buying frozen prepackaged chicken meat (nuggets, steaks, etc..) look at the ingredients! Look for the words: whole white meat – it’s the actual chicken meat.

OK, next – croutons. These croutons are highly processed. They don’t contain the classic ingredients of white bread, which are: all purpose flour, sugar, water and salt. No, no, these babies contain a lot more. For starters, many of their ingredients are required to increase the shelf life of the product, and improve the flavor that disappears when food is not fresh. If we decide to buy seasoned croutons, ingredients wise – we’re in for a treat. I’m talking: fructose – glucose syrup, azocarbonamide (that’s a popular dough conditioner), artificial flavors, corn syrup, maltodextrin, calcium propionate (preservative that inhibits mold and bacterial growth). They probably contain quite a few more ingredients, but anyway… Calorie wise – if we use 20 g in the salad, we’re adding 81 kcal (this according to


Next on the line are the toppings. Let’s look at both – the yogurt topping and the mayo topping. The basic ingredients of mayonnaise are: egg yolk, vinegar, oil and lemon juice. Not too bad, right? Mayonnaise by itself is actually very healthy, it’s filled with fats, but not saturated ones. A tablespoon of mayonnaise has 90 calories. If we eat the salad in a restaurant, I can guarantee, that the topping has more than 90 calories. You can bet on it.


“Southern-Style” Mayonnaise via photopin (license)

You say – ok, but what about the yogurt topping? That one can’t be bad, right? Well, it depends what kind of yogurt topping we use. If we use commercial and not organic yogurt, then what we put on our salads are mostly artificial food colorings, sugar substitutes (fructose – glucose syrup), preservatives, carrageenan, etc. How many calories? A tablespoon of yogurt dressing is about 25 kcal.


Image Author: Ned Jelyazkov (via Wikimedia commons)

For the rest of the salad – we have: rocket (one cup – 1 kcal), tomato (one medium – 16 kcal), some sweetcorn (one cup – 85 kcal), red onions (one small – 5 kcal) and soya sprouts (one cup – 31 kcal). These ingredients (the vegetables and the tomato) belong to the healthy side of things. (Unless I mention pesticides. So to get to the main point – the beautiful salad with shiny white dressing is not a good choice). 

Total calories (with the yogurt dressing): min. 684 kcal.

Total calories (with the mayo dressing): min. 749 kcal.

Surprised? Not surprised?

Do you know how many calories a Big Mac has? One sandwich has 563 calories.


Image Author: Evan-Amos (via Wikimiedia Commons)

So, it’s very important to know what kind of salad we eat. If we eat salad with fried meat and mayo or even industrial yogurt topping, then we are not giving our bodies any break. 

Let’s look at some great healthier versions of our salad. How can we change it to make it tasty and nutritious?

Let’s modify our salad!


So, what is a healthy version of a fried chicken?

I love chicken, and man – fried chicken is so freakin’ tasty, I mean – the moist, all that grease (I’m not kidding), the crispiness, sigh!

But, we gotta eat healthy, so what’s the best choice that’s equally tasty, yet much healthier – I’d say grilled chicken. I love chicken in 1001 ways, so I have no problems with this choice. Do you need more choices? Try: baked chicken (you can soak it in herbs or spices) or cooked chicken. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, try substituting chicken with high protein legumes (lentils, black beans).


Not good enough? It has to be a fried chicken?


I found this amazing oven “fried” chicken recipe on You Tube.


Ok, so we’ve found a healthier version of the crispy chicken, let’s move on to the croutons. The healthiest way to go is to make our own. How do we do that? Well, it’s fairly simple: Buy a whole grain bread (a healthy choice), cut a slice of that bread into cubes (or croutons), and put it in the oven (200 degrees for 30 minutes).


When buying bread beware! On the package it may say that it’s whole grain, yet you might be buying a bread made of an enriched white flour. Take a look at the ingredients, a whole grain bread’s nutritional value usually is:

  • Fiber: 2-4 g (per serving);
  • Hydrogenated oil (trans fat): 0g

(although, by law, at least in the States and Canada, if a product contains less than 0.5g and 0.2g of trans fats per serving, respectively, they are allowed to list 0g on the package. Mandatory labelling of trans-fat content (including amount) is not currently implemented in any of the WHO European Member States. Regulation (EC) No. 1169/2011 requests that ‘fully’ or ‘partly’ hydrogenated oil be indicated in the ingredients list, together with the specific vegetable origin of the oil or fat. For pre-packaged foods, consumers can determine from the ingredient list whether partially hydrogenated oils have been used to manufacture the products. However, the amount of trans fat present in the product cannot be assumed by this information and trans fat does not appear in the mandatory nutrition declaration. In this sense consumers are not provided with information on levels of trans-fats content in products.) (2);

  • Sodium: < 200 mg per slice;
  • Sugar and Sweeteners: 0-4 g
  • Preservatives: none (ideally) (3).

But what happens when there are no ingredient lists or stamps? Well – then we resort to believing what our eyes see. We should check to see that we can notice actual grains or pieces of grain— and not just on top of the bread.  

So, when it comes to croutons, it’s a bit tricky, as the the pre-packed always contain more calories and of course preservatives (to extend their shelf life), and if you make them at home, it’ll take 30 minutes. The lesser of two evils? Your choice. You could always prepare them the night before.


If we choose yogurt topping, it’s best to get Greek or organic plain yogurt. Both are healthy, and here is the difference between the two:


If you’re planning to lose weight, but love salad toppings, Greek yogurt is an ideal substitute for mayo. Tired of Greek yogurt? Other great choices are:

  • olive oil,
  • hummus,
  • low-fat cottage cheese,
  • mashed avocado,
  • classic mustard,
  • pesto,
  • nayonnaise – if you like soy, this is a vegan alternative to mayonnaise, and
  • aioli – a great way to substitute mayonnaise. It is made of olive oil, garlic and sometimes an egg. Add some tofu, lemon juice, salt and pepper, throw everything in a blender and voila! – A light and healthy substitute for mayo.

Say we used these ingredients: grilled chicken (5oz. or 100g – 239kcal), whole grain home made (the night before) croutons (2 tablespoons or 30g or 1oz – 69kcal), greek yogurt (100g or 3.5oz. – 53kcal), rocket (one cup – 1 kcal), tomato (one medium – 16 kcal), some sweetcorn (one cup – 85 kcal), red onions (one small – 5 kcal) and soya sprouts (one cup – 31 kcal). The total amount of calories for this salad is: 499kcal.

So, basically we have the same salad, only healthier and tastier! Bon appétit!



Let’s look at few recipes of healthy salads to make at home and take with us at work (I’ll give you 5 great choices):

  1. Quinoa salad with veggies and oranges.



Why is quinoa so popular? Quinoa is a rich source of protein (100g of raw quinoa contains 20% of protein or higher). Did you know that it is closely related to species such as beetroot, spinach and amaranth? It’s true, what we eat is actually the seeds. You can eat the leaves, too, but they are commercially rarely available. I will write more about this amazing plant in another post.

Our salad (I make this one at home, it’s a modified recipe, which is a combination of more than 3 other recipes, so feel free to change the vegies and seasonings to suite your taste):

Servings: ~ 3


For the veggie mix with oranges

  • 1 red bell pepper cubed
  • 1 yellow bell pepper cubed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut them in halves
  • 2 carrots cut in cubes
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 large orange cut in smaller wedges
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

For the quinoa

  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock (your choice)
  • a pinch of salt


  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • ½ tablespoon dried coriander



  • Cook the quinoa as ordered on the package. The quinoa absorbs water and becomes fluffy. It doubles after it’s cooked, so you’re gonna get 1 cup of cooked quinoa. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine all the veggies + the orange wedges (the bell peppers, the cherry tomatoes, the carrots and the onion). Add the sunflower seeds, the garlic powder, salt and the olive oil. Mix well.
  • Now prepare the dressing: Combine all ingredients together (the lemon juice, the olive oil, the chopped fresh rosemary and the dried coriander). Mix very fast and very well for 30 seconds.
  • Now combine the quinoa with the veggies and the orange wedges. Mix well. Add the dressing. Again, mix well.
  • If you want, you can add a little parmesan (1 tablespoon = 22.8 kcal) or any cheese you want (not too much, though!) and garnish with some rosemary.

You can eat it at home or take it at work. It’s an amazing, healthy meal.


 426.6 kcal (with chicken stock)

397.8 kcal (with water)

The nutritional info is given for the chicken stock variant. For the salad, where the quinoa is cooked in water, total fat is lower and some nutrition facts are different.

Total Fat 27.7 g (daily recommendation: 70g, this is 40% of daily recommendation)

Saturated Fat 3.5 g (daily recommendation: 24g; this is 14.5% of daily recommendation)

Polyunsaturated Fat 5.3 g

Monounsaturated Fat 16.4 g

Cholesterol 2.4 mg (ideal daily dose: 300 mg, for people with high cholesterol: 200mg, this is 0.8% of normal daily dose)

Sodium 400.6 mg (ideal dose for adults: 1500mg/day, so this is ~27% of daily dose), Potassium 760.8 mg (ideal dose for everyone >14 age is 4700mg/day, this is 16% of daily dose)

Total Carbohydrate 38.4 g (daily recommendation: 310g, this is ~12% of daily recommendation)

Dietary Fiber 8.2 g (daily recommendation is 25-30g, this is ~27%-33% of daily recommendation)

Sugars 11.8 g (daily recommendation is 90g, this is 13% of daily recommendation)

Protein 9.8 g (daily recommendation is 50g, this is ~20% of daily recommendation)


Vitamin A 138.5 %, Vitamin B12 0.0 %, Vitamin B6 16.1 %, Vitamin C 127.1 %, Vitamin D 0.0 %, Vitamin E 41.2 %, Calcium 8.7 %, Copper 19.8 %, Folate 20.2 %, Iron 10.4 %, Magnesium 20.2 %, Manganese 33.7 %, Niacin (Vit.B3) 17.8 %, Pantothenic Acid (Vit.B5) 10.1 %, Phosphorus 25.2 %, Riboflavin (Vit.B2) 12.5 %, Selenium 16.8 %, Thiamin (Vit.B1) 12.8 %, Zinc 9.6 %

2.  Tuna salad with veggies, lettuce, spinach and avocado


This salad is NOT meant for pregnant women, as tuna fish contains mercury. Tuna salad is quite calorie danced, but it contains some healthy Omega – 3 – fatty acids. I add it to my list of salads, because I know too many people (myself included), who adore tuna fish. I love, no, no, I LOVE tuna. Rio Mare is my favorite.

Serving for 2-3 people.


  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup lettuce
  • 1 can tuna (in my case, a Rio Mare tuna)
  • 1 avocado chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in halves
  • 1 oz (30 g) green olives (I adore black ones)
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • a pinch of salt
  • light balsamic vinegar (optional)


  • Mix the veggies together
  • Add the avocado and mix
  • Add the tuna and olives and capers
  • Add the seasonings and if you want the vinegar

Serve with whole grain bread (2 slices max).


248.1 kcal (Rio Mare tuna in olive oil), with 2 slices of whole grain bread: 392.1 kcal

236.4 kcal (Rio Mare tuna in water), with 2 slices of whole grain bread: 380.4 kcal

The nutritional info is given for the Rio Mare tuna in olive oil variant. For the salad, where the tuna is canned in water, total fat is lower and some other nutrition facts are different.

Total Fat 20.6 g (~29.5%)

Saturated Fat 3 g (12.5%)

Polyunsaturated Fat 1.9 g

Monounsaturated Fat 6.6 g

Cholesterol 00.0 mg (0%)

Sodium 512.3 mg (34%) Reduce the amount of capers (to half a tablespoon) and olives to reduce the amount of sodium.

Potassium 468.2 mg (6.4%)

Total Carbohydrate 10.8 g (5%)

Dietary Fiber 5.1 g (~17% – 20.5%)

Sugars 2.2 g (~2.5%)

Protein 7.8 g (15.6%)

Vitamin A 39.6 %, Vitamin B12 0.0 %, Vitamin B6 7.0 %, Vitamin C 36.2 %, Vitamin D 0.0 %, Vitamin E 5.5 %, Calcium 4.6 %, Copper 5.4 %, Folate 16.5 %, Iron 5.5 %, Magnesium 7.4 %, Manganese 9.6 %, Niacin (Vit.B3) 8.4 %, Pantothenic Acid (Vit.B5) 7.3 %, Phosphorus 3.4 %, Riboflavin (Vit.B2) 5.3 %, Selenium 0.6 %, Thiamin (Vit.B1) 3.3 %, Zinc 2.4 %

3.  Grilled shrimp salad with avocado, lettuce and veggies


This salad is quite light and of course – tasty!

Serving for 2-3 people.


  • ½ lb (225g) or 16 large shrimp, raw, peeled, deveined
  • 2 cups Romaine Lettuce chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 green long pepper (Hungarian wax pepper) chopped


Image author: Jeff Kwapil (via Wikimedia Commons)

  • 1 avocado chopped
  • 1 scallion chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed



  • Preheat oven to 220°C (or 425F). Apply some olive oil to a baking sheet.
  • Squeeze some lemon juice over the zucchini cubes and toss them on the baking sheet in the oven. Bake them for 15 minutes, then open the oven, mix them, toss them turn them and bake for 3-4 minutes more. When done, set aside.
  • In a bowl combine the lettuce, spinach, the chopped bell pepper, the wax pepper, the chopped scallion and the garlic cloves. Mix well. Set aside.
  • Sprinkle the chopped avocado with some lemon juice and add it to the bowl.
  • Sauté shrimp in a skillet, that is sprinkled (or greased) with an olive oil. Do this over medium heat for a minute or two per side (or until pink – which usually means 1-2 minutes). Sprinkle shrimp with some lemon juice, add salt and pepper to taste and if desired a little chopped garlic.
  • Add the warm shrimp to the salad. If desired a tablespoon of olive oil or balsamic vinegar.


240.1 kcal without 2 slices of whole grain bread

383.4 kcal with 2 slices of whole grain bread

Total Fat 17.3 g (~25%)

Saturated Fat 2.4 g (10%)

Polyunsaturated Fat 1.1 g

Monounsaturated Fat 6.7 g

Cholesterol 56.7 mg (~19%)

Sodium 141.8 mg (9.5%)

Potassium 604.2 mg (8%)

Total Carbohydrate 14.1 g (4.5%)

Dietary Fiber 6.5 g (~22% – 26%)

Sugars 3.0 g (3.3%)

Protein 11.0 g (22%)

Vitamin A 73.4 %, Vitamin B12 7.2 %, Vitamin B6 13.3 %, Vitamin C 49.4 %, Vitamin D 14.2 %, Vitamin E 13.3 %, Calcium 8.1 %, Copper 13.4 %, Folate 26.6 %, Iron 15.9 %, Magnesium 11.4 %, Manganese 23.9 %, Niacin (Vit.B3) 11.8 %, Pantothenic Acid (Vit.B5) 9.6 %, Phosphorus 14.8 %, Riboflavin (Vit.B2) 8.8 %, Selenium 21.5 %, Thiamin (Vit.B1) 7.6 %, Zinc 6.5 %

4.  Chickpeas salad with veggies and black&white sesame

This is for the chickpea lovers. Personally, I am not crazy about chickpeas, unless it’s baked, but this is what many people like, so here goes:

Serving for 3 people.




  • 1 can (14 oz. or 400 g) chickpeas
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 green long pepper (Hungarian wax pepper) chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber cubed
  • 2 medium tomatoes cubed
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste



  • 2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoon light balsamic vinegar (optional)



  • Combine all veggies together
  • Add the chickpea from the can
  • Mix
  • Add the black and white sesame
  • Add the salt and pepper
  • In a mixing bowl combine the sesame oil, the grated ginger and the vinegar. Mix very fast until the mixture is uniform or homogenous or smooth…
  • Add the smooth dressing to the salad, mix well and you’re ready to go.



312.9 kcal

Total Fat 14.0 g (20%)

Saturated Fat 1.9 g (~8%)

Polyunsaturated Fat 5.9 g

Monounsaturated Fat 5.1 g

Cholesterol 0.0 mg

Sodium 463.8 mg (~31%)

Potassium 570.0 mg (12%)

Total Carbohydrate 40.3 g (13%)

Dietary Fiber 8.3 g (~28% – 33%)

Sugars 1.5 g (~1.7%)

Protein 9.1 g (18%)

Vitamin A 19.7 %, Vitamin B12 0.0 %, Vitamin B6 39.7 %, Vitamin C 78.9 %, Vitamin D 0.0 %, Vitamin E 4.4 %, Calcium 11.9 %, Copper 29.7 %, Folate 29.3 %, Iron 18.3 %, Magnesium 19.5 %, Manganese 55.6 %, Niacin (Vit.B3) 5.1 %, Pantothenic Acid (Vit.B5) 7.8 %, Phosphorus 19.4 %, Riboflavin (Vit.B2) 6.9 %, Selenium 6.6 %, Thiamin (Vit.B1) 10.5 %, Zinc 13.9 %

5.  Whole grain pasta salad

As someone who adores Mediterranean food, I cannot not mention pasta salad. When people hear me say I love pasta, they look at me with a weird look in their eyes (gasp! Calories!), but they are full of understanding (sigh! Tasty!).


Whole grain pasta in this case is a healthy choice.

Serving for 3 people.


  • 1 lbs (450 g or 25 small strands) asparagus, trimmed and cut into 0.5 inches (~1.5 cm) pieces
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 5 lbs (200 grams) champignon mushrooms
  • 1 cup carrots chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan if desired
  • 300 g whole grain pasta


  • In a pan add a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the zucchini, carrots and onion. Set aside.
  • In olive oil (1 tablespoon) sauté the asparagus and add the mushrooms. Cook for few (3-5 minutes) and add the zucchini, carrots and onion. Add some salt and pepper. Mix well. Set aside.
  • Cook pasta al dente. Drain it and add the veggies. Toss and mix, then serve on a dish.
  • Sprinkle with parmesan if you wish and garnish with fresh basil.



370.6 kcal without the parmesan

378.2 kcal with the parmesan

The nutritional info is given for the salad with parmesan. For the salad, without added parmesan, total fat is lower and some nutrition facts are different.

Total Fat 11.3 g (16%)

Saturated Fat 1.6 g (~7%)

Polyunsaturated Fat 0.9 g

Monounsaturated Fat 6.8 g

Cholesterol 1.3 mg (0.4%)

Sodium 349.3 mg (23%)

Potassium 684.0 mg (14.5%)

Total Carbohydrate 59.0 g (19%)

Dietary Fiber 14.7 g (~49% – ~59%)

Sugars 5.8 g (~6.5%)

Protein 14.7 g (~30%)

Vitamin A 138.6 %, Vitamin B12 0.4 %, Vitamin B6 13.8 %, Vitamin C 34.5 %, Vitamin D 0.0 %, Vitamin E 17.2 %, Calcium 7.2 %, Copper 14.5 %, Folate 38.6 %, Iron 16.0 %, Magnesium 26.9 %, Manganese 25.9 %, Niacin (Vit.B3) 10.3 %, Pantothenic Acid (Vit.B5) 4.2 %, Phosphorus 27.7 %, Riboflavin (Vit.B2) 12.0 %, Selenium 4.3 %, Thiamin (Vit.B1) 14.2 %, Zinc 5.5 %

Any recipe can be modified to be healthier. It’s essential that we must love what we eat. If unhealthy and greasy – modify it and make it healthy. That version might take time to get used to (or not), but it’s better for our bodies and minds.

Bon appétit! See you next time.


  1. R.D. deShazo, et al.: The Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets Reads “Chicken Little”. The American Journal of Medicine.2013. 126 (11): 1018 – 1019. Online Source: (03.02.2017)
  2. Eliminating Trans Fats in Europe: A Policy Brief. WHO (World Health Organization), Regional Office for Europe. 2015. Online Source: (03.02.2017)
  3. WebMD. The Best Bread: Tips for Buying Breads. How to decipher labels and choose the healthiest bread. Online Source: (03.02.2017)



  • High heels aren’t something new. They can be traced back to ancient Egypt (4000 BC).
  • In ancient Greece heels were worn by actors and in ancient Rome around 200 BC, heels were used by sex workers.
  • As part of the foot binding custom, special shoes called “lotus” were used in China. The heel of those shoes was 10 cm or 4 inches.
  • During the 1400s and until mid 1600s women wore “Chopines”, which were around 76cm (30in) tall, and in order to walk the wearer needed help from servants.
  • The 1500s are the years when the high heel was both practical and fashionable addition to the wardrobe. It was worn by both sexes, especially during horse riding. In 1533 the Queen Mary I of England wore high heels on regular basis.
  • In the 17th century the English Parliament would punish women and try them in court as witches if they were caught wearing heels.
  • During the 18th century the mistress of King Louis XV popularized slender high heels. The shoes even got a name: Pompadour heels. In 1789 Napoleon enforced the Napoleon Code in an effort to demonstrate equality among all people. No one was allowed to wear high heels.
  • In America, the Massachusetts Colony banned heels and they were not seen again until the mid 19th century.
  • By the end of the 19th century women wore 15 cm (6 inches) heels.
  • High heels were different in every decade of the 20th century.
  • The 21st century also offers a variety of heel – styles.
  • The runways for spring/summer 2017 offer all kinds of shapes and sizes of heels, with ankle straps as the main trend of the season.
  • For more than 250 years there have been conversations and disputes about the health problems (especially foot problems) caused by high heels.
  • Wearing high heels provokes venous hypertension.
  • High heels cause bunions (hallux valgus).
  • High heels cause lower back problems, knee joint problems and Haglund’s deformity.
  • High heels alter the anatomy of the calf muscles and tendons.
  • High heels cause injuries from falling.
  • Some good news: high heels can improve or “sharpen” your balance, so later in life you won’t have problems with falls.
  • Tips for better walking in high heels and better health: wear heels lower than 3”; use heel cushions, shoe inserts and soft pads; don’t wear heels every day.
  • Self – help tips: exercise – especially hip exercises; do foot exercises; run in the sand; exercise with the help of bands, boards and balance trainers; enjoy a foot massage; if you don’t like heels at all – don’t wear them. It’s not what everyone wears, it’s how YOU feel in your clothes and footwear!

Heels are sexy. They make your legs longer, make you feel more feminine and confident…And they ruin the feet. I own a few (ok, dozens) pairs of heels. I can’t help it – I love them. Feet hurt like hell if I wear them for more than 6 hours, but I like the way I look in them, so who cares about a pair of feet, right? Right? No?

Heels aren’t something new. No, really – they’re freaking ancient! They can be traced back to ancient Egypt (4000 BC). Ancient Egyptian murals show that heels were worn by nobilities to set them apart from the lower class, who normally walked barefoot. Heels were also worn by butchers, so that they don’t walk in the blood of the slaughtered animals. Heels were used by both sexes.

egyptian-shoes-finalImage Source:

In ancient Greece, heels were worn by actors and in ancient Rome, where sex trade was legal, heels were used by the sex workers, so heels became associated with prostitution. This was around 200 BC.


Image Source:

As part of the foot binding custom, special shoes called “lotus” were used in China. The heel of those shoes was 10 cm or 4 inches.

chinese-bound-footwearImage Source: Wikimedia Commons

Foot binding was a custom of applying painfully tight binding to the feet of young girls to prevent further growth. It became popular as a means of displaying status. The altered feet were called “lotus feet”.

In the Middle ages, both men and women wore “pattens” – these were very high wooden soles that protected their shoes from dust and mud. During the 1400s and until mid 1600s women wore “Chopines”, which have the same use as “pattens”. “Chopines” were exclusively worn by women. They were around 76cm (30in) tall, and in order to walk the wearer needed help from servants.

chopin 1600s

By Rama & the Shoe Museum in Lausanne via wikimedia commons

The 1500s are the years when the high heel was both practical and fashionable addition to the wardrobe. It was worn by both sexes, especially during horse riding. The heel prevented riders from slipping from their stirrups. The combination of fashion, high heels and practicality was first used by Catherine de Medici. It was arranged for her to marry the Duke of Orleans (later the King of France). She wasn’t very tall and the Duke liked taller women, so she used high heels to become more appealing and it worked. High heels went on to become a hit in the high society. In 1533 the Queen Mary I of England wore high heels on regular basis. 

Metmuseum 1600s

Image Source: The Met Museum

In the 17th century the English Parliament looked down upon high heels if they were worn by women to allure men into marriage. The English Parliament would even punish women and try them in court as witches if they were caught wearing heels. At this time, the Massachusetts Colony also banned high heels and prohibited women from wearing them. In France heels were not banned (of course), but there was a catch. The King – Louis XIV wore up to 13cm (5 inches) heels and no one, absolutely no one was allowed to wear higher heels than him. He also declared that red high heels can be worn by nobility. This is the time when high heels became ornamental and decorative.

Louis shoe 1700s

via Wikimedia Commons

800px-Catherine_great's_shoes (1)

Image Source: shakko via Wikimedia Commons

During the 18th century the mistress of King Louis XV popularized slender high heels. Those shoes were incredibly difficult to walk in, and yet – as usual, the fashion spread from Paris across all Europe. The shoes even got a name: Pompadour heels. This didn’t last long, however, as the French Revolution started in 1789, and Napoleon enforced the Napoleon Code in an effort to demonstrate equality among all people. Heels were banned and people stopped wearing them, that is – until 1793, when Marie Antoinette wore them (5cm or 2 inches) to the guillotine at the time of her execution. After that the only “high” heels that were worn were 2 inch – wedges. In America, the Massachusetts Colony also banned heels and they were not seen again until the mid 19th century.


Image Source: The Met Museum

By the middle of the 19th century heels were popular again. This was the time of the Victorian era, and women would go to great lengths to make their feet seem tiny. This meant wearing really high heels. By the end of the century women wore 15 cm (6 inches) heels. Not everyone was pleased with this though, as high heels became associated with sexuality and many European religious communities and organizations banned them.


High heels were different in every decade of the 20th century:

In the first decade, the shoes had a small heel, maybe 5 cm (2 inches). The footwear of the decade was a lace up boot or bootie with a French heel.


Picture Source: The Met Museum

The 1920s are the flapper era, and in this time heels were fancily decorated and slender.


Image Source: The Met Museum

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, heels became more practical – they weren’t very high and were wider.


Image Source: The Met Museum

In the 1940s heels were higher, less wide than the 1930s heels, but they weren’t slender. Also, they were very expensive, so only the rich and famous wore them.


Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armoury) / Göran Schmidt, via Wikimedia Commons

The 1950s are the stiletto decade. Stiletto shoes are named after the stiletto dagger, which is a long slender blade with needle-like point. This decade is not the first time a stiletto – type heel was worn, however, it is the first decade in which the term “stiletto” was used. Also, in this decade a new technology was used, and the heel was either supported by a metal shaft or a stem was embedded into it.


Image Source: Los Angeles Times [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the 1960s women sported really flat shoes. If there was a heel, it was square and small.


Although, in the 1970s the platform heels were the most popular, women stubbornly refused to give up their stilettos, and in 1974 Manolo Blahnik reintroduced the stiletto heel and named it “The Needle”.


Image Source: By Sheila Thomson from London, England, via Wikimedia Commons


The 1980s were the years of toweringly high killer heels that could be found in every possible color. Stiletto shoes were still popular, but were slightly different – they were round-toed with slightly thicker (sometimes cone-shaped) semi-stiletto heel.


In the 1990s the stiletto heels almost completely disappeared. This is the decade of the thick block heels.


Image Source: Flickr user “freakapotimus”, via Wikimedia Commons

The 21st century also offers a variety of heel – styles.

When the 2000s kicked off, the fashion was influenced by technology. Almost every year in the 2000s offers different type of heeled footwear.

In the year 2000 the horrible wedge flip flops became popular.


Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Thick heels were still popular in 2001 and also sparkling shoes were that year’s madness.


The year 2002 offered two different types of footwear: either knee-high boots with spiked heels and pointed toes, or thick low heels and round or square toes.


The shoes in the year 2003 weren’t all that different from 2002.

Girl Happy Birthday Party Street Balloons Walking

Picture Source: Max Pixel

In 2004 the extremely pointed – toe kitten heel appeared, and in my humble opinion, they are one of the ugliest shoes that ever graced our feet. I’m not talking about normally pointed – toe shoes, no, no… These suckers could stab a flea while you’re walking in them.


Image Source: miss_rogue via Wikimedia Commons

In 2005 high heels were replaced by ballet flats. We’re not talking about clothes, but I will mention that this is the year when the historic and amazing skinny jeans were reintroduced to the world (tight pants were worn since the 1660s).


In 2006 heels came back and they were all kinds of shapes and sizes – square and wide, thin and high, in color or black/white, jeweled or simple. Cavalier boots and cowboy boots were also very popular.


In 2007 the monstrous Crocs were very popular. Square heels disappeared from the scene and a slenderer, although still not very thin heels took their place.

Wedding Shoes Bows Pink Shoes Pink Bride Wedding

Image Source: Max Pixel

Blue Pebbles Beach Boots Crocs Rhinestones

Image Source: Max Pixel

In 2008 slender heels were still worn, but flat footwear reigned. Women wore riding boots, flat gladiator sandals, ballet flats and never stopped buying the unfortunate looking uggs.


ugg boots

Image Source: TexasDex, via Wikimedia Commons

The trend of the slender heel remained through the year 2009.


The second decade of the 21st century offers incredible variety in high heeled footwear.

The 2010 is the year when interesting, sculpted heels appeared on the market.



Image Source: Touzrimounir, via Wikimedia Commons

The year 2011 offered us narrow, slender and also sculpted high heels.



Image Source: Pol Quadens, via Wikimedia Commons

In 2012 Hunter rain boots became very popular. The heels of footwear were like the ones in 2010 and 2011, only this year metallic colors and sparkles were added to the mix.


Image Source: Jen (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons


In 2013 the stiletto heel came back with a vengeance, not that they were ever gone (except in the 1990s) but this time they were thinner, taller and more amazing than ever. 




Mabalu (photograph), Sophia Webster shoes (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

The same trend continued through the year 2014, and in 2015 the height of the heel started to vary. Flat footwear, especially blucher shoes were very popular and their popularity continued throughout the year 2016. The heel sizes and shapes in 2016 were of biggest variety and block heels also came back on the market.




Image Source: Cici water (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Fashion High Heels Shoes Sandals Footwear Feet

Image Source: Max Pixel

The runways for spring/summer 2017 offer all kinds of shapes and sizes of heels with ankle straps as the main trend of the season. 



Now that we’ve discussed the interesting history of high heels, I’m gonna spoil your mood with the facts of what high heels can do to your (our) feet. They can:

  • cause foot and tendon pain;
  • increase the likelihood of sprains and fractures;
  • make calves look more rigid and sinewy;
  • can create foot deformities, including hammer toes and bunions;
  • can cause an unsteady gait;
  • can shorten the wearer’s stride;
  • can render the wearer unable to run;
  • can exacerbate lower back pain;
  • alter forces at the knee so as to predispose the wearer to degenerative changes in the knee joint;
  • can result after frequent wearing in a higher incidence of degenerative joint disease of the knees. This is because they cause a decrease in the normal rotation of the foot, which puts more rotation stress on the knee. (1)

I’m not done with the bad news. I’m not letting you guys off the hook that easy! Time for researched facts and proof that heels are bad for our feet and health in general. If you read further, you will also read why heels are good for us. And – of course: some great tips to help you (us) walk better and spend more time in heels (if we want to wear them). So, all in good time. 


For more than 250 years there have been conversations and disputes about the health problems (especially foot problems) caused by high heels, but there have never been any data from any studies to officially validate these issues.

A survey has found that after one hour, six minutes and 48 seconds heels start to hurt. Women have approximately four times as many foot issues as men do, and many of those issues are contributed to the wearing of high heels. Foot problems aren’t the only issues women have.


According to a study, conducted by the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, high heels reduce muscle pump function and the continuous use of high heels tends to provoke venous hypertension in the lower limbs and may represent a causal factor of venous disease symptoms. (2)

Another study has concluded that the wearer’s experience in wearing high heels doesn’t provide many health advantages. The only thing that is different between groups of experienced high heel wearers and not so experienced wearers (provided that they don’t stumble from their heels on every few seconds) is better directional control. (3)


One of the most significant and pathological foot problem caused by wearing high heels are of course – bunions or hallux valgus. Hallux valgus (bunion) turns the toe out of the mid-line of the body axis and around the great toe there is a red-swollen and very painful sensation on the inside of the foot. There are many causes for hallux valgus including hereditary predispositions, but the primary cause is wearing of high heeled shoes for a longer period of time. (4)


Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

There are some ways to control bunions, but ultimately podiatrists will recommend surgery. Things you can do, to ease your suffering are:

  • maintain a normal weight.
  • Protect the bunion with a moleskin or gel-filled pad. You can buy it at a drugstore.
  • Use shoe inserts to help position the foot correctly. These can be over-the-counter arch supports or prescription orthotic devices.
  • Under a doctor’s guidance, wear a splint at night to hold the toe straight and ease discomfort.
  • Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Use warm soaks, ice packs, ultrasound and massage.
  • Buy well-fitting footwear that are wide in the toe area. (5)



The more feet are forced into a position of wearing heels, the more the calf muscle fibers will shorten. The higher the heel, the bigger the body’s incline, greatly increasing the weight concentrated on the ball of the foot. That means wearing a 7cm (3 in) heel concentrates double the body’s weight on this area. Problems can show up after just six months wearing heels. (4)

anatomy of leg

Image Source: OpenStax, via Wikimedia Commons


A new study has shown that nearly 40% of women who wear high heels have experienced an accident – tripping, getting the heel caught in a groove in the ground, sprained, twisted or broken ankle, etc…

We’ve all ran in heels, let’s be honest, but whenever we run (or even walk), there’s always a possibility that this kind of injury will happen sooner or later. I’m very aware of this, so every time I have a lot of walking or running, good ol’ flats (or Converse) never fail me. 

giphy copy.gif

Image Source: GIPHY


A study examined the effects of increased heel height and gait velocity on balance control and knee joint position sense, and found that increased walking speed in high heels produced significant negative effects on knee joint sense and balance control. (6)

Another study showed a large increase in bone-on-bone forces in the knee joint caused by high-heeled walking, which may explain the higher incidence of osteoarthritis in the knee joint in women as compared with men. (7)



A study was made on young and middle aged women who wore high heels on a daily basis. It found that increased lumbar erector spinae muscle (the muscle that rotates the back) activity associated with wearing high-heeled shoes could aggravate muscle overuse and lead to low back problems. The lower pelvic range of motion associated with wearing high heels in middle-aged women may indicate that tissues in the lumbopelvic region become more rigid with age, and that the harmful effect of high-heeled shoes on posture and spinal tissues may be more pronounced with advancing age. (8)


Image Source: cloudmind

Spondylolisthesis, or the slippage of one vertebra forward over another, frequently occurs as a result of wearing high heels, especially in the lumbar region of the spine (the lower back) where the body’s weight is concentrated. Each foramen (opening) is created by the natural space between two stacked vertebrae, and foraminal stenosis with nerve compression may ultimately develop as a direct result of vertebral slippage. (9)


Blue arrow shows normal pars interarticularis

Red arrow shows brake in pars interarticularis.

Image Source: James Heilman, MD (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Foraminal stenosis in the lower back can cause symptoms of acute pain, in addition to numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, spasms, cramping and pain that scatters through the buttocks and down the legs. (9)


Image Source: staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine. Via Wikimedia Commons

Sciatica, caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve (this is the nerve that begins in the lower back and runs through the buttock and down the lower limb), is a term that is often associated with this particular set of lower-body symptoms. (9)


Image Source: Henry Vandyke Carter [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Haglund’s deformity was first described by Patrick Haglund in 1927. It is a very common clinical condition, but still poorly understood. Haglund’s deformity is an abnormality of the bone and soft tissues in the foot. An enlargement of the bony section of the heel (where the Achilles tendon is inserted) triggers this condition. The soft tissue near the back of the heel can become irritated when the large, bony lump rubs against rigid shoes (for example a high heeled shoe). (10)


Image Source:

Treatment of this condition requires surgery or injecting the retrocalcaneal bursa (that’s the back of the ankle by the heel) with medication to relieve the pain combined with modifications in daily shoe wear. (11)

Other ways to relieve this Haglund’s deformity are:

  • wear appropriate shoes; avoid shoes with a rigid heel back;
  • use arch supports or orthotic devices;
  • perform stretching exercises to prevent the Achilles tendon from tightening;
  • avoid running on hard surfaces and running uphill. (12)


Why should we suffer? What do high heels do for us? Well, they:

  • add height.
  • Empower women.
  • Draw attention.
  • Enhance confidence.
  • Accentuate legs.
  • Spice up the bedroom game.
  • Make many women feel sexier.
  • And – according to one doctor’s thesis (Christopher Walker) at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, wearing heels can improve or “sharpen” your balance, so later in life you won’t have problems with falls. (13)





  • Wear heels that are max. 7.5cm (3in) high and not higher than that. Higher heels should be worn on rare occasions, because they will change the biomechanics of your walking.


Image Source:

  • Thicker heels are more stable, just to make a note of that. I’m not gonna say that you should wear thicker heels only, because I wouldn’t listen to me either. It’s just not gonna happen – it’s that simple. But I will stick to the advice above (3” heels).
  • Wear your heels, don’t let your heels wear you! This means: shoulders back, chest out! And don’t forget – place your heel on the ground first.



  • Do not wear high heels every day. Mix it up.
  • Use heel cushions, shoe inserts and soft pads – these will lessen the impact of the foot hitting the pavement.



  • Exercise – especially hip exercises. There are some great exercises online or on YouTube.
  • Do foot exercises with a little ball: roll it under the ball, arch and heel of your foot for a couple of minutes.
  • Run in the sand. Running in sand is a great way to increase the strength and flexibility in your feet. This may not be possible for those who don’t have an access to a beach, though.


  • Exercise with the help of bands, boards and balance trainers.
  • Enjoy a foot massage.
  • If you don’t like heels at all – don’t wear them. It’s not what everyone wears, it’s how YOU feel in your clothes and footwear!


So, that’s it for this week. See you on our next journey together! 


  1. Wikipedia. Online Source: (29.12.2016).
  2. W.T. Filho, N.R.A. Dezzotti, E.E. Joviliano, T. Moriya, C.E. Piccinato: Influence of high-heeled shoes on venous function in young women. Journal of Vascular Surgery. 56. (4). 2012: 1039–1044. Online Source: (29.12.2016).
  3. V.D. Hapsari and S. Xiong: Effects of high heeled shoes wearing experience and heel height on human standing balance and functional mobility. Ergonomics. 59. (2). 2016. Online Source: (29.12.2016).
  4. J. Domjanić, D. Ujević, B. Wallner & H. Seidler: Increasing Women’s Attractiveness: High Heels, Pains and Evolution – A GMM Based Study. 8th. International Textile, Clothing & Design Conference – Magic World of Textiles (October 02. to 05 2016), Dubrovnik, Croatia. Online Source:’s_Attractiveness_High_Heels_Pains_and_Evolution_-_A_GMM_Based_Study (29.12.2016).
  5. Health Cleveland Clinic. Online Source: (29.12.2016).
  6. I.Y. Jang, D.H. Kang, J.K. Jeon, H.J. Jun, J.H. Lee: The effects of shoe heel height and gait velocity on position sense of the knee joint and balance. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 28. (9). 2016: 2482-2485 Online Source: (29.12.2016).
  7. E.B. Simonsen, M.B. Svendsen, A. Nørreslet, H.K. Baldvinsson, T. Heilskov-Hansen, P.K. Larsen, T. Alkjær and M. Henriksen: Walking on High Heels Changes Muscle Activity and the Dynamics of Human Walking Significantly. Journal of applied biomechanics. 28. (1). 2012: 20-8. Online Sources: (29.12.2016).
  8. A.Mika, Ł.E.Oleksy, P.Mika, A.Marchewka, B.C.Clark: The Effect of Walking in High- and Low-Heeled Shoes on Erector Spinae Activity and Pelvis Kinematics During Gait. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 91. (5). 2012: 425–434. Online Sources: (29.12.2016).
  9. Laser Spine Institute. Online Source: (29.12.2016).  
  10. R. Vaishya, et al.: Haglund’s Syndrome: A Commonly Seen Mysterious Condition. 8. (10). 2016: 820. Online Source: (29.12.2016).
  11. S.M. Carolyn et al.: Haglund’s Syndrome: Diagnosis and Treatment Using Sonography. HSS Journal 2. (1). 2006: 27–29. Online Source: (29.12.2016).
  12. Foot Health Facts. Online Source: (29.12.2016). 
  13. Telegraph. Online Source: (29.12.2016).



  • There’s normal fear and then there’s pathological anxiety. When the state of fear becomes exaggerated, the amygdala and the extended amygdala play a central role.
  • Mental disorganization sometimes comes from poor time management, poor organization skills, procrastinating, and then also from the anger, disappointment and sadness that come after poor performance.
  • You don’t need an expensive planner or 30 apps to keep you organized. All you need is determination, plan, commitment and – of course: action to achieve an organized life. Choose one or two organizational tools. 
  • Mentioned Notes and To-Do List Apps: Evernote, OneNote, Google Keep, Simplenote, Apple Notes, Quip, Dropbox Paper, Wunderlist and Todoist.
  • Mentioned Productivity Apps and Calendars: My effectiveness, isoTimer (To-Do Calendar Planner), Google Calendar, Jorte Calendar &Organizer and TimeTune: Optimize Your Time.
  • Mentioned Habit, Health and Fitness apps: Fabulous – Motivate Me, Lifesum – The Health Movement and 8fit – Workout & Meal Plans.
  • Mentioned Article Organizing Apps: Pocket, Flipboard: Your News Magazine and Feedly: Your Work Newsfeed.
  • Filofax – Type Organizers and Bullet Journals. Scroll down to find out which web-sites offer some great free printables.

Have you ever had so many things to do but seemingly so little time? Ever felt like the whole world is crushing over you? Ever felt your palms sweating, your breathing quickening, your knees weakening, your heart pumping really loud and really fast and your inside voices screaming too loud? That is anxiety. Or at least one form of anxiety.

There’s normal fear and then there’s pathological anxiety. Let me give you an example: normal fear is when a student has an oral exam at uni with a professor that confuses being strict with being a psycho. I think the above symptoms describe the normal fear, or normal anxiety quite well. It’s an emotion, like any other. When we experience fear, the amygdala plays a central role.


Image Credit: RobinH. at wikibooks

Being afraid of what the questions and what your answers might be in an exam is not the only source of anxiety. It could be because of number of reasons, including relationship problems, loneliness, lose of someone, disorganized environment, etc. When the state of fear becomes exaggerated, the amygdala and the extended amygdala light up like a Christmas tree.  (1)

I’m not going to write about the basics of anxiety, you can read about it here:

Here, I will be talking about anxiety that arises from overwork and disorganization. I’m not gonna talk about physical clutter, either. If you want to read about home organization and the difference between clutter and hoarding, then go here:

Mental disorganization sometimes comes from poor time management, poor organization skills, procrastinating, and then also from the anger, disappointment and sadness that come after poor performance. In these cases, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, or what you’ve done in the past, or what you’re planning for the future. In many of these cases, help is needed to organize oneself and to stick to being organized. This is the topic for the week – how to avoid anxiety through self-organization, and how to avoid poor performance because of overwhelm, frustration and disorganization.


Before I became an organized person, the biggest problem I had, was choosing and sticking to an organizational tool. My organizing skills were all over the place. I would choose one organizer, start using it for a month or two, see another one that looks really great (either an electronic one or paper one) and start using that one. That behavior was repetitive, of course unproductive and annoying. It’s hard to keep up when you have too many organizing tools – you have to enter the information in the first organizer, then in the other one and the other one, and so on. So – time consuming and not really helpful.


Anxiety, therefore, comes from disorganized thoughts: your brain first has to recall where (in which calendar, or organizational tool) that information is written down. Before that happens, you become frustrated and overwhelmed. Basically, what I learned is that you don’t need an expensive planner or 30 apps to keep you organized. Trust me – duplicate, triplicate files can create chaos. All you need is determination, plan, commitment and – of course: action to achieve an organized life. It sounds hard – it is

Whatever organizer you choose is OK, as long as it does the job. Here are few examples, and remember: do not use all of them! Pick one or two.


Evernote vs. OneNote vs. Google Keep vs. Simplenote vs. Apple Notes vs. Quip vs. Dropbox Paper vs. Wunderlist vs. Todoist

  • Evernote – Evernote (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Web) is free, but there is also Plus version ($34.99 annually) and a Premium version ($69.99 annually). Prices may vary by location. 

With Evernote you can write notes, make notebooks, checklists and to-dos. It supports all kinds of formats (from text and sketches, to audio and video). You can also do web clippings and use camera to capture pieces of paper and even comment on them. You can also attach all kinds of documents including MS Office docs, PDFs, handwritten notes, sketches, photos, bills, etc. You can record audio, share stuff with others and sync anywhere. So it’s very versatile.

The Plus version gives you more space (1 GB each month), you can sync your data on unlimited number of devices (the free version lets you use only 2), You can access your notes offline and save emails.

The Premium version gives you 10 GB of space, scan and digitize business cards, lets you sync with an unlimited number of devices and you can search inside Office docs and attachments, etc. It’s more like a filling cabinet, where you keep all your notebooks, bills, photos, audios, videos, etc.


Image credit: theunquietlibrarian Evernote for iPhone App: Menu of Notes Options via photopin (license)

  • OneNote – OneNote (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Web) is really my favorite. Here you can do everything, just like in Evernote, except Evernote’s clipping tool is better.

Still, OneNote is 100% free and I love the notebook. You can use OneNote as notebook, journal and a notepad. You can access your notebook offline and it has many menu items and offers more note formatting options then Evernote.

Evernote’s mobile version is better, but OneNote is constantly improving. 


Image Source:

  • Google Keep – Google Keep (iOS, Android, Web) is for quick note taking and capturing whatever is on your mind. No fuss. I love Google Keep. I make fast check list notes here. You can also record a voice memo and it’s completely free! You can sync it with other devices. You can’t, however, save long notes, like articles and web-pages. It’s just for simple and fast note taking.


Image Source: sagesolar via flickr  (CC BY 4.0)

  • Simplenote (iOS, Android, Mac, Web) – this app is free and true to its name – it is very simple and clean. It’s all about speed and efficiency. You can use tags and pins, you can’t, however add images and attachments. If you don’t need any note formatting, just writing things down – then this app is for you.


photo credit: bump American Shepherd’s Pie: iPhone Macro via photopin (license)

  • Apple Notes (iOS, Mac, Web) – this app comes with the Apple device. It’s a simple note taking tool. Beside taking notes, with this app you can also add images, attachments, you can write with a pen, create to-do lists, save articles and even format your notes. So, it’s very versatile and already on your device. The app is of course free, but if you want some extra storage you have to pay.
  • Quip (iOS, Android, Web) – With this app you can chat, edit docs and spreadsheets, organize task lists, share notes and docs with co-workers, etc. Collaboration with this app is fast and easy. You can also export docs to PDF, MS Word and Excel. Formatting text here is an issue, so you should keep that in mind. Otherwise, a solid note taking tool.


Image Source:

  • Dropbox Paper (Web) – This app is free, but there isn’t a mobile version. It’s a digital blank sheet of paper used within dropbox. You can add comments and there are stickers available to make things more interesting. You can share your notes and export them to PDF or a file in your dropbox.


  • Wunderlist: To-Do List & Tasks (iOS and Android) – This one is free and is used to make to-do lists. It’s very simple and lets you set due dates, reminders and you can also share your lists.


Image Source:

  • Todoist: To-Do List & Task List (iOS, Android, Mac, Web) – This app is free and very simple. You can collaborate with your team or share notes with your family. You can make sub-tasks, color-coded projects, sub-projects and priority levels. You can also set weekly/monthly goals and track your progress with color-coded graphs.


Image Source: Todoist blog


There are so many apps to increase your productivity and organize your life, that it is impossible to mention all of them. Moreover, I think if I mention too many of them, you will get confused and not know what to choose, so I will only mention 5 apps.

My effectiveness vs. isoTimer (To-Do Calendar Planner) vs. Google Calendar vs. Jorte Calendar &Organizer vs. TimeTune: Optimize Your Time


  • My Effectiveness (Android) – This app is inspired by the excellent book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Dr. Stephen R. Covey.

It’s free and and very unique. The downside is that at first it looks a bit confusing, but if you follow the guide, which is integrated within the app, you’ll get the hang of it.

So, first – you write your mission in life. Then you write down your concerns and which ones you can influence. Then you define your roles and set goals you want to reach for each role. After that, you define concrete steps (actions) and prioritize your actions using 2×2 matrix.

The app uses weekly planner. There’s also a pomodoro technique and Google Drive integration. It’s a pretty cool app.


Image Source: Google Play Store

  • isoTimer (To – Calendar Planner) (Android, Web) – This app is one of my favorites. There is no way you would forget anything with this one. It’s beautiful looking and practical. There’s a free version and a premium (paid version).

The free version though, is not just a pretty face. You can add goals, tasks, subtasks, events, attach notes, pictures or Google Maps to your tasks. If you use it with the Google calendar, that’s when you can sync all your calendar data together, so when you add an event to one calendar it goes on them all, which is much easier and saves you risk of missing to add an important appointment to one of your calendars. The calendar is with daily, weekly, monthly and agenda view. The app also has a daily journal, where you can track your life.

The paid version lets you synchronize with Google Tasks, plan your goals in project view, collaborate on tasks and projects, get organize with daily step – by – step routine, create backups and restore them, protect your data with a password and export data to CSV files.


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Image Source: Click

  • Google Calendar (iOS, Android, Mac, Web) – This calendar (free, of course) needs no special introduction, as it is used by more then 100 million people. I love that events from gmail (flights, seminars, etc) are added to the calendar automatically. There’s a daily, weekly and monthly view, you can create to-dos and add personal goals like yoga 3 times a week, and the calendar will schedule time for them automatically, which is really cool.
  • Jorte Calendar & Organizer (iOS, Android, Mac, Web) – This calendar also has a daily, weekly and monthly view. You can sync calendars, schedules and tasks across all your devices. It supports importing from Google Calendar and you can sync with Evernote, too. This app allows you writing notes and tasks; it has a diary; a countdown feature; you can include photos; there’s also a lunar calendar and many more features to explore. The calendar has a free and premium version. The premium users have passcode lock, more icons and themes, can hide ads, and much more.


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  • TimeTune: Optimize your time (Android) – This one does not offer a calendar, but is designed to analyze your distribution of time and optimize your daily routine, so you can boost your productivity. Here you make routine schedules, share them with other people and create tags and reminders. It’s free, but there’s also a paid version, which allows you to run your routines automatically on specific dates and more themes are available.


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Fabulous – Motivate Me vs. Lifesum – The Health Movement vs. 8fit – Workout & Meal Plans


  • Fabulous – Motivate Me (Android, iOS-coming soon) – this is a science based app, that will help you build healthy rituals into your life. You get a personal coach that guides you through your journey. You get emails, tasks you must complete, goals and weekly reviews. It’s a very charming (free) app.


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  • Lifesum – The Health Movement (Android, iOS) – This app helps you make better food choices, improve your exercise, and reach your health goals. It is for everyone – people who want to lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight. It helps you build healthy habits in small sustainable steps. The app reminds you to drink water, gives you a selection of diets to follow, summaries on your progress and gives you a feedback on how to improve the quality of what you eat. It’s available on Android wear devices, too and can be integrated with Google Fit and S Health. You can also share your progress with the community. The app is free, but there is a premium version which gives the members detailed meal information and nutritional value.


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  • 8fit – Workout & Meal Plans (Android, iOS) – 8fit is a free app that gives you a personalized fitness and nutrition plan. You get daily reminders to your email or phone. The meals are based on your personal goals, body composition activity levels and dietary choices. For the exercises, you get daily motivation from fitness trainers, time-efficient exercises and many other exercise programs. There’s also a premium version that gives you time-efficient recipes, shopping list to plan your week and many recipes.


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Pocket vs. Flipboard: Your News Magazine vs. Feedly: Your Work Newsfeed


  • Pocket (iOS, Android, Mac, Web) – This app is created so that you would be able to save, discover and recommend articles on the Web. It’s free and you have unlimited storage.


Image Source: apk4fun

  • Flipboard: Your News Magazine (iOS, Android, Mac, Web) – This one is like a personal magazine, you save the news and topics that interest you and you can also share them with the community. It’s free.


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  • Feedly: Your Work Newsfeed (iOS, Android, Mac, Web) – With this app you can connect to your favorite blogs, websites, podcasts, YouTube channels and RSS feeds. It’s free and you can share what you’re reading on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Evernote, OneNote, etc.


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If you don’t like digitalized organization, or want digitalized and paper organization, then good old Filofax never fails.


You can also start a bullet journal, which is always a great idea. Buy a good notebook – something that you would love to write in.


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I use Moleskine notebook, mostly because of esthetics and because the paper is really great, but you can use any notebook.


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You can also make your own organizer using pritables.


Image Source: Pinterest

Here are some websites I’ve found on the Web that offer free printables:

The biggest mistake would be to choose too many apps and too many ways to organize yourself. Your phone/tablet/desktop becomes cluttered with apps and anxiety will come back. A great calendar (max. 2) and an app that offers space for notes and to-do lists are essential. 

Happy organizing!

See you next week!


  1. J.B. Rosen, J. Schulkin: From normal fear to pathological anxiety. Psychol Rev. 1998 105(2): 325-50.



  • The French diet is traditional and mostly unprocessed. People eat meals at a table, not while walking, driving or watching TV.
  • French people eat small portions and appreciate quality over quantity.
  • The French like drinking red wine and eating a dessert.
  • Paris has been a fashion capital since the 17th century.
  • The French style is minimalistic, yet chic. Essentials are: trench-coat, men’s wear, white shirt, great flats, not too-tall heels, Breton top, neutral colors and little jewelry.
  • The fit of the clothes is very important. Relaxed look can also be very chic.
  • Hair and makeup are understated and natural.   


Ah, France. Home of the Eiffel Tower, great food, many kings, the fries, wine and fashion. And living in the moment. And eating in the moment.


I went to Paris couple of years ago, and I didn’t see one person eating on the streets or while driving. Parisians were gracefully seating on the chairs in the restaurants. Clothes were quite simple, but polished. No “multitasking”, only enjoying every minute of the meal through conversation, if they had company. It seemed like eating food represented some kind of a ritual. They enjoyed it and respected it. And paid good money for it.

I also visited Fontainebleau. It’s located about 55 and a half kilometers (about 35 miles) south or southeast from the center of Paris. It’s a beautiful place with a beautiful and rich local market. The French love their local markets. The smell of the fresh produce was amazing. I mean, you could buy anything – fresh veggies and fruits, fish and – of course, flowers.


Image Source: Stokpic (pexels)

We sat down to eat in a restaurant and portions were small, quite expensive, but delicious. It’s true what people say about the French food – it is good. And it got me thinking – why are the French people healthier (lower incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD)) than the rest of the world? What do the French people do, that the rest of the world doesn’t?

I will tackle the diet first, as I think the fashion thing is a bit individualistic – some people may like it and others may not. But, when it comes to healthy eating – I think it’s safe to say that we’ll all jump on the wagon.

Here are few “secrets” (they are not really secrets), that I have learned about the French diet:


As I said above, to them eating food is a ritual, they respect the food. They sit at the table, especially with friends or family and eat.


Image Source: Tookapic (pexels)

I can almost hear your thoughts: I have kids, mortgage, car, job, two jobs, three jobs, uni, classes…No time!!

Well, there’s a simple solution for your busy life – MAKE TIME!

It is a myth, that being too busy leads to poor nutrition and bad eating habits. The only problem here is – when you come home and you’re wiped out hungry, anything that might resemble a meal is a good idea. So, what to do?

Well, like everything in our busy lives – planning comes to mind. It doesn’t have to be a rigid plan. I mean, so many people meticulously plan every aspect of their lives – except when it comes to eating food. The best thing to do is to plan the whole week, so – seven days, seven meals and don’t forget to include leftovers, which can be incorporated in the next day’s meal.



It is one thing to come home, hungry, but without an idea of what to eat and attack the fridge; and another thing to come home and to know exactly what you will eat, according to your meal plan. Buy the groceries the previous day, and if you’re up to it – prepare whatever you can for the next day.


When I come home dead beat and hungry, first I make myself a cup of tea – because it’s something that relaxes me and I really enjoy it, and then I prepare dinner. It’s really not that hard, it just has to become a habit. It doesn’t take long to grill a fish or take frozen veggies from the freezer and put them in boiling water or the microwave.


Image Source: Tookapic (pexels)

So – plan and execute. Next: sit down and eat. Slowly! It helps digestion and maintaining weight. A research has shown, that energy intake was lower when the meal was eaten slowly, and satiety was higher at meal completion. (1)


This one’s a no brainer and repeated time and time everywhere – blog posts, books, lectures, etc. It seems that the French are eating smaller portions (less food) for a longer period of time, and hence have more food experience.


Multiple laboratory studies, supported by data from free-living settings, demonstrated that portion size has a powerful and proportionate effect on the amount of food consumed. Of particular importance is that rounds of overeating associated with large portions are sustained and not followed by a compensatory reduction in energy intake. The positive effect of portion size on energy intake was demonstrated for different types of foods and beverages, and is particularly pronounced with energy-dense foods. The habit of overeating in response to large portions is common, and occurs regardless of demographic characteristics, such as socioeconomic status, age, body mass index, and sex. (2) (3)

If you want to read a bit more about portions sizes, psychology and appetite, you can visit one of my older blog posts.


Good food is expensive, right? I currently live in Central Europe and the food at the local market is expensive. So, I make a plan what to buy from the local market and what to buy from a supermarket. We all have certain lifestyle needs, but is good quality food included in those? It should be. Buying seasonal produce is healthy and actually cheaper than buying foods that aren’t.


Produce from the local market tends to be fresh, unprocessed and packed with nutrients. Depending on what you like to eat, make a list of what you can buy from the local market and elsewhere. With good planning quality food can be on your table, too.


This is where the French paradox comes to mind: how can someone eat products made with white flour, that contain white sugar, saturated fats, red meats and drink alcohol, and have lower incidence of coronary heart disease??

Well, there’s a difference between saturated fats in unprocessed foods and saturated fats in processed foods.


Image Source: jeshoots (pexels)

The French diet is heavy in fat, sugar and salt—but from wine, salami, cheese, bread, red meat, grains and desserts. Skip the salami and red meat if you are a vegetarian and you’re still good to go. Portion control, wide variety of foods and other factors are also in the game.


Results from different studies about the association of the antioxidant resveratrol, found especially in red wine, and cardiovascular health, cancer or inflammation are mixed. Some studies point out that there’s no correlation between the antioxidant (found in red wine, chocolate and grapes) and cardiovascular health. (4)


Image Source: Breakingpic (pexels)

Despite the considerable preclinical evidence, human clinical data are very scarce, and even though the compound is widely distributed as an over-the-counter human nutritional supplement, its therapeutic action has not been well characterized. (5)

Other studies suggest that resveratrol requires red wine polyphenols for optimum antioxidant activity, and that a combination of the compounds exhibited synergistic antioxidant effect, and made resveratrol effective both at lower and higher dosages. (6)

Alcohol consumption in France is smaller than in many places (Luxemburg, Germany, Croatia, etc), but we don’t see lower incidence of CHD in those places. The French predominantly drink red wine, therefore the alcohol in wine might be a factor in the French paradox.


French people seldom go to the gym. Instead, they opt for walking, cycling, dancing, tennis, etc. Those activities are part of their daily lives.


Image Source: Unsplash (pexels)

Enjoying what you do will determine if you would keep up with your plan to shape up, lose weight, gain muscle mass or simply release stress. If you hate what you do, how can you relax and release stress? Let’s not forget that stress is a huge factor in weight gain and weight loss. There are people who are stress eaters and stress non-eaters. Each suffers the same fate – they can’t reach their goals because of their stress levels. So, do what you love!


Yes, you read it right. Eat the piece of cake. Eat it slowly and enjoy the experience. Ending a meal with a small sweet treat, helps cut cravings and we do not have to snack afterwards.  (7)


If by any chance you choose to snack, then opt for fresh foods (fresh fruit, yogurt). No processed garbage (I say that to myself all the time!) and again – small portions eaten slowly.

I think I’ve covered everything in the “diet” part of the post. Most important message is: eat what you love and love what you eat…In small portions.



Paris has been a fashion capital since the 17th century. Modern haute couture also originated in Paris in the 1860s. Fashion in France began its domination together with the reign of Louis XIV.


Louis XIV

Image Source: Britannica

A man named Jean Donneau de Visé further popularized fashion with his marketing of designs to a broad public outside of the French court. He was like a mix between Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist) and Oscar Wilde. Someone who wanted to connect fashion to the “outer” world, and who was a journalist, royal historian, publicist and a very stylish playwright.

Fast forward few centuries, Paris is still the heart of the fashion industry. Parisians are chic, polished and relaxed. Here are few style principles: 


One thing I have noticed, is that Parisians are laid back, but not boring. They don’t wear “loud” color hues, but they grab attention with their poise and confidence.


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This can only be achieved if you own your look. It means, if you don’t normally dress provocatively, don’t do it. You have to feel good in your clothes. What’s the point in wearing a really short gorgeous skirt, if you stop on every 5 meters to pull it down a bit, because it makes you feel uncomfortable showing too much skin? Sexy can be many things to many people, and if you don’t feel sexy and confident from the inside, it’s not gonna show on the outside.


Image Source: GlamRadar


Leave your house looking beautiful, comfortable, but not too done up. French style is simplistic, but classy. If you wear really chic clothes, easy on the makeup. If you wear a simple black dress for the evening, a red lipstick will effortlessly steal attention.


Image Source: Babyccinokids


If you wear a statement piece, then it should be on its own. Otherwise, the look becomes unpolished. The French style is minimalistic, yet not boring. Jewelry is usually understated, but always completes the look. So, less is more.


Image Source: Pinterest


Parisian fashionistas don’t follow trends. They like having their own look, their own personal style, through which they shine. Be in your chosen clothes because you feel good in them, and not because they are marked by a name.

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Image Source: Pinterest


Rarely you would catch a Parisian chic lady with too-high heels. Shoes need to be good and polished. You can learn a lot about a person only by glancing at their shoes.


Image Source: Pinterest


A blazer or a tux is always stylish and slick. You can thank Yves Saint Laurent for that one. It’s timeless and makes the look sophisticated.


Image Source: Fashionsy


With trench-coat you can be very creative – you can dress it up and you can dress it down. It’s a trans-seasonal piece, that works with any outfit.


Image Source: Pinterest


When paired with something unexpected (wide legged trousers, high waist jeans, etc.) it looks modern and fresh.


Image Source: JustTheDesign


No matter what size of clothes you wear, they have to be the right fit. Everyone looks polished in clothes that fit their body well. It is also essential to find a great tailor, that will make sure your clothes fit just fine. There’s no need to look for too-form fitting clothes or overly structured clothes. Relaxed look can be very chic, but avoid looking baggy.


Image Source: Pinterest


This one’s a no brainer, really. It’s versatile – it looks great with everything.


Image Source: Pinterest


I suppose, now you will yell at me to make up my mind. Which is it – a perfect hair, or not so perfect hair?

Well, we’re talking about the perfect bed-head look. Hair is kinda tousled, yet sexy and chic. It portrays effortless elegance. 


Image Source: LeFashion

So, there you have it. Most things can be bought for a reasonable price – except the shoes, trench-coat and the blazer. A good shoe is definitely worth to invest in. Same goes for the blazer and trench-coat. Those pieces are classic and can last you a very long time.


Till next time! Au revoir!



  1. A.M. Andrade,G.W. Greene, K.J. Melanson: Eating Slowly Led to Decreases in Energy Intake within Meals in Healthy Women. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 108. 2008 (7): 1186–1191. Online source: (04.12.2016).
  2. M.B.E. Livingstone and L.K. Pourshahidi: From the American Society for NutritionPortion Size and Obesity. Adv.Nutr.5.2014 (6): 829834. Online source: (04.12.2016).
  3. P. RozinK. KabnickE. PeteC. Fischler and C. Shields: The Ecology of Eating: Smaller Portion Sizes in France Than in the United States Help Explain the French Paradox.Psychological Science2003. 14: 450454. Online source: (04.12.2016).
  4. R.D. Semba: Resveratrol in Red Wine, Chocolate, Grapes Not Associated With Improved Health. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2014. Online source: (04.12.2016).
  5. G.Cavallini, S.Straniero, A.Donati et al.:Resveratrol requires red wine polyphenols for optimum antioxidant activity. J Nutr Health Aging (2016) 20: 540. Online source: (04.12.2016).
  6. WebMD. Online source: (04.12.2016). 



  • Food additives have been used for centuries. We still use some of the old preservation materials and we have the same aims – to make the food look good, edible and enjoyable. The manufacturing methods, however, have changed.
  • Definition of food additives. According to the Council Directive 89/107/EEC, a food additive is defined as: “any substance not normally consumed as a food in itself and not normally used as a characteristic ingredient of food whether or not it has nutritive value, the intentional addition of which to food for a technological purpose in the manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packaging, transport or storage of such food results, or may be reasonably expected to result, in it or its by-products becoming directly or indirectly a component of such foods”.
  • What does the letter E stand for? The letter E stands for Europe (or EU). The number beside the letter E signifies the code number used to identify the food additive, that has been shown to be safe and authorized for use in the European Union.
  • Are food additives safe? The assessment procedure of the food additives is very strict. All additives must be shown to be safe before they can be used in food. Some food additives are substances that are still under “surveillance” by the authorities.
  • Food additives are not used only in processed foods.
  • A processing aid is a substance only used during treatment or processing of a food product, and using it may result in the nonintentional, but unavoidable presence of residues or derivatives, which might not have any technological effects on the finished product. It is not a food additive and we don’t see it on labels.

Ever stared in a food product’s ingredients and wondered what the letter E stands for? Whenever you see the letter E, do you just walk away and look for something else? Can I tell you a little secret?

Sometimes even vitamins C (E300) and E (E308) are labeled with the E numbers. I’m not lying. Let’s discuss food additives this time!


Image Source: Bakery and Snacks

Food additives have been used for centuries. I know, it sounds unbelievable, but it’s true! Back in the day (waaaaaay back), meat and fish were smoked and salted and that’s how they were preserved. (Even today – smoked salmon and smoked prosciutto, anyone? It’s yummy!).


photo credit: cuisineetmets Pancakes pommes de terre saumon fumé via photopin (license)

The Egyptians used colors and flavorings, the Romans used saltpeter (potassium nitrate), the ancient Chinese unknowingly used traces of ethylene and propylene from burning paraffin to ripen fruit, herbs and colors for preservation and to improve the appearance of different foods. To transform the raw materials into foods that looked good, healthy and enjoyable to eat, the cooks used baking powder as raising agent; thickeners for sauces and gravies and colors, like cochineal and others. Fast forward many years, we still use some of those preservation materials and we have the same aims – to make the food look good, edible and enjoyable. The manufacturing methods, however, have changed.


photo credit: mharrsch Closeup of Stele depicting the deceased with an offering table laden with food Abydos, Egypt Middle Kingdom 12th Dynasty 1970-1950 BCE Limestone via photopin (license)

In the last 50 years, advancements in food science and technology have led to the discovery and introduction to the world, many new substances that can fulfill various roles in foods. Food additives are now readily accessible and include: emulsifiers (in margarine), sweeteners (in low-calorie products) and a wide range of preservatives and antioxidants, that slow product spoilage, and also keep the goods from becoming rancid, whilst maintaining taste. (1)(2)


According to the Council Directive 89/107/EEC, a food additive is defined as: “any substance not normally consumed as a food in itself and not normally used as a characteristic ingredient of food whether or not it has nutritive value, the intentional addition of which to food for a technological purpose in the manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packaging, transport or storage of such food results, or may be reasonably expected to result, in it or its by-products becoming directly or indirectly a component of such foods”. (3)


This question has a very simple answer: the letter E stands for Europe (or EU). The number beside the letter E signifies the code number used to identify the food additive, that has been shown to be safe and authorized for use in the European Union. The idea is to have a system of identification that is the same in all languages and easy to fit on a food label (especially because some chemical names are really, really, really long!)

Here is how they are classified by numeric range:


Table source: Wikipedia

All in all, there are 322 different food additives inside the above presented ranges.

In the US food additives are referenced by their common names. For example, in the US calcium ascorbate will be labeled as calcium ascorbate, and in the EU it will be labeled as E302.

Food additives in Europe are regulated by the EU Regulation (EC) 1333/2008. Only authorized additives can be used in the EU with the foods in which they can be used. Maximum levels must also be described. A table of authorized food additives and their specific conditions of use can be found in a database on the European Commission website. (1) Information about the food additive status list is also provided by the FDA:

Food additives in the US are regulated by the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21 – Food and Drugs which is written, amended and enforced by the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). 


Well…Think of the Theory of Relativity and then read on!


Image Credit: David Mark (Pixabay)

The assessment procedure of the food additives is very strict. All additives must be shown to be safe before they can be used in food. The safety evidence is carefully analyzed by an independent committee of scientists and medical experts.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the US FDA are responsible for these safety analyses in Europe and USA, respectively. The approval process takes into account any tests which have been conducted on the additive and, where gaps and disagreements exist in the knowledge, further tests have to be carried out. The approval method for additives is designed to ensure that they are completely safe in all respects before approval. Even after a permit is given for their use in foods, additives are subject to continuous review. (4)

I say – think of the Theory of Relativity, because many food additives are substances that are still under “surveillance” by the authorities. Think: acesulfame K, or as labeled in the EU – E950.

Still, it has become customary in some circles to criticize food additives, and in so doing, to pile them all together and imply that they are unnecessary, unnatural, not good and even dangerous. This approach ignores their diversity of nature, application and origin. It is often suggested that they are added for no reason, which is not the case. In fact, the law requires that additives must perform a technological function in the foods in which they are used, and may be added only in the minimum concentrations necessary to perform their function. (5)


Many of those materials (additives) have been used for centuries and are proven to be safe. However, there are certain foods, food ingredients (among which are also some additives) that have caused allergies, intolerance and even hyperactivity in children. Still, studies have shown, that the true prevalence of intolerance to certain foods is about 2% in adults and 20% in children; and for food additives from 0,01 to 0.23%. 

The most commonly observed reactions from food additives is to sulphur dioxide (E220) and sulfites (E221-E228), notably in asthma sufferers. Within the EU, allergens have to be declared on the ingredient label. (6)

To assess the possible adverse effects of a food additive, it must be toxicologically tested (lab studies and tests on experimental animals). Occasionally, there are results from human studies, but usually such studies become available when the additive has been marketed.

If an additive is likely to have a large number of uses and a potential widespread daily exposure, then a full range of toxicity studies will normally be required. However, if it is estimated, that the additive will have a limited use and low human exposure, then fewer tests will be required. 


Toxicokinetics (studies of absorption, distribution, metabolism and excression – ADME) is also conducted on experimental animals. These studies help in finding out if dangerous or harmful metabolites are produced, or if the parent compound accumulates in the body.

Acute toxicity and subchronic toxicity tests are also conducted. The later are very important, because they give valuable information on food consumption and body weight, haematology, blood and urine biochemistry, which can point out, if there is any damage to the organs, such as the kidneys and the liver. They also give information on organ weights and pathological effects in organs and tissues in the gross, macroscopic and microscopic levels.

Reproductive and developmental toxicities are usually required. Reproductive studies are usually done with rats and provide information on male and female fertility, maintenance of pregnancy, birth and lactation, and indicate any adverse effects on survival, growth and development of the offspring. Nowadays, reproductive studies also include assessment of postnatal physical development of the offspring and measures of motor and behavioral development. This is important, because critical aspects of the development of the reproductive system in rats occur in the late prenatal and early postnatal period, a developmental window in which there may be particular vulnerability to endocrine – mediated adverse effects


In developmental studies (or teratology studies) the growth and development of the embryo and fetus is assessed with emphasis on embryonic and fetal survival, fetal weight and the occurrence of any malformations. These studies are important for monitoring brain and reproductive system development, which continue beyond the shorter period of organogenesis for other systems.

Then there are tests for chronic toxicity and carcinogenicity. These studies are usually done on two species – rats and mice, and are required for many food additives. These studies show us if there are any effects on body weight, organ weight or pathological changes in tissues and organs. Examination of haematological and clinical chemistry parameters may also be included.

Genotoxicity studies are also conducted. These studies assess the ability of a substance to react with the DNA, by induction of gene mutations, chromosome aberrations or other forms of DNA damage. Genotoxicity studies are important, because they indicate the potential for carcinogenic effects, induction of heritable mutations in germ cells or other adverse health consequences. These are in vitro (in tube) and in vivo (in live organism) studies. Substances that are genotoxic in vitro, but not in vivo (because they are broken down in non-genotoxic compounds) are generally regarded as not hazardous to humans.


Depending on the results of all of these studies, further analyses may be needed. The safety of food additives is an important public-health topic and considerable resources are devoted to their risk assessment, risk management and to legal aspects to ensure that food is safe for consumers. (7)


Nope. Additives are used only when necessary, and some processed foods do not contain them. I know that sounds kinda weird, because processed foods contain what-not, but there you go. Canned food doesn’t contain preservatives, because canning as a method, represents a way to preserve foods (really high temperatures used in the method of canning kill all the microorganisms). 




It is important to add, that many substances which are added to foods are not considered as food additives, at least in the EU. For example, these substances are not considered to be food additives, according to the Regulations (EC) No. 1333/2008:

  • Monosaccharides, disaccharides or oligosaccharides and foods containing these substances used for their sweetening properties.
  • Dried foods or foods in concentrated form, including flavorings incorporated during the manufacturing of compound foods, because of their aromatic, savory or nutritive properties together with a secondary coloring effect.
  • Substances used in covering or coating materials, which are not part of the foods and are not intended to be consumed together with these foods.
  • Products containing pectin and derived from dried apple pomade or peel of citrus fruits or quinces, or from a mixture of them, by the action of dilute acid and followed by partial neutralization with sodium or potassium salts (liquid pectin).
  • Chewing gum bases.
  • White or yellow dextrin, roasted or dextrinated starch, starch modified by acid or alkali treatment, bleached starch, physically modified starch and starch treated by amylolitic enzymes.
  • Ammonium chloride.
  • Blood plasma, edible gelatin, protein hydrolysates and their salts, milk protein and gluten.
  • Amino acids and their salts, other than glutamic acid, glycine, cysteine and cystine and their salts having no technological function.
  • Caseinates and casein.
  • Processing acids.
  • Substances used for the protection of plants and plant products in accordance with community rules relating to plant health (for example: pesticides and plant protecting products, such as, herbicides, insecticides, etc).
  • Substances added to foods as nutrients, such as minerals or vitamins.
  • Substances used for the treatment of water for human consumption falling within the scope of Council Directive 98/83/EC on drinking water quality.
  • Flavorings as they are regulated under Regulation (EC) No. 1334/2008 (as amended) on flavorings and certain food ingredients with flavoring properties.
  • Food enzymes, as they are controlled under Regulation (EC) No. 1332/2008 on food enzymes.
  • Extraction solvents that are subject to specific legislation on both their use and residual levels, under Directive 2009/32/EC (as amended). (8)


So, you might ask – what then is considered as food additive in the EU??



Well, there are 26 classes of food additives listed in Annex I of Regulation (EC) NO. 1333/2008:

  1. Sweeteners – substances used to add a sweet taste to foods or in table – top sweeteners.
  2. Colors – substances that add or restore color in foods, and include natural constituents of foods and natural sources that are normally not consumed as foods as such and not normally used as characteristic ingredients of food. Preparations obtained from foods and other edible natural source materials obtained by physical and/or chemical extraction resulting in a selective extraction of the pigments relative to the nutritive or aromatic constituents are colors within the meanings of the Regulation.
  3. Preservatives – substances that prolong the shelf life of foods by protecting them against deterioration caused by micro – organisms and/or that protect against growth of pathogenic micro – organisms.
  4. Antioxidants – substances that prolong the shelf life of foods by protecting them against deterioration caused by oxidation, such as fat rancidity and color changes.
  5. Carriers – substances used to dissolve, dilute, disperse, or otherwise physically modify a food additive or a flavoring, food enzyme, nutrient and/or other substance added for nutritional or physiological purposes to a food without altering its function (and without exerting any technological effect themselves) in order to facilitate its handling, application or use.
  6. Acids – substances used to increase the acidity of a foodstuff and/or impart a sour taste to it.
  7. Acidity regulators – substances that alter or control the acidity or alkalinity of a foodstuff.
  8. Anticaking agents – substances that reduce the tendency of individual particles of a foodstuff to adhere to one another.
  9. Antifoaming agents – substances that prevent or reduce foaming.
  10. Bulking agents – substances that contribute to the volume of a foodstuff without contributing significantly to its available energy value.
  11. Emulsifiers – substances that make it possible to form and maintain a homogenous mixture of two or more immiscible phases, such as oil and water in a foodstuff.
  12. Emulsifying salts – substances that convert proteins contained in cheese into a dispersed form and thereby bring about homogenous distribution of fat and other components.
  13. Firming agents – substances that make or keep tissues of fruit or vegetables firm or crisp, or interact with gelling agents to produce or strengthen a gel.
  14. Flavor enhancers – substances that enhance the existing taste and/or odor of a foodstuff.
  15. Foaming agents – substances that make it possible to form a homogenous dispersion of a gaseous phase in a liquid or solid foodstuff.
  16. Gelling agents – substances that give a foodstuff texture through formation of a gel.
  17. Glazing agents (including lubricants) – substances that, when applied to the external surface of a foodstuff, impart a shiny appearance or provide a protective coating.
  18. Humectants – substances that prevent foods from drying out by counteracting the effect of an atmosphere having a low degree of humidity, or promote the dissolution of a powder in an aqueous medium.
  19. Modified starches – substances obtained by one or more chemical treatments of edible starches, which may have undergone a physical or enzymatic treatment, and may be acid or alkali thinned or bleached.
  20. Packaging gases – gases (other than air), introduced into a container before, during or after the placing of a foodstuff in that container.
  21. Propellants – gases (other than air) that expel a foodstuff from a container.
  22. Raising agents – substances or combination of substances that liberate gas and thereby increase the volume of a dough or a batter.
  23. Sequestrands – substances that form chemical complexes with metallic ions.
  24. Stabilizers – substances that make it possible to maintain the physical cochemical state of a foodstuff, stabilizers include substances which enable the maintenance of a homogenous dispersion of two or more immiscible substances in a foodstuff, substances that stabilize, retain or intensify an existing color of a foodstuff and substances that increase the binding capacity of the food, including the formation of crosslinks between proteins enabling the binding of food pieces into reconstituted food.
  25. Thickeners – substances which increase the viscosity of a foodstuff.
  26. Flour treatment agents – substances, other than emulsifiers, which are added to flour or dough to improve its baking quality. (9)


Food additives have a very bad reputation, because people connect them only to processed foods. Same additives can be found in processed and non-processed foods, and it is important to understand that processed foods contain other chemicals that are not food additives and are bad for our health.


It is also important to know that there are chemicals which are food additives and chemicals that are processing aids. So what is what?

  • Food additive is strictly regulated, defined substance added to foods and has a technological role in the said foods.
  • A processing aid is a substance only used during treatment or processing of a food product, and using it may result in the nonintentional, but unavoidable presence of residues or derivatives, which might not have any technological effects on the finished product. 




To determine which is which – one must determine whether a substance continues to function in the final product. And for us, consumers – how do we recognize processing aids? We can’t! They are NOT listed on the labels. According to the FDA’s regulations (21 CFR 101.100), the definition of processing aids is:

  • Substances that are added to a food during the processing of such food but are removed in some manner from the food before it is packaged in its finished form.
  • Substances that are added to a food during processing, are converted into constituents normally present in the food, and do not significantly increase the amount of the constituents naturally found in food.
  • Substances that are added to a food for their technical or functional effect in the processing but are present in the finished food at insignificant levels and do not have any technical or functional effect in that food. (10)

This means: you go and buy fruits or vegetables, but you don’t know that they have been washed with organic acids; or you go and buy frozen waffles, but on the label it doesn’t say that sodium stearoyl lactylate has been used to strengthen dough.


The good news is, that self-determination by manufacturers, that a substance is a processing aid is not acceptable. Data must be submitted to FSIS’ Labeling and Program Delivery Division (LPDD) to show, that the suggested use of the substance is consistent with FDA’s definition of a processing aid. (11)

The European Commission is planning to develop more detailed regulations overseeing the use of processing aids. Although it is at a very early stage of development, one possibility being considered is that the definition of a processing aid will be tightened, so that residues in final foods will no longer be acceptable, unless a substance in question is specifically authorized for food use. Legislation on processing aids is not yet harmonized at the European Commission level, and so, processing foods that might be legal in France, for example, might not be permitted in other member states. (12)

So, one thing can be said: processing aids can be safe if used properly. Are they always used properly? That’s another question. There are so many studies about this, ones that show, that processing aids in the right concentration are safe, and others that aren’t.


So we’re left with the same question: what are we to do??

And the answer is always the same: eat organic and non processed whenever you can, but don’t beat your head from the wall when you eat a frozen waffle. Just don’t eat them every day. I know – you expected me to say – eat 100% organic or else! But, the truth is, you’ll go in a restaurant, can you know exactly what kind of foods and what ingredients they use, even for the “healthy” menù choices?

Eat as healthy as possible, eat organic, drink filtered water and smile. Everything is relative and you can’t live in a bubble – eventually it will pop.

See you next week!


  1. EUFIC (European Food Information Council). Online source: (26.11.2016).
  2. Online source: (26.11.2016).
  3. Online source: (26.11.2016)
  4. Food Additives and Ingredients Association. Online source: (26.11.2016).
  5. Mike Saltmarsh: Essential Guide to Food Additives. RSC Publishing 2013. Cambridge UK. page: 1.
  6. Mike Saltmarsh: Essential Guide to Food Additives. RSC Publishing 2013. Cambridge UK. page: 10-12.
  7. Mike Saltmarsh: Essential Guide to Food Additives. RSC Publishing 2013. Cambridge UK. page: 19-27.
  8. Mike Saltmarsh: Essential Guide to Food Additives. RSC Publishing 2013. Cambridge UK. page: 50-53.
  9. Online source: (26.11.2016).
  10. Online source: (26.11.2016).
  11. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Online source: (26.11.2016). 
  12. Mike Saltmarsh: Essential Guide to Food Additives. RSC Publishing 2013. Cambridge UK. page: 13.



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