In a written statement, Takis says their chips are safe to eat in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. “Takis ingredients fully comply with U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations and all of the ingredients in each flavor are listed in detail on the label. Always check the serving size before snacking,” the statement says.

Frito-Lay, the company that makes Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.

Some of the problems with hot chips seem to be rooted in poverty and lack of fresh, healthy food. But the chips have also become a cultural phenomenon glamorized by videos on YouTube.

“We have kids in our most prestigious high school, they’re eating just as many there as places that are less socioeconomically advantaged,” Cavender says.

“Certainly around here in Memphis we’ve got areas with ‘food deserts’ where kids are limited in what fresh fruits and vegetables they can get to, much less prepare and eat,” he says.

The chips become part of an eating pattern that includes too many sugary drinks, too much fat, and too little fiber, all of which are unhealthy.

“It’s all those foods,” says Martha Rivera, MD, a pediatrician at Adventist Health in downtown Los Angeles. “Where I work, kids eat junk.”

Rivera has been sounding the alarm about spicy snack chips for years. She’s even experimented with them to find out what makes them so painful to the stomach. She mixed crushed chips with a little water and tested the slurry with a paper strip designed to measure pH, which tells you its acidity.

Normal gut pH is about 5, she says. The pH of the chips was 3, making them even more acidic than the gut’s natural environment.

“We’re starting to see chronic diseases in children that we used to only see in adults,” she says. She says her patients have been diagnosed with diabetes, stomach pain (called gastritis), obesity, and high blood pressure.

She says the pharmacists in the hospital where she works have noticed more kids taking prescription drugs to manage stomach acid, called proton pump inhibitors.

A Tennessee mother has a warning after she said her daughter’s gallbladder was removed all because of hot snacks, KTLA sister station WREG in Memphis reported.

Rene Craighead said the doctor told her hot chips like Hot Cheetos, Takis and Hot Fries were behind the stomach problems her 17-year-old daughter, also named Rene, was having.

“She loves them. Every time I go out she says, ‘Bring me back some Hot Takis, bring me back some Hot Chips.’ I want to make her happy, so I brought them back,” Rene Craighead told the television station. “She was eating big bags and would take them to school with her. When my daughter had to have this surgery, I knew I had to tell everybody about it.”

Craighead said her teenage daughter started feeling sick to her stomach and soon needed to have surgery to have her gallbladder removed.

“I was surprised that my daughter was sick like that,” Craighead said.

The hot snacks cost around a dollar for a regular size bag. The teenager estimated she was eating around four bags of hot snacks a week.

Dr. Cary Canvender, a gastroenterologist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, said while there is a lot of factors that go into having a gallbladder removed, he believes eating the hot chips probably contributed.

“We do see tons of gastritis and ulcer-related stuff due to it,” Canvender said.

He added the number of children the hospital sees with stomach problems due to the chips is staggering.

“We probably see around 100 kids a month, easily,” he added.

Cavender said it is important for parents to monitor their child’s diet and load up on those fruits and veggies.

In a statement regarding Takis, Buchanan Public Relations released a statement saying, “We assure you that Takis are safe to eat, but should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet. Takis ingredients fully comply with U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, and all of the ingredients in each flavor are listed in detail on the label. Always check the serving size before snacking.”

Buchanan Public Relations added they take complaints very seriously and are happy to connect with the customer.

Frito-Lay, the maker of Cheetos, also issued a statement regarding the chips, saying, “At Frito-Lay, food safety is always our number one priority, and our snacks meet all applicable food safety regulations as well as our rigorous quality standards. Some consumers may be more sensitive to spicy foods than others and may choose to avoid spicier snacks due to personal preference.”

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I’ve always heard that craving salty or sweet foods can actually be your body’s way of telling you it needs something. The other day, I had a serious sweet tooth and before I knew it I found myself researching what my craving really meant. What I discovered was that there is a pretty surprising list of cravings and their real meanings. It’s fascinating! It is also very helpful to see what your body really needs (hint: it’s not actually those French fries).

Find out about your body’s true cravings below…

If you’re craving sweets…
It means your body really needs chromium, carbon phosphorous, sulfur, and tryptophan. Get these by filling up on, fresh fruit, cheese and sweet potatoes when you have a sweet tooth. This craving may also mean you’re tired, according to Evaluate how much you’re sleeping lately if you find yourself wanting sweets. Instead of heading for the chocolate cake, take a nap if you can. Or, go for a walk to boost your energy levels.

If you’re craving carbs…
It means your body needs nitrogen, which is found in high-protein foods like fish, meat, nuts, and beans. Eat a turkey burger, a handful of almonds, or a black bean burrito bowl (black beans, corn, pico de gallo, guacamole and brown rice). You might also be craving carbs because you’re trying to cut them out of you diet completely. If this is the reason, make sure you’re eating every food group in moderation to prevent a big, unplanned carb-fest that will leave you feeling way worse than, say, an open-faced sandwich.

If you’re craving French fries, soda, and pizza…
And other junk food, it means your body needs calcium. Instead, fix a kale salad with steamed broccoli, chicken, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese (um, yum.). It might not sound quite as good as those French fries at first, but it will leave you feeling way better, not to mention guilt-free.

If you’re craving caffeine…
It means your body needs salt and iron. To get these nutrients the healthy way, eat lean meats like chicken or turkey, eggs, or black cherries, surprisingly. If you can, a great option here would be to make an omelet with turkey and veggies, with a handful of black cherries on the side. Craving caffeine can also mean you’re actually just really thirsty or dehydrated, according to Huffington Post. Drink an entire glass of water before you reach for that second (or third) cup of coffee—you might realize you don’t even need it.

If you’re craving salty foods…
It means your body needs chloride, which is essential in order for your body to maintain healthy digestion and keep your electrolyte levels in check, according to Nutritional Wellness. Avoid super salty junk food like potato chips and eat goat’s milk yogurt or fish instead. I would recommend making a tuna fish sandwich or salmon salad for lunch with goat’s yogurt as a snack the next time you have a salt craving.
I hope you all learn something new and interesting from these foodie facts. I sure did. I’m definitely going to keep some almonds on hand for those pesky carb cravings…

What foods do you crave the most?

Leave your list below! And if you’ve found any cures for unhealthy cravings, leave your tips below too.

XO Lauren

Sources:, Nutritional Wellness, Huffington Pos

Did You Know That???

Food Cravings and What They Mean

Posted: March 5, 2011 | Author: Elise | Filed under: Food & Cooking | Tags: burger craving, chocolate cravings, Food craving, french fries craving, pizza craving |

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Craving a Burger? Or Chocolate?

It can strike when you least expect it — an overwhelming desire to satisfy a food craving. You may be desperate for a burger, cake, chocolate, pizza or some other specific food.

Even though food cravings seem harmless enough, they are often a red flag that a person’s diet needs attention. Strong food cravings generally don’t occur unless the body is crying out for particular nutrients — ones that can almost always be found in more healthful foods than what we may initially desire.

Five common cravings — and what each may mean… *

Burgers and steaks. A craving for red meat is often a sign that you’re lacking iron and/or conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that helps your body burn stored fat.

Healthful alternative: To satisfy your body’s need for iron, try dark leafy greens, such as spinach or Swiss chard. These vegetables may be a more healthful option if your diet is high in fat and carbohydrates.

An occasional steak (once a week) is OK, but try incorporating small amounts of red meat into your regular diet so you don’t go overboard when you indulge this craving.

Consider adding small amounts of lean beef into a vegetable soup or a sprinkle of lean ground beef into a bean chili. Lacto-vegetarians can get CLA in butter and low-fat milk.

Baked goods. If you’re desperate for a rich, gooey brownie, a piece of cake or a glazed donut, your blood sugar (glucose) levels are probably fluctuating, often in response to surges of the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol triggers the release of glucose, thereby causing the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin to spike then drop precipitously.

Because baked goods are essentially sugar and carbohydrate, they provide a quick boost in energy and serotonin (a brain chemical that invokes feelings of happiness) when blood sugar levels are waning.

Healthful alternative: Try a piece of fruit or a glass of antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice. These natural sources of sugar provide nutrients that baked goods can’t, such as vitamin C. To curb your craving for carbohydrates, consider trying the dietary supplement chromium picolinate (200 mcg, three times daily).

Caution: Check with you doctor if you have diabetes. Chromium picolinate may alter drug requirements.

Physical activity, such as walking, also will allow your body to use up some of the excess cortisol. Exercise activates the body’s relaxation response to maintain healthy cortisol levels.

Chocolate. People who crave chocolate may be deficient in phenylalanine, an essential amino acid found in chocolate that the body converts into another amino acid, tyrosine. Tyrosine plays a key role in the production of the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin, which enhance mood and reduce pain. You may also crave chocolate when you need an energy boost.

Healthful strategy: Eat dark chocolate or cocoa powder with at least 75% cacao. Limit amounts of lighter chocolates, which contain more sugar and less cacao. Avoid all chocolate if you have phenylketonuria, a condition in which the body cannot process the phenylalanine found in chocolate.

Another option: Mix unsweetened cocoa powder with skim milk to taste (or follow the instructions on the cocoa powder container). Add the all-natural sugar substitute stevia and/or top with a small amount of whipped cream.

French fries. A craving for fries usually means your body is lacking sodium and/or serotonin or experiencing a blood sugar imbalance caused by high levels of cortisol.

Simple carbohydrates in potatoes break down into glucose, boosting your energy and serotonin levels. The salt used on fries satisfies your need for sodium, and the oil used for frying helps keep you satiated.

Healthful alternative: Eating about 20 salted nuts (two ounces) — such as almonds, pecans or walnuts — each day provides healthful omega-3s and sodium. (People with high blood pressure should eat unsalted nuts.) Nuts also provide a sustained glucose boost that helps stabilize blood sugar. A diet rich in proteins, vegetables, fruits and whole grains will naturally keep cravings for greasy, high-fat foods at bay.

Pizza. A craving for pizza usually means that you may be low in calcium (which is found in the cheese) and/or lacking in essential fatty acids (which are found in the cheese and olive oil).

Healthful alternative: Make your own pizza with a whole-grain crust, organic low-fat cheese, fresh tomatoes and veggies. Try adding to your diet more foods that are rich in essential fatty acids, including walnuts, avocado, flaxseed and fatty fish, such as salmon.

*If you continue to crave a certain food, consider getting tested for deficiencies in vitamins A, B-12, D and folic acid (these tests have been clinically proven, whereas the accuracy of other nutritional deficiency tests is questionable).

Source: Fred Pescatore, MD, an internist who practices nutritional medicine in New York City and the author of The Hamptons Diet. He is president of the International & American Associations of Clinical Nutritionists

It’s hard to eat just one potato chip, and a new study may explain why.

Fatty foods like chips and fries trigger the body to produce chemicals much like those found in marijuana, researchers report today (July 4) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). These chemicals, called “endocannabinoids,” are part of a cycle that keeps you coming back for just one more bite of cheese fries, the study found.

“This is the first demonstration that endocannabinoid signaling in the gut plays an important role in regulating fat intake,” study researcher Daniele Piomelli, a professor of pharmacology at the University of California, Irvine, said in a statement.

Homemade marijuana chemicals

The study found that fat in the gut triggers the release of endocannabinoids in the brain, but the gray stuff between your ears isn’t the only organ that makes natural marijuana-like chemicals. Human skin also makes the stuff. Skin cannabinoids may play the same role for us as they do for pot plants: Oily protection from the wind and sun.

Endocannabinoids are also known to influence appetite and the sense of taste, according to a 2009 study in PNAS, which explains the munchies people get when they smoke marijuana.

In the new study, Piomelli and his colleagues fitted rats with tubes that would drain the contents of their stomachs as they ate or drank. These stomach tubes allowed the researchers to tell whether fat was acting on the tongue, in which case they would see an endocannabinoid release even with the tubes implanted, or in the gut, in which case they wouldn’t see the effect.

The rats got to sip on a health shake (vanilla Ensure), a sugar solution, a protein-rich liquid called peptone, or a high-fat beverage made of corn oil. Then researchers anesthetized and dissected the rats, rapidly freezing their organs for analysis.

For the love of fat

Tasting sugars and proteins didn’t affect the release of the body’s natural marijuana chemicals, the researchers found. But supping on fat did. The results showed that fat on the tongue triggers a signal to the brain, which then relays a message down to the gut via a nerve bundle called the vagus nerve. This message commands the production of endocannabinoids in the gut, which in turn drives a cascade of other signals all pushing the same message: Eat, eat, eat!

This message would have been helpful in the evolutionary history of mammals, Piomelli said. Fats are crucial to survival, and they were once hard to come by in the mammalian diet. But in today’s world, where a convenience store full of junk food sits on every corner, our evolutionary love of fat easily backfires.

The findings suggest that by blocking the reception of endocannabinoid signals, medical researchers might be able to break the cycle that drives people to overeat fatty food. Blocking endocannabinoid receptors in the brain can cause anxiety and depression, Piomelli said, but a drug designed to target the gut might not trigger those negative side effects.

You can follow LiveScience senior writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.

Our Registered Dietitian hand-picked these savvy snack swaps to satisfy your cravings for something spicy, crunchy, sweet and flavorful. Many traditional snack foods are overly processed and loaded with empty calories. When it comes to eating healthy, it’s all about balance. Snacks can help satisfy hunger between meals, keep energy levels up, and meet nutrient needs.

There are two keys to healthy snacking:

  1. Focus on snacks that are nutrient-rich choices that include: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans.
  1. Keep portion size of snacks in check and if you have a double portion, of course, the nutrition facts of the food double.

Check out these healthy swaps to supercharge your snack routine!

Looking for Spice?

Swap out traditional spicy snack foods like jalapeno chips or flamin’ hot snacks (e.g. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos) which are loaded with oil and void of fiber and protein with these snack options. They will fill you up while delivering nutrients to satisfy your craving.

1) Wasabi Peas – The main ingredient in this healthier snack swap is peas and they’re paired with wasabi seasoning. Each serving has only 120 calories while providing 4 grams of fiber, only 3 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein.

2) Habanero Pistachios – One of the best parts of pistachios is that each serving is 49 nuts! These seasoned pistachios deliver 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and healthier fats, which can help to keep you full.

3) Spicy Fava Beans – A mix of chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder adds plenty of spice to this spicy and crunchy snack! Best of all, since the main ingredient is broad beans, each serving has 4 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein.

Looking for Crunch?

When you feel like a crunchy snack, try one of these swaps for a more nutrient-rich, healthier snack option. Traditional crunchy snacks like potato chips are loaded with oil and have 10 grams of fat per serving with minimal amounts of fiber and protein. Swap out traditional crunchy snacks for:

4) Half Popped Popcorn – This irresistible crunchy snack packs more crunch than regular popcorn, and more fiber, too! Made from non-GMO whole grain corn, it provides 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving to support digestive health.

5) Roasted Salted Fava Beans – The main ingredient in this snack is broad beans and each serving has 7 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. If you are cutting back on sodium, try our unsalted fava beans.

6) Veggie Chips – These are a crunchy, healthier alternative to traditional chips because they include a mix of sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, green beans, and taro. Each ounce has 126 calories, 6 grams of fat, plus 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Try dipping these with your favorite hummus!

Got a Sweet Tooth?

If you have a sweet tooth, stocking up on some of our healthier, sweeter snacks will help keep you satisfied without feeling deprived. Look for naturally sweet, vitamin-rich snacks that also incorporate fiber to help balance blood sugar levels.

7) Dried Strawberries – Our dried strawberries are a chewy and antioxidant-rich alternative to gummy candy that will quiet a sweet tooth. Each serving provides 3 grams of dietary fiber to boot!

8) Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries – Looking for a treat that packs double antioxidant power? Look no further than these chewy dried blueberries, smothered in rich dark chocolate. It contains 52% cocoa for antioxidants and magnesium galore.

9) Dried Pears – Satisfy your sweet tooth with dried pears, which provide 6 grams of fiber per serving and do not contain any added sugar. Plus some of the fiber is soluble fiber, which is linked to helping balance blood sugar levels. Try dicing these up into mini bite-size pieces!

Looking for Flavor?

We all have our favorite snack flavors, like BBQ, ranch, or something else. The great thing about these savvy snack options is that you don’t have to go overboard to enjoy them. Try one of these healthy picks instead:

10) Vegan “Cheese” Dill Kale Crackers – Swap traditional cheese crackers for our vegan “cheese” dill kale crackers. Each serving has 4 grams of fiber plus delivers vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

11) BBQ Cashews – No need to fire up the BBQ for unforgettable flavor. Simply grab a handful of these BBQ cashews for protein, fiber, healthy fats, minerals, and irresistible taste. They make a great party snack if you’re willing to share!

12) Ranch Peanuts – Each serving of ranch peanuts has only 7 grams of carbohydrates, plus it delivers 3 grams of fiber. These peanuts are a healthier alternative to traditional ranch-flavored snacks.

What are your favorite healthy snack swaps?

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Are Healthy, According To Obama Administration

Trying to eat healthier? You’re in luck! According to President Barack Obama, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos qualify as a nutritious snack — seriously.

When the Obama administration debuted the new nutrition guidelines last year, its goal was to limit the amount of junk food accessible at schools.

Though most of the country wrote off the guidelines as far too strict, Frito-Lay, the maker of Cheetos, saw a challenge — and an opportunity.

Using Obama’s nutrition standards as a guideline, Frito-Lay reformulated the Flamin’ Hot recipe, cutting fat and salt and adding in whole grains.

In doing so, Frito-Lay ensured its product could still be available in schools, a major source of revenue for snack food companies.

Virginia Stallings, the chair of the federal committee that formulated the country’s new nutrition rules, lamented, “I thought the top sellers might be things that had more nutrients in them than Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.”

“But,” she added, “one of the things we were absolutely expecting and appreciating is that food companies would look at these recommendations and they would, in fact, reformulate their products.”

But does meeting a few premeditated guidelines really mean Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are healthy?

“Of course not” says Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University. “If you set up nutrition standards, the food industry can do anything to meet those standards.”

Though it’s certainly a step in the right direction (the new Cheetos are absolutely healthier than their full-fat counterparts), the fact of the matter is obesity will continue to plague the country until we all adopt an entirely different approach to eating — one that focuses on eating whole foods from natural sources.

Because, in the end, a wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf — and whole-grain Cheetos are still Cheetos.

Citations: Flamin Hot Cheetos Are A Smart Snack According To Science (Uproxx), Guess What Makes The Cut As A Smart Snack In Schools Hot Cheetos (NPR)

Snacking could be considered a serious hobby of mine. Whether I’m on my way to class or on break at work, there’s a good chance you’ll find me munching on something. Naturally, I’ve accumulated some favorites over the years. And without a doubt, the ever popular Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are Top 5 material in my eyes.

Elizabeth Layman

If you don’t love these spicy, cheesy pieces of hell—refrain from talking to me anymore because you are missing out, my friend. They’re like regular Cheetos but on steroids. Okay, they may not be for the faint of heart, but if you can handle the fire it’s worth the searing of your taste buds.

I bet you didn’t know how incredibly complex and nuanced this snack actually is. There’s so much more to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos than what you see on the surface.

1. They Were Created by a Janitor

Former Frito-Lay janitor, Richard Montañez came up with the idea for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos after taking a batch home with him from work. He was inspired by the Mexican street food called elote, and sprinkled chili powder on them.

He must have been very confident in how finger-licking good this upgrade was because he arranged a meeting with the CEO of the entire company to pitch the idea. Now Montañez is an executive vice president in Frito-Lay.

2. They Actually Might be Addicting

We often say that we’re “addicted” to our favorite foods and drinks, but Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are rumored to actually have addictive qualities in their ingredients. Medical professionals have compared it to “mild opiate addiction”.

The burning sensation we get from the peppers in Hot Cheetos causes a release of natural opioids (endorphins) in our bodies. It makes us feel good (at least until the opiate is gone) and then we feel the need to eat more.

3. The Serving Size Is Very Inaccurate

Elizabeth Layman

You know how in some bags of chips it seems like you’re getting half air, half snack? Well, Cheetos doesn’t play that game. The serving size on the bags states that there are about 189 chips, but it turns out there are closer to 237.5 chips per bag—not that we’re complaining.

4. They’re Not Allowed in Some Schools

Why someone would try to deny others the opportunity to enjoy a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, I will never understand. But a few years ago, schools in California, New Mexico, and Illinois decided to ban the snack from on-campus consumption.

Its lack of nutritional value was the main reason the schools labeled Flamin’ Hot Cheetos contraband. But kids were also eating way more than the recommended portion amount, and the whole addictive thing didn’t really help either.

5. They’ve Been Behind Some Serious Health Scares

I’ve joked about the potency in a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but these snacks have been the reason for one too many hospital visits. People who eat large amounts of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have had chest and stomach pains, as well as their poop turning red from the dye.

6. The Spiciness Is a Mystery

What makes these Cheetos “flaming hot” is as much of a secret as the Krabby Patty formula. The public has no idea what combination of spices is used in the recipe.

The bag lists, “Flamin’ Hot Seasoning” as an ingredient, but the maltodextrin in it doesn’t give us much insight into the spicy factor. The world may never know.

7. They Can be Eaten in Many Ways

You don’t have to limit yourself to just enjoying Flamin’ Hot Cheetos straight from the bag. People have taken this snack food and used it to enhance everyday foods.

I’m talkin’ anything from Cheeto-ritos to Hot Cheetos Crispy Treats; even restaurants are trying to incorporate the snack in their dishes.

So the next time you’re in 7-Eleven with the late night munchies—think twice before reaching for this bag of maltodextrin flavored snacks. Or if you’re like me, grab two.

Can you eat takis while pregnant

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