Friday, January 29, 2010
If you want to improve your health, lose weight and maintain that weight loss you will not do it eating drive-thru tacos.
You need to make positive changes to your diet. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and eat a primarily vegetarian diet. You also have to exercise.
There is no easy way to lose weight permanently, and although these big food chains are claiming you will lose weight eating their over-processed, nutritionally devoid food, it's all an illusion.
The six claims are:
- A good source of fiber
- Strengthens your immune system
- Made with Real Fruit
- Made with Whole Grains
- All Natural.
Which brings us back to Michael Pollan's Advice, "If it claims to be healthy, then its not real food."
How are they doing? Well according to one study 72.5% of the foods advertised to children are of the poorest nutritional quality. Advertising for healthy foods is virtually invisible, accounting for only 1% of all food advertising to children. You can read about it here: http://www.childrennow.org/index.php/learn/reports_and_research/article/576
You can also read about it here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-kid-ads15-2009dec15,0,5833871.story
What I don't understand is why don't the boards of various produce buyers, such as apples, grapes, carrots, etc. band together and create their own advertising directed at children? Surely, someone growing apples has an interest in making his or her product appealing to children?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Well first of all the parents of finicky kids are so obsessed with their kids eating that they won't let the kid skip eating because he or she refuses to eat what's put in front of them. If Johnny doesn't like pork chops, Mom runs to the microwave and nukes up the chicken nuggets she knows Johnny will eat.
What's really amusing are the excuses for this kind of behavior I've heard through the years.
My favorite line is, "But Johnny is only in the X percentile for weight. He has to eat!!" Well, when Johnny gets to be an adult he'll be obese and have diabetes because you never taught him to eat right.
The other new one I've been hearing lately is, "My child has an eating disorder." The only disorder here is the one Mom and Dad have created by not having the back bone to stand up to their own child and not feed them processed junk. I can guarantee you no child in Haiti right now has an "eating disorder."
Or, how about this one, "If I don't make Amanda Kraft Mac & Cheese, then she'll only fill up on junk food." First of all, Kraft Mac & Cheese is junk food. Second, if you didn't have junk food snacks in your house, it would be impossible for Amanda to fill up on them.
Then, there's this lame line, "I've tried to get Suzy to eat an apple but she just refuses to do it." Well, if Suzy gets good and hungry that apple is going to look and taste damn good for her.
Here's another one I've gotten on occasion, "There has to be something really wrong with Brian, I made him taste a piece of steak once and he threw up." I hate to tell you, but your kid is not special. It's called a "gag reflex," and yes, quite a few kids do this in response to trying to force them to eat something they don't want to eat. My son did this several times. Each time, I cleaned him up and put the food right back in front of him to taste. Needless to say, the vomiting eventually stopped once he realized there was no getting away from tasting the food.
So, to all you parents of finicky eaters, I hate to inform you that the only problem with your kids' eating habits is you. You are the enabler. Grow a back-bone, realize that your kid will go to bed hungry some nights and you'll probably have to endure some temper tantrums to get them on the road to eating right.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Let me explain. My younger sister belongs to the "my darlings are too precious" to make them try new foods camp. Her sons are aged 8 and 10.
Whenever my sister is invited anywhere, she brings food for her kids. Yes, she brown bags it to catered affairs, people houses, picnics etc.
I'm sorry but bringing alternative food for your kids stops being socially acceptable once they hit five.
On Sunday we are having a little family get together to celebrate three birthdays. My son's, my daughter's and my one nephew (all of them are born within one month).
Usually we order a cake and my poor son, who's allergic to wheat and dairy, doesn't get to eat it.
This year I thought it would be nice to make something we all can eat. I've made a wheat free Angel food cake in the past that everyone loves, so this year I'm making Angel food cupcakes with Marshmallow frosting for the party. I even bought some sprinkles for the cupcakes to make them really kid friendly.
My sister doesn't know if her precious darling will like Angel food cupcakes (mind you he's never tried it) and is insisting on bringing another cake. She won't even let her son try the damn thing that I'm going through the time and effort to make.
Let me tell you, when you're at a family gathering insisting that your kids eat what's being presented to them, it really undermines the effort when you're sister starts nuking chicken nuggets so that her darlings don't have to try the baked fish.
Now, I have a son allergic to wheat and dairy. I have a legitimate reason to bring food, yet I never do. I feed him before we leave for any food related event. Once there, I let him know what his options are, and if nothing appeals to him, he doesn't eat. Period, end of story.
As usual, Pollan gives sound advice.
If you come across something in the grocery store which claims it's good for you, then it's probably the worst thing you can eat.
So, the lesson is, avoid buying or eating anything with a health claim attached to it. Stick to simple foods with one ingredient, and if you buy things in packages (like pasta, cans of beans etc), then make sure you can easily recognize every ingredient listed on the package.
Monday, January 25, 2010
How about a kids' meal that comes in at 1,110 calories? That's what they get if you head into Chili's for their Pepper Pals Country Fried Chicken Crispers.
Think you're doing OK if you order salad? Well TGF Fridays' Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad comes in at 1,360 (and the company won't divulge the fat or salt content in their food).
The fish tacos at On The Border come in at 2,440 calories (that's my entire days calorie allowance plus an additional 770 calories).
Want to get an appetizer? Well, it's probably best to avoid Uno Chicago Grill's pizza skins which come in at 2,400 calories. Even if you split them, that's 1,200 calories.
The pasta dish sounds yummy. I'll have to try that one night this week.
One of my favorite celebrity chefs Mario Batali has lost 45 pounds by going vegetarian until dinner and getting half portions in restaurants. The vegetarian until dinner route is the same one used by food writer Mark Bittman (who co-hosted with Batali this great road food trip show through Spain).
The message is clear. If you really, really want to lose weight and maintain it then EAT MORE VEGETABLES and EAT LESS JUNK.
It's that simple.
Read about Mario here: http://www.dietsinreview.com/diet_column/01/how-mario-batali-is-losing-weight/
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Now, I always say that fast food is fat food, and I don't go the take-out route. So, I have to plan dinners that are easy, quick, and can be prepared somewhat in advance.
Pasta with Tuna, Beans and Arugula is just such a meal. I can prepare most of it prior to leaving for dance class and when I get back all I have to do is cook the pasta. Best of all, there's only one pot to clean!
Tuna with Beans and Arugula
1 can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 can or jar Italian tuna (Bumble Bee just doesn't do the trick), rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons extra virgin Olive Oil
Juice from 3 lemons
salt and pepper
1 12 ounce box whole wheat penne
4 ounces arugula, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley
Combine the beans, tuna, onion olive oil, lemon juice salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours. Cook and drain pasta. While pasta is cooking, place arugula in the bowl with beans and tuna and mix well. Put the drained pasta in the bowl and stir to wilt the arugula. Add the parsley and serve.
According to health experts, sitting too long, even if you exercise regularly, can be bad for your health (and your waist-line).
Now, if we could only get them to install treadmills on airplanes!!!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
What I find particularly disturbing are the rates of obesity among children. Well, the only people to blame are adults. We live in a culture that insists that kids have to be fed around the clock, and most of what we feed them is overly processed, nutritionally devoid food which does nothing but pack on the pounds and teach them bad eating habits.
So, when I saw this article in the New York Times I naturally dropped everything and read: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/dining/20gusti.html?8dpc
I have to admit that I am one of those parents who has complained about "Snack Time Never Ends." What amazes me is the resistance I get from other parents and educators, and the insistence that kids have to eat constantly, even if the only way to keep them stuffing their faces is to throw junk in front of them.
When I hear people complain that their kids won't eat anything other than macaroni and cheese or hamburgers, the first thing I always say is "just don't give them macaroni and cheese and hamburgers." The response is usually "well then they won't eat anything." When I reply that they'll eventually eat if you just don't feed them, I get looks of horror.
Let's get this straight, IF YOU GIVE CONSTANTLY FEED YOUR CHILDREN JUNK, THAT'S ALL THEY'LL EAT. If you constantly give them healthy, nutritious food and make it clear that if they don't eat what's in front of them, then they just don't eat, THEY WILL EAT HEALTHY NUTRITIOUS FOOD.
Yes, they'll miss a meal or two, but they're probably better off burning off the excess fat you've managed to pack onto them feeding them crap.
Children are not stupid. They are fully aware that if they don't eat the plate of pasta primavera in front of them, you'll head to the freezer to nuke them some chicken nuggets. If they eventually get the idea that if they don't eat the pasta primavera then they're going to be hungry to the next meal, then they will eat the pasta primavera.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
The idea of the Exposed Movement is to take a picture of yourself, stripped down to your underwear, and then Photoshop everything that you love about yourself onto the photo. That's Michelle's "exposure" of herself above.
You can read about the Exposed movement and other bloggers that have exposed themselves at Michelle's blog here: http://www.blogger.com/You%20can%20read%20about%20the%20Exposed%20movement%20and%20other%20bloggers%20that%20have%20exposed%20themselves%20here:%20http://eatingjourney.com/exposed/
In the spirit of the movement, I decided to "expose" myself in my own way. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture for three reasons:
1. Even if I had a picture of me in my underwear, I'm not that
technically proficient and so I'm clueless as to how to PhotoShop it.
2. Since I'm a writer I'm more literal than visual.
3. When you live in a 19th Century Farmhouse in New England, you don't spend anytime standing around in your skivvies from November through April. I'm wearing wool long johns under my sweats as it is.
So here it goes. Things I love about my body:
1. My arms: Because I can wrap them around my kids to give them big hugs.
2. That my bra size is a 32D: Gotta love the girls! (My husband sure does).
3. My lips: They let me kiss everyone I love.
4. My Feet: They take me hiking, skiing, dancing and anywhere else I want to go.
5. My Cesarean Scar: It was worth it for what I got in return.
6. My Eyes: Because I've gotten to read a lot of great books.
7. My Back: Because I love a great massage.
8. My Hands: Because they can cook up a great meal.
9. My Big old Bubble Butt: I had an old boyfriend tell me it was like a basketball.
BTW, I promise to post a photo of me "stripped down" once it warms up (which in New England doesn't usually happen until July).
If you want to see a picture of me with "clothes on" check out: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/10/my-body-myself.html
Because of the pain, I had to really scale back my yoga practice and cut out many of my favorite inverted balances and anything that put pressure on my shoulder, such as full back-bends.
In the last few weeks, as the pain subsided, I've gradually added back in the postures and vinyasas I had to forgo in my practice and I thought I'd finally be able to do my full practice again sometime next week.
Then, yesterday, as I was reaching for my teakettle my RIGHT shoulder inexplicably began hurting. Again, there was no "ouch" moment, it just began to hurt and this morning I once again had to really scale back my yoga practice to accommodate the pain.
It's all very frustrating.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
America has extremely high levels of obesity. According to US government data more than two-thirds of US adults are overweight and more than one-third of children are. Thirty-four percent of US adults are officially obese and 17% of children are.
The good news is that while we're fat, we're not getting fatter. Obesity rates have actually held steady for the last five years.
The other good news as reported is that people are getting serious about the root causes of weight problems in this country--bad food and lack of exercise. Even the White House is getting in on the act with Michelle Obama promising to make child-hood obesity prevention a focus (I'm hoping this means we'll be hearing less about which designer's dress she wore last).
Needless to say, now that it appears that health care reform legislation is an inevitability, there are a lot of unhappy campers out there in the health care industry. I've been talking with quite a few people in the biz this week---insurance executives, brokers, consultants etc., and while they accept the inevitable they all say the same thing.
The legislation, they say, does not address the real reason for skyrocketing health care costs in this country. The cost of health insurance and providing health care will not be contained, and health care will continue on its unaffordable trajectory.
The reason why health insurance has gotten so expensive, they all say, and costs will continue to skyrocket is that Americans have simply gotten too fat and lazy.
Excess weight and lack of exercise leads to health issues, and these issues are starting to crop up in Americans at younger and younger ages. The number of people tackling diabetes has grown substantially over the last two decades and is impacting people at younger and younger ages as is cardiovascular disease.
To make the connection the more insurance companies have to pay out to treat people with weight-related health care issues, the more we all pay for insurance. That's how insurance works. It spreads the risk. If overall costs go up for the insurer, then the cost for insurance for all individuals or groups goes up.
Even if you work for an employer that self-insures (meaning your employer pays for health care not an insurance company), if your co-workers are overweight and have higher health care costs, that translates to you having higher insurance costs (and your employer makes no profit on health insurance when it chooses to self-insure).
Diabetes and cardiovascular disease can often be avoided if people just consumed fewer calories and moved more. Somehow or another Americans have come to believe that they can consume 3,000 calories a day in soda, fast food and processed low-fat snacks, and that taking a 20 minute walk around the block is all the exercise they need to combat that excess calorie intake.
Well a 20 minute walk only burns 150 to 200 calories and is barely a dent in the excess junk food calories people consume daily.
Weight and health are directly correlated. We need to all eat better and work movement (not necessarily just exercise) into our daily routine not just to look good, but to feel good, and to control health care costs for all of us.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
It's plainly obvious that the only way to lose weight, and then maintain that weight is to eat better (i.e., no processed crap), and move around a hell of a lot more. Well, this article in the New York Times confirms that idea: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/health/12brod.html?scp=1&sq=Healthy%20aging%20&st=cse
If you want to live longer and better, the author says, then eat more plant-based food and engage in regular physical activities. And, it goes on to say, you can not get the benefits of better nutrition from a pill, juice or supplement. You have to actually eat better. Eat fish instead of taking fish oil supplements.
The article quotes Hippocrates as saying way back in 400 B.C. "All parts of the body which have a function if used in moderation and exercised in labors in which each is accustomed, become thereby healthy, well developed and age more slowly; but if unused and left idle they become liable to disease, defective in growth and age quickly."
Which translates to "get the hell up off the couch and take a walk you lazy piece of sh!t."
You can read it here: http://www.stanford.edu/~pleslie/calories.pdf
It only makes sense. Most people do want to watch their weight, and if we only knew how many calories were in the Petite Vanilla Scone versus the Cranberry Whole Wheat muffin, we'd make the smarter choice. Furthermore, if we saw the Cranberry Whole Wheat muffin had, say 600 calories, we'd also may be inclined to eat just half of it instead of the entire muffin.
I want this information, and it can't come to soon for me. In fact, if big chain food retailers, actually gave better information on what you they dishing out, I'd be more inclined to buy food in these places.
My other hope is that once calories are posted, retailers will reverse the trend of supersizing food. When I'm in the mood for a muffin, I really don't need or want some grotesque oversized version of a muffin that costs $4. Make it smaller, take out the high fructose corn syrup and charge me less.
So when I read an article like this one, http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20100112/hl_hsn/exercisemaystaveoffmentaldecline, it further inspires me to keep on moving. It says that two new studies show that helps to improve or prevent mild cognitive impairment.
One study demonstrated that those who did moderate exercise in mid-life, such as swimming, brisk walking, yoga, etc where 39% less likely to have mild cognitive impairment. That's a pretty significant percentage.
I often hear people say that exercise "clears their head." I know that when I start to drift into a "brain funk" half way through my work-day, a brisk walk gets my mind working again way better than a cup of coffee or some sugary snack does.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Frankly, the corporate tit for tat is meaningless for me. All I know is that when I want a cooking show fix, one of my usual sources for the stuff isn't there.
Scripps and Cablevision, could you just kiss and make up? Mama needs some sugar.
One by one, the ornaments and lights were stripped from the big tree, packed away and the boxes removed to the basement. The tree was taken outside to the garbage heap, and mounds of pine needles swept from the floors and vacuumed out of the carpets.
The nutcrackers were similarly coddled, boxed and re-stored as were the ornaments on the two, smaller feather trees I put up in the dining and living rooms. The artificial garlands came down from the windows and stair-ways, and the Christmas "village" from my mother's childhood put once again in safe storage with all the pleasant memories from my child-hood as well.
By the end of the afternoon the house was more or less in its pre-Christmas state. It was all very cleansing.
In the same way that I purge my house every year of its Holiday bloat, post-Christmas is a time to also cleanse my body of its seasonal indulges.
I dared to step on the scale this weekend, and I weighed in at 131 pounds. I had been at 128 pounds just prior to Thanksgiving. I had actually gotten down to 124 over the summer, but my body quickly bounced back to the 128 pounds it seems to like to be at these days. So my overall weight gain for the Thanksgiving through New Year's festivities was 3 pounds. Not bad, but not great either.
So the short term goal is to reform the diet to lose those 3 pounds. After that we'll see if I can get back down to 124 and make it stick.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Do we really need gadgets, and apps to do that?
Thursday, January 7, 2010
It's really disheartening to think you're being good and doing your homework in noting and counting calories, just to find out that the numbers you're given are false. What I found particularly upsetting is that restaurant calorie counts can be off by as much as 18%. That can really add up over the course of a year.
I guess it's just another case of "let the buyer beware."
Don't get me wrong, I love my treadmill, but after a few weeks of daily runs in front of the TV, ennui sets in (not to mention that there's just nothing left to watch).
I've been trying to get a girlfriend of mine to snowshoe with me in the local nature preserve. But our schedules just haven't worked out. So this morning I finally said "what the hell," threw my snowshoes and poles in my car, and headed off the the nature preserve alone.
It was lovely and peaceful. Sunshine reflected off the snow, and although I started out cold (my car thermometer said it was 19 degrees outside), I quickly warmed up.
It was such a nice experience that I decided to do it again tomorrow.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Jack, You didn't ask me for my tips, but here they are anyway. First, make sure that the majority of what you eat over the course of a week is raw fruits and vegetables. Second, exercise every day.
I love Michael Pollan's writing about food, which is both thoughtful and thought provoking. Pollan has a way of crystallizing what I'm thinking in the back of my mind into simple coherent statements.
Pollan has a new book out called "Food Rules." I haven't read the actual book yet, but he writes about it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-pollan/food-rules-a-completely-d_b_410173.html. The few sample rules he gives show that the book should be a worthwhile read. Among my favorites:
- Avoid foods you see advertised on television.
- Don't eat breakfast cereals which change the color of milk.
- Eat all the junk food you want as long as you make it yourself.
- If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Of course, going to the mother's Girl Scout meeting to talk about this year's cookie sales (and having plates of Girl Scout cookies out), didn't help, but I didn't eat a single cookie. All I can say is thank god there were no Samoas.
I still need to get on the scale and see what damage I've done, and I really should take my measurements as well. I even promised myself I'd get on the scale this morning, but somehow "forgot." I guess I want to give myself at least a couple of weeks of non-indulgence prior to facing the music.
Tomorrow the plan is for fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch and a light fish meal for dinner.
Wish me luck.
Monday, January 4, 2010
I did do a number of things to balance out the fun. I fit in extra exercise when ever I could, and tried to balance out allowing myself an occasional treat by going more austere other days.
Still, a couple of bad habits have crept in. I'm now back up to two cups of coffee a day, and I've been allowing myself a bit too much sugar. My raw percentage has also gone below were I normally like to see it.
On the plus side, even through my raw percentage has gone down, I balanced it by having more vegetarian meals and went completely meatless at least 3 days a week.
So now that we rang in a new year, it's time to focus on my diet again and work to cut out sugar and caffeine. My husband is supposed to go away on a business trip soon, and when he goes I'll plan on doing a mini-detox--going completely vegetarian, with no caffeine, alcohol, meat and dairy. It will be good for me and I know I'll feel great afterwards.