Friday, April 29, 2011

Can we get Healthier Movie Theater Pop-Corn Please?

Something I didn't know but just learned.   The new law mandating that chain restaurants post calorie counts will apply to movie theaters concession stands.  As you can imagine, movie theaters are not happy about this, and are fighting the new law.

Could it be that when people start seeing that an average sized bag of movie theater popcorn with butter contains 1,480 calories that they'll think twice about ordering it?   I know I did when I first learned the facts. 

I've blogged about the horrors of movie theater popcorn before, and I'm excited by this rule for one reason.  I stopped buying popcorn in movies because its such a caloric disaster.  I hope and pray that the new rule will lead to movie theaters offering a healthier, lower calorie, popcorn alternative for those of us who want to watch our weight.  

I miss munching on a bag of popcorn at the movies, and if they would just offer an alternative, I can go back to happily tossing back the  kernels in the dark. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

You Know You Have a Problem when . . . .

You know you have a problem when you have to tell your kids they have to hide their Easter baskets to keep Mommy from pilfering all the chocolate out of them.

I can leave the Peeps, the Jelly beans and other candy alone, but when you put chocolate in front of me, I eat it.   Yesterday, I told my kids to hide their Easter baskets from me. 

Just for Laughs

 Hat Tip to Britbabe.  Click on the comic to get a better view and the full effect. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When Is a Salad Not a Salad?

Not a lot of time to comment today, but I read this and posted it primarily because of this line: 

Seems as though dieters are so busy avoiding a long list of "forbidden" foods that they're failing to take note of what really matters: the product's ingredients, not the marketing hype.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bon Appetit?

One of my "must sees" while I was in Washington was Julia Child's Cambridge kitchen recreated at the Smithsonian. 

Some background.  When Julia Child moved back to her home state of California in 2001, she donated the kitchen from her Cambridge, Massachusetts, home (from where she broadcast three cooking shows) to the Museum. The exhibition features the actual kitchen, including the cabinets, appliances, her Garland range, cookbooks, kitchen table, and hundreds of utensils and gadgets.

It was fascinating to peek into the actual working kitchen of one of the world’s best-known cooks, and explore how her influence as an author and host of several television series changed the way America cooks.

The first thing that struck me was how small her kitchen was.  It only measured some 14 by 20 feet.   I'm so used to seeing gigantic McMansion kitchens, that it brought me back to the reality that it really doesn't take much space to create a superb meal.

Viewing Julia's kitchen also got me to reflect on her influence, and I sometimes wonder if that influence was all good.

Now, I adore Julia Child.  I'm one of those people who has cooked her way through a good part of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I also have several other of her cookbooks, and they are fabulous resources.

But, the problem with Julia is that she was trained as a professional chef and the cooking techniques she taught were the kind that professional chefs used.

Julia set the standard of cooking shows, and that standard, I'm afraid, oftentimes scares more people away from cooking then brings them to it.

Now I grew up in a big Italian household and was taught by my grandmother how to cook.  Nana never used a recipe.   She mixed an egg and flour together and if the concoction looked like it needed more flour she'd add it.   Her cooking was organic in the sense that there was never the need for a measuring cup or spoon.   Dinner was often based on whatever was in the refrigerator or growing in the garden.    There was never a "set" way to make anything from tomato sauce to cookies, but somehow or another everything came out of her kitchen tasting delicious.

Julia Child, on the other hand, was a proponent of scientific precision in her cooking and recipe development.   I have to say that her methodology was pretty much faultless.  Every recipe works perfectly if you follow her recipes to the letter.  

But, that legacy has led to a generation of cooks believing they can't cook unless they follow a recipe exactly, and that if some ingredient or another isn't available, then the recipe can't be made.   It's led to people believing that to make dinner, they have to first go to a store, recipe in hand, and doggedly go up and down the aisles until that list is filled.   Then they have to go home and meticulously chop, prep and measure.  

That can be exhausting.

We've lost something in the last 30 or 40 years, and that's a certain knowledge base of just knowing how to cook stuff without someone telling us how to do it.   That's led to people cooking less, and that in turn has led to people ordering in, taking out and eating out more.   This, in turn, has led to the obesity epidemic in this country.

Julia, I loved you, but see what you wrought?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fat is Contagious?

I'm posting this more because I thought it was interesting.  I certainly don't think it's dogma. 

While the article notes that being around obese people is more likely to make one obese, I think the article leaves out one major factor.   Food is social.   When we socialize, food is just about always involved, and if the people we're socializing with are overweight or obese, chances are they're not serving carrots and healthy dips.   They're also less likely to take you to an organic, vegetarian restaurant (or appreciate you taking them there).

I've preached before that if you're losing weight you can't go it alone.   Like it or not you have to bring your entire family with you onto the lower calorie/healthier eating track, and even I will admit that its not easy.  I'm still constantly battling my husband over food issues.  But I have gained some ground over the last few years, and my entire family is better off for it. 

That's not to say that the work is not over.   My kids are as vegetable adverse as anyone else's, and getting my husband to make healthier choices in restaurants is proving nearly impossible.   But, I have gotten my kids used to the idea that candy and ice cream are occasional rewards that are almost never kept in the house, and my husband no longer throws a fit when presented with a meatless meal. 

And, I've lost weight and kept it off in the transformation.  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hotels are Nice, But . . . .

I just returned from a short family trip to Washington, DC.  

It was great.  We got to see the oDeclaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of rights, as well as the White House, Capital, Washington & Lincoln monuments, and spent time at the Smithsonian as well.

It was the first time we stayed in a hotel as a family in years.   Generally we rent condos or houses when we vacation, but the nature of this trip pretty much demanded we stay in a hotel.

I have to admit, you can really get spoiled when you stay in a hotel.  No matter how big a mess you leave the room in, when you come back it's all picked up and straightened out with the beds made up and new fresh, clean, towels in the bathroom.

And, I have to admit, not having to cook for a few days was a nice change of pace. 

But, by not cooking, particularly for breakfast, I really got to see how many people eat, and, I have to say, it was difficult for me to imagine why people would want to eat that way.

The first morning, we wanted to get to the National Archives early, so we bypassed the hotel's breakfast buffet.  Not only would it have been expensive (at $15 a person), but it would have taken too much time, and buffets just lead to overeating, so I wanted to avoid that.

So we headed off to an Au Bon Pan.   All I can say is Thank the Lord for calorie labeling!!!    I looked up at the menu of breakfast options in dismay which for the most part would have blown too many of my allowable calories for the day.   I was at a loss as to what to do when I noticed a "new offering" of egg whites, cheddar cheese on a "skinny" whole wheat bagel.   It topped out at 290 calories, still more then I would like to consume at breakfast, but tolerable.  

My husband, kids and I all ordered our various selections and then waited, and waited, and waited some more.   The Au Bon Pan was packed with what looked like young professionals all waiting for their breakfasts as well.  

We got our breakfast sandwiches and then dashed off to the National Archives to eat them on line.

The experience once again had me scratching my head as to why people insist they don't have time to cook.  I could have cooked up a batch of eggs, toasted rolls,cleaned up and gotten all of us out the door in less time then it took to order and wait for this "fast food" breakfast option.

Not only that, but the "eggs" in these sandwiches were questionable.   They were rubbery, somewhat slimy, and far inferior to what I generally make. 

So, if I had access to a kitchen I could have made breakfast quicker and the product would have tasted infinitely better.  

Of course, I was staying in a hotel and had no option.  But I have to presume that all those young professionals ordering and running out with their egg, ham and cheese on a croissant had access to kitchens.  Did they really need to consume the excess calories and God  knows what extra chemicals every day?

I think not. 

And, you can't argue that the people I saw weren't regulars.  Some greeted the staff by name, and judging by the speed in which they came in and filled in their orders, others definitely knew the routine.

The next morning we headed out to Starbucks and I was thrilled to find that they sold fresh bananas, so I got  2 fresh bananas with my Grande Cappuccino with skim.  After my slimy, caloric-fest the day before, it was nice to get back to something akin to my normal breakfast routine.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Away we Go!

The family is taking a short jaunt down to Washington, DC, so I won't be blogging for the next few days.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stand Up!!

Turns out that sitting could be bad for you.   A Swedish study found that too much sitting, and not just lack of exercise, contributes to heart disease and other bad stuff.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My "Spa" Weekend.

My husband give me a treat this weekend.  He took the kids and disappeared for the night!!!  

Actually, he went to visit family in New Jersey, and left me all alone Saturday night into Sunday. 

Of course, when he first told me he would be going away, overnight, with the kids, my first instinct was to see if any GFs were available and PARTY!!

But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that what I really needed was to just RELAX.  I'd been feeling pretty tired and run down lately, and thought it might actually be nice to just stay home, read and take a nice, long relaxing bath.

My husband left around 3 in the after noon on Saturday and the first thing I did was make myself a cup a tea and headed up to my bedroom where I through a log in the fireplace and lit it.   It was probably only the third time since we've lived here that I actually had a fire in my Master-bedroom, and it was a perfect day to do so.    It was pouring rain and windy outside with claps of thunder punctuating the otherwise quite house from time to time (I was really happy I had decided to just stay home). 

Fire roaring, I then settled under the covers in bed and read, uninterupted for over an hour--a pretty amazing experience.    Then, I took a little nap, and when I woke up, went downstairs to make myself a nice salad for dinner.

After dinner, I jumped on the treadmill for a bit while I watched a movie--uninteruppted.   Then, I filled up the clawfoot tub in my master bath with nice hot water, added some Lavender scented bubble bath, and had a long, long soak.

At this point, I really wasn't missing anybody, but thought it good-form to call and feign missing them.   No answer, so I left a message, got in my jammies and got to read some more.

The next morning, I got up on my own without someone telling me they were hungry and asking when I was getting up.  I went to yoga, and when I got back realized that I had to return to reality.  I worked in the yard some, then scrubbed down the master bath, and then the family came back home. 


Friday, April 15, 2011

The Joy Of Not Cooking???

Megan  McArdle is the business and economics editor for the Atlantic, but from time to time she writes a damn interesting piece on cooking in America.   In her latest post,  Megan postulated on how we're spending more on our kitchens but cooking in them less which you can read here

She posits that since, for many, cooking has become more of a leisure activity, we're more apt to spend more money on our kitchens and devote more square footage of them.  She writes:

Perhaps we’re spending so much on our kitchens precisely because we’re using them less. When women left the kitchen, they began earning their own money—and the spending authority that comes with it. Since 1990, while the inflation-adjusted income of traditional single-earner couples has barely risen, the income of dual-earner couples has risen 16 percent. Schwefel says, “The core of my business is that 40- or 50-something woman who has more time than she did 10 years ago and is rediscovering kitchens.”

In other words, cooking is increasingly a leisure activity, especially at the high end of the market. My grandmother loved cooking, but it was still essentially a job: she cooked well because she wanted her family to eat well. For women today, cooking from scratch is an option—something you do when you are not hard-pressed by the demands of children and careers. Schwefel sees an increasing bifurcation between the markets for everyday equipment and for leisure cookware: the stainless-steel sauteuse for a quick weeknight stir-fry; the ebelskiver pans, and braisers, and jumbo chef’s knives for the weekends, when there’s time to use them. The split is even more striking in our recipes. The best-selling cookbooks are aspirational fare, like Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Yet the No. 1 cooking magazine is Taste of Home, which relies heavily on mixes and processed foods, and offers speed and convenience rather than lifestyle fulfillment.
She also notes that:

When we’re spending on leisure rather than drudgery, we think about our purchases very differently. Jobs are about cost-benefit analysis, which is why no one buys ultra-premium paper clips for their home office—in fact, many people who cook for a living make fun of amateurs like me, with our profusion of specialty knives and high-end pans. Leisure is as much about our pleasant fantasies as it is about what we’re actually doing. If you see cooking as an often boring part of your daily work, you’ll buy the pots you need to finish the job, and then stop. But if it’s part of a voyage of personal “rediscovery,” you’ll never stop finding new side trips to take—and everyone who’s been on a nice vacation knows the guilty pleasure of spending a little more than you should.
I found this article particularly interesting because I am about to embark on my own kitchen flight-of-fantasy upscale myself.  

When we bought our house 17 years ago, it came with a cute, charming kitchen that the previous owner actually built himself (he was a major do-it-yourselfer).   I painted it blue (it was beige) and over the years as major appliances died, we put in a new refrigerator, stove and two dishwashers.

I posted pictures of my present kitchen above.   Don't get so excited--it doesn't always look this good.   Two years ago my house was on an historic house tour and this is my kitchen gussied up for the tour. 

People love my kitchen, and are taken in by it's charms, but it was built by an amateur and there's all sorts of issues.   For one thing, I can't open up my freezer all the way to get an ice tray out.   I also have a set of drawers by the stove which I can't open unless I open the stove first.  I don't have all the fancy pull out cabinets so much of my cabinet space is unreachable and so, unused.   Also, some of the cabinets have started to pull from the wall and are literally being propped up by appliances like the microwave.  

I also can't use the back burners on my stove for long periods of time, because you may notice from the pictures that not only do I not have an oven hood, but the cabinet is less then 12 inches above the stove top.   Finally (but still not everything) the terra cotta floor is cracked all over and I have to periodically put back pieces that came up and people kicked around (it's like a giant jig saw puzzle).

So, considering its close to 30 years old, I think my kitchen's time has come.  I've been meeting with the builder and architect, and hopefully we'll get going on it sometime before the end of the year.

I have to admit, the urge to not fly completely off the handle and spend a zillion dollars is tough.   Kitchens are such a central part of the real estate culture these days (even though they're barely used), that its hard saying no to granite counter-tops and $10,000 Aga cookers.   Fantasy does seem to want to win out over practicality.  

I have to keep telling myself that I actually want to cook in this room when I'm through ripping it out and replacing it, and have to think about what will make it the most efficient and easy to clean.   I also have to keep reminding myself, that, unfortunately, I don't have a zillion to spend (although the amount we will be spending is still eye-popping), and need to rein in the fantasy a bit (although granite counter-tops ARE practical when you think about it.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Start Small, Switch it Up and Remember to STRETCH

If any of you are not familiar with BitchCakes' blog I really encourage you to check it out here.   The woman who writes this blog is truly inspirational.   She completely turned her life around, and went from being, essentially, overweight and non-active to this total athletic diva--completely transforming her life and her body in the process.

Well, I was checking out her blog today and found this little video short of her interviewing fitness expert Jennifer Cohen about the Weight Watcher's Walk-It Challenge.  

I thought Jennifer offered some excellent advice.  First, she advised people to start slow when they begin to exercise.   This is important because, as I frequently stated, the goal is to make lifetime changes.  Because we're so obsessed with losing weight FAST, I think we too often dive into strenuous work-out programs which overtax us.  This is plain old not fun, and what winds up happening is that exercising becomes a chore.   Chores are something that we tend to want to avoid.

If you start slowly, however, and build up the intensity as we gain strength and endurance, there's a good chance that exercise will become more of a fulfilling part of our day--something we look forward to.

Jennifer's second piece of advice is also important--change up your exercise routine.   If we keep doing the same thing over and over and over again, are muscles get used to the routine, you burn fewer calories, and we're likely to get bored.

Jennifer then advised that we should STRETCH!!!   As a certified yoga instructor (RYT 200), I can not tell you how important it is that stretching is incorporated into your exercise regime.    I'm in the process of reading Power Yoga by Beryl Bender Birch who ran the yoga program for the New York Road Runners club and she writes extensively in the book on just how various activities cause imbalances which lead to injuries and how stretching can prevent the injuries from happening (I'll try to blog more about the book when I finish).  

I have a friend who is a personal fitness trainer.   She injured her hip running, and I recently worked with her in a private yoga session.   My friend is very fit, but once I started working with her, I immediately saw why her injury occurred.   Her flexibility in the hip region was pretty limited.  

I didn't charge my friend for the session, and in exchange, she gave me a personal fitness training session.    Now as someone who both runs and does yoga just about everyday and hikes, skis etc., I immediately was able to grasp where my weaknesses were fitness-wise.   Yoga is a fantastic stretch and toning workout, but there were obviously some areas that my yoga practice was not challenging.  

Both my girlfriend and I appreciated what each of us had to offer, and we've agreed to have more fitness/yoga exchanges.    I think my thighs will be very happy with the change in routine.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Kitchen Diva Syndrome

I was going through the comments of my recent Losing Weight Starts in the Kitchen post when I came upon this comment from Eliza:
Wow, I could feel myself getting so defensive over this post. Then I got to the last paragraph. Why in the world do I think "start cooking wholesome meals made from real foods" translates into I must become a kitchen diva that prepares everything from scratch. You are so right. It's simple, really. Fruit/oatmeal for breakfast; a salad or soup for lunch; etc.
No matter how much I (or any one else) works/puts time into their priorities, you are absolutely right, we can feed ourselves wholesome food that doesn't have to take hours to make.
Eliza makes a great point.  We all have time to make our own foods, the problem is that we've been led to believe that cooking is always complicated, time consuming and messy.

It's the Kitchen Diva Syndrome.  We're so bombarded by cooking shows extolling time consuming recipes incorporating ingredients that we have to go on a scavenger hunt for, that we think that's the only way to cook.

Now, I love to cook, and really love to get in the kitchen and challenge myself culinarily by whipping up an elaborate meal.

But, let's get real here, I'm a working Mom with two kids (one who is autistic) who's also trying to fit in exercise every day.   Most of my "cooking" involves whipping up a family dinner in less then 30 minutes (oftentimes less then 20), and my personal breakfast and lunches usually can't take more then five to ten minutes.  

Getting dinner on the table every night, and me fed every morning and afternoon means easy, low prep, and simple ingredients (I also don't have time to run to the store every day).  

Some things are just plain simple.   It takes less then a minute to peel and eat a banana for breakfast.  Sometimes I like to spread raw almond butter on my banana and even when I do that, it's still less then a minute.   Halving and seeding a cantaloupe takes virtually no time and preparing and popping oatmeal in the microwave gets breakfast ready for me in less then 5 minutes.   Probably the most elaborate stuff I make for myself for breakfast are eggs.   A couple of soft boiled eggs takes about 9 minutes to make and I toast some multi-grain bread while the eggs are cooking.   An egg white omelet takes about the equivalent amount of time--which is still less time then it would take to get to a fast food joint and wait for them to prepare it.

Lunch is usually a salad.  I buy the pre-washed mixed greens, shredded cabbage and carrots, add some raw almonds or cashews for "crunch", and I usually chop a whole red onion at one time so that it lasts me for a week.  Maybe I'll slice up some cucumber, mango, avocado or pepper, and I make my salad dressings, in bulk, about once a week.  I can usually throw together a salad and get back to work on my computer in less then ten minutes.

Dinner usually takes some planning, but a light sprinkling of salt and pepper (and maybe dried parsley) on salmon or boneless chicken breast prior to slapping it on a pre-heated grill pan gets dinner ready in less then 15 minutes.  While the salmon or chicken is cooking I can whip up another salad or steam broccoli or asparagus, and maybe cook some rice as well.

Cooking once and eating twice is also a staple.   Some foods naturally freeze well, so if I'm making a minestrone (essentially vegetable soup) it just behooves me to make a big batch and freeze half to have when I don't have the time to prepare minestrone from scratch.   Italian girl that I am, I can't fathom the concept of using jarred tomato sauce, so when I make it, I make enough for three or four meals.

I'm also a huge fan of low prep time/long baking time meals.   Do you know how long it takes to prep a chicken for roasting??? Less then five minutes.  It takes a while to roast (depending on the size and hour or more), but I can be working, helping the kids with homework, exercising etc., while that's happening.  

So, despite what you've been led to believe by the Barefoot Contessa, Martha Stewart, Paula Deane and other Kitchen Divas, you don't have to go to elaborate lengths to prepare food for yourself.   You don't even need a recipe.

Like the Nike commercial says--Just Do it.  You'll be glad you did. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A New Way to Measure How Fat you Are

According to this news story, there's a new way to measure how fat you are.   Body Mass Index (BMI), has been used for a couple of centuries to determine if someone is overweight or obese.

The problem with BMI, however, is that its really not all that accurate.   For muscular people, such as athletes, BMI is unreliable because it only takes into account height and weight.   Muscle weighs more than fat, so a muscular athlete who is the same height and weight as a fat couch potato would have the same BMI.

The new measurement, Body Adiposity Index (BAI) takes into account hip measurement in addition to height and weight.   This additional measurement makes the BAI slightly more accurate in deteriming body fat on a person then BMI.   It helps to differentiate between excess flab and muscular abs. 

You can calculate both your BMI and BAI here.   I did the  calculations, and my BMI is 24.1 which is on the high side of normal, and my BAI is 29.6 which is smack dab in the middle of the healthy range.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Quote for The Day

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered:

"Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."
Sometimes you just can't add to the wisdom of the Dalai Lama. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Getting Back into the Groovy 70's, Calorie Wise

Why have obesity rates risen so dramatically?  Because the number of calories we eat has gone up.   You have to check out the chart I've pasted above at the link--it's interactive and as you slide from left to right, it shows how calories we ingest have increased from the 1970 and what kind of calories we're consuming.

The bottom line is that, on average people now consume 23.3% more calories in a day then they did in 1970.    That is a huge increase in calories.   What's more, the biggest jump in calories consumed occurred between 1990 and 2008.  

And, it's not just the amount of calories we consume, but how we consume them.    Most of the additional calories we now consume are added fat and sugar (although we seem to be eating a hell of a lot more of everything).

I know that when I started to try to lose weight, the hardest thing was readjusting my portion sizes.   We've gotten so used to super-sized portions, that when we're confronted with right-sized portions, it looks inadequate.   The portions also initially seemed to leave me hungry.  We're so used to overfilling our bellies, that when you get a correct sized portion, we don't feel "full."

Rather than going "cold turkey" I reduced my portions gradually.  As I got used to less food, the smaller portions became more satisfying and more "filling." 

I also overhauled where I got my calories from.   By focusing on eating a mostly raw/vegan diet, I was able to eat more and feel satisfied while reducing my overall caloric intake substantially.   Again, I did this gradually, over time, so as to not "shock" my system.  Now, I'm used to eating this way, and, when I do have a "heavy" meal, I actually feel kind of hung over and sluggish the next day.

I still eat meat, dairy, fish, eggs and desserts, I just focus on eating "mostly" raw/vegan.  That means that instead of a processed snack when I need a mid-morning pick-up, I eat an orange or some grapes.  I eat lots of salads, and try to have a salad every night with dinner.  

And, when I do eat meat, I eat less of it and more veggies.  In fact, veggies and fruit, raw and cooked, make up the bulk of what I eat these days.  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Our Big Pig Problem

Scientific American has a fantastic article on our reliance on feeding antibiotics to our food animals, and the Dane's experience in stopping the practice. 

The Danes, who are the world's largest exporter of pork, managed to eliminate antibiotics from their farm animals with no ill effects to the industry. 

So why can't we?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Losing Weight Starts in the Kitchen

I saw this over at HuffPo and had to post it here.  The author, has come to the same conclusion I have--you can never be thin or healthy if you let the food industry prepare your food for you. 

He makes a lot of good comments including this:
What didn't make sense to me was her willingness to blame the food industry and restaurants for limiting her healthy food options, yet she was unwilling to take her health into her own hands. The fact is, our quick and easy, rapid-pace lifestyle has gotten us to where we are in the first place, and it is really going to take some effort on our parts to tip the scales in the other direction.
And this:
I often hear my clients complain that they need a fast solution. They say they need to eat on the go, that they don't have time to think about eating, and that they can't even begin to think about making healthy food choices, let alone learn how to cook! We have made eating a chore, kicked it to the lowest priority on the list, and even treat it as though it were a hassle. With so many fast and cheap alternatives, why bother putting much thought into meal planning?

It's so easy to blame the food industry for our current obesity epidemic, but in reality, we must all take responsibility for our own actions. We've forgotten that we are the ones who asked the industry for quicker and faster meals over the years. We sure did get what we wanted, but at what cost?
And this:
So where do we begin? Well, stop demanding quick, easy, and processed foods and start cooking wholesome meals made from real foods. This will increase the demand for nutritious foods, putting pressure on the manufacturers to increase supply and forcing them to boost their selection of real foods because now this is what their customers are asking for.

You don't have to be Julia Childs everyday! Just pack your lunch, bring food to work, snack sensibly, and stop depending on the food industry and restaurants to fuel your life. You don't have to cut eating out completely, and believe me, I really enjoy a great meal out on the town, but I see it as a special occasion, not an everyday event.
Losing Weight starts in the kitchen. Pure and simple. If you take control of your food, you take control of your weight and your health. If you cede control of your food to the food industry you cede control over your own weight and health. You'll never be thin nor healthy if you insist that you can not prepare your own food. Also, the time argument is just pure BS. If you have time to run to a take out joint, you have time to make your own food.

Preparing your own food can be as simple as peeling and eating a banana for breakfast instead of pouring it out of a box or heading out to McDonald's for an Egg McMuffin.   Throwing some lettuce in a container and adding some chopped cucumbers, onions, etc for lunch takes hardly any effort and probably takes less time to heading to Au Bon Pain to pick up a sandwich to bring back to the office. 


A new study shows how food is just as addicting as drugs.

I fully believe this.   I know from my own experience that I just can't have certain foods around me because if I see them, I eat them.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

First Hike of the Year

Yesterday the weather managed to not be frigid, there was some sun, and we hadn't had a really heavy rain all week.   Since the likelihood of getting mired knee-deep in mud was slim, I decided to take my 16 year old son, who is on the autistic spectrum, for our first hike of the new year.

We happen to be fortunate to live literally around the corner from a 1,700 acre nature preserve called Devil's Den.  Devil's Den spans several towns here in Connecticut and there are hiking trails throughout the preserve.    I've been taking advantage of a fortunate proximity to hike with both my family and friends ever since I've lived in Weston.

With all the snow this Winter, I did manage to get into the Den a few times to snow shoe.   But with all the snow and rain, and the tendency of Devil's Den to get really muddy, I've been avoiding going in for the last 6 weeks.  

But yesterday seemed to be a good day to finally head back in, so I got my hiking boots on and told my son he was coming with me for a short hike (you have to delineate these things for him, we have some set hikes he knows by heart which takes the anxiety out of the equation for him). 

I wasn't the only person who thought that way.   When I got to the Den entrance, the parking lot was completely filled and cars were parked all the way down the road leading to the entrance.   But that's a good thing--more hiking.

My son and I climbed out of the car, covered ourselves in repellent in case the Lyme ticks were out (it was probably too cold, but after having Lyme 3 times I don't take risks), and off we headed into the woods.

I was chilly when we first started, but after 15 minutes of hiking up hill, I warmed up, and by the time we ended our hike 45 minutes later, I had a good sweat worked up.

And, according to my calorie estimator, I burned 263 calories.

Now that the weather is finally warming up (we hope but its been a wild and crazy year), I'll be doing a lot more hiking again.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fasting to Get Closer to God

I've covered modern attitudes about fasting before, but after I saw this article in the New York Times regarding fasting and religion, thought it was time to bring it up again.

You can tell the extent of the food industry's brainwashing of the American public by the appalled reactions you get when you bring up fasting.

Tell someone that you're going to fast for a day or two, and you're viewed as crazy, out of the ordinary, and jeopardizing your health.   People shake their heads and will actually ask you why you would even do such a thing as go 1 day without eating.  

But, when you look back on history, fasting was part of the regular cycle of human existence, and often tied to religious observance.   Fasting during  Lent, Ramadan or Yom Kipper were part of the natural cycle of the religious year and preparing yourself to be closer to God.

If you go back even further, fasting was often just a part of human existence.   Our ancient ancestors fasted because, sadly, they often didn't have access to food.  

So, although the modern food industry has convinced us that we need to be constantly stuffing our pie-holes day in and day out, in actuality our bodies are designed to go days without food from time to time.

In our modern world, food is so readily available, that the problem is that we spend billions trying to negate the effects of eating that bounty, i.e, lose the fat.

The reality is that fasting for one day a month, is probably healthier then sticking to the 3 meals a day, every day, dogma that we've espoused.  But we are now so surrounded by food and food advertising that consciencely not eating is unthinkable.

Now, of course, there is a difference between healthy fasting, and eating disorders.  Short term fasting for health or religious reasons is, well, healthy.   Short or long term fasting for no other reason then to try to loose weight is unhealthy.