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A Repost: Resolution Ideas For the Eater In All of Us

I thought I would be lazy as I ease back into blogging. So I found solid post for this time of year, adjusted the caption and revised the intro.  Life is all about time management these days, right? What’s the saying…work smarter not harder. Done.  As we head into January, let the New Year’s resolution game begin!

New Year’s resolutions are a bit of a joke these days.  At least I think so. What makes January 1st so special? Do you really need a whole new year to turn over a leaf in your life? Nine times out of ten, most resolutions revolve around health.  Shouldn’t you want to lead a healthier life each day?  Ugh, enough.  I am so above you, I cannot even write on this topic any longer. Instead, I thought I would give you a new way to look at these so-called resolutions. I don’t personally do them, but if I did, I would do something along the ‘more-is-less’ line.

I find most people resolve to choose some form of restriction when it comes to so-called ‘healthy living’. I will lose weight, I will eat less, I won’t eat dessert anymore, I will stop biting my nails, I will give up fried foods, etc. To me this sounds so exhausting, not to mention it’s ultimately a set up for eventual failure. I am here to save you. You can use my name to bail you out of the tired commitment to deprivation. Replace that limited mindset with something you actually long for: surplus.  No, I don’t mean eat more sugar or drink more beer. Read on sweet child.

If I were to make a New Year’s resolution I would want to pick up a healthy ‘habit’, not focus on eliminating an unhealthy one. Just some suggestions:
  1. I will eat more fiber – shoot for the recommended 20-35 grams each day
  2. I will eat more fruits – eating at least 3 servings a day
  3. I will eat more vegetables – have one snack consisting of baby carrots, bell pepper strips or cucumber slices
  4. I will increase dairy intake – drinking a glass of low fat milk with one meal a day or eating low fat cheese or yogurt
  5. I will drink more water – shoot for five, 8 ounce glasses a day if the idea of downing 8 glasses makes your bladder hurt

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what I’m doing here.  If you load up your day with more fruits, vegetables, and fiber you’re going to wind up feeling full more often. Where will you fit in your 3pm Doritos snack time? Adopting for one of these five suggestions may make it more difficult to indulge in some less-than-favorable behaviors. Maybe not. Is this little trick a cure-all? Heck no.  But it is a start and we all must learn to walk before we run.  Some poor souls attempt dietary overhaul when January arrives. Personally, I think that is too much to handle for most sane individuals.  It might last for a day, a week, a month, but it will come to a screeching halt the moment you get a) bored, b) tired, c) anxious, d) upset, e) constipated…you get the idea.

If it’s weight loss you seek, this surplus approach may seem counter productive.  It’s not. Weight loss doesn’t have to equal starvation. Your best ally is going to be capitalizing on satiety and always keeping your hunger in check. If I am driving home from work, riding the subway home from school or making dinner in my kitchen and find I am ravenous, I’m never above reaching for a piece of fruit or some vegetables. Eat a little low-calorie, high volume nosh and take the edge off.  It might be the difference between a third piece of pizza or a second scoop of chili.  The goal is to fill you up without filling you out.

Lifestyle changes have their merits and if you are bold enough to try one then I support you one hundred percent, no matter how much I trash talk New Year’s resolutions. God bless and good luck.

That Better Be A 1040 In Your Pocket and Not A Banana

Just when I think Americans know everything about healthy eating and start to panic that I may have entered a profession that is becoming obsolete due to the internet, a little survey comes along and proves just how wrong I am. This is probably the one time I will accept defeat with open arms.  You see I have lived in this academic bubble for the last 6 years, learning all about nutrition.  So I am rather ignorant to what you people actually know.  I just assume because I know it, so must you.  Woe is the life of a cocky grad student. Sue me.

Recently though, a research has come out on what Americans actually think with respect to their diets and healthy eating and it is VERY interesting.  In a nation-wide study, the Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health, researchers conducted a 25-minute web-based survey on Americans across the country.  Below are the highlights of their findings. For the complete summary of their findings, click here.

  • 52% of Americans think it’s easier to file their income tax on their own than improving their diet
  • 90% of Americans consider themselves healthy, but 20% say their eating habits are not at all or not too healthful.
  • 55% of us are currently trying to lose weight, up from 2011’s 43%
  • Only 1 in 7 Americans estimated the correct calorie count they need to maintain their current weight
  • 44% are trying to eliminate or limit their purchase of products with High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • 60% of respondents are trying to consume more protein (funny because we all already eat too much anyway)

Where do I begin? While I cringe at the results of these findings, I can’t help but let my internal evil self giggle with delight over the potential my degree holds. Look, I get it.  Nutrition is hard.  I can act patronizing, but the truth is there is a boatload of information out there for you to read, learn and integrate into your lives regardless of whether it actually holds water. I could digress here and discuss the undervalued dietitian, but I will spare you.

We live in a culture where unhealthy food is cheap and available, portion sizes have doubled over the last 20 years, and we’re all engaging in less physical activity than ever before. There are a lot of pieces to the obesity puzzle including diet, lifestyle, and genetics. I think we can all agree on one thing; based on the results of this survey, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about nutrition and how to make smarter food choices.

What’s The Nutella With You

Okay that title was just terrible.  I am reblogging a post found on one of my favorite blogs today – Fooducate.  Click the picture below to go to the article.  Enjoy!

“Nutella is paying just over $3 million to settle a class action lawsuit. Apparently, it had been misleading consumers to think it was a healthy food…”

Happy Monday Everyone

A Mother’s Mistake & Vogue’s Publishing Misstep

I admire those in the world of journalism, especially those who call upon their own life for the sake of artistic expression.  It takes an immense amount of talent to string together simple words and convey a powerful message that can be meaningful to the reader.  I applaud those who have achieved success in this profession and encourage those who may not be at the apex of their careers to never let rejection detour from passion.  Having said this, one widely read publication recently spit in the eye of professional writing and ethical publishing and I am here to pick some bones.  I promise, I don’t view this blog as an opinion box from my innermost disgust, but the world of nutrition is becoming a complex place and there’s a lot of people out there doing the wrong things.  It’s my job to point out these errors. Okay, it’s actually not, but I cannot ignore this one. 

Vogue.  It’s a fashion devotee’s bible to the world of style. The April issue was focused on all things bodily.  How to beat your migraines, ways to raise your metabolism, and age proofing your skin were all features of the 328-page magazine.  Because let’s be honest – I get the majority of my health advice from the Vogue editorial staff, most of whom have degrees in either fashion merchandising or medicine.  I started to hear buzz about an article which ran in this very issue on the world-wide web.  Within minutes of skimming the news feed on my Google search, I threw on a coat and headed for the door. Ten minutes and three dollars and ninety-nine cents later I was practically crying in my apartment.  And here’s why.

The title reads, “Weight Watchers: When she put her seven-year-old daughter on a strict diet, Dara-Lynn Weiss overcame skepticism, scorn-and the fear that she was doing more harm than good.”  Sounds triumphant right?  It’s Vogue’s feel good story of the year. It’s not.  After that title, the article turns into what I would classify as a “Stage Three Horror Story” about what the weight of a child can mean to a parent and how as adults, our words and actions can protect and harm simultaneously. Most importantly, we should never underestimate the absorbency of children.

The article surrounds the author’s, Dara-Lynn Weiss, experience managing her daughter’s weight over the course of one year. After taking her daughter, Bea, to her six-year check-up, the pediatrician informed Weiss that her daughter fit the criteria for being obese and suggested she do something about it. FYI – a child with a body mass index in the 95th percentile or higher for their age and height is classified as obese.  At 4’4″ and 93 pounds, Weiss cites her concerns over her daughter’s weight at the time being predisposed risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type II diabetes.

It is not the diagnosis people are having trouble swallowing or the recommendation made by the girl’s doctor. Rather, it’s Weiss’ methods and approaches she used during the year-long battle between she, her daughter and the scale and the earnest conviction she writes with regarding the choices she made for the betterment of her daughter’s health.  Weiss writes,

I was woefully inconsistent. Sometimes Bea’s after school snack was a slice of pizza or a chicken gyro from a street vendor. Other days I forced her to choose a low-fat vegetable soup or a single hard-boiled egg. Occasionally I’d give in to her pleas for a square of coffee cake, mainly because I wanted to eat half of it. When she was given access to cupcakes at a party, I alternated between saying, ‘Let’s not eat that, it’s not good for you’; ‘Okay, fine, go ahead, but just one’; and ‘Bea, you have to stop eating crap like that, you’re getting too heavy,’ depending on my mood. Then I’d secretly eat two when she wasn’t looking.”

Lesson One: Be Consistent 

She goes on to write about how they called the diet a “nutritional regimen” because the word “diet” and “fat” seemed too painful.  I too hate the word diet.  I am often asked which diet is the best for weight loss.  After my internal eye roll and heaving sigh, I simply reply that diets will only get you so far.  Yes, you will see results, but those results will not be maintained when it comes time to start eating like a normal human being and not a rabbit.  Although “diet” and “fat” are two painful words, I think there is one thing a bit more painful and that’s denying your daughter dinner:

I once reproachfully deprived Bea of her dinner after learning that her observation of French Heritage Day at school involved nearly 800 calories of Brie, filet mignon, baguette, and chocolate.

Lesson Two: Forgive and Forget Setbacks 

She ended up consulting a child-obesity specialist, Joanna Dolgoff, M.D., for how to appropriately manage her daughter’s weight.  Dolgoff uses a “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right” program and while that sounds healthy enough, I think Dolgoff forgot to emphasize one thing with Weiss. Moderation.  This skill doesn’t just apply to managing other people’s weight.  It also applies to ourselves. Self-deprivation is not your friend.  It talks real smooth and makes things seem manageable in the beginning, but it will soon rear its ugly head and you will find yourself foaming at the mouth when a five-year old drops his/her ice cream cone on the ground and you have to physically hold your wrist to stop you from reaching for it because it’s been 24 days since you ate processed sugar.  Another gem:

I stopped letting her enjoy Pizza Fridays when she admitted to adding a corn salad as a side dish one week. I dressed down a Starbucks barista when he professed ignorance of the nutrition content of the kids’ hot chocolate whose calories are listed as “120-210” on the menu board: Well, which is it? When he couldn’t provide an answer, I dramatically grabbed the drink out of my daughter’s hands, poured it into the garbage, and stormed out.

Lesson Three: Perpetual Denial Is Not The Answer/Everything In Moderation 

Maybe it’s more than just watching the eating behaviors of others.  I think if we ever have any hope of helping loved ones manage their weight, it’s essential that we first look at our own eating behaviors.  We must, at the very least, identify our own personal struggles and either accept them for what they are or figure out how to change them. Ultimately, we must find a way to ensure that those around us don’t adopt our behavior quirks. I once knew someone who constantly complained about her weight, but each time she set herself up for failure.  She asked for advice, I told her what I could and she would simply reply that she knew all that already.  At one point, I’d had enough – mostly because she was not overweight. She was an adult and she needed to hear the truth. “So-and-so, you either need to accept the way things are or go get help to try to change them. Either way is okay, just choose.”  Tough love yes. But we can either be our greatest champion or our own worst enemy.  On that note -Weiss writes,

I have not ingested any food, looked at a restaurant menu, or been sick to the point of vomiting without silently launching a complicated mental algorithm about how it will affect my weight

Lesson Four:  Our Own Personal Battles Can Affect Other People

Probably the most heart breaking point of the article is at the very end.  After meeting her mom’s 16-pound weight-loss goal before the Vogue photoshoot–Weiss wrote about her daughter’s reaction:

“That’s still me,” she says of her former self. “I’m not a different person just because I lost sixteen pounds.” I protest that indeed she is different. At this moment, that fat girl is a thing of the past. A tear rolls down her beautiful cheek, past the glued-in feather. “Just because it’s in the past,” she says, “doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

(Life) Lesson Five: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  – Maya Angelou

I recently sat in on a seminar in which Dr. Sherry Pagoto, a licensed clinical psychologist and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, discussed weight loss strategies for individuals with depression.  It was very interesting but perhaps the greatest take home there was (outside of the clinical implications) was that many of us think that if we lose weight, we will be happier.  But what does one do when they lose the weight but are not happy?  Where do we go when/if we discover what we once thought was the problem, was actually just a distraction?

I’m not sure how to tackle childhood obesity. Part of me worries that intervening in a child’s diet while they are still growing can have detrimental results. What about growth, bone health, organ development, and teeth integrity?!  At the same time, if we ignore addressing the issue, then are we simply delaying weight management strategies for later on in their life? There is a line somewhere in there, but I am not sure how to locate it.  If only my TomTom could.

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves what realistic ideal health looks like and readjust our vision accordingly.  I am never one to discredit health recommendations, but at some point we need to pick our battles; especially when it comes to children.  I will say this – the all or nothing approach rarely works and I agree with a blogger for New York magazine who last week wrote, “I’m pretty sure Weiss just handed her daughter the road map to all her future eating disorders.”

I am a firm believer in empathy as a tool for weight loss.  The internal dialogue we have with ourselves can be the greatest determiner of success.  You beat yourself down day after day, you will lose the will to continue to try.  You speak that internal dialogue to another human being, much less a child, and you have lost the right be a public participant in my opinion.

There is a time and a place for professional, honest journalism.  This was a serious error in judgment if you ask me because while most of us can acknowledge the level of disgust we feel towards the piece, there are parents out there who will view this as an invitation to meticulously control the calories they put into their child.  Much like the title to the article encourages, they will see Weiss as beacon of hope when in reality, there are other healthy ways to approach weight management than the public shaming of a child.

Why Paula Deen Isn’t To Blame For America’s Health Problems

I will be the first to admit that Mrs. Deen’s diabetic admission came as no real shock to yours truly.  My knee jerk reaction was more along the lines of ‘well, sure’.  I was hardly scandalized. The media on the other hand, went into rabies-ridden dog mode in about 6.2 seconds.  While I understand some people’s discomfort with the situation, I think we all need to take ten deep breaths.  Feel better? Me neither.

As many of you may already know, Paula Deen went on the Today Show last Tuesday and revealed she was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes three years ago. She is now a paid spokeswoman for Novo Nordisk Pharmaceutical Company. She’s collaborating with Novo on a new health initiative website, DiabetesInANewLight.Com, where people can go to learn more about the disease and how to manage it.

My question is, what are we most upset about? Is it that she sat on this information for 3 years without coming forward? Perhaps it’s because she has partnered with a pharmaceutical company and now is profiting off the disease. Or is it that she continued to make her classic southern cooking over that 3-year period on her Food Network show while she knew she had diabetes?

While people may be up in arms over her decision to delay this announcement, I have to say that it is everyone’s right to choose whether or not to disclose personal health information.  Be upset about that three-year secret all you want, but she didn’t have to come forward and talk to the Today Show weatherman about her health.  I don’t care if you think it was her duty to or not.  She is a cook, not a health professional. Please don’t confuse the two. Yes, she’s a public figure. But she is also a human with what I believe to be personal rights.

As for the endorsement deal, it didn’t rub me the right way either.  Does she have the right to profit off her health condition? Probably not. At the same time, business is business.  Just because you shouldn’t do something doesn’t mean you won’t.  Our healthcare system has created an economic climate where pharmaceutical companies hold a lot of power and it’s up to the medical community to supply the general public with the best options available. Your friends over at the FDA relaxed restrictions on advertising prescription drugs back in 1997, so I suppose we could find some way to blame them too for Paula’s actions. Not to mention the insurance companies are breathing down everyone’s neck looking for a piece of the pie. I get that you hate it, so do I.  But Paula Deen is no dummy and if there’s a capitalistic opportunity to be had, then why not? It’s terrible, but there are children going to bed hungry every night, so let’s focus on more important issues. Celebrity product endorsements are like forgetting to take your seasickness pills: once you realize what’s happening it’s too late. Besides there has been worse.  Remember Ozzy Osbourne and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter? Or Gorbachev and Louis Vuitton? And for the life of me I cannot understand why Alec Balwin is doing those Capital One commercials. I know that a credit card advertisement and a pharmaceutical company are two different things, but you understand what I am saying. Product endorsements, be them strange, practical or wrong, aren’t going anywhere. (sorry about this monster paragraph)

I prefer to look at this whole drug company thing in a different light. This doesn’t make me saintly, it makes me retrospective. If we approach it from a monetary context, then yes, it’s a bit crass. Deen has committed a portion of her lucrative deal to go to the American Diabetes Association. Great. Good for her.  I don’t care if it’s a public relations move.  From a future practitioner’s point of view, I am all for the better management of diabetes. Period. I don’t love the idea of a celebrity endorsement for diabetes, but there are many people out there who choose to leave their diabetes uncontrolled. If left unregulated, diabetes can affect nearly every organ in the body including eyes, kidney, nerves, heart, gums and teeth.  If her face on a website or box motivates even one person to action in their own health, then who am I to say it’s wrong?

Many have criticized Deen for continuing to make/promote her southern-style cooking for the last three years while she knew herself to have diabetes. While getting ready for work on Thursday I had the Today Show on because I love me some Curry, both in my news and on my food. Lauer did a segment on this very topic, interviewing Star Jones, Donny Deutsch, and Dr. Nancy Snyderman. Lauer started with the doctor and the first sentence out of her mouth was, and I quote, “Paula Dean blew it…her behavior was egregious. ” Tell me how you really feel.  Anthony Bourdain, star of No Reservations and another P. Deen lover, blasted this woman in the news last week. Bourdain believes her to be the “most dangerous person to America” who is “proud of the fact that her food is f—ing bad for you.” Oof, if only this man saw that puppy mill she was running back in 2002 (joke).

Look, I am not going to deny her cooking is awful for you.  I don’t like to speak for others, but I have yet to meet a person who believes her cooking is healthful.  Yes, her food is artery clogging, but you know what? The Food Network is paying her big bucks to syndicate her recipes. I think what really irks me about people painting this woman in Satan’s clothes is that it all boils down to free will.  You don’t have to make her sour cream macaroni and cheese.  Many of the isles in the grocery store or gas station pose a much greater threat to America’s health than a woman in the TV box adding butter to her salad dressing.

She’s been making high-fat, high-sugar recipes on the Food Network for years now.  She’s showed us how to deep fry Oreos, add Cool Whip to any form of dessert and discovered an un-inventive way to baste everything in butter.  Good for her. We’re the one’s watching it. People have been reacting to her ‘behavior’ last week as though she’s the one getting the gremlins wet at night.  She’s to blame for the obesity epidemic in this country. False.  She’s not and the fact that people are giving her that much credit befuddles me.  While we all love to point the guilty finger at some external reason for the obesity crisis in America (McDonald’s, high fructose corn syrup, chocolate milk, hormones), more times than not it boils down to free will. You don’t have to make Paula Deen’s recipes.  You don’t even have to watch her show. I said it before and I’ll say it again, she’s a cook not a health professional.

I think the health community and Deen have a major opportunity to address the disease; its risk factors and management options.  Having a public figure in front of a cause has the potential to bring about awareness.  Whether you want to accept it or not, Deen is the face of America. Her diet appears to be rich in sugar, fat and salt.  The foods she makes are over-indulgent and she now has a preventable chronic disease. Sad but true.  Should we accept this style of living and rely on medications to fix all our health problems? No. But we also can’t bring about change in a one-week period.

It takes courage to stand up to any disease.  A life with Type II Diabetes can be managed. Although I would like to see the rates of this disease decline, I don’t think the incidence of diabetes would be greatly influenced by the presence of Paula Deen on the Food Network.

Lastly, in the Today show segment I mentioned earlier from Thursday, Lauer, Jones, Deutsch and Snyderman went on to discuss whether or not Chris Christie’s weight will affect his political career. The segment closed with Lauer previewing the upcoming spot on ways to dress 10 pounds thinner.  He went to commercial with the closing comment, “It seems like a weight obsessed day”. To that, I say welcome to 2012 in America.

Resolution Ideas For the Eater In All of Us

It’s such a cliché, but where did the year go? It’s been a big one. I graduated from college, started graduate school, moved to a new city and got to know my inner germ-a-phobe. Let’s not forget about starting this blog. Epic. 2011 was good to me. I hope 2012 will be just as giving. While on Christmas holiday, I’ve settled into my childhood bedroom where I will stay for the next few weeks. This acclimation process was short and simple, however, a couple of things have become glaringly obvious.  I am way more mature than the 18-year-old hoodlum who used to live in my room. The fact that I have high school yearbooks still sitting on my bookshelf is an embarrassment. While my mother tries to convince me to gut the room, I continue to argue that I still need my Doc Martins, slap bracelets and a dusty one-eyed Furby. As we head into January, I will continue this battle, all the while listening to New Year’s resolution babble from just about everyone.

 

New Year’s resolutions are a bit of a joke these days.  At least I think so. What makes January 1st so special? Do you really need a whole new year to turn over a leaf in your life? Nine times out of ten, most resolutions revolve around health.  Shouldn’t you want to lead a healthier life each day?  Ugh enough.  I am so above you, I cannot even write on this topic any longer. Instead, I thought I would give you a new way to look at these so-called resolutions. I don’t personally do them, but if I did, I would do something along the ‘more-is-less’ line.
I find most people resolve to choose some form of restriction when it comes to leading a healthier life. I will lose weight, I will eat less, I won’t eat dessert anymore, I will stop biting my nails, I will give up fried foods, etc. To me this sounds so exhausting, not to mention it’s ultimately a set up for eventual failure. I am here to save you. You can use my name to bail you out of the tired commitment to deprivation. Replace that limited mindset with something you actually long for: surplus.  No, I don’t mean eat more sugar or drink more beer. Read on sweet child.
If I were to make a New Year’s resolution I would want to pick up a healthy ‘habit’, not focus on eliminating an unhealthy one. Just some suggestions:
  1. I will eat more fiber – shoot for the recommended 20-35 grams each day
  2. I will eat more fruits – eating at least 3 servings a day
  3. I will eat more vegetables – have one snack consisting of baby carrots, bell pepper strips or cucumber slices
  4. I will increase dairy intake – drinking a glass of low fat milk with one meal a day or eating low fat cheese or yogurt
  5. I will drink more water – shoot for five, 8 ounce glasses a day if the idea of downing 8 glasses makes your bladder hurt

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what I’m doing here.  If you load up your day with more fruits, vegetables, and fiber you’re going to wind up feeling full more often. Where will you fit in your 3pm Doritos snack time? Adopting one of these five suggestions may make it more difficult to indulge in some less-than-favorable behaviors. Maybe not. Is this little trick a cure-all? Heck no.  But it is a start and we all must learn to walk before we run.  Some poor souls attempt dietary overhaul when January arrives. Personally, I think that is too much to handle for most sane individuals.  It might last for a day, a week, a month, but it will come to a screeching halt the moment you get a) bored, b) tired, c) anxious, d) upset, e) constipated…you get the idea.

If it’s weight loss you seek, this surplus approach may seem counter productive.  It’s not. Weight loss doesn’t have to equal starvation. Your best ally is going to be capitalizing on satiety and always keeping your hunger in check. If I am driving home from work, riding the subway home from school or making dinner in my kitchen and find I am ravenous, I’m never above reaching for a piece of fruit or some vegetables. Eat a little low-calorie, high volume nosh and take the edge off.  It might be the difference between a third piece of pizza or a second scoop of chili.  The goal is to fill you up without filling you out.
Lifestyle changes have their merits and if you are bold enough to try one then I support you one hundred percent, no matter how much I trash talk New Year’s resolutions. God bless and good luck.

On an unrelated note, I am about to get political on you. Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services determined that preventive services for obesity could only be furnished by primary care providers in the primary care setting. Meaning they are going to exclude Registered Dietitians in the prevention/treatment of obesity in terms of direct billing.  This will seriously hinder patients’ access to qualified individuals. Those of you, who think dietitians need to be directly involved in reversing the obesity epidemic, sign this petition! We’re almost there and there is only one week left!