I try to eat healthy, organic and nutrient-rich foods all the time so when friends and family invite me to join them for a meal, it makes me hesitate. I want to be social but I don’t want to overeat or consume any sugar or too much salt. I don’t want to be a party-pooper either so I say, “Yes, I’ll meet you there.”
At the restaurant, I look at the entrees in front of us on the table. My friend’s sushi roll is very pretty but the white rice has been bleached, and the fiber has been stripped from the outer kernel being removed. The rice has traces of arsenic, and white rice causes an insulin spike. Then there’s the fish. Is it really fresh? I cannot stand the slippery texture of raw fish and won’t risk the chance of tapeworm. I won’t grimace when he takes a bite.
Our friend’s spouse is eating the tofu miso soup that I bet contains MSG and the tofu is most likely from genetically modified soy.
My husband’s steak looks and smells scrumptious but I know that cow wasn’t grass-fed and was probably injected with hormones and antibiotics. The noodles look tasty but they too are bleached and coated in oil.
My salmon is farmed and full of contaminants. The teriyaki is loaded with sugar and salty soy sauce. My salad is washed but not organic and contains some pesticides.
These are the thoughts that go through my head whenever I eat away from home. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have all this knowledge about what is being done to our food. I can either refuse to eat out or enjoy the company of others while appreciating the flavors of my meal. The air I breathe, the tap water I use to brush my teeth, the carpet in the living room, and the paint on the walls all contain toxic materials.
I eat the farmed salmon and crisp non-organic salad. They’re yummy. I could go crazy eating perfectly all the time. Life was meant for living. My friends laugh at the greens stuck between my teeth. I’m going to enjoy this food and this moment.
I bought this raw protein plant-based vanilla protein powder based on a recommendation by an employee at The Vitamin Shop (mistake #1). He said it was very popular and people liked this slightly-sweetened protein blend. Not only does this stuff taste awful, but it’s really expensive too. It has a fake vanilla flavor and makes my smoothies much too thick even after adding extra ice. I’m going to finish it (it’s over two pounds!), but I don’t recommend it and won’t be buying this protein powder brand again.
When I decided to start weight training, my three goals were to build muscle, lose some fat, and eat more. I love to eat. I’d rather exercise more just so I can eat more food. Unfortunately, unless you are spending hours and hours exercising, cardio and strength training doesn’t burn that many calories. “…Dr. Susan Jebb, head of nutrition and health research at the Medical Research Council in Great Britain, recently told The Observer, “you have to do an awful lot more exercise than most people realize. To burn off an extra 500 calories is typically an extra two hours of cycling. And that’s about two doughnuts.” (1)
Many people may not like this, but in order to lose weight, the most effective method for weight loss is to reduce calories and add moderate exercise since not everyone has the time or the motivation to spend 20 hours of exercise each week.
Photo: Dan competing in an Ironman triathlon in Louisville
If you go to a vegan restaurant and think you are getting a low-fat healthy meal, the opposite may be true. Vegan dishes don’t contain any meat, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy, but they can include sugar, oils, refined flours, and stripped grains. Some vegan entrees are coated in white flour and deep fried in peanut oil. That pan-fried veggie burger with fried onions on a white bun with sweet potato fries has a lot more calories and fat than you’d expect. The vegan, gluten-free cake has a lot of sugar, either from sugar cane, honey or agave, so make sure to share it.
Vegan dishes can be tasty, healthy, excellent dishes, not just sides. It all depends on how it’s prepared, just make sure to ask.
Schools are trying to improve the quality and the nutrients of lunches served in their cafeterias, but I’m not sure this is enough. How are the students learning that the pizza being replaced by chicken and rice is more beneficial? They may be told the new foods are healthier, but they may not know why. Since school is a teaching ground, why not make a 2-day a week cooking class a requirement?
Sure, some children will complain, but kids are already complaining that their favorite home economics classes were taken away. We need them back. In a fantasy world, all parents teach their children basic life skills, but in reality, many don’t even know how to boil water when they become adults. Schools need to teach our youths every aspect to lead a healthy life.
These cooking classes would replace the normal lunch hour so the students can eat the food they make in class. The instruction would include how to cook foods without adding too much fat (such as baking instead of frying), what foods are healthy, what foods are unhealthy, and explanations on the right combinations of protein, carbohydrates and fat.
Since more and more people have food allergies, these meals would be made without the top allergens: nuts, milk, wheat, gluten, eggs, shellfish and soy. The instructors would be provided with this prohibited foods list with suggested replacements. For instance coconut milk would be used instead of dairy milk. Olive oil or coconut oil would be used instead of butter. Egg replacer would stand in place of eggs. There are many gluten-free and wheat-free pastas in the supermarkets today so this is definitely feasible.
A list of the month’s meals with a breakdown of ingredients and product names would be provided to the parents and students. Copies of ingredient labels would be provided when asked. If there was a question or concern, the contact information for that month’s instructors would be provided. All dishes would need to be approved by a school’s appointed registered dietician in advance. Packaged products not on the approved list would need to be pre-approved by this RD to prevent any allergic reactions. Students with allergies would be allowed to talk to their peers in this class about their reactions to certain foods to foster understanding and education. These students would get extra credit for engaging the classroom to encourage participation for the allergic children. No one should feel like an outsider because of an allergy. Students can also opt out of the school’s cooking classes for any reason; this is to protect those with multiple food allergies who are not comfortable in this setting.
Not all dishes need to be cooked. Salads, and fruit and vegetable plates can be made raw. Some items can be cooked in a microwave. Old microwaves can be donated to the schools. Local stores can also donate cutting boards, utensils, plates and safe cutting tools. Students can sign up to get extra credit for cleanup. Specific foods can be collected from food drives. Grocery stores can donate foods too. This doesn’t have to be a pricey endeavor. Price shouldn’t be a top concern. These are our children and our future.
These cooking and education classes may not prevent the obesity epidemic, but it may promote healthier body weights. When these children become adults and start cooking meals for themselves, they will be armed with a wonderful array of information that many people today don’t have a clue about. I think it could work. What do you think?
Photo: me when I was 6 years old
It seems that every exercise video or fitness program claims that if you buy their system, you can burn up to 1000 calories in an hour. If that were the case I would be able to eat brownies every day and still lose weight (I wish!). Note the key words they use in their sales pitches: up to, may, can, possible…etc. Unless you weigh a lot and have large muscles, it’s incredibly unlikely that you will burn 1000 calories in a mere hour of any type of exercise.
Here’s some data that I thought was interesting and quite eye-opening from WebMD’s calorie counter:
If you weigh 115 pounds & do high-impact aerobics for 1 hour you will burn 420 calories
If you weigh 185 pounds and do high-impact aerobics for 1 hour you will burn 676 calories (even at the higher weight, this person doesn’t burn 1000 cal/hr)
If you weigh 115 pounds and Rollerblade 8 miles in 1 hour you will burn 241 calories (That’s it? Yikes!)
If you weigh 185 pounds and Rollerblade 8 miles in 1 hour you will burn 388 calories
If you weigh 115 pounds and walk 3 miles in 1 hour you will burn 238 calories
If you weigh 185 pounds and walk 3 miles in 1 hour you will burn 383 calories
If you weigh 115 pounds and weight-train for 1 hour you will burn 289 calories (OMG! That’s all?)
If you weigh 185 pounds and weight-train for 1 hour you will burn 464 calories
If you weigh 115 pounds and do yoga for 1 hour you will burn 191 calories
(They’re probably referring to easy yoga!)
If you weigh 185 pounds and do yoga for 1 hour you will burn 308 calories
If you weigh 115 pounds and clean for 1 hour you will burn 194 calories
If you weigh 185 pounds and clean for 1 hour you will burn 313 calories
From this data you can see that the less you weigh, the fewer calories you burn. This is why it’s really hard for tiny folks to lose any weight at all, and why it’s easier for heavy folks to lose weight quickly. Even though this information is from WebMD, a reliable site, they’re approximations. A younger person with denser muscles will burn more calories than a senior citizen even if they are the same weight. Age, muscle mass, metabolism, and how often you move when you’re not exercising has an effect on calories burned. My husband kidded me that he burns more calories lying on the couch reading the paper than I do in a one hour high-intensity plyometric workout.
Photo: Jojo crossing the finish line on a century ride (100 miles). Now that burns some serious calories!
I’m really picky about salad dressing, but this Miso Sesame salad dressing is delicious. A friend of mine bought me a bottle and told me it was her favorite and now it’s my favorite too. The ingredient list is short and contains all good stuff: miso, honey, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, sesame seed oil, spices and salt. The calories are low too. Two tablespoons are only 50 calories and two grams of fat. Shake, shake, shake and pour it on!
Last year’s flu knocked me off my feet. It was the second worst flu I’ve ever had. The only foods I could keep down were fruit and nuts and I ended up losing a pound a week (I guess that’s the upside of a virus!). My muscles were so weak, that my knees would buckle upon standing; I had to grab onto something to prevent falling to the ground. This year I’m seriously considering getting the flu shot (this would be the first time) because I don’t want to be out of commission like last year.
Here’s some information that will help you make your decision whether or not to get the flu shot or the flu mist (I’m still undecided):
- Multiple-use flu vaccines contain thimerosol, which is a mercury-based preservative used to stabilize the vaccine and to prevent bacteria growth. Mercury is a toxic metal, but this small amount is not supposed to be harmful. There are single-use flu vaccines that do not contain thimerosol. These are sealed, and only used once so there’s little to no risk of contamination.
- The flu spray does not contain thimerosol, but it is a live, although weakened, virus so you can get contract the flu from the spray. Those that are pregnant, are diabetic or have asthma are advised not to get the flu spray since it contains a live virus and because these individuals typically have a compromised immune system.
- Since a new, clean needle is used for each person, there is no risk of contamination from someone else in regards to the multiple-use vaccines. The vials have a rubber stopper and needles are used to draw in the substance.
- The virus is dead so you cannot get the flu from the influenza vaccine. Some people think they caught the flu from the flu shot, but it takes about two weeks for your antibodies to protect you. If you get the flu, even after receiving the flu shot, the reasons you still got sick could be that you were exposed to the flu before you were inoculated, you caught a different flu strain, or you caught the flu before the antibodies could protect you.
- Vaccines, just like foods and prescription drugs can have serious side effects in some people. Sometimes the risk of getting vaccines is safer than getting sick. It may depend on your risk factor. It’s not always a simple yes or no answer so you’ll have to make that determination.
Vaccine risks and which people should not get the flu vaccine:
The flu shot can trigger the onset of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which is a painful illness that can cause paralysis and death. There is no cure for Guillain-Barre Syndrome, only treatments. To test for Guillain-Barre Syndrome, spinal fluid would need to be withdrawn and sent to a lab. Spinal fluid withdrawal can cause headaches up to a weak, back pain, and brain bleeding. Yikes! A blood test can be performed to look for an antibodies such as one called GQ1b, although this test doesn’t seem to be common.
Even if you don’t have GBS, you may not be in the clear: An article from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health states that “it is biologically plausible that immunizations may be associated with subsequent GBS… the benefit of vaccines in preventing disease and decreasing morbidity and mortality, particularly for influenza, needs to be weighed against the potential risk of GBS” (1). The CDC concurs, “On very rare occasions, they (people) may develop GBS in the days or weeks after getting a vaccination. Anyone can develop GBS; however, it is more common among older adults. The incidence of GBS increases with age, and people older than 50 years are at greatest risk for developing GBS.”(2).
The NY Times articled dated September, 23, 2013 disagrees that GBS is caused by vaccines: “…the swine flu and the regular flu vaccines used today have not resulted in more cases of the illness.” This information was obtained by a 12-year study listed in the Oxford Journals abstract titled: “Lack of Association of Guillain-Barré Syndrome With Vaccinations.” Their conclusion: “In this large retrospective study, we did not find evidence of an increased risk of GBS following vaccinations of any kind, including influenza vaccination.” Even though that’s quite a long study, it’s still one study. My theory: it’s a risk. I know I’m going to get the flu since I get it every year, but I don’t know if the flu shot’s effects on my system will be worse than that of contracting the actual bug.
If you are sick, allergic to eggs, or have GBS, don’t get the flu vaccine in any form. For more information, contact your doctor, CDC or go to www.flu.gov.
(Sources: Mayo Clinic on-line articles, Vaccine Information Statements from the CDC and U.S. Dept. of Health & Services, Scripps Hospital Nurse, Scripps Clinic internal medicine doctor, CVS nurse practitioner, Neurology/About.com, NY Times)
- “Vaccines and Guillain-Barré syndrome” Complete article found at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19388722 US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health).
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), Questions & Answers. Complete article found at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/guillainbarre.htm
Certain hospitals and some insurance companies now include wellness or healthy lifestyle programs that are either free or low cost. For instance, Scripps provides weight loss tools, diabetes support groups (support groups of all sorts), free Zumba dance classes, a Heart Healthy Nutrition Class, a Nutritional Medicine class, and a session on Managing Chronic pain, all free; and that’s just a small sampling of what they have available.
It’s about time that preventative care is being encouraged and it’s importance realized. You’re paying for your health insurance so get the most out of it. Look into what they have to offer; it could make your world a whole lot healthier and happier.
Photo: I saw this cute 3 year old dog the other day while running errands. The owner was nice enough to let me take her picture. Too cute!
To tap into those stubborn fat stores, high intensity exercises such as box jumps, sprints, jump rope, high-knees, boxing and kickboxing will do the trick. These types of workouts will make you sweat and maybe even make you see stars, but if you want 6-pack abs, that’s what you’re going to have to do. Stop thinking about it and do it!
Photo: Jojo & coach Mando’s exhibition Muay Thai fight