Thursday, January 27, 2011

Finally - a good role MODEL!

I'm not a big fan of the fashion industry with their anorexic models and
unrealistic standards that "normal" females can never live up to. And so I
was pleasantly surprised to read an article last week about Brooklyn Decker.
A resident of this area (she went to my son's high school), she has made
Union County proud! She got her start as a model, married tennis great Andy Roddick, and is now in a major motion picture - at the ripe age of 23!
Obviously she was blessed with extraordinary beauty, height and drive. But as far as her knock-out physique, she achieves that by maintaining a regular exercise regimen and a healthy lifestyle. Brooklyn says that as a young girl she was embarrassingly tall and skinny and that her mom got her started exercising. Not so much to be in shape but because she worried about her getting osteoporosis later in life. So Brooklyn began strength training at age 16 which she credits for her lean shape, once her body finally matured and developed some curves.
When she first moved to NY to model, she initially got caught up in all of crazy diets and fasts the other models were doing and actually ended up gaining weight. Luckily her family intervened and got her back to normal eating and exercise. Brooklyn now has a healthy approach to maintaining her "assets" - running 4 days a week and using free weights 3 days a week. And she eats a nutritious diet, focusing on foods that she should be eating more of rather than foods she should not eat.
Even though she is living a high profile life in NYC, she doesn't seem to be caught up in celebrity excessiveness. She loves shopping at Target,
is close to her family and is practical and level-headed.
The fact that the small-town-girl-next-door made it big by being smart,
resourceful, honest and a hard worker is a good model for all girls.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Where's the Beef???!!!

We were having a discussion during class the other night about fast food and a customer commented that she was never eating a fast food hamburger again after hearing about what is in them. I knew they didn’t use high-quality beef but was not aware of how bad it really is. Here is what was revealed recently in the New York Times:

> Extra cow parts and trimmings (traditionally sold for use in pet
food)are being used to make hamburger patties in fast food chains
(McDonalds is the main one and they also named Burger King) and federal
school lunch programs.

> The processed beef is injected with ammonia to make it “safe” enough
to eat.

> Both e. coli and salmonella have been found contaminating the products
sold by Beef Products, Inc., who make this processed beef, a mashlike
substance frozen into blocks or chips and used in a majority of
hamburger sold nationwide.

> The ammonia doesn’t always kill the pathogens, which came as a shock to
the USDA, which had exempted the company from pathogen testing and
product recalls. It seems that the USDA agreed to Beef Products, Inc.’s
request that the ammonia be classified as a “processing agent” and not
an ingredient that would be listed on labels.

So apparently this process of using beef trimmings injected with ammonia in fast food beef has been a well-kept secret for years. No wonder fast food is so cheap! And what else is in processed foods that we don’t know about and our government is not protecting us from?

The next time I am tempted to grab a quick burger, I will think about opening a can of dog food, spraying it with Windex and eating it on a bun, which is essentially what we are getting with a fast food burger!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Eat Your Peas!

To my regret, I allowed my kids to grow up on too much soda, too much junk food and too much holiday candy. But I think I managed to do a few things right – nutritionally. We always ate a pretty healthy breakfast first thing each morning (oatmeal, eggs, fruit,or non-sweetened cereal). And I usually cooked dinner 4-5 times a week, depending on their activities, that exposed them to a variety of vegetables and dishes. Now in their 20’s, while they have their junk food favorites, I am glad to see that my kids are pretty health-conscious and still eat many of those healthy foods I prepared for them. I have also noticed that they are trying new foods and eating things that they once “hated”.

How kids are raised in regards to food and eating habits will have a big impact and influence the way they continue to eat once they are start making their own choices and become adults. Although we all have a few foods that we don’t care for and can live without, I’ve met a lot of “picky” eaters through my nutritional counseling who have an adverse reaction to healthy foods that limits their balance of proper nutrition and successful weight control.

But nutritional scientists say that it is possible to learn to like foods you hate. Here are the 4 most common food issues and how to overcome them:

1) One in four people actually taste vegetables like broccoli and
Brussels sprouts as extremely bitter (survival instinct to protect
against eating poisonous plants)

Solution: Try masking bitterness with more pleasant tastes by
preparing the veggies with some fat, vinegar or sweetener. Or dip raw
veggies in ranch dressing. Also, do not overcook as it enhances the
sharp flavor of vegetables.

2) Childhood associations influenced you – maybe your parents didn’t
like the food or you became ill soon after eating a certain food

Solution: Wait until you are really hungry become trying a disliked
food, as your body will start to associate the foods with a positive
benefit – relieving hunger. Smell changes as we age, so the food may
not be as offensive as you remember.

3) It’s a texture thing – something about the feel or look of a food
turns you off.

Solution: Try changing the texture of the food by mixing it with other
food like in a soup or casserole.

4) No explainable reason why you don’t a food.

Solution: This trick works: try the same food 8-10 times,
incorporating it into several dishes throughout the week (in a soup,
on a sandwich, in a salad, on a pizza)

I remember when I first starting drinking low-fat milk instead of whole milk. I thought it tasted so watery and bland but now that I’m used to it, whole milk tastes too sweet and thick. And I never thought I’d get used to the “dry, cardboard” taste of whole wheat bread. Now I love the nutty, rich flavor and always choose it over a nutritionless white loaf.

Turkey bacon instead of pork……I’m not quite there yet but keep trying! :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Weight Loss Begins in the Brain!

I love this time of year, when fitness is #1 on most everyone’s TO-DO list and Health and Exercise gets the spotlight in the media. I have been following the Charlotte Observer’s series on weight-loss that has been surprisingly detailed with new research on the obesity epidemic our country is facing. North Carolina is the 10th fattest state, with more than 6 out of 10 of us obese.

For those who missed it (or could not hang with reading the full page article) here are the highlights of “Brain Betrays Body In Fight Against Fat”.

Researchers are finding that our nation’s problem with losing weight is not just from lack of will-power or self-control but are environmental, biological and genetic. They are discovering:

 Rich foods work much like heroin on the brain, making it hard to stop
     eating them.

 Depression and obesity can be so tightly linked, it’s hard to determine
     which comes first.

 As people gain weight earlier in life, they not only get chronic diseases
     sooner, they also set the course for a lifetime of weight battles.

Our food environment as evolved over millions of years from being hard to come by and requiring hunting and gathering, to abundant, cheap food that requires almost no physical effort to obtain. This change has upset the body’s natural equilibrium in being programmed to like sweet and fatty foods from ages ago when food supply was sparse, to encourage eating during the few opportunities of abundance (finding a berry bush or tree nuts). This reward system was meant for basic survival, to eat more than you’d need for that day,
to put down a layer of fat to survive months when food is scarce. But in today’s world, our hunting and gathering is limited to fast food drive-thrus and grocery store aisles!

Recent studies show that some people can actually develop extreme cravings from today’s environment of food abundance – much like the addiction from heroin or cocaine. In 2009 researchers from UNC-CH reported that they had found a gene associated with obesity in some people that was previously identified as playing a role in those with substance abuse. This link between overeating and drug addiction – two problems stemming from difficulties limiting enjoyable experiences – explains how obesity from food addiction can not be treated with just a diet-and-exercise plan.

The link between depression and obesity is only recently becoming better understood. Some of the same hormones and neurotransmitters are active in both diseases.

Most people gain their greatest amount of excess weight between the ages 18-35. Those people who diet to lose weight usually end up gaining all of it back within 5 years and 33% gain back some of the weight in the first year after a successful diet. Scientists attribute this to basic physiology – for survivalist reasons the body’s cells are programmed to sock away extra fuel to protect against times of famine. That extra fuel is stored as fat, and once the body has created a fat bank, it fights to protect it – by setting into motion a complex cascade of hormones and brain signals that trigger hunger while it also starts to conserve energy. The food cravings and slower metabolism often gets worse the longer a dieter tries to restrict calories.

To make matters worse, the body appears to store fat more efficiently after being deprived of calories – making it difficult for even the most committed dieters to maintain their hard-won weight loss.

So, as dismal as all of this sounds, it doesn’t mean that it is impossible to be lean! The bottom line is:

 Avoid gaining the weight in the first place by establishing healthy eating habits and staying away from  
    rich, processed, convenience foods. People who successfully kept off weight after dieting had to work a
    little harder than those who never gained in the first place – according to researchers from the National
   Weight Control Registry.

 When losing weight, avoid quick weight-loss diets where your body will feel threatened and start 
     protecting against starvation.

 To boost metabolism and conquer the body’s fat-storing tendencies, EXERCISE! A study at Brown
     University showed that the benefits of exercise outlast a diet, even when people return to unhealthy