Archive for March, 2010

Awesome Blog Alert: Fed Up With Lunch

Check out this awesome blog written by “Mrs. Q,” a midwest elementary school teacher.

She has committed to eating her school’s lunch offerings every…single…day. 

Each day, she takes a picture of her food, describes how it tastes, and often the student’s reaction to the meal. It’s simply horrifying to see what is being served to our children.  No wonder students have difficulty concentrating in class, are hyper, are overweight and get sick often.

Contrast the American child’s lunch with that of Japanese students, courtesy of a guest blogging American teacher in Japan. The differences are astonishing…and very, very sad.

Mrs. Q, who blogs under the pseudony so she doesn’t get her ass booted from her school, is quite an internet sensation now. What started as a 30 day school-lunch trial has now morphed into a full year of eating school lunch. I’ve sat alongside Mrs Q as she sits down to lunch since day 5, and I’ve really enjoyed watching her blog turn into more of a movement–bringing awareness to the awfulness that is American School Lunch.

For more information read the FAQs on the blog, and follow Mrs. Q on twitter @fedupwithlunch.

March 23, 2010 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

A twist in the Obesity-Cardiovascular disease story

If you’re like me, you probably think that obesity = increased risk for cardiovascular disease. That’s what I’ve read, studied, and what’s reported in the media.

But I came across something tre interesting this morning.  A recent study has showed that being skinny does not offer any greater protection against cardiac deaths.  In fact, this research showed the OPPOSITE to be true.  This study is the first to assess the relationship between BMI (Body Mass Index) and the risk of sudden cardiac deaths.

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that:

“…non-obese heart failure patients – including overweight, normal and underweight patients – had a 76 percent increase in risk of sudden cardiac death compared to obese heart failure patients. Normal and underweight patients showed a startling 99 percent increase in risk for sudden cardiac death compared to obese patients.”

Record screeching! These findings seem to go against everything we’ve been told. Even the researchers were surprised at the data.

A follow-up program was conducted to further examine this issue.  An analysis of 1,231 patients who had suffered at least one prior heart attack found that decreased BMI was associated with a LARGER increase in the risk of suddent cardiac death.

The article suggests that these findings:

 …”highlight the “obesity paradox,” a phenomenon long recognized by cardiologists that, once afflicted, obese heart failure patients fare better than their slimmer counterparts.”

I’m no cardiologist (but my best friend is!) so I cannot speak for the scientific findings of this study. However, as a card-carrying member of the Health At Every Size Movment and the Association for Size Diversity and Health, this study shows support that health can indeed be found at any size, and being overweight doesn’t necessarily lead to cardiac death.

What are your thoughts?

March 18, 2010 at 2:54 pm 2 comments

Booze 101

Today we’re discussing alcohol in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. So cliche, I know…forgive me.

CALORIES

One gram of alcohol has 7 calories (in comparison, both protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories/g, and fat has 9 calories/g). Alcohol is considered a source of empty calories because it contains very small amounts of minerals and vitamins (red wine is a different story). Alcohol has also been called an “anti-nutrient nutrient” because alcohol often replaces nutrient-rich food and can interfere with the absorption of nutrients.

IS ALCOHOL A DRUG?

Why, yes it is! Classified as such, it is the most widely used drug in the word. Alcoholism and problem drinking is a big issue for us, with approximately 10-15 million Americans falling under that category. Most people, however, consume alcohol moderately or minimally.

CALORIE CONTENT

Calories from imbibing alcohol can really, really add up. One night of drinking (even if it’s light beer) can take your calories way, way high.  If you’re like me, drinking usually breaks down  self-control barriers..hence 2 slices of pizza at 2am. So, it can all add up.

Check out these calorie counts from your favorite drinks (see source here):

Alcoholic Drink Calories
Beer, lite, 12 oz. 100
Beer, regular, 12 oz. 150
Frozen daiquiri, 4 oz. 216
Gin, 1.5 oz. 110
Mai tai, 4 oz. 310
Margarita, 4 oz. 270
Rum, 1.5 oz. 96
Vodka, 1.5 oz. 96
Whiskey, 1.5 oz. 105
Wine spritzer, 4 oz. 49
Wine, dessert, sweet, 4 oz. 180

Check out that margarita, folks! Jimmy Buffet definitely didn’t mention that little tidbit in his song. And these are just calorie counts…many drinks, especially those mixed with sweetened fruit juices, have massive amounts of sugar, sending your blood sugar soaring…and later crashing.

Also, keep in mind that the following drink amounts have the SAME amount of alcohol:

12oz can beer = 5oz wine (which would mean there are 5 glasses of wine per bottle)= 1.5oz hard liquor.

TIPS

I’m sure you’ve heard many of these before, but:

*Alternate drinking an alcoholic beverage with water.

*If at dinner, ask for your drink WITH your meal.

*Order “light” versions of beer, if you can stomach it.

*With hard liquor, drink it straight up (and dirty), or with club soda. Nix the fruity mixers and tonic.

*Don’t drink! Yes, it’s possible to have a fun time and not drink..or only limit yourself to 1.  According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate drinking for women is no more than ONE alchoholic beverage per day, and for men, it’s TWO.

THANKS FOR BEING  A BUZZ KILL. IS THERE ANYTHING BENEFICIAL ABOUT ALCOHOL?

Actually, yes. Studies show that moderate drinking (see above) may lower risk for coronary heart disease, mainly in men over 45 and women over 55. However, this is in combination with other factors, such as a healthy diet and exercise. Those who do not drink now should not start drinking to reap these benefits.

Red wine in particular is rich in antioxidants such as reservatrol, which is found in the skins of red grapes. Studies show it can aid in blood clotting and also raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL).

Again, I stress, if you don’t already drink modertately you should NOT start. Alcohol consumption can also may increase triglyceride levels (blood lipids), leading to heart disease and maybe even cancer. 

So, St. Patty’s Day revelers, be safe! Drink in moderation…and if you absolutely won’t do that today, drink lots of water and be safe.

Oh, and for your nasty hangover tmw, Coconut Water is the BEST!

Ps. Check out this totally cute video on the ABC’s of alcohol

March 17, 2010 at 3:03 pm 1 comment

Get ready for Trenta?

It appears that world-dominating Starbucks is testing out a new size of coffee drink–the Trenta. The Venti, their largest size, is 24 ounces. The Trenta, in comparison, will be a whopping 31 ounces of coffee drink (only available for iced coffee and teas). They are testing this size in warmer climate cities, such as Phoenix, AZ and Tampa, FL.

While I understand that these super-size-me large sizes are for an ICED drink, where ice takes up a lot of space in a cup, still, 31 ounces? Seriously? This is a LARGE size. LARGE. 31 ounces? A     7-11 Big Gulp is 32 ounces…so this is just 1 tiny ounce shy of total ridiculousness.

People, we’re getting larger. Fatter. And consuming more and more and more of everything. Is a 31 ounce coffee drink REALLY necessary? And think about how many pee breaks a 31 ounce coffee is going to demand!

And btw, I’m not really a coffee drinker (only decaf, if anything) , but I had a tall soy latte the other day from Starbucks. A few days later I had the same thing from a local coffee house, Gorilla Coffee, and I was AMAZED at how 1)good it tasted, and 2) how absolutely crap-tastic Starbucks coffee is!

For the story on the Trenta test-drive, click here.

PS. In all fairness to Starbucks, they have some healthy and tasty food options that I noticed. Matt tried the Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Wrap and you know, it was pretty good. At 330 calories, it makes for a filling breakfast. I wouldn’t get into the habit of eating one each day, as the sodium and cholesterol are on the higher side, but it’s fine when you need to grab something on the go. You could also try the protein plate with cheddar cheese, small whole wheat bagel, peanut butter, hardboiled egg, and grapes.

March 16, 2010 at 2:58 pm Leave a comment

Review: Park Slope’s new Sun In Bloom

Owner Amy Follette in front of Sun In Bloom in Park Slope

I discovered a fabulous new cafe in Park Slope, and I feel damn proud of myself.

For those of you who live in my hood, you might’ve be familiar with Organic Heights cafe on the awesome Bergen Street.  On Friday afternoon, I decided I wanted a clean, healthy lunch so I walked over to Organic Heights only to discover that it was no longer!

However, much to my luck, a new cafe has taken its place. Sun in Bloom now occupies the casual space with communal tables. A totally chill, relaxed vibe that I enjoyed.  I even struck up a conversation with two very interesting people who educated me on  an enzyme drink they sell. 

The menu is simple but offers a lot of vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic, and raw offerings. I sampled the “Inspired Renewal Macrobiotic Bowl” and a cup of miso soup and it was DELISH.  I love how they decribe their food as “Breakfast Inspired All-Day Delights,” which indeed they are…and only $8.50 for a large amount of food.

They also offer a selection of fresh juiced concoctions like the Rejuvenade and Ambrosia Elixir. And of course they have a large selection of sweets, both vegan and some are gluten free. I sampled a cupcake and a chocolate chip cookie (just a timy bite) and they were both super tasty.

Aimee, the owner, is super sweet and graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition with me.  We spoke about her plans for Sun In Bloom (which just opened up in January) and she talked about holding workshops, lectures, and group meetings, making the cafe a place where people can enjoy delicious, healthy food and each other’s company. To read a review from the Brooklyn Paper about Aimee and Sun in Bloon, check it out here.

I will definitely be a regular fixture at Sun in Bloom. See you there!

Sun In Bloom
460 Bergen Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 622-4303
info@suninbloom.com

Everyday 8am-8pm

March 15, 2010 at 1:14 pm 2 comments

Don’t pull that trigger!

OMG-potato chips dipped in chocolate? Holla!

Ah, trigger foods. We all have them. Our preferences usually  fall into two groups: salty and sweet. In times of high stress, you’ll most likely go for one or the other. Like the age old debate of chocolate vs. vanilla, you’re either sweet or salty. Chocolate bar vs. oil & vinegar potato chips? What do you reach for?

Me, I’m a sweets girl. Always have been, probably always will be. But the thing is, I’ve started to ALSO incorporate the salty…crackers with hummus, salty potato chips. So now I’m playing for both teams.

I’m bringing this up because I’ve been pretty stressed out the past 2-3 weeks. Starting with my Chemistry exam (which I aced, thank you very much) and ending today (my Diet Assessment midterm), I’ve been a little, how do you call it?..tense.

If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know that I’m an emotional eater (and binge eater, but no binges as of late). When I get stressed, I turn to food to comfort me. Some people drink alcohol, others run 6 miles, and other smoke cigarettes. Me, I eat.

I used to be OK with just dark chocolate. And then the chips and hummus snuck in.

I found I was eating all of them pretty uncontrollably, especially when I wasn’t hungry. I’d use food as a procrastination tool–after all, if I was eating, then I couldn’t be doing work. Staring at the bottom of a hummus container equally comforted me and made me feel like crap at the same time.

So, a wise woman (my mother) told me: “You’re setting yourself up for failure. You need to remove the triggers.” Light bulb moment!

So this past weekend I did. I dumped the chocolate, the hummus, the chips. Why is this OK for me? I’m not saying that I can never have chocolate, chips and hummus ever again, or that I’m “bad” for eating too much of it. It’s OK because I know if at any time I want chocolate (or whatever), I give myself permission to go out and get it (I do live near like 5 amazing bakeries). But in the house–nuh uh, not now.

And you know, it’s worked. I find myself turning to food less, because, let’s face it, it’s difficult to drown your sorrows in a pile of carrot sticks. 

My question: If you know you have trigger foods, how you can you set yourself up for success around them?

March 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm Leave a comment

How do you live your dash

An acquaintance of mine just sent this to me. It’s nothing new, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read it. It literally brings tears to my eyes. Just another reminder of how precious life is. Make the most of your Dash!

The Dash Poem – by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end

He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

March 10, 2010 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment

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