Tag Archives: health food

Five easy rules to maintaining a healthy weight

Just for reference - the new usda food guide

Here are a few simple guidelines to maintaining a healthy weight. Body weight fluctuates depending on stress, life patterns, medications, illness, exercise routine, and other changes. It’s the ups and downs of being human. Following these general rules won’t turn you into Kate Moss, but you won’t be Fatty Arbuckle either. Remember, this blog is about balance. While it’s natural to get fits of “weight drama” given our society, try not to stress it too much. Life is too short! These are guidelines to help you discover your own unique plan.

Step 1. Cut down on sugars and chemicals you can’t pronounce. Especially refined sugars. This step also includes cutting out over-processed, ready-made foods and meals. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, it’s usually a bad sign. These often contain high levels of refined sugars and other ingredients making them palatable, but not very satiating.  Sorry, alcohol is a sugar too.  Choose your sugars wisely, and keep them to a minimum.

Try not to eat these guys often.


Step 2. Add more fiber. Lots more fiber. Beans, seasonal veggies and fruits – the less cooked the better, whole grain breads and cereals, sweet potatoes, nuts, and seeds….foods that have some substance to them. Sprinkling ground flax seed in soups is an easy way to get more fiber. Fibrous foods keep your system healthy,  your stomach full, and provides important nutrients. Fiber generally keeps things moving. Grab that apple a day.

Step 3. Eat leaner meats more frequently. Turkey, chicken, white fish, salmon, etc.  Fattier meats are ok, in moderation. Use fattier meats in smaller quantities and to enhance the flavor of dishes, such as in a stir fry interspersed with lots of veggies and plated with brown rice.

4. Drink less calories. Plain, or sparkling water, hot tea, ice tea, coffee, etc. Stay away from drinking calories. They quickly stack up. Soft drinks are the biggest culprit. It’s also a good idea to avoid drinks that purport doing your body good, like fancy flavored waters. The best place to get nutrients is directly from the source, rather than infused into your beverage.  Again, alcohol gets another nod. While one small glass of wine (3.5 fl oz) can have around 100 calories, 2 or 3  glasses several nights a week will add up quickly.

Step 5. Feel free to break the rules. This is the Mind Body Moderate, after all. If you find your healthy eating plan faltered after a day instead of the six months you initially envisioned, know that it’s ok. Rather than get discouraged, negotiate with yourself, regulating alcohol, sweets and heavier meals mainly to weekends or special occasions. Be adventurous and explore a few new foods you normally pass by. Everybody’s body is different and processes the world around them differently.  Understand how your body works best. If it’s not your own recipe, it most likely won’t last. Make it your own!

Breaking the Rules with Steak Frites at home…yes, those are Mc Donald’s fries.
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Food for thought

We could talk specific foods ingested, numbers of times a day, eat this-not that, caloric intake, etc.  Sure. Dissecting nutrition makes a difference. Knowledge is power, but over-think it, and you might end up neurotic about food. The Puritanical roots of our all or nothing culture places food into good and bad categories, fostering patterns of emotional eating, binging, guilt complexes, eating disorders, etc.  It’s no way to live and eventually we all crash and burn.

Truth is lots of things lend to well-being. It’s not just calorie counting on a plate and minutes counted at the gym. We need activity (unplug more often), natural nutrition (processed foods sparingly), stress regulation, and an understanding of societal ideals on daily life.

BUT…

If you are looking for one big universal answer on how to best handle food and nutrition, I have it. Going back thousands of years, when it comes to food, it’s the real secret to a healthy, fitter you, in mind and body:

Relax. Take pleasure in your food.

Love food and all the ceremony and community that goes with it. Adore wine, meat, bread, chocolate, avocados, whatever. It’s fine. Heck, it’s healthy!  Relax already about calories. And please! Stop forcing down quick bars with everything you need…you don’t really need it. Invest time into real food as much as possible. Use mealtime to celebrate seasonal delights. The appreciation comes from the same place, whether it be the perfect granny smith in October or the perfect bite of a dark chocolate. Taking pleasure in food creates a magical experience where flavor rules over quantity. The need for more diminishes.

This is not to say it is necessarily an easy switch. It’s a lifestyle change. Mealtime, food, and even community must be given more space in our daily routines. To encourage such dietary shifts, there’s a growing movement building awareness around food called mindful eating. I reserve a certain amount of reticence with regards to the introduction of new diets and food rules.  With the best of intent, such guidelines can paradoxically create more anxiousness over food and, ultimately, failure. It’s a strange conundrum, but just letting go and trusting our own instincts often makes the biggest difference. If you do require more reading on this topic,  here is an essay on tuning into your own eating instincts. Humans are social creatures, where community and food have played a role throughout time. The learning curve should be small.


The most used cultural food case study, looks at the French.  A Guardian article from 1994 quotes stats from the French government’s Committee for Health Education (CFES) which found that eating is still very closely linked to a national heritage of consuming good food for pleasure. In France, (in 1994) 76 per cent ate meals prepared at home, with 75 per cent eating at the family table.  The French typically spend two hours over lunch and they don’t eat in front of the television. The French eat slowly, enjoying both the food and the company.

In fact, most Countries have some cultural heritage in and social connection to their diet. Notable places include Japan, China, Greece, and Italy.

Food is not ingested for energy alone, but a source of personal and national pride, with time and care taken to prepare meals.  Rich or poor, this pride is for everyone. Due to seasonal ingredients limited quantities and time available the focus of meals is on little plates with big flavor, encouraging one to savor every bite.

Now here’s your food for thought:

Why not create your own personal culture and traditions around food. Be creative and enjoy all the pleasures it offers year round. Food should be fun. Your waist might respond in kind, so go ahead and feel free to play with your food.

Cheers


The changing shape of the ideal body

A 1935 ad reminds us it wasn’t so long ago that “skinny” was undesirable.

Our first reaction to the above ad is shock and horror.

How could anyone fall for this ?

But then, it is only fair to question…how could anyone fall for this?

Same worries, different times. The ideal feminine physique is ultimately defined by what we eat as a society at large. Let’s go on a time traveling adventure to witness the ongoing evolution of the beautiful body.

Start your flex capacitors…

It’s 1935.  The country is in the grip of the great depression. Meat is expensive, and produce, if it isn’t canned from the year before, comes from whatever is in season. Starchy, high fiber foods are added to every meal enhancing the feeling of fullness and staving off hunger. Sugar is a rare extravagance. Some are lucky enough to afford an annual sweet for Christmas, although many look forward to receiving the exotic gift of an orange on their pillow Christmas eve.

A curvy figure is the epitome of health. It equates to vitality, wealth, sexuality, and the ability to bear healthy children. Aphrodite incarnate.

Now time travel to 2010. Oh. Hold up. We are already there. In the past 100 years we have seen farm subsidies on corn and soy commodities, WWII, the boon of the 1950s, and better living through chemistry – which introduced chemically enhanced flavor to food while keeping it fresh longer, like high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated things and msg…just to name the greatest hits.

Currently we are in the midst of another depression. Fresh fruits and vegetables, and local, organically raised meats are expensive. Wild fish prices continue to rise. Chemicals, new technologies, and processes make packaged food readily available and inexpensive.  So many chemicals are found in these inexpensive packaged foods, that often there is no “food” left at all.  As a nation, most of what we eat contains sugar. All things considered, it’s a rather bizarre obesity epidemic created in the US where often citizens are simultaneously overweight and malnourished.

Now, in 2010, aphrodite looks something like this:

Being skinny now embodies a certain attitude towards health. Skinny now equates to health, energy, financial success,  happiness, sexuality, and youth. It says, “I have time to exercise and take care of myself.”

This is not to be a comment on whether it is right or wrong, just that it is. Standards of beauty have been alive and well in humanity since the dawn of time. We are instinctively hardwired to aspire to a certain ideal, whatever it may be at that time.

Societal ideals will continue to exist. Seeing beyond the cultural ideal takes strength and vision, but it also coincides with our favorite approach to health  – the moderate one.


Marketing With Food Dares


Some people consider eating chicken feet and head cheese a dare, but in the US it’s not so much about oddities as it is about going big. With popular shows like Man vs. Food and the recent onslaught of fast food dares, it becomes obvious the recipe for success comes down to extreme comfort food, extreme Americana, and extreme calories…all in the name of entertainment, of course.

Perfect example: The Double Down

KFC Double Down

KFC’s  testoterone alluring monstrosity got the attention they had intended, making headlines all over by taking two pieces of fried chicken and using them to sandwich two slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese, two slices of bacon and a special sauce. An LA times blog says it has 800 calories 46 grams of fat, while the Washington Post says only 540 calories with 32 grams of fat. -90 calories lighter than McDonald’s Premium Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich. It contains 1,380 milligrams of sodium while 1500 a day or less is recommended.

Carl's Jr Footlong Burger

Most recent to the extreme caloric scene is the Carl’s Jr. hamburger footlong. That’s right. 8 patties of meat and probably 1500 calories. Nutritional information is not yet available.

Friendly's Grilled Cheese Burger Melt

Stephen Colbert recently touted the news of Friendly’s new grilled cheese burger melt. At 1500 calories (seems to be the standard) and 2090mg of sodium, I think no one can express their excitement over this sandwich like Colbert can. I urge you to check out his food thoughts on the grilled cheese burger melt here.

When did this madness begin?

In recent memory, the team making calories work for them in the biggest way was the Gateway Grizzlies, a minor league baseball team in Southern Illinois, just outside of St. Louis, MO.  The Grizzlies, known more for their death-defying ballpark food than their hitting, touched off the craze in 2006 by adding a $4.50 donut burger to the concession lineup. Going the extra mile, the Grizzlies deep-fried their glazed donut before slapping it on the bacon cheeseburger. Attendance soared.

But wait! It’s just keeps getting better! Moving the trend ever forward, the marketing gurus for the Grizzlies now sell a new gutbuster made of 1.6 pounds of meat topped with salsa, sour cream, chili and Fritos. Cost: $20 and 4,889 calories.

I’m gonna stick with chicken feet. A 60 calorie dare that’s still hard to swallow…mainly you just chew.

Instantaneous Health and Black Food – Why we Love Japan

The Japanese are willing to try new fads. Theirs is a voracious and open appetite for all things new, quirky and different. Who can blame them?  I too might be enticed by the latest gizmos and research, but I’m keeping my skeptical face on…at least until everyone is gone.