Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rely on Yourself!

I don't know about you but I am tired of people telling me what to do, when to eat, and how to live. And this is coming from someone who tells people what to do for a living as I am a registered dietitian in private. (Note: Apologies to my family for all of my freely given, unwanted advice!)

With that said I am sensing, in addition to electronic overload, collectively we are getting sick and tired of everyone being an expert on everything. EVERYTHING. I can go to the dry cleaners and hear advice on my 401K. Go to the hair salon and be told I need to add chia seeds to my Greek yogurt and POM to my morning smoothie. Don't get me wrong, some of the advice I hear is really helpful.

But to sort through just one episode of Dr. Oz is overwhelming. Dr. Oz (maybe he is friends with the wizard?) makes us think we can always do so much more.......and more and even more until we've bought every supplement known to man and don't have any money left for real food. And that is just the beginning of all the experts who are parading around talking about everything from toe nails to wine.

We can see by looking around us that all this advice has not gotten us, as a country, in better physical or fiscal shape. So I suggest we go back to the good old days when we listened to our inner voice. This is called self-reliance. Maybe Thoreau was way ahead of his time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mixed Messages / Pepsi and Beyonce

I love Beyonce, I really do. She has worked hard since she was a child and besides having an amazing voice and stage presence she is a beautiful woman. She deserves everything she has worked so hard to achieve. But when I hear Pepsi just signed her for $50,000,000, yes fifty million dollars, something doesn't sit right with me. Maybe it is because I am involved with childhood obesity prevention and the black community has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity.

While sweetened beverages and fried snack foods (Pepsi owns Frito-Lay) are not the only cause of childhood obesity and Pepsi does sell other non sweetened beverages, fifty million dollars could go a long way towards instituting product changes and advertising campaigns that could improve the lives of millions children. Pepsi said they will support Beyonce's creative projects. Maybe she will decide to use Pepsi's platform to help the company find new innovative, healthy products. She would be a fantastic spokesperson for young kids. Partnerships of this magnitude have incredible potential for positive change. I hope Beyonce and Pepsi see the opportunity and run with it.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Holidays are Here!

At this time of year, as a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, I am usually asked by journalists what does a nutritionist eat at holiday parties. After working hard all year to stay in shape, I don't want to start the New Year on a diet. So here are my holiday party eating guidelines:

  1. Eat light the day of a party. More veggies, salads, grilled fish, or a GoBeFull smoothie concoction. In general during December I try to eat lighter to accommodate all the holiday events.
  2. Avoid white flour. This eliminates most cookies, cakes, bread, crackers, and pasta.
  3. Avoid trans fats. This eliminates the rest of the cookies, many other desserts, and snack mixes.
  4. If there is a dessert I love, I will take a few bites.
  5. Avoid anything deep fried.
  6. Eat delicious pieces of chocolate.
  7. Eat grilled fish.
  8. Eat raw or cooked veggies and luscious fresh fruit. A few bites of cheese are good too.
  9. Drink two drinks. My favorites include dirty martinis, fine scotch, or red wine.
  10. If I am invited to a sit down dinner party, I eat what is served. There will always be something that fits into my guidelines. I never make special food requests to my hosts. No matter what is served, I am grateful for the luxury of someone else making a meal for me. The love and labor involved warms my heart and fills me with gratitude.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Halloween - Who Will Win the Candy War?

No matter how hard you try, it is almost impossible to avoid candy at Halloween! Candy at Halloween is like Easter eggs at Easter, gelt at Hanukah, and candy canes at Christmas. It is a fact of life. So this year, instead of battling with the kids over when, where, and how to eat the candy, here are some suggestions that might help sweeten this ghoulish holiday.

Limit the Container Size: Pick a small plastic pumpkin with a strong handle or a mini-sized shopping bag. Make a rule that kids have to carry their own candy. This will help limit the amount. When they start complaining that the container is too heavy, it’s time to go home.

Separate the Candy: They can make two piles: acceptable and not acceptable! Keep ones they like and throw out unwrapped or damaged candy. Tell them you or dad will take the candy they don’t like to work. That leaves only the candy they want.

You can take this sorting process a step further and look for candy that contains partially hydrogenated or Trans fats. These types of fats are artery clogging fats. So if much of their favorite pile is full of hydrogenated fats, this would be a good time to cut back on other artery clogging fats like French fries, nuggets, prepared baked sweets, and burgers.

Limit the Amount: The first few days most kids go hog wild eating candy but then it usually tapers off. In fact, by week two many kids have forgotten about the candy all together. If the candy obsession lasts more than a week or two, it can be helpful to set up guidelines to deal with the remaining supply. Limiting candy to a piece or two after dinner is a good idea. If it is not gone by Thanksgiving, throw it out!

Brush your Teeth: This is an opportunity to explain to kids how cavities form. Tell them they need to brush their teeth within a few minutes of eating candy because the sugar in the candy reacts with bacteria in their mouths to form acids which attack the teeth causing cavities. If you have not already banned sodas from the house, this might be a good time to start.

Adjust Snacks: Since you know your kids will be eating candy, if not theirs probably someone else’s, make snacks healthy. Offer sliced fresh fruit, Trans fat-free popcorn, low-fat cheese sticks, fresh veggies and hummus, or whole grain pretzel sticks. Don’t keep sweets like ice cream or other sugared snacks around at this time.

Adjust Meals: During the first week or so, make meals that are lower in carbohydrates to adjust for the extra candy intake. Avoid pasta, potatoes, rice, and breaded foods. Definitely avoid sweets and junk food. Don’t send packaged snacks to school. Eat more protein, vegetables, and healthy fats like olive oil, avocado and nuts.

While this may seem like a lot of work, it beats the alternative of turning into a witch by disallowing candy. Candy at Halloween, as long as kids are eating other healthy food, will not permanently ruin your child’s health. This balanced approach leads to happy memories and a cease fire.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bubble Tea Balls Might Cause Cancer

Say it ain't so! I love bubble tea especially with tapioca balls after a hot bath and a scrub at Spa World in Centreville, Virginia. Spa World is a Korean bath house that offers multiple hot water pools, saunas, scrubs, massages, and really good Korean food.

Bubble tea balls are round tapicoa balls that are placed in the bottom of a glass of iced tea or blended fruit drinks. These drinks are amazingly refreshing after a hot bath or sauna. A study out of Germany says they may be cancer causing due to a chemical used in manufacturing the balls.

Another favorite food, bashed and dashed. Will keep you posted if there are updates. In the meantime, I still plan to bathe and scrub at Spa World. I will search for another favorite refreshing drink to help me cool down.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Do Your Resolutions Have Heart?

I always like to write a blog half way into the first month of the new year to see how everyone is doing on the commitments they just signed on for. It is amazing how important we think our resolutions are until we are face to face with the work of maintaining them!

I recently read the Steve Jobs biography which not only did I love but which also got me back in touch with many of the ideologies that drove my thinking in my late teens and twenties - the late 60's and early 70's. I have been rereading some seminal books of that time like Autobiography of a Yogi, The Teachings of Don Juan - A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, and some old nutrition books by Arnold Ehret that I have saved.

I came across a passage in The Teachings of Don Juan that spoke to me. Of course I am in a different place now than I was 40 years ago when I first read the book, but good books have a way of evoking new meaning no matter how many time you reread them.

Don Juan, the aging the sorcerer says, "My benefactor told me about it once when I was young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand. Now I do understand it. I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My benefactor's question has meaning now. Does the path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you."

So ask yourself now, "Do your resolutions have heart?'" Your answer may help explain why you are or not keeping them.