Though you wouldn’t know it by the weather, summer will be upon us in the next few months. The change of season is evident by the bombardment of articles promising to get you a “bikini body” in just a few months. Though my deliveries from the mailman have dropped significantly in the electronic age, I still manage to get obscure catalogs featuring scantily clad women on the beach.
Normally I don’t think much about these marketing ploys, but since I have had the opportunity to work one on one with college students, my eyes have been opened to the world of body dissatisfaction. I have seen young females in all shapes & sizes; the one thing they have in common is they are not happy with the way they look. Focus on the flaws seems to be the mantra.
Although it is easier said than done, I want to spread the word that we should focus on the strengths of our body. Rather than worrying whether the food we eat will add pounds, shouldn’t we be concerned that the food we eat is healthy and benefits our bodies in the long-term?
In honor of the upcoming “bikini season” I am including some adapted tips on Ways to Love your Body.
1. Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Rest when you are tired.
2. Change the messages you are giving yourself. Identify the negative ways that you speak to yourself and make a decision to replace that self-talk with more realistic, loving, and positive statements.
3. The number on the scale does not determine your worth. You are much more than a number on a scale. Instead focus on the most important things about yourself like your unique talents, qualities, skills, and characteristics.
4. Think of your body as an instrument instead of as an ornament. Be thankful every day for all of the wonderful things you can do in your body such as dance, play, run, and enjoy good food.
5. Exercise to feel good and be healthy, not to lose weight or punish your body. Find fun ways to add more physical activity in your life.
6. Walk with your head held high. If you act like someone with a healthy body image and good self-confidence, the “act” will eventually become reality.
7. Wear comfortable clothes that fit. Clothes that are too large or too small tend to create physical discomfort and may make you feel even worse about your body. Clothes that fit you well are designed to complement your figure.
8. Question ads that perpetuate unrealistic standards for our bodies. Instead of saying, “What’s wrong with me,” say, “What’s wrong with this ad?” Set your own standards instead of letting the media set them for you.
9. Surround yourself with people who are supportive of you and your body, not critical.
10. Every day tell yourself, “I am worthy.”
Adapted from: Judy Lightstone, RD. “Improving Body Image”
- If you really want to see the scale number drop, what you put in your mouth matters most
- Active lifestyles may not protect against obesity if people continue to consume a “Western” Diet (i.e. high in sugars, salts & processed foods)
- Exercisers, however, are more successful keeping the extra weight off than non-exercising couterparts
Source: Michael Pollan Food Rules
By now you have probably heard that the FDA has recently revamped the food label. A long overdue makeover (far from perfect) but it is a start. Ideally, we wouldn’t need food labels if all our food came directly from our garden & local farmer, but alas, in today’s world this is not always possible. So, what to make of the new food labels?
First, marketers are geniuses at creating misleading health claims that lure consumers into buying products that they perceive as healthy, so buyer beware. The best remedy for this deception, look at the Nutrition Facts label.
When reviewing the label, here are a few things to consider: (source What to Look for on Food Labels)
Calories: Consider how the food fits in your daily calorie budget and compare with similar products. Pay attention to serving size.
Fats: While the focus is no longer on the amount of fat, check out the type of fat. The goal for saturated fat is less than 7 percent of your calories, generally around 15-20 grams. How much does this food contribute to your saturated fat intake? Does it contain trans fat? Best advice is to avoid buying if it contains trans fat (otherwise know as partially hydrogenated oils).
Sodium: The goal for sodium is to keep under 2,000 milligrams per day and that’s probably the biggest eye opener when looking at labels. If you choose a food that contains a fair amount of sodium, make sure the rest of your daily intake is lower. Often you will find a big variation in sodium content among brands.
Fiber: Fiber is beneficial for heart health and digestive function, so choose foods with higher fiber content. This generally comes from whole grains, legumes and beans, and fresh fruit and vegetables, so favor these to meet the goal of greater than 20 (ideally 25-35) grams of fiber per day.
Things to be aware of on food labels:
Gluten-free: It’s the current buzzword and it is essential that you avoid gluten if you have celiac disease, but don’t assume gluten free means healthier as some options are highly processed.
Natural: This tends to be popular for marketing purposes, but has no formal definition. Natural chips or beer don’t necessarily have any added nutritional benefit.
A green label: Yes, it is a selling point as people assume foods are healthier when the label is green as opposed to other colors. (not true)
Low fat: By definition, the product must contain 3 grams of fat or less per serving, but keep in mind that it can still be high in sugar, sodium or calories.
Whole grain versus multigrain: Choose 100 percent whole grain to be assured it truly is whole grain. The “multi” label means that the product contains more than one grain, however, all of them can be refined.
- Fatty fish: High in Omega 3 (essential fat) & possible depression combatant. Aim for
3oz 2 times per week.
- Nuts: (almonds, pistachios, walnuts): chockfull of helpful vitamins. Snack on ~1 oz per day.
- Exercise: The best stress buster yet. Aim for 30 minutes 3-4 times per week.
I’ve really come to love cooking at home, especially for a big group. One of my favorite meals to create is an Asian feast. I’d been dreaming about it for months, so decided this past Saturday would be the day. If anyone is interested in specific recipes, I’ll be happy to share!
Beef satay: very thinly sliced & skewered, (homemade!) teriyaki marinated flank steak, grilled
Szechuan chicken: modified teriyaki marinade, kicked up several notches, grilled
Fried rice: has to be peanut oil. Sorry for those of you who can’t eat peanut products-it really does
make a huge difference! Sweet onion, white parts of green onion & cage free eggs sautéed in peanut
oil, combined with brown basmati rice (precooked & chilled!), and low sodium soy sauce.
Stir fried vegetables: splash of sesame oil, lots of garlic & ginger, sweet onion, bok choy, red/yellow/orange peppers, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts & baby corn.
Wontons: My favorite! Years ago, when my family first started making them, we used Jimmy Dean hot
sausage (I know it sounds weird, but trust me!), of course the staples-ginger, garlic, green onions, soy, sesame & some minced water chestnuts (they add great crunch!). We hand rolled each wonton, then fried them to golden brown. Great stuff, but loaded with fat! A few years ago, mom found a recipe
in a magazine for baked wontons. Use muffin pans, very lightly sprayed; press wonton wrappers into
pan, then spray very lightly again. Bake at 350F for 6-8 minutes, until golden brown & crunchy. For
the filling, I decided Saturday I’d try to knock off a bit more of the fat & calories by doing a 50/50 mix
of Jimmy Dean & ground chicken breast meat. I added a good bit more seasoning then I usually do-
especially garlic. Spoon fully cooked/hot filling into baked wonton wrappers at very last minute. They were, unanimously, the best wontons yet! Topped with homemade spicy mustard (Colemans mustard powder, water, juice of one orange, dijon mustard to taste). YUM!
I’m not a demonstrative person. I’m not really a hugger…don’t show/talk about my feelings, etc. But
the one way I do express myself…my favorite way to do so, is through food. Really tasty & healthy food, prepared with love.
- Choose Complex carbs (are digested more slowly): whole grain cereals, breads, pastas & “old fashioned” oats.
- Citrus foods (orange) are high in Vitamin C which can curb levels of stress hormones.
- Leafy greens(spinach): rich source of stress busting vitamin magnesium.
It seems like everywhere you look, from the grocery store to the bookstore, there are articles and books claiming “gluten free” is the way to go. For example, books such as Grain Brain and Wheat Belly, report that by cutting gluten from our diet, we would not only be full of energy but that our brain function would improve significantly. Does this sound too good to be true? Unfortunately, it probably is and all this misinformation about gluten free diets often gets in the way of educating consumers about the real reasons for following a gluten free diet. Celiac Disease? Gluten Allergy? Gluten Sensitivity? What are the differences and the true incidence of these diseases? Celiac disease is a genetically linked autoimmune disorder that sets off an immune response that causes damage to the small intestine. Celiac disease is life long & the only treatment for true celiac disease is a gluten-free lifestyle, a diet free of wheat, barley, rye & oats. Diagnosing celiac disease requires blood tests & an intestinal biopsy. Celiac disease is not to be confused with gluten sensitivity, which unfortunately has no tools to diagnose this condition. Gluten sensitivity describes persons who exhibit symptoms similar to those with celiac disease, but test negative for celiac disease. It is important to note that these individuals do not have the antibodies and intestinal damage seen in celiac disease.
So, why do people report feeling so fantastic after going gluten free? First, the Standard American Diet, dubbed S.A.D., is high in sugars, refined flour & processed foods. Many of the health benefits people claim from going gluten free are simply from eliminating the processed food in our diets. Speaking of processed food, going gluten free does not mean an automatic elimination of these types of foods. Browsing through our local grocery store I was amazed at the amount of highly processed gluten free products available. The basis of gluten free diet is inherently healthy, no processed flours, high in fruits, vegetables & lean sources of protein. It is important to note, however, that research does not support elimination of gluten from the diet unless diagnosed with one of the conditions described above.
So, what to do if you suspect an issue with gluten tolerance? First, avoid self-diagnosis, which may result in unnecessary elimination of certain food groups. It is best to make an appointment with a trusted physician and discuss your options for getting an accurate diagnosis.
BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Yield: 13 cookies
Total Time: 20 minutes max!
1 cup bananas, ripe and mashed, about 2 large bananas
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips,
In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients and mix well. With a medium cookie scoop drop cookie batter onto the lined cookie sheets a few inches apart. Flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand and bake for 10 minutes.
Let them cool on the baking sheet for five minutes. Store in an air tight container for up to 2 days.
- Many traditional cultures swear by fermented foods (food that have been
transformed by live microorganisms) yogurt, sauerkraut, soy sauce, kimchi, sourdough.
- These foods can provide Vitamin B12 & probiotics beneficial bacteria that improves
digestion, immunity & may reduce harmful inflammation
source: Michael Pollan Food Rules
- If you exercise, its okay to sit for the rest of the day what you do the whole day is just as important. Stand up, sit less,
move more & more often, at least every 30 minutes throughout the day.
- You’ve got to feel some pain if your going to gain any fitness benefits if an activity hurts you may already have an injury or you are doing it wrong.
source: Adapted from Nutrition Action
If you are an NPR junkie like myself you may have heard this story reporting that full fat milk is linked to slimmer kids. And if you do an Internet search you will find ‘compelling” stories that report skim milk is detrimental to our health. Before you rush to the grocery store in search of full fat milk, you may want to think about a few points.
As with any science, not all studies are well designed. In this particular study, researchers failed to look at how many calories these children were eating or other food choices they were making.
At this point I do not think there is enough data to warrant the switch from skim to whole milk. The jury is still out on this and there are many factors that contribute to weight gain or loss. That said, if your overall diet is rich in plant foods & low in saturated fat, a glass a whole milk occasionally is not likely to make a significant difference in your weight or cholesterol profile. Research shows that the real culprits in weight gain are the sugary drinks we consume on a regular basis (soda, juice, energy drinks, etc) & our limited physical activity. In addition, the standard American Diet (dubbed SAD by Mark Bittman) consists of largely refined carbohydrates, which in turn has led to poor health. I do not think skim milk is the culprit of the obesity epidemic.