Friday, December 28, 2012

Time to say goodbye to dairy milk?

   In this September post, I shared the virtues of almond milk as an alternative to cows milk.  Now that the dairy industry is facing the end of its federal subsidies (as it should be) the price of milk could double.  I can't think of a better time for you to try this dairy alternative than 2013 (as long as you are not allergic to tree nuts!).
   There are many stories about the cause of the increase in prices and whether or not it is actually expected to happen.   Here is one example from the WSJ.
  The brand and type of almond milk that I enjoy is shown below. I am even considering using it in my decaff cappuccino next year. I will have to live with less froth volume as it doesn't froth well.
Click here to visit the Silk Website

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The commercial we don't see

Early last month I wrote about a medical condition that a growing number of women will experience, low levels of estrogen.  This hormone deficiency leads to painful and unsatisfying sexual relationsMy post was inspired by the work of  Dr. Deborah Coady, a New York gynecologist.   
Some time last year, I wrote about a commercial that I thought was  silly and distasteful.  It was a direct to consumer ad for medication - which I find inappropriate. 
Today I saw that commercial again.  I realized this time that low T - aka low testosterone, is no different really, (if not less severe) than low estrogen - aka low E.
Yet, there are no TV commercials directed to women who have low estrogen. None to let women know that they are not alone and have no reason to be ashamed.  Men are not encouraged to accept an absence of good sex because their parts don't work, why should women be any different?
  Where are the ads that tell women their sex lives don't have to end with age, disease or low E?!?  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holy Memphis Calories Batman

Mom and I were enjoying a healthy dinner that I prepared (shiritaki noodles Mexican, kale and baby corn) when a Hardees commercial aired. 
As best I remember, the screen was mostly filled with the picture below  - but it showed a man with his hand on the sandwich and then taking bites of itHe looked very happy.  We both said, "Oh my gosh!"  And Mom said something about there being French Fries inside the bun, but they turned out to be onion rings.  When I showed her the picture she pointed out the pulled pork which I thought was just BBQ sauce.  Then she said, "there's a burger too?!"
Of course I looked up the information on the website and this is what I found.  First of all, there are three versions.  A 'little' one, a 1/3 burger and a monster burger.  The calorie, saturated (unhealthy) fat, and sugar grams are provided for each below, in order of size.  Sugar grams, you say?  Yes, me too.  I guess it is from the sauces.

Ger full nutrition information here.

  Calories  710
    Saturated Fat  14g
     Sugar 28g

  Calories 960
    Saturated Fat 19g
     Sugar  31g
 Calories 1000
    Saturated Fat 23g
     Sugar 31g
BTW, Mom did not finish her dinner because she said she was too full - her dinner had LESS THAN 200 calories and no saturated fat... that is what I call Volumetrics :) - well, Barbara Rolls, PhD calls it Volumetrics, but you know what I meant.  Low calorie, high nutrient density.  Its a healthy, yet filling, way to eat.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Eat like you mean - WHAT Exactly?

   Organizations that represent bowling alleys and movie theatres are trying to get the establishments exempted from the National Menu Labeling law.  They do not want to post the calorie content of the items they sell on the menu boards (next to the names and prices).  The photo below was taken at a Florida bowling alley.  I really am curious about the caption.,,. eat like you mean what exactly?   
   At the concession stand of this bowling alley there was a poster advertising a burger combo that you could modify by adding cheese or bacon to the french fries or onion rings, in addition you could add another whole burger - make it a double - for ONLY 2$.  My thought as I stared at this poster was,  I bet if I asked them to keep the extra burger AND the french fries but give me a salad -  they would charge me an EXTRA 5$.  
   YES ?! - and this is  exactly what the barber meant (old post) when he said, "they keep pushing the bad stuff on us, all the time, everywhere."

Like you mean to spend your older years with chronic disease and disability, of course

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Myths about snacking

   This brief post is my reaction to the worst billboard EVER.
The billboard is along a busy multi lane road in Greensboro NC.  It shows a man with an odd look on his face - possibly the ad makers were going for a look of surprise.  The man is only shown from about the chest up.  I have only driven by the billboard a few times and was mainly focused on driving, but I believe the man is at a table and is eating chocolate chip cookies (with a glass of milk).  
The caption over the scene of the surprised looking man is, "snacking between meals is guaranteed to lead to weight gain."
   NO IT ISN'T.  Eating more calories than one needs to maintain their weight is what leads to weight gain (99% of the time).  It doesn't matter when you eat those calories or what you call them (meals or snacks) - too many calories are too many calories.
As far as the quality of calories goes, yes, we are more likely to over consume when foods  are energy dense, like sweets. But it has nothing to do with 'snacking' unless the snacking puts a person over the amount of calories their body needs.
   The billboard message I'm highlighting is NOT a public health communication.  It is an advertisement.  It is an ad for a weight loss center. 
    My research and promotion focus is prevention of overweight and I find a lot of treatment venues to be misleading and in some cases, they promote complete untruths. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When the average is a bad thing.

A friend shared a smart phone app with me yesterday.  It is called Fooducate.  You can visit the webpage by clicking here.  If you have a smart phone (iphone or android) you can download the free application.  The link was shared with me because I am studying the use of nutrition information in college students and my colleague thought that menu labeling wasn't going to cut it with this age group. (I plan to find out)
I went ahead and downloaded the app to test it out. You can hold your phone's camera lens near the barcode of the food item and it will read it.  Then you are taken to a webpage that gives you information about that product - including calories, saturated fat and even if it has GMOs.
To set up the application on your phone, you enter 6 pieces of information.  One of them is your weight.  When I got to that screen, there was this message "the average woman weighs 160 pounds and the average man weighs 190 pounds."  I am pretty sure it said the average American....  Let me make something very clear - the average weight is overweight or obese - greater than 60% of the US Population falls into this category.  In fact, the NHIS released data reports today that show the obesity rate is at about 30% currently.  Many women who weigh 160 pounds are not at a healthy weight.  Do NOT be comforted or fooled into thinking that  a 'normal' or 'average' weight is good. (I am not speaking to anyone individually here - a healthy weight is determined by your blood work (glucose, cholesterol etc) and blood pressure, physical stamina, physical and mental comfort, etc)
I read the statement re: 160 pounds yesterday and today the NHIS brief was in my mailbox.  I thought that was a neat coincidence. Here is the latest data - in graph form.  This comes from the CDC. 
NOTE: this is one of our Health Indicators... The goal is that white line... we want to be UNDER it.
Remember that excess weight is associated with metabolic dysfuntion.  This puts a person at risk for diabetes and heart disease.  The state of obesity in this country affects children and adults.  It is not okay for our normal to be unhealthy.  Adults are living longer sicker and our youth are expected to have shorter life expectancies than their parents.  Its a serious problem.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Excess Body Fat

   If you are concerned with excess body fat please consider the quality of your diet, calorie modification and exercise.
   The attached article (click here) concerns the lack of regulation for cosmetic surgery.  It also highlights adverse consequences because of it.  The article shares serious misfortunes of persons who have had liposuction.  
    This is not the recommended way to rid yourself of fat.  A health promoting lifestyle is just that - a lifestyle.  It is something you do every day because every day you are worth it.

Don't Lipo...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's what you eat

I strongly advocate exercise and physical activity for the benefit it provides.  Exercise reduces the incidence of disease, leads to a longer, active life and improves mood.  Even though I do not promote exercise as a means of weight loss, people often ask me what form of exercise (e.g., running vs swimming) is better for burning calories and whether intensity or duration is better.  People are also interested in what type of exercise will burn fat. 
I don't have an answer.  Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.  If a person is really interested in their weight and excess calories - then I suggest they consider what they are eating.

A month or so ago, my stance was vindicated in an article about exercise.  A kinesiology professor from McMasters University was asked about High Intensity Interval Training, or HIT.  Someone asked the exercise specialist if HIT was better for losing weight than other forms of exercise and Dr. Gibala replied, 
The main way to lose weight is by what we put in our mouth, not by exercising to burn calories.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Weight Watchers Australia & Access

Weight Watchers International has asked the Australian government to subsidize its program so that more overweight and obese persons can benefit from its evidence based community weight loss program.

They are asking for tax dollars to cover most of the 12 week cost 
($202) - the attendee would pay 30 dollars out of pocket.  I certainly support efforts to make this program accessible to more people, but I have an issue.  As is often the case, after we find evidence of an effect (efficacy), an intervention is given to the public under another condition or in a different dose. The real intervention is not replicated, the results are not replicated, and the program itself is found to be ineffective.  

That could happen here because the research study which found that Weight Watchers participants lost twice as much weight as similar persons who received assistance from their physician lasted 12 MONTHS not 12 weeks.

In addition, I agree with the Obesity Policy Coalition spokesperson, Craig Sinclair, who said that an environmental approach was needed.  The government should consider nutrition labeling laws, limits on junk food advertising and cost supports for healthy foods or increased taxes on junk foods.  YES!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Managing Your Alcohol

   College programs that address alcohol use focus on harm prevention instead of use prevention.   Even with high school students who by law are forbidden to drink, an emphasis on protection is in place.
  People are going to drink.  
  Health educators can offer strategies to those who use alcohol which can reduce the risk of negative consequences.  Negative consequences include poor school work,  athletic impairment, health complications, driving or other major and minor accidents and legal troubles.
  Below is a list of some things that people can do to avoid over consumption, drunkeness and other adverse consequences.  These strategies can be used by all of us, including mature adults who are attending holiday parties!

-    Choose a drink containing less alcohol
-    Pace your drinks to 1 or fewer per hour
-    Stop drinking at a predetermined time
-    Set a limit on how many drinks you’ll have
-    Put extra ice in your drink
-    Monitor your BAC
-    Alternate non-alcoholic beverages
-    Avoid drinking games
-    Keep track of how many drinks you’ve had
-    Avoid trying to “keep up”
-    Have a friend let you know what you’ve had enough to drink
-    Hold a drink so people stop bothering you about drinking
-   Make your own drinks to control the amount of alcohol you have

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Can You Trust Your Vegetables?

I am not sure if I can return to daily or regular blog posting, but I do remain your observant food policy, diet quality advocate.   

Two recent observations are of particular importance when it comes to dining out.  IF you are interested in avoiding extra calories from saturated fat or sugar than they may interest you.

1) Cracker Barrel soaks its carrots in sugar.  I was told this by a spouse of an employee.  The person shared that Cracker Barrell is set to post all calorie information on its menus in January (to conform with the national menu labeling law).  My informant told me that the chain was changing some of its items in order to get ready.  I laughed, saying, surely there wasn't anything on the menu that wasn't loaded in saturated fat.  Then she mentioned the vegetables and I said, oh BUTTER and she said NO, Sugar!  I was stunned.
2) Elsewhere: Steamed vegetables may come served in butter unless you specifically request otherwise.  Sometimes butter free isn't an option.  For example, I was at a restaurant/sports bar called Kickback Jacks and the menu offered steamed vegetables.  I ordered these, but just to be safe, I added that I did not want any butter on them.  The waitress came back to the table and said that the cook said that was not possible.  The vegetables were already in the kitchen sitting in butter.  He did offer to rinse them off but could not guarantee that they would be butter free.  On the positive side - the waitress admitted that.  I am not unhappy if a restaurant cannot oblige me, but I am angry when they try to fool me. (I have had vegetables served "dry" but somehow glistening and greasy). For this dinner, I simply chose a side salad instead.  It was a very nice salad served with a nice balsamic vinegar.  (Note: A tablespoon of butter has over 7 grams of saturated fat)