Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Seen about town, ads pushing calorie dense items and calorie disclosures, etc

It was really challenging to come up with a title for this blog post, which is a good sign that I am trying to say too much in one post. Nonetheless, I am stubborn and have been holding on to these photos and these thoughts for at least a month.

First, calorie disclosures are coming, they will be the law of the land, but probably not fully so until 2016. In other words, the congress persons representing businesses will get the law delayed, but they will not get it appealed (I understand from my sources).

Second, it is becoming clear that 'a calorie is a calorie' is not quite true - even for weight. You may recall a post from me some years ago that implied that as far as weight was concerned 1800 calories of twinkie are the same as 1800 calories of vegetables. I went on to say, and this part remains true, that a person will be a lot healthier and feel much better if they refrain from eating 1800 calories of twinkie. I think we've all known that the body handles macronutrients differently, i.e., refined carbs are metabolized differently than fats or fibers - but more recently science has established that the number of calories might be the same in say a twinkie and a piece of salmon, but once our body digests and metabolizes these foods, the calorie end point is not the same.

Some people have suggested that calorie monitoring may be less necessary, and to that point I strongly disagree.  Many people who have lost weight and kept if off do eat better and maintain high levels of exercise but they also remain vigilant to consuming a sensible range of calories.

I am not abandoning calorie monitoring. However, I am not involved in research on metabolism - nor am I a nutritionist-  so I will stick to watching what happens when calorie disclosure laws go into effect. For example, I anticipate changes in availability of lower calorie options and changes in purchasing behavior. I am not going to keep trying to describe the science on the relationship between calories and weight gain. Instead, I assure you that we cannot eat with reckless abandon and many of our away from home meal purchases are ridiculously high in those wrong kind of calories.

Now my pictures and why I chose to take and share these in particular.

This ad was presented to me while I was listening to Pandora Radio - not so targeted considering I am a calorie controlled vegetarian!

I was 'exposed' to this ad on the Philly transit bus;  a bargain for two high calorie items. PLUS I am a NYG fan :)
You may have heard that grocery stores do not want to put calorie labels on their prepared food; that is unfair to restaurants and leaves customers lacking important information for food choices. 

Manufacturers update their labels from time to time, they may reformulate a product which changes the calorie amount, they may change the serving size which would change the calorie amount or they may fear scrutiny and revisit the accuracy of their label. These side by side boxes are both Jacobsens Blueberry Snack Toasts, but the calories INCREASED from 40 each to 45 each. Everything else appears to be the same. When I find older version with less calories listed, I buy them, but I am just fooling myself!
This is my favorite!  This restaurant is in Philadelphia where a calorie disclosure law has been in place for several years. The menus also have to display sodium/salt content. This is one positive outcome of calorie disclosures! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Calorie Mindful or Drunkorexia

I recently came across a research article discussing a phenomena (possible 'disorder') called drunkorexia. The term and what it means caught me off guard and to be honest, disturbed me. It disturbs me for a couple reasons. The first is that I am loathe to think that my advising persons - as a public health educator - to consider how they spend their calories in a given day might in some way suggest that I think people should drastically cut their calories in order to 'fit in' highly caloric (and dangerous) binge drinking. Of course, I expect that the primary audience for my blog and YouTube channel are not mostly college aged females - the group that engages in this behavior the most - and is instead, people doing their best to consume the right amount of calories to keep themselves at a health promoting weight. So when I say that I personally consider the 1 beer, glass of wine or alcoholic beverage (~ 100 cals) in my daily total, and thus have a smaller lunch or breakfast in order to have that drink, I am NOT advocating skipping meals or 'starving' in order to 1) drink on an empty stomach for a quicker high or 2) or to consume 500 or more calories in alcohol and not gain weight.

I am also concerned when people medicalize/diagnose behaviors, like the dumb one I just described, into psychological problems - at least too quickly. Labeling people, in my experience as a social worker (not a psychiatrist/psychologist or nutritionist), too soon or maybe at all, can cement the problem; the person becomes the problem - the illness manifests because someone said it was there.

My area of expertise and research is not eating disorders. The main point of this post, and the point I will reiterate and end with is: being smart about the calories you consume does not include - never includes - not eating. It is easy to reduce a breakfast and or lunch by 50 to 100 calories by changing its ingredients. I do not advocate any of the behaviors associated with this 'drunkorexia.'