Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Yes, I noticed Renee’s new face and I’m not agist

At some point yesterday afternoon one of my FB friends posted about the actress formerly known as Renee Zellweger (“you had me at hello” or Bridget Jones). I am not exaggerating when I say I didn’t think the photos were really of Renee Zellweger. The biggest change is that her formerly squinty eyes are now larger (can one get an eye transplant?). I found this all change sort of unbelievable, shocking and strange. What was equally insane was the backlash or should I say ‘facelash” that ensued.

Shortly after the photos were circulated, the in defense of Renee pieces rolled out. Time magazine told us to “leave Renee Zellweger’s face alone” to which I tweeted back “if only Renee had followed that advice”. And there was this tweet
“The ‪#ReneeZellweger outrage is another example of how women's bodies are seen as a public commodity to be mocked and shamed for looking wrong” I felt some sort of a need to rebut that one too. “Give me a break she isn’t being shamed for looking wrong, she is unrecognizable.” Others felt this whole surgery debacle was the result of her having been criticized for her looks but this was also a woman lauded for her looks on countless magazine covers. Are we really to blame for her NEW face? 

From Buzzfeed “Plastic-surgery shaming is thus tantamount to blaming the victims of this ideal for working so hard to achieve what we’ve told them, for decades, they must do.”
What’s with all this alleged shaming? Can we not notice something without playing the shame game? Renee went to a plastic surgeon- nothing wrong with that. She came out looking like another human being (not a less ideal human just a different one) I don’t claim to know the backstory here. Could it be a procedure gone wrong? Sure. Is there something sad about this distinctive face no longer existing? I think so. But this notion that saying anything about a public figure’s appearance is sexist or agist needs to go. I loved this comment on one of the posts “It's not "unfeminist" to notice a *whole new face.*
What do you make of Renee's new face, the media coverage etc? 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bake it Happen: Paleo Pumpkin Brownies

Yes, the look decent but read on...
Last night, I was on my way home from work tired and hungry. I’ve had a couple travel days and as a result my office days are packed which isn’t a problem until the end of the day. I knew the boys would be getting home from hockey and they’d need dinner and I also had brownies to bake. My friend Shari started a campaign called Bake it Happen where you bake one of her mother’s recipes and in the process raise money for breast cancer research. One of the recipes is Judy’s pumpkin brownies.I had the tired thought “do I have to do this tonight?” and quickly reminded myself of Shari’s work and Judy’s battle. I was going to bake.

 I would’ve had an easier time if I stuck to Judy’s recipe but no, I insisted on making a gluten free/paleo version. I expressed to Shari my conflict with unhealthy (Minute Made pink lemonade on my recent Delta flight) in the name of disease research. Shari explained she wasn’t looking at things through the lens of healthy she just got such pleasure knowing everyone was making her mom’s recipes. Duh- of course.

Last year I somehow had an easy time Foodtrainers-ifying the banana bread recipe. Things were different this year. On Monday, I gathered a bunch of healthy pumpkin brownie recipes. The boys were off from school and we gave one a whirl. Pumpkin and cocoa and coconut flour, how could it be bad, right? When the consistency and flavor isn’t right, that’s how. The boys gave me the “they’re ok”. So last night was make it or break it. I didn’t have time to experiment so I used this recipe from the jaybird blog

The photos looked beautiful, the comments were positive and I liked the idea of the pumpkin and chocolate being separate.  As I prepared to bake the cocoa powder was on the tippy top shelf on top of a jar of almond flour. Rather than getting the stepladder, I attempted to pull down the almond flour with the cocoa tin on it. Of course there was a massive cocoa spill.  Half laughing, half crying I cleaned the cocoa mess and the cocoa out of the grout of every tile. When I finally got to work I thought about Shari saying no matter what Judy cooked every night. 
Ugly photo, messy counter I didn't have time to food style
I measured and I whisked. I followed the instructions or so I thought. 

When it came time to assemble the 2 batters something was off. I was to layer the chocolate and the pumpkin and “repeat” but I only had enough batter for 1 layer of each.

 I swirled the top with a chopstick (as directed) and felt pretty fancy.

When the brownies came out of the oven the pumpkin layer seemed a little moist. 

Ugh. I let them cool on the drying rack and cut them up. The boys were now asleep but my husband came in from hockey (yes everyone plays) and grabbed a brownie. I asked for his review and received “well I’d eat them”. He’d eat anything. I can’t even blame the recipe because clearly I am the only one who messed it up. Maybe my baking powder (which I never use) is old? Was I not meticulous enough with my measurements? I’m not sure.

You can try these (and let me know) or try Judy’s delicious version. It almost felt like Judy was trying to tell me something. I didn’t know her well but “just stick to my tried and true version” entered my mind.
Any idea where my brownies went wrong? Do you bake? Do you do gluten free or paleo baking?
On another note, earlier this week I saw a friend with advanced cancer and talked about breast cancer awareness month. Her concern was the percentage of funds that actually go to research, toward a cure not just awareness. She told me of an organization called METavivor that focuses on metastatic breast cancer. This is what Judy had and this is what my beautiful friend has as well. Please check out their site and Bake it Happen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Do you have a Skinny Gut? We have a giveaway just in case.

 I’m obsessed with probiotics. The more I researched them for The Little Book of Thin, the more I thought that if there is a weight loss secret- this may be it. That’s actually how I learned of this cutting edge (and I do think that’s what this is) new nutrition book. Brenda Watson, author and TV personality, liked what I had to say about probiotics and now her new book The Skinny Gut Diet explains everything you need to know about probiotics. 

I was really excited to read this book. If you like to nerd out on nutrition and science, here’s your chance. For example,  gut bacteria are different for obese people versus lean. “Each of us has a unique balance of bacteria that protects and keeps us healthy or leaves us susceptible to disease. This same balance can contribute to either weight gain or weight loss.” However, as eager as I was as  I continued reading I was grew increasingly discouraged. There’s a discussion about how our bacteria are formed early in life. The best scenario is a vaginal birth versus C-section, breast milk versus formula and few antibiotics versus frequent prescriptions. Where did I fit in? I was a formula on constant antibiotics. I didn’t know whether to call my mother or my shrink…so I kept reading praying for an answer. Fortunately there’s a lot to be done via diet and supplements to make up for my early "microbial handicap" as Watson calls it. Some key points are as follows (for full picture need to pick up the book):
  • Watson talks of two key types of probiotics the L’s and the B’s. This stands for lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. The more of these in your gut the less likely you are to store fat and gain weight.
  • The Skinny Gut suggests, as we do at Foodtrainers, consuming one fermented food a day. Examples are kombucha, live cultured pickles, plain yogurt with active cultures and kefir.
  • Equally important are prebiotic foods, which serve as fuel for those good bacteria. These include asparagus, dandelion greens, garlic and onions (so you may need to choose weight over your breath, sorry).
  • In the same section discussing L’s and B’s there’s some intriguing info about probiotics and pregnancy weight gain and even the likelihood that children will be normal weight depending on their mother’s “gut” situation. So moms to be need to think about their gut situation.
  • Watson’s plan is totally grain free in the first stage (there are 2 stages). She completely kills the notion of “healthy whole grains” and feels the same way I do about gluten (blech).
  • Be weary of staying on reflux meds, specifically proton pump inhibitors, long-term. These “acid blockers” allow bad bacteria to flourish. One of the side effects of the imbalance or dysbiosis (great word) is weight gain.
  • And there are 4 types of supplements suggested using the acronym HOPE
                       H is for high fiber/fiber supplement
                       O is for omega 3’s
                       P is for probiotic (over 30 billion)
                       E is for digestive enzymes.

If you’ve been cruising along without thinking about probiotics and their affect on your health and your weight, this is a must-read. And because we love a giveaway. We have a copy up for grabs.
To be eligible you must:
  1. Comment below with your favorite fermented food (or least favorite)
  2. AND tweet out @Foodtrainers has a Skinny Gut Diet #giveaway with a link to this post.

Please share your probiotic 2 cents below, do you take a supplement? Seek out fermented foods? Would love to hear.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Charcoal: Yay or Step Away

Black Burger featured in Time magazine, more on this later
If you’re thinking there’s always something “new” in nutrition we’re supposed to take or use, it can certainly seem that way. I roll my eyes at some most things that come our way. I am reassured though when what’s old is new or there’s a long history behind an ingredient. Enter charcoal.
I was excited when CBS suggested this segment because charcoal had just come into my life. you see, I’ve been brushing my teeth with a charcoal powder. We’re also seeing charcoal pop up at juice shops with “dark detox shots” and charcoal lemonade.

So you know, I’m not suggesting you eat your BBQ charcoal. Activated charcoal is made when charcoal (from wood or even coconut shells) is heated with a gas to expand its surface area. It is this surface area (1tsp has 10,000 feet surface area) that’s responsible for its  “detox” action. Activated charcoal was used in ancient Egypt and by Hippocrates in Greece. The appeal of activated charcoal is that it’s like a sponge for chemicals and poisons; they adhere to it. ERs use charcoal because it creates a “prison” for drugs such as cocaine. The debate, if there is one, is whether activated charcoal should be used for less severe situations or every day use

Activated charcoal comes in powder or capsules. I love this one made from coconut shells for capsules and also this tooth powder. Charcoal doesn’t discriminate will adsorb meds (such as anti depressants) and vitamins too if you take it within an hour of taking them

Why would you use activated charcoal if you don’t have to cocaine in your system? First, as I mentioned you can brush your teeth with it. I would advise you to use a little and know that it’s messy.

Charcoal can also “adsorb”  (adsorb means bind) intestinal gas. A study found that activated charcoal reduces the amount of gas produced by eating beans and other gas-forming foods. If you’re feeling especially gassy try two charcoal tablets three times a day can help absorb the offending gases and help give your stomach a flatter appearance.

Water filtration and air filtration
Carolyn gave me this cool water filter as a holiday gift last year (yes we joked I got coal in my stocking hmn).The charcoal is from tree branches. It absorbs impurities such as chlorine and other water impurities In exchange, the charcoal sends its nutrients (calcium, iron and magnesium) back into the water And It also neutralizes the water's pH levels. Our office Ovopur filter  (may look familiar to some of you) is also charcoal-based.

Charcoal is great to travel with. It relieves symptoms of nervous diarrhea or traveler’s diarrhea 1 tablespoon of powdered activated charcoal up to 2-3 times a day between meals.  Swirl the charcoal in a glass of water and then drink it down; or mix it with olive oil and spoon it into your mouth.

I’m often asked what helps with hangovers. If you feel you’re likely to have one, try popping a couple of charcoal caps before bed. For any of these remedies I wouldn’t take charcoal too often or it can constipate you (and make your poop black). In terms of “yay or step away” or #YOSA I’d say yay but not every day.

And yes, the black burger pictured above is made with cheese infused with bamboo charcoal; I’d “stay away”.

Do you use charcoal? Do you take it internally or use it topically? Have you been hearing about it lately? 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Where is self-acceptance in this whole weight loss discussion?

Recently I saw a client* I hadn’t met with in some time. We first connected years ago; she was single and traveling a lot for work. In fact, our very first session was the day before she was leaving for a 3-week trip.  I devised a plan but would be lying if I said I had confidence she would make many of the changes while away. At our next meeting she proved me wrong. She had left my office that first day and picked up the non-perishable items we discussed. While away she found a pool to swim in for exercise and had the hotel prepare food for her long workdays and erratic schedule. She proved to me that when you’re ready you can do “healthy” anywhere.
Our check-ins continued for years. She faced challenges and loss, had professional twists and turns and more recently got married and had a baby. Though every stage even if she was diverted she returned to her wellness, to the habits and systems she created. And yes, though there were fluctuations the weight she lost when she first started stayed off.
So at our last meeting, I tried to get a sense of where she was at. It didn’t take long for me to realize she was overwhelmed with motherhood and trying to “get it together”. I knew any changes I would suggest needed to be subtle. As she half-listened to me she looked up and said, “I’m just wondering maybe this is just how it is” and gestured to her body. This wasn’t about body size or weight; her gusto was gone.She left the office and I checked in yesterday. I read her response as I walked down the street and it stopped me dead in my tracks.
There's a part of me that saying- just be ok with how I am right now. There's a lot going on. It may be time to work on a little self-acceptance at this moment.
It wasn’t that this go getter client was daunted that shook me.  No, it was when I thought for a moment that making changes or working on our health or weight implied we didn’t accept ourselves. I resumed my walk and thought about this and what to say to this client. My mind went back to another client I worked with when I was first counseling. He had an ill family member and was balancing work with hospital visits. He wanted to check in and I said something to the effect of “you have a lot going on, focus on your family and we’ll resume nutrition visits in the future.” Sounds a lot like my client’s email, right?
My client with the ill parent lost that parent and he did come back for visits. He taught me a lesson I’ll never forget when he said “I know you didn’t mean to but you let me off the hook. I needed to focus on myself despite the stress and instead I’ve gained weight and feel worse.”
There are times when we’re gung ho to make changes and set goals and other times our expectations need to be lower.  But if feeling confident and healthy is the goal we can’t “think about this later”.  Self-acceptance is a good thing but that has to include self-care.
Do you think self-acceptance and weight loss can coexist? Do you focus on self-care when you’re going through stressful times or does that suffer? What do you do when you don’t really want to take care of yourself (but know you should)?
*Any client mentions are anonymous and never provide specific details

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Juicing Summit and juicy Giveaway

Juicing and the Ace Hotel, I was happy
Last week, the city was absolute gridlock as President Obama was in town to address the UN. A little further west another meeting took place, a “summit” according to the invitation, to be more specific it was a Juicing Summit. Before we dismiss green juice as trivial compared to ISIS, I’ll point out that a conversation, sorry “summit”, about juicing does include discussion of climate change, organic farming, health and health care.
If only City Bakery showed up between client sessions with concoctions 
Edible Manhattan and Breville (have I told you lately that I love my Breville juicer?) organized panels on various juicing topics. In between each panel City Bakery provided juices. Here were some highlights:

  • On the first panel the business of juicing was covered. Has juice peaked? Martin Bates (formerly at Pret now heading Organic Avenue) explained that OA is branching out becoming  a “food business that also sells juice”. Maury Rubin from City Bakery cautioned against companies who tried to stick to juice calling them “one note businesses” (remember Crumbs cupcakes?).
  • Price is an issue that came up but it takes a lot of produce to make juice and produce prices have skyrocketed. We joked in the break that nobody is complaining that we spend $10 for another type of “evening” drink.
  • Have you thought about which process your juice is made with? The gold (or “green”) standard is cold pressed, organic juice. Juices with a longer shelf life (Blueprint, Suja) use a process called HPP, which stands for high pressure processing. Some find HPP inferior others felt for travel or a necessity in order for juice to reach parts of the country without juice shops.
  • There was some disagreement over shops selling bottled juices versus making a juice on the spot. I love the taste of freshly made juices. Maury from City Bakery put it well saying people “enjoy the theatre” of seeing their produce become juice in front of their eyes.  I couldn’t agree more.
  • The trend also seems to be away from juice cleanses (can I get an amen?) toward the daily ritual of having a juice. Marcus Antebi (JuicePress) hates the word cleanse. He joked for a crack-head a cleanse is no crack. Crack cleanse the next juice cleanse?
  • Max Goldberg (from Living Maxwell) and Latham Thomas (Mama Glow) discussed trends juice. These include probiotics in juices, juices geared toward men’s health (we love our dude food at Foodtrainers), juices as alcoholic mixers, juices for kids and also for fertility.
  • If you’re not on the juicing bandwagon, Joe Cross ( of FatSick and Nearly Dead a great food docu with a sequel coming out this fall) explained that with our health there are those who dive in to a change and those who walk in. I loved that; I think it’s important to realize what style of change works best for you. I am more of a “walker” but some of my greatest discoveries have come from diving into change full force.
  • Many brought up that juicing is inconvenient. I don’t buy the “it’s so hard to clean the juicer” after all so many of us clean a coffee pot without complaining. There are services like Farmivore geared toward encouraging people to juice at home. Farmivore makes juicing bundles and they’re worth checking out.
  • And finally Max reminded us the USDA just approved more GMO crops. As we juice and hopefully think about our health we have to focus on bigger picture.

Inspiring information and juicing- this was a pretty terrific day.

And speaking of juicing, my RD colleague Danielle Omar recently wrote a book called Skinny Juices; we’re giving away a copy. To be eligible please
Comment below and tweet out a link to this post saying “Foodtrainers has a juicy #giveaway”
Enter by Friday; we’ll announce the winner next Monday.

Do you juice? How often? Do you make it at home or purchase it? How is your juice made?