Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving reading and movie list

I’m totally fine but had a medical procedure last week and I can’t exercise blah blah. I don’t need an ounce of sympathy because, let’s face it, a few lazy days are a gift worth having surgery for. Since I was reading, Netflixing and resting up the wazoo, I thought I’d share some of my discoveries:

I had heard “you’d love the series Chef’s Table” for some time but I don’t always trust other people telling me what I’ll love. I should because the first two episodes were phenomenal. Even though episode two focused on Dan Barber (Blue Hill chef/ingredient master), I liked episode one even more.
I started reading Shonda Rime’s Year of Yes. I’m probably the only person who hasn’t watched an episode of Gray’s Anatomy or Scandal but I was still interested.
A quote I’d read of Shonda’s, where she contested the notion of balance, stuck with me. She said if she’s doing something important for work then she’s usually missing something with her children. Yup. I’m halfway through and loving her writing. Her year of yes also resulted in inadvertent weight loss. When I finish the book I’ll let you know if I think this is possible.

I finally watched Fed Up. I’d recommend watching this before Thanksgiving. It’s a great reminder why and just how bad sugar and processed foods are. And not to pat myself on the back but cereal and soda are also censured (see the “no” list in Little Book of Thin). Unfortunately you also see the power of the food companies and how even Michelle Obama wasn’t willing (or able) to stand up to them.

Wait, there’s more. The Times magazine had a great article on Dave Asprey (Bulletproof founder), I sort of idolize (and relate to) his “biohacking”

And these two documentaries aren’t food-related per say but I was inspired.
Meru is the story of three climbers; I’d watch this over Everest. It’s a story of friendship and persistence; my whole family loved it. And please check out Brave Heart, the Lizzie Velasquez story. I had seen Lizzie’s Ted talk but the backstory is remarkable.
And how can I forget? I Smile Back is based on a book by my friend Amy Koppelman. It’s a story of motherhood and addiction and nothing is sugar coated. If you’ve had it with Facebook (“we’re so perfect”) lives, watch this. Sarah Silverman is fantastic. 
Happy Thanksgiving and a happy birthday to Carolyn tomorrow (3-0 finally).
Did you watch or read anything this weekend you’d suggest? Have you seen any of these? Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Are Periods Going Public?

We field a lot of hormone-related questions. After all our hormones affect everything from our appetite to our mood, throw in 198 other potential symptoms and you have a major wellness impediment. Last month, Carolyn and I filmed a video we called “WTF PMS” because a) we didn’t feel the need to choose a classier title and b) let’s face it we have no issue with semi taboo topics. The strange thing is that cycles, hormones and periods have sort of come out of the closet. Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story called “Candidly Spelling Out the “P” word about period tracking apps. One could argue that using “P” instead of period is neither candid nor spelled out. On the same day, I received an email from Greatist “what’s up with digestion during your period”. I feel one-upped by them because they hit two taboos in one title, dang.

Check out the video for our Food First Aid Kit for PMS, find out why the snack below from Navitas Naturals is a PMS crusher and hear our PMS theme song. We'll also introduce you to the new "zoodle" in town, yup hello swoodles. Subscribe to our you tube channel and let us know if there are topics you’d like us to tackle. Be Well (wink).

Do you think it’s good that woman (and men) can discuss hormones and other touchy topics? What are your worst PMS symptoms? Do you track things in an app?

Monday, November 16, 2015

When healthy eating is no longer healthy

Perhaps you’ve heard of Jordan Younger, she’s a blogger known as “The Balanced Blonde” (formerly known as the Blonde Vegan). Jordan built a massive following when she turned vegan and detailed her vegan creations on her blog. She made national headlines when she made the decision to shift from veganism (zero animal products) to incorporate fish and eggs in her diet. If you are puzzled why that’s national news, it wasn’t because the vegan community berated her for defecting (she claims to have received death threats). Rather, Jordan’s story brought an eating disorder called orthorexia into the spotlight.
Orthorexia, and this is my definition not any official one, is when the focus on healthy eating becomes obsessive. This obsession can have deleterious health consequences.  We’re hearing more about orthorexia, a client sent this Refinery29 story to me. The author writes:
Health was an easy way to hide my eating disorder because it was so culturally on-trend. Weight obsession seemed vain, but my addiction to green juice, superfoods and all things gluten-free made me feel like a member at an exclusive club.
 A question, posed on Foodtrainers' Facebook page, asked where the line is when healthy eating becomes disordered?  I would say it’s when healthy eating dominates your thoughts and begins to affect relationships, work or other responsibilities, and your health. Are you fearful of social gatherings or plans that involve food? Does this make you turn them down? Are you constantly tired? Missing periods?  And as much as orthorexia is defined as a disordered focus on health, let’s be clear there is almost always a weight component.
I purchased Jordan’s book Breaking Vegan. It’s certainly a cautionary tale that explicitly depicts the progression of an eating disorder. It’s brave to tell this story in such detail. However, in the same chapters where Jordan writes of having no color in her face, purging and “starvation methods” she was selling cleanses and advising others how to cleanse. I was horrified as I read this. If we give Jordan the benefit of the doubt, one could say she didn’t know the depths of her disorder at the time. How about her recently released book? I can’t comprehend how someone with such a tenuous relationship with food can highlight “eating plan and recipes” on her book cover.  I’m not sure she should be in the healthy food business in the same way a gambling addict probably shouldn’t work in a casino.
As you read the book (I read ¾ of it), you see that Jordan’s unraveling was complicated. Part of her spiral had to do with the eating disorder and the other part was substituting virtual attention and relationships for real ones. As Jordan’s health slipped she was boosted by online attention and praise. I’m so happy her relationship with food and health has improved. Anyone who turns his or her life around deserves praise. But, as nutrition professional, I do worry where we get our food advice. I also worry that Internet fame and all its trappings might be the next disorder.
Had you heard about this story? Do you think many people have “orthorexic” tendencies? Do you think someone in the depths of an eating disorder should dole out dietary advice? 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What Lianna Sugarman, founder of Lulitonix, does everyday

 I’m going to start hump day with an apology. Yesterday our newsletter featured the daily rituals of top fitness and food experts. Sounds good, right? I think it was except somehow my friend Lianna Sugarman became Leanna Silverman. Even pre-caffeinated Foodtrainers know better than that. Lianna is the founder and  CBO “Chief Blending Officer” at Lulitonix and is always experimenting with cutting edge ingredients and flavors. We asked her a few questions:

What is your #1 daily ritual?
While there are a million rituals for life that I really love, and that I mean to implement every day [At Foodtrainers, we call these “wish-uals”] truly the only one I do EVERY day, and the only non-negotiable, is to make and drink a big, huge, green blend with avocado.
How does this affect the rest of your day?
Whatever else I do, eat, drink, or think, whether I sleep or not, am happy or sad, whether I oil pull, spin, meditate (ha!) or just sit on my butt working in front of my computer, the daily custom blend, the perfect mix of greens, avocado, and lemon and water, creates that incredibly necessary sense of grounding, energy, harmony, clarity and balance.
OK, I definitely want all that you describe (harmony please!), any tips for blending at home?
For me, nutrition is about more than staying physically healthy or fit. What I take in impacts my mind and my emotions; I feel like I get to play at being a wizard every day. I’m very interested in both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medicine and often use aspects of those constructs to make myself the perfect blend of the day. I base this on what is going on with my emotional landscape.
Anger and stress- these are stored in the liver. If that’s what you feel add a handful of dandelion leaves and some turmeric, liver boosts.
Sadness or grief – are stored in the lungs and the large intestine, so if that’s on the emotional horizon, opt for foods that nourish those organs, spicy blends with avocado, daikon radish or garlic.
What do you suggest for “blending” when you travel?
Even when I travel, I bring green powder, some adaptogens and a nutribullet. You can generally find avocados most places that I go (ahem, Mexico!), and I blend myself a little substitute blend. I walk around with my mason jar on the beach like a crazy person. People probably laugh, but we've all been laughed at for worse, right?"
Um totally but I now know why we are friends, by the way I’d steal your mason jar versus laugh but you know that. Maybe we’ll organize a healthy retreat if you’ll forgive us for botching your name. Thank you LIANNA
Do you have any questions about blending we can ask Lianna? Have you tried Lulitonix? What’s the craziest gadget or food you’ve traveled with? 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

So I started meditating…sort of

Our newsletter today focuses on healthy rituals. We culled top food and fitness experts for their daily rituals and the answers were inspiring (and funny).  Some responses were too in depth for our monthly newsletter and so we’ll feature them here this week. In the meantime, the newsletter also mentioned those rituals you wish you did which we call “wishuals”.
Meditation has been a wishual for me for some time. I think it’s been a New Year’s resolution.  I’ve polled my Facebook friends to find out their favorite meditation teachers,  I even went to an intro session on transcendental meditation (the twice a day requirement and weird cult-like infomercial ruined it for me).  This past summer, I registered for a meditation retreat at The Garrison Institute retreat taught by Jack Kornfield (who I had heard about as I own one of his books). But I didn’t go; I didn’t read the book or attend classes either.  And if New Year’s resolutions were superstitions, I’d be screwed. And maybe I am screwed because meditation changes everyone’s life and here I am unchanged.
So, earlier this month I signed up for a Deepak Chopra/ Oprah (their names sound so great together) 21-day online meditation course. The registration took two minutes and I was technically good to go. I sat down at my computer and clicked through to Day 1. Oprah does a little intro and then Deepak takes over. After a couple of minutes of talking, you’re encouraged to close your eyes and focus on your breath. This is much harder than it sounds. I, after all, am the person who had trouble with the savasana at the end of yoga class. You know, the corpse pose? You lie down and after a couple of minutes of silence you are supposed to be restored. Who can't be a corpse for two minutes? This is probably the most important part of the class and yet I regularly ran out to check Instagram (or email if that sounds more legit). You see where this is going.
Back to day one, I breathed in and out and in and out. When I was about to hyperventilate, I decided to repeat the mantra, as we were instructed, but realized I forgot it. I then opened my eyes to check how much time was left. I had been meditating for three minutes, so sad. By the time Deepak said, “you can now open your eyes” my eyes were long opened.  While I felt a little lame, I also felt somewhat proud that I had tried. I told myself I’d keep my eyes closed the next day. However, the next day I had early clients and my plan to meditate later in the day didn’t pan out.
So today marks 1 week since I started. I’ve “meditated” four times. I could say meditation is not for me but despite being sort of pathetic at it- I enjoy it.  And probably the people who check email during meditation are the ones that need it most. I really hope this wishual becomes a ritual. Namaste.

Do you meditate? Was it difficult when you first started? Or, is meditation a wishual for you? Any other wishuals?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Well and Good Said This is the Next Kombucha

It's always funny to me when I first learn of something and then seem to see it everywhere. I'll explain. About a year (or more) ago, I ordered a jar of the beverage pictured above. It's called switchel and I believe it's from Vermont. Then I saw other switchels at the farmer's market and Well and Good asked how I felt switchel stacked up.
I told Well and Good that I loved the idea of switchel. After all, it contains apple cider vinegar and ginger, two of my go-to ingredients. But it's sweet, 16 grams or 4 teaspoons per serving sweet in the brand above. So despite the Vermont angle (we spend a lot of time there) and the intriguing ingredients, the kombucha crowd that's present in my fridge at ALL times (the lengths poor Fresh Direct must take to deliver this bubbly drink) is safe from switchel. If you're sad about switchel, I did green light switchel as a drink mixer for cocktails, although I must say Be-Mixed is my number one for that. We also did a Foodtrainers' riff on switchel and the recipe is on Well and Good.
Have you heard of switchel? Tried it? Are you crazy for kombucha (I know, not everyone is)? 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Hierarchy the best and the worst candy picks

Last Sunday, after we had dinner, I left my football-watching family and headed out. My destination? Duane Reade. Once there I made myself comfortable in the candy aisle and went to work.  I had a candy segment the next morning and even amongst the junk I was trying to sort out the Halloween hierarchy.

I texted Carolyn, if you can't reach me here's where I am

First, I looked at sugar:
Note: serving sizes vary so before I could compare candy, I need to do some advanced math and look at comparable serving sizes (1 bar for all chocolate or the equivalent for gummy stuff), you know “apples to apples” or in this case Airheads to Airheads.
The sugar “stars” or best of the bunch were Twizzlers, Dark Chocolate Kisses, Mounds and Nestle crunch.
All of these had less than 8 grams (or 2 teaspoons) of sugar
The scariest sugar?
Candy corn by far, followed by Reeses, Skittles and 100 Grand.

I also glanced at calories where Twizzlers led the the way again with York Peppermint Patty, Airheads and Sour Patch Kids also low in calories.
This is just another instance where calories don’t tell the full story. I’d suggest Reeses and 100 Grand (highest in calories) over the low calories picks simply because I think the food dyes are the worst of the worst. The three most widely used dyes in the US require a warning label by the EU. Those are red 40, yellow 5 and yellow 6.  As if being derived from petroleum wasn’t bad enough, the dyes are responsible for behavior issues in children and headaches for all of us. Ingredients matter, even with candy.

The good news is that Halloween is one day and most of the candy is mini (cannot endorse the term “fun size”).  At the end of the day, enjoy your favorites if you so choose and most importantly be sure the candy isn’t hanging around in November. Kids will forget about it, adults…not so much.
What's your favorite Halloween candy? Will you have it this year?