Monday, January 30, 2012

Big Blue not Big You Super Bowl Menu

Game over, just hoping this would deter you

There are times we skip on Super Bowl guidance but that will not be happening for Superbowl XLV1 (forty six in case your Roman numerals are failing you). With the Giants playing, many of our clients will be celebrating and this makes us more nervous than the game itself. Carolyn is going to give you a game plan, study these plays.

Come Super Bowl Sunday, there are two givens the Giants will be winning and most Americans will be eating. If you’re like us, you’re way more into the food stats than the football ones. As much as I love avocados, the 26 million of them consumed on Super Bowl Sunday is overkill. Imagine a 40-inch layer of guacamole across the field in the Superdome (we had to include the New Orleans somewhere in here). Then there’s the 28 million pounds of potato chips which lined up could span almost 1.5 times the distance to the moon and 1.25 billion, yup billion, chicken wings. This all gives new meaning to the word “super bowl” and explains why 7-eleven reports, a significant increase in antacid sales on the Monday after the Super Bowl.

It makes me chuckle that "Patriotic" choices like nachos and the giant preservative-filled party subs are some of the worst offenders. If that’s what you’re going to be faced with on game day, check out this article Lauren wrote on food fumbles and MVPs.

 If loaded nachos aren’t your style here’s our BIG BLUE, not big you menu (and yes we do know their jerseys on Sunday will be white):

Coughlin Chips and DipLaurel Hill Multigrain tortilla chips (on another day try the olive/caper flavor)  with Brooklyn Salsa Company Curry Salsa  (or homemade pico de gallo)

Cruz Crudité: carrot, celery sticks, sliced bell peppers, jicama, cauliflower, grape tomatoes with Bobbi’s Black Bean Hummus

Nicks’ Nuts: get your mind out of the gutter; we’re talking about Sheffa Mix or pistachios (~49 in a serving)

Pierre-Paul Popcorn: You know how we feel about homemade popcorn (1 tbs. oil to ½ cup kernels pop covered 3-4 min shaking occasionally), especially with a little truffle salt.

Quarterback Quality Cold Cuts: organic, nitrite-free Applegate turkey, ham and 
Manning-worthy Mustard: best stuff ever

No Penalty Pale Ale: Peak Organic Pale Ale. Unfortunately we have to think about pesticides in drinks, too.

Winning Spin on Wings: Enjoying the sweet taste of victory doesn’t mean you should go near the fried wings. A face full of bbq sauce doesn’t look good on anyone. If tempted, this is the one time we think it’s okay to say “what would Giselle do” (WWGD)?  Try these Baked Parmesan Garlic Wings (via Steamy Kitchen) and pair this recipe with Cochon or Crystal hot sauce.

Veggie or turkey chili, Paella, even sushi all work well for Super Bowl spreads. Leave the junky food to the commercials and don't be a 7-eleven statistic next Monday.
What are your favorite Super bowl snacks? Will you be watching the game? Do we dare ask who you’re rooting for?

Friday, January 27, 2012

An Apple A Day May Not Keep Bloat Away

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages (nope, not talking about the circus) all have unpleasant changes in their bowel movements bloating or gassiness from time to time. For some, these GI symptoms are a daily struggle. I’ve had clients who have dabbled in lactose free or gluten free with little improvement. A couple of years ago, I learned of the Low FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols. God bless the acronym.

The science: high FODMAP foods are poorly absorbed in the small intestine which leads to bacterial fermentation in the colon and then bloating, pain and gas in susceptible individuals. So what foods are these? Fruits such as apples and pears, many vegetables including onions, garlic, asparagus, wheat (because of it’s fructan content not the gluten), most artificial sweeteners and legumes.

It’s generally suggested to first eliminate all high FODMAP foods and then be sure to keep total FODMAP content in your diet low. There’s a threshold effect so a little bit may be fine but in combination…. watch out. A recent Wall Street Journal article talked about the low FODMAP concept, which originated in Australia, gaining support in the US.  The results from the studies done are impressive with figures around 75 to 80 percent of participant’s symptoms improving. I have introduced the FODMAP system to many clients but have a nutrition colleague, Gina Casagrande aka The Candid RD, who is not only a fantastic supermarket nutritionist but also a low FODMAP follower herself.  Gina’s blog has been one of my favorites since I started this one.

Who should try the FODMAP system? 
I think anyone who feels like they are constantly bloated, gassy, or who has chronic constipation and diarrhea (on and off). However, I wouldn't suggest anyone doing it without a dietitian to guide them, as it's easy to fall short in certain nutrients if you aren't careful (so many vegetables and fruits aren't allowed!).

How long until you felt it was "working"
Honestly, within a couple days.  Prior to starting the diet, I was eating garlic and apples every single day. These are two foods that give me my worst symptoms, so when I took them out of my diet I felt amazing (as in, I didn't have gas and bloating).

I'll admit I hadn't heard of FODMAPS until the last couple of years, why do you think it’s gaining ground (WSJ article etc.)? 
Because it works.  More and more people are trying it out of desperation and realizing that it's helpful.  More research is being done too, which means more widespread knowledge and education.

Is this something you have to do 100%? Do you ever cheat? 
Oh yes, I cheat, but only if the food or drink is worth the pain. Actually I've found that certain "bad foods"  (like beans) that don't cause me a lot of problems unless I eat a lot of them.  Then there are foods (like garlic) where if I eat just one bite I have a problem.  I have been doing this diet for three years now, so I sort of know my limits.

What food(s) do you miss the most?
 I miss apples, a lot.  I miss garlic and onion too, but mainly because it's difficult to cook without those. 

What resources you'd suggest?
 I encourage anyone to get in contact with me if they have questions. Also the booklet from the Monash University in Australia (where most of the research has been done) has been a lifesaver for me.

Thanks Gina, this is not an easy protocol to follow because there are items in each food group to avoid. On the other hand, if it's a way to figure out triggers for pain and discomfort it's well worth it.Have you heard of FODMAPS before? Do you know anyone who has tried this approach? And because we’re “going there” what are your GI issues?
*Don’t forget, you can now subscribe to the blog (top right corner)*


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Do you love who you are (in a bathing suit)?

So, if things had gone according to plan, I would be writing this post from the beach in Turks and Caicos where I was supposed to be as of yesterday. We had coverage from Granny and the nanny, a few days off from work and credit from a trip we postponed in July. This time, it wasn’t a tragic event but a mishap on skis by my 9 year old that led to our decision to stay put.

He has since graduated to a brace (better/less smelly) and has the Tom Brady injury, a fact he loves.
Although I didn’t have the beach experience, I did have the pre beach experience or anticipation. What works from a body and body hair standpoint in ski clothes doesn’t cut it on the beach. I followed some pre-beach protocol and for the most part cut out the 3 C’s.

There are times I draw inspiration from articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or The New England Journal of Medicine. This time, with the beach on my mind, I was moved by something in the scholarly US Weekly issue 884. It wasn’t the thought provoking cover question “Do Cheaters Ever Change” (I say they do not) rather it was one of the “Hot Pics”.  The photos that caught my eye were of  Julianne Hough, the girlfriend of American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, jumping off a big boat  humongous yacht. In the photo above she’s doing an impressively  graceful dive. In the other images she was being goofy and jumping into the water like a child would off a diving board (like my son would if not sidelined L).  There is nothing self-conscious about her despite the tiny swimsuit and paparazzi lurking that I assume she new about.  The caption read, “I love who I am and I’m going to go for it and have that confidence”.

I know nothing about this woman but I know a statement like that, regardless of abdominal prowess, is unusual. It’s very different from the way I think or many clients think. If nothing else, don’t we worry that teeny swimsuits will not stay in “their positions” during water sports? I was with a few friends after a workout class today and we were talking about weight. One fit friend said, “when I mention gaining weight my husband says he doesn't even notice what I'm talking about.” We all remarked it would be nice if we didn’t notice when a few pesky pounds creep on and that her husband is very well trained. So what to do to "love who you are" more?
  • Use Affirmations- when that negative talk starts counter it with something positive. When I’m running I often say “I’m lucky my body works” or “lucky to be able to run”. Sometimes saying I love my ________ (fill in body part of choice) can work nicely too. 
  • Weight train- feeling strong is a great confidence booster. Whether it’s actual weight training or barre classes make sure you’re not just doing cardio.
  • Give a compliment. It should be honest but you never know the boost saying some positive can give someone else. I think women are too stingy with giving other women props. 
  • And when all else fails, grab a big cozy sweater as I do at the end of many ski weekends, anything could be lurking under there. That's one nice thing about being in New York versus Turks.
It's one thing to change your body but another to change how you feel about your body and that's totally within your control.
Do you think Julianne's confidence is unusual (for a female)? What do you do to love yourself more? And do you think cheaters change?
*Many of you have asked how to know when a new piece is posted, check out the new Subscribe button on the top right of this page. Thanks Carolyn!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Time-saving Breakfast: Microwave Egg Poaching and Scrambling

On my most organized days, I blend a smoothie while making the kids breakfast and pour it in a jar to take to work. Though clients complain about a lack of time in the morning, I find the actual scrambling of an egg or tossing veggies in the juicer doesn’t take all that long. Having said that, I generally have eggs boiled in advance  (click for instructions) and a couple Organic Avenue concoctions for really rushed days. My clients want quick and usually shy away from meals requiring extensive clean up at 7am.

In our house, the microwave should be called the defroster. The only items that end up inside it come from the freezer (chili, pancakes I made and froze, peas for kids’ pasta). Oh and yes, at times popcorn (not in the nasty bags) is popped in there too. I have been intrigued by the recent egg ads suggesting the microwave for scrambled eggs.  I tried this with a little Greek yogurt in place of the milk called for. I then tested it with a little Parmesan cheese.

I was also intrigued by The Kitchn’s suggestion to poach an egg in the microwave. I followed suggestions to poke the yolk so it didn’t explode and to add a little water and vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar). Changing the power level is beyond the scope of my microwaving abilities but it didn’t matter after 60 seconds I had a poached egg, my first poached egg I might say. I liked this even better than the scrambling method as I love a good runny yolk. Remove the egg from the mug with a spoon and transfer to plate.  I enjoyed my egg over leftover sautéed mushrooms. Any cooked vegetables or even salad greens would work. Since I’m not generally a poacher I would add this method to my morning routine

After a few tries:
Poached Eggs a la Microwave
Fill a mug to 1/3 full with water. Add a dash of vinegar. Crack an egg into the mug. Poke the yolk gently with a fork (or toothpick). Place cup in microwave, cover with a plate to avoid a really bad clean up job. Microwave 60 seconds or continue in 20-second intervals until set. Remove egg from vinegar water and spoon into plate. Viola.

 I’ve found something to cook in that microwave and my smoothies have some competition.
Have you tried the mico-egg thing? What do you use the microwave for? Any microphobes out there? What are your time-saving breakfast tips?Try this and let me know what you think.
*If you think this post could use a few pictures, let me just say GO GIANTS!*

Friday, January 20, 2012

White Bread in Healthy Clothing

“Tell me about the chicken cutlets” I said as I reviewed a client’s food journal. “Those were healthy I used panko”.  Now panko may be delicious, creating a crispy crust on food, but it’s not particularly healthy. Panko originated in Japan and comes from the Portuguese work pao (bread) with the Japanese suffix ko (flour or crumb). Panko are breadcrumbs. They have virtually no fiber, calories similar to other store-bought breadcrumbs with slightly lower sodium than a seasoned breadcrumb. Some brands of panko have trans fats although Edwards and Sons organic panko does not. For better “breading” use oatmeal pulsed in food processor. High fiber cereal or whole grain bread are other options. Panko is exotic sounding and therefore, I guess, seemingly better than breadcrumbs but it’s just ground crust less white bread, sorry. 
Other foods people cling to from diets of yesteryear. It amazes me when clients come in and report eating Special K cereal. I’m not a huge fan of cold cereal but you lost me on Special K. Maybe it’s that I like food to taste good or taste like something.  Side by side if you compare 1 cup of Special K cereal and white bread they look very similar.  A little over 100 calories, some salt and no fiber. You may say 100 calories is “good”; I  say 100 empty calories is a waste.

Then there’s the very popular Arnold Sandwich Thins. The label for their 100% whole-wheat flavor boasts “excellent source of fiber”. Here are the (unappetizing) ingredients
Yes whole wheat flour is the first ingredient and that there are 5g of fiber listed per “thin”. Have a look at the bolded ingredients. Both are added fibers used to make food products appear healthier. In Canada, these added fibers aren’t allowed to be counted in the fiber content. (and hockey is much more exciting that baseball just saying).  If a product is really “whole” you don’t need to add fillers and good bread doesn’t need anything other than the first three ingredients above and salt.

I don’t eat wheat but if I were to have “white” bread I’d want a crusty baguette, maybe some challah or focaccia with rosemary. You can have your “thins”, “Special” food and fancy breadcrumbs…but I wouldn’t suggest it.
Did you previously think panko, Special K or sandwich thins were healthy? What do you use for breadcrumbs? What are other food examples of wolves in sheep’s clothing?  Isn’t it better when wolves are just wolves?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Paula Deen: from Burgers and Butter to Diabetes and Drugs

Did y'all hear? Soon I'll sell the pills with my cookbooks- no need to change a thing.
Paula Deen, the queen of fried everything, has diabetes and a lot of people are fired up about it. Janet Helm, on her Nutrition Unplugged site, wrote that the size of Paula's following comes with a certain responsibility. Initially I disagreed. Though Paula takes unhealthy to new heights, that’s her shtick. I don’t necessarily feel chefs have a responsibility to cook the way I do. And whether it’s Paula Deen, Mario Batali or Ina Garten (who loves olive oil as much as Paula loves butter) I often adapt recipes keeping the flavor profile and cutting the calories. I don’t think Paula is any more responsible than the cupcake shop on my corner for my health.

I wouldn’t wish diabetes on anyone but, if anything, this reminds me of the 80’s Partnership for a Drug Free America commercial with the fried egg (this is your brain, this is your brain on drugs). If Paula was previously this smiley sugary chef now she’s the “this is what happens when you cook (and eat) like this.” The Paula Deen diabetes headlines will do more for people rethinking her cuisine then any adapted recipe ever could.

Many feel Paula has withheld this news. She has had diabetes for three years but hasn’t shared it publicly. On Today she told Al Roker “I wanted to wait until she had something to bring to the table.” What she meant is, she wanted to wait until she could announce her relationship with Novo Nordisk (her diabetes drug).  Oh yes, there’s a website too “diabetes in a new light” but let’s be clear the lifestyle filler is on the drug company’s site and they are paying her as their spokesperson.  When asked about her style of cooking Paula downplayed the food connection and said it’s “part of the puzzle” and then talked up genetics and stress as cofactors. This could’ve been spun so well. Paula could’ve said,  “I cooked like this for years and now I’m making some changes.” Instead, it’s I’ve cooked like this and now I’m taking a drug. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make my favorite Bobby’s Baked Chicken with Dijon and Lime (using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise) ever again.
What do you think of the Paula Deen news? Have you ever made her recipes? Isn't a chef working for drug company like a distillery teaming up with a liver transplant unit? 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Truffle Popcorn, Football and the Ghastly Golden Globes

When we woke up yesterday it was 1 degree out here in Vermont. I did what any reasonable parent would do and sent my kids out to ski anyway. They had lots of layers and hand warmers. As selfish as I am, the guilt got the better of me and after I logged six miles on the “dreadmill” (not my term but so good) with no TV to distract me, turns out it was too cold for the satellite to work, they came home. We also had houseguests up and we prepared for a day with lots of cooking, fire tending, football and the Golden Globes.

For football snacks, I made a big bowl of popcorn with truffle salt (recipe below) that dwindled quickly. I also tweaked Ina Garten’s Baked Fontina and served it with endive and celery to “lighten” it. We held our breath as the Giants played the Packers and eased our nerves with a bottle of organic Syrah and Peak Organic pale ale. We all cheered as the Giants took the lead and continued to extend it. It was such a good reminder that reputation doesn’t always matter and that if you come ready to play, anyone can win. The Giants did convincingly.
Before baking, image it melted and browned....ahhhh
While awards were handed out at the Golden Globes, there weren’t a lot of winning looks as far as our jury of nine, kids and adults, concluded. There is so much that’s said about weight and dieting but at the end of the day it isn’t size that matters. I don’t know if it’s a trend but the bed head hair made many stars look unkempt. There was also this prostitute-like makeup look with very dark eyeliner and bright lips that in high definition looked a little scary (the previously primped Clare Danes comes to mind). Then there’s the issue of age appropriate. I am no longer 20 and should not dress or ask my dermatologist to make me look as though I am. We age and with that there has to be acceptance and some wardrobe considerations. My friend’s husband woke up this morning saying he had nightmares about Jessica Lange’s backless dress.  Maybe she didn’t expect to win and have to stand up but she did, not good.  There were highlights, Octavia Spencer from the Help looked lovely in lilac, Natalie Portman elegant as always and Sophia Vergara showed you can tone it down when necessary. She was pretty and polished.
Flattering, appropriate and that color? Amazing
This says star, also says stunning
So while we all spend tons of energy getting in shape, at the end of the day a hairbrush and a good tailor may be just as important. Oh and I am sending Angelina my cast iron pan with baked fontina.

Truffle Popcorn
Heat 1.5 Tbs coconut oil (or other oil) and ¼ cup organic popcorn covered over medium to medium high heat for 3 ½ minutes. Give the pot a shake a few times to avoid burning or sticking. Transfer to a bowl large enough to toss. Add 1 tsp. additional coconut oil or butter and ¼ tsp truffle salt or more to taste. Makes 8 to 10 cups. 
How was your Sunday? What are some of your favorite cold weather munchies? Did you watch the Globes? Any catty comments? What do you think about people with unlimited "help" looking scary?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why does it take a diagnosis to change eating habits?

If you were to come into my office and look at my client’s food journals, whose eating do you think is the healthiest? Weight loss clients? Or maybe triathletes? Prenatal clients would be a good guess too but none of these answers are correct. Hands down my most proactive clients are clients who have recently been diagnosed with diabetes or cancer or experienced a life threatening condition. These clients do anything in their power to improve their future health or simply have a future. In a follow up to the "Fat Trap" article the Huffington Post interviewed Tara Parker Pope about her personal struggle with weight. In the article Tara admits to what I just described, “if I had an immediately life-threatening medical condition, I'd drop everything to take care of myself.” She would, most people, like my clients, would.

Why does it have to come to this? Part of it is denial. We know we’re mortal but cannot live our lives fearing cancer or heart attacks, allergic reactions or amputations. That would be paralyzing. And yet any one of us can find out at any time that our health is very different than we thought it was. Let’s pretend  this happened. I know it’s not nice to think about but what if you showed up in my office after finding out earlier this week you had cancer. I often see clients in this numb period when they’re figuring out their treatment plans and lining up their “team”.  What would I tell you do? It would differ depending on your diagnosis but for starters, cancer loves sugar so we’d look at sugar in your diet. I’m not just talking high fructose corn syrup but agave, honey, evaporated cane juice too. Second, I’d look at the amount of animal protein in your diet and suggest that chicken, beef, pork and turkey be cut way down. And forget that take out salad and grilled chicken, all chicken should be organic and all meat grass fed. All chemical cuisine would be gone- the sweeteners (blue, pink, yellow) and the soda and have you read the ingredients in your gum lately? We’d pack your diet with produce with something green all meals (including breakfast). In the scheme of things, with everything you’d be facing this wouldn’t be that hard. 
We think of squeezing in the time to food shop, cook or exercise but shouldn’t it come first? If not, why?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

SafSlim May Help Belly Fat, Should You Take It?

With so many questionable weight loss products and programs, more often than not when asked to investigate the latest system or scam I find a whole lot of exaggeration and risk. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy denouncing dietary disasters. So when clients came in inquiring about Safslim supplements plugged by Montel Williams on the Dr Oz show, I was secretly excited to expose the “truth” and let them have it.  I mean “Safslim” sounds so suspicious.

First, A Look at the Research
A 2009 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found obese, post menopausal women lost 6.3 % of abdominal fat and gained lean muscle mass taking safflower oil capsules with no change in diet or exercise.  Their blood sugar levels improved, as did insulin sensitivity. The glucose improvements may have been a result of the reduction in stomach fat. Another study, with a similar study population, confirmed these results and found safflower oil also improved HDL or “good cholesterol”. Anyone has worked with post menopausal women knows a reduction in abdominal fat isn't easy to achieve.
Interesting, can’t bash at all based on this but these are the only two studies I found.

What dose is needed, how do different brands compare?
Safslim is not organic and is more expensive than other brands. It’s also a flavored liquid sweetened with xylitol and I’m not sure that’s necessary here.  The dose used in the studies and suggested by Safslim is 6-8 grams per day which for this product is two tablespoons. 

Are there risks? Is there a way to benefit without a supplement?
This is where it gets tricky. The predominant oil in Safslim and many other capsules is linoleic acid though other fatty acids are present. The better safflower for cooking and more stable is “high oleic” variety that has a higher smoke point. Food sources of linoleic acid are sunflower seeds, pine nuts, hemp (for example safflower is 78% linoleic and the fat in hemp 60%) and pecans. If your organic chemistry isn’t fresh in your mind (linoleic is 18:2n-6) or if  you need a fatty acid primer, there is a good one here.

Would I suggest this?
I wouldn’t suggest the supplements yet. There’s not a lot of research, none on non-obese or male subjects, and I don’t quite get the mechanism acting here. Safflower gets converted to GLAs (black currant, evening primrose are GLAs) which have great effects on PMS and skin so these are other potential benefits. I just don’t feel the case is strong enough to supplement for three to four months as the studies did. I will admit, after reading about this I had my favorite Kaia raw sunflower seeds for a snack. I think this is a topic to keep an eye on. My math says 1.5 tsp. regular (not high oleic) safflower oil or ½ ounce sunflower seeds would give you the 6-8 grams of polyunsaturated acid used in the studies. These fats should replace other fats in your diet or you're looking at adding close to 100 calories to your daily intake. So I’m not sure I would suggest following the “Montel” diet but there appears to be something to this safflower thing, I’m just not sure what.
Addendum (Summer 2012)
It seems my clients are less cautious than I am. After I posted this many of them felt why not try Safslim and they did and they reported back. The vast majority were pleased. I also received emails and blog comments attesting their satisfaction with this product. What can I say? I went from a skeptic to a believer. I don't think you have to but if you're concerned have Safslim with your means and skip either your mid morning or after dinner snack to compensate for the added calories.
Did you hear about safflower supplements? What do you think of the information above? Would you supplement or increase dietary linoleic acid based on what you know?

Monday, January 9, 2012

There's No Such Thing as Weight Maintenance

There’s a big misconception when it comes it weight loss. Actually, there are so many but I’m fixated on one today. Many clients, during their sessions say things like “when I’m on maintenance I’ll eat pizza” or “I’m going to keep exercising until I get to my goal weight.” The clients who make these statements are committed to their food plans and sessions; they just see their work as finite. To me, a commitment to wellness shouldn’t be seen any differently from a marriage. Can you imagine, unless you happen to be George Clooney, entering a long-term relationship saying I will love you until 2014? I hope not.

There was an article in the New York Times Magazine written by Tara Parker Pope, right around New Years. It was on the “most emailed” list for days so it was well circulated. The feedback I received was that people found the article, entitled “The Fat Trap” thoroughly depressing. Ms. Pope talks about hormonal and metabolic changes that occur with weight loss making weight loss more difficult the further you go. Also in the article is a profile of woman who goes to great lengths to maintain her results. We’re told that she weighs and measure her food, works out over an hour almost every day and keeps a food journal. I understand why some could be disheartened, it sounds like a lot of work. And yet, maintaining your weight is a lot of work (though weighing and measuring isn’t something I endorse).

The term lifestyle gets tossed around but many still view food modifications as means to an end (or a smaller end). However, there’s no graduation day or finish line with weight or health. There’s only a potential U-turn if you’re not careful. As for postponing treats or certain foods until you’re “done” that’s dieting 101. Learning to treat yourself and go back is one of the most important weight loss skills.  Few plan to live their lives without pizza (or other treat) so we may as well learn to have it, perhaps with a side salad, and not feel we’re off to the unhealthy races. Sure, the amount of exercise or food that works may be slightly different when your goal is to maintain your weight than to lose more weight but you still need to budget. II advise my clients that it’s better not to use the word “maintenance” at all, which seems to connote this food Shangri-La, and focus on doing that hard work every day.  After a while, it’s not as hard.
Do you think the word "maintenance" is a trap? I have my suspicions but where do you suspect this thinking originated? Did you read "The Fat Trap"? 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Is Your Eating Gay Or Straight?

I am normally quite critical of those without nutrition training writing nutrition books or telling people what to eat. I’ll make exceptions when the advice is smart, funny or, naturally, when its something I agree with. In Wednesday’s Dining Times I read an article about Simon Doonan’s new book “Gay Men Don’t Get Fat”.  Immediately, the fact that Mr Doonan is the creative ambassador at Barneys went out the beautiful window, I was drawn in and laughing out loud.

Jeff Gordinier, the author states, “one of the tongue-in-cheek propositions of Mr. Doonan’s book is that the vast range of the world’s culinary options can be boiled down to two core categories: gay food and straight food.”

Some examples of gay food are:
Baby Arugula
Baked Chips
Figs and Dates
Food that's“lighter and brighter, it feels art-directed”

Straight Food:
Fried Food
Mexican Food
Black Angus meatloaf on a menu is described as “the Burt Reynolds of foods.”

Lest you think gay food is healthy and straight food is not macarons, the French cookie, are gay. Mr. Doonan says, “I can’t believe any red-blooded straight guy can even walk into a macaron shop. If you want to ruin a politician’s career, just publish a picture of him shopping for macarons.” 

When I finished the article I stopped for a moment and thought something I never have before…according to Simon Doonan’s criteria I may very well be a gay male or eat like one anyway. So if, as a straight woman, I identify more with gay male food, is the converse true too?  Nope, according to Mr Doonan, lesbian food is “earthy and healthful”. Examples are organic olive oil, thick porridge and heaping helpings of wheat germ. But in the Venn diagram of sexual orientation stereotypes and eating “whole grain bread is both ferociously lesbian and wildly heterosexual.”
My graphic design skills are severely limited but observe some groups overlap
While I contemplated arugula and googled Gay Men Don’t Get Fat I found all different theories on the subject, have fun and try to guess “the real reason gay men don’t get fat” according to Gawker. It’s much saucier than my one (grass-fed organic) beef with Mr Doonan. You see, Mr Doonan is anti-avocado. The distinction between straight female eating and gay male eating may be a lack of fat phobia among straight females. Or maybe avocados are “earthy and healthy” and a lesbian food. My friend, upon reading this article declared “I think I’m bisexual as I love sushi and Mexican.  So there are exceptions to every generalization.

As fate would have it at 2:16 yesterday, while I was writing this post, Barney’s sent an email informing me of a signing for Gay Men Don’t Get Fat tomorrow (Saturday) from 3-5pm at the New York Madison Avenue store.  I’ll be in Vermont eating what Doonan would call “hetero” food but maybe you can go.
Do you find poking fun at stereotypes offensive or fun? Is your eating gay or straight? Did you guess the real reason gay men don’t get fat without clicking on the link?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Birth Control or Weight Control?

What in this purse may affect your weight? 
Many clients come to see me for the first time when their doctors inform them their cholesterol or blood sugar is elevated. They want to improve their diet in order to avoid going on medication. I totally get this; after all why take something pharmacological if you don’t have to? Every medication can have side effects. What I don’t understand is why millions of young (and not that young) women take birth control pills without a second thought. Whether it’s a pill, injection, patch or “ring”  we should think clearly about this before taking something hormonal every day for years and years.

Then there’s the question of weight gain and certain birth control methods. Many doctors will tell you that the Pill and weight gain is a myth. Katherine O’Connell MD, of Columbia University was quoted saying, “women seem to learn early to blame a lot of side effects on their birth control. But, when women were given placebo (fake) birth control pills in recent studies, they reported the same physical complaints – including weight gain – as women who were popping the real hormone-rich Pill” Many studies echo these conclusions.  There trouble with this research is that it’s hard to determine causal relationships when many women in their 20’s (college aged) and 30’s (childbearing, aging) gain weight anyway.

Doctors also emphasize that the pills of today are innocuous compared to the early versions of birth control. The older generation of pills contained significantly more estrogen and physicians admit these were capable of causing weight gain. I have an issue with this threshold reasoning. You see it often with food ingredient research “at these levels there is no cause for concern.” Concern is concern and my thought is that today’s pills range in their hormone content and who’s to say what dose produces what effects in certain people. The reason studies may not tease out obvious trends is that everyone’s system reacts differently.  A Mayo Clinic piece mentions that estrogen can make adipose cells larger but not more numerous. Larger fat cells = weight gain.

If there’s one form of birth control that clearly produces weight gain it’s Depo Provera a progesterone-only shot (Depo-Provera contains a synthetic form of progesterone called progestin). This was touted for its convenience since it’s needed once every three months and almost foolproof when it comes to pregnancy. However, would you trade convenience for going up a couple of clothing sizes? In a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in March 2009, 700 women were allowed to choose among various contraceptive methods and then were followed for three years to measure their gain in weight and body fat. Those who chose the Depo shot gained an average of 11 pounds over three years. An interesting theory is that the progestin only birth control (Mirena IUD is progestin only as well as are “mini pills”) may decrease insulin sensitivity which would increase the likelihood of fat storage.

In my work with clients, many women have symptoms when starting a pill that often dissipate at about the 3-month mark. For others, you can tell a pill does not agree with them,  hormonal symptoms do not resolve and their weight continues to rise or not drop despite eating well and exercising. A WebMD article I read stated, “weight gain is an uncommon and temporary side effect to the pill, if you happen to be one of those few women who put on pounds, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may suggest a different type of birth control pill. Why? Because all pills are not the same.” While there are many reasons and motivations to take the pill, there is another option and that’s no pill at all.
Do you take the Pill? Ever had a pill that didn't agree with you? Any concerns about the safely of birth control pills or side effects?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

You May Fail, Be a Resolution-ary Anyway

From one of my Facebook friends, love it though a little more to it...
Many people get divorced and many others drop out of college. Did either of these facts affect your decision to ultimately get married or attend college? Each of these endeavors need to be taken seriously but the potential benefits, for many, out weigh the risk. I feel the same way about New Years Resolutions, why pass up an opportunity to experience something because many people, possibly you in past years, didn’t see things through?  Two years ago, I started my pro-resolution campaign with 
In Defense of Resolutions and feel there’s even more anti-resolution propaganda now to fend off.

Last year in Doomed Resolutions (and how to improve them) I talked about some mistakes in revolution setting. If you make the same resolution every year, you may want to rethink it. Let’s take the clichéd but often needed weight loss goal. If for, as far as you can remember, you’ve declared on January 1st you would loose 20 pounds, some suggestions:
  • Be More Modest with Goal Setting (and in life), aim for 5 to 10 pounds, anything more is icing on the cake or a sign you’ve had less cake. The truth is, progress is progress and if it seems too far away anyone can get resolution-fatique.
  • A+B+C+D= Weight Loss. Focusing on losing weight is akin to spending all your time saying, “I wish I had a job” versus rewriting your resume, networking or maybe working with a headhunter.  Maybe setting a TV limit or eating fewer take out meals or seeing a nutritionist will you help you with your weight. Sorting out the steps is as valuable as any goal you can set.
  • Make Resolutions Positive. Carolyn was asked in this WebMD article about her resolutions and her suggestion was to give resolutions a positive, proactive slant.  One of her resolutions is to cook once a week with her sisters. I’ve talked about cooking goals in Cooking Homework. Other positive goals are to eat more fish, experiment with greens you haven’t tried or to drink more tea.
  • Focus on the Health Component. Sometimes, I know it’s shocking, vanity isn’t enough stimulate behavior change. Whether it’s osteoporosis, infertility or cancer prevention your diet and exercise play a role. Changes you make in the name of health or chronic disease will likely have longevity.
The Wall Street Journal had an interesting idea. They suggested “outsourcing” resolutions. Give it a try; in our family the consensus was that my husband needed to leave us all waiting less/be more punctual. For Myles or “Prince Myles” we felt he could do more on his own. Weston could benefit from crying less when his brother upsets him and the shocker was that the family felt “Mom should yell less.” And that’s the danger with asking others what they feel you should work on. Their answers, though truthful, may sting.

I loved an interview I read recently in Yoga Journal. Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon Athletica and huge goal proponent said, “to make goals effective you have to fail at them 50 percent of the time.” We should all keep Steve Jobs in mind as we ring start the New Year. Remember Steve and all he accomplished and remember he was a college dropout. Happy New Year.
Where do you stand with resolutions? What do you think of outsourcing them? Any you want to put out there? I’ll check back with you and see how you’re doing.