Thursday, February 26, 2015

Coconut milk at Starbucks YOSA (yay or step away)?

You know we are coffee junkies around here but personally I’ve never had a Starbucks habit. My fam tells me this makes me a coffee snob, so I guess I’m a snobby junkie then. I say it’s all Lauren’s fault “be choosy with coffee and anything you consume daily”.  I will admit, Starbucks does an ok job in a jam such as  an airport. The protein plate and a KIND bar have saved many a meal and their Blonde roast, crazy high caffeine, does make me feel like I can take over the world.  But as a daily, multiple-cup coffee drinker, I’m pretty much a psycho about using organic milk or organic half and half and those aren’t available at Starbucks. Lets be honest, Starbucks is all about quantity and not quality.
Then I heard about Starbucks coconut milk menu addition that debuted this month. Clients were curious, I was skeptical. If something sounds too good to be true it probably is. And then almost immediately, this ingredient label showed up on my news feed:

Ingredients: Water, coconut cream, cane sugar, tricalcium phosphate, coconut water concentrate, natural flavors, sea salt, carrageenan, gellan gum, corn dextrin, xanthan gum, guar gum, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin d2.

 We weren’t the first to question this coconut milk. Many articles called Starbucks’s bluff in its non-dairy alternative. “Starbucks debuts coconut milk that isn’t coconut milk” and in “Why Starbucks and I Are ona Break” our friend Alyssa Hertzig says “I'm not sure why corporations assume that people who can't have dairy automatically want their coffee to taste like birthday cake

So what exactly is wrong with their coconut milk? First, milk (dairy or non dairy) doesn’t need a laundry list of ingredients. There are also 3 different gums (if there are “probiotics” these are “con-biotics" not good for intestinal flora) corn (probable GMOs), carrageenan, lots of sugar and very little coconut (so less of that good fat). The first ingredient listed is water. So basically everything is wrong.

Lauren has blogged on carrageenan before. It’s difficult to digest particularly for anyone with GI issues and a carcinogen. Sometimes it’s cited as seaweed derivative but it’s a definite “STEP AWAY” ingredient in nut, seed or coconut milks.

Starbucks sells this as “single origin Sumatra coconut milk…from the tropical Indonesian island of Sumatra.We call bull-Sumatra on this one!
Don’t fall for any sketchy Starbucks marketing… in our “yay or step away” analysis, we say step away!If you’re on the hunt for an easy-to-find coffee spot, we like the almost all organic Le Pain which can be found all over NYC.  Joe’s coffee/  uses good quality milk too. 
OR  you can DIY at home with Grady’s and homemade coconut (all you need coconut and water) or almond milk that will  save money and gnarly ingredients.
So are you a coffee snob? How do you take your coffee? What else would you like to see YOSA’d? #yayorstepaway? Have you tried Starbucks coconut-ish coffee?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pinch me, Brie for your heart and bones?

I’ve been working on a heart healthy post for Fitbit since February is Heart Month.
Some of my advice will be expected, you know eat your omega-3 foods and exercise but I’ve become obsessed with a vitamin I didn’t know that much about before. I know this sounds strange, after all vitamins aren’t exactly like snacks items popping up all the time. This vitamin K2 plays key role in the prevention of heart disease, osteoporosis and even cancer and wasn’t on my radar before.
If vitamin K sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of K1 (as I was). K1’s key function is blood clotting and if you or a family member has been on a blood thinning med you probably know K (think leafy greens) plays a role. K2 can be produced by K1 but we can also get K2 from certain foods and bacteria in our guts can produce it.
Without getting too sciencey, K2 is sort of like an advisor or therapist for calcium and vitamin D.  K2 encourages calcium and vitamin D head to our bones and teeth and discourages calcium heading to arteries where it can calcify (not good for our hearts).  Most of the plaque in our arteries is produced by calcium.
You can supplement K2 but there are different types and some derivatives of K2 may be better or worse “advisors” if we use this analogy. So let’s talk about food sources of K2.
First there’s natto. It’s a fermented soy food. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t natto-ed as it has a reputation for tasting nasty.
If you’ve read this blog you know I’m sort of a fermented (probiotic) food fanatic and K2 is another reason to include these “ferm foods” as we call them in your diet.
BUT not all fermented foods have K2 as only certain bacteria produce it.
Many fermented vegetables contain K2. I love Farmhousekraut, Hawthorne farms fermented carrots and Mother in law kimchi

K2 is also found in full-fat grass fed dairy. If you haven’t tried Kerrygold butter or omghee, I was on that bandwagon before I realized their K2 potential.
And finally, K2 is found in certain cheeses. It’s found in the highest amount in Edam (I don’t Edam), also very high in gouda (OK, I can eat gouda but wouldn’t do a jig for it) but K2 is also abundant in…Brie. Did you hear that? And it’s not that these cheeses need to be grass fed but rather the bacteria and process used to make them that results in K2.
In terms of how much K2 that’s complicated as dietary guidelines don’t differentiate K1 from K2 but especially with the widespread use of Vitamin D supplements it’s a good idea to consider adding these foods to your diet.The fermented veggies can be used freely. With the ghee and kerrygold, 1 "good" fat be meal is a good guideline. I suggest weight loss clients keep cheese to two or three times a week and I still stand by that but you can add gouda or Brie to your shopping list. Remember, as I say in LBT, your portion should be no larger than lipstick size. I have been nerding out reading about the different types of K2 and will be circling back with more information.
In the mean time, you’re welcome.
Have you heard of K2? Do you eat fermented vegetables? Have you tried natto, should I?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

That one comment about your weight that sticks

A few times each week, I meet with a new Foodtrainers’ client. In these meetings we cover many of the things you’d expect. We discuss sleep and hydration, omega 3’s all that nutritiony/wellness stuff. I also like to gather a little history, a weight history, medical history etc. I start with the basics but always ask “when do you recall first thinking about weight” or “what were your parents like, were they big on compliments or critical?” The answers to these questions say a lot.  The truth is you can be overweight or underweight, gorgeous or homely and there are often a few comments (negative or positive) that stick with you.
“You have such a pretty face”
“I just don’t want you to end up alone”
“I don’t want this to cause you the pain it has caused me”
I know, from these meetings, that 50 years can go by and these quotes are fresh in my client’s minds. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to utter that one comment that my children will come back to. That one statement that flies out of your mouth and fucks your kids up forever. I know better, I have nutrition degrees and yet I mess up.
A little story, when one of my boys was little (1) I went to the pediatrician. My husband urged me to go,so you know I’m not the only crazy one. I asked the doctor about my son’s forehead. It seemed to protrude a little. My husband had pediatric neurosurgery so there was some basis for concern (or justification). I gave the doctor the background and he looked at my son. He then looked at me…closely. “Can you move your hair a bit?” he asked. I did. “Yup, I see what you mean. He has something called frontal lobing.” I didn’t have time to be concerned because he added, “and so do you it’s harmless, just the shape of your skull.” Years later said son discovered hair gel. The first time he tried a little bang off the forehead action I didn’t miss a beat “you can’t do that, your forehead protrudes and so does mine.” Yup, the good news is that he continued to sculpt his bangs “mom you don’t know what you’re talking about, I look good.” Excellent, future therapy averted (great) but I’m raising a narcissist .
And it’s not just parents and children. Friends, spouses and even bosses say things. Some comments are downright mean; others just sting because they are true. So what to do? Of course try your best not to be nasty. Nasty hurts even if there’s no basis for it. Second, if you’ve said something you regret- discuss it. “Did that hurt?” Or, “I wish I had said   _____” can open up a discussion. I am reading a book called Mindset by Carol Dweck. One interesting suggestion she makes id not to laud what people are naturally given. We don't control these things. Instead reward effort and work and encourage behaviors such as cooking or activity versus the result (weight loss or weight gain).
And finally, focus on how someone feels. An acquaintance mentioned she saw a relative who was much larger than in the past. I asked her how she handled this and she said  "I said, You’ve gained so much weight." Obviously we feel comfortable enough with family members to say things like this but I suggested, “you’ll probably do a lot more and help more if you ask how he is doing?” After all weight is never really about the weight.
What comments about your size or appearance have stuck with you? If you are a parent, have any “stingers” ever come out of your mouth? Have you ever noticed my forehead?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sam Smith "Acceptance" Speech, Weight and Success

When my 10 year old asked what happened in Grammy’s and what he missed I said, “Sam Smith won pretty much everything and it was a pretty boring show.” It was also a night of unmemorable, rote acceptance speeches until Sam Smith’s second time up (for record of the year or best new artist, I forget):
“Before I made this record I was doing everything to try and get my music heard,” Smith said. “I tried to lose weight and I was making awful music. It was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen.”

This was honest and interesting and of course got me googling. Ironically, it seems Sam Smith had slimmed down for the Grammy’s. According to this it’s due to juices spiked with cayenne. We’ll save the cayenne conversation for another day. Accepting yourself and “being yourself” doesn’t mean you have to stay heavy.

This photo shows a stockier Sam Smith or at least we see more of him.Howard Stern (oh Howard) called Smith “fat and ugly”. Sam Smith said he wanted to lose weight for the Grammy’s but sometimes he’s proud he doesn’t look like other pop stars.I think the message here is we cannot lose for external reasons. We cannot pin putting ourselves out there for “when I lose weight I’ll…”. And we have or accept ourselves heavy, slim or in between.

And finally, Sam said
“Everyone has sadness sometimes, I just get mine out with my music”
We all need an outlet. For some it’s exercise, for others art. I love sitting down at the computer, when I can lose myself in the process other worries slip away.
Did you watch the Grammy’s? Any thoughts on the performances or the outfits? What do you think of Sam’s words?

Friday, February 6, 2015

The healthiest chocolate you can eat (giveaway)

Earlier this week we sent out our “This Chocolate is MoreImportant Thank Your Valentine” (yup) newsletter.  We highlighted all our chocolate loves from on-the-go oatmeal with cacao (chocolate for breakfast) to our newest Nutella-sque crush Rawmio. Today, we’re giving away a jar of these 8-calorie heart-shaped beauties that just happen to contain 10 billion probiotics per piece ($30 value). 

The question no longer is “how can probiotics help me” but is there anything probiotics cannot do?
  • If you’re sniffling as you read this, probiotics for your immune system.
  • If you’re “blocked up” yup, something’s off kilter in your GI system
  • Winter blues? I mean can anyone escape them this year? The gut is the second brain. Yup there’s a serotonin factory in there (or not depending)
  • There are weight benefits too; I’ll avoid the fecal transplant dets. since this is allegedly a Valentiney post.
  • If you're nodding along to ALL OF THE ABOVE? I hear you, you need these hearts.
Enter by following these three simple steps
  1.  Comment below and tell me if you’ve boarded the probiotic love train yet and what probiotic foods you eat. OR, your favorite chocolate (healthy or not).
  2. Like Foodtrainers on Facebook (we don’t show our FB page as much love) 
  3. Tweet @Foodtrainers is giving away @WCOrganics probiotic chocolate hearts  #probiotic #iheartprobiotics #probioticgiveaway or #givemeprobioitcs. 
You  have until Valentine's Day to enter. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Trainers gonna train, train, train, train

A little background. Last week (has mercury unretrograded? hope so) Carolyn and I received more than a few emails from clients saying, “my trainer told me to buy”. We dutifully checked out said product and found nasty ingredients or something super processed. Thus this post. We totally get that that there is an overlap with fitness and nutrition but…I’ll get Carolyn take it away.

When in doubt we refer out to doctors, acupuncturists, yogis, and even stylists and organizationalists. We also love trainers and fitness instructors, for so many Foodtrainers’ clients they’re the other piece of the fit puzzle. But when some start dropping nutrition instructions when they should be teaching how to lift weights, I have some issues. Would you ask your therapist for workout tips? OK, ok once my old therapist “prescribed” me yoga (followed soon after by Xanax if we’re being honest) but for the most part, professionals should stick to their field, right?  

Lauren and I always preface our (very minimal) exercise recommendations with “we’re not trainers” because we think expertise is essential. We love reaching out to our favorite exercise professionals when we need fitness facts for our newsletters or posts. We went to school for a loooooong time to get to the nutrition expert level. We learned how meds can interact with nutrients, gained an understanding of blood work and lab values etc.  So when instructors make weird food or supplement or, maybe worst of all, cleanse recommendations in the middle of a Soul Cycle class, it makes us a little grouchy. The same can be said for doctors who get on average a week, maybe two of nutrition education tops.

There are the examples of trainers who do it right though the badass Holly Rilinger was writing a post on her experience with juicing but she asked for my nutrition input. YES!  And another trainer-friend of Foodtrainers gave us one of my favorite exercise quotes “you cant out train a bad diet”. Hallelujah!

But whether it’s coming from a trainer, a chiropractor, a fit friend or an insta-crush:
  • If a product looks sketchy it probably is
  • If your diet is on track you don’t need to be loading up on countless, expensive supplements
  • Just because it worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work or last for you
  • If you have any health condition, take meds or even other vitamins all of these things have to be evaluated when you make dietary changes
Listen, in the world of insta and twitter there are lots of health enthusiasts that can easily be mistaken for experts. So look for credentials, ask for research, and then you can always ask us on twitter @onesmartbrownie @Foodtrainers
What do you think? Should trainers provide nutrition information or not? Where is the line? Perhaps encouraging hydration or breakfast eating is ok but what about specifics? And what about RDs, where should we curb our exercise advice?