Sunday, November 29, 2009

The calorie count and does it matter

Well, Thanksgiving is over. At least for me. I cooked at my daughter's in LA so no leftovers here now that I'm home. No sugary sweet potatoes in my frig. No buttery gravy. No antioxidant rich cranberry sauce or gorgeously crisp burnished turkey skin. Just memories of a wonderful meal. All 2,000 or so calories.
Why does everyone make such a big deal over the number of calories in a Thankgiving meal? It's one meal. And even if you covet the leftovers, I don't think you're eating all 2,000 calories day after day. Or are you?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Feast Day

For my handful of followers (and you know who you are), happy feast day. Enjoy the food without guilt. Eat until you're satisfied. Share with people less fortunate than you. We used to take our leftovers to a park near our house for a homeless family who lived at the park. That way, we didn't over indulge and they had a lovely dinner for the holiday. This year I'll be going to LA to spend the holiday with my kids. If there are leftovers, I know we'll follow the family tradition of sharing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Eating Tips

Notice I didn't title this post "healthy eating tips". That's because my philosophy is that most of the food served at Thanksgiving is already healthy (sweet potatoes, turkey, pumpkin, green beans or brussel sprouts or spinach, cranberries). Those foods are all touted for their leanness or their antioxidant power or for their fiber content hence the Thanksgiving meal is a healthy one. Now, what about the butter and sugar added to these foods and the quantity we consume? Well, tish posh. That's just a petty thing not worthy of mentioning on the day we celebrate our founding fathers (and mothers).
Seriously, though, there are probably two days a year when I think people can throw caution to the wind (unfortunately most of us don't limit those times to just two days...): Thanksgiving and birthdays.
I have read all the great tips about how to eat healthy on Thanksgiving--how to cut down on fat and calories. Yes. The Thanksgiving meal contains an uncountable number of calories. Of course, if you have diabetes or another medical condition that could worsen or put you in danger, then you must follow your doctor's/dietitian's recommendations. Otherwise, be judicious (don't fill up until you have to open the top button of your pants....that's going too far!). Eat heartily. Enjoy. It's what the Pilgrims would have wanted!
If you're going to feel guilty afterwards, then don't use butter, eat only the breast meat of the turkey, use whole wheat bread for the stuffing, cut back on the brown sugar and be sure to serve fruit for dessert. I think guilt is more unhealthy than an occasional day of indulgence. I did not say "gluttony". I said "indulgence". No one wants to be sick after eating a lusciously delicious meal.
So enjoy your family and friends. Share a delicious meal. Savor all the flavors and textures. Then dump the really outrageous dishes and pack up the turkey and whatever else is relatively "acceptable" to eat for leftovers. One day of indulgence. You have my permission.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dieting as an Addiction

The article, "Researchers show dieters can experience neurobiological similarities of drug addicts", is not new to me. ( I read a similar study fact, I might have blogged about it before.
The last sentence probably sums up the findings: "The stress experienced by frequent dieters in abstinence from palatable food has neurobiological similarities to the negative emotional state of drug and alcohol addicts."
Yes! Is there a dieter among us who has not felt the "stress" associated with giving up palatable foods? Favorite foods? The anticipatory stress that we feel when we decide it's time to cut back or cut out completely something we love to eat because we believe that food is contributing in a negative way to our body? I mean, isn't that one of the reasons we have to wait until Monday to start a diet?
And isn't there longing? Craving? A feeling of extreme deprivation? Regardless of how inclusive the diet is (like Weight Watchers, which allows all foods), there's always a feeling of loss, a sadness, a hunger--both physical and emotional.
From the article: "Forms of obesity and eating disorders can be defined as chronic relapsing conditions with alternating periods of abstinence....and relapse...that continue despite negative consequences." This is the definition of a dependence disorder--whether it be alcohol, drugs or in this case DIETING.
A dependence on dieting. Relapsing by gaining weight back. And dieting again. Even though dieting is only a short term fix. And there are negative consequences to dieting (as well as to obesity). The negative consequences of dietiting, again both physical and emotional, are rarely discussed. The goal is always to lose weight--almost at any cost.
Food for thought.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Eating Out Again

So I'm writing this article on eating out. And I've gotten hundreds of responses from dietitians. It's amazing. I really have gotten a mountain of e-mails. It seems that dietitians do not eat out that much. I'd say most eat out a few times a month. Not sure if it's a money issue or a health issue or if they just don't like to eat out. And these are average weight (by their own report) dietitians. Interesting. I eat out many times a week and some days, many times in one day. And I am not average weight---by my own report. Light bulb moment. And the revelation is....nothing. We all know that food prepared away from home has way more calories so it stands to reason that if someone is "prone" to gaining weight and eats out often, the results will be additional poundage.
The dietitians who say they eat out infrequently cite "liking to cook" as one of the reasons. Well, I like to cook but I also like to eat out. In fact, I love to eat out. I mean, there are times when I don't want to go out. I don't want to be in a room of strangers, being served by a stranger. I don't want to eat with a fork and wear clean clothes. But those times are rare. More often, I look forward to the interactions and I surely look forward to the flavors.
So I get why the dietitians who eat out infrequently are average weight but I don't know how to transform myself into someone who would be happy eating out only a few times a month.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Help me with article, please

I'm writing an article about eating out in restaurants. If you read this blog (and you must because you're reading it now...duh, Sharon) and you've ever eaten out while on a diet, I'd appreciate your help.
You can respond to the blog comment section. I won't post your response (unless you want me to) so your responses will be confidential. Here's what I'd like to know:

1. Do you try to stick to your diet when you eat out?
2. What diet are/were you on when you ate out?
3. If you're dieting or just trying to eat more healthfully, what strategies do you employ when eating out in restaurants?
Do you
a. order appetizers as your entree?
b. share your entree with someone else?
c. pack half before you even start eating?
d. stay away from cream sauces and fried foods?
e. order dessert? share dessert?
f. eat bread? and butter? while waiting for food to arrive?
g. drink a caloric beverage such as soda, wine, beer?
h. choose a restaurant where you know you can get something healthy?
i. order salad with dressing on the side?
j. ask for changes to the meal like--no gravy, dressing on the side, broiled instead of fried, etc.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Selling out

I've been down on Jillian, the trainer on The Biggest Loser, for a few weeks because her tactics have become overbearing and not at all what I would consider "motivational". Still, I had a soft spot in my heart for her. She's done a great job on her own body and occasionally she shows a softer side on the show. But now....I don't know. Look, I think everyone should take the chance to make a buck when they can. Celebrity is fleeting. And Jillian's time in the spotlight might not last that long. So it's okay for her to make a couple of dollars off her celebrity while she can. Supplements, though?
Janet Helm, a fellow dietitian, has written an excellent post on Jillian's supplements. Here's the link
Yeah, I'm disappointed. She's always stressed hard work as the way to reach a fitness goal. Not supplements. Not pills or potions.
I can guess what happened: Supplement company approached her management team. Offered beau coup bucks. Management team (counting their 10%) suggested this would be a good thing for her. Photo on the ads. Speaking engagements. Royalties. Oh, and of course I'm sure they also told her that she'd be helping millions of people reach their fitness goals.
I'm disappointed.
So, am I to believe that Jillian made over her body by taking these supplements? Uh, I think not.
Read Janet's excellent analysis of the product.
I doubt anyone will be helped by the supplements. Here's hoping no one is hurt by them.