Tuesday, June 28, 2011
It wasn't until many years later that I learned the even worse truth. Some people CAN do drugs socially while others crumple under crushing addiction. I have known kids who innocently smoked weed, I have met adults that still do. I have known functional heroin addicts and some people in recovery. It isn't the kind of thing you wear on your sleeve, but people own up to it in private. But the most chilling reality is that drugs really are everywhere.
When I became a parent I vowed that in time I would bring up the conversation about illegal drugs. And I would not just tell the story of the homeless junkie who has lost their family because of their habit or that tweaked out crazy person screaming on the train. I would also tell the story of the rich kid who does coke when he parties. Or the adult who started smoking weed at parties and now as an adult still does so, putting his job and life in jeopardy. Or the guy who's job is so demanding that he uses to get more done. And what about the person who abuses perscription pain pills?! People all over do drugs for different reasons. There isn't just one blueprint for how illegal drugs ruin your life. I also want to tell the story that there are people who do drugs a few times and have a bad reaction to them and land in the hospital. You really don't know what you are going to get. How about a game of Russian roulette?
I recently realized that I have already begun to have this conversation with my children. In speaking with them about putting good foods in their bodies I am teaching them to respect themselves through nutrition. Hopefully they will understand from a young age that polluting our bodies is not wise nor does it benefit us. But while I start out having a conversation about preservatives and food dyes, it will be an easy transition when my kids are old enough to hear my opinions about illicit drugs. Illegal drugs are just like the chemicals that have been added to our food, in the sense that they are chemicals that have a reaction in the body. Illegal drugs however can be acutely detrimental to our bodies, whereas most food preservatives must build up over time (except in the case of allergy).
Thinking of the paralells between food and drugs, I felt some stress roll away about my future duties as a parent. I truly believe that my kids will see drugs often, perhaps starting as young as middle school. I am no 'hide my head in the sand' parent. My plan on talking with my kids about drugs is to talk to them often and to not be shy about it. What might start out as an awkward conversation probably will end up as a frank conversation. And the conversation has got to start somewhere.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Now in Memphis, we sauce our pork with a thick sweet sauce. The premade sauces that you can buy in the grocery store usually aren't true to the Memphis style. And even the truly local Memphis sauces are made in big factories with yucky stuff like high fructose corn syrup. I had never made my own barbeque sauce before, but on Father's Day I fired up the crock pot and braised a pork shoulder for dear old DH. I thought I'd take a chance and make a sauce from sratch. And boy am I glad I did.
KICK A** MEMPHIS BARBEQUE SAUCE
1-26 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
1-teaspoon chipotle powder (or canned chipotles in adobo; I used the powder, if you use the canned you might need more than a teaspoon...)
1-teaspoon onion powder
2-teaspoons garlic powder
2-teapoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper grinds, many
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
With your blender puree the tomatoes and then strain out the seeds. If you are using the wet chiptoles then puree with the tomatoes. Don't omit the chipotle because they add both heat and smokiness to the sauce. If you really can't find them try Hungarian smoked paprika. The chipotles really made this sauce for me. But watch out, it is pretty spicy stuff!!
In a sauce pan pour your puree and add all the remaining ingredients and cook on low heat until it reduces and gets syrupy. Watch it, the inclusion of all the sugars make it easy for the sauce to burn. From here you can decide if you like it more sour, add more vinegar. If it needs more sweetness add extra honey. You get the picture.
Also a note about the grade B syrup, it is not necessary to go out and buy grade B syrup. But recently Fairway was out of my normal affordable brand of grade A. The alternative grade A syrups were almost $20 a bottle (Yipes!!!), so I opted for the cheaper grade B syrup. It has a much richer flavor. It is more complex, darker, much like caramel. I recommend that you try it if you get the chance. It added a certain depth to the sauce.
This sauce was as good as anything I had growing up. And it was all the more meaningful since I made it myself. I plan on using this with everything, hamburgers, roasted chicken, and maybe even mixing it with a little of my homemade ranch dressing to make a smoky barbeque ranch salad dressing. YUM!!!
Oh, and lastly, I have no pictures of this sauce or the barbeque on which I ate it. Sorry, I am a fairly lazy blogger. But mostly it's because I am writing this on my phone while cruising up I-95 on our way to a week long blissful vacation!! So the only picture I can possibly insert would be this.
This old random picture is how this barbeque sauce made me feel. Though surely it was equally the pork butt that made me feel so glorious. Ha!!
Enjoy everybody!! Do some grilling on the fourth!!
Friday, June 24, 2011
Writers love to write about 'sustainability', 'doing more with less' and 'supporting growing populations' but what they aren't saying in so many words is: 'Good God, soon there aren't going to be enough resources (read food and water) for all the people on earth!!' Perhaps it wouldn't be wise for them to foster fear among a large section of the population. We can't possibly know how critical our food and water and natural resource situation will get in the next 20 years as a result of population expansion. I believe that if we needed to adapt to shortages of certain items, most people could (provided that the shortages don't encompass. EVERYTHING). Life has continued to find a way to adapt and survive for millenia. I actually have full faith that when oil runs out or becomes endangered enough to become prohibitively expensive that electric car technology will suddenly be pulled out of the dusty back drawer and someone will make ka-gillions!! But until we are forced to wean off gas, we probably won't. $4 a gallon hurts, but it isn't currently making MOST people rethink driving or their job or their living situation, certain subsets of the population excluded.
Food is different though, while some countries have always dealt with simply having enough food for their expanding populations, the US struggles with having TOO MUCH food. You'd think this was a GOOD problem to have. The US currently produces, on a yearly average, about 3900 calories of food for each person in the country per day. The USDA recommends that the average adult consume about 2000 calories per day. Much of the uneaten food is exported and some is wasted, like unsold grocery store food, spoiled foods and restaurant leftovers. But when the extra calories are owned by major corporations they have historically found ways to sell them off and convince you to consume them. From the same source as before, it is estimated that Americans consumed about 2700 caloires per person per day in 2007 for example. That is 28% higher than 1970. And we weigh on average about 30% more too. This tells me that when there is a surplus of food, humans typically rise to the challenge and eat the surplus, even if we don't biologically need it. This also tells me that MARKETING WORKS. Most of the country has succumbed to the message to eat more all while believing that they are impervious to most marketing schemes.
Obesity has created a whole mess of conversation in our nation. We talk incessantly about changing laws and fining fast food restaurants for fraud and public endangerment. We argue about soda taxes and the rights of the overweight. We argue over the Farm Bill knowing that SOMONE will get hurt be it the farmers or public at large. Bloggers like me take to the internet to desperately hope to change our food culture and our children before we all fall victim. But when do we step back from the din of disagreement and say 'I am going to eat right because I HAVE to, not because it is easy.' Some of us have already begun to do so.
Call me a pessimist but I don't think things are going to change fast enough for my generation and possibly my kid's generation. Being so pessimistic doesn't make me write less or feel that what I talk about is futile. We are slowly changing our food culture. But in the mean time I openly admit that I am throwing down the gauntlet. Our obesity crisis is a classic case of survival of the fittest.
If I had a nickel for every person I had met who didn't care about the food that they eat, I would be a rich woman. I have had people tease me and say I was making too much out of our exposure to pesticide residues and chemical food additives. Or, "I have been eating that for YEARS and I am not sick!" Or my favorite "But the chemicals taste so good!"
Well, this pessimist is doing what it takes to feed my kids right, regardless of what anyone else says. I am currently teaching my kids that uber processed sugars, GMOs, chemical additives and the whole host of non-foods that we currently eat as a nation are WRONG! I am not tip toeing around the average child nutritionist's fear of labeling some foods good or bad. I am simply teaching my kids that certain things are food and certain things are not. And in the end, this will make my family stronger and more fit to carry on the gene pool for our species. Call me competetive, but this is survival of the fittest.
We are facing over population. And the biological history book doesn't tell a great story for those species who become out of balance in the world. The earth always wins. Call me controversial. Call me a nut case. Call me drunk with my own opinion. But future fortune will favor those who are strong and healthy. And who knows what lays around the corner? So until then we will continue to eat real food and support local sustainable food systems. We will continue to look for ways to garden and make our own food. And we will continue to encourage people to join the real food movement because we need more like minded people. And it would be unfair to keep our real food secret to ourselves! But what do I say to the detractors? I say 'Bah, you can have your vegetable oil and your Cheetos and your factory farmed beef chunks!' And the next time someone teases me about what I eat or tells me that I am a nut job for believing that the Standard American Diet is such a problem, well, I might just keep my mouth shut. I am a formidable foe after all.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
This week at out CSA we received a nice firm head of bok choy, a bunch of kale (hmmm...did I forget to grab that?), a bunch of beet greens, a bunch of nice looking turnips, a head of green leaf lettuce, a little pot of herbs basil and chives, scallions, 2 garlic scapes and a quart of strawberries.
I am extremely proud to say that the beet greens are gone. Though my hatred of beets is well documented, apparently beet greens are in my liking. I browned a curled up turkey sausage for din-din the night we picked up, and in the brown crust of the sausage pan I sauteed my beet greens with just a bit of water. All seasonings came straight from the sausage drippings. The greens were salty and perfectly cooked, all around delicious. Okay, I am making progress on the beet front.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Speaking as someone who was an obese child and is now an obese adult I say that I really hope no one wants us to accept being fat as viable way of life. It sucks on so many levels. That said, I have never had a bully express their concern for my health or quality of life. They tell me and other obese individuals, in no uncertain terms that we are not as good as they are. We are less than. We are not lovable. We don't perform as well in the work place, we are simply not worthy of the space we inhabit. When I am bullied in my life it makes me feel so low, so hopeless and desperate that I feel the need to drug myself to escape the pain. My drug of choice?? Pizza, Cake, Cookies...all manner of highly processed, sugar and fat and chemical laden yummies that I'm told through advertisements will alleviate my worst pains and make me happy. So the stigma against fat people MUST GO. It's un-Christian, inhumane and mostly it is unhelpful.
I hope you don't mind if I reveal something personal from both our lives, COB. When we were roommates in college you were the most loving and supportive friend I've probably ever had. You encouraged me to love myself and care for myself. And what happened? World! Hear me now! I began a journey in which I lost 75 pounds. I began to exercise. I kept it off for several years. I felt great. I was the happiest I have ever been in my life before or since. Unfortunately I wasn't able to sustain it over the long haul due to some very deeply-seated issues and bad habits and blah blah blah. That's not the point. Obviously anecdotes do not count as research except in our own lives. My research leads me to believe that the only way out of this miserable fat life is up. I must love and accept myself before I can heal and be healthy.
Let me preface my next statement by saying that I do not blame anyone but myself. I make my own choices. But that doesn't mean there aren't a whole host of contributors and challenges to my personal goals. My drug of choice is everywhere! Restaurants, advertisements, pushers in the form of coworkers, friends and family, it’s virtually inescapable. To be fair, drug addicts don’t have to contend with the constant barrage of images of their drug. It’s not sold literally on every single corner or in drive-thrus (or is it?). And there are people everywhere telling me I don’t deserve even my own love because of my obesity and in low moments I believe them and turn to my ever-present and reasonably priced drugs. How can I possibly lose weight and lead a healthy life in such an environment?! Even having a best friend on a whole food crusade has not alleviated my problems.
Yes I joined a CSA, I’m eating more veggies than ever before. But I truly struggle at the grocery store or the restaurant to make the choices I know are better for me. On the one hand I’m disgusted by microwaveable low-fat, low-carb “health” meals…but I still buy them sometimes when I’m at a loss. Why on earth am I telling you all of this? Because I truly believe it matters. I am living proof of our country’s failure when it comes to food and diet. I am the end result of everything the whole-food movement is trying to combat. I wish my parents had tried harder to get me to eat healthily. They openly admit they gave up trying to make me eat vegetables at around 4. I vividly remember our fridge was full of real Coca Cola, Oscar Meyer Bologna, Lays potato chips and Ruffles and Doritos. Then in the late 80s there was a shift…to Diet Coke, Lite Bologna, Miracle Whip, Baked Chips. We stopped having Tyson Microwaveable dinners and started having Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice. And we all gained weight.
Most of America, I believe, is living in a delusional state where they don’t believe or accept that they are eating unhealthily. That they are contributing to their children’s obesity. They DO need a wakeup call. That is my opinion. But even being awakened, as I feel I have been, is only the first step, not the answer because we will struggle between knowing what we should eat: whole foods, and wanting so badly to eat the foods we grew up with, the foods we’ve been conditioned and programmed to eat for the last 30 years. We will stand in the supermarket trying to decide between the bagged organic baby greens and the low-fat, low-calorie, low-sodium can of soup. And in frustration we’ll say “F*** it!” and grab a burger instead.
What we need is a revolution! We need, as a society, to create an entirely new environment of understanding and support. We need to reject, as a whole, these nonfood options. We need to demand real food. It should be everywhere. It should be the cultural habit to eat healthfully and wholly. If it’s everywhere, if it’s the norm, not only would today’s children have it easier when they become adults, but those of us fighting our bad habits and compulsions would surely have an easier time making decisions if the options were fewer and healthier in nature. If my choices were between Kale, Chard and Collard Greens it would be much easier to choose the healthy option than when my choices are fast food, packaged food and salad. But maybe I’m the one who’s delusional because this all seems way too much to ask of our head-in-the-ground society.
Monday, June 20, 2011
· 5:10 PM-S#!t! It is time for me to walk out of the office!
· 5:20 PM-Train is supposed to arrive. It doesn’t.
· 5:25 PM-Train arrives. I pack on.
· 5:58 PM-Get off train, walk home. Run into neighbors and friends, chat on the way home.
· 6:03 PM-I walk in the door. Thing 1 sneers, Thing 2 runs up to me calling ‘Nana!’ (Yes, he calls me Nana, not Mama, even though he is almost 2 years old. He says M’s, just not in reference to me).
· 6:07 PM-Baby sitter leaves, I turn on Wonder Pets. Big smiles from everyone including Mommy.
· 6:10 PM-Realize I forgot to defrost the ground beef.
· 6:12 PM-Run the beef under warm water.
· 6:15 PM-Chop broccoli. Get the pots and pans out to start frying the ground beef and boiling the broccoli. Put the water on for the broccoli.
· 6:18 PM-Change clothes. Oh yeah! I had to pee since before I left the office. Go to the bathroom.
· 6:20 PM-Take away the broom that Thing 2 has fished out of the closet and is now using to dust the coffee table. “Yuk, that’s dirty!”
· 6:21 PM-Heat up the pan to fry up hamburgers. Fill up the Thing’s water cups.
· 6:22 PM-Intervene between Thing 1 and Thing 2. “That’s ONE, don’t throw his toys, it isn’t nice”
· 6:23 PM-“That’s TWO!!!”
· 6:24 PM-Start frying the burgers, put the broccoli into the boiling water.
· 6:25 PM-Sit down with the kiddies to watch Moose and Zee. Cuddles, maybe a kiss or two.
· 6:30 PM- *Sniff Sniff* Oh Dear! Burgers are done!!
· 6:31 PM-Microwave the leftover brown rice.
· 6:32 PM-Plates on the table. “I am turning off the TV! No, we are not watching TV tonight during dinner….We are going to talk about our day…Yes, we have to.”
· 6:38 PM-Pick up Thing 2’s thrown meat.
· 6:39 PM-Pick up Thing 2’s thrown meat.
· 6:39 PM-Pick up Thing 2’s thrown meat again.
· 6:40 PM-Pick up Thing 2’s thrown meat.
· 6:42 PM-Bribe Thing 1, if he eats 4 more bites of meat, he can have some watermelon after dinner. Thing 1 finishes all his meat, which is way more than the four bites I asked him to eat.
· 6:55 PM-Thing 1 gets his watermelon. Thing 2 cries because he wants some too. But seeing as how he has eaten nothing all day but apples, strawberries, a banana milk and toast (maybe some egg for breakfast), I have a hard time giving him MORE fruit.
· 7:00 PM-Clean Up Time!!
· 7:15 PM-Bath Time!!
· 7:17 PM-Thing 1 shoots Thing 2 in the face with a water gun. Mommy confiscates it.
· 7:25 PM-Screaming bloody murder, oh Lordy it’s a hair washing night.
· 7:30 PM-Daddy’s home from work! Hallelujah! Tooth brush time!
· 7:35 PM-Kids are dried off and in PJs.
· 7:40 PM-Book reading time. Thing 1 listens while Thing 2 runs around unloading toys that were previously put away.
· 7:55 PM-Kisses all around, maybe some screaming in protest. Daddy piles everyone in bed.
· 8:00 PM- Mommy cracks that bottle of white wine that has been talking to her since she walked in the door.
Friday, June 17, 2011
I have tried moisturizers with SPF. They sat on my skin like a wind breaker. When I would wash them off at night they still felt greasy and heavy, even the 'lightweight' versions. And don't even get me started about the smell. I stopped using them, even though everyone of my friends swore I was going to get skin cancer from my 20-30 minutes of daily sun exposure. I was sure of it too.
But there is something about this thinking that seemed counterintuitive. Rates of skin cancer have skyrocketed in the last hundred years, sending us to hide under sunscreen. In fact authority after authority has proclaimed even small exposure to sun as a major health risk! And then to replicate that bronzey glow we have turned to sunless tanner or rather creams that dye the skin an unnatural orange. I tried them too. And I couldn't get past the smell and uneven, unnatural color. I simply would rather be pale than orange.
But, in all our attempts to save ourselves from melanoma and wrinkles, have we? Skin cancer (both malignant and nonmalignant) rates have gone up dramatically since about 1950, but they have jumped even higher in the last 20 years. While countless doctors claim that this is due to increased awareness and better access to preventative medicine, is it? Overall cancer rates (and cancer deaths) have increased dramatically in the last 50 years and everyone is in agreement that the increase cannot just be attributed to better medical care. But in the last 30 years that we have been hiding ourselves from the sun, have we accomplished anything at all? In fact we have! When one is covered up by sunscreens it turns out that one cannot synthesize Vitamin D. Remember Vitamin D? It is the vitamin that is really a hormone. In food, it is fat soluble and comes with sun related items, think green veggies (chlorophyll needs sunlight to turn green) and animals products from animals who have been outside (think pastured eating green grass not penned eating yellow corn). Vitamin D can also be found in great quantities in oily fish like sardines and salmon. Vitamin D is now thought to be a key player in immunity, making the irony of 'that healthy glow' all the more ironic. Vitamin D is also crucial in keeping cancer from forming, suppressing cold viruses and all around good health. While my kids measure up pretty well in their Vitamin D levels (I had Thing 1 checked), I am still considering a supplement when they start school and daycare in the fall. Perhaps we can have fewer absences as a result. Though to be sure I will use a Cod Liver Oil supplement, or a D3 supplement, rather than the less effective D2.
The American population is currently believed to be Vitamin D deficient in epidemic proportions. It is estimated that up to 40% of the US Population is deficient in Vitamin D near the end of the winter time, when Vitamin D levels are at their lowest because of lack of sun exposure. A healthy measure would be 50 nmol/L. When my son was tested he measured a 90 nmol/L, and that was in the middle of a New England winter. He also doesn't (willingly) eat that much fish nor does he eat an overwhelming amount of greens, though he will eat some. What do we do? We eat fat. Even our milk is unsupplemented, but it is from cows that are outside, and it's whole. Us adults, we eats lots of leafy greens. Hopefully that behavior will be properly modeled and the kids will start to do it soon too! Your levels should never be below 32 nmol/L though, because that can set up children up for rickets (a bone disorder causing curvature of the bones, think bowed legs) and for adults, osteomalacia. As recently as last year the BBC reported a rise in rickets in the UK. And in the US rickets has been on the rise too, though most articles cite only babies as being tested, not all children.
The one thing I am still afraid of afraid of is sunburns. My kids are little bitties and their skin is so soft. So long exposure to sun particularly at the hottest times of the day will require some sun lotion. However do I need to slather every inch of them in it every time we leave the house? I don't think so. And what about SPF? 20 was common when I was growing up, 30 was for the overachievers. Today 50 is common for children's lotions and I have even seen 70. Really? 70 SPF? I wonder if I can even find 20 SPF anymore?
So this summer I am mostly ditching sunscreen, though to be sure I am taking some precautions. I won't be sunbathing specifically for a tan. Whether or not sunbathing causes melanoma, excessive sun exposure sure does cause premature aging, and I am finally old enough to actively fear wrinkles. We will probably avoid the beach during the hottest hours of the day, 12-2. Incidentally the hottest hours of the day are the same time as lunch and nap. And since a beach only intensifies the sun's rays due to the white sand, I will use some sunscreen during our infrequent trips to the beach. We don't want to spend our vacation nursing a sunburn. But if we are going to the playground and the park or just taking a quick walk on the beach boardwalk, I am ditching the potentially risky sunscreens. I am even ditching hats which my kids hate anyway. And if someone asks why I am not taking care of my kids and covering them up, expect the long answer. So, judgers beware, I can TALK your ear off.
Common sense kept us healthy for so long, why did we abandon it in the last 50 years for something newer and shinier? All our attempts to make life better with chemicals and manmade unnatural products have only served to make us sicker. Save money this summer! Ditch the sunscreen and use some common sense instead! Maybe then the rates of melanoma and nonmalignant skin cancers will start going down.
Articles, Dr. Mercola: Some Spray Tans Stop you from producting Vitamin D
Dr. Mercola's Book on the Propaganda of the Evils of Sun Exposure: Dark Deception
Topicalinfo.org: Melanoma related to the Consumption of Polyunsaturated Oils (Will you just give this up already?)
CA Cancer J Clin: Malignent Melanoma (Includes Risk of Skin Cancer in the Last 80 Years)
National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
This post is shared with Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday and Traditional Tuesdays and Simple Lives Thursdays at Sustainable Eats and GNOWFLINS and Others
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
But to the person who hit my site having eaten only 100 calories, I would like to write this post directly to you…
We as Americans are desperate to lose weight. We will try fake diet food, starvation (for a day at least), diet pills, shakes and even scary surgery to help us. But at the end of the day, we continue to gain instead of lose. I carried around with me for years an extra 10-15 pounds and I alternated between being completely obsessed with losing weight and not caring and embracing my cheeseburgers “curves”.
Eating only 100 calories in a day might start out as a great weight loss trick. But if you are able to maintain fasting for more than 12 hours (most people cannot when surrounded like we are by food), then your body will likely enter starvation response mode. Starvation Response is the process that the body undergoes when it is deprived of calories. It is a survival technique that evolved to enable humans to survive food shortages typical in a hunter/ gatherer lifestyle. Starvation Response allows one’s body to conserve energy for the brain while maintaining cognitive function and muscular structures, at least at first. According to Wikipedia, the brain typically uses glucose for its fuel, though the body can break down fats into glucose. When you stop eating your body first turns to its fat reserves and the brain must switch to using fatty acids for fuel, which under normal conditions it will not do. The body then conserves glucose. After several days, the body will begin to breakdown lean muscle. The proteins taken from your muscular structures can be converted into glucose that the brain can use. Take a look through the whole Wikipedia page, I found it enlightening. Plus I could never explain all the biological nuances.
Over time, the starvation dieter will find that he is able to lose little weight. And during celebration or binge eating, he will likely gain weight quickly as the body scrambles to add fat reserves. Many people (including me) believe that this preoccupation with low fat and low calorie foods is causing much of our metabolism problems. People regularly eat silly 200 calorie meals only to have their ‘reserve’ break down a few hours later and consume 600-800 calorie snacks! This doesn’t make any logical sense to me.
To maintain health we must focus our diets around quality protein and lots and lots of veggies. Then we can add whole grains, fruits or possibly dairy to that. But all the fake doctored up diet foods are causing even more trouble. There never was anything wrong with food. In fact it was all we could eat back before our current obesity crisis, back before diet foods and fake foods. And we were all a lot skinner then. God made food the way it was supposed to be, the way it was intended to be, the way we need it to be in order to be healthy. We were not plopped here on earth to figure out what to eat. We evolved with our food, and that’s why it works so well.
And of course, it comes back to love. We must love ourselves. When we love and respect ourselves, we can take care of our bodies in the proper way. For me, that took having children. In trying to set a good example for my kid’s eating habits, I realized that I needed to care for myself in the same loving way I was caring for them. Loving and respecting myself enough to say ‘those Doritos don’t love you back’ became a key point in my current good health. Now I view food as something that can keep me running in tip top shape. I do still eat some junk and when I do I pay with lethargy and grumpiness. I don’t appreciate food doing that to me. Junk food is like an abusive spouse.
So Dear, whoever you are, wherever you are…Starvation is not the answer. It is not about the food being in control. It is not even about major changes! Proper weight management is all about some small shifts: eating more veggies to get all the nutrients you need (you already knew that), eating foods whole so as not to eliminate the fats or fiber you need, and eliminating the stuff that you are eating that is not actually food (i.e.-chemicals and preservatives, etc). The food stuff is easy, the loving yourself enough to eat properly is a bigger concern. But when you begin to do that, you just might find that you have the upper hand, not food.
This post has been shared with Simple Lives Thursday
Friday, June 10, 2011
There was one day when I was in the eighth grade that I was standing in the school cafeteria after classes had ended. There was a group of people near me, some of whom I knew, and some of whom I didn’t. There was one young girl who I recognized from my church, but I had never introduced myself. I walked up to her, did the introduction thing, and her response was a surprisingly confident “Oh yeah! You’re that fat girl so-and-so was telling me about.” I can’t quite remember, but I must have stuttered some small response and then I walked away in my own amazement.
This event happened nearly 18 years ago, yet even now when I think about it the palms of my hands sweat. The memory still upsets me, although I am not angry anymore. I don’t seek revenge. It has made me the forgiving person I am today. In junior high school I was chubby. And I was teased for being chubby. There may have been bigger kids than me, and there may have been kids who were teased more than me. That isn’t important. I am not trying to hang myself on a cross here, I am pretty sure that movie has been made. But my experience of being overweight and vulnerable left an undeniable imprint on my person. As a result, I developed a desire to be empathetic to others, and to look past any outward appearance to who they are inside. I believe that as a result I have become a relatively good judge of character.
Last month DH sent me a link. DH does not send me food related links ever. It is more likely that he will send me a link to an SNL skit. So when I got the email entitled “Pretty Good Article About Childhood Obesity”, I took notice. The article began by describing a series of Georgia billboards in which obese children stand next to print such as “Big bones didn’t make me this way, big meals did.” The effect was almost pornographic. Parents were furious! The Georgia Children’s Health Alliance who created the ads said that they were aimed at parents who needed a wake-up call when it came to their children’s health and weight. A doting parent can easily forgive a few pounds rather than get tough and stop buying junk food. However the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance called for the billboards removal due to the negative stigmatization of overweight and obese children.
The article is excellent, and there are several very thoughtful sound bites included. Please read it in full if you get a chance. But in reading it I was left so confused, conflicted and a little self-hating. On one hand, obese children are likely the most stigmatized group of children out there. Their obesity is in plain sight, there is no hiding from it. And furthermore, the article continues, overweight children are usually left out of the bullying discussion which tends to center on sexual orientation, race and religion among others.
Yet I couldn’t help but stare and blink at a group called the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. I had no idea that such a group even existed. Here I am someone who has felt the verbal barbs of fat-hatred and I could never, under any circumstances, condone harassment. Yet I couldn’t say that I am rushing to exclaim that our obesity problem should just be overlooked so that people don’t feel bad. My thoughts were very jumbled up between what I stand for as a person and what I think is right and what I feel will be viewed negatively by others. And I assume others have jumbled brains too. Consider the difficulty that schools have in even discussing the issue of bullying of overweight children! I believe that people are afraid to broach the subject. It is after all so much easier to discuss food and meal plans. Conflicted is the only word to describe how I was feeling.
According to the NIDDK, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services, two thirds of the US adult population is overweight or obese. Over one third of the US adult population is obese. Only about 5.7% of the population is considered extremely obese (BMI greater than 40). Obesity rates among the total population remained relatively even until 1980, when they took off. In the early 1990’s another spike is visible. Research remains inconclusive about the reasons for the various spikes.
Obesity is a national epidemic, as is the stigmatization and discrimination of overweight and obese people. And considering the depth of obesity in our nation, it is not just a case of the thin mocking the fat. It is likely that there are discriminators all along the size scale, simply discriminating against those larger than themselves. I agree with the Yahoo article. Being called a nasty name, or being left out of a social situation does nothing to help someone lose weight. It is far more likely that a ridiculed person will continue to gain weight as a result of the stigmatization. So for those who fear eliminating the stigma of being fat sends the message that obesity is perfectly okay, it is likely that negative stigma itself is doing nothing to solve the problem. The discrimination of overweight individuals may actually be exacerbating the problem of obesity.
And it has been proven in study after study, stigmatization and bullying are not an effective motivators for weight loss. In fact, it is believed that bullying increases the likelihood that one will continue to engage in behaviors that increase weight gain, creating an endless cycle. And this type of discrimination is taking place every day. In a fascinating article compiled by the Yale Rudd Center from dozens of different studies, it is estimated a significant portion of the overweight population feels discrimination from bosses, while over half also feel stigma from their co-workers. This is in addition to the numerous studies of doctors who feel inadequate to combat obesity and/ or blame their overweight patients’ lack of motivation. The stigma is endless.
However I also agree that overlooking obesity and accepting it in order that no one ‘feels bad’ doesn’t really help the problem either. In 2009 CBS News reported that about 147 billion dollars were spent each year on obesity and the related illnesses associated with obesity. By comparison, only about 100 billion dollars were spent on all cancers combined. And for the individual, an obese person can expect personal health care costs of approximately 42% (or $1429) higher than their regular weight counterpart. But costs aside, don’t forget that additional health care costs mean that someone is SICK. Despite the economic burden, an obese person can experience a reduced quality of life from chronic pain, joint degradation, fatigue, difficulty breathing, etc as it relates to their obesity. And yet obesity is preventable in most cases. We, as a nation, prevented it rather well until about 1980. So I understand the person who would say that to fully accept fatness is to accept a poor quality of life. And I believe that everyone deserves a better quality of life! It is counterintuitive to fully accept a condition that is brining so many of our countrymen misery.
What I believe we really need to have is a healthy positive food culture in place that supports weight loss and the maintenance of a healthy weight. We place on a pedestal outrageous foods full of fat and sugar and try to counter it with celery sticks and low fat fake foods. Our eating habits are too high and too low. My approach since beginning this blog has been to eliminate most of the highs and lows of my diet. I try to eat a normal healthy diet every day. And while I certainly have celebration foods and will eat some small amounts of refined sugar, I tend to stay away from dishes that seem over the top. The Bacon Explosion comes to mind. How did we ever get to a place where we feel that eating that way is appropriate? The accepted notion that outrageous foods can be balanced in the diet with lower fat, lower calorie options is the hallmark of our sick food culture. And to those who want to exclusively eat these over the top ‘live your life to the fullest’ foods, obesity is certainly waiting around the corner.
With a name like The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, I assumed that their agenda would be to make you accept obesity or ‘fatness’. And accepting obesity to me feels like accepting smoking. However that’s NOT what the NAAFA is. The NAAFA is an organization who wants to end the discrimination of fat people. Their website clearly states, “Fat people are discriminated against in all aspects of daily life, from employment to education to access to public accommodations, and even access to adequate medical care.” And I think most Americans know that this is wrong. Yet we also know that it happens daily. I believe that it is important to fight obesity and not the obese person. NAAFA agrees, as I think we all can.
Though when I began to write this post, along with feeling conflicted, silent is another word that comes to mind. Although I read the thought provoking Yahoo article over a month ago, I didn’t even consider writing a post about it until last week because I considered the topic too controversial. I feared my inability to adequately discuss all the angles of the topic, and I also feared upsetting others. It is likely that are many many people are like I was in the beginning, not wanting to fully reject the stigmatization of being overweight, for fear that it might encourage the problem to grow. But in the end, as I have sorted out my thoughts, my issues are not with the people who are overweight but with the culture that has allowed obesity to become such a problem. Our broken food culture is hurting us. It is making us sick. And it should not be condoned. All the medicine and diet plans in the world won’t help us if we still long to eat foods that make us sick. But the people who have fallen victim to the outcome of our busted up eating culture, they are struggling with enough already. They don’t need any discrimination or additional stigma. It is not helping. It is not right. And it is not American.
Now it is your turn. What do you think? What questions has this post raised for you?
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Arriving at 6am I went on a search for an egg sandwich. I have a low opinion of airport food. But never have I been unable to find an egg sandwich of some type. Yet here I was breezing past juice bars and French style bistros serving press coffee, unable to locate two eggs on a roll.
I like getting eggs when traveling because even if they have followed a dubious path on their way to my plate, they will keep me full through long and delayed flights, car rental lines and traffic. Generally the alternatives to eggs are pastries and bagels. Those just aren't working for me. An occasional pastry as a treat is one thing, but it is not a stand in as a meal any more than a piece of cake.
Finally I found my way to the Cibo Express, purveyors of the easiest and freshest mass produced fare I have found at most airports. They are everywhere now, right? Cibo Express did have one line for egg sandwiches made to order but the line was crazy. They also had a hot bar of eggs, but I settled on a pre-wrapped egg salad sandwich because it required no fork.
After getting my coffee I turned to see this...
*GASP* the muffins were so big they were practically erotic. The seemingly steroid pumped flour bombs were piled up like cantaloupes. I think I might have actually muttered something aloud to myself in disbelief. I...had to. I had to read the label.
First of all, forgive my lousy photo, It was 6am and I was holding a muffin and taking a picture with my phone all before consuming coffee. Each muffin weighed in at a whopping 7.5 ounces, just under a half a pound. The label clearly stated that each muffin was two servings. And therefore, it contained 672 calories, 34 grams of fat and Holy Cannoli 52 grams of sugar with only 8 lonely grams of protein. That is gross. Cibo Express, you make lots of good food. You offer fresh options in an otherwise fried landscape. You are my airport go to. But this muffin is inexcusable and unnecessary. Shame on you for producing something so large and unhealthful! I do hold you to a higher standard because you are filling a gap in fresh food for health minded travelers across the country. I could lower my expectations of you to equal that of your faster paper bag take out competition, but then I would probably no longer patronize you.
Later, when I unwrapped it, I realized that my egg salad had been made with 'lite' mayo, so God only knows what I ate that morning. Stabilizers? Fillers? Dextrose? Who knows.
Why is it that it is so hard to find real food when you are traveling? Why is it all triple bacon cheeseburgers or fat free yogurt? Where is the middle ground for people like me? I am not on a Diet with a big "D". I am not always trying to "live life to its fullest" by over consuming greasy dopamine creating calories. I just want to eat food. And I would like to have enough protein and healthy fat to last me 4-5 hours until my next meal. And I am like everyone else, I have a budget and a plane to catch, so sitting down to table service for $12 French press coffee isn't an option. I am starting to see that this pendulum swing between over eating and over deprivation is the real problem of food and health in our great nation.
Monday, June 6, 2011
But what to do, what to do? The planters were heavy, 5 or 6 pounds, and I needed to add more dirt making them closer to 10 pounds. Hanging them from my plaster ceiling now seemed like a bad bad bad idea. I thought, ‘What about a couple of two by fours?’ We could affix the two by fours to the ceiling with anchors and then screw the planters into the wood. DH thought that was a marginally better idea than screwing them into the ceiling, but he still didn’t declare it a solution. Finally he got a great idea (he usually does). He went to Home Depot and bought one of those metal industrial kitchen shelving racks. He bought wheels so that we could move the rack around for optimal sunlight, and out of the living room altogether when we have company.
So now I have my two little beauties hung. But has this been cost effective? Not so much. The planters, the plants and the dirt cost almost $40. The rack and the wheels cost another $80. Yipes! If like the box says that the average tomato plant can produce 30 pounds of tomatoes a year, then my 60 pounds of tomatoes will cost me $2 per pound. That’s cheap for heirloom tomatoes, but far from free. And that is only if I can get them to produce. So far I have had three flowers fall off from the stress of being planted. Now that they are cozy and getting sun every day I am seeing new shoots. That is a good sign.
The first step in getting more familiar with what one eats is to start shopping at a farmer’s market. Get to know what is being grown in your area. From there you can join a CSA, find local meats and other various local foods. But the next logical thing one does is to grow one’s own food. If I lived in a house on even a quarter of an acre I would likely have some kind of a garden. And much to the chagrin of my neighbors I might even try to keep chickens. But that is not an option for me right now. I love my home, I love my neighbors and I especially love my commute. And when you consider that it is *only* 45 minutes each way, then you start to see why moving even further outside the city creates its own challenges. My hanging garden is one way that I am trying to grow my own food and doing it with what I have, fresh air and sunshine.
Friday, June 3, 2011
The pyramid was AWFUL. It rooted grains at the base of our eating. And by looking at the food of an entire day, it allowed one to overeat in certain categories with the idea that deficits could be made up later in the day. And it did nothing to help people learn how to properly build a meal. Although I have often said that no one food is good or bad as the day in which it was eaten, the fact that the pyramid offered little suggestion on how to build a meal trumps any discussion it might have raised about examining a whole day’s foods.
The USDA introduced today in Washington DC this icon.
Things I do like about the icon:
*It is very easy to understand. The icon helps even children to visualize what a meal should look like. Visualization is KEY, because in many cases pictures can communicate ideas better than words can. Words are open to interpretation. And although it is written in English, I see that the tool could easily be used for those who do not speak English. It is easily transferrable into many languages.
*Fruits and veggies should compromise half the plate. I like that. We need additional help getting more veggies in our diet.
*Dairy is off to the side as a compliment to a meal. As devotional as I am to dairy, I recognize it plays a supporting role in nutrition and one can get along without it. However, cheese is not a meat substitute as many of us have been raised to believe. If only I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say “Pizza is a complete food-grains, veggies (sauce and toppings), meat (pepperoni, really?) and dairy!” Cheese, when eaten in excess, has its own health issues and is not a meat substitute.
*There is no discussion of servings or milligrams or portion sizes and I love that. People should be encouraged to use more intuition when it comes to food. Portion size is not the same for a 100 pound woman as a 225 pound man, nutrient needs are different. But what should be driven home is a discussion about food not nutrients.
*The icon addresses meals and not snacks. I think the fallacy of ‘eat 5 small meals a day’ has served to increase food sales, expand our nation’s waistlines and justify all day noshing. Quit snacking and eat real meals. If I don’t eat enough real food to last me for the 6 hours in between lunch and dinner I need more food at lunch, period.
Things I do NOT like about the icon
*I don’t like that fruit makes it on the plate at all. It should be off to the side with milk. Fruit certainly is not necessary at every meal.
*I understand the need to follow the icon us with some words and explanation. But the VISUAL tool will be the most important part of the whole thing. The words will likely be lost.
*Protein should really be listed as ‘Proteins’ because there are a various array of them, the same as ‘Vegetables’ and ‘Grains’ are displayed. Although perhaps that is because the USDA does not want to encourage us to eat multiple sources of protein as our diets are not really protein deficient at all?
*The icon doesn’t address processed foods at all. Big surprise.
*The USDA is still ramming the questionable health of low fat dairy down our throats. Switch to whole people, and when you hear 10 years from now that whole was always actually better for you, send me an email.
*THERE IS STILL NO DISCUSSION OF SUGAR!!! ARRRGGGH! There is one crummy mention of reducing sugary drinks, but I think sugar as a total is worth mentioning. Will it ever happen? Probably not in my lifetime.
What do you think? Is the new icon a step in the right direction? Or a leap backwards?
Thursday, June 2, 2011
For more than a year I have tried to ask the question "What should I be eating?" And today I feel pretty confident about that. We focus on proteins and veggies, unindustrial and minimally processed foods. We limit sugar and refined products.
I have lately been searching for either things to write about or the time to write about the topics I really want to address. Either ideas or time have been in short supply. I have also been afraid of coming across as uneducated, unprepared or offensive. Today I challenge myself to talk about the more controversial issues that I really want to address. I will still of course have some posts about talkative vegetables or some other uninventive seasonal recipe. I like to do those every now and then. They feel good.
But a new challenge is upon me. I would like to spend some time answering the questions 'How do we eat?' and 'Why do we eat?' I would like to spend more time addressing current events and educating myself on food policy. I would like to talk about the stuff other people leave out of their posts. I promise you to be more frank and controversial in the coming year. Not just for the sake of being controversial but because I have at times held myself back from certain comments for fear of judgement. I don't wish to write myself into a corner.
This is where you come in. I need something from you in exchange for all this personal blood-letting. I need you to comment and tell me when I am wrong. I need some correction and opinions people! I am curious what you think about food movement elitism, farm subsidies, nutritional science and current parenting philosophy. Are you ready? Can you handle that?
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I was nervous about all the sugar I would need to add to it. I was nervous about its funny smell, a mix of low tide and wet dog followed by sharp acidic delicious home cooked pie. A few days later it said, “I am chilly in this fridge. Let’s go out and do something, paint the town!.” I closed the fridge and ignored it.
A full week after I brought it home my rhubarb got less fresh (haha…) and more practical and said to me “You know you can do other stuff with me too besides pie. You could make jam, muffins, cake… You will need to add sugar to me though. Don’t forget to add sugar to me.”
Ten days after I brought it home it finally said, “Please, I am begging you, do something with me before I wilt. Don’t forget about crisp. Crisp is the lazy woman’s pie.”
That was it. I did have to do something with the rhubarb before it wilted. That would be a total waste. I just don’t make a lot of desserts due to my tenuous relationship with sugar. And here I was trying to cook a vegetable that required…so much sugar.
The conundrum in rhubarb crisp is that the rhubarb needs to be cooked extensively. But it is not terribly juicy. So one has to make a syrup in which to kind of braise the rhubarb. All the recipes I found online called for some kind of corn starch in the recipe. And we aren’t doing corn starch. It is highly processed and likely GMO. What to do, what to do. I finally got an answer, I unintentionally made too much crisp topping and took some of it and added it to my syrup. The whole wheat flour and oats thickened it up nicely. Read the original recipe here.
One large bunch of rhubarb
2/3 cup of whole wheat flour
2/3 cup of old fashioned oats
1/4 cup sugar ( I like sucanat or rapadura)
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
Chopped nuts to taste
1/2 a stick of butter, cut into cubes.
One cup of water
One cup of sugar or honey
Chop the rhubarb and place it in a oven safe baking dish, preferably one with high sides. In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and nuts if you are using them. Set 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of the mixture aside. In the remaining topping mix, cut in the butter as you would in a pie crust, working in the butter until you have a coarse crumb. On medium heat, combine water and sugar in a saucepan. When sugar is dissolved, add in the reserved topping mix. Heat until the syrup is thick. Pour the syrup over your chopped rhubarb, and top with topping.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until bubbling and golden on top.
As a working Mama, I don’t make dessert very often. So this was a special treat! The recipe is easy enough that I put it together at 5:30 am one morning and just baked it when I arrived home in the evening. It was completely ready by the time we got out of our evening bath. My Things loved this. Thing 2 even managed to use his spoon, which was humorous, but he was so proud of himself. Thing 1 kept saying that he thought I had put jam in it. Maybe my kids are sugar deprived. If only they were this gung ho about all their vegetables.
This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at Sustainable Eats and GNOWFLINS and more!