Monday, December 13, 2010

Deficits Of Many Types

I'm not the only one in love with Michael Pollan. I am also not the only one who likes to hate on soy. I'm also also not the only one who struggles. This is me admitting to struggling. I'm also kind of a cliche. I got married and slipped up. I've got about 15 pounds to lose. 10 of them are from the last 6 months, 5 are pounds I wanted to lose previously and still haven't. My clothes still fit, but I'm not happy.

Every time I reassess the way I handle eating in my life I'm fully aware of the fact that something wasn't working. Sometimes it is as easy as renewing a promise to myself. Sometimes I have to put on my big girl shoes and recalculate my calories entirely. My old system was totally not working. So I reread the article about calorie calculation and decided to actually follow the part about adding in your work out calories instead of eating them as they come. Basically, I wasn't following the calculation their way, I was making up my own way. Now I'm doing it their way. So far I'm feeling pretty good. I'm only weighing myself on Wednesday mornings though so it is hard to be sure how I did this weekend (read: three nights out).

I'm also taking a page from the DUH-book. Well, two pages. The first is that I'm trying to do this veeerrrrry sllllllloooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwly. A 500 calorie deficit is a pound loss a week. I'm alternative between 500 calories and 250. The theory is that the slower you lose it the harder it is to put back on. Reasons for this are many but often vary by person. For me it is that I want to really, actually, totally learn these good habits and stop the back slide that occasionally hits me.

The second is much bigger. This one is pretty major and I'm sure you'll be incredibly shocked. It is that I need to calm the hell down. I just reread a post from this time last year. And boy do I stink at learning obvious lessons.Link Stop beating myself up, stop caring about things I can't change, start enjoying fun activities (even some that don't involve consuming). Deep breath. I should also probably get around to stopping beating myself up about beating myself up. I bet I'll get around to that one in the new year...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Undernourished Is Not Just A River In Egypt

The news is full of stories about obesity and diabetes along with what experts thinks causes our country to be so incredibly unhealthy from over-consumption of grain to foods shipped thousands of miles. It is far more rare to hear stories about the alternative - unless it is about starving children in Africa. Believe it or not a national morning show will tell you exactly the alternative if you infer just a bit from the limited information: Kelly Ripa has a stress fracture in her hip. She did not chalk the bone issue up to eating habits or bodily stress but she does talk about exercise a lot and she is incredibly thin.

I will admit to a certain amount of orthorexia in my own life but Kelly, dear, life is too short to starve yourself and break your hip. What does she put in those Electrolux refrigerators? How about some leafy greens if she can't get behind dairy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Labels Are Marketing Too

If you are eating a food that requires you to be reminded of its origin, perhaps you have a problem.

When it comes to fries*, I hope Americans are smart enough to see through a claim such as, "Having the skin on is a way to remind people that fries come from potatoes . . . ". Did these people miss the Jamie Oliver show earlier this year? That show also had issues but even the commercials made it abundantly clear that kids in this country have no idea where food comes from. Feed your kid a freaking potato already. Going to a fast food joint to pick up fries can't be faster than putting a potato in the microwave**.

* I am not suggesting you should not eat fries, only that they have a place in life and that place does not include being a side at every single meal.

** I admit they are tastier and healthier in the oven.

Monday, November 15, 2010

You Are Weak

But don't worry. You can't help it.

I'm considering posting video of workouts. Perhaps one in which I learn to actually do push ups. Because, really, I can't. I know you're so shocked.

Also, I'm a cliche. I got married and then got chubbier. My new plan is three cardio workouts and two lifting workouts per week. So far, lifting is killing me. Returning to the squat rack makes me annoyed with myself. This is mostly because I kick myself for ever giving it up. Yea, I failed to mention that I gave up my lifting habits. Color me not shocked that I stopped lifting and got heavier. Lesson learned, thanks.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Did Not Lose My Soap Box. The Ag Committee Tried to Steal It.

Food choices are not made in a vacuum. As much as you want to convince yourself that you make your choices based on your opinion, you're just, um, wrong. Sorry but marketing works. That is why there are a plethora of companies out there making billions. Also, you're limited to your geographic area. Some people don't have grocery stores. Some people wait for ages and finally get a decent one. Even at the high end store next to my apartment building there is very limited produce that I actually want to buy. This is why I spend all my money at the farmer's market even in the dead of winter when my fingers are nearly blue once I return home. If you didn't have enough evidence that my husband and I are nutters remind me to tell you about how we walked to the Dupont farmer's market during snow-pocalypse last year.

I digress. The point is we're all affected by things like packaging, the lay out of a store or the food pyramid. We're also affected by things not related to using our brain. This is true even if you think you're a smart consumer who is aware of the food pyramid versus the shiny packaging of those delicious but deadly Doritos. However, we're all affected by life's challenges - like limited time, crying children or even just your boss who is kind of a baby and keeps you late at work. These are the little things that we can't control, things that cause us to arrive home late on a night where you intended to make a healthy meal. It is true that these challenges are entirely manageable. The problems come when the quick choices aren't good choices. If I arrive home and I am already starved it requires every ounce of energy to eat a piece of fruit while trying to cook something decent. I often falter and end up at the grocery store or even a restaurant on the way home. The greater issue is not just what I see on the shelves when I get to the store or what is on the menu at the restaurant. The issue is that corporations and even our own government make it harder for us to see better choices on those shelves. I'm not suggesting that certain people should or should not be elected. I'm not suggesting, but in fact shaking you through the computer to realize, is that it is time for you to get off your duff and demand that the people you elect help you make better choices. If you don't think government affects you, think critically next time you are starving and think perhaps the family cat might be delicious.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Things You Missed Me Being Annoyed About and/or Fascinated By for the Past Few Months

1) Some fitness celebrities know almost nothing about fitness. I have more fitness certifications than she does. I also eat meals that include actual food and don't yell at people in the gym. I'm willing to take bets on which of us is more mentally healthy.

2) This video is kind of long so I forgive you for not watching it but his most interesting comments are peppered about the middle of the thing. Also, food chemistry is crazy. I almost failed actual chemistry in high school, so perhaps my evaluation is not that useful.

3) Recipes are awesome and real people who try them out are awesome and when those awesome real people tell you about their style and habits in the kitchen you listen. Put THAT on the list of things I'll teach my kids.

4) Folks in the food-iverse are all crazed about Alton's Browns comments about Man vs. Food. The rest of the interview is way more interesting. Put 'born again Christian' on the list of many things I didn't know about Alton Brown.

5) After being told that some of my friends actually read this I have returned. Again. I have a poor track record so you can choose to believe me or not. Though, I hope you'll comment if you really do read because I can't see you through this box!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Moving Quick Today, Try to Keep Up

Moving quick is also known as I-am-all-over-the-place-just-let-me-go-about-my-business. At work today I couldn’t sit still so I had to run errands. As in, I spent my lunch hour (lunch-20-minutes) on errands because my desk chair seemed to be throwing me out the door. I blame this on international travel. I have a lot of things to do and none of them get done when I sit in chairs! And yes, you’re probably right, this is a habit that helps with weight loss. Thanks, Mom, for the jittery habit.

I find bridal beauty tips kind of hilarious. And not just because I read the photo credit at the end of slide three as Little Blue Men. The tips imply that you should take really good care of yourself when you’re about to have 600 photos of yourself that span about 10 hours of your life but it also implies that you don’t really need to worry about drinking water when you’re single or after you’re married. In case you were wondering there were about 600 photos at my wedding between 2 pm and midnight. That is one photo per minute. Sure, not all of them are of me but I have never felt so documented. Kind of weird.

In honor of ridiculous lists I’m going to make one of my own. Be you bride or baby daddy, below is a list of ways to keep yourself looking trim and great (if you think I'm serious I have a bridge to sell you), for your reading pleasure.

1) Follow the food pyramid religiously.

Your day should include: One three ounce serving of whole grain (example: piece of toast is around this weight and is about 150 calories); ‘More’ dark green veggies, orange veggies and dry beans and peas (I dunno about you but more is kind of relative and thus useless); A variety of fruit which can be fresh frozen canned or dried and you should go easy on fruit juice (again, How vague can you be government?); Fat from fish, nuts and vegetable oil while limiting solid fats like butter (Did you know butter has fewer calories than olive oil?); Low-fat or fat-free dairy (I have already gotten rowdy about how this is total crap); Low-fat, lean meat and poultry that is not fried and beans should be varied.

Do you feel like you know more about how to eat? No, I didn’t think so.

2) Don’t eat carbs, drink soda or enjoy yourself, ever.

Like toast? Eat some freaking toast. Just don’t eat an entire loaf of bread. Like soda? Have one with lunch. Just don’t drink two liters in an hour. Basically this stuff about not eating certain things and eating other things is completely ridiculous. People who are fit and have healthy habits are people who concern themselves with what they’ve eaten over an entire day, week or even month.

For example, after lunch today I ate a cookie the size of my butt. So my butt doesn’t look like two cookies I’ll eat lots of veggies for dinner. Moderation? Sure. Just don’t hate your life because you’re killing yourself over a soda or a bagel.

3) If you overeat one day, just cleanse the next day.

I’m not sure how some people do those cleanse plans. I know everyone has heard about how Beyonce does the cayenne pepper thing but holy moly on a stick I would freak out. Granted, I struggle if I don’t eat every three hours or so but drinking cayenne pepper in lemon juice? I’d rather die.

The real problem with this kind of behavior is that you’re really just beating yourself up about your poor choices. Do you spend all your time lamenting about how you kissed the nerdy kid at the school dance in 5th grade? No? Well punishing yourself about eating pie last week is just about as useful. Eat something today that makes you feel good. If you screw that up, tomorrow is another day. Learn something from your choices, move on.

4) Don’t eat gluten, dairy, soy or whey.

This is similar to the second one except in #2 I’m more talking about your appreciation for life whereas this is more about this craze with avoiding things because you might possibly have a mild allergy. Look, Crohn’s disease is a real thing. Gluten allergies are real. Lactose intolerance is real. If you think you might possibly be allergic to something but you can’t really say why maybe its time to stop trying to convince yourself of some problem. It’s called a reality check.

The upshot:

Calm yourself. Stop beating yourself up. Stop freaking out about that donut or the extra large whole milk latte. Enjoy life. Take care of yourself.

Happy brides love themselves, fat or not. Unhappy brides can be unhappy for a million reasons which can have nothing to do with being fat or skinny.

Same goes for regular people.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Maybe I Should Buy a Juicer

Some very nice friends of ours got us a soda maker for our wedding. There aren't many things I find more refreshing than what used to be called 'fizzy water' when I was a child. I'm planning to be somewhat adventurous too. Perhaps carbonated coffee? But sometime I just need a little seltzer and occasionally I like to add a splash of juice. Usually I only order this in restaurants because buying an entire container of juice would be silly, since I'd never finish it. The only juice that ends up in our fridge is generally of the orange variety and only when hubs (no longer fiance) has a cold.

So last night, I'm walking around the grocery store, as I am the great-granddaughter of a food distributor and it is in my genetics to enjoy these types of errands when I realize that I'm very, incredibly, insanely thirsty.


Oh! I'm in the juice aisle. And then . . . my picky self arrived. I wasted at least 10 minutes of my life on the stupid juice aisle. "Juice?", you say, "Really?". To which I will respond, "HAVE YOU SEEN THE CRAP THEY PUT IN JUICE?". If you have ever seen the FRIENDS episode where Ross finds out Rachel is pregnant and that condoms aren't 100% effective, you've seen my level of rage. "THEY SHOULD PUT IT ON THE PACKAGE", he screams. "They do", she responds. Clearly, I need to relax about juice, but really, I had no idea the level to which the juice industry has fallen.

I'll let you finish rolling your eyes now.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

That Is One Nutty Spaniard

Today is 'Act Like the Scale Doesn't Exist Day' in my world. So let's move away from yesterday's thoughts.

At around 24 minutes Jose Andres makes a fascinating point about third world countries and their ability to support their own food/hunger and how it relates to struggling economies. The rest of it is pretty good too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bridezillas Are Probably Better at Journaling

I up and got myself married, interwebs. For some reason getting married occupies every part of your universe for months beforehand and for sometime afterward (unless you hire a planner, or so I've heard). I have only seven thank you notes left. I will conquer them this weekend.

So my blogging fell by the wayside but so did my eating in some ways and next week I'm off to Greece to relax like crazy. If it is possible to be intense about relaxation, then that is my current emotional status. I am GOING TO BE RELAXING DAMMIT. I'm even kicking off the relaxing with a massage and pedicure on Sunday all thanks to my wonderful co-workers.

Calories, how you bloat me. Really, I just don't know how to analyze how it all fell apart in the last few months. I haven't gained 20 pounds or anything but I don't really deserve a reward for making good choices either. I'm trying a new system, suggested by a friend, from I'm on the fence about its functionality, mostly because I've only been doing it for 1.5 weeks. And, honestly, I don't plan to journal in Greece. Well, not calorie journal. I might still do a food journal. Although, hard to say, what with all the intense relaxing I'll be doing.

Whilst I was missing from this space I discovered a new food read. Now, excuse me while I try to eat something without popping my pants button.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Four months? Too long? Sorry about that.

While I get my act together on the returning to blog-land here is something to watch. Ellen Gustafson needs a Xanax and maybe a speech writer but she is also right.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Do You Bite Your Thumb At Me, Sir?

Yes, I do bite my thumb, sir, but I do not bite my thumb at you, sir.

Everyone needs a little Shakespeare in the afternoon.

So, I'm a food snob. I just need to accept this. I have gotten to the point where I wont even eat fruit if I suspect it was grown across the pond. I'd rather go hungry than eat something that will make me feel the bloat of processed sodium based foods. I've started leaving parties hungry. I never used to do that.

The greatest offenders:
5. Yogurt.

Dannon? Yoplait? I don't care what brand you slap on it all that stuff is gross. Even that Stoneyfield Farm stuff is creepy. Real yogurt is gloppy. That is the best adjective I can come up with. I will say it is just short of chunky. It needs honey or something in it to make it palatable. Really great yogurt is not creamy. Cream is creamy, yogurt is not.

4. Ketchup.

My hate for this is nearly shocking to my younger self. I used to eat it A LOT. I put it on eggs, burgers, really anything starchy. Now I prefer my eggs either fried or scrambled with local cheese and sausage inside and generous salt and pepper on top. Burgers are also better with local cheese and not much else. Sometimes not even a bun, I won't start on processed bread.

I sometimes still do eat some ketchup but largely I think the plastic bottled stuff tastes like metal. When you were a kid did you ever lick a bloody wound? That is what ketchup tastes like to me now.

3. Red Delicious Apples.

Not delicious. Local apples are the best thing that every happened to me. Fiance is tired of them. We've been eating them almost exclusively (save for a short pear season this year) since October. I could eat them four times a day forever and ever. Red delicious apples are mealy even when they're fresh. Even the smell of them makes me gag a little. It is sort of this cardboard aroma combined with what I'm sure worm guts smell like.

I could totally eat a local berry right now, don't get me wrong, but I am just fine with the fujis from Toigo.

2. Turkey bacon.

After college I lived on this stuff. I was so sure it was good for me. Then I read about how it is made. I won't even go into it, just google it if you dare.

Real bacon please, thanks.

1. Pizza.

I realize this is not a whole food but a group of other foods. It actually combines some of my snob-feelings of 1-4. Processed cheese, flavorless. processed tomato product, metal. Processed meat, pressed and not actual meat. The concept of chain pizza frightens me and frozen pizza is the biggest waste of money ever. Homemade pizza could not be easier.

There are few things I enjoy being snobby about more than saving money and eating well. Pizza wins.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

All In A Day's Work

If you think you have a hard job, try being a butcher. If you're hungry and don't want to be, read about a guy who tried it for a while. The local food movement and the new conversation going on in the foodie community in general is all about how you should get closer to you food - how its grown and processed and how to prepare it. It has been suggested that one of the reasons people are getting more obese is because we don't take the time to prepare our food anymore. Basically, we've disconnected ourselves so much that we no longer value the food. Instead, we just shove it in the hole and run along.

Well I read the story about the guy who tried being a butcher. Then, I decided to put a wedding gift to use and grind my own buffalo. It is true that I used a home tool - one that connected to my standing mixer. So it isn't as if I used an industrial grinder that is probably more efficient. However, the smell is really unfortunate. It reminded me of the smell of my A.P. Anatomy class in high school when we dissected cats. Decaying flesh is really gross, in case you didn't know.

I would have taken pictures for you but my hands were really gross from the meat and also, I love you enough to spare you. I plan to eat the buffalo and I'm not giving up meat (although I'm eating significantly less of it lately) but I feel a lot closer to my food today - my sinuses, in fact, can't get the stench out.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fiber + Sugar = Breakfast

I have no idea why it has taken me three weeks to blog. I have no viable excuse. Wedding planning does take up time but I've probably had time here and there to write. I will say that nothing has made me nutritionally angry recently.

Until last night. When I saw this:

Really? Fiber? Lets discuss the content:

Ingredient number one is sugar. Ingredient seven is hydrogenated oil. There are six coloring agents. The ingredients are obviously awful. But what gets me isn't actually the ingredients, yes they're horrible, but what really upset me was the advertisements for this product. At least they didn't have an actual doctor say that fiber 'makes your tummy happy'.

If you read this blog you might assume I hate cereal. I just think its a crime the way corporations are actively trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Americans when it comes to consumption.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Quality Over Quantity

I'm not going to use the F word or anything but I totally agree with the illegal-pizza-guy on the whole "family farm–killing, exploited illegal immigrant–built, fake cheese–laden, nutritionally void, race-to-the-bottom" food thing. And while he is discussing the value of his product I'd like to highlight the nutritionally void part. Michael Pollan says that you should eat as much junk food as you want as long as you make it yourself.

Again, the problem is the way we talk about the issue. Americans are obsessed with moving as quickly as we can for as cheaply as we can to the detriment of our health. Rather than spend time in the kitchen with our entire family we spend time rushing our family around from place to place and spend a minute with the microwave so our families can eat quickly before we shuttle them somewhere else.

I realize that as a childless adult I can't know all the details. Mothers work their tails off to keep their kids lives moving forward at all let alone making sure their kids eat perfectly all the time. Not that school lunch isn't also to blame for poor child nutrition. I wont discount the work of fathers either. But again, the problem is the way we talk about what we eat, how we eat and when we eat and the fact that we just accept the corporate line about this conversation. The illegal pizza guy highlights a problem that just furthers what I've said in the past. We have to stop supporting food that supports exploiting our farms and our people, even if they are illegal immigrants.

I've never understood Americans who don't live their life in a way that allows their values to shine right through their actions. And, no it isn't possible only because I live in a dual income household and it isn't always easy but damned if I'm going to be one of those people who will shove whatever comes past my nose into my mouth just because. And I agree, if you're willing to let your values stop at the oven door, you deserve your nutritionally void food.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why We Don't Have the Number One Health Care System in America

This story begins a few days after we left off in the story of the stumped cholesterol patient.

"Hello. Doctor's office."

"Hi. I came in a few weeks ago and had some blood taken and got conflicting information on the results. One letter I got said my blood work was fine and one said my cholesterol was off."

"That's weird. The doctor will call you."


Later that day.


"Hi. This is Doctor _______. I got a message that you don't understand your test results."

"Um. It isn't that I don't understand them. I got one letter from you saying they were fine and another letter saying my cholesterol was off."

This back and forth continues while she gets more and more angry and intimates that I am clearly stupid and was raised by apes.

"Well I guess I will just have to go look at your chart."

Stunned silence while I think about the fact that she hadn't actually been using facts throughout this conversation.

"Okay, your results say your urine is fine." Didn't give you any of that but whatever. "Your Vitamin D is fine, you aren't anemic . . . oh. Um. Hmmm. It looks like this cholesterol test is not part of your results."

"I'm sorry, what do you mean?"

"Uh, I think someone in the lab stapled another patients results to yours. Sorry. No reason to worry. Glad everything checked out."

"Great. Thanks."


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Goes In and Out the Mouth

Marion Nestle of Food Politics did a fantastic job of highlighting Michelle Obama's speech to the Grocery Manufacturers on Tuesday. What Mrs. Obama said is essentially that these producers need to stop acting like they aren't part of the problem and start providing more healthful food to children as well as packaging and advertising their food differently. I think there is a ground swell of attention in the media on nutrition and fitness although that could be because it is something I pay attention to but we can't deny the fact that almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Even if you aren't so sure about the ground swell the proof is in the pudding (or on our thighs).

While I think Mrs. Obama should be commended for speaking to (pointing the finger at) part of the corporate problem, I think she has failed to highlight the root of the problem of obesity in America. Our country's problem with obesity is only partially what we choose to put in our mouth. The problem is also what comes out of our mouths (or what is in our media). The way Americans talk about obesity and health is not productive. We live in a society where the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic admits he discriminates against overweight people and doctors across the country avoid the topic entirely.

Our country is great at sensationalism. We live in a world where reality television reigns and cable news personalities are more than just journalists. Beyond just the way we package and consume information there is a whole new world of food blogs out there (I love them too, don't get me wrong) and every major news source has a restaurant list of some kind. You could say this points to the fact that we live in an information age where we can know exactly what we want to hear when we want to hear it. Replace 'information' with 'food' and 'know' and 'hear' with 'eat' in that last sentence and you've explained the true problem of obesity in America: a total lack of reality.

We live in a food age where we can eat exactly what we want to eat when we want to eat it.

The Washington Post commentary on weight gain during pregnancy is a great example of the lack of reality. Jennifer Larue Huget (a journalist, not a doctor or scientist) published an online article where an actual gynecologist said, "I realize that all of this information is super-depressing. I'm basically telling you that if you're already heavy, you're just going to get heavier when you're preggers, and then stay that way forever" in response to a new book on eating when pregnant.

The comments are even more telling. For instance, sigmagrrl wrote, "Jesus. We're never going to get a break, are we? WHAT DOES IT MATTER THAT SOMEONE IS FAT?!?! Criminy, stop JUDGING each other!!!" Lets look past the fact that sigmagrrl seems to have been blinded by rage and forgot to make a legitimate factual point and note that first of all, a physician used incredibly demeening language when discussing pregnant women. Preggers? This person is allowed to use a speculum. (At one point she refers to overweight women as, 'bigger gals'.) I'm guessing that this particular gynecologist did not take Bed Side Manner 101 or is one of the doctors discussed in the Times article on doctors who avoid the topic of weight with patients because its awkward.

Moving away from the medical community and its break from reality in terms of obesity - our schools are also giving our children a skewed view of reality when it comes to eating. Mrs. Obama is right that children get the impression that dessert is an everyday food and that we need to entirely change the way corporations advertise for food but we also need to start talking differently about the entire world of nutrition, obesity and even how we treat one another with regard to these issues.

Yes, people discriminate against the overweight but the answer is not to condition our society to stop this behavior but to think critically about ourselves and our habits. Leave everyone else to their own problems and start taking action in your own life to support healthy habits. I don't just mean eat salad from Subway instead of McDonald's cheeseburgers for lunch. I mean that we all have to think critically about what we buy at the grocery store and what grocery store (or farmer's market if you can). Think about the foods you buy when you go there. Don't just buy some meat because it is on sale. I wont even bother to say that I think Americans need to start fighting big-ag or that everyone should buy CAFOs free meat because honestly every consumer needs to go out and educate themselves on what they want to eat and how they want to live. It isn't because I feel bad for the piglets or the farmers but that we live in an age of information NOW and food NOW and it is killing us. Slowly but surely our kids are getting fatter and our life expectancy is getting shorter.

We like to pride ourselves on being a country that clings to our beliefs and we like to talk a big game about freedom. Want to be really free? Stop falling in line with the corporate BS and be free of what corn and beef subsidies are shoving down your throat and start thinking for yourselves.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


A while back I went to the doctor because I was fatigued. I wasn't tired as in I needed to go to bed but tired as in I felt sluggish or lethargic. I have a horrible primary care doctor. I know she is horrible but there are so few doctors in DC that are taking new patients that I just ignore this problem and do my best to manage my health in spite of her crappy bed-side manner and inability to communicate with humans.

After the nurse took a bunch of blood I waited a few days and got no response. So I called their office. The response was, "Oh we ordered more tests can't tell you anything else", CLICK. Thanks for the info, really, very helpful. The nurse who answered must have the same lack-of-communication disease that afflicts my doctor. A few days later I get a call from another nurse telling me that all my blood work is fine. I had to work pretty hard to get her to answer more questions. She was itching to hang up on me too. I asked for the report on my blood work and got some half-assed scribbled note in the mail a few weeks later that says "Blood work normal. Dr. X". Gee, thanks, very helpful.

Fast forward a month or so and I get something in the mail that I assume is a bill for their amazingly helpful work. No, it is a form that tells me my cholesterol is not super. One of the reasons I haven't written here in a few days is I've been mulling this over and I just don't know what to do with this information. First, the form swears up and down that all my other tests are fine (including urine, which they didn't take, but whatever, I'm sure their smart and could see through my bladder or something) but that my good cholesterol is low and my bad cholesterol is slightly high although my over all cholesterol is normal. Accompanying this form is a note scribbled about getting aerobic exercise and taking fish oil. I really appreciate these tips since you know, I totally don't do those things already. So really, no advice given.

So, really, I'm just stumped. It is bizarre that all my tests are fine except my cholesterol. It is bizarre that I'm apparently the picture of health except for this one thing to do with my blood and heart (not important, clearly). But what is really bizarre, nay, TOTALLY RIDICULOUS, is three-fold: my initial complaint has been ignored, my doctor has not once called me since I saw her and her suggestions were things I told her I already did in my appointment.

Really, thank you medical community. I can't see why anyone blames you for at least part of the health care crisis.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Food PRODUCTS v. Food

"Here’s one idea: subsidize farmers markets and green grocers, i.e. places that tend not to sell lots of cheap, calorically dense foods. Any other suggestions?"

Also, this is why I don't eat processed food. Besides that I'm mildly allergic to some additives. The bagel chips I ate today don't count, thanks.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


The Consumerist has a nice summary of why I want to go to law school.

To fight Big Ag. Do you think I can get a free ride though? I like vegetables.

Oh, Right. Hi, Me.

I had to write myself a letter. This time I needed to recommit. Last time I was setting the ground rules. The contents of the new letter were a bit different but the goals and the tone were the same. Really what I had forgotten was this key piece:

"First, stop eating when you aren't hungry. This is the root of almost every problem you have. You go to the fridge when you're bored, tired, stressed or pretty much anything else. This makes you unhappy. So basically all your emotions go in your mouth and when they come out you are unhappy. Essentially you're making yourself unhappy for simply having feelings. Stop it. You love yourself more than that."

I haven't been taking care of myself. I mean I've been showering and eating meals but I haven't been actively loving myself. The irony of eating my feelings is that I actually like the feeling of hunger. I get great satisfaction from eating a tasty meal, digesting and then becoming hungry again.

The other thing I did was remind me that I needed to move forward rather than beat myself up. Wasting emotion on feeling bad about the poor choices I made wont make them disappear. In fact, it'll probably cause me to eat those feelings too.

I'm also choosing to look at through another positive lens. That is, this could have become a wagon jump like the two times I gave up Weight Watchers and spent 3 years coming back each time. This time I stopped myself right away, just when I was starting to feel really gross. Rather than wallow I chose to remind myself of the choices I prefer to make and recommitted.

I sound like a cult leader and dammit I'm thrilled.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I Can't Even Come Up With a Title To Respond to This Amount of Stupidity

Oh, logic, how you elude us humans so regularly.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement saying that the shape of hot dogs should be reconsidered because 17% of food related asphyxiations occur in people younger than ten due to the meat product.* Perhaps this is true because American children eat a ton of hot dogs not because hot dogs are inherently dangerous?

Everyone is up in arms about peanuts in preschool and I actually think this is for good reason. Yes, lots of kids have fatal allergies but can we also discuss the fact that peanuts have far less nutritional value than most nuts? Allow me to introduce you to the almond or the walnut.

Lets all freak out about the cleanliness of our vegetables. Or not, if you go to the farmer's market and can look the farmer in the eye.

Also, don't drink hot things because you're probably clutsy from all that cyanide you consumed by accident or all the vomiting from the unripe fruit.

Okay, maybe people aren't that stupid, but TIME magazine is sure in the running for stupidest story ever.

*Aren't you proud of me for not getting on my soap box about how this is a meat product and not actual unprocessed meat that so many people feed their children. Okay, now you're probably less proud of me.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


So everyone in the nutrition science universe is all excited about Michelle Obama's 'Let's Move' initiative. The media has highlighted the fact that the program is about nutrition facts and how American children feel about themselves - not about how many pounds a child has to lose to fit in (to jeans or to society). It is great that they are not just relaunching the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports because, let's be honest, the reach test didn't do much for kids since it started in 1956. We've all still gotten fatter. Let's Move has a nutrition and a fitness component and includes food access and responsibility aspects.

However, I just can't get behind the whole initative. Address food deserts, tell children they are responsible for the choices they make with their fork and remind them their nutrition is important and so is their activity level but there also needs to be a conversation about how the entire country eats. Our government heavily subsidizes big Ag resulting in promotion of low-fat dairy, freakishly lean (but big busted) poultry and corn. Over the last fifty years Americans have been told to eat less fat and that suggestion has made us fatter. We can tell children how to eat until we're blue in the face but until our government is willing to actually analyze how we produce and promote food, it doesn't matter what we tell our kids.

You could say, 'Well that isn't Michelle Obama's goal'. I say, 'That is crap'. Okay, yes it isn't her goal, but it should be and it could be. The Director of NIH is clearly going to take her call. Public schools employ nutritionists to manage the food consumption of millions of American children. DC is talking about changes in their school lunches. Government has it's hands in everything we do, no matter what you want to believe, bureaucracy manages what calories are available to us, what health care we have on down to the safety of brushing your teeth. Tell the kids all you want about their choices but why don't we adults think twice about the choices we've already made for them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Volume Or Flavor: No Contest

Back when I did Weight Watchers I would thrive on how few points I could consume by the end of the day and still have eaten things like cake. Except all that food was packaged and at the end of the day my stomach was a hot mess. I've learned that my body doesn't enjoy processing things like Yellow 5 or fractionated palm kernel oil. So I've learned to focus on foods that make me enjoy life even if it means eating less of something.
Which is what brought me to making my own bread. The dough here is fuzzy because it is being mixed and kneaded by the bread machine. At this point it already smells like nutty deliciousness.
Then it rises. You're supposed to keep that lid down but I can't usually keep my face out of the machine if I run it when I'm home.
Usually I put the ingredients in the machine before I leave for work.

That way, when it has risen and baked up into the crunchy-on-the-outside-delicious-and-soft-on-the-inside loaf you see here I can slice it up and smother it with something like egg yolks or almond butter and honey.

Each of these slices is a tasty 145 calories and doesn't contain one single bit of maltodextrin or other ingredients I can't spell or pronounce.
As for the crack pumpkin I mentioned yesterday.

I was not kidding when I said it is like crack. There is just a little bit left in our fridge and if it weren't sweet enough that I can't really eat more than a cup at a time it would have been gone before it hit the tupperware.

I warn you not to leave too much of this in your house.

Sam Walton: Ecstacy or Agony?

One of the greatest challenges about making positive choices for me is making sure I have time to cook and actually enjoy what is in the fridge or pantry. If I am bored of those items I am likely to go to the grocery store and buy a piece of cake for dinner. It has happened on a few occasions and it does not help that said grocery store is next door to my building, damn you urban planners.

A great example of this is something fiance made this weekend that we have taken to calling crack pumpkin. I'll post a whole lot more about crack pumpkin tomorrow but suffice it to say this is the tastiest vegetable I have ever consumed. The pumpkin itself was purchased at the farmer's market meaning its flavor was intense and, as is intimated by the name, addictive. The apple cider it was braised with was also from the farmer's market increasing the addictive sugary awesomeness.

The issue of course is that going to the farmer's market is not always convenient. The first two weeks in February were packed full and we couldn't make it to the local market. Instead we went to Whole Foods and tried to be strategic about what we purchased: local apples (they were eh), sustainable salmon, and even local milk. Apparently grocers and outlets across the country are starting to realize that real people actually go in search of this stuff. Event WalMart is getting in on the action and while I am really skilled at hating on them, their model is fascinating.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Let Me Count the Ways

At least once per day my eating habits are discussed. Sometimes it is discussed by me and sometimes by others. Occasionally I will be eating a salad and someone will comment on how 'good' I am (see: last week, rye). Often someone will ask me about teaching at the gym and the conversation will turn to my weight loss of three-ish years ago. Almost always, the conversation ends with someone saying how healthy eating is such a pain or working out is so boring or some other complaint about habits they assume I regularly participate in.

I find this fascinating. First, I don't eat salad because I think it is tastier than fried food. Actually, I don't love salad or fried food. At least not in terms of favorite foods. Salad is a vehicle for things like cheese or the sweet potato salad fiance made last night. Some fried food is okay. I will always eat chili cheese fries and buffalo wings smell good but are largely inedible according to my taste buds, for instance. The reason I find this reaction so interesting is that these choices are only partially about the fact that their healthy. They're really about one thing.


When I was overweight I thought I felt awesome. I was happy (minus that short period after college graduation where any sane person wants to sit quietly in a dark room for four months), I was active, I had friends and a life. Now, its a whole different world. One that is all about ME. I love me. Selfish? Perhaps. I'm not saying I don't love other people or that I don't ever think about other people. But, really, while I can be a loving family member or friend my life is all about me. Anyone who claims their life isn't about them is lying. Pheobe Buffet made this point very nicely in an episode of Friends were she pointed out that even good deeds are even just slightly about you because they make you feel good.

Elle Woods also put it nicely when she fought tooth and nail for that legal clerkship and came out of the crowd and screamed, "ME".

Yep, me, salad and fried food (and last night's clam linguini and white wine [still not able to get the clam smell off my hands, if you have any tips for that problem I have a comment section for you] which I will be blogging about tomorrow), me, tasty food and also ME.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Love You Rye

There are some people who make me feel both good and bad about myself simultaneously. This is one of them:

Peter Walsh, of Oprah fame, makes me feel good about my ability to notice that clutter in life clutters my life and not just in my bedroom but also in my brain, and also bad about my ability to actually organize.

This image from the Oprah site is great imagery for how I feel when my life is cluttered. Except that for me I don't feel the need to throw out a hair brush from 1920, instead I have a hard time organizing myself andOhMyGodAnxietyHyperventilate AhhhhHELP.

Fiance regularly gets tired of me being tired of his belongings being 'everywhere' as I call it. Recently I told him I couldn't hear him when his socks were on the floor. While this comment is kind of funny its also oddly true. (I just accidentally typed rye instead of true. Which could be a typing error or could be attributed to the fact that I just spent too much time telling a coworker about my love of all things rye and pumpernickel and then proceeded to scour for bread recipes with caraway seeds.) Socks on the floor, items without a location, items not in their given location, anything being not what it is supposed to be distracts me from everything else. This is also known as clutter in house equals clutter in brain equals unable to focus on goals equals rye bread in the office kitchen nomnomnom.

Peter Walsh is a book selling hack of the variety I regularly moan about but that doesn't make him wrong. I'm still on the fence about his denial of technology since I'm not sure how the parents in those families get anything done at work but he can still be on point. It took me a while to figure out exactly why he is on point. Basically it boils down to the fact that if you are overextended and your life is full of too many things then everything is a distraction from the things you need to do on down to the things you enjoy. You can't clean your house because you worked too many hours this week because you decided you needed to cook a meal for your family because you needed an extra hour of sleep the other night because you had spent too much time reading your favorite blog because. . . the list goes on. Basically, you can't take care of your shit so your shit is everywhere. For me, this extends to my eating habits and hot damn did that apply to this week. Now, where did that rye bread go. Oh right, I ate it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Suggest A Heavy Dose of Snark

There are a bajillion and one experts out there who want to tell us all about how to eat and how much of those items to eat and what to avoid and honestly the whole thing gives me an anxiety attack. I have to tell myself they're all guidelines and not absolute rules but in the end I just ignore most of them. Which is probably good because a lot of the guidelines out in the media are put out by people who don't understand statistics (i.e. should not be extrapolating bags on trash day let alone data to tell you what to do with your pie hole) or people who are trying to sell books. Here are five that make me extra hyperventilate-y.

1. Eat only one fist-sized serving of grains per day. Whole grains are preferred.

Let me get this straight, you're telling me that when I eat a bagel I need to eat maybe half of it and probably can't put anything except a tomato on top? The sticky rice that comes with my Chinese food should be ignored? Even the tiniest containers of rice are bigger than my fist. How the hell is a person supposed to eat a sandwich in this world?

Also, one word for these grain haters: Pho.

2. Eat a minimum of five fruits and vegetables per day. A majority vegetables is preferred.

I think what you're really telling me is I should stuff myself to the point of spending a few hours on the toilet later. I think, um, no.

3. Limit sugar to rare treats. Refined sugar should be avoided as much as possible.

The person who invented this guideline clearly doesn't work in an office with any old ladies who can bake. I'm going to guess honey is also included in this and I have to say that eating local honey has made my allergies better by leaps and bounds. I used to live in a world where I couldn't open the windows in my house in fear of pollen. Now I eat a little local honey everyday and I am no longer afraid of grass and trees (okay, less afraid of them). Also, cake is what makes the world go round.

4. Eat complete meals to keep your blood sugar from spiking. Protein should be paired with vegetables.

Okay this one I'll accept a bit more readily but not because of my blood sugar. Lets be honest, blood sugar spikes are how I get through the work day sometimes. but last night I combined left-over salmon with brown rice, sauteed mushrooms and onions and it was incredibly delicious. Also, greens sauteed in a bit of oil with a nice steak on top is a great combination. So really, blood sugar is something that I have no idea how to control or monitor but I love it when flavors meld well.

5. Try to follow all the guidelines at the same time.

Hahahahahhaha. Ahem.

The expert of the day is always telling you to do the following five things to control your weight/blood sugar/cholesterol/happiness but the kicker is always that at the end they tell you to do your best to do all of those things. Uh, yea right. If I tried to follow all the guidelines the USDA suggests I'd probably gain a ton of weight. Also, their dairy guidelines (they call them milk guidelines which I try to tell myself is just poor copy-editing) make me want to jump off a bridge.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Love Letter to Calories

As of the end of this work day I can almost see the wagon there in the distance. This is almost like trying to retrain yourself to do something. I have never lost the ability to walk but I'd bet it is similar. Habits are so easy to break/ruin. And damn are they hard to bring back. Not sure why it is that what amounted to basically a three day weekend totally threw me off but lordy did it.

I spent a majority of my work day trying to remind myself that you are supposed to be hungry before you eat again.

I've also decided that the culprit is snacking. So my goal is whole, true, real, honest to God meals or at the least valuable and comprehensive snacks like yogurt for protein before the gym or some almonds for some enjoyable fat to get me through the morning. The chocolate in the office down the hall has been calling my name all day and my response has been, "YOU ARE NOT A MEAL". ("OR A VALUABLE SNACK". [Love you, call me!])

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sometimes I Think The Wagon Doesn't Want Me.

Oh, hello wagon, nice to see you again.


This is what I get for bragging about my awesome eating a few weeks ago. I made it about one more week of eating well before it all went down hill. I didn't just fall off the wagon. I lept from the wagon and couldn't even see it in the distance after a few days. Today I am still fighting my way back to the wagon.

I blame these:

Oh wait, I don't have a picture of those cookies because they disappeared so quickly. I adapted them from a Cooking Light recipe. I took out the coconut, used mostly whole wheat flour and tripled the salt. I made these on vacation and ate them with friends. Through our cheeks full of cookie we agreed the extra salt makes them totally addictive. I've learned recently that salt makes baked goods amazingly fantastic.

I could say that I'm a puppy working my way back with my tail between my legs but that would be too many metaphors in one entry. It's also not true. I'm trying to race my way as fast as humanly possible back to that wagon.

I could just blame the weather.

But clearly the fact that my windows were opaque for most of the last week and a half isn't why the wagon is so far away.

So tonight I made salmon.

I'm hoping basil butter braised salmon with a green salad topped with sesame lemon vinaigrette and parmesan will get me back on the wagon.

I know, butter and parmesan don't sound like wagon food but actually this was calorically pretty good. It better be since I need to combat those three cookies I ate today. Not that one of those was at breakfast. No, not at all.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Nom Nom Nom In A Secret Restaurant

I love food. Duh. Today I ate really well.

Arugula with fresh tahini dressing paired with eggs scrambled in walnut oil and topped with white cheddar, roasted pork with tomato and wild mushroom sauce paired with cumin roasted carrots, fresh bread and even organic bourbon peaches and organic vanilla ice cream.

I wasn't kidding. Ate so well. I ate all these things in the same place too. Home. No, really. I made almost all these things myself. I made the salad dressing from a recipe I adapted by replacing apple cider vinegar for lemon juice. I made the pork earlier this week and since I didn't have to cook it tonight I just had to make brown rice and roast the carrots. The bourbon peaches came from a jar but they were purchased at the farmer's market from the same people I bought actual peaches from this summer. The ice cream required me to leave the house in the snow to venture to the grocery store. Although, I can't really complain about that since the grocery store is next door.

I barely spent any time in the kitchen today and still managed to eat on target with calories. I love going out as much as the plastic in my wallet allows but my body likes it a lot less. So eating this way is really just me taking care of myself. Yay snow storm!

What? I've been trapped inside all day I need something to be rowdy about.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Oprah, Food and Alicia Silverstone's Bathroom Habits

Oprah: Next time you're in your closet try out brown and orange, really.

Fiance: Is Oprah always this annoying?

Me: Yes.

Oprah is totally annoying. Rules of life: humans need oxygen, babies always cry in movies, you will always need to pee when you're as far from a clean bathroom as possible on a road trip and Oprah is annoying.

She has clearly decided to throw caution to the wind in her last year and jump on the 'campaign' bandwagon. I mean, distracted driving? Does she even drive herself around?

In a show this week Oprah discussed the way Americans eat. It was actually impressive how she kept telling the audience to form their own opinions with the information they were presented in the show. The headliner was none other than Michael Pollan who I have professed my love for in the past. He was involved in the movie Food, Inc., which I still haven't seen, dam nit. Why are movies so hard to see? Oh right, no time in life for sitting still.

The two things that jumped out most were when Pollan discussed his food rules. He has lots of them but on Oprah the best were:

#2: Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.

#39: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

Really, what #2 means is don't eat anything that people who lived before we industrialized (read: bastardized) our food system couldn't have eaten easily. Pollan talks about Twinkies, which are kind of obvious but this group also includes things like margarine, fat free single-packaged cheese or even simple things like packaged lunch meats. I know, this totally kills those easy sandwiches you can shove into a kid's lunch bag. But, honestly, that cheese is creepy, have you ever seen it melt on a burger? It is like watching a pyromaniac burn a plastic toy. As for lunch meat, I dare you to Google nitrates. Just, ew.

As for the second one, #39 is something that took me ages to learn but thank God I did. For instance, on Wednesday night we ate handmade nutmeg pasta with smoked roasted duck sausage. Okay, so I didn't case the sausage or roll the pasta but they were both from the farmer's market (another Pollan tip) and we didn't cover either in store bought tomato sauce but instead shaved parmesan on top and used a bit of olive oil. It was awesome and way cheaper than something comparable we'd have gotten in a restaurant. Same goes for homemade bread and even simple things like salad dressing. Basically, Pollan says this because of his feelings on the food system at large, which are concerns I share but my personal love for this rule is that homemade junk food is way better than the purchased kind. This is similar to how I feel about taking care of the environment. I'm all for taking care of my planet but what gets me to actually do it is that being environmentally conscious is so much cheaper than not.

Also, towards the middle of this Oprah episode Alicia Silverstone talks about her own bowel movements. Just, saying.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Don't Want To Say I Told You So

. . . but I told you so.

"What did the researchers find after observing these subjects for years? They found that putting people on unpleasant low-fat diets didn’t help them live any longer nor avoid another heart attack. Over the course of the study, the same number of subjects died in both groups."

A Big Ol' Duh

It is no secret that I don't care for the "Eat This, Not That" series. And, it seems a writer at The New York Times claims to disagree. Interestingly though, at the end of the article he ends up agreeing with why I think the series is a poor excuse for nutritional guidance. Yes, Olive Garden probably has rubbery meatballs. They're probably made en mass. Real food has no substitute.


File this squarely in the duh column: last night I reminded myself of why eating a full and well rounded meal is so wonderful. On Monday I threw some stuff in my slow cooker. I had to improvise a bit and use jarred tomato sauce (organic and with a short ingredients list) and left out the thyme. We've been eating the results ever since. I might start oinking soon from eating so much of it but it is damn good if I do say so myself.

Last night I arrived home a little after 5 and was starving. It is possible I was only moments from writhing on the floor as I am known to do. Instead I put on my grown-up hat and started tearing up some collard greens. The tearing of the greens was the longest part of making this dinner because I already had cooked (and tasty) pork and couscous in the fridge. While I was cooking up the greens I even roasted some farmer's market smoked bacon for breakfasts this week. After I had a well portioned amount of couscous with pork and a side of greens (sauteed lightly in walnut oil and chicken stock) I was reminded of how much more productive a person can be when they haven't given into the movie/crackers/wine type of evening.

Not that I didn't eat five pieces of bacon also because it smelled so good, but whatever.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What If The Label Said: Genie In a Bottle, Three Wishes.

There has been a decades long debate in America about whether corporations respond to consumers or if consumers are simply convinced to purchase whatever corporations produce. This is a difficult chicken and egg scenario. I'm not trying to suggest that I know, in fact I often find myself lured in by packaging. The type of packaging that regularly gets me usually involves reading the ingredients list, however, which is not the kind of false labeling that most think of when discussing this issue.

Fashion is obviously one sector that shows how consumers are swayed by the look of a product. If it wasn't, models wouldn't be stick figures. But the issue extends to so many aspects of life. Some parents wont let their children watch commercials on TV to avoid the problem entirely. But almost no one can avoid purchasing food (obviously economically challenged communities are discluded). So the question becomes, if we have issues with the way food is produced or presented in our country, what are we willing to do about it? Beyond that, how much do our demands mean to producers? I mean, Monsanto is a supporter of NPR, so clearly big Ag is ingrained in our communities. You could possibly be thinking, "Oh whatever, I don't have time for this". But what if you found out this was a major problem in your child's school? Even if you don't have children, do you know what kid's eat in school?

"Overcooked vegetables, as well as those served plain and raw, are rejected by students. Children are served Pop Tarts and Goldfish “Giant Grahams” for breakfast, along with flavored milks that rival Coca-Cola and Mountain Dew for sugar content. Scrambled eggs are manufactured with 11 ingredients and shipped frozen and virtually flavorless from Minnesota."

- The Slow Cook, January 26, 2010

Personally, I was not upset by the vegetable part, not shocked by the Pop Tarts or Goldfish or even all that annoyed by the flavored milk but eggs with eleven ingredients? Are you kidding me? Unless these kids are consuming breakfast in a simulation of that Will Smith movie (that scared the crap out of me) I can't imagine why their eggs need to have eleven ingredients.

So the question is the same be it fashion or food: What are we willing to demand from corporations?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Struggles and Values

"But after a volley of exhausting complaining, defending, finger-pointing and declaring one's right to creative license, a new conundrum has presented itself: It's hard to even know what an acceptable-size model is supposed to look like anymore. How big is big enough? And when does plus size, in a profoundly overweight population, become just as distressingly unhealthy an image as emaciation?"

-Washington Post, January 24, 2010

The fashion industry, like so many aspects of American life, is in the midst of a pivotal debate. This isn't really a debate about health. The debate is about far more than that. This debate is about the way Americans live their lives. Pressure on corporate America to represent reality rather than idealized concepts is nothing new. Average Americans have been rowdy about being ignored by the media (although companies seem more than happy to enjoy revenue raised from these people) for a long time.

Two years ago the first full figured woman won America's Next Top Model. Project Runway has had a full figured challenge in almost every season (at least when it was on Bravo and people still watched it). V magazine will be featuring Gabourney Sidibe next month. Jennifer Hudson was on the cover of Vogue last year. These are just examples of full figured or even average sized women being supported by fashion. Expand this concept to other aspects of life and the examples are endless. Sure, it is possible that some of these examples have little to do with the woman's size. However, some of them are absolutely a reaction to a new debate about our beliefs.

The questions are endless: What do Americans value? Do we care more about the abilities of a person and less about their size? If we value a person's character but they do not represent idealized beauty, can we still value them? If we see a person eating what we perceive to be something unhealthy, does our opinion of them change? Do we have the right to care what other people put in their bodies? Do we have the right to care about how much other people put in their bodies? Does our society care about appearance only because it is an evolutionary necessity or are we truly vain?

I could go on and on.

The fashion industry is not the only sector that struggles with these issues. Corporations care about selling magazines and clothes and traditionally that is done by presenting idealized beauty. Even sporting goods companies try to put their products on the best athletes to make the average student athlete buy their goods. Really, the ultimate question is, are Americans willing to embody the values they so often claim they have (or, at least, are recently claiming to have)? Are Americans willing to demand that companies embody these values?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Maybe We Could Get Paparazzi to Follow Farmers?

"Trail mix is totally a trend!"

"No, dear, it really isn't."

"Yes it is. It is everywhere all of a sudden."

"Maybe you only just noticed it?"

This is a conversation taken directly from the food court where I went to college. While I still contend that trail mix is not a trend, there are plenty of food trends running rampant in our society. Some of them are not so good: 100 calorie packs, processed food made to look/seem/feel/smell like real food (I'm looking at you fruit snacks) and over snacking. But some of them are actually kind of great. I will admit my love for Alice Waters knows no bounds.

When I was in the second grade there was a lesson, the point of which I don't actually remember but each child had to bring in something to go into a soup. We made a giant pot of soup with each of our individual items thrown in. I don't remember if I ate it or not but I distinctly remember being responsible for some vegetable my friends thought was gross. I can tell you that I passed the second grade with flying colors and whether the lesson was fractions or sharing I'm generally good at both.

I will say that no one ever taught me about nutrition. The only time it was offered to me was in high school and it was optional. At the time I was so focused on AP government that I barely noticed. I might be personally interested in the subject today but I am 100% sure that it was sorely missed in my education. Even if I hadn't been an overweight kid I can bet I would have benefited.

Another distinct memory I have is of standing in my parents kitchen crying because I had started to figure out I was fat when none of my clothes fit. I honestly could not understand why. It wasn't that my parents didn't try to teach me good habits or that I was too stupid to realize calories in, calories out. The problem was purely one of math. No one had ever taught me in an intelligent way exactly how many calories I needed. I was a kid who sorely needed the academic explanation. Maybe putting a small garden in a school where the children of farm worker's learn math is poor social form but its also possible that these kids are more likely to understand food if they are actually involved in it. Whether or not this means they'll be learning math more effectively could be debatable but the issue of if it is benefiting the children is absolutely not.

She Might Be A Felon But Shes a Genius

Despite my future husband's and my mother's hate for her I think Martha Stewart is kind of a freaking genius. Today, in my email inbox, she happened to make a point I've been pondering all week.

"Reversing unhealthy eating habits is not about following hard-and-fast diet rules. Instead, it's about cultivating a new, conscious approach, one that starts with listening to your body."

I know what you're thinking: duh. The reason I have been thinking about this was a conversation fiance and I had the other day when I saw a man walk out of the grocery store with a case of soda. It occurred to me that I haven't had soda in years and in college it is possible that I lived on Diet Coke. Prior to graduate school I would call coffee, 'bean water'. I thought it was weird and gross. Now I have totally switched. I haven't had soda, even in a restaurant, in ages and lamented when my doctor told me it would be best to reduce my coffee consumption.

Basically, I find human habits fascinating and Martha Stewart has hit the nail on the head. In my effort to feed my face less and my soul more it has become clear to me that I am a sensory eater. Although, that should have been clear to me ages ago when I declared jiggly foods gross. I dread the possibility of having children in a hospital that serves me only pudding and jello. Even more fascinating is the concept of actually trying to feed your senses. I don't exactly plan to start eating meals with a blindfold but I am reminded that I need to eat at the television less. Maybe yesterday's plea for help with food boredom can be combated by feeding my senses!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


There was some guy a while back who said something about how boredom is dangerous. Idle minds . . . or something? I'm not sure, I was too busy staring out the window in high school English.

Dude speaks the truth though. Boredom is incredibly dangerous. At least in how it applies to my eating habits. Lately I have been so incredibly bored with food. Even the free pastries at work today couldn't rile me up. This boredom has translated into eating way too much junk food. Basically, I get bored of food occasionally and instead of not eating I just eat whatever, since all of it looks like generic calories.

Yes, I realize this makes zero sense. Yes, my waist line, the scale and my pants have noticed. No, I don't seem to know how to snap out of it.

I do think I know how this starts though. I'm pretty sure this is directly related to eating a lot over the holidays and then eating at amazing restaurants for restaurant week (four times in five days). The combination of being totally stuffed and having eaten gourmet means everything else is totally lame.

Food boredom! Help!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It Is Totally Feasible That You Could Find Something Shiny and Forget to Eat, Right?

Are you someone who:

1. Regularly gets into situations where work/your child/traffic/shiny things distract you?
2. Often chooses not to eat when there is a larger planned meal ahead?
3. Goes to the gym after work not having eaten dinner?
4. Is too lazy to get up from the couch to eat a meal until you're ready to eat the dog/cat/child?

If you are, welcome to the human race.

If you aren't, shut up, we all hate you and don't want to know about your perfect life. I bet you even have a white picket fence. Really, could you do something to make yourself look bad so the rest of us don't feel so guilty? It would be the right thing to do on your part. For humanity's sake.
So back to those of you who are normal and get stuck in one of the four situations listed above. I am really good at one, two and four. For example, just the other day fiance came home from work a bit later than usual and the only things I had consumed were leftover crackers from our New Year's party and a glass of wine. But damned if I hadn't measured out 4 ounces of wine so I could journal them. What? It made sense to me when I was curled in a ball freaking out at Will Smith as Robert Neville and his dark seekers of doom. Also, the crackers were organic and some of them were whole grain. That totally makes up for it.

While my choice at the time was to satiate myself (and sooth my fear of mutating humans) with wine I have to admit that when presented with this kind of situation most of my choices usually contain things I wouldn't normally put in my body if I hadn't waited until I was ravenous. Those choices usually contain the oft-discussed high fructose corn syrup. Everyone is so over this issue, I know. Modified sugars are bad blahblahblah. Its made of corn blah. But it seems like no one actually knows why they are bad or how they actually affect you*.

Your body is totally confused by the fructose in HFCS. So when you eat these easy-to-find crisis snacks that contain the substance your body has no idea it has eaten as much as it has. So basically, you're not helping yourself fight the crisis starvation and in turn you eat more than you need to or would eating a less processed food.

That's the entire story. No, really. It isn't because you're propping up the corn industry (you are, but I'm not on that soap box right now). It isn't because you're eating trans fats too (although it is more likely you'll consume them in processed foods). It is just because they confuse your body. And, honestly, when you're already overwhelmed by hunger and confusion because something shiny distracted you, why make it worse for yourself?

*If you care to know more Dr. Oz can tell you all about it. Leptin is kind of cool, actually.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chiuauas Are Great Nutritionists

Yet again I was watching TV (I need to go back to the reduced TV life I raved about, at least in order to keep my commercial watching sanity) and saw a new 'diet'. Apparently, Taco Bell, of chalupa and mystery meat fame is hoping on the diet bandwagon. Their ads feature a woman named Christine who lost fifty four pounds in two years by choosing items from the chain's fresco menu. According to some media outlets dietitians are actually divided about the value of these types of gimmicks. After doing some reading it doesn't seem to me that their actually torn about the value of the Taco Bell diet as much as they're pleased to see fast food chains getting their act together and offering more choices with a wider range of calorie density. Personally I'm not ready to give Taco Bell a gold star mostly because this Fresco menu has existed for six years and they acted like it was the red headed step child until they realized it could make them more money.

Taco Bell does have a pretty decent website with full menu information and I will give Taco Bell some kudos for having a nutrition guide at all even for things like their volcano nachos which are 1000 calories by themselves. Also, unlike the Special K diet, Taco Bell says nothing about how you're supposed to go about consuming the foods on the diet. Three tacos per day? Two? Two Taco Bell meals from the fresco menu and a sensible dinner?

They do include this at the bottom of the Taco Bell (R) Drive-Thru Diet Menu (R):

"Drive-Thru-Diet® is not a weight-loss program. For a healthier lifestyle, pay attention to total calorie and fat intake and regular exercise. Taco Bell's Fresco Menu can help with calorie reductions of 20 to 100 per item compared to corresponding products on our regular menu. Not a low calorie food. For complete nutritional information please visit"

Lets assume you eat three items in each meal and stick to only the fresco menu, since there are no specific directions. So assuming you're cutting 20 to 100 calories per item thus 60 to 300 calories per meal meaning 360 to 600 calories per day you would have to have been eating 4200 extra calories per week before you started the taco of death diet. 3500 calories is a weight gain of one pound per week. For a six foot tall, 25 year old male 4200 would mean being overweight by 125 pounds. From this I've just gleaned that eating three items for all three meals on the regular menu means being morbidly obese.

Christine's story does talk more about her calorie intake. She brought her calorie intake down to 1250, which would mean she'd have to be five feet tall, thirty years old and about one hundred pounds to be at a healthy weight if she ate 1250 calories to maintain her weight.

In related information: Taco Bell claims that these diet menu items don't have trans fats, but they do contain fiber and protein (beans and meat, duh) so at least there is that, particularly since you aren't going to get any leafy greens on this diet. So thank goodness you're getting fiber of some kind.

Pros: fiber, nutrition information, cheese free choices. Cons: still greasy, cheap not fresh food, a lack of value per calorie. I suppose this 'diet' could be a mixed bag. If by mixed bag you mean diarrhea and a lack of variety.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Here Comes A Cop Out

I have forty million ideas going on my head and before I verbally (bloggally?) diarrhea them all over you I thought I'd post fun links and gather myself for Monday. Anger at Taco Bell to be seen next week, fyi.

Picture number 26 is fantastic and makes me want to find toast.

I already thought soda was weird and now I'm even sure-r-er.

Farming versus fooding. Or maybe farming working with fooding? Who knows, like the political spectrum its really just a circle, not a line.

I love beets and apparently my new interest in sardines isn't totally nuts.

Today, over gchat, I had an elaborate conversation about a love of poached eggs with an old friend. Try to poach an egg (or fry one until the whites are white and the yolk is wiggly) and put it over anything. If we hadn't given up I'm nearly sure we could have agreed upon hundreds of things to put poached eggs on - tomato salads, toast, toast with tomato sauce, asparagus, asparagus and salmon, oatmeal, grains of almost any variety . . . maybe poached eggs are like bacon and are good with everything?