Posts Tagged ‘fresh food’

Challenging Math and Science

September 29, 2014

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not a doctor, or a nutritionist. I am not good in science and I absolutely suck at math. Therefore, please take this post with a grain of salt, or better yet, skip the extra salt completely and just keep reading.

Conventional wisdom states that 3500 calories make a pound. A pound is a pound, whether it is fat, muscle, butter or carrots. It is presumed, that if you reduce your calorie intake by 3500 calories over a period of time, you will lose 1 pound. If you over-consume by that much, you will gain. Makes sense,right? Well, not so fast…

What you eat, and how you burn it off is as important as the elimination of those 3500 calories. Case in point:

I am admittedly obsessive about food and fitness, hence the premise of this blog. I keep a food and activity journal, and try to be as accurate as possible. Based on my current size, if I only consume 1,110 calories per day, I will lost 1 pound per week. Before you all go crazy and think I starve myself, when I enter activity, it adds those calories burned back to my daily food quota. Because I am so active, I am able to eat more than that and still be on target to lose a pound per week.
I take hardcore cycling classes four times per week, I weight train, do weight circuits and toss in a Pilates class when I can for good measure. I also walk 1-1/2 hours per day on average, as transportation. In most people’s eyes, that should be a free pass for the all-you-can-eat fish fry, with extra dessert, right? WRONG!

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According to my Lose It app, I have saved 5369 calories over the last 4 weeks, over and above the 3500 per week deficit built in. That would mean I lost 5.5 pounds. According to the scale in my bathroom, I have gained almost that much. Say WHAT?

The big differential for me these last few weeks is not the amount of food I am eating, but the type of food I am eating.  Based on my personal experience, here are the cold, hard realities of healthy eating and exercise, according to me:

Just because it came from Whole Foods, or is organic, low fat, gluten free or whatever else the package says, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Sorry, but real healthy food does not come in a package, and therefore does not state it’s virtures.

I do not have a gluten allergy or celiac disease, and gluten does not make me sick. Foods that contain it however (with the exception of french fries, that would be all the really delicous ones!) make me fat. And by fat, I mean bloated, and thick around the middle. Maybe it’s not the case for you, but for me, if I want a flat belly, I need to lay off the white stuff, most of the time. And while we’re at it, the whole grain goodness of whole wheat isn’t any better on my middle.

For many, many years, I avidly avoided sugar. Not even a bite of a cookie, or a lick of ice-cream. Now, if I have a little sweet something, it makes me want more. Like a junkie, that bite becomes the whole thing. And then I have a stomach ache. My body is trying to tell me something. Why don’t I listen to it? Do you listen to yours? You really should.

Protein is the building block of muscle or something like that. (See disclosure above.) I am clearly not eating enough of it lately. I don’t like meat, so getting to the fish market has to be a priority, otherwise I just eat fruit and vegetables, and later become ravenous and down half a bag of  trail mix or something else masquerading as “healthy” in a  package in my pantry. It’s important to fuel properly during the day to avoid the ravenous binge, especially post workout.

My exercise routine is intense, followed by long stretches of sitting on my butt in front of a computer or drawing table all day. I get out of my chair sometimes and can barely move I’m so stiff. Studies show that even a couple of  hours a day of physical activity cannot offset being sedentary for the rest of the day. I need to get up and move around every few hours, to rev my metabolism and stretch my sore limbs. Perhaps a stroll to the nearest fish market would solve multiple issues?

While we are on the subject of walking, I regret to inform you that walking does not burn very many calories. For those of you that think walking for 30 minutes per day a few times a week is exercising, you are wrong. It is better than not moving at all, but it doesn’t do much for increasing your heart rate or decreasing your fat rate. Lose It says that I burned 69 calories during a 30 minute walk, or the equivalent of  1-1/2 tablespoons of trail mix. And that’s not the kind with M&M’s in it. Bummer, right?

This is the calorie equivalent of a 30 minute brisk walk.

This is the calorie equivalent of a 30 minute brisk walk.

The media touts salt as an enemy. It’s not the salt that we sprinkle on our home cooked meals that is the problem. It’s the huge amounts lurking in those bags and tetra packs, and glass jars (no plastic please! ) that is the issue. That organic, gluten free, low fat, high fiber soup my be a BPA free sodium bomb. Making soup is so easy and tastes so much better. It’s time to get off my duff and make a few different kinds to put in the freezer in individual containers so that I can have homemade convenience foods at the ready. While salt doesn’t cause fat gain, that jump in the scale after consuming large quantities of it is due to good old bloat. Drinking a lot of water can help to eliminate the retained water in a day or two.

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The bottom line is that whole foods; the kind that are produced by nature, not factories, are the best for us. There is no debate there. Eating the freshest, highest quality foods, without added chemicals, additives and flavorings will produce the best results in terms of health, fuel and weight management.

Moving throughout the day is important for your health, but adding bouts of high intensity activity ( intervals for example,) will yield you better results.

It’s true what they say: You can’t out train a bad diet, and abs really are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.

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CSA Tuesday

November 7, 2012

It’s CSA day today.  Since fresh food is still not fully available in downtown Manhattan since the storm, this week’s produce share was highly anticipated.

We got a butternut squash, 4 onions, lettuce, collards, red radishes, black radishes, and sage.

I am not familiar with black radishes, so I am looking forward to experimenting with them.

Since the storm forced me to throw away several weeks worth of CSA soups from the freezer, I will be happy to make my next batch this weekend. Unless the squash becomes ravioli first, which would be lovely with a little sage butter. A lettuce salad with mixed radishes perhaps? That would leave just the collards, which are not a favorite around here.

Let’s see what happens as the week wears on..

Waste Case Project: Day 5

March 30, 2012

I am starting to get the hang of this! Tonight, I only spent $5.99 at the grocery store, vs. the usual $40 or so.

I used all the lettuce I washed and chopped yesterday,( the arugula hung in there one more day!) part of the avocado from Tuesday (which kept surprisingly well when stored properly), some cheese I had on hand, some of last night’s roasted  chicken and a chunk of green apple that has been sitting around feeling lonely in a basket in the kitchen. I tossed it in some olive oil and  aged balsamic vinegar and  “Viola!” a great dinner salad using all leftovers…woo hoo!

The others had the chicken shredded and cooked with bar-b-que sauce on whole wheat buns with potato chips; my 2 purchased items for the day. Bailey had the rest of my apple and some yogurt, and Spencer put the last of the avocado on his sandwich, and shared my salad as a side dish.

The remnants of the chicken are now simmering in a pot, with yesterday’s onion and 2 carrots, accompanied by some parsley I discovered in the produce drawer (score!). It won’t yield much, but a few cups of chicken stock can always be popped into the freezer and used anytime a recipe calls for it.

My husband likened me to a “depression era housewife” which is fodder for a whole other blog post, but he has a point. We need to start thinking of food as a precious commodity, and use it to it’s fullest. Today I learned to plan around what I had that was fresh and usable, and buy around it if necessary. If I wasn’t trying to please a picky eater, I wouldn’t have needed to purchase anything to make a fresh, nutritious and tasty meal.

Tomorrow’s challenge: What’s for dinner? The produce and meat is gone, so our next meal starts with a clean slate. Although I might be able to use that chicken stock for something….

photo: Glasshouse Images

Smart Choices?

September 13, 2009

2117900437.JPGA new food labeling program called “Smart Choices” is designed to help shoppers easily identify smarter food and beverage choices.

The green label with a large checkmark is appearing on hundreds of food items, much to the chagrin of many nutritionists.

It is no wonder that obesity and diabetes run rampant in a country where the Food and Drug Administration has deemed sugar laden Froot Loops and Cocoa Krispies healthy grains, and full fat mayonnaise and artificially sweetened Fudgesicles as “smart choices”.

Yet these foods fit within the FDA guidelines of not exceeding the very generous limits of sugar, fat and sodium per serving.

It seems to me that the real healthy choices come in nature’s own packaging. If it made it into a box, chances are pretty strong that it has been processed and refined. Call me crazy, but it would be tough to print check marks on the real “smart choices” such as fresh fruits (even the spelling of Froot has been altered in the cereal version) vegetables, lean meats and seafood. Have you ever tried to hold a live fish, let alone print a check mark on its side?

Once again, industry is preying on the poorly educated consumer, who believe that endorsement from the FDA and approval from the Smart Choices program is helping them make informed and positive choices in the food they buy.

Dr. Eileen T. Kennedy, president of the Smart Choices Board and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, defended the program in the New York Times, stating that “consumers are smart enough to deduce that if it doesn’t have a checkmark, by implication it’s not a “better for you” product.” She cited the example that given the choice between Froot Loops and a donut, the cereal is a better choice. But what about whole grains, such as oatmeal and low fat dairy, such as yoghurt instead? Aren’t they MUCH better for you products? The comparisons are relative. Two bad choices don’t make a good one.

We believe that educating the American public on the benefits of good nutrition and physical exercise is a much more noble and useful deed for our government to indulge in than this misguided labeling effort.

photo: adapted from Glasshouse Images


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