broadsideblog

Posts Tagged ‘Food Drink and Nutrition’

Eating 'Healthy' Can Make You Fat — One Supplement Almost Killed Its Maker

In behavior, food on April 28, 2010 at 11:18 pm
American cultural icons, apple pie, baseball, ...

Club that pie! Image via Wikipedia

Try these on for size — “healthy” fish dishes offered by popular mass-market restaurants. Their calorie counts, and fat content, make them a bad joke. Eating what appear to be healthy foods is like tap-dancing through a minefield, especially in a restaurant where you have no idea what’s really in your meal.

And here’s a guy whose own nutritional supplement almost killed him because the dosage of Vitamin D was 10 times the safe limit.

Null said he was later told that if he hadn’t visited his doctor when he did, “he could have died within a short period of time.”

When Null discovered what the problem was, he “sequestered himself and fasted, only consuming massive amounts of water, as he was told that there was no medical treatment to lower the amount of Vitamin D in his system,” the suit says.

“It took three months to get his blood seemingly back to where he was able to function. Even now, Null’s condition is questionable, as he continues to occasionally urinate blood,” the suit says.

Null markets fitness DVDs, as well as hair-care, anti-aging, anti-stress, air-purification, weight-loss and pet-care goods on his Web site.

Look into your fridge and cupboards and see what’s really healthy. Every single food, except fresh meat and produce, is likely to be drenched in some sort of fat, salt or sugar — the worst hidden culprit, high fructose corn syrup.  From Wikipedia:

In May 2006, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) threatened to file a lawsuit against Cadbury Schweppes for labeling 7 Up as “All Natural” or “100% Natural”,[61] despite the presence of high-fructose corn syrup. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no general definition of “natural”; however, FDA regulations define “natural flavoring” to include products of vegetables.[62] In April 2008, an FDA employee was quoted in an article suggesting that the agency had changed its opinion on HFCS.[63] However, this was not the official position of the agency. The FDA subsequently issued a clarification stating that the agency does not object to labeling HFCS as “natural.”[64] The CSPI also claim that HFCS is not a “natural” ingredient due to the high level of processing and the use of at least one genetically modified (GMO) enzyme required to produce it. On January 12, 2007, Cadbury Schweppes agreed to stop calling 7 Up “All Natural”.[65] They now label it “100% Natural Flavors”.[66]

[edit] HFCS advertisements

In September 2008, the Corn Refiners Association[67] launched a series of United States television advertisements that claim that HFCS “is made from corn”, “is natural” (changed from previously-stated “doesn’t have artificial ingredients“), “has the same calories as sugar or honey“, “is nutritionally the same as sugar”, and “is fine in moderation“, in an attempt to keep consumers from boycotting HFCS. The ads feature actors portraying roles in upbeat domestic situations with sugary foods, with one actor disparaging a food’s HFCS content but being unable to explain why, and another actor rebuking the comments with these claims. Finally, the ads each plug the Corn Refiners Association website.[68]

I recently received a coupon for a product manufactured by multinational conglomerate DelMonte.  A mom wields one of these things, called a Fruit Chiller, which comes (yes) in a “freeze and eat tube” as if it were a light saber, banishing a monster made of doughnuts, cookies, ice cream, potato chips and candy corn. The headline: “Freeze Bad Snacks in Their Tracks. Each package is made from one pound of fruit.”

What’s with this addiction to fake food?

How about…an apple? A banana? An apple contains 74 calories — not the 170 of a serving of FC plus its 26 grams of sugar.

At least if I reach for a martini or a doughnut, I know they’re not in the food pyramid.

The Diet: Week One, In Which I Enter A Bakery Just For A Tantalizing Sniff

In behavior, food, Health on April 14, 2010 at 9:49 pm
Silhouettes and waist circumferences represent...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve never dieted. Never wanted to. The doctor ordered it and for two weeks I have a tightly edited list of foods I am allowed to eat.

No starches (including carrots, sweet potatoes, corn); sugar or sweetening of any sort; no fruit in any form; no rice, pasta or any type of bread. It will modify only slightly over the next six weeks.

Here’s the challenge. If you stay home, and never go out, and are OK with that hermit-like existence, it’s workable as you calibrate every single mouthful, literally, with a set of measuring spoons and measuring cup. Such a fun start to a meal!

If you actually venture into the real world of restaurants and cafes and mass-marketed meals — I just spent two days in Boston — good luck! Salad in a campus cafeteria offered “lite” dressing, filled with high fructose corn syrup (a sweetener) and no bottles of oil and vinegar to substitute. Breakfast in the train station meant grilling the poor people at Cosi whether their eggs were real or powdered; they didn’t know, which was not reassuring. I ate the contents of their wraps without the forbidden wraps.

You wander about in a haze of permanent hunger, food glimmering and glistening all around you like some mirage in a distant oasis: donuts, mountains of muffins, enormous cups of fresh orange juice, a cool, amber glass of beer enjoyed by the guy sitting beside you at the bar as you sip your….Diet Coke.

You start to count the very few people who are not overweight or even morbidly obese, and notice how rare they are, anywhere. Some of them look like the Michelin Man, a belt cruelly tightened across their midriff as if it were a torture device. You wonder if they even have a bossy/caring physician or if their doctor is unkind or unhelpful or has just given up on them.

Your day, if you love to cook and eat and drink and plan the night’s dinner, has lost its focus as food and drink as a source of pleasure are erased. I don’t want a lifetime where food becomes mere fuel, every single calorie a dreaded threat to my existence. Today’s New York Post featured a story about mid-life women, several of them boasting how they are hungry all the time thanks to their minimal food intake — but look hot.

I’ll take tepid and happy…The “reward” for losing weight, the dietitian told me, is…even less food! Tinier portions, because my body will need fewer calories.

This is motivating?

I start physical therapy tomorrow, 45 minutes of pool aerobics to loosen and strengthen my arthritic left hip, which I am assured — and logic would agree — will hasten weight loss by burning more calories.

I am counting the days until I am deemed strong enough once more to get out on my bike, work up a sweat in the sunshine and get back to my Saturday morning softball game. (Two weeks ago, I could barely walk across the room because of the hip pain, which oral steroids have mostly relieved. A hip replacement is in my future, but I am hoping to postpone it for a few years, at best.)

By then, I might gnaw on my glove. Hey, it’s protein.

Food Fight! Why We Love To Hate Fat People

In behavior, food, Health on April 9, 2010 at 8:47 pm
American cultural icons, apple pie, baseball, ...

Starch! Sugar! Fat! Carbs! Image via Wikipedia

Why do fat people make us insane?

I was struck by this recent, powerful post by fellow True/Slanter Ethan Epstein:

Imagine a television show on a major American network in which AIDS victims were paraded in front of the cameras and hectored by ultra-conservative evangelical ministers. The ministers inform the victims that they are being punished for their “decadence” and “hedonism.” Or perhaps a different program – one centered on people dying an agonizing death from lung cancer. They’d have cameras shoved in their faces as anti-smoking campaigners told them that if they wanted sympathy, well, tough. After all, they should never have smoked in the first place! Or, best of all, how about a show concerned with fat people. A chef from a foreign country would come stateside and lecture the citizens of America’s “most obese city” about how their unhealthy eating habits are going to consign them and their children to an early grave. This infantalizing message would be accompanied by lots and lots of camera shots lingering on the fatties’ rolls of flesh.

This week, kicking and screaming like a three-year-old who really needed a nap, I went to see a dietitian who put me on a severely restricted diet, on doctor’s orders. I don’t look obsese to most people. Curvy, yes. Definitely a candidate to shed some weight. I’ve gone into surgery more eagerly.

As Jamie Oliver is learning with his ABC television show, getting anyone to change what they eat — size, portions, taste, fat, salt, sugar — is a task far more complex than it appears. Set aside his show and the drama of battling school bureaucrats. Our emotional relationship to food and drink is like some tenacious desert plant, its wiry, tough roots buried deep in our psyches.

We eat what we eat, whether sipping, swallowing or gulping, for many many reasons, some unconscious.

Here’s what happened today at lunch. I ordered a small Caesar salad with grilled no-sauce chicken and a Diet Coke. I’m allowed, for that meal, two cups of salad and 2 tablespoons of oil and vinegar and 6 ounces of lean protein. No starches. I brought (hidden beside me, I ate alone) a measuring cup and set of measuring spoons. Waiters stared. I didn’t care.

The small salad, in our local Greek restaurant, was four cups of lettuce. It also had croutons that looked fried. A huge plate of fresh pita bread — I love warm pita! — dropped onto the table. A thick dish of creamy sauce. I had both taken away.

Were I my usual weary, distracted self, reading a newspaper or magazine or deep in conversation with a friend, I could easily have eaten both, inhaling a delicious 500 extra calories, all while eating “healthy” food. In only one meal.

My diet, for now, is about 1700 calories a day. Sounds like a lot to me. Hah! Hunger is now a constant companion. It’s like a little dog gnawing on my ankles, day and night. I’d like to drop-kick it across the room, (not a dog, the discomfort), and have two more weeks to go.

Millions of people today would be desperately thrilled to have access to half these calories.

We need to acknowledge to ourselves — our kids, our doctors, our mirrors, our fridges and grocery carts — that food is not simply fuel. We cling to it, and savor it and gobble it and gorge on it, for many reasons:

Culture: For many people, certain foods mean “home”, whether the fat-marbled smoked meat sandwiches Montreal is famous for; the creamy hummus of the Middle East; the flaky delight of a burek or baklava or croissant. It brings us, with every bite, closer to our country or culture of origin, in a nation of immigrants, no small thing.

Family: Feeding your family is the most primal act we commit, from the moment the baby latches onto the breast to deathbed purees.

Love: There are few easier, quicker, more affordable ways to show your love for someone than to cook them a meal, whether chicken soup or a birthday cake. “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” women are told. And it is.

Memory: For my friend Dalina, it’s her Nana’s spaghetti sauce. For others, their mother’s pie or uncle’s barbecue. For my partner, who grew up in the Southwest, his late Mom’s posole. My Dad always adds fresh apple to his salads so when I do it I think of him. (I also do it when I sip a great glass of Scotch.)

Pleasure: In a time of terrible financial difficulty for millions of Americans, food and drink remain, for the fortunate, a ready and cheap source of refuge and comfort. If the fridge or cupboards are full, so, too will be our belly, if not our gas tank or bank account. The salty crunch of a fresh potato chip or the creamy smoothness of a rice pudding — bad for you!!! -- carry tremendous allure when everything else is simply too damn expensive right now.

For low-income families, “right now” can be a lifetime.

Yes, I know and I agree — everyone needs to make wise(r) choices, eat small(er) portions, stop choosing to consume fried crap crammed with chemicals and color and sugar and salt. Have you tried to buy a loaf of commercially made bread with no added sugar or high fructose corn syrup? Good luck!

The United States — unlike France, Germany, Canada, Japan — was founded by Puritans. People not, perhaps, wild about the sensual pleasures of the flesh. Consider this in the finger-wagging culture that mistakenly and punitively conflates the size of your ass with the value of your soul.

I am now doing physical therapy for my arthritic hip at an upscale health club. The parking lot, at 9:00 a.m, is so packed I can hardly find a space, jammed with Range Rovers and Mercedes and BMWs as dozens of lean, ropy women head inside for yoga or a class or a workout. They are not, clearly, distracted from their goals by a long commute or a job. It’s a lot easier to be skinny and nauseated by fatties when you’ve got hours to burn off every calorie that goes into your mouth.

The cheap easy rush — sort of an addictive sugar high, really — of loathing fat people needs to be moderated by compassion.

Some fat people have no money. Some work three jobs and have little time to find and cook fresh foods with the lowest calories. Their local stores or bodegas may not stock the right foods and drinks. They work weird hours and/or it may be dark, cold or too dangerous in their neighborhood before or after work to even go out for a healthy, vigorous walk. A gym or health club can cost a shocking amount; our small, crowded, worn suburban Y charges more than $80/month for a family membership. That’s not cheap.

And who will watch your kids?

Too many people are forced to gulp (!) meals at their desks, shoveling food into their faces as fast as possible to avoid looking slack or weak — someone who can be fired. Many are constrained by physical pain or injury — I haven’t been able to exercise since January. To the ignorant and judgmental observer, I’m PiggyGirl  — clearly someone with zero awareness of how she eats, obviously overweight from (not), snarfing Twinkies and double cheeseburgers.

When some of us can’t even cross a room without agony, and 46 million Americans suffer from some form of athritis, (only aggravated by obesity), it’s time for the skinnies to lay down their self-righteous whips.

The next time you feel like sneering at a fat person, whether their flesh is jammed up against yours on a bus or airplane, or on TV or at the gym, ask yourself why.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 12,118 other followers