diet

Halfway

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Anyone else relieved we’re halfway through February—and thus, another month of winter?

V-Day red wineDespite the snow, I can’t complain so far about this winter. I also actually had the first enjoyable (aka conflict-free) Valentines Day I can recall since, well, ever. After an amazing, headache-clearing massage, I spent the afternoon working in my favorite coffee shop before meeting up with a girlfriend for a glass of wine.

There was a lady at the bar teaching her clueless man-friend how to eat oysters. It kind of made my night.

I’ve been working a lot of Saturdays at the hospital, so a mellow Friday evening with an early  bedtime suited me just fine. Besides, full moons make me tired.

Speaking of full moons, have you heard about the lunar/werewolf diet yet? Or excuse me, Moon Diet. Though I can get on board with the idea that our bodies might be more inclined to retain—or get rid of—water during a particular phase of the moon, I don’t really see why fasting is necessary. You could do just as well being mindful of sodium intake and filling your plate with bloat-fighting foods that are rich in potassium. Also, losing 6 pounds (of water weight that you’ll probably just gain back) in 24 hours isn’t exactly healthy. Just my professional opinion, of course…

Anyway, happy weekend.

How did you spend Valentines Day? What’s the craziest diet you’ve ever heard of? 

 

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Nutrition for Healthy Skin

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cutest little avocado ever
cutest little avocado ever

So, remember that time I smeared avocado on my face? Eating it also happens to be pretty good for your skin.

Tuesday night, I spoke about nutrition for healthy skin at a super-fun fitness event in New Jersey, put together by a consultant from Rodan & Fields, who talked about some of their awesome products. Participants were also treated to healthy snacks and a free kickboxing class.

Here’s a little cheat sheet version of what I covered at the event. Here’s how to nourish your skin from the inside out!

Eat a Balanced Diet: Consume regular, balanced meals and snacks including: fruits and veggies along with lean sources of protein, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and healthy fats. 

Eat the Rainbow: Pigments in fruits and vegetables such as the beta-carotene that gives carrots their brilliant orange color can also make your skin glow.

Pay Attention to Antioxidants: Antioxidants are substances that may prevent or delay cell damage caused by free radicals. Popular sources include: fruits, vegetables, red wine (and champagne!), dark chocolate, coffee, and tea.

Choose Supplements Carefully: Aim to get your vitamins and minerals from food first and use supplements to fill in any gaps (for example, iron and vitamin B12 for vegans). A few exceptions: many of us, especially in the northern states (especially in winter), would benefit from a vitamin D supplement. You might want to consider fish oil as well.

Use Sugar Sparingly: Inflammation caused by rapid sugar breakdown leads to sagging, wrinkles, and exacerbation of conditions like rosacea and acne. Sugar also deactivates the body’s natural antioxidant enzymes. Save the sweet stuff for special occasions and check labels for hidden sources in processed foods.

Drink Plenty of Water: Hydrated skin is happy skin. Aim for 8 cups a day to get your glow on. Your needs may be more or less, depending on age, activity level, and other factors.

Go Easy on Alcohol: To avoid wrinkles and blotchy, tired-looking skin, stick to one drink per day for women or two for men.

Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight has been linked to inflammation and related skin problems like acne, sweating, and impaired wound healing. Being underweight can cause skin dryness and a pallid appearance.

Get Enough Sleep: Aside from keeping “hunger hormones” leptin and ghrelin in check, sleep gives the body a chance to repair and regenerate tissue. Also, when we’re tired, we’re more prone to stress, another known skin irritant.

Know Your Triggers: Keep a food journal and note skin’s appearance before and after eating to help you identify problem-foods if you suspect something is causing a reaction.

Don’t Smoke: All the antioxidants in the world won’t offset damage caused by the free radicals introduced to your body when you light up.

Are there any particular foods you try to include—or avoid—to keep your skin healthy? 

Practical Uses for Coca-Cola

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In general, I try really hard not to give unsolicited advice, but I have been on my dad’s case to stop drinking soda for years. I want to kick myself every time I hear something come out of my mouth like, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you when you have to get your foot amputated due to complications from diabetes.” Not cool. My comments come from a place of love, but it sounds like mean nagging.

We all have our stuff. For example, I chew gum after every meal—and sometimes in between. It would be very, very hard for me to stop. I would need to carry a toothbrush around in my pocket (not the worst idea, but still), and even then, I would probably still get twitchy. I rely on chewing gum to freshen my breath, clean my teeth, and deal with stress at work.

I know that telling someone not to do something that is a part of their daily life is not an effective way to inspire change, but as you can see, I know firsthand how hard it is not to speak up when your emotions get involved—and how hard it is to give up something you love and/or feel like you need.

Still, I can’t get over the fact that my dad’s doctor told him that a soda a day was okay. I’m sure this doctor is a smart guy, but doctors receive very little nutrition education. In the way that dietitians are not experts in medicine, doctors are not experts in nutrition. Calorie-for-calorie, yes, you can argue that a person can make room for a serving of regular soda each day, but it’s hard for many people to account for liquid calories. This is to say nothing of the various chemicals and colorings that aren’t doing anyone any favors. I can’t help feeling that a doctor telling someone with a family history of diabetes that a soda a day is okay is kind of like a nutritionist telling someone with alcoholism in their background that drinking alcohol on the regular and taking acetaminophen for hangovers is a good idea.

photo from Thought Pursuits

Oh, and then there are all the practical uses for coke that make it hard to justify putting it into your body. For example, I have vivid childhood memories of my dad using it to get rust off of golf clubs. It wasn’t until years later that I thought, “Well, s***. Why do we drink that? Yikes!” But hey, I ask myself all the time why I chew on minty little sticks of artificial sweetener, and I still do it…

What do you think about a soda a day? 

Creepy-Ass Nutrition for Adolescent Girls

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At the hospital, we give out handouts from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics as part of our diet educations. Lately, I’ve been working mostly with the ones specific to pediatrics, so it’s been interesting to note differences and similarities to the adult versions.

However, the Academy has got to do something about this one. Is it just me, or is the picture on this “Nutrition for Adolescent Girls” just plain weird? Creepy, even.

I don’t know about you, but I think it has “daddy issues” written all over it. That and, well, “Hey girl…in life, men are going to spoon-feed you their mixed up bullish!t, and to be healthy and survive, you should smile and take it.” Oh yeah, and that it also helps to be thin and blonde and white.

What pisses me off the most is that this is what we give to teenage girls who are obese (BMI above the 97th percentile screens a kid in for an education). I feel it’s a population you need to be extremely sensitive with, and giving them this packet with that picture on it just feels like a crap thing to do.

I should note that the “Nutrition for Adolescent Boys” packet features a photo of a young blond boy enthusiastically biting into what appears to be a biscuit. Don’t even get me started…

What do you think? Weird, creepy? Both? 

Dudes, you matter too!

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I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot in the media lately on the role men’s health plays in children’s genetics and health. It’s about time. While I can’t say I’d bring it up on a first or third date (at least not on purpose), it’s an important conversation, and I’m glad to see it brought more prominently into the public sphere. This article from this week’s New York Times Sunday Review section by Judith Shulevitz discusses some of the current research.

For so long, the focus has been on how women can help or hurt the in-utero development of their children (Annie Murphy Paul’s Origins  is one of my favorite books on how we’re shaped before birth), while men have been free to do whatever they damn well please without the nagging concern of “Gee, I wonder how this could effect the kids I’m going to have one day.”

I’m being slightly hyperbolic, of course, but I feel it’s far more common for women in their twenties, for example, to say they’d like to have children by age 35 to reduce the risk of various birth defects than it is for a 25-year-old dude to say they want to procreate before 50 in order to reduce the risk of autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or any of the other conditions being linked to older fathers.

I have plenty of female friends who aren’t even in relationships or planning to have children anytime soon who are taking prenatal vitamins, quitting smoking, and cleaning up their diets to prepare for whenever their personal “someday” becomes present-day. On the flip side, I know a lot of men who smoke and drink excessively on the regular, boasting about their copious bacon consumption and (outwardly, at least) appearing cavalier about a potentially shortened lifespan.

From an early age, women are conditioned to think of are body as not just our own vessel of existence and experience but also as a home/greenhouse/oven/whatever you want to call it for another life. There’s a sense of responsibility that comes with that. I’m not saying it’s inappropriate—on the contrary. What I find inappropriate is the way that men have not been expected to exhibit the same kind of responsibility in caring for themselves so they can eventually care for someone else.

I’m not saying we should all become sober vegetarians or anything, but what we should do is use the information we have to help us make decisions that will benefit our own health and—if it’s in the cards/part of the bigger picture—the health of our children. It’s never too early or too late to adopt a healthy habit.

What are some healthy habits you’d like to see more men (or women) pick up? Any guy commenters out there—how does the idea of children factor in to your health? 

Vegetable Schedule

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Though nobody comes to the hospital for the food, we do try to offer palatable, nourishing fare. However, it can get pretty repetitive, given the weekly cycle—even more so for patients on puree or soft-textured diets.  

If this picture is any indication, when someone complains about the monotony of the pureed veggies,  there’s really not much I can do besides smile and nod and encourage family members to bring in appropriate food from outside if that’s an option. Maybe one day someone will discover the magic formula to make hospital food not suck, but until that wonderful day…

Have you ever stayed in a hospital? How was the food? 

What Marilyn Monroe Ate

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I came across this little snippet of a 1952 Pageant magazine article about Marilyn Monroe’s diet and exercise habits on Lexi Petronis’ Glamour Vitamin G blog. It’s kind of ridiculous. You can read the whole article at FitPerez.

According to the 1952 issue–Marilyn would have been 26 at print time–this is what she ate:

Breakfast: She would warm a cup of milk on the hot plate in her room, then crack two raw eggs into it and whip the whole thing up with a fork

Lunch: None

Dinner: Marilyn would stop at the market near her hotel on the way home to pick up steak, lamb or liver, which she would broil and eat with 4 or 5 raw carrots Evening snack: She would stop at a local ice cream parlor for a hot fudge sundae, saying, “I’m sure that I couldn’t allow myself this indulgence were it not that my normal diet is composed almost totally of protein foods.”

In the article, Monroe mentions that others have called her dietary habits “bizarre,” which, if you ask me, makes total sense. Oh, goodness…can you imagine following a diet like that? At least she popped a multi-vitamin in the morning…
What do you think of Marilyn Monroe’s diet?