Some bad news, some good news

As the title suggests, I have some bad news and some good news. I will start with the bad so we can end with the good, obviously.

BAD

Have you seen this article floating around the world wide web? I highly suggest reading it before continuing on with my post, but if not (it is a free country) I will brief you…

So there’s this company, Monsanto (which I will explain more in a minute), and they’ve gone ahead and gotten President Obama to pass a bill that basically provides sanction to the continuation of growing genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and genetically engineered (GE) seeds. I will not go into too much detail regarding GMO’s and GE’s now, because that’s a topic for another day, but this is what the bill means:  It gives the go ahead to continue to plant and sell man-made crops, even if the health risks are unanswered. This means the USDA cannot regulate Monsanto’s production of GMO’s. Monsanto can continue to plant and sell these foods to us and we will have no idea (GMO labeling is not required or available on any food packaging at this time). So if that isn’t troubling enough, my biggest issue is the power the government is giving this company. So let me elaborate more on that.

poar03_monsanto0805

Monsanto = The devils. They have basically monopolized the agriculture business here in the U.S.A. They have a lot of money and lot of power. Companies like this seriously influence politicians and several laws that can affect you and I, and they usually don’t have the people’s best interest in mind. For example, the MyPlate method, or previously, the Food Guide Pyramid, has been under revision for over a half-century because constant battles between health and medical scientists (who advocate health) and big corporations like Monsanto, the dairy industry, and the meat industry (who advocate profits). Who do you think usually wins the battles?

Monsanto specializes in growing corn, soy beans, and cotton because the government subsidizes these crops. Doesn’t sound too bad yet? Well there are some problems:

First, soy and corn are in EVERYTHING, and usually not the good stuff. Soy lecithin is a common ingredient found in everything processed (check labels of your Kudos bars and Cheetos and you will find it) and corn makes good ole’ high fructose corn syrup, which is also in most things processed. Corn is the number one thing we are feeding our live stock. Not fresh grass that is high in omega-3’s and healthy vitamins and minerals, but rather processed corn meal. Kids eat processed corn, our cows eat processed corn, and we all end up with diabetes and heart failure. Too dramatic? Check out this article for more detail.

Another problem is this thing called mono-cropping. Have you seen either of these?food-inc 610jXoOi8hL

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am no dummy, I know these documentaries are a major form of propaganda, but they do describe the mono-cropping business well. Basically soil likes diversity. Most crop scientists and farmers know that to have successful crops and healthy soil you switch out what you grow year-to-year. So one year you might choose to grow potatoes, and the next year on the same plot of land, you could grow onions, the next year turnips. What happens when we crop the same thing over and over (ahem, corn) ? Well maybe we need a crop scientist to explain better, but basically it corrodes the soil. The crop yields year-to-year will lessen, the product will be challenged, and eventually we are going to ruin the ability to farm and plant on our own country’s soil. Imagine the day when even in the summer months, prime harvest season, all our tomatoes are from Chile and our berries are from Switzerland?

That may not matter to many people, but think of the carbon footprint traveling food all over the world leaves? From semi’s, to jets, to cargo ships, we are using a lot of energy and consequently polluting the earth. I will tell you what, I am sick of the Smog Lake City status! Also, think of the thousands of failing farms that are forced out of business because of the big wigs like Monsanto who are in it to make a quick profit for the cheapest cost, regardless or the consequences for our crops, health, or local farmers. And if all of this isn’t convincing enough, when there is a zombie apocalypse and exporting/importing food goes to boot, I hope we have some food laying around here on our own soil!

Feeling overwhelmed much? Well not to worry, here comes the good news!!

Good

We still have a lot of agency and choice when it comes to our health and food choices. It may seen unrealistic that we as individuals can do much to combat companies like Monsanto, or the policies that govern our lives, but there are small things we can always do.

One of the things I was the most passionate about during school was sustainable food systems. I heart supporting local food business. From farmers markets, community gardens, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s) we can get involved and make a difference. CSA’s, for those who don’t know, are partnerships between local farmers and consumers who buy shares in the farm in exchange for weekly supplies of fresh produce. This partnership provides small-scale farmers with economic stability, while ensuring consumer participants high-quality produce usually below retail price. Plus it definitely lessens the carbon-footprint and CO2 emissions when we are getting our produce from less than 20 miles away.

My friend referred me to Utah Farms CSA. and I loooove my baskets! We have been getting varieties of lettuce, sprouts, eggs, cheese, honey, potatoes, and onions and surprises like juice and barely. And, I have actually been saving money on my monthly grocery bill because with every basket they provide recipes to use the ingredients. I spend less getting the few extra items I need to make the delicious and super nutritious meals.

I am getting so excited just writing about this right now. I want everyone to sign up! If this isn’t turning you on, consider some other ways to eat locally.

The farmers markets will be open for business soon! Or when you grocery shop, look for local products usually designated by this sign: images

Check out Edible Wasatch magazine for lists of several local places to eat or buy delicious goods. And if nothing else, try planting something yourself (this is my major summer goal) even if it’s as simple as a basil plant.

Food is a most precious commodity, and I am really excited about eating locally and empowering ya’ll to make good choices everyday so that one day (a girl can dream) big corporations won’t dictate the food future of our nation or the people’s well being. Power to the people!

P.S. Check out the recipes section for some recipes included with my baskets this past month!

OpEd

So school is definitely in full swing. For one class I need to write a Opinion Editorial on a two sided issue presented in a policy analysis we are working on. Good stuff right?

My topic is the CDC’s winnable battle : Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. Since I have already been writing, I figured I would share, and in return can I get your feedback? I am curious to know your thoughts and opinions about the topic mostly. I would like to have more support or opposition to include. I am also ok with writing critique if that’s what you would rather dish out. I can take it, I can welcome it.

The Cost of Vending Machines

It is no surprise that teenagers are quick to adopt the latest trends, and in the case of obesity, they are the ultimate trendsetters. It also should be no bombshell that teens are drinking too many sugary sodas. Perhaps it is time we start connecting the dots, and even better, intervening.

Recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that obesity rates among adolescents have tripled over the past 3 decades. Nearly one out every five teens is packing more body fat than is appropriate for their height.  While the numbers are shocking, the social impact is even more alarming.

Quality of life effects of obesity are similar to those caused by smoking, drinking, and poverty. 365,000 deaths per year are attributed to poor diet and physical activity, second only to tobacco as the leading cause of preventable death. And if that’s not disturbing enough, overweight youth are more likely to experience lower-self esteem, depressed moods, body dissatisfaction, and social marginalization and discrimination.

There is, however, a glimmer of hope. School. 95% of adolescents attend school outside of their own home. Therefore schools have the unique ability and responsibility to create an environment that may encourage healthy behaviors. One way in particular is the regulation or banning of sugary drinks on campus.

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 requires that all school districts include their own wellness policies for regulating “competitive” foods and beverages, or rather, those sold separately from the commodities provided from the National School Lunch Program. The problem is obvious here. Districts establish their own guidelines.  There is a lack of conclusive evidence as to what policies or best practices contribute to the reduction of student’s over-all weight status. The strongest evidence though, based on available data, suggests that prohibition of sales of sodas in schools have the greatest potential for impacting adolescent obesity.

The most tragic part of this situation is that even after the alarming statistics, supportive evidence, and feasibility of the solution, there is significant opposition from school faculty, parents, and community members when it comes to banning the vending machines.

School administrators argue that if soda is not available in the school, teenagers are likely to leave campus, hit up the local 7-11 for a 32 oz. fountain soda, and money that could have potentially benefitted the school, will be lost.  This also creates a crisis for the custodial team who will probably have more soda spills because cups with lids are not as preventative as capped bottles. The most substantial argument made by faculty is that it is ultimately the parents’ responsibility to exemplify and monitor healthy behaviors for their own child.

It is safe to assume that no parent would ever start the day by scooping 15 teaspoons of table sugar into a Ziploc bag and passing it off to their kid to constitute their lunch. But in reality, parent’s who provide their kid with one dollar to hit up the soda machine for a 20 oz Coke are doing just that.  It could also be assumed that no parent would intentionally inflict harm or risk upon his or her child. Something is clearly afoot in this situation, and the truth might be lack of knowledge or skills from the home front.

The question is not whether or not it should be the school or the parent’s responsibility to imbue health practices, but rather where will have the greatest impact. 5A high schools have over 2,000 students usually from vast racial and socioeconomic backgrounds that are influenced by commodities available or unavailable to them at school. Any educator should know that providing and environment conducive to learning and growth is the only practical solution for impact. It is a paradox that the risks and harms of obesity may be drilled during the health class lecture, but take 10 steps from the classroom and their stands the soda machine shining enticingly before the students. Something doesn’t add up.

One thing does add up well, and that is the annual medical costs associated with obesity each year. An estimated $14 billion dollars each year are attributed to obesity. In 2008 persons who were obese had medical costs that were $1,429 higher than the cost for people with normal body weights. With the fragile economic state our nation is currently facing, can we truly defend vending machines in our schools?

Whether it is changing the status quo, rearranging social norms, or schools taking an incremental financial cut, it is absolutely the first and most feasible step to tackling the obesity epidemic facing adolescents. This is a situation of quality of life and potential death and cannot be passed by.

FUN

So it’s back to school for me. Which means less blogging, not that I do this regularly anymore, and more topics coming straight to you from my classroom. Because I am learning some cool stuff and I am excited to share.

Today’s topic is population interventions. No, that does not mean new forms of birth control or China like implications. It means, how can we change our environments to allow communities (populations) to be more active, healthy, nourished, etc? I am loving this concept lately. We tend to heavily focus on individual counseling and health education to better our health. Which I am all for. That’s what my career is, that’s how I spend my days. But I am getting really excited about this notion that making changes at a population level is more effective and, in this case, fun.

Have you heard of The Fun Theory campaign by Volkswagon? This is precisely the point I am making and what I want to get involved in . PAHLEASE check out these vids. I promise you will love them…

So aren’t they cute? I mean, there is the whole issue that none of these ideas are cost effective or really practical, but I want to take this to heart to make health practices more fun.

“Change things in order to make the right

                               behaviors easier to enact”

Thank you for indulging me in this non-nutrition topic. Next up. Why do Japanese live the longest. The answer has some nutrition involved…

My Favorite Thing

A lot of my friends have gotten pregnant or had a baby this summer it seems. Crazy to be in that phase of life… but the beauty of new babies is that they remind me of my favorite thing ever. For those of you who know me well, you know what’s coming…

BREASTFEEDING!

Yes, that’s exactly right. Breastfeeding. In my English 2010 class we had to write a persuasive research paper, and my professor encouraged us to think of a topic we are very passionate about so it would be easy to defend. Well after two weeks of trying to come up with something I was more passionate about then Deron Williams, I started my paper “The Breast is Best”

So ladies, truly the breast is best. Let me tell you why. First of all, human milk contains over 200 components, most of which cannot be duplicated in formulas. It’s been said that “human milk is an elegantly designed natural resource.” I want that framed in my bedroom. Elegant is the truth! Human milk is formulated to act as a sole source of complete nutrition for infants for up to sixth months. The composition of milk is changeable over a single feeding, over a day, or over the first few months of life. What I am saying here, is that human milk can change the composition of vitamins, fat, protein, etc to be exactly what the infant needs. No switching up formulas, adding vitamins, or stressing. And not only is breast milk formulated to nurture, but also to protect infants from infectious and chronic diseases. Can your Enfamil do that for you? NO!
So let me lay out the difference for you here:

This is a chart provided by WIC (a national program from Women, Infant, and Children). Look at all those fabulous things that you can only get from breastfeeding alone. Even from the very beginning, the first 3 days after an infant is born, the woman produces colostrum. Colostrum is a thick yellowish fluid that contains secretory immunoglobulin A and lactoferrin. Why is this important? Well exposing your infant to these immunoglobulins so early in life will set their immune system up for good health the rest of their life. Numerous studies show that breast-fed babies have stronger immune systems.

Other benefits for the baby:

  1. Human milk is isosmotic and meets the requirements for infants without having to add other fluids.
  2. Human milk has a lower protein content than formulas, and therefore will not overload the immature kidneys with nitrogen.
  3. Whey protein in human milk forms a soft easily digestible curd (aka you wont get those clay-like diaper surprises like those you find with formula fed infants.)
  4. The higher cholesterol content in human milk has been linked to lower serum cholesterol levels in people later in life who were breastfed.
  5. Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), promote optimal development of the central nervous system. (Side note- some formulas now contain DHA, but others do not.)

On the flip side, babies who are formula-fed compared to breastfed infants are more likely to have: pneumonia or asthma, ear infections, diarrhea or constipation, allergies, meningitis, UTI’s, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and illnesses in general. I know this seems shocking and a little scary? But the studies don’t lie.

And let’s quickly talk about the benefits for momma’s. One time I over heard two ladies talking about the arrival or their unborn bebes. One (who was expecting her first) was discussing her indecision whether to formula feed or not. The other (who was a veteran mother) quickly jumped in with the affirmative; yes she should absolutely NOT breastfeed. Her reasons were because “you will feel like a machine, always tied down to dish out the milk. You’re body won’t feel like your own, you will be tired, and you will never feel sexy” Seriously, she said that. Well I won’t argue with the last statement, but I was ready to jump in and print them off a copy of “The Breast is Best!” I did not want this total stranger to miss out on the mommy benefits.

Benefits for Mom

  1. Breastfeeding stimulates the hormone oxytocin (needed for milk ejection) which stimulates uterine contractions to return the uterus to non-pregnancy size. What’s sexier than that?
  2. Breastfeeding delays the return of fertility for the duration (aka save some bucks on birth control!)
  3. Many women who breastfeed experience psychological benefits, including  increased self-confidence.
  4. And need I mention the bond that is formed between the mother and the baby. Every mother I know who chose to breastfeed says it was the most special time to attach and grow close to their new infant.
  5. But if that’s not a good enough reason, lactating can require up to 500 calories a day, so those who breastfeed typically get back to their pre-pregnancy weight much quicker. So if the gym isn’t for you, you should highly consider breastfeeding.
  6.  And finally, women who nurse at a younger age and for a longer duration have lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

I apologize if this post is uncomfortable. Should I be concerned that talking about breasts and uterine contractions are so easy for me? Maybe it’s just obvious WIC should offer me employment. Please check out their website, I will post it again. WIC. If you need more advice as to how to actually go about breastfeeding, this is your link. They offer classes and employ amazing mentors. This is also a good one. There are no excuses, unless you have AIDs.

So, you have a sweet tooth eh?

I came across this really great article in Delicious Living magazine. I want to share it. And as a disclaimer, this is me paraphrasing the article pretty heavily. So I will not take credit for the research or opinions expressed below:

The article is titled : Reduce Food Cravings. It’s super awesome because it shares the opinions and advice from a Doctor, a Registered Dietitian, and a Psychologist on why we crave foods (especially sweet and delicious foods).

Doctor Walter Crinnion says: Many people crave sugar because it allows more of the amino acid tryptophan to reach the brain and bind to the endorphin receptor sites. When this occurs, the body produces seratonin – ya know, that happy feel good hormone ;). This is why we LOVE our sweets and we CRAVE them. They make us feel GOOD! He also mentions that food cravings often stem from adverse food reactions, AKA ,poor digestion. If you are not absorbing the healthy nutrients that you need, your cells will essentially feel hungry, and you’re body is going to start the cravings. This is a biological cue your cells send your brain that they aren’t being nourished. So make sure you’re gut is in check! Consider looking into digestive enzymes if you think it is necessary for you to acquire optimal digestion.

A final tip from the Doc is that sometimes food cravings aren’t about food at all. You know how when we are bored we suddenly crave snacks? It’s just because we are bored and our body is craving something to do. So the next time you want to jump up off the couch to grab some more gummy bears or peanut butter pretzels, think about why you are actually feeling cravings. A glass of water or a short walk may alleviate that craving desire you are experiencing.

Dietitian Jessica Crandall says: The most commonly craved foods are simple sugars like candies and white carbohydrates because they provide short burst of instant energy. They can stimulate us when we are feeling sluggish. Combat this by getting enough zzzz’s. Shoot for at least 8 hours (personally, I don’t think that’s realistic for anyone these days! But good luck!). Also, eating a balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can also cause food cravings. For example, an insufficient amount of iron and vitamin D can contribute to cravings. So consider foods like meat, beans, and green leafy veggies (iceberg doesn’t count).

And of course, if you want your sweets you gotta have your sweets, BUT, do so in moderation. Try not to binge. If you crave ice cream, switch to frozen yogurt. If you crave potato chips or french fries, try a baked potato instead. And as always, control your portions when indulging. Portion out your chips and jelly beans, don’t eat straight from the bag.

Psychologist Wansink says: It is possible to “rewire” yourself to want foods that are good for you. For example, if you associate ice cream sundaes with happy occasions , slowly start to connect fresh bananas with light whipped cream with birthdays and parties instead.

Combat the urge. There is little evidence to suggest that giving into a food craving with satisfy your hunger. It will more likely ignite an appetite. So when you crave something unhealthy, occupy yourself with another activity to focus your mind elsewhere. And finally, it is ok to binge on an unhealthy food occasionally, but be sure to get back to normal eating habits as soon as possible so you won’t disrupt the good you have going.

I hope you have enjoyed this tid bit. I have been feeling extra snacky lately so I really needed this advice. Happy not giving into cravings too often!

You know you want me…

News update: 

I am available, willing, and excited to offer you my nutrition services!

  • Do you know anyone looking for a private nutrition counseling session?
  • Are you or someone you know interested in personalized meal plan?
  • How would you like someone to help you with your meal planning and grocery shopping?
  • Or do you need a guest speaker for an event, class, seminar, etc?

I want to help you out!

Please check out my contact information under the “About” tab and feel free to contact with me if you are interested in any sort of nutrition coaching. I love love teaching at an individual or group level and would happy to arrange something with you or a friend. So spread the word; it’s never too late to live happy and healthy!

Carbo Loading

Carbohydrate loading is a technique used to maximize glycogen stores for long endurance competitions. Without careful planning, after a couple hours of strenuous activity, glucose stores can deplete causing dysfunction with the nervous system and will make continued exertion almost impossible. Let’s avoid this, yeah?

Thousands of studies have been conducted on this topic since carbohydrates were identified as the most efficient energy source over 80 years ago. Today the discovery goes on and on; does carbohydrate loading solely prevent fatigue? Can it actually improve performance? What is the best type: food, liquid, supplement? Does the timing of intake make a difference, etc. It’s overwhelming right now the piles of books, journals, and pages I have found just on this topic. For your sake, and my sanity, I am going to keep this basic.

I will begin by saying, that carbohydrate loading is pretty much unnecessary for athletes participating in events lasting less than 90 minutes. I mean, the orange slices at the soccer games, and spaghetti dinners the night before track meets are great, but the increasing load of carbohydrate intake days before an event and doubling your grams/kg/day amount is a little overboard.

So how does carbohydrate loading work? The key is to consume substantial amounts of carbohydrates a few days prior to the event and at the same time decrease the duration and intensity of training to assure plenty of endogenous glycogen stores. This sort of tricks your muscles into storing more glycogen and can possibly double muscle glycogen concentrations! Here is a good basic “how-to” chart.

Before the Event Training Intensity Training Duration  Dietary Carbohydrate
6 days Moderate (70% VO2 max)      90 min Normal (5g/kg body wt)
4-5 days Moderate      40 min Normal
2-3 days Moderate      20 min High-Carb (10g/kg body wt)
1 day Rest        — High-Carb

Some people (those who do not struggle with reactive hypoglycemia) do well to have a little bit of carbohydrates about 90 minutes before an event. Also, it is important to eat around 60 grams of carbohydrates immediately following activity to replete glycogen stores. And carbohydrate ingested during prolonged activity can help maintain blood glucose levels and even reduce the psychological perception of effort. Cool huh? This is when Gatorades and sports gu’s come in handy.

Those of you who exercise regularly and intensely, but do not fall under the endurance category, would do well to have a higher carbohydrate diet all around. 5-8 grams/kg/day is a good target for ya’ll.

SO…for some perspective, the following snack ideas provide around 60 grams of carbohydrates:

  • 16 oz sports drink and a small bagel
  • 2 pieces of toast with jelly
  • 8 oz pineapple juice and a granola bar
  • 1 large sweet potato w/ juice or sports drink
  • Other good concentrated carbohydrate foods include dried fruits, nectars, and athletic gu’s.