Posted by: molander | January 1, 2010

Hydrogenated Fats

From the Avoid At All Cost List

1. Hydrogenated fat is where we get the “trans fats” we hear about in the news.

2. Purpose of the stuff is to allow foods like chips, crackers, cookies, pies and bread to sit on the shelf forever and still retain their “freshness.”

3. Why it’s bad:

xxxxx a. Messes with your cholesterol
xxxxx b. Shrinks the size of LDL particles making them more likely to clot
xxxxx c. Dramatically raises your risk of heart attack (Just 2% increase in trans-fatty acids increase chance for heart disease by 23%!
xxxxx d. New England Journal of Medicine review of more than EIGHTY studies found:
xxxxxxxx i. More dangerous to health than any other food contaminant EVEN if it’s only 1-3% of your total calorie intake!
xxxxxxxx ii. 20-60 calories of trans fats start damaging health!! (A couple “trans fat free” cookies or crackers and you’re past the safe mark!)

4. Likely culprits: Any food with the word “hydrogenated” in the ingredients list EVEN if it clearly states “No Trans Fats” on the label!

Scary: Government allows you to say it has no trans fats if there is less than .5 grams per serving size. So… manufacturers reduce the serving size until the numbers look right. Problem is: the trans fat is still there and there is NO SAFE AMOUNT of this stuff!

You’ll find hydrogenated fats in these common items:

Cake mixes, biscuit, pancake and cornbread mixes, frostings
Cakes, cookies, muffins, pies, donuts
Crackers
Peanut butter (except organic and/or fresh-ground)
Frozen entrees and meals
Frozen bakery products, toaster pastries, waffles, pancakes
Most prepared frozen meats and fish (such as fish sticks)
French fries
Whipped toppings
Margarines, shortening
Instant mashed potatoes
Taco shells
Cocoa mix
Microwave popcorn
Breakfast cereals
Corn chips, potato chips
Frozen pizza, frozen burritos, most frozen snack foods
Low-fat ice creams
Noodle soup cups
Bread
Pasta mixes
Sauce mixes

The good news is that there are healthier versions of the above items and I’m currently working on a list to share on the blog. In the meantime, refer to this general list of brands that don’t use items from the Avoid At All Cost List.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Avoid At All Cost items are either non-foods or foods modified so extremely that they have become harmful to the body. The clearest (and most concise-yet-comprehensive) list I can find on this subject is in Jillian Micheals’ book Master Your Metabolism so that’s what I’m using for reference in this series. Learn about other items on the Avoid At All Costs List at the right. Hydrogenated Fats
Refined Grains
High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial Preservatives, Colors, Flavoring
Glutamates

xxxxx

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Posted by: molander | January 1, 2010

Refined Grains

From the Avoid At All Cost List

1. Yes, grains grow from the ground (natural = good) but they’re ruined when they’re refined.

2. Refining removes the bran and germ of the grain

xxxxx a. This removes almost all of the fiber, vitamins, minerals
xxxxx b. When “enriched” with vitamins, they are simply replacing chemically what they stripped out

3. Refining makes them easier to digest

xxxxx a. You get hungry faster
xxxxx b.Skyrockets blood sugar and insulin spikes
xxxxxsss i. Repeated spikes lead to insulin resistance and diabetes
xxxxx c. You get 40% higher levels of C-reactive protein (messes with blood vessels; associated with heart attack and stroke –Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

4. Buy only products that say “100% whole _______” as the first ingredient. Beware of yet another government labeling trick: Products labeled simply as “whole grain” need only 51% whole grain. (Isn’t that more like “half grain”? [tsk, tsk]

Our favorite bread is Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Organic. Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with any of these companies! Just sharing my personal findings and opinions!

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Avoid At All Cost items are either non-foods or foods modified so extremely that they have become harmful to the body. The clearest (and most concise-yet-comprehensive) list I can find on this subject is in Jillian Micheals’ book Master Your Metabolism so that’s what I’m using for reference in this series. Learn about other items on the Avoid At All Costs List at the right. Hydrogenated Fats
Refined Grains
High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial Preservatives, Colors, Flavoring
Glutamates

xxxxx

Posted by: molander | January 1, 2010

Avoid At All Cost List

Good, Better, Best Entry 3

donuts

Sad to say these contain all 6 items to avoid. 😦

These are things that should NOT be part of our diets. They are either non-foods or foods modified so extremely that they have become harmful to the body.

The clearest (and most concise-yet-comprehensive) list I can find on this subject is in Jillian Micheals’ book Master Your Metabolism so that’s what I’m using for reference in this series. Click on an item below to learn what it is, where you might find it and what to buy instead.

  1. Hydrogenated Fats (aka Trans Fats)
  2. Refined Grains
  3. High-Fructose Corn Syrup
  4. Artificial Sweeteners
  5. Artificial Preservatives and Colors
  6. Glutamates
Posted by: molander | January 1, 2010

Proper Maintenance

Good, Better, Best Entry 2

Baby oil is cheaper than motor oil but we wouldn’t put that in our cars so why do we put cheap, chemically processed food in our bodies? Think about it. You could save some money if you used baby oil instead of motor oil during your next oil change. Let’s see… $30 oil change at the quick lube place vs $8 of baby oil and doing the labor yourself. Great savings! Right?

Wrong. The car needs oil that was designed to withstand high temperatures. Using the wrong oil could ruin your engine. You paid a lot of money for that car! If you treat it properly it could last you 10 years! 10 measly years. Wow. And your body is supposed to last you how long? Hmmm…

Newsflash: Your body wasn’t designed to run on hydrolyzed gelatin, butylated hydroxyanisole, or sulfur dioxide but many of us eat that stuff every day. Our [amazing] human bodies take this stuff, TRY to figure out what it is and then they just take some action and move on! Unfortunately, these actions often set off a chain reaction of metabolism missteps that can lead to fat storage or worse… diseases like cancer.

So what foods have this crap hiding in them and WHY? Most of the processed foods on the grocery shelves contain this stuff because it 1)increases shelf life or 2)enhances texture or 3) provides color or flavoring or even 4) increases our desire for these products. (This is a whole field of study that falls under the heading of “food technology.” Scientists study everything from ways to increase the food supply (i.e. additives) to why we want to eat even if we’re full. Manufacturers buy this valuable information and implement it to increase their bottom line.)

Definition: Processed Foods – Any time you change a food from its natural state, it’s considered processed. Technically, chopping an onion can be considered processed so apparently, this is a strong case for good, better and best! That chopped onion is a “best” process food but these are examples to avoid: Lean Cuisine, soft drinks, General Foods International Coffee, Little Debbies, Townhouse Crackers, Wheat Thins, Velveeta, Yoplait yogurt, Stouffer’s lasagna, Kraft macaroni and cheese, and even deli meat.

BEST

Ideally, (aka “Best”) we would eat like we were plunked down in the Garden of Eden and feast on what God provided but our current culture makes this difficult sometimes. We can certainly buy fresh, organic ingredients and make all that stuff from scratch but… well… I, personally, really hate to cook.

BETTER

Falling into the “Better “category would be learning what chemicals to avoid and carefully reading the ingredients list on packages. (I do this, in case you’re wondering.) Here is the Avoid At All Costs List along with examples of products that contain them and good alternative choices.

GOOD

It’s always better to understand fully the who, what, when, where, how and why of anything that affects you personally but many times it’s sufficient to simply listen to someone you trust. For those who are willing to trust me, here are some brands/items worth your money. Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with any of these companies! Just sharing my personal findings and opinions!

Amy’s Replaces our Kraft Mac and Cheese. NEVER, EVER, EVER eat Kraft Mac and Cheese. I’m still mad about this.
Annie’s Replaces our Goldfish, Teddy Grahams, 100 Calorie Packs, etc.
Arrowhead Mills
Archer Farms Target brand
Back To Nature Replaces our crackers, cookies
Cascadian Farm Good stuff, easy to find, organic, lots of available coupons, Boxtops for Education
Clif (and their Luna bars) Clif Kid Organic Zbars are our favorites
Eden Currently, the only canned items without BPA
Food for Life (and their Ezekiel breads)
Health Valley Replaces our Nutragrain bars
Hormel Natural Choice meats Replaces our deli meat, nitrite/nitrate free, easy to find
Kashi Good stuff, easy to find, lots of available coupons
Natures Path (and their EnviroKidz line) Good stuff, easy to find, all organic. Thomas loves their poptarts though we think they’re just OK
Newman’s Own Excellent products, lots are organic, all profits go to charity, look for coupons.
Organic Dairy (any brand) – avoids growth hormones and antibiotics. No compromise – organic dairy ALWAYS. The synthetic growth hormones given to cows to produce more milk (rBGH/rBST) are linked to breast cancer. Also appears to cause early puberty.
Organic Meat – expensive but worth it, avoids growth hormones and antibiotics among other things Look for grass-fed beef – cows that are allowed to graze exclusively on grass produce milk and meat with 500 percent more CLAs than those fed grain.
xxxxx

It’s always better to understand fully the who, what, when, where, how and why of anything that affects you personally but many times it’s sufficient to simply listen to someone you trust. For those who are willing to trust me, here are some brands/items worth your money:

Amy’s

Replaces our Kraft Mac and Cheese. NEVER, EVER, EVER eat Kraft Mac and Cheese. I’m still mad about this.

Annie’s

Replaces our Goldfish, Teddy Grahams, 100 Calorie Packs, etc.

Arrowhead Mills

Archer Farms

Target brand

Back To Nature

Replaces our crackers, cookies

Cascadian Farm

Good stuff, easy to find, organic, lots of available coupons, Boxtops for Education

Clif (and their Luna bars)

Clif Kid Organic Zbars are our favorites

Eden

Currently, the only canned items without BPA

Food for Life (and their Ezekiel breads)

Health Valley

Replaces our Nutragrain bars

Hormel Natural Choice meats

Replaces our deli meat, nitrite/nitrate free, easy to find

Kashi

Good stuff, easy to find, lots of available coupons

Natures Path (and their EnviroKidz line)

Good stuff, easy to find, all organic. Thomas loves their poptarts though we think they’re just OK

Newman’s Own

Excellent products, lots are organic, all profits go to charity, look for coupons.

Organic Dairy (any brand) – avoids growth hormones and antibiotics.

No compromise – organic dairy ALWAYS. The synthetic growth hormones given to cows to produce more milk (rBGH/rBST) are linked to breast cancer. Also appears to cause early puberty.

Organic Meat – expensive but worth it, avoids growth hormones and antibiotics among other things

Look for grass-fed beef – cows that are allowed to graze exclusively on grass produce milk and meat with 500 percent more CLAs than those fed grain.

Posted by: molander | December 29, 2009

What TO eat!

Good, Better, Best: Entry 1

We hear so much about what evil foods to avoid so let’s start out positively by singing the praises of great foods!

1) See how many foods you can eat that DON’T have labels. Fresh fruits/vegetables, meat, dairy. AKA “eating more whole foods.” At the grocery store, spend more time shopping the perimeter rather than up and down all the aisles where most of the packaged foods are. Increasing your intake of these is good; making 50% of your diets fresh, organic foods is better; shooting for 100% fresh, organic is best!  (Why you should be eating organic is explained here.) I love the way Jillian Michaels puts it:

“If it didn’t have a mother or it didn’t grow from the ground, don’t eat it. Cheetos don’t have a mother and, I don’t know about you, I don’t recall seeing a Cheeto tree in my backyard when I was growing up.” — Jillian Michaels, Master Your Metabolism

xxxxxx a) Whiny Objection #1: Organic is too expensive!

xxxxxxxxxxxx 1) Read this excellent article from Prevention Magazine: “How to Be a Budget Organic: What’s worth the extra cost, what’s not, and how to save in other ways.”

xxxxxxxxxxxx 2) The Environmental Working Group provides this handy-dandy printable for “The Clean 15” (foods with the least pesticides, etc.) and “The Dirty Dozen” (foods you should ALWAYS buy organic). Alternatively, iPhone/iTouch users can download the free app with the same info here.

2) Refer to and print this list. Someone (Michi?) compiled a wonderful list of good-better-best foods right here. Tier 3 is good food. Tier 4 is better food. Tier 5 is the best food. Tiers 1 and 2 are foods that should be eliminated from your diet all together or eaten in limited quantities. We’ll talk more about these later.

Margaret

Posted by: molander | December 19, 2009

Good, better, best!

New Upcoming Series for the PERSONAL Health Care Blog:

good, better, best“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” -Vince Lombardi

I’ve shared this quote before in a post about choices because it is PERFECT for our purpose of healthy nutrition choices. After all, it’s all about good choices, better choices and best choices.

Most of the feedback I’m getting revolves around grocery shopping.

1) “It’s too much trouble to read the ingredients list and learn all this stuff. Could you just tell me what to buy?!”

2) “That healthy food costs too much.”

3) “Can you give me some guidelines to get started?”

This has sparked a new series of posts to address those issues. I’ll be listing brand names, specific items, suggestions of where to put your food dollars and WHY you should lean towards these choices.

“Use your head and save your heals” as my mom used to say. Even better, I’ll let you use MY head to save YOUR heals. I’m all about efficiency so let’s work towards getting our metabolisms functioning at maximum performance so we don’t have to do any more work than absolutely necessary!

Margaret

Posted by: molander | December 13, 2009

Sickeningly Sweet

Sugar is all over the place lately. We’re eating more of it, thanks to the holidays, and yet the health news is throwing out warnings left and right about this “evil” substance. I suppose now is a great time to see what all the fuss is about.

1. Sugar is addictive. Elementary explanation: Apparently, the sweet stuff appeals to the part of the brain that deals with pleasure (the same part that drugs appeal to, btw). Naturally, when you stop eating it, your body will crave it. If you don’t get it, you will overeat because your body is stressing out because your brain is still looking for it. Wean yourself away from sugar. Going cold turkey is tough. Scientific explanation here.

2. Sugar can impair your immune system. A few doughnuts (100 grams of simple carbs) can reduce the ability of white blood cells by 50% for a few hours. Wow! And we wonder why there are so many colds and flu in the winter. (Think holiday goodies!) More info here.

3. Sugar can lead to osteoporosis. Elementary explanation: Sugar causes you to lose more calcium when urinating. It affects other minerals, too, which contributes to more imbalance. Scientific explanation here.

4. Sugar can make you fat. Everybody knows this but it’s not just because it’s high in calories. It sets off a chain reaction of hormonal imbalances as your body tries to compensate for the increased blood sugar levels. I explain it better here.

5. Sugar can elevate cholesterol. Yep, and high cholesterol can lead to heart disease. Since sugar messes with insulin and insulin also affects triglycerides POOF! You start the ball rolling for a whole host of health disasters. More info here.

6. Sugar is linked to behavioral disorders in children and adults… not for everyone, but many people. However, there could be some confusion here. Most sugary products are consumed in conjunction with things that are non-foods (preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial coloring, pesticides and other chemicals). Sugar is quickly metabolized in the body so it serves as fast transportation for the dreaded non-foods which are much more likely to cause behavioral disorders like grumpiness, irritability, violence, inability to focus, and excess energy. So pay attention to what you’re eating to determine what is actually setting you (or your child) off.

WARNING! Don’t resort to artificial sweeteners to cut your sugar! Elementary explanation: The sweet taste confuses your body. It tries to appeal to those pleasure receptors in the brain but yet the chemical reactions in the body are different. Your brain then tells you to eat more food in order to get more sugar. Research has determined that artificial sweeteners lead to weight gain. There’s more on the subject here, and here, and here and… well, just Google it.

Artificial sweeteners are non-foods; chemical cocktails. Do not use – no debate. Period. Currently stevia (Truvia) or Xylitol (XyloSweet) are relatively more acceptable because they are less processed and made from natural substances. Here’s a good explanation of the controversy. FYI, we use no substitute at all at our house.

So what to do?? Cut back slowly training your taste buds and brain to prefer less sweetness. (Don’t tell me it can’t be done because we’ve done it! We used to think strawberries were to tart to eat without dipping them in powdered sugar but now we think that little tradition is far too sweet!) The World Health Organization recommends we keep our added sugar to 10% of our calories per day.

Instructions for figuring out your caloric intake are here.

Sneaky names for sugar are listed here.

Posted by: molander | December 7, 2009

Motivation Revisited

Motivation is a topic that comes up ALL THE TIME! It’s probably the number one question I get and it’s a topic every health writer covers more than once. Why? Well, 1) because it’s hard to stay motivated since discomfort/change is so alien to the human condition and 2) WE change so the things that get us going will need to change with us!

I touched on this subject before back in September 2009 but I’ve recently been given a new dose of motivation (unbeknownst to the source) that I just had to share. It came just last night from my friend, Ellen.

You see, like so many of the people I know, Ellen knows a good bit about what she should be doing but the problem is actually doing it. I can really relate because I was stuck right there for so l–o–n–g. Alas… we are all too human. We are programmed to seek out pleasure and avoid pain. Eating what I want, when I want is pleasure (albeit short-lived) and working out is pain (also short-lived but I never seem to view it that way). When we finally begin to realize that eating healthy foods in proper amounts and participating in regular exercise bring bigger, better,  long-term pleasure, THAT’S when the lifestyle change kicks in. Ellen’s lifestyle change has kicked in.

Now let me go on the record as saying that sometimes you can just tell when someone’s motivation is temporary. You smile and tell them “Good job!” but you know in your heart that they don’t actually “get it” yet. (It’s also worth noting that sometimes you just can’t tell if they get it or not!) And then other times, you know that they have turned the page and are a bonafide member of the “healthy club!” In my mind, I’m printing Ellen’s membership card!

But the coolest thing about welcoming her into “the club” is not the obvious stuff you’d expect… it’s the way she’s motivated ME without even knowing it! Last night, as we talked about her week, I found myself filling with all kinds of positive, wonderful emotions! I was so proud of her accomplishments, excited for what’s around the corner and motivated by her bravery. (Yes, you read that right. I was melodramatic and said “bravery.”) You see, moving out of my comfort zone scares me. I have to take teeny, tiny baby steps feeling the way with my toes as I go fearing I may fail even if I know I’m doing everything in my power to succeed. But not Ellen! Just like all the other areas of her life, she assesses the situation, decides what needs to be done and jumps in with both feet! In other words, she embraces the change and THAT’S why I know she’ll be successful. Why can’t more of us be like that? (More specifically, why can’t I be like that??)

This morning, Max Lucado posted this on Twitter: Change is a necessary part of God’s strategy. To use us to change the world, he alters our assignments.* Hmmm…. that statement can apply to so many things in our lives but in regard to our health:

  1. We can’t help the world much if we’re sick… or dead.
  2. We can make an even bigger difference  if we’re functioning efficiently (aka healthy).

So, special thanks to my sweet friend, Ellen, who happens to be a major player in my daughter’s life, too! Thanks for being you. Much love,

XXXXXXXX

*You can follow Max on Twitter http://twitter.com/maxlucado and if you’re not scared of this trainer like I am, you can workout with Ellen at: http://www.paullacoste.com/index.php.

Posted by: molander | November 28, 2009

The Company You Keep

“Are Your Friends Making You Fat” is an interesting article published in the New York Times back in September 2009. Sounds far-fetched but the science is right on the money.

It seems that in 1948, the National Heart Institute began “the nation’s most ambitious project to understand the roots of heart disease”. Dubbed the Framingham Heart Study, it followed 15,000 residents and their descendants and “has yielded a gold mine of information.” Check this quote:

[The Framingham Heart study found] that good behaviors — like quitting smoking or staying slender or being happy — pass from friend to friend almost as if they were contagious viruses. The Framingham participants, the data suggested, influenced one another’s health just by socializing. And the same was true of bad behaviors — clusters of friends appeared to “infect” each other with obesity, unhappiness and smoking.

Whoa… you mean to tell me my mother was right about peer pressure? Of course! A more grown-up term that also happens to be politically correct is “cultural influence.” What becomes “normal” to you is whatever you see on a regular basis. This applies to fashion, speech, educational goals, and any other lifestyle choices including eating and exercise.

Case in point: traditional Christmas fare around the world. What’s normal to us here in the South (USA) may be weird to someone from upstate New York…or the UK or the Dominican Republic or Russia or… well, you get the picture. (Here’s a great list of traditional Christmas foods served ’round the world if you’re interested.) Personally, I don’t want to see pickled herring and rutabaga casserole on my Christmas Eve table but if I grew up in Finland I’d probably be thrilled with those treats! Simply put, it would have been my norm.

Among its many amazing features, the human body allows our tastes to change! I honestly couldn’t care less if I ever eat a fast food hamburger again. Really. My husband no longer craves the floured, deep fried hamburger patties his mother called “double-goods.” (That hurts me to simply type that description.) Don’t get me wrong! We still get excited about food but our tastes have changed dramatically over the years. And a better benefit is that our kids won’t be worried about making these changes when they hit their 40s like the majority of Americans are doing today. It has become our norm.

Look around at the company you keep. Is there a need for you be the catalyst for change?

“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.” — James Gordon, M.D.

Other recommended reading on this subject:

Paul’s Health Blog

Time Magazine Article “How Friends Make You Fat”

NPR Story “Are Your Friends Making You Fat?”

Posted by: molander | November 8, 2009

N.E.A.T

Do you know about N.E.A.T? You can actually knock out some calories while you read a book, watch TV, or work on your computer. Really! I’m doing it as I type this post!

N.E.A.T stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis which basically means burning calories during basic everyday activities that don’t involve eating, sleeping, involuntary bodily functions or workouts/exercise. Hmmm…. this has possibilities.

Let’s say you’re absolutely sure you’re caloric content is on target. Let’s say you’re working out as you should but simply can’t find any possible way to add in more calorie burn time. Enter Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic and his most clever and practical use of NEAT. He explains it here on Good Morning America:

A quick search on the web reveals these workstations cost around $4,000 so I’m guessing it’s not likely your boss is willing to fork over a fortune to convert your office so how can you implement this great idea? For a no cost solution, tilt your monitor, stand up and walk in place. I used to do this all the time. You’re going for any small movement instead of sitting around like a bump on a log. It really is easy just as they said in that video clip. Take this idea home and walk in place while reading a book, surfing the net, watching TV, whatever you would normally do in slug-mode.

Recently, we purchased a treadmill and Dr. Levine kept popping into my mind since I spend a lot of time on the computer. “How can I make one of those work stations?” Well, here’s my low cost solution:

treadmill desk 1

Treadmill Desk: $5-$10 shelf proper width for hand grips

Treadmill desk 2

Dollar store silicone hot pads keep it secure.

1) I didn’t happen to have any extra wood lying around that was the proper size so I made a quick trip to the home improvement store and bought an inexpensive shelf that was just the right size.

2) I needed to protect my hand grips AND keep the shelf securely in place. The solution was silicone hot pads I already had. I thought about gluing them to the shelf but decided against it since we’re hosting Thanksgiving here. I’m gonna need those things! Besides, it works like a charm as it is.

3) Hot drink is not necessary but if you feel it is (as I do), no hot chocolate or double creamy lattes! You’re not burning that many calories! Black coffee and unsweetened green tea are excellent choices. 🙂

I have to say I love working on the treadmill! I vary the incline to burn a little extra and use muscles a little differently. As long as I keep the speed down it’s perfectly comfortable.

Just to make something perfectly clear: This, in no way, is meant to replace your solid, cardio workouts! Instead, it’s meant to replace your sedentary lifestyle! Zapping roughly 100 calories an hour without adding another thing to your to-do list…well, that’s just perfect for lazy…uh… efficient people like me!

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