Diet

This category contains 18 posts

Your Doctor Doesn’t Know Shit About Nutrition

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You would think your doctor would know about nutrition. After all, Hippocrates, the person the Hippocratic Oath is based from said “let food be thy medicine…” What you put in your body affects your body. Therefore, the person you trust with your overall health, should understand how food affects you. Bitch, you thought. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals just how much your doctor has been taught regarding nutrition. The study surveyed 126 medical schools and out of the 106 that responded, students in less than half of the schools were receiving more than 20 hours of nutrition education. Those 20 hours do not even come from a separate course. Say what? Their knowledge of nutrition comes from their chemistry and biology classes. Here is the problem with that: just as food can heal you, it can kill you too. For instance, if you eat a high-protein, low-carb diet, you are bound to beat the shit out of your kidneys. In fact, many doctors will recommend this type of diet to patients that need to lose weight. Can we all just give our poor kidneys a break and stop taking shitty advice from doctors who think carbs are the enemy.

In all honesty you should be eating more plant-based, COMPLEX FUCKIN’ CARBS! Our cells take the sugar we get from our food and they turn that into energy. You should remember that from your 7th grade science class. If you are feeling sluggish you shouldn’t be running to a piece of chicken to help you. What you should be doing is fueling your body with sugar. That’s what it runs on, you know? That said, don’t be eating a damn Snickers bar when you feel too sluggish to move. Your ass is going to sit back down on that couch and where will that get you? Nowhere. So eat some fruit, go outside, and let your metabolism do its job.

Why shouldn’t you always listen to your doctor? Times are changing; healthcare has become a business, and healthcare is SICK care. You cannot rely on your doctor to always be right. Given, sometimes they will give you good advice that benefits you, but they can also give you some crappy advice that benefits them. You must do your own research. A trip to the library or a simple Google search is easy enough, and you must have access to the Internet or you wouldn’t be reading this. If you want verification as to the validity of the site’s advice, ask me. You know the Mean Nurse tells it straight.

Why I Haven’t Jumped on the Smoothie Bandwagon

Smoothie og kaffe

The smoothie bandwagon, green or fruit, is a trend in wellness and weight loss that this Mean Nurse simply cannot get behind. Why? Sugar and calories. While there is no calorie counting on the Mean Nurse plan, you still have to be a bit mindful so you don’t overdo it. Any time you drink your calories, you are going to consume more calories than you probably intend because liquids never give you that “full” feeling that comes from the fiber in whole food. Sure, you can add a scoop of fiber to your smoothie, but why would you choose a pulverized and dried vegetable that has to be rehydrated to expand? Just eat the damn food! And if you say, “it’s more convenient….,” uh huh. Convenience has caused a lot of obesity and fat pockets of the food companies at the expense of our health and to the delight of the food companies and your doctor (well, maybe he’s not that delighted, but he is getting paid).

We think way too much about how to make food faster and easier to eat in the U.S., instead of enjoying our food the way it was meant to be enjoyed. The food companies compete by making their foods faster and easier to eat and sway the consumer with attractive and convenient packaging (Nutella sticks, anyone?) and empty claims of “natural” products. There is nothing more natural than a farmer’s market (that hopefully carries organic produce). Smoothies can be made fresh at your gym, health food store deli, or at home. Many consumers buy them already mixed at the store (processed with artificial ingredients). If you’ve ever made a smoothie at home, how much stuff do you put in it? A whole apple? Half a grapefruit? Some strawberries? A bunch of kale? Any protein powder added to that? What about some plain greek yogurt? Ever figured out the sugar content of what you’re consuming? You might wind up with a couple pieces of fruit, some vegetables (those are fine), and sugar in the protein powder (go read the label and look for words that end in -ose or any other form of sugar, malt, syrup or grain). The yogurt, if you use it, contains lactose, a milk sugar. Again, just eat the damn food!

From an environmental standpoint, many smoothies cause a lot of waste. A lot of people juice the vegetables and fruit and then add the yogurt and ice. Unless you are making muffins every day from the scrapes (like my local coffeehouse), you’re wasting a lot of food that you paid for and a lot of fiber that could benefit your digestive tract. Your grocery bill is also higher than it needs to be.

So, sorry, I’m not on the smoothie bandwagon as much as an unpopular position as that may be. I’ll live with it. I also don’t indulge in frappuccinos or any other frozen-style drinks unless it’s got alcohol and an umbrella in it. If I’m going to drink my calories, I want it to be with friends on a night out, so it’s an occasional indulgence, not an everyday thing because I’m on my way to work or coming home from the gym; then there’s no spare room in the calorie budget for chocolate. And that’s DEFINITELY a bandwagon I’m on!

When the “Experts” Get It Wrong

Dry ingredients for a Wacky Cake - ingredients...
I used to be a big fan of Jane Brody, a New York Times columnist on nutrition. Hers was the first book on nutrition I owned, and man, did I ever pour over that mother! I highlighted, made notes in the margin, dog-eared favorite pages. She graduated in 1952 from Cornell with a degree in biochemistry. Jane knew what she was talking about. She was a product of the same school that spawned T. Colin Campbell, The China Study and Forks Over Knives guy. So when she wrote an article that was published just this morning in the New York Times entitled “Why Cafeteria Food Is the Best,” I thought surely it was a satirical piece. She couldn’t possibly believe this. Yeah, I was wrong. She believes it, and even cited studies to prove it. Well, cited is the wrong word…. told us where the studies came from, but didn’t give the study names, which would make them easier to tear apart and disprove for questionable variables and controls. (Yeah, I’m THAT kind of study bitch critic.)

I love this quote in the article: “About 90 percent of lunches from home contained desserts, snack chips, and sweetened beverages…”  What the hell do you think that cup of milk that you’re offering contains? Lactose is a sugar. We shouldn’t be consuming it in any form because we do not naturally have the enzyme needed to digest it. If it’s in the form of non-sweetened yogurt, we’ve got a shot because it’s already partially digested, but other than that, we shouldn’t be drinking the shit. Also, ever look on a carton of chocolate milk? That shit MUST have sugar added in order to make it palatable. Cocoa comes from a bitter, bitter bean. The cocoa powder that many people bake with must have sugar added to the recipe so we want to eat the food. Ever tasted cocoa without sugar? I’d rather suck on a lemon!

This correlation in Ms. Brody’s article just killed me: “there has been no increase in food wasted by children who eat school lunches since rule changes took effect in 2012. About the same percentage of foods were uneaten and discarded as were wasted the year before.” Bottom line: kids are still wasting the food. They STILL don’t like it. Could that mean schools are still serving foods that kids don’t like? Hmmm? I have a recipe for homemade chocolate cake that is completely balanced, nutritious, and ooey gooey delicious, and guess what? The two versions each contain either a fruit or a vegetable. Kids don’t even know they’re eating them. I’m guessing the schools don’t know how to make anything that creative and delicious.

It doesn’t matter what studies Ms. Brody cited. Read the nutrition labels on the cans and boxes of cafeteria food. For any non-food item listed thereon, guess what?, it’s not real fucking food. It’s a chemical experiment made to taste like real food.

This article would be better titled “Why Cafeteria Food is Better in Some Cases” for those families who cannot afford to buy any food. We have to subsist somehow. Providing the BEST food for our children starts with education of the parents as to what is best, how to grow a few things at home (in any amount of space), and how to make the most of your grocery dollar or food stamps. It’s not as difficult as many people think, and if parents are on a minuscule budget for groceries, there are tons of ways to stretch meals for pennies….. literally, pennies. Need more info? Shoot me an email at themeanrn@gmail.com

The REAL Truth About Eating Like a Bird!

FullSizeRenderYou’ve heard friends and co-workers lament, “Oh my God, I eat like a bird, and I still can’t lose weight. I don’t know why!” Well, I’ll tell you why. You’re eating the wrong shit. No one eating a diet of mostly raw vegetables, fruit, and a little grain can’t lose weight or keep it off, because that’s what a bird eats. They don’t eat a couple of Oreos and down a diet soda, or a bag of chips and a bottle of Arizona or a Gatorade. Domesticated birds, eat vegetables — lots of them, if their owners love them and want them to live a long life. Some eat fruit, nuts, and a little cooked grain and seed.

Eating like a bird is really easier than you think, and if once a week you take the time to chop up a big container full of raw vegetables, your prep for the week’s cooking is more than half done. The other day I was swamped and had such a busy day that I wanted something fast for lunch. Unfortunately, we’d eaten all the leftovers so cooking was going to be the only route to go. Then I spied a can of tuna. I detest eating a whole can of tuna by myself because I’m the consummate meal stretcher. I stood there with the can of tuna in my hand, knowing the fridge was full of raw vegetables that could be added to the tuna, but I didn’t have spare minutes to chop up a bunch of them. Then I remember the bird’s food! — the container of raw vegetables already chopped up for our convenience in feeding them. It contained broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, celery, and carrots. YAY! I scooped out a cup of it, mixed in the tuna and a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It made enough for two servings – double YAY!

The lesson — eating like a bird doesn’t mean eating very little, it means eating little things that are healthy. So chop those vegetables up ahead of time. It makes for a beautiful and appetizing salad, with or without the tuna. You can just as easily add the mix to scrambled eggs, pasta, or even a meatloaf.

How to Avoid Good Health

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We are all told how to get and maintain good health, but what if you don’t want that? How many of you would prefer to slog through life and not do another healthy thing for yourself because it’s just too much fucking work? Well, darlins, this blog is for you:

  1. Eat products that come in a can or box and have a “best by” date of a year or more from now. Must be some powerful healthy food to last that long, right?
  2. Buy most of your groceries from the center aisles of the grocery store, because a complete meal in a box says it has all the nutrients you need.
  3. Buy items with exotic names that you cannot pronounce, because it must be Latin or something, and you were never good at science anyway.
  4. Eat food that has advertising campaigns. They must be really fucking awesome if they can afford to appear during a bowl game.
  5. Do not do ANY form of exercise or stress relief. Seriously, who has an extra 30 minutes a day to spend on themselves? You could be watching Netflix, dude.
  6. Drink only flavored water, cuz seriously… what’s up with the plain stuff?
  7. Drink diet soda. You gotta get your sodium intake in, and if you skip lunch, you can have two or three.
  8. Don’t eat any fruit because it’s high in sugar, and it makes you poop more, and you fucking HATE doing that everyday!
  9. Eat out almost exclusively. They know how to cook better than you, and dessert is always available.
  10. Eat a lot of beige food. French fries and McNuggets are da bomb! And did you see? Dude, Burger King brought Chicken Fries back!

When you’re “sick, fat and nearly dead” as the title of the popular book proclaims….. get in touch.

Weight Loss Success Tools: Daily Weigh-Ins vs. Food Journals

Bathroom scale

Daily weigh-ins are not typically advised on any weight loss program. Yeah, the Mean Nurse doesn’t give a rat’s ass about typical. Daily weigh-ins work. Why? Because it keeps you fucking accountable.

My godmother has weighed herself on a daily basis since she was a teenager. She allowed herself a three-pound gain at any one time before she’d take steps to take it off. That woman has weighed roughly the same for 60 years (a few pounds… LESS THAN 10!!!….have crept on over the past few decades). She attributes this phenomenon to daily weights. After doing exactly that for myself over the past year, and seeing a steady decline, I’d say she’s right!

Here’s what I recommend for everyone. Get a digital scale. Weigh yourself daily. Track weight loss ONLY on an app for your smartphone. I like MyFitnessPal. Record only those numbers where you see weight loss. The line graph on this app gives you a positive visual of the downward movement towards your goal. It does not matter how long it takes you to get to your goal, just as long as you get there. So if you only lose ounces every couple of days, that’s okay. Do you really want to go a week before you discover you’ve gained 5 pounds, which could have been stopped at 2? Allow no more than a two-week plateau or a two-pound gain before you take measures to get yourself back on track.

Now for food journals. Hate them. Why? Because they remind me of something a mother would do…. constantly monitor every little thing that goes into a kid’s mouth. In the past, I’ve had to keep a food journal for some commercial asinine weight loss program whose spiel I believed. I’ve had to record the time, date, mood, location(?), my thoughts and finally WHAT, I consumed. So when a food journal looks like this…..

Breakfast:  7 a.m. 1 piece of toast, standing over the sink, pissed off because I poked myself in the eye with my mascara wand and pissed because I have to eat breakfast on this stupid plan when I’m not hungry and breakfast makes me sick unless it’s at 10, but that’s the time for the flippin’ mid-morning snack. I can’t eat a vegetable at this hour or protein, because I absolutely will throw up.

Midmorning snack: 10:30 a.m. Walking from my kitchen to my computer. 12 grapes, which should have been 9 but I’m not leaving 3 grapes in the refrigerator because that would be cruel to my daughter. I really don’t care for fruit much, but I have to eat something I don’t like to lose weight, jeez that sounds really stupid.

Lunch: 2:30 p.m. Tuna out of the can sprinkled with balsamic vinegar, still not hungry, but I’m eating this anyway because I’m supposed to. Is a can of tuna, one serving of protein or two I wonder? Green beans, 1/2 bag frozen @ 3:30 p.m. Couldn’t eat the beans with the tuna because BLECH!, and these were the only veggie I had on hand because I’m saving the others for dinner, so I had to wait.

Midafternoon snack: I think that was the beans. Standing in the kitchen. Probably should have had more to eat by now, but I’m drinking coffee and water. Eyeing a banana because I should eat another piece of fruit. Why do I have to eat something when I’m not hungry? Seems stupid. Animals don’t do that.

Dinner: 7 p.m. Finally hungry. Breaking the “no eating after 6p rule” most plans advocate, but what if I’m not hungry until then and I go to bed at 1a.m.? Plus, learned to eat dinner later from living in Europe and that really works with my body clock. Fuck it, I’m eating. Sitting in livingroom watching Ed Show because diningroom table is covered in sewing and daughter not home. 1/2 grilled chicken breast, tri-color pepper mix plus more onions, mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash, tossed in red-wine vinegar and BUTTER, yeah, that’s right… BUTTER!

…. and a weight loss counselor says “you need to sit down at the table and take time out for yourself and really think about the food you’re eating and not do ANOTHER THING while you’re eating — like standing over the sink……,” I want to smack them. I do not need another mother. I do not need someone standing over me (the food journal), watching every little crumb that I put in my mouth. I do not have time to sit and write down my feelings about what I’m eating, because I do not want to EAT MY FEELINGS. I want to EAT MY FOOD. If I have to think about my feelings when I’m eating, I’m going to “feel” like eating chocolate or my go-to comfort food, macaroni and cheese.

It comes down to this: You ONLY need one bitch slap a day and that’s the scale. Start your day off with it, and it will set you right. You’ll either be soooo happy and ready to buy your scale flowers, or be soooo pissed off that you’ll make better choices THE REST OF THE DAY. Start your day off with the motivation it takes to honor your commitment to yourself. You don’t have to look back at your food journal to see where you went wrong. When you see that extra 2 pounds on the scale, I PROMISE YOU that you’ll remember exactly what you ate. You are allowed to swear at that point. (My scale knows lots of bad words in lots of languages.)

Now, relax, and just don’t do anything to piss yourself off tomorrow too.

-MN

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Why “Calories In vs. Calories Out” Can Cause Weight Gain

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You’ve heard for years that the equation is simple: burn off more calories than you take in, and you’ll lose weight. Seems simple enough, right? I mean, even people that aren’t good at math should be able to understand the concept without a calculator. The truth is, that logic is a bunch of hooey!

Case in point:  One person consumes an 80-calorie popular brand energy drink with Sucralose. The other person consumes an 80-calorie piece of homemade chocolate cake (yes, it’s a small piece, but bear with me) with chocolate frosting made with whole, organic ingredients, and yes, that means butter. Which one of these 80-calorie concoctions do you have a shot at burning off in its entirety with your evening session at the gym? You got it, the cake. Why? Because the cake isn’t loaded with chemicals, and all the chemicals in that energy drink were most likely encased in fat and STORED. Yes, that’s right, STORED IN FAT.

Our digestive systems are fantastic machines and know how to recognize the nutrients we need. It extracts them and sends them throughout the body for immediate use, or storage for later use. The “storage” includes muscles which will hold sugar. So the sugar in the cake can be stored for later use by the muscles OR later release, if the body needs it. When our digestive system encounters something it does not recognize, e.g. a CHEMICAL COMPOUND, it says “yeah, I don’t know what the fuck this is. It might be poison that could hurt the kidneys, liver, colon, etc., I’d better throw a blob of fat around it, and put it somewhere until I can figure it out.” Your 80 calorie concoction just got surrounded in a bunch of fat. And remember one gram of fat is 9 calories. What if each molecule of the chemicals that are inside the 80-calorie drink got surrounded by a gram of fat? That’s 9 extra calories per chemical molecule that it is now going to take to burn it off. Damn that’s a lot of gym time. I’ll take the chocolate cake and do 30 minutes on the treadmill. The fat molecules in the cake don’t need to be surrounded by more fat molecules to store them. The fat in the cake is sort of “what you see is what you get.” If the cake was made with applesauce in place of the fat, guess what… you’ve only got to worry about the carbs.

It makes me crazy when I try to explain to a coaching client that it doesn’t matter how many calories are in something, but what is making up the calories, and they turn a deaf ear. I’m committed to my clients. I’m committed to their health. I adopted the coaching philosophy of the late great Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry when he said, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.” 

I’d rather see them eat the chocolate cake, even though the more chemicals they eat, the longer they’ll need my services. It isn’t a win for me. It’s a loss for both of us.

 

 

 

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Healthy Eating – Why It’s So Hard to Get it Right

healthyliving_pageA couple of evenings ago, I was faced with a dear friend who was upset about recent lab results that he’d received. This man is a smart one and has investigated better ways of eating and exercising and his efforts had met with success, that is, until his doctor got word of a study, and promptly changed the supplement regime my friend had been on, which shot his levels back up. His doctor had assured him that it was a good study, and that the regime should be changed just in case. How many times have I heard that? With a sociology minor I know that sociologists teach medical doctors how to do research. That’s right. Someone with a Ph.D in sociology has to teach medical doctors how to do research. So I immediately hopped on the Internet to read the study. Shot holes in the study design immediately. Found it wasn’t published in a peer-reviewed journal. Sorry, doc, but you’re full of it. Shit like this makes me crazy.

So sitting before me was a very smart man, who wondered why he couldn’t “get this stuff right.” I saw the frustration in his eyes, and my heart fell, not just for him, but for everyone who listens to a so-called expert – and for cryin’ out loud doctors should be experts! – and is still faltering. It’s not his fault. It’s not their faults.

Is it any wonder that there is so much misinformation passed around when it comes to health and good choices we make for it? I modify my stance on healthy practices when I read new research that HAS been peer-reviewed. Every time I hear a news anchor say “a new study shows……,” I turn off my listening and wonder, “Where is it published? How many times have results been replicated? What was the study design?”

I’m fortunate because I have a doctor that does get it, and years ago when I couldn’t reconcile in my mind the amount of food that the country’s most successful weight loss program was touting that I should eat, he simply said “Americans eat too much food anyway and should only eat when they get hunger signals and stop when they stop, and eat it like it grows.” What a concept, huh?

My best advice when it comes to healthy eating is also his: eat food in as close a natural state as possible – the way it is grown – and eat a variety of foods in lots of different colors, organic is best. That’s it. It’s not more complicated than that. You can steam it, stir fry it with some spices and herbs, find interesting and flavorful combinations, but it really is that simple. There is NOTHING new under the sun when it comes to healthy food as far as new food products. We already have all the variety of foods that we are ever_going_to_have. Anything new is a chemical experiment, and should not be eaten. AND, if you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t be spending more than 15-20 minutes preparing it. It really is that simple. And I’ll gladly coach anyone who wants to know more about how to do it.

If you want to know more about how to eat healthy and melt weight off naturally and quickly, contact me.

Wow! You’ve Got to Try This—Egg Baskets

Great Saturday morning breakfast…. but we also like breakfast for lunch or dinner. Don’t be fooled by the picture, the “basket” part can be made with a vegetable combination using potatoes, zucchini, beets and carrots. I’ll definitely be making these and absolutely recommend them for healthy eating!

Simmer and Boil

Looking for fun brunch ideas? Look no further—we have a beautiful, easy idea for colorful handheld eggy entrees. All you need is a muffin pan and a little less than an hour to make it happen. Check out our how-to video to see how our individual egg baskets are made; recipes follow below.

For each Basic Potato Egg Basket, start with:
1/4 cup refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes (such as Simply Potatoes)

For each Carrot-Potato Egg Basket, start with:
2 tablespoons refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes (such as Simply Potatoes)
2 tablespoons shredded carrot

For each Zucchini-Herb-Potato Egg Basket, start with:
2 tablespoons refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes (such as Simply Potatoes)
2 tablespoons shredded zucchini, patted dry with paper towels
1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

For each Beet-Potato Egg Basket, start with:
2 tablespoons refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes (such as Simply Potatoes)
2 tablespoons shredded…

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NO, Do Not Stop Taking Vitamins!

English: The DSM Vitamins Factory

The article in the New York Times this morning about giving up our vitamins just pissed me off to no end! NO! No, you should not stop taking vitamins. BUT, you shouldn’t buy them from the grocery and drug store either. (Get them from a natural food store, not GNC.)

YES, we should all be getting every damn vitamin and mineral we need from our food supply, but have you taken a look at our food supply? There is less real food in all foods unless you grow it yourself or get it from a farmer you trust. These studies that negate the effectiveness of vitamins and supplements assume that every person’s diet is perfect. Is yours? Mine isn’t, and it’s pretty damn good. And by the way, the USDA recommended allowances for daily vitamins and minerals do NOT apply to every one anyway. Some people need more depending on their health. Those recommendations were written for the “average person,” but have you SEEN the average person lately? What size are they? They may not look malnourished, but most are. How many have diabetes? Heart disease? Cancer? Their nutrition needs are different. One size does not fit all in nutrition.

The USDA was founded so farmers have a voice and protection for their crops and income. I’m sorry, but what does a farmer know about my nutrition needs? In most cases, the limits aren’t high enough. For myself there is no way that I could consume all the foods high in Vitamin C to get what my system needs in order to fend off allergies. So, yes I have to take a supplement, and let me tell you that a couple days after not taking it, I’m a sneezy, wheezy mess. It’s the same with the fish oil I take. I’m more alert and can MOVE without pain when I take it. When I don’t, my body reminds me that I’m on the other side of 50, and I’ve enough trouble just keeping away the greys!

So please remember that when you read reports like this that vitamins are worthless, do what I was taught in college, ask yourself who conducted the study or is giving the advice. A doctor? Oh, you mean the guy that needs patients….. patients that are sick? Uh huh. There’s a reason I haven’t needed to go to the doctor in six years, and it’s not because I live in a bubble and never come into contact with germs. Vitamins are part of my daily regime, and they’re staying that way.

-TMN

Eight Tips for a Stress Free Holiday

Christmas gifts.

The mere mention of “the holidays” can cause a stress reaction. What does that mean?  It means the body reacts with a “flight or fight” response, which causes the release of adrenaline and cortisol, and that wouldn’t be so bad if they also didn’t cause our heart rate and blood pressure to rise and our digestion to slow down. Some studies link excess cortisol to abdominal fat. Who wants to fight the battle of the bulge without at least eating something decadent to deserve the flippin’ muffintop? Stress tears down your immune system causing you to be susceptible to every bug going around, including the nasty yearly flu. (Read The Mean Nurse’s Flu Prevention Tips and What You Don’t Know About the Flu Vaccine Can Hurt You!) Stress ages your body and your face. Ack!

Too many parties to attend, gifts to buy, kids home from school, relatives, food, and noise take a toll and at the end you collapse from exhaustion and wonder: “where did the spirit of the holidays go?” You’re exhausted, cranky and OH LOOK… Santa gave you an extra five pounds in your stocking! The bastard.

If you don’t want the stress, exhaustion and the extra weight, try some of the following strategies. You might have a shot at keeping the holiday spirit alive without needing to drink so much of the holiday spirits!

1)         Keep your regular routine. Whether you take a CrossFit or yoga class every Thursday night or go running, do not skip it just to attend an office party. Do both. Your presence will only be missed for a short while and you will keep your integrity and commitment to your health. Knowing that you have to work off whatever you eat or drink may prevent you from overindulging.

2)         Don’t accept every invitation. More parties with more food and alcohol means an ever-expanding waistline. Do you really want to spend an extra five or six hours of your life working that off?

3)         Make instead of buying. Homemade gifts come from the heart, and they can be as simple as a cookie mix in a canning jar to as complicated as a handmade china cabinet. Handcrafted gifts are imbued with your energy and love you have for the receiver. If you aren’t a handy person, visit a local holiday craft fair. You will find plenty of items for gift-giving.

4)         Recycle. We’ve all had something in our house that someone has envied and commented on every time they visit. So take the thing they love, wrap it up and give it to them. Chances are they will treasure it always, and you will get visitation rights! The Swedes actually have a holiday tradition of exchanging one personal item they no longer use with a loved one who chooses a similar item from their own household.

5)         Buy throughout the year instead of waiting until the end of the year. People’s tastes generally remain the same and you probably could have most of your holiday shopping done by the time the season rolls around. Shop throughout the year, and it will save you hours of frustration and stress later.

6)         Cut down on the number of gifts you buy for each person. In Italy, most families only give one, maybe two, gifts to one another and that includes the children. The time families spend together is more important than any gifts they receive.

7)         Only make the food you need. We have all come away from family gatherings with containers or plates of extra food. Again, think of that extra exercise time. Prepare and take less home with you.

8)         Ask people what they would like to receive instead of trying to guess. Consider taking them shopping with you and let them pick out the item they want. Adults especially care less about ripping off the wrapping paper than children, and would rather not have to stand in the returns line.

How do you make your holidays less stressful?

Any tips or tricks you’d like to share that streamline gift giving, baking or decorating?

 

Stop Eating Crap *#($^ Damnit!

Vegetables

I am part of an online discussion group for a pharmaceutical company that makes insulin and other drugs for diabetics. Every month, health care professionals discuss new products for diabetics, the challenges diabetic patients have and new research in the field of diabetes.

As a part of this unique community, the participants also share personal anecdotes, which sometimes includes recipes that are diabetic friendly and nutritious. This morning my head damn near exploded. Someone shared a recipe currently making the rounds on the Internet (I’ve seen it on Facebook) for Easy Sugar Free Pumpkin Dip, which includes Cool Whip and vanilla pudding mix. Nutritious? Hardly. Sugar free? Sure, because natural sugar, which our bodies are ABLE to process, has been replaced with CHEMICALS, which our bodies were not made to process. And fat? Hydrogenated anything is not only fat, but BAD fat.

As I scrolled through the comments on the recipe, not one person objected to the ingredients (pretty sure they didn’t check), or the fact that this recipe was certainly NOT nutritious. Delicious? Oh yes, they all agreed that it was, or at least sounded, yummy. Hell, it sounds yummy to my taste buds as well, but not so much to my body or my body’s chemistry. I imagine headaches, intestinal issues, lethargy, and clogged arteries.

Stop putting ingredients together that are already fattening or unhealthy themselves.

You know it doesn’t cut the calories in half or make them more nutritious, right?

Unfortunately, many people will simply see “sugar free” and think “healthy.” Rarely do the two go together unless we’re talking about vegetables.

I know that we all need treats…. some little sweet reward for eating well, or to take the edge off our stress, but if you’re eating a food where the ingredient list reads more like a chemical experiment, you shouldn’t be putting it in your mouth! And that’s it! Fucking don’t eat the shit, because that’s what your body thinks you’re doing – eating shit. And it’s going to take those weird chemicals that it doesn’t know how to process, identify them as foreign, encase them in fat as a self-protective measure, and put them on your hips, thighs, backs of your arms, or wherever. Is that what you want for a few measly minutes of “OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST THING I’VE EVER TASTED?”

For me, that answer is “no.” But then again, I’ve tasted mille foglie. I could be good for the rest of my life, if I never taste another sweet thing.

Below are the ingredient lists for the two main ingredients of that pumpkin recipe. Note, that you can make your own pudding mix with cornstarch, sugar and vanilla extract. That’s it…. that is all you need. No oils, salt or “sodium stearoyl lactylate.” And you know that you can make your own “whipped cream” using fresh cream, right? I’m not saying that’s completely healthy either, but if you get the organic stuff, at least you won’t also get the corn syrup, aspartame and all the other crap.

The holidays are coming up and the recipes for everything delicious that’s also BAD for you will be hitting the newsstands, the Internet, and the holiday buffet tables. THINK about what you’re eating. No, really. Don’t just eat something because “it’s the holidays, and you have to be nice and try whatever Aunt Sally made….” Blah blah blah. Aunt Sally can get the fuck over it. She’d probably rather have you around a few more years than to be attending your funeral because you had one too many pieces of her “ooey gooey chocolate death cake.”

Once you put it in your mouth, it becomes PART OF YOU. You can’t put it back. Nothing tastes as good as good health feels. Food is supposed to keep us alive and healthy; not alive and unhealthy. Choose wisely.

________________

Jello Sugar Free Vanilla Pudding Mix

Ingredients (17):

Water, Xylitol, Food Starch Modified, Milk Protein Concentrate, Contains less than 1.51.5% of Vegetable(s) Oil Hydrogenated (Coconut Oil, Palm Kernel Oil) , Salt, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate For Smoothness, Sodium Alginate, Calcium Phosphate, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Color(s) Artificial, Yellow 5, Yellow 6

Sugar Free Cool Whip

Ingredients (16):

Water, Corn Syrup, Vegetable(s) Oil Hydrogenated (Coconut Oil, Palm Kernel Oil) , Sodium Caseinate from milk, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Corn Starch Modified, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Monostearate, Sodium Polyphosphate, Acesulfame Potassium and, Aspartame Sweetener, Beta Carotene Added for Color

A Medication and Vitamin Review Can Save Your Life and Money

Vitamins

My father is on a ton of medications for his heart, lungs and circulation. Part of this sentence of endless pill popping is his own fault for not taking better care of his health or listening to the doctor when he was told to stop eating so much red meat, ice cream, potato chips and candy. But 25 percent of his prescriptions were actually his doctors’ faults. I say “were,” because I discontinued them. Yep, me, the RN, said “you’re not taking these.”

After a month-and-a-half of my dad being in and out of the hospital, I was steaming. The one doctor that I talked to a couple times was condescending and never put my father on a monitored floor when he was admitted. With my father’s heart history, I knew that was a bad call and would catch up with him quickly. How exactly do you put a patient with an extensive cardiac history on new meds and see what those new meds do to the heart rhythm, which is already irregular, without putting the patient on a monitored floor? Jackass. I tried to put my foot down, but my parents both said “the doctor knows what he’s doing.”  Uh huh. Okay. Don’t call me too early in the morning when you’ve called the ambulance — I’ve got coffee in hand about nine.

So yes, this practice caught up with my dad, twice, with irregular heart rhythms that made him so dizzy that he collapsed and with a hand so swollen from side effects that my mother was worried the skin would burst. After two ER visits, with the squad called (yes, early in the morning before 9), I took a bunch of my medical reference books and the tablet to my parents’ home and spent more than two hours going over every prescription in my father’s daily regime. I’m still shocked at the ineptitude of his physicians in prescribing meds that fucked up his heart medications’ effectiveness.

It’s been a month and he is walking better, is in far less pain, has no dizziness or irregular heart rhythms that he didn’t already have, and his vascular doctor said the circulation in his legs is much improved. The hell you say.Thank you, garlic.  Yes, I took him off drugs and a couple of vitamins and replaced them with herbs. The vitamins weren’t awful, they were just too high in potency and were part of the reason he was in pain…. that Vitamin B6 is a temperamental thing and can cause joint pain in high doses.

Had I not done the medication review, he might have died. Two of his newer prescriptions were counteracting the effectiveness of his heart meds. It’s no wonder he ended up on the floor. Had I not done the vitamin review, he may have been put on more medications to manage his pain. He didn’t need more of anything. He needed less. Patients don’t usually know that a medication review MUST be done anytime that a new medication is prescribed. If a patient has more than one prescription, the possible interactions and side effects MUST be checked frequently because side effects can occur at any time as a drug builds up in the body. A medication review can be done by any nurse, but is best done by one who also knows and understands vitamins, herbs and nutrition. Why spend money on medications when you can eat some celery? (That’s effective for inflammation and arthritis, by the way.)

What Does a 200-calorie Serving Look Like in Your Favorite Foods?

Serving size

Serving sizes on products have grown in the past few years. The link below contains a great visual that will give you a clue as to how much of that favorite food you can enjoy. Remember a snack should be under 150 calories, so if you reach for that afternoon candy bar, don’t eat the whole thing. I don’t care what the “serving size” states.

And for goodness sake, don’t drink all that balsamic vinegar that you see in this link! It will literally kill you. (I don’t care if they do serve it as an apéritif in Italy.)

http://m.artfido.com/blog/photographic-series-showing-what-200-calories-looks-like-in-different-foods/

Eating High-fiber Foods May Protect Against Stroke

English: veggies

Eating high-fiber foods has long been touted as an effective means to suppress appetite and lose weight. Now a study published in the journal Stroke reports that eating high-fiber foods reduces the risk of stroke. The findings were pooled from eight observational studies indicating that each seven-gram increase in daily fiber intake reduced the risk of first stroke by about 7 percent.

Water soluble fiber, like the kind found in beans, nuts and other foods reduced the risk substantially. Insoluble fiber and cereal fiber reduced it slightly. Fruits and vegetables contain both types of fiber, and a quick and easy way to increase your fiber intake from vegetables especially is by making a cooked vegetable purée and stirring it into a pasta sauce or rice. You can do this with winter squash into risotto, which is a wonderful and tasty Italian dish or with the American favorite macaroni and cheese and a purée of steamed cauliflower and carrots… mmmm, buonissimo!

The recommended levels of fiber intake are 21-25 grams for women and 30-38 for men. The current average fiber intake in the United States is about 13 grams a day for women and 17 for men, according to background information in the study. Increasing these amounts by 7 grams a day would bring them close to recommended levels. 

“Seven grams a day increase is an achievable goal,” said the senior author, Victoria J. Burley, senior lecturer in nutritional epidemiology at the University of Leeds. “You’re talking about swapping white bread for whole wheat or increasing vegetable and fruit by two portions a day.”

I’d watch the whole wheat bread if I were you, however. The latest findings in the GMO war against Monsanto are that chemicals from Monsanto’s crops have tainted even organic wheat fields.

Better Health Through a Better Gut

diagram of a human digestive system

I have been saying FOR YEARS that if patients would just clean out their digestive tract they wouldn’t get sick as often. I remember telling a group of RNs this when I was “just a student nurse,” as they told me. Saying my claim was met with skepticism is being nice.

Bad flora can overrun your intestines so much that you become constipated, get severe headaches, become mentally confused, agitated and basically feel as though you’re losing your mind. And those are just a few maladies from a polluted digestive tract.

Cleaning out the digestive tract can be a cheap, easy fix for a lot of health problems (see link below). What’s the easiest way to do a digestive cleanse? Eat a lot of garlic. You can’t start off popping Kyolic tablets right and left though, if you’ve never done a digestive cleanse. You MUST start slowly or you’ll feel like your intestines are being turned inside out. You can also just sprinkle your food liberally with garlic a few times a week and it will have the same effect. When you start to observe more mucus in your stool, the cleanse is working. If you have a day of diarrhea, it’s working a little too fast, and you may need to back off on the garlic a bit.

Depending on how long your gut has been polluted with old feces just stuck in pockets of the intestines (yeah, I wish I were kidding), the cleanse could take a couple of weeks. That’s okay. As you’re doing the cleanse with garlic, you also need to be taking in some “good flora.” Either get acidolphilus from the health food store (you want the kind they keep cold — it’s in tablet form, you don’t have to use the powder) or get yogurtplain if possible. If you don’t like plain, and I sure as hell don’t unless I’m cooking with it, get the yogurt with the LOWEST NUMBER of SUGAR GRAMS as possible. DO NOT get a yogurt made with Splenda or Aspartame, you’re doing your body more harm than good.  There are yogurts out there with as low as 9g of sugar; 13g should be the max.

If you want to read more on healing your gut, Christine M. Okezie, CHHC, a natural foods chef, has written a decent article on the topic, “Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Body”. The only point I completely disagree with is using sauerkraut  and miso as fermented foods to heal the gut. Sauerkraut is made from cabbage, a starchy vegetable. Starch turns to sugar. Don’t use it to heal your gut, it’s got the opposite effect. Miso as well can be made from soybeans (ok) or rice (no) or barley malt (no-no). Starch, again. So just avoid miso until you’ve finished the intestinal cleanse.

After the cleanse, watch how much simple starch you put into your body and make certain you have a meal laced with a lot of garlic a couple times a week. Also eat yogurt a few times a week. I consume it daily and this household uses so much garlic that it’s always on the grocery list!

So what can you expect from the results? More energy, more mental clarity, fewer colds, some people report that their eyesight improves. You can easily take off a couple pounds. Your bathroom will see more activity with regular (should be daily) bowel movements. Your health just gets better. Allergies also dissipate with this cleanse. It’s an easy fix to a LOT of health issues, so what are you waiting for?

When a Fat Gram Isn’t a Fat Gram

Let’s see, if we look at the label for the fat grams…. 5 + 2 does not equal 13. Soooo the rest of the fat would be polyunsaturated (a middle of the road fat) and monounsaturated (the healthy fat). Then we have to account for the lab errors in determining the nutritional content. Don’t know how much that can be?

WELL,

My nutrition professor once stated that the FDA allows nutrition labels to be “off” by as much as 30 percent. Shocking, I know. The FDA website guidelines state the label has only a 5 to 10 percent allowable margin for error. So who’s correct? I figure the truth lies somewhere in between, so I allow for a 20 percent error myself.

                  BUT, 

Think about this for a minute. Suppose my professor was correct and the label could be off by 30 percent. I’ll bet those companies don’t inflate the numbers so I doubt the label will report higher numbers than the reality.They’re going the other way and Americans’ waistlines prove that. Is it any wonder that it’s so difficult to lose? I think we’re safe eating the raw stuff. No hidden ingredients or fat grams there really. Just pesticides. Funny how I have a garden, and I have no problem with bugs eating my vegetables. Probably because I pack smelly marigolds and lavender around my plants and the bugs don’t seem to like those much. I also plant tasty pansies for their munching.

There is hope that companies have heard the public outcry and are changing their ways. Companies have finally realized that high-fructose corn syrup has packed on pounds to everyone, including themselves and they’ve changed the labels to read “corn syrup.” Well, that’s almost better. The last time you used corn syrup was it sticky and sweet? Thought so. Changing the name doesn’t make it healthier. So now we have to cry “no really, take that shit out of there!”  They’ll listen eventually. Or they won’t. I know there hasn’t been any of that stuff in my house for years. Except for that one time I made pecan pie cookie bars…. but it was only a small bottle, of course. LOL

Two Spices for Passive Weight Loss!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE cinnamon! So imagine my glee when I discovered that cinnamon helps stabilize blood sugar. Why is this good news? Because it can help you lose weight! When your blood sugar remains at a constant, you don’t get those cravings for carbs, you don’t get that spike in blood sugar that causes the body to produce more insulin and put yourself at risk for metabolic syndrome. Although studies for cinnamon’s positive effects on blood sugar have been limited, the proof is in your own experience. A group of my writing friends and I embarked on a one-week trial of cinnamon’s effects. We vowed to simple add cinnamon to our morning coffee or tea (both turn out like a chai latte or a chai tea). At the end of the week, a couple of women lost seven pounds; no one lost less than three. None of us changed our routines as far as adding more workout time, and we still lost LBs. Weight loss without working out? I’ll take it.


I recently read, although I might be a bit behind the times, that spicy food containing capsaicin, the compound that gives hot peppers their heat will actually dissolve, yes, that’s dissolve, fat. Now for years we’ve all heard that fat cells can only shrink, never dissolve and that yo-yo dieting results in accumulating more fat cells because the old ones never die and are not refillable. I really never believed that they never died off. The cockroach of our body? I don’t think so. I simply believed science hadn’t caught up to reality, but it seems now it has. Capsaicin turns white fat that’s packed into our trouble spots into cells more closely resembling brown fat. Brown fat can dissolve through energy expenditure… the fat we use for energy to complete our daily tasks. I don’t know about you, but I’m all for doing as little as possible to burn calories. I’d rather work in the garden or around the house, than pull time on a treadmill. If you can toss some Tabasco sauce on your morning scrambled eggs or sprinkled some cayenne on your morning OJ (you don’t taste the hot, really you don’t), and drop some poundage, imagine the results if you added 20 minutes of exercise. Imagine if you added 30 to 90 minutes.

I’m giving this a whirl. I’m adding Tabasco to everything I can think of this week, and doing the cinnamon thing. Although I wasn’t one of the women who dropped seven pounds with the cinnamon alone, I’m more than willing to be one by combining the two. Really…. I’m willing.

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