Archive for the 'Health and Nutrition' Category
If you believe breakfast cereal is a healthy start to your day, take some time to read through the article below:
If time is limited, I’ve copied some of the article highlights below:
“The absurdity of feeding an animal something that it never evolved to eat and that actually makes it fat and sick ought to be easy enough to see… They (processed cereals) are the epitome of cheap commodity converted by manufacturing to higher-value goods; of agricultural surplus turned into profitable export. Somehow, they have wormed into our confused consciousness as intrinsically healthy, when, by and large, they are degraded foods that have to have any goodness artificially restored.”
“It was a chronically dyspeptic businessman and former patient of Kellogg’s at the sanitarium who unleashed the power of marketing on breakfast. Charles Post set up the rival La Vita Inn in Battle Creek and developed his own versions of precooked cereals. “The sunshine that makes a business plant grow is advertising,” he declared, promoting his cereals with paid-for testimonials from apparently genuine happy eaters. He also cheerfully invented diseases that his products could cure. Grape Nuts were miraculously marketed at the time both as “brain food” and also as a cure for consumption and malaria. They were even, despite their enamel-cracking hardness, said to be an antidote to loose teeth.”
My Comments - Perhaps the best line from this entire article is bolded in the paragraph below. If you currently eat cereal, consider eating the box instead.
“That processed cereals had become little more than sugary junk with milk and vitamins added was an accusation made as long ago as 1970, when Robert Choate, an adviser to President Nixon on nutrition, told a congressional hearing into breakfast cereals that the majority “fatten but do little to prevent malnutrition”. Choate was outraged at the aggressive targeting of children in breakfast cereal advertising. He analyzed 60 well-known cereal brands and concluded that two-thirds offered “empty calories, a term thus far applied to alcohol and sugar”. Rats fed a diet of ground-up cereal boxes with sugar, milk and raisins were healthier than rats fed the cereals themselves, he testified to senators.”
My Comments - It should come as no surprise that large cereal manufacturers such as Kellogg’s have sponsored many school nutritional programs. Paying to sponsor a school program is just another form of advertising. They have never been concerned about your health, or the health of your children. The sole concern is annual revenue.
“Getting children hooked, making them associate breakfast cereal with fun and entertainment, were among the main aims of competing manufacturers from the early days. Cereal advertising likewise helped shape early television. Using “motivational research” to work out how to appeal to women and children with different kinds of packaging.”
“One of the biggest costs in cereal manufacture is not the value of the ingredients nor the cost of production, but the marketing. About a quarter of the money you spend on breakfast cereal goes on the cost of persuading you to buy it.”
These are just a few highlights from the full article. If you don’t have time to read through the entire piece, at least take some time to remove cereal from your morning schedule.
Horace Porter once said to be moderate in everything, including moderation.
Moderation is the process of eliminating or lessening extremes, and is used to ensure normality.
Note the underlined words above. To live a healthy (normal) life, moderation is important. My recent blogs were not intended to promote extremism regarding diet. We only have one chance at life. If you enjoy dining out at a nice restaurant, no one should stop you. As I’ve said before, I’m only human. I too enjoy good food. Who doesn’t? I’ve never met anyone who didn’t enjoy certain foods.
Yet, there is a difference between enjoying certain foods, and craving junk food 24 hours a day. Earlier, I stated that healthy living does not mean deprived living. Trust me, there are more than enough healthy (delicious) alternatives. If you are transitioning from junk however, it’s only natural to experience an initial struggle. Yes, tasty alternatives exist, but you must still overcome the initial attraction towards junk food.
Think of a drug addict. No one said it would be easy to kick the habit, but that doesn’t mean people stop trying. Initial struggles are to be expected. Obstacles are part of life. As Frank Clark once said:
“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”
Life is about more than food. Consider the amount of time that you spend eating within a single day. I’m guessing that most people spend an hour or less actually chewing their food. Yet, that single hour of eating often dictates how you feel for the remaining 23 hours. How do you honestly feel? Are you energized? Do you wake up feeling sluggish?
For every decision, there is a consequence. Ask yourself why you eat your food? Do you base your decisions entirely upon taste? Is taste all that matters? What about health? Much of my eating decisions are made with health in mind. Is it fanatical to take health seriously? I enjoy being healthy. What’s wrong with that? It’s an added benefit that the foods I eat happen to be tasty. I don’t live solely for taste however.
My health and vitality are extremely important to me. Of course I consider health when selecting foods to eat. I enjoy food, but I don’t enjoy it enough to sacrifice the rest of my day (and life).
I see people every day who complain about feeling tired, bitch about one ailment after another, and struggle to function in the world without a never ending supply of coffee. Does anyone actually strive to feel this way? Is it worth it? Is that what you want to be remembered for? Does junk food offer a hidden high that surpasses the crappy feelings (physical) that you experience the rest of the day?
I doubt it…
I’m not suggesting that you never have a treat, but apply the rule of moderation. For example, I enjoy taking my son to a local farm where the ice cream is freshly made each day. He enjoys seeing the animals on the farm. It’s a nice trip for the family. I don’t go every day however, and I don’t wake up dreaming about the next visit to the farm. It’s all about moderation. Enjoy yourself, but realize that there are more important joys available in this world of ours. Also realize that healthy food can be extremely tasty.
And if you find yourself struggling with food, it is useful to think about what you are eating. I recently watched the Fast Food Nation movie. Fortunately, I can’t remember the last time I had fast food (many years). After watching this movie, I’m certain that I’ll never have another fast food meal. The movie made me sick to my stomach. How could anyone actually want to put that kind of “food” inside the body? Forget about moderation when dealing with pure junk. I’ll proudly be extreme when it comes to avoiding absolute crap.
I enjoy waking up healthy and energized. My nutritional habits are largely responsible for this luxury and freedom. I wouldn’t give it up for the sweetest taste in the world.
Fortunately, it’s easy to feel the same way. I don’t have any secrets to share. I don’t have a top secret food source. I eat healthy foods and exercise for approximately 1 hour a day. That’s it.
I wasn’t happy when I found this story in my local newspaper.
Twenty Connecticut school districts (where I happen to live) are pushing a new Fizzy Fruit product to our children. As stated within the story above, Fizzy Fruit are pieces of apples, oranges, and grapes that have been pumped with carbonation to give them a soda taste. The food management contractor (Sodexho) who added these snacks to the menu hopes that “it will turn kids on to fruit.”
How did kids ever become turned off to fruit in the first place? My son is 2 years old. If you lined up 10 different foods, he’ll go for the fresh fruit every time. In his eyes, fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and grapes are treats. There is no need to add carbonation to a fruit that is already a treat.
Go look at the junk food at your local grocery store. Many of the sweets are fruit flavored. Why do you think the food manufacturers choose fruit flavors? Simple answer, fruit tastes good (so the kids will like it) and seeing fruit in the label fools many parents into believing the snacks are healthy. Unfortunately, most of these fruit snacks are everything but healthy. Need an example? No problem…
Let’s look at the ingredients:
CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, APPLE PUREE CONCENTRATE, WATER, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, GELATIN, CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF CITRIC ACID, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, COLOR ADDED, COCONUT OIL, CARNAUBA WAX, YELLOW #5, RED #40, SODIUM CITRATE, BLUE #1.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this snack is everything but natural.
Where do our kids go wrong? Why do we need to fool them with soda? Why are kids drinking soda anyway? Who buys the soda for these kids? Why don’t parents start leading from the front? Who does the shopping? Who makes the decisions?
My wife is involved with two mother’s groups with area kids. We’ve had several play groups in the last two years. All of the kids love fruit. The fruit platters never last long. It’s clear in my eyes that kids are naturally inclined to enjoy eating fresh fruit. Fresh fruit is a treat. Kids shouldn’t need to be fooled back into eating fruit. We as parents should be providing fresh fruit all along.
There is no soda in my home. Fresh fruit is a snack. It’s a treat for me, and it’s a treat for my son. My son has a long way to go before he’s doing his own grocery shopping. There won’t be any soda treats in this house.
It’s one thing to ignore sound nutritional advice when you are stuffing your own face, but it’s irresponsible when you do this to your own kids. No one is born with knowledge. Responsible parents need to make some time to learn the facts about sound nutrition.
I didn’t know anything about being a parent before my son was born. I read everything that I could however to learn as much as I could beforehand. The information is there if you take the time to look. The “I’m too busy” excuse is beyond old. News flash, we are all busy in today’s world. When it comes to raising our children, busy doesn’t cut it.
In my last entry, I stated that healthy foods often taste better than even the best junk food. The message that I hope to convey is that living a healthy lifestyle does not mean that you are deprived of life’s joys. Healthy does not equal deprivation. Healthy living is joyful living.
I received a few harsh responses to the entry however that essentially proved my original point. One responder said the following:
“Who are you to tell me what I should eat? I only have one life to live so I’ll enjoy it.”
This statement proves the original theory. The responder clearly senses deprivation when confronted with dietary change. When faced with deprivation, it’s natural to fight back with a why must we give something up mentality. This single response summarizes the problem with dieting as a whole. Diets lack long term success because the dieter feels as though he is deprived. You can only go on so long living with a sense of deprivation. This is the exact reason why we must educate those with weight problems regarding the healthy (and tasty) options that exist. You CAN and SHOULD enjoy your life. Life is too short already!
In addition, I’m not telling anyone what to eat. We all make our own decisions. I’m simply telling you that tasty foods can and should be a part of a healthy lifestyle. You don’t need to give up taste. Learn how to cook and you’ll find that many of the tastiest meals are actually healthy as well. I eat tasty meals every day of the week.
Living With Balance
Other responses to the entry suggested a balanced lifestyle. This would mean eating healthy foods much of the time, with an occasional treat every now and then. I’m all for such a plan.
I simply caution you against living your life anxiously awaiting your next cheat meal. For example, I know someone who has a scheduled cheat meal on every Saturday. I’ll run into him on a Monday and he’s already anxious for the week to pass so he can get to Saturday’s meal. He lives 6 days of the week in deprivation.
Health isn’t defined by the size of your waistline. It isn’t healthy (mentally) to live all week waiting for a chance to cheat from your normal schedule. You should enjoy each day to the fullest. I don’t crave cheat meals, simply because I eat tasty (healthy) food every day of the week. I’m not deprived of taste, and my body feels good afterwards. On the other hand, if I’m out with company and a cheat meal presents itself, I don’t lose sleep over it. I recently enjoyed ice cream with my son on his birthday. We all had a great time. I didn’t dream about the ice cream before and after the event however. It comes and goes, but each day in between is still enjoyed. I don’t live each day with the mindset that something is missing. No one should, and that is the entire point to my original entry.
Lastly, I’m all for self discipline, but it is clear that many are lacking in this department. Take a look at the obesity rates in the world. Telling someone to toughen up rarely works. The obese know that it isn’t healthy to live obese. This awareness obviously isn’t enough for widespread change. If we focused more time stressing the positives of a healthy lifestyle, I’m sure that we would see more willing to convert. As has been said many times, you’ll catch more flies with sugar…
I’d like to clarify some confusion that has sprouted from a prior entry. The confusion came from the following statement:
“I don’t eat cheat meals simply because I don’t like feeling like crap for the rest of the day. I prefer the taste of real food and also feel much better (physically) afterwards.”
Some readers misinterpreted my comments, and believed that I was referring to a psychological feeling. Please note that my comments were related to the physical after effects that often follow junk food consumption. An abbreviated list includes stomach pains, heartburn, indigestion, sluggishness, and nausea. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen someone shovel junk food down their mouth, only to complain for hours afterwards about how bad they now feel (physically). In my opinion, no food is worth this kind of misery.
One of the problems with dieting is the perception that you will somehow be deprived of certain pleasures in life. This perception is everything but true however. If we ever hope to slow the obesity problem in the world today, we need to spend more time preaching the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. An obese person already knows that it isn’t good for him.
Healthy Foods Taste Better
I’m in no way deprived. I don’t live to eat, but I do enjoy a well cooked meal. Healthy foods actually taste better. Unfortunately, most people in this world do not know how to cook. In a response to my last blog entry, Scott Kustes from the Modern Forager (great site) said the following:
“Junk tends to be either overpoweringly sweet or overpoweringly salty. Real food is earthy, minty, sweet, sour, savory, peppery, spicy, etc. I can make 10 different meals from ground beef, onions, and something green just by altering what spices I use.”
Those who struggle with weight problems are often uniformed. They need to realize that we aren’t all crazy. Life is good and we are not missing out on anything. You can’t expect to conquer a weight problem if you live the rest of your life in a perceived state of deprivation. I don’t live my life waiting for the next cheat meal to come along. I eat tasty foods every day of the week.
We all make choices based on personal preferences. You buy the shoes that you like. You buy the pants that you like. There is always a selection that you must wade through before coming to a purchase decision. The same idea holds true for food. You choose what foods you buy. And while some of the decision making process may be based on weekly sales or availability, much of the decision is based on what you want. What do you want to eat and why?
Unfortunately, the answers to this question rarely make sense. For example, who said that cereal is a breakfast food? Did our ancestors wake up and eat a bowl of Cocoa Puffs? Who came along and appointed cereal as the preferred breakfast food?
Perhaps a large commercial enterprise made the decision for you? Using Cocoa Puffs as the example, check out the financial statement from General Mills (the packaged food company that makes Cocoa Puffs):
The food industry is in business to make money. Much of the world’s eating habits came from these powerful companies. As I quoted before:
“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” – John Dryden
Unfortunately, someone else has made many of our habits for us. The habit maker has priorities that do not involve your health and well being. Many modern habits are polar opposites to what the body actually needs. To overcome a problem with weight, you need to make new habits. These habits will not deprive you of anything. On the contrary, your quality of life will improve.
Over-eating bad food isn’t a reward. Perhaps someone else told you that it is, but when you consider the pros and cons, it simply doesn’t make sense. No one needs to over eat to enjoy life. Once you change your shopping habits, this will become more and more clear to you. Life’s greatest rewards do not include shoveling food down your mouth to the point of discomfort.
When I wake up early in the morning, it is common to see deer in my backyard. There are woods behind my house. The deer eat various grasses, weeds, herbs, etc. The woods are loaded with greens. A deer could eat all day if he wanted to do so. But guess what? I’ve never seen an obese deer stroll through my yard. And surprisingly, there aren’t deer appointed nutritionists or personal trainers. The deer simply eat the way they were intended to eat. Most humans in today’s world do not. Perhaps we could all learn something from a less intelligent animal.
It appears that my last entry has caused some confusion. My reasons for posting the entry were not to suggest that one needs 5 hours of training each day. On the contrary, I posted the entry to highlight the accomplishments of a 65 year old man. There are still people in this world who mistakenly equate age 65 with a feeble body and retirement home lifestyle. Clearly, this isn’t the case, and Sam Bryant is just one of many examples proving otherwise.
Fortunately, you won’t need 5 hours of training each day to live an active, healthy life. After all, who actually has 5 hours to train each day? And what would you do with 5 hours? As has been said before, less can be more.
I rarely train more than one hour each day. I do however use my time wisely. I train with intensity, and not a minute is wasted. I wake up early to train and then get on with the rest of the day. I may also mix in a brief mini-workout if necessary. That’s it. I’m not consumed with my own training. I’m busy running my business, conducting research, consulting with other athletes and coaches, etc. (not to mention being a husband and father). Even if I had 5 free hours (which will likely never happen), I wouldn’t spend it training. I don’t need 5 hours. When dealing with a strength or conditioning routine, a 5 hour workout is the last thing you’ll need. I spend much less time strength training than many, but am also much stronger than many who spend far more time working on strength. It all boils down to quality over quantity and intelligent program design.
Furthermore, some may counter my comments and suggest that working as a coach somehow means that I run around doing pushups all day. This simply isn’t true. If I’m being paid to train an athlete, I’m not getting paid to show off. I am there to teach. If I need to demonstrate something, I can, but it usually isn’t necessary when working with experienced and/or professional athletes. And if I’m conducting research at the university, it isn’t exactly proper etiquette to perform burpees in the computer lab. Ultimately, no one cares what the coach can do. The coach is paid to prepare his team or fighter for victory. Bill Parcels is a great football coach, but he’s not in shape to get in the game. He isn’t paid to play, he’s paid to coach.
It is also worth noting that some of the stories regarding the training of professional athletes can be somewhat misleading. Consider a professional fighter for a perfect example. Suppose we are in the gym for 3 hours. Technically speaking, the fighter has been training for 3 hours that day. What many fail to realize however is that the fighter isn’t running around the gym doing pushups and pull-ups for 3 consecutive hours. If it is a sparring day, time is spent wrapping and taping the fighter’s hands. We may need to then wait for the ring to clear. We may need to wait for the sparring partners to be adequately warmed up. Some fighters need more time than others. We then need to lace up the gloves, apply grease to prevent cuts, grease the gloves to also prevent cuts, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, the fighter is still working very hard, but it’s not a non-stop 3 hour session. It is also worth noting that much of the work is skill based. When dealing with general health and fitness, you aren’t training for a professional sporting contest. You don’t need to drill new skills over and over again. Instead, you can strip your workout down to the bare essentials. When dealing with strength and conditioning, time is a poor measure of workout quality.
If you plan your workouts properly, you’ll accomplish what you need to accomplish without wasting an entire day. You can still live an active and enjoyable lifestyle outside of the gym. After all, we aren’t training for the gym. We are training to better ourselves, and ultimately better our lives.
We all have habits. Unfortunately, more and more people seem to be living with more and more bad habits. Take a look at the video below…
Listen how Jack describes the shopping experience at the grocery store. Does it strike anyone else as odd that his words are still true in today’s world? It’s as if nothing has changed. The bad habits that Jack identified still plague our society today. I’m always shocked at the garbage that I see loaded in shopping carts. It’s amazing that many of these items can even be passed off as food.
You Can’t Eat What You Don’t Buy
When pondering your own shopping habits, it is useful to fall back on the advice of past poet John Dryden. In his words,
We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.
Now think how these words can apply to someone who is trying to lose weight. If you never buy junk food, how will you eat it in the middle of the night? You can’t eat what you don’t buy. By simply changing your shopping habits at the grocery store, you can begin to change your life (our habits make us).
As I’ve said before, often times the best advice is the most simplistic. If you want to lose weight, stop looking for quick fixes and temporary plans. If you really want to lose weight permanently, be prepared for a lifestyle change. Start with the basics. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. Shop your local farmer’s markets (great way to often save money). Eat real food (ex. plants, animals, fish, etc.).
If such foods were all you ever bought, it is actually difficult to become (or stay) overweight. No one becomes fat by eating too many carrots and apples, and no one opens your mouth and forces you to eat junk. And just in case you didn’t know, healthy foods are often far tastier than even your favorite junk food.
Personally, I don’t count calories and I don’t count nutrient ratios. I don’t count anything. I eat healthy, fresh, real food throughout the day. I eat to live, rather than living to eat. I find joy in life and activity, not by pigging out at the dinner table. I don’t eat cheat meals simply because I don’t like feeling like crap for the rest of the day. I prefer the taste of real food and also feel much better (physically) afterwards. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need a cheat meal. If you are eating the way you should, you’ll be eating tasty meals all along.
I’m not suggesting that we all become fanatics, but don’t live your life waiting for the next cheat meal. I enjoyed some ice cream on my son’s birthday this past weekend. I’m not a food freak. I do however prefer the taste of fresh/real food over any artificial/processed junk. Eating real food is one habit that I’ll keep for the rest of my life.
Men’s Health recently posted a new article where “secrets” are revealed from the restaurant industry. The list below will make you think twice about your next trip to one of these chain restaurants.
When I take my family out for a meal, we head to one of the smaller Mom and Pop restaurants. I stay away from these larger chains, and after reading this article, I won’t be changing any time soon.
New research suggests that diets high in fast food can be toxic to the liver and other internal organs, but the damage can be reversed.
There are a few interesting tidbits that can be extracted from the link above. First, it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that fast food doesn’t exactly classify as a health food. Oddly enough however, I drive by a few fast food chains every afternoon and there are always cars lined up around the drive-through window. It’s nice to see a study that comes out and identifies some specific risks (liver damage in this case). There are people in this world who won’t listen to common sense advice. Once you mention specific health problems however, they are more likely to listen.
Another important point emphasized within the research is our remarkable ability to rebound and recover from past abuse. As stated by Brent Tetri, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the Saint Louis University Liver Center and one of the country’s leading experts on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease:
“The good news is that most people can undo this damage if they change their diet and they keep physically active…”
In laymen’s terms, it is never too late to get started. The past is the past, and it doesn’t need to define your future. You have the ability to redefine who you are and what you are all about.
The Good, Now The Bad…
There is another paragraph from the link above that must not be forgotten. It made me sick to my stomach (worse than you’d feel after shoveling down 5 Bic Mac’s).
Here is the specific quote from Dr. Tetri:
“The fact we’re starting to see kids with liver disease should really be a wake-up call for anyone eating a diet high in fat and sugar and who’s not physically active…”
How does a kid eat so much junk that he or she develops liver disease? What is wrong with this picture? Kids don’t drive themselves to the fast food restaurant. Not to mention, who is buying the food? Are parents paying their kids 6 figure allowances? How does a young kid pay for enough fast food (and other junk) to give himself liver disease?
Before becoming a parent, I may not have even noticed Tetri’s quote within the article. I would have likely scanned over it without much thought. Now that I am a parent however, I can’t imagine how anyone could allow something like this to happen to their children. I’d give my life for my son. He comes first before anything. Stuffing him with enough fast food to cause liver disease borderlines on child abuse. Parents need to wake up and get a clue. Like it or not, but your kids will imitate your actions. If you spend most of your time eating junk, chances are little Johnny is going to do the same. You may not care about your health, but you better care about the health of your children.
It is really hard to understand certain people in this world.