Tag Archives: diets

Weight Loss Update

One of the problems I’m running into when talking about losing weight is that I don’t wish to appear to be “preachy”. I’ve seen many people, after losing 5-10 pounds to start saying that “The cabbage soup diet” or “running 10 miles a day” is the only way to effectively get the pounds off.

Clearly this is a silly approach to take, one in which I’m hoping to avoid.

With that in mind, this is what I’ve done of late, and the results of these actions.

The first thing I’ve done is that I’ve vowed to only have one weigh in day a week. I would like to lose weight, to be sure, but I don’t want to have my mood fluctuate along with the daily fluctuations a body has. My official weigh in day is Saturday.

The second thing I’ve done is that I’ve decided to use percentages instead of hard numbers, as it has a more positive spin on any weight loss. What I mean is, if I’m trying to lose 20 pounds all together, and I end up losing 2 pounds in one week, I can say that I’ve reached 10% of my goal. The larger number sounds more positive to me. It’s a little mind trick to be sure, but it does seem to work.

The final thing I’ve done is that I’ve started keeping a daily diary of what I eat. I use Calorie-Count as my online diary, but Tara tends to like Fitday. Both have their pros and cons, and I’m hard pressed to say that one is leaps and bounds better than the other.

To that end, I can say that I’ve lost 3% of my stated goal, which makes me happy. It’s a good start.

Technorati Tags: Food, weight+loss


The Weight Loss Diaries

One of the problems with doing a food blog over the course of the last two and a half years is the lack of eating discipline that I’ve become accustomed to. Working at a job where I review documents all day (Yes, I live the high life), and then coming home to a kitchen or heading to the restaurant du jour has led to the unfortunate gain of weight.

When starting Accidental Hedonist, I was south of the Lane Bryant line. Now I’m on the other side. No offense to the fine folks and fans of Lane Bryant, but I am happier when I weighed less than I currently do.

I’m thinking of calling this the Sam Breach diet, where one puts their weight loss goals in front of all the world to see. But instead of doing WeightWatchers, I will instead be trying a different approach. My time frame? I have none. My goal? To lose 20% of my current body weight – you don’t think I’d tell you my actual weight do you?

Every Saturday, I will endeavor to bring you updates on my status, with that day being the official weigh-in day. Meanwhile, I will explore other aspects of the weight loss and diet industry and see what I can find. And I’ll hope that I can hold my self to this.

tags technorati : Weight Loss Food


Soft Drinks and Diets

There’s so much to cover with the recent news items surrounding soft drinks and obesity, that I could easily write several posts on the subject. Instead, I think I’m going to writing my talking points to all of the items.

  • It’s not the Soft Drinks as much as the accessibility of Calories: It is of my opinion that the press is getting the story all wrong. The issue here isn’t that soft drinks are bad for you and that they are the primary cause of the increase of obesity in our country. The issue comes down the inexpensive availability of empty calories to consumers, whether it’s via soft drinks, “sport” drinks, fast food, potato chips or candy.

    Now you may be asking yourself that if I’m correct, why all of the hub-bub surrounding these drinks? Because sugar-laden beverages are ubiquitous in our society. I’m not simply pointing fingers at soft drinks here, but at the apple juice at breakfast, the bottle of tea consumed at lunchtime and the Gator-ade being drunk after workouts. All of these provide additional calories that need to be accounted for in some way. Trust me, if milk shakes were the beverage of choice in our culture, they’d be looking to condemn milkshakes.

  • Cigarettes and Soda: Let’s knock off the comparisons between cigarettes and soft drinks. Headlines like “Food scientists dub soft drinks ‘cigarettes’ of obesity epidemic” are overly-simplistic and misleading. To try to connect the two health stories together only muddies an already opaque puddle. The only similarity between the two is perhaps the cost to the health care industry and days of productivity lost. Even that connection is tenuous.

    Besides, cigarettes have extenuating circumstances surrounding health issues due to second hand smoke and addictive ingredients, variables not often seen in soft drinks.

  • Personal Responsibility and Diet: One cannot talk about obesity without giving at least lip service to the idea of personal responsibility. Granted, people’s behavior and choices are influenced by outside variables that also should be discussed (such as advertising), but to not address this issue puts all of the responsibilities on the on food producers when the reality is that the individual does play a part in consumption.
  • Taxing and Labeling are not solutions: Dr. David Ludwig, a Harvard pediatrician, wants a “fat tax” on fast food and drinks. Initially this sounds like a good idea. But let me ask you this – By what criteria will fast food and drinks be judged? With drinks it would take little effort to add a requisite amount of vitamins and minerals allowing the drinks to circumvent the criteria by just the amount needed to avoid paying taxes. Labeling suffers from similar issues. Why label McRibs, but not bacon at the grocery store? Why label soft drinks, but not your local baker’s cheese Danish?

    To me, the first solution we should be talking about is education. Granted there are problems with this solution as well, but done well, education can be effective. How many people talked about safe sex 30 years ago, or the dangers of tobacco 50 years ago?

Look, I’m all for getting the information out there. And trust me, no one is more skeptical of the producers of soda pop and of the sweeteners therein than I. But if we’re going to have a debate about obesity, it needs to be an honest and thorough one.

Technorati Tags: Food, Health, Soft Drinks, obesity


The Impotence of Low Fat Diets

If you want to challenge your world view of diets and health, read this recent article in the New York Times. It gives a decent story about the recent results surrounding the Women’s Health Initiative study.

To crystalize some of the major findings of the results, let me quote from the second link:

There is a common belief that Americans get fat because they eat too many carbohydrates. The idea is that a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet leads to weight gain, higher insulin and blood glucose levels, and more diabetes, even if the calories are the same as in a higher-fat diet. That did not happen here.

Others have said the opposite: that low-fat diets enable people to lose weight naturally. But that belief was not supported by this study.

But the best line came from Barbara Howard, a principle investigator in the study:

“We are not going to reverse any of the chronic diseases in this country by changing the composition of the diet,” Dr. Howard said. “People are always thinking it’s what they ate. They are not looking at how much they ate or that they smoke or that they are sedentary.”

That sound you heard was that of the multi-billion dollar diet industry gasping and reaching for their wallets. Nothing affect their bottom line more than Doctors advocating for exercise and not for special diets. The diet industry had already been in a bit of a malaise of late, what with Atkins filing for bankruptcy last year. The findings in this study can’tbe good news for anyone trying to fill Dr. Atkins’ size 10′s.

Perhaps now we can focus on the size of food portions rather than food composition? Just a thought.

Technorati Tags: Food, Diets


Junk Food – Myth or Reality?

A week or so back there was an intriguing article from BBC news, talking about Junk Food and its affect upon kids lunches and school menus. Within the article, Vincent Marks stated that Junk food is an oxymoron, and that the term has been developed as a blanket statement for one to state their disapproval over a variety of food products.

Instead, Dr. Marks asserts, there are no junk foods, only junk diets. An extreme example of his claim could be stated as thus: one chocolate bar a week is okay, as long as you round it out with fruits, veggies and some exercise. But 21 chocolate bars a week is probably a bad idea, regardless of how you accompany them.

As much as I want to poo-poo his idea, I can’t dismiss how accurate it is.

The problem as I see it, is that there is no one standard to define what junk food should be or should not be. Food is easy to define – an edible series or combinations of sugars, proteins and carbohydrates that provide some measure of nutrients to help sustain life. Frito Corn Chips, Big Macs, Coca-Cola all meet this basic definition, even if only barely in some instances.

In my walks around Seattle and my conversations with people, I have seen folks dismiss Twinkies while biting into a croissant, heard folks advocate for hormone-free milk while downing a glass of wine, and watched people put both organic apples and oreo cookies into their shopping carts.

There’s a bit of dissonance, and some may say hypocrisy, between these activities. And yes, I throw these stones from my huge glass house.

Even as I think about various foodstuffs that I have railed upon, most notably Kraft products and the like, I have to admit that they do provide some measure of short term benefits to people, not excluding cost. This is generally why I try to focus on bad practices of companies, or unknown (or sometimes known) long term affects of products, rather than asserting which product is better than others.

But the question is – are there junk foods out there? If so, what defines it as such? I’m having a difficult time coming up with one clear answer. Do we define food that are unhealthy as Junk Food? If so, then frois gras, bacon and croissants need to be redefined as junk food.

Perhaps there’s a measure of classism involved with the “junk food” definition. Why do Hershey Bars or Burger King French Fries feel as if they’re junk food, but Belgian Chocolates and Pomme Frites don’t?

I don’t think there are any easy answers here. Dr. Marks may be right in that we may need to change our outlook on “junk food”.


How to Lose Weight: Eat Less and Exercise? Wrong.

(From Jack at www.ForkandBottle.com. This is an article about eating, so hang in there. It is also my take on this whole subject. My opinion on this subject is in constant revision, so please feel free to share yours!)

We’ve all heard the line that in order to lose weight you have to eat less and exercise more. Sounds so darn simple. It’s been drummed into our heads, relentlessly. If this is a fact, then how come so few have succeeded?

Perhaps because it’s a lie. A big, humongous lie. Just like the hundreds of diet plans you’ve been told about over the last twenty years that guarantee rapid weight loss. If eating less and exercising more was the answer, we wouldn’t have the huge and rapidly growing obesity rates in adults and kids that we do. (The latest rate is one in three of us will have diabetes!)

Let’s break it down into three parts:

1) Not Gaining Weight
This requires you to learn how to Eat Smart. You need to learn what foods are real foods and eat those ones, and to cease eating the stupid foods. Nothing with HFCS or PHO (partially hydrogenated oils) are real foods. Highly processed foods are not real foods. You need to eat more slowly, not on the run, so that your food is digested and sends the signal to your brain that You’ve Had Enough to Eat. You also need to prepare meals, not microwave meals. (More on this below.)

2) Losing Weight
This, unlike almost every health and fitness plan will tell you, requires a LOT of exercise. 20 minutes a day? Does nothing. One hour a day of serious exercise? You’ve improved your cardio. Two hours a day, every day? Ah, now weight loss can occur, providing you’re diet isn’t stupid foods and that you’re not following the latest idiotic diet-craze. Of course, who has two hours a day to seriously exercise?

3) Not Regaining Lost Weight
Notice how this is next to impossible? Almost everyone regains the weight. Two reasons: 1) Everyone’s body wants to regain that weight, and 2) Very few change their diet, so they’re still eating the foods that cause weight gain. If you buy most of your food at a Big Chain supermarket (other than Whole Foods), I personally think it’s extremely difficult to not regain the weight. So, all of that time, money and effort (and conversation!)  is wasted.

I read recently that the #1 cause of obesity in America is now beverages with HFCS. Falling to #2 is hydrogenated oils (transfat). Why not just eliminate those two from you diet, permanently? Your favorite foods have these? Find ones that don’t have them; believe it or not, they’re out there, they taste as good or better – you just have to find them.

And please, stop fearing fat and bread. Fear bad fat and bad sweeteners and the latest diet crazes, if you must have something to fear.

Keys to Not Gaining Weight

1. Stop eating food with HFCS and/or PHOs (transfats). This is really hard to do as these two obesity-causing ingredients are in most processed foods. In essence, live without most processed foods.
2. Stop eating fake food;  most everything labeled as diet food or diet beverage. They do not satisfy hunger and serve no purpose other than to make the companies that make them wealthy. Find a flavored water rather than drink a Diet Sprite or Coke.
3. Eat your meals more slowly. Yes, this takes practice. Try serving a meal in small courses instead. You’ll find you won’t need the last course. Dessert should be eaten after a rest period to see if you’re really still hungry, and should be a ripe piece of local fruit or artisan cheese.
4. Cook when possible. You may have to change your lifestyle so that you have the time to cook. Cooking is not heating pre-cooked, pre-packed foods. Cooking is taking raw ingredients and making a meal. Even a very simple meal, or a salad, is great. The smell of food cooking or being prepared in a house is, well, everything.
5. Use some common sense when it comes to food. Eating more vegetables and more types of vegetables. Have a slow, lengthy meal with family and friends once a week. Eating food is supposed to be pleasurable and a luxury for the senses;  too many have forgotten that.
6. Avoid all diet plans, TV talk-show advice, magazine health articles, etc. No diet foods like Snackwells, Weight Watchers, or Lean Cuisine. Sherlock Holmes classifies these as red herrings. (I’m not as kind.)
7. No eating at fast food restaurants or big chain restaurants. Even when traveling. Find a deli and get a sandwich (without mayo or other bad ingredients) or a rotisserie chicken (preferably organic). With luck you can find a great cheese and nice loaf of bread.
8. Eat organic foods. Eat whole grains. Eat foods without hormones. Eat natural foods (e.g., butter, not margarine). Your body processes these best.
9. This goes for you kids as well! (Deep down you know that the food that comes with a toy isn’t healthy for your kids!)
10. Be happy with your current weight rather than obsessing miserably about it. (Yes, that’s easy to say, but nevertheless, it’s excellent advice.)

You already know that partially hydrogenated oils are so bad that even our pathetic USDA has forced food manufacturers to label the amount of transfat in their food. But you haven’t read a lot (well, except on this site) about High Fructose Corn Syrup. (HFCS). Here’s a link for you at About.com.

 

Soda in the Schools

So I log onto the computer this morning, my eyes weary from extensive reading the night before, my left hand curled around an iced latte. I’m still sleepy, and I’m looking for something to jolt me awake.

I then come across an article in the New York Times, talking about how the American Beverage Association announced a new policy curbing sales of sodas (LI: accidental PW:hedonist) in schools last week in order to address the youth obesity problem.

I then came across this line:

Beverage companies say that bottles of Coke and Pepsi will be replaced by healthier products like juice drinks, sports drinks and iced tea.

Umm…errr…

BWAH-HA-HA-HA!!! Healthy?? Sports Drinks?!? Oh you guys cannot be serious, can you??

Lets compare Coke’s Powerade with their soda shall we?

Powerade:

Ingredients: water, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin (glucose polymers), citric acid, salt, natural flavors, potassium citrate, potassium phosphate, niacinamide, yellow 5, pyridoxine hydrochloride, blue 1, cyanocobalamin

Nutrition Facts:

  • serving size 8 fl oz
  • calories 70
  • fat 0g
  • sodium 55mg
  • potassium 30mg
  • total carbs 19g
  • sugars 15g
  • protein 0g
  • vitamin b6 10% RDA
  • vitamin b12 10%RDA
  • niacin 10% RDA

Coca-Cola:

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sucrose, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavors, Caffeine

Nutrition Facts:

  • Serving Size 12 oz.
  • Calroies 140
  • fat 0g
  • sodium 50mg
  • total carbs 39g
  • Protein og

Doing some quick math, 12 oz of Powerade translates to roughly 105 calories and 28.5 g carbs. Of course doesn’t sell either 8oz nor 12oz versions of their product, choosing instead to sell 20 oz (170 calories 47.5 g carbs) and 32 oz (280 calories and 76 g carbs). I don’t think they sell 16 oz bottles, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Are sports drinks a “healthy alternative”? Not likely. Sports drinks have electrolytes and sodium that are beneficial to professional athletes and marathoners, but have little value to the average user. Shame on the American Beverage Association for trying to convince us otherwise.

And for the record? According to the article ” Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid juice drinks, which contain only 10 percent actual juice”. So they aren’t much of a “healthy alternative” either.