Archive for May, 2010

Everything in moderation? Hell no.

I just used to smile and nod when people said things like, “Well, everything in moderation.  You can’t deprive kids of (fill in the blank) all the time.”

There is so much wrong with that statement that to reply appropriately would take a standard conversational cliché and turn it into a full-fledged critique of society’s assumptions about food.

Let’s pick this apart…

“Everything in moderation…”

First, why?  Isn’t this a bit all-encompassing?  There are, quite simply, things that are downright bad for you.  Cigarettes, texting while driving, gun violence, processed food, eating lard…  Why on earth would anyone accept that a moderate amount of everything is acceptable.

“You can’t deprive kids…”

What exactly is a kid being deprived of if they are not given crap that’s trying to stand in for real food?  Is being fed whole foods as opposed to Oscar Mayer Lunchables really a deprivation?  I hear people say that their kids love certain products so they buy these things every once in a while.  To that I say, “Why?”  Why not educate your kids on the differences between good, nutritionally dense food and the stuff that comes in the brightly colored packages and loaded with high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, and other chemicals and preservatives?

Because other kids are eating it?  Because they saw it on TV? Because most of us are buying and eating this stuff and therefore it’s now normal?

Does a corporation really have the right to determine what is normal for us to eat?  Do you really want to give corporations the power  to create a product and market it in way that shifts a culture to believe that consuming that product constitutes normal? Do you believe it’s normal to choose to eat things that make you sick?  Do you believe that it’s acceptable that normal now means that our babies are being born “pre-polluted” (see: New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer)?

Corporate history has shown that when it comes to serving the public, big business has very low standards and fights hard against regulation that would make their financial success more challenging.  Compounding the problem, a press that relies on advertising from these businesses is loathe to shed light on these issues.  Meanwhile, we have an obesity epidemic and hundreds of cancer-causing contaminants coursing through our veins (not to mention all the other ways corporations take advantage of everyday people, i.e. Wall Street, oil companies, defense contractors, etc.).

“Everything in moderation” is a cliché that needs to be put to rest.

Yesterday, my daughter came home from field hockey practice commenting about the ingredients in Pop Tarts.  One of the girls on her team was eating them for a snack. Audrey was appalled that they contained gelatin (a product made from boiled bones, skin, and tendons of animals), but the whole picture is dismal.  Let me share the information with you:

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts

Nutrition Facts

  • Serving Size 2 pastries
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories 420 Calories from Fat 130
  • % Daily Value*
  • Total Fat 14 g     22%
  • Saturated Fat 4.5 g      23%
  • Trans Fat 0 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg    0%
  • Sodium 340 mg    14%
  • Total Carbohydrate 69 g    23%
  • Dietary Fiber 1 g     5%
  • Sugars 31 g
  • Protein 5 g N/A
  • Vitamin A 20%
  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Calcium 0%
  • Iron 20%
  • Niacin 20%
  • Vitamin B6 20%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calories needs.

Ingredients

Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacinamide, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1]Riboflavin [Vitamin B2]Folic Acid)Brown Sugar, Vegetable Oil (Soybean, Cottonseed and Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil (Less than 0.5 g Trans Fat Per Serving.TBHQ and Citric Acid for Freshness)Sugar, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, High Fructose Corn Syrup,Cracker Meal, contains Two Percent or less of Salt, Cornstarch, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate)Cinnamon, Wheat Starch, Gelatin, Caramel Color, Soy Lecithin, Niacinamide, Reduced Iron, Vitamin A Palmitate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6)Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin Bi)Folic Acid.

I don’t mean to pick on Pop Tarts, specifically, so let’s look at those Lunchables I mentioned earlier:

Nutrition Facts

Oscar Mayer – Lunchables-

Turkey & Cheddar With Ritz Wheat Crackers

Calories 330 Sodium 1060 mg
Total Fat 17 g Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 9 g Total Carbs 24 g
Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 1 g
Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 6 g
Trans 1 g Protein 18 g
Cholesterol 65 mg
Vitamin A 8% Calcium 30%
Vitamin C 0% Iron 8%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Ingredients: ROAST WHITE TURKEY – CURED, SMOKE FLAVOR ADDED: WHITE TURKEY, WATER, POTASSIUM LACTATE, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF SALT, DEXTROSE, CARRAGEENAN, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SODIUM DIACETATE, SODIUM ASCORBATE, SMOKE FLAVOR, SODIUM NITRITE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR. PASTEURIZED PREPARED CHEDDAR CHEESE PRODUCE: MILK, WHEY, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, MILKFAT, SODIUM CITRATE, SALT, LACTIC ACID, SORBIC ACID AS A PRESERVATIVE, OLEORESIN PAPRIKA (COLOR), ANNATTO (COLOR), CHEESE CULTURE, ENZYMES, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, WITH STARCH ADDED FOR SLICE SEPARATION. CONTAINS: MILK, WHEAT CRACKERS: ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2],FOLIC ACID), SOYBEAN OIL, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, SALT, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE), WHEY (FROM MILK), SOY LECITHIN (EMULSIFIER). CONTAINS: WHEAT, MILK, SOY.

High salt, high fat, loaded with artificial, processed ingredients, these are just a two examples of foods so many kids are eating.

Corporations have played us into believing that we’re too busy to put together a healthy meal for our kids. We’re told that purchasing these kinds of things will make our lives easier.  We’re told that they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals, that they’re “whole grain” and that they taste good.

This is no way to eat.  Moderation is not the answer for these foods.  Outright rejection is.

If I happen to run into you and you mention that moderation is the key or some such variation on the theme, please don’t be offended by the time I’ll take to talk about this issue with you.

A Fitness Frame of Mind

The time issue seems to be the major reason that so many who struggle with weight seem to have about not getting in shape.

I completely get it.

Working, taking care of kids, and managing a household can all make working out seem expendable.  It’s incredibly logical to think that fitness can happen if it fits.  The problem is that there will always be something that can push working out to the bottom of the to do list and, in turn, completely out of your day.

Depending on how serious you are about getting in shape, though, exercise’s position on the list is ultimately a choice. Being serious means that there are no excuses.

The question, then, is:  Do you really want to do this?  Or don’t you?

If you want it, there are some steps that might help get the ball rolling and keep it rolling.

1. Make a workout schedule.

~Consider the most basic time responsibilities that you have:  work, getting kids off to school, dinner.  Then, find 45 minutes.

I know people who only have time at 5:30 in the morning.  My workout schedule varies, but early weekday mornings are out for me.  I’m up at 5:30 just to get kids out the door and myself to work by 8am.  I fit my work out in somedays at 2pm, other days at 7pm.  On weekends, I do it first thing in the morning.

2.  Be committed.

~You have to make a decision.  Working out must become as much of what you do as eating and showering.  I hate the cliche, but it is a “lifestyle choice.”  I have become a different person with reconfigured priorities.  It isn’t that I think, “I need to do this to stay healthy.”  It’s that I think, “This is just what I do.”

3.  Decide on a routine.

~Do you enjoy a gym?  Ask a fitness instructor to help you put a daily plan together.  Do you like to work out on your own at home?  Put together a plan that includes both cardio and strength training. I hate gyms, so at home I start with a 2-3 mile run, then use a combination of weights and “Acacia Core Fusion” videos (the “Body Sculpt” video is a great one to get you started).  The whole thing takes me about an hour.  I do this at least 5 days a week.

4.  Find a friend to keep you honest.

~When I first settled into my neighborhood, I had a daily 5:30am date with my new friend and neighbor, Sharon, every morning for a brisk 30 minute walk.  There’s nothing like feeling as though you “can’t let your friend down” to get your butt out of bed and out the door.  Additionally, a friend might help you raise the bar.  When I run with a friend, I run longer than I would if I were alone.

5. Get addicted

~It doesn’t take long to get addicted.  It doesn’t take much before you start to feel lousy about not working out.  Both physically and emotionally, you’ll find that you just need to do it.