Okay, I never thought I'd say this, but I actually found a book on nutrition that I can completely endorse.
People are ALWAYS asking me for references to diet and nutrition books, and honestly, I've never found one that I totally agree with. Well, during my research today (for my upcoming book...) I found one! It's called The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD.
I ordered my copy from the library, so if you want to preview it before you buy, there's an option.
All I can say is this book makes so much sense, and it's written by a Dr. Campbell, who actually has a PhD in nutrition (so rare to find nutrition books written by nutrition experts these days). It's based on a TON of studies, and if you like my blog, this should be just up your alley.
BTW: If you haven't figured out the cookbook I endorse - it's Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. Buy it and use it often.
Labels: The China Study
So here's another subject I speak about on child nutrition: Give your child the gift of drinking water, and not drinking much else.
We all know that drinking enough water takes great discipline, but is so important - for keeping us from overeating for one among many reasons. If we are dehydrated our brain confuses thirst for hunger, making us more likely to overeat. Also, our liver cannot metabolize fat as efficiently as it should.
But drinking water also prevents obesity in that it means we're not drinking thousands of "empty" calories from juice, milk, soda and other beverages. Yes, juice and milk have a few nutrients but relatively little compared to food; and food is where all calories should come from. When we (and kids) chew food, we get full, but drinking calories doesn't increase our satiety, so we get fat instead.
Lot's of kids today are fat because they drink tons of calories. They're also not building strong bones if they're drinking soda.
Dark sodas contain phosphoric acid, which causes our bones to not retain calcium. Studies in 9th and 10th grade girls show those who drink soda regularly are 3x more likely to have brittle bones (fractures) than those who do not.
The habit of drinking water needs to start early. So this is what you do if you're a parent: you just don't offer much else. I give my daughter a little bit (maybe 4 oz max) of soy milk and/or juice a day. If she asks for more, it becomes water. Be a hard-nose, you can do it. The whining will wane. The price is so worth it.
Okay parents, this is for you - I'll try to summarize more of what I said in last Saturday's seminar on "How to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables".
Here's the problem with the word "vegetable": what usually comes to mind is something green and leafy, like broccoli. Now, there's no arguing that broccoli isn't a vegetable, it's just not the only picture we should have in our minds. An unpeeled potato is also a vegetable - with pretty much the same nutritional content. As with an orange, a bowl of popcorn, bean burrito or handful of pistachios. All these are "vegetables" in that they are botanically alike; they are all unprocessed plant foods, or "vegetation". Some are seeds, some contain seeds, and some are what sprout from seeds. Nutritionally, there's very little difference.
So instead of using the word "vegetable", let's just focus on getting our kids (and ourselves) to eat more unprocessed, plant-based foods. That would include all four of the following food groups: whole grains, legumes (nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and peas), fruit and vegetables.
To be thorough and convince you further, fruit and vegetables are exactly the same as far as nutrient content. Sure, many fruit have more sugars, but not all (avocados, tomatoes, squash, cucumber and zucchini are technically fruit by the way). Whole grains and legumes are only missing one nutrient: vitamin C, since they are dried by the time we eat them. But these are also the foods highest in fiber, protein and folic acid, so don't count them short.
What's important isn't if your children eat green vegetables, what's important is that the unprocessed plant foods are as high in nutrients as possible. And that can differ drastically, depending on the quality of soil it was grown on, where it was grown (in proximity to you), how in season the food is, and if it was vine or tree ripened. Organically grown foods are significantly higher in nutrients since the soil is replete in nutrients. Locally grown, seasonal produce lose fewer nutrients between harvest and our plates. And vine/tree ripened produce produce more nutrients (including antioxidants and phytochemicals) verses "conventionally grown" produce.
This is why I buy my produce from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture - Google to find one near you), the Natural Foods Co-op, or Farmer's Markets. Sure, I pay more, but I'm investing in my child's immune system and lifelong health.
So if you are interested in hearing me speak about child nutrition, please come to my free seminar at the Sac Natural Food Co-op this Saturday (Oct. 20th) at 10am. Also, make sure to sign up in advance with the Co-op.
For those of you who don't live nearby or can't come, here's some of what I will be teaching...
First, some words of wisdom about the different responsibilities of children and parents. Parents are responsible for what food is offered and what food abides in the home. Children, and only children, are responsible for deciding how much to eat, when they will eat, and if they will eat at all.
Seriously. I know some people find it shocking that parents don't make all these decisions. But once you leave the appropriate decisions up to the appropriate parties, you will see how much more peaceful mealtimes become.
Children naturally are grazers. This is actually a habit we should encourage, since we should all learn to listen to our bodies and eat only when we're hungry and stop when no longer hungry. What a gift you are giving your child by allowing her to stay in tune with her true appetite.
Conversely, parents have more authority than most imagine. I find many parents trying to decide when and how much a child should eat, when they don't realize the most important decision is in their hands: what foods are available in the first place. Parents, for many years, have all or almost all purchasing power. Deciding what foods to buy is the ultimate power; if all that's available are healthy snacks or meals, how can you lose?
Stay tuned for more on child nutrition in the coming weeks!
The World's Most Delicious Pesto Sandwich (that I ate last night)
Okay, here's the pesto recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home Cookbook. I put a lot of this pesto on one slice of bread, slathered the other slice with Veganaise (no-egg, healthy mayonnaise), a couple of sliced of Pepper Jack cheese, and tomato slices. All I can say is YUMMMMMMMMMMMM.
1 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
1/3 cup almonds
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves
2 TBSP lemon juice
Whirl all ingredients together in a blender or food processor, then mix in 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil.
I just realized I have a whole lot to say and arthritis and nutrition, so here you go:
There two main kinds of arthritis, osteo- and rheumatoid, but both are inextricably linked with nutrition. For example, Omega-3 fatty acids from plant foods such as flaxseed and oil, nuts and seeds, avocados, olive and canola oils (just to name a few) is renown for preventing and even reversing osteoarthritis. That’s right, this precious nutrient can help arthritic people get rid of their pain.
Years ago I had an elderly neighbor who had this type of arthritis in her knees to such a degree she could hardly walk. In fact, I got to know her precisely because she could only walk her dog two houses away, to poop on my lawn each day. You might want to say I had several motives to help her live more abundantly. As we got to know one another I mentioned the power of Omega-3 fat from plants in reversing arthritis. I asked if I could buy her a cereal containing flaxseed and soymilk, which also contains lots of Omega-3 fatty acids. She agreed, and changed her breakfast immediately.
Would you believe only one week later, this “arthritic” old woman was walking to the store – ½ mile away – to buy these things herself? Not only that, she walked her dog way further down the block! Talk about a win-win situation!
Yet, Omega-3 isn’t the only compound in plant foods that fights arthritis. Phytochemicals is a term for a myriad of beneficial compounds found in plant foods. Phyto actually means “plant” in Latin, so this word literally means “plant chemicals” or “plant nutrients”. Most phytochemicals have powerful antioxidant properties but many also have anti-inflammatory properties that prevent joint inflammation.
Boron, a trace mineral found only in plant foods, is also important in fighting arthritis. Again, the healthier the soil of those plants, the more boron we consume in their produce. Conversely, both the protein found in dairy products as well as the saturated fat and cholesterol from animal-origin foods is known to cause or exacerbate rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
Also, drinking lots of water (2 liters, or 64 oz a day) has been shown to reverse arthritis and joint pain.
So, you could kinda conclude that eating a plant-based diet and drinking plenty o' water, with little or no animal-origin foods, can go a long way to counteract needless pain.
As you know, I'm working on writing another nutrition/weight loss book (hurray!) and I am in need of written testimonials. So, just in case reading this blog or coming to one of my seminars have helped you lose weight, lower cholesterol/blood pressure/diabetes medication, I would love to hear it. If you'd like to remain anonymous, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More on holiday eating tips soon!
Split Pea Soup (my own recipe)
3 cups dry split peas
4 carrots, grated
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 bay leaves
salt to taste
Soak peas covered in water overnight. Drain, then rinse them the next day to remove gas. Cover peas with water (depending how watery you like your soup, just cover with water or add more) and boil. Grate carrots and add, along with onion, garlic, and bay leaves. After soup reaches a hardy boil, turn to simmer and cover, stirring infrequently. When split peas are soft, add salt and remove from heat.
It’s funny how much as a nutritionist I am asked to comment on holiday eating. It seems more people are stressed out by the holidays, in part due to overeating, than they enjoy them. But let’s reclaim our holidays – the whole point of celebrating them is to remember important or sacred things and enjoy ourselves. Let’s make holidays celebration-worthy again. Now, I can’t help you buy your presents early, but I can help you with the food side of the picture.
First and foremost: let’s not stress out about gaining weight during this time of year. Why not? Because even though most of us feel like we’ve put on ten pounds during the holidays, studies show the average American gains less than two pounds. Also, think of the holiday season as a big reverse diet; it’s a short period of eating quite differently than we do the rest of the year. Remember when we get off a diet we gain all our weight back. Well, the opposite is true of reverse diets – once we revert back to our normal eating patterns, we lose the extra holiday pounds. Really.
If you find yourself stress-eating during this time of year, recognize that you are indeed stressed, but find other indulgences. For example, indulge yourself in a bubble bath, a cup of tea by candlelight, nature walk, prayer or quiet music. Also, remember that exercise is the ultimate stress release, even when you feel sluggish.
The holidays are a great time to practice the “do I really want to eat that?” question. When surrounded by desserts and way too much food, willing yourself not to eat will most likely have the opposite effect. Instead, try reminding yourself that of course you can eat whatever you want, but you don’t want just anything – you’re going to be picky and only eat the absolute most delicious of fare. This is also when we need to ask ourselves if we’re really hungry, and practice stopping when we are no longer hungry, which means eating slowly. That’s what I do, and boy does it ever keep me from overdoing it.
It just occurred to me yesterday, after writing tips for holiday eating in my new book, that most of the stress from this season isn't shopping or traffic or cooking, but having to be around family members we don't always feel so great about. At least, I think that's it. It certainly is for me (unless, of course, you're one of my family members reading this - I DON'T mean you).
So since those holidays are fast approaching, I thought I'd share some of my advice with you, faithful blog readers...
First, let's talk about Halloween.
I realize that many of us have the option not to go “trick or treating”, but what about all that candy that ends up at the office, or in your cupboards? Here’s my advice: if you are purchasing candy to give out Halloween night, choose a kind you don’t care for, so you won’t be tempted to buy or eat extra. If you like the candy at your place of work, eat one or two. Don’t tell yourself you can’t have any candy, since that will have the opposite effect. Do remind yourself you’re only going to eat the most delicious candy available, and only the first few pieces taste the best.
Which brings up another question: what about all the junk food at the office, all year round? I am constantly hearing about people being bombarded with doughnuts, muffins, and candy at their place of work. It almost seems like whoever is bringing this food is trying to kill us slowly. However, most likely they are not – most likely this is their “language of love”. My advice is to find out who are the people responsible (the majority of the time), and ask them if they could instead bring roasted peanuts, almonds, pistachios, fresh and/or dried fruit. Simply tell them we love and appreciate free food, but are trying to eat high fiber foods, and would they be so kind as to help? Not only would this conversation likely help you, but many other people in the same situation.
So there. Let me know what'ya think or how it works.
I just made this yesterday, which I dropped off today at the Ronald McDonald House. Hope they like it as much as I did. One of the reasons I made it is because bell peppers are in season, like, now.
Sweet Peppers Soup - from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home Cookbook
2 cups chopped onions
1 TBSP veg. oil
6 chopped red, orange, yellow and green bell peppers (or any combo thereof)
2 cups veg. stock
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup fresh dill
2 TBSP lemon juice
salt to taste
In a covered soup pot, saute the onions on medium heat in the oil for about 3 minutes, until barely softened. Add the bell peppers and cook, covered, until just soft, stirring occasionally. In a blender or food processor, whirl the onions and peppers with the stock, sour cream, dill and lemon juice. Don't overprocess; small pieces of peppers should remain. Return the soup to the pot and gently reheat, adding salt to taste.
Labels: holiday eating tips
I know I've written many posts ago about the stickiness of fat cells, but I think it's a subject worth rehashing.
Fat cells are like other cells in our body, meaning the majority of their replication and multiplication is during the same times of life that other cells grow: infancy, childhood and puberty. Once a fat cell has been made, it cannot be destroyed (at least without liposuction).
As adults, we have a given number of fat cells that were created quite some time ago. While we're "stuck" with that number, the way we eat and live can either grow or shrink existing fat cells.
(Just for the record, I think it's truly questionable why brain cells can't grow back, while we can't get rid of fat cells. What happened there?)
Anyway, this is all to say why childhood obesity is SUCH an issue. Kids are growing numbers of fat cells previously unheard of - and they can never lose those cells. Crazy, no?
So that's why I'm just a little upset when politics - or big agrobusiness - is actually contributing to childhood obesity. That's what is currently happening with a piece of legislation called the Farm Bill. Here's the scoop (via Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine):
"Ever wonder why cheeseburgers are so cheap? Or why school cafeterias still serve more meatloaf and hot dogs than fruits and vegetables? The answer may surprise you.
The Farm Bill, America’s primary federal food policy, keeps high-fat, cholesterol-laden pork, beef, cheese, and other unhealthy animal products cheap and widely available.
The Farm Bill doled out more than $70 billion in food subsidy payments from 1995 to 2005, and more than three-quarters of that money went to producers of meat, sugar, oil, dairy, alcohol, and feed crops used in meat production. Fruit and vegetable farmers received less than 1 percent of government subsidies. To make matters worse, the federal government purchases Farm Bill surplus foods like cheese, milk, pork, and beef for distribution to food assistance programs—including the National School Lunch Program."
Just thought you'd like to know who's calling the shots in school lunches these days...
Okay, last year a friend taught me the best way to eat lots of acorn and winter squash: saute it in coconut milk. I did this the other day: peel and chop it into small pieces, and just cook in a pot of whole coconut milk. Add salt to taste. Kids love it this way. After I scoop out my daughter's portion I add curry paste to the rest. Serve over brown rice, asian noodles or whole wheat couscous.