Archive for October, 2010

Is your culture killing you?
October 26, 2010

Defining culture: “The customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group.” Also defined as “The attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a particular social group.”

As the years pass, the more I adopt healthy habits and the less I blend in with the norm. No more late night runs for a Crispy Chicken at Mickey D’s, no ice cap and apple fritter or chocolate glazed donut at Tim Horton’s, no PC’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream or Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia on a hot summer day, no fourth or fifth serving at an “all you can eat” buffet, no Pepsi, no chocolate covered almonds or Miss Vickie’s Jalapeno flavor chips on Survivor nights, and only on very rare occasions would you find me eating one of Quebec’s finest creations; steamy hotdogs and poutine.

I am moving further away from the widespread attitude of “bigger is better”. Quantity is no longer my main concern; instead fresh good quality ingredients are what please my palate these days. Instead of coffee and a donut I would much rather go for an espresso and croissant, instead of a sundae or banana split, I would opt for a gelato.

Traveling Europe has allowed me to see first hand a variety of cultures along with their eating habits. We have been fortunate enough to visit Italy, France and England. While traveling, more often than not I find myself scanning the crowds and asking myself “Where have all the fat people gone? Oh… THERE’S ONE! Hmmm nope, fanny pack and camera… another tourist.” You can also spot them at a restaurant; they are the ones complaining that their chair and portion size are too small, and the pasta does not taste like it does back home. Or you might hear them above other chatter “What? Four Euros for this little bottle of coke? I can get sixty-four ounces of coke for less than that back home.” Well, big guy… the joke is on you!

I refrain from making generalizations, so I will not go as far as saying “Everyone from North America is fat”, but these obesity stats speak for themselves.

If you think those obesity numbers are disturbing, the following chart includes overweight adults as well.

Is your culture killing you? Some nations have produced a consuming culture where its inhabitants consume at all cost, even to the point of ill-health. These “bigger is better”, “super size it”, “all you can eat”, “free refills” mentalities have changed the way we look at food. Maybe there is something we can learn from countries like Italy and France not to mention China or Japan.

Instead of simply eating to fill the hole, why not eat to please the soul. Not everyone has the luxury of traveling, but most have the means and access to healthy fresh produce. Why not bring Europe into your kitchen and reap the benefits?

Many of us are eating just to satisfy our addictions. Instead can we make an effort to eat to nourish ourselves, looking to food to strengthen and revitalize our body? Come on people! Cut the junk! You owe it to yourself, you know you deserve better. You have procrastinated long enough, now is the time! Do not let your culture kill you.

“Fast Food Nation” photo provided by deviantART user: LollipopPaintbrush

“Paris Cafe” photo provided by Flickr user: netra.n

“Obesity” chart provided by NationMaster

“Overweight” charts provided by World Health Organization

Craziest Food Creations 2010
October 19, 2010

Contributed by Men’s Health EAT THIS, NOT THAT!

“Even the most well-established restaurant chains can’t rest on their laurels, serving the same old standbys that we’ve loved since we were kids. They have to keep us interested and attracted with shiny new bells and whistles. And since no one has invented, say, a new kind of potato, they’ve got to go with the next best thing: gimmicky entrees with terrifyingly complicated ingredient lists and rapidly expanding serving sizes. It wasn’t enough that pizza makers started putting cheese inside the crust! KFC saw that and ramped up its own destructive powers, by making a sandwich in which the bread is replaced by slabs of fried chicken. Then a few major league ballparks started serving their burgers on doughnuts instead of buns. What’s next: fried Fluffernutter franks?

Almost. Take a look at what’s being whipped up in the labs of the mad fast-food scientists, and be afraid—be very afraid!”

View America’s Craziest Food Creations of 2010.

*Photo provided by Men’s Health EAT THIS, NOT THAT!

20 Worst Drinks in America 2010
October 18, 2010

Contributed by Men’s Health EAT THIS, NOT THAT!

“We stopped making our own iced teas and lemonades (recipe: water, lemon, sugar) and started buying them in bottles or mixes, with ingredients like “high-fructose corn syrup” and “ascorbic acid” on the labels. We stopped thinking of a soda as a treat – akin to an ice cream or a candy bar – and started seeing it as the equivalent of a glass of water, drinking two, three, four, or more a day. Then we stopped drinking water out of the tap and started demanding that it be artificially flavored and put into bottled with the words “vitamin” or “energy” stamped on their labels. And, in just the last decade or so, many of us stopped brewing our own coffee and started buying things with vaguely European names, like “mocha latte.” And the result of all this beverage evolution is that, today, walking into a convenience store or a beverage distributorship has become dangerous to our health.

America’s supermarket aisles and drive-thru menus are awash in empty liquid calories. We’ve updated our list of worst offenders. Survive the rising tide by eliminating these, the country’s most damaging drinkables, from your beverage regiment.”

View the 20 Worst Drinks in America. (PDF file for best viewing)

You can also visit the 20 Worst Drinks in America at it’s original source, Men’s Health EAT THIS, NOT THAT!

*Photo provided by Men’s Health EAT THIS, NOT THAT!

Reevaluation needed?
October 15, 2010

Some researchers believe there are many benefits to eating specific fruits according to their respective season, arguing that our body is not designed to ingest certain fruits all year-round. For example, some fruits eaten out of season block your body’s ability to metabolize vitamin D. So during winter, when the sun (just one source of vitamin D for humans) is minimal, we would not be getting an adequate amount of vitamin D.

Do not get me wrong here, that could be a well-founded argument if you are prone to any vitamin deficiencies. More importantly, what poses a bigger health risk: your levels of vitamin D or being overweight?

Also, since we do not have all the time and energy in the world, where do you want to spend it?

One can easily get caught up in continually changing opinions. Fun facts might make you seem knowledgeable around your friends, but why not accept practical suggestions, ones that yield the most results. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. This is what matters most and changes ones life for the better. Start simple and work your way up, you can always fine tune later. If a few years from now you find yourself slim and trim, and maintaining your weight has become second nature, then by all means incorporate other suggestions.

Please keep things in perspective! If you find yourself worrying about your vitamin levels and passing by fruits because they are not in season, but are still throwing chips and cookies into your groceries cart, then maybe it is time for a reevaluation! First things first… let us start worrying more about loosing some weight (fat).

*Photo provided by Microsoft Office Online Clip Art

Do’s & don’ts… starting now!
October 8, 2010

  • Stay away from refined sugars

  • Eliminate junk food and most sweets

  • Choose 100% whole grains (pasta and bread)

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables than you do grains

  • Replace butter or margarine with olive oil

  • Limit fruit juices; have water instead

  • Consume booze only on special occasions

  • Exercise (just get moving)

*Photos provided by Microsoft Office Online Clip Art

**Photos modified by Stew-Art-Prints

The NO POP Pledge
October 1, 2010

I was inspired to write this post as I have seen a series of 2L Pepsi bottles finding their way back into my refrigerator. Simply outing the person responsible for this unthinkable crime just would not feel right; but I will take this opportunity to tell you… I am married.

Pop, soda, soft drink, cola, whatever you call it. Why is it so bad for you?

Most likely, if you really enjoy drinking pop, you are drinking too much. Unless drank occasionally, pop is extremely addictive, mostly because of the added caffeine, which is sad considering there are many different ways to get your caffeine fix other than drinking pop.

There are many conflicting reports about how much sugar is in pop. It is actually hard to believe that so much sugar can even dissolve in a can of pop. So just how much sugar really is in a can of pop? It is no mystery; the nutrition facts label on the back indicates plainly how many grams of sugar are in one serving. Knowing that a teaspoon of sugar is 4.2 grams, you can then divide the number of sugar grams by 4.2, giving you the total amount of sugar in teaspoons. A can of Pepsi contains 41 grams of sugar, equivalent to 9.8 teaspoons of sugar. A can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar, equivalent to 9.3 teaspoons of sugar.

That much sugar wreaks havoc on our bodies and causes mayhem on our hormones, making insulin levels skyrocket. Our entire bloodstream only contains approximately 5 grams (slightly more than a teaspoon) of glucose (blood sugar) at any given time. It is quite apparent how easy it is to upset our body’s delicate balance. With that much sugar in our system, our body will be in constant fat storage mode.

“Out of all the sweeteners in the world, nothing seems to contribute to obesity more than good old table sugar (sucrose). It is a very hard sugar for your body to handle, due to the minerals that are needed to digest it, such as chromium, manganese, cobalt, copper, zinc, and magnesium. These happen to be the very minerals that are stripped from sugar during the refining process. As a result, sugar depletes the body’s own mineral reserves as it gets metabolized.

The powerful combination of glucose and fructose–such as you find in table sugar–simulates your insulin more than anything else tested. So STAY AWAY FROM REFINED TABLE SUGAR at all costs if you want to lose body fat and maintain or gain back your health.” Fat Wars

Think you are off the hook because you drink diet soft drinks? Think again!

“…most artificial sweeteners can affect your health just a negatively as sugar itself (and in some cases even more so).

These sugar substitutes didn’t exist… …therefore, our bodies don’t know what to do with them, so they treat them as a type of sugar. A number of laboratory tests confirm that artificial sweeteners can boost insulin by actually fooling the body into thinking the sweetener is sugar. And remember, it’s the insulin that causes your boys to switch into a fat-storage mode. When your insulin is stimulated, it looks for sugar. When it can’t find any real sugar from these substitutes, it ends up going after your own blood sugar, causing you to experience an energy decline and a fat-storage incline.

The ones to be extra cautious about are aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal) and saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low, Sprinkle Twin, and Sugar Twin)…” Fat Wars

It is obvious; we should not be drinking the stuff! Life can get hectic and we are not always in complete control of our circumstances. So here is what I propose…

Sign my NO POP Pledge blog post.

By doing so, you agree to keep your home a pop free zone, not willfully bringing pop into your home. Of course, there will be occasions when invited guests bring some over, when someone hands you a rum and coke at a gathering or you just might find yourself sipping a soft drink of a combo you bought at a fast food joint, but so be it.

Let’s just focus on keeping your refrigerator a pop free zone. You can sign my No POP Pledge by way of the “Leave a Response” link at the top of this post or “Submit a Comment” below.

Signed Stewy (making you healthier, one blog post at a time)

*Photo provided by deviantART user: littlexb

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