Saturday, January 31, 2009

School Recess Improves Behavior

Read Tara Pope Parker's piece on January 28, 2009 in the NYT entitled, School Recess Improves Behavior, and join me in saying, "duh! " and "no kidding." Recess, and movement are essential to a child's learning experience. Yet public schools make kids sit and write and read and think. And they should, but without exercise, release and movement many children can not absorb all that is necessary to learn. So I shake my head in disbelief and wonder, what next? Will we get rid of PE in schools and drive our children everywhere because it is unsafe or too cold. Oh Yea. We already do that. But thanks to the NYT and Parker who sites the experts and evidence we can start to discuss the situation. And when we are talking together and shaking our heads together, we work toward change. Groups have power. So read the article, and have a good recess.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obesity Obscured

The Robert Wood Johnson foundation plans to spend $500 million over five years in an effort to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States by 2015. In December 2008 they funded the Summit Health Insiturtue for Research and Education in Washington DC in order to reduce childhood obestiy in the District.

The current and significant rise in child obesity has become a major health concern in America since child obesity predicts future health problems. High cost diseases that result like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis raise health care costs for everyone. Medical care for children and adults who develop complications due to obesity require extensive, and expensive treatments.

Families can help because the children model parental behaviors. Schools can help since children learn, eat and play in school. Education, exercise and support are very necessary since as numerous studies show it is far more difficult to lose weight than it is to gain. Yet money for prevention programs, likely less than medications and a doctors care, are hard to find. The Robert Wood Foundation has done their part but a quick Google search finds no more leads and very little chance to even apply for money.

Herein lies the problem of course. As our health insurance system fails, and the cost of care increases and when our government bails out bankers and Republicans fear socialized medicine our childen gain more weight.

Dr. Walter J. Pories, a well-known gastric bypass surgeon, considers the lack of care and insurance financing for weight-loss programs is “the single most frustrating problem in dealing with childhood obesity.”

Yet several national groups are pressing for government financing or insurance reimbursement for more intensive weight loss treatment for children and these groups may now be heard.

Today the Senate passed a bill to provide health insurance to more than four million uninsured children, a bill George Bush vetoed. President Obama is eager to sign it thus providing a great step toward improving the health of American children. And hopefully this is only the first step because we need to stop the growing trend toward obesity in our children before the scale tips too far.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Salt of the earth

Salt. We taste it, add it, love it, hate it, a staff of life, a past currency and a worry for doctors, dietitians and patients alike. Dr. Frieden, the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, is targeting salt. He is waging a campaign to decrease the amount of sodium America eats. How, you may wonder? By targeting processed and packaged foods since they contribute 80% of sodium in the average American diet. Frieden, who pushed NY to eliminate trans fats and post nutrition information in restaurants will focus on the foods that contribute the most sodium to people’s diets and cut the level by 25 percent. If the food industry refuses he threatens to consider other options, like legislation.

Our society has learned to like very salty foods. We have grown use to the taste and with salt the acquired taste is a habit that can be tamed. Dr. Sonia Angell, director of cardiovascular health for NYC, said: “We’ve created a whole society of people accustomed to food that is really, really salty. We have to undo that.”
Not everyone is salt sensitive but for people who are susceptible, high levels of sodium raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
There is also some evidence that excess sodium encourages fat development and storage; weight gain from both increased fat cells and water weight.
And although doctors have been telling people to cut back on salt for years, it isn't working.
So Dr. Frieden encourages, " a quiet, mass reduction in sodium levels"or stealth health. He believes if we lower sodium levels by 50 percent, as many as 150,000 American lives could be saved each year. And these intentions make him, "the salt of the earth."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Growing gardens for victory

Can we make it through this economic crisis? Will we survive? Our way of life is killing us, physically, emotionally, and economically. Our hopes and dreams rest with the govenment and President Obama. So I love the article by Tara Parker Pope of the NYT, called Growing Food on the White House Lawn.
Watch the video at the bottom of the page. I loved it. American Presidents and their wives have been growing food on the White House lawn for years. Early on, of course, they had to eat from their gardens. Yet even the Clintons grew tomatoes and cucumbers on a roof garden. If Michelle and Barack grew food for all of the world to see and encouraged us to do the same, we would do it with pride. I hope they know we are counting on them to encourage us to feed ourselves, by ourselves and for ourselves. Gardening is good for our health, wallets and wellbeing. We can grow again together.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Recent studies

Eating fewer calories may lead to better memory, a new study says.
Caloric restriction improves memory in elderly humans. Studies with animals have shown memory improvement but this study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, appears to be the first to link calorie-restricted diets with improved memory in people.

Researchers are always looking for the benefits or harms of drinking coffee but it may be that drinking coffee may be better than we thought. A new study suggests a possible link to mental health later in life. Swedish and Danish researchers tracked coffee consumption in a group of 1,409 middle-age men and women for an average of 21 years. During that time, 61 participants developed dementia, 48 with Alzheimer’s disease. This is a significant decrease in dementia amongst coffee drinkers, so enjoy

Finally, a large body of research suggests that berries may be among the most potent cancer-fighting fruits. In several studies, researchers at Ohio State University discovered that black raspberries inhibit the development of oral, esophageal and colon cancers in rats. Other studies on humans have also suggested a benefit from eating berries. Now a large body of research suggests that berries may be among the most potent cancer-fighting fruits.
In numerous laboratory studies, researchers at Ohio State University have found that black raspberries inhibit the development of oral, esophageal and colon cancers in rats. Some human studies have also suggested a benefit from berry consumption. In one small study published in Novemeber's Cancer Prevention Research journal, researchers found that if patients with familial adenomatous polyposis, a genetic condition that raises risk for colon cancer, were given black raspberry extract had up to 59 percent fewer rectal polyps than those taking a placebo. Another study showed black raspberry powder reduced symptoms for patients with Barrett’s esophagus, a precancerous condition.

The main berries being researched include black and red raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and elderberries. Although blueberries have numerous health benefits, they don’t appear to have the same cancer-fighting properties as other berries, researchers say. The main berries being researched include black and red raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and elderberries. Although blueberries have numerous health benefits, they don’t appear to have the same cancer-fighting properties as other berries, researchers say.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Eating with Dr. Daphne

Daphne Miller, MD recently completed her book called the Jungle Effect where she focuses on the benefits of diets to prevent disease. She visited counties around the world and investigated the relationship of diet to reducing chronic disease. She discovered several interesting things. In fact she feels not just foods lower disease risks but the way in which they are eaten and enjoyed. The social, calming and centering aspects of family meals seems to influence health. As do using meats as a condiment rather than a hunk on the middle of the plate and eating locally grown, seasonal vegetables and fruits, whole grains and other whole foods. She also learned that integrating these changes into our own lives is possible since her recipes are delicious but easy too. People only have about 14 recipes they use over and over. I like several of her health nuggets including, diet trumps genes and follow your taste buds. Apparently diet dogmas hold little weight with this doctor who treats her patients first with foods and then with medicines.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Boosting the Metabolism

Metabolism, the process by which our bodies burn calories (food energy), has three parts: resting metabolic rate, the thermic effect of food, and physical activity. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the energy we use at rest to perform basic body functions like breathing and sleeping. In most people, this accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of their total daily energy expenditure (about 1,450 calories a day for a 140-pound woman). Because muscle is the body’s metabolically active tissue, RMR is almost totally determined by the amount of muscle or lean body mass. Most women have more body fat in proportion to muscle mass than men, and thus women generally have metabolic rates 5 to 10 percent lower than men of the same height and weight. Men therefore use more calories when they sit on a bench than the women sitting next to them.
The RMR of most people goes down by 2 to 3 percent with each decade after age thirty.
We can prevent this loss with regular strength-training exercises, designed to build or preserve muscle.
The thermic effect of food (TEF) is the energy we use to burn calories, to digest, absorb and metabolize our food. When you eat a 110-calorie snack, for example, 10 of those calories are used for TEF. It is a relatively small portion of our total metabolism: about 10 percent, or 240 daily calories, for a 140-pound woman.
Our greatest control over metabolism is to increase physical activity. In our sedentry culture of drive-through banks, escalators, leaf blowers, the TV and the computer it takes intention to move enough to burn calories. Exercise and a healthy diet made up of whole foods and lots of vegetables and fruits keep us well.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ask the Nutritionist

Q: I finally reached my weight goal. Do I have to stick to the same eating and exercise plan to stay slim?

A: The good news is you are ready for the maintenance phase. Relax your food regimen a bit and allow yourself 100 calories more a day than you ate when losing. For example, if your intake was 1500 calories increase it to 1600 calories. Try it for a week and if your weight stays the same stick to that number. If you continue to lose increase it to 1700 calories. Keep exercising. Exercise slows aging, reduces stress and tones muscles as well as keeping you slim. During the maintenance stage weigh often and adjust your diet and exercise according to your weight. If you are up, cut down on calories and increase exercise. If you are down, eat a little more and take a break.

Q: After my morning workout, my legs feel tired and sore all day. Do you have any advice?

A: The cure for tired legs starts with breakfast. If you jump out of bed without eating or drinking anything, you are setting yourself up for achiness and exhaustion all day. The leg muscles have to work extra hard without fuel. The best solution is to drink a glass of water and eat an easy-to-digest, carb-rich snack like a small banana about 20 minutes before you exercise. If you have trouble with that have some fruit and salad at dinner. Both are rich in water and nutrients and refuel your muscles.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ask the Nutritionist

Ask the

Q: Why do I eat so much when I am tired?

A: A hormone in your gut called ghrelin is responsible. It actually causes us to eat more because food appears more desirable. In a brain imaging study subjects receiving an infusion of the hormone responded more strongly to pictures of food. Ghrelin increases when we are sleep deprived making food more appealing.

Q: Are there specific foods that can lower my cholesterol?

A: Yes. Some foods do help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Pistachios and other nuts are rich in monounsaturated fat, fiber and phytosterols. They are also full of potassium. These nutrients help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Omega 3’s are also protective. Salmon is the best source of omega 3 fatty acids so eat Wild Alaskan Salmon. Consumer groups are currently encouraging us to buy it despite the higher price in order to protect the supply. If you don’t like fish, supplement your diet with capsules of fish oil to lower blood pressure and protect the heart.

Q: I don’t eat that much and I can’t lose weight?

A: We often lose perspective about how much we eat and exercise. You may eat more than you think. Increase your current exercise program to boost your metabolism but also journal to determine your actual intake.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congratulations Barack Obama

Inauguration Day 2009
Congrats President Obama and Vice President Biden. Will we lead the world as models of peace and wellness again soon? Fixing the education system and improving health care will allow all of us a healthier lives. Taking personal responsibility will improve our well being as a nation and as individuals. So we have a chance for a new start and as Obama vowed in his speech in a “new era of responsibility” we will restore American ideals.

And with that we will lead. Obama assured the rest of the world that change has come. “To all other peoples and governments who are watching today,” Mr. Obama said, “from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.”

This is good for the American soul and good for our health. Congratulations America.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ask the nutritionist?

Ask the

Q: Why do I like fattening foods so much?

A: Human beings like foods that are calorie dense like fatty foods. This is thought to be an adaptive behavior for a species like ours because we have evolved in a food-scarce environment. Unfortunately now that food is so abundant our desire for high-calorie foods makes it difficult to keep fat and calorie consumption down.

Q: How do I teach my children to eat more vegetables?

A: Research shows that when an adult gives child foods while being very friendly the child likes the food better. The adult did not give specific praise for eating the food but offered it positively. The positive environment was associated with the food. So when you offer vegetables simply make it fun and chances are the kids will like them.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mindless Eating

Mindless Eating

We all do it and according to Brian Wansink, a food psychology professor at Cornell University, we eat with our eyes and not with our stomach. In his book Mindless Eating, he explains that this unconscious eating even of only 100-200 calories a day, a handful of chips here or an extra serving there, causes us to gain pound after pound, year after year. Instead of heeding our internal cues we unconsciously overeat because of external cues that trigger our appetite. Wansink and his graduate students experimented with this idea by giving movie theater patrons either a medium or large bucket of very stale popcorn. Even though some of them had just had lunch, people who were given the big buckets ate an average of 53 % more than those given the medium buckets.

He writes, …the cues around us -- like the size of a popcorn bucket -- can provide subtle but powerful suggestions about how much one should eat. These cues can short-circuit a person's hunger and taste signals, leading them to eat even if they're not hungry and even if the food doesn't taste very good.”

This can work to our advantage, however, when we are trying to eat more vegetables for instance. Pile them on your plate and guess what, you will eat them.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stress eating

Stress Eating
If you listen to the news or open a newspaper these days you may feel some stress. It is a time of great uncertainty. Have you noticed that you are eating more as a result? You might be, since stress increases our appetites. The physiological systems responsible for this are meant to protect us. Here is how. When we experience stress the brain instantly signals our body to release a hormone called cortisol. This hormone tells the body to mobilize our fight or flight reflex. The heart races, blood vessels constrict. We are ready for action. Yet with chronic stress the system does not shut off. Researchers at UCSF suggest that chronic stress activates a mechanism that directs us to look for foods high in calories, fat and sugar. Without this system chronic stress would deplete our energy reserves and we would not survive very long. So though eating more may keep us going, when we do not burn these calories we store them right around our mid-sections. We should be concerned since 63% of Americans are overweight or obese. Here are some simple tools to fight the trend. When stressed, get enough sleep, eat lightly, do not drink too much alcohol and exercise. Protect your heart, body and mind by practicing moderation.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating is the opposite of dieting.
It involves eating in response to your body’s needs, rather than counting calories and following rules. Supporters of intuitive eating suggest that eating in response to internal hunger and fullness cues; allow us to eat all foods. This helps us reach our “natural" weights, the weight range genetically predetermined.
Some research supports the idea that dieting undermines our internal eating cues and natural appetite. When we eat using an all-or-none type system, built around eating rules rather than internal hunger/satiety cues, it is referred to as restraint eating. This type of eating can make some of us more likely to over eat because once we break one rule, we break them all.
When disconnected from our internal satiety cues, we are more susceptible to external eating cues. External cues are triggered by emotions, “time", the sight or smell of food, and personal or cultural rules of eating.
Getting in touch with internal eating cues takes some time and attention. Small groups are an effective way to work on this while learning about the external cues that influence us. In our complicated world of food it helps to have a strong nutrition framework while exploring the forces encouraging us to over eat.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Giving in and estimating the count

Well, we gave in, I hope for the last time. It is too hard to keep up with the gluttony. I was ready to give up and give in for a while and as usual it took awhile to convince the others. I did not want to do this either but truly I never would have gotten into this situation in the first place because I don't like having to get out of it.

It is a new year so we are not alone in our giving up and giving in and we had no other choice. I blame myself too as much as I don't want to do it and argue about my lack of control which is true too. So how do we start? We start by estimating calories.

Estimating Calories

To find out how many calories you need each day, you can do two things. First decide, how much you want to weigh? Use your target weight not your current weight to determine your number. Select an activity factor that fits your current activity level.

Þ Your target weight:
Þ Your activity factor:
20= Very active men
15= Moderately active men or very active women
13= Inactive men, moderately active women, and people over 55
10= Inactive women, repeat dieters, seriously overweight people

Þ Target weight x activity factor = Calories needed each day.

For example if your target weight is 130 and you are moderately active woman (factor 13), you need about 1,600 to 1,700 calories
130 pounds x 13= 1,690
Eating this amount of calories each day would guarantee weight loss because you are getting only enough calories to support your target weight, not current heavier weight. Ad extra exercise to your regular routine and weight will come off even

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The annuls of gullibility

"It's a scam. There is nothing to this. Look." He insisted. All he hears in response are words of confused assurances and a stubborn reliance on instinct (for better or for worse.)
"It is fine," she replies. "I have his passport and his word."
They never earned a dime from this investment. In fact they lost and continue to lose money every month because she borrowed off the credit cards to support a dream. It was a very expensive lottery ticket and a stupid waste of money, but she still believes it might pay off.
He participated in this thing not by because of something he did but because he was not convincing enough to stop the outflow. He had a great insight the other day though and this is what he needed to share.
He said, "It is not my fault you are frivolous with our money and comfortable with risky investments and debt. You came to me this way and I knew from the start that an unconventional fearless, and sometimes to my dismay, reckless road awaited me. I have no control and so am not responsible for our financial woes. I am responsible though for how I proceed, behave and acquiesce."

She listened to this man as he spoke his truth and tried to understand. Many live with people who let them down. And to survive they take responsibility and sometimes blame. Is that culpability or are we just gullible in love?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Walk, rest, eat but not too much

Lose 15 lbs Fast-No Hunger Ever, A Gorgeous New You; Instant Pain Cures; Stop Cancer; A Flat Belly in 10 minutes; snacks that boost Metabolism, Best ways to melt stress; Complete plan for Lasting Weight Loss and 159 new fat-burning secrets. A headline page for Health Magazine promising the world of health in just 123 pages of pictures and blurbs. I like the push. We take it in with gusto although some people literally hate the whole thing.

I wish the hints beneath the cover were new information, interesting, easy to do changes worthy of passing on to clients. But ya know, its all a haze. Nothing so simple, no plans so easy, some intersting info, but not for me. Save your cash and take some really simple advise. Walk, rest, meditate, eat well but not too much and smile. Be well.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dip it, tap it, apply it

"Your skin looks so good. What does she use?. Ask her what she uses Maria," my mother spoke loudly at a crowded restaurant table on Wednesday night in Healdsburg. The set menu was delicious, a spinach salad with shaved almonds and a light creamy garlic dressing and a pasta Bolognese. We were having a wonderful time. I looked at her silently and while smiling , I shook my head slightly. I have told her so many times what I use on my skin. As I repeated them, she said," With a little spinach you could make a salad out of those ingredients."

Though not truly edible I rely on nutrients to nurture my skin. I love jojoba oil and vitamin E oil mixed together and liberally applied. I wash my skin in warm water and epsom salts which are high in magnesium and I like retinol or vitamin A cream for the deeper wrinkles. Vitamin C creams may work well on dark spots but that remains a goal. Fish oils taken daily also keep the skin smooth and supple. I notice it in many of my clients who have followed my lead.
Eating a daily salad sprinkled with nuts for good measure never hurt anyone's complexion and probably does more than we think.And finally a little mineral based makeup hides many skin flaws. So dip a brush in a light powder, tap it and brush it on.

My mother turns from me, but before dipping into her pasta she taps her glass and applying what she learned she announced to the group, "Eat your salad and take your fish oils. They are good for your skin."

I shake my head and smile. My mom never misses an opportunity no matter what.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Loud, long, fast

Someone broke a string on the violin bow. I asked Drew, my 12 year old, "Did you break the string on the violin. He replied in true deniable fashion, "It wasn't me. Drake saw me holding it, but it was him. He played it as loud as he could, as long as he could and as fast as he could and it broke. "

I actually believe Drew. My elder son does do things loud, long and fast. What energy and a true dicotomy-a Gemini by birth and style. I think of long and fast as opposites, but they certainly are not. Think of a fast marathon runner or a long, stressfilled fast car ride. One is slow but fast and one is long but seems to "last forever. " Time molds for people. Perception molds our health and wellness. How we see things changes our minds and we are in control of how we perceive. It takes work, as do all worthy things.

Tomorrow is Wednesday. My first day of meditation class at Parkpoint. I must go and of course I resist. Not tomorrow though. I insist.

I am quiet, long and moderate in my dealings. My job, now that I recoginize it, is to make the best of it. It is simply that simple. Be well.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Wellness not war

There are so many things in this world out of our control that cause pain and suffering. Why then do human beings create chaos with bombs and guns? Think Isreal and Palestine these days and suffer for their losses. Is land so much more important than life? Seems so. I heard on the radio this morning these words from one of the leaders. He said, "A certain amount of civilian death is okay as long as it brings peace." What????????? There are diseases and accidents, earthquakes and floods for which we have little control. I wonder when human beings will have the restraint for peace? God help us.

Wellness in Isreal and Palestine eludes society. Their anger strongly outweighs their peacefulness. Without that how can they be well?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Few Good Weight Control Tips

A Few Good Diet Tips
  • Drink plenty of water or other calorie-free beverages.
    Sometimes we confuse thirst with hunger and end up eating extra calories when an ice-cold glass of water is really what we need. Add citrus or a splash of juice, or brew peach or black current tea. They have a lot of flavor and no calories.
  • Get calories from foods you chew, not things you sip.
  • Never eat to fast. Do you eat standing up? Do you rush your meals? Do you eat in your car? Pay attention to where you eat and limit the places. You will eat less.
  • Visualize your success. Use affirmations.
  • Think about what you can add to your diet, not what you should take away.
  • Shoot for a healthy weight. Redefine the “Perfect Body.”
    When I show teenagers a picture of Marilyn Monroe they think she is overweight! Yet, if Marilyn Monroe lived during the Renaissance period, she would have been considered too thin. When food was scarce to be “fat” was considered a sign of health and wealth. Today we consider “very skinny” beautiful but it may not be very healthy.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Weight loss and keeping it off

At this time of year the common resolution I hear is to eat better and lose weight. It makes sense since generally we all have eaten thousands of extra calories and drank many more during the holidays. Holidays bring out the appetite in people and most people gain about 4 pounds from Halloween through New Years Day. What seems to be changing is not that people gain weight during this season but that in our sedentary society it is getting harder and harder to lose the weight we gain. Tara Pope Parker wrote a piece today in the NYTs highlighting great websites offering diet help.
It is worth a read. I am interested in the site called written by 3 sisters that shares stories of real people's weight loss struggles.

I am also struck by the study in the April 2008 article in the British Journal of Nutrition. They looked at success rates of lifetime Weight Watchers members and found that a year after reaching goal weight, 80 percent of participants maintained only 5 percent of the weight loss. By one year only 27 percent of the dieters were below their goal weight. Despite that most people regained their weight, ww offers more success than most commercial diet plans.

I find the maintenance the key and with this I continue to recommend small weekly, weight loss support groups. They are easy to set up and work.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

I keep asking everyone who will listen to voice their New Year's resolutions. I am facinated by them and research shows that if people voice them they are more likely to become realized. Fast Facts About New Year's Resolutions
63% of people say they are keeping their resolutions after two months
67% of people make three or more resolutions
Top four resolutions:
Increase exercise
Be more conscientious about work or school
Eat better
Stop smoking, drinking, or using drugs (including caffeine)

One of my goals is to understand how to reach a flow state more often in my daily life. A flow state occurs when one is engaged in self-controlled, goal-related, meaningful actions and time stops. It is according to University of Chicago's Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a key to happiness.

Resolutions are inspired and then provide motivation, if we stick with them, in an effort to reach happiness. It really is all related.