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When FREE Can be Fattening

Stop Hunger?
Image by Felix42 contra la censura via Flickr

Why is it that I lose all self-control when offered a freebie?

Perhaps this can be attributed to my “penny conscious-dollar foolish” parents who often cut Mc Donald’s coupons for their 2  for 1 Big Breakfast deals, paying the $1.99 on their way to a $100+++ per person golf game at their country club.

Or perhaps it’s because I live in NYC and the price of everything is so jacked up that when presented with an opportunity to save a few cents, I jump.

Or maybe its simply because I was hungry.

Whatever the reason, the fact of the matter is that when offered a freebie, I usually takie.

Such was the case, a week ago when I met some friends for dinner at Cipriani Wall Street.  One of my dinner companions was friends with the manager and she told us to ask for him upon arrival. Upon entering this overly styled (but in a good way) restaurant, we were offered complimentary flutes of their signature (but carb- filled) Bellini cocktail

Cold refreshing champagne with a healthy dollop of the most delicious fresh squeezed peach juice was too good to resist. Never mind that I was carb counting. It was free, it was good and I downed it. When the fine gentleman came around again offering to refresh our glasses, I surreptitiously accepted. At that point, I had already gone over the 50 grams of carbs a day I try to limit myself too and decided to “go crazy” and dig into the bread basket and sample some of their famous carb filled pasta. Although both bread and pasta are big no-no’s on the I LOVE FOOD DIET, I resolved to follow my own sage advice from my post “Three Steps forward, 2 steps back,” and dig in. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

The other day when I was walking home from dropping off the kids at school, I noticed a young woman eagerly handing out what looked like packaged candy. Having been down this road before and not wanting to be tempted by carb filled candy, I stealthy avoided her. However after overhearing her say to another passer by that they were “healthy snacks,” my curiousity was peaked. I slowed down my pace and was quickly ambushed by her coworker urging me to sample the freebie bar.

Healthy candy bar? Hmmmmm. let me see. I looked at the label. the 4 oz bar contained 230 calories and 36 gm of carbs. I should have dumped it right there and then, but I was hungry and it was FREE.

The first bite was good. Crunchy, sweet and nutty. The second and third bites were equally good. However after the 4th bite, the bar was almost gone and I was still hungry.

I cursed myself for having consumed that completely unnecessary breakfast bar. This freebie was going to cost me 40 minutes on the treadmill. 😦

The next time you are offered a freebie, just make sure it is low carb.

Chow for now!

What is FOOD?

What is FOOD?

Will eat for food
Image by altemark via Flickr

What is FOOD? Seems like a silly question, right? Heck, we have been consuming food in one form or another since conception.

According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, the following is the definition of “food” (noun)

  • A material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrates or fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair and vital processes and to furnish energy
  • Nutriment in solid form
  • Something that nourishes, sustains or supplies

As the definition above clearly states that “food” is something, nourishing or sustains growth, what the heck is the rest of that stuff that we have been consuming? The fact of the matter is that a vast majority of “food” on the market today has little to no nutrients, are not nourishing, nor will sustain healthy growth. Our “food” has been hijacked. What was considered food centuries ago bares a slim resemblance to the overly processed, striped down “franken-foods” on the market today. The only “sustaining growth” from these “wanna-be foods” is the girth around our waistlines, not to mention the “sustaining growth” of obesity and obesity related diseases in Americans today.

I have developed my own definition of FOOD. After much trial and error, I had my Eureka moment last month and have busy researching and developing the new and improved ” I Love FOOD Diet”.

Although I am in the process of fine tuning it –  (Hey, Rome was not built in a day), the basic premise is that you can eat as much FOOD and only FOOD every day. Not only will you lose weight, you will look better, feel better, have more energy and basically improve your life and those around you as well. Sounds too good to be true? Well let me clarify:

The definition of FOOD on the I Love FOOD Diet is that it must be two of the following:

  • F – FRESH – fresh fruit, fresh veggies, fresh seafood, fresh meats, no preservatives, no additives
  • O – Organic – no pesticides, no hormones, no genetically modified pseudo-foods
  • O – Oxygen – If it needs oxygen for growth then you can eat it on the I Love FOOD Diet. Fruits and veggies need oxygen to grow, animals need oxygen to grow, all forms of seafood need oxygen (what do you think the O stands for in H2O?). What does NOT need oxygen is rice, pasta, sugar, flour and bread (in fact, oxygen causes bread to go stale and grow mold!)
  • D – Delicious – If it is delicious you will eat it. We encourage liberal use of seasoning, certain condiments, salt, olive oil and even some butter.

I have a lot more to work and research to do for this fabulous diet. I’ll have more to report next time. In the meantime, keep eating FOOD!

Chow for now!

What is FOOD?

Exercise will Make you Smarter

No Brain
Image by Pierre-Olivier via Flickr

As if we don’t need another reason to exercise already, here comes a doozy. It seems that Exercise is not only good for your heart, health and physique BUT exercise is also good for your brain and can in fact make you SMARTER.

A recent article in Newsweek Magazine titled “Can you Build a Better Brain”, by Sharon Begley, discusses at length the possibility of whether certain activities or consumption of certain foods will in fact make one smarter.

The National Institutes of Health evaluated dozens of claims in the search for a better brain. This evaluation compared dozens of claims about brain boosting products and activities. The result of this comparative study suggests that “cognitive enhancers are as sketchy as a Wild West poker player with a fifth ace up its sleeve”, writes Ms Begley. It seems that brain boosting claims that consuming Vitamins B6, B12 and E; beta carotene, folic acid ; and the trendy antioxidants called flavonoids are inconclusive. Further, Ms Begley writes, the evidence for increasing intelligence by consuming certain alcohols, omega 3s, or having a large social network is weak.

Bottom line, there is no “magic pill” or panacea to boost your brain power.

The article goes on to suggest that  many of the individual studies that claim that certain foods and activities boost your mental capacity are in fact, just that –  individual studies. “You could find individual studies concluding that one or another hype heavy intervention helps your brain, but the conclusion of any single study is more likely to be wrong than right”, writes Ms. Begley. “Only by assessing all the evidence from all the studies , as the NIH evaluation did can you get the true picture.”

However, all is not lost. The study does conclude that there is very strong evidence that 3 types of specific activities may in fact make you smarter.

Surprisingly one such activity, sure to make a mother shudder, is that certain video games show strong evidence in increasing the players mental ability. Certain complex computer based action games which involve motor control, visual search, working memory, long-term memory and decision-making can help exercise the brain. According to Mr. Art Stern of the University of Illinois who headed this study with older participants, says that after playing these types of games, “People scored better on tests of memory, motor speed, visual-spatial skills and tasks requiring cognitive flexibility.”

Another way to boost your brain is meditation. It seems that meditation can “increase the thickness of regions that control attention and process sensory signals from the outside world.” says Neuroscientist, Amishi Jha of the University of Miami. She adds that “mindfulness-based mind fitness training has shown success in enhancing mental agility and attention “by changing brain structure and function so that brain processes are more efficient, the quality associated with higher intelligence.”

Lastly, simple aerobic activities such as walking 45 minutes a day 3 times a week “improves episodic memory and executive control functions by as much as 20 %” claims Art Kramer of the University of Illinois.  It seems that exercise encourages the creation of new neurons, stimulates the production of neuron fertilizers as well as neurotransmitters that carry brain signals. Mr. Kramer found in his studies that a mere “year of moderate exercise can give a 70-year-old the connectivity of a 30 yr old, improving memory, planning. dealing with ambiguity and multitasking”

OK, people. Get off your rear and start exercising. You would have to be stupid and therefore in dire need of cognitive assistance not to. Exercise because it will make you smarter and hopefully, (by following the  I LOVE FOOD DIET), skinnier.

Chow for now.

What is FOOD?

Ladies Home Journal

image of the top portion of a folded copy of t...
Image via Wikipedia

I opened up the mailbox today and reached in to pull out the usual junk mail, bills, unwanted catalogues and the occasional magazine. While flipping through the envelopes, my eye immediately fell upon the bold red letters, “This is your LAST ISSUE!” screaming out to me under the clear plastic packaging. Uh oh, was it the end of my New York Magazine subscription already? Did the New York Times not receive my last payment? Did the NY Post lose my check?

I ripped open the packaging and breathed a sigh of relief. Oh, it’s just the Ladies Home Journal.

A couple of years ago, my mother (it had to be my mother, who else would subscribe me to this publication?) gave me a subscription to Ladies Home Journal. As a young woman, I always thought Ladies Home Journal was for well….. “Ladies”  (and not particularly young ladies at that).

Now, two decades later,  I am too old to be considered a “young lady,” but too young to be considered an “old lady”. Suddenly my Ladies Home Journal is somewhat “interesting”. I secretly covet my “Journal”,  kind of like how I now enjoy reading, (dare I say it) Prevention Magazine at my doctors office.

Ladies Home Journal was first created in February 1883. It soon became the leading women’s magazine of the 20th century. According to its own website, Ladies Home Journal readership is highest amongst “married women, over the age of 30 with a median household income of $60,965″.

This months issue had the team from  “This Biggest Loser ” on the cover. Bold letters announcing that this was THE BIG HEALTH ISSUE perked my interest. I subsequently dropped all the other mail on the entry table and started thumbing through the issue.

The “Big Health Issue” was actually not that “Big”.  In fact the featured article from the The Biggest Loser team was just a mere 4 pages. If you ever watched the hit TV show, the message remains the same. Eat right, exercise, control your food portions and exercise some more.

Other diet tips from “The Biggest Loser” team – Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper and Alison Sweeney include:

  • Gradually rehab your eating habits
  • Steer clear of tempting foods
  • Be realistic about your exercise and weight loss goals
  • Bond with other fat fighting friends
  • Shop for your healthy food in advance so you always have it on hand
  • Put exercise on your schedule
  • Get your family on board
  • Dont obsess over the scale
  • Eat every four hours

There were a couple of other tips, but for the most part, it’s basically just using common sense. I was hoping to learn some new and innovative information on diet/exercise or health. I was a little disappointed.

Although Ladies Home Journal has been my secret friend for the past couple of years, I think I may want to try some other fitness/ health publications. After all these years, I think will let this subscription expire. (Mom, sign me up for Prevention Magazine instead.)

Chow for now.

What is FOOD?

I LOVE FOOD DIET – Another 10%?

SKINNY GIRLS (for Illustration Friday)
Image by nerosunero via Flickr

I love food. I love everything about it – from the smells, to the taste, to the consistency, to the euphoria one feels after eating the perfect fois gras. Having successfully lost 10% of my pre-diet weight I am now going to try to do the impossible and lose ANOTHER 10% more.

Now for those of you who have recently seen me, you may think that I am being…well…a little crazy! As I have already achieved my weight goal, why would I possibly want torture myself  to lose even more weight???

Well, in fact the I LOVE FOOD DIET is far from torture and actually is quite fun. Further, in the interest of Science, not to mention my own dying curiosity, I really want to see how much weight I can lose on my own invention. Bottom line – I am putting my carb-free food where my mouth is and see how well this regime can work.

Chow for now!