Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates

Archive for July, 2011

Will Taxing Junk Food Stop People From Eating It?

There has been a lot of ┬ápress lately about whether or not to tax junk food. Advocates say it will discourage people from eating it and the revenue raised could subsidize healthier food, which is more expensive than junk food. Detractors say it will just be another tax on the poor, the biggest consumers of such foods. As in any debate, there is more than one argument for or against. The idea initially sounded like a good idea to me, but then thinking about it, I realized that it is not strictly an economic issue. Rolled into the equation are culture, the influence of the processed food industry, lifestyles, lack of education and the mother of all barriers to good eating – changing behavior.

Then there is the bureaucracy element. Would those taxes actually make their way to those who would need the subsidy or would they be rolled into the pot to offset budget deficits? If so, that would certainly support the theory that it would burden the poor with higher taxes. Would it go to mega food processing companies to calm their ire?

It seems to me that education is the place to start. People need to understand just what bad food is doing to them, before it makes them sick. Since the effect of poor nutrition begins in the womb, generations must be educated. If a mother to be knows that what she puts in her body as her baby is developing, directly impacts the child’s health and predisposition to adulthood disease, she might think more carefully about her choices. Investing money in nutrition programs for pregnant women, of all classes would be a good place to start. It would save us huge sums in future medical costs over the life of their unborn children, as well as their own health. For another perspective, read the article in the from the NY Times:


Trying New Vegetables and Ways to Prepare Them

Among my errands on this oppressive day was my weekly stop at Stone Gardens Farms in Shelton, to pick up my weekly share of fresh farm produce, which I share with a friend. It seems every week’s crop includes kale. She doesn’t like it, so I get a double portion. Truth be told, I don’t like it steamed either. It has to be “hidden” in a soup for me to get it down. I know how nutritious it is however, so I was determined to find a way to ingest the stuff.

Owing to the wonder of the internet, recipes abounded. The one that appealed to me was kale chips. I made a batch. Mmmm, delicious! Two more batches immediately followed, since I ate the whole first tray myself. So, here is the recipe. Try it. It really is good!

Wash and dry the leaves thoroughly. Remove the center stems. Tear leaves into large chip size pieces (they shrink a little). Toss in a large bowl with olive oil, grated parmesan cheese and a little salt, unless you must limit sodium. You can add garlic powder too if desired. Coat well, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cook for roughly 10 minutes on 400 degrees, but watch it so it doesn’t totally dry up to ash! Yum. Enjoy.

Water, Water Everywhere . . . . .

It is HOT today. How hot? How about in the 90’s, but it feels over 100 degrees due to high humidity. An air quality alert is in effect as is a heat alert. “Cooling centers” are open in public spaces like libraries and senior centers, some schools, etc. Take your time shopping at the Stop and Shop, where it is always cold. We’re in for several more days of this, so listen up!

When we were little, we learned that our bodies were comprised of about 90% water. I thought, “How could that be? Wouldn’t we just fall like a shapeless heap? Bones can’t be made of water; they hold us upright.”

Well, I learned since then, the number is more like 60% (still quite a lot). Water is one of the essential nutrients, as is protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals. Water is essential as it carries nutrients and wastes through the body, is needed for metabolic functions, is a solvent for water soluble vitamins and minerals, and supports the molecular structure of body cells. It lubricates and cushions the joints, regulates body temperature and maintains blood volume. Because it carries the electrolytes sodium and potassium, it is important to proper heart function. Are you listening now?

Most people are in a constant state of dehydration. We, as a nation, don’t drink enough. By the time we are thirsty, assuming the thirst mechanism is working properly, we have lost 2% of our body fluid volume. Add to that that many of our thirst mechanisms don’t function well, particularly as we age, and it can spell trouble.

Dehydration can be serious. If you lose 1-2% of body fluid, you experience thirst, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite and discomfort. At 3-4%, your physical performance is impaired, your mouth is dry, urine output is reduced (leaving more toxins in your body), your skin flushes and you experience apathy and/or agitation. At 5-6%, you can’t concentrate, may get a headache, will be irritable, and sleepy. Your respiratory rate will rise, putting strain on your cardiovascular system and your body will be unable to regulate temperature. At 7-10%, dizziness, muscle spasms, loss of balance, delirium and collapse are likely. When thirst is not motivating you to take in fluids, you can pass through these stages quickly.

Water needs vary by person, but a good rule of thumb for an average person is to take in 8-12 cups of water form all sources. Juicy fruits like watermelon provide a lot of water, vegetables have some, all drinks count, but don’t use sports drinks as they contain high doses of sugars and sodium They are best only when exercising vigorously, for an hour or more. Be sure to increase your intake when exercising, especially if it is in hot weather. Do your outdoor exercise early in the day or late in the evening to lessen the risk of dehydration.

Water is essential. As essential as air. We can’t live without it. Be aware of how much you are taking in. Don’t wait until you are thirsty as it is an unreliable indicator of need. By the time a normal person is thirsty, s/he has already lost 1-2% of body fluid. In the elderly, it is especially critical to drink on schedule, as thirst is a function that declines with age.

Respect your body’s need for water. It is the MOST essential nutrient!

Introduction to the blog

I am hoping to make this an interactive site. I would love your participation in the quest for health through good food and habits.

I have a science-based degree in dietetics (nutrition) and a degree in applied psychology. I believe most eating issues have a strong psychological component and must be addressed when there are weight challenges.

It is a whole new world, with so much information in the public domain. Some of it is helpful and science based. Some is outright quackery. The volume of information can easily overwhelm any conscientious reader. There are many fads and some just plain dangerous things being sold.

Understand there is no magic pill, no quick fix and no diet that will keep you at a healthy weight after weight loss. Reframing “diet” to mean how we eat all the time eliminates the “magic” that presumably happens when you are shedding pounds. Diet is a way of life, for the rest of your life. Eat a healthy diet and you will never have to worry about being on a diet. See the difference?

This blog will be filled over time with sane, relevant advice and resources, so you can begin to change your diet, and thereby, your health.

Come along with me on this journey. As always with my blogs, feel free to comment, ask questions or contact me personally if you want to connect privately.

To your health!

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