Some Halloween Facts
- POSTED ON: Oct 31, 2012

Each of us has different diet preferences on Halloween,

Some people have food plans which do not allow sweets, and they choose to follow that plan precisely.
.......Note: I've found this choice easier to make while involved in following a low-carb food plan.

Some people choose to incorporate a few sweet treats into their daily plan.

Some people choose to abandon their food plan entirely and binge out on Halloween sweets.

Whatever your personal choice, you have my Holiday support.
However, when making your food decisions, here is something to keep in mind.

Each one of these tiny treats has 20 - 35 calories).

3 Musketeers Minis
Hershey's Kisses
Sixlets 8-piece tubes
Tootsie Roll Midgees
Whoppers Malted Milk Balls 3-piece tubes

Minis are the small, typically square morsels. The kinds below have 35 - 55 calories per piece.

Baby Ruth
Hershey's Special Dark, Krackel, Milk Chocolate, and Mr. Goodbar
Kit Kat
Milky Way
Nestlé Crunch
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Snack-size and fun-size candies are usually about 2 inches long and weigh in at around half an ounce. The ones listed here have 60 - 85 caloriesper piece, pack, bag, or box.

3 Musketeers
Baby Ruth
Hershey's Milk Chocolate
Junior Mints
Kit Kat (one 2-piece bar)
M&M's Milk Chocolate
Milky Way
Nestlé Crunch
York Peppermint Patties

Same specifics as the last list of snack-size/fun-size treats (about 2 inches long and half an ounce in weight), but these are a little higher in stats. Each bar or pack has 90 - 95 calorie).

100 Grand
M&M's Peanut
Mr. Goodbar

Beginning the Holiday Season
- POSTED ON: Oct 30, 2012

The end of October is a challenging time for me.  It marks the beginning of the holiday season of parties and events, which always includes food. Halloween kicks things off and then on to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.

Holiday seasons tend to give a great many people the binge bug. From late November through New Year's Eve, the holiday season can seem like a six-week-long smorgasbord. Larger, richer meals, special desserts, a few more h’orderves, another handful of nuts, a glass of punch.

When trying for a balanced diet, It's easy to lose both the balance and the diet.

Opportunities are endlessly staged in front of us ... holiday celebrations, family gatherings and friendly festivities.

It would be great to be able to successfully diet all throughout the holiday season.

It would be good to keep from overeating on special holiday occasions. 

 I’ll settle for reducing my food celebrations to a limited few.

I am working toward making my extra food occasions into one-day-only-celebrations on the actual holiday itself. Because actually:  Halloween is one day. Thanksgiving is one day. Christmas and Christmas Eve are two days. New Year’s Eve is one day. My birthday is in there too, and that’s one day. So that totals six special Holidays for me, and one-at-a-time, I can choose not to eat myself sick on any or all of those days. Six Celebration days is just under 10% of the Sixty-three days between Halloween and New Year’s Day . While overeating 10% of the time is not ideal, it is far better than overeating 30% to 100% of the time.

Even “normal” people tend to gain 5 lbs over the holidays, and then work to take them off in the new year. Unfortunately, here in my 7th year of maintenance, while my own body seems willing to easily PUT ON additional weight, it will then absolutely refuse to drop off that regained weight later.

Nowadays, losing weight is extremely difficult for me. As an older, short, normal-weight, sedentary, reduced-obese, female, my daily calorie burn is so low (daily average about 1050 calories) that I can’t manage to drop it down more than a couple of hundred calories (daily average about 850 calories), and …. according to my own recollection, and my detailed personal records……, doing that makes my body extra hungry, and it also becomes very tired and sleepy, which causes me to lie around more, and sleep longer, and my responsive behavior works to drop my metabolism down near the level of my diet calorie intake….resulting in little or no weight-loss. It’s a vicious cycle, which I’m trying to figure out how to overcome.

If I can lose a bit of weight between now and the end of the year, 

it will be great,
but my own 2012 Holiday goal is to gain zero lbs between now and the end of the year.

Musical Lesson
- POSTED ON: Oct 29, 2012

Life has taught me a lesson that applies to many different areas.
I’ve found that this lesson holds true even with regards to
Dieting, Weight-Loss, and Maintenance of Weight-loss.

Inspiration can come from many places.
The video below inspires me.

Healthful Eating?
- POSTED ON: Oct 28, 2012

What does Healthy Eating REALLY mean?

Health is the general condition of a living person's mind, body and spirit,
usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain (as in "good health" or "healthy").
So, to be in “good health”, or to be “healthy: simply means “not sick or injured” and “not dead”.

Human nutrition is the process by which substances in food are transformed into body tissues and provide energy for the full range of physical and mental activities that make up human life.

Nowadays, Marketing Interests attach the word “healthy” to just about every food sold.
.. and they are technically correct, because if it doesn’t make you sick or kill you, it IS healthy.

It is now fashionable for people to worry about whether or not they are “eating healthy”. However, here in modern society, an average person, who is not sick, doesn’t need to have state-of-the-art scientific expertise and technologies of the links between human nutrition and health. 

   Basically, it is still as it has always been, in every society and culture.

If other people eat it;
if it tastes good;
and if it doesn’t kill you, make you feel sick,
or make you get really fat;
your eating qualifies as "Healthy".

But, many of us are interested in learning more.

 The study of human nutrition involves physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology, as well as psychology and anthropology, which explore the influence of attitudes, beliefs, preferences, and cultural traditions on food choices. Human nutrition further involves economics and political science as the world community recognizes and responds to the suffering and death caused by malnutrition.

What we eat obviously goes inside our bodies and therefore affects our internal organs and the chemical interactions that take place. What we eat can affect how we feel and ultimately influence our thoughts, our decisions and our behavior. What we eat also affects how our internal organs operate and therefore affects their healthiness and longevity.

“Healthy” eating, by definition, helps to ensure that one’s internal organs are being cared for, that they are processing foods effectively and efficiently, and ultimately, sustains one’s life.

 Dietitians are health professionals who specialize in human nutrition, meal planning, economics, and preparation. They are trained to provide dietary advice and management to individuals, as well as to institutions. Clinical nutritionists are health professionals who focus more specifically on the role of nutrition in chronic disease, including possible prevention by addressing nutritional deficiencies before resorting to drugs.

Nutritional science investigates the metabolic and physiological responses of the body to diet. the study of nutrition is increasingly concerned with metabolism and metabolic pathways: the sequences of biochemical steps through which substances in living things change from one form to another.

The human body contains chemical compounds, such as water, carbohydrates (sugar, starch, and fiber), amino acids (in proteins), fatty acids (in lipids), and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). These compounds in turn consist of elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and so on. All of these chemical compounds and elements occur in various forms and combinations (e.g. hormones, vitamins, phospholipids, hydroxyapatite), both in the human body and in the plant and animal organisms that humans eat.

The human body consists of elements and compounds ingested, digested, absorbed, and circulated through the bloodstream to feed the cells of the body. Digestive juices enter the lumen of the digestive tract. These digestive juices break chemical bonds in ingested molecules (food intake), and modify their conformations and energy states. Though some molecules are absorbed into the bloodstream unchanged, digestive processes release them from the matrix of foods. Unabsorbed matter, along with some waste products of metabolism, is eliminated from the body in the feces.

There are six major classes of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, minerals, protein, vitamins, and water. These nutrient classes can be categorized as either macronutrients (needed in relatively large amounts) or micronutrients (needed in smaller quantities). The macronutrients include carbohydrates (including fiber), fats, protein, and water. The micronutrients are minerals and vitamins.

Chemicals can be formed during processing as a result of reactions between compounds that are natural components of the food. In some cases a chemical may be formed as a result of a food additive being intentionally added to food and reacting with another compound in the food.

  When foods are heat-processed (baked, deep-fried, etc.), there are reactions that occur between components of the food, resulting in the desired flavor, appearance and texture of the food. Similarly, certain storage or processing conditions may allow reactions to occur that otherwise would not. Such chemicals are collectively referred to as food-processing-induced chemicals. Some of these chemical reactions involve naturally-occurring components in the food, while other reactions may involve food additives, ingredients, or food packaging materials that were intentionally used.
People who oppose processed foods   feel these chemicals are risky,  in that they might be potentially harmful to the human body when used long-term. The term “clean” eating generally means avoiding processed foods and eating “whole” foods, which means foods as close to their natural state as one can get them. Like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins instead of pre-packaged or fast food. “Clean” eating usually also involves replacing saturated fat with “healthy” fat, although many “experts” now believe that natural saturated fats are NOT “unhealthy”. “Clean” eating can often involve eating only “organic” food; and only “grass-fed” or “Free-Range” animals.

Nutritionists regularly contradict one another. So, Who to Believe? 

 There are nutritional “experts”, like Michael Pollan, author of "Food Rules" (2011), who believe that excessive reliance on food science and the study of nutrition can, paradoxically, lead to poor nutrition and to ill health. Since nutrients are invisible, national policy makers rely on nutrition experts to advise on food choices.

Pollan argues that because science has an incomplete understanding of how food affects the human body, nutritionism, itself, can be blamed for many of the health problems relating to diet in the Western World today.

 Here is a BASIC truth that just about every person in our modern culture knows and understands. If you don’t take in enough food to sustain life, you’ll have too few nutrients, and your body will get sick and die. If you take in more food than you need to sustain life, you’ll have enough nutrients, and your body will excrete some, and store the rest as fat.

Less commonly understood is that if your body gets really fat, your body might … or might not… get really sick (depending on your genetics), but just about everyone knows that a fat body has to work harder to function, which eventually will result in various types of pain. 

 I enjoyed the following article:

Are You Trying Too Hard to Eat Healthfully?
             By Yoni Freedhoff, M.D. October 25, 2012 USNews Health

I was always a very efficient student. What I mean is that whatever grade I needed to get me where I wanted to go, well, that was the grade that I got. In my early university years, that meant getting marks in and around the high 70s and low 80s, since my career plans at the time involved getting into graduate school and pursuing a career in medical genetics. But after what I found to be a deathly boring summer working in an actual genetics lab, I decided I wanted to go to medical school, and suddenly high 70s and low 80s weren't good enough. I needed 90s, and I needed them across the board. I learned quickly that the effort required to get in the 90s, for me anyway, was at least an order of magnitude more than what I'd been putting in. I truly had to spend at least twice as much time studying to get that measly extra 10 percent. But the fact was, without those 90s, I wouldn't be a physician today. There simply wasn't a choice.

So what does this have to do with healthy eating?

Quite a bit, actually. It seems that when it comes to health, we're fixated on trying to get 90s, when really, high 70s and low 80s would be pretty great grades.

Diet and health gurus—they've all got their formulas for you. This guy says you can't eat wheat and that dairy's deadly, while that gal says that meat is poison and raw is righteous. Newspapers and glossy magazines will happily regale you with stories that deify or demonize specific foods. Supplements are peddled. Repulsive green drinks are touted. "Superfoods" drain our wallets and rot in our refrigerators. And come January, you can bet there'll be a fresh crop of New Year, New You books on the shelves telling you that everything you thought you knew about healthy eating was backwards and wrong.

Ultimately I think we're trying too hard, and more importantly, I don't think we have to. Unlike when I was trying to get into medical school, that 10 percent grade point difference isn't likely to have any dramatic tangible impact on our longevity or quality of life. What's more, even if there were a clear path to getting an A-plus, the amount of effort required to get there might lead a person to decide it's too much, and to eventually abandon her healthy eating efforts in frustration.

I think we should be aiming for some solid B-pluses, which in my book, would mean:

• Including vegetables or fruits with pretty much every meal.
• Cooking the vast majority of meals from fresh, whole ingredients.
• Limiting restaurant meals, only eating out to celebrate or socialize—never for convenience.
• Avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages (including juice).

If you want an A, just make sure to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week. While it's not an eating behavior, the impact of exercise on health is profound, and gives you a few easily obtainable bonus grades.

Life's too short to be trying to get perfect grades, so keep up with your basic studies, don't spend too much time in the library, and enjoy the ride.

 The human body responds uniquely to food based on genetics, biochemical makeup, family history, and that body’s interaction with its own environment. One common belief is that one’s body knows instinctively what the right substances are for it to eat, and that if we pay attention, it will direct us toward our best eating choices.

The following quote from an “expert” with this viewpoint. is an example of this thinking:

It’s time to listen to our bodies. To pay attention to our own rhythms and make them the priority. To wake up to the reality that the scientists and experts have no idea what they are talking about. The food pyramid is a game owned by large corporations. Fast food is just a way to get us to buy more and eat more of what our bodies don’t want. Dieting is a punishment for a body that just did what we asked it to do. The best health plan is to sleep when you’re tired and wake up when you’re ready. And stop worrying about what is ‘normal’ or ‘best’. Because you are unique as a snowflake and no one can actually know what is right for you except you.

And get the idea out of your head that ‘this is the way it’s always been and always will be.’ The only constant about any of us is that we change. Every minute of every day we are different. It’s the blessing of being alive. Your body knows this and seeks growth and changes the rhythms, actions and reactions, with everything around it in everything you do. Stop trying to make it into something it’s not. Get quiet and listen. Your body has untapped wisdom that can make your life a precious miracle full of joy. It’s not a car for your brain to ride in and it’s not some untamed wild beast that you can’t control. It’s you.”

As for me, I focus on working to eat only the amount of food that it takes maintain a normal weight. I don’t look at processed foods as “dirty”, and I don’t try to eat “clean”. I eat both “whole” and “processed” foods without discrimination, and use artificial sweetener whenever I want. I feel no need to get high grades in nutrition. However, even with that philosophy, during my past 8 years of tracking all my food every day in the computer software program: DietPower, that program has consistently graded my overall food intake as an “A+”

I’m over 60 years old and in excellent health with no need for medication or supplements, and am a “reduced obese” person who after years of yo-yo dieting has been maintaining a normal body weight for the past 7 years. 

 As part of my dieting hobby, and personal weight-loss maintenance, I experiment with lots of different Diets, or Ways of Eating. While doing this, my own personal consistent nutritional guidelines are to take a daily multi-vitamin pill, and heed the following advice when choosing food substances:

If other people around you eat it;  
if it tastes good to you;
if it doesn’t kill you; 
if it doesn’t make you feel sick,
or make you really fat; 
then eat it.

The Simple Diet - Diet Review
- POSTED ON: Oct 27, 2012

The Simple Diet - A Diet Review

In "The Simple Diet" (2011) Dr. James Anderson, a professor of medicine and clinical nutrition at the University of Kentucky, shares his scientifically based nutritional plan.  He says that he, himself has used it successfully, and that he has also used it to successfully treat many patients. Dr. Anderson considers his diet to be a budget-friendly weight-loss plan which he favorably compares with commercial diet plans like Nutri-system and Jenny Craig.

The Simple Diet is a replacement meal plan, in which one eats only shakes and packaged entrees of one’s choice, together with any type of fruit (except dried) and/or any type of vegetable prepared without butter or additional fat.

The diet relies on frozen entrees and diet shake mixes … plus fruits and vegetables … to meet one’s nutritional needs, and Dr. Anderson doesn’t take issue with processed foods or artificial sweeteners. The diet requires the purchase of diet shake mixes like SlimFast or various Protein powders (to be mixed with water or fruit, not skim or soy milk); frozen dinner entrees like Lean Cuisine or Smart Ones; high protein snack bars like Luna (optional); some soups (optional); and fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables and fruits. There are a large selection of "diet friendly" meal options offered in the plan, most widely available in American supermarkets, and the diet does not allow for any foods (except those existing within the frozen entrees) which are typical household staples, like breads, pastas, rice, cereals or dairy products (nonfat plain greek yogurt is considered an acceptable protein shake substitute).

The rules of Phase 1 are to eat only 3 protein shakes … either a ready-made brand like slim-fast or protein powder mixed with water (soup also qualifies as a shake), 2 packaged frozen entrees, and 5 or more fruits or vegetables a day. Ordinarily one would have a shake for Breakfast; a shake mid-morning; a shake mid-afternoon; a frozen entrée for Lunch; a frozen entrée for Dinner; and fruit and vegetables at any time. One is to also drink at least 8 glasses of water or other non-caloric beverage. Coffee, tea, and diet sodas are acceptable. 

If necessary or desired, one can also have up to 1 protein bar daily, but this is additional, not a replacement for the shake or entrée. If a person is still hungry, additional shakes and more fruits and vegetables are recommended instead of adding extra foods, or eating additional bars. Phase 2 gradually brings in other foods.

The plan is based on the premise that by exercising a bit more and eating pre-measured low calorie entrees, diet shakes, occasional protein bars, and fruits and veggies, one will lose weight. This is a calories-in/calories-out plan, and one’s total calories depend on the specific food items that one chooses. Dr. Anderson provides guidelines for choosing shakes, entrees, soups, and bars; and when followed, the plan will provide between 1100 and 1600 calories daily.

This is a prescriptive plan, but does offer plenty of variety (in shakes, entrees and produce). The cost depends on where one shops and what one is willing to spend. If one goes to Target or Wal-Mart, most entrees will cost $1-2.50, and Slimfast is about $6-8. If one goes to GNC for shake powder, one’s cost can be $30. Snacks and meals are quick to prepare with a minimum of cleanup. “Simple” is the point of the Simple Diet, and it definitely meets that requirement.

The premise of Dr. Anderson’s book, "The Simple Diet"(2011), is that it is possible to lose weight easily in a relatively short period of time using foods that are readily available in any supermarket if you are following the right plan. Dr. Anderson promises that very obese dieters can lose up to 50 pounds in the first 12 weeks of their diet, and that the weight loss can be permanent. In addition to shedding unwanted pounds Dr. Anderson claims that (through weight-loss) this diet will help lower high blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure; that it can help reverse heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and a variety of other obesity induced conditions. The rules of the diet are fairly easy to follow and require little measuring or calorie counting, however, optional tracking of food and calorie counting will be helpful.

Since I am already normal weight with a total energy burn of less than 1200 calories (for details see my previous articles), I modified the diet to reduce it to a daily total of about 900 calories in order to make it a weight-loss possibility for me personally. I did this by being careful with my choices of fruits and vegetables, replacing the lunch entrée meal with vegetables only… having only one entrée daily, and by limiting protein bars.

My shakes were made from 1 scoop of Designer Whey protein powder at 100 calories per scoop. I made them with ice and 4 oz sugar-free Almond Milk which added 20 calories per shake. I occasionally added 1 fruit serving for additional calories. See my recipes for  Chocolate Milkshake, and Strawberry Banana Smoothie.  Fage 0% Greek Yogurt (6 oz container=100 calories); my homemade egg-white custards (50 calories);  my chocolate protein cookie (50 calories); and my protein cream cupcake (substituting sugar-free vanilla syrup for cream) (100 calories) also qualified as shake substitutes.

I enjoyed my bit of experimentation with The Simple Diet, and liked the food choices far better than with Nutri-System, or Jenny Craig. I’ve no personal objection to eating processed food, and found that eating on the plan actually provided me with a more balanced, low-fat diet, than my normal maintenance eating. I plan to do additional experimentation with this diet sometime in the future. 

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