Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

If you do just one thing this year, give up soft drinks, all drinks with added sugar, and all drinks with artificial things in them (such as “vitamin waters”), and don’t allow your children to drink them, either. This could easily be the single most healthy thing you could do for your family.

I recently finished a wonderful and horrifying book called we the EATERS, by Ellen Gustafson. More on that in a later post. But the statistics she cites and that I’ve seen in other places are horrifying.

  • The amount of added sugar (not naturally occurring sugar in food or dairy products) that we ingest yearly has risen from 6.3 pounds/person/year in 1822 to over 100 pounds/person/year today. Between 1980 and 2005, the increase was 18%.
  • Ahh, desserts you say. But no. Almost half of the added sugar comes from sweetened pop/soda/soft drinks, energy and sport drinks, and fruit drinks.
  • A large soda from a fast food restaurant has between 17 and 20 teaspoons of added sugar, over three times the amount recommended for women by the American Heart Association and double that for men.
  • Sugary drinks are the largest single source of calories for teens (226 on average/day.)

What else has risen during this time period and has been shown to be tied to this inrcease? Heart attacks, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and a host of other health problems. Studies also show that when we consume sugary drinks, we tend to eat more; hence the low price of them in restaurants, fast food or otherwise.

What’s bad for adults is worse for children with their smaller size and growth yet to go. We take pop out of schools, yet allow chocolate milk (take a look at the sugar content) and sports drinks. Prices kept low means that low-income families can easily afford these drinks, much to the detriment of their health.

The good news? Soda consumption has dropped.

The bad news? What’s being offered instead is just as bad. The companies who sell pop are now putting out “healthy” tea drinks and enhanced water drinks that are filled with sugar. A 20 oz. SoBe green tea has over 12 teaspoons of added sugar. The coffee drinks offered at Starbucks and other places that well them are crammed full of sugar.

More bad news. Soda consumption has spread around the world, pushing out healthier alternatives in countries where nutrition already suffers. And artificial sweeteners, while less caloric, come with their own set of deadly issues.

The bottom line? Whether to lose weight or just for other aspects of health, one of the easiest things you can do in 2015 is to cut drinks with added sugar out of your life. Check the bottle or cans and you’ll be shocked at the amount of sugar. Remember that the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women per day, no more than 9 for men, and no more than 8 for someone eating 2,000 calories a day!

Don’t add sugar to the coffee and tea you consume or at least add as little as possible. I drink tea daily and sweeten none of it.  It may take a bit of time for your tastes to adjust, but cut out a little at a time and you’ll soon be down to zero (or at least, every little.)  It doesn’t matter whether a company adds the sugar or you do, it’s still bad for you.

Finally, cutting out these drinks will save you lots of money, whether in food costs or future health care costs. So my health advice for you for the upcoming year is:

Cut it out!

At the start of a new year and after several holidays in a row, a young man’s (or most likely, woman’s) fancy turns not toward love, but towards losing weight and getting in shape.  New Year’s resolutions often include one or both of these goals, goals that often fall by the wayside after either never starting or never finishing.

I want to encourage you to make this the year you DO get in shape.  You don’t need to become a triathlete or power lifter.  Start simply and build on your success.  One building block of getting into shape is, of course, eating healthily and in moderation.  People make many different choices about what sort of eating plan to use.  But getting into shape is less daunting than trying to decide how you want to eat.

Before I started participating in the Weekly Photo Challenge, I did a few Fitness Friday posts.  I’m going to share the links with you and guarantee that if you follow the advice, your health and fitness will improve without any huge financial investment and without any special programs.  Just so you know, my background is in PE and I ran my own personal training business for 16 years.  Feel better?  🙂

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Every year the Environmental Working Group publishes their list of  foods with the most pesticide residue and those with the least.  This year, the Dirty Dozen list is really a Dirty Dozen Plus list, as hot peppers, kale and collards “merit” special notice as being contaminated with unusually bad pesticides.  If you want to try to buy organic, the Dirty Dozen Plus list is the place to start, while buying conventional works for the Clean Fifteen.

The Dirty Dozen Plus goes from highest amount of pesticides to least, while the Clean Fifteen starts with the cleanest, avocados.

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High above the clouds, on my way from 75 F to 7 (or lower), I’m disconnected. Although this is one of the (pay) Wi-Fi flights, I have as usual resorted to a book on Kindle or pen and paper. Besides a dramatic change in temperature, on returning home I’ll experience a dramatic change in internet access as well.

At home, I have internet available constantly and, with my first smart phone, I can be online as much as I like…or as I can stand. (I can’t imagine wanting to read off my phone’s tiny screen and the small “keys” and tri-keyboard make typing onerous for one who excelled in typing.) But on a visit to Arizona, I return, if not to the Stone Age, to at least a quantum leap from an all-day-online-if-I-like world.

My parents not only don’t have internet, they don’t have or use a computer. Neither do they—are you sitting down?—use the ATM or have a smart phone and they favor paying in cash rather than with a credit card. You know what? They get along fine, although Dad has discovered the advantages of a daughter with internet access. Be that as it may, that sort of life is going to get more difficult as things convert to digital.

At home, the siren call of the internet tempts me to take “just one quick look at my (or someone else’s) blog”, “take a peek at Facebook” or send “just one email.” Minutes can morph unnoticed into half an hour or more while the things I really need or want to do go begging for attention.  But while visiting my parents, I have to go to the library or a Starbucks to go online for anything larger than what I want to do on my cell phone. I find myself anxious to get done and get back to relaxing, reading, going to art galleries, seeing the desert, lying in the sun or visiting. I start slipping more easily out of the online world than in, although I go through emails on my phone and delete whenever possible, leaving the ones I want to read or save. I love being able to easily connect with friends, but I find real life taking over more and more.

That’s a good thing.

That’s a break we all need now and then and are less and less likely to get or take. Because these days, you have to take that time back, get off the internet in whatever form, leave your phone behind once in awhile and certainly don’t look at it all the time even when you take it with you.

Talk with someone while in a line.
Look at your spouse when you talk to him or her, rather than at the tiny screen on your phone.
Watch a movie or TV together without being on another device; sit together on the couch.
Go for a walk.
Work a crossword puzzle or do a Sudoku.
Play a game NOT on a device.

There can be real life going on all around you. Disconnect and get back to it.

Just step away from the devices!

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After several days of helping a friend collect her part of the physical detritus of a shared life prior to moving into a life on her own, I’m also emotionally drained, as both the people are our friends.  I don’t say “were our friends” because singly they remain our friends even though now detached into two separate names rather than two names joined by the small word “and.” (more…)

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
– Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

If you stay away from grocery stores, Michael Pollan’s admonitions become much easier to follow. Join me in my weekly Saturday morning trip to the North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland for food, mostly plants. You can also get eggs, cheese, and grass-fed, no-antibiotic meat if you choose, local honey and much, much more. (All quotes are by Michael Pollan.)

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