Nicki Anderson
Archive for the ‘Michael Pollan’ Category

All healthy fats step forward- not so fast trans fat

By Nicki On November 9, 2013 4 Comments

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It was almost 20 years ago when I started reading about the dangers of consuming foods containing trans fat. I was raised in the age of Crisco and fake butters. My Grandmother used Crisco freely knowing that as long as it was homemade it was good for you. That’s what the ads said, so it must be true.

This week the FDA made it official, trans fats are in fact bad for your health. Well, it’s preliminary, so we’ll have to wait for a solid decision. ‘sigh’

By the time I started studying nutrition, I discovered some of the foods that I fed my children were in fact harmful to their health. Wait,  you mean to tell me that fruit roll-ups aren’t made with real fruit? And, McDonalds isn’t serving my family good-for-you foods? Outrageous I tell you!

Yep, when I started digging in to the truth behind the foods being  pushed, advertised and promoted to our country and kids, I was shocked. I couldn’t understand how it was o.k. to push food that clearly caused heart disease, obesity and diabetes. I understand all too well now, M-O-N-E-Y.

Given that smoking (though it took years) is finally  recognized as dangerous and banned in restaurants and the workplace, it seems foods that cause death and disease should have the same red flags. But you know and I know there’s not only money to be made in the world of food, the pharmaceutical companies are making out like bandits.

Do you know that the United States and New Zealand are the only two countries that advertise prescription drugs on television and in magazines?  And we wonder why prescription drugs are so ridiculously expensive. Don’t blame the pharmacies, blame the big advertising pharmaceutical budgets.

Any way, back to trans fats. So this week, the FDA as made a preliminary decision that a major source of trans fats– partially hydrogenated oils– is no longer “generally recognized as safe.” Apparently, if the preliminary decision is deemed final, than foods cannot contain partially hydrogenated oils without approval.  In  my humble opinion, if a food is not safe, what would ever constitute approval?

Healthy fats supporting good health.

Healthy fats supporting good health.

If you look at any snack food, basically anything in a box, anything processed it will contain trans fat. And beware of labels touting “No Trans fats” as there is a formula that companies can get away with and still use trans fat.  Although over the last few years, manufacturers and restaurants have  made small strides in reducing trans fats in their food, it’s still out there and it’s still a health concern.

I have to go back to what I’ve been preaching for a long time. The closer your food is to nature, the healthier it will be for you. Frozen fruits and veggies are fine for those that don’t have access to fresh.  And there are plenty of healthy options for busy, on-the-go people.

Read your labels and start cutting out processed foods in your diet. The truth is that our country, a very advanced, smart country is extremely  unhealthy. Poor diet is the norm. After 30 years in the fitness industry, I saw the bodies of women change. I saw their health issues change and I feel very strongly that it was mostly food related.

Just like smoking, the truth is finally coming out about trans fat.  For years the nutrition experts have warned against consuming trans fats and they were dismissed as fanatics.

When things sound too good to be true, they often are. “Eat all you want and don’t gain weight.  Cookies that are only 10 calories each! 100 calorie snack packs.”  All of those likely carry trans fats and are not a natural source of food that your body can digest and utilize properly.

There are some great websites to learn more about healthy nutrition. Remember, changing your diet doesn’t mean deprivation. It  means paying attention to the foods that work well with your body and make you stronger and healthier. The current American diet only serves to weaken our body and house disease. You can be a catalyst for change not only for yourself but for future generations.

What do you think?

Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it!

Nicki

 


The Food Puzzle

By Nicki On May 15, 2011 No Comments

After close to 30 years of studying nutrition, I find we are no closer to a clear understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet. So many agendas, so much money to be made, so many opinions, it makes it rather tough for the average American to clearly understand what the truth is when it comes to a healthy diet.  I had a couple new clients this week and all of them echoed the same concerns, “I’m so confused about what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, what’s the truth?”  Given that I am not an R.D. I’m mindful of how much information I feel comfortable sharing with my clients, so I often provide websites for clients to visit. That way, they can form their own opinions about what makes sense to them and their lifestyle. But in my years as a fitness professional, I have learned a lot and here of some of the lessons I have learned.

1. We eat too much, period. Further, we eat too much of the wrong things. We have gotten away from whole, fresh foods as the norm and ended up with boxed, processed foods as the new norm. Our foods are loaded with ingredients we can’t pronounce, along with a surplus of sugar, fat and sodium.  With the explosion of “diet food” and trends, we are led to believe that something like “100 calorie packs” are healthy for us, when it fact, it’s simply a smaller amount of processed food and questionable ingredients.  The goal should be to get as close to natural and whole food as we possibly can. It’s supply and demand, the more we seek out whole foods, the greater the likelihood of them being more readily available.Unfortunately, there is far more money to be made in processed foods that have a long shelf life.

2. All too often people confuse dieting with eating healthy, that’s not always the case. Some diets offer pre-prepared boxed foods. Weight loss programs don’t focus on quality of food, simply quantity. The truth is anyone can lose weight if they cut down the amount of food they’re eating, but if you’re eating a snickers bar because it has less calories than an avocado, you’re missing the point. Sustainable weight loss comes from focusing on quality and quantity. Reassessing what you’re eating, how you can improve the quality of the food you’re eating while reducing the quantity. It’s a common held belief that if food is “healthy” you don’t have to worry about how much you eat. Our country has become obsessed with “how much can I get away with eating without gaining weight?”  Not a good approach. The better approach is “How can I learn to eat well, feel well and sustain those healthy habits?”  But diets perpetuate the misconceptions and as long as people are losing weight (even though it’s often temporary), they don’t question it.

3. We are a powerhouse country, we are well-educated yet our country is suffering from staggering numbers of health maladies as a result of poor nutrition and inactivity.  Even worse, for the lower income families their options of fresh fruits and veggies are limited. We make it easier and more affordable to go to McD’s and get a happy meal than to receive education on how to make great, healthy meals on a shoestring budget. It’s possible, but it’s not a money making proposition for large food manufacturers that mass produce “carbage.”  We are led to believe that with busier lives and less money, the only food we can afford (both in time and money is junk food), I beg to differ. Perhaps we need to spend more money on developing programs that teach options for healthy nutrition. ”

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

4. Parents think they’re doing their kids a favor by buying in to the highly commercialized boxed, processed foods. The truth is….I did it. I shudder to think that at one time I bought my kids junk snacks masked as “natural” including those fruit roll-ups things which barely pass as food. It wasn’t until I really started studying nutrition that I came to know that the fruit roll-ups were  made up of:  corn syrup, dried corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil and a variety of artificial colors and o.k. pear concentrate. When I finally started studying what I was putting in to my child’s body, I stopped. My kids were not happy, but I certainly knew that in the long-run, it was what I needed to do to give my kids the best start possible. Just as we educate our kids about the dangers of smoking and drinking, so should we focus on educating them on healthy eating.

5. So much information so little time. Here’s the way I look at it, you can’t go wrong with whole foods, you just can’t. Granted there is the debate about organic vs. non-organic, I won’t go in to my thoughts on that now, but the bottom line is that the closer you can get to natural food, the better off you’re going to be, period. If I buy anything that is boxed or wrapped, I read the ingredients. If it has more than 3 ingredients that I can’t pronounce, I take a pass. We can take control of our health by taking control of what we put in our mouth. I don’t want my nutrition information coming from organizations that are funded by Coca-Cola, Kelloggs, General Mills, Mars, etc. how can the information be objective? Um, it’s not.

Here’s the bottom line. There’s no shortage of nutrition information out there. It’s hard to research because links often take you to places that are trying to pedal their wares. As stated earlier, I’m not an RD, I am simply passionate about seeing  the health of our country improve by educating kids and families properly. The sad truth is that if we don’t get a handle on this obesity issue due to poor nutrition and inactivity(nutrition being the biggest contributor), the future of our country will be weak at best.

Following are just a few of the websites I recommend.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Dave Grotto, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life!

Teri Gentes a Whole Self Health Lifestyle Wellness and Natural Nutrition Educator

Michael Pollan – Author of Omnivores Dilemma

How to find sustainable fruits and veggies in your community

Mark Bittman – Author of Food Matters, Food Matters Cookbook

Eric Schlosser- Author of Fast Food Nation

Morgan Spurlock – Author of  Don’t Eat This Book – Fast Food and the Super Sizing of America

Dr. Mark Occhipinti -President of American Fitness Professionals and Associates

Movies to check out – Food, Inc., Forks Over Knives, Super Size Me

 

Here’s to Your Good Health,

Nicki