On food politics, I  found an entry that is almost directly related to my research question. Marion nestle responds to the question: “I was wondering if you could comment on the recent article in the NYTimes which questions the link between food deserts and obesity.”

The article talks about two recent studies that find no correlation between the types of food children eat, what they weigh, and the kinds of foods available within a mile and a half of their homes. This is interesting to me because I was almost positive these two issues were DIRECTLY related.

It is stated that obesity is more common among the poor because they must be eating more calories than they burn during physical activity. The foods they are eating, fast food, snacks, and sodas, all are densely populated with calories.

Nestle believes that there are many reasons why the poor have less healthy diets. 1)Access to healthier foods are less available. 2) Healthier foods cost more. 3)It requires more preparation and cooking to make healthier foods. 4)Healthier foods requires more equipment. 5)The location of stores may be too far away. 6)Fast foods are heavily marketed in low-income areas. 7) Fruits and vegetables at stores may not be fresh. 8) It is considered the norm in today’s society to eat high-calorie foods.

She believes that cost is the most influential factor for why the less fortunate are forced to purchase less healthy foods. “The Department of Commerce reports that the indexed price of fresh fruits and vegetables has increased by 40% since 1980, whereas the indexed price of sodas has declined by about 30%.”

According the blog, the real issue here is poverty.  Unless we do something to reduce income inequality, and to make healthier foods more affordable, not much is going to change.

Finals week is finally here. Not only does this mean that I am stressed beyond belief, passed the point of exhaustion and so over campus food… it is my last week of it for over 3 whole months! I’m pretty excited about it. And lately, things are looking up!

Since they have added hummus wraps to the menu at Benny’s, it’s pretty much what I get every time. And surprisingly, it’s delicious! I also have recently discovered a new section at Benny’s where they make the salad for you, and you can choose which lettuce, veggies and dressing you want for it. It’s pretty good. The problem is that it’s so expensive! This goes along with part of my research topic (which I have been working on like crazy) that healthy food always seems to be more expensive! Quite unjust if you ask me. However, I somehow have a bunch of flex on my account still to use on expensive things at Benny’s such as these salads. 🙂

Also, I feel as though our quiet efforts of hating on the caf are slowly starting to make a difference. Last week there were even fresh strawberries available to us. I was so excited, I took probably way too many to fulfill my WEEKLY recommended dosage.

Since this is my last blog, I’d just like to mention that this course has helped me to learn a lot about my food choices and options, and question things a lot more. I will continue to do this long after this class. So thank you 🙂

On April 18th on food politics blog, marion nestle posted an entry titled  “Nutritionist’s notebook: Consuming Calories.” (It can be found at http://www.foodpolitics.com/2012/04/nutritionists-notebook-consuming-calories/)

She answes questions about nutrition for NYU’s student newspaper on Tuesdays. This entry was a response to the question: With finals approaching ,many students will be staying up very late. Is the time of day important in relation to when you are consuming most of your calories? What are some good late-night, study snack options for students?

This is relatable to my life because, well, finals are approaching and I often find myself snacking very late at night.

She answers that calories are the determining factor when it comes to body weight. We know this. If you eat more calories than you need, you’ll gain weight.

What’s important is where you get your calories from. What’s confusing to some is that a healthy diet, consisting of vegetables, fruit, and grains all contain calories. They are everywhere. We might as well get used to it.

Apparenty, when we eat calories is not a problem, according to this article. This is shocking to me because I was always told that time certainly DOES matter. However, the tricky thing here is that if you are adding late-night calories after you have eaten full meals during the day… your weight will creep up on you.

There is a debate whether the more times a day people eat, the more calories they will consume, vs. consuming small amounts of food consistently throughout the day will help one maintain their weight.

This blog advises that a reasonable snack is one that is real, and relatively unprocessed. For example: fruits, vegetables, nuts, yogurt, cheese, crackers, sandwiches, salads. She even said that pizza can do the trick if it’s thin crust and not overflowing with cheese! Yum!

This week in class we briefly discussed  the opinion pieces found online whether a vegan diet is healthy or not. I found these articles very interesting. In one case, it was brought up that pregnant women should not be on a vegan diet while the child is in the womb, and also while that child is breastfeeding. There are many vitamins one is not receiving without animal products unless they are taking the perfect amount of supplements, which is not very likely. One should let their child decide for themselves what food they want to consume.

On the other hand, it was mentioned that it is a little suspicious that humans can not eat animal products without getting sick.. unless they are processed or include unnatural ingredients. Maybe we weren’t designed to eat meat or consume animal products!

However, since we live in a world where animal products are everywhere, it is such a challenge to avoid these options.

Today in class we discussed the problems we have with our campus dining options. We discussed many alternatives and improvements the caf could provide for us such as more variety when it comes to fresh fruit, more tofu options, and less potato options, better salad bar, vegan friendly desserts, and labeling with ingredients and whether there are allergy concerns related to it. I believe that with a lot of effort some things could be changed. But realistically, the school is going to do the least expensive option.

Today on foodpolitics.com Marion Nestle posted an interview with NYU and the Steinhardt School’s website. A book titled “Why Calories Count” is the cause for a couple questions. The blog can be found at: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2012/04/another-q-and-a-on-why-calories-count/

People across the globe seem to be obsessed with calories. The article claims that calories are, “critical to the most important public health, social, and economic issues facing the world today.”

There are so many issues with calories. About a billion do not consume enough calories, and about a billion consume way too many calories. The book was written in order to educate the world about facts and tips concerning calories.

A calorie is actually a way to measure energy. I don’t think that enough people realize this. Calories are the way that we keep our bodies warm, have enough energy to power our bodies and muscles, or sometimes we store calories as fat. Or maybe more than just sometimes.

Calories are a problem because it is hard to notice them. They are invisible, with no scent or real taste. Besides reading the label to know, we really only notice them when we start to gain weight!

The book talks about the difference between calories measured and calories estimated. Most labels simply estimate how many calories are in an item… so how will we ever know how many calories we are actually consuming? It’s kind of scary that we may never really know. Therefore, it’s better that we eat smaller portions rather than actually attempting to count the calories we eat.

This week, as an irresponsible student, I left the country to go on a cruise with my family. However, while on this cruise, I learned some valuable information regarding my research topic… convenience truly, truly, truly effects our diet. Big time.

When paying for the cruise, included is all the food you could possibly want. Seriously, 24-hour unlimited pizza and ice cream in one dining location. In the room where we ate dinner, you could order as much or as little as you’d like.

Often times I found myself ordering two appetizers, three entrees, and two desserts. I wish I was kidding. But with the motto, “why not?!” drilled into my head by those around me, it was hard to resist.

Sure, since I am educated I knew to order some vegetables and fruit, and not to eat ALL of my dessert… but I started thinking about those who are uneducated on nutrition.

My mother, for instance, had no problem eating whatever she wanted, regardless of the consequences. For my paper I found that people will eat what is most convenient for them. On the ship, there was zero prep time required for the consumer. Cost was no longer an issue. And location seriously could not get much closer.

It was a somewhat rewarding experience though because it allowed me to try all sorts of new foods I had never thought to try before. For example I had lobster, strawberry soup, baked apples, and maybe one or two “bahama mamas” (a lovely mix of fruity, maybe alcoholic drinks ;] )

On a side note, since lent is over I am starting to slowly eat meat again. However I am finding that I was really okay without it, and I will always try to keep the amount of meat I eat to a minimum because I envision those youtube videos we watched in class!!!

On March 23rd Marion Nestle posted a blog on food politics titled, “The Arguments About Sodium Go On and On.” It can be found at http://www.foodpolitics.com/2012/03/the-arguments-about-sodium-go-on-and-on/

The blog discusses the statistics of how much sodium Americans consume annually. The CDC recently stated that 90% of Americans consume TOO MUCH salt. 44% comes from ten foods (bread, cold cuts, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta, meat, and  snacks.) Another 65% comes from processed foods. 25% is from restaurants. 10% is salt that is added at the table. And only 10% exists NATURALLY in foods.

Amazingly, the article also states that $20 billion a year is spent on salt-related chronic disease. This is a ridiculous amount…I believe that Americans should be educated more about the consequences that an excess of sodium can have on their health.

However, the food industry believes that it would be a big problem to reducing sodium in our diets. FoodNavigator-USA.com recently posted articles about sodium in foods.

One site claimed that reducing sodium in foods is “expensive, risky, and difficult.” Another believes that the “risk of slashing sodium levels in cheese could outweigh the benefits” because it would affect the taste which could decrease consumer demand. One article states that consumers are not really demanding lower-sodium products, and since there is not government mandate on reducing the amount of sodium in certain food products, there is little desire for them to change their ways.

The only article that supported the issue of sodium intake was an article titled, “Salt intake during pregnancy may alter heart structure of offspring: rat study.”

Why is this issue not pressed with more urgency? If only 10% of fiber comes from natural foods, we should increase our intake of natural foods. Clearly, processed fiber can not be as beneficial to our health as many think it is.