This week I learned a lot from interviewing my parents about their eating habits. I asked them both what they considered to be healthy food, and I was partially surprised by their answers. However I can’t deny that I expected some of the things they said, after all I did live under their roof for 18 years of my life.

My mother, one of the most stubborn people you will ever meet in your life, claims that she does not care AT ALL about the healthy aspect a food may have. It is one hundred percent based on what she believes tastes good. She knows soda is bad for you, but there’s no way you can get her to stop drinking it. She knows that fruits are healthy, but she doesn’t like any of them. Only strawberries, if they are the juicy kind that you get at the store. She seems to vaguely understand what she should be eating, but what I think she is lacking is the knowledge of what the negative effects of her diet are doing to her health. It’s my new goal to lecture her until she listens to me.

My father however understands a lot of things. He has struggled with losing weights and dieting for some time now, and while it works a little bit, it is not actually going anywhere. He knows that vegetables are good to have in salad and that dressing is not. He knows to eat a lot of fiber and decrease his calorie intake as well as the amount of saturated fat he consumes. His problem is that he gets his knowledge about food purely from advertisements. He also will need some help being educated.

I have learned so much in this class in order to help them with their diets and improving their health. So thanks really go to you, Dr. Epstein.

My thoughts on food this week are simply.. counting down the days until lent is over so  I can have chocolate again! It has been so hard without it!

(only nine days left)

🙂

Advertisements

However, when people go into a reduced-calorie diet, these systems go into overdrive… and make it very challenging to lose weight. When one intakes less calories for the purpose of losing weight, they are actually slowing their metabolism. So the solution is not inherently starving yourself, but actually rigorous amounts of exercise, diet, and lifestyle differences.

Mark Bittman, from the Opinionator, believes that calories are a political marketing tool. He believes we should “fix school lunches so they’re based on fresh foods, and fix food assistance programs so people have greater access to healthier foods.”

This relates to what we discussed in class this week. Not only should we provide healthier food for children, but we also need to educate them. They need to be able to know what to do outside of school to be healthy. We should teach them how to cook, what to cook, and how to maintain a vegetable garden.

But is the problem really calorie intake? America confuses obesity purely as an eating problem. If our population were to simply rework our own lifestyle and self-image into a healthier and more active lifestyle, this problem would resolve itself naturally.

This week in class we discussed the problem of obesity in the nation. It is very interesting to me the map that we looked at showing the trends of how many people are obese today across America, and the locations of where there is a more densely populated obese region.

But what is obesity? Is it an epidemic? A battle? A war? People tend to think of obese people as “fat people.” But this is too general of an assumption. Just because someone is bigger does not mean they are lazy. And just because someone is thinner does not mean they have the best eating and exercise habits.

This week I thought about how we (or I) judge people for what and where they choose to eat. For example, why is it that when we see a thin girl going up to get ice cream it is no problem. However, as soon as the overweight goes up for a brownie, it is automatically assumed that they are healthy and lazy. But who’s to say she didn’t just come from the gym? Whereas the thin girl was just watching a movie, or doing no form of physical activity.

While I believe that I eat a pretty healthy diet. I can’t deny that I occasionally go up in the caf for multiple plates… and dessert. But how do people who don’t know me view my diet? Do they know that I go the gym daily so I feel better about myself enough to eat so much?

In summary, this week I gave more thought to how my food choices not only effect me, but effect my image as well.

On March 7th, Marion Nestle posted a blog on foodpolitics called, “U.N. Special Rapporteur: Five Ways to FIx Unhealthy Diets,” and can be found at http://www.foodpolitics.com/2012/03/u-n-special-rapporteur-five-ways-to-fix-unhealthy-diets/.
These five tips have little to do with breaking individual habits, but rather with the way the unhealthy foods are advertised and made available to us. Oliver de Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on “The Right to Food” recommends: 1) Tax unhealthy products. 2) Regulate foods high in saturated fats, salt and sugar. 3) Crack down on junk food advertising. 4) Overhaul misguided agricultural subsidies that make certain ingredients cheaper than others. And 5) Support local food production so that consumers have access to healthy, fresh and nutritious foods.
I agree with advice number one, to a certain extent. Yes, this may decrease the amount of unhealthy products families choose to purchase, however, it could just put more families into economic distress because junk food can be a very hard product to just eliminate completely from a diet. I absolutely agree that foods high in saturated fats, salt and sugar should be regulated.. but why are they not already regulated? Junk food advertising could do with some monitoring, so I am alright with that recommendation as well. In fact, the rest of the list I have nothing but support for.
De Schutter explains that many people suffer from “hidden hunger” of micronutrient deficiency. In other words, people may have enough food to eat, but not enough of the right food.

He believes that by continuing to prescribe medical remedies like nutrition pills or slimming pills we are not really solving anything. We need to “tackle the systematic problems that generate poor nutrition in all its forms.”

“In better-off countries, the poorest population groups are most affected because foods high in fats, sugar and salt are often cheaper than healthy diets as a result of misguided subsidies whose health impacts have been wholly ignored.”

This statement ties in to my research project, about how convenience can affect our diets. The availability of fresh foods is not located everywhere that it needs to be.

 

While home for break, it was quite the adjustment in many ways. The greatest adjustment was probably my diet. My parents were so happy to have me home that they wanted to take me out every meal. Those meals were the easiest (and best). However, my mom also wanted to pamper me with meals made at home. It was hard for her to prepare a meal that would satisfy everyone though! My vegetarian diet is new for my family.

What would the main meal be if it wasn’t a ham, or turkey, or a bologna sandwich? Basically, we just ate a lot of pasta. And I mean a lot… We also tried breakfast for dinner a couple of times 🙂

I thoroughly enjoyed being home with ACTUAL appliances to make food! It so beat the microwave I have to use here… While at home  I was able to make homemade pizza rolls, muffins, and ginger snap cookies (yum!) I also was desperate enough to eat

Shopping for food to come back to school was probably the most interaction I had with food this last week. I was looking for the healthiest option, and also, obviously, the best price. But, as is always the case, about 90% of my food has a shelf life of way more than a week. But I try to make myself feel better by buying the healthiest brand of cream cheese and whole wheat bagels!

PROJECT UPDATE: I have sent out my survey, and have already received results from 60 people. I’m happy to be getting a start on the project, but I am already stressing about the writing I will have to be doing the next few weeks.

Today on foodpolitics.com I found a blog post about Portion control. (http://www.foodpolitics.com/2012/02/nutritionists-notebook-portion-control/)

The question Marion Nestle is answering is: What is the importance of size in our portions? And What is the best way to judge portions when going out to dinner?

Her answer is simple: “Large portions make you eat more.” The more that is on our plate directly increases our calorie intake and also it causes us to “underestimate how much [we] are eating.”

If you think about it, this is so true. It seems as though everything I order at restaurants I HAVE to take home with me for leftovers, after attempting to eat the whole thing. (And always being crazy full, I may add). I can’t think of a time I’ve gone out to eat and not been full on my way out. Which I suppose is a good thing, but the question is am I TOO full?

While many of us may not think about it, portion sizes are out of control for drinks as well as food. Apparently some soft drinks have as many as 800 calories in them! A fact that, quite frankly, really disturbs me. (Thank God I am cheap, and always order water).

Nestle recommends that we use small plates in the dining hall. When we go out we should order appetizers instead of entrees, or share our portions with friends. These are all plausible solutions. However, as is mentioned in this blog, a lot of restaurants charge a lot for smaller portions.

Also, when I have tried in the past to order of the children’s menu for a better size and cost, the restaurants have refused… stupid age limit.

This week was my first half week of being a vegetarian. So far I am surprised how easy it is! At Benny’s I can have veggie pizza, cheese pizza, salads, hummus sandwiches, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The caf offers pasta, grilled cheese, salads and some fruit and vegetables. It’s not too hard yet, but I am afraid I will get sick of these options. On the bright side, break is coming up to give me some variety to my diet. However, my family loves meat, so it may be challenge for good food at home!

The main obstacle is that I also gave up chocolate! I’m not big into religion or anything, I just like to challenge myself. And chocolate is already proving to be a challenge. I can’t put syrup on my ice cream, or eat any cupcakes for my friends birthday (since they were all chocolate), and most importantly 90% of the candy at Benny’s contains chocolate! I was stuck with Twizzlers for today. Hopefully these next weeks teach me to eat healthier…

In class today we talked about how culture is a toolkit. Throughout our discussion I realized that I have a very small toolkit when it comes to knowledge about foods. A lot of the foods that were brought up today I had never even heard of, so I had no idea how I would prepare them. I am interested in learning more about foods so I can broaden my diet in my life after dorm-life. My plan right now is to start watching more food shows, especially since I am one of the few in the class that does not normally watch these shows. I feel left out, so hopefully by our next discussion I will be able to contribute information about these shows!