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The true cost of unhealthy eating

A ferocious hunger gripped me as I looked inside of my bag for the salad I brought to work.

Damn! I had forgotten it on the kitchen table.

I work at a TV station, which requires more time out in the field doing interviews and covering events and less time sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen three steps away from a vending machine.

Since I started the paleo diet, I continued my healthy eating at work, packing a lunch, usually salad topped with homemade chicken salad and some almonds and spanish peanuts as a snack throughout the day. I noticed how much energy I had, how, even when I was hungry, I could still go, go, go. I was less cranky, more focused. My mind seemed less clouded.

Before I started the paleo diet, I would sit at a desk after lunch and get that”2:30 feeling” that is advertised on 5 hour energy drink commercials. My eyes would droop, my mind would wander, the front of my face would feel numb with sleepiness.

Unfortunately, the day I forgot my salad, the photographer and I stopped at Krystals on the way to an interview. I devoured three Krystal “chicks” which are chicken sandwich sliders. I thought the chicken was grilled, but it was fried. The sandwich was more bread and mayo than anything else.

I had instant satisfaction after I ate the “chicks.” Tummy full, I felt high off of my first bite of bread in several months.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks; That 2:30 feeling. I fought to stay awake on the thirty minute drive to the interview. My mind seemed unclear, my thoughts would start and then trickle away into drowsiness. This was a feeling I hadn’t felt since the start of my diet.

I felt disgusting. This “food” I ate could hardly be called fuel. Yet people eat it everyday.

“Every day, 2.2 million Americans complain of being tired,” according to WebMD.

This is why.

Combined with alcohol and tobacco usage and not enough sleep, diet not only affects your waist size, it affects your mood.

It is a shackle that gratifies you instantly, addicts you, then abuses you.

“At least one-quarter of American adults eat fast food everyday,” Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, said in an interview with CBS.

 “In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music – combined,” he writes in Fast Food Nation.

Americans like it fast, easy and fried. But it is killing us.

About one-third of U.S. adults are overweight. But more shocking is that approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese, according the CDC.

An adult can make the choice to consume foods that are blatantly bad for them. But now, the younger generation is suffering because of the choice of the parents.

A study done by The New England Journal of Medicine reports that for the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancies than their parents.

A McDonalds value menu cheeseburger may only cost $1. But  this is the true cost of unhealthy eating.

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Filed under Alcohol, Feature, Features, Food, Health, News, Opinion, Paleo Diet, People, Personal

Why we just can’t get it right-Is the new food pyramid really more accuarate?

Why did we have a  food  pyramid to begin with? A plate makes much more sense; That’s all according to the supporters of the new model.  

“It’s such a recognizable image. “Everybody has seen a plate, used a plate. It’s much easier to visualize when it’s something we use on a daily basis,” Toby Smithson, R.D., a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, said in an article on the Huffington Post.

Plus, “it’s easy for non-readers to understand,” she says.

First off, how is it “easy for non-readers to understand?” There are no pictures on the plate at all! Just colorful blocks with big white letters superimposed over each.

At least the first two food pyramid actually had pictures.

I have a beef with all three food pyramids, however. I’m not just picking at the new plate.

Each model has grains as the largest segment. As a paleo eater, grains might as well be the devil.

Furthermore, protein is the smallest section. Some say grains will fill you up. But a meal rich with protein will leave you feeling satisfied for longer.

Eating lean meats like turkey, chicken and fish is a far better option then having a quarter of your plate filled up with bread or rice, things are stomachs can’t digest properly.

According to the USDA, this model was designed to also help Americans understand portion control.

“They should eat off an eight or nine-inch plate, like people did in the old days, before we had such an obesity problem,” Smithson said.

What kind of plates are people eating off of now days?! My plates are 9 inches and under. Sometimes I even eat out of small bowls.

Portion control is important, but you can’t go and snack on chips and claim that it was a small portion, therefore, it’s healthy. Even “healthy” snacks like granola bars and whole wheat cereals in small portions are still not good for you.

It’s better to snack on healthy things all day with bigger portions, then to have three big meals with little portions.

Instead of spending so much time reorganizing the information that was already available onto a plate, the government should be doing something about the way our food is processed, quit giving subsidies to farmers, stop pushing  Got Milk ads on kids, and give incentives to Americans to buy fresh vegetables, fruits and meats.

They should be teaching us about sodium and hidden sugars. Women consumer 25 percent of their daily caloric intake in hidden sugars-empty calories we don’t even know we’re consuming.

And wake up people! The government can’t even balance our budget. And advertisers are lying to our faces with buzzwords like “No sugar added” and “Whole wheat.”

It’s up to you to take responsibility for your own health and your kids’ well being. Do a little research. Eat a vegetable. If you haven’t had one in a while, they don’t taste as bad as their reputation says they do.

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When vegans attack I ask, ‘is there one right way to eat?’

Last week, I had the pleasure of reading some very heated ramblings about a college course an acquaintance of mine was taking, called the psychology of food.

Being a vegan, she went onto say that the book her professor wrote was “backwards.” 3o comments later, her Facebook friends, many of them vegans as well, were supporting her, giving her “intelligent” advice such as “Pardon me, my dear []… Fuck that shit. You tell her what’s up!” and “You need to fight this bitch!”

Funny, I always thought vegans were peaceful people, abstaining from meat to save the animals or some bullshit like that. But they showed more malicious behavior towards their fellow man than they did to some soulless creature that cultures all over  the world have been eating since the beginning of time.

I have to agree with this young lady that I find it upsetting that the professor doesn’t believe in eating fruits or vegetables. But I also find it hard to believe the professor actually believes this. I suspect there might be some human error in misunderstanding the text.

Assumptions aside, I put my two cents in, agreeing that fruits and veggies are a vital part of a diet, but that meat is also good and can be substituted with other protien-filled options if one is not comfortable consuming meat. And then, the vegan attacked me.

I didn’t reply. There is no arguing with someone set in stone.

She made my point, however, but from the viewpoint of cereal grains. We’ve been brought up to think whole wheat is a healthy option. People eat bread everyday to make sandwiches, as a side item to their spaghetti, a roll to their bbq, toast. Think about toast. A piece of bread with fat and sugar spread on it, optionally of course. Our bodies can’t digest all this grain.

I believe in meat. I don’t believe in over-indulging in meat. But I believe that we should eat meat. I think that the way it is prepared now days, in filthy conditions with animals being fed a largely corn diet, which our bodies also can’t digest, is contaminating the sacredness of meat. Combined with a weathly country that can afford to buy meat and eat it all the time, along with boxed fatty foods and no desire to go outside and play anymore, of course the obesity and diabetes rates in this country are spiked.

This young woman did mentioned there have been studies about meat that links it to cancer, as many other things in our daily lives are linked to cancer. So I found a study and analyzed it.

First off, the study was done by The National Cancer Institute. Not a completely unbiased party. They’re out to link everything to cancer. They’re expecting things to cause cancer. They want to scare us.

Second off, the study only regarded red meats, such as “beef, pork, bacon, ham, hamburger, hot dogs, liver, pork sausage, steak, and meats in foods such as pizza, stews, and lasagna.” But what about white meat such as turkey, fish and chicken? So, I say to my dear acquaintance, is all meat bad, or just half of it?

Third, the study was done with 50 to 71 year olds. Come on! 71? They’re almost dead anyways. There are too many other health problems that these over-the-hill participants could have developed, say I don’t know, throughout their whole life, that could have accounted for an early mortality rate.

Plus, what about the corn diet these animals are eating. Our bodies can’t digest corn. And the filthy conditions they’re grown in and prepared in. They wash meat with ammonia. That sounds more cancerous to me than the meat.

I do agree that meat does have cholesterol and that red meat shouldn’t be consumed nearly as much as Americans eat it. But I don’t believe that we should completely knock it off a diet.

Of course, there are many that would disagree with me. You can still have a healthy diet being vegan. I guess there is just no one right way to eat.

Mmmm, surf n' turf, my favorite. Photo Credit: partyblueprintsblog.com

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I just can’t give up the alcohol

Photo Credit: babelwine.com

I love to drink.

And not just socially. I get home and have a glass of wine. Or I go to the beach and bring a six pack of tropical beer. I would hit up happy hour at least twice a week and then still had time to go out on the weekends.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hard partier. I maintain a 3.7 GPA, have taken over 16 credit hours for the past four semesters and have had internships and jobs. I’m not an alcoholic…at least not yet.

Lately I’ve been noticing that the glass of wine I have at night, has turned into a bottle of wine. Easily. And with barely any sense of buzziness.

Then, that bottle of wine turned into a bottle and a half of wine.

That’s when I put a cork in it…literally.

I decided to stop buying alcohol for my house, and instead only go out on weekends. So far, it’s been a success.

Alcohol is not part of my paleo diet, but it’s just one thing I can’t give up. I gave up the bread, the cereal, the milk, oh the cheese. Sadly the cheese. But I just can’t give up the alcohol.

But is it a matter of can’t or won’t?

In the wake of a hangover, I was sifting through The Chart, one of my favorite places to read about health issues, and I stumbled across an article on “how the brain can make quitting alcohol harder.” Different people release different levels of opioid when they drink, leading them to perceive alcohol as more pleasurable than other people do.

This hardly sounds shocking. Studies have been done on alcoholics and brain chemistry for awhile.

But what really interested me about the study was that the “participants were 13 ‘heavy social drinkers’ and 12 healthy control subjects. Women considered ‘heavy social drinkers’ usually consume 10 to 16 drinks per week, and heavy-drinking men typically have 14 to 20 drinks per week.  Those in the control group drink fewer than five drinks per week among women, and seven drinks per week among men.”

And the “heavy social drinkers” would “have on average two drinks a day, which isn’t necessarily going to lead to dependency.” The article also mentioned, “It’s important to note, however, that this study did not involve alcoholics.”

I felt like this article was speaking to me. I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I was a heavy drinker.

The scary part of this study is that I pretty much conditioned my brain to love drinking. And in turn, it now reacts on its own.

“It’s hard to stop because part of your brain has learned that drinking is important and compels you to continue,” the article says.  “Your brain is telling you this is something important to you.”

The brain is truly a complexed wonder.

“The orbital frontal cortex makes them subconsciously learn to want that rush of pleasure again – making them seek and crave alcohol in a way they’re not even aware of.”

I’ve already taken a step in the right direction by limiting my intake. But I guess I’ll always subconsciously have the urge.

 

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My big fat Greek drama

Drama, theatrics; The Greeks invented it. They created it. They owned it. And for one year of my life, I got to witness a different type of Greek theatrics.

Photo Credit: theatrefolk.com

I worked at a family owned seafood restaurant last year. Three Greek brothers ran the joint. One worked the bar, one the kitchen, and the other just sat at “The Family Table” and ate all night.

When I applied, one brother warned me, ‘We’re Greek, this is family owned, things can get crazy, people can be rude. Can you handle that?’

I handled it very well. In my year there I saw many employees come and go, some as short as a mere three days. The constant grumpiness from the brother who worked the line was aggravated at the least. I once saw another employee throw two baked potatoes at his feet while in a shouting match with him.

The brother behind the bar could be very sweet and nice. I’m sure it helped that I was woman. But when he was in a bad mood, there was no negotiating.

There were no rules, like in a corporate business. The schedule sometimes would only be done day by day. The servers were constantly running out of ketchup, salad dressing, crackers, cheese, toppings, silverware. I mean, what kind of restaurant runs out of silverware? And napkins!? One time I had to bring my table, which had two platters of 1lb snow crab legs, an oyster shucker and fork because we had no more crab crackers available.

With all these flaws however, I got to see a lot of dishes being prepared and learned some new kitchen terms.

Unfortunately, the Greek drama caught up to me and I quit. But I am thankful for my experience. As hectic and frustrating as it could be, it’s a restaurant. After three years of working in the restaurant business, I understand that’s how kitchens are and I have come to love each kitchen I worked at. All are cluttered, loud, smell delicious. But each has its own culture and lifestyle.

So in honor of this little Greek restaurant, I will share a simple Greek dressing recipe that we used to prepare for guest and that I just used on my salad.

Greek Dressing like the Greeks do it:

(There are no measurements)

1) Fill up half the container with extra virgin olive oil

2) Fill the other half with a red wine vinegar

3) A dash of oregano

4) A dash of salt

4) A dash of pepper

Shake well and enjoy.

Photo Credit: recipesathome-online.com

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