Category Archives: News

Calorie Counts Change Some Eating Habits

This past April, New York City mandated that chain restaurants must post calorie counts on their menu. Ever since they were posted, I’ve wondered if it has changed the way people eat. I know that, for myself, I’m much less likely to pick up a sweet snack to go with my tea from Starbucks when I can see how many empty calories I would consume if I ate it.

I took an informal poll of my coworkers to see if their eating habits have changed, and here’s what I discovered:

  • Most liked seeing the calorie counts of different foods
  • They also noted that they were more likely to go for a healthier option once they saw how many calories were in the more indulgent dish
  • One person noted that calorie counts give her the same reinforcement of good habits as a food diary – she makes better choices because she would be otherwise embarrassed to admit to herself that she ate too much or ate something unhealthy
  • A few people said that they sometimes worried about what other people in line or behind the counter would think of their eating habits if they ordered a pastry instead of a healthier choice

What about you? Have seeing the calorie counts changed the way you eat? If you’re not in New York or another city that posts calories on menus, how do you feel about your food choices when you know the calorie count or have it posted in front of you

Carpe Diem: your 100 things to do list

This week, Dave Freeman, the man who co-wrote the book “100 things to do before you die” has died after falling in his home. Though he was just 47, he reportedly had done everything that he had written about in the book. It’s a great reminder to seize the day and not put off what’s most important to you until “someday” because that someday may never come.

According to this list I’m doing pretty well for my young age – about halfway complete. Of course, this is not my own list, and there are some things I want to do that aren’t on it. Actually, I haven’t thought about my list in quite a while… I think it’s time to update it. I’ll publish in a future post.

What are among your 100 things? And are you actively working on completing your own list?

Olympic Diet

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh

I’m not really into sports, but I love watching the Olympics. The stamina, dedication and nearly flawless performances of these elite athletes is astonishing.  I’m inspired to work harder and take better care of myself watching their amazingly strong bodies compete in what looks like effortless competitions.

How do Olympians keep their energy up? Most of them follow regular healthy diets and get to sleep as early as they can to recharge. You can’t get into amazing shape and be able to compete at your best if you’re not taking good care of yourself. Here’s a great slideshow about the training and diet regimens of many of the top U.S. Olympians: How to get an Olympic body.

Michael Phelps’ regimen, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily the healthiest – he’s more focused on bulking up his caloric load to make sure that he has the energy to keep winning the gold metals.

Most healthy men consume about 2,000 calories a day; upping consumption to 12,000 calories a day would make any ordinary man obese. But for Phelps, he needs this staggering amount of calories just so that he can perform.

And another article about Phelps’ diet is here: Pasta and Pizza? That’s Phelps’ Gold Metal Secret?

Older neighborhoods = less weight gain

I saw this interesting article from the NY Times‘ health section: a study shows that residents of  older neighborhoods (e.g., ones that were built decades ago) are less likely to gain weight. It points to the fact that you can walk to places – like stores – in older neighborhoods.

I grew up in an older town that had a main street several blocks from my house. As kids, we used to walk down to “town” or ride our bikes there. Of course, we were going to town looking for candy, but at least we were getting out and walking towards it instead of having mom drive us to it.

7 ways to stay healthy without breaking your budget

Has inflation hit you through your grocery bill? I’ve noticed recently that my food shopping has become much more expensive over the past few months. Here are some ways to cut costs without sacrificing your health:

1. Eat in season – If you’re buying fresh produce, it’s always better to eat whatever is available right now. Sure, you can get apples in spring or early summer, but they’re more expensive – and less fresh – than the seasonally-ready strawberries or blueberries.

2. Buy local – farmer’s markets often have comparable or better prices on certain items that you might find in your grocery story. By buying from the farmer’s markets, you’re supporting smaller businesses, helping the environment and getting fresher food (since the produce doesn’t travel as far).

3. Buy organic selectively – some conventionally-grown produce is so highly sprayed that you would be better off buying organic to avoid the massive amounts of pesticides you’d otherwise be consuming. For some other items, it’s not as crucial that you choose organic. See this article on MSNBC for more about which items should be organic.

4. Go veg – Eating vegetarian meals can save you a lot of money as veg sources of protein cost substantially less than animal products. If you’re opposed to becoming vegetarian full time, you can try it part time – plan to have some vegetarian meals during the week. You can get protein from plant sources such as tofu, tempeh, and beans.

5. Reduce your protein – If you are still adamant about keeping meat in your diet, use the Chinese Medicine philosophy of eating meat – eat mostly vegetables, with meat as a flavoring or condiment in your meal. One serving of chicken, beef or pork should only be 3 oz. This is much less than you’d get in a typical restaurant or takeout meal, but this is all you really need.

6. Eat less – It may sound drastic, but frequently we Americans are eating more than we actually need. Slow down your eating, and tune into your body. Do you really need the next bite? Or are you satisfied? If you’re hungry later, you can always have another small meal.

7. Fast – It sounds extreme, but a one-day fast will not only save you money, it can also help you live longer and healthier. Fasting allows your body to take a break from digesting all of the time, giving it the crucial rest it needs to renew and repair. But before you jump into fasting, you should get guidance from an experienced health coach or professional.

Birth Control Pills, Sunscreen and Local Eats

So much health news, so little time. Here are a few articles from the headlines I’ve read recently that may be of interest:

Birth control pill risk: Are you on the pill? You might want to consider these possible side effects from long-term birth control use.

Sunscreen and cancer: Is your brand of sunscreen actually increasing your risk for certain cancers? Read more about the controversy.

Grow it yourself: Locally-grown food — grown by yourself or someone you hire to tend your garden — is suddenly the new fashion. Learn why

Drugs for Everything

I suffered from insomnia the other night, but I didn’t bother taking anything for it. I slept as much as I could and hoped for the best during the day. I was a little sleepy, but I didn’t bother tanking up on coffee either. I knew it would be worse the next day if I did – I would probably have some kind of rebound effect like a headache, more insomnia, or who knows what else.

Now there’s a new supplement on the market that promises to have you wake up on time. Made from guarana extract, B vitamins, and riboflavin and niacin, with a special coating that acts as a time release mechanism, Wake Up on Time supposedly has you do just that.

Maybe it does work, maybe it doesn’t. And yes, very few of us don’t get enough sleep, go to bed too late, drink too much coffee for us to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. But wouldn’t it make more sense to try to get back into balance instead of taking pills to sleep and pills to wake up?  True health does not come in a bottle. It comes from developing healthy habits and making a commitment to taking care of yourself over the long term.