culture, media, news

What I Read This Week: No more recipes. Foods to try in 2012. What your urine’s telling you.

I’m a bit a news junkie (journalism major here) and in particular I eat up anything related to health/nutrition/food. My little New York Times “recommended for you” section is chock full of it. They know me. As does who seems to think I am an obsessive dieter/avid hiker/ecofarm hippie.

Anyway, I thought instead of selfishly hoarding all of the information I consume in my own brain (where it’s sure to be lost never to be found again), I should share the little nuggets that I think you might find interesting too. So here goes… here are a few things that caught my eye this week…

A Recipe for Simplifying Life: Ditch All the Recipes

A Medical Tell-All Can Be Found in Urine

FDA: Some Livestock Antibiotics Will Be Limited

Stopping Superbugs: Time for Congress and Industry to Catch Up With American Consumers

Mark Bittman: The Last of Last Year’s Food Links

12 Healthy Foods to Try in 2012

10 Things I Say No to and Why

What about you? Anything catch your eye that’s worth sharing?


I Believe…

First, a few things that I don’t believe in: Guilt, Diets, Scales and 100 Calorie Packs. Now that I’ve got that out there, here’s what I do believe…

1. You are what you eat. Literally. The food we eat gets digested and absorbed and used to make new cells, tissues, stomach lining, blood, skin, hair fingernails… When old cells die they’re replaced with new ones. It’s a continuous process. And when we feed our bodies foods that support healthy cellular growth, you can see it on the outside with healthy looking skin, hair and nails. That simple. Every second of every day we’re shedding old cells and creating new ones. So when you think of it that way, every day is a new chance to change your diet and your body for the better.

2. Your body is telling you something. You just have to listen. Our bodies are constantly sending us signals but all too often we skip right over them or worse, shut them up with an Advil. Instead, listen to the messages your body is sending. It may be telling you to slow down, or that didn’t work so well, or that feels great! Tune in to the signals and use them to treat yourself better.

3. Counting calories is a waste of time. What is a calorie anyway? If you want to get specific, a calorie is the amount of energy required raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by one degree. Way too scientific if you ask me. Food is food, it shouldn’t be rocket science. So why do we insist on making it out to be? I’m not saying go out and eat a Value Meal. Calories don’t matter! No. The calorie is good for just what it is – a guide for the energy value of food. But we’ve taken it to the extreme and become calorie-obsessed. We spend twice as much money for a smaller quantity of food just because it comes in a 100 calorie pack. Pay no mind to the laundry list of ingredients we can’t pronounce. But it was only 100 calories! Which brings me to number 4…

4. Know what you’re eating. Be a food detective. If there’s anything in the ingredient list that you can’t pronounce or rhymes with blahgogenated, don’t eat it. It also matters how your food is grown and raised. Find out if it’s conventional or organic, local or farm raised, caged or pastured, grain or grass fed. It matters.

5. Food is powerful. We underestimate it. Maybe it’s because of all the drugs we have nowadays and all the messages and advertisements that come with them. But food can be even more powerful than a drug without the slew of possible side effects. Different foods create unique chemical reactions in the body that can facilitate healing. People have healed themselves from all sorts of ailments – from a case of the doldrums, to a little headache, to cancer, diabetes and so on.

6. Diets don’t work. And there’s no such thing as the perfect diet. If there was we’d all be eating it. Thing is, everybody is different. We all have different blood running through our veins, different metabolisms and different taste buds. And in this day and age with more and more food allergies and sensitivities, quite literally one persons panacea can be anothers poison. It’s up to each of us to find the diet (err, make that way of eating) that works for us right now. That means listening to your body (see #2), experimentation and enjoying the journey.

7. Food isn’t the only thing that feeds us. Sure it feeds us in the most literal sense, but what I’m talking about are those things that feed the soul. Our primary nourishment – relationships, careers, spirituality – feed us on a much deeper level than peas and carrots. You can eat all the broccoli in the world, but if you’re not feeding your soul what it needs too it doesn’t matter.

8. Exercise should feel good. The right exercise that is. And if it doesn’t feel good then why the heck are you doing it?! Or, maybe that’s why you’re not doing it? So stop. And find something that does make you feel good. Exercise is another one of those primary foods that feed us on a deeper level. It can make you happy, relieve stress and increase energy. And your exercise routine should change as you do to suit your age, preferences and lifestyle.

9. You, and only you, are in control of your health. Just because heart disease runs in the family or your father has high cholesterol does not mean you are doomed. The choices we make everyday have a greater impact. Nutrition (both primary and secondary) can turn genes on and off. This is cutting edge stuff right here. You see, food is powerful (#5) and you really are what you eat (#1) afterall.

10. Health is a means, not an end. It’s not just about being healthy. It’s about what being healthy allows you to do…

What do you want to do?

is it healthly?

Is coffee really THAT bad?

As I write this, I’m sitting here having a cup myself. So the question comes to mind – how bad is it really? I used to have my grande Starbucks drip every morning when I got to work. Now I might have one every other week just when it sounds too good to be true. I’m bringing it up though because coffee is a hotly (pun intended) debated topic these days. We go from hearing coffee is bad for us, to “this just in: coffee is good for us,” to well, it’s just OK in moderation. There are two things driving the debate: 1.) caffeine addiction 2.) what else is going in it.

Let’s start with the caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol – the same hormones that kick in for “fight or flight mode.” That’s what gives us that jolt. At the peak of it your mind is clear, you move faster and everything is heightened. I’m feeling that now. Woo! But on the down slope (maybe around 3:00), it’s just the opposite. And that’s when we may reach for more caffeine or sugar. For me it’s usually chocolate. And it comes on like clockwork. Think of that caffeine jolt as borrowed energy. You eventually have to give it back. So if you’re addicted to coffee then it can turn into a vicious cycle of rented energy which can really wear out your adrenal glands and lead to more serious health concerns.

Then there’s what’s going in it. You know those studies you see on the Today Show touting the benefits of coffee? They’re not talking about the 1/2 a cup of sugar or that fat-free hazelnut creamer going in it. Yes, it’s delicious and I hate to ruin delicious things, but have you ever seen what happens to one of those creamers when it’s left out? It turns into paste – kinda looks like glue. Just think what it’s doing inside your body… OK there, I said it. Do with it what you like.

I’m not putting all this out there to convince you you should give up your morning routine. But I do think we all should be more mindful of what’s going down the chute. Evaluate your relationship with the black stuff. Is it what’s making you function? Is it the taste or the caffeine you crave? Or is it the sugar you’re putting with it? Or is it just the familiar and comforting warm cup in your hand that you’d miss the most? Pinpoint what it is you’re craving. Whatever it is, remember you should be the one with the upper hand, not the coffee. You set the terms. If you can take it or leave it, you win.

Think you might be hooked? Try one of these:

– Switch to decaf for a day, or even a week. Do you notice a difference in how you feel?

– Try tea. Start with a black tea which feels a little more like coffee and have more caffeine. Then get a little bit lighter as you’re ready. Teas put less stress on the adrenals and the body and also have a variety of health benefits, particularly white and green teas. They’re the best because they have lots of antioxidents and help to detox and cleanse the body.

– Fuel with food. Try getting more of your energy from foods in the morning. Fruits awaken the sense and are refreshing in the morning. Whole grains and protein also give you a sustained energy that will last all morning.

– Take a cold shower. I’m not going to tell you that I do this. I don’t. But it will wake you up in the morning. If not a shower, then just splash some cold water on your face.

Trying different things out just leads to better awareness of yourself and how you’re feeling. No matter what you discover or decide to do you’ll know more about what makes you tick. And you’re all the better for it.

nutrition information

Live to Eat, Eat to Live

I love food. I’m sure you do too. You may even think you love food more. We can argue about that later.

I bet if we were having a conversation right now, instead of reading, we could probably go on and on about what we love, what we hate, the best restaurants, and who has the best sweet potato fries.

When my girlfriends are all together we can carry on a 30 minute conversation about a single subject:  macaroni and cheese. …. We live life around food. Family gatherings, dates, nights with friends, are all planned around it. We live to eat.

And we eat to live. Science was never my strong suit, so I won’t try to get biological here, but it’s really incredible when you think about it. I mean, without food your body would shut down. It simply wouldn’t work.

The world of health and nutrition fascinates me. Every day there’s something new that contradicts what was new yesterday. It’s a field that’s so complex, but at the same time, so simple. Vegetables are good. Snickers are bad. Simple.

But then there are cartenoids (what’s in red, yellow and orange veggies) which are best absorbed by the body when they’re paired with a fat. This article on NPR explains it. Basically, your body will absorb more of the nutrients in a tomato if you put olive oil on it (in most regular salad dressing), mix it with avocado in guacamole, or on a sandwich with cheese. Who knew? Complicated.

There’s so much information out there and it’s constantly changing. How does anyone keep it all straight? That’s what I hope to do here. Megg Salad is about good foods, recipes, remedies, alternative treatments, ways of cooking, eating, and exercising. And locally there’s always a lot always going on – new stores, restaurants and things to do that are healthy and good for you.

So, that’s what this blog is about.

Welcome … Come back … Enjoy!