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April 29, 2005

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Go fish! For a tasty and healthy meal, fishy dishes can't be beat.  Research shows protein foods like salmon, which are rich in omega-3 oils, help protect against heart disease. So, let your heart be light, and enjoy this delicious Grilled Maple-Glazed Salmon over mixed greens with a whole grain hard roll for a tasty lunch.  Or serve it for a special dinner with couscous, grilled asparagus and Roasted Bosc Pears in Raspberry Sauce (another great recipe from the same cookbook).

(Makes 4 servings)    

1/4 cup Vermont maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon or stone-ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped gingerroot, if desired
1 1/4-pound salmon fillet
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions         

Mix all ingredients except salmon and scallions.  

Cut salmon fillet into 4 serving pieces. Place fish in shallow glass or plastic dish. Drizzle marinade over fish reserving about 1/4-cup marinade to serve over cooked fish. Refrigerate about 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 400°. Remove fish from marinade; set aside marinade. Place fish in baking dish. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, basting occasionally with marinade, until fish flakes easily with fork.

To serve, drizzle reserved 1/4-cup marinade over fish; top with scallions.


Grilled Maple-Glazed Salmon: Instead of baking, place on grill rack,  cover and grill fish 5 to 6 inches from medium coals 4 minutes. Turn fish; brush with marinade; cover and grill about 4 minutes longer or until fish is opaque and flakes easily with fork.

Posted by Laura on April 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 27, 2005

The Plate Model -- A Much Simpler Tool for Healthy Eating than the New Pyramid

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little stunned over the latest version of the healthy eating pyramid.   Okay, maybe the word stunned is a little strong for most of us, but when we’re in the biz, hey, it’s a big deal!

It seems the designers of the new pyramid think most people have a lot more interest in healthy eating than we do.  True, most of us reading this blog care a lot about eating healthfully, but enough to spend the time required to use the pyramid the way it has been designed?  It’s certainly not an at-a-glance tool, and methinks that’s a major problem.

Our busy lives today dictate that we have simple tools to help us make food choices.  My favorite healthy eating guide is the Plate Model.  It’s a simple visual that helps us balance our meals without worrying about the numbers – no counting!  Just eating like this most of the time means we’ll meet healthy eating guidelines.  If we’re not eating a meal like this, all we need to do is remember the components of the plate – starchy foods, protein foods, vegetables and/or fruits – and make our meals around those.  For example, a sandwich with whole grain bread, tuna (yes, made with mayo), lettuce, tomato and onion is a balanced meal that provides the basic types of foods for health. 

Where’s the fat?  It’s just added into foods in preparation, e.g., the mayo in the tuna salad.  Use oils and the like to make foods taste good.  If you’re worried about overdoing it, read this article for tips on making healthy foods taste great.

Keeping it simple like this helps us stop obsessing about eating, too.  Trying to count what I ate to make sure I got what I  was ‘supposed’ to never did anything for me except make me crazy.

Posted by Marsha on April 27, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 26, 2005

Dieting Failure or Success in Disguise?

"Success and failure are both greatly overrated but failure gives you a whole lot more to talk about." Hildegard Knef


I was a little shocked when I first read this nugget in my daily calendar – I think “failure” is the last taboo subject – and of course, I instantly thought of “diet failure” which seems to be a fate worse than death these days (Kirstie Alley aside, who is either savvy or unfortunate enough to turn her weight struggles into a career).

“Diet failure” is considered such an unacceptable outcome that we’ve invented surgical interventions (removing healthy, working body parts!) to ensure “diet success.” Indeed, there’s nothing more to talk about once you’ve done that…but repeatedly failing at dieting does give your internal dialogue a lot of fodder. And yet, as we already know, diets are doomed to fail, still we blame ourselves!

So what if we embraced the failure and looked at the whole thing a little more philosophically, rather than internalizing the pain? I read Conan O’Brien’s commencement address to Harvard’s 2000 graduating class, where he says “I've dwelled on my failures today because, as graduates of Harvard, your biggest liability is your need to succeed.” Wow, that hit a nerve.

Replace “as graduates of Harvard” with “as veteran dieters” and the light begins to dawn! Needing to define success only as “weight loss,” rather than health or feeling good or fit, has been the liability that tends to end the diet.

So let’s stop dieting for weight loss, and think about taking care of ourselves for health. Eating well (in a way that makes us feel good, not stuffed and sluggish), moving well, and putting balance in our lives is the only way. It’s something to think more about as we try to put this in perspective. Once again, Fitbriefing article “Weight Loss Expectations” really speaks to the issue in a practical way.

I’m glad I’m a diet failure – it’s given me a lot more to talk about, and a better way to be in my body.

Posted by Gina V. on April 26, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 25, 2005

See Jane Run

Here we are, well into the new millennium and I’m still stressing about how hectic my life is. (Shh, don’t tell my yoga instructor!) The lack of personal time, how it affects my relationships, family and most importantly my health. At my age, it’s no longer about losing a few pounds; it’s about the whole healthy enchilada!

I know, I might sound like a Dr. Phil show waiting to happen, but shouldn’t I have figured out by now how to successfully manage my time so that I can incorporate everything in life that’s important to me? Is it realistic to believe I can make lifestyle changes that will stick, without sacrificing other important areas of my life?

Some time between LAX and JFK, business meetings, soccer games, grocery shopping, doctor appointments, homework, birthday parties, dry cleaning, client lunches, car repair and sex…and its not even hump day! It’s no wonder my friends and I often feel that starting a healthy eating plan,  managing emotional eating, binge eating or beginning a new exercise regime is going to end up being just another ball to juggle in our already unreasonably busy lives.

So how do we keep the idea of “getting healthy” from becoming the ball we drop, instead of becoming the mantra and foundation of our lives? Obviously, I don’t have all the answers – or I wouldn’t be here. But, I do know there’s help out there and all I have to do is slow down long enough to reevaluate my choices and ask for it. I mean come on, we’ve all read enough books to know it’s important to create an environment that creates success. The hard part is making better choices in an effort to create change. I know it's about finding a healthy lifestyle weight loss program, especially, one for just women.

Over the next few weeks, I will be looking for answers outside myself - from much better minds than my own. Hey, I know change comes from within…but sometimes you just need to get out of your head for a while and take some action - see what happens. You might surprise yourself.

Posted by Cindy on April 25, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 22, 2005

Grilled Vegetables

Today is Earth Day, and what better way to usher in the spring than with a tasty healthy recipe that uses nature's most fresh and nutritious produce: veggies. Grilling vegetables is easy and adds so much to the flavor that even your kids will like them! So fire up the grill, invite the neighbors and get the health benefits of those amazing veggies.

(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

1 green or red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 small eggplant, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch slices or chunks
1 Vidalia or Texas sweet onion, sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar, if desired

Brush bell pepper, squash, eggplant and onion with oil. Place vegetables on grill rack. Grill 4 to 6 inches from medium-hot coals about 10 to 15 minutes, turning frequently. Remove vegetables from grill as they reached desired doneness (some vegetables will cook faster than others).

Arrange vegetables on serving platter. Sprinkle with thyme, vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Substitution: Substitute 1/2 each green and red bell pepper for the whole green ; bell pepper for a more colorful combination.

Almost any vegetable can be grilled. Steam or microwave vegetables, such as carrots, beets, asparagus or green beans for a few minutes before placing on the grill. Reduce grilling time to about 3 to 5 minutes.

Posted by Laura on April 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 20, 2005

Obesity "Crisis" - Fact or Fancy

For all those that have been feeling bad about their BMI, and cowering under your  couch trying to hide from the impending doom of obesity related complications that the "crisis" promises is waiting for you, it's okay to come out and take a walk - yes, even in daylight.

In a balanced and truthful article about this "crisis" Gina Kolata  wrote "Some Extra Heft May Be Helpful, New Study Says" in today's New York Times.

Some interesting points -

    • People who are overweight but not obese have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight, federal researchers are reporting today.
    • Some statisticians and epidemiologists said that the study's methods and data were exemplary and that the authors - Dr. Williamson and Dr. Katherine M. Flegal of the disease control centers, and Dr. Barry I. Graubard and Dr. Mitchell H. Gail of the cancer institute - were experienced and highly regarded scientists.

And what about the statistic that we hear hundred's of times a day, "400,000 premature deaths attributed to obesity"? Well, check this out...

    • Now the new study says that obesity and extreme obesity are causing about 112,000 extra deaths but that overweight is preventing about 86,000, leaving a net toll of some 26,000 deaths in all three categories combined, compared with the 34.000 extra deaths found in those who are underweight.

I guess some would say, "what's 374,000 deaths among friends?"

I say we celebrate - go take a walk - and read the whole article if you want to put a little extra spring in your step by clicking below.

April 20, 2005

Some Extra Heft May Be Helpful, New Study Says

New York Times

People who are overweight but not obese have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight, federal researchers are reporting today.

The researchers - statisticians and epidemiologists from the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - also found that increased risk of death from obesity was seen for the most part in the extremely obese, a group constituting only 8 percent of Americans.

And being very thin, even though the thinness was longstanding and unlikely to stem from disease, caused a slight increase in the risk of death, the researchers said.

The new study, considered by many independent scientists to be the most rigorous yet on the effects of weight, controlled for factors like smoking, age, race and alcohol consumption in a sophisticated analysis derived from a well-known method that has been used to predict cancer risk.

It also used the federal government's own weight categories, which define fatness and thinness according to a "body mass index" correlating weight to height, regardless of sex. For example, 5-foot-8 people weighing less than 122 pounds are underweight. If they weighed 122 to 164 pounds, their weight would be normal. They would be overweight at 165 to 196, obese at 197 to 229, and extremely obese at 230 or over.

Researchers had a full gamut of responses to the unexpected findings, being reported today in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Some saw the report as a long-needed reality check on what they consider the nation's near-hysteria over fat.

"I love it," said Dr. Steven Blair, president and chief executive of the Cooper Institute, a research and educational organization in Dallas that focuses on preventive medicine.

"There are people who have made up their minds that obesity and overweight are the biggest public health problem that we have to face," Dr. Blair said. "These numbers show that maybe it's not that big."

Others simply did not believe the findings.

Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, which is affiliated with Harvard, pointed to the university's own study of nurses that found mortality risks in being overweight and even greater risks in being obese. (That study involved mostly white women and used statistical methods different from those in the newly reported research.)

"We can't afford to be complacent about the epidemic of obesity," Dr. Manson said.

In fact, the new study addressed the risk only of death and not of disability or disease. There has long been conclusive evidence that as people move from overweight to obese to extremely obese, they are more and more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

But the investigators said it was possible that being fat was less of a health risk than it used to be. They mentioned a paper, also being published today in the journal, in which researchers including Dr. Edward W. Gregg and Dr. David F. Williamson, both of the C.D.C., report that high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are less prevalent now than they were 30 or 40 years ago, largely because of breakthroughs in medication.

As for whether there is truly a mortality risk in being underweight, Dr. Mark Mattson, a rail-thin researcher at the National Institute on Aging who is an expert on caloric restriction as a means of prolonging life, said it was not clear that eating fewer calories meant weighing so little, since some people eat very little and never get so thin. In any event, while caloric restriction may extend life, Dr. Mattson said, "there's certainly a point where you can overdo it with caloric restriction, and we don't know what that point is."

Some statisticians and epidemiologists said that the study's methods and data were exemplary and that the authors - Dr. Williamson and Dr. Katherine M. Flegal of the disease control centers, and Dr. Barry I. Graubard and Dr. Mitchell H. Gail of the cancer institute - were experienced and highly regarded scientists.

"This is a well-known group, and I thought their analysis and their statistical approaches were very good," said Dr. Barbara Hulka, an emerita professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina.

The study did not explain why overweight appeared best as far as mortality was concerned. But Dr. Williamson said the reason might be that most people die when they are over 70. Having a bit of extra fat in old age appears to be protective, he said, giving rise to more muscle and more bone.

"It's called the obesity paradox," Dr. Williamson said. But, he said, while the paradox is real, the reasons are speculative. "It's raw conjecture," he said.

The new study comes just 13 months after different researchers from the disease control centers published a paper warning that obesity and overweight were causing an extra 400,000 deaths a year and were poised to overtake smoking as the nation's leading preventable cause of premature death.

That conclusion caused an uproar, and scientists, particularly those who examine the consequences of smoking, questioned the study's methods. In January, the agency's researchers corrected calculation errors and published a revised estimate of 365,000 deaths.

Now the new study says that obesity and extreme obesity are causing about 112,000 extra deaths but that overweight is preventing about 86,000, leaving a net toll of some 26,000 deaths in all three categories combined, compared with the 34.000 extra deaths found in those who are underweight.

Dr. Donna Stroup, director of the Coordinating Center for Health Promotion at the C.D.C., noted that the previous study had used different data and different methods of analysis.

"Counting deaths is not an exact science," Dr. Stroup said.

For now, said Dr. Dixie Snider, the disease control centers' chief science officer, the agency will not take a position on what is the true number of deaths from obesity and overweight. "We're too early in the science," Dr. Snider said.

Dr. Stroup said of the new findings, "From a scientific point of view, they are a step forward." But she added that the agency considered illness that is linked to obesity to be just as important as the number of deaths.

"Mortality really only represents the tip of the iceberg of the magnitude of the problem," she said.

Estimating deaths due to overweight or obesity is a statistical challenge, the study's investigators said. The idea is to determine, for each person in the population, what would be the risk of dying if that person's weight were normal.

For people whose weight is already in that range, there would be no change in the risk, of course. But what happens to the risk for people whose weight is above or below the normal range? The idea is to control for factors like age, smoking and gender, and ask what would happen if only the weight were changed.

Now that the researchers have done their analysis, Dr. Williamson said, the message, as he sees it, is that perhaps people should take other factors into consideration when deciding whether to worry about the health risks of their weight.

Dr. Williamson, who is overweight, said that "if I had a family history - a father who had a heart attack at 52 or a brother who developed diabetes - I would actively lose weight."

But "if my father died at 94 and my mother at 97 and I had no family history of chronic disease," he said, "maybe I wouldn't be as concerned."

Dr. Barry Glassner, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California, had another perspective.

"The take-home message from this study, it seems to me, is unambiguous," Dr. Glassner said. "What is officially deemed overweight these days is actually the optimal weight."

Posted by Gina V. on April 20, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Out with the Old, In with the New -- Does It Make Any Difference to Healthy Eating As Long as We're Still Dieting?

I can hardly stand all the noise around the release of the new healthy eating graphic – the revised version of Food Guide Pyramid. My frustration isn’t with the new graphic – it’s with all the ‘experts’ expounding on the problems with the old one. My favorite quote: “The pyramid was partially responsible for the obesity epidemic…because it aggressively pushed a low-fat and high-carbohydrate diet,” says Dr. Arthur Agatston, creator of the South Beach Diet. My gripe:

1) How can you blame the ‘obesity epidemic’ (I’ll address the reason for the quotation marks in a later post) on the Pyramid WHEN NO ONE EATS LIKE IT RECOMMENDS???? For example, most people eat only one vegetable a day – and guess what kind. French fries! Turn the pyramid upside down, with all the sweets and low-nutrient foods at the bottom, followed by meats, cheese, etc., and then you get a better picture of how Americans actually eat.

2) Where do people really get their eating advice? From diets! People really learned the low-fat, high-carbohydrate mantra from the best-selling diet books of the 80s and early 90s. And of course, Dr. Agatston would have problems with those because his diet book promotes a lower-carb approach.

Until people stop dieting and start eating normally, we’re going to have a hard time with healthy eating, no matter what graphic guides us, to say nothing of achieving and maintaining healthy weights.

P.S. I’ll give you my take on the new graphic later.

Posted by Marsha on April 20, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 19, 2005

Normal Eating versus “Perfect Eating”

Having spent a lifetime thinking about food and weight and weight loss, I consider myself a connoisseur of these matters. Although I haven’t been on every diet in the world, and I did avoid the riskier weight loss endeavors like growth hormone shots, I’ve certainly done my share of fasting (Optifast and others) and my personal favorite way to fail, to decide to be “perfect” in my eating.

Thank goodness the light has dawned and I realized that there is no such thing as “perfect eating” or “good” or “bad” food. Cleaning up my thought processes is what helped me to gain some balance and finally stabilize my weight and then take off some pounds. Before I gave up the ideas about “good” and “bad” food, the wackier I ate, and in the end, the more weight I gained. I also found any kind of diet was too restrictive; it just didn’t take MY needs into consideration, and I dieted my way to my highest weight.

I talk to women every day that are convinced they have a food or sugar “addiction,” when it seems apparent that they are suffering from too much dieting, too much restriction, too much trying to do it according to someone else’s idea of a “perfect” way to eat. It’s hard to convince them that a little moderation and return to normalcy with food and thoughts about food is possible, and that the first step is to get off the diet.

Therefore I found much vindication in an article I read in the New York Times by former food critic William Grimes. Mr. Grimes took the new USDA Dietary Guidelines and tried to follow them. He wrote an article called, “Eating My Spinach: Four Days on the Uncle Sam Diet”(this isn’t the complete article, I’ve included some of the missing paragraphs below).

So here it is for all to see, a man with no weight problems and no food “issues” goes on a diet and is driven so crazy by trying to schedule his life and eating around what someone else thinks is a good idea, that he soon gets all the “symptoms” of “food addiction” and “lack of willpower” that women ascribe to themselves. The only difference in this man’s life is the diet that he started. Things that make you go “hmmmmm.”


I’d like to suggest we all take a moment to look at Marsha Hudnall’s articles on Perfectionism and Weight Loss and Redefining Healthy Eating as a way to clear our minds before looking further at what Mr. Grimes experienced during his diet encounter.


Glad you’re back from looking – now more from the Article by William Grimes, “Eating My Spinach: Four Days on the Uncle Sam Diet”

The guidelines were beginning to feel like wartime rationing. I walked around with a nagging feeling of being just slightly deprived. After two days, it began to haunt me.

I also began to chafe at the relentless assault on pleasure that the guidelines seemed to represent. At every turn, Americans were being urged to consume foods in their least tasty forms. There they were, the dreaded chicken breast with the skin removed, the unadorned steamed fish and the unspeakable processed cheeses.

In the world of the guidelines, food is a kind of medicine that, taken in the right doses, can promote good health. In the real world, of course, people regard food and its flavors as a source of pleasure. And therein lies just one of the problems with the guidelines, which my wife took one look at before saying with a shake of her head, "No one is ever going to eat like this."

Sounds like he’s just learned what most women live with on a daily basis – dieting makes you crazy, fixated on food, and if you keep it up, heavier and heavier.

Stop and think before you diet again, especially if you’ve already struggled with dieting in the past! Take a second and third look at the articles I mentioned above, especially Redefining Healthy Eating.

Posted by Gina V. on April 19, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 18, 2005

The Truth About Women

Regardless how you arrived here, you possess one thing in common with every
other woman who's made the same journey - you're looking for a voice of
reason...some simple truths.  Starting with, can I really find a safe way to
lose weight and keep it off?  Will I feel good again?  Can I just do
it...and what is 'it' anyway?

The truth about women and their weight?  Well, simply put - we're all
different. Women require a diverse approach and a new language, frank and
honest. We all know women view the world differently from men. Our values,
the goals we set for ourselves and the way we define success is unique unto

These truths are most profound when looking at improving our health and
fitness. Everyday millions of women from all over the world seek solutions
in relationship to their weight, fitness and overall well-being. Are the
answers are out there? Do we dare believe in solutions - or are we being set
up to accept one more health myth, diet shaman or fitness fanatic's
insatiable search for fame and fortune. 

Join us on the journey...grab my hand and I'll take yours. With a little luck, we'll have

a few laughs, breathe deep and begin to feel like ourselves again.

Posted by Cindy on April 18, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack