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August 15, 2005

Does Size Matter?

A recent NY Times editorial, "Perfectly Fat", questions the motives of MAR’s recent marketing campaign for their new ‘perfectly big’ Mega M&M’s (each M&M is 55% larger than the original M&M).  This caught my eye because those precious little colorful candies that ‘melt in your mouth and not in your hands’, just happen to be my personal favorite!  So, if M&M’s are up to something…I’m in!

The question, is there anything diabolical behind marketing bigger candy?

Does it matter that Mars enlarged the size of their M&M’s?  Or is it simply another case where consumer goods are being marketed and sold to an innocent and unsuspecting American public in larger and larger quantities?  It does appear that the new M&M marketing campaign just might be aimed at consumers who are perceived as folks who just can’t get enough of a good thing – even if too much isn’t good for them. 

On the flip side of that argument, every company in America, large or small, is looking for ways to improve margins, increase market share and drive sales.  Unfortunately, the end results of some of those strategies seem to be larger waistlines.  It is possible one might surmise that if there’s market research to show we like our Big Mac’s bigger and our French fries super-sized, then companies like Mars are going to feel like they’ve hit the product development mother load.  Simply make more and make it bigger. 

There’s plenty of evidence that Americans (particularly those of us with weight issues), aren’t paying attention to what and how much we’re eating.  So, for the sake of argument, are there circumstances when companies are at least partially responsible for what and how much we eat – beyond what’s required by law?  Would ever-increasing numbers of overweight children and adults and an increase in the onset of Type 2 Diabetes be an appropriate circumstance? 

I certainly don’t have the answers, but I’m pretty sure larger packaging isn’t doing any of us any good.  I just recognize that for myself, it isn’t the size of my M&M’s that’s the issue - it’s about being able to say ‘enough’.  Being accountable for what I eat and listening to my own internal cues.  Because, M&M’s aren’t the enemy…they’re delicious!

Posted by Cindy on August 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


August 11, 2005

Pomodori Gratinati (Baked Tomatoes)

You say 'TOH-MAY-TOH', I say 'TOH-MAH-TOH'!  Anyway you say it, this baked tomato recipe tastes great in any season. Try it as a side dish, or even as the main course for a light lunch.  It's tangy flavor is sure to get you humming!

    2 medium/large tomatoes
    1/4 cup bread crumbs
    2 tablespoons chopped parsley
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    1/4 teaspoon salt or seasoned salt
    4 teaspoons olive oil

(Makes 4 servings)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tomatoes in half. Scoop out seeds. Place on a lightly greased baking dish or glass pie plate. Bake tomatoes 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine bread crumbs, chopped parsley, garlic and salt. Remove tomatoes from oven and pour off liquid. Top each tomato half with 1/4 of the bread crumb mixture. Drizzle 1 teaspoon oil of over each tomato half and return to oven and bake about 15 minutes or until tomatoes are tender. Can be served warm, but they are best if served at room temperature.

If you enjoyed this recipe, come and enjoy our complete collection of healthy eating recipes.

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Posted by Laura on August 11, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


August 10, 2005

A Wristband for All of Us

My children started wearing the Armstrong Foundation “LiveStrong” yellow bracelets a while ago, and now at various times have a rainbow of bracelets adorning their arms.  There are a number of very worthwhile organizations selling similar bracelets as fundraisers (the bracelets that are sold for pure profit are easy to discern – they aren’t associated with any organization).  Recently, a new band has been introduced that I thought would appeal to many of us reading this blog.

It’s a “Love Your Body” wristband sold by a plus-size clothing site Big on Batik with the website url www.love-your-body.org.  (It also sells some lovely clothing.)  The wristbands come in a variety of colors and cost $3 each, $1 of which goes to size-positive organizations that are there for the sole purpose of fighting size discrimination and helping people feel better about themselves.

If you check out the wristbands, be sure to read down further on the page.  There’s a great introduction on the importance of loving your body that says,

“Belief is an incredibly strong persuader. If you believe your body is bad for your health, then you open the door for that notion to become a reality. If you believe that your body is precious and provides the vehicle for you to experience life regardless of size, then you open the door to a wealth of positive possibilities.”

Following that are links to various articles that give tips on how to start loving your body.  One points out the Love Your Body Day campaign sponsored by the National Organization for Women Foundation.    This year, it’s October 19.   If we all start now practicing the tips for loving our bodies, we may find ourselves in a much better place by then!

Posted by Marsha on August 10, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


August 09, 2005

Channel Surfing

Tv2_1

Okay, okay. I admit it! I got sucked into the void of Infomercial Land!

I got hooked by slogans like, "lose weight effortlessly!" and "no more cravings!"

Just before I went into a media trance, I caught myself and thought, "When did listening to my cravings become a bad thing?"

Here's what happened - by listening to the media - I started up all the "old tapes" that used to play in my head continuously. You know the ones? "I'm not smart enough - pretty enough or thin enough" Then I smiled. And thought,  "I don't need to hear the constant yammering of the television to tell me whether or not I'm a healthy woman. I can trust myself and my own body to do so. I can change my thinking." Take a look at the Fitbriefing on Lose the Dead Weight  It's not just extra pounds but the baggage in our minds that needs to change.

My help never came from a fad - or an informercial - it was a process. With much support, (from Green Mountain I might add) I realized that through an attitude of "mindfulness" I could trust my body to tell me when I was hungry, how much is enough and when I was satisfied. And when I needed emotinal support, it was okay to ask. I also realized that moving my body could be pleasurable, and not just about weight loss. I felt better honoring all of me, which helped me onto to the rest of the "process".

Just as important, I realized that I was a bright, funny (okay, goofy) conscientious woman who just happened to be larger than the societal ideal. Once I accepted myself, my belief system changed and a much more positive me came through.

We are all individuals. We have different needs, hopes and dreams. Instead of letting another, Bob Barker, Jr., tell you they have the "cure for your life" realize it's not "behind door number three!" YOU have the strength to change YOURSELF.

Posted by AmyKate on August 9, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


August 08, 2005

With Age Comes Wisdom - Another Weight Lifted

Body image is so tricky. If you have a healthy one – God bless you! 

How many of us can claim to have a realistic perception of what we look like on any given day?  If you’re experiencing a bad hair day, you think your pants are too tight, or you realize that today when you look in the mirror your mother is smiling back at you, you’re probably allowing your body image to dictate how you move through the world.  Having struggled with my weight and consequently my own self image a good part of my life, I know I have.

I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit I get melancholy when I think about saying goodbye to my youth, but, like most things, its keeping life’s journey in perspective that prevents us from going off the deep end.  Life is short.  How much time do we want to waste trying to live up to an unauthentic perception of ourselves?

As I get older I care less about how I look and much more about how I feel.  Am I healthy?  Do I feel strong and limber?  What about endurance? Can I get through my day with a reasonable amount of zip and zest? Am I controlling my stress so that I’m able to enjoy my work and the people in my life?  These are much loftier goals in my view and infinitely more challenging because I can no longer take any of them for granted.

So, is all the fuss over body image important in the scheme of things?  I think it is if your self-image is healthy and unwavering – because only then can you let it go. What I realize as I say goodbye to my 40’s, is that if I work on all the things I’ve mentioned above, I’ll find a natural weight and size meant just for me - and that’s a huge weight lifted!

If you’re interested in finding out more about how to create a positive body image, while ridding your head of those self-defeating voices, check out the books listed below:

The Body Image Workbook: An 8-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks by, Thomas F. Cash, Ph.D.

Taming Your Gremlin: A Guide to Enjoying Yourself by, Richard D. Carson

Posted by Cindy on August 8, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


August 04, 2005

Tarragon Chicken Salad in Cantaloupe Boat

Summer is in full swing, and if you haven't done it already, it's time for those backyard barbecues, poolside parties or picnics in the park!

Whatever the occasion, cool summer salads are a refreshing way to beat the heat. This tarragon chicken recipe combines melons -- which are in abundance and so tasty this time of year -- and fresh herbs that you gardeners out there probably have growing in your garden or in a pot on your deck. If not, pick some up at the store. Tarragon adds a unique flavor to this delicious salad.

(Makes 4 servings)

    1 pound grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut up*
    1 cup chopped celery
    1 cup red or green seedless grapes (optional)
    1/3 cup toasted almonds
    2 tablespoons plain yogurt
    2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
    Salt
    Pepper
    Cantaloupe

Toss chicken celery, grapes and nuts in large bowl. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, mayonnaise and tarragon; add to chicken mixture and mix lightly. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on cantaloupe wedge.

*You can use left over grilled chicken breast or follow recipe below for Grilled Tarragon Chicken Breasts.


Grilled Tarragon Chicken Breasts

(makes 4 servings)

1 1/4pounds raw boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

If you enjoyed this recipe, come and enjoy our complete collection of healthy eating recipes.

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Posted by Laura on August 4, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


August 03, 2005

Death Knell Sounds for Atkins Low Carb Foods

Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic with that title.  While the Atkins company, which sells low-carb foods as well as low-carb diets, filed chapter 11 on Monday, it still plans to stay in business by targeting “consumers who are concerned about health and wellness.”  That means they will continue to promote their low-carb philosophy, even though most of us who are interested in health and fitness don’t see things their way.

Some interesting stats in the article:  Interest in low-carb dieting peaked early last year with almost 10% of Americans cutting carbs.  By November, the figure had fallen to a little more than 3%.  But with all the noise, I would have thought there would have been many more Americans taking part in that fad.

If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you might begin to think I’m a little hung up on the issue of carbohydrates.  Really, I’m not.  It’s just that I keep hearing people talk about cutting them out.  They don’t want to go on a low-carb diet, but they’re still a little uncertain about eating them. 

So here’s my carb advice for the week:  There’s wisdom in looking at the type of carbohydrates that we regularly eat, but not in trying to cut them out totally.  Elimination just sets us up for carbohydrate cravings.  Choose whole foods – whole grains, fresh fruits and veges –balance them with small amounts of protein foods, dairy foods and oils, and enjoy!  Occasional sweets are okay, too (in my book, they’re kind of critical.)

Marche8_1 This way of eating is no fad – they’ve been doing it in Italy for years.  In fact, I’m getting ready to go learn more about it next month on our sixth cooking tour of Italy. 

Ciao for now!   

Posted by Marsha on August 3, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


August 02, 2005

Hello! I AM A WOMAN!

Bb_cover_1 I spent a wonderful long weekend in Manhattan with the opportunity for retail aerobics (shopping), facials, hair appointments – or in other words, female fun-stuff.

Well at least I thought I was a female, until I visited a branch of a nationwide department store, which in my experience had always offered high quality as well as a very extensive selection of clothing in larger sizes. I felt a cold chill go down my spine as I fruitlessly wandered around looking for the “women’s sizes.” They couldn’t have succumbed to the chicanery of other department stores, hiding the plus sizes behind a pile of rocks, just to the right of the loading dock, could they?

Turns out, it couldn’t have been more of a slap in the face than if they were trying really hard to insult women of size… “go through the MEN’S STORE, and you’ll see it.” No they didn’t hide it in maternity, another common practice, this let me know that they believed there were three sexes...WOMEN (defined from size 2 to 16), MEN (obvious), and OTHER (women over size 16). Funny, my money is green, I get my hair cut at Gil Ferrer’s on the Upper East Side, facials at Mario Badescu, but apparently I’m not female enough when it comes to clothing, since I wear over a size 14. Uhm.

Now every woman that shops for clothing sizes that are more than 14 or 16 knows that their sizes are often hidden in strange locations in stores. Better stores usually place larger sizes in the women’s department and gather all the sizes together. Or you might have a Coldwater Creek store near you and were surprised and delighted to find sizes 2-24 on the same rack and in the same style, with the same choices.

If we all know this, let’s demand size parity! I did find one article about this, by Marta Hummel of The News-Record, Greensboro, North Carolina, titled Plus Size Frustration describing conditions worse than what I experienced. But it was the only article I could find – let’s rally the troops, and get some good looking, fairly priced clothes in the women’s department. We can start by taking this survey about plus sized clothing - let your voice be heard by those that we spend our money on.

Posted by Gina V. on August 2, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


August 01, 2005

Once a Bad Habit, Always a Bad Habit?

Bad habits, just when you believe you've licked them they sneak back up on you when you're not looking.  I'm always surprised to realize how many of my bad habits still lurk just below the surface. No matter how many times I think I learned my lesson, if I'm not careful, there they are again, that dreaded weakness, a lack of judgment, the emotional neediness. Ah, the humanity! 

When bad habits, or negative behaviors rear their ugly head, its time to step back and evaluate as quickly as you can. Although, it may feel good to lavish in the short-term satisfaction of a bad habit, experience tells us the long term gain just isn't there. In fact, in most cases, you find yourself putting in twice the work just to get back to where you started.

Recently, I've been struggling with waiting too long to before I eat my meals. Skipping snacks and allowing myself to get too hungry. I know from previous experience that deprivation leads to over eating and bad choices. So I'm looking at my current situation and trying to evaluate why I've lost some discipline around eating. I won't bore you with what I've uncovered, but I will say that I feel good about catching it early and trying to regroup before it becomes very difficult to make changes. Tackling these things early can mean making just a few very simple changes in our behavior.

So, if any of you reading this today can see yourself in the same predicament, see what you can do to nip that negative behavior in the bud. Take a moment to remind yourself how far you've come and how wonderful it feels to accomplish your goals. I bet it will out weight whatever you've got going on in the 'bad habit' department. There is nothing more important than living a healthy, happy life. Good luck to us all!

To read more on how we go back and forth among old behaviors (habits) when we're in the process of successful change, check out "Changing for Good" by James O. Prochaska, PhD, John Norcross, PhD and Carlo Diclemente, PhD.

Posted by Cindy on August 1, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack