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October 12, 2005

Food Addiction: Does Abstinence Really Work?

I brought up the subject of food addiction a while ago on this blog, and it struck a chord for several people. After a few back and forth discussions in the comments to the post, there appeared to be some consensus that addiction to the behavior of overeating is the real problem for many of us.

In her book Eating in the Light of the Moon, clinical psychologist Anita Johnston agrees. She explains that the behavior of overeating serves as a way to distract us from our true problems; it’s a way we can avoid dealing with feelings that make us uncomfortable; it’s a way to escape. True, the escape isn’t to any place good. While initially the act of eating/overeating might bring pleasure, it quickly turns on us as we get caught up in the regret and self punishment of the act. But then, that’s how it works – instead of focusing on what we’re really feeling or struggling with, we battle food, weight and guilt. It keeps us focused elsewhere.

What I thought was quite interesting in Johnston’s discussion was her statement that when we eliminate certain foods because we’re trying to ‘avoid our trigger foods’ or we believe we just can’t eat those foods in moderation, we’re actually eliminating opportunities to learn what those foods symbolize for us. Does a desire for a sweet, creamy chocolate sundae when we’re not hungry signal we’re feeling the need for nurturing? Does anger underlie a need to crunch potato chips that has nothing to do with physical hunger? Does food – any food – call when we’re feeling sad and lonely, even after we’ve finished a big meal? If we can begin to explore these desires, instead of trying to ignore them or give in to them in defeat, they may be valuable guides to our inner feelings that we learned long ago to bury under the onslaught of food.

This serves for me as another testament that an abstinence approach really doesn’t work for most people. Instead of running away from our feelings and desires, we want to explore them and honor them. Sure, when we’re first beginning, we might not want to take on everything at once; for some of us, that can be too overwhelming. The anxiety we feel about our weight might send us backwards as we attempt to begin including ‘scary’ foods in our meals and snacks. Taking it slowly – a few steps at a time – may be the best approach for these folks. But ultimately taking it is the way to go.

It’s tough living your life afraid there’s a bear hiding behind every bush you see. That sums up food fears for me – food is all around us. Making it our friend is the only way to survive.

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Posted by Marsha on October 12, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 11, 2005

Are Americans Fatter? One View.

Recently I was in a tourist environment that was fairly equally split between Fat_mickeyAmericans, Brits, and Germans. I decided to conduct one of my infamously unscientific polls (which often seem to get me marked as a peeping tom, as I hide in potted plants to view my "subjects" in their natural habitat).

In general, I noticed that American and British parents tend to be less lean than Germans (and the smattering of Latin Americans, Lithuanians and Indians that I also observed). But the kids were all about the same in terms of size/weight. Noting this, I turned my attentions toward food choices and eating habits.

What was interesting among the kids, was that American and British kids always had to have a high fat, calorically dense, low nutrient type of dessert when eating a meal, and required snacks of the same type. German kids (and the others I mentioned above) were just as likely to pick fruit or nothing for dessert, as they were to go for the ooey- gooey’s that the American and British kids went for. So then I went in for eavesdropping about how the kids and parents “negotiate” ordering and food choices.

The American and British kids tended to feel that they were “entitled” to the sweets because they were on vacation. And while their parents argued with them about fat and calories, and “healthy” eating, they always gave in, and ordered liberally themselves. The German and other kids I observed didn’t seem to have arguments about food, and didn’t feel that food was automatically tied to rewards (such as being on vacation equates eating excessively for a reward).

My conclusion: American and British kids at younger and younger ages are being “infected” by their parents’ obsession with dieting and “healthy” eating (which really translates to some screwed up idea of perfect eating). Where cultures are less indoctrinated with “dieting” rather than living well and normally, the kids and parents not only seem thinner, they face a lot less angst in their relationships.

We’ve all heard the Harry Chapin song, “Cats in the Cradle” where a father laments missing all the important milestones in his son’s life due to his work schedule, then sees his son being absent in the same way as his son grew up. “My son was just like me…” which was both a lyric of hope at the beginning of the song Food and sadness by the end of the song.

After watching this “food fight” played out in so many families, and after talking to so many women that are facing the same food struggles in their homes, I wondered if the new generation of Americans are missing time with their children because they are too busy fighting over “healthy eating.” One of my last posts was about giving up the food restrictions that you might have learned from your parents – this post has turned that idea up a notch….give up teaching your kids food restriction and turn tensions and aniexty in the home to natural, normal eaters that are better equipped to maintain their health and weight for their lifetimes, even when you aren’t monitoring every morsel. For more about this idea from a dietician point of view, read Marsha Hudnall’s previous post, Getting Over Candy and her more recent Taking Healthy Eating Too Far.

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Posted by Gina V. on October 11, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 10, 2005

A Trendy Accessory or Healthy Weight Management Aid?

You might think the hottest accessory this season is the newest Gucci handbag, a pair of sexy Jimmy Choo’s, or maybe a cute furry pooch small enough to fit into your Gucci handbag, but the one accessory everyone seems to be carrying around these days doesn’t come from Bloomingdales, but your local supermarket – a giant bottle of water.

No matter the occasion, the event, or situation, the best dressed gals all seem to be guzzling water by the gallon. Can it be that important to be hydrating all day long – even when you’re not thirsty?  The bathroom breaks alone…ugh!

I think we’ve all been led to believe that drinking 8 glasses of water a day is the accepted recommendation, but where did that number come from?  According to Marsha Hudnall, MS, RD, Program Director at Green Mountain At Fox Run

“Eight glasses of water is a number based on the fluid needs of an ‘average’ sized person, but it doesn’t take into account the fluid we get from other foods like fruits, veggies, milk, soups, etc. Basically, the recommendation is a diet technique – an attempt to fill people up on zero calorie fluids. That said most of us do need to drink more water because we typically don’t drink enough. In my experience working with women,  there is a tendency to confuse thirst with hunger, so try drinking first if you’re not sure whether you’re hungry or not.”   

That’s a different recommendation than drinking a ton of water to feel full.

“I discourage using water as a mechanism to feel full. It’s important when you’re trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight to identify true hunger and eat when you need to.”

So, how can you determine how much water you should be drinking each day? You can get additional advice from the professional staff at the Mayo Clinic about how much water is enough.  Their website provides sound information on everything from hydration, dehydration, over hydration, thirst and how much water is enough.

The bottom line? Using your common sense can be your best guide to heath and well being. Listening to and learning about your own body will always be your best guide to what feels right for you.


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Posted by Cindy on October 10, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 06, 2005

Update to Charity Auction on Ebay for GMFR stay

Tech_diff UPDATE - We have been having technical difficulty getting the charity portion of Ebay to accept our post for the one week visit to Green Mountain...we will let you know as soon as we know when bidding can begin. We antcipate having it up early next week.

Thanks for your patience.

Posted by Gina V. on October 6, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Apple Crumb Cake

How 'bout them apples?  Folks will go to pieces over this delicious apple crumb cake - a natural fall favorite! Try any variety of crisp, juicy baking apples -- each area has its own delectible varieties. To make the cake for this picture, we used a combination of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples.

(Makes 18 servings)

    1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 cup plain yogurt
    2 large baking apples, peeled, cored and diced small (about 2 cups diced apples)

    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cups chopped pecans
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 x 8 inch cake pan. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, on at a time, blending well. Stir in vanilla. In another bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture in batches alternating with the yogurt; mix until well blended. Stir in apples and pour into cake pan.

In small bowl, stir together brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon and butter. Sprinkle evenly over the cake. Bake until top is golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean about 50- 55 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes, turn the cake onto a wire rack and then invert onto serving platter. Enjoy!

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

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Posted by Laura on October 6, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 05, 2005

Taking Healthy Eating Too Far

Telling someone they can enjoy something just because it tastes good may sound like heresy coming from a registered dietitian. But that’s usually because people have a misconception about the definition of healthy eating.

Sure, healthy eating means getting enough of the right nutrients and not too much of the things that have been linked to disease. But that’s over time – it doesn’t mean that every morsel of food we put in our mouths has to meet some nutritional ideal. The idea of pleasure too often gets lost when we’re thinking about healthy eating. If you look at it closely, you might agree that it’s impossible to be healthy if you’re unhappy. We can’t separate mind and body, and if we’re unhappy, our physical self knows it. Likewise when we’re eating something we don’t like just because “it’s good for us.” We’re not satisfied and often end up eating more than we really need in search of satisfaction. Or we eat the ‘good stuff,’ then move on to the stuff we really like, overeating in the process.

Dr. Steven Bratman coined the term ‘orthorexia nervosa’ several years ago to describe someone who is overly concerned with healthy eating. Although it’s not a recognized eating disorder, it could certainly fit within the definition of disordered eating (a description that fits most chronic dieters, too). Simply put, an orthorexic has clearly defined ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods and feels virtuous when eating the ‘good’ and like a failure when eating the ‘bad.’ Sounds like a typical dieter, doesn’t it? The difference is that the orthorexic is not necessarily concerned with the quantity of food eaten – so it’s not about weight per se – it’s the quality of the food that’s the obsession. Lest this seem like a rather harmless and potentially even beneficial obsession, it can be taken too far. Dr. Bratman shares details in his book Health Food Junkies. The same obsession can be taken too far when healthy weights are the issue, too.

Whether we’re interested in eating healthfully just for the health of it, or we think it will help us achieve and maintain a healthy weight, it’s worthwhile to remember that balance is key for either goal. Balance just not in the types of food we eat, but in the reasons we choose the things we eat, and the things we do.

Here’s to happy, healthy eating!

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Posted by Marsha on October 5, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 04, 2005

Bid on Week at Green Mountain for Charity

Images3Green Mountain is giving 100% of the proceeds from the Ebay auction of one week in a single accomodation at Green Mountain to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

For a lot of women, making yourself a priority seems to selfish - if that's you, this is your opportunity to be "selfish" (if you must call taking care of yourself "selfish") and selfless at the same time. You might pick up a bargain too!

Friday, October 7th we'll post the details of the auction, which will begin on Sunday, October 9th and end on the 15th. Don't forget to mark your calendar, and bid generously to support women's breast health.

Good luck on the bidding, hope to see you soon!

Posted by Gina V. on October 4, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 03, 2005

It's Pink October!

Pink_ribbonvOctober is the perfect time to ensure you're in the pink as far as your breast health is concerned. If you haven’t already done so, begin this October to get regular screenings in a clinical setting by a trained health professional.

To date, mammography screening is the single most effective method of early breast cancer detection. If you need assistance finding an imaging location where you live, you can contact the National Cancer Institute. (1.800.4.CANCER).

In many areas of the country, low-cost or free mammograms are provided as part of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program or through community organizations, such as the YWCA.  In October each year, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many radiology facilities offer mammography at a reduced rate.

Most insurance companies cover the cost of mammograms. However, for women over 40 who might be uninsured or underinsured,  you can find more affordable or even free screenings in your area by either contacting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (1-888-842-6355), or  find a certified radiology center in your area, by calling the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's National Toll-Free Breast Care Helpline at 1.800 I'M AWARE® (1.800.462.9273).

It’s important we all get to know our breasts a little bit better.  Educate yourself about breast health and regularly give yourself a proper breast self-exam. For more information please check out the link for Susan G. Komen's Breast Cancer Foundation under "Sites We Like". There was never a better reason to get proactive about your health!

FYI: Friday, October 21 2005, is National Mammography Day!

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Posted by Cindy on October 3, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack