If we Choose to Eat it, it Becomes our Responsibility

People write complaints, are unsatisfied, and upset with the outcome of some diets they choose to try. They may be upset with their health, weight, or their overall wellbeing.  I’ve wondered to myself who exactly is responsible for the health outcomes that are associated with the foods people choose to eat?  I’ve talked about how diet messages can be persuasive, but ultimately I think it’s the individual who chooses what diet he or she will be on, or what foods to consume who is responsible for their health.

ny times junkfood

The mediated world constantly makes claims whether it be about food or batteries, and it is our responsibility to decipher through the messages and understand the product that we choose to use. However, in our society we are constantly pointing fingers at someone else, trying to place the blame on anyone but ourselves. I would admit that I do think large food corporations, the government, the advertisement agencies, and celebrities are all possible sources that could be blamed for consumers health outcomes that are associated with the foods they eat. After all, all of these people are exposed to and create these messages and products before the consumer has access to them, so shouldn’t they be aware of the negative outcomes? I’d like to think so, but this also steps on the boundaries of money, profit, and endorsements, which, sadly is what our society lives for.

The New York Times published a terrifying, but informing article,” The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food“, which basically discusses who is to blame for the obesity epidemic. At first food manufactures are to blame, however as the story shifts  blame is placed on food advertising. Scientists, mathematics, engineers and food taxes are also part of the mix, like I said, everyone will blame someone else. But we as consumers do have the ultimate decision about what we eat. I highly suggest reading this article! It’s disgusting how not only messages, but also foods are designed and created to please a certain audience! This just goes to show how aware we need to be of what we consume!

nytimes chip addict

 The next step to the problem lies with how we receive information. Although we ultimately can make the decision, it’s difficult when we don’t understand certain terms. The problem with food and health messages is how they are communicated to the general public. Because this issue continues to grow, we are becoming aware that the general public may lack the food media literacy to understand health claims, and therefore misunderstand important health claims. The JNCI article, “Improving Public Understanding: Guidelines for Communicating Emerging Science on Nutrition Food Safety, and Health” shares valuable information concerning the awareness of information diffusion to the public. I’m glad that it’s understood that how these messages are connected can really affect our choices, “…And, perhaps most important of all, how emerging science is communicated—by scientists, the journals, the media, and the many interest groups that influence the process—also can have powerful effects on the public’s understanding, on its behavior and, ultimately, on its well-being.” As you can see, these groups do indeed have a powerful effect, but is it the deciding factor?

I’m still convinced it is our job as consumers to be aware and take responsibility for what we are eating and be in control of our own personal health.

What do you think? I know this can be a controversy topic, so I’d love to hear different opinions!

WP 5/7

Watch out Vegan Dieters

I’m feeling giddy about all the sunshine this week and it’s making me think of fresh food and planting my garden! As summer is approaching quickly I’ve been thinking about common summer diet trends and I’d figure I would explore a plant-based.

The Huffington Post Healthy Living section published an article, Vegan Diet Mistakes: 5 Common Pitfalls When Starting A Purely Plant-Based Diet, which is a great informational guide for someone looking into a vegan or plant-based diet. The article includes expert tips form plant-based eating professionals because the diet is often misused. The biggest tip is to make sure you PLAN. The experts said that although the diet can ensure many health benefits, it must be well balanced and include a variety of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. I feel like everything I write about keeps coming back to these few food groups, see the trend? J.

At the end of the article, there is a slideshow that contains “5 Mistakes New Vegans Make,” I LOVE interactive informative slides like these! They allow for people who aren’t interested in reading to explore the valuable information presented in a visual manor, while still including reliable information from experts. Check out these common mistakes vegans make if you’re interested!

  1. Eat the same amount as your pre-vegan days
  2. Don’t seek out Vitamin B12
  3. If it’s vegan, it must be healthy
  4. Always eat the nuts/salad when you are out and about
  5. Don’t listen to your body

With each “mistake” there is a picture that accounts for half of the slide, and then a short description of the common misunderstanding. The write up is short and sweet, but always contains an example! I find this helpful for those who aren’t as knowledgeable about their diet, health, or nutrition.

vegan burger

My favorite is, “If it’s vegan, it must be healthy.” This is a huge pet peeve of mine, I feel like people always say, “if it’s organic, it must be healthy,” sorry it’s just not true! Anyway expert Amy Lanou, puts it perfectly, “When some people start a vegan diet, they load up on foods like processed veggie burgers, processed veggie cheese, processed veggie hotdogs, and other, well, processed veggie-based foods.” She goes on to say that although those aren’t animal products, processed foods contain other non-nutritional ingredients and it can be better to just eat the whole, un-processed version if you are having trouble.

I really like the simplicity of the information and the use of visuals in the article; I think it makes it approachable for everyone! Has anyone struggled with making these mistakes before when trying a vegan diet?

NP 4/30

Get healthy, energetic and beautiful with the 02 diet!

As April winds down, all I can think about is summer, sunshine and fresh food. As I’ve been feeling the stress of graduation and the real word approaching, I’ve found myself needing to evaluate my every day diet. I was thinking about a book my friend’s mother had called the 02 Diet.  I remember reading the diet was all about consuming antioxidants, eating a variety of healthy fats, lean proteins, and whole grains. Although I strive to do those things daily, I wanted to look further into the diet.

The 02 Diet, developed by nutritionist Kerri Glassman is based around eating foods containing high levels of antioxidants which, according to Glassman, “will leave dieters healthy, energetic, and beautiful—inside and out.”  I watched a video to hear how Kerri describes the diet and I, for the first time felt like it’s a diet I could follow. One of the first things she says is that that it’s “all about eating, all about eating more of the best foods,” she goes on to say it’s not about restricting yourself. Of course this sounds great to me, but there is much more to it.

In her video she always has a smile on her face, she is excited about what she does, and she seems genuinely happy about sharing her knowledge and wanting to help people. She explains that antioxidants help fight free radials, which she describes as the “bad guys in your body,” that are responsible for common diseases like cancer, heart attacks, and aging. She also states many times that there is research that supports her claims. I find it great that she speaks to an audience who may not have a nutrition background, but she delivers her expert advice in a way that anyone can understand. She specifically describes the health benefits each food contains, she defines unknown words, and she discusses how the program starts with the four day cleanse with real meals, and follows with a 28 day program that “sets you up with all the tools you need to go 02 for your whole life.”

In a simple she way shares about the foods she loves that fit in with the diet as well as the nutritional and health benefits. Greens, salmon, dark chocolate, pecans, green apples, berries, and avocados are all on the approved list. I love all of these foods so it’s no wonder why I’m attracted to the sounds of this!

The overall sense I get from Kerri is that she wants to encourage people to cleanse their bodies and feel healthier. She says that loosing weight, and improving energy and overall health are all side effects of the diet. She enjoys eating this way, and wants others to also enjoy the flavors and power that these foods contain. I find that she has a soothing but convincing voice, and its helpful to hear what she has to say rather than just read it because we can tell she is passionate about the diet, and can stand behind the information she presents. She wants to set us up for improving our whole lives, rather than promising a quick fix diet.

I may be on board this summer! what do you think?

NP 4/23

The “Before” and “After” Story

How often do you read about a new diet and decide immediately you’ll try it without hearing from someone else who has tried it? I doubt very often, it may not be someone you know, but let’s be honest; it’s always nice to hear a personal success story before diving off the deep end and depriving yourself of goodies for days.

As humans we have a tendency to want to connect with others, marketers have begun to catch on and have figured out that by connecting narrative to brands; they can connect with their customers on a deeper level. Marketing via Stories: The Selling Power of Narrative in a Conceptual Age discusses the technique markets have begun to use to draw their audiences in. Sharing an experience that customers feel they can relate to creates a connection. It makes new customers feel they may have the same great experience with a product that the narrative advertisement had “These much richer narratives, in turn, help brands more empathically interconnect with the buying minds of their customers.”

Especially in the food and diet world, narrative success stories are everything. If people share their “before” and “after” photograph displaying just how much weight they lost on every specific diet program, others will run to find how they can do it also. South Beach diet has it down, their website contains an entire “success stories” page. The top of the page says “Find Someone Like You!” and goes one to share at least 15 pictures of individuals who tried the South Beach Diet. You can find someone who you can relate to by clicking on their picture and reading their story.

before-and-after-jennifer

I’ll say it, some of the stories are inspiring and convincing, we almost feel a personal connection with these people, and I bet may people think, “If they can do it, so can I.” This emotional connection that the narrative provides, does the marketing work for the South Beach diet. The people who have had success are proud and willing to share which draws attention to the diet, and creates an opportunity for individuals seeking a new diet plan to jump on the South Beach diet.

I’d assume since dieting is tough, it creates the need for a lot of support, by providing these narrative success stories individuals starting the diet may feel like there is a bright future for them. They may feel connected to the people who have tried the diet before, and this is all because of the sharing of the personal stories. In a way, I think it’s unfortunate because the diet may not be healthy, but if people are looking to loose weight and they see it’s worked for someone else, that emotional connection could mean it’s a green light.

What do you think? Do you think in the dieting industry it’s important to share success stories to encourage others to try the diet? In todays society I think everyone wants to feel connected and this is a way to market a brand, diet, or idea with the personal touch that’s needed to sell.

WP 4/18

Slim, Calm, and Sexy… More Information Please!

I was looking at the Women’sHealth website and scrolling down under the “power foods” section. At the bottom of the list of links there was a highlighted NEW link called: The Slim Calm Sexy Diet: Order Today! Even I feel under their catching tactic and clicked on it.

The headline of the page says: “Get a Slim Calm Sexy Body in JUST 6 WEEKS! The page is primarily an advertisement convincing us to try it free by clicking on the promotional link that is located in at least four places on the webpage. It’s flashy with purple and red bold print, and contains interactive links, a Slim, Calm, Sexy, Diet Quiz, and rotating pictures of food.

slim sexy quix

The page discusses how the stress hormone cortisol is responsible for packing on that extra layer of fat we can’t seem to loose. As the stressful human beings we are, we release this hormone and anything we eat “sticks hard and fast” according to researchers. However, I think it takes it a little too far. The article tries to blame the hormone for the weight rather than the individual, “if you’ve been trying to drop 10,15,25 pounds but it sticks to you like 5 pounds of fudge glued to your belly, butt, and thighs- and you can’t figure out why- stop blaming yourself.” I’m not sure about this…what do you think?

They make claims such as: No more cravings, no more calorie counting, no more carb counting, and no more fat clothes or fat days! BUT they don’t release any information about what to do, unless you click on the links, sign up, and order the book.

slim sexy diet

I must say, they do a good job of marketing this new diet, its catchy and I assume many desperate women fall into their trap and order the materials. However, they do not use any researchers names, nor provide links to outside resources or external studies.  They provide no evidence this diet has worked for anyone. Unfortunately, I think many people would love to stop blaming themselves for extra weight and will indeed give this a try, but I also think there will be an audience who shrugs this message off and moves on quickly to something that provides more evidence and substantial advice.

Will someone please check out the page and let me know if it’s something you’d try or not?!

NP 4/16

Eat Well, and be Happy!

I’ve been reading a lot of articles in EatingWell magazine recently and I just started to explore their diet and weight loss section. I found what they call, the EatingWell Diet. The great part about this diet is that it is a model for permanent weight loss and it’s all about ensuring you are ready and can commit to a lifestyle change. The article, “7 Steps to Permanent Weight Loss,” describes the seven steps one should take in order to sustain long-term weight loss.

  1. Make sure you’re ready for change
  2. Set goals
  3. Track yourself
  4. Eat mindfully
  5. Commit to move here
  6. Get support
  7. Have a long-term plan

Each goal is broken down and explained in a short paragraph, and then has a “read more” option with a link to a more detailed description of the goal, how to achieve it, and useful tools to use such as a food diary, an exercise log, and a goal setting worksheet. The interactive article gives readers the ability to browse quickly and see if they are interested, and then indulge further into the information and explore it in detail.

My favorite goal is # 4, Eat mindfully; “ healthy eating means getting a variety of foods in moderation—not making any food forbidden.” I personally wanted to explore this goal in more detail so I started clicked on the “read more” link. The page was extremely interactive and supporting. It first provided a simple suggestion on how to ensure your meal is healthy by dividing your plate into sections of  ½ vegetables, ¼ whole grains, and ¼ lean meat. Throughout the information it provided multiple links to resources to make sure you are keeping on track. On the side bar there were links to each of the other six goals, and a section with links about more information on the EatingWell Diet.

It contains information for different readers depending on their commitment and level of diet they want to achieve. It supports individuals rather than suggesting that one method will work for everyone. I think it’s a wonderful tool for people to start exploring a healthier lifestyle at a time and pace that is convenient for them.

I urge you to go explore the EatingWell Diet and let me know what you think! I’d like to hear if anything special jumped out at you that you didn’t know before, or that you think could be the key to your diet success!

NP 4/9

Portion size DOES matter, even if it’s healthy!

As I continue to indulge in diet food media week after week I’ve been noticing some trends. As you know, I’m the first one to say I don’t believe in dieting. But just because I don’t think we should be cutting complete food groups out of our diet, doesn’t mean I don’t think we should still be watching our portion size and total calorie intake.

mindless consumption

I’ve been paying attention to all of these juice cleanses, healthy fat increases, and other healthy eating habits that are encouraged, and I’ve noticed they seem to be encouraged without limitations. We still need to watch what we eat, or else slowly we start to eat mindlessly and consume much more than we should. Brian Wansink’s article, “Food Illusions, Why We Eat More Than We Think We Eat,”  discusses why certain cues such as shape, size, type of snack, and distance from food prompt us to consume more or less without thinking about it.

Wansick discuesses how food cues affect our eating habits.  One huge problem is that certain eating behaviors have become so automatic that our population doesn’t think about the consequences. For example, his studies show if you give people a larger bowl or package of some food they will eat more of it compared to their counterparts who had a smaller bowl.  However, both people will think they’ve eaten the same amount.  The catch is, the cues are hard to avoid because they have been ingrained in our lifestyle for so long. Wansick suggests this is because they are based on cognitive control, which is why so many diets aren’t successful,  “it takes so much cognitive effort, it becomes a full-time job.”

stone souoWhere we really need to watch out is when we are talking about how much we eat. Wansink said most people watch what they eat, but not how much, “People may decide to eat Chinese food instead of pizza or fruit instead of potato chips because they’re healthier. But once they make that initial choice, they tend to not monitor how much they eat. A pound of grapes isn’t calorie free.” Ah hah, can anyone own up to this?

I decided to I wanted to see this for myself so I did a little bit of observing this weekend. I sat downtown at Stone Soup. Stone Soup is a locally owned cafe with a hot and cold bar filled with vegetarian, and vegan goodness. From bean casseroles and sweet potatoes,  to steamed kale and the salad bar, there are so many combinations of healthy meals to be made. I watched as people filled their plates, and I mean filled. People were not monitoring their portions whatsoever.  Most people ate every last bite on their plate. The plates provided are also very large, leading people to fill their plate. I believe people then finish it because as Wansick said, when people eat buffet style they want to get their money’s worth. These innocent people probably did not think about the plate size, or the fact they should overeat because they are paying for it, these cues just come natural because of our societies eating trends over the years.

salad_barSo, just because foods are healthy does not mean they have less calories. I myself admit that I don’t watch my calorie count because I think most of what I eat is healthy. But, if we get in the mindset of not keeping track, it may lead to increasing portion size beyond what we need.

This habit of mindless consumption is bound to happen because of the busy lifestyles we live, but in terms of dieting I think this misleading mindset that healthy food does not have many calories could be detrimental to our overall health and wellbeing. These ideas could lead the general public to forget about calories and over indulge in healthy options.

WP 4/5

It’s grapefruit season!

As spring approaches, I get excited- it’s grapefruit season. It’s not unusual for me to eat 2-4 grapefruits per day while I have a case of them sitting in my kitchen. This past week I found myself eating them with all my meals, as snacks, and even muddling fresh grapefruit to make cocktails. All of this grapefruit action has led to me to think about the well-known grapefruit diet.

grapefruit

I have to admit I’ve never really familiarized myself with this diet, I’ve always just known grapefruits have few calories, are high in vitamin C, and have been viewed as slimming agents- so hey I had reason enough to them.

I wanted to figure out why grapefruits are seen as this miracle food.  I came across an article; Can Grapefruit Really Make You Slim? The article links to a study from 2003 to 2008, co-authored by Gail Rampesaud, RD. Rampesaud discusses the science behind the grapefruit and suggests why grapefruit lovers seem to weigh less than those who don’t eat grapefruit. She said, “Consuming fruits and vegetables with a high water content, like grapefruit, helps you feel fuller and more satisfied on fewer calories.” I really appreciate this simplistic reason because it’s something the general public can understand without knowing about certain nutritive qualities.

I love coming across information that suggests why the particular food in a diet is the agent for weight loss, rather than reading about diets that purely inhibit us to eat certain foods.  Due to my skepticism of fad diets, I was searching to find out what exactly was the source of weight loss in the grapefruit diet. So lets look at the grapefruit, Rampersaud says the fruit is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium, but she said there is no evidence that the grapefruit includes any “magical fat-burning ingredient,” which was the claim for the original grapefruit diet. The original diet also include eating a lot of lean protein and water as well as the grapefruits. This quick peak at the grapefruit does a good job of highlighting its nutritional qualities, without making claims that it’s the only piece of the puzzle.

I’m not trying to pull apart the traditional grapefruit diet that’s been known for over 30 years, I just think it’s important to look at the components of the foods you are eating and understand why they may increase weight loss. The article concludes by suggesting other water-rich foods that can be eaten that may have similar slimming effects as grapefruit.

So can grapefruit really make you slim? Well we quickly just saw what characteristics grapefruits hold that can help aid with weight loss, but it also seems pretty hard to believe that the fruit contains any magical secret ingredient. So, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to eat half of a grapefruit with every meal, but unfortunately it takes more than just the grapefruit to slim down.

Are there any other grapefruit lovers out there?

NP 4/2

It’s not the season for a quick fix diet if you want to keep the weight off!

As we are starting to see a touch of sunshine and sign or two of spring coming to Vermont, people are getting anxious about shedding a layer of weight so they can show off their new spring wardrobe. Unfortunately as this season approaches every year, people strive to find a quick fix to boost their confidence. The real fix, however  lays right in front of them -all year round moderation and an intuitive eating approach.eat happy

I’m sure if you’ve been following Lo Cal Living you’ve noticed by now I am not a fan of quick-fix fad diets, but I am a promoter of eating a healthy well-rounded diet with splurges every now and then. I receive e-mail updates from Fitness magazine, which often shares ideas about quick ways to exercise, loose weight, or the most recent diet. I find Fitness usually uses celebrities or individuals who are known in the media to promote how they lost weight quickly by following the latest fad diet or working out while consuming minimal calories. I often quickly delete these, but this week an article caught my eye called The Anti-Diet: How Not Dieting is the Key to Loosing Weight. This article  discusses this idea that if we stop focusing so much on restricting our eating habits, we’ll actually end up eating less.

fitness

The article includes a personal biography from Jill Carlson, 36 who has an ice cream fetish. Rather than restricting herself, she filled her freezer full of Ben and Jerry’s and allowed herself to eat all she wanted when she wanted. In a short time she realized she had a less of a desire to eat it everyday, and could easily monitor her portion size. The article then discusses the approach of intuitive eating with professional studies, and concludes with Jill’s story.  Towards the end of the article she said, “I’m eating healthier because I realize I have more energy and better digestion when I do,” she says. “My relationship with food and my body is more peaceful, and the weight loss is just a side effect of that. That makes me feel really powerful.” I find this to be sincere and I think this is a really influential article because of its personal touch mixed in with scientific evidence.

ben and jerrys

The article includes an interview with Barbara Meyer the program director for a nondieting weight-loss retreat for women who explains the one-sided  relationship we have with food perfectly, “We’ve had distorted relationships with food for a long time; dieting disconnects you from how food makes your body feel.” I  completely agree, but that’s not going to come if we dwell on what we can’t eat all the time. The powerful and personal quotes that this article includes target an audience who has struggled with finding a healthy balanced relationship with food. The article also integrates research that supports this intuitive-eating style, “According to researchers at Brigham Young University, people who scored high on an intuitive-eating scale not only had less anxiety about food and got more enjoyment from eating but also had lower BMIs.” The integration of factual information along with a personal touch from a women who has seen success through this model, makes the article all the more relevant and believable to many dieters.

So what do you all think?  I’d love to hear about it if anyone wants to do a trial run and share how it goes!

NP 3/26

Great interview on FAD diets from a leading figure of a TV channel!

cocorosepicks

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Director of Sky channel FitnessTV, Charlie Louise in an exclusive interview. She talks about her personal experience with FAD diets and what she thinks is needed to achieve healthy weight loss.

Q: Why do you think people are drawn to FAD diets?

A: For the majority of people it is due to the media. FAD diets are labeled quick fixes. The idea of changing your body shape in a space of a week or less is unachievable. A lifestyle change is the only way you will maintain your weight loss, and you’ll end up loosing more weight by changing your lifestyle diet. Celebrities who publicly announce what fad diet they do is also detrimental to the health/fitness industry, it is irresponsible for their fans to hear this as they might try to emulate this unhealthy diet.

Q: Being a leading figure of a TV channel, do you think it’s important…

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