When I was a kid I heard that egg yolks were full of saturated fat and bad. If you have high cholesterol, you should limit egg consumption to 2-3 per week. And, though that was years ago, people still ask me about eggs and at first seem perplexed when I tell them to go ahead and eat the yolk.
It’s no secret that people who move to the U.S. from other countries are likely to experience a something bigger than the American Dream – an expansion in their waistline. Food is everywhere, our serving sizes are huge and we eat on the run, wolfing down copious amounts of sugar and fat in the process. As if the empty calories weren’t enough, these foods may turn on a genetic switch to obesity.
A recently published article took on a brewing battle between diets: low carb versus low fat. Which is best for weight loss? They took 106 overweight and obese people and put them on a reduced calorie (1433 – 1672 calories) very low carbohydrate diet (4% of calories) or low fat diet for a year and measured weight loss, well-being, mood and memory. Sixty-five people stuck with the diet over a year and lost an average of about 30 lbs each. There were no significant between group differences in weight lost.
Despite the equal weight loss between groups, the people on the very low carbohydrate diet were more likely to have experienced an unfavorable mood. Now, the take home message here, if misconstrued by the media, might be to eat your carbohydrates and ditch the fat but, here’s the key: both diets were calorie restricted. Just cutting down on fat and eating bread and pasta like it’s going out of style will get you no where, I promise. And, keep in mind that they ate a very low carbohydrate diet – just 4% of calories (a maximum of about 16 grams of carbohydrate – the amount in a very small apple). I’d be downright grouchy and confused too if I ate just 16 grams of carbs a day. So, yes, you can go on either very low carb or low fat (or actually do a low carbohydrate vs. very low carbohydrate) diet and see results…… if, you stick with it and in the case of the low fat diet, you better be counting your calories too.
This study differs from many low carbohydrate studies (including the Atkins Diet) because some low carb approaches don’t restrict calories which can make things a bit easier – just eat when you want but opt for low to no carb foods.
So here’s my take-home message: a person’s diet should depend in part on the research and largely on what they are willing to do that fits into their lifestyle. Low carb, low fat, counting calories, people vary tremendously in what they can realistically stick with. And having a come to truth meeting with yourself first will pay off in the end.
I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories about Thanksgiving food. Hundreds of calories and a load of fat your favorite stuffing, gravy-soaked deep fried turkey and of course Aunt Betty’s homemade sweet potato casserole. And, of course, all of these are proceeded by hours of eating chips, dips and drinking beer or mixed beverages.
Regardless of the tally on Thanksgiving Day, I’m going to step out on a limb and tell you to ditch your diet. That’s right, skip it. Why? Because it’s one day. Now, I’m not handing out a license to eat enough for a linebacker – to the point where you end up with a massive food hangover by 8pm, but, I do think there are a few good reasons why you shouldn’t count your calories this Thursday.
First, like I mentioned, it’s one day. And, in general, if we overeat but really listen to our body the next day we won’t be very hungry and probably undereat a little (combined with massive mall-walking starting at 4am on Black Friday).
Second, the weight people gain over the Holiday Spread – from Halloween through the New Year is a result of eating anything and everything their eyes see with the mindset that they’ll start their diet in the New Year. If you eat a little more on Thanksgiving day, that’s fine. Overeat for 2 months straight and you’ll wake up on January 2nd wondering why you needed all those glasses of wine and mixed drinks, sugar cookies, casseroles and less than delicious office party fare.
Lastly, I think people should enjoy Thanksgiving Day and focus a little less on food and calories and more on being thankful. By doing this they won’t binge eat to the point of destruction.
And now I need to sign off and go play with my 5 year old nephew who informed his parents that I went to his little sister’s Thanksgiving party today but missed his at the same school last year. And for that I’m thankful – that he notices when I miss his events and gives me a hard time about it. With all of the toys, games and TV shows that capture the attention of small children, I’m lucky to have an important place in their lives – yet another thing to add to my list this Thanksgiving.
Two summers back I prepared for the arrival of a few special house guests: my 5 & 3 year old nephews and 1 year old niece (oh, and their parents). I eagerly stocked my fridge with my nephews favorite foods, bought tattoos, bouncy balls and tickets to a Braves game and the aquarium.
When I was a kid I thought most Italians resembled Tony Soprano or his friends – brown hair, brown eyes, overweight or obese with thick gold chains around their necks. To my relief, my first trip to Italy proved me very wrong and made me realize that the Italians in America picked up their love of thick gold chains here and they are overweight or obese for one reason: they embraced the American way of living. Italians in Italy are, for the most part, slim. In fact, in my grandparents hometown many residents are what Americans would call “very skinny.”
According to one of the foremost experts on physical activity, Steven Blair, PhD, our nation’s collective lack of physical activity is “the biggest public health problem of the 21st century.” Now of course Dr. Blair is going to say this – physical activity is his profession, he is a professor of exercise science and epidemiology at the University of South Carolina. But, I happen to agree with him for some of the same reasons he passionately discusses every day in addition to some first hand experience.
This past month I spent some quality time in 7 airports in 4 different states and 3 countries. All were vastly different in regard to food offered, food availability and prices. I learned that food is a complete afterthought in Milian, Italy (more on that in another blog), the Denver airport is so clean you can eat off the floors, and in JFK you’ll end up sitting on the floor (which by the way is far from clean).
Marking the worst promotional idea I’ve ever seen, Burger King announced the “Windows 7 Whooper” – a gut busting 7 patty sandwich that celebrates the launch of Windows 7 (a program that makes me even more thankful for my IMac).