Confusing Health Articles Take a Beating

21 04 2010

Loves!  Happy Humpday to you, my fabulous people.

I know I forced you to endure my opinion about menu transparency last night, but I have one more thing to talk about.  I’m sorry!  I just can’t hold it in.  I promise celebrity tabloid lovin’, MAC Makeup obsessed, high-heel touting KD will be back tomorrow.  You don’t mind anyway, do you? 


I didn’t think so!

Every morning when I get to work, I briefly check CNN for nothing more than major headlines.  It’s a quick two seconds and helps me feel in touch with the world until I can read the articles at leisure on my own time.  Generally, the text of the article doesn’t tell me much more than the headline (Isn’t that funny?!?) except for when it comes to health-related articles.  Instead, health-related pieces tend to elaborate in ways that are not only confusing, but often seem contradictory to something else I just read. 

Frankly, I’m SICK OF IT.  And, here’s why.

Today’s example will focus on this article.  If you don’t want to read the entire thing, here’s the KD synopsis: Too much sugar in one’s diet is bad for overall health.  Try not to be blown away by this news.

I have so many issues with this article that I’m not quite sure where to begin. 

[Spinning around, closing eyes and picking random point Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Donkey style].

How about here:  The study, to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, highlights a trend some nutritionists consider disturbing: In recent years, the typical American’s diet has increasingly incorporated added sugars. The authors defined them as ‘caloric sweeteners used by the food industry and consumers as ingredients in processed or prepared foods to increase the desirability of those foods’.”

What the heck does this even mean?  Better yet, how does it help people like you & I?  After reading that, I am now informed that I probably eat too much sugar and it’s not all my fault because the food industry is dumping sugar into foods I eat.  While that might help to identify the problem, it does not help to identify the culprit (never mind a solution)

This is America, people!  Asking our society to “just say no” to any and all processed foods is just ludicrous.  To solve our problems, we have to be realistic!  It’s not good enough to tell people that processed foods have added sugar.  (DUH!  Of course they do!)  Instead, we need an article that not only discusses processed foods having too much sugar, but also easy swaps at the grocery store to help curb the problem.

I’ve discussed my love of the NuVal concept before and this article only reinforces the need for these types of ratings in our day-to-day life.  It’s so crucial to elaborate on articles such as this one.  People need to SEE which manufactures are the biggest culprits.  Of course, I don’t know any by heart without doing the research, but I would almost guarantee that certain companies are bigger “sugar offenders” than others.  These “studies” should not only focus on the overall problem of processed foods, but also on calling out these corporations.  If these types of specifics were given, people may tend to stray from certain products.

And then there’s this: Data from the mid-1990s show that 15.8 percent of the typical American’s diet was composed of added sugar — 21.4 teaspoons or 359 calories per day. That’s up from 10.6 percent in 1977-1978. Added sugars have been linked to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.”

Mm hmm.  So, if I’m reading that correctly, these folks are relying on data from the MID-1990’S.  You want to know how old I was in 1995?  Twelve.  TWELVE!  I think it’s safe to say that A LOT has changed since 1995.  If the sugar problem was “up” at that time, one can only begin to fathom what it is now.

Let’s continue because this is my favorite part: 

“The researchers studied 6,113 adults enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Interviewers called them and asked what they had eaten the previous day, then estimated the total added sugar in each person’s diet.

Participants were then separated into groups: Those who got less than 5 percent of total calories from added sugar; 5 percent to less than 10 percent; 10 percent to less than 17.5 percent; 17.5 percent to less than 25 percent; and 25 percent or more.

 Those in the highest-consuming added sugar group eat about 46 teaspoons of added sugar per day, the study said. Those who consumed more added sugar tended to be younger, non-Latino blacks with low income, it said.”

 As previously mentioned, this information is WAY too vague to hold any weight!  It does not mention where these people are from or what the average age is.  In addition, it simply says participants were asked what they ate the day before.  It’s pretty clear that a large amount of them ate too much sugar on the questioned day.  But, are there any trends specified from their diets?  OF COURSE NOT! 

 How can we expect people to take a look at their own diets if suggestions are not offered?  Sure, anyone reading this can realize that they have to cut sugar from their diets.  But, other than cutting back the sugar poured in one’s coffee and laying off cookies, do you think the average person knows what to look for on a nutrition label to seek out the added sugar?  I’d say “no”.  Heck – I find this stuff so interesting and I still get completely confused and wonder if my pineapple Chobani is worth the extra sugar splurge.

 We need to EDUCATE our society, as opposed to telling people that certain things are “good” and “bad”.  We must begin by creating an emphasis on REAL food and then tackle processed foods one group at a time, highlighting the companies that work hard to provide convenient health food and pointing out the ones that offer little-to-no nutritional significance (NuVal, anyone?!?)

 If money were no object, I would travel the country and speak at schools nationwide.  I would invite parents to my talks (two birds with one stone) and focus on how the proper food can help one’s body run like a fine-tuned machine.  This is basically my dream job.  However, this would be quite difficult when the “experts” on health can’t seem to come to an agreement on sugar, cholesterol, etc ,etc.  I feel as though I could speak to students and confidently say, “Apples are healthy”.  And, that’s about it. 

Okay, a bit dramatic, but that’s how I feel.  Every day, there seems to be a new “trend” or “fad” associated with eating well.  It’s ridiculous!  It’s not difficult to see why eating well is confusing!

 The government does a fine job with My Pyramid, but it’s not advertised like the crazy articles I’m always reading!  First, egg yolks were bad for your cholesterol and now they’re okay again.  Even this sugar article reads, “The Institute of Medicine recommends no more than 25 percent of total energy from added sugars; the World Health Organization recommends less than 10 percent; and the American Heart Association has recently advised no more than 100 calories per day for women and 150 calories per day for men, which works out to about 5 percent.”

 It appears as though no one can determine how much sugar is too much.  I searched My Pyramid’s site, as I believe they hold the most weight in matters such as this.  Honestly, I couldn’t find any recommendation other than to keep unhealthy fats and sugars at the “top” of your pyramid, i.e. use them sparingly.  To top this off, My Pyramid describes added sugars in this list.  I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t help me identify if my pineapple Chobani is loaded with sugars because it doesn’t take the time to identify what the average amount of natural sugar is in a yogurt.

 Granted, this is probably on the milk page, but how many people are going to take the time to look this up?  Even I’m too lazy!  I propose My Pyramid create a “cheat sheet” of sorts that they advertise via a press release.  I’m sick and tired of hearing from all of these other studies, which can never seem to get their facts straight.  I want to hear from my GOVERNMENT, as opposed to individual studies.

 Lastly, I’d like to touch on the fact that this article mentions low-income persons as being the worst “sugar offenders.”  Truthfully, I’m sick of hearing that people with low-incomes have a worse diet than those that don’t.  WHY do we keep discussing this as fact instead of a solution to fix the problem?  Rather than reiterating the fact that healthy food is costly and food stamps (assuming these folks use them) barely buy a day’s worth of food (it breaks my heart), we need to TAKE ACTION if we expect the problem to get better.

 I think the current White House is on the right track.  First Lady, Michelle Obama, is working hard to introduce better foods in our schools and get kids moving.  This keeps me hopeful that if kids aren’t getting the right stuff at home, they might be getting it at school in the future.  However, I don’t think this is enough.  I’d love to see “community gardens” similar to a CSA, but “of the people, by the people, for the people” (NAME THAT QUOTE!).  I would love to see community gardens that sell fresh produce at discounted prices to those in lower-income areas.  Perhaps they already exist, but I don’t know of any.  (American Community Garden Association does exist, but they appear to mostly plant flowers in urban areas, as opposed to food.  I did a quick search of my area and, apparently, an elementary school near Boston has a veggie garden, but the profile hasn’t been updated since 2007 so I’m not sure if that’s true.)

 If you’re still here and read all of that, I thank you.  I know I tend to go off on certain topics, but I’m a firm believer in discussing all issues, no matter how small.  Granted, this is kind of a one-way street, but I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments section!  This exact freedom of speech is exactly what makes America such a fantastic place to live, as it gives us the forum to bounce ideas and frustrations back-and-forth.  This has become the foundation of every great idea in history.  If we allow a topic to go silent, then we are truly accepting it as part of reality and I refuse to let that be the case with our health!

 I’ll leave you with a much lighter topic: My food!  I didn’t eat anything out of the norm today, so I’ll simply leave you with pictures :smile:

Breakfast: Scrambled egg beaters with whole wheat english muffin (topped with ICBINBL and Polaner all-fruit strawberry spread)

Lunch: Southwestern Stuffed Pepper (even better reheated!), strawberries and grapes


Dinner: Reheated some lasagna I had stashed in the freezer (Still SO good…Love freezing meals!) with roasted broccoli

I roasted my broccoli at 375 for 30 minutes.  This makes them SUPER crispy.  I envision that this is what kale chips are supposed to taste like minus the putrid stem.  I will try those again soon and will remove all stems!

One last thought before I go (other than GO BRUINS!):  If you ever write me a comment with a question in it, be sure to check it again because I do try to answer them all!

 Question of the day:  Would you volunteer at a community garden if you knew it was helping those who were less fortunate than you?

Classic Lasagna is Getting Slim

29 03 2010

Hey, hey, hey!

How did Monday treat everyone?!? 

I woke up in a MUCH better mood from where I last left you guys!  And thank goodness because it was pouring here  If my mood was sour on top it, the day would have been a total drag!

Good news though:  The weekend forecast looks like we might hit 77 degrees on Easter.  Can you believe it?!?  I am SO stoked.  I just hope it comes true!!

Plus, I was so grateful to your comments about not beating myself up.  You guys make me smile :smile:

Before we get into things tonight, I’d like to take you back to December 2009.  As always, the end of the year is exhausting and I found 2009 to be no different than any other.  However, this is the first time that I could truly feel exhaustion set in.  I’m talking the kind of tired where you couldn’t pay me to go to the gym.  The thought of it made me want to cry.  That is SO not like me, so I did a little soul-searching and came up with this conclusion: When you exercise 5 – 6 a week for an entire year (or more than a year in my case), it takes its toll on you mentally and physically.  By the time December rolls around and there are social events to attend and presents to buy, this exhaustion only seems amplified. 

Therefore, I came up with a solution for myself, as to not get overwhelmed by December in 2010.  I decided that every quarter (can you tell I work in the business world?), I would take a week off from working out.  I figured that this would not only be a great physical break, but also a much-needed mental exercise for me.  I wanted to teach myself that with mindful eating, I could take a week off without ill effects.

Well, guess what?  The quarter ends THIS WEEK :shock:   I can hardly believe it myself.  While the idea of resting sounds ah-mazing (3 months is the perfect time to take a break!), I looked at the week ahead, which consists of:

  • Fish N Chips date with parents on Friday (Fried deliciousness…I can’t wait!  And, don’t judge!  We’re Portuguese and it’s tradition, all right?)
  • Easter Candy
  • Easter Dinner
  • Mini Cadbury eggs (Yes, these require their own bullet)

Through further analysis, I didn’t think taking a week off would be best served during this week of indulgence. So, I made a compromise.  This week would be comprised of hour-long cardio workouts.  As I’ve mentioned previously, P90X starts a week from today, so I really wanted to take time off of lifting and allow my muscles to rest up.  After my cardio sessions, I vowed to stretch the way I should stretch every day (I often rush it).

With this being said, I had a great cardio workout this morning and am looking forward to my new lifting routine next week.  I did a classic pyramid this time, as follows:

0 – 5 min: 4.0 – 4.7
5 – 10 min: 6.3
10 – 20 min: 6.5
20 – 30 min: 6.7
30 – 40 min: 6.5
40 – 45 min: 6.3
Total Mileage: 4.69

I actually wanted to stay on the treadmill for the remainder of my workout, but I ended up getting a ferocious cramp in the last few minutes, so opted off the treadmill.  I then hopped onto the elliptical and continued to grind it out for an additional 20 mintues.  I then stretched and stretched and it felt SO good!

I want to talk briefly about P90X and our decision to do this program.  I feel as though I keep discussing it without further detail, which is kind of annoying, wouldn’t you say? 

Mr. KD and I have been seeing the infommercials for P90 for almost two years now.  We always said that “someday” we’d do it.  Well, Mr. KD turns 30 in a few weeks and we figured now was the perfect time, especially because we have an empty room in our house perfect for the two of us to exercise side-by-side.

To read about P90X in detail, you can click here.  To summarize it for those of you that are not interested in reading on your own, P90X is centered around the idea of “muscle confusion.”  This means that over the course of 90 days, we will perform 12 workouts via DVDs that are constantly switching things up for our muscles.  There are basic weight training days for chest/back/legs/shoulders, plyometrics (lots of jumpting), kenpo (think Tae Bo on speed) and even yoga.  The program runs consistently for 90 days straight with a rest/stretch day on every seventh day.  We are choosing to start on a Monday, so that every Sunday will be our rest/stretch day.

There are three workouts to choose from: Classic, 2-A-Day and Lean.  Classic is obviously just as it is, while 2-a-day is for conditioned athletes that are looking for that extra workout (um, no thanks).  Lean is targeted specifically at women who would like a bit more cardio in their routine.  Of course, this sounds great to me, but Mr. KD was less than impressed, so we’re opting for Classic.

I’ve talked to two people (one male, one female) that have completed (or are completing) the Classic routine to gather their thoughts on it.  While the male loved every aspect about it, the female admits that it’s extremely motivating on a weight-lifting aspect.  However, she wishes there were more cardio.

Considering I am just starting to get better at running, I really don’t want to give it up.  I also expect that this is going to be the most physically grueling activity I’ve ever done.  BUT, I must try to do both.  If it’s too much for me, I’ll stop.  I don’t want ot overexert myself, but to begin, I’m going to attempt cardio 4 days a week in addition to the program.  My plan is to do it M/T/Th/F.  This way, I won’t be here, there and everywhere on a Saturday morning and I’ll take Wednesday as a day off of cardio.  This is going to be tough for me because mentally as I am used to doing cardio at a minimum of 5 days (and I love those Saturday runs).  The reason I stress mentally is because if you’ve ever seen the P90 commercials, you know I’m still in for some serious cardio.  I promise – if it becomes too much - I will stop.

Now, exercise is only one piece of the puzzle.  Nutrition is obviously a huge component to look like the folks on the commercials.  Mr. KD and I gave the meal plan (it accompanies the workouts) a lot of thought over the past few weeks.  We have both come to the conclusion that we’re going to eat well, but not follow the plan.

Now before you get in a tizzy, I realize that I’m not going to walk away with a six-pack unless I cut out almost all sugar and truly deplete my carbs in the beginning (this is phase 1 of the plan).  To be honest, it’s not worth that much to me right now.  We’ve talked about this a little in the past.  I’ve come too far to be controlled by a meal plan and to turn down social engagments because I have to eat a certain salad at a certain time.  Ick.  The thought of it makes me scoff.

Instead, I’m following these rules for myself:

  • Incorporate more protein into meals and snacks
  • Eat 5 small meals a day (right now, I only eat 4)
  • Limit desserts as much as possible (I’m really going to try, but in the beginning, I’m nibbling on my Easter candy.  Please don’t judge)
  • Eat lots of fruits and veggies
  • Eat all of my calories (1800 is recommeneded for my weight under this program)

If I follow these rules, I may not look like the women on the commercial, but I should definitely look like a better version of myself.  That’s all I can ask for!

As of right now, I see two major roadblocks: a girls’ weekend I planned forever ago during the weekend of April 16th (I WILL miss a workout here…so I guess I’m P89-ing?  I’m not happy about it, but what can you do?) and my birthday, Mr. KD’s bday AND my dad’s bday all fall in the last weekend of April.  Can you say lots of cake and lots of going out to dinner?

Other than that, I plan to think of new, clean dinners and lunches Mr. KD and I can have.  It will certainly take some time getting used to since I am SO used to the gym, but I think it will be great to switch it up.  I get so bored with my weight lifting routine and this will be a welcome change.  In addition, it will be great to workout WITH Mr. KD, which is something our schedules don’t allow for now.  I’m excited!

One more thing while we’re on this topic:  I’m looking for a protein bar that I can snack on after cardio/before I start the DVD.  Any suggestions?  I was thinking the Think Thin bars because they are high in protein yet low in sugar.  I know you should refuel after a lifting session with protein, but I figured this would be what my breakfast was for.

Okay, now onto today’s eats!

Breakfast was the remainder of my Saturday oatmeal with some egg beaters.  Lots of protein here and it held me over well until lunch!

Now, here’s where my pics get a little confusing.  I packed up some Curried Chicken Salad in a whole wheat pita with some pineapple.  However, I decided I wanted to save the pineapple for my snack and swaped it out for the plum that was supposed to be my snack.  Are you with me?  So, I take a bite out of the plum and it was gross.  All mushy.  Ick.  So, I then purchased an orange to enjoy with my sandwich instead.  No pic, but I’m sure you know what an orange looks like :wink:  

I also purchased a small side salad from the caf that I couldn’t photograph.  It contained mixed greens, red onions, ~ tbsp feta and ~1.5 tsp sunflower seeds.  I drizzled it with olive oil and balsamic. 

This curried chicken was SO yummy!  If you enjoy curry flavor, you will love this!  And the texture of the Granny Smith in there is to die for.  So delish!  Sorry that the pic is so boring!  Just picture it next to a small salad and orange!

Snack time was plain Greek yogurt, drizzeld with agave, ~ tsp vanilla and cinnamon.  You know what?  I thought it was pretty good!  This is the reason I saved my pineapple.  I mixed it up with the fresh pineapple and found it quite tasty!  It was still no Chobani pineapple, but it was good :wink:

Omit the plum, please.

Add: pineapple

Now, onto dinner and the lasagna recipe I promised you!  This is a classic lasagna, made healthy by Ronzoni Healthy Harvest pasta (It’s the recipe located on the back of the box).  I follow their recipe almost exactly, but add a few of my own spices here and there.  You can also view it online here under “Healthy Harvest Easy Lasagna”.

Now, many of you may be wondering why I share so many recipes that aren’t my own.  Well, sillies, it’s because recipes are meant to be shared and if I find one from a website that is healthy and tastes great, I want to share it with you even if it isn’t my own idea!  Glad we cleared that up :wink:

Below is the modified version in which I used more seasonings:


1lb ground beef
3 cups (26 oz jar) spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 3/4 cups (15 oz container) ricotta or small curd cottage cheese (I use 1% cottage cheese)
2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper
Dried basil
Italian seasoning
9 pieces Ronzoni Healthy Harves lasagna, uncooked


Heat oven to 350°F. In 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, brown meat; drain. Add spaghetti sauce and water; simmer about 10 minutes and sprinkle mixture with dried basil. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, one-half mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning (to taste), garlic powder (to taste), onion powder (to taste) and crushed red pepper (to taste)  Pour about 1 cup sauce on bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish. Arrange 3 UNCOOKED pasta pieces lengthwise over sauce; cover with 1 cup sauce. Spread one-half cheese filling over sauce. Repeat layers of lasagna, sauce and cheese filling. Top with layer of lasagna and remaining sauce; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese and dried basil and bake additional 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

The box says it makes 12 servings, but I find that to be way small.  Instead, I cut it into 10.  We will be putting A LOT of lasagna in the freezer!!

I served it tonight with some roasted broccoli.

Layers of cheesy and beefy deliciousness.  So comforting on a rainy day!

After dinner, I might have some warmed almond milk with Cafe Mocha swirled in.  I’m also thinking about a vegan cookie.  Gotta get those desserts in while I can :wink:

Until we eat again…

Question of the day:  Are you right-handed or left-handed?

I’m a leftie, but only for writing.  I pretty much do everything else with my right hand and I can eat with both, depending on what is most convenient to my surroundings, i.e. on the outside of a booth, I’m going righty!