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Pantry Raid: A diet of good intentions

Most of us are too plump and are overly fond of snacks, fast food — and food in general. So why did two lean young women who dine on smoothies and organic fruits and vegetables (how unimpeachable does that sound) seek help cleaning up their act?

May Haduong, 33, and Frances Motiwalla, 34, just had this sense they were slaves to each passing fad (greens! organic! flaxseed! gluten-free!) and were building up their eating rules in a haphazard, unscientific way.

“We’ve sort of made it up in our heads,” Haduong says: whirring up slurries of kale, beet greens, frozen fruits and celery in the blender in their pint-sized kitchen twice a day (down to once a day when Motiwalla couldn’t take it anymore). Buying $55 cans of raw, vegan, organic sprouted-rice protein powder. Culturing (in Motiwalla’s case) kombucha, a type of fermented tea. And busting out (in Haduong’s case) for afternoon feeding frenzies on Crispix cereal.

“We kind of think it’s healthy,” Haduong says of the diet, “but is it really?”

Adds Motiwalla: “We’ve been doing the same thing over and over again, and it’s getting a little bit routine.”

Registered dietitian Lisa Gibson of Irvine visited the couple’s Echo Park home, sifted through contents of freezer, fridge and cupboards, and then talked with them about their habits and goals, which include saving money.

There was much Gibson liked about what Motiwalla and Haduong did. There were other things that bothered her. They weren’t getting enough nourishment, for one thing: “Most people don’t get enough green leafy vegetables — but they were actually getting too much of those and not enough of other nutrients,” she says.

Some of their measures were unnecessary, costing them cash for no real gain. And Gibson just felt they were cheating their taste buds.

Read on for the results of the Motiwalla-Haduong Pantry Raid — and, for contrast, go online to our collection of past columns to see very different kinds of dietary makeovers.

What the pair do right:

They don’t eat much fast and processed food. Their kitchen is loaded with frozen produce, steel-cut oatmeal, nuts. About the only processed items to be found in their freezer were Korean dumplings and gelato. (OK, Gibson can live with that.)

They don’t overeat: Both are slim. (They’ve lost about 5 pounds apiece, in fact, since they went on their smoothie regimen.)

They eat lots — lots! — of fruits and vegetables. (Gibson encourages them to make sure they sample a wide range.)

They put most of the rest of America to shame in these three ways.

What needs tweaking:

They’re not taking in enough calories — which may be why Haduong attacks the Crispix box in the afternoon. “Your body is saying, ‘I need more food,'” Gibson says.

They don’t exercise or eat much dairy. Since they’re thin and small-boned, they run the risk of developing osteoporosis. Gibson recommends that they ramp up some on milk, yogurt or cheese and start weight-bearing exercise (even something as simple as walking for half an hour a day) to save their skeletons.

Their diet is unnecessarily harsh: They’re subbing real meals for smoothies for no real good reason. “Part of food is enjoying the taste of it, liking to cook, and you’ve eliminated that part,” Gibson tells them. No need to cut out the smoothies altogether — they’re convenient, the couple like them better than eating greens in salad form — but why not diversify? They should also consider adding Greek yogurt to the smoothies to give them more protein and calories.

They need more protein — but they don’t need expensive protein powder. “Just eat real food,” Gibson says. An egg is a lot cheaper than the equivalent in powder and every bit as good. She also recommends cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, chicken and beans. The couple should be aiming for 5 to 6 ounces of protein spread out over the course of the day to provide steady fuel for their bodies and satisfy their hunger pangs.

Haduong avoids gluten. Does she need to, or has she latched on to the fad du jour? Gibson notes that only 1% of the population actually has celiac disease and maybe 4% to 5% more have a gluten intolerance. Cutting out gluten if you don’t have those problems makes for an overly restrictive diet. Haduong says she feels better and has less joint paint when she’s gluten-free, but Gibson encourages her to experiment with adding a whole wheat items back to her diet for the fiber and nutrients they contain.

They waste money. On protein powder, organic everything. “I think we’re so afraid of food, and there’s so much food misinformation,” Gibson says. If the couple is worried about pesticides, she suggests they save buying organic for the so-called “dirty dozen” — items such as apples, celery and strawberries that are most likely to contain pesticide residues. (See the whole list at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews). Still, Gibson says, “there’s been no long term research that shows that if you eat organic you’re going to live longer.”

They don’t cook much. What they do cook is good: When they rustle up one of their standard meals — organic chicken in a Maggi-based sauce; broccolini sautéed in garlic, salt and pepper; and organic brown rice — Gibson gives it an A+ for nutrition and declares it delicious. But they need to broaden their repertoire. For anyone in the same boat, Gibson recommends Cooking Light and epicurious.com for a vast array of healthful, easy-to-toss-together meals.

Before she leaves, she samples one of Motiwalla and Haduong’s smoothies. “Tasty,” she says. “But that chicken smells better.”


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Drury develops wellness program

 Drury’s campus is about to get a whole lot healthier. In addition to going green and maintaining a clean and stable environment, Drury has adopted a wellness program to give its students happier, healthier, and safer lives.

Starting in the fall of 2012, freshmen at Drury have the chance to receive a degree certificate in wellness upon graduation, after completion of the four-year program.

The program is eight semesters long, during which time students take one online or seated class per semester. Diet, exercise, stress management, drug and alcohol use, sexual health and STD prevention are just a few examples of the topics the courses for this degree certificate will cover.

When asked how the program was started, Drury University director of athletic advancement event services, Matt Miller, replied “This is coming about as the result of the initial vision by Todd Parnell, myself and Dr. Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic.”

He continued, “Todd and I visited the Cleveland Clinic almost two summers ago now, and were able to reach a conceptual agreement and begin developing the program.”

Miller worked closely with the development of the program until he had to center his attention on the O’Reilly Center during the spring of 2011. “Amy Blansit, the current wellness director, is really the one who deserves a lot of credit for seeing it through,” said Miller.

Drury’s Wellness Council of staff, faculty, and students will assist with the program, according to Amy Blansit.

She said there are no informational classes or meetings to help students understand the certificate at the moment, but those who are interested in learning more about the certificate will be directed to the website.

Both Miller and Blansit think that the program will be successful. “It’s a great program with incredible potential to improve the lives of Drury students, to help them build a foundation in wellness. However, like anything else, the most difficult part will be educating students that it is available, and helping the Drury community to understand what it is and help raise awareness. It will succeed or fail based on student participation,” said Miller.

How do students feel about the wellness certificate? Active sophomore Elle Aston commented, “The concept is great and necessary, but I am unsure of the success rate.” Aston thinks that more students will be involved in the program because it is not required for students but is voluntary. “Since it is offered as a choice, you would have more interest from students.” 

The new wellness certificate is a great way to get students interested in healthier lifestyles, living habits and will benefit them long after graduation.


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Dog Diet Tips: How To Slim Down An Overweight Pet

From Mother Nature Network’s Morieka Johnson:

A friend recently shared that she would have a major problem if someone tried to control when, what and how much she ate.

“I would KILL them,” she said. “And maybe eat them.”

Pet owners dictate exactly how much kibble goes into those bowls each day — yet the majority of our pets are overweight. Perhaps those sad faces and lingering looks weaken our resolve. Whatever tactic your pet uses to score extra treats, a good offense often serves as the best defense. When one of her three cats was diagnosed as obese, Vryce Hough got creative and installed high-tech doors that limited each cat’s access to kibble. Dog trainer Sarah Wilson offers a few low-tech options to help dogs shed excess baggage in multiple-pet households.

List and captions courtesy of the Mother Nature Network

  • Separate Pets During Mealtime

    “Feed the dogs in separate rooms and tether the one who finishes first,” says Wilson, author of the book “Childproofing Your Dog.” She also suggests tethering the overweight dog during meal time so it can’t scarf up another dog’s food.

  • Don’t Leave Kibble Out All Day

    Leaving bowls of kibble around for easy access, also known as free feeding, can be problematic. I learned that the hard way when two pooches visited Lulu and me. Only one dog had free run of the house. (Guess which one packed on the pounds.)

    “With overweight dogs, there are few ways to manage it if you free feed,” says Wilson, who recommends feeding dogs twice a day. “They don’t starve.”

    ema href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/85638163@N00/6409002303/sizes/l/in/photostream/” target=”_hplink”Flickr image courtesy of Sh4rp_i/a/em

  • Enjoy Additional Playtime, But Keep It Light

    It’s tempting to head outside for a few rounds of extreme Frisbee to drop those pounds. But make sure you don’t overdo it with overweight dogs during hot spring and summer months, particularly if the dog is older. Watch for signs of overexposure, such as excessive panting, and keep dogs hydrated. If there is a pet-friendly swimming pool nearby, opt for a few laps to burn calories.

    Rough play, and even a simple game of fetch, can be problematic for overweight dogs so take it easy. “An overweight dog can run to stop and slam to the ground,” Wilson says. “Don’t let eagerness guide your decisions.”

  • Tiptoe Through The Tulips

    Walking burns calories and helps relieve stress for pets and people. Grab a few leashes and take the pack on long walks around the neighborhood. “If you walk them together and say, ‘That was fun,’ then schedule regular outings for the entire pack,” Wilson says. “If you come back and say, ‘I hope that doesn’t happen again tomorrow,’ then set a play date for the young dog and the older dog may need consistent walking.”

  • Practice Portion Control

    Whether it’s a bowl of kibble in the morning or a treat for being good later in the day, monitor your dog’s food consumption. Wilson suggests measuring to ensure consistency. Consult your vet for advice on how much to feed your dog, and visit the a href=”http://www.petobesityprevention.com/” target=”_hplink”Association for Pet Obesity Prevention website/a for handy tools such as a daily feeding and a href=”http://www.petobesityprevention.com/daily-feeding-and-activity-log/” target=”_hplink”activity log/a to track your pet’s caloric intake.

    “One of the big things I see with overweight dogs is people think the size the biscuit or treat arrives in is the size to feed the dog,” Wilson says. “It is shocking when owners see me break the biscuit into four or more pieces.”

    Treats should be closer in size to pencil eraser rather than a penny. I typically use dehydrated lamb lung to keep Lulu motivated. With cheese she is practically putty in my hands. “Make [treats] the smallest amount your dog is willing to work for,” Wilson says.

    ema href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/anneh632/5372098598/sizes/l/in/photostream/” target=”_hplink”Flickr image courtesy of anneh632/a/em

  • Try Interactive Toys

    Treat-dispensing toys keep pets moving, which burns calories as they work for their reward. Wilson suggests adding high-value treats such as tiny bits of low-fat string cheese to keep overweight pooches engaged during play time. Slices of apples or carrots also can serve as satisfying rewards. Just be sure to factor in those calories during feeding time.
    Here are a few interactive toys, listed in order of difficulty, that help burn calories by getting pudgy pooches to move and exercise those brain cells. Be sure to monitor all dogs during playtime to avoid potential choking hazards.
    strongKong Classic toy/strong: Dog owners with destructive dogs (aka power chewers) know the a href=”http://www.kongcompany.com/products/dogs/kong-rubber-toys/classic/kong-classic” target=”_hplink”Kong /abrand well. Puncture-resistant rubber toys such as the Kong Classic can be filled with low-calorie treats or string cheese. “With the Kong, overweight dogs can stay entertained and amuse themselves,” says dog trainer Sarah Wilson of a href=”http://mysmartpuppy.com/” target=”_hplink”MySmartPuppy.com/a. Available in five sizes, the Kong Classic ranges from $6.99 to $21.99 on a href=”http://www.wag.com/dog/p/kong-classic-kong-105559″ target=”_hplink”Wag.com/a.
    strongOrbee-Tuff Strawberry with Treat Spot/strong: Strawberries can be in season all year long with this super-durable chew toy from Planet Dog. Fill it with treats and even the most aggressive chewers will remain occupied — at least until the goodies are gone. It’s available for $10.45 at a href=”http://www.planetdog.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=10916000″ target=”_hplink”PlanetDog.com/a. Round out your produce assortment with the Orbee-Tuff artichoke, eggplant and giant raspberry. Prices range from $6.95 to $14.95.
    strongOmega Paw Tricky Treats Ball/strong: A cratered surface helps older dogs grasp and hold this bright orange ball. Place treats inside, and dogs must roll it around to access hidden treasures. This soft, vinyl toy is not for the power chewers. Available for $16.99 at a href=”http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2751743#RatingsDetail” target=”_hplink”Petsmart.com/a.
    strongIQ Treat Ball/strong: My dog Lulu detests the idea of working for a meal, so this toy doesn’t get much action in my house. Plenty of other a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Smarter-Toys-3-Inch-Treat-Ball/dp/B003ARUKU0″ target=”_hplink”pets/a, including a miniature a href=”http://www.wag.com/dog/p/our-pets-smarter-toys-iq-treat-ball-109142#ReadReviews” target=”_hplink”piglet/a, give the IQ Treat Ball high marks. Fill it with kibble or other goodies, adjust the treat setting and let your pooch roll away. This hard plastic toy is available in two sizes — three inches and five inches — for $5.99 and $6.99, respectively, ata href=”http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=22533cmpid=01csegplref=6111subref=AACAWELAID=620022213cagpspn=pla” target=”_hplink” Doctors Foster and Smith/a.
    strongWobbling Treat Ball/strong: A weighted bottom keeps this hard plastic oblong toy moving at all times, with your pooch in hot pursuit. Adjust the treat opening to make it more difficult for pudgy pooches to access goodies, then grab the camera. Available for $12.99 at a href=”http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=23072″ target=”_hplink”Drsfosterandsmith.com/a.
    strongNylabone Treat Hold ‘Ems/strong: If your dog prefers to sit in a quiet corner and gnaw away at his toy, this may be a good option. Fill Nylabone’s extremely durable Romp ‘n Chomp toy with your pet’s favorite healthy treat, such as carrots or apples, and then set it loose inside or outside. Available for $13.99 to $17.99 on a href=”http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4316560″ target=”_hplink”Petsmart.com/a.
    strongKyjen Dog Games Star Spinner:/strong a href=”http://shop.kyjen.com/” target=”_hplink”Kyjen/a specializes in interactive games that keep dogs occupied. Puzzle toys such as the Hide a Squirrel, Lulu’s absolute favorite, re-create exercises implemented at zoos to reduce boredom in animals. With the Star Spinner, dogs must use their noses to access hidden treats. Available for $16.44 at a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Kyjen-Dog-Games-Spinner-Treat/dp/B00440D8GU/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top” target=”_hplink”Amazon.com/a.
    strongTrixie Activity Chess Dog Toy/strong: Any toy that comes with an instruction manual presents a challenge to pets and people. This unique toy requires pooches to slide squares and lift cones to reveal hidden treats nestled inside the board. Prepare to capture the fun on video. Available for $29.99 at a href=”http://www.petco.com/product/117163/Trixie-Activity-Chess-Dog-Toy.aspx?CoreCat=FamilyCrossSell” target=”_hplink”Petco.com/a.
    strongDog Fighter Treat Dispenser/strong: After the birth of her two children, Nina Ottosson developed a line of “brain teaser” toys to keep her a href=”http://www.mnn.com/family/pets/stories/meet-the-breed-bouvier-des-flandres” target=”_hplink”Bouvier des Flandres/a active and occupied. Made in Sweden, the Dog Fighter requires pets to move wooden blocks along four separate channels if they want a reward. It scores a 2 out of 3 in difficulty level so you may have to nudge pooches a bit to help them learn the game. Available for $49.44 on a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Nina-Ottosson-Dog-Treat-Fighter/dp/B000XPCSAM/ref=sr_1_1?s=pet-suppliesie=UTF8qid=1335502138sr=1-1″ target=”_hplink”Amazon.com/a. (Check out video in the next slide of this toy in action.)
    strongDog Worker/strong: One of the most challenging interactive toys in the line from designer Nina Ottosson, the Dog Worker requires pups to uncover treats hidden under various blocks. Victory comes only after dogs spin the rotating disc to slide or lift wooden blocks. Available for $51.74 on a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Nina-Ottosson-Wooden-Dog-Worker/dp/B0067PN5TA/ref=sr_1_1?s=pet-suppliesie=UTF8qid=1335502150sr=1-1″ target=”_hplink”Amazon.com/a.

  • Dog Fighter Treat Dispenser In Action

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The Mediterranean Diet Plan is About More Than the Food

What makes the Mediterranean diet plan so special? The cuisines of Spain, France, Italy, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Malta, Tunisia, Turkey, Algeria, Albania, Greece, Israel, Croatia, Libya and Lebanon – all countries that have a border on the Mediterranean – certainly are not the same. Some use rice as a staple, others rely on wheat. Some feature pork, while others forbid it. Some drink wine every day, yet some abstain completely.

Could the health benefits be due to something other than the food?

What Foods Make the Mediterranean Diet Plan Special?

In the 1960s researchers first reported longer lifespans and less chronic disease among people in Spain, southern Italy, and Greece compared to the US, Japan and several European countries. The scientists attributed the health and longevity of the people living along the Mediterranean to their diet.

After 50 years of continuing study into what they were eating, a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was published in 1995 (we had Food Pyramids before we got My Plate), then it was updated in 2008.

The current version includes foods recommended for every meal in the first tier: fruits, vegetables, grains (mostly whole), nuts, legumes, seeds, olives, olive oil, herbs and spices. The next level adds fish and seafood, to be eaten at least twice a week. The third tier introduces moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt, either daily or weekly. Then the top and final space is for sweets and meats, both to be eaten sparingly. Water and wine are the only beverages called for.

The major distinctions from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the emphasis on foods from plant sources at every meal, using olive oil as the primary fat, choosing minimally processed food, and eating very little red meat. But that’s not all that’s different.

What Else Makes the Mediterranean Diet Plan Special?

As it turns out, the way people eat is as important as what they eat. For folks living the good life along the Mediterranean, mealtimes are social occasions enjoyed in the company of family and friends. That does not mean they eat off their best china at every meal, but rather, they spend time at the table savoring their food without the distractions of their jobs or beeping electronic gadgets.

And that just might be the best way to begin your journey towards a more Mediterranean diet. Yes, the whole wheat couscous, Kalamata olives and fresh fish are important, but who knows what else might happen if you come to the table ready to sit down, log off, and tune in to one another?

How are you going to celebrate National Mediterranean Diet Month this May?

Why is the American Diet So Bad?

Being Busy Interferes with Regular Meals


The Renegade Diet Review of Jason Ferruggia’s Pdf Book Is Revealed

  • Johnny Hanson

    Houston Chronicle

    Copyright 2012 Houston Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Updated 10:26 p.m., Thursday, May 3, 2012

    Woman found dead in house fire

  • Small portions key to healthy diet

    “Eating red meat isn’t a good thing to do,” said Dr. Ralph Vicari, a MIMA cardiologist who teaches at the University of Central Florida. “A lot of the beef industry would tout that red meat has low cholesterol. Some red meats do have low cholesterol, but they’re loaded with saturated fat.”

    Less is best, but you don’t have to give up meat entirely, said nutritionist Kristine Van Workum, owner of Brevard Nutrition in Indialantic, Fla. She and her husband, Kevin, enjoy grilling. Alongside vegetarian dishes, fish and chicken, there’s occasionally a cut of red meat.

    “More fruits and vegetables, more of a plant-based diet are generally healthier,” she said. “But I always tell people, too, there’s lots of different cuts of red meat that are pretty lean cuts. So if you do love red meat, it’s fine to plan in small amounts.”

    Small is key.

    “The standardized recommended serving size for a cooked piece of meat is 3 ounces,” she said. “When it says the ounces on the menu, it’s raw, so it cooks down a little bit, but restaurant portions are always larger than the standard.”

    The Harvard study, published in March by the Archives of Internal Medicine, observed 37,698 men and 83,644 women over several years. It concluded that red meat, and especially processed meat, increase the risk of death overall, as well as from heart disease and cancer.

    It also found that substitutions of one serving a day of other foods, such as fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, whole grains and low-fat diary, were linked to a 7 percent to 19 percent lower risk of death.

    Eating more of these healthful foods can increase fiber intake, and because they’re filling, they can help manage hunger and weight, Van Workum said.

    Starting young

    Vicari advocates education, especially of young people, which studies have shown already are showing signs of hardening arteries.

    “If you want to make a difference, I think, in anybody other than a captivated audience, like somebody who’s just had a heart attack … you’ve got to start in the school system,” Vicari said.

    He also condones lots of fiber. If you’re going to grill, make it lean chicken or fish, especially cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and cod, for heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

    He points out misconceptions about other foods: For instance, while shrimp, lobster and crab are high in cholesterol, it’s not metabolized in the same way as cholesterol from saturated fat, and it’s fine to eat — as long as you don’t eat enough to gain weight.

    Meanwhile, pork is not a “white meat,” as a certain ad campaign suggested. It belongs in the same family of high-fat meats as beef, veal and lamb, Vicari said.

    And while diets like Atkins might lead to weight loss, and weight loss can lower cholesterol, the high saturated-fat content isn’t healthful.

    The beef industry cites a small Penn State University study that showed lean beef as part of a heart-healthy diet can help lower cholesterol as much as other lean meats. Pressure is still on the consumer to find those cuts of beef.

    Preventing cancer

    What’s good for heart health also is good for preventing colorectal cancer.

    “Up to 18 ounces per week of cooked red meat does not significantly raise cancer risk,” said Alice Bender, a registered dietitian with the American Institute for Cancer Research.

    “Because red meat can contribute some important nutrients and proteins as long as it’s lean red meat, we don’t necessarily recommend that people avoid it completely.”

    Processed meat, which is associated with higher risk, should be eaten sparingly, Bender said. That includes hot dogs, sausages, anything smoked or preserved, some lunch meat, and the favorite that wags have dubbed “the candy of meats” — bacon.

    One concern in such meats is nitrates and nitrites used as preservatives.

    The institute recommends that your plate be two-thirds filled with plant-based foods, and one-third or less animal foods. Alcohol should be limited to one drink a day for women and two for men. And obesity is always a risk factor.

    “I think what we’re seeing here is a picture of a healthy lifestyle and how many of these chronic diseases are related with similar mechanisms,” Bender said.

    Assess your risk

    Research on nutrition guidelines is relatively underfunded, Van Workum said, plus it’s hard to control factors in human studies. Guidelines will keep changing, but “some knowledge is better than no knowledge,” she said.

    Heart patient Debra Baldwin, who at 57 had a heart attack, has seen the dramatic results of her dietary change, and with more fish and veggies on the menu, she’s enjoying it.

    “If you know you need to do something, make a change in your life, then find a plan that works for you,” she said. “Go out and search it.”

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