Monthly Archives: November 2013

What is Clean Eating?

It’s not a bad idea to scrub some of your food a little bit cleaner. Especially when it comes to certain stores, trust me, you want to clean your food. However, that’s not what clean eating is about. Clean eating is about focusing on whole foods as opposed to processed foods and eating healthy. You are to focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In some small towns, this can naturally be harder. Your access to fresh foods is getting easier. For example, I recently saw that Bountiful Baskets is actually hitting a number of smaller areas such as Moab, Utah. Yes, Moab is a bit better known. The point though is that Moab is within driving distance of other smaller areas such as Monticello and Blanding (2 towns you may not have ever even heard of).

The idea is to make it easier for the body, avoid bad chemicals, and avoid too much processed sugar. Actually, avoid any processed sugar when it comes right down to it. It’s meant to provide vitamins without raising blood pressure, increasing sodium intake, or otherwise interfering with the natural functions of the body. The question is, should you really do it?

The term clean eating is a relatively new term, but the concept (the idea) actually originates in the 1960’s. It obsesses over the idea of processed foods, and it spans from processed fast food to certain types of meat, fish, and even fruits and vegetables depending on how severe you go. Some like the idea of free range chicken while others obsess over organic fruits and vegetables.

I can tell you right now that first, free range chicken aren’t really so free range. There are zero regulations on it beyond what would be put on normal chickens. You could give a chicken 1 extra inch of space in their cage and call it free range. Then again, you could use the same size of cage. When I contacted the sellers of free range eggs, I asked about the conditions. I was told their chickens couldn’t go outside due to the risk of disease. Ya, at least in my head, a happy chicken is one that has space to run around, may go outside from time to time, and still has a house where they can be protected from inclement weather. I guess that’s just me. As far as organic foods go, research has unlocked the fact that the nutritional benefits or organic fruits and vegetables really aren’t greater or better than what you can find in most grocery stores.

Ultimately, the rules of clean eating can vary widely. It is important for this diet NOT to be about losing or gaining weight, just eating healthier. Weight changes may or may not follow depending on the person. Some serious clean eaters choose to skip out on anything that has been processed at all. So even those fruit and nut bars you might find in your local Costco or health store are a no go. For some, cooking is a big no-no, because it takes the nutrients out. These are the clean eaters who are into raw dieting as well. For those who are super strict, they will not typically eat meats, dairy, grains, and other more processed foods.

Other plans can be more lenient and just avoid more obvious things. For example, some will eat whole grain breads and other things as long as they aren’t basically fast food and don’t have obvious chemicals.

So why does this matter?

The benefits of a whole food/clean eating type diet are abundant. Research has shown that eating more fruits and vegetables can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, improve heart health, help you to lose weight in some cases, and even reduce the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. If you are consuming whole grains and legumes, this has also been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes. In general, many have turned to low carb diets to avoid or treat type 2 diabetes. However, more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will put you in a better spot to start off with, especially when combined with a regular exercise program.

Adding these foods is essential to clean eating, but just as essential is cutting out extra salt, sugar, etc. Research has shown that reduced dietary salt intake can delay or prevent hypertension or decrease the chances of cardiovascular related health issues. Likewise, reducing the intake of sugary drinks like soda can help you to lose weight, reduce fat, and be healthier overall.

Is this the real thing?

All of the indications say that this is healthy. All indications point to the idea that clean eating is the way to go. It might not be necessary for everyone to go in the direction of clean eating. In fact, some might do better with other types of diets. However, clean eating doesn’t seem to have any obvious or large downsides or even risks. Unless you are allergic to most vegetables or something like that, chances are this might be a good way to go. It varies from person to person on how strict you could or should realistically go.

Clean eating is not so much a diet as it is a lifestyle, and it actually provides a lot of flexibility to a lot of people. The key is to work within what you feel is reasonable. As with any change in lifestyle/diet, of course you may want to consult your doctor if you have any overwhelming health issues or concerns. Likewise, to stick with the lifestyle, it might be good for some to have a cheat day or a cheat meal from time to time. At the other side of things, you could work up to it, going a couple days on, a couple days off, and slowly working your way to greater regularity. Start by introducing more homemade smoothies, veggie mixes, etc.

This said, I’ve started my own somewhat clean eating move, and I’ve started with a program called Bountiful Baskets at about the same time. It goes through a number of states with A & B weeks. It currently includes Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Once a week, you can get a basket, 50% fruits, 50% vegetables. They recently put chicken into one basket, and then there was a slight uproar as many participants are actually vegetarians. However, at this point, they do have various add ons such as various types of bread available, you can buy multiple baskets, etc depending on the week.

The outcome does vary. One week, it included pumpkins, and I honestly had no idea what to do with that. However, this week, it was a bit more normal. I got 3 cucumbers, a head of romaine lettuce, 2 bags of carrots, about 16oz of cranberries, a stock of celery, about 6 potatoes, 3 large sweet potatoes, a stock of bananas, a bag of grapes, 7 apples, 5 onions, and a cantaloupe. The onions are the ones I’m having the hardest time figuring out what to do with, but for $17, I’ll live with a few extra onions mixed in with the rest of what I’ve gotten.

Worst Weight Loss Snacks

Eat 5-6 meals a day, it can help you to lose weight. This means not only keeping control over the portion size in your regular meals, but snacking in between. The question is, how do you do it right? There are plenty of salads that aren’t automatically healthy, and it’s a hard lesson we’re learning about that. When it comes to snacks though, there are even MORE snacks that aren’t quite as healthy as they may seem.

When you snack, you shouldn’t be snacking throughout the day. In other words, you shouldn’t be eating a cheerio here, a piece of candy there, a fruit snack over there. According to experts though, there is a right way and a wrong way to snack.

  1. Wrong: Strawberry yogurt

    Right: Plain Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries

    Personally, I actually buy my Greek yogurt at Costco, and they have mixes that don’t taste like butt with strawberry and other fruit mixes already in it.When it comes to regular strawberry yogurt, there’s a lot of extra sugar and very little actual nutrition. A recent study has found that cutting back on sugar comes with a 2 pound weight loss. That may not seem like much, but just keep adding it up. The fact that Greek yogurt also has more protein certainly doesn’t hurt.

  2. Wrong:Trail Mix with Chocolate

    Right: A fruit and nut bar

    There are quite a few new choices coming out, and personally, I’ve found a few that are also vegan (health) bars that are pretty okay. They come in various flavors. LaraBar is actually one of my favorites so far. I like the peanut butter and I’m alright with the cherry. If you want something that is a quick fix with a little sweet, etc, a LaraBar or something else like that is the way to go.

  3. Wrong: Pretzels

    Right: Salted, Shelled Pistachios

    Pretzels have a whopping 450mg of sodium in just an ounce. If you have high blood pressure, it’s definitely not effective. However, it can also make you retain water, etc. Salted nuts like pistachios may taste salty, but actually have just a quarter of the sodium. Yes, pistachios do have 50 more calories per serving, but they also contain twice the protein and three times the fiber that keeps you fuller for a longer period of time. People who eat more nuts also lose more weight according to a recent UCLA study.

  4. Wrong: Soy Nuts

    Right: Steamed edamame

    A quarter cup of soy nuts s just 130 calories, but a single serve packet of edamame (1/2 a cup, which can be steamed in the microwave, again queue Costco) comes with only 90 calories. In other words, you get twice the food for fewer calories

  5. Wrong: Diet Soda

    Right: 12oz Unsweetened Sparkling Water with Fruit Slices

    People have been known to drink diet or zero calorie sodas between meals. You would think the liquid calories, especially with lower sugar or fewer calories would be better. However, artificial sweeteners actually fool your body into thinking all sweet foods have as few calories. Ultimately, this means that you end up eating more sweets in other instances, and it throws off your metabolism, actually making you fatter. It specifically changes your body’s ability to regulate its hunger and metabolism.Instead, try sparkling water with a few fruit slices.

  6. Wrong: Rice Cakes

    Right: One cup Air-popped corn

    I’m not talking kettle corn or other popcorn with a bunch of flavoring, plain popcorn. Rice cakes are high on the glycemic index, and they have a ton of carbs. According to Australian research, people who are on a lower glycemic index diet lose twice as much as those on higher glycemic diets. One cup of plain old air popped popcorn is 31 calories, has a lower glycemic index, and has a serving of whole grains.

  7. Wrong: A 16oz Smoothie

    Right: A homemade smoothie

    Smoothies are not all bad. When you make it at home though, you are more aware of what’s going in. You may be more likely to use more fruit, less yogurt and other wasted sugars, and even more protein. Plus, when you buy a smoothie premade, it’s actually measuring it in smaller servings than you might think.

  8. Wrong: Banana chips

    Right: a banana

    It’s a simple trade off. A plain old banana has fewer calories, doesn’t have other oils, etc, and it has the water. Yay! Banana chips are generally fried, and it’s not nearly as healthy as you may think. A banana, how can you really compromise that right out of the peel?

  9. Wrong: A chocolate pudding cup

    Right: One ounce dark chocolate

    You don’t have to give up chocolate altogether if you love it. A pudding cup is chalked full of milk and sugar, not so much the healthy parts of chocolate we’re all told about. On the other hand, dark chocolate alone is full of antioxidants, doesn’t have so much added sugar, and it actually has more fiber. The cocoa, which is just not found in chocolate pudding cups in the same amounts, is the key part.

  10. Wrong: A handful of baby carrots

    Right: baby carrots with 2 tbsp hummus

    Okay, so you get more calories in this case. Yes, you can eat carrots, and they’re healthy, but sometimes you need a little variety in order to really keep up. Hummus has more protein, keeps you full for longer, and it gives you a little extra variety. The protein found in hummus helps to slow the digestion and keeps the afternoon cravings under control.

  11. Wrong: 1/2 cup canned pears

    Right: 4 Dried Plums

    I know, you’re trading fruit for fruit. Things just got really confusing. If you’re talking regular pears, it’s not the same. However, when you’re talking canned pears, it is soaked in sugar for days or even weeks or months at a time. Prunes (dried plums) don’t sit in this sugar, and they still have fiber, vitamins, minerals, and various other healthy benefits.

  12. Wrong: Cheese crackers (27)

    Right: A half of a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with a slice of avocado

    Personally, the sandwich sounds a lot better to me. The crackers may be good for a minute, but certainly not for long. I may be biased to loving avocado, but all in all, the sandwich also sounds more filling to me. With 100% whole grain bread, you slow the digestion, stave off cravings, gives you fiber and vitamins, etc. You also get protein.

  13. Wrong: 100 calorie pack of cookies

    Right: 1/3 cup of roasted pumpkin seeds

    Yes, even though it technically says just 100 calories, it’s not that much food, and it’s not filling. These types of snack packs come with a lot of sugar and other calories. Even when low calorie (because there’s so little), cookies are virtually always devoid of nutrition. Pumpkin seeds on the other hand have good fats, protein, and other essential nutrients as it turns out. Plus pumpkin seeds are just 94 calories.

Inducing Labor May Cause Autism

Autism fanatics rejoice! There is yet another possible cause of autism that can be blamed entirely on doctors and their influence. Unlike vaccinations, there is actually some real scientific proof that suggests that autism might be linked to induced labor in US women. While most like to think early influences are the most likely to create birth defects, autism is not always obvious at first. In fact, you may think your child is normal for months (many don’t notice until of course right after vaccination time).

However, some believe that labor-inducing drugs may increase the risk of autism. Of course, it may be that the fetal complications that require induction may actually be symptoms of the issues that cause autism in the first place, but what do you do.

As expected based on that and other factors, the study doesn’t necessarily provide conclusive answers. The authors specify that the results should not lead doctors to avoid inducing labor, especially if it is life saving for both mother and baby.

The reality is most experts agree there’s probably multiple causes. One could be genetic, as families with one autistic child are more likely to have another. It could be age, as it seems older women (older couples?) are more likely to have them.

It’s actually not mercury. There’s no difference in the occurrence of autism between those who are vaccinated and those who are not, just preventable disease.

With this, I could see it. I imagine induced labor may cause some early physical trauma, or there could be other factors that make the procedure more necessary. Either way, I am inclined to think a child would have to have a genetic vulnerability first.

But don’t listen to me. Listen to Simon Gregory, lead author and associate professor at Duke University. Teaching medical genetics, he might know a little bit when he says We haven’t found a connection for cause and effect. One of the things we need to look at is why they were being induced in the first place.

So in other words, it may have more to do with factors that may make the procedure more necessary!

This new research involved more than 600,000 births. It’s part of a drive to explain why we’ve seen an increase in diagnoses. Could it possibly be that once upon a time medical science wasn’t the same? Could it be we didn’t always know about or recognize autism (like many other psychological or physical issues)? Dare I say science has evolved even since 2000?

Not surprisingly, 3 times as many boys were diagnosed. Studies also suggest girls may not be diagnosed, because our society trains them to be more social, making the symptoms less apparent. Of note though, the difference in relation to induced labor was more pronounced among boys.

Oxytocin (which has been identified as a potential culprit in autism) and prostaglandins are typically used in the procedure, though it can vary a bit. In boys, it was most often when labor was started and then accelerated. In girls, it didn’t start til it was accelerated.

The consensus about autism blows in whatever direction the wind blows. The hard truth is we don’t know what causes autism or really how to treat it. Many have tried to use the age of onset as the only proof of cause. For years, the other misled theory blamed bad parenting for this and other disorders like schizophrenia. We know it’s not all parents. Now we’ve just turned to pseudo science. Still, I think this study may link us to the actual preceding causes of autism (that increase the need for this procedure).