Tuesday, January 17, 2012

31 Days to Better Health - Day 17

For those of you in the US how was your holiday?  Did you do anything fun with your day off, assuming you had one that is?  As you all know our holiday was spent at Hopkins but the good news was that they discharged Dan which was great. I will tell you a little more about that later in the post.

Don’t forget to let me know if you like any specific posts as that will give me an idea of what sort of topics to write about in the future.  Also if you have any suggestions don’t be shy.

Can you believe that we are halfway through January?  It seems like I just started writing the 31 day series.  I guess the time is flying because this is a topic that I enjoy writing about even though it takes me more time to get my thoughts on paper.  Here is the recap of what we have accomplished so far to remind us all of how much we have covered during the first 16 days of January:
Day 1 – Defined Success and What is/was Holding Us Back
Day 2 – Determined our Purpose and Looked at Passion
Day 3 – Listed Our Goals for January
Day 4 – Listed the Things We Have Needed to Work on for a While
Day 5 – Looked at Optimism vs. Pessimism and Fear vs. Intuition
Day 6 – Practiced Conscious Eating
Day 7 – Hara Hachi Bu
Day 8 – Taking the Stress Out of Meal Time
Day 9 – Acknowledgments
Day 10 – No Excuses, Do it Anyway
Day 11 – Is it True?
Day 12 – Have You Really Connected With Someone Today?
Day 13 – Motivation is a Decision
Day 14 - Successfully Navigating Dinner at an Unfamiliar Restaurants
Day 15 - What Do You Want, Have You Asked? Day 16 – Treating Others as You Wish to be Treated

Do you agree with my contention that improving the relationships in your life improves your health?  I think this is extremely important for overall mental and emotional health and that those impact our physical health on many levels.  I am curious what your thoughts are on this topic.

Food as a Budget:
This topic is much lighter than many of the ones I have written about this month. However it can be a very powerful tool.  Since I have both a bachelors and masters in finance I can equate anything with money or a number, just ask my husband.  ;-)   I think this concept is easy for most people to understand.  

Here is what I mean by food as a budget or a bank account if you prefer.  We all know that we need to balance our energy input (calories consumed) with our energy output (calories expended) just like we need to balance our bank account.  When we have balanced (equalized) our energy input and output then our weight is neither increasing nor decreasing.  Now assume that you want your weight to decrease.  You can either decrease what you eat or increase what you burn to cause a energy (calorie) deficit.  I think creating a calorie deficit like saving money for later.  Each time you forgo a high calorie (energy dense) item you are saving for later. Does that make sense?
Now I want you to think of the types of food that you consume.  Foods are either high calorie (very energy dense), moderate or low calorie and we should all know what foods fall into which categories. The reason for that is very simple, the low calorie foods you can eat an unlimited supply of and not upset your energy balance. Better yet low calorie foods generally contain large amount of micronutrients which keep us healthy.  The low calorie foods are the ones that we should all eat as much of as we can. They are the ones that are good for our bodies.

When I was taking the eCornell course one of the concepts they introduced was about calorie density which I wanted to share with you again. I mentioned this about a year ago but since so many of you are new I thought a refresher was in order. One of the lectures from course two in the program discussed the calorie density of food groups and separated food by broad categories as follows:
  • Salad (raw salad veggies) – 100 calories per pound
  • Vegetables (corn, carrots and broccoli) – 200 calories per pound
  • Fruits – 300 calories per pound
  • Starches (rice, potatoes, beans) – 500 calories per pound
  • Beef tenderloin – 1,100 calories
  • Cheese – 1,700 calories per pound
  • Pure sugar – 1,800 calories per pound
  • Nuts and Seeds – 2,000 to 2,500 calories per pound
  • Chocolate – 2,500 calories per pound
  • Potato Chips and French Fries – 2,500 calories per pound
  • Pure fat (like oil) – 4,000 calories per pound
The first thing I noticed from this list was that the top four groups were all vegan (salad veggies, starch veg, fruit and starches).    I am sure at least one of you noticed where the nuts and seeds are on the list.  However I want you to notice that oil is the worst, not nuts and seeds. Did you realize that per tablespoon oil is 120 calories and the same amount of nuts and seeds averages 30 calories?  Additionally oils have had their fiber stripped away.  I prefer to get my fat from the natural sources (seeds and nuts).  However, if you are trying to lose weight you should be concentrating on eating the foods at the top of the list and saving the items toward the middle and bottom of the list for occasional items.  You can also think of it as when you eat the low calorie foods you aren’t spending much of your calorie budget which leaves room for small indulgences which we all need (like dark chocolate). 

I have a number of friends (all omnivores) who think nothing of roasting veggies with olive oil, cooking with olive oil, eating chicken and fish, sprinkling a little parmesan or bacon on their food and they tell me they are eating a healthy and/or low fat diet.  I often wonder if they measure the food they consume and calculate what percentage of their diet is coming from fat.  From what they tell me they eat it doesn’t sound either low fat or particularly healthy to me.  *scratches head*  However I try very hard to keep my mouth shut in the interest of friendship.  Some days it is much tougher not to say anything than others.  ;-)  (This is specifically for my omni friends ….imagine what would come out of my mouth if I weren’t biting my tongue?  I hope you all know how much I love you, I want you to be healthy and stick around for a long time or I wouldn’t say a word.  Hugs!)
Here is an example of how a recipe can get loaded with fat to show you what I mean.  I took this recipe from the food network website (their healthy recipe section which I find abominable BTW) and I ran the numbers.  Here are the ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound sliced pancetta, diced
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 8 Yukon gold potatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper (unknown quantities so I did not include in any of the numbers below)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon, juiced
According to the Foodnetwork website this makes 4 servings which I found to be odd since it is only a pound of sprouts and Dan and I never cook that few sprouts for one meal for the two of us.  I am guessing it was the potatoes that made it 4 servings.  However I used the websites stated four servings and here are the numbers per serving:

Calories – 1003
Calories from fat (37%) – 372
Total fat – 42g
Sat fat – 13.5g
Cholesterol – 52mg
Sodium - 816mg (without the added salt above which I didn’t include)
Potassium – 3365mg
Total carbs – 140g
Fiber – 11g
Sugar - 5g
Protein - 27g

I want to point out a few things about the recipe above.  First it is a side dish not an entrée and it is 1,003 calories.  All I can say to that is OMG!  The fat and sat fat levels in this dish are terrifying, and no it isn’t one of Paula Deen’s which are worse.  This recipe came courtesy of an actual chef who owns restaurants which is important to keep in the mind BTW.  The sodium is also out of control in this.  It is hard to look at this numbers and then go out to eat isn’t it?  Makes you wonder how much fat is in restaurant food doesn’t it?
Since I am sure some of you are thinking but what if I eliminate the butter and reduce the olive oil from three tablespoons to one tablespoon and reduce the pancetta from 8 ounces to 2 ounces what would that do to the numbers?   Remember this assumes ¼ of a tablespoon of oil per serving and that is far less than what most people use. Here are the revised numbers:

Calories – 705
Calories from fat (14%) – 96
Total fat – 11g
Sat fat – 2.8g
Cholesterol – 9mg
Sodium - 475mg (without the added salt above which I didn’t include)
Potassium – 3278mg
Total carbs – 140g
Fiber – 11g
Sugar -5g
Protein – 22g

Here is the important thing to remember when you look at this set of numbers; this is just a vegetable side dish after all.  If your full meal includes a small piece of fish or chicken (which most of American tells you is healthy in moderation) add more fat and saturated fat to your calories for the day. Do you see how it can add up quickly?  I hope so.

 Now let’s look at the numbers one more time but this time eliminating the olive oil, butter and pancetta.  I took out all the fat so that you can compare the original with just the produce and those numbers are:

Calories – 613
Calories from fat (2%) – 11
Total fat – 1g
Sat fat – 0.3g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Sodium – 361mg (without the added salt above which I didn’t include)
Potassium – 3250mg
Total carbs -140g
Fiber -11g
Sugar -5g
Protein -20g

Are you shocked at the difference between the three sets of numbers?  I imagine many of you expected the middle set with the very “moderate” amount of olive oil and 25% of the pancetta to look better than it did specifically in the fat area.  This is actually why I don’t believe in moderation.  Anytime someone tells you that you can have your cake and eat it too what they are really doing is telling you what you want to hear IMO. BTW there will be more comments today on moderation based on something Paula Deen said.  *argh*
Now that you have seen how many calories and fat grams can be packed into a side dish is the chart from Cornell starting to make more sense to you?  Most of the total calories and carbs in this dish came from the potatoes.  If you eat high on the Cornell list above, you can save (budget) higher calorie foods (from lower on the list) to your day.  However here in America we eat from the bottom of the list most of the time and that is important to remember.  Even when we think we are eating healthy if you drizzle olive oil over your vegetables you aren’t doing yourself any favors from a health perspective.  I am not however saying that all fat is bad because I don’t believe that. I intentionally add seeds and nuts to my meals to help my body to absorb the fat soluble vitamins in the produce I consume.  However, I always choose to get my fat from seeds and nuts (and preferably in that order). Oil is something that we eat at home in great moderation, which amounts to a tiny bit of sesame oil for aroma on a few Asian recipes. Other than that the only oil we get is when we are out where it is very difficult to avoid.

Today’s exercises are:

1.    Take one of your family’s favorite recipes and determine what is contributing the most calories to the total using the Cornell list above.   In the recipe above I would also drastically reduce the potatoes as no one needs that much starch.

2.    Get into the habit of measuring the oil you use.  Many people free pour oil and think they are adding a tablespoon when you are actually adding a ¼ cup. Remember oil is 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon.

3.    The next time you make the recipe half the items you identified in item 1 above, but don’t mention.  See if your family notices the difference.

4.    Write your observations about the healthier recipe in your food journal. Does it need more pepper, maybe some lemon or fresh herbs.  Can you bulk up the recipe with vegetables or beans?  Try to think outside the box.

5.    Continue to reduce the calorie dense items in this recipe until they are negligible or better yet eliminated.  You can use the substitutions I listed earlier this month to keep the volume in the food.

6.     If you have a recipe that you love but don’t know how to make it healthy send it to me. I would be happy to make suggestions of how I would change it and that would help not just you but everyone else that reads the blog.
I hope today’s post has gotten you thinking about what you are eating and the calorie density of various groups of foods.  Here is my bottom line, if you are eating from the first three bullets in the Cornell list above I say you can have as much as you want.  Not only will be consuming few calories, but you will be getting loads of fiber and micronutrients and that is fantastic.  If you want to lose weight I would be more cautious about the fourth bullet (starches) and the nuts and seeds.  However you should eat both everyday just not in unlimited amounts.  Save the other things like sweets, chocolate, etc. for occasional treats.  Do this and you food budget will remain in good nutritional shape.

Progress on my goals:
1.   Newsletters – Monday was another busy day so I didn’t get time to work on this. 

2.   Body Bugg – Remembered to wear my bugg on Monday and got in lots of steps going between the various buildings at Hopkins. Luckily for me the hospital complex is huge and that I like to park on the other side of the complex.  ;-)

3.   Date with Dan – We are spending loads of time together but I wouldn’t call it a date.  There will be plenty of time for that soon, once we make a break for it.  LOL

4.    Measuring calorie dense food – I didn’t eat any nuts or seeds yesterday except 2 Brazil nuts so there was nothing to measure.

5.   Working on my business – I got a little work on my business in on Monday but we got the good news about discharge not long after lunch so that cut my work day short.
Are you happy with the progress you are making on your goals?  What have you done so far this month that you are most of?  Remember to include that answer in your daily acknowledgements.

How are you doing writing acknowledgements?  Is it starting to feel less forced yet?  Are you beginning to see that you do a lot of things well every day? Has your mood improved?  Here are my acknowledgements for Monday:

·     Monday morning I was up and out of the house early to get to the store for kale.  Dan had asked me to make him his favorite chocolate, banana, cherry, walnut and kale smoothie which I did.  He was very happy when I arrived at the hospital.  I know my baby was getting tired of oatmeal for breakfast since the kitchen doesn’t make it like I do at home. 

·     With Monday being a national holiday I had no problem getting a parking spot in my favorite garage across the medical campus and even got on the first floor which was amazing.   It was good that we had a bit of a walk to the car to get a little exercise for my hubby on the way home. The staff let us leave without the wheel chair routine because Dan had been doing so much walking on the unit.  You did know that is one of the secrets to getting out of the hospital right?  ;-)

·    We had asked so many questions of the dietary people while we were there that they were doing a great job with whole food for Dan.  I was very impressed with what they put together for his lunch (the salad with fruit and whole wheat pita plus organic soy milk).  All I had to add was nuts/seeds and a little dried fruit and Dan was set.

·    Dan wanted to drive home and I didn’t argue with him. The doctors had not put him on a driving restriction so I let him do what made him happy. This was tough for me because I wanted to “baby” him but I also knew that I needed to let him be the guy.

·    Monday was very busy but I was very proud of myself for getting a post up.  In all honestly I really don’t know how I made that happen but I am happy that I did. 
Random Observations:

Did anyone read this article on MSN about Paul Deen? What a fool that woman is, and that is nicest thing that I can say about her.  I cannot believe that she claims she has always practiced moderation (and we see how well that worked out for her BTW) and says she isn’t going to change how she cooks.  I think Anthony Bourdain hit the nail on the head with his comment about Paula. Bourdain said, When your signature dish is hamburger in between a doughnut, and you've been cheerfully selling this stuff knowing all along that you've got type 2 diabetes... It's in bad taste if nothing else.”  Good for you Anthony Bourdain for saying what needed to said. I must say I am a little surprised that Anthony Bourdain and I agree on anything, this really is a first. 
I am beyond disgusted by how Paula is handling this situation it is hard for me to put my feelings into words. She has such a wonderful opportunity to help people in the same situation in this country and instead she decided to make money pushing diabetes medications when everyone knows lifestyle changes will work to reverse type 2 diabetes. Shame on you Paula Deen for putting money before other people’s health!  You should be ashamed of yourself. I was never a fan of your fattening cooking but thought you seemed like a nice Southern lady and clearly that was my mistake.  *argh*  I won’t be fooled a second time.

I got an email asking me what the Ravens were after I posted the purple moment above. The Ravens are Baltimore’s American football team (not soccer) and their uniforms are purple, black and white. They have made it to the playoffs and are in the final four who may be in the Super Bowl. That is the reason for the purple around town.  There is a little team pride happening.  When we were in the hospital on Sunday (during one of the playoff games) we knew immediately when something was happening in the game as we could hear the patients and staff cheering.   It is nice to see the city rally behind the team.


As you all know we started out the day at Hopkins.  I brought Dan a big smoothie from home and he had that along with his oatmeal, and fresh fruit. 
I smeared hummus into a small whole wheat pita and stuffed in raw broccoli and a few pine nuts.  Sorry I forgot to take pictures, but trust me you weren’t missing anything exciting.

Just before lunch arrived we got the good news that we were going home. This news was met with both a woo hoo and an internal happy dance.  I didn't the happy dance was appropriate in front of the doctors LOL.   The mystery fever was still in place but the antibiotic they had him on for 3 days had made no difference (implication it wasn’t  beingcaused by anything bacterial) and his viral cultures were negative. Translation, we were going home!

Paperwork in hospitals takes a while and discharges are no exceptions. We left about 4 hours after we heard we were getting out and with a thick packet of instructions I  might add. Then it was time to stop at one of the hospital outpatient pharmacies on the way to the car. I snapped the above picture while we waited for the scripts to be filled.  (For Louis:  Florence wasn’t working on Monday when we were there).
After leaving the hospital Dan wanted to stop by the office and water his plants. Good thing he suggested that as they were looking a little parched.  It was late when we stopped (after 6pm) so he only saw about 1/3 of the office.

While he was inside I waited in the car and took a couple pictures to share with you.  Since I can tell that most of you aren’t local I wanted to give you an idea of city life here,

This is a picture I look of the original Maryland National Bank Building downtown. It is about a block away from Dan’s office. I like the way the top was lit and behind the tree branches.  Notice the purple tower to the left? That is also lit for the Ravens. There is purple all over town these days.

This pictures I looked north on Charles Street from out front of Dan’s office.  Since it is winter and it was after rush hour the streets are rather empty. Downtown Baltimore is much more lively in the summer time.

 Happy thoughts:
Have you gotten into the habit of writing your happy thoughts?  I find it helpful to remind myself how often things go well and that I shouldn’t take these things for granted.

·     I was thrilled to get a parking spot in the Weinberg garage again on Monday.  *happy dance*  I know this sounds like a little thing but having one less item to worry about is great in my book.

·    The highlight of my day was when Dan was discharged from the hospital. The fur children and I missed having him at home during the evening.  None of us sleep well when Dan travels for work and this was much longer than he is ever gone for work.

·     We were happy that the outpatient pharmacy in Weinberg was open on Monday since the outpatient clinics were closed.  It was nice to have the scripts filled before we left the hospital.

·     We were actually able to get a parking place near the house. Those of you who live in the city understand how rare this can be so I know you get why this is a happy thought.  We had taken a bunch of stuff to the hospital (food, 2 laptops, work reports for Dan to read, etc.).  Not sure why we needed three bags full of stuff but apparently we did.  It was nice to not have far to take it between the car and the house.

·     It was good to have hummus, broccoli and chickpeas in the refrigerator for dinner. Dan had a big bowl of broccoli which he dipped into hummus that I topped with paprika and pine nuts. I had a bowl of chickpeas, red onion, broccoli and artichokes with hot crushed peppers.  I know that doesn’t sound exciting but sometimes you just need food and this was one of those nice. I was happy that I didn’t need to cook anything.

·    The traffic on the blog is really picking up this month.  Yesterday I had 1,675 hits in a day. That isn’t an all time high but it better than my average which is around 1,450.  I am hopeful that this means that we are getting more people on board with the holistic health posts.   Whatever pulls people into the blog to read I am thrilled. It is my goal to reach as many people as I can and hopefully to get them to do some seriously soul searching when it comes to food and health.  If you have any suggestions for what you would like to see let me know.  The remainder of January is planned but after that I am open to any idea.
Signing Out:

Tuesday has been as good as and possibly better than Monday. Dan slept about 11 hours last night.  My poor baby must have been exhausted.  However he got up this morning feeling much better and there is no sign of his mystery fever.  *scratches head*  Can a lack of sleep cause a fever? 

The boys (Massimo and Nicco) had to play hard to get with daddy for a few hours last night after he got home. They came to see him, gave him a sniff and then ran away.  Clearly it is important to let daddy know that being gone a week is not acceptable. However by the end of the evening they had been over to visit in a few times and when bed time came they curled up with him.  It was nice to have the family back together.  ;-)

I listened to an interesting webinar last night and got a few ideas for the blog. Learning never stops for me.  One of my goals is to constantly seek to broaden my knowledge so I have more ideas to share with you.  If you hear of any interesting upcoming webinars please feel free to let me know about them.  If you would like to me to do the same for you let me know.
I hope you had a great Tuesday and that you are starting to think about spring.  Both Dan and I are very anxious for spring to arrive since it is great sailing weather here. We get good wind and it is cold enough that the power boaters aren’t out yet.  Heaven! 
Talk with you all tomorrow.  Enjoy the rest of your evening.  I may actually get into the kitchen later tonight and cook something. Won’t that be unusual?  LOL

1 comment:

  1. I am SO glad that Dan is home safe & sound! Hooray!! Hospitals, as you know, are horrible for sleeping (ironic, eh!)so I wouldn't be surprised after some good restorative rest he was able to do a little healing!!

    This is a beautiful post--I'm really enjoying your series reflections this month! :-)


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