Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Do doctors fat shame?

Weight commentary sticks. In practically every initial nutrition session with clients, I hear of a family member, coach, doctor or boyfriend/girlfriend who once said something about their appearance or size. And 10 or 20 or 50 years later, these remarks can be repeated verbatim.
And so, when I received this, in an email, yesterday, I took it seriously.
Loved your last two blogs - saved me from watching "what the health?" (Which everyone is recommending). Here's a blog idea on how confusing/hard it is to raise girls with a healthy body image. Took my 2.5-year-old in for her check-up and was told her BMI is "high" (over 85%). I thought the pediatrician was kidding but then he said no, part of his job is now fat shaming two year olds.
We are all sensitive when it comes to our kids or we should be. I was shocked when my pediatrician suggested I take one son to the eye doctor (I thought he was overreacting). And yet, I almost fell out of my chair when I witnessed his eye exam. At every check-up when the pediatrician plots their height and weight on growth charts, I'm anxious about the results. I could get into how growth charts are developed and my issues with BMI, as a measure, but I don’t think that’s necessary. Doctors would be remiss if they didn’t test and plot and share results with parents.
However, I don’t think young children need to hear from doctors or nurses about their height and weight. As a parent, you can request to be the one who filters this information, decide if it’s important to share and what action to take. We don’t see young children at Foodtrainers because we feel that parents (or adults) food shop and make the majority of food decisions a certain age.
I think it’s difficult to raise children, regardless of gender, with a healthy body image. One approach is to focus on non-physical characteristics. Even if it’s positive, if we are always commenting on children’s appearance, we’re sending the message this is most important. Try to note when your child is kind or diligent or patient. I also avoided, and this may be surprising, conversations about nutrition until my boys were old enough to ask We have wholesome food in the house (and good versions of snacks and treats) and home cooked meals. We are active and so are the kids. As simple as this sounds, I think basics and a foundation of sound habits are key.
With young children, you can shield them from callous or potentially hurtful comments, to a certain degree. But the goal isn’t to raise kids with healthy body images. Our goal should be to raise kids with healthy self-images so when comments about their weight, intelligence, athleticism or character come their way, they don't internalize them for decades.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What clean eating means to me

Add some more protein, maybe dark chocolate and avocado 
I’d like to think I have a good handle on nutrition news. I may skip some of the endless, depressing political articles but I read the food-related ones. There was an article in the Guardian that I missed and, more than that, I seem to have missed when “clean eating” went from being a descriptor and morphed into a cult.
There are a lot of annoying diet terms. Yesterday, I talked about plant based. Now, let’s tackle clean eating. For me, clean eating is akin to sensible eating. More veg, fewer sweets. More whole foods, fewer packaged items. In my eyes, clean eating isn’t perfect eating, clean eating isn’t unreasonable.
This article on clean eating conflates clean eating with orthorexia. Orthorexia is an eating disorder characterized with an obsessive relationship with consuming healthy foods. I don’t’ understand this, that’s like assuming hydration is similar or ove rhydrating (a dangerous type of hydration). The Guardian piece also makes clean eating seem like a club. Either you’re in or you're out, clean or dirty? If that’s the case, my eating since my kids arrived home would be dirty, I’m out? C’mon. We all have times where we lean more clean and others where the picks or treats are a little too frequent. Find me the person who is 100% clean and I’ll find you issues may more damaging than any French fry or margarita (just examples, not saying they are my favorite friggin’ things) can inflict.
The other issue is Instagram and those without qualifications offering advice. Let’s start with Instagram. If Instagram is real, no houses have clutter, no food is ugly and we’re all off in exotic locations all the time. We all play a role. I like Insta stories as I don’t filter and tend to present less pretty things. The more we all do this, the better. I have a ways to go. As far as credentials. I am not a snob. There are people who are fantastic cooks without culinary school and others who have a ton of knowledge without letters after their names. BUT, I find that when you have someone who only offers advice on social media or blogs they are sharing their story. When you see clients, or have experience beyond your own, you are more conscious of being general.
I’m halfway through my coffee, I don’t think I’m expressing that well. I’d see bloggers and “influencer’s” (talk about annoying terms) posts as inspiration versus prescriptive.
So, that’s that. I’m trying to write and blog more so please let me know if there are topics or articles you want me to address. Off to have my “clean” breakfast. We’ll see if I veer dirty as the day drags on.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Have you seen What the Health? I say WTF.

I love a good, food documentary and my clients do too. For some reason, a film seems to stick with you longer or make more of an impression than an article or even a food-related book.
And so, when client after client asked if I’d seen What the Health, I had to check it out. I located the movie on Netflix and watched it.
The movie is presented as one man’s journey to figure out what to eat to minimize his risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. These are diseases in his family history but also conditions many of us are concerned about. The mission was interesting, the methods questionable. The best way I can explain it is to think of going shopping. You go to a store and try on an outfit. The salesperson works for the store. When you ask, “what do you think of this outfit?” tell me the chances of getting an objective response.
Attention- SPOILERS coming. The conclusion of this film is that veganism is the answer.
They assemble a slew of vegan doctors and dietitians who promote a plant-based diet. They refer to advocates/experts of the paleo diet as “paleo folks” but it would've been interesting to hear from an expert with a differing viewpoint. Now, I know who these experts in the film are and what they endorse. For viewers, not in health-related fields, it might appear every reputable, integrative wellness professional concurs.
Some things the film gets right:
1.     Many large, health organizations are biased by corporate sponsorship. There’s nothing good about organizations from The American Cancer Society to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics being swayed by corporate donors. We can all agree that’s not good for anyone (except these corporations or groups).
2.     We should all make a U-turn from the standard American diet. From processed meats to conventional meat and dairy production, processed and mangled food is no Bueno.
3.     When people exercise and eat real, wholesome food they feel better.
What the film gets wrong:
1.     Narrowmindedness and nutrition don’t go together. I understand having a point you want to drive home. Oftentimes, at Foodtrainers if we have a hunch about something we will look at see if the research supports this. What we don’t do is present things that aren’t true in order to boost our case. For example- when you have experts saying sugar isn’t inflammatory or carbs do not get stored as fat? That takes away from the veganism is the answer premise versus boosting it.
2.     Within every food group there’s a hierarchy. From fats to carbs and even animal protein there’s a spectrum of healthfulness. Lumping avocado in with trans fats or wild salmon with processed lunch meats doesn’t make sense.
3.     One size doesn’t fit all- while I do eat mainly “plant based” (term bugs me, it’s like a euphemism for vegan), I feel better (more satisfied, more energetic, less hormonal) with well-sourced eggs and seafood. I know this from a lot of methodical experimentation. This isn’t about me but something I feel needs to be sorted out for everyone, with professional help, blood work and time.
I’m all for anything shining a light on diet and its importance for our health and ongevity. I don’t like gimmicks such as sugar doesn’t matter, it’s all about cutting out meat.

Have you watched? Curious if you’re saying WTF like I am.