Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Hierarchy the best and the worst candy picks

Last Sunday, after we had dinner, I left my football-watching family and headed out. My destination? Duane Reade. Once there I made myself comfortable in the candy aisle and went to work.  I had a candy segment the next morning and even amongst the junk I was trying to sort out the Halloween hierarchy.

I texted Carolyn, if you can't reach me here's where I am

First, I looked at sugar:
Note: serving sizes vary so before I could compare candy, I need to do some advanced math and look at comparable serving sizes (1 bar for all chocolate or the equivalent for gummy stuff), you know “apples to apples” or in this case Airheads to Airheads.
The sugar “stars” or best of the bunch were Twizzlers, Dark Chocolate Kisses, Mounds and Nestle crunch.
All of these had less than 8 grams (or 2 teaspoons) of sugar
The scariest sugar?
Candy corn by far, followed by Reeses, Skittles and 100 Grand.

I also glanced at calories where Twizzlers led the the way again with York Peppermint Patty, Airheads and Sour Patch Kids also low in calories.
This is just another instance where calories don’t tell the full story. I’d suggest Reeses and 100 Grand (highest in calories) over the low calories picks simply because I think the food dyes are the worst of the worst. The three most widely used dyes in the US require a warning label by the EU. Those are red 40, yellow 5 and yellow 6.  As if being derived from petroleum wasn’t bad enough, the dyes are responsible for behavior issues in children and headaches for all of us. Ingredients matter, even with candy.

The good news is that Halloween is one day and most of the candy is mini (cannot endorse the term “fun size”).  At the end of the day, enjoy your favorites if you so choose and most importantly be sure the candy isn’t hanging around in November. Kids will forget about it, adults…not so much.
What's your favorite Halloween candy? Will you have it this year? 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Happy National Beer Day & Better Brews

Happy National Beer Day! Until recently,  I couldn’t care less about beer. I’m allergic to wheat and have always been more of a spirits girl. My husband, on the other hand, is a beer (and Bourbon) guy. Without TMI (he prefers NI or “no information” about him on social media) he is gluten free because of Lyme disease. His Lyme was serious and thankfully he’s much better a year later. I did want to hug his amazing doctor when he suggested a gluten free and sugar free diet.

Back to beer, earlier this month the New York Post ran “Howto Chug Beer Without Getting Chubby”. This article discussed lower calorie beers and my pal Tricia Williams of Food Matters NYC shouted out Greens Gluten free beer.

In the first and last post Marc will likely contribute to this blog, here is  his cheat sheet for gluten free beer and cider. 
This was cut and pasted from his email, I elaborated a little because he likes beer AND brevity:
Our fridge door

  • Best GF beers are Estrella Dam Durra and Omission

*note Estrella (available on Fresh Direct) is controversial and not necessarily safe for celiacs, it contains a tiny amount of gluten. 
  • Greens is very good too,  I had it last night at MSG (Madison Square Garden). Lots of gluten free beers are really bad
Oktoberbest in Vermont
  • Cider: Angry Orchard is the most popular, it’s at many bars but has a ton of sugar. The sugar content was surprising to me when I started drinking cider. Also, it’s not the easiest thing for a guy to order cider when out but I’m over that.Woodchuck from VT, also lots of sugar
  • Citizen Cider is good and some of their ciders are lower in sugar.

Have you tried any gluten free beers? Any favorites? Have you seen more cider?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cheese is like crack and salad leads us to cheese

Last week I received multiple emails entitled “cheese is crack” referring to an LA Times article.  Yeah, yeah I thought as I clicked through, I could’ve told you that. Cheese is my dietary kryptonite. What I didn’t know was this:
“Casomorphins attach to the brain’s opiate receptors to cause a calming effect in much the same way heroin and morphine do," said Barnard. And since cheese has a concentrated content of casomorphins, Barnard suggested it may be called dairy crack.
While many associate sugar with a drug-like or addictive response, I thought cheese lovers were simply eating cheese because it’s the most delicious food in the universe. I am not sure if this notion of “calming cheese” makes me want to eat more or less of it but it makes sense to me. When cheese is in my life or kitchen, it’s hard to see it in my refrigerator drawer and pass it up. Fortunately, having not been to the Farmer’s market this week, I am cheese free. Fingers crossed no casomorph withdrawal.
Note: casomorphins come from casein (milk protein), all cheese has casein even though some cheeses are lactose free.
In other nutrition news, the NY Times Sunday Review highlightedjust the idea that we can have salad leads us toillicit treats”. The article explains something called the licensing effect. The licensing effect refers to our tendency to make an unhealthy choice following a healthy one. This can be the typical “I worked out so therefore…” or in supermarket studies research shows “drop a bunch of kale into your cart and you’re more likely to head to the ice cream or beer section.” There are some ways to get around this. First, the article mentions that we all have a concept of how healthy or unhealthy we are. When we stray too far from our norm, we’re more likely to compensate. I would say the more you tend to follow a positive decision with a negative one, the more you should opt for gradual, manageable changes versus rash ones. Second, focus on the behavior and not the scale. This licensing effect can encourage us to gain weight after we’ve lost it if the focus is numerical.
So the answer isn’t to skip the kale and head directly for the cheese plate but rather something along the lines of a kale Caesar salad. We need a place for cheese and other treats, crack-like or not, so that we don’t give ourselves license to binge.

Are you a cheese addict? Or what’s your dietary kryptonite? How have you seen yourself “licensing” unhealthy choices?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

It Was Me All Along

I read two types of books. For work it’s mostly non-fiction. There’s a stack of books staring at me on fascinating topics such as probiotics, hormones and seeds. On the weekends, I’ll treat myself a novel, something I can read more than one chapter of at a time. Though I like anything nutrition-related, rarely am I captivated by something I’m reading for work. However, I spent most of Saturday on the couch with It Was Me all Along. And if you’ve ever struggled with food or family, you will cherish Andie Mitchell’s story.

I do something weird while I read (and I randomly found out another friend does too). I fold the bottom of the page in a book if there’s something I want to return to. I had so many corner flips as I read this one. A few of my favorites:

Where does emotional eating begin?
Without giving too much away, in the first part of the book you learn about Andie’s early years. In a way both of her parents were absent. But it was her mother who was “scared of scarcity” and baked and cooked excessively when she was around who had a steady influence on Andie’s food and weight.  When she was around, we get the picture of a loving mom who truly wants what’s best for her daughter.

Change of circumstances, change of eating?
As I read, I thought surely when Andie left home and went off to college she’d be less lonely and her food might fall into place.  I was wrong, what started off as eating out of loneliness morphed into social eating. She found friends and entered relationships with those who enjoyed overeating too. In many ways, for better or for worse, our peers have an effect on our eating.

The realizations that start to change things
At one point, after visiting a drive through with a friend, Andie remarks she doesn’t even like McDonald’s fries “I wondered how many other foods I ate that I didn’t even like. Then I wondered, however briefly, if my eating was even about liking food at all”. Eating can be about so many non-taste related things. As Andie said best, “whenever I started to feel even one inkling of boredom, doubt, anxiety or anger, food would soothe me. At least temporarily.”

There are always “two voices”
Andie captures the struggle, the pull of “both voices” many of us have.  “I struggled between wishing away all the food that had collected on my body as fat and fiercely missing every morsel.”

What to do when things aren’t going so well
I loved a breakthrough Andie had when she was wavering “oh so this is going to suck for a while”. She compares eating to a marathon “where miles 10 through twenty-six just purely, uncompromisingly suck. ” It’s not always fun and many of us have to realize that.

Mindful Eating
Some of my favorite parts of this book are when Andie goes abroad to Italy. She discovers running and cooking but also pleasure in food. It’s a major, meaningful and beautiful shift going  “from someone who ate to capacity to distract her mind, into someone who purposefully tasted every morsel, was not unconscious”

We can lose weight without really addressing things
 “I wanted so badly to conceal the fact that, despite a radical transformation, I remained as screwed up as I had been. I was alone with myself. I was exposed. I was left with emotions I’d eaten for twenty years”

And finally…
“I was simply one person who happened to have lots of history and personal experience with dieting, losing weight and learning to love her whole self”

Have you read or heard of this book? Which quote resonated with you? What are you reading now?

Friday, October 9, 2015

You say martini, I say carrotini (and martini too)

Yes- not only the weekend but a long weekend. Hallelujah. While our latest cocktail was created with Halloween in mind, there's no need to wait.
What's your fave cocktail? Any twists on making them healthier? Any topics you'd like us to cover in future videos?