Total Pageviews

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Nutrish and Delish: Barbecue Sauce -- Healthier Version

For finger-lickin' good summer meals -- nothing beats a homemade barbecue sauce to tenderize and flavor your meats, chicken, and even vegetables.

Homemade barbecue sauce tastes infinitely better than anything that comes out of a bottle or jar AND you can control your ingredients so that it is ALSO so much HEALTHIER. You will find, too, that the healthier versions are lighter and give a more refined flavour than the thick, almost sickly-sweet bottled gunk.

Just for your information and comparison purposes, know that:

ONE SERVING (about 100 ml)

Bottled barbecue sauce (for example, Heinz)contains: 140 kilocalories, 31.7 g carbohydrates (of which 29.2 is sugars), 1.1 g protein, 0.3 g total fat, 0.5 g dietary fiber, 600 mg sodium

Homemade barbecue sauce, made the regular way which usually uses much brown sugar or maple syrup, contains: 160 kcals, 30.8 g carbohydrates (of which 26.2
sugars), 1.46 g protein, 4.1 g total fat,1.0 g dietary fiber, 910 mg sodium

The following recipes are MUCH HEALTHIER AND they are just as tasty, if not BETTER-TASTING!

This first recipe uses fresh plums in place of most of the brown sugar that is normally used to make a regular homemade sauce. Fresh peaches and apricots also make a great barbecue sauce, but plums give the nice 'tang' to the sweetness.

Barbecue Sauce made with fresh plums

1 tsp unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon margarine
1 onion, chopped
garlic, 2 cloves, minced
ketchup, 1 cup or 8 oz. or, better yet, 2 chopped medium ripe tomatoes or 15 baby pomodori tomatoes, chopped
cider vinegar, 1/3 cup or 2 oz.
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
plums, 2medium or 5 small, chopped with skin on
Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup or 1 oz.
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
salt, dash
1 tsp black pepper

Melt butter and margarine in saucepan. Add onion and cook until almost transparent. Add garlic and cook about 2 minutes. Add plums and cook until starting to soften
Add remaining ingredients and stir well. If too thick,at this point, can add cold water, but only to 'saucy' consistency -- never too 'liquidy'. Simmer until mixture boils, then lower for 15-20 minutes until thickened.
Set aside. Prepare your ribs, chicken, pork chops, or whatever you would like to marinate with the barbecue sauce. If I'm using ribs (ESPECIALLY pork), I always simmer first in a big pot for 45 minutes before laying in a baking or grilling pan covered with the barbecue sauce and then I cook them for a further 25-30 minutes with the barbecue sauce cooking into them. I also cook my chicken and pork chops first a bit (say 20-30 minutes -- depending on thickness of meat), before covering with barbecue sauce and returning to grill or oven to finish the cooking process. As the meats cook, the barbecue sauce almost melts into the meat and gives it a shiny, glistening barbecue finish as well as that fantastic barbecue aroma! For vegetables, you do not need to pre-cook before adding barbecue sauce for cooking.

This barbecue sauce recipe makes enough for 6 servings or 1 large pan of meat or vegetables.

One Serving (about 100 ml), made with ketchup, contains: 96.5 kcals, 19.1 g carbohydrate (of which 15.3 sugars), 2.3 g total fat, 1.04 g dietary fiber, 562 mg sodium

IF YOU REPLACE the ketchup with fresh chopped tomatoes, you get a similar tasting barbecue sauce AND the nutritional contents are EVEN healthier as ONE SERVING THEN contains: 64.5 kcals, 10.6 g carbohydrates (of which 7.18 sugars), 2.3 g total fat, 1.33 g dietary fiber, 174 mg sodium. You would add the chopped tomatoes after the plums have started to soften and then wait for the tomatoes to soften a bit before adding rest of ingredients and proceed, as directed, above.

I always make my recipe with fresh plums AND tomatoes (I use baby pomodori tomatoes) as I can't believe how much LESS sugars, sodium, and kilocalories and more fiber there is using this recipe and the flavor is SO tasty and delicious! Once all these flavors meld together and then cook into the meat and/or vegetables, you don't miss the brown sugar and ketchup AT ALL! I promise!!
Enjoy! ;)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Question: When Will Obesity Epidemic End? Answer: When YOU DECIDE It's Over

The fates lead those who will, those who won't they drag. an old Roman saying

Ten years ago, right about this time of the year, I was writing a paper about the epidemiology of obesity. I was also conducting some very interesting research on childhood attitudes and behaviors on dietary intake, physical activity, and perceptions of body weight and image. My paper and research was being scrutinized and read by prominent researchers and public health strategists in the field. I was hoping to somehow make a difference toward what seemed like a hopeless situation, at that time, to help decrease the surge in the incidence and prevalence of obesity. At some point in the very long paper, here's excerpts of what I wrote in 2001:

'...the esteemed Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dan Glickman...succinctly, but profoundly stated, "our greatest challenge as policy makers and public health advocates remains to translate what the experts know in[to] what people do."...

In order to move global obesity prevention forward, from what experts know to what the people do, two major factors will have to be present:

1) environments --national and global--that enable, invite, and encourage health-promoting, obesity-prohibiting attitudes and behaviors


2) a shift in current responses of the public from obesity-causing attitudes and behaviors-- especially regarding dietary intake, physical activity and inactivity, and perceptions of weight and health -- to desired responses that are more consistent with health promotion and disease prevention.

Both factors are inextricably linked, especially in demand/supply, market-driven countries -- both established and developing. However, the environment needs to change first in order to elicit the desired responses. Obesity-enabling aspects of the environment are so ubiquitous at this point in time, that it is almost impossible, even unfair, to expect people to change. Experience has already proven, time and again, that people do not change, even under what experts think are the most optimal conditions:

1) evidence-based advice/recommendations,
2)appropriate manner to deliver recommendations, utilizing well founded models and theories, such as, social cognitive theory, the transtheoretical model, motivational counselling, relapse prevention...
3)signs from patients/clients of heightened knowledge of untoward effects of disease and benefits of prevention and proper compliance with recommendations.

The fact is, until environments that people live in, can empower them to live the recommendations, extolling the virtues of healthy eating and physical activity habits and expecting people to follow suit, is a futile charade, until behaviors and habits necessary for health-promotion and disease prevention become less "virtuous" and more "normal". Moreover, it is extremely confusing and de-motivating when people hear, read, and see messages from "experts" while society promotes, allows, encourages, and rewards an environment that makes it easier and more inviting to do exactly the opposite of recommendations. This whole dynamic greatly de-values evidence-based information, and renders the hard work and sound advice of obesity experts impotent.'

NOW, BACK TO 2011!
I stand by everything I wrote in the above, to this day, EXCEPT ONE THING....TODAY, I feel very strongly that the factor that NOW needs to CHANGE, FOREMOST, is:

2) a shift in 'responses of the public from obesity-causing attitudes and behaviors-- especially regarding dietary intake, physical activity and inactivity, and perceptions of weight and health -- to desired responses that are more consistent with health promotion and disease prevention.'

You see, the environment HAS changed! I would hope that I had something to do with that -- who knows? I certainly tried my best to work darn hard on that research and paper.
And, of course, we have a LONG way to go and much more still needs to be done, but there has been a fairly decent response from governments, industry, restauranteurs, public health agencies, society, and medical and other health-care communities to make changes so as to enable folks to make better choices. OF COURSE, there are numerous instances of companies acting like they ARE making changes, when, in fact, they are just engaging in tricky marketing, while they still peddle high-sugar, high-fat, low-nutrient, high-calorie foods and beverages -- often with a warped 'health halo' on their respective innovative food or drink.. And, initiatives that proclaim to be encouraging more physical activity backslide constantly. So, we still have fattening foods and opportunities for sedentary activities and lifestyles readily accessible and ubiquitous and there are STILL body weight and image issues GALORE to contend with -- BUT -- thinking and attitudes about obesity-enabling and encouraging HAS, at least, been knocked down a peg or two from when it was running amok and at its 'zenith of nonchalance', in my opinion, from say -- the late 1980's and through the 1990's.

So, the environmental response seems to be a scenario of the 2 steps forward, 10 steps backward 'tug'.

The fact is -- to MOVE FORWARD to SUSTAIN THE MOMENTUM to continue the changes in the 'environment' -- PEOPLE will NOW NEED TO MAKE CHANGES!

YOU will have to make decisions to EAT HEALTHIER, ENGAGE IN MORE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, STOP WATCHING SO MUCH TV AND SITTING IN FRONT OF THE COMPUTER, and just optimize your behaviors and take full advantage of any and all changes in the environment that have been made.

WHEN YOU --- ALOT OF YOU -- through mass population response, at a continuing and sustained level, show the food and beverage, entertainment and media, exercise and physical activity industries; restauranteurs; civic planners and governments; and health-care sectors that THIS IS WHAT AND HOW YOU WANT TO LIVE -- THESE ARE THE SERVICES AND PRODUCTS YOU WANT -- then all these sectors will have NO CHOICE, but to continue to SUPPLY what YOU DEMAND -- FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN AND YOUR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN and SO ON!!

THEN, my friends, WILL and can the OBESITY EPIDEMIC END!!! It is NOW UP TO YOU!!!

Believe me, I KNOW that doesn't make it any easier to MAKE the CHANGES. BUT, it is what has to happen and it IS possible. If you want to change and feel you need help, get it. If you contact me, I will help you get started.

Someday soon, I look forward to reading -- heck, maybe even writing myself -- a new paper on how the obesity epidemic was eradicated.

I'm really trying, each day, to live my health-promoting, obesity-eradicating changes and behaviors. It's not easy for me, folks, but I'm doing it! I've made MY DECISION(S) to do it.


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Lose weight and keep it off for good...ah...EXCEPT if you're already OBESE!

Well, I just attended an excellent seminar by Dr. Robert Kushner on 'The Physiology of Obesity' and learned lots of new information that has been generated by a whole host of very hard-working obesity specialists who have done some remarkable and robust research studies on the hormonal and (patho)physiological pathways of appetite and body weight regulation.

The GOOD NEWS -- If you have gained weight over your holidays and/or have put on a few pounds over a couple years -- you CAN lose it and KEEP IT OFF FOR GOOD -- once you stop the period of overeating and GET BACK to your usual intake of kilocalories AND continue to move and live, probably get back to your usual exercise regime, so as to get back to your 'usual' weight and eating pattern. So, YES, you MUST exert a bit of discipline to get yourself back on track, but once you exert a bit of this discipline and come to your senses, apparently, your HORMONES will BEHAVE and help to get your appetite under control, enable you to regain that youthful, healthful figure, and PHYSIOLOGICALLY set you up to keep your weight in check. YAAAAY!

Oh....the BAD NEWS -- NONE of the above happens IF YOU ARE OBESE!!!! Whoops! Sorry -- those of you who desperately NEED all the PHYSIOLOGICAL HELP you can get as you emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually struggle to whack the weight off and feel and look decent, dignified -- perhaps just plain 'normal' and 'acceptable' -- well... YOUR HORMONES and HOMEOSTATIC and HEDONIC SIGNALING PATHWAYS are MUCH MORE primed and inclined to KEEP YOU OBESE and/or, WORSE YET -- MAKE YOU GET OBESE AGAIN EVEN IF YOU'VE SUCCEEDED (through the blood, sweat, and tears of dieting and working out!!!) in whacking off quite a chunk -- say 10% or so -- of your unsightly flab!

It's like this:

1. IF you ARE OBESE and Not Trying to Lose Weight
If you're obese and not doing a heck of alot, if anything, about it -- PHYSIOLOGICALLY, your hormonal and metabolic pathways signalling things like, oh ,say -- you are full, you've had enough food for your body's needs, your body fat stores are excessive, you are carrying way too much weight for your bones and organs to bear and function properly, you need to STOP eating, you need to GET UP OFF THE COUCH AND MOVE, you are NOT MOVING ENOUGH and certainly not like your beautiful body is hard-wired to move since the beginning of time == well, they are completely turned OFF, in a way, to HELP YOU HELP YOURSELF! It's a sad and ironic conundrum! YOU ARE THE VERY PEOPLE who NEED all systems to be GO and in HELP mode, but the reality is that the obesity, itself, prevents the body from getting back to optimum function. No surprises, there, though! I think we've all known that for years -- its just now, it's more known WHY and HOW. Well, at least we know a BIT more -- there's STILL alot NOT KNOWN!

God help you! Every pathway and signalling substance possible is conspiring to get you to hang on to the weight and fat, get you to overeat and KEEP overeating, and make your hard efforts to burn off the kilocalories less effective so as to KEEP YOU FROM EXPENDING THE ENERGY YOU NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT! Now, THAT SUCKS!!!!! Again, for many of us who have tried to lose weight and have succeeded only to find ourselves back at square one after a few months or years -- NO SURPRISES here -- right? We just know a bit more WHY and HOW this HEARTBREAKING scenario happens. But, again, as much as we do know about this phenomenon -- there's still alot NOT KNOWN.

For me, the MOST IMPORTANT TAKE HOME LESSON from all of this information about 'The Physiology of Obesity' is this:



And if they already are -- get them to the GP, a dietitian, or to whomever you can to GET HELP to GET THEM TO NORMALIZE not just their BODY WEIGHT, but their PHYSIOLOGY!!!!! What I didn't mention above is that ALOT of the pathophysiological occurrences in obstructing successful alleviation of the obese state has to do with fat cell number and size and the amount of time the obese state has been sustained -- SO -- the SOONER you get a person to lose the weight and do what it takes to 'normalize' their body's weight and functions and get into a situation where dietary intake is more in alignment with energy expenditure (that is, activity levels and kcals needed to move the body), the LESS FAT CELLS the body will have and proliferate, the SMALLER the existing FAT CELLS WILL STAY, and the less chance of the 'RATCHETING UPWARD' effect the body will have -- that is -- the phenomenon when the body just continues to keep getting bigger and bigger, the appetite continues to also get bigger and bigger, and the body then REQUIRES more and more and bigger and bigger to the point that the 'obesity' becomes the body's preferred state and THIS is what makes it SO HARD to REVERSE the obese state.

Now, I also STRONGLY feel that for those of us who are obese and strive to lose weight and keep it off, for good -- just KNOWING what we're up against HELPS. What we DO HAVE working FOR US is the simple laws of physics! The less you put into your body and the more you move -- IF YOU KEEP IT UP over time -- the body WILL respond to CONTINUE to lose weight and KEEP IT OFF. The take home lesson, thus, is to JUST KEEP AT IT and DON"T SUCCUMB TO THE (patho)PHYSIOLOGY of obesity!

I MEAN IT!! We KNOW the odds are totally stacked against successfully losing weight and keeping it off but that's doesn't mean we should stop working at it.

And, the folks researching solutions and alternatives continue to work hard on possibilities for relief on many fronts: medications, procedures, genetic and epigenetic therapies, and, of course, diet, physical activity, and counselling that WORK most efficiently.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Last Time You REALLY Felt Hungry?

Lately, in the popular and medical news, there has been a flutter about pinpointing the MAIN reason why people are consuming too many kilocalories -- that is -- IS IT too big of portions at meal times or is it TOO MUCH SNACKING? Apparently, a few studies have shown that PORTION SIZES AT MEALTIMES have actually only increased by 20, perhaps 30% and that it is an increase in snacking that is responsible for overeating.

My take on this is this -- OF COURSE, portions at mealtimes have not increased THAT much -- certainly not enough to fully account for the excessive kcals we're eating, but that's only because, people don't really NEED to increase portions THAT MUCH at MEALTIMES, because they are most likely ALREADY FULL from the INCESSANT EATING!

I can't even describe the other-than-mealtime-eating as SNACKING. It truly IS incessant, continuous eating. It MAY not be actual 'CHEWING EATING' all the time, but the fancy-schmancy coffees and smoothies and frappes and other DRINKS now available are LOADED with enough kcals to account as WHOLE MEALS. And, THEN, there ARE the actual SNACKS == even snacks that are CONSIDERED HEALTHY and OK TO SNACK, let alone the usual chips, candy bars, cakes and cookies, ice cream cones, etc. Those granola bars, pots of yogurt (especially with the 'add-ins' like chocolate sprinkles, granola and muesli, crunchy carob and nut mix, for example), cups of fruit, 100 calorie bags of this or that -- ALL ADD UP to equal OVERCONSUMPTION FOR YOUR NEEDS!

People constantly feel they NEED to be eating! This is not normal. The body is not hard-wired to be in a CONSTANT STATE OF DIGESTION! I don't care how much it keeps your metabolic rate humming along at an increased pace -- it's NOT WORTH IT! The body needs TIME to rest and digest.

It's OK to FEEL HUNGRY!!! It's NORMAL to experience GENUINE HUNGER and to have 3, perhaps 5 hours lapse before you eat ANYTHING -- snack, high-kcalorie coffee concoction, and certainly your next meal.

You only need to drink water inbetween meals. If you MUST eat something, if you feel a 'dip' inbetween meals -- A PIECE OF FRUIT or A CARROT or A SCANT HANDFUL OF NUTS ought to suffice. IF you are eating healthy, wholesome, balanced foods at mealtimes -- you probably won't even experience the need to snack -- physiologically, that is.

The NEED to snack is socially and mentally mediated from environmental suggestions. Its not real, IF YOU ARE AT A HEALTHY WEIGHT and FITNESS LEVEL.

IF YOU ARE OBESE, then you DO have a NEED to eat much more than if your body was at it's ideal weight -- but this is at the expense of your body's health. This is what makes controlling your appetite so hard. This INCREASED NEED FOR FOOD is a result of a distorted state of your body. Somehow, you have to find a way to get your body closer to it's true and ideal muscle to fat ratio and body weight and then, the kilocalorie needs will be much easier to control. Of course, you first have to START with finding a way to, somehow, regulate your kcalorie intake so as to lose the fat tissue that is clogging your body's TRUE FUNCTION and NEEDS and STATE-of-BEING.

What I see happening in the environment today is the way it was for me during my whole childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood -- I grew up Italian. My environment was all about -- "manga, manga"
I don't blame my parents and grandparents and my upbringing. If anything, it has enabled me to truly understand what GOOD food is all about and has led me to the profession I have dedicated my life to -- dietetics. It has also given me a very strong EMPATHY for those people who struggle with obesity and has blessed me with the ability to effectively treat and help them.

What I HAVE had to do regarding my own struggle with obesity is basically, to just 'GROW UP'! Through my understanding of my OWN reality of life and my own body, I have had to really be mature about my situation and recognize that I live in a different world than they did and that I must cope with all these environmental food cues and DISCIPLINE myself to WALK AWAY and not feel the NEED to eat ALL THE TIME. How I was raised was as it was. They had NO IDEA that overfeeding me would prime me to struggle with my body weight my whole life. When I FINALLY established what I needed to do in order to RE-PRIME my body and DEAL with my food/eating past and issues, I've gotten better at controlling my body weight and fat, getting my body to FEEL, LOOK, and BEHAVE HEALTHY and FIT and flesh out a life and body that staves me off from staying/becoming obese. Of course, I am not perfect about always living this, especially during the times in my life when I have been vulnerable. But, I'm proud to say, for the most part -- I LIVE my understanding and true needs EVERY DAY. It's not easy for me, but I truly feel, by the grace of God, and by the prayers and strength of my ancestors that have come before me -- I succeed more than falter!

And, I must say -- it's WONDERFUL to actually FEEL HUNGRY!!!! I am SO lucky that I live in a country and environment where I CAN feel hungry and then have the assurance that I will be fed.

When was the last time you REALLY felt hungry? Embrace this feeling more often. Allow it.