Monday, November 29, 2010

KFC Double Down "Healthier" Than an Egg? What!?

According to -
"For anyone watching their cholesterol, Canadian researchers say eating a single egg could be more harmful than munching the current king of fast food indulgences.
According to a new report published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, one egg yolk can contain more cholesterol than a KFC Double Down sandwich.
Compared to the 150 milligrams of cholesterol contained in the now-famous sandwich comprised of bacon, cheese and sauce sandwiched between two pieces of deep fried chicken, researchers say a single egg can contain between 215 and 275 milligrams. A Big Mac contains just 75 mg of cholesterol, while a footlong meatball sandwich from Subway packs 90 mg."
It's not just The Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun have published similar articles calling this incredibly unhealthy sandwich "healthier" than an egg. A nutrient-packed, incredibly healthy, whole food egg.
The way I see it, there are 2 BIG problems with this article -
1. Using only dietary cholesterol as a way of judging if a food is "good" or "bad"
2. Considering dietary cholesterol as an issue when dealing with heart disease risk 
Let me start with the first point, using cholesterol as the only comparison....I need to simmer for few minutes before I start into a "cholesterol isn't bad for you!" rant. :)
Many clinical studies, including one by The Harvard School of Health, found that eggs do not raise blood cholesterol in healthy individuals AND has even been shown to raise "good" HDL cholesterol! The KFC Double Down, on the other hand, is FULL of transfat. Transfat has been found, in pretty much every study ever it's been in, to raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. 
One is a nutrient-packed whole food and the other one of the most unhealthy fast foods ever created! I'm quite impressed that the writer of this (well, these) articles had the guts to compare such different foods.
I think the biggest problem with this article is the way that we're looking at food and health in general. We're trying to put everything on a "good" or "bad" list. Even worse, we're trying to put single components in food onto a "good' or "bad" list, opening the doors for manufactured foods that are "healthier" than their whole food components. Some of these articles even list egg white substitutes as the healthier option if you're going to eat eggs! How is that possible!? ....I'll get into this topic in more detail in my next post...:)
Back to cholesterol - Why is the consideration of dietary cholesterol an issue? Because it is an essential part of our diet. Our bodies use cholesterol to make Vitamin D and hormones. It also uses it to repair arterial damage. 
...wait, I thought cholesterol clogged our arteries?!
Yes, it can, but one of it's main roles in our body is to repair damaged to our arteries - caused by free radicals, heavy metals, and transfats...just to name a few (many of which are in the manufactured foods that have the "Health Check" symbol"). As well, our liver manufactures about 80% of the cholesterol in our body, and it's well-proven fact that the cholesterol in our diet has a very small affect on the amount of cholesterol in our bloodstream.
Instead of trying to reduce the cholesterol in your bloodstream through medication or dietary "products", ask yourself, why is it high? What am I eating that might be causing my body to raise the cholesterol in my bloodstream? Eating a diet that balances YOUR body (a diet unique to you) is the best way to keep you healthy and keep your cholesterol where it should be.
For the full article, click HERE - did I mention, a similar article, bashing the egg marketers even more is posted in their "Healthzone" section !
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and eat an egg in protest.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fat Doesn't Make You Fat

Gaining weight and losing weight has nothing to do with grams of fat or the amount of calories you eat in a day. But it does have everything to do with blood sugar and insulin.

When we eat food the carbohydrates are broken down and are converted into glucose, which our body uses as energy. When the glucose in our blood rises, our pancreas secretes insulin and this allows the glucose to enter our cells to be used as energy.

Our liver is constantly watching this process to make sure that we have just the right amount of glucose and insulin in our blood. It watches hormones in particular, so it's insulin that tells the liver if your blood sugar level is too low or too high.

If our blood sugar is higher then we need for energy, the insulin in our blood signals our liver and our liver stores this excess energy as fat. The liver converts the glucose into triglycerides and then are sent through our blood stream to our fat stores.

Fat, on the other hand, can be used as energy, but this is only when necessary. Fat is used in MANY important processes in our body, and it's only as an almost last resort does our body use it as energy (it uses protein as a very last resort). Our liver has to convert the fat into a glucose molecule and will only do so as needed, so our blood sugar doesn't spike with fat. Otherwise, the fat is used to make cell membranes, hormones, etc. Fat is a VERY important molecule in the body.

Fat and protein affect how carbohydrates enter into your bloodstream. A higher fat or protein meal actually slows down the break down of the carbs, creating a slower burning carb and that keeps your blood sugar steady. The more refined the carb is, the faster it enters your bloodstream.

When we eat a high carb meal, or a refined carb, our blood sugar spikes - this is when our liver stores fat. We can tell that our blood sugar spiked by looking at when our blood sugar crashes - this is seen as any emotion around hunger. Irritability, tiredness, lack of patience, etc are all signs that earlier your blood sugar spiked and now you're crashing. Look back at your last meal and see why it caused a crash. Leveling out your blood sugar so you're no longer on the blood sugar rollercoaster is how to stop gaining weight, and how to lose weight. 

We need to stop blaming fat and eat healthy whole foods to maintain a healthy body and a healthy weight!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Eat More Real Food

Right off the bat I need to admit to something - I tend to become, well, I guess "passionate" is the polite way of describing it, when discussing food. I get quite frustrated with all of the media and advertising surrounding what is healthy and what isn't.

But you might be thinking, this product has the "Health Check" symbol on it so it must be healthy! No, no it does not.

If a food says it's healthy, it probably isn't. 

I say this quite a lot, and it pretty much sums up all my frustration with the food industry. What do I mean by this? Let me explain with a few examples:

Kraft Dinner
The next time you're at the grocery store, swing by the Kraft Dinner section and check out the new addition to the pretty blue box. Yup, that's a "Sensible Solutions" symbol on it. Kraft has let us know that if you make this incredibly processed food product with skim milk and margarine (2 more incredibly processed food products), then according to their standards, it's a healthy choice! Or, as they like to call it, a "better-for-you" choice. Wow, thanks for letting us know Kraft!

This processed food product is a pet peeve of mine, especially the "healthy" margarines. You know, the ones with the "Health Check" symbol on it. That symbol costs a lot of money and they're very proud of it! (btw, the standards aren't nearly as high as the price paid for that symbol). The healthy margarines claim to be trans-fat free (although chances are high they still contain some trans-fat), high in omega-3s, and everything else under the sun. My problem with all margarines is a basic one - for polyunsaturated fats to be solid at room temperature they MUST under go quite a lot of processing. These fats are not very stable and do not handle this processing very how could it possibly be better for you than butter?
As well, a new study that followed over 300,000 people was published this month, and found no increased risk of heart disease with the consumption of saturated fat. This is a significant finding (but not a surprise to whole food community :). So what would you choose? A minimally processed saturated fat that has been in our diet for millennia, or a highly processed polyunsaturated fat that is new to our diet? I will choose butter over margarine every time.

These are just 2 examples of very unhealthy foods that are screaming to us that they're healthy. Most realize that no matter how you cook it, Kraft Dinner isn't healthy, but these "healthy symbols" just add to the confusion at the grocery store.

Make it easy - any food that is being advertised, healthy or not, tends to be processed and is no longer a whole food. Why? Simply put; products have advertising budgets, and whole foods aren't products. An apple can't afford a multi-million (or billion) dollar ad campaign. Broccoli can't afford (and doesn't need) fancy new packaging that screams all of its health benefits. When a food says to us "Pick me! I'm healthy! See how I'm high in fibre, low in fat, and healthy!” they are actually telling us that they are processed and are no longer whole foods. As always, there are exceptions to this rule, but it's always a good place to start. :)

Let's make grocery shopping easier! Eat whole, unprocessed food. Fruit, vegetables, whole and fresh meats (instead of processed or frozen), full fat dairy, and whole grains. Eat FOOD! Real and amazingly tasty FOOD!
If you'd like to know more about your food and how it's produced, watch the documentary Food Inc. It has some wonderful insights and solutions to our food problems.

And, remember, Eat More Real Food!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How to Change Your Diet Without Annoying Your Partner/Family

I hear it all the time – “I want to change my diet, but my husband/wife/partner/family keep pulling me off track”. Sorry, that's no excuse. Creating a healthy diet doesn’t need to be difficult and it doesn’t have to be something you are “on” for a few weeks at a time.
Let's just throw away the word "diet" - eating healthy is a way of life, and you CAN work around your family’s eating habits!

How? Try this:
  1. Stop thinking your diet is either on or off, black or white– A healthy lifestyle lives in the “grey”, it doesn’t need to be 100% perfect to be healthy. A treat in the morning is no excuse to eat junk food all day!
  2. Change the meals you eat alone FIRST!– Dinner (the meal most of us share with our family) is only one meal of the day…what about the other 2 meals and snacks? A healthy lifestyle can be created without ever touching dinner! Most of our eating pitfalls are with the other meals and snacks anyways :).
  3. Eat consciously, whatever you’re eating– Sit down, relax, and enjoy your meal…no matter what it is you’re eating. A meal eaten consciously is healthier than a meal eaten on the run, no matter the quality of the food. Plus, it’s impossible to overeat while eating consciously (try it, I can guarantee you’ll be too bored to eat too much).
Your ideal way of eating can’t be found in a book and it won’t be the same as your neighbour’s. We are all unique, and it makes sense that what our body’s need for fuel is also unique. When you find YOUR healthy lifestyle you feel great, are full of energy, and you don’t feel deprived or hungry. You just feel….good! Believe me, it works and I can help you find your ideal balance :).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Top 10 Food Facts

1) Look at the ingredient list INSTEAD of the nutritional profile. Look for real food in the ingredient list, and as always - if you can't pronounce it, don't eat it. It's not real food.

2) Fat doesn't make you fat - studies have found no correlation between saturated fat intake and heart disease. BUT! They have found a connection with low fat foods, where the naturally contained fat has been replaced with sugar. Eat food the way it is meant to be eaten...with all of the yummy fat.

3) No trans-fat or processed oils - A product that contains 0.5 grams of trans-fat or less per serving can claim it has none...and many of these products are foods we'll eat multiple "servings" of per meal - the trans-fat can add up fast! Eat fat and oils in their natural form - butter, olive oil, etc. Stay far away from margarine, including the "healthy" margarines.

4) Any emotion around hunger isn't actually hunger, it's your blood sugar crashing - Be aware of how food makes you feel 1 – 2 hours after eating. Are you tired? Irritable? Incredibly hungry? Your last meal wasn’t balanced and has caused your blood sugar to crash.

5) If a food says it's healthy, it probably isn't - Real food (fruits, vegetables, etc) don't have marketing companies telling you they’re healthy. Any food with a slogan (low fat, high in fibre, etc) is a product and is no longer a whole food.

6) Eat food your great grandmother would recognize - Our diet has changed dramatically in the last 50 years, and by looking at the state of our collective health, it hasn't changed for the better. Your great grandmother wouldn't recognize cheez whiz, margarine, and many other foods on the grocery shelves.

7) Chew! Your stomach doesn't have teeth – Digestion starts in the mouth, take the time to chew properly…it’ll go a long way towards healthy digestion and a healthy body.

8) Water - drink it, and it doesn't need to be fancy - Staying hydrated isn’t about counting each glass of water per day. Look at your urine, if it’s clear or pale yellow – you’re hydrated. If it’s dark yellow – you’re dehydrated. Simply remove the chlorine (carbon filter) and fluoride (check with your municipality) from your water and enjoy!

9) Life can be sweet - Use healthier, unprocessed sugars like honey and maple syrup. These are easier for our body to metabolize and for most of us it won't cause our blood sugar to crash.

10) Add fat (butter or olive oil) to your vegetables – Your body needs fat to absorb the fat soluble vitamins in your veggies, like Vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene), Vitamin K, and Vitamin E.