Response: 5 Ways TV Can Hurt Your Health

A recent article featured on Yahoo! titled 5 Ways TV Can Hurt Your Health by Lisa Collier Cool is far from cool.

Check out the opening paragraph,

Couch potatoes beware: Watching the tube for two to three hours a day or more is linked to higher risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and higher rates of early death from all causes, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The culprit is the couch potato lifestyle that frequently accompanies excessive viewing, the researchers report. With the average American logging five hours a day in front of the tube, sitting is replacing exercise.

Ms. Cool, your article targets a population that performs very specific activities. They are the following:

  1. Eating too much while watching TV
  2. Replacing TV for exercise
  3. Watching TV when people should be sleeping
  4. A bunch of stuff about being too close to the TV

When I’m up for work at 5:30am, out the door by 6:30am and not home until 4pm, I check emails and I’m out the door to the gym. While at the gym, I’m usually there for at least an hour doing cardio/weights.

I’m going to list the Top 5 Ways TV Can Improve Your Life.

  1. TV shows can provide a step back from the daily monotony
  2. TV with friends/family is a great way to spend a few minutes together laughing, talking and learning (so that’s what tuna tartare is?)
  3. TV in moderation, like anything else is perfectly normal, even if you’re watching two hour long shows you love a night
  4. Popular TV shows are great conversation starters for people at work. Jessica loves baseball? Good thing you saw the game last night
  5. Shows, similar to those on HGTV can inspire people to DO things. No crime committed there.

When TV gets in the way, there are serious consequences. Overeating issues? Stop eating at the couch. Eat regular meals throughout the day and make it a habit not to bring them to the TV. Everyone knows you’re not paying close attention to the amount you’re consuming when you’re occupied by MasterChef.

Ms. Cool, for those of us who use TV in our lives to enhance it, rather than harm it, give us a break. We don’t need the Journal of the American Medical Association to tell us too much sedentary action leads to obesity. And those who need to learn, your article isn’t something I’d categorize as an authoritative call to action to change behavior.

Up for work at 5am, check emails and head out for the day. That’s my plan for tomorrow. After the gym for an hour, I’m really looking forward to relaxing, and watching a bit of TV.

 

Goodbye Food Pyramid, Hello MyPlate

MyPlate, your plate

Does a plate of food more closely relate with Americans than a pyramid of food? The most recent version of the food pyramid, with colored striped on the triangle was unclear and a massive step back from the original food pyramid. The Obama administration introduced MyPlate, a dinner plate that looks like a 7th grader’s uneven pie chart,

Some who have seen the logo compared it with a pie chart, though dessert is hardly the association that the administration would like to conjure up. Others likened it to a pizza cut into slices (equally unpalatable for officials). One person said it called to mind a painting by the artist Mark Rothko, who was known for canvases with blocks of color. Those who had seen it would speak only on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized by the administration to discuss it.

How many people find this chart to be new information? The people who need help with their weight control, or who are learning about food need more detailed information than a section on a plate. Portion control is important when dieting, but the old tiered pyramid showing exactly what foods classified and their serving sizes could be interpreted in less ways. Keeping things simple is effective, but with too much simplicity and not enough facts, their is less consistency when determining the proper way to go about a healthy eating style.

Dr. Post believes it was the right step

You paid $2 million dollars to change the old pyramid, according to the Washington Post, Dr. Post who developed this concept had a few words of his own about MyPlate,

It’s grabbing the consumers’ attention that we are after this time, not making it so complicated that perhaps it is a turnoff,” said Robert Post of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. “There is something really inviting about this familiar setting for meal time.”

Why wouldn’t this grab people’s attention? It’s radically different than the food pyramid guide we’ve known for years. The fact it grabs attention doesn’t mean it’s effective or educational. Like when Janet Jackson grabbed the attention of millions of Americans during the superbowl, it meant nothing besides something that was risque.

Attention grabbing or not, we’ll have to see how the next few years plays out. The Obama administration is proactive with efforts to improve the health of Americans — something that should be commended. Skeptics and supports alike must wait to measure the changes/effectiveness in our health brought about by MyPlate.

Is Ronald McDonald Making Obesity Worse? Jim Skinner Says No

Corporate Accountability International

A group called Corporate Accountability International has placed efforts on eliminating the clown from the McDonald’s town. Strong views upheld by leaders of this organization blame marketing, as announced by the Wall Street Journal,

“Marketing can no longer be ignored as a significant part of this massive problem,” the group said in ads placed in major newspapers last week, advocating Ronald’s retirement after nearly 50 years.

The Wall Street Journal continues, and says although Ronald McDonald’s association with a fast food chain gets criticism, the clown plays many roles besides advertising food,

Ronald is indeed an ambassador who has brought a taste of America to the world. He has sponsored the Olympics, supporting fitness and health. He visits sick children in hospitals, and he has about 300 houses where parents can stay free while their kids undergo chronic care.

Ronald Does More Than Food

From a macro view, Ronald doesn’t just wear one hat. And the hat he wears for food doesn’t advocate for him to force feed children unhealthy foods. McDonald’s, in recent years, achieved a more balanced menu with healthier items such as their grilled chicken salads, snack size fruit and walnut salad and oatmeal. The time consumptive efforts it takes to blame a character who’s been around since 1963 could be better spent educating the parents and communities on making healthier lifestyle choices for themselves and their children.

Using Ronald McDonald as a scapegoat for overweight children is like saying cartoons are the reason children don’t focus in school and get good grades. If the child doesn’t study, he doesn’t get good marks. The very rare instances where a child is addicted to TV may alter schoolwork, just as if a child were addicted to fast food they may become obese.

CEO’s Response

McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner had a word to say about Ron,

Ronald McDonald is an ambassador for McDonald’s. And he’s an ambassador for good. He is the face of Ronald McDonald House. He does not advertise unhealthy food to children. McDonald’s does not advertise unhealthy food choices to children. We provide many choices that fit within the balanced active lifestyle. It is up them to choose. And it is up to their parents to choose. And it is their responsibility to do so.

Ronald McDonald is going nowhere.

Will good old Ronald be eighty-sixed from McDonald’s? Sorry, Corporate Accountability International. Doesn’t seem your chances are too good right now.

Heart Attack Grill: Taste Worth Dying For

Rolling down the hospital aisles to get triple bypass surgery isn’t an ideal mid-day event. Eating the Triple Bypass Burger at the Heart Attack Grill just may be.

The Heart Attack Grill is under fire for promoting obesity with their fat and cholesterol packed menu. CBS News reports:

John Basso is the owner of Heart Attack Grill. He admits that he is promoting obesity, but said that it shouldn’t be viewed as dangerous. “We’re not promoting obesity for obesity’s sake,” said Basso. “We’re promoting obesity for fun’s sake. I’m simply saying, don’t grab something through a drive-thru window that you’re going to forget five minutes later.”

Promoting obesity for fun’s sake? Where is the fun in overweight, diabetic 25 year olds with low self worth and an even lower desire to make a change? Unfortunately, Basso makes a critical error when promoting his restaurant and fighting for his case. Our capitalistic society realizes a good business and allows it to thrive. If he is going to back his idea of unhealthy food, the correct response would be pointing to the consumer’s right to choose. Not to highlight obesity as “fun”. The most disgusting part about the whole ordeal, mentioned in the CBS News report,

People who weigh 350 pounds or more eat free. And proving that the company lives up to its promise, their 500-pound spokesman died last year.

There’s a point where the line has to be drawn. KFC offers healthy options, as does Burger King. If people want to eat a Triple Bypass burger they should be able to make their own decision, but rewarding people by getting free food for being a hazardous weight is shameless and clearly lacking any moral values. If Basso’s idea is to serve up some nasty burgers for your health, then fine. But if he’s going to mock the obese, reward their sick health and comment like the health devil, he needs to get out of this business and start taking some classes on human decency.

Soul Daddy: America’s Next Great Restaurant?

Will Soul Daddy Succeed?

The winner of America’s Next Great Restaurant is serving up soul food with a healthy twist. Does it sound appealing to the masses? If you’d like to find out for yourself, there are  three locations that have been selected for the new restaurant to open. They are

  • Hollywood
  • Mall of America
  • South Street Seaport (New York City)

Detroit auto worker Jamawn Woods’ concept has yet to make its mark in the industry.

Healthy soul food is the last style of cuisine many would think could be successful as a chain. Will people be returning to eat healthy soul food? Will they even be willing to try it? The benefits of all three locations are the high traffic and wide array of potential customers they bring, something Soul Daddy will certainly take advantage of.

The Soul Daddy Menu

Food offerings are listed on the menu portion of website. As the  Huffington Post describes,

The Soul Daddy menu is recommended as a “full meal” with a main dish and two sides, but can also be ordered a la carte. Mains include baked chicken, roasted pork and ribs and sides include collard greens, cheese grits and black-eyed pea salad.

I question the nutritional facts of a few items listed on the menu. Cheese grits could be anywhere from 300-3,000 calories and the online menu doesn’t list any information. A food chain that is serving up food labeled  healthy should have the calories/nutrition facts readily available for the consumer, even online. The absence fried chicken on the menu doesn’t mean much besides it’s not another KFC. Improvements to the menu based on customer’s reviews seems like the best way to tailor this new concept for future success, but only time will tell how Woods performs as an owner and leader of Soul Daddy.

Woods had a big dream that turned into a reality. His name, typed and searched on Google, now is epitome to many of the American Dream. Have an idea, work hard, never give up, and make it big.  With the success or failure of his chain Woods accomplished the unthinkable with a little help from the judges of America’s Next Great Restaurant.

The Family That Plays Together

Kids learn most of what they know from the biggest influence in their lives, their parents. With childhood obesity rates rising faster than ever parents must lead the charge to raise healthier and happier children.

{Family activities teach kids how to live healthy lives!}

The family that plays together, stays together, or something like that, right? Today that saying is more important than ever, with childhood diabetes rates on the rise. In the spirit of helping busy parents find ways to stay active as a family, we’ve come up with a few activities.

Playtime

Grab the kids and hit the yard or park for playtime. Pack the car full of Frisbees, balls, skates, ropes and any other equipment needed to keep the entire family active. When the kids see you out there being active–with no electronic devices to distract them–they’ll be happy to join dear old dad & mom for a competitive game of touch football.
Although very few studies have been done on the influence of family on a healthy diet and exercise, plenty of literature indicates that a strong family influence can teach children to form a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Chores

Next time the family dog needs his walk, grab one of the kids and get moving! When its time for housework—that the kids can help with, of course—put them to work. They’ll love to help and they’ll be active while learning how to be responsible for their environment. Of course chores aren’t the most exciting activities on the planet, but children look to their parents for guidance on how to act and if they see mom & dad having fun doing chores, they will have fun too!

This doesn’t mean 9-year old Suzie should be attempting to clean pots and pans, but household activities like picking up leaves, putting toys away or even folding laundry requires movement. The key to getting your kids and entire family more active is to lead the way. Children learn best by example, so it is up to you to be that positive influence…not to mention it’ll keep you healthy as well.

Family Meals

With parents working longer hours than they did 20 years ago, many families don’t enjoy the benefit of nightly family dinners. This means that children are not getting enough nutrient rich meals that will help them maintain a healthy weight. When you set the table with lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables and fiber-rich foods, your kids are picking up healthy eating habits from YOU.

What they learn at the dinner table will transfer into their daily lives so they make healthy food choices even when you aren’t around. According to Kathleen T. Morgan, Department Chair of Family & Community Health Sciences at Rutgers University:

Children who have more family meals get more of the nutrient-rich foods that build strong muscles and smart brains…

Family meals can also have another health benefit for families. Make cooking meals together part of family time to make sure you instill healthy eating habits in your children. Give each member of the family responsibility for one part of the meal so everyone is involved. This will teach children what are healthy foods to eat and which should be eaten in moderation. The more information they have, the better chance your children have of maintaining a healthy bodyweight and an active lifestyle.

Old-Fashioned Exercise

Introducing your children to regular exercise doesn’t mean purchasing baby dumbbells for the kids; what it does mean is that you can find creative ways to teach your children how to maintain a healthy bodyweight. The more you encourage your children to be active, the less time they are spending in front of the television or computer.
Family exercises you can do together include bike rides around the neighborhood and what kids would say no to that? Your backyard can be transformed into a playground that includes activities like skipping, hopscotch, jumping on a trampoline, swimming or even a game of tag.

The family that plays together is a healthy family not susceptible to obesity related illnesses. By taking steps now to give your children the information they need to become healthy adults, you can reduce the chances that they’ll have to learn how to lose weight rather than maintain a healthy body weight. It’s never too late for you to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and pass it on to your children.

Get more information on losing weight and keeping it off at The Fat Loss Authority!

Culinary Schools Guide

Get a degree from a culinary school and it’ll give you a leg up on the competition. No matter what your goals are, nothing is out of reach with hard work and dedication.

Ditch the 9-5

What are your dreams? Take a moment to reflect on what you’d like to accomplish in life. Is it career related? Is it health related? Maybe it’s rethinking your 9-5 in a cramped cubical and planning to explore your love for cooking.

Last week, a close friend talked to me for over an hour about her current job. She expressed her distaste for the evil boss, long hours at the cubical and let me in on a secret: Her real passion isn’t Microsoft Excel. It’s cooking. In her spare time, she’s created some of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted. I’d say her Chicken Marsala is high-end restaurant quality. I could see her talent on MasterChef or even Iron Chef of America.

Qualities of a chef

Becoming a chef isn’t just a piece of cake. To be a contestant on shows like Chopped and Iron Chef America imagine the hard work and dedication it took these people deserve a spot on Prime-Time.

It takes serious commitment to the art of food and motivation to be a continuous student. It’s certainly not for everyone. A good chef possesses the following qualities:

  • Excellent communication
  • Problem solving
  • Ability to critique and be critiqued
  • Business acumen
  • Food and service knowledge
  • Team worker
  • Focused/detailed

Food school resources

Anyone interested in becoming a chef should take a look at the four resources listed below. These sites have filtering options by state, degree, tuition and more. Take a look at what fits your bill here:

Dream it, do it

Take charge, do a little research and find ways to make a culinary dream happen. Don’t expect goals and dreams to fall into your lap. If you want to be a chef use every resource you have to make it a reality. Who knows, we could see you on Iron Chef America or running your own fast food chain down the road.

Dream big, no one else is going to do it for you.

You are the master of your own destiny. Use your strengths well. They are the keys to your destiny and your success in life. Once you know yourself and take action to realize your dreams, you can unlock the doors to your own potential. – Neil Somerville

 

Review: Archer Farms Blueberry Streusel Bread at Target

I’m meticulous with my shopping list. I buy the same few food products every week to keep costs down and I’m not much of an early adopter when it comes to new foods. Kellogg’s, Kraft and the like continuously refine and develop new food products each year and I’ve done a pretty good job avoiding the junk and sticking to the fresh, healthier stuff.

Blueberry Date

About a month ago I passed Target’s bread section and noticed a loaf of Archer Farms Blueberry Streusel Bread. I’m a sucker for a treat here and there, but I refused for many weeks trying to stick to my shopping lists and avoid the unknown. Last Thursday, I caved. My thoughts were focused the bread even after I left the store weeks ago! My mom used to tell me if I really wanted something, go a few days and ask myself “do I still want that?” If the answer is yes, it’s time to think about getting it. I couldn’t deny the sweet blueberry crumble bread.

Nutrition Facts

Who says you can’t treat yourself once in a while? It’s good for your mental health and your taste buds. Raw veggies, fibrous breads and fruits can get boring.

Here’s the facts, straight from the source:

  • Calories: 120/slice
  • Calories from fat: 15
  • Total Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 140mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 24g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1g
  • Sugars: 8g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Iron: 6%
  • Calcium 2%

There’s iron, a bit of calcium and only 8 grams of sugar.  I wouldn’t suggest eating 15 slices a day, but with a little common sense and moderation, it’s a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Recipe Ideas

  • French toast: Soak each loaf for roughly 1-2 minutes per side (any longer and the bread breaks apart).
  • Plain toast: Pop these slices right in your toaster, don’t forget the milk!
  • Sandwiches: Not all sandwiches much be created fibrous

If you’ve tried Archer Farms Blueberry Streusel Bread (a mouthful both figuratively and literally) let us know what you think below!

Chicago Schools: No More Homemade Lunches

Some parents don’t have the option to dress their children for school- they wear uniforms. Some Chicago parents don’t have the option to make their children’s lunches- they must eat what the school provides.

According to the Chicago Tribune, this new rule instilled by Little Valley Academy, a public school in Chicago, is intended to eliminate all possible ways a child could eat something unhealthy during lunchtime.

I’d sure want a medical excuse to bring a lunch. That’s allowed by the way. Allergies to food and other dietary restrictions gets you a free pass for homemade lunches. The kid with food allergies is going to become a lot more popular at the lunch table. There’s no word on whether there’s some “inspection” on the lunches for children with dietary restrictions. I know I’d want to sneak in a brownie for my friend, deprived choice.

The Chicago Tribune continues,

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

Carmona, wake up and smell the Burger King. There are a lot of unintended consequences to this seemingly “great” plan on paper:

  1. School lunches are roughly $2.25 for those who aren’t on a reduced lunch plan. That’s more than the cost of a kids homemade lunch
  2. Parents are already outraged by the deletion of choice
  3. Children are going to be hungry, want more food, and feel deprived. Chances are when they get home, they’ll eat more cookies than they should. Ever heard of binge eating

Ray Rahman wrote about Sarah Palin who, in 2010,  made a strong, clear point,

“Palin asked at a fundraising event at a Bucks County, PA, Christian school, a clear shot at First Lady Michelle Obama’s nutrition guidelines. “Should it be government or should it be parents? It should be the parents.”

Many are asking the same question. The government and schools must be aligned to reduce obesity in children, but what happens at school isn’t necessarily going to happen at home. Healthy habits are taught from a young age, not forced at a school lunch.

Although this is specifically a school issue, there’s plenty of government involvement in lunch programs. I’ll let David Roland close this one up today,

“The government is taking away choice. That is just fundamentally un-American.”

 

New York: No McDonald’s Toys for Girls and Boys

Here’s the Beef

It’s New York City’s proposed ban on toys in fast food that’s caught the eyes of the media and the moms.

The New York State Restaurant Association released the following statement in response to the proposed ban on April 5th, 2011

“This proposal robs parents of choice while increasing the already burdensome regulation on local restaurant owners,” said Andrew Rigie, executive vice president of the New York City Chapter of NYSRA. “We need to find a more effective way to combat obesity than by taking toys away from children and choices away from their parents. The New York State Restaurant Association looks forward to working with the City Council and other groups in a meaningful way to help educate children and parents about nutrition and healthy lifestyles.”

There is an except to the rule however. NY 1 reports that

Toys would only be allowed in meals under 500 calories with fewer than 600 milligrams of sodium.

Imagine being a child and told you have to “count calories” to be rewarded. What kind of mindset is that instilling– especially for young children? It’s not about how many calories in every meal, rather it’s about a balanced diet. If a child is physically healthy, active and taught to make healthy choices, they shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of fat America. Sorry, NYC but your problem isn’t every ones and your proposal solves no ones.

Making a Change

Reducing childhood obesity isn’t a one-step/one time process, and certainly toys are not the root cause of obesity. We won’t start to see childhood obesity rates dropping significantly due to one or two “acts” or “bills” passed. The truth is, we need to get to the root of the cause by spending our tax money more effectively. If that means pouring 1 billion in federal money into parental education programs, that’s certainly more effective than telling a kid “no toy for you”. Plus, those toys are often over shadowed by iPhones, iPads and the like these days.

How about promoting healthy applications? How about targeting parents who are the primary influencers of a child’s diet while growing up? Now that’d just be juvenille.