Archive for February, 2009

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Poll: The Milk Debate

February 27, 2009

Last month’s poll

The results are in! If you recall, our last poll was to learn what kind of exercise we all enjoy the most. We had 59 total voters: 46% are into cardio, 22% are well-rounded individuals who get a kick from all kinds of exercise, 14% prefer stretching, yoga, or other flexibility activities, 10% like strength training the best, and 8% just don’t enjoy exercise at all. For the last group, might I suggest belly dancing? Boot camp? Aikido? Perhaps some fun fitness challenges (or a Great Fitness Experiment)? We’ll convince you that exercising is fun yet!

This month’s poll

I recently came across a great post written by Urban Nutritionist entitled The Milk Misconception. Specifically, this line caught my eye: “Low fat and skim milk make calcium unavailable because fat is necessary for the proper transportation and absorption of calcium.”

Nina Planck of the book Real Food agrees that whole milk is preferable, stating that “butterfat helps the body digest the protein, and bones require saturated fats in particular to lay down calcium” (pg 64). Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat, has a different take on the subject: she says that removing the fat from the milk does not reduce the nutrients by very much; only the fat-soluble vitamins (A and D) disappear. However, vitamin D is added back by law, and there are so many dietary sources of vitamin A (mm, carrots) that it’s not something to be too concerned about. But even if you are worried about the vitamin A, it too is often added back into the milk.

I’m going to state right now that I adore all three of these sources and really respect each of them. It is wonderful to hear each of their opinions and the reasoning behind their perspectives. It’s also a good reminder that there is a wealth of contradictory information out there in the research studies. I did some research nearly a year ago about the benefits of calcium in milk which you can read about here (and if you want to see what I thought about Planck’s book, read this post!).

I drink skim milk. I grew up drinking 1% milk but when I started to learn more about health I switched to skim. I did this because it is very easy to get in more than enough fats over the course of the day through the food that we eat, so I figured that I might as well cut back on fats where I can so that I have more of a balance between the macro nutrients (those being carbohydrates, fats, and proteins). I’ve never had a really great love for the taste of milk so I wasn’t bothered by the more watery taste of skim milk. Drinking even 1% now tastes almost too rich and creamy for me just because I’m so accustomed to the skim.

If your goal is to lose weight or if the taste of milk isn’t particularly appealing to you but you still want the benefits of the nutrients, I recommend choosing skim milk. Happy with your weight, need to add more healthy fats, or really love the creamy taste of 1% or whole milk? Then you might as well stick with your current choice. It seems to me that the nutritional benefits are virtually the same all the way through, so it’s a matter of personal preference and how much extra fats you want/need in your diet as to what milk will be right for you.

I’m interested in what you have to say about the matter! Those of you with nutrition knowledge, is the fat necessary for calcium absorption? Or could we still get the same effects by eating something high in fat along with our fat-free milk (can’t think of a snack that’s much better than all-natural peanut butter on whole wheat toast with a glass of milk on the side!)?


Why do you drink the milk that you do? For those of you who don’t drink milk, do you supplement your diet for adequate amounts of calcium? Elaborate on your views in the comments!

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Happy Birthday, Living Healthy in the Real World!

February 25, 2009

Today marks the one-year anniversary for my blog. A year ago today, I published my first post!

(Hopefully both my understanding of health and my skill in writing have improved muchly over that period of time).

To celebrate, I baked a batch of these peanut butter cookies last night. They turned out beautifully, perchance because I was being supervised by the recently-returned roommate. I can attest to them being really delicious because nine out of the very large 14 cookies I baked were gone within a couple hours, and that was just between the scarfing down of two people (okay, I admit it! I was six of those cookies. What can I say, I likes me my peanut butter).

These are, at least, certainly one of the healthiest peanut butter recipes I’ve come across, and they have a delightfully very rich buttery taste even though there’s no butter in them besides the peanut butter (that’s such a misleading statement for me to have written, isn’t it? By which I mean, the butter is replaced with olive oil. And here I’ve gone and made you think that there’s no other fats in the recipe besides the peanut butter. I hate it when I come across sneaky statements like that. How annoying is it to come across a recipe that proclaims to be sugar-free but is then loaded with artificial sweetener or similar? Anyways. Back to the rant-free birthday celebrations!).

These cookies are super easy and they use maple syrup instead of sugar, so you can be all Canadian-esque when you’re making them. They’re also vegan-friendly! I made a half batch and used 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 all purpose flour in place of the whole wheat pastry flour, but other than that I didn’t change any other ingredient. A defining moment in my kitchen’s history, I’m sure.

And now to subject you all to a somewhat sappy Academy Awards-style gushing, minus the awesome fashion show:

I adore blogging and the whole community involved. But I didn’t really know what blogging was until a little over a year ago. I have to thank Leslie of Never Say Diet and Locker Room Diaries for being super sweet and letting me pester her over a year ago to ask questions about how she got into the health writing business. If it hadn’t been for her passing comment that a good way to get started with it would be to begin my own health blog, Living Healthy in the Real World would never have been born!

Also a big thank you to MizFit for being my first ever commenter. Getting comments really makes my day. I still get giddy that you all actually take the time to read, ponder, and discuss.

Looking back to when this blog first started up, I wasn’t sure exactly how the blog would pan out, what kind of writing style I’d want to use, or how personal I wanted to get. “Health” is a rather vague term and encompasses an enormous range of possibilities. It’s through trial and error that we determine what we want to say, how we want to say it, and how much feedback we want (around here? Lots. Feedback. Discussion. Comments queries critiques. All are welcome and encouraged).

At first this was mostly a blog to address some of the health issues circulating in the media, and also to rant. And, let’s face it, we’re still a blog that like to address current health issues and we’re always up for a good rant or two. I like to think there’s been some evolution as well, with involving recipes and fitness challenges and product reviews and personal experiences/thoughts as well as addressing health issues in the media and in research studies. We’ve come along way in just a year.

And now I’m curious: for those of you who do blog, why did you start blogging? What inspired you to do so and is there a line you draw for how personal you’re willing to go? How has your blog evolved over time? Where do you see yourself going with it? Also, the opportunity is always open for you to voice your thoughts on how this blog is run- anything you want more of? Less of? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

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Two Hundred Crunches!

February 23, 2009

Remember this post? And the excitement that ensued? Drumroll, please, because on Saturday I successfully completed this challenge:

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Woohoo!

I skipped the first couple weeks when doing the 200 crunches challenge and began with week three. After I had reached the first day of week six, I just stopped doing it. Every time I set out to do the challenge with the decision to finish the week, I decided I wasn’t quite ready for it. And then on Saturday I knew that I was good and ready to do all 200 consecutive crunches. So I did.

I think that I have been capable of doing those 200 crunches for some time now, but I needed to mentally get myself in the right place for it. As I’ve mentioned before, aikido has had a huge impact on my ability to focus and keep going. And it feels wonderful. Physically I could have done the 200 crunches quite a while ago, but I wasn’t ready mentally.

Considering the mental aspects of physical fitness, @writingaddict (check out her blog, Compulsive Writing Disorder!) recently asked a great question: how do you stay motivated for so long to physical fitness?

Although we have addressed this question before here and here and here, I found the for so long part of the question to be particularly interesting. It’s one thing to get ourselves motivated to exercise, but its another to exercise toward a specific goal- training for a marathon or a competition or a personal challenge. One of the things I like most about physical fitness and what keeps me coming back to it and participating in these challenges is the feeling of accomplishment that results from successfully completing the challenge. We like to feel good!

Are you struggling with physical fitness right now? Is it your body or your mind that is holding you back? And how can you overcome that problem?

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Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla with Hummus and Red Pepper

February 20, 2009

While the sisterroommate is away, the mouse will play!

This week both my mum and sister have skipped country, leaving me to fend for myself to cook. I must be getting better at my kitchen adventures, because I have been successfully making all kinds of delicious eats without much of a hitch (although I’ve got a few days left of just feeding me and the cat, so maybe I shouldn’t speak too soon….). And now I’ve got two yummy recipes to share with you.

Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla with Hummus and Red Pepper

At $2/pepper, I am very careful with what dishes I use that precious vegetable in! It’s been a while since I last had a quesadilla so after scrounging around I came up with this quick and tasty concoction. Each flour tortilla was 90 calories a piece, so I’m guestimating that it rounds out to about 300 calories in all. Not bad for a filling meal!

1. Take a flour tortilla and spread with hummus (I like homemade: put chickpeas in blender with some cumin, black pepper, garlic, squeeze of lemon juice, and a spritz of olive oil; easy peasy!).

2. Take some grilled chicken breast (I used the George Foreman to grill mine and sprinkled it with the spice mix that I received from the awesome RhodeyGirl– delicious!) and cut it into chunks before spreading over top of the hummus. You don’t need very much chicken; I think I used about 1/4-1/3 of a breast.

3. Pile on the veggies: spinach, tomato, green pepper, and of course the red pepper. Grate a little cheddar cheese (I used reduced fat) and sprinkle it on top, then cover with a second tortilla.

4. Transfer the quesadilla onto a pre-heated griddle. After a few minutes, flip it over with a spatula (the one side should be a nice golden brown). I guess mine was a little bit too full of ingredients because it started to spill out when I flipped it. Oops.

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5. After a few minutes, it should be nicely toasted on both sides! Plop Carefully slide it onto a plate and cut into slices. Enjoy with a big glass of skim milk!

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This was very tasty and is also healthy. I was interested in something sweet afterward and I found an intriguing recipe at Panini Happy for apple turnovers. When my mum made an apple pie a couple weeks ago, she gave me the leftover pastry, so I decided that this would be the perfect use for it. Felt very indulgent after coming up with this little creation!

Grilled Cinnamon and Apple Pastry

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1. Take a small amount of pastry and roll it out as thin as you can on your pastry board. Or rough table cloth, if that’s what you use for a pastry board. (I was having trouble rolling it out thin so mine was quite thick. Okay, that’s a lie- my favorite part about pie is the pastry so I purposely made sure there was lots of it. Yum).

2. Peel an apple and cut 1/2 of it into thin slices. Take a spoonful of applesauce and put it in a small bowl, then sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and nutmeg into that and mix it up. Add the apple slices and coat them well.

3. Pile on the apple slices onto half of your rolled-out pastry. Carefully fold the other half of the pastry on top and transfer it to your beloved George Foreman.

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4. After about 10 minutes, lift the lid and your apple turnover is complete! It might not look so very pretty, but it tastes amazing.

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Taking the “work” out of the workout

February 18, 2009

When I saw 10 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise posted over at A Merry Life, I began thinking about all of the different ways that we trick ourselves into exercise on the days when we really don’t want to do it. It’s an excellent post and I recommend you hop on over for a moment to read through the list.

We’ve all got plenty of reasons for working out and inspiration can come from anywhere to motivate us to just do it. Health and vanity are probably the biggest ones (not necessarily in that order). Family is another one that you hear cropping up a lot; to be able to be around to see kids grow up and to be fit enough to play with them.

Watching a good adventure/action flick can motivate me if I’m not so much in the mood for exercising. Adrenaline rush aside from sitting on the edge of your seat as you’re watching the film, it’s the characters that motivate me. They’re all crazy fit and doing all kinds of fun stunts which just makes me want to be able to do the same (hello, career as a stunt double!)

The most interesting and amusing reason for exercising that I’ve heard recently is in case of an apocalypse. If we enter another Stone Age or zombies start attacking, you want to be ready for it! (Maybe I should take up pole dancing in case my leg needs to be replaced with a gun a la Rose McGowan in Planet Terror. Ah! The motivation I need to do yoga! Gotta be flexible, you know).

When it come to exercise, little kids are way better at keeping at it than adults, as a general rule. I think that the reason for that is because they don’t think of it as exercise; instead, it’s all just a game. It’s fun and it’s silly. So those days when I don’t feel like picking up the weights, I’m going to think of those epic adventures and inject a little silliness into my workout.

As my sensei said last night when we were testing our balance to work on principle rather than technique (by literally pushing and pulling on each other), “there is no right and wrong way to do it, there is just play”.

What do you like to do to relieve the boredom and bring the play into your exercising? And would you please let your contacts in Hollywood know that I’m ready to make my debut as stunt double for any cute blonde 5’0 ft tall actress?

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Life Lessons: Aikido Part Two

February 16, 2009

After the first session on Friday as an active participant in the class, I’m officially in love with aikido.

My friend prepped me before the class about some of the etiquette which was incredibly helpful, and it was really nice to have someone there to show me the ropes. There’s even a special way to bow with the way that your hands are placed on the mat and everything. I have a fair amount to learn terminology-wise but I think that will just come with repetition.

When I think about some of the circuit training that we did in boot camp, one minute can last a very long time. Try a minute of lateral raises. Hold the plank for a minute. Or a wall sit. The seconds tick by so slow you’d swear that the hands on the clock aren’t even moving. Bearing that in mind, two hours of martial arts is an especially long amount of time. Yet somehow, the time passed so quickly I barely noticed it go by.

My mind wandered once during the session, when the sensei was demonstrating a certain hold. I must have stopped paying rapt attention for only a few seconds but that was enough to make me completely lost when we paired up to practice the hold; any amount of time that your attention is not entirely focused on the task at hand costs dear in martial arts!

Taking aikido reminded me why it is that I love diversity in my workouts. Walking is my favorite activity, and a large part of the is because my mind can wander; I can explore ideas and thoughts and dreams with no need to focus on where my legs are taking me (except when its icy out. Well, no, that’s a lie- rather than pay attention to my footing I just fall down a lot). One session of aikido and I’m hooked. I know it is going to be right up there with walking for activities that I absolutely adore. And a large part of the reason that I admire aikido so much is because my mind cannot wander.

Losing your focus at all is the same as if you hadn’t been focused in the first place. With an activity like aikido, you just can’t afford to drift off into other worlds. It’s a whole new way of training your mind, being in the moment, and being aware of yourself and your attacker. Beautiful.

Something else I found interesting about aikido was that when I asked another student if I was performing the move correctly and getting the technique right, they would look at me with a bemused expression and shrug, saying that they are not the sensei so they don’t know. These students are far more advanced than I am, but even with that being the case, because they weren’t willing to correct me (because of the notion of the empty glass discussed in Aikido Part One), it increased my confidence. Knowing that we are all in the same boat as students made me bolder and I think that keeping that in mind is going to be beneficial to increasing my ability with mastering the moves.

At the end of the class we did a brief exercise of defending ourselves against two attackers. The idea was to keep moving our shoulders; sensei instructed me to keep my hands behind my back so I wouldn’t be tempted to bring them up in front of my body to defend myself that way. Applied to the everyday, the message I took home from this exercise was that when we face obstacles, sometimes the most obvious solution (using hands) is not the best choice. Sometimes we need to handicap ourselves by not using our hands and instead let our shoulders and hips do the work. We need to appreciate that although we might not think of moving our shoulders as the best way to get around an obstacle, it is better to move around it than aggressively attack with our hands which could create more problems.

Aikido requires full-body movements. Getting out of a hold isn’t something that your arms do on their own; your whole body needs to move into the movement for maximum power, strength, and balance. And when you think about it, it makes sense. It’s when we give it our all and fully believe in what we are doing that we are most successful. We need to put our whole bodies into what we are doing for the best results. No wishy-washing about it! It’s time to follow through and move with confidence.

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Aikido Part One

February 13, 2009

For years I have wanted to try some kind of martial art. I’m not sure when or why it started but I just had this very strong desire to learn.

I find the grace of the movements beautiful to watch. I love how strong and powerful students of martial arts become. The amount of mental focus and perseverance involved is amazing. It takes a lifetime to become really good; the effort and dedication required is not to be taken lightly.

It’s the ultimate challenge.

I first learned about aikido in high school when one of my friends told me about his experiences with it. When I expressed my intention of one day trying out a martial art, he recommended aikido as the best one for me to do. His reasoning was that anyone, no matter your age or gender or body type, can learn aikido. Because of this, for years I have found aikido to be especially appealing. I am all for any activity that doesn’t discriminate against my height!

My friend Alana started aikido several months ago and has successfully recruited me to join her group (THANK YOU ALANA!). It has taken a month or two for me to finally get involved, but I figured that with Reading Week (aka spring break) just around the corner, now is the perfect time to take some classes.

Thus on Wednesday evening I found myself observing a 2-hour aikido class.

Just from what I saw, I know that I am going to love aikido. The sensei is incredibly nice and welcoming and it was really interesting to see the progression of skill among the students with varying levels of experience.

It’s going to be tough. This is not something which you learn how to do in a day; it is developed over a very long period of time. I am so eager to learn! Classes are four times a week and tonight is my first session of actively taking part. I have a feeling remembering the appropriate etiquette is going to be a big part of the challenge 🙂

At the end of the class on Wednesday, the sensei explained how important it is to come to class with an open mind. He said that if we arrive with our cup empty, they can then be filled up during the session. I think that this message is central to many areas of our lives. Going into any situation, we can’t always assume that we know best or have the most experience or understand what’s going on better than the others around us. We have to arrive with a fresh clean slate ready to be written on, by both ourselves and others. Being willing to listen, ask questions, and consider new perspectives are all going to open the doors for us to learn and progress.

Have you ever tried martial arts (or aikido in particular)? What did you think of it? Share your pearls of wisdom!

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Interpretations of Marketing Strategies: Botox for Dogs

February 11, 2009

This is a billboard that I walk past every day on my way to work:

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Cute, right?

I find this ad really difficult to wrap my head around, besides the fact that it’s a very intriguing form of marketing which captured my attention immediately. The most obvious question to ask is why is there a dog in this ad when the message is directed at people? (No doubt “botox for pets” will soon be all the rage, but as far as I know we thankfully haven’t reached that point just yet).

Using the image of an animal rather than a person could actually take away from the usual negative feelings that ensue when we see pictures of models and are told that we ought to look like them. With an animal, that pressure is eliminated. It’s not too often you see an ad for botox that depicts a furry creature rather than a woman, so right away that grabs attention. Because of that, this ad could potentially have less of an impact on self esteem than some other ad featuring a fresh-faced airbrushed supermodel. Animals are less intimidating.

We cannot deny that the dog in this ad is really cute. With the wrinkles. That just begs the question of why we’re trying to get a smooth complexion in the first place. Who wouldn’t want to be that cute? If anything I’m more turned off of the idea of botox than I was before. Aren’t dogs and babies all the more cute and appealing because they’re so wrinkly? You wouldn’t want to take away their wrinkles, so why are we supposed to get rid of ours as we age?

And that leads to the next observation that this particular dog looks like a puppy. If you’re young and thinking about botox, then I think you need to reduce some of the stress in your life or lighten up a little. On the other hand, the ad might be implying that young people need it too, like this botox ad which states: “Temporarily smooth moderate to severe frown lines for people 18 to 65 years of age”. Me being at the ripe old age of 20, I guess I’m well within the age range to qualify for some nice toxin injections!

Or maybe I’m interpreting this ad all wrong, and it’s demonstrating that we aren’t dogs, so we can’t get away with the wrinkles=cuteness association, and therefore we do need botox. Looks to me like the pets are getting the better deal here, either way.

Regardless, I can’t help but smile at the ridiculousness of this ad. What do you make of it?

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Book Review: “The Body Fat Solution” by Tom Venuto

February 9, 2009

Another book sent to me by Penguin Group, The Body Fat Solution:5 Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight is a lifestyle plan written by an experienced body builder and personal trainer. Tom Venuto has explored various aspects of the health industry over the past 20 years, ranging from coaching people about nutrition, fitness, and motivation to being a fitness model and health club manager. Authors who have conducted research and studies may inspire more confidence in the reader, but that personal experience aspect of being in the field is essential to understanding how best to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and it is this that Venuto focuses on.

When I first heard about this book, I admit that I was judgmental in assuming that it was a scam fad diet type of book. Even on the inner flap, the statement “The Ultimate Plan for Permanent Weight Loss” is stamped across the top. These marketing aspects tend to turn me off at once, so I was skeptical going in. As I read through the book, however, I was impressed with many of the concepts and advice that Venuto puts forth. Much of it is solid and logical; this is sound information that anyone can put to good use. The marketing strategies make sense after having read it; it is the kind of book that will at first glance appeal to people who typically are influenced by fad diets, but this one offers real and practical advice. It’s a great way to get the attention of that particular demographic so that they can become healthier.

Addressing the mental aspect of losing fat, building muscle, and maintaining a healthy weight is a key component of this book. I really approve of the attention paid to how our minds work and how we can change our ways of thinking to adapt to a healthier lifestyle. The writing style is comfortable and friendly, an easy read for anyone looking for some tips to tweak their outlook and nutrition/fitness plan. Right in chapter one, Venuto goes into an amusing hypothetical dialogue of what would happen if various health experts got together to discuss “the real cause of obesity”. Engaging in discussion involving a supplement company sales rep, a registered dietitian, a couple research scientists and different diet book authors, as well as a bariatric surgeon among several others, Venuto demonstrates that there are many contributing factors to the issue of our current state of health. He recognizes that “body fat isn’t an isolated issue, but rather it’s a bundle of physical, mental, emotional, and social problems… Removing body fat is not simply a matter of going on a diet- it’s a much more complex issue, involving every area of your life” (Venuto 6).

The five principles themselves are each supplied with their own chapter: mental training, a nutrition solution, maximizing your metabolism, gaining lean muscle, and gathering social support. The idea is that to successfully achieve these things, we need to 1) understand cause and effect, 2) think differently, and 3) act on the answer.

This book is peppered all the way through with various problems we face and the reasons why we think the way we do, suggesting that the way we perceive things shapes our reality. Adjusting our attitudes and beliefs will then affect our behavior, and Venuto offers a number of different ways in which we can do this. Because he has worked as a motivation coach and helped many people lose weight and keep it off, he has a good grasp of the excuses we use and how we can turn those around and find solutions to our justifications and negativity. If you like the concept of The Secret, you are bound to enjoy this book.

When we increase our own awareness and identify how we are sabotaging ourselves, we are much more capable of making progress. Each of the principles developed in this book revolve around reprogramming and reshaping our lives. I was pleased that Venuto pushes for eating natural foods (which we can determine by asking the question, Did this food come directly from a tree, from a plant, from out of the ground, or did it walk, fly, or swim?). It was refreshing to find an author who isn’t suggesting we include nutrition bars in our diet every day. This is a sensible approach to nutrition that aims at giving our bodies the fuel to live with energy.

There is not much in the way of a specified diet or exercise plan in this book; rather, it works as a way for us as individuals to cobble together our own regime. It explains the basics so that we can know how to begin and accommodate it to fit our personal needs. However, he does offer a few photos of different exercises and suggests a brief weight training schedule with an explanation of reps and sets to alternate between two workouts that he lays out.

Finally, we look at the social aspect of living healthily and the obstacles that we might come across and how to overcome them, including ways of dealing with people who are unsupportive (categorized as different types), before explaining the necessity and importance of practicing all of these principles in conjunction. He concludes by pointing out the differences in attitude and behavior by people who maintain and people who regain so that a “relapse” can be prevented.

Although I picked up this book with such a skeptical frame of mind, I am really happy that I took the time to read it. It was time well spent and if you are struggling with the mental aspects of maintaining a healthy weight or lifestyle, then this could definitely benefit you. Even if you are not currently struggling with it, it could be worth it to give this book a read anyways- it’s all about preventing ourselves from veering toward an unhealthy lifestyle, after all.

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Junk Food vs. Indulgence

February 6, 2009

Nazarina asked an interesting question on my Super Bowl Feasts post, which I thought was one worth addressing in a post all on its own:

Do you ever eat junk food (maybe just during a moment of weakness)?

To answer this question we have to think about what constitutes “junk food”. I think we all have different definitions for the phrase, and often “junk food” is associated with indulging in our guilty pleasures. I don’t like making that association. Maybe it’s the rhetorician in me but “junk food” implies just that; junk. If I’m going to eat food that isn’t particularly nutritious for me, it’s likely because I really enjoy the taste, and in that case I want to give it a more glamorous term. Like “indulgence”.  Again, the line between “junk food” and “indulgence” is going to be in a different place for each of us, and that’s my question for you today:

What does “junk food” mean to you?

My idea of junk food tends to be food which is going to do more harm to me than good. Indulgences are foods that have some nutritious value but with “added” potentially unhealthy aspects. For example, homemade apple pie is an indulgence. Apple pie from McDonald’s is junk food. Oil-popped popcorn with salt and butter is an indulgence. Movie theater popcorn, junk food.

I consider soft drinks junk food. Bakery goods are generally indulgences. Anything from a fast food joint is junk food to me. However, if I’m eating out at a local diner or a pub, the burger or fries typically becomes an indulgence. This has more to do with my personal associations and labels than anything else.

Without really knowing all that much about it, I have become very much an advocate of the Slow Food Movement. If I’m faced with the choice of having either homemade white bread or store bought whole wheat bread, I’m more likely to choose the homemade bread, even if its white. I have come to associate healthy indulgence with the homemade and the local cuisine. Junk food is processed or packaged, sometimes from a chain restaurant, or has chemicals in it. Junk food makes me feel ill or bad and it’s not worth it for the taste, whereas indulgences are absolutely worth it. Of course, the implication here is that mood can also have an affect, which means that sometimes the line between junk and indulgence gets a little fuzzy.

So to answer the question posed to me of whether or not I eat junk food, the answer is that typically I do not. It’s rare you will find me eating chips or a pre-made meal and so forth. But the reason for that is because I indulge a lot. I go out for breakfast or dinner a couple times a week to local restaurants; I can pack away meals like nobody’s business. I like snacking a lot throughout the day, so I try to make those snacks healthier choices- excessive amounts of peanut butter or popcorn are high on the list! (I compensate not eating junk food by eating larger quantities of indulgences. Not that that is necessarily logical). My mum frequently makes whole apple pies or crumbles and sends them home with me, so I’ll indulge in a piece or two of that pretty much every day until its gone.

Also, just because I don’t actively go out and buy these things myself doesn’t mean I won’t accept them as gifts! Just this morning a family friend brought a pumpkin scone and a London Fog tea from Starbucks for me to work, which I am eating as we blogspeak. This is pure indulgence 🙂

I do not eat out when I am alone. That, I think, can be the key to trying to be healthier. I bring my own tea wherever I go so I don’t have to stop at a cafe and be tempted by the fancier drinks and baked goods. I’ll enjoy those things at social events or as gifts from other people; when I’m by myself, I just don’t think that it’s worth it.

But that is my personal understanding of what junk food is. What does the term mean to you?

If you haven’t already done so, add in you $0.02 about exercising preferences by answering this poll!