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Category Archives: Nutrition

Vegans Vs Meat Eaters: Who’s healthier?

That was the tagline that caught me today and I just couldn’t help but wonder how this would play out on “The Doctors” television show…

Glad to see the presence of Dr. Neal Barnard (President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) to ensure there is at least one vegan supporter in on the debate. He appeared to be knowledgeable and shared some good points – like dairy products reducing the absorption of iron and contributing to anemia.

However, I was generally disappointed with the responses, and lack of intellectual debate among the panel… This debate can become quite involved – as touched on in a previous post on different diet preferences… not today though… Todays show seemed to have more personal anecdotes from the docs than intellectual debate…

(If you want to check out the show synopsis for yourself, you can find it here or the video preview here)

In terms of the show actually answering the question of Vegan or Standard American Diet – FAIL.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is familiar, comfortable, convenient… but…. as thekitchenskinny.com notices…

  • “The United States has the highest obesity rate in the world.” – Business Insider, Dec 10, 2010
  • “The American environment is conducive to this epidemic, presenting temptation to the populace in the form of tasty, energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods and beverages.” – USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • “This could be the first generation since the Civil War to have a shortened life expectancy.” – CBS News Jan 2010

    the solution…

  • Improve nutrition literacy and cooking skills, including safe food handling skills, and empower and motivate the population, especially families with children, to prepare and consume healthy foods at home.” – USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The above quotes demonstrate how there are very real risks and side effects of the SAD ways… and the need for the solution… so… with that in mind I feel that the vegan crowd tends to be more nutrition literate, with expanded cooking skills beyond meat and potatoes… and when done in an informed and motivated way, the vegan way is healthier than the SAD ways. Also, everyone seems to be in agreement that more fruits and vegetables on north american meal plates would be a good thing 😉

But…. why was this topic initiated for the show in the first place?

Home video clips demonstrate a young woman – Kaitlin – complaining about her vegan sister – Kelly – essentially pushing vegan food choices on her… Meanwhile, Kelly complains that Kaitlin is not accepting that veganism is healthier than the current household diet…

Ultimately when reviewing the video clip, the main issue for these feuding sisters appears to be the  proselytizing vegan… Kelly chose to deviate from the household norm and feels that she has benefited from it…  she quite obviously wants to share this with those she loves… whether they are accepting or not… Kelly may not be validating her sisters way of life or opinions. Arguing and pushing your polar opposite opinion, whether it truly is better or not, does not lead to acceptance…. resistance and defensiveness are expected reactions.

Maybe that is what Dr. Travis’ closing comment truly refers to… 😉  “In the end, what is best for you may not always be what’s best for someone else, Figure out a healthy diet that works best for you.”

It’s up to you to decide where you are most comfortable on this spectrum… And it’s okay if that decision changes from one day to the next… shift happens… Kelly and Kaitlin both have shifts they could make on this spectrum… the important thing from today’s reflections: there are different variations in healthy and ultimately we can only make the best choices in each moment for ourselves…

What shifts have you made recently? Are you planning on making any this week?

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2011 in Food, Nutrition

 

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Aside

You may be familiar with the terms above, or you may not even know they relate to dietary preferences. Maybe it was those leg warmers in the 80’s, or Joanne and Hal on those bodybreak commercials in the 90’s, either way people have begun to find issues with “modern” living and the demand for health conscious info and products took a steep rise towards the end of the twentieth century. Is this a medical fact? It is to me! I am among those who slowly started saying “Hey, something could be better here… maybe I ought to start educating myself, or just doing something different!”

A wee bit of the Wednesday Walkers related personal background just for kicks

Born prior to the spawn of anything resembling a personal computer, I was raised quite SAD.
(For the nonfoodies: SAD refers to the Standard American Diet. Some may also call it the brown diet – take “brown” chicken/beef/pork product, cook, add “white” rice/pasta/potato product, and rotate in the odd canned or frozen vegetable dish such as corn/peas that frequently gets microwaved – and promptly forgotten about until after the meal)

Generally a pretty good kid that made it through alright… although probably sometime in junior high I guess, I started noticing that I either had less energy than the other kids, or they pretended better than I did… “meh, oh well”… High school came along and I started exploring school sports teams (generally the ones that didn’t require a lot of coordination). With sports came a desire to improve performance, and the beginning of my foodie adventures… “Oh, tomorrow’s game day! Spaghetti for dinner please mom! Gotta carbo-load!”

Post-secondary school and I’m still dealing with those pesky low energy gremlins… and started to actively try and do something about it… took as many courses as I could find related to possible “cures” to fill those option spots within my Bachelors degree and experimenting with prescribed iron pills…

After school was all “done like dinner” I began working full time with a handsome paycheck and really began to explore healthful changes to my diet… okay so I bought some random recipe books that looked like they knew more than I did! After a bit I was goin a lil nutso, conscious of this energy deficit for at least a decade and actually considered it might be stress or as some would say “all in my head”…

The next chapter pays tribute to the world wide web having evolved to be my late night best friend and know it all for everything! Even if things were “all in my head” or something all together different, search after search kept nudging me towards the idea that we are what we eat! If I choose to fuel my body on suboptimal fuel, it stands to reason that I will get suboptimal performance… With that I threw out my SAD ways and jumped head first into the raw vegan way of eating!

Less than a week later I discovered that even if these raw vegans were posting true testimonials of bounding energy and less chronic diseases, detox is a Beee-yotch that kicks like a mofo! And I was eating a LOT less than was optimal (partly because I just didn’t know what the heck to eat besides my usual brown and whites!) and there are animal by products in nearly everything! Even most supermarket forms of vanilla extract! VANILLA!!! That dark liquid you put a wee bit of into baked goodies!

Fast forward to today: and I think I’ve figured out the main labels…. some days I still don’t know whats what in the foodie blogs! Much more educated and relaxed on what I “have to be”… some of these groups and forums can feel like the next upcoming cult with carrot/apple juice kool-aid… Personally I enjoy the approach of rawfoodsos.com with Denise Minger. Experiment with what works best for your own personal body, make informed decisions and if you want to, share that info with other people that want to be more informed. Granted she takes much more of a scholarly approach than I choose at this time, her posts are still a pretty friendly read. For instance – “Brand-Spankin’ New Study: Are Low-Carb Meat Eaters in Trouble?”is todays Wednesday Walkers fave…

Denise Minger (Not me)

As for all those titles and labels around dietary beliefs and prescriptions… well, honestly, who cares?… People eat different stuff… people are going to continue to eat different stuff… the ones that seem to care about the labels the most are those that seem to want to fight about protecting their cult like status “I’m right and you’re wrong”… or the scholarly literature that just needs proper labels to be coherent…

Let’s see, currently drinking some Bolthouse Farms Strawberry Banana fruit smoothy with apple juice from concentrate, so I guess I’m -oh, lemme double check the ingredients list- hum… “apple juice from concentrate (water, apple juice concentrate), strawberry puree, banana puree, fruit pectin, ascorbic acid, natural flavour. – flash pateurized and cold-filled for quality” well those italics items probably don’t cut it for the extremist raw vegan label.. just how did they get “concentrate”?… fruit pectin is from fruit, but cooked in order to become pectin so vegan, not raw… ascorbic acid is chemical speak for vitamin C… then comes the natural flavour…. ubiquitous ingredient term for “We’d rather not say”… So this morning I would say Wednesday Walker is vegan.

How long must one live off fruits and veggies, abstaining from all animal products, before one may claim the title of vegan? In my books, one meal! hahaha! This morning vegan, this evening, probably gonna end up looking more ovo-lacto (possibly containing eggs, fish or dairy) vegetarian, or maybe even primal/paleo if there so happens to be a social politeness in need of being extended to indulge in some flesh/meat. Tomorrow might even be the day to dig deeper with that 80/10/10 philosophy of the fruitarians… No cult like food status here, sorry! Current nutrition challenge – accidentally maintain 51%+ raw food intake to set a new personal best! (Never recorded prior stints so the next shall be the best, hehehe!)

If you see a label you like and think prescribing to it will lend you a better state of health, you may want to stick to the same label/way of eating for at least 3 weeks to really give it a semi decent shot at sustainability… and potential detox time. Note switching from SAD to RAW immediately aka the most extreme switch I ever tried, do it slowly! Cold turkey SAD to RAW can actually cause harm to your overall health and wellbeing, depending on your personal circumstances and physiological makeup. A recommended place to start browsing for healthier alternatives that are less daunting “with Looneyspoons authors”, the Podleski sisters, who have studied cooking (Greta) and nutrition (Janet). (You may have seen them on a TV food network hosting “Eat, Shrink and Be Merry”.)

Well that was an enjoyable first blog post on the topic of nutrition! Shall not be the last!

So what are your thoughts? Do you have a label you prefer? Did you learn something new? Wish you had? Requests for more specific topics to discuss? Whatchya eatin?

Vegan, Raw foodie, ovo-lacto somethinatarian, primal, fruitarian, low carb, high fat – What?!

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Food, Nutrition

 

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