Sunday, May 30, 2010

In Loving Memory

As we enjoy the weekend and pay our respects to all the brave heroes who served in the military and fought for our country, let's also give a little respect to the courageous dieters out there. Here's my Memorial Day tribute to all of you, in remembrance of the things we've put behind us and the behaviors we have changed.

In memory of:
  • all the pounds we have lost throughout the years.
  • the poor eating habits we have managed to change.
  • having to hold our breath to zip up those favorite jeans.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Me No Smile :(

I had a conversation the other day with one of my Russian students. After five months he remains at the elementary level and his is English is still rudimentary. In spite of that, he expressed dismay about gaining 17 pounds during his stay in the United States. He claims to be eating the same kinds of food - fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. and stays away from processed foods and fast food restaurants. He goes to the gym every day for two to three hours. In other words he has not changed his habits at all since leaving Russian last January and yet he has gained weight. He blames it on the food he buys in the local supermarket.

David to be Returned to Italy

After a two year loan to the United States, the statue of David is being returned to Italy, or so the not-so-funny email that is circulating goes. Sad but not without some truth.

America ranks #1 in obesity according to major studies which compare obesity statistics in different countries. It's no wonder that Michelangelo's David has become so rotund. Huge portions, an overabundance of fatty foods, high sugar and sodium contents combined with a sedentary lifestyle contributes to American's obesity epidemic.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Just in Queso, or not all cheese is created equal

Ah, cheese. So many varieties, so many flavors and from so many countries. While Gorgonzola can be wonderfully piquant, a nice creamy brie can be paired with some ripe pear slices. And a sharp Canadian cheddar is always welcome as a topping on your burger or with a glass of red wine. Whatever your choice, cheese is a delicious addition to any meal or hors d'oeuvres selection.

But cheese has fat, salt, lots of calories and that dreaded cholesterol. So what would be a good choice for us folks who are trying to lose weight? And how much can we eat before it does too much damage?

An ounce of cheese is considered one serving and provides 200 - 300 mg. of calcium. Most adults need 1,000 mg of calcium per day and people 50 and older need 1,200 mg of calcium per day. Since milk is the main ingredient, cheese provides a good source of protein and vitamin B2. (Information from American Dietetic Association).

There is no reason to avoid eating cheese but it is important to pay attention to the type and amount you eat.

  • If you like to eat hard cheeses, like cheddar, look for "fat free, "reduced fat" or "low fat" on the label.
  • If you're looking for a soft cheese, "low fat" (1%), part-skim or light might be a good choice.
  • You will even find low fat, low cholesterol cheese selections in your grocery store. They generally have 50 - 75 percent of the fat in whole milk cheeses. Experiment with some of these to find a brand you like.
    Cheese (1oz. Serving)Mozzarella**CheddarMonterey JackAmericanSwissColby-Jack
    Calcium content (% DV*)20%20%20%15%25%20%
    Calories (kcal)80110100110100110
    Cholesterol15 mg30 mg30 mg25 mg25 mg25 mg
    Fat5 g9 g8 g9 g8 g9 g
    Saturated Fat3 g5 g5 g6 g8 g7 g
    Protein8 g7 g7 g6 g8 g7 g
    Sodium170 mg180 mg170 mg400 mg60 mg190 mg
    * Percent Daily Value (DV) is based on a 2,000-calorie diet
    ** Mozzarella is part-skim.

Feta contains 20g of fat per 100g, 20%, as does mozzarella, Camembert 24%t, Brie has 29% , Parmesan 30%, Stilton 31%, Gruyère 33& and cheddar 35%.

Edam contains 26% fat, cottage cheese, has about 4g of fat per 100g, although you can get even lower-fat versions.

Moderation is the key.  Use more flavorful cheese, like feta, and a little goes a long way.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weight Watchers Follows You Everywhere!

Sorry, friends, for having taken some time off. I bought a new condo and have been so busy moving, cleaning, organizing, etc., that I haven't had a spare moment to write. Today, however, I have just returned from a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas, rested and ready to get back to business at hand.

I have to catch you up on what's been going on. Many of you have written asking how my hula hooping was going. I do have to tell you that my first day, being in hooper's heaven, I overdid it and happily hooped for over an hour and a half. I wound up with enormous bruises around my midsection! So my advice to those of you who want to have some fun while exercising -start slow. Maybe 15 minutes at a time. Don't whirl like a dervish the way I did!

Let me tell you about the cruise... an opportunity to sit back, relax and eat to my heart's content. I was tempted to blow the diet and just enjoy but as fate would have it, after sitting down for my first meal and happily nibbling on a Caesar's piled high with tons Parmesan cheese and way too much dressing, introductions were made at our table. Mike and George, two married men curiously escaping together from their wives for a long weekend were charming. And Ruth and her sister (who prefers to remain nameless) lived far from one another were having a sister's weekend. My mother and I were traveling by ourselves, enjoying some mother-daughter quality time.

So this is how it went, I ordered my meal and except for the salad, I did pretty well. The grilled salmon and veggies were off the Vitality Menu and well within my points range. The salad, however, raised by point consumption through the roof. Of course I drooled over everyone else's food at the table, lots of carbs, fat and oodles of calories, except for the second sister who ate like a model of healthy dining.

We learned a lot about each other over the course of dinner and I found out - and you are not going to believe this - that the second sis was none other than a Weight Watcher group leader on vacation! Oh no, I thought, now I have no choice but to be good! Weight Watcher's had followed me on vacation.

I was actually glad to have her there. If not I might not have been content with the two spoonfuls of tiramisu or several bites of the warm chocolate souffle. But as fate would have it, I admitted to having lost 40 pounds and to being just 3 pounds away from my goal. I felt obliged to be on my best behavior.

Sis was great, passing along her knowledgeable dining tips and being a perfect WW role model. She was careful with what was on her plate, usually left something over and was not afraid to order special foods, which the crew was more than happy to prepare. No sauce, steamed vegetables, plenty of cocktail sauce for her shrimp, etc. But I was happy to see she left room for something she enjoyed - wine. There was a seemingly unending supply of wine for the sisters and she wasn't afraid to imbibe. I figured she was using her extra 35 points in wine, while I sneaked an extra spoonful or two of dessert.

So like an alter-ego, Weight Watchers was right there with me on Her Majesty of the Seas. We all had a really good time but I am not in a hurry to step on the scale.

How do you handle your vacations? Have you ever had someone you didn't want to cheat in front of?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Our Eating Habits Started With Mom

I have a truly wonderful mother. She is up there in years but proudly boasts she can do anything her niece, who is 30 years younger, can do. And better, she likes to add. And she can.

One thing my mother did, was get me started in the wonderful world of food, both in the eating and the cooking department. My first food was chocolate. Mom couldn't resist my big brown eyes pleading with her for a taste of the 5¢ Hershey bar she was eating. She caved, and I still have a difficult time resisting sweets.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

When is a Tomato Not a Tomato?

I get nostalgic remembering the days when a tomato tasted like a tomato, not the anemic looking fruit of the vine I buy in my neighborhood supermarket, not the mealy slices that gets lost in my sandwich or salad, but a juicy rich, red, sweet but tangy globe bursting with flavor. Where have they disappeared to, those beefsteak tomatoes of my youth?