Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Minty Soda

I am trying to cut back on diet soda. It is my vice. I love the bubbliness. So instead I am drinking plain club soda or seltzer water or carbonated water of some variety.

Many grocery stores now carry a variety of flavored carbonated waters. Just make sure it's just water and "natural flavors" or you still might be getting some sugar/calories in each drink. For instance, when I was younger Clearly Canadian was all the rage. It was healthy because it was only water, right? Nope. It was just as bad as soda.

If you are used to drinking soda, especially regular soda, you probably won't like soda water at first. I didn't use to like it either. It tasted like alka-seltzer which reminded me of being sick. But I made myself drink it in small doses and then, before I knew it, I liked it! (Remember that our tastes can change if we keep giving ourselves chances.) Now I like it just as much if not more than soda (although I go through caffeine headaches when I drink it alone.)

To give it some flavor, you can add a little juice to yours. I like mixing mine with a little OJ or cranberry juice.

Or, you can add fresh herbs! I have a ton of mint growing in my garden and no idea what to do with all of it. So it occurred to me to put a little in my soda water bottle. Last night I chopped up a few leaves. I also chopped up a few leaves off my stevia plant for just a touch of sweetness. Then I put it all in the bottle and let it stew overnight. Today I have a minty soda. Sooooo tasty and refreshing when it's hotter than the surface of the sun outside. (You local folks know what I mean.)

Mint is the obvious choice, but I may also try infusing other herbs into my water. I think a little fresh basil might be nice. I even have one basil plant (of my 3) that is lemony. I'll give it a try and let ya know how it turns out! I might be on to a new trend here!

So put down the soda and try something new....it's even better than water!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fat Is Not Funny: Reflections On Childhood Obesity

We all know obesity is an epidemic. We all know our children our getting bigger earlier and facing serious health complications. And those of us in health professions such as mine have made fighting this trend a major priority.

But in our ferver to change the world and improve the lives of our kids, we can't forget that this epidemic has faces and names. It is composed of people, many of them little people who don't understand why they are singled out, punished, and picked on (by adults and other kids).

It is NOT easy to lose weight, especially once you are overweight or obese. It is not a matter of will power or self-control. It is extremely hard, even more so for some than others. And for kids, it can be even harder. Their bodies are not like that of an adult and they often don't understand why they are the way they are. Even if they do understand and want to/can try to make a change, they might not be able to due to their home life or social situation.

And yet we chastise them.

Think of a children's movie, book or tv show with a mean/bully character. Is he/she fat? When I was first asked this question I immediately thought of Harry Potter but I can think of dozens of others. We are teaching our kids not only that fat is funny and that it's ok for fat kids to be the butt of jokes, but that they are "bad guys" in general.

In several studies, young kids were shown pictures of other kids. These pictures included a disabled kid who couldn't walk, a kid with an abnormal scar, and various other kids that wouldn't be considered "normal" and might be made fun of or deemed an outcast. They were also shown a picture of an overweight kid. Then, researchers asked which kid the test subject wanted to be friends with. The overweight kid was never chosen.

As a kid I was always overweight. I was picked on and I often felt like an outsider. Even those who were "concerned" about me or who wanted to help only made me feel insecure and uncertain in my own body. It left a scar that still hasn't healed.

What is my point? I'm not really sure but I thought this was worth mentioning out in the open. Here are some final thoughts:
  • I can't change society. And I still giggle at some fat jokes. But I'm going to try to be a little more sensitive, especially around children (of all sizes). I encourage you to do the same.
  • If you make derisive comments about overweight people (young or old) around me, I'm going to call you on it or leave the room.
  • As a health professional I'm going to be careful how I work with/approach overweight children. I don't want my attempts to help to cause emotional issues or further internal confusion.
  • I would like to re-iterate that losing weight is extremely hard. Be careful in assigning blame or pointing fingers.
We do need to be concerned about the obesity epidemic and the toll it is taking on our individual, societal, and economic health. But let's try to fight it the right way, without unneccessary rudeness, personal attacks, finger pointing, etc. A little understanding can go a long way....

Sidenote: I thought about adding a picture or a comment to this post. But as I perused the internet, all I found were picture after picture of fat jokes and rude comments, many aimed at kids. UGH! So this time you will have to go without a visual.

Will You Pledge To Eat 10% Local Food?

I eat local food primarily because it tastes better.

Store bought eggs pale in comparison to fresh, local eggs from happy free range chickens.

Local fruit and veggies are just tastier.

My whole life I thought I hated tomatoes. Turns out I just hate mass produced, conventionally grown tomatoes that are picked too early, travel thousands of miles to my supermarket, and get sprayed with ethanol before they sit on a shelf looking deceptively bright red. I recently started eating local tomatoes (many from the gardens of friends or from the market). They taste totally different to me! The distinction might not be as obvious to those more accustomed to the flavor. But to me it makes all the difference. I can even eat them raw with cheese and basil. YUM!

Buying locally also supports the local agricultural community/economy.

NC State Cooperative Extension and two local organizations are challenging North Carolinians (YOU) to get 10% of their food from local sources.

How can you do this?

  • You can buy fruit, veggies, herbs, eggs, poultry, cheese, meat, bread, wine and more from the state farmer's market.
  • Or you can buy from your local farmer's market.
  • You can join a CSA.
  • You can buy peanuts from Bertie County. They are soooo good and great as gifts.
  • Or you can even purchase some local items at area grocery stores.
  • And these are just a few suggestions, if you'd like more specific recommendations and places to check out, let me know.

Check out the NC 10% website to submit your pledge and for more information, resources and links.