Friday, August 28, 2009

Erectile Dysfunction and Health

I have been meaning to write about this for some time. If you need "little blue pills" to get an erection, that may very well be your first sign that your heart is having a problem. Your heart is a pump and your penis is a smaller pump. Your heart needs to be strong enough to send enough blood to your penis for an erection and still have enough strength to pump blood everywhere else blood is needed. As the attached article mentions, erectile dysfuction problems surface up to three years before cardiac problems are diagnosed. You can take a non-drug approach to this problem by increasing your cardiovascular exercise, improving your diet and losing weight. If you don't believe me, just read the attached article. If you think that you can get away without doing the exercise and diet thing, think again. The "little blue pills" are a patch for the problem. Once you are taking drugs for heart disease you won't be able to take the "little blue pills". If you are thinking that you don't have time for exercise, you should see how much time is eaten up sitting in cardiologists offices once you have a heart condition. If you have a heart attack, you should see how much time is eaten up in cariac rehab. No fun. Come on in to the studio, just tell me you want to improve your cardiovascular condition, lose weight, get into better shape. It is what all my clients tell me they want to accomplish.
The attached article appeared in today's New York Times. I found it fascinating, hope you do too.

Published: August 28, 2009
IF you watch enough television, you’d think that treating erectile dysfunction was as effortless as popping a pill and then whirling your partner around the living room in a romantic dance. Correcting erectile dysfunction, alas, is not so simple — and it can be rather costly. One Viagra pill, for example, the most common way to treat erection problems, costs about $15.
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Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Dr. Andrew McCullough is an associate professor of urology and director of Male Sexual Health and Fertility at the Langone Medical Center at New York University.

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Health Guide: Impotence
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Insurers can be chary of reimbursements. And despite the fact that E.D., as the dysfunction is known, becomes increasingly common after men reach 65, Medicare Part D does not cover drugs for it.
An estimated 30 million men in this country experience erectile dysfunction. Nearly a third of men in their 50s experience E.D., whereas more than half of those in their 60s have the problem.
If you’re hoping to have Viagra-aided sex twice a week, your bill for the entire year could run around $1,500. If you’re fortunate enough to have insurance that covers the medications, your co-pay will be on the high side, around $40 for a one-month supply of six to eight pills — bringing your annual bill to a more manageable $500 or so. There are no generic versions of E.D. meds yet.
Even among the name-brand drugs, which also include Cialis and Levitra, the medications do not work for about half of the men with E.D., says Dr. Ajay Nehra, professor of urology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He is also president of the Sexual Medicine Society, an association of health care professionals.
And yet, as it turns out there are other treatments for E.D. And some of them are more cost-effective than the brand-name pills advertised on television.
“There is not a man out there that cannot be helped in some way with his E.D. — even if money is an issue,” says Dr. Andrew McCullough, an associate professor of urology and director of Male Sexual Health and Fertility at the Langone Medical Center at New York University.
The first step is to see a doctor who specializes in E.D. (usually a urologist) and have your overall health checked out. If your primary care physician can’t make a recommendation, contact the Sexual Medicine Society and ask for a referral.
In many of cases, E.D. is the sign of an underlying disorder like diabetes or hypertension. In fact, in younger men, erection problems are often the first symptom of cardiovascular disease.
“Erectile problems may show up about three years before a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke,” says Dr. Ira Sharlip, clinical professor of urology at the University of California, San Francisco.
That’s because plaque will start to clog the small arteries in the penis before the wider coronary arteries. Your doctor will also try to determine whether your E.D. is the result of a psychological issue, in which case he will refer you to a therapist. Depending on your policy, your insurer may cover a set number of visits. (One way for you to check on your own whether your issue may be psychological or physical is try the postage stamp test, also known as nocturnal penile tumescence test.)
By adopting healthier habits, you may be able to improve your overall well-being and restore your erectile function.
“There is increasing evidence that we can reverse erectile dysfunction with lifestyle changes,” says Dr. Drogo K. Montague, director of the Center for Genitourinary Reconstruction in the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute at Cleveland Clinic.
In a recent study of men with E.D., or at risk for developing it, researchers in Italy found that the men could improve their erections by losing weight, improving their diet and exercising more frequently. After two years of significant lifestyle changes, 58 percent of the men had normal erectile function, according to the study, which was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in January.
But lifestyle changes, while basically free, can be difficult to make and may take months to take effect. In the meantime, your doctor will probably prescribe a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor, also called a PDE-5 inhibitor, like Viagra, Cialis or Levitra. These drugs enhance the effects of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps to increase blood flow in the penis. The three drugs work in the same way, but differ in how quickly they take effect and how long they last. If the PDE-5 drugs don’t work for you, don’t give up quickly, says Dr. McCullough, who theorizes that “in over 40 percent of drug failures the problem is with the user, not the drug.” Dr. McCullough adds, “it’s important to take these medications as directed, like on a totally empty stomach, rather than a full one, and not less than 60 minutes before sex.”
If the pills don’t work for you, you might want to try self-administered injections of alprostadil, a drug that helps blood vessels expand and facilitates erections. Granted, this may sound onerous, but the shot, which is sold under the brand names Edex and Caverject, is done with a fine needle, feels no worse than a pinprick and produces an erection that can last up to four hours, according to doctors who recommend it.
The shots cost about $35 per injection and are covered by most insurers, but not by Medicare.
But ask your doctor about an injection that’s a cocktail of generic forms of alprostadil, papaverine and phentolamine.
Although this generic combination is not F.D.A.-approved as an E.D. treatment, doctors are legally free to administer it — and both Dr. Sharlip and Dr. McCullough recommend it.
“The generic injections clearly work the best,” Dr. Sharlip said, “and are usually less expensive.”
Another cost-effective option is a vacuum erection device or penis pump. It works like this: you place a tube on the penis and then pump the air out of the tube, which pulls blood into the penis. When the penis is erect, you then put a snug ring around the base to maintain the erection, which lasts long enough to have sex.
The cost for the device, which requires a prescription, can run from $300 to $600, but most insurers and Medicare will cover part of the cost and the device should last for years. Even if you spend $300 out of pocket and use the device once a week, you’ll be spending much less per year than on pills or injections. You can also buy a nonprescription pump online (even Amazon carries some) for as little as $30, Dr. McCullough said.
Finally, if all other treatments fail, you could consider getting penile implants, an effective and permanent solution for chronic E.D. The most common type of implant works through inflation: two cylinders are placed inside the penis and a fluid-filled reservoir is implanted under the abdominal wall or groin muscles; a pump and a deflation valve are placed inside the scrotum. To create an erection, you pump fluid from the reservoir into the cylinders. To deflate the penis, you press the release valve.
Most insurers and Medicare cover the surgery, so your out-of-pocket costs will be minimal. This might be the most cost-effective strategy of all since, according to Dr. Nehra, 80 percent of implants last 10 years.
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Making Sauce

Around this time of the summer, my thoughts turn to the coming cold weather and I make tomato sauce for the freezer. I don't eat food from cans. Do you know that to kill any potential pathogens, canned food needs to be heated to around 600 degrees? Along with the pathogens, there go the vitamins. 200 years ago, I think there were very good reasons for canning. Canning was a terrific way to preserve the bounty of summer and eat well all winter. You had to can fruits and vegetables or you had to eat only grains and root vegetables all winter. Now that we have great freezers, I don't feel the need to can.

Well, here in New Jersey the farmer's markets are brimming with luscious tomatoes and peppers. The weather here today is a bit steamy, but it is stormy so all my outdoor activities are out of the question. A perfect day for making sauce. Another plus is that my husband is going to be at work until 10pm tonight.

I buy about equal amounts of tomatoes and peppers. I usually use plum tomatoes. Today they were 2 lbs. for $1.00 (A great price for tomatoes.) I use red bell peppers and banana peppers too. I'd prefer to use all bell peppers, but today the banana peppers were more than 1/2 the price of the bells. Do you know a green bell pepper is an unripe red bell pepper. That is why people have stomach upsets from eating peppers. You'll have less problems digesting the pepper if you buy the red ones. No, they are not hot. Here is a bit of a recipe.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 good sized onions
7 lbs. plum tomatoes - washed and chopped
5 or 6 or 7 pounds of red or banana peppers - washed, cored and chopped roughly
as much garlic as you would like
some hot peppers if you like spicier food

Chop and saute the onions in the olive oil, add the tomatoes, stir once in a while, add peppers. This cooks down as you cook and add the vegetables. Depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes it should take about an hour to cook. I used to blend this up in a blender. Anyone who has ever tried to use a blender to blend a hot liquid knows why I've stopped using a blender. What is that all about? For those of you who don't know, when you put a hot liquid in a blender and hit the "blend" button, all hell breaks loose and hot liquid comes flying over the top of the blender. Big mess. Get an immersion blender. It is the best little gadget for your kitchen. You'll use it for so many things. Have a soup you want to make creamy? Just stick that immersion blender in and whir away. Want to make a nice mug of cocoa with a foamy head on it? Yup, the immersion blender will do that. It is a lot easier to clean up than a blender too.

I do not peel the tomatoes nor do I seed the sauce. All the vitamins are in the skin of fruits and vegetables. I am always looking for more fiber in my diet, so that is another reason to leave the skins and seeds in. We eat this sauce over whole wheat pasta at my house. Whole wheat is better for you, period, end of conversation. You can eat what you want at your house.

When all the veggies are soft, I peel the garlic and turn the flame off under the pot. Put the immersion blender in and start blending. You are in charge of how chunky you make your sauce. Adjust the taste here. You will need some salt and maybe some pepper. If the peppers or tomatoes were not so ripe, you might need to add a bit of sugar.

I measure 2 cups of sauce into zip loc freezer bags and put them in the refrigerator overnight. When they are thoroughly cool tomorrow, I'll lay them one on top of the other in the freezer. One bag is just the right amount of sauce for a pasta dinner for the two of us. I usually keep doing this until I have about 30 bags of sauce. On my "lazy" days, in the winter, when I get home late from work, I pull out some sauce and make us a pasta dinner. It is delicious.
The above recipe yeilded 11 bags of sauce. I'll do this twice more and then I will have enough sauce to get through the winter.

You can think of this sauce as a base to make other more complex sauces. Saute mushrooms, add ground beef or turkey. Use the sauce when you are making lasagna or eggplant Parmesan.

Very often, when we are out to eat, my husband will order pasta. He will invariably say, "This is good, but the sauce is not as good as yours."

You should see the grocery stores around here when there is snow in the forecast! Don't people keep food in their homes? My freezer is full of good things to make. When I hear we are getting snow, I make sure I swing by the library to pick up some good reading material.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cancer and Exercise

There is a lot of information about the positive benefits of exercise. Below is an interesting article about the effects of vigorous exericise and your cancer risk. Hint. Sauntering along will not prevent cancer as well as going for a run.
Phys Ed: Does Exercise Reduce Your Cancer Risk?
By Gretchen Reynolds
Aubrey Jonsson/Getty Images
Finnish researchers recently concluded that, if you wish to ward off lung or gastrointestinal cancer, you might want to spend your leisure time jogging instead of picking berries, mushroom gathering or fishing. In the study, published in late July on the Web site of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, scientists studied the health of a group of 2,560 middle-aged Finns over the course of about 17 years. The subjects, all men living in eastern Finland, kept diaries of their daily activities for a year and then went about them.
At the start of the study, none had cancer. By the end, 181 had died of the disease. Parsing the men’s activity levels, the researchers determined that, after controlling for cigarette smoking, fiber and fat intake, age, and other variables, the most physically active men were the least likely to develop cancer, particularly of the gastrointestinal tract or the lung. Even more striking, the intensity of the exercise was key. The more arduous it was, the more protective it proved. Jogging was the most strenuous activity studied, fishing among the least. The men who jogged or otherwise exercised fairly intensely for at least 30 minutes a day had “a 50 percent reduction in the risk of dying prematurely from cancer,” says Sudhir Kurl, medical director of the School of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Kuopio in Finland and one of the study’s authors.
It seems fair and just that conscientiously working out should confer disease-fighting benefits, especially against cancer, and an accreting body of research suggests that under certain conditions and against certain forms of cancer, fitness may be remarkably protective. A major review article published in February on the Web site of the British Journal of Cancer synthesized the results of more than two decades’ worth of studies and concluded that the most active people are 24 percent less likely to develop colon cancer than sedentary people are, regardless of their diets, smoking habits or body weight. Another study, this one presented in May at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine reported that women over age 30 who defined themselves as “highly competitive” by disposition and who exercised more than the average for the group had much less risk of developing breast cancer than women who worked out for less than 60 minutes per week.
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What these recent studies, including the one from Finland, share is the suggestion that, in order to use exercise to reduce the risk of cancer, you must make yourself sweat. In the Finnish study, the most beneficial exercise was both frequent and demanding. The researchers used METs (an acronym for metabolic equivalent of task, a numerical comparison of the oxygen or energy used during an activity versus the amount used at rest) to characterize their subjects’ exercise habits. A MET of 1 is the equivalent of lolling inertly on the couch. In his study, jogging steadily for 30 minutes or so represented a MET of about 10. The men whose METs reached at least 5 almost every day were the least likely to die of cancer, especially of the lung or the gastrointestinal tract. Similarly, in one of the studies included in the colon cancer review, women who walked briskly for five to six hours a week were much less likely to develop colon cancer than those who strolled for 30 minutes per week. And in the bogglingly comprehensive 2008 national Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee report prepared for the secretary of health and human services, which includes a chapter about exercise and cancer, the authors concluded that when it comes to breast cancer, “one hour per day of moderate or vigorous activity produces greater reduction in risk” than the two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week that are currently recommended by the surgeon general.
The Finnish researchers admit that, like other scientists studying activity and cancer, they don’t know just how or why brisk exercise affects risk or why only some types of cancer are affected. Exercise long has been known to speed the emptying of the colon, which may reduce the amount of time that carcinogens linger in the organ, the Finnish scientists point out. Strenuous exercise also affects the production of sex hormones in men and women, and — particularly in the case of estrogen and breast cancer — may by that mechanism reduce cancer formation. Other scientists have posited that the panting involved in strenuous exercise might rapidly move carcinogens out of the lungs. Still other researchers have written that alterations in how a well-trained body handles insulin and some cellular growth factors could lessen the chances of tumors developing.
But it remains difficult to tease out the specific molecular effects of regular, brisk exercise from the generally healthy habits of exercisers. Although the Finnish study controlled for diet, the scientists write that other, unspecified “lifestyle factors” and the luck (good and bad) of genetics may well have affected their results. Still, their findings offer a prescription for potentially reducing your risk of certain cancers that has few obvious, undesirable side effects, except among the intractably lazy. “At least moderately intense physical activity is more beneficial than low intensity physical activity in the prevention of cancer,” the authors conclude. The takeaway, in other words, is that jogging trumps berry picking.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Good news for lymphedema sufferers!

I love it when common sense prevails. Many of my clients think of me as a "Televangelist" and my exercise studio as my "Mega Church". My sessions with my clients are my "sermons" and my "Gospel" is "The Power of Exercise!" Once again, I am vindicated! Do you know how when you buy a new piece of exercise equipment, there is a "Warning Label" on it advising you to check with your doctor before commencing an exercise program. Those things scare people into thinking that exercise is inherently dangerous. Let me tell you what should come with a warning label. The menu to a fast food restaurant should have a warning label letting you know that frequent consumption of this type of food will kill you. The remote control of the television should have a warning label right on it that says, "Warning, the excessive use of this product will cause weight gain and heart disease." Anyway, I digress. Read the article below taken from today's New York Times for new information on the power of exercise to help people suffering from lymphedema. It makes sense that when you work your muscles you make blood flow and lymph flow better.

Published: August 17, 2009
After a woman has surgery for breast cancer, she is typically given a long list of don’ts. Don’t lift anything heavier than 15 pounds, including your child. Don’t carry a heavy purse or grocery bags. Don’t scrub, push, pull or hammer.
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The goal is to prevent lymphedema, a painful and unsightly swelling of an arm or leg that can occur near the site where lymph nodes have been removed or damaged by radiation. But new research suggests that much of that advice may be too restrictive. To prevent lymphedema after breast cancer, the best strategy may be more exercise, not less.
Last week, The New England Journal of Medicine reported on a study of 141 breast cancer patients who had lymphedema. Half adhered to the traditional restrictions, while the other half embarked on a slow, progressive program of weight lifting. To the researchers’ surprise, the weight lifters actually had significantly fewer flare-ups than the women who restricted their activity.
Lymphedema is a very feared complication, and many women have made major alterations to their lifestyle in an effort to avoid it,” said Dr. Monica Morrow, chief of breast surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.
“This is a very welcome study that very clearly shows controlled weight lifting does not make it worse and, in fact, improves symptoms. That should be a reason to re-evaluate a whole lot of things we tell people about lymphedema.”
The findings don’t mean that patients should disregard everything their doctors tell them about lymphedema, which can also occur with other cancers. Once lymph nodes have been damaged or removed, the lymphatic system is less able to cope with trauma or infection, and the painful swelling, tightness and heaviness of lymphedema can result. While physical therapy can ease the symptoms, some patients never fully recover.
Doctors say some of the standard guidelines are reasonable. Intravenous lines, for example, pose a risk of infection, and they should not be used on an arm affected by lymphedema. But other restrictions, like not carrying children or using a blood pressure cuff on the affected arm, may be too extreme.
An editorial accompanying the weight-lifting study in The New England Journal notes that the current “policy of avoidance” should be replaced by recommendations for rehabilitation, particularly because many women have to ignore the restrictions anyway — they are caring for young children, or their jobs require manual labor.
“Rather than saying, ‘Don’t ever lift more than 15 pounds, don’t carry a suitcase,’ instead we should empower women,” said Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, who wrote the editorial. “Give them the rehab and the exercise training they need after their treatment.”
Kathryn H. Schmitz, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the study’s lead author, notes that in the past, patients were wrongly advised to avoid activity after a heart attack or a back injury.
“It’s the same principle as back rehab and cardiac rehab,” she said. “You’re slowly and progressively increasing the stress that your system can handle. We’re applying that to lymphedema.”
Corrie Roberts of Philadelphia developed lymphedema in her left arm in June 2004, about 18 months after a mastectomy. She had taken the usual precautions, but during back surgery the anesthesiologist mistakenly used her left arm to insert the intravenous line.
After taking part in the weight-lifting study, she said the swelling and discomfort were finally under control. She uses an exercise room in her apartment building and lifts weights three to five days a week.
“It sure was an improvement,” said Ms. Roberts, 75. “As long as I keep the weight lifting up, I don’t have swelling in my arm.”
Dr. Schmitz is conducting a separate study to determine whether weight lifting can prevent symptoms in women who have never had lymphedema. Another study will focus on exercise programs for people with lower-limb lymphedema.
Experts warn that women should not embark on an exercise program on their own, but should ask their doctor about finding a rehabilitation center or exercise program for patients at risk for lymphedema. The women in the study began with very light weights and were regularly monitored for swelling or pain. Dr. Schmitz noted that not every woman is a candidate, and that a few women in the study developed swelling almost immediately after exerting the arm.
Centers that offer the weight-lifting program used in the New England Journal study can be found at Patients can look for a personal trainer who has a cancer exercise certification from the American College of Sports Medicine. In addition, many Y’s now have exercise programs for cancer patients through a partnership with the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Women can also order the DVD “Strength and Courage: Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors,” which was developed by Dr. Sharon Cowden, a Pittsburgh pediatrician and golfer who had breast cancer, and Janette Poppenberg, a health fitness specialist certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

I am vindicated!

I think anyone who reads my blogs know how I feel about going out to eat. Just in case you don't know, I'll repeat how I feel. I think you are putting your life in the hands of the cook or the restaurant owner when you go out to eat. Where do I start? (Less of this applies if you go out to a small, local little place that prides itself on fresh food.)
I am talking about the big chain restaurants. If a Sysco truck delivers there you are putting your life at risk. If you eat out once a year to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, read no more. This is for people who eat out once a week or more at chain restaurants. Look at the list of appetizers. Everything is fried. Blooming onions, chicken fingers (people - you realize of course that chickens don't have fingers), jalapeno poppers (OMG - fried peppers filled with cheese - yes, they are delicious, but they will clog your arteries). Do you know why so much food is fried in these restaurants? Cheffing is hard. You have to go to an expensive school. You have to take low paying jobs to get experience. Now, to cook at a chain restaurant, you just have to be able to count and read. There is a card over the fryer that tells you how many jalapeno poppers go into an order. If you can count to six, you can cook at that restaurant. I get so grumpy at restaurants when there is nothing that is not fried on the appetizer menu. I also never get enough vegetables at a restaurant. Do you know how asparagus comes in a bundle? That bundle is enough for one hungry person or two more civilized people. I have been in restaurants where I was presented with a plate that had a giant slab of meat and three spears of asparagus. Three spears of asparagus is an appetizer! It should be the other way around. A big portion of asparagus and a tiny portion of meat. We need about 3 ounces of protein a day. Anything you consume in excess is stored as fat. That is fact. If you overfill your car with gasoline, it just spills over the side of the car. If you overfill yourself with food it gets stored. As fat. Now, you may not feel as though you are overeating. But you are overeating by consuming more of something than you need. The only thing your body can do with it is store it as fat. How often have I seen 20 ounce portions of steak on the menu? Often. Trust me, 17 ounces of that steak are stored as fat.
I digress. Here is why I am vindicated. A client for a variety of reasons has decided to eat more meals at home. This requires cooking at home. She is a trooper and is doing the additional work of shopping and prepping and cooking. This has been going on for a couple of weeks now. Yesterday, she announced rather worriedly that her husband has unexpectedly lost 11 pounds. He is not dieting. He has simply started eating good, home cooked food. Going out to eat a lot, will impact your weight and more importantly your health.
If you would like to be healthier and possibly lighter, eat more meals at home.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Top 10 Ways to Gain/Maintain Your Weight

People ask me all the time if I can help them lose weight. Of course I can. I thought I would write a list of ways that are surefire ways to gain weight. If you do the opposite of the things I recommend, you will be on the road to losing weight.

1. Don't move. Seriously - moving takes energy. Calories are energy. If you move, you burn calories. Watch TV, go to a movie, sit on the beach, go out to eat. Going out to eat is actually a twofer in that you get to sit still and be served too much food that is loaded with sugar, fat and salt. Not only will you not be burning calories, you will be adding to your fat stores! When you sit still, you can expect to burn around 60 calories an hour. Take a four mile walk and you can burn around 400 calories in an hour. For you number types, there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat.

2. Eat processed food. Try to make the foods of choice in your diet predominantly processed. This will insure that you consume lots of fat, salt and sugar. Fat, salt and sugar are used by food manufacturers to preserve food and make it so tasty that you can't stop eating it. I don't tell my clients to go on diets per se, but I will suggest to people that they eat an apple if they feel like they need a snack. I tell people to even eat 5 apples a day. Someone did a study and found that the more apples people eat, the less they weigh. So far, I have had a couple of clients tell me they have been able to manage 2 apples a day. Do you see how this works? It is so easy to knock back cookies or potato chips or crackers, but apples are really hard work to eat. A medium apple has about 80 calories. One cookies has about 80 calories. Yeah, stick with the cookies.

3. Eat fried food. Carbohydrates and protein both have 4 calories/gram. There are approximately 28 grams per ounce. For our purposes, 4 ounces of carbohydrate or protein have about 100 calories. Fat has 9 calories/gram. You can boost the calorie count of most foods exponentially by frying it. So many people tell me they avoid potatoes. Come on, a 4 ounce baked potato has 100 calories. Now, if you have a medium serving of French fries at McDonald's (4.1 oz) you will consume 380 calories. We all know you don't go into McDonald's just to have French fries, so this is a really good strategy to increase your weight.

4. Eat fast food. It is difficult to be a chef. Years and years of training. Even the best chefs have off days when their food is not up to par. Fresh food requires lots of preparation. Washing, cooking, seasoning. Fresh food has a relatively short shelf life too. Fast food establishments can take a kid in high school and have him/her cooking up a storm after a very short training period. All you need is a fryer and a timer. The food is pre-cooked in a factory. Tons of it is produced with rigorous quality controls. Some of the food is pre-fried at the factory, then it is fried up again when you order it at your favorite fast food place. Because this food shows up at the fast food place frozen, it will not go bad waiting for you.

5. When you go to the fast food place, use the drive thru window. For heaven's sake, don't get out of your car and waste precious calories by parking your car and walking into the restaurant.

6. Skip meals. If you want to gain weight, skip breakfast. If you want to be immense, skip breakfast and lunch. When you get home, you will hoover up everything edible in sight.

7. Eat late, then go to bed. This is part of how Sumo wrestlers achieve their astonishing weight. Eat a big meal and go to bed. This is also a twofer. When you eat late and go to sleep shortly after eating, you will not be hungry the next morning. This insures that you will skip breakfast again, helping set the stage to overeat at dinner again.

8. Eat lots of simple carbs. Have some pasta, have some bread, have some cookies, drink soda. These foods quickly raise your blood sugar, and just as quickly in an hour or two, your blood sugar plummets. You really need that plummeting blood sugar so that you get some serious food cravings. Once those cravings kick in, you really need a candy bar, donut or more soda to fix the craving. Don't worry, the craving will come back soon. Once you get on this sugar merry-go-round, the craving just keep on coming.

9. Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables at all costs. Fresh produce is loaded with water and fiber. Water and fiber fill you up. This is why even my most accomplished overeating clients can only manage two apples. Not only that, but you are going to all the trouble of eating and chewing and only getting a very small amount of calories for all that work.

10. Avoid foods that take work to eat. Lobster in the shell, crab claws, artichokes, nuts in the shell. It is impossible to eat these foods fast enough to gain weight. Enough said.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Brigitta's Rules of How to Eat (For Brigitta)

For those of your reading these blog posts, I thought I might share with you what goes through my mind when I think of food.

First of all, food is nutrition. Many people think they eat for energy. Yes, we do eat for energy, but think of plants. They get their energy from the sun and they still need nutrients from the soil. 40% of the calories we consume are used in the maintenance of our bones. 40% is HUGE. Osteoporosis is a disease of malnutrition. Many women in this country - one of the richest in the world - are suffering from a disease of malnutrition! There is not much if any nutrition in junk food and fast food and even most chain restaurant food. There is lots of energy (calories) but very little nutrition.

Please understand that I am human. I eat candy, cookies, ice cream - you name it, I've eaten it. Not much, not often. I'm sharing these "rules" with you in order to help you think about food and the role that food plays in your health. We are what we eat. What else could we be?

The rules:

Don't eat food from packages that crinkle. Don't eat food from packages.

Eat food that has been processed the least or not at all. I used to buy ShopRite's Natural Peanut Butter. (Ingredients: Peanuts, Salt) Last Saturday, I went to a health food store in Teaneck and bought peanut butter that was ground right in front of my eyes and contained just ground peanuts. It is tasty, but not so tasty that I am likely to overindulge. Do you know that the Jiff and the Skippy people have decided that peanuts need to be enhanced with sugar, salt and shortening? A cut up apple is better than a cup of applesauce or a glass of apple juice. An orange is better than a glass of orange juice. You get the point?

Look at the ingredients on your food. If there are ingredients that you can't pronounce or that you don't have in the cupboard, take a pass. I just pulled out a loaf of cinnamon bread that I bought for my husband. (He doesn't follow my rules - ever.) It has mono and diglycerides, palm oil and/or palm kernel oil, sodium stearyl lactylate, polysorbate 60. What are those things? I bake but I have never seen a recipe for home made anything calls for any of those ingredients.

Eat out very little. A chef or a restaurant has one motivation. Make the food so tasty that you'll come back. Your nourishment doesn't even enter the equation. We need about 2 or 3 ounces of protein a day. What's up with the 20 ounce Prime Rib? The portions of everything are too big. Study after study has shown that the more food is on your plate, the more you will eat.

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. We went out for lunch last week at a BBQ place. No vegetables were brought with our meal. None. French fries are not a vegetable. They are a shortcut for heart disease and a weight problem.

If you would like to weigh less, eat your dinner off smaller plates. This one trick will help you a lot.

Eat soup. It is so easy to put a ton of vegetables into a pot of soup. Soup is particularly satisfying to eat.

I love to look up the nutrients and calories in various foods. The more nutrients the better the food. is a particularly good website for nutrition information. If a food doesn't have much nutrition, I take a pass. Why waste the calories? Whole wheat flour has way more nutrition than white flour. Brown rice beats white rice. Beans are amazing nutritionally. All vegetables and fruits are powerhouses.

I bake my own bread. My bread has whole wheat flour, kosher salt, organic safflower oil, molasses, water, yeast, powdered milk and gluten. It is delicious and I highly recommend a bread machine. The space it takes up is worth having bread that is good for you.

Energy bars. You are doing something wrong if you need energy bars to get through the day. I ride my bike 10 miles, go for a one hour paddle in my kayak and go for a swim in the lake all in one day and do not need an energy bar. Eat an apple or have a banana. (Besides, energy bars come in a crinkly package. An energy bar is a candy bar in disguise, they are not that good to eat.) Actually, many people over estimate the amount of calories burned in an activity and underestimate the amount of calories in the food they eat. Do you know you have to walk a mile and a half to burn off a 150 calorie energy bar?

Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every day. Skipping meals is a bad idea. You are just setting yourself up to overeat at your next meal.

Time for all this. I have many clients that tell me they don't have time to cook or prepare food. Really? I can have a simple dinner on the table in 20 minutes. No way could you drive to a restaurant, get a table, order, get your food, eat it, wait for the check, drive home in less than 20 minutes.

So in a nutshell I eat: Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole grains, a little protein from fish, chicken or turkey and a little dairy. It may sound boring but my clothes fit and I feel good. Can you say the same?