Tag Archives: eating

Giving Our Lifestyle Power Away To Celebrities

Chicken Fried Steak
If you don’t know what this is, that’s a good thing! (Chicken-fried steak)

The rise of celebrity chefs and food programs has been phenomenal. True, there are some excellent shows that feature healthy cuisines, and more wellness-oriented content. However the alarming trend has been for more and more shows to do what television shows have learned works for ratings: to shock and to “give the public what they want.” I’m talking gluttony and foods that have been scientifically linked over and over again to the obesity and health crisis we see in America and ever-increasingly, worldwide.

Americans watch an average of Four Hours of Television Per Day. (http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html) This media-saturated culture allows television celebrities easy access to our awareness and affects our lifestyle decisions more than we think.

fried baconWe see food programs, often posing as travel shows, glorify over-eating to a degree that is all about shock value. We tune in to programs that seem to inevitably feature consuming the most disgusting substances the host can find. Far too many programs show the host seeking out and gorging on huge quantities of the fattiest red-meat items available. Or, we indulge in a convenient fantasy that “good old home cooking” with all the butter and gravy possible won’t really hurt us. Cholesterol, calories, salt and fat content be damned! Full speed ahead!

We WANT to believe that we can eat like those folks on television and get away with it. The identification with some of these television chefs has been astonishing. What we forget is that they often become more of a corporate “brand” than a person. They represent the tip of a business iceberg that at times becomes a juggernaut of capitalistic power. When that happens it’s not about your health, it’s about making money.

Paula Deen, the television chef who made millions pushing traditional Southern cooking with a style of over-indulgent exaggeration, became “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” recently when she announced that she has come down with Type Two Diabetes. While deserving of all the compassion we would give anyone who encounters this challenge in their life, Paula lost much of such potential support by only revealing her affliction three years after her diagnosis. In the meantime she had continued to push her “brand” and all of the diabetes-engendering recipes that went with it. She also never revealed her diabetes until she had a mult-million dollar contract in place to be a spokesperson for a diabetes drug company. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/paula-deen-diabetes-announcement-celebrity-chefs-support_n_1224454.html)

Man reading food labelWhen we give our power away to entertainers who may or may not have our health and best interests at heart, we lose. We often feel betrayed when some truth finally comes to the surface, whether it’s about them, or when we suffer consequences in our own health.

It’s really like reading labels. What is the real content of this product? I loved hearing Marion Nestle (no relation to the food company) (http://www.foodpolitics.com/) talk about nutrition and the food industry at The National Wellness Conference (http://www.nationalwellness.org/index.php?id_tier=90) one year. She made it clear that the big food companies are not evil, they’re not out to get us. They simply are out to make money and are really very neutral about our health. If we purchase junk, they will make and market more junk. If we purchase more healthy food, they will, as we have seen, make and market more healthy food. The same is true for TV.

I’m not out to change TV. I’m out to help people reclaim their own lives. Read the label, so to speak, on what you watch on television. Remember that your favorite celebrity may simply be putting on an infomercial and calling it a TV show. Watch consciously and be conscious of how much you watch. We can’t always trust the intention behind a show. It’s like finding a good looking website on nutrition and then digging deeper and finding out that it’s just a propaganda voice for a coalition of food industry vested interests. The charge of all of these shows is to entertain first and foremost. That’s why we find them fun and interesting. What’s wonderful is when they share recipes that are actually heart-healthy, cancer-preventing, and diabetes-preventing.

Salmon and vegetablesWe would love to feel like celebrities are our “friends”. We all want to be connected to others. We enjoy their entertainment and we sometimes aspire to be more like them, for better or for worse. Celebrities are real people and the few I’ve met personally, like John Denver and Dennis Weaver, were as sincere and genuine as it gets. However, let’s not make them lifestyle beacons for us or give them authority they don’t deserve. It’s like a time way back in the late 1960’s when I noticed a friend of mine hanging on every word of a rock band for philosophical and political guidance. No wonder The Moody Blues put out a tune at that time entitled “I’m Just A Singer In A Rock n’ Roll Band.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqOSzkqPhbA)

Wellness Self-Quiz:
1. Have you found television food shows that emphasize wellness and healthy eating? Please share.
2. Have you found yourself recently shifting your eating habits to include more (not less) red meat dishes, more fried foods, more higher-fat content items after seeing such trends on show you watch?
3. What is one thing you can do to be a more conscious consumer of food programs on television?

-Shared from Michael Arloski’s blog, Real Balance Wellness.

Books by Michael Arloski:
Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change
Your Journey to a Healthier Life

You are what you eat

As important as good exercise skills are good nutrition skills, those straightforward things we all know we should do, but don’t always get around to doing. Eating right means giving your body high-quality fuel for the tasks you ask it to perform daily. It doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s just common sense and the discipline to follow up on what you already know.

Try designing an eating plan for life, rather than following fad diets. If you want to lose weight, the healthiest way is also the old fashioned way—eat healthy portions and exercise. Many of us try to cut calories by skipping breakfast, but try not to! Breakfast gives you energy and helps you through the day. For an easy and healthy cut in calorie intake, try just drinking water instead of all the other beverages you drink in a day. Eat  your vegetables raw if you can; it helps prevent vitamin loss during cooking. Another easy method is to check the ingredients list on processed foods. What’s the first ingredient listed? If its sugar, you can probably do without it. The easiest way to stop eating junk food is to avoid having it around. A little treat now and again won’t break you, as long as you remember that moderation is key.

  • How can you alter your eating habits to be healthier?
  • What kinds of small steps can you make to help make it easier to eat well?

Eat healthy, stay active and stop making excuses

Let Your Body WinFeeling refreshed after a wonderful two-week Colorado vacation with friends and family it’s time to get my body’s insides feeling as energized as my mind and spirit.

Here’s why my body needs help.

We spent a week with close family – three couples and four kids – in Durango, CO. Wonderful cooks in each family showcased their skills creating mouthwatering breakfasts, lunches and dinners. This continued with our Boulder friends, too. I ate heartily at every single meal (boof!) and consumed generous amounts of alcohol over evening card games, laughter sessions and football games.

Now that we’ve returned, we’ll do our annual post-holiday, two-day cleansing apple diet to rid ourselves of our excesses.

I have two additional healthy intentions:
· To switch to one or two meals weekly of beans and legumes, with little or no meat: since my husband is the cook, I must convince him this is a good idea. So, while in Boulder I purchased a bean cookbook. To make this happen I may have to cook these meals – I haven’t cooked for over 27 years.
· To return to my exercise regimen: weekly bicycling, kayaking and Nordic Track plus yoga multiple times a week. I slacked off last quarter due to a variety of reasons, one of which was the cold weather.

If I fail to accomplish these goals, I’ll stay attuned to my reasons – aka excuses, like it’s too cold to kayak today.

Best-selling author Bob Greene, Oprah’s former personal trainer said, “I’ve heard every excuse on the planet – except a good one. Having an excuse is an obstacle that you choose to place in front of yourself. … in general, we do it to justify not changing. When you are out of excuses is when you are ready to change.”

Which excuses justify you not changing? Do your knees hurt? Maybe your job exhausts you so much that you can do nothing when you get home but veg out. Whatever your excuses, bring them to your conscious mind and admit that you just don’t want to do whatever it is you’re considering. Keeping excuses conscious versus automatic (unconscious) gives you more power to change someday.

Also, strengthen your motivation for healthy change by using intrinsic reasons that benefit you rather than someone else. The day of each week I target for my Nordic Track session isn’t a day I say, “Yippee! I get to do the Nordic Track today.” I just do it because I’m committed to strength, energy, health, flexibility, etc., all intrinsic reasons to work out.

Greene encourages you to look for some form of activity that fits you. Distract yourself while doing it if that would help, like watch TV as you march in place. Make a t-shirt for yourself with “No excuses” printed on it. Eat modestly and healthfully five days a week leaving two days to eat whatever you like. Do whatever works for you.

As one reformed couch potato said, “There is no excuse good enough for poor health.”

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Check out her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.