Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Follow Friday: @FarmGirlJen #FF

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Getting back on track with my Follow Friday RD features. This week goes to Jennie Schmidt (aka @FarmGirlJen) who has the relatively unique perspective of a dietitian-turned-farmer. She also had the moxy to nominate herself for a Follow Friday post which I totally love. While she hasn’t technically practiced dietetics in about 16 years, she points out that she uses the same principles from clinical nutrition but now applies them to soil and plants.

Jennie grows soybeans, corn, green beans, tomatoes, and wine grapes in Maryland. She’s a big advocate for genetic modification. In fact, she warned me that if that’s not my thing, I might not want to feature her. You guys know that while I’m not a supporter of genetic modification in the food supply, I’m not a staunch anti-GMOer either and I think that listening to different perspectives and having open discourse is important. To read more about her thoughts on farming, you should check-out her blog The Foodie Farmer.

You can also find Jennie on Facebook as @DirtDietitian.

If you’d like to nominate a dietitian to be featured in a Follow Friday post, please let me know!


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My problem with “babes”

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Something that I’ve been thinking about for a little while now is the proliferation of “babes” and why it bothers me so much.

It all started with the Food Babe. Others then capitalized on (subverted?) her moniker by proclaiming themselves “Science Babe”, “Farm Babe”, “Biology Babe” and who knows how many others.

There’s a part of me that feels like I should be supportive of these “babes”. Am I a bad feminist for feeling irritated when I see women dubbing themselves “babes”? Maybe. I hope not though.

After some contemplation, I think I’ve figured out why these pseudonyms bother me so much. Many of these women are doing great work. They’re trying to bring scientific literacy to the populace. But why do they need to be babes in order to do this? We all know that sex sells. I’m left feeling like in order for women to be heard, particularly those in male dominated industries, that they need to be attractive to get attention. Can you imagine a man calling himself “Science Babe” or “Science Stud”? Even with my love of alliteration it sounds ridiculous.

By virtue of dubbing themselves “babes” there’s a certain implication that other women in their fields are not babes. That they are somehow unique and that being attractive is necessary in order to be heard. But being attractive or sexy is not an achievement. It has no bearing on intelligence, knowledge, or skills. How sad is it that we live in a world in which we are more inclined to give credence to women who are considered conventionally attractive? That in order to gain attention for our messages that we need to make people think that we’re physically desirable? That the contents of our minds can only be made appealing by first enticing people with our exteriors.

 


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Top 16 of 2016

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It seems that most of my top posts were from earlier years, but here are the most popular from 2016 (from most to least hits):

  1. Grocery store lessons: Catelli “SuperGreens” pasta
  2. Should veganism be a human right?
  3. Where did her body go?
  4. Hey food industry, get out of RD conferences! #FNCE
  5. Boycott Fit to Fat to Fit
  6. Childhood obesity is not something to be battled
  7. Top 10 nutrition quacks to follow
  8. Ditch the meds: a dietitian dispensing drugs
  9. Doctors giving nutrition advice probably shouldn’t reference Pete Evans
  10. 16 cancer causing foods: what THEY don’t want you to know
  11. Is this good for me?
  12. Comparing apples to oranges
  13. The dark side of dietetics
  14. What foods will dietitians never eat?
  15. Licence to farm review (Rant)
  16. How to choose yoghurt (#FF @canva)


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Have you ever “undone” all your hard work at the gym with a burger? This post is for you.

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Have you ever said, or thought, something along the lines of “I cancelled out my workout by eating doughnuts”? How about “I just undid all my work at the gym by having pizza for supper”? Or, “I earned this treat because I ran today”? I’m pretty sure I’ve been guilty of saying those sorts of things. Many of us probably have. For some reason I seem to have become acutely aware of it recently.

I see articles, blog posts, tweets, overheard conversations, where people make statements like those in the examples above all the time. Since it’s the New Year, I expect that a lot of people are making health and fitness related resolutions. I’ve shat all over such resolutions in the past so I won’t do that again today. Instead of resolving to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, undergo metamorphosis, perhaps we should consider resolving to shift our mindsets.

The thing is, you’re never cancelling out, undoing, or negating physical activity by eating too much or eating foods that aren’t super healthy. You’re also never earning them by putting in time on the dreadmill. We need to separate the two. Remember when I talked about my problem with many food tracking apps and websites? We often overestimate how many calories we’ve burned during a workout. It’s more than that though. It’s that both exercise and nutrition contribute to our health and well-being but they are both completely separate entities and we need to stop thinking of them as two sides of a scale.

Regardless of what you eat, exercise is still beneficial. Exercise can improve your sleep quality and duration, it can help reduce stress, it’s important for both physical and mental health and can reduce the risk of many diseases. Conversely, regardless of how much you move, a healthy diet is still beneficial. Good nutrition can reduce the risk of many diseases, provide you with energy, can help you recover from injury… Obviously, the two are important contributors to good health. Obviously, you’re going to reap greater benefits if you are both physically active and eat a nutritious diet. However, if you workout and eat a cheeseburger you haven’t then cancelled out your workout. You’ll still be getting some benefits from being active. You’ll still be better off than if you sat on your butt all day and then ate a cheeseburger.

So, stop being so hard on yourself. Stop thinking you’ve failed if you haven’t done an hour of spin and followed that up with a kale salad. Try to separate your thoughts about exercise and your thoughts about nutrition. Your workout happened no matter what you ate afterward. A burger and fries doesn’t erase a swim.


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A little nitpicking in pursuit of scientific literacy

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I was reading this article a couple of weeks ago and was bothered by a couple of minor errors. The article’s kind of all over the place so I wasn’t even sure that I would bother blogging about it but since, as I type this, I’m at the airport waiting for my delayed flight to arrive I figured that I may as well.

Issue #1:

In 2015, nearly 13% of U.S. households experienced food insecurity (the current term for “hunger”). Many more are forced to rely on poor-quality foods that lead to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Well, actually food insecurity is much more complex than “hunger” and people who cannot afford adequate, nutritious food very often fall into that group of people experiencing food insecurity. For a nice concise one-pager about food insecurity, check out this factsheet from Dietitians of Canada. Also, obviously, just because someone is hungry doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re experiencing food insecurity. Food insecurity is a result of inadequate income; not a strenuous workout or a light lunch.

Issue #2:

none of the flour available to consumers is ground from GMO grains.

While genetically modified wheat is not commercially available, corn flour would often be produced from GM corn. Many gluten-free flours contain ingredients such as sugar beets that are genetically modified.

Issue #3:

Gluten-free is very popular right now, but even if you are one of the 1% of Americans with celiac disease, marketers are fooling you. Whole Foods sells “gluten-free” baby shampoo. First, please don’t eat baby shampoo. Second, gluten is a protein found in wheat. Meats, cheeses and personal care products don’t normally have wheat in them.

Actually, many shampoos and other personal care products do contain wheat. For children who have celiac disease or who are following a ketogenic diet for epilepsy, their doctors may advise parents to ensure all such products are gluten-free to err on the side of caution. Kids are curious, many of them will put soap in their mouths, or eat shampoo bubbles. I don’t think making cautious parents feel foolish is helpful. Maybe that’s just me though. Whole meats and cheeses do not contain gluten but breadings or sauces may contaminate these foods, pre-shredded cheese may have flour added to prevent clumping, and some cheeses are cultured on gluten-containing grains.

Aside from these issues, I agree with the author’s assertion that food-borne illness is a real concern. I think that this will continue to grow as we see a decreasing number of manufacturers producing an increasing amount of our food. We should also avoid food fads and endeavour to improve our scientific literacy.