Cooking Shows – Watch but don’t eat!


food showsI have a “friend” on Facebook that has recently taken up a new hobby which I suspect is to help her fill the void of not having any more kids at home seems as how her last one left for college last September. She was always a busy mom with kids in sports and so I’m sure it was a huge adjustment for her when all of a sudden those activities that took so much of her time just disappeared.

So the new hobby she started is cooking and then taking pictures of her makings and commenting on each dish. I have to tell you her pictures are beautifully done and quite impressive. Looking at the pictures being posted I have to admit she has made me hungry more than once. At first glance I was thinking, “Oh, how nice, she’s picked up a new hobby. Her work already looks so professional.”

I have been tempted a couple of times though to ask her just who is eating all of this food because I know she is a petite woman and avid runner and the food definitely does not look like lo-cal food. When I started paying more attention to her posts I noticed that she was getting a lot of her ideas for the dishes from cooking shows on tv.

Now I have watched those shows too and while the recipes always look delicious, I know if I ate that way all the time I would get into some serious trouble. So it got me to thinking of how many people watch these programs and do they have any effect on peoples health and or weight gain.

And what do people today do when they want to find out something quick? Yep! They google it!
After typing in “Watching cooking shows and weight gain,” a whopping 5,510,000 results popped up. Now, I didn’t go through all of the sites and I’m sure the message would have started straying off topic somewhat at some point but after perusing through quite a few of them I came to the conclusion that there was something to be said about the correlation between watching the shows and weight gain.

Lizzy Pope, a researcher in nutrition and food science at the University of Vermont and the
lead author of a study done on this topic came up with some interesting findings. The study consisted of a national panel survey of 501 females between the ages of 20-35 that assessed how the participants obtained information on new recipes and asked a series of questions about their cooking habits, their height and their weight.

With all the information they gathered, they then calculated the participants’ BMI (body mass index) and applied statistical analysis to determine if and what associations there was regarding how obtaining information about new foods, cooking from scratch, and the effect it may have on their BMI.

According to the study’s results, they found that the women who watched cooking shows and cooked frequently from scratch had a mean weight of 164 pounds. By comparison, women who watched the shows but didn’t cook much from scratch weighed, on average, about 153 pounds. They also noted that the same women who watch and then cooked the recipes had a higher BMI than the women who just watched but did not cook.

Another interesting finding was that when the women obtained their recipes and cooking advice from other sources such as magazines, online, or family and friends, the data did not show a significant association with BMI.

So what do we make of all this information? It seems we are always hearing about how eating out at restaurants all of the time is bad for your health so one would think that cooking at home is healthier right? But just because you are cooking at home does not automatically mean that you are cooking healthy dishes or that you will lose weight.

If your inspiration for cooking is mainly coming from TV where celebrity chefs entertain the audience with calorie laden, drenched in cream pasta and decadent desserts then you might as well eat out at a restaurant. Let’s face it, butter is butter whether it comes from your kitchen or on your plate at a restaurant.

It is important to keep in mind that for the most part these shows are for entertainment purposes only. And while there is nothing wrong with “watching” them occasionally to relax and maybe even getting a few ideas to try, you want to be mindful of how and what you cook and realize that the shows are not necessarily going to portray healthy recipes.

So once again it really boils down to one fact, and that is, we have to choose to eat smart. It always does doesn’t it? But in the society we live in and the availability of so many options coupled with the media be it tv food shows or social media with beautifully displayed pictures or videos popping up on our newsfeed constantly is it any wonder how easy it is to get “off track?”

So my fellow Americans I believe the take-home message for today is go ahead, watch a show or two for entertainment but when you go into your kitchen to cook for you and your family be sensible and pick from recipes that emphasize health and nutrition. And let the celebrity chefs give their dishes to feed the cameramen and the staff that produce the shows.

If I can be of any assistance to you whether it be providing education, strategies, or just support to encourage you to get back on and stay on the right track of healthy eating please feel free to contact me at (616) 516-1570. Bon-appétit!


Sugar, Sugar, EVERYWHERE!

sugar sugar everywhere

Well, we stepped over the first landmine (Halloween) just over a week ago. Did anybody get hurt out there? You know, as if having a bag of 150 candy bars and roughly only 45 trick or treater’s that came to your door wasn’t dangerous enough, I found it interesting to say the least that the next few days after, all the tv news shows and web articles were giving out “helpful” hints on how to use that leftover candy in a dessert. Apparently, a candy bar can’t stand on its own, you have to mix it with a cookie crust, brownies, ice cream, pudding and whipped cream to make it go away.

I guess that is one way to get rid of the extra candy— But are you really getting rid of it? You might get it off your counter but where do you think it will show up? YEP! You guessed it. Right around your waistline and clogging up your arteries!

If you did opt for this, I hope you will at least spread it out over time. Put the candy in the freezer and then pull it out and use it for special occasions and especially when you can take the dessert somewhere else where you will have lots of help eating it.

Or you could still just put it in the freezer and take one out here and there say after a walk around the block or after you bag that mountain of leaves that is in your yard right about now.

But please use some common sense when it comes to using the candy. I saw a recipe that was described as a giant chocolate chip cookie with tons of Halloween candy and lots of frosting. In the recipe itself it also called for cream cheese, marshmallow creme and caramel sauce. It was touted as a dessert that was sure to leave you in a sugar coma as if that was a good thing.

Really, why go through all the extra steps of making something like that up when you can just pop open a 5 lb. bag of sugar and pour it down your throat in one easy step? Of course I am being facetious in what I am saying but I am trying to get a point across. There is absolutely nothing redeeming nor remotely nutritious about a recipe like that. Why would we want to serve something like that to our family?

We are so accustomed to having sugar in our daily diet we don’t realize how much we are actually consuming. Naturally occurring sugar is the sugar found in whole, unprocessed foods, such as milk, fruit, vegetables, and some grains. What is unsettling is that the average American consumes around 156 pounds of added sugar per year or roughly 22 tsp. every day according to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). And what is even more disturbing is that people are consuming excessive sugar in the form of fructose or high-fructose corn syrup. This is a highly processed form of sugar which is cheaper yet 20 percent sweeter than regular table sugar. That’s why many food and beverage manufacturers decide to use it in their products.

The bad news is that the human body is not made to consume excessive amounts of sugar, especially in the form of fructose. Our body metabolizes fructose differently than sugar and can cause a whole host of problems that can have far reaching effects on your health, weight gain just being one of them.

You are probably thinking, “I don’t eat that much sugar.” But, if you are not in the regular habit of checking the labels on the foods you purchase, you would be surprised at how many foods contain added sugar. Over the course of a day with every thing you put in your mouth the grams of sugar you eat can really add up. Even foods such as spaghetti sauce, canned soup, and bread all contain added sugar. What is even more disheartening are the products with a healthy sounding name but with an ingredient list that is anything but healthy such as granola bars, yogurt and Green tea.

Just for kicks and giggles, the next time you go to the grocery store, take a little time and notice how many items make claims in eye catching large print such as, “More Protein,” “Made with Whole Grains,” or “Fat Free” which grabs your attention making you believe it is healthy but in reality has added ingredients such as added sugar, especially High Fructose Corn Syrup or some other form of sugar.

So, going back to that recipe I mentioned above, it really doesn’t sound like a good idea does it? I don’t like to be wasteful, but maybe all those leftover Snickers bars hanging out in your cupboard calling your name should just be given a permanent home at the local landfill instead of on your hips, just saying!

Sometimes navigating through the holidays can be quite a struggle  making wise choices. If you think you would benefit from someone holding you accountable and walking you through some new ways to think about food or help you with an exercise program to get you moving in the right direction, please call me at (616) 516-1570 or use the contact tab on the upper right hand corner of the screen and “Let’s talk!”

Recipe for Starting Day Off Right!

Combine the following to start your day off right:
5 mile stretch of road with very little cars and a lot of hills
1 gorgeous cloud-less 70 degree day
30 rock-n-roll songs from the 70’s (did we really listen to that - oh well, had a beat, kept me walkin’)
2 beautiful butterflies fluttering away in front of me
2 healthy legs
1 dose of healthy humor when garden snake crosses your path in front of you

So I had some time this morning and took a walk. Got me thinking, wishing, that every day could be like this.  It was just one of those splendid days in West Michigan where you think it can’t get any better.

If you don’t have the day off, take the time to “move along” in whatever capacity you can. I happen to work in a building with long hallways, and some days I have to consciously and purposely make myself take a walk.  Granted, it’s not as exciting as walking outside but if it’s too hot, humid, rainy, or you’re just stuck inside, take advantage of any little thing you can to get moving.

And then after work, get outside for 15, 30, 60 or however many minutes you can squeeze out and just enjoy THIS DAY.