In today’s Health section of The New York Times, Dr. Abigail Zuger writes what is at first glance a review of Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat. Digging deeper, one realizes that Zuger has much more to say than a few comments on Taubes’ book, a shorter and more pointed follow-up to his earlier work, Good Calories Bad Calories. Zuger is crying out against the storm of contradicting nutritional information, which she likens to both a war and a cafeteria food-fight.
Low-carb vs. low fat, Atkins vs. Weight Watchers, it’s a familiar battle not only to those slogging through the literature, but to anyone who’s struggled to find sound advice on what to eat and lose weight. “At this point,” writes Zuger, “all eaters, fat or lean, could be forgiven for slamming the door on all expert dietary input, forever.”
Dr. Zuger goes on to discuss the arguments behind the low carb diet recommended by Why We Get Fat, prefacing the information by saying Taubes’ book is as much a “manifesto” as it a document of science journalism. She playfully worries that Taubes will soon introduce his own line of protein bars.
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As a ballerina who overcame anorexia, the last thing Jennifer Ringer probably wanted was to be criticized for her weight by a New York Times critic. In a recent review of “The Nutcracker,” said that she, as the sugar plum fairy, “looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many.” The comment hurt initially but is just part of being a professional in a field that demands perfection from those who work in it.
“As a dancer, I do put myself out there to be criticized, and my body is part of my art form,” Jenifer Ringer, 37, told TODAY’s Ann Curry during an interview Monday. “At the same time, I am not overweight.”
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When most of us think of eating disorders, an image of a teen-aged girl or young woman enters into our minds: Sallow complexion, hollowed eyes, noodle-like arms, stick legs. We’ve all “seen” her. But what about closing your eyes and envisioning a grown man, and not a gangly and lanky one, but rather an overweight gentleman who has battled bulimia, binge-eating disorder, laxative abuse, nighttime eating and an almost dangerous inherited love of food.
In fact, it was precisely the excess pounds and passion for food that landed author of Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater, Frank Bruni, a job as the restaurant critic for The New York Times. In his nakedly honest memoir, Bruni chronicles his life as not just one of the most respected (and feared) food critics in the country, but also as a voracious eater whose relationship with food rendered him powerless over anything from convenience store eats to Chinese food delivery.
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Greece is smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean region that is famous for its healthy diet. Cuisine rich in omega 3s, fresh fruit and vegetables is all about supporting optimal heart health. But now its citizens are ironically dealing with increased cases of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart problems. That’s because, like the U.S., they are also dealing with the unhealthy creep of soda machines and fast food restaurants in their neighborhoods.
Here’s an interesting and curious predicament: Greece, Italy, Spain and Morocco have actually asked UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to designate their diet as an “intangible piece of cultural heritage.” They are actually worried that their dietary heritage could be near extinction!
“This is a place where you’d see people who lived to 100, where people were all fit and trim,” Dr. Stagourakis said. “Now you see kids whose longevity is less than their parents’. That’s really scaring people.”
In Greece, three-quarters of the adult population is overweight or obese, the worst rate in Europe “by far,” according to the United Nations. Here’s more on the issue from The New York Times.
The United States has been reporting for the past couple of years, on the dangerous levels of mercury contained in certain fish, most notably, tuna. In high concentrations, this metal can cause very serious brain damage which is why pregnant and nursing women and children are often recommended to severly limit their intake of fish known to contain mercury.
Last week, The New York Times reported that eight of 44 pieces of tuna sampled from restaurants all over the city contained levels of mercury that meet the Food and Drug Administration’s measure for taking the fish off the market completely. That’s scary stuff, especially when sushi restaurants are almost as ubiquotious as pizza joints. Well, maybe they are not at that level of popularity yet, but we’re getting close.
Having been pregnant myself, I still find myself adhering to most of the restrictions that pregnant women are supposed to follow in regards to diet (no raw fish, no unpasturized food or beverages, no alcohol and no caffeine). Why? Because I feel that these restrictions, which are for the benefit and safety of the woman’s health and her baby’s, say something about the unsafety of our own food supply, or at least the unknowns of the food that stocks are grocery store shelves. And I care too much about my health and my longevity to give in to a passing craving for a piece of tuna sashimi.
If you are pregnant, give these pregnancy diets a look.