The Novice Foodie

Just eating real foods, lifting heavy things and learning about it along the way

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Nutrition Labels, continued (and a new take on “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”)

Branching off of my previous post, I recently discovered a news clip on Google + Sparks that discussed the nutrition labels companies are beginning to slap on their grocery products. While some products are using this already, (i.e. Kellogg and General Mills cereals,) it seems that there are a lot of ideas floating around but nothing set in stone yet.

Most people realize that package labels can be misleading. Will this nutrition info be misleading, too? As pointed out in the video, there are some definite advantages and important information pulled out front, but there is also equally important info left behind (like Trans Fat).

And the way that this information is presented is inconsistent and dependent on brand, as you can see in the examples shown in the video.

Maybe the next step for the FDA is to come up with a criteria that must be present on packaging, but with enough freedom so as to not limit the branding and design.

Another interesting bit mentioned in the clip was the Traffic Light labeling idea. It seems that the UK never went through with the idea, but perhaps it could be the easiest way to convey information to consumers. While you can always list numbers, adding a color code is a quick and simple way to add meaning to that number. Is X grams of sodium high or low? These are the standards that the FDA and other trusted organizations would have to standardize for labeling purposes.

For example:

Traffic light colour coding, as shown in the image above, tells you at a glance if the food has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

  • red means high
  • amber means medium
  • green means low

In short, the more green lights, the healthier the choice.

“If you buy a food that has all or mostly green lights, you know straight away that it’s a healthier choice. An amber light means neither high nor low, so you can eat foods with all or mostly amber lights most of the time. But a red light means the food is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugars and these are the foods we should cut down on. Try to eat these foods less often and in small amounts.”


And, this just in, New York City has gone so far as to make it a law that fast food restaurants post their calorie information on menus. According to the Reuters article, the British Medical Journal report shows the results of the 2008 law to be promising. As of now, only one in six customers change their dietary habits due to the information, but there are plans to take the law to a national level.

In other news, McDonald’s is taking their own healthy initiatives a step further by creating a nutrition-focused mobile phone app and also requiring apples to be included in Happy Meals. These seem like positive changes for which I have no dispute, but I can see customers feeling less than appreciative of the unwarranted influence on their eating habits.

According to the article, “Although subject to variation depending on what’s ordered, the new meals will represent, on average, a 20% decrease in calories, the chain said.”

As for the app, it will make nutritional information more readily accessible for customers. For this, I see only benefits. It’s accessible if you want it to be. It’s not staring you in the face on the menu, and it’s not directly influencing what comes with your meal. I know I will be downloading.

See more of my favorite apps here.


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Eliminating the extras we don’t need is what cleansing is all about.

Finally finished! (although this update is late)

By the end of the 11 days, I adhered to the cleanse quite well, and I developed an utter disgust for the food items I had been eating. A week later, I still am avoiding baked chicken breast.

But what I wanted to eat — my cravings during the cleanse– weren’t  sweets or junk food. I mostly craved cheese, other milk products, and bread. I really just wanted a sandwich. Which is not necessarily unhealthy, depending what goes on it.

On the other hand, by the end of the cleanse, I did feel lighter and healthier. It wasn’t anything dramatic, but I did feel good about my food choices that past week and a half. Although it was hard to pass up chocolate chip pancakes at 1 a.m. with my roommates, I didn’t regret not eating them. And passing on cheesy, greasy pizza and french fries throughout the week were also very difficult, but I felt better about myself for not giving in to that temptation. Good choices made me feel accomplished and guilt-free. Even when I “indulged” on the alloted daily ounce of dark chocolate…maybe 2 ounces here and there…it was an indulgence in a lesser evil anyway.

I recently spoke with my cleanse’s developer, Carmela Mandel, who said that most people who try the cleanse for the first time don’t adhere to it 100% — And that’s okay!

“We have a very mental, emotional connection to food,” Mandel said. “People would come to me and be overcome with guilt if they slipped up. People should take it easy and celebrate the changes instead. Any change in the positive direction is good.”

I think this is the bigger picture. There are hundreds of miracle diets out there, claiming to be “easy” “fast” and “cleansing.” The big picture is to make healthier choices without completely restricting any one food type.

There is definitely a science to nutrition, and the way that things we eat affect our bodies. By eating as close to Mother Nature as possible, we discover the power of cinnamon to boost metabolism and of celery to repair the liver, among others. Eliminating the extras is what cleansing is all about.

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Cleanse Update

It’s getting tough.

I am thoroughly sick of chicken and vegetable soup. I cannot even think about eating either of those things without feeling ill.

However, I have lost 6 pounds in just 5 days! Although, I am not convinced that it wasn’t entirely water weight. I am also not entirely convinced that this is working or that it is healthy. I’m not sure that completely eliminating dairy and carbs is a good thing. But, I do know that I am eating entirely guilt-free. I am learning to control my eating habits as well. I know now that I can make it through the day without having so many snacks. I think that after this cleanse is over (just 6 more days!) I will have a better perspective of what is too much. I have become incredibly conscious of what I am consuming, and have realized that I was eating entirely too much before. I am eager to have a less restrictive diet, and eat more variety maintaining this learned moderation.

I plan to meet with a nutritional counselor to get a reasonable diet plan that will (hopefully) keep the pounds from coming back.

In the past few days, I have had every combination of chicken and vegetable you can imagine. Around Wednesday, I realized that I can also have turkey. What a relief that was. I was starving, literally, for some variety.

I have yet to “feel good” as a result of my diet. I mostly feel hungry and weak. It is evident when I exercise. I cannot keep the same pace that I had been able to do before. In preparation for a 5K tomorrow, I splurged on the optional “good carbs” option and had some pinto beans and my required protein serving of this time grilled chicken from Chiptole (so much better than frozen, oven baked chicken. blech) Of course, I skipped the sour cream and cheese and corn. It instantly made me feel full and happy.

By the way, if you are thinking that detox = going to the bathroom constantly, this is not true for me. Another reason why I am skeptical of this cleanse, but not necessarily upset about.

But, I will not give up! I am determined to stick this out for another 6 days and hopefully cook some more recipes I haven’t tried yet. For example, Spaghetti Squash is on the list for once I get a crockpot, and I still haven’t made deviled eggs.

Till then, happy eating!

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Detox Day 1

One down, 10 to go!

Today was filled with some delicious food paired with a throbbing headache that still will not go away.

For breakfast, I had a smoothie made with flax seed and mixed berries. It would have been better with the suggested substitute of flax seed oil instead of the actual seeds. Next time, I think the alternative would greatly improve the taste and texture.

For lunch, I had vegetable soup which I prepared last night. The flavors are delicious–cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, garlic, onion and more. It’s great even without the optional suggested seasonings.

I brought an orange to class with me, but by the time it was over at 5 I was STARVING.

For dinner, I got my two servings of protein in with a mustard chicken recipe–ground mustard, rosemary and dill on chicken breasts. Delicious! (but a little spicy…probably added too much rosemary. It was a guesstimate)

After dinner, I indulged in the alloted ounce of dark chocolate.

I noticed today that there are little to no carbs allowed in this detox, and no bread (Diet Rule number 2?). I guess it makes sense. In fact, if you go to jimmyjohns website, it allows you to see nutrition facts and build a sandwich. This allows you to see that by removing the bread and substituting a lettuce wrap, you can save 250 calories! That’s without sacrificing any other toppings or flavors.

Overall, today I felt pretty hungry throughout the day. My headache also did not help my mood. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit more fulfilling!

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Detox Prep

After a summer of anticipation, I am finally going to begin an 11-day dietary cleanse/detox. Developed by experts at Cleveland Yoga, this cleanse does not involve a magic lemonade or pills. The cleanse is simply real food, complete with a checklist and tons of recipes.

In preparation, I spent the weekend gorging myself on all things unhealthy. Fast food, pumpkin pie, soda and ice cream. Just to get it in my system before I got it out.

Then, I hit the grocery stores armed with my list and bought out their fresh produce and spice sections. Just filling my cart with the little plastic produce bags made me feel healthier already!

I noticed one thing–there was not one boxed item in my bags of groceries when I arrived home and spread them all over the table. Perhaps that says something about processed food. “Diet Rule One – Avoid boxed foods?”

In anticipation of a busy week ahead, I made vegetable soup with all fresh ingredients and edamame veggie dip, and marinated some raw veggies as well. All recipes were included with the information I got about the cleanse. After taste testing, it promises to be a tasty, healthy week!

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Blood Type Diet?

Has anyone ever heard of eating for their blood type?

I know I hadn’t until a co-worker mentioned the theory. I can’t say that I know what my blood type is, but I definitely want to find out after learning about this.

I just hope I’m not a type B….they are advised to avoid all of my favorite foods 😦

“For Type Bs, the biggest factors in weight gain are corn, wheat, buckwheat, lentils, tomatoes, peanuts and sesame seeds. Each of these foods affect the efficiency of your metabolic process, resulting in fatigue, fluid retention, and hypoglycemia – a severe drop in blood sugar after eating a meal… Another very common food that Type Bs should avoid is chicken. Chicken contains a Blood Type B agglutinating lectin in its muscle tissue.”