As our friend, the Fuming Fuji, is always quick to point out, marketing garbage to children is a dirty business – which is why we are happy to introduce you to Amy Jussel. As the founder and executive director of Shaping Youth, Amy is doing her part to clean up the filth.
Her organization, via the popular blog ShapingYouth.com, tackles all issues related to the influence that media and corporate marketing schemes have on children. They take on big problems, like pre-teen body image and childhood obesity, and expose the tricks that giant advertising firms use to manipulate your children.
In the near future, we will have the pleasure of featuring an interview with Amy Jussel on Mark’s Daily Apple. In the meantime get behind the counter-marketing efforts of ShapingYouth.com and check out a few of our favorite articles.
WORKER BEES’ DAILY BITES
Soft Drinks Disrupt Your DNA
Yikes! Even diet soda is unhealthy for you.
What’s It Like to Go Global?
The complex and interesting web of global food production.
Is Cancer a Virus?
Is cancer a virus, a fungus, an autoimmune disorder, a collection of symptoms? Oncology just got a lot more complicated.
What Are Gourmet Chefs Up to These Days? Foie gras ice cream and truffle popsicles, apparently. This is a fascinating picture-filled piece about avant garde culinary feats.
We’ve gotten some really nice feedback and reviews in the last few days. First, Highlight Health (a very spiffy health site from a biochemist blogger) was kind enough to add us to the blogroll. Then, Eating Fabulous, our favorite nutrition blog, gave us some love, and next, the original Daily Apple (yes, turns out, there is another!) reviewed us. The other Daily Apple covers all kinds of topics, but naturally we dug into the health posts, and we were really impressed. The health articles are all very useful, clear, and similar in format: an interesting introduction, a helpful list of points, and plenty of good references for every single topic discussed (a very nice thing indeed). And seize-the-health-by-the-horns Kevin was nice enough to nominate us for a Blogger’s Choice Award! Thank you so much, everyone, for the encouragement and support.
Very, very edible.
The folks at Fiber Gourmet recently plied me with a selection of their one-of-a-kind “light” pastas. Hey, I’m not one to turn away free food, so I gave their spinach, tomato and standard pasta noodles a taste try.
The Fiber Gourmet folks say “since fiber has 0 calories, as the fiber goes up the calories go down” – hence the “light” labeling.
As you all know, I’m cautious about the types of carbohydrates I consume. I rely on vegetables for the majority of my carbohydrate intake. I do eat some starchy carbohydrates such as brown rice, legumes, yams, quinoa and sprouted grain bread. But typically I don’t eat more than one starchy serving per day. Pasta, in particular, is hardly one of my favorites because it is refined wheat, making it high in empty carbohydrates that have a rapid, deleterious impact upon blood sugar. This is stressful to the body for a number of reasons, and the scientific evidence is compelling: excessive intake of refined carbohydrates is linked to our skyrocketing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
And while I understand that “low-carb” pastas like Shirataki can be helpful for jump-starting weight loss, I don’t personally recommend carb substitutes. (Although I am all for the jump start – start somewhere!) My preference against substitutes is not only because I favor whole, unprocessed, fresh foods for both weight loss and health maintenance. I also refuse to eat anything that tastes like cardboard, which seems to be a prevailing problem with light, low-carb and other assorted diet food products. Food will always taste better than a food product. If you can sustain a food product weight loss plan for more than a few months, you’re made of some tough stuff! But seriously, in my opinion, substitutes don’t successfully address the underlying problem with eating unhealthy foods: rather than shifting your cravings to healthier foods, they merely serve as a temporary fix to sate existing unhealthy preferences.
All right, Mark, we get it. What about this pasta? Fiber Gourmet pasta is made just like regular pasta, but contains 40% fewer calories (roughly 130 per 2-ounce serving). Of course, I don’t know anyone who can stop after just 2 ounces of pasta – and that’s the problem with carbs. Refined carbohydrates – sugars – are incredibly addictive.
The total carbohydrates of this product are not low by any stretch – about 43 grams (18 from fiber and 25 from starch). I recommend ruthlessly aiming for fewer than 20 grams of refined carbohydrates in a given day. In fact, I think we’d all be better off if we avoided refined carbohydrates entirely.
Now to the taste factor:
The Fiber Gourmet pastas tasted good – exactly like “real” pasta. Texture was not gritty, gummy or weak. The exception was the spinach pasta, which didn’t hold up well with the olive oil and sea salt I doused it with. The flavor was pleasant enough, but an actual spinach salad would have had better peppery bite and a much more satisfying, chewy texture. And, of course, fewer refined carbohydrates. The tomato and regular pastas were just as chewy and substantial as regular pasta.
Bottom line: I’m really not a pasta guy. I just don’t “do” refined carbohydrates. I genuinely prefer vegetables and more natural, flavorful sources of starchy calories such as yams and brown rice, both for taste preference and health reasons. If you are trying to lose weight and gotta have the pasta, you might want to give those slippery Shirataki noodles a try to get started (good luck!). If you are maintaining your weight successfully and really love pasta, then I think Fiber Gourmet is a smart replacement for standard pasta. In fact, I really wouldn’t consider it as a substitute food product, because it’s virtually identical in taste and texture to regular pasta. It’s really more like an improved food product.
Still, my health philosophy remains fundamentally the same: there’s food, and then there are food products. We can substitute and switch and modify to our hearts’ content, but ultimately, I believe that optimal health comes from fresh, whole, natural foods.
Now I’m off to enjoy my daily salad. What are your thoughts?
- Do you think that improving existing popular foods will be effective for addressing our country’s health and weight concerns, or do you think we need to take a more radical approach by shifting our food habits altogether?
- What are your views on carbohydrates?
I’d love to get your point of view and hear what works to keep you lean and healthy.
Have you noticed the flood of moisturizers for use in the shower? These lotions come in several formulas, from moisturizing washes to rinse-off lotions. The latter confuses me a bit: is it conditioner for skin, or is it creating a protective barrier that clings even when the goop is washed away? And do I want anything that durable anywhere near my living, breathing skin? And what is with the sparkles?
Lotion: the thing we use to replace the moisture we just removed with soap. Soap dries our skin out, and moisturizer – depending on the ingredients – can both replenish the moisture and form a protective barrier.
While I admire the brilliant marketing – even better than meeting a need is creating one – I’m not fooled by the in-showerness of this new product category. Most of these new products contain very cheap ingredients. Despite the pennies that go into production, once they hit the shelves, these products come with some serious sticker shock. They range between $5-9. (Caress is around $5, Dove around $7.) While five bucks may not seem like much, and my healthy alternative is in the same price range, a major difference is that these in-shower moisturizers only provide a handful of uses and mine will last you all month. That is, unless you’re a person who actually follows the “quarter-sized dollop” recommendation. (Does anyone really do this? It’s like the seven chip or two Oreo serving size. Right!)
And with Gatsby Ice Deodorant Shower Lotion, the guys aren’t in the clear, either. (I’m ignoring Nivea on principle.)
Moisturizing on either side of the shower curtain is a bright idea. The key is to moisturize healthily. Despite the “newness” of in-shower lotions, you’ll notice they contain the same ingredients found in most lotions, soaps, bath washes, conditioners and shampoos. These ingredients are typically derived from petroleum or rendered animal fat. Shower lotions are gunked up with mineral oil, a friendly-sounding euphemism for the same stuff that makes plastic and runs cars. Naturally, I’m just dying to get this all over my skin and into my pores. Yum! I bet you are, too! Other petroleum-based products include “baby oil” and “bath oil”.
There’s an alternative that is:
- healthy for you
- healthy for the planet
- rich in vitamins, antioxidants and beneficial fatty acids
- naturally cleansing and exfoliating
- completely customizable!
Apples, I present, for your savings, health and shower time enjoyment: almond oil.
Almond oil is excellent for your skin. Just a few tablespoons post-soapage will leave your skin glowing and soft all day long. You’ll smell wonderful, too – and naturally so, rather than adding to the office or store potpourri of artificial shampoo, conditioner, lotion, perfume, cologne, deodorant, detergent and aftershave fragrances.
On top of saving money, using something really healthy for you, and looking great, here’s the best part: the personalization factor.
Purchase a few different essential oils at any beauty supply or natural health store (they last forever). Lavender, peppermint, lemon, sandalwood, and cedar are some of the most therapeutic, and are completely sparkle-free. Add a few drops to your almond oil and enjoy!
Great for the girls: floral and food scents (especially citrus and vanilla)
Great for the boys: natural and herbacious scents (but no patchouli, pulllllease!)
And, for a natural, extra-rich skin scrub, try coarse sea salt. It might seem odd at first, but I think slathering the body with all kinds of surfactants and chemicals is really the odd thing. Salt draws out toxins and stress naturally. It can be a little drying, so if you have very dry skin, try fresh shredded coconut instead. I learned these natural tension-busting tips from a masseuse I used to go to after the fast-paced, intense production days on the set of Responsible Health. (Thanks, Brooke!) Whether you’re active all day on a whirling set, logging lots of focused computer-hunching time, or chasing after an energetic toddler, the satisfying rush of productivity becomes stressful to your body as the hours fly by. The salt really melts the stress away!
Note: Don’t bother with the pricey almond oils in beauty stores. Just pick up the one hanging out right next to the olive oil at your grocery store. I also suggest buying vegetable glycerin soaps so your skin doesn’t need so much moisturizer to begin with.
Let me know how you customize your moisturizer. Do you have any natural cosmetic health tips you’d like to share? Tell us!
This month’s Rotten Apple Award goes to The Apple Patch Diet, the next gimmicky weight-loss device in a long line of quack products.
All you have to do is slap a patch on your body to start this “diet” and watch the fat melt away. I’m not sure how a patch of any sort counts as a diet. Though I suppose if you subsisted on patches alone you would lose weight. Let us see what the users have to say.
The “Testimonials” are varied and claim a 10 pound weight loss in one month, an 80 pound weight loss since July 2006, and as “Baig” from Virginia states, “my sugar level (Diabetes) is under control and I am very happy.” Rapid weight loss with little to no effort! Quick and easy regulation of sugar levels! Unbelievable testimonials! Before and after pics! It sounds too good to be true! Hmmm… this sounds familiar.
Clearly a product that can do all this has some solid scientific research to back it. Well, yes and no. The ‘Why it works’ section is limited to these three fine answers: “we only use the finest natural ingredients,” we have “amazing weight loss testimonials,” and “we use a transdermal method of delivery.” With a word like transdermal this stuff must work. Right?
To be fair the “Ingredients” section does give more detailed information about the three ingredients used to solve your weight problems. Look closely and you will find that one of the three exotic sounding components, Guarana extract, is essentially plain old caffeine. Caffeine is not exactly a groundbreaking weight-loss supplement, nor is it something with which most people need to supplement their diets. I don’t know about you, but my daily green tea provides all the caffeine I need.
Quite possibly the worst thing about this product is that it gives apples a bad name – something in these parts we take very seriously.
Don’t buy into these gimmicky weight-loss devices Apples. This product is more about the supplement delivery system (transdermal) than it is the supplements themselves. And there is still no substitute for a balanced diet and regular exercise.
We’re watching you, Apple Patch Diet.
(This is the part where I lift up my shirt, ceremoniously denoting the end of this diatribe.)
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