Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Difference Between a Snack And a Treat

Snacking is a major pastime for kids and adults alike. Our lives are filled with busy work schedules, long school days, after school activities, play dates, and meetings. When we become hungry, it’s easy to forget about healthy eating and grab what’s most convenient. Making smart snacking choices; however, shouldn’t be a challenge, and snacking is not bad, if done right.  Stop the cycle of unhealthy snacking by thinking outside the box and discovering that snack boxes, bags, vending machines, and drive-thru’s are not your only choices. 

Don’t fall prey to marketing and advertizing, which doesn’t always have our best health interest at heart. Phrases like “Low Fat,” “Non-Fat,” and “Fat Free” can be misleading and may lead you to ignore other important facts about the foods you’re putting into your body. For example, McDonald’s recently came out with a new kid’s menu that they claim offers more healthy snack options than their previous menu. The menu was changed to satisfy people who criticize McDonalds for contributing to the growing population of obese people in Today’s world. Although the menu now includes apple slices and free milk, these rumored “healthy” options are loaded with sugar, artificial flavors and colors, and preservatives. Unfortunately, the new menu has done more for publicity than it has done for the actual health of McDonald’s customers. 

The key to healthy snacking is to know the difference between a nutritious snack and a treat. Low fat muffins and granola bars may be easily accessible and seem like the healthiest choice, but these foods don’t contain important nutrients that your body needs to sustain energy and concentration. In fact, these foods are treats, not snacks. Smart snacks should be a primer of powerful protein, healthy brain boosting fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals to maintain energy throughout your busy day. 

A nutritious snack includes protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Avoid synthetic food items that contain high amounts of sugar, artificial flavors and colors, sodium and chemicals meant to prolong the shelf life of a product. Be a label detective and look at the ingredients list before you put food into your body. Many foods that are marketed as “healthy” snacks are actually loaded with sugar. For example, sports drinks, cereals, granola bars, low fat muffins, and certain yogurts are packed with sugar.  Learning how to decode food labels can detect hidden sugar inside rumored healthy snacks.  Stay tune for our favorite healthy grab and go snacks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nathan’s "to die for" Hot Dog! How Much Is Your Health Worth?

Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest was held this year on Coney Island at the original Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. The winner was Joey Chestnut from San Jose, California. Chestnut ate a whopping 62 hotdogs to claim $20,000 in cash and prizes.

We all know that the hot dog, a classic summertime treat is not the healthiest thing we can eat. So are the cash and prizes won by Joey Chestnut worth the health consequences? And what about the consequences to our own health when we consume the hot dog? A hot dog is one of the most processed foods we can eat and is full of toxins, preservatives, sodium and food coloring. Hot dogs contain two of the worst chemicals found in foods today, sodium nitrate and MSG. Sodium-nitrate is a preservative that gives the hot dog its pinkish color and gives it a longer shelf-life. Eating too much sodium nitrate has been strongly linked to cancer.

MSG is another chemical in hot dogs that flavors the hot dog. However, this flavoring is so intense that it actually kills neurons. So by consuming a few hot dogs at a barbecue, you are, in fact, killing neurons and making yourself more at risk for various types of cancer. Therefore, the competitors participating in the hot dog eating contest are killing numerous neurons in their bodies and causing themselves to be at a much greater risk for cancer than they ever would be if they did not participate in the contest. If that is not enough to way the consequences of this contest, a single hot dog contains...
  • 297 calories 
  • 18.21 grams of fat
  • 6.88 grams of saturated fat
  •  .49 grams of trans fat
  • 34.40mg of cholesterol
  •  692.07mg of sodium
  •  23.98 grams of carbohydrates
Now multiply all of those values, which are shocking enough on their own, by 62. What do you think that amount of calories, fat and sodium does to your body?

With this said, I love organic turkey dogs, as they are a healthier alternative to regular hot dogs. Buying hot dogs that are labeled 100% beef, turkey, chicken or tofu and that are also labeled organic and nitrate free is a better option to the classic hot dog. Applegate is a my favorite brand. They are available in health food stores, or in the organic section of the grocery store. Pair them with a whole grain bun, organic ketchup and sliced avocado to makes a great summer snack or meal for kids without any negative health consequences.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Girls’ Night Out Sponsored by Hewitt’s Women’s Health Awareness Club

With pink d├ęcor surrounding the Hewitt gymnasium, the room was filled with proud and supportive women only. Three wonderful speakers stood in front of the podium sharing their background, passions, and stories with the extended Hewitt community.

The first speaker was Geralyn Lucas, breast cancer survivor and Hewitt mother. Diagnosed at twenty-seven, Geralyn Lucas moved the audience to tears as she told her story. Lucas did not have any family history of the disease; in fact, she discovered the cancerous tumor herself. While being treated, Lucas wrote her memoir, Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, which was later made into a movie. Although the title appears humorous, Lucas explained that the deeper meaning to the title. “As the doctor looked over at me,” Lucas recalled, “I wanted him to think of that first kiss he had as a boy… As the nurse stood above me I wanted her to think, ‘Man, she looks good’.” After seven hours, Lucas said, “The nurse said to me, ‘Girl you have been wearing that red lipstick for seven hours, and it is still perfect. What is the brand?’” Despite the seeming silliness of it all, the red lipstick symbolized the confidence that Lucas felt inside, despite her illness.

Next, Lucas showed a self-made YouTube video showing the various ways that women inflict pain on themselves for “beauty.” Whether it is waxing, tattoos, or strutting in gorgeous but deadly heels, we do submit ourselves to torture every single day. The irony, Lucas pointed out, is that when it comes to getting a mammogram, women simply shy away because of the five seconds of pain, even though the pain of a mammogram could save her life.
One of the biggest points that Lucas stressed during her speech was the importance of new testing and being aware of your body. Because of Lucas’ lack of family history with the disease, Lucas has taken a special interest in tests that can find the gene, the chance of having the gene, and several other factors that can make women more aware of their chance of contracting breast cancer.
The second speaker was Dawn Lerman, a nutritionist who shared some scary truths about the foods 

which we eat every day. Sugar, thought be one of the most deadly foods on the market, was also recently tackled in an April issue of The New York Times Magazine. The amount of sugar that we ingest during a meal is simply shocking, and the article describes how it tortures our bodies. Lerman also provided an interesting rule of thumb: if the label gives detail about the amount of fiber, low calories, or lack of fat, it most likely is not healthy. Foods should not have to advertise their health benefits.
Lerman’s fascination for advising people on the appropriate foods to eat came from her father. As she grew up with a dad who constantly battled obesity, Lerman learned the hardships of living an overweight life. You can follow Dawn Lerman on her food discoveries, recommendations, and more at her blog.

The final speaker was a representative from Planned Parenthood, the most controversial speaker due to the potential budget cuts in her program advocated by abortion opponents in Congress. The representative discussed the importance of talking about what teenagers considered to be the most 

difficult subject with parents: S-E-X. Furthermore, she discussed a prominent drug on the market to prevent unwanted pregnancy; this drug has been labeled “Plan B.” It is imperative to know that this is not a common alternative to using protection, but instead a last resort as it can result in an increase in hormonal levels. The representative added that there are several other clinics including Planned Parenthood that offer free consultations. The most shocking thing that the representative told us is that while someone 21 years or older can buy alcohol for another who is younger than 21, a person 17 years or older can buy Plan B for someone younger than 17.

Nicole Axelowitz `12, one of the leaders in planning this wonderful event, stated, “A year ago, Sunny Rovitz, Madeleine Mogul, and I came up with the idea of starting a women’s health and awareness club. Because we attend an all-girls school, we felt it was vital to have a club that focuses on educating women about women. Our goal for Girls’ Night Out was to bring together daughters and their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and other women who are significant to them, for a night of revitalization and education. We look forward to more of these opportunities in the future!”

The night ended with a raffle of amazing prizes, such as hair products, yoga materials, and many more goodies. Plus, gift bags abounded, filled with items ranging from beauty products to important pamphlets about “the conversation.” Congratulations to the Hewitt’s Women’s Health Awareness Club for planning such a fabulous event!