April 17, 2014

Keep it Healthy Thursday: Weight management during the holidays

Thanksgiving was a couple of weeks ago and Christmas is right around the corner. The holiday season is in full swing and you know what that means – office parties, house parties, New Year’s Eve’s parties, the list of parties goes on and on. Most people equate the holidays with weight gain and are ready with that New Year’s Resolution to lose weight.BUT this is a fallacy! You can enjoy the holidays, indulge in great food and you don’t have to gain weight! Impossible you say? Ha! I know it can be done, during the holidays last year I lost 20 pounds – 20 pounds! And I indulged. So, based on my experience I want to give you a few pointers to help you maintain your weight this holiday season.

1. Remember – everything in moderation! If you want a piece of pie, have a slice. But just one! Don’t make the mistake of baking a pie and keeping it at home. Have a piece and give it away. My friend still reminds me that I made pumpkin squares last year for Thanksgiving that were rich and indulgent. I tasted the pumpkin squares but left them at her house for her family to enjoy. No weight on my butt! LOL

2. Alcohol – I know that we all like a celebratory glass or two during the holidays. Try a wine spritzer by mixing wine with tonic water. Doing this cuts both the calories and the amount of sugar that you ingest. If you want something heavier I suggest vodka low in calories and you can mix it with flavored water and a little bit of juice. Keep drinks simple, cut back on the sugar and you won’t waste calories.

3. Eat something before going to a party. Have a small healthy meal and arrive at the party with a partially full stomach. This will keep you from over eating. I’ve also found drinking water to help with maintain a feeling of fullness.

4. Get moving! After a big dinner or the day after a great party be sure to move your body! Go out for a walk, run, or even dance around the house. Do something physical to burn off some of those calories.

5. Enjoy yourself! Don’t spend so much time counting calories that you don’t enjoy your meals. The holidays and the food that accompanies the holidays come around once a year. Don’t beat yourself up for enjoying some of the yummy foods. And if by chance you do end up gaining weight, shake it off and start exercising and eating right in the New Year!

Renee Ross

Renee Ross

Renée is a woman, a mother and an advocate of healthy living and social responsibility.

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Organic Food vs. Conventional Food: a goverment conspiracy?

Why Is Organic Food More Expensive?

Most people assume that organic food cost less to produce. Why wouldn’t they be? Isn’t organic food grown on organic farms that are free from chemicals and pesticides? How expensive could it possibly be to cultivate a farm using the most basic elements that earth supplies – soil, rain and sun? It would be nice if growing organic food was truly this simple. However, it’s a lot more complex than this. The agricultural businesses are heavily subsidized through our tax dollars, whereas organic farms do not receive any government help.  This is the reason that conventional foods are far cheaper to buy. Our tax dollars underwrite a substantial part of the financial burden that conventional agriculture incurs.

This ludicrous situation was birthed out of an honorable intent by the American government to help ease the severe food shortage of the Great Depression in the 1930’s. In a desperate attempt to prevent further wide-spread starvation and famine, President Roosevelt introduced the subsidies to help sustain the farm industry.  Albeit the subsidies, were predetermined as a temporary solution, the allocation of them persisted far beyond the Depression, developing into the multi-million dollar political platform that it currently is.

Organic food is also more expensive by virtue of agrichemicals that are created to make conventional farming methods cheaper to practice. The agrichemicals agricultural industry was developed with one purpose in mind – to make mass production of food cheaper and quicker. There was never any forethought on nutrition, health or the environment in the design of agrichemicals.

So, has the government conspired against organic food?

I’ll let you answer that question for yourself. Despite the fact that agribusinesses receive government subsidies, there is another vitally reason that hikes up the cost of organic foods – supply and demand. You, as a consumer, tell the government what you are willing to pay for food and what quality of food you want on account of your purchases. Since the demand for conventional food far outweighs the demand for organic food, the government will continue to subsidize traditional agribusinesses thus maintaining the high costs of organic food.

While the demand for conventional food is higher than that of organic food, the issuing of government subsidies to the conventional agricultural industry is an archaic policy that should be defunct. Or at the very least these subsidies should be open to organic farmers as well. Subsidies that are issued to agribusiness are creating an excessive food surplus that is simply disposed of each year. Over 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in America each year and this is largely in part to food production that can’t possibly be eaten. Hunger should not be an issue in America because there is far more food produced in our country than can be consumed. The disturbing fact is that a very small percentage of this surplus actually goes to food banks and organizations that help the needy.

Government subsidies would be better served by helping small local farmers, organic farms, community supported agricultural programs, food co-ops, etc so America can eat healthier and have better quality foods.

Ana Gazawi

Ana Gazawi

Single mom of two boys trying to live a greenier, crunchier life. Lover of life and all things that bring good people, great conversation, and lasting memories together.

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Who I am is…

what I eat. You what you eat or what?

I’ve been thinking about food lately. Not like, what will I eat or cook, but really thinking about the ways people view food. It started when I joined Facebook!. There is an application titled “Ghetto snacks“. Eye roll, grimace. Now, I’m all for having fun and was thrilled to receive several other less…uh what word am I looking for [insert] applications, but this one stuck in my craw. Many of the items are candy, but a few stood out to me as regional/ethnic foods (plantain chips, pork rinds, Malta etc.) and, that sorta saddened me.

I grew up in a GeeChee/Gullah home for the most part. Sure, my grandmother-in her quest for ultimate northern exposure made pasta and potatoes; which my resistant grandfather would eat in addition to rice. We ate rice everyday, and I still do. It is a part of the coastal Carolinian culture, it is part of who I am.

As a Native New Yorker and a vegetarian, rice and the West African peoples’ rice history has been one of very few cultural items I’ve been able to incorporate and pass on to my own children. Rice as it may, also conjoins the Carolinian and Caribbean cultures Favorite Guy and I share. Rice though, is not served at high holidays, weddings, graduations et al.; rice is low brow, rice isn’t classy-rice is ghetto.

“Low-brow, ghetto food”?! This didn’t make sense growing up, but now at 36 I’m tainted enough to understand and have even partaken in the food caste system. Perhaps, seeing the Facebook! application opened my eyes to just how ignorant (that’s the word) this practice is. I have to say, I was flooded by thoughts of all the ways in which the things we eat define us. From Ernest J. Gaines’ salt meat reference in The Sky is Gray, Jill Scott’s, “rice and gravy, biscuits baby and black-eyed peas”, Machito’s Sopa de Pichon and many others. Yet, this tale and songs of which I speak aren’t tales of poverty and despair, but rather comeuppance, joyous occasions, kinship and love even. Attaching caste and class to foods and the people who eat them-food shaming, if you will, is the antithesis of the true meaning of food and dining, of culture, of civilization.

So, let’s dish-Who are you? What are some of your regional/cultural/childhood food favorites?

This post was originally published [here] in April of this year. With the holidays fast approaching, I thought it a fine time to revisit the ways food has enriched our lives and the lives of those around us.

T. Allen-Mercado

T. Allen-Mercado

T.Allen-Mercado is a mixed media artist, award-winning essayist, student of anthropology, blogger, wife and, mother of two.

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