An Experiment with Death

I’m reading a lot about death right now.

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Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

Not for any deep reason- I haven’t experienced any loss, I don’t have any kind of illness, I just realized how little I’ve thought about death. There are some people who could argue that I don’t really have to worry about it and that’s okay, but I realized it’s better the devil you know rather than the one you don’t. It’s a personal thing- I just want to understand, to know more, especially because death and food go together.

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Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Pexels.com

There are stereotypes everywhere of casseroles and comfort foods during wakes and following funerals, deciding to stop eating, and how closely food is tied to our health. Almost anywhere you turn, there’s books about how to live longer, subvert disease, all through using the “power of nutrition”. 

But what is death and why are we so scared of it?

Learning about the things we know little about is a good way to broaden horizons, become more empathetic, and live in a way that seems more intentional than just letting information come to us in ways that just passively allow us to get an understanding of someone’s moment in time- through a quick post, a photo, a tweet, or a book, but I want to get a good idea of what the Western idea of ‘death’ tends towards.

I’ll be documenting my ideas here for sure in between internship posts, share what I’m reading, as well as field any comments, recommendations, or anything of the kind that I get via email or comment or social media.

Especially if you have any recommendations about readings, ideas, podcasts, about the link between food, death, and grief. A lot of the reads I have stocked up are more about death in general (right now I’m reading Natural Causes by Barbara Ehrenreich) and would love more ideas.

I definitely want to hear from you guys about this from you guys. What was an experience with death that shaped you?

March & April Reading Round-Up!

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It’s been an interesting two months over here at Center Stage Nutrition. I’ve been losing time between work, celebrating matching (yay!), and actually trying to leave my house every now and again that advertising my blog has fallen by the wayside.

I’m actually not too sure how to feel about it. For a while, I’ve had other topics I’ve really wanted to write about, but haven’t really felt like I could write them here since I write a lot about teen health and wellness. Part of me wonders if I should open up my niche just a little bit while I go through my master’s program and internship, letting you guys see the process of an “RD2B” and figuring out what I want to do.

The other part of me is scared, for no good reason, about changing everything around. Maybe it is the idea of change. I’m still Em, I’m still writing here and interacting with you guys, but maybe the teen stuff can wait.

We’ll have to see!

My laptop randomly died last week (another shout out to my Nutrition Writer’s group, who was patient while I panicked during the meeting) so my content calendar is going to be off for a while. I thought I would do another reading round up post.

Books!

I’ve been on a self-help book kick lately, so I read:

How People Grow: What the Bible teaches us about personal growth 

And

Boundaries in Dating

You can read my review of Boundaries in Dating here, and I would recommend How People Grow for anyone who works with people. Even if you’re not particularly religious but go to church and pray sometimes, Grow is a great resource on how humans need support. Cloud and Townstead are Christian counselors, so their books have a great mix of psychology and theology.

I’m also currently reading When Breath Becomes Air, but I’m taking breaks because I learned my lesson after reading The Bright Hour: reading dying people’s memoirs needs to be a slow process so I don’t overwhelm myself with emotion.

Blog posts!

I’m tall and not middle aged, but I have worn heels in the past. So seeing Midlife Drama in Pyjamas post “Is this all worth it just to not be short?!” made me laugh. 

As always, Bite My Words with some wisdom regarding a new study done on how to get kids to eat more greens. 

This is also a great example of how studies are capable of being fallible and the importance of critically reading new research.

The Individuator wrote an interesting post about authenticity and speaking their mind to those who asked. What are your thoughts on this kind of openness?  As I get more comfortable to my coworkers I find I can be more of myself around them, but still tend to shut off. What about you?

Dances with Fat wrote a great piece about that new Amy Schumer movie called I Feel Pretty. 

(You can read the full article here)

My friend Jenna, who founded the Nutrition Writer’s Group, wrote a book review on the Bad Food Bible, and if you’re eyeing a new book to read, give Jenna’s review a look to see if you should pick up a copy of BFB!

That’s all from me today. As always, do your homework, eat a vegetable, and don’t forget to smile at someone today. See you soon!

 

MyFitnessPal vs Cronometer

VS

About a month ago I decided I’d start logging my food so I could make sure I was getting enough protein for my goals and keep my sodium in check. If you remember my past blog, I talked a little bit about how a family member is on a sodium-restricted diet and I wanted to see how I do where sodium is concerned.

So I have a long, complicated relationship with MyFitnessPal. It was once my worst enemy, telling me what I could and couldn’t eat, and the glaring red numbers if I went over my targets made me feel shame rather than a sense of ‘that’s interesting!’

Lots of blame, lots of ish, lots of bad headspace eventually built up so I stopped tracking for a while- and I caught myself in this mindset again at camp, so I stopped tracking until now.

After a lot of time to develop a healthy relationship with food, I can say that I use tracking a lot differently than I have in the past. Instead of a scorecard of my worth, it’s a tool for me to make sure I’m getting the micronutrients I need (my friend Emily, who I went to high school with and is now an RD, made an AWESOME comment on my IG post– and I’ll talk more about blood tests next week!) and that I’m paying attention to my nutrition as an athlete.

Not to mention that because of my ADHD, tracking helps me make sure I am actually eating what I need and when I need to rather than forgetting to eat, or over eating and hurting my stomach!

I had heard of Cronometer from Unnatural Vegan and wanted to give it a shot since I knew it tracked lots of trace micronutrients and vitamins/minerals that MyFitnessPal missed. I want to outline the pros and cons for you of both apps, both of which I’ve used, so if you want to check your intake, you can make a choice based on your interests.

I’m covering just the apps, since using it on my phone is much quicker and I often just quick add all my food in the morning and go about my day.

MyFitnessPal

Pros:

This app, to me, is much easier to use. I find the interface to be friendlier for me- and not just because I’ve been using it for a while, but with my executive functioning I’ve found the cleaner an app, the more I use it.

MFP lets you separate your intake by meals and snacks which immediately makes it easy to see what my intake is going to be for the day. It lets me easily see what I need to eat and when so I can just look at it and go.

Ads are kept to banners or you scroll past them on your feed- they don’t pop up while I enter food in, so way less invasive.

Cons:

It does have a social media aspect to it with statuses, feeds, and friending options. While it’s not necessarily a downfall of the app, this could be a negative for some people. I find it to be neutral-leaning-towards-con just because I would rather just use it for tracking and not socializing.

It’s not as in-depth as Cronometer but enough to get the job done. MFP tracks protein, calories, fat, and important micronutrients: potassium, calcium, cholesterol, sodium, vitamins a&c, and iron.

While these are all crucial to keep an eye on, as a vegan, I wish they tracked B vitamins as well.

Cronometer

Pros:

Cronometer is a nutrition nerds dream. It tracks nearly every micronutrient, down to SELENIUM! And is also a little bit more generous with calories than MFP is.

I love that they use the circles to show the percentage you have left in the day, and that the intake of macros is on the home page, so I don’t have to switch back and forth like I do with MFP.

Their database is a bit more accurate than MFP since Cronometer taps into government databases and websites rather than allowing anyone to enter nutrition information and have it show up in the search function. It removes the step of double checking if restaurant items or coffees are correct.

Cons:

Cronometer lists all your food in one big list, so it can be difficult for me to read through when I’m going about my day and need to remember what I’m having for lunch. While for some people this might not be a problem, it can be frustrating as a feature when I need to quickly check the app.

The ads…good Lord, y’all. The ads are pop-up style and often videos that play audio so picture me, half asleep, entering data in at 7am having the fear of God struck into me as a meditation ad starts playing! There will also be times where I’m entering something in and an ad plays directly after, making me forget where I was in my ‘entering my daily foods’ process.

Overall, I’ve decided to use chronometer more as a diagnostic tool than an everyday tracker. After this week I’ll take note of all the micro nutrients I’ve been consistently low on and incorporate more foods high in that nutrient to help get my diet more balanced.

What do you think? Which one do you prefer, or do you prefer not to track at all? Let me know here, on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

The Next Chapter//December Reads

December Reads I have my very first business trip this month. The idea that I’m heading out of state for job training brings up the quote from the movie A Christmas Story:

“Honors and benefits, already at the age of nine!”

I really do feel like a nine-year-old kid. I only just graduated from college. It feels like I need to be doing something else than what I’m doing. Writing a blog, weightlifting, waiting to hear back on graduate schools/applying for the dietetic internship, and working a job in my field? It all sounds like someone else’s life.

What about you guys? Does anything in this New Year really stick out to you as new and exciting, something you’re excited to try?

 

On the Bookshelf

Today I want to cover what books I’m reading and to hear about what books you guys are reading. I’ve already published some of my Goodreads reviews.

To prepare for my job as a diabetes lifestyle coach, I’ve read:

  • 21 things to know about diabetes and nutrition, by Cassandra L. Verdi MPH RD CDE and Stephanie A. Dunbar, MPH RD CDE

This is a great introductory look at the relationship between nutrition and diabetes, and where to get started when it comes to nutrition. While my work will primarily be with patients who are prediabetic, I still wanted to make sure that I brushed up on diabetes and nutrition guidelines before I started training. This was a pretty quick read, too.

  • Eat what you love, Love what you eat with diabetes by Michelle May MD and Megrette Fletcher, Med, RD, CDE

This book was recommended in an Intuitive Eating group I’m a part of on Facebook. A member had asked about books that have an Intuitive Eating aproach to diabetes care and this was the one people brought up the most. I appreciate the non-judgmental, every food has its place look at diabetes nutrition and friendly way material is presented in this book. I’ve been taking notes on how this book approaches eating, nutrition, and movement to help improve my vocabulary for when I do presentations to my group!

To better my writing, I’m reading:

  • Ready, aim, specialize! By Kelly James-Enger

I don’t know about you beans, but when I’m learning a new topic I really need all the info laid out in front of me before I dive in. I’ve read a lot of blogs about freelancing, but Ready, aim really helped me figure out the basic-basics of freelancing and specializing. This book also helps you recognize things in your life you can use as writing topics, and even lists resources to help you find experts to quote. This was another quick read!

  • You can’t make this stuff up: the complete guide to writing creative nonfiction […] By Lee Gutkind

I just started this book today (1/2) but creative nonfiction has always interested me as a writing medium. I’ll keep you updated on this, but so far I really like it!

Other books I’m reading are:

  • Hunger by Roxane Gay (FINALLY!!!)
  • Walden by Thoreau
  • Motivational Interviewing in Nutrition and Fitness by Dawn Clifford and Laura Curtis

What are you reading? If you’re on Goodreads, drop your profile below so I can follow you and get some more reading recs!

Book review: “Women, Food, and God” by Geneen Roth

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Courtesy of Simon & Schuster’s website

Originally posted on Goodreads. If you want reviews right as they’re written, and to see what I’m reading, you can follow me!

“Because if you force and deprive and shame yourself into being thin, you end up deprived, shamed, fearful person who will also be thin for 10 minutes.”

I remember someone talking about Geneen Roth’s books in an intuitive eating group I’m a part of on Facebook. Since I graduated college and could use my home library once more, I started with this book since I’ve been looking more into books on religion and eating habits.

Well, I can tell you right now, Roth’s idea of “God” is not that of any religion. Instead, God is more of a presence to her. Which I have no problem with, but it was a bit off putting to have that instead of what I expected. It was less a problem of “her religion is WROOONG” and more “oh, that’s…not what I expected”.

Other than that, I found this a quick and thoughtful read. For those who are starting to look into Intuitive Eating, or are looking to stop dieting, it might be worth adding this to your “to read” list.

Fair warning, Geneen does talk about weight loss and how stopping compulsive eating could help you lose weight. If you’re just starting your journey into mindful eating, I would recommend waiting a little before you start this book to avoid being triggered into the diet mentality again.

Roth won’t hold your hand on how to stop compulsive eating, but she’ll provide some ideas and guidelines behind the WHY of your eating habits. Think of this more as a foundation to start dissecting your eating habits.

“Eat what you want when you’re hungry, feel what you feel when you’re not”.

I would definitely recommend this book. This is as much a book about eating as it is a book about being present, mindful, and honest about your emotions.

Have you read this book before? Thinking of picking it up? Let me know in the comments below!

7 Reasons to Read The Hungry Brain by Dr. Stephan J. Guyenet

Dr. Stephan Guyenet has quickly become one of my “follow forevers” in the world of nutrition research and he should be one of yours, too.

His debut book, The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the instincts that make us overeat, was an amazing read that I’ve added to my nutrition lover starter kit shelf on Goodreads. And my shelf for parents looking to improve their child’s nutrition .

You can find a copy to buy from his website, which I’ve linked here.

I seriously enjoyed reading his book and I can only hope that Dr. Guyenet writes more, as his book was one of the best nutrition books I’ve ever read.

Here are my top 7 reasons as to why you should read this book immediately:

  1. Easy to understand
  2. Guyenet’s informal, but educational, tone
  3. Brain science!
  4. Integration to any eating style
  5. No stakes in the game
  6. Covers all aspects of what can cause overeating
  7. No blame game

That’s the quick list of the seven. If those quick points didn’t sell you, we’ll look at each in detail!

Easy to understand

Dr. Guyenet’s book isn’t full of jargon that only the most “learned” scientists can follow. There’s science, yes, but it’s all explained in a way that someone who isn’t involved in science will have no problem following it, and it will also keep the scientific reader engaged.

The best teachers are able to break down science into metaphors, laymen’s terms, and can manipulate the vocabulary in a way that makes science accessible while still remaining accurate; which is a definite strength of this book.

Informal, but educational tone

Dr. Guyenet does not talk down to his readers. He writes in a way that breaks down this awesome groundbreaking research for everyone to understand.

When I was reading Hungry Brain at my favorite coffee shop downtown, it felt like the PERFECT setting to read this book. It’s almost like you’re meeting a friend who’s catching you up on all the interesting things they’ve been working on since you saw them last.

Brain science!

A book with the title The Hungry Brain would be worthless if it didn’t have anything to do with the brain!

Eating is so much more mental than we might believe. You see diet ads everywhere that blame “cravings” and say a food’s “bad” but there’s is so much better! Trick your brain into eating something healthy even when you’re craving something unhealthy!

But…what does that mean for us? Why do our brains tend to lean more towards certain kinds of foods over others? You can find the answers to all that in more in Hungry Brain

Integration to any eating style

While Hungry Brain touches on the causes of overeating and weight gain, this book can translate well into the philosophy behind intuitive eating. Intuitive eating, the belief of listening to your hunger cues and honoring your cravings, is only strengthened by the ideas presented in Guyenet’s book.  

An understanding of why you might be craving a certain food, whether you need it or want it, can be made clearer after reading Brain. Is it the high fat content? Do you just want it? In my opinion, Brain can help someone who eats mindfully or intuitively to better serve their body and brain with healthy food options.

It also translates well to other eating philosophies, like veganism, paleo, IIFYM, you name it. Guyenet doesn’t “push” a certain diet plan, which leads to point five.

No stakes in the game.

Remember my previous post about media muck and how we learned how to determine if a nutrition article is worth paying attention to? Guyenet’s book fits the definition of something worth paying attention to.

At the end of a lot of nutrition books you can see people selling their nutrition programs or exercise programs, or worse, their book reads like a long advertisement for their nutrition program.

Guyenet just explains how the brain drives what you eat, and at the end gives a few pieces of advice to set you on the path of reducing processed food intake and paying attention to what you eat. You can tell this was written to relay information, not just sell a program.

Covers all aspects of overeating

Food companies aren’t depicted as villains furiously twirling their moustaches while they tie your eating habits to the train tracks, rather, Guyenet covers emotional eating and impulsivity and how those work to drive your food cravings. It covers what’s called the “physiology” of the body and how our outside world affects what our brain does.

You’re getting a pretty darn good overview of every reason someone might overeat or have issues controlling their appetite.

No blame game

At no point is the finger pointed to the reader. Guyenet lays down the science and lets you make up your mind about how to feel about it. You’re taught that this is how the brain works, this is where something can have a hiccup and cause over eating, and you’re told how it can be reversed.

You are given autonomy, treated as an equal, and given tools for success- whatever you may define that is. Overall, Guyenet’s book was an amazing read and I look forward to using it as a reference in my studies and practice.

Want to talk more about the book? Did you love it, like it, found yourself not being too fond of it? What did you like the most?

Tweet me, message me on Facebook, use the hashtag #centerstagecoffeebeans on Instagram, or snap me a question!