Ignorant Internet Round-up: April

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We all know the internet is rife with ridiculous claims, weird hobbies, and memes we wish would just disappear into the throes of time rather than continually show up on our newsfeed. I know from a personal standpoint, I’ve now developed a Pavlovian reaction to the week leading up to my birthday because I’m bracing myself for the inevitable onslaught of “It’s gonna be May” memes.

Ah, the joys of a late April birthday. If you’re not in finals, you’re slapped in the face with Timberlake memes.

So today I thought I’d share some stuff that made me balk, stare at my screen, or turn to whoever was nearby and cry out: ‘have you SEEN this shit?!’

Let’s start with this god-awful thing:

GROSS

Here are my thoughts: incredible way to take two complex, multi-faceted issues in our modern society, and twist them around into your fat-shaming message.

This picture is not a new picture. It’s a “classic” meme photo, and is used in a lot of cries of ‘what is HAPPENING to US!’ despite the fact we know very little about this photo. It’s a classic fat-shaming image used for a lot of fat jokes.

That’s just the tip of the ice berg.

Next, let’s look at the message here. If we REALLY care about children? Why does caring for children have to be either we don’t want them shot in school, or we want to limit a person’s basic freedom to choose what food they want?

There are more issues at play when it comes to “regulating food” just than “hey asshole, don’t eat that, let’s tax it”. You need to look at economics, family dynamics, nutrition education, and the overworking of the lower classes when looking at this.

You can’t just share this meme, think you’re woke, and move on and not do anything.

Here’s another really ridiculous thing I’ve seen:

Brightside’s article on how to lift and keep your ‘feminine body’. 

What the hell is a feminine body?

I grew up big, broad, and was never really considered feminine because of it. I like my body and it took a long time to get there. And my body is perfect for lifting. 

So when I see articles like this I tend to purse my lips and shake my head. Lifting cannot, and will not, make you bulky unless you utilize chemical enhancers to give you a hand.

If you want to lose weight, lifting and cardio is your best bet. Yeah, there are different ways to lift if you want to look a certain way (body building does not an Olympic lifter make) but overall, you’re not going to look “manly” or “less feminine” to anyone except shallow assholes who would rather focus on what YOU’RE doing in the gym rather than staying in their own lane.

If you are really concerned, get a personal trainer or a coach, don’t listen to pseudoscience articles on the internet.

It’s no secret that the internet is the place to go for faux nutrition and fitness news, incorrect assumptions about public health, and the like, so these articles aren’t far from the norm. However, these are definitely the two I thought about the most when I ran into them.

What was the most recent online eye-roll you’ve seen? Share them in the comments below, I want to hear!

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

5 things vegans should pay attention to

5 things vegans should pay attention to

My mom calls me a “nerd” a lot. It’s because if you get me started on nutrition, theatre, or my dogs it’s hard to shut me up. Hence why I started blogging about it…to save my poor mom from all my ranting.

Today we get to chat about something equally nerdy and important…nutrients!

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Yaaaay! 

How often have you heard: “I need more protein”, “Where do you get your protein?”, “I heard carbs are bad…” (etc) in general conversation?

Now picture a dinner party and how many of your friends (who don’t have a condition like hypertension) are saying: “My potassium intake is INTENSE” or “My selenium is rather low today. Anyone have any brazil nuts?”

Yeah…not heard a lot. If you’re vegan, you’re a little bit more aware of these micros than someone on a standard American diet (aptly abbreviated to SAD). And if you’re not, don’t worry, you’re not going to die.

There are some micronutrients that you, or the vegan in your life, should be paying attention to regardless of diet.

What’s a micronutrient?

Like a macronutrient, a micronutrient is something our body uses to stay healthy just on a smaller scale. For example, sodium (which is part of NaCl- sodium chloride, table salt) helps our muscles, heart, and nerves fire when we need them to.

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Which ones are the ones vegans need to pay attention to? There’s a lot of micronutrients.

Here are what I consider to be the top 5 micronutrients you should be focusing on:

  • Iron (+Vitamin C) (yes, technically 2 in one…you’ll see)
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • B12
  • Zinc

Iron

Iron is used for a few things in the body:

  • Oxygen transport
  • Keeping blood cells healthy.

If you are an individual who menstruates, you may already be aware that iron is needed more during menstruation since you’re losing a bit of blood.

It also helps in handy little things like energy production, DNA synthesis, and acts like an antioxidant in the body (https://veganhealth.org/iron-part-1/#functions-iron) .

Vitamin C is tagged on there because it helps increase your adsorption of iron. Simply put, it acts like a magnet: it scoops up more iron for your body than your body would get if you didn’t add any vitamin C.

Including vitamin C in an iron-rich meal can look as simple as enjoying an orange after eating some lentil salad (you can even include some spinach, another source of iron).

I’m bad at recipes and cooking (working on it!) so here’s an article on iron sources from No Meat Athlete.

Vitamin D

Necessary for bone health and calcium absorption. If you drink dairy milk, you might have noticed there are dairy products that include vitamin D and it’s because of the link between vitamin D and calcium.

Often, during the sunny months, humans can get vitamin D from the sun. However, during colder months, getting vitamin D can be a challenge (unless you’re one of those people who can wear shorts when it’s freezing…if you’re this person, you scare me with your strength).

There are vegan/vegetarian sources of vitamin D like algae, and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) supplements.

Calcium

Not exclusive to dairy, calcium can be found in numerous sources like spinach, tofu set in a calcium solution, sesame seeds, and fortified plant milks. You don’t have to have dairy products to get calcium, so vegans rejoice!

Much like Vitamin C + Iron, Calcium + Vitamin D is a dream team of micronutrients. Calcium is needed for bone health (something you might remember from health class) but is also needed for a healthy nervous system.

B12

Even non-vegans need to pay attention to their B12 intake. B12 is not naturally from animal products as some might claim, but rather is found in soil bacteria that we used to get by not washing our produce before we ate it.

By the way…please wash your produce. You can get B12 without eating dirt.

The book Vegan for Life by Jack Norris and Ginny Messina, two vegan RDs, explains that the best way to supplement B12 is with a sublingual supplement.

If you are a vegan, you cannot skip your B12. B12 is necessary for healthy brain function and a B12 deficiency is no laughing matter.

But don’t let that scare you- B12 is easy to come by with these supplements.

If you or your teen want to go vegan, having a varied diet is key to getting these micronutrients in and making sure you’re getting what you need for your lifestyle. Just like paleo, the Mediterranean diet, keto, whatever eating fad crosses your mind, veganism just needs a little bit of time to plan for variety!

These are the top five nutrients I believe people need to pay attention to. What are your top five? Let me know!

And remember: Do your homework, eat a vegetable, and make sure to smile at someone today. Bye!

 

Teen athletes need more protein

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I wasn’t a school athlete. I was one of those ‘too cool for school (sports)’ theatre kids who never really understood the hype of a home football game, or lacrosse game if your town is anything like mine.

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Yeah, I’m not kidding, we have a lacrosse team. And before you ask, I have no idea what lacrosse really is except tall sticks with nets on top that’s KIND of like Quidditch but there are no broomsticks involved. I did like running, but I wasn’t on cross country, and I didn’t start lifting until my senior year of high school.

So it might not be a surprise when I say that my knowledge of sports nutrition comes more from an angle as an adult who’s trying to fuel her workouts, who looked into the difference between teen athlete nutrition and adult athlete nutrition. What do we know already?

  • Teens are growing rapidly in a way like when they were babies, which burns calories
  • Moving around burns calories
  • Teens like to eat (as they should, food is awesome)

So what does this mean?

Teen athletes need a lot of calories, especially…(drum roll please) PROTEIN!

Yes, protein, the magical macronutrient we’ve covered in the past. Let’s look more in depth on how to fuel your teen athlete:

how much protein does my teen need?

Eatright.org currently recommends .5-.8g/kg of your teen’s bodyweight. Since they exercise more than teens who are just sedentary, try to aim more for .8-1g/kg body weight.

Teen athletes are still growing, so we want to make sure they’re not just getting enough protein for their sport but for their growth as well! Protein doesn’t just help build muscles, but it makes red blood cells, white blood cells, and is used for hormones (which we know teens have a lot of!) and enzymes.

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Protein helps us enjoy a lot of the good things in life! 

Lots of people tell us that the US is protein-obsessed and takes in too much. Is that true?

Yes and no. So, yes, there is an idea that we eat way too much protein which can have negative health effects like kidney strain. But what we need to look at is the quantity and quality of the protein you’re getting.

In a vegan diet, protein is coming from soy meat products, tofu, seitan, tempeh, beans, lentils, nuts.

In a standard American diet (not Mediterranean or DASH focused), protein sources are often large servings of red meat, processed meat, or restaurant style portions of animal products. Not just meat, but cheese or dairy.

If your teen is vegan and paying attention to their protein, they’ll have no issues getting their protein amounts in daily. If your teen is not vegan, it’s better to get their protein from sources like chicken, fish, eggs, nut butters, and dairy rather than red meat.

Another source of worry when it comes to protein intake is supplements.

While teens  can use protein shakes for various reasons- building muscle (“bulking”), losing weight (“cutting”), 1 scoop of vegan protein powder can offer about 20g of protein.

So while these can be really helpful when it comes to athletes, it still should be treated like other protein sources- rather than something on it’s own. Most protein powders, especially vegan powders, are safe for consumption. One place I like to go is truenutition.com and make a custom blend of soy, rice, hemp, pumpkin protein. Chocolate flavor of course!

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Mine rarely looks this good…

Fueling your athlete’s practices and games are important not just for performance but for growth  and muscle repair.

Notice how eatright’s source mentions around 3,000 calories? Don’t let that number scare you. Remember, calories are not morality currency where the more you take in, the less humane you are. They’re just the way your body takes in energy to use for the things you love to do.

And it’s important you let your teen know their appetite is normal.

If your teen is an athlete, you do want to make sure these calories are full of fruits, veggies, complex carbs, and our friend protein.

So let’s say your teen is 160lb. How much protein do they need?

160/2.2= 72kg. If they’re an athlete, let’s say they’re aiming for .9g, so:

72/.9= 80 grams of protein a day at least.

There has been a new study in sports science where they upped the protein requirement for muscle building, which I’ll write more about soon, but wanted to share it here for my fellow study nerds!

What do you think? Share some of your favorite after-practice snacks below!

Twitter*Instagram*Facebook

 

Teens need us to be body positive

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Let’s chat about body positivity, shall we?

A movement that has gained prominence over the past few years, body positivity is the belief that all bodies are good bodies. It’s the removal of shame, embracing differences, and ultimately honoring your own uniqueness.

There are lots of different versions of this movement, from Health at Every Size, to dismantling Photoshop beauty ideals, and trying to make media more inclusive.

Not only is it a movement, it’s an important tool in building confidence in your teen.

Why’s that?

As your teen grows and matures, their appetite is going to increase. Since puberty means maturation and growth that rivals infancy, an increased need for energy comes with the package. Like we discussed last week, it’s inadvisable to encourage weight loss in your teens. Rather, we want to encourage healthy habits and emphasize the importance of respecting your body.

Your teen is also beginning to recognize media and comparing themselves to the bodies they see in the media. Since there’s a pressure from mainstream society to look a certain way, body positivity is one of those healthy traits that’s worth discussing with your teen.
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Their friends, as they grow and mature, are going to look a lot different from them. It’s important to start encouraging inclusivity not just for the sake of your teen’s friends, but because that sends the message to your teen that it’s okay if they don’t look like the actors they see on TV. You’re giving them the tools to deal with a society that wants them to conform to a different size, to try and change who they are- you’re building their confidence before they leave for college or the working world.

If you’ve been following the Weight Watchers controversy, you can follow the research about teens and dieting. By introducing the idea that food is only for fuel, can be shameful if you have too much, you’re introducing a mental pattern that can be hard to break.

Instead of dieting, encourage your teen to listen to their body by:

  • Learning their hunger cues
  • Respecting their appetite
  • Not pushing themselves too hard with exercise

The best way to encourage this is to lead by example. By not dieting, expressing distaste for your body, or talking about good/bad foods, you’re helping teach your teen that food isn’t a moral issue. While your teen might feel like they’re pushing away, they still need you for guidance and mentoring.

By being proud of who you are, doing what you can to be healthy, and being proud of your body, you’re helping your teen develop these patterns as well.

Robyn Nohling, who writes a lot about Intuitive Eating, is a great resource on the benefits of intuitive eating.

Rebecca Stritchfield is also a resource I enjoy.

 

How do I talk to my teen about body image?

Raising Children has a great article on where to begin with body image. Here you can read more about what contributes to body image, and I encourage you to start with this factor:

Honesty.

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Tell them all about media, how body image can be influence by that, and talk about the effects of an unhealthy body image. Let them know about your struggles- let them realize they’re not alone.

In Sandra Susan Friedman’s When Girls Feel Fat she discusses the fact that saying you feel “Fat” often is a cover for a stronger underlying emotion. Our society (unfortunately) codes feeling ‘fat’ as negative, and because we feel like we can’t express ourselves, we turn these feelings inward and express it as ‘fat’.

What do we do with this knowledge?

  • Dissect the feelings with your teen
    • Ask them:
      • What’s going on in their personal life?
      • Is there something big coming up that’s causing anxiety?
    • Encourage journaling with your teen
      • Art journaling has an emotional benefit
      • It offers your teen a zone free of judgement to express their feelings
      • Gives you a chance to bond with your teen- both of you are creating!
      • Need ideas? Here’s my pinterest board for art journaling!

What are some resources I can show my teen?

Opinion: Weight Watchers…get with the program.

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Recently some news came out about Weight Watchers piloting a free program for teenagers. Rebecca Stritchfield wrote an amazing piece on it, and the circles I inhabit have come forward explaining why, exactly, this is a bad idea.

Teens are a vulnerable population as their bodies are beginning to change and rather than helping them celebrate this step into adulthood, weight watchers seems keen to make it easier to shame girls, and some boys, that their body is bad.

They’re not even an adult yet. Let them grow, learn, and enjoy their lives without the stress of ‘points’ or whatever garbage you decide to shove down their throats because you’re unwilling to change your mentality as to the idea of what healthy looks like.

This news in conjunction with the fact that I’m currently reading When Girls Feel Fat: Helping Girls Through Adolescence by Sandra Susan Friedman has me thinking a lot about my own journey through body positivity.

The journey includes: being metaphorically dragged by my heels down a gravel road, laying by the side of the road refusing to move forward, and somethings rolling backward. There are occasions where I march forward, talk with people on the same journey, and stop and smell the roses of what it feels like to like my body and what it can do.

I don’t identify with girls who only started hating their size and body in high school or middle school. I remember teasing about my weight starting as early as elementary school and using food to cope with the fact that I had very few friends. I read and wrote a lot, liked a lot of non-mainstream nerdy things, and it wasn’t really until middle school that my social circle expanded.

Even then, food was my enemy. Because I was taller and heavier than my peers, and going through puberty sooner, my body felt less of a vessel to be celebrated and more of a neon sign to my faults. I couldn’t tell you when I started my first diet because I don’t remember.

What I do remember is my freshman year diet of five ritz crackers for breakfast, a 140-calorie bar for lunch, and a big dinner after I worked out because I ‘earned it’. Nowadays I know much better than that. It took years of learning, of dieting, and of wondering what was wrong with me to only realize that it wasn’t me.  Even this past summer I found myself thinking thoughts like that which I had in high school at the peak of my Eating Disorder-like behavior.

I don’t agree with weight loss for teens. I feel like now more than ever I can say that, after having a whole summer to come to this conclusion plus years of nutrition schooling.

I believe in healthy lifestyles for teens. But healthy lifestyles don’t include counting points or calories, excluding “”unclean”” food, or avoiding carbs just because some doctor without a nutrition degree said so.

I’ll talk about this more in my ‘should teens lose weight’ post, but teens don’t need a point system to tell them how to eat. They need patience, guidance, and occasionally therapy to help them through this time of intense change. They need adults helping them establish healthy habits (which yes, includes treats every now and again), and to learn that their bodies deserve to be hungry and to grow.

For the sake of girls and boys who, like me, weren’t small enough for society’s liking- don’t sign your child up for weight watchers. Talk to them. Teach them what a healthy lifestyle looks like. Find role models similar to your child’s height and weight and show them that success doesn’t come in pounds. Books such as “I’m, like, SO Fat!” and “When Girls Feel Fat” are excellent resources in helping teens who are having issues with body positivity and healthy living.

Remind them, like Clarence the Angel reminds George Bailey at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, that “no man is a failure who has friends”.

Let me know what you think about this. You can comment, reach me on Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram.

Making Sense of Media Muck

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Hey y’all!

Let’s talk about the bond between nutrition science/research and the media.

Why? Good question. It’s because everywhere you go there’s someone writing about how one kind of food is great, the other is bad, etc. It can get really confusing, right?

If you’re neither a nutrition professional/student or a media person, you’ve been caught in the crossfires of nutrition and media every time a new study has been posted.

While it seems like the ammo is only clickbait titles and the same articles on your newsfeed time and again from the same couple big media sources, the ammunition really is faulty advice at best from people who aren’t well read in nutrition research.

It can get confusing for someone who doesn’t study this kind of stuff for a living to sort through. Luckily, it’s easy to learn how to pick up on the “faulty” nutrition articles that are out there.

Let’s start with a hard truth.

There’s no “selling point” for media outlets in saying that food isn’t inherently good or bad, or everything in the right amounts is fine, but consumers are more likely to click if an article promises a get-rich-quick scheme to be healthy or the doomsday headline that all carbs will lead you to a life of heart disease and misery.

 

Plus it’s easier to assign morality to food than launch into the grey area of  “moderation”- that’s left for dietitians and I think we do a pretty good job. No bias, though.

Are you in the same boat as Buster right now? Why would someone lie about something as important as nutrition, right?

Everyone from Washington Post to Buzzfeed has people covering nutrition studies and the most recent one is the PURE study. You’ve definitely heard of it in some way or another recently on your newsfeeds.

Some zingers of a headline include:

  • “PURE Shakes Up Nutrition Field: Finds High Fat Beneficial” (Medscape)
  • “Huge new study casts doubt on conventional wisdom about fat and carbs” (Statnews)
  • “A Lot Fat diet might kill you, new study finds” (Diet Doctor)

What are some common themes you see in those headlines? Doom and gloom, right?

Here’s an insider tip: the PURE study didn’t really rattle Registered Dietitians in the way the media seems to think. And not just because most of the RDs I’ve met are really chill people.

In fact, here are a few articles that are written by doctors and RDs breaking down the study! I’m not at the point where I feel I could summarize it, so here are some sources I look to:

  • New Nutrition Study Changes Nothing from The Atlantic
    • Favorite quote is: “Eating in ways that are good for our bodies isn’t conceptually complicated. It’s complicated by money and time and access—but eating based on scientific findings is not”
  • NutritionWonk’s blog post (Also, her blog is amazing in general. Recommend x100)
  • The Rooted Project’s infographic for my visual learners

If you look into the Atlantic article I shared and remember what we talked about a bit earlier in the blog post, you can understand why sensationalist headlines “sell” better than ones that say more chill things like “Nutrition study changes nothing”.

The idea that everything we knew is being turned on it’s head reads as more exciting. It pulls our attention to it and causes us to want to read more. After all, everyone has some knowledge that food becomes energy and nutrition/food matters. Now the readers, you guys, get the promise of “insider info”. Unfortunately, sensationalist articles tend to be incorrect in one way or another.

Now, why is that?

Look at the authors of the articles I shared for you guys to read.

They’re written by experts in the field, who do this kind of stuff (breaking down research) for a living. They’re open and honest about the study and make it easy for you to find the study to read for yourself and provide further reading. They’re not trying to sell their books, services, or products. Just plain honesty.

When you’re browsing social media, these are the places to go when reading an article about any kind of science. You don’t see a biologist writing about physics. Trust the sources written by nutrition professionals.

Conventional nutrition advice leans more towards moderation than it does extremism.

NutritionWonk, Nutrevolve, and Yoni Friedoff are the places I go most often for help when reading research regarding nutrition. You can always branch off from there to find more places to read about it, or if you stay tuned, we’ll cover how to read nutrition research on this blog in the coming weeks.

Which, along with reading and researching on your own, also helps you determine legitimate sources of nutrition news for yourself.

Much love,

Em