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!

Processing Grief

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I’ve tried writing this blog post about a million times.

I’m trying to write either a personal post or something covering what’s been going on this past week in the news. Last week, I covered Weight Watchers’ new teen program, and while that (unfortunately) is still going forward, there’s other concerns on my mind.

On Valentine’s Day 2018, 17 innocent people lost their life at their high school.

For those far away, spectating the event and media whirlwind following, it’s hard to know what to say or do in the event of a tragedy. I felt compelled to write something to help you guys speak to your teens about what happened in Parkland.

For coverage of the event and discussion about where to go from here, I recommend Philip DeFranco’s video on the shooting. If you are against cursing, just a heads up that he does curse- in regard to the Mark Dice tweet- but his argument is sound and he never discusses the shooter’s name, background, or shows his photo.

Using this video as a backdrop, you can use Fuller Youth’s blog on processing school shootings to talk about the event. The first tip includes prompts for questions to ask, to help dissect the incident, and process what this means for us going forward.

Fuller also has a blog post called Good Grief that discusses the process of grief. If your teen, or you, are struggling to process grief, this article can help you. For a nonreligious article, check out the Dougy centers post on grief and teens. Debroah Kenney also has an infographic that will help you plan this discussion with your teen.

It feels so confusing, so painful, to have to talk about this again. Gun control is a public health issue and should be addressed. Talking to your teen about this gives them a safe space to air their feelings, to feel validated, and to speak with you about what happened. And, God forbid, what to do in the event of their school being attacked.

In the end, you know what’s best for you and your family after this. I wish you peace, healing, and comfort in this awful aftermath. I send all of you my love.

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.

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!

Theatre Tuesday: Off-Broadway finds 12/4

Hey, beans!

If you’re a theatre fan, there’s a chance you have a set “group” of plays and musicals you consider to be your favorites. It’s always good to branch out and listen to new musicals, too. Even if you discover they’re not your style, there’s no harm experimenting and exploring.

That was my challenge this week. I found 2 Off-Broadway musicals that I really enjoyed and listened to this week. I want to talk a bit more about theatre on this blog. After all, what’s Center Stage Nutrition without the center stage part?!

In the comments let me know what you think if you listen, and tell me about some musicals I should check out!

Nevermore by Jonathan Christenson

If you’re a fan of small casts with multiple roles, gothic imagery, and Edger Allen Poe, then you’re in luck with Nevermore. A biographical musical based on Poe’s life, the musical is epic and has similar qualities to a rock operetta.

Pieces like Poe’s The Raven are put to music with a killer bass line interlaced with small chorus pieces. Other numbers I’ll need to check out when I can, since I couldn’t grab the cast recording at this time. You can get a preview of their numbers on their YouTube channel, and order the CD from their website. This biomusical holds a lot of potential for education and outreach, and seems to be popular for schools according to their ‘upcoming performance’ page.

Of everything I’ve heard so far, I really love “We are your Nightmares”. There’s a production in Chicago being put on in January at Black Button Eye Productions that I need to get tickets to! Stay tuned here for a recap of that show.

Hadestown by Anais Mitchell and Rachel Chavkin

Folk and indie fans rejoice, Hadestown is on Spotify for you to listen to. Fans of The Great Comet will recognize Persephone’s voice as the lovely Amber Grey. (If you haven’t listened to Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812- go listen, seriously). Other notable performers are Reeve Carney as Orpheus, and T.V. Carpio as Eurydice. On the Spotify recording you have Patrick Page as Hades and Andre De Shields as Hermes.

In this retelling of the myth Orpheus and Eurydice, the setting is a post-apocalyptic world with a 1920’s influence. Hadestown is a factory, rather than just the underworld, with Hades as the powerful, bass-y boss. This story is heart wrenching, and the music forwards the plot beautifully. You get to hear problems of the long-term relationship of Hades and Persephone (characterized by Hades greed and Persephone’s longing for the pass). You also get to hear the struggles of a new relationship in Orpheus and Eurydice- doubt, fear, and trust are all examined in this show.

If you like mythology, folk music, and more of a narrative-style of musical, then Hadestown deserves a listen. It’s worth noting that Hadestown is a folk operetta, meaning the music bridges the gap between musicals and opera. It has more music than a musical, but more dialogue than an opera.

Tell me what you think! Leave a comment below, or message me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

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