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skinny boys

Skinny boys.  Now there is a group that could use some love. Skinny boys usually, though not always, start out as skinny little kids and stay that way into their teens and young adulthood. You see them everywhere. In spite of this obesity epidemic, these poor boys far outnumber the fat kids everyone is clamoring about, but still, they get no attention.

It was not too long ago that skinny boys had their pants buckled up under their armpits for the protection of their private parts or they were required to wear corny suspenders. Nowadays, it is quite common for their pants to fall below the level of their BVDs even with the use of securing devices like belts and drawstrings–so they are often walking around with their undies showing. How embarrassing. If they do have a belt, they have to force a homemade hole into the leather or hemp, whatever, and the non-buckle end goes wrapping around them like a snake, in order to fit.  

Then, their ribs stick out something terrible. Even nicely developed abdominal six-packs cannot cover up those ribs. Ouch. It must be hard for them to sleep–their bones jabbing into even soft forgiving mattresses. When they walk down the street, even strangers like Italian and Jewish grandmothers, are apt to want to take them home and feed them. What is up? Are their parents not feeding them?

Despite these emotional and physical challenges, there are no programs, whatsoever, designed to help them. There is no foundation for the Prevention of Adolescent Scrawniness, nor a Let”s Chill! initiative coming from the White House. Teachers, mothers, and fathers everywhere need assistance in just getting these kids to sit still. Instead, they are flying off concrete ramps on skateboards, incessantly shooting basketballs, playing guitars and drums with manic enthusiasm, and turning everyday household items into objects d’sport. TVs, video games and writing angst-ridden poetry are the only way to get these kids to stay in one place for any decent amount of time.

One might assume that these skinny boys, when they do eat, are eating carrot sticks and turkey rolled in lettuce leaves. How else could they be so skinny? But, what’s that? They are eating sugar and junk food just like those fat kids? How can that be?

A few months ago, I saw two teen-aged skinny boys walking. One of them carried a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew, the other a big box of Cap’n Crunch cereal. I say carried, but it was more like they were cradling these products like a young child might cuddle their favorite stuffed animal. As there had been rumors circulating wildly that the Cap’n might be retiring from the high seas as well as from supermarket shelves, their procured box might have generated even additional testosterone excitement and the desperate attachment for the two.

And, just the other day, as I was doing my usual investigative journalism in the local supermarket, I came upon two young, lanky, twenty-somethings crouched down in the cereal aisle, doing some serious nutrition label and ingredient reading. I was touched. After serious deliberation, they stood up and strode confidently away–a box of Frosted Flakes in hand.

Liquid, syrupy, intense, colored sugar, seems to be the lifeblood of skinny boys as coffee is to adults. As many rational grown-ups swear that they cannot survive without their daily Joe, keeping the skinny boys from their sugar would be akin to blood-letting. How else would they thrive? With their powerful internal engines burning high and hot enough to power a jet plane, what else could better serve as jet fuel?

So, that is where skinny boys are at a serious disadvantage in this whole weight war. We direct a societal finger-wagging at fat kids and their parents, preaching of the pain and woe that awaits them should they continue their wanton eating behaviors–but no one has given these skinny kids even a glimpse of what could just as easily be in store for them–that even their propelled metabolisms could be headed for a serious nosedive.

Because, when those adolescent male hormones finally begin to mellow out, even the best of the metabolically privileged, can find themselves in trouble. Tushies sink deeper into the couch in front of the TV, remote glued to hand; the zillion hours of organized sport become a thing of the past once that diploma is received and such play at best becomes an occasional weekend past time; all the pints of beer downed in solidarity or solitude accumulate in the expanding bladder of the belly and a gut begins to cover those once nicely sculpted abs; and the stress and worry of the real world turn acquired food from active fuel into evil, disease-producing stored fat. Excessive sugar intake is detrimental to everyone, and, I have never seen Mt. Dew, do a body good. A pair of true skinny genes or a life pursuit that includes significant physical activity or hard labor are required to stave off the accumulation of pounds in this current climate.

Whereas only 12.7 percent of 15-24-year-old males are obese as defined by Body Mass Index, (BMI), 22.2 percent of 25-34-year-olds fit that classification. That could be a pretty big shock for the unsuspecting ten percent who suddenly find themselves in the holes at the other end of their belts. Their husky elementary school classmates, once the brunt of jokes, have been way better prepared for their impending corpulence and may, in fact, get the last laugh.

Essentially, we need to provide all our children with the template of the basics of a healthy lifestyle and to have a society that ensures fundamental support so they can take better care of themselves throughout their lives.

So be kind to the thinnest amongst us. They have a hard road ahead of them. Chances are, you were once a skinny boy too. The next time you see a skinny boy, hold the judgment, give them a big hug and a prayer for a healthy life–but remember to be gentle, for they are pretty fragile creatures.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn

My Plate Plate

My Plate Haiku

Smooth peanut butter

Spread on a peeled banana

Snack time perfection. by Gretchen

 

childhood awareness month obesity

Before the month is out, I’d like to report and thereby release my annual reticence about focusing attention so directly on childhood obesity. If I could, I would turn the matter inside out or upside down, but since my typing options are limited, I am just mixing the whole thing around–and hence the title.

Chances are you don’t even know that this is the month that deems we bring special attention to childhood obesity, albeit with good intention. Hopefully, fat kids don’t know it is either. Fat kids are not clambering for any special attention–their weight brings them more than they should ever have to bear every month of the year. Perhaps we should celebrate Childhood Obesity Lack of Attention Month and lighten up on those whose bodies bear our national shame.

Prevalence of Self-Reported Obesity Among U.S. Adults by State and Territory, BRFSS, 2018. See map details in table below.

Fall Colors

I have written about my feelings on this before, and in a personal exercise of trying to write a short post, I will keep things brief by referring to those previous ones. But why I continue to be peeved is partly because I thought that awareness months were for concerns and conditions that would not otherwise garner attention. For example, September is also National Sickle Cell Month and Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month. Yet, obesity–for both young and old has not gone unnoticed. Since we realized there was a problem there has been a very public outcry and assault on the situation. The fight against it has been on heralding the call to eat less and move more. Master the equation.

But more so, I see the focus on obesity as missing the larger point. Yes, there has clearly been a marked increase in the prevalence of obesity in this country, and globally since the 1980s, according to the indicators that are used to measure such things. And, yes there are associated health concerns and consequences for some (though not all) of those who have turned their states from blue to orange and red on those troubling maps presented by the Center for Disease Control. The reasons for this are complex, confusing and multi-factorial. The obvious villains of eating more and moving less get the brunt of the blame but there are other nefarious players as well.

While we strive to figure out how to get a handle on the situation and direct many resources to worthy intervention and prevention efforts, my point is that the aspects of the problem that we decry for contributing to obesity, also have impacted other facets of our society’s health and that of its children. It is pretty obvious that we are suffering from lousy food, excessive intake and inadequate physical activity, but if we put those forces in a prisoner lineup, then we must also charge and convict them for not only contributing to weight gain but to behavior and learning problems, depression, anxiety, immune system disorders, allergies, and other maladies as well. It is not only the many who are vulnerable to weight gain who are affected. However, those who aren’t, are also being held hostage by the environmental and social influences that define our lives.

While it is true that our economy is burdened by health conditions related to weight for which the bell has been mightily tolled, so it is by these other impacts on our children. Gather together teachers, behavioral specialists, pediatricians, nutritionists and all those who tend to our young, and I am sure they will describe concerns broader than just children’s Body Mass Index (BMI). Dietary and activity level influences may be involved there as well.

I must perforce explain that I get the gravity of the weight situation. But I cynically bemoan the multitude of poor policies that fostered the crisis and the policymakers who then woke up screaming, hey, let’s do something about those obese children. If we want a month, then may I suggest we rename it, “Tending to Our Children’s Birthright of Health Awareness Month” and stop just focusing on obesity. I believe all children will benefit from such a shift in attention and it may actually prevent some harm.

For those who are interested in mindful approaches to specific childhood feeding issues and raising competent eaters, I guide you to the wise work of Ellyn Satter, Dr. Katja Rowell, and Dina Rose. (Update: Also, to the Guidelines for Media Portrayal of Individuals Affected by Obesity which addresses matters associated with weight bias, stigma, and discrimination.)

What are your thoughts?

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn

Related (directly and indirectly) Posts: A Bushel and A Peck of Ways to Address Childhood Obesity; The Humanist Imperative to Nourish and Care for Our Children; The Tempted Temperament; Skinny Boys

Rose's Plate

Rose’s My Plate

 

 

 

 

 

My Plate Haiku

Peach baskets brimming

Raspberries ripe on the bush

Apples soon to come.

by Crystal

(Summer sped by and fall is upon us. Apples are here!)

Happy Birthday to Rose’s wonderful Daddy. Healing prayers for friend Jodi who has nourished so many with her wonderful cooking and abundant love. Blessings to Crystal on her wedding to Oliver next week!

by the time i got to woodstock

There I was having a mindful eating moment. Though I teach others the importance of this technique frequently, I rarely slow down enough to practice it myself. What it took for me to have my own blissful experience–where you sit in total oneness with a food or a meal fully attuned to the multi-sensory act of eating–was the result of a harmonic convergence between my teenage daughter and not one, but two teenage boys.  

It was a beautiful warm Friday in April when Zena and I found ourselves perfectly aligned to spend the afternoon together on the last day of her school spring break. Easily, the legendary village of Woodstock presented itself as the mecca for our little excursion. Morning obligations tended to, we hopped in the car and headed out. About a third of the way there, Zena decided to see if she could reach her summer camp friends, Ethan and Josh, who live there. Despite the fact that the two had school that day, and were actually in it when she contacted them, in vague teenage boy fashion they arranged that they would meet her somewhere after track practice.

It was the kind of day where you celebrate shedding the cumbersome clothing of winter and first drive with the car windows down. Whenever I go to Woodstock, the songs of The Band drift easily into mind, as I was once fortunate to see them perform there–in their adopted hometown. Little did I know that just a few days later, word of band member and Woodstock resident Levon Helm‘s death would pass a cloud over this sunny musical epicenter. But that day, it was all sunshine as Zena and I browsed the little shops, bought T-shirts and sunglasses and walked our way into that wonderful space where appetite is earned and asks to be rewarded with something special. We checked out a few little spots, yet in Goldilock fashion, it was not until we came to the Garden on the Green did we find the cafe that was just right.

Though the beautiful outdoor garden area was closing down for the afternoon, inside provided just as warm and welcoming a place to please my palate. Every inch was aesthetically charming. Ah, but there was more. The menu consisted of purely vegan offerings created from local provisions. We were giddy. Though I am no stranger to vegan and vegetarian restaurants when available, eating out in most places usually entails rapid eyeball movement over the menu to find the few non-meat selections. Here, every choice was seductively available.

We sat at the table by the large front window overlooking Woodstock’s little village green and ultimately decided to share a warm lentil pecan pate with sage, Tuscan arugula, and white bean salad and a wonderful black bean and roasted corn quesadilla. We settled in looking at all the pretty things that surrounded us. However, just as the food arrived, Zena said, “Oh, there’s Ethan!”  and went running out the door to greet him. I turned to find her in that kind of exuberant silly hug that teenagers enjoy with one of those Skinny Boys. She ran back in and asked if I would mind that she go hang out with him, concerned about leaving me alone to eat. I said I didn’t mind. We asked the waitress for a to-go container and I packed up a little picnic box for her to take outside–complete with the nice silverware–which we returned later.

So there I was, alone with this beautiful food. Right away, I knew what I needed to do to fill my time. I had already embraced my surroundings–taking in the other diners, the waitresses and trying to interpret the Spanish conversation coming from the kitchen. I now needed only to address all of my attention to this amazing meal. With each sense engaged, I looked at, smelled, and lingered over every single bite. I considered the textures–the creaminess of the pate along with with the crunchy crust of the bread it spread itself upon, the lovely bitterness of the arugula mixed with the tender softness of the white beans. I chewed incredibly slowly, which is not something I ordinarily do and really appreciated the unique meal. And, yes, as I tell my clients is apt to happen, I sensed my satiety rather quickly. I was actually a little bummed. I could have easily eaten all of the food that was before me while I waited for Zena to return, but with careful listening, my body said it had enough. I was determined to honor it.

Right about then, I looked out to the window and my maternal lens caught a view of Ethan loping away in one direction while Josh came bounding in from another. Zena came heading back into the cafe. She asked for more time, mentioning something about guitar lessons. On most other days or in some other place, my patience might have waned, but not there and not then. As she skipped out again I perused the very vegan dessert offerings and extensive tea listing and chose a Chinese Sencha Tea with which to extend my experience. I had recently read about specially harvested Sencha teas and was excited to try one. I stayed committed to my mindful intention and inhaled the pleasant aroma with each tiny sip.

Not too long after, a parent-propelled car pulled up in front of the cafe and whisked Josh away–and Zena rejoined me. Though the teenage boys had vanished with a cinematic flourish, my satisfaction lingered. Since then, I have been more conscious to calm myself and to eat more slowly when I bring myself to the table.

Time and again in my work I am reminded how important mindfulness is in regard to eating. Mindfulness, or simple but exercised awareness, is essential for a balanced relationship with food. In the big dietary gestalt, we tend to focus the problem on what we are eating and to seek answers in changing dietary content. I myself am apt to tend and mend in this way as well. However, commonly what is revealed in the real story of eaters, is that a deeper conflict exists. Even in those whom I assume must have their inner compasses precisely calibrated and their plates all balanced, I eventually divine the agita, angst, stress, and shame that accompanies how people feel about how, why and how much they eat. This is often more so the problem that is seeking attention and assuaging. These principles are ably addressed and applied at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Slowing it down and paying profound attention ultimately can change the patterns, often dysfunctional, that repeatedly dictate our feeding relationship. From thoughts to actions, mindful eating can be a powerful tool for increasing compassion towards ourselves, helping to reassign food to its proper place and for improving physical health. In its most simple sense, it will increase the ability to truly taste and savor food. More profoundly, it can provide more information than most diets do; affords permission to eat and decreases deprivation feeding behaviors that usually backfire. Ultimately, it allows one to derive more pleasure with less intake. It can be practiced with one tiny piece of chocolate or with an entire meal. It can be explored casually or studied diligently.

Two books that are in my midst these days that address mindful eating are, Eat, Drink and Be Mindful a workbook by Susan Albers; and Peaceful Weight Loss Through Yoga by Brandt Bhanu Passalacqua. I recommend them both. I also invite you to choose a moment this week to eat mindfully. I would love to hear about your experience if you care to share it in a comment. Who knows, you may find that you shall be released and or that you begin to know better the shape you’re in.

Enough with the obtuse song references.

In health,

Elyn

My Plate

My Plate Haiku

Spread peanut butter

On whole grain sweet dark bread

Raspberry jam-yum.    by Barb

wings of desire

I have been hiding under the covers since before the Super Bowl game. This was not the weekend for peace-loving nutritionists. Too much head bashing and too many food blitzes for my liking.

Dear Sweet Luna

A few days prior to the game I was at the supermarket. I saw a shopping cart filled with about twelve cartons of frozen pepperoni pizza. I thought it was being used to stock the freezer section, till I saw a guy proceed with it to the check-out line. It vaguely dawned on me that this might be due to the game. I then saw legions of 2-liter soda bottles marching out the door along with armored tanks of beer. Little bags of celery sticks were unwittingly running behind. Little did they know they would soon meet their fate, drenched in fat-laden dip, in mouths that mindlessly devour whatever comes near.

While often feeling like the nutritional equivalent of Florence Nightingale, ready to mend and tend with soothing bowls of oatmeal and blueberries, this is a battlefield I will not administer to. Spectators and players alike are not innocent victims. They participate in this bloody sport of gladiator gore and gluttony of their own volition. The players come to score while the spectators come to gape and gorge.

Being big is an asset in football. However, even that begs a hefty question. How big is big enough? In 1970, only one player in the NFL was over three hundred pounds. Now 532 players or 25% of the league claim that distinction. This excessive mass is detrimental to the players and to their opponents alike. It is well documented that these very large offensive and defensive linemen suffer serious health consequences related to their size and eating behaviors after the end of their careers, and increasingly, while they are still active players. Even in this well-padded professional sports league with all the resources in the world, it is only recently that nutrition is being carefully considered. How do you promote strength and power in these guys without jeopardizing their health, and prevent turning them out to pasture to fend for themselves–often sooner than later.

So, if the guys with the big contracts hardly get the support they need, the shlubs on the couch in the den eating with pure Pavlovian abandon are entirely on their own when it comes reckoning time. Is it just me, or has the ferocity of the Super Bowl Game Glutton Fest actually increased in the past few years? Genteel women– including some of my own friends– now converse about watching the game, what team they are for and what they are serving. We have now been seriously programmed with Big Brother intensity to associate this event with bingeing. The Bowl brimmeth over.

While under the blankets with a flashlight, I read that the day of the game is called “Restaurant Christmas”. An article in my newspaper about local food establishments anticipating the big day described a restaurant that “uses a computer spreadsheet to track orders and strategically positions 15 employees to produce and deliver the restaurant’s maximum capacity: 300 wings and seven pizzas every 15 minutes. They expect to churn out more than 5,000 wings and in excess of 100 pizzas.” I think that means 2,500 chickens and many tomatoes were sacrificed for the game plan just at this one place. Again I ask, can this possibly be?

I don’t mean to sound like a party pooper, though that’s not really a big problem ’cause I didn’t go to any party to poop on–though I did surprisingly actually have two invites. One was from someone who doesn’t really know me and should be glad I didn’t show. However, the whole scene just exaggerates our already extreme daily eating that severely compromises our health. If this was truly a one-day event that would be one thing, but sadly, it isn’t. Or, if our health care system just had to carry the weight of a few shoulder injuries and some bruised egos, but that is not the reality either.

So, like that other February icon, Puxatawney Phil, I must try to venture out from my hole. If I don’t see another major food holiday in sight, maybe, just maybe, I can just predict a salubrious spring. And, Happy Valentine’s Day. Enjoy the Dark Chocolate.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn

Related Posts: Peepin’ Out; Spring Cleaning and the NBA Finals; Skinny Boys

(Update 2020: Just in. The Frito-Lay U.S. Snack Index Report for Super Bowl LIV. This is quite a compendium of snacking statistics and financials. Retail sales data shows Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day of the year for salty snacks, generating approximately $520 million in one day. Historically, Frito-Lay produces approximately 600 million pounds of snacks in the six weeks leading up to the game – nearly 20 percent of its annual snack production – and more than 67 million pounds of snacks the week of Super Bowl. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be back under the covers.)

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn

Related Recipe: Vegan Keto Buffalo Jackfruit Dip

spring cleaning and the NBA Finals

I recently decided to revisit some of my old posts, brush them off and bring them out for some fresh air–a kind of spring cleaning. I found a few that I have now fluffed up or polished, but this one is screaming for immediate attention.

As I write, I am sitting and watching Game 5 of the NBA finals–Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors. The postseason with the advance of Cleveland and LeBron James has necessitated this postscript to “Dominique et Moi”. There, I wrote about my meeting with NBA legend and diabetes ambassador Dominique Wilkins on his visit to the Health Center where I worked. (Yes, really! Did you miss that one?)

spices-2591559_1280

Curry Varieties Image by TeeFarm at Pixabay

In that meeting, I asked Dominique how he felt about famous athletes using their celebrity to market unhealthy products–making reference to LeBron’s Pepsi ads which were running at that time. Though not to single out LeBron, I do find certain celebrity endorsements particularly troubling. During this year’s final rounds, LeBron has been featured in an ad for Kia automobiles.

The spot starts out with him sitting alone in his kitchen, eating a bowl of cereal with a box of Fruity Pebbles prominently displayed. The milk is in a plain, round, unmarked glass bottle. Just as he raises the spoon to his mouth, his zen moment is interrupted by a maintenance worker outside the window wielding a noisy leaf blower. LeBron leaves the table, miffed that his quiet moment has been disturbed–but not before five camera shots feature the Fruity Pebbles. A few more distractions, including his kids playing with a ball, pursue him until he finally finds solace in the quiet, obviously roomy and reclining back seat of his very clean and crumb-free fancy Kia.

I have been catching up on recent seasons of Mad Men so I know how these pitches are made by ad companies. But, can someone please tell me what marketing seduction was intended here? Does Kia own Post Foods or are they just sleeping together? What demographic is eating kids’ cereals and buying fancy cars? Long-legged adolescents saving their lawn mowing money? And, why is LeBron party to it all?

Ironically, recently as I watched LeBron on the court, I noticed he seemed more lean and lithe than I remembered. I turned to Pete, my source for all things sport and nutrition-related. Concerned he may have missed something, I implored him to get me some scoop on LeBron’s diet. Thirty seconds later he was back to me with a report that sure enough, this incredible sports phenomenon was adhering to a lower carbohydrate diet and was playing minus fifteen to twenty pounds this season. I was not surprised. I knew it! No Fruity Pebbles for King James. Notice he doesn’t actually eat the cereal in the ad. And, I am also going to venture that he’s likely lactose intolerant and not much of a milk drinker.

Well, I do hope that these athletes heed some warning from Dominique. Not even the creme de la creme are immune from negative dietary impacts and diabetic consequences. Well, except maybe LeBron–because the way he plays, he likely is immortal. And, they should be mindful of the messages they embody through their endorsements. But, hey, what is that food that his nemesis is hawking on his jersey? Curry? You mean that anti-inflammatory spice blend that may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and that contributes to some spectacular shooting? I wonder who is marketing that.

The truth of the matter is that increasingly, many athletes (and teams) are caring a lot about diet and nutrition and making it a prime focus for performance and endurance–and for helping others.

Here is what LeBron is really fueling on, and what he actually drives. Here is what Steph Curry is doing to promote healthy eating. And, here is how 4-time NBA Champion John Salley has committed himself to conscious eating.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn

Related Posts: Dominique et Moi, Wings of Desire, Love is Love

OH, DEAR ME. After writing this whole thing, I went to look up the ingredients of Fruity Pebbles for a link, only to find out that Fruity Pebbles is also a LeBron James endorsed Nike Air Foamposite One sneaker!! Wow. Your thoughts?

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Child’s My Plate

My Plate Haiku

Food is medicine

Farmers are doctors, Cooks priests

Eat, pray, eat, pray, love.

by Gordon