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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?)

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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 the 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

peepin’ out

easter-2120601_640 (1)Right before Easter, word got through to me that Peeps would now be sold year-round. I can’t say if I was aware or not that Peeps, those brightly colored marshmallow bunnies and chicks, only appeared on the market for a relatively short period of time each year in order to celebrate the Resurrection, but apparently, this change was newsworthy.

Truth be told, I am really naive and poorly informed on certain things, like candy and religion. I have been confused for decades between Cabbage Patch Dolls and Sour Patch candies–I think that is what they are called. During nutritional consults, I confess that I have uttered the words, “Do you eat like Cabbage Patch Doll candies?” Not just randomly of course, but in the context of an assessment when I am trying to professionally interpret someone’s intake while sounding like I know what I am talking about.

Somewhere halfway between childhood and deciding to become a nutritionist, I managed to wean myself off of my predilection for sugar woven into various seductive forms. Maybe the end of my relationship with Peeps coincided with my commitment to a vegetarian diet. Eating anything with a face became more distasteful, even if it was just an adorable ball of fluff. I have managed to avoid the things for a long while except for a time where a co-worker enjoyed flaunting her love of them in front of me like the Adoration.

But, upon hearing the news that Peeps would be popping up in stores on a daily basis, I reacted like Puxatawny Phil seeing his shadow on that fateful Groundhog’s Day. Down into the burrow, I hastily fled. Just when I thought that maybe things were getting a little better regarding our capacity to ameliorate incoming incarnations of sugar, this information startled me. To soften the blinding light of blatant commercialism, I had no choice but to go into the dark place below.

By candlelight, I read the small print. Peeps are stewarded by the Just Born Company in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. According to the website, the wonderful combination of sweet colored sugar and fluffy marshmallow creates an unforgettable taste experience. And, furthermore, it states a great candy isn’t made, it’s just born. Jesus! Don’t these guys realize how bunnies multiply and that chicks are no slackers either when it comes to population growth? I guess they do. Apparently, 5.5 million Peeps are born each day! OMG. See how!

This pronouncement of a seemingly immaculate conception in Bethlehem, rather than some sticky mess, presented a whole new ball of carnauba wax–one of the ingredients in Peeps along with sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, potassium sorbate, natural flavors and red 3, blue 1, yellow 6, or yellow 5 depending on the color. With 6.8 grams of sugar, each Peep is endowed with 1.5 (rounding down) teaspoons of essentially pure sugar–the kind that sends our bodies into metabolic-altering, insulin-demanding, fat-storing sugar shock. (Maybe best to use them to make amazing dioramas and Peep Shows.)

Eventually, In my quest to find out more about this situation, I was forced back above ground. Donning sunglasses, my research led me to my local national chain drug store where I made a few laps around the multi-aisle candy section disguised as a normal sugar craving person. I was forced to blow my cover by asking the clerk where the Peeps were. She reacted as if I must be from another planet. I did not bother to defend my citizenship as an earthling and neither did I explain the whole groundhog thing. But I did say my query had a scientific purpose–or something like that. Obviously, Peeps were not to be found after Easter. I was six weeks too late.

But, I said, I thought they were available all year now, in a widening array of flavors. She had not gotten that memo. She instructed me to go to the company website if I wanted more information. I thought that was funny. She did add though that this year she had gotten her little daughter some watermelon ones, so maybe I was right. I  stiffened like a stale Peep.

Like Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield who deemed himself the protector of childhood innocence, perhaps I take my influence as a nutritionist of the people and for the people a bit too seriously. In my head, I am charged on a daily basis to personally obliterate obesity, or on a larger scale to clean up this whole nutritional mess and its adherent ills. I liked the care and assistance the drug store clerk had given me despite her initial recoil, and now by association, I cared about her daughter. Could I not issue a global recall of these wolves in chicks’ clothing candies due to salmonella poisoning, avian flu or something to save the children? My usual quandary about how to reconcile the intentions of capitalist markets and the public health smacked me in the face along with another more subtle underlying dilemma–who am I to take sugar from a baby? Don’t they need some sweetness in this cruel harsh world?

Well, I figured it was time to move back up. As by now spring had finally arrived in these parts after the long, extended rodent-predicted winter, I decided it should be safe to step back into the sunlight. Besides, another holiday was upon us– Memorial Day. This one, should actually quell our insatiable appetites, right? But, alas, like Holden, I was once again in for some surprises.

A little weekend travel led me into a highway rest stop convenience store. There, upon the laden Frito-Lay chip rack, I noticed two different generic bags labeled, Doritos Jacked–Test Flavors 404 and 2658. Jesus. I am not positive, but I think the deal is that if you buy a bag you get to let someone know how jacked you were. Have you ever encountered such a thing?

The ingredients list was complete with all of the usual suspects that entice and entwine us. I had a sudden urge to barricade the rack to prevent the innocents from getting their hands on these hyperactivity-inducing substances. But, then I thought, hey, don’t those good folk down there at Frito-Lay and PepsiCo deserve to make a little profit? Just look at all those flavor scientists they are providing work for. And, aren’t our kids maybe just a little too mellow? Besides, I have read the Frito-Lay Promise (link no longer available). Apparently, I can relax, it is all good. And, soon, kiddos are going to be able to make their own snacks on 3-D Printers anyways. Yikes.

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 Post: Wings of Desire

Related Recipe: 5-Minute Carrot Truffles (bunny approved)

(Update 2018: And, oh my goodness, it looks like there is some trouble down on the peeps farm regarding the Just Born Company’s employee pension plan.)

(Update 2020: This just in! Hot Tamale Peeps. No comment.)

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Emma’s My Plate

My Plate Haiku

The farmers’ market

Each egg at the dairy stand

A different color.

by Enki