Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Sparkpeople.com has been the greatest aid to my nutrition awareness.  Although it's primarily a free website to help folks lose weight, it's been the one way for me to track how much sodium, calcium, fiber, and other nutrients we're getting each day.  It gives recommendations on amounts, and I try to keep in their ranges.

I don't use Ragu or Prego these days because of the sodium content.  I use the Better Homes and Gardens spaghetti sauce recipe, using no-salt-added tomatoes and tomato paste, and not adding additional salt.  So that recipe, with nutrients (as listed in the cookbook), is typed into Sparkpeople.  So I'm listing exactly the spaghetti that we use, when I enter it.  I have to adjust the nutrients given by the cookbook, since I'm using no-salt ingredients.  It takes some brainwork and figuring, but I believe I have it pretty close to right.

Thanks to Sparkpeople, I was made aware that we weren't getting even ten percent of the calcium we need per day, and I added a calcium pill to our daily regimen.  We usually do fairly well getting enough fiber, but toward the end of the day if I see I'm lacking in fiber for that day, I'll eat a raw carrot or two and perhaps mix up a glass of Metamucil and drink it.

Thank you, sparkpeople!

Monday, April 2, 2007

I'm not as by-the-book as I was at the start

I can honestly say that we keep our cholesterol intake well below the limit.  It's easy to do if you limit meat to 4-ounce servings, and have very few egg yolks.   We don't drink much milk, but what we use is non-fat.  We both take a calcium pill because we get so little calcium in our food.  Once in a blue moon we'll have Pizza Hut pizza.

If we only ate at home, sodium would never be a problem for me; Cliff does go somewhat over because he loves Ritz lower-sodium crackers and vanilla wafers; not that many, but the sodium in those adds up.  Eating out is the number one way to take in a ton of salt.  When we split a meal, that, of course, cuts the sodium intake in half.  But I'm sure there's still far too much.

I'm still buying no-salt-added tomatoes, ketchup, tomato sauce and tomato paste; read those labels, it's unbelievable how much salt they pack into tomato stuff.  Cliff gets spaghetti almost once a week (his favorite), and the only salt in the sauce comes from the half-pound of Italian sausage I put in it, which gives each serving about two ounces of sausage.

My ideas on caffeine have changed.  Since the medical community can't make up their collective minds whether coffee is good or bad for us, and after talking to Cliff's doctor, I don't buy decaff coffee any more.  I still buy decaffeinated tea and Diet Coke, so the only caffeine Cliff gets is in the five or so cups of coffee he drinks each day (three in the morning, two at noon).

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Still cooking healthy stuff here!

So, I'll bet the few readers of this journal thought I was back to a diet of pizza, French fries and apple pie.  And gaining weight like crazy.  Otherwise, why would I neglect this little bit of cyberspace, right?

Nope, I'm still keeping only the right things in the house to eat, still buying no-salt-added canned tomatoes (and other veggies) and making things from scratch.  Cliff and I get an overdose of sodium on our Tuesday visits to Subway (hooray for Tuesday), but we're so good the rest of the time, that indiscretion is surely canceled out.  I haven't had a French fry in months.  Although I long for Kentucky Fried Chicken, I made a vow with myself over two years ago that I would not partake of the Colonel's delights unless I got down to 145 pounds.  I do have the occasional dalliance with Pizza Hut pizza, simply because life without pizza isn't life at all.

I have not lost the five pounds I put on during the winter.  But at least I put on the weight eating healthy things.

Cliff has maintained his weight well.  The other day he was complaining that he isn't losing any more weight.  After telling him that I really don't care whether he loses more weight, I pointed out a few things that might be the cause of his problem.  For instance, he insists on eating Ritz (low-sodium) crackers with almost every tomato-based dish I make.  By the handful.  I pointed out that five crackers are 80 calories, and some days he's eating twenty crackers.  When he was done shooting the messenger who gave him this bad news, he decided to limit his intake of crackers. 

If we have our half-cup serving of ice cream, or some sugar-free pudding, Cliff feels it's necessary to have a few vanilla wafers afterward.  I guess he has the need to crunch something. 

So, if I'm such an expert, why have I gained weight?

Because although I know what I'm doing wrong.  It's just hard to stop nibbling in the evening.

Case closed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Interesting information on statins

I have hated to see Cliff taking Lipitor, since his CABG; after all, it's been known to do damage to the liver.  That's why people taking that particular prescription, or other statins, have blood tests every three months:  to make sure the liver is doing OK. 

But today I was reading a medical blog I follow, "The Examining Room of Dr. Charles", and was directed to a National Geographic article, Mending Broken Hearts.

Here's the part that grabbed my attention: 

Eric Topol, a cardiologist.... is as lean as a greyhound and weathered in a cowboyish way. He talks slowly and eats minimally: salads for dinner and high-fiber cereal for breakfast. He doesn't eat lunch at all. Like almost every cardiologist I've talked to, he takes statins preventively, and his cholesterol count is a low 135. His children, 22 and 25, also eat uncommonly well for their ages.

I think I'll stop being so concerned about Cliff's Lipitor.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

McDonald's, it's about time!

McDonalds finally got on the bandwagon and is replacing their unhealthy oils with trans-fat-free cooking oil. 

" A Harvard study also found that eating just 5 grams of trans fat a day could increase the risk of heart disease by 25 percent. Researchers concluded that eliminating trans fat from the American diet could prevent between 6 and 19 percent of heart attacks and related deaths each year."

"The new McDonald's oil will consist of a mixture of canola, corn and soy. The new oil has already rolled out in 1,200 of the chain's 13,700 U.S. restaurants, he said. More will receive the new supplies as they become available."

The entire article is HERE.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Eat food

I was directed, by way of a medical blog I was reading, to a quite long article online explaining what's wrong with American thinking as regards to what we eat.  It was a lot more reading than I wanted to do, so I did some skimming.  But on the next-to-last page, I found these nuggets of wisdom:

1. Eat food. Though in our current state of confusion, this is much easier said than done. So try this: Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. (Sorry, but at this point Moms are as confused as the rest of us, which is why we have to go back a couple of generations, to a time before the advent of modern food products.) There are a great many foodlike items in the supermarket your ancestors wouldn’t recognize as food (Go-Gurt? Breakfast-cereal bars? Nondairy creamer?); stay away from these.

2. Avoid even those food products that come bearing health claims. They’re apt to be heavily processed, and the claims are often dubious at best. Don’t forget that margarine, one of the first industrial foods to claim that it was more healthful than the traditional food it replaced, turned out to give people heart attacks. When Kellogg’s can boast about its Healthy Heart Strawberry Vanilla cereal bars, health claims have become hopelessly compromised. (The American Heart Association charges food makers for their endorsement.) Don’t take the silence of the yams as a sign that they have nothing valuable to say about health.

3. Especially avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable c) more than five in number — or that contain high-fructose corn syrup.None of these characteristics are necessarily harmful in and of themselves, but all of them are reliable markers for foods that have been highly processed.

4. Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. You won’t find any high-fructose corn syrup at the farmer’s market; you also won’t find food harvested long ago and far away. What you will find are fresh whole foods picked at the peak of nutritional quality. Precisely the kind of food your great-great-grandmother would have recognized as food.

I was very disappointed to learn that the American Heart Association charges for their endorsement.  So much for their advice, eh?

Again, the article is HERE.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

bad news

I've gained three pounds.  No, not another three pounds on top of the last I mentioned; it's the same three I keep losing, then putting back on.  I know why it happens, and I know what I could do to stop it.  I just don't.  It's wintertime, I'm house-bound, and I feed my pouty self snacks at night to make up for it.  Hurry up, springtime!

If I stayed at this weight, it wouldn't be a big deal; but if I gain three now, then another two or three next week, it's going to matter a lot.

Cliff is up two pounds from last week, although he's really doing well at watching how much he eats.  I'm the one having the problem here!  We couldn't take our walk for over a week, and that makes some difference.

Now that I'm used to watching for trans-fats on labels, I took the advice from Sparkpeople to heart and started reading ingredients.  In an article called "The Loopholes of Labeling", it's explained this way:

"Experts recommend that people avoid trans fats, which are created when oils are hydrogenated during food processing. But you can't trust a product's claim of zero trans fats, nor can you trust the nutrition facts label on this one. Always read the

This may seem insignificant, but it does add up. Think about a box of cookies. It says "zero trans fats" on the front of the box and on the nutrition facts label, but it lists "partially hydrogenated oils" in the ingredients list. This food can contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving, yet the labeling is legit. Over time, when you consume the 6, 10, or 20 servings of cookies in the box, you'll consume 3, 5, or 10 grams of trans fats."
list. If the words "partially hydrogenated" appear in it at all, then the food DOES contain trans fats. But thanks to labeling guidelines, any food that contains 0.5 grams or less of a nutrient can be listed as zero grams on the nutrition facts label. "