Holiday Pitfalls by Oliver Wolf

In this section, I am going to go over the two most common holiday pitfalls and how to avoid falling victim to them…

1. Pressured to Eat
Problem: You’re at a party hosted by your close friends and they have repeatedly asked you to try the pie they labored over. You don’t want to hurt their feelings and you feel obligated to eat the pie. This is a very dangerous situation to be in.

Resolution: In this instance, there are a few things to do. The best thing to do is to kindly decline the pie (and if you are really close with the friends, you can even explain to them why you don’t want to eat it.) I know this can sometimes be hard, but you need to worry about yourself first. And, in most cases, your friends won’t be offended once they learn of your reasoning. The second thing you could do is – try the pie. It’s good to remember that it is not always bad just to taste something. Usually after three slow and enjoyable bits the pie will lose its WOW factor. Another option is give a heartfelt complement to your friends and say, “The whole meal was delicious. I don’t want to ruin it by overeating.” Remember, it’s okay to have those classic holiday foods that you love around the holidays as long as they are eaten in moderation. The key is only to eat the foods you really LOVE and to keep up with healthy eating and exercise the rest of the season.

2. New Year’s “Reset Button” Effect
Problem: Another common pitfall is using the New Year as a ‘start-over’ point. Many people will promise to start their diet as soon as next year begins. By putting off the diet, it is more likely that you will pig out on the foods you love and think of it only as a “goodbye to the foods that you will no longer be eating.” The unfortunate thing is, on average, most New Year’s resolutions of that nature die within the first month.

Solution: The best thing to do here is to think realistically and be honest with yourself. Are you really going to use the New Year as a way to change your lifestyle, or are you only using it as an excuse to feel better about indulging during the holidays? The thing about these resolutions is, you may start out feeling great about it and doing everything that you’re supposed to, but eventually, that “newly wed” feeling will disappear. Your new routine will begin to feel more difficult. You will feel that there isn’t enough time to get to the gym. You will be frustrated that your new eating habits aren’t paying off as fast as you thought they would. All these common feelings are the reasons that 92% of people who make New Year’s resolutions fail by the end of the year. From my perspective, it is best to accept the fact that your resolution will more than likely fail, and just not make one. The best thing to do here is to enjoy the holidays and the food that comes with it but try to take the spotlight off of the food a little bit. Put your energy into shopping for presents and spending time with your loved ones rather than baking cookies or cakes. This will allow you to have a happier and healthier holiday season.

— December 24th, 2014

The Ultimate Holiday Survival Guide by Oliver Wolf

‘Tis the season to over-eat! We all feel it in the air when the season changes; the air gets crisper and cooler, the leaves change colors and then fall off. The holiday season has come to life just as quickly as everyone’s cravings for hot cocoa and pecan pie. In these 3 Holiday blogs, I am going to reveal some of the greatest and simplest tricks to avoidi falling victim to the holiday munchies. I will also include some recipes that will allow you to indulge without post-holiday guilt. It is very important to remember that winter will be gone just as quickly as it came, and it will be swim suit season before you know it!

1. Surviving “The Holiday Party”
Whether it is a Christmas party, or a Thanksgiving party, or a New Years party, the temptation for delicious and fattening foods will be overwhelming. It is very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a party and begin to mindlessly and recklessly eat. You may think “well, he/she is eating this, so I guess I can too,” or “well, it is the holidays so I guess I deserve to eat what I want.” Both of these thoughts are reckless. Just because you see someone eating something does not mean that you can or should do the same. That person could be running marathons for all you know! The point is, making assumptions like that is not a good idea.
Here are two great ways to ward off temptation, or at least diminish it. One, snack before the party. Two, bring a healthy dish to the party. Snack before the party on foods that you know are healthy. You will be fuller and less likely to overeat. Good snack ideas are ones that are filling and include some protein – cut veggies and hummus or Greek yogurt and fruit. Never go to a holiday party starving! You don’t want to feel desperate. Offering to bring food is a great idea too. For example – crudité, fruit salad or spinach salad. Be proactive and bring something that is healthy and you enjoy eating. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can also ask the host what food will be at the party. This will help you plan ahead. Planning ahead is key!

— December 14th, 2014

Is juicing right for you? By Oliver Wolf

If you have been reading these articles and are still wondering it juice cleansing is right for you, this final article was written to help with just that. Below I have listed some questions to serve as guidelines and help you as you read through and decide:

1. Is your diet low in fruits and vegetables?
2. Do you have the funds to drink these high calorie drinks?
3. Do you have the calories to spare?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, I would highly recommend not going on a juice fast.

Below are a few things to keep in mind while making your decision:
1. Our bodies do not recognized liquid calories as well as solid ones.
2. It is not healthy to swap out juices for other major nutrients (dairy, fat, protein).
3. A 200 calorie juice (high in vitamins and minerals) vs. 200 calorie snack of yogurt and fruit (high in fiber, calcium, protein). Which is really better for you?
4. Are you doing this to ‘cleanse’ and ‘reset’ your body? Because if so, you have the wrong idea about juice cleanses. You can do the same thing that juice cleanses claim to do (in a healthier way) by eating fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. Or go once a juice cleanse, but add a little salmon, eggs, and nuts to the juices to balance it out.

I asked Emily Murray, MS, RD, LDN if she personally juiced and she said, “When I am on vacation or traveling and all I have eaten is small sides salads – I miss vegetables. I happily supplement my diet with a mega vegetable juice. But when I am home, I like to chew my food and nutrients. Spinach in omelets or a handfuls of cherry tomatoes is my preferred choice for getting my veggies.”

— November 24th, 2014

The pros and cons of “juicing” by Oliver Wolf

Does this recent trend actually have health benefits, or is it all just hype? Like most fad diets, it has both pros and cons. I actually tried a three day cleanse myself, so I can speak from firsthand experience.

First, the pros. Juicing is a quick and simple way do douse your body with the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it craves through concentrated amounts of fruits and vegetables. These drinks also lack ingredients you would want to avoid like bad fats, added salts, and sugars. Juice cleansing can also be a great way to “reset” your body right before you plan on making a big dietary change. This is why juice fasting is wildly popular at the beginning of each year. Juice cleansing directly correlates with New Years resolutions. Lastly, I’ll admit that while on my cleanse, I did feel reenergized and revitalized.

Now, the cons. Firstly, juice cleanses are expensive. A three day cleanse from BluePrint was over $200. The known pricey-ness of juice cleansing is more than likely one of the reasons it is so popular. It is the newest status symbol. Another con is that these juice cleanses aren’t even healthy to sustain more than three days. Although your body is getting some great things, cold pressed juices are missing some very important nutrients. (Most notably fiber.) I also find the juice cleanse weight loss debacle a con. Yes, if you go on a juice cleanse you will more than likely lose weight (I lost about 2.5 lbs.), but you will shortly gain it back. I spoke with Melissa Harrison from The Renfrew Center in Philadelphia (a very influential eating disorder center) who spoke avidly against juice cleanses as a means of weight loss. She also stated that doing a juice cleanse will make someone “more likely to binge eat” after completing the cleanse. Ms. Harrison also spoke on the increased dangers of juice fasting for people with eating disorders. My final con is that some of the claims made by juice cleanse companies are not proven to be true. These companies state that their products “detoxify” the body, getting rid of toxins and bad chemicals. All though this sounds great, it has yet to be proven. Dr. Eve Wollman, MD gave me her insight on the matter from a medical perspective saying that “our bodies are self-sufficient and don’t need to be ‘detoxed’. Unless there is something inside of you that isn’t functioning properly, the organs and immune system can clean itself.” Franks Sacks, MD, of Harvard School of Public Health says that the idea that the body needs help getting rid of toxins has “no basis in human biology.” Liz Schlagel, certified ISSA trainer offered an interesting counter-argument by saying that “although our bodies are built to be self-sufficient, these new man-made chemicals are still relatively unknown to our bodies. [Our bodies] aren’t used to dealing with all the junk we have grown accustom to consuming.” Although, Ms. Schlagel scoffed at the idea that juice cleansing alone can sufficiently cross-cancel all the crap we ingest. The only way to rid your body of toxins is to consistently stop ingesting them.

Overall, the cons definitely outweigh the pros for most people. Juice cleansing can be psychologically a great way to “reset”, but only if you do so in tandem to making a greater nutritional change in your life. But because the top nutritional claims by juice cleanse companies aren’t yet proven, these cleanses are just an expensive gimmick that is being bought into by myriad people hoping to keep up with the latest health trends.

— November 12th, 2014

Why is “juicing” a recent trend? By Oliver Wolf

It is a little known fact that fad diets have been around since the Victorian era. The first widely acknowledged fad diet was the “Vinegar & Water Diet” made famous by Lord Byron in the 1820’s. Since then, many of these diets have come and gone. From the “Grapefruit Diet” of 1934 to the “Sleeping Beauty Diet” of 1976 (where the individual is put into a medically induced coma to lose weight), these trendy and radical diets have been around for a while. There are still reports of modern-day people swallowing tapeworms in desperate attempts to lose some weight. The extent to which people will go to drop a few pounds is absolutely astonishing! It seems fair to say that juice cleansing is the new fad diet of the moment. The first real juicing service to be opened was Liquiteria Juice Bar, opened in 1996 by Doug Green in New York City. When Liquiteria first opened, juicing was quite taboo.

Since then, juicing has taken off, generating numerous imitators hoping to join in on the success. There are now dozens of rapidly expanding juice brands, promising a natural and healthy lifestyle through their cold pressed, and pricy juices. People around the country are starting to stock their fridges with these $10, brightly colored bottles of juice. Copying what they see in the media, children as young as six years old have been reportedly indulging in these exorbitant drinks. A swarm of celebrities have helped lead the way for the juice cleanse frenzy that is sweeping the country. Gwyneth Paltrow, Ryan Seacrest, and Megan Fox along with many of Hollywood’s other top A-listers are now juicing fasting. Part of this hype is just the fame and fortune obsessed society we live in buying into this latest trend. These fashionable beverages are hyped to bring health, but end up bringing only the allure of financial superiority along with an uneven showering of nutrients.

The main question is: Why now? Why are juice cleanses the trend now? My answer would be that juice cleansing meets the ever changing needs of the modern day person. The modern day person is busy, moving around from appointment to appointment. They have to juggle everything while trying to eat the right food for their bodies. They are looking for ways to get healthy food that can be taken with them as they zoom about their day. Not only that, but they are looking for a way to get this food quickly. Juice cleanses fit this need perfectly.

— November 5th, 2014

What is “juicing” and “juice cleansing/fasting?” Blog by Oliver Wolf

What is “juicing” and “juice cleansing/fasting?”

Juice cleanses are the newest craze. Companies everywhere are now cold pressing pounds of fruits and vegetables into compact bottles of juice. Sales in home juicers have been going up now that juicing is undoubtedly taking over.

In the next 4 blogs, I will be using three terms that I would like to define. The first word that I will be using is “juicing” which simply means the process of extracting juice from a fruit or vegetable. Therefore, when someone says, “I like to juice” or “I juice” this has a wide spectrum of meaning. This person could be an avid juicer – making a juice at home including 10 different fruits and vegetables daily. Alternatively it can mean, in the last year this person has purchased a beverage that included a fruit or vegetable.

The other terms are “juice cleanse” and “juice fast.”. These words are synonymous so I will be using them interchangeably. A “juice cleanse/fast” means going on an all juice diet for a certain period of time with hopes of achieving a higher level of nutrition. Many juice cleanses can be made for you and sent to your door on a date of your choice. You can select a level of intensity and how many days you want to go on the cleanse. The average cleanse consists of about six juices a day with ingredients like kale, lemon, beets, pineapple, mint, cayenne pepper, and cashews. A BluePrint “green drink” has about six pounds of produce!

Part of the allure of juice cleanses is their convenience. These juicing companies have manufactured products that have flawlessly adapted to fit the modern day desire to be healthy while still maintaining a jam packed schedule. These juices make it easier to get vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants anywhere you are. The appeal of unscrewing a cap and chugging a juice instead of eating fruits and vegetables is overwhelming. On the darker side of juice cleansing, most juice cleanses average only 1,000 calories a day. That’s 50% of the average recommend daily calorie intake. Because juice cleanses are so low in calories, weight loss is inevitable. These juices are high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals but are lacking in other areas. Juice cleanses are deficient in major macro nutrients – protein, fat, calcium and iron. For example, a BluePrint ‘Renovation’ cleanse only provides 16 grams of protein, 19 grams of fat, and 5 grams of fiber each day. These levels are extremely unsafe.

I went on a three day BluePrint cleanse before writing this, so I can speak from example. My personal experience with juice cleansing was pretty mixed. My first day on the cleanse was absolute misery. Most of the juices tasted disgusting and I almost quit the cleanse the evening of that first day. The second and third days were great! I felt energized, the juices tasted great, and I had a healthy glow. It wasn’t until after I completed the cleanse that I realized that the reason the juices tasted so good the second and third days was because my body was in starvation mode. Drastically reducing my calories and depriving my body of protein and fat put my body in “starvation mode.” I was so desperate for nourishment that even the most disgusting of concoctions would have tasted delicious. My body was letting out a cry for help. It was this understanding that lead to my ambivalence about juice fasting and into eventually writing these articles.

In my next blog, I hope to provide a better understanding of what juice fasting is, why it’s popular, the pros and cons, and the key take away of this new and mesmerizing trend.

By Oliver Wolf

Oliver Wolf is a junior at Friends Central School and has a keen interest in nutrition and healthy lifestyle. With Emily Murray’s MS, RD, LDN support he will be writing nutrition blogs about current topics. Hope you enjoy.

— October 29th, 2014

Cereals: What to Look For

Is it just me or is the cereal aisle getting larger? A dizzying array of cereals is on display at the grocery store, most brands claiming that they are nutritionally superior to the others. Read these tips before your next trip to the store. Remember to look up and down in the cereal aisle. The shelf space at eye level usually is reserved for the less healthful, but more heavily marketed brands.

What to look for
Here is what to look for in a cereal, according to the Nutrition Action Healthletter, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest:

  • 8 grams (g) of sugar or less/serving, if the cereal contains 3 g or less of fiber/serving
  • 16 g or less of sugar/serving, if the cereal contains 5 g or more of fiber/serving Note: raisin bran contains 20 g of sugar/serving and is the exception to the rule—still a great choice)
  • Instant hot cereals should contain no more than 100-150 milligrams (mg) of sodium/serving

When shopping for cereal, read the labels rather than relying on the product’s marketing claims.

Cereals containing yogurt: Beware of cereals that claim that they contain “yogurt” and are a “good or excellent source of calcium.” This yogurt is often a combination of sugar, palm kernel oil (a saturated fat), and dried nonfat yogurt. The calcium does not come from this mixture and is added to the product.

Serving sizes: Make sure to check the serving sizes when comparing cereals. Many manufacturers play with the numbers to make it appear that their cereal is superior to other similar brands, when in fact the other cereal’s portion size is just bigger.

Source of fiber: Check the label for the source of fiber. Isolated fibers, including inulin, maltodextrin, oat fiber, soy fiber, modified wheat starch, sugarcane fiber, and polydextrose may not improve regularity, decrease cholesterol, or improve blood glucose levels the way that intact, natural fiber does.

Real fruit: Do not trust cereals that state that they contain “real fruit.” Read the labels carefully. For instance, the berries in Special K® are actually dyed and flavored apple pieces, and the blueberries in Quaker® Take Heart® cereal contains corn syrup, blueberry flavoring, oil, dried figs, and food dyes.

Sugar: Know that sugar is sugar, whether it is maple syrup, honey, cane juice, etc. Watch for claims such as “naturally sweetened,” All sugar is natural—it is a plant.

Cholesterol free: Ignore labels proclaiming that a cereal is “cholesterol free.” Of course it is, only animal products contain cholesterol.

Hydrogenated oil: Avoid any cereal that contains the words “hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list.

Reduced sugar: Do not assume that all cereals that are labeled “reduced sugar” are lower in calories. This is not always the case.

Multigrain: Watch for this very misleading term. It does not necessarily mean that the cereal is made from whole grains or that it contains a decent amount of fiber. Read the ingredient list to see whether or not your cereal is really made from whole grains. Whole grain should be listed first. Remember that whole grains are not necessarily high in fiber.

— April 24th, 2014