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Tag Archive | "food"

Fitsmi radio: Do food ads control what you eat?!

Fitsmi radio: Do food ads control what you eat?!

Rather unintentionally, I watched Consuming Kids & blogged about kids & food advertising on the same day that the lovely Fitsmi featured on their bi-weekly radio program Yale University professor Dr. Jennifer Harris, who specializes in the effects of advertising on public health. It was a fantastic half hour of talk, with host Abby Ellin posing great questions, including on my favorite topic the SHEER WILLPOWER DIET, with thoughtful response from Dr. Harris.

Because the Internet is nifty, I am embedding the program here for you to take a listen.

Listen to internet radio with Abby Ellin on Blog Talk Radio

What do you think? Is there a solution to food advertising to kids? Are you a parent who feels the effects of this in your own life?

Posted in Advertising, Fat in the MediaComments (0)

Word choice, branding & the lady dieter

Word choice, branding & the lady dieter

This morning, I received an email announcement that my company, which often provides employees with free healthy living tools, was giving away samples of thinkThin bars. They are nutritional supplements, essentially protein bars, for people who “care about what they eat.”

It annoyed me, a lot. I noodled on it a moment. Then it hit me: why are these nutritional bars called thinkThin?

Why not thinkHealthy? Or thinkFit? (I think that second one is, in fact, quite catchy).

I’ll tell you why: they want to market these bars to women, and what better way to do that than to use the very gendered, stigmatized “t” word — Thin.  Eat our bar! It’ll make you thin! Imagine they were trying to market these to men (or both genders)… they would NOT be called thinkThin bars, because men don’t strive to be thin. Men want to be seen as strong and fit.

This, I think is sad: why not name the bar thinkFit and market it to women anyway? Help to reinforce the Healthy At Any Size movement in health-conscious women. Divorce your protein bar from body shaming. Is that so crazy?

Here is how thinkThin describes their product line:

The thinkThin® product family is a healthy solution for your busy day. Whatever else the day holds in store, our natural energy bars provide a simple and satisfying high protein snack without the punishing side effects of sugar and gluten to support weight wellness and a vibrant, active lifestyle.

Look at some of those buzz words — healthy, natural energy, satisfying, active lifestyle. But then, also, weight wellness and the clearly gendered copy (you will not see anything marketed to men that mentions their “busy day”). But this company seems to have the best of intentions… so why the fail!branding?

To my mind, products like this reinforce thin = good; fat = bad, instead of Healthy At Any Size. The bar is a nutritional supplement, to boot, so the aim is to make a “smart,” healthy choice. But for women, too often, that arena is boiled down to “you want to be thin, don’t you?” Thin is NOT synonymous with healthy!

I’m not as easily rankled when it comes to “indulgence” brands, such as Skinny Cow. In fact, I think that brand name is quite clever, particularly because Skinny Cow is a dairy product, so the milk association is an apt double play on words. When I hear the name, I don’t think “Skinny Cow thinks my fat ass needs to lose weight.” Women of all sizes who like ice cream but don’t want full fat/sugar can enjoy Skinny Cow. (that said, ‘skinny’ is not my favorite word)

Word choice matters. It may not seem like a big deal to name a bar thinkThin, but it’s little things like this that add up — where do you think people (and especially women) get their obsessive WOMEN MUST BE THIN diet mentality? Generally, I take exception to such gendered diet words, which reinforce thin = good; fat = bad, as well as the fallacious “there’s a [better] skinny person trapped inside of me” mentality. (can’t the fat person you are be awesome, too?)

I considered this when choosing my blog name. At first, I weighed plays on words like thin, skinny, even fat (trying to divorce it from its pejorative meaning). I decided that, ultimately, using a size-specific, loaded diet word wouldn’t be true to me (and thanks to my friend Robin for having a frank discussion with me about it). I settled on curvy which, despite being gendered, doesn’t carry the same size-specific connotations as some other words. I didn’t want to be a “healthy nutritional supplement” (ha!) that nonetheless reinforced loaded (gendered!) body standards via my name. Words matter. Branding matters.

What do you think? Have you seen brands marketed to women that made your blood boil? Do you have dieting buzz words that you hate?

(and please note, I’m sure thinkThin bars are lovely. But in the context of a branding discussion, they are failsauce on the feminism & fat scale)

Posted in Advertising, Fat in the Media, Food, Gender Politics & FeminismComments (12)

Friend Making Monday: What’s In Your Fridge?

I love this week’s Friend Making Monday over at All The Weigh. I actually *just* went grocery shopping with the cheap-produce wizards Heidi & Tom, so my fridge actually has food in it :)

FMM: What’s in Your Fridge?

1.) List a few common items that can always be found in your fridge.
Laughing Cow cheese, grape jelly (for PB&J), a Fresh & Easy curry bowl, creamer for my coffee, Fage Greek yogurt (usually strawberry flavor), fruit of some kind (varies by season), Brita pitcher. And in my FREEZER: VitaTops, Weight Watchers meals, frozen strawberries, steam cook corn, Haagan Dazs vanilla yogurt & raspberry sorbet swirl.

2.) What kind of milk do you drink?
In a perfect world, whole milk… but as I wrote last week, adult onset lactose intolerance kind of killed my milk consumption. I’ve experimented with soy and almond milk — I like soy but never drink it fast enough. Currently the only milk-dairy product in my fridge is half & half for my coffee. Woe, I miss milk.

3.) Do you prefer fresh or frozen vegetables?
I far prefer fresh. I grew up only eating fresh vegetables, which I now realize is a pretty lucky thing. While they are readily accessible to me, living alone they just aren’t practical — I don’t eat fresh vegetables fast enough! So now I have some go-to frozen vegetables, including steamer bags of corn & green beans, that I do in the microwave. That said, I miss fresh and am going to get back to them this summer. I need some brussel sprouts in my life, stat.

4.) What do you currently have to drink in the fridge?
Waterrrrrr. I love water, and it has been my go-to beverage for as long as I can remember. My Brita pitcher is one of my most beloved possessions. Since moving to L.A., I’ve been dressing up my water with Crystal Light because L.A. water has a slightly funny taste even after filtering (sorry L.A., but it’s true!), but as far as my fridge is concerned, water is the only beverage in there. I don’t drink juice or soft drinks at home.

5.) How often do you clean out your refrigerator?
Ummmm, not often enough? I’m terrible at this. TERRIBLE. It’s probably once every three to four weeks but really should be every other week. I’m a terrible human being. (I also live alone, which explains a lot)

6.) What’s the healthiest thing in it right now?
Fruitapalooza! I have a megaton of Coachella grapes in there right now. Just thinking about them is making me hungry. Close second: Trader Joes white bean hummus yummmmm.

7.) What’s the most unhealthy thing in it right now?
Chocolate. A vendor gave me a box of chocolates at my work function on Wednesday, and I’ve been keeping the box in the fridge. I’m controlling myself, but, yeah… they’re in there!

8.) What do you wish you had in it that you don’t have now?
Watermelon. I mainline watermelon like it’s crack cocaine. I got some on Friday and devoured it by Saturday. I WANT MOAR.

9.) How often do you shop for groceries?
Every three to four days. Because I go to Fresh & Easy, where almost nothing has preservatives and all the ready-meals & fruit have expiration dates, I only shop a few days at a time and buy what I can carry (since I walk there). It can be a hassle, BUT I know I’m eating well. I’m living the way I did when I was in Europe, and it’s an awesome way to control food — only have in the house what you can reasonably consume!

What’s the weirdest thing in your fridge right now?
I don’t think I have anything that fits that description, unless you count the chocolate (it’s really weird for me to have ANY chocolate in my house).

Posted in Food, Meta/PersonalComments (3)

Food Pyramid = Out; Food Plate = IN!

Food Pyramid = Out; Food Plate = IN!

The USDA and Michelle Obama have unveiled a new guideline for daily nutrition. Buh-bye bread-heavy Food Pyramid, helloooo “My Plate.”


Balancing Calories

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce

  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Wellllllll, not so fast, USDA! Can I just say: don’t hate on whole milk! If you’re promoting these guidelines for kids & women, a little whole milk goes a LONG way. Fat in milk = good fat, in moderation. I may be a fat kid, but I’m also a woman with fantabulous birthing hips (= healthy fat, once slimmer), and great teeth. Thanks, lifetime of whole milk! (though in small quantities – 1-2 servings a week)

Some pro-whole milk links:

Whole milk increases fertility!

Kids should whole milk until at least age 2, for healthy brain/nerve development

A pro-whole milk “natural fats” blog post

If you’re steadfastly anti-whole milk (many abhor the taste), at least drink 2%. I find pushing only fat free and 1% slightly dubious, especially for children. If you’re going to have a Milk Platform — go anti-flavored milk! Now THERE’S where we have a problem with children and milk.

Also, call me a skepticy-skeptic, but I think there’s still a bit too much emphasis on grains. Sure, you can ask people to “at least make them whole grains,” but come on – will that actually happen? Methinks schools will still insist on giving kids two servings of bread at lunch, which is CRAY-CRAY. I would have pushed more protein.

Of course, I don’t follow “food guidelines” such as this. Mostly, the question is how this new plate will effect kids and school lunch programs (to my mind). What do you think? Improvement on the Pyramid? A useless gesture? Emphasis in the wrong places?

Let’s discuss!

Posted in Food, NutritionComments (5)

When the things you used to eat just don’t taste good anymore

When the things you used to eat just don’t taste good anymore

Last night, I went to Outback Steakhouse for the first time in more than a year and  a half. I haven’t lived in a place that had Outbacks for quite sometime, and even though I’d eye-balled the one in Glendale a few times since I moved here, I didn’t have a strong hankering to go. Last night, however, before my friends and I saw Scream 4, we needed a place to eat dinner (and BOTH of our initial choices had shutdown – WTF!). Post-weigh-in and coming off a week of lean-and-mean eating, I decided to have a little “hurrah” (haters gonna hate, but sometimes, YES, I eat a big ole hamburger & fries… WITH MAYO).

I got the “Bloomin’ Burger,” which I’ve had before and recalled as something I liked. It’s your bog-standard burger, topped with American cheese, the Bloomin’ Onion fried onion strips and their aioli dipping  sauce. I LOVE the Bloomin’ Onion but cannot bring myself to order it, now that I know how many Points it is. It’s BRUTAL. I thought the burger would be a good middle point. To add terror to your meal, Outback (in California, at least) has added calorie counts to the menu. It was actually helpful — it reminded me that I could save some cals by ordering mine with no cheese (I don’t really like cheeseburgers) and I went in completely aware that I was eating about 800 calories more than I should in a day.

But a beautiful thing happened. I’ve experienced this before, and it’s almost always a welcome occurrence — when I ate this thing that in the past I’ve thoughtlessly shoved into my mouth going OM NOM NOM, but this time – it just wasn’t that great! That is not to say it wasn’t “good” — it was a burger, and I ate it, but after months of eating high-quality burgers, and more or less eliminating grease and fat from my diet, this one tasted mostly like salty meat, with some onion things on top. The french fries were soggy, too. (the Diet Coke, however, as EXCELLENT! XD) My friend Emily actually won the prize of “amazing will power over food” — she also got the burger and it didn’t work for her, so she didn’t eat it. Emily = you are my HERO! <3

I’m happy whenever this happens — a food item I’ve worked up in my mind either isn’t as good as I remembered, or my tastes have changed to a degree that it’s just not good to ME anymore. I know now that I don’t need to go to places like Outback for their burgers and fries. They’re just not “Points worthy” anymore. This, I think, is a fantastic piece of progress.

I am 100% NOT GUILTY that I ate the burger and fries, by the way. It wasn’t great, but it was fine, I ate it, and today I’m back to my normal routine.

I take this as part of the process. I’m not going cold turkey on these places and foods I’ve spent my life eating. I do my thing, I eat well, and then every once and a while I indulge. When it’s just not good anymore — or what I wanted — I don’t eat those things again. The best things rise to the top, and make it onto my “indulgence” list (everything I ever ate in France, I’m looking at you. Especially you, roast duck.).

I expect several more tests of this kind next week when I’m “home” in Atlanta. I will definitely be putting my fave Mexican restaurant to the test, as well as Jason’s Deli. I probably won’t be “testing” Southern fried food, though, because I just don’t think I can justify those Points! Progress marches on…

Posted in Food, RestaurantsComments (1)

What does a week without snacks look like?

What does a week without snacks look like?

I went grocery shopping last night, and about an hour after returning home, as I was half-way through my coconut curry bowl (yum), it occurred to me: I didn’t buy ANY snacks.

Houston, we have  a problem.

See, I am a snacker. In a bad way. I love anything crunchy & starchy – chips, crackers, rice cakes, poppadoms, pretzels, pita chips, popcorn, etc. I don’t eat “real” potato chips and haven’t since my first Weight Watchers stint in 1998 — save for short relapses in college and at my last job, I physically do not permit myself to pick up regular potato chips/snack foods (ie: Chex Mix, Bugles, Potato Skins), buy them and take them home. Why? Because I will eat the entire bag in one sitting. For the past few years, I’ve had special allowances — namely low-cal, baked snack foods from Trader Joes & (lately) Fresh & Easy — air popped, baked not fried — which I consume in batches throughout the week. I now snack like a semi-normal person, though I still eat more in one sitting than I’m sure is adviseable (sometimes 4-5 portions, or half a bag). But I don’t buy any bag that doesn’t have points I can’t handle, just in case I have a crazy binge…

But even that feels like cheating sometimes – I always have my “healthy” snacks around, but even those I tend to mindlessly eat. What would a week without baked chips, pretzels or cheese curls look like? Can I find other substitutes (whole wheat toast? carrots?) or could I learn to get through an evening without munch-crunching on something? Would a snack-free week show on the scale, or will the absence of my familiar friend lead to eating things I shouldn’t and a gain? Or maybe it would all be the same.

Maybe this is a SIGN. Perhaps my subconscious was telling me something? (or, more likely, my hand basket was really heavy and I wanted to put it down lol) I’m now on day four without a bag of snacky goodness in my house. Let’s see how long I can keep this up, and what a week without snacks (Saturday to Saturday) looks like…

(and if I do give in and buy some later in the week, I will forgive myself — I’m just curious to see how strong the impulse will be!)

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Weight & Inches