Tag Archives: diet

Data Entry While You Sleep

I want this:

The FitBit

The Fitbit. Attaches anywhere, measures everything. Calories burned in your rocking chair. Miles traveled up and down your staircase. Percentage of sleep that was uninterrupted. (Why limit OCD to your waking hours?)

The thing uploads your data, anytime you walk within 15 feet of the base station. (And it doesn’t make you subscribe to MobileMe.) It just gives you lots of pretty charts and graphs.

You can even make it a nutrition journal, if you have the discipline to write down every single thing that you eat. Supposedly that’s very revealing.

Does it come with an intern to wear it around for you?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Et Al.

Horses smell good
Horses smell good

Have you ever wondered if your shampoo is poisoning your brain? Did you know Downy contains horse fat? Do you care if your soap was packaged in a sweat shop?

It’s overwhelming, trying to keep ingredients and brands sorted out. There was a great web page a while ago called “Everything Gives You Cancer,” but I can’t find it anymore. They had a wallet card that I always meant to print out, which showed the most common toxic ingredients to look out for. (Sodium lauryl sulfate is the only one I remember — it’s in most shampoos.) So then, I could justify twelve-dollar lavender-mint shampoo as saving me from brain surgery.

Happily, GoodGuide is here. ‘Cause we all want to be good. Or at least green. (Because, remember: “…evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.”) They assess “natural”, “green”, and “organic” products according to their health hazard, environmental impact, and social impact. It’s in beta, so the data is … meta? They are taking suggestions on how to improve their rankings. We’ll keep you posted on breaking shampoo news as it develops.

Pesticides in Produce: The 12 Most Important Organic Purchases

My friend and I were talking about nutrition this weekend, as I am wont to do, and the price of organic food came up. Here in New York, where a small box of shredded wheat is often $7, it’s hard to conceive of committing to an even more expensive lifestyle. (I’ve seen some marketing articles saying that moms are a big target for organic corporations, because they will buy only the best for their baby, even if they won’t for themselves.)

There’s rising awareness that all food is not created equal. Michael Palin, in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, reminded us that organic foods are more full of nutrients and less full of pesticides. For anyone on a budget, however, the prices are hard to resolve.

One thing that helped me was to hear that certain fruits and vegetables are not as important to buy organic. It’s not a black-and-white situation! Whew! (I’m queen of the gray area.) Fleshy fruits and vegetables absorb more pesticides, so you want to buy those organic. Hard-skinned ones, you can go for cheap.

I found a great wallet card from the Environmental Working Group, here’s their list:

DIRTY DOZEN: (buy these organic)

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Lettuce
  9. Grapes (imported)
  10. Pears
  11. Spinach
  12. Potatoes
CLEANEST 12: (can buy conventional)

  1. Onions
  2. Avocado
  3. Corn (frozen)
  4. Pineapples
  5. Mango
  6. Peas (frozen)
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi
  9. Bananas
  10. Cabbage
  11. Broccoli
  12. Eggplant

So I can skip the $4 organic broccoli at my local Key Foods.

You can download the wallet card, or get more information at www.foodnews.org. Here’s their explanation:

Why Should You Care About Pesticides?
There is growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can adversely affect people, especially during vulnerable periods of fetal development and childhood when exposures can have long lasting effects. Because the toxic effects of pesticides are worrisome, not well understood, or in some cases completely unstudied, shoppers are wise to minimize exposure to pesticides whenever possible.

What’s the Difference?
An EWG simulation of thousands of consumers eating high and low pesticide diets shows that people can lower their pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent by avoiding the top twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead. Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to about 14 pesticides per day, on average. Eating the 12 least contaminated will expose a person to less than 2 pesticides per day. Less dramatic comparisons will produce less dramatic reductions, but without doubt using the Guide provides people with a way to make choices that lower pesticide exposure in the diet.

Will Washing and Peeling Help?
Nearly all of the data used to create these lists already considers how people typically wash and prepare produce (for example, apples are washed before testing, bananas are peeled). While washing and rinsing fresh produce may reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

Your Body Type in Ayurveda

My sister and I were talking about the three body types (doshas) in Ayurveda, and I wrote a long response to her, so I thought I’d share it here. She said “I’m not quite sure how to balance the food suggestions. It seems like foods okay for Vata are not ok for Pitta. According to any of the surveys or tests I’ve taken, I’m under 10% Kapha. What does that mean? Is the goal 33:33:33?”

It’s kind of confusing at first. But let’s say you’re 60:30:10 Vata:Pitta:Kapha. Your goal is to stay 60:30:10. You would be considered a Vata-Pitta type, in modern Ayurveda they break it into 10 types not just three. V, P, K, VP, PV, VK, KV, PK, KP, and VPK. But everyone has a little of all three; 100% or 1/3 of each is very rare. So look for food recommendations for Vata-Pitta, not Vata and Pitta. Maya Tiwari’s book has detailed food charts.

Dosha means “thing which goes out of balance”, so they are always getting slightly unbalanced through food and lifestyle, and we bring them back in balance through the same. For example, Vata likes and does well with sweet flavors, they will keep Vata in balance. But if we overdo it, eat too much sweet, we get overly Vata (anxious and worried). If you took a dosha test at that point, you might think you’re 80% Vata, but really you just have a Vata imbalance. (Vata is the element which gets most frequently out of balance btw). Or if you have a job where you’re on the phone all the time, making deadlines, overachieving, that would push your Pitta. So part of it is figuring out what your natural, healthy state is. But even this “permanent” dosha blend can change over time, if you change environments or other major elements of your life.

It’s just a nice, kind of poetic way to see some more lifestyle causes and effects. For example, the parts of the day rotate through the doshas.

6am – 10am is Kaphic, it is cold and wet, Pittas are calmed down while Vatas/Kaphas don’t want to get out of bed
10am – 2pm is Pittic, it is hot and sunny, best time for work or eating, but Pittas might overheat
2pm – 6pm is Vatic, it is clear and light, we can be stimulated or frazzled, good to think and reflect
6pm – 10pm is Kaphic, it is dark and cool, good for relaxing and slowing down
10pm – 2am is Pittic, if we stay up past 10 we often get a second wind that keeps us up til 2 (why Ayurveda says retire at 10)
2am – 6am is Vatic, clear and cold, best time to meditate

So you might notice your energy is different at different times of day.

Fall pushes Vatas out of balance, too (they don’t like the cold and wind cause they are that way already). So have a good autumn!

Athletes, Vegetarians, Trolls


Here’s a great article, lots of perspectives, on athletes who have chosen to go vegan (to various degrees):
Who Says You Have to Eat Meat to Be a Successful Athlete?

I’m not vegan (I did it for nine months but I hadn’t birthed Jesus so I cut it out), but I’ve been various forms of vegetarian since the end of 2000. For me it’s an anti-factory-farming stance, and an aid to meditation. I’m not as serious on the latter yet, I still eat onions, eggs, coffee and all sorts of supposedly disruptive things. But reading Mad Cowboy in college killed any taste for industrial food.

There is also a Q&A with Rynn Berry, author of The Vegan Guide to New York City, on the NYT website, if you really want to see some people freak out about it:
Answers about the Vegan Lifestyle in New York