behavior · health · learning · psychology

There’s more to health than food, and there’s more to life than health – The Healthy Skeptic

New Zealand postage stamp, 1933: Public health.
Image via Wikipedia

Great post by Chris Kresser, also known as The Healthy Skeptic, although these days he’s just blogging under his name. Usually focusing how to be healthy by what food you put in your body, particularly for pregnant women, Kresser takes a step back and looks at the value of measuring overall health. Not just what you put in your body, but also how much sleep you get, how much stress is in your life, and if you make time for enriching activities.

“…it’s a mistake to assume that food is the only consideration that matters when it comes to health, and that all health problems can be solved simply by making dietary changes. Unfortunately, this seems to be an increasingly common assumption in the Paleo/Primal nutrition world these days.

I see a lot of people in my practice that have their nutrition completely dialed in, but don’t take care of themselves in other ways. Maybe they don’t manage their stress, they don’t exercise, or they don’t sleep well.

Even if this person eats a perfect diet, are they really healthy?

And what about the person who doesn’t eat particularly well, but sleeps like a baby, gets a massage a couple times a month, has a lot of fun, spends lots of time outdoors, and doesn’t have any health problems?”

more via There’s more to health than food, and there’s more to life than health.

It’s nice to see a holistic view when so many specialists only focus on one element of overall health.

What are some “blind” areas in your life? Areas where you ignore or neglect taking care of yourself?

behavior · community · health

Obesity crisis: Does a lack of grocery stores make poor neighborhoods fatter? | OregonLive

Kaassouffle
Image via Wikipedia

Interesting follow-up article to a post I linked to earlier this week about people creating “food corridors” in Olympia, WA; according to this study, simply installing grocery stores “oases” doesn’t solve the problem:

There was never much hard science linking the obesity epidemic to so-called food deserts – inner city neighborhoods lacking stores selling fresh produce. One of the largest relevant studies, published July 11, found that having a nearby supermarket or grocery made no difference in the amount of fruits and vegetables people ate or the overall quality of their diets.

Being surrounded by fast food restaurants was linked to more frequent fast food dining – but only among low-income men. In that group, a 1 percent increase in the number of nearby fast food outlets appeared to increase the number of weekly fast food meals by 0.13 percent to 0.34 percent. That’s not a huge difference, but the researchers concluded that their findings “provide some evidence for zoning restrictions on fast food restaurants.”

Study author Penny Gordon-Larsen, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Reuters Health that researchers need to do more work to understand how people make decisions about what to eat, and that improving eating habits is likely to require broad efforts including community education.

“It’s not simply enough to introduce a grocery store,” she said…

In more bluntly stated commentary, the Economist asserts that the focus on food retailers may be misguided: “Open a full-service supermarket in a food desert and shoppers tend to buy the same artery-clogging junk food as before–they just pay less for it. The unpalatable truth seems to be that some Americans simply do not care to eat a balanced diet, while others, increasingly, cannot afford to.”

more via Obesity crisis: Does a lack of grocery stores make poor neighborhoods fatter? | OregonLive.com.

I think the Economist may have a point; if people are used to eating a certain way, and don’t understand the value of eating fresh fruits and veggies over cheaper-less-healthful foods, then they won’t stop buying soda and chips, mainly because they are usually cheaper and taste better stronger.

behavior · brain · happiness · health · Me · mental health

June is “Me” month

Cardio Boxing Group Fitness Class
This month, kick your self-maintenance into high gear! Image via Wikipedia

Interested in joining me for a little “me” time? How about a whole month of it?

My mother and I have decided that for June, 2011, we are going to be totally self-centered. That’s right, we are going to focus entirely on ourselves; our health, our mental wellness, our physical fitness, taking time for ourselves, and figuring out what we want out of life. Neither one of us is very good at this kind of self-focused behavior, so it will be an interesting experiment to see if we can both pull it off.

So far I have done pretty good: I woke up early and did a productive, challenging workout, I have eaten quite healthy meals (oatmeal with raisins and a tuna salad, thank you very much!), did not spend an exhorbitant amount of time at work, tidied up some stuff online I’ve been meaning to do, finally asked my boss about a couple of nagging issues, and am planning to spend time doing fun stuff with my husband before going to bed at a reasonable hour. I actually started a day early yesterday and bought new clothes (some new, some new-to-me) that made me look and feel good, and had a decent dinner. Pretty good track record for only a day and a half.

I invite everyone to join me for “Me” month. If you can’t do a whole month, maybe choose a week. Or even one day a week. This isn’t about indulging in your every whim or being hedonistic or a narcissist. It’s about taking care of yourself for an extended period of time. Getting enough sleep. Eating healthy food, and not too much. Moving around, getting exercise. Figuring out who and what you want to spend more time on and DOING it!

We all have things we could be better at for self-maintenance, and often we take a lopsided approach. Some people focus entirely on what they put in their bodies, some only focus on how their body or mind performs, paying no attention to the other side. But we are all one big giant package of tissue and firing neurons, and all of it needs to be taken care of, not just the muscles OR the brain OR some other feature (your hair?).

Recently I asked what your deathbed regrets would be, so think of this as the next step: what can you do today to take better care of yourself, to make sure you don’t have those regrets, or at least delay that deathbed a bit more? I know some very healthy, well-rounded people, so I’m curious to see what they secretly think they need to work on.

Take some time to think about what your body and mind really need, unless you already know, and leave it in the comments below.

community · culture · education · environment · health · Nature

Urban farming in NYC

Just read about this cool example of urban farming: Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in good ol’ New York City.

From the site:

On the shoreline of the East River and with a sweeping view of the Manhattan skyline, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is a 6,000 square foot green roof organic vegetable farm located atop a warehouse rooftop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.During New York City’s growing season, the farmers at Eagle Street Rooftop Farm supply a community supported agriculture (CSA) program, an onsite farm market, and bicycle fresh produce to area restaurants.

In partnership with food education organization Growing Chefs, the rooftop farm hosts a range of farm-based educational and volunteer programs.

 

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm offers educational programming in partnership with Growing Chefs: Food Education from Field to Fork.

 

 

They also offer talks, events (today was their annual pie eating contest!), and other ways to engage with urban farming. If you live anywhere near there, go check it out; it is amazing to see a true working farm in action, and to see it done in an urban environment is really exciting. Although, you might want to wait until the weather isn’t, you know, freezing!, to go visit:

The Farm is a bit windy & chilly this time of year, so we’re waiting ’til spring for visits.  To register for a workshop, contact us Education@RooftopFarms.org.

What a great way to learn about where your food comes from, and it’s healthier and fresher since it doesn’t have to travel as far or receive so many pesticides or preservatives for transport. And apparently these urban farms are now popping up all over the United States; check out some of the links below to read about other city’s urban farms. Eat up!

 

anthropology · behavior · culture · health

Americans Falsely Believe Their Diet Is Healthy : Discovery News

Macro photograph of a pile of sugar (saccharose)
Magnified sugar crystals. Image via Wikipedia

So much for my New Year’s Resolution “Eat Healthier,”  and good reminder that it’s all relative; although, in my defense, my definition of healthy may be a little more stringent than the average American:

Nine in 10 Americans say their diet is healthy but only a quarter limit the amount of fat or sugar they eat, and two-thirds don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables, a poll published Tuesday found.

“Americans tend to give themselves high marks for healthy eating, but when we asked how many sugary drinks, fatty foods, and fruits and veggies they consumed, we found that their definition of healthy eating was questionable,” said Nancy Metcalf of Consumer Reports Health, which conducted the poll.

Of the 1,234 American adults polled, 89.7 percent said their diet was “somewhat” (52.6 percent), “very” (31.5 percent), or “extremely” healthy (5.6 percent).

more at Americans Falsely Believe Their Diet Is Healthy : Discovery News.

It’s really disturbing just how much credit we give ourselves… we also all tend to consider ourselves “above average” in many categories.