Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Weekly Review: Veganism

My week as a vegan!

So last week, I decided to give the whole super-healthy vegan thing a try, just to see if I would become one those super-humans who only eats plants and feels amazing all the time. I actually did stick to the vegan rules the whole time (ok, well almost), and there were some good things and bad things I think.

First, the good.

The best thing about trying to be a vegan was that it forced me to cook. Every night. I actually got home from work, opened the refrigerator and pulled out ingredients to make a meal! Crazy! Kevin usually does all the cooking, but eating vegan without him left me no choice. I found myself liking it a bit; there’s something intrinsically rewarding about pulling together a homemade meal that I really did enjoy. I certainly eat a more balanced diet when I make dinner for myself, rather than just eating hummus and pita chips for dinner.

Then, the bad.

I missed my dairy! I have a piece of string cheese and a yogurt for lunch every day and I sorely missed those. I tried to replace them with a Kind Bar and an apple, but it just wasn’t the same. Honestly, it was really hard to feel full. The tempeh tacos I made filled me up, but that’s about it. I always left dinner feeling not hungry, but not really satisfied. Plus, may I’m just not good at making vegan meals, but nothing tasted all that great. It wasn’t that things tasted bad, but just nothing that really satified me in a delicious way.

And, the ugly.

I craved everything I wasn’t supposed to eat. I hated feeling so restricted, and I know that for the future, it just isn’t how I want to live my life. I don’t like feeling that certain foods are off limits, and I don’t want to feel guilty all the time. I much prefer to think about adding good foods, rather than restricting foods. I did find some new foods I’d like to add to my diet, like hemp milk and tempeh, and I found new recipes I’ll keep in the rotation. However, I just couldn’t justify living within such a narrow restriction forever. Plus, I’d have to take vitamins, which I really hate.

I’d love to hear about any of your dietary adventures! Have any of you ever tried veganism or another radical change?

Guest Blog: Cancer and Nutrition

Please welcome guest blogger Jillian McKee, a Complimentary Medicine Advocate, to discuss proper nutrition when undergoing cancer and cancer treatment.

Cancer is a difficult situation for individuals, their family members and friends. However, eating nutritious food can help improve the quality of life during treatment, alleviate some symptoms, and offer strength and energy.

Nutrition Priorities

Eating healthy under normal circumstances is a good idea. Eating well when you have cancer is a priority, regardless of the type of cancer you may have, such as mesothelioma or any other type of cancer. Frame your eating plan around the following priorities:
            – Maintain a healthy weight
            – Promote muscle mass, strength, and energy
            – Find appealing foods that fit changing tastes and appetite levels

Nutrition Tips

Cancer patients may want to consult a registered dietitian to help find foods that are healthy and also easy to chew and digest.

Consider adding beverages, such as protein shakes, if eating meals becomes difficult. However drinking liquids during meals may increase nausea. A Stanford article suggests that cancer patients take medications with high calorie liquids or shakes. If your appetite is low, light exercise can help stimulate your appetite.

Choose foods high in protein in order to increase energy and maintain weight. Recommended levels of protein for cancer patients are approximately 45 to 60 grams daily. Foods high in protein include cheese, meat, peanut butter, eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, milk and dried beans.

Avoid spicy foods, overly hot or cold foods, and foods with strong odors. These can make food appear less appetizing and become more difficult to eat.

Nutrition Recommendations

Before beginning cancer treatment make sure that you have plenty of easy-to-eat foods available to you. When preparing food, make and store extras to be easily accessed later. The extras should also be easy to finish making, such as a few minutes in the microwave. If you are too tired to create food, ask friends or family to help cook and deliver meals to you while you are in treatment.

As always, remember to speak with your doctor to receive information on how to handle nutrition during and after cancer treatment.


Weekly Review: Your Morning Starbucks

To say that I love coffee would be quite an understatement; I begin each morning with a large cup, and I’m craving my second by 2 pm. Sometimes, I’ll even have a third after dinner. I know, I have a problem. But, I don’t think I’m alone in my glorious addiction to coffee. Did you know that Americans drink 1.4 (women) to 1.9 (men) cups of coffee per capita per day? And, just so I don’t have to feel too bad about my caffeine habits, among coffee drinkers, Americans consume 3.1 cups  of coffee per day (National Coffee Association).

Being the scientist that I am, I have often wondered, “Is this healthy?” Growing up, you may have been told that coffee will stunt your growth, which is why I waited so long to start (I am only 5’2.5″). But now people are starting to say good things about coffee; it’s full of antioxidants, it reduced depression and it may prevent cancer. Or it causes cancer (depends on which research you’re reading 🙂 ) So, I thought I would search through some of the current literature and give you all an update on where the scientific and medical community stands on your morning cup of joe.

The Good News: There are definitely benefits to regular coffee consumption, but do take note that the amount of coffee you consume and what you consume it with (do you take your coffee black or with cream and artificial sweetener?) may affect the potential health benefits. Long-term coffee consumption has been associated with a decreased risk of Type II diabetes, and in some cases a reversal or decrease in symptoms. Coffee may also be protective against certain types of cancer including pancreatic, endometrial and colorectal. The caffeine in coffee increases your cognitive function and may increase long term memory. There is also some preliminary evidence that long term coffee consumption may help prevent some of the signs of aging in the brain, due to it’s high anti-oxidant properties.

The Bad News: Coffee consumption may not be so great for your blood pressure and your heart. In people who had already been diagnosed with hypertension, drinking coffee elevated blood pressure for 2-3 hours after consumption. This may not seem like such a big deal, but if you have 2-3 cups throughout the day, you may be spending a great deal of your time with an elevated blood pressure. This could put you at an increased risk for heart disease. There have been several large studies trying to determine whether coffee could directly increase your risk for a heart attack and so far the results have been mixed. Here’s a nice review if you’re interested.

Conclusion: Overall, moderation is the key. In most of the studies that found detrimental effects of coffee, the drinkers had more than 3 cups per day, but those who consumed 1-2 still retained some protective benefits. But, be cautious if you have or are at risk for hypertension, because you could be making your condition worse. For most of us however, it seems that 1-2 cups of deliciousness everyday may actually be beneficial! Hooray! So, drink up and enjoy.


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