Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Winter Nutrition Fact Check by a Nutritionist

I'm no nutritionist!  There is no R.D. beside my name, but that doesn't deter me from delving into the mysteries of nutrition and what it can and cannot do for the body.  I happen to believe that the most excellent nutrition is extremely hard to achieve and accomplished only with working extremely hard at it, maybe at the risk of neglecting other life experiences.  So I can only do the best  I can with the time I have and try to not hit myself over the head for imperfect nutritional days and weeks, even months.  

I find winter to be the hardest for me.  Right now, here in Utah we are in the single digits, which compared to some parts of the country is quite warm, I know.  But I'm not going out of my house or car unless it is above 30 degrees!  So exercise does suffer, as does nutrition.  I don't feel much like drinking cold smoothies, or salads, or anything refrigerated.  I feel like baked goods, soups, casseroles and hot cocoa!  I like to think that we have at least one characteristic in common with the grizzly bear--hibernation.  I wish that winter hibernation was as accepted as siestas are in Mexico.  In my world it would be totally acceptable to say, "I'm sorry, I can't be at work this next week because I'm in WHiM (Winter Hibernation Mode.)"  But alas, that isn't what our society does and so off I go at 7 am each morning to greet another chaotic day, without even a siesta.  


Here's the thing--I just read an article in BYU publication, 'The Real Woman' Magazine by BYU Professor, Susan Fullmer, PhD, RD, She had some interesting things to say about what is and isn't accepted as nutrtional fact.  She gave 10 nutritional myths.  Some of these myths were hard to distinguish from fact.  

For instance, People With Lower Body Weights tend to be more healthy.  Well, actually, no they don't tend to be.  As a matter of fact, several studies show that the people who live the longest and with the highest quality of life are the fat relatives of the slender people!  Generally speaking, those people who are considered to be overweight are living longer than thinner people.  I've always noticed that as soon as an elderly person starts to lose significant weight, severe health problems shortly ensue.  To me, having some meat on the bones serves as insurance for stressors inevitably showing up along the way. "Striving to maintain an unnaturally low body weight by under-eating, or over-exercising is associated with greater risks of osteoporosis, infertility, gastrointestinal disorders and poorer outcomes when experiencing major trauma or illness." -S. Fullmore, PhD, RD

Here's one that threw me--Organic foods are more nutritious and healthier than non-organically grown foods!  Not necessarily, according to Dr. Fullmer.  I only recently  begrudgingly got on the organic-is-better bandwagon because I hate paying so much more for it it's good for me.  Since Organic refers to how the plants are grown (pesticides, herbicides and GMO's)  versus what soil they are grown in, the nutritional content of the non-organically grown plant could be just the same, or better than the organic plant, just by virtue of the soil content.  The SOIL is what determines the nutrition of the plant!  So I suppose if you are not bothered by what residues from fertilizers might be on your vegetables (you can always rinse them and scrub them with a vegetable scrubber), non-organic might be the better route if you'd like to save some money.

And the last example here today is Fresh Fruits and Vegetables are nutritionally superior to frozen or canned.  Well, duh, of course they are, I said!  But silly, un-informed me!  By the time one buys fresh produce from the supermarket, it has probably been days since it was harvested, had to be sorted, packaged, transported, and then put onto shelves to wait until purchase. In the meantime, nutrients are decreasing each hour it is picked.  By contrast, produce is usually immediately canned or frozen after harvest, thus locking in much of the original nutrition! Now I can't use the old "there's no nutrition in that can of peas" excuse anymore.  (I hate canned peas and my husband likes them).

I guess that even this winter, as I try to hibernate and end up eating way too many carbs and sugar, I don't have to beat myself up as badly as I might.  I have a papered and certified nutritionist telling me that things aren't as bad as I thought!


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