Many of us have heard that we ought to buy certified organic berries, kale, and fuzzy fruits (remember the dirty dozen?), over conventionally grown counterparts to avoid eating genetically modified or pesticide-laden plant products (the list is updated every year; check out the new one here). The label, organic, has become synonymous with being the better option for selecting produce and other groceries. At what point, however, did it become a catch-all term for everything associated with being healthy?
I know, I know, organic fruits and vegetables are healthy. What I’m talking about, though, are the certified organic meats, cheeses, sugary cereals, and cookies. I’ve overheard some people say in the cookie aisle, “this one’s organic, so I’m gonna get it cuz it’s healthy.” (You can also insert gluten-free or vegan, in place of organic.)
Sadly,these foods are not necessarily healthy (yes, meats, cheeses, and dark chocolate, in small portions can have health benefits, but read: small portions). You can’t eat as much as you want simply because the food is organic.
The organic label means that a product is a better option over the conventionally grown/raised food. It’s a good guide for avoiding unwanted pesticides, antibiotics, and other chemicals that may leach into your food, unbeknownst to you. Some research has indicated that organically grown and raised produce and meats have greater nutritional value because they have not been genetically modified. And organically raised animals are fed a healthier diet and are often raised under healthier conditions (not in cages or pumped with steroids or other meds). However, there are other studies that suggest that there is not a significant difference between conventional and organic foods. The Organic Trade Association took a look at the major studies that compared the nutritional value of organic versus conventional produce, and concluding... that more studies need to be conducted. But take a look at their report, and form your own opinions.
If avoiding chemicals in your food is your aim, then stick to organic foods -- if your pocketbook permits it -- otherwise, refer to the list of dirty dozen produce items that you should buy organic and go conventional with anything else. To ensure you don’t gain a few extra pounds, use good judgment and remember that the organic label isn’t a green light to eat as much as you want. Moderation is always the best policy.
September 12, 2011
After working and running around all day, you’re finally home…and STARVING! Wait, it’s way after 7 pm and you know you’ve heard that eating after 7 will make you pack on the pounds. The last thing you want are extra inches around your hips.
Guess what? I’m gonna give you some good news. That is just an urban legend. Eating after dark is not enough to make food magically convert to fat and store itself around your belly and thighs, or any other area that you don’t desire the extra cushioning. The superfluous padding gets packed on when we eat more than our bodies actually need. (The simplest way to estimate your basic caloric need for organ function can be calculated by adding a 0 to your body weight in pounds.)
So, how did this rumor get started? The “recommendation” to not eat after six, seven, eight, or other evening hours was probably initiated by some health professional to prevent clients from overeating. In some ways, that can be true. You know the saying that nothing good happens after midnight? Well, no good comes from eating crap late at night, either (or any hour, for that matter).
The truth is, most of us have bustling work schedules that don’t allow us to eat our last meal of the day until late in the evening - and that’s okay as long as you do it right. Here’s a guide to evening eating and staying the same size:
Have a small, light meal consisting of a lean protein—no larger than the size of the palm of your hand and consisting of mainly vegetables.
A late dinner is okay if your caloric needs have not been met for the day. Ideally, this would be a dinner consisting of something less along the lines of a double cheeseburger and chili cheese fries, and more along the lines of grilled chicken and broccoli. See above recommended small, light meal.
Late night meals aren’t ideal…but they’re often our only option. A good habit to get into is being mindful of the way you fuel your body throughout the day. Until you catch the break that allows you to have earlier dinners, you’re now equipped with knowledge of how to eat late night without having to let your clothes out.