Food Is Not Your Enemy

Fighting Breast Cancer With Fried Chicken

The breast cancer advocacy group Susan G. Komen for the Cure has teamed up with none other than KFC in a national “Buckets for the Cure” campaign which will run until May 23. For every pink bucket of chicken purchased, the fast-food chain will donate 50 cents to the organization, according to ABC News.

This arrangement presents a real dilemma–greasy, fried fast food chicken is exactly the type of food that contributes to such chronic diseases as cancer. But on the other hand, raising awareness about breast cancer with the crowd that needs the education most–namely, regular consumers of KFC–is hardly a bad thing. Plus, the campaign raised $2 million in its first week alone.

A deal with the devil? Maybe. But in the end, the awareness and money raised is probably worth it. No matter how uncomfortable it makes health professionals feel.

7 Surprising Things That Can Make You Gain Weight (and Most Aren’t Even Food!)

You eat veggies and whole grains. You hit the gym. You’ve got your portions under control. So what’s the deal with those last few stubborn pounds? Seven unexpected weight saboteurs could have something to do with it. Check out my first article on for more.

“But Healthy Food Is Too Expensive…”

Have you ever groused that you’d like to eat healthy, but that you just can’t afford to do so on a regular basis? Or has someone you know justified eating regularly at McDonald’s, because they can order a filling meal for themselves or their kids for $1?

Healthy food does not have to be expensive food. When one organic red bell pepper from Fresh Direct costs $4, I’d say yes, that’s expensive. When two heritage breed, humanely raised pork chops at the Greenmarket cost $22, I’d say the same.

But these two instances really are exceptions to the rule. Lots of healthy, whole foods can actually be quite cheap:

  • A bowl of oatmeal made with Quaker rolled oats costs 17 cents
  • Two free-roaming Nature’s Yoke brand eggs for breakfast will run you 48 cents
  • One sweet potato costs about 49 cents
  • A bunch of kale costs between $1 and $1.50
  • A banana costs between 19 and 30 cents
  • A serving of dried beans costs about 15 cents
  • A serving of brown rice costs about 30 cents

And the fact is that we spend a smaller percentage of our incomes on food than ever before in our nation’s history. We expect cheap food, and, thanks to government subsidies of such crops as industrial corn and soybeans, a lot of junky foods that contain these ingredients (which is just about all of them) are cheaper than they should be.

But remember that in the end, eating cheap junk food ends up costing us more. That weekly run to McDonald’s can lead to weight gain and the need to pay for a personal trainer or weight-loss program. Regularly downing chips, instant ramen noodles, and those 25 cent plastic bottles of fruit drink can lead to wild blood sugar swings and, eventually, perhaps type 2 diabetes. We then have higher health-care costs. Plus, our quality of life suffers.

Consider the money you spend on wholesome foods an investment in your and your family’s health. Better to spend money on green vegetables now than prescription pills like Lipitor later.

Save the Date for Free Stress-Reduction Teleclass

Save the date! On Monday, May 24 at 8 p.m. ET, I will be doing a free teleclass on how to reduce stress. I will be discussing the role stress plays in our lives and providing concrete steps on how to get stress under control. More details coming soon, but if you know you’d like to take part now, contact me here and I’ll send you the call-in info. Mark your calendar!

Chocolate Cake “Better Than an Apple”? Health Claims Bordering on Unethical
April 7, 2010, 10:04 am
Filed under: food politics, Fruits, Sweets | Tags: , , ,

Ever heard of VitaTops? They’re muffin tops, sold in the freezer case. But the company that makes them, Vitalicious, doesn’t want you to think of them as dessert. No, these muffins are fortified with lots of vitamins and fiber, and so these cakes are pushed as a health food.

While it’s definitely a positive that one of the main ingredients in VitaTops is whole wheat flour, Vitalicious really takes things a step too far when it prints on the VitaTops box the following claim:

VitaMuffin: better than an apple

The VitaMuffin contains less sugar and more vitamins and minerals than an apple!

Really, Vitalicious? You’re claiming in all seriousness that your cakes are better for you than fresh fruit?

Yes, the VitaTops have vitamins and minerals. But vitamins and minerals can be added to anything, including lollipops and taffy. Would it be right, or ethical, to say that fortified candy is better for you than an apple?

Regarding the sugar claim: you cannot compare naturally occurring sugar in fruit to white sugar added to a food product (and “organic evaporated cane juice” is still added sugar). Our bodies are not adversely affected by the sugar in fresh fruit, but white sugar and its fancier-named derivatives send our blood sugar sky high and then set us up for a crash soon after. Not only does this cycle end up stoking our appetites, it also lays the foundation for type 2 diabetes should we consume sugar too often (and most Americans do consume too much sugar, every single day).

VitaTops are actually a fine choice–for dessert. But don’t let Vitalicious–or any food company–ever fool you into thinking that a sweet, processed food is better for you than a whole food like an apple. The vitamins, minerals, and fiber naturally found in apples are much more easily utilized by our bodies, and apples have been shown to have detoxifying and cancer-fighting phytochemicals. An apple a day really does help keep the doctor away. A VitaTop? Not so much.