Tomato paste is a vegetable??

First things first, can we all agree that tomatos are a fruit? Great.

However, even if we decided that tomatos are a vegetable for the sake of this discussion, we very clearly have another problem.

As of late Monday night, Congress released a spending bill that will reverse, or at least put on hold, an earlier proposal by the Agriculture Department that was set to limit the use of potatoes and sodium in school lunch lines, as well as increase the use of whole grains. In addition, the spending bill will allow 2 tablespoons of tomato paste to count as a serving of vegetables. Read more.

Now, I’m no rocket scientist, in fact, I’m no kind of scientist. Actually, the last time I took a class related to science of any kind was in 1997, my senior year of high school. I think it was physics. However, I’m pretty sure that 2 tablespoons of tomato paste does not constitute a serving of vegetables. And, while I appreciate the efforts of the Agriculture Department to make some adjustments to the current regulations regarding school lunches, the increased use of “whole grains” as a healthier option might be a little bit misguided as well. Remember, the Agriculture Department, or USDA, are the same people that brought you this misinformation and have done a marvelous job of marketing and convincing the increasingly obese American public that 6-11 servings of Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta are the base of healthy diet. So, of course, more “healthy, whole grains” seems like the logical conclusion at which they would arrive.

The main issue here, in my opinion, is that all of these bills and suggestions and discussions on Capitol Hill are not necessarily being driven by a need to make the public, and especially school aged children, any healthier. They are, more than likely, being driven by money and lobbyists and agendas. From the above linked article, a little snippet, if you will indulge me:

Food companies who have fought the USDA standards say they were too strict and neglected the nutrients that potatoes, other starchy vegetables and tomato paste do offer.

“This agreement ensures that nutrient-rich vegetables such as potatoes, corn and peas will remain part of a balanced, healthy diet in federally funded school meals and recognizes the significant amounts of potassium, fiber and vitamins A and C provided by tomato paste, ensuring that students may continue to enjoy healthy meals such as pizza and pasta,” said Kraig Naasz, president of the American Frozen Food Institute.

Really, Kraig.

Healthy meals such as pizza and pasta. So, what you’re telling me is that when you, Kraig, decide it’s time to lose a few extra pounds for swimsuit season, the first thing you do is stock up on pizza and pasta and tomato paste so that you can stay healthy and keep the metabolism stoked. Because if it’s good enough for the students, then certainly it’s good enough for you. Somehow I just don’t believe it. And as far as the “significant amounts of potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C provided by tomato paste”, please do better than that. There are plenty of other foods that will achieve the same or better. You know, broccoli, spinach, kale, peppers, carrots, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, oranges, strawberries, avocados, any number of nuts and seeds, and just about any fresh or dried herb or spice you can think of. Sure, 1 cup of tomato paste has a lot of potassium, but nobody is eating tomato paste by the cupful. Most people don’t even eat a whole tomato in one sitting. The most paste I’ve ever used, at one time, is part of one of those small cans from the grocery. The whole can is 6oz. I used 4 or 5 ounces. And even if I did use the whole can, it was in a fairly large pot of chili that provided upwards of 6 dinner servings.

At this point, if you’ve made it this far, I will step off my soapbox. My point wasn’t to vilify tomato paste. My point was, and is, that both Congress and the USDA do not have your best interests in mind when it comes to your diet. They have the best interest of themselves and those who line their pockets in mind. Lobbyists, special interest groups, Big Agra, Big Pharma. You know all those commercials that you see for pills to cure what ails you. Acid Reflux, Obesity, High Blood Pressure, Heartburn, ED, Elevated Cholesterol, Type 2 Diabetes, ADD. Most of those things can be corrected through proper modification of diet and exercise. The commercials always like to say “when diet and exercise aren’t enough…”, but in truth, diet and exercise are more than enough. You just have to actually do them. Both of them. Stop shopping in the aisles and instead stick to the perimeter of the grocery store. Buy food instead of food products. Buy items that don’t have ingredient lists on the package. Plant a garden and grow some foods that you really enjoy. Go find out  when and where your local farmers’ market is, or, if you’re really ambitious, go find out where your local farmer is. Skip the middle man and go to the source. Your local farmer doesn’t have an ad campaign and a lobbyist. There just isn’t enough money in it for Capitol Hill. And don’t forget to pack a lunch for yourself and your child. Save some money, skip the afternoon lethargy, learn to cook something new, try a new food, and please, please, don’t rely on tomato paste as a serving of vegetables.

Thoughts? Comments?

-Nick

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Weekend Observations

So, here are a couple of observations from the weekend. Admittedly, I wasn’t completely Primal, but I did have an awareness of what was going on. I knew that Friday would probably be the least compliant day of the weekend, but that Saturday and Sunday had a chance to be pretty good if I made the right choices.

Since I ate plenty of food and calories on Thursday, including a late night meal, I decided to fast for part of the day on Friday. As well, Rachel and I had plans to go out for dinner. We turned our dinner into a slightly more progressive affair by having a late lunch/afternoon snack of soup and salad. Basically, this served as appetizers and was accompanied by a beverage each.

Dinner was at Union Woodshop in Clarkston. Had it been our preference, Union Woodshop does offer a gluten-free menu, however, since this was our first visit, we wanted to try a couple of  the less Primal offerings (read; Mac & Cheese and Fried Pickles). Also, I had heard about the butterscotch pudding and really wanted to give it a try. The BBQ was really good and the butterscotch pudding was as good a dessert as I’ve had. In fact, it was so good that it had me looking for recipes so I can try it at home. I also had a very small slice of homemade, gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake (pie). Yes, it had some sugar, but I was willing to make a birthday exception and enjoy 2 desserts in one night. In the previous 2 weeks I hadn’t had any wheat/gluten products and I think the Mac and Cheese might have done a number on me, because I woke up with quite the headache on Saturday morning. Actually, it was bordering on a migraine. I decided to keep the calories both low and low-carb on Saturday, and the headache subsided shortly after lunchtime. Sunday was actually a pretty standard day. No breakfast, a 3 egg omelet with gyro meat, onion, green pepper and feta for lunch and a dinner that consisted of a wedge salad with blue cheese and bacon, scallops with a vegetable medley (I skipped the whipped potatoes), a glass of red wine and a double espresso. There were five of us and we shared 2 desserts that were wheat-free. Just enough for a couple of bites each but not enough to make me feel horrible.

The end result of the weekend feedings left me in a place where I know I didn’t make any progress over the weekend, but I didn’t fall off the wagon. And today (Monday) I’m pushing the proverbial reset button by fasting. I plan to follow up the fast with a sausage, pepper and onion scramble or omelet after work, which should set me up nicely for the rest of the week.

So, there it is. More to come later this week.

-Nick

Post thoughts to comments.

The last day of the year

I figured, since this is the last day of my 31st year, I would post a couple of things regarding my own daily eating and moving.

A friend of mine wants to go out tonight after work. I’m pretty sure we’re going, so, I’m planning ahead. This is a place that we go semi-regularly, and I have a pretty good idea what I’m going to eat. So, based on my knowledge of portions, as well as what I want, I plugged the numbers into fitday.com. If you go out to eat, there’s probably more calories than if you eat at home. Also, this morning, when I woke up, I was hungry. This isn’t usually the case, but since I felt actual hunger, I ate something. A pear and some cashews. Quite a few cashews, in fact. I also had some coffee with a little bit of half & half.

Around 2:30 I headed out to the gym. Squat day. I haven’t been to the gym yet this week, since I was feeling a little bit sore from my sprint session on Saturday, but I didn’t want the whole week to get away from me without lifting. So, I left home at 2:30 for the gym and got back home around 3:30. One hour, including travel. Not too bad. If you think you don’t have time, you probably don’t have a plan when you head out the door. A plan is just as important for moving as it is for eating. Tomorrow morning I’m heading back to the gym and I probably won’t stay more than 45 minutes. I’m sure the people at the gym think I’m crazy and wasting my time and money. I’m OK with them thinking that.

My calorie count for today is higher than normal, but according to the info that I’ve plugged into fitday for the month, I’m still around 1700-1800 calories per day, on average. And that’s the way you should approach this. You don’t have to be perfect every day. If you try to be, you’ll probably make yourself crazy. But, if listen to your body and do a little bit of planning, you’ll probably average out quite well and make some progress. This weekend will prove to be a test for me from a food perspective, as I have plans to go out to dinner tomorrow night with Rachel, and also on Sunday with Rachel and my family. So, a little bit of planning, and not over-doing it during the rest of the weekend is in order.

If you’re interest in my macronutrient breakdown for the day, I’ve included it below. If I feel like it, I might have a beer tonight, but as of now, I don’t feel like having a beer tonight. I’d much rather lift heavy things with ease in the morning. The breakdown looks like something that will have you making a call to your cardiologist, according to Conventional Wisdom. I’m willing to bet that’s not the case.

Post thoughts to comments.

-Nick

Quick Tip: More Progress Faster

So, I was just thinking about this earlier, and if you’re looking for a quick way to jumpstart your Paleo/Primal/Wheat-free plan, stop going out to eat.

As I was talking to Rachel this afternoon, we both mentioned that we have been going out to eat a lot less than we used to, and instead have been cooking at home a lot more. Just a few minutes ago I was reading a post on Richard’s blog and saw that he mentioned the same sort of thing regarding restaurants.

It’s almost guaranteed that you will make more progress faster, and you won’t be tempted by the wide selection of desserts offered by your favorite restaurant, if you just make the choice to eat at home. You won’t be tempted to have “just one bite” of tiramisu or chocolate cake. Instead, you’ll probably skip dessert, and, if you really do need something, you will more than likely have a small square of the dark chocolate that you keep at home, or maybe some berries with coconut milk, or something along those lines. And this isn’t just limited to dessert. Most of the time your server doesn’t know what gluten-free is. Even if they think they do, they probably don’t. So, why take the chance. Oh, and you’ll save money. Trust me, I know. I work in a restaurant and it isn’t cheap to go out to eat. Save the trip to the restaurant for an occasion like a birthday, when you deserve to have someone cook and clean for you, not a Friday because you don’t feel like cooking and cleaning. Refer back to yesterday’s post and re-read point number 5. Plan ahead. Be in control of what you are eating and cook enough to have leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

More Progress Faster.

-Nick

5 ways to sabotage your Paleo/Primal/wheat-free plan

There are definitely ways to fail while on a Paleo/Primal/wheat-free plan:

If you’re just going wheat-free, you’re on the right track. Primal and you’ve made a few more food adjustments and probably added some movement. Paleo and you’re probably the most strict of these options from a dietary standpoint.

Especially from a “Wheat-free” standpoint, here are 5 ways to fall short of your goals and revert back to your old ways.

1) Substituting over-the-counter “gluten-free” foods. Breads, baked goods, and things of this kind might seem like a good substitute, but the truth is they are not much better for you than the non-gluten-free foods. Blood sugar and insulin will still increase, you will continue to store fat, and eventually you will be convinced that going “wheat-free” isn’t effective for you.

2) Not substituting enough food or calories from another source. If you can’t or shouldn’t have the “gluten-free” substitutes, and you’ve decided to forgo bread and other wheat options, what should you have? Simply stated, eat some vegetables and salads, eat a little more protein and some more good fat. And yes, there is such a thing as good fat. Animal and saturated fat, olive oil, avocado, nuts (peanuts are not nuts), seeds, coconut, coconut oil, butter. All good options. Vegetable oil, not a good option. I know it seems backwards, but remember, we’re here to challenge Conventional Wisdom.

3) Not being fairly strict for the first few weeks. The first few weeks are usually the hardest, depending on your old habits. If candy and bread and other sweet treats were a regular part of your old diet, then the transition will be harder. Your will power will be challenged, and having a cheat meal or cheat snack won’t seem like a big deal. In fact, the cheat meal might seem like your only chance to survive.

4) Stressing out about what to eat for breakfast. Two thoughts here. The first one is the simplest. Try skipping breakfast. It’s not as bad for you as you’ve been led to believe, it won’t slow down your metabolism, and you won’t die if you miss this meal. If you can’t bring yourself to skip breakfast entirely have something pretty simple like eggs and bacon, or some leftover protein from last night’s dinner with a handful of almonds. Remember, cereal and oatmeal and toast are only a part of breakfast because they’ve been marketed that way.

5) Failing to plan. This is probably the most obvious point, but should still be mentioned. Your choice to make this dietary change will involve some planning on your part. If you’re like me and lots of other people, picking up something on the way home, or while you’re out, or at lunchtime with your friends at work is the norm. If you want to have long term success, you’ll have to plan some meals ahead of time, cook some extra meals on a Sunday afternoon, and learn to say no when other people try to offer you treats. Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings by politely refusing whatever treats they have made at home, or picked up on the way to work which will sabotage your gameplan. “Just one biteis a big deal, and has the potential to get you off track pretty quickly.

For those of you that have tried wheat-free, Primal, or Paleo, what were your stumbling blocks when you got started? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments and any additions you may have to this list.

-Nick

A (personal) Primal movement is afoot

Last Sunday night, Rachel said to me:

“Maybe we should start a blog….” actually it was more like “maybe we should start a blog….”

I didn’t know if she was completely serious, or if this was something that was passing through her brain in a state of tiredness and it just got out by mistake. For the next 36 hours or so, I thought about us starting a blog. Mostly for ourselves, but also for anyone else who might find it in their own internet wanderings.

When we saw each other on Tuesday, I asked her what she thought we should name “our blog.” We both had some ideas, though most of them were hers, but truthfully, I don’t think we were really attached to any of them. Then, on Wednesday night, or maybe it was Thursday morning, “EatMoveSing” just popped into my brain. It seemed pretty great to me, and Rachel was in complete agreement. All things that we (Rachel and I) need to do on a daily basis.

So, that’s a quick introduction……

The original idea to start a blog came after that Sunday night, when we had both reached our limit as to where Conventional Wisdom had gotten us. Mind you, this is Conventional Wisdom with regards to diet and exercise. Like so many people, we thought we had been doing a pretty good job in the areas of Eating and Moving. Not perfect, mind you, but not horrible. Turns out, it was much less than perfect and maybe closer to horrible than we thought. So, we were committing to a lifestyle change and we would start a blog so that we could have a record of what was going on. A way to remain accountable by publicly stating our actions, intentions, shortcomings, etc. We know we’re not perfect, but maybe this would help keep us on track.

So, here’s to our blog, where we will be keeping track of our lifestyle change, talking about Eating and Moving and Singing (and probably some other stuff, like planning a wedding), and sharing recipes and other life stuff. We hope you’ll join us in our adventure.

-Nick and Rachel

Thanks to Mark’s Daily Apple for a heavy dose of inspiration and information to get us started.