Simple healthy eating

Aaron E. Carroll for the New York Times, The Upshot – Simple rules for healthy eating:

All of these rules are subtly trying to get you to be more conscious of what you’re eating. It’s far too easy these days to consume more than you think you are, or more than you really need, especially when eating out. I’ve found that it’s impossible to tell any one person how much they should be eating. People have varying requirements, and it’s important for all of them to listen to their bodies to know when they should eat, and when they should stop.

I’ve found that making change is hard. How many times have I started running, only to stop a few weeks later due to illness and not getting back into it when I’m better? But we have made the change in our diets. Slowly and over time (in the last 4-5 years) we’ve made small changes that have resulted in weight loss (30+ lbs for me over that time), reduction in cholesterol levels and overall feeling better about my body image.

The burden of unhealthy behaviours

Project Big Life – Life expectancy calculator based on Canadian community health surveys. The calculator bases their predictions on your (truthful) answers to their questions on diet, exercise and a few other factors.

What Do These Findings Mean?

  • Unhealthy behaviours contribute to a large burden of reduced life expectancy.
  • Linked population health surveys create an opportunity to estimate burden of disease using individual-based data, as in our multivariable predictive approach, and to supplement existing aggregate approaches.
  • Multivariable risk algorithms can be validated and calibrated for potential application in over 100 countries, potentially allowing widespread use of multivariable approaches.
  • Multivariable risk algorithms are more complex than alternative approaches to measure burden from health behaviours, but their use can be facilitated by reporting the algorithm in machine-readable format (https://github.com/Ottawa-mHealth/predictive-algorithms) and/or by providing online calculators (https://www.projectbiglife.ca).

My life expectancy is 87 years, with my health age being 31 years. Not bad for a 37 year old?

Creating demand and exclusivity

Nick Paumgarten for the New Yorker – The most exclusive restaurant in America:

His story caters to such gastronomes, as they vie for superlative experiences—most extreme, most local, most remote, most odd. Here’s a Fäviken, the exotic farmhouse restaurant in rural Sweden, except it’s just one guy, in Earlton, and it’s booked through 2025. Its implausibility may be as important to its appeal as any range of textures or tastes. In June, the blog Opinionated About Dining released its list of the top hundred restaurants in the United States, based on a survey of globe-trotting pilgrims like Merrihue. Baehrel came in fifth, ahead of any other restaurant east of Chicago. (Blue Hill at Stone Barns was seventh; Eleven Madison Park was fifteenth.) MSN.com just named it the best restaurant in the state of New York. One evening in May, I happened to be watching “Jeopardy!,” and under the category “Almost Fanatical Devotion,” in which the other questions had to do with Stephen Colbert, Soul Cycle, and Phish, the following appeared on the screen: “There’s a 10-year waiting list for Damon Baehrel’s Earlton, N.Y. restaurant & its 5-hour this ‘menu’ of small portions.” A contestant guessed correctly: “What is the tasting menu?”

There’s no question that Baehrel’s food is good (per the reviews). But is it too good to be true?

On celebrity food endorsements

Allison Aubrey at NPR – This is how much celebrities get paid to endorse soda and unhealthy food:

What’s certain is this: Celebrity-backed food is here to stay. Even Oprah is poised to get in on the branded-food bandwagon.

A search of the the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database shows Oprah has applied to trademark a range of food products — from Oprah pancakes and popcorn to pizza, to name just a few on the list.

And the actual study by Bragg et al:

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that music celebrities who are popular among adolescents endorse energy-dense, nutrient-poor products.

Follow the money.

Male baby chicks won’t be going to the grinder anymore

Dylan Matthews for Vox – This is the best news for America’s animals in decades. It’s about baby chickens:

But ending chick culling has become possible recently due to technology. United Egg Producers says it will replace culling with “in-ovo egg sexing.” This is a process that can determine the sex of chicks before they develop inside their egg. That enables egg producers to terminate the male eggs and potentially use them to help make vaccines or for pet food (most humans would presumably be grossed out by cooking fertilized eggs). Horrific infanticides will be replaced with humane, painless chicken abortions.

Great news. No more grinding male baby chicks.

Ontario fast food restaurants will soon require food labels

Laura Wright for the CBC – Ontario fast-food labels could cause women to gain weight, public health advocate says:

Along with the calorie information, chain restaurants will have to display a “context statement” meant to help consumers better understand the calorie count. The statement will say adults require 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day, but that individual calorie needs vary.

Starbucks dessert with unlabelled nut contamination causes anaphylactic reaction

Speaking of people serving food which causes an allergic reaction, here’s one from 2009; Kathy Tomlinson for the CBC – Near fatal reaction caused by Starbucks dessert:

Within days of the incident Kristin’s mother, Norma Gardiner, said she went into the same Starbucks outlet to see if a warning label had been put on the parfait containers. The label hadn’t changed, she said, and when she asked an employee if the product contained nuts, she said she was also told it did not.

Business as usual.

And here’s Starbucks’ response:

“‘Sorry for the inconvenience. How about we send you a Starbucks card?'”

Quebec waiter arrested for serving food and causing anaphylactic shock in customer

Melissa Fundira for the CBC – Quebec waiter arrested after seafood puts allergic customer in coma

Canuel had left his EpiPen in his car.

He was hospitalized at the intensive care unit of the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke, where he was treated for a severe allergic reaction.

He says he also suffered a cardiac arrest the following day and was in a coma for several days.

“I almost died,” he said.

I’m not blaming Canuel one bit, but I can certainly understand how after carrying around an EpiPen for a long time, you can end up thinking it’s generally not needed. And seconds count when you have a reaction.

Also see Jonathan Montpetit’s article on the charges and legal side of things – Fish served to a customer nearly kills him – is that a crime?:

In order to convict the waiter, the Crown would have to establish that he displayed extreme carelessness toward the client’s safety, said one criminal defence lawyer.

“Criminal negligence requires a reckless disregard for human life,” Eric Sutton told CBC’s Radio Noon. “It’s not enough to be negligent or careless. You need more than that.”

Sutton is unconvinced the Crown will pursue a case against the waiter.

Allergies are certainly misunderstood by many people.

 

Not quite CSA

Julia Moskin at the New York Times – When Community-Supported Agriculture Is Not What It Seems:

“Do consumers even know that when they sign up for one of these fake C.S.A.s, sometimes it doesn’t benefit local farmers any more than if they shop at the supermarket?” Ms. Kaplan-Walbrecht asked.

Probably not. The organic farm boxes you buy online may or may not be local. Local farm boxes may or may not be organic. The farmers may or may not be paid more than wholesale prices. And customers may or may not care.

The whole point of the CSA is to directly support (and pay) your local farmer. You may want more goods in your produce box, but be vigilant and be aware of what you’re getting.

On deliciousness

David Chang at Wired – The Unified Theory of Deliciousness:

Joshua told me he wanted to make a version of a Bolognese, the Italian meat sauce. I told him that was fine, but he had to use only Korean ingredients. I often set these kinds of limitations, because I’m a big believer that creativity comes from working within constraints.

Anyway, that meant he would have to find a way of re-creating the sweetness, umami, and pungency of Bolognese without the onions, celery, carrot, tomato paste, or white wine. He ended up using scallions, red chiles, ground pork, and fermented bean paste. Instead of using milk to provide that silky mouthfeel, I encouraged him to add in some whipped tofu. And rather than pasta or gnocchi, he served it with rice cakes that looked like gnocchi. We called it Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes, and when most people taste it, it reminds them—even on a subconscious level—of a spicier version of Bolognese.

I often find that with our food constraints, much of what we cook tastes the same, and very familiar. This is good in one sense, since by now we know what our son likes and dislikes and can guess whether he’ll like the food or not. But it’s bad in another sense, where I feel that we’re limiting him and not presenting a wider range of flavours and textures the we want him to experience.

Chang’s attempts at recreating familiar foods with different ingredients shows that in some instances he can re-imagine familiar dishes using unfamiliar ingredients. We are trying to do that every time we make a new dish, having to replace ingredients with others that are safe. Unfortunately it’s only too easy to fall back on the tried and true recipes. Time is the overriding constraint.