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Report card: my month of eating Mediterranean

18 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

May, as you may recall, was National Mediterranean Diet Month, celebrated at our house with a helpful Oldways calendar posted on the fridge with 31 daily suggestions on how to introduce more heart-healthy Med Month changes into our regular routine. As threatened promised, here’s how I did:  Continue reading

Dear Cleveland Clinic: It’s food, not poison, for crying out loud!

30 Apr

Earth to Cleveland Clinic dietitians: please stop sharing your joyless, preachy, pinched-face, finger-wagging lectures about foods you consider to be evil. In a rush to convince the great unwashed out here to improve our daily diet, many so-called “experts” like you seem to believe that nagging and food-shaming are the most effective ways to change behaviour. Trust me, they are not.

Today, I offer two examples of dietary advice, one that I plan to not only ignore but publicly mock, as well as one terrific example (definitely not from Cleveland Clinic) that’s already printed and posted on my fridge door. Continue reading

Bereavement eating: does grief cause carb cravings?

21 Feb

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

(originally published here shortly after my mother’s death four years ago today on February 21, 2012)

I’ve heard it said that some people experience a loss of appetite during stressful times like a death in the family.  These people are not my relatives. Indeed, in our Ukrainian family tradition, we eat when we’re happy, we eat when we’re upset, and we eat during all possible emotions in between.

Every family gathering surrounding my mother’s death was no exception.

For example, the delicious lunch following her funeral service was a true labour of love prepared by the women of my mother’s church, just as the women of churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and neighbourhoods around the world have been doing for mourners since time began. Continue reading

Want the truth about what we eat? Ask our girlfriends…

4 Oct

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

More reports from the Department of the Bleedin’ Obvious, my heart sisters. Last year, a group of 45 international nutrition scientists launched a campaign to end the use of one of their most commonly-used research tools: the self-reported food diary.(1)  These scientists now claim that “dietary recall is skewed towards healthier behaviour.”

In plain English, it means this: people participating in nutrition studies lie to researchers about what they actually eat, preferring instead to enter foods into their daily food diary like “kale” and “quinoa” before submitting their self-reports.

And let’s face it, a person who has volunteered for a nutrition study may be too embarrassed to officially record for posterity something like: “I ate half a box of Turtles today just to get them out of the house.”*  (And really, I can’t be the only woman to ever admit to this, can I?)   Continue reading

No, really – patient education that’s actually useful!

23 Aug

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

I think I’ve seen just about every “healthy lifestyle” informational brochure out there. You’ve seen them, too:  Eat better! Lose Weight! Quit Smoking! Get More Exercise! BlahBlahBlah!  None that I’ve found so far, however, mention anything that we don’t already know. Behaviour change is notoriously challenging – otherwise we’d all be doing it already.  It seems to me that the issue is not so much about raising awareness of something that isn’t well understood (Really? Smoking is bad for us?) but more about presenting information in a way that seeks to somehow meaningfully interact with the reader.

In my eternal quest for good solid take-home resources to hand out to the audiences at my women’s heart health presentations, I happened upon one – at last! – that caught my eye.  It’s called Living Well, simply sub-titled “tips for health and happiness”.
Continue reading