The fall of home cooking and the rise of heart disease

by Carolyn Thomas 

Chef and food activist Dan Barber, writing in The Nation recently, had a goofy, radical, off-the-wall idea:  we need to learn how to cook.  “A lack of technique behind the stove is as complicit in harming human health and the environment as the confinement pig or the corn-fed steer,” he boldly claimed. And author Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food), writing in the New York Times, notes the irony of our fascination with wildly popular celebrity chefs and TV cooking shows (even an entire food cable network!):

“How is it that we are so eager to watch other people browning beef cubes on screen but so much less eager to brown them ourselves? For the rise of Julia Child as a figure of cultural consequence — along with Alice Waters and Mario Batali and Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse and whoever is crowned the next Food Network star — has, paradoxically, coincided with the rise of fast food, home-meal replacements and the decline and fall of everyday home cooking. 

Continue reading “The fall of home cooking and the rise of heart disease”

De-junk your kitchen to start heart-smart eating

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Here’s a quick way to start eating in a more heart-healthy way literally overnight: do a pantry makeover.  Start by getting rid of every food item in your kitchen that has either of these two characteristics:  too little nutritional value (fibre, vitamins, minerals, protein) or  too much fat, sodium or sugar.  This includes all junk food of course, but also almost all processed foods in your pantry.  

When I first got home from hospital after my heart attack, for example, I became an obsessive grocery label reader.  I couldn’t believe the sodium content in a can of refried beans!  That stuff will kill you.

If you put unhealthy food in your grocery cart, you’ll eat it.  If you don’t, you won’t. Very simple.

When you go shopping, bring a list.  Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Choose most foods from around the perimeter of the grocery store, where the healthiest food tends to be located. And most important – read those labels.  But meanwhile, if you’re feeling ruthless, start tossing out anything in your pantry right now that fits those two criteria  – and then let’s look at re-stocking basic heart-healthy pantry must-haves:

Continue reading “De-junk your kitchen to start heart-smart eating”

What overweight women may have in common with drug addicts

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

My daughter Larissa and I have sometimes marvelled at a very strange packaging concept: re-sealable bags of chocolate chips.   Are there actually people out there, we wondered, who open a bag of these chips, pour out only the 3/4 cup they need for their cookie recipe, and then put the re-sealed bag back into the cupboard?

The August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition will help to explain this odd phenomenon for us. Apparently, some women don’t scarf down the entire bag on the spot – just because it’s been opened! When researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo gave similarly sinful snacks to both overweight and healthy-weight women, the healthy-weight women wanted less of the treat over time, but the overweight women kept wanting more.

In an earlier study, the same research team found that ‘food reinforcement’ (the term used to describe our motivation to eat) decreased in healthy-weight women but increased in overweight women when both groups were asked to consume large amounts of snack foods like M&M candies, potato chips or cookies for days at a time. Women in the overweight group shared characteristics like obesity and diabetes – both serious heart disease risk factors. Continue reading “What overweight women may have in common with drug addicts”

Food trends: why we eat the way we do

by Carolyn Thomas

Some anthropologists believe that the evolutionary pressure that led to bi-pedalism (walking on two legs) was just our hairy ancestors’ adaptation to a changing world that required more far-reaching travel in search of food.

We’ve been obsessed with searching for food ever since those hairy ancestors took that first upright walk and dug up some lovely potato-like tubers for dinner.

The trouble is that food trends in the Western world have strayed so far from what our bodies actually need that our heart health is now seriously compromised by what we put into our mouths every day. read more about how food trends have changed