by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

We often talk on the blog about health care policy, health insurance, death panels, Medicaid, etc. But at the Totebag end of the spectrum, there’s the wellness phenomenon.

The Wellness Epidemic

Do you follow any wellness practices or protocols? I’m unlikely to steam my vagina (sorry, Gwyneth) but I take some vitamins and do yoga. How about you?


204 thoughts on “Wellness

  1. I think people generally do feel kind of crappy and have a sense that they should feel better and if you have money you can spend more on your “wellness.” I think this quote in the article sums up the main problem – “I think there’s a vitamin-D deficiency because we don’t go outside, and when we do, we’re always wearing sunscreen. We’re out of touch with the Earth in general, and I just don’t think this is the way we were intended to live.” People focus too much on food and having some sort of pure diet. Go outside more, less screen time, less cell phone, move every day and eat good food and most people’s wellness will instantly improve.

  2. Due to a recent diagnosis in my family, one member has been forced to eat more vegetables and fruits and give up for now gluten and lactose. This is a real illness but now has sort of got tangled up in foods, a bunch of people avoid. The good thing is that it is not looked on as being loopy.
    As a family we have become more conscious of trying to eat less processed foods and more vegetables and fruits and drink enough fluids each day. It requires discipline and it is not easy. It is so individual as well, what is good for one person may be totally the wrong thing for someone else.

  3. If I get my 2 tai chi classes and 3 walks in a week plus my daily stretches, I feel much better. Unless it is over 90 first thing in the morning, I walk outside without sunscreen (gasp). When I add a few minutes of meditation after my daily stretches, the day seems better (maybe due to the meditation, maybe a placebo effect?). But, I am not good about the meditation – I think I am too impatient and can’t do it if there is too much noise in the house already. In theory, as I get better at tai chi, it should become a moving meditation. I am still a ways off in it becoming second nature and not losing my place if I am not focused!

    My partner is supposed to be eating more heart healthy. The one change is that when we go out to eat he is ordering fewer fried foods. I still see a lot of things that he doesn’t realize are high in salt in his diet. I’ve have varying success in pointing some of these out. I do better with my weight if I reduce the carbs from breads, pastas, potoatoes, and rice and replace them with veggies and fruit.

    My former employer had a wellness program. If you participated in the annual challenge (6 weeks with so many minutes of activity per week), you got a half day off and if you filled out an online survey and took the results into your doctor when you had your physical (doctor’s office signed a form you took in), you got a whole day off. It upped the number of annual physicals, but don’t know if it actually changed the behaviors.

  4. I have wondered about certain stars and how good they look – Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in Grace and Frankie, for example. How much of that is their own good habits/genes, and how much is it related to their extreme wealth? Are they getting weekly expensive skin treatments, private cooks, private trainers, etc? I assume they are – well, JF I would think does all of that, based on her prior fitness empire. It would be neat to be wealthy enough to outsource all of the worry about this stuff — I’d love a Health Concierge who organizes my daily/weekly fitness trainer, massage, skin care treatments, etc.

  5. I pray. That’s my quiet time. I forgot about sleep. Very important. If for some reason, sleep is impacted, it results in lack of energy and just overall feeling ill.

  6. I haven’t been using sunblock this summer at all and I have been at the pool 2-3 times/week. I have a prett good tan going. I do make the kids use sunblock but they still are a little tan. I have been doing barre classes with a friend 2x/week. I kind of hate them, but they are probably good for me. I also take iron since I am anemic. Other than that, no vitamins or minerals. I should probably add some calcium since all of the women in my family get osteoporosis.

  7. As usual, I’m a skeptic. Having a job and four children means I’m busy, and I have a far easier life than a divorced mom working night shift. I discussed diet changes, weight loss, etc. for my PCOS-type symptoms with my specialist a few years ago and he concurred that for women eating a reasonable diet who are at a healthy weight, no one knows how to normalize hormone levels and that some part of the population has always suffered from infertility due to hormones.

    I suppose wellness falls into the category of “Strength to accept what I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

    I find being in major cities very stressful (and Mr WCE is worse than I am) so I’m glad I don’t live in one. That affects our financial life prospects. It will be interesting to see how our kids are.

  8. I suppose wellness falls into the category of “Strength to accept what I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

    Ha! There’s something to what you say, especially about the more idiotic treatments, like cupping.

    It is interesting to speculate about why “we” don’t feel well (I’m feeling pretty good today, personally). One group will lecture everyone about how we have it so much easier than our ancestors; another will point out that there is a ton of stress in contemporary daily life. I am very skeptical about “toxins” in the environment. “Toxin” is the 21st century version of the miasma. I get mildly annoyed at my yoga instructors for telling us that doing twists will release the “toxins”. My liver does not need to be squished up to function.

  9. I haven’t been using sunscreen either this summer and haven’t been on my kids. They have not burned – I make them wear hats and shirts if we’re out and about for a long period of time, but I find that two hours in the morning or late afternoon at the beach and we have all been fine. Also no sunglasses – there was research back in the 60s/70s by John Ott (wrote a book called Health and Light that you can probably download) about how important it is to get full spectrum UV light in your eyes every day.

  10. I always wear sunglasses. More for wrinkle prevention than anything else. My kids love to wear them, too.

  11. in the EST movement

    That’s the first time I’ve seen it mentioned outside of The Americans!

  12. I guess I am used to all manner of home cures since people in the home country tended to go off their allopathic medications for chronic conditions and try what not in the hope of a cure. This frustrated the doctors no end.

  13. You’re kidding! You’ve never heard of EST? It’s almost like you weren’t born in 1960 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Oh my God, it was huge. I wrote an article about it for my school paper when I went to one of their recruiting sessions. “Your enlightenment begins when you sign the check”.

  14. “I find being in major cities very stressful (and Mr WCE is worse than I am) so I’m glad I don’t live in one. ”

    I saw a guy awhile ago in Union Square doing yoga. He was surrounded by pedestrians, a farmer’s market and a ton of nearby vehicular traffic. He seemed completely unfazed. I could not do yoga in Union Square.

    I enjoy peace and quiet but I also get a bit stir crazy (usually when visiting my family =) ) and need to be outside among people and greenery. I have always lived near a park. OTOH I cannot stand crowds so don’t go to parades or concerts. Really, London was perfect for me – just the right balance. Where I live now comes close.

  15. I think people generally do feel kind of crappy

    What is normal though? I think we all know a few high powered executives who compete in triathlons while having 3 kids and who seem to have boundless amounts of energy and executive function. And there are those of us who can barely get out of bed in the morning. It’s easy to think the executive triathlete is the norm and there is something wrong with us that robs us of that kind of energy. But, is it really that we’re normal and the executive triathlete is the outlier?

    It’s sort of like when I was walking the dog on Saturday and there were no cars parked on Comm Ave. Why? Everyone is at their vacation homes. I thought to myself, “What am I doing wrong?” Later that day I was to Target and drove by the methadone clinic and saw the usual crowd and thought to myself, “Ah, you’re doing great in the grand scheme of things be careful comparing yourself to a tiny elite vs. the average person.”

  16. “I’m unlikely to steam my vagina”

    Well, now, *that’s* definitely high on the list of “things I never thought I’d say.”

    I am of two minds about this. Part of me thinks this is a version of entitled twitness, as if we all have an inalienable right to be joyful and feel wonderful 24/7, and therefore if we can’t sleep or have aches and pains or are too tired, something is wrong and therefore must be fixed. And, of course, there will always be people happy to sell you something to cure whatever it is ails you. And I get very, very angry when froofy made-up things get listed side-by-side with “real” diseases like celiac and thyroid diseases, because it casts unnecessary doubt on people who are actually struggling with medical problems.

    OTOH, the reality is also that many diseases have not been adequately investigated or served by traditional Western medicine. And most specifically, diseases that largely afflict women, with vague-ish symptoms, have historically been not taken seriously and written off as hysteria or neurosis or whatever the dismissive-word-of-the-era is. I felt like crap for pretty much a decade before my doctors did a blood panel that led to my Hashimoto’s diagnosis; I just kept hearing “eat more vegetables, sleep more, and lose weight,” with that nice little dismissive mental pat on the head. When I got my diagnosis, I wanted nothing more than to run back to my old doc and say “SEE? I TOLD you something was wrong, you jackass.” I do think there is a portion of the medical profession that defines “disease” as “things we can test for,” so that if they run the standard tests and nothing shows up, well, it must all be in your head.

    But then again, I also think that there are many things about our lifestyle that lead to this kind of vague dissatisfaction that can manifest itself as depression, exhaustion, gastro-intestinal problems, and other kinds of things. It seems like everyone, from the top to the bottom, is scrambling, with most families having two full-time jobs (or cobbling together multiple part-time ones), and of course spare time must be spent shuttling kids and maintaining lifestyle. And more people are disassociated from church, family, friends, community, and those other connections that we rely on outside of our nuclear family; we are spending more time on isolated entertainment (iPads, Netflix) and less on communal/fun activities that get us moving and connecting (e.g. sports leagues, hobby clubs). And even a lot of the work feels disassociated, cogs in the machine, without a direct connection to either a need (e.g., “I am planting these seeds to feed my family”) or a public good that brings some sort of value or meaning(e.g., teaching kids). The unfortunate part is that the current “solution” seems to be to become even more self-focused — “if I can only micromanage my own biome/nutrition/exercise/meditation/”wellness”/whatever, I will be happy — I’m sorry, ‘joyful’ — and have energy and feel connected and like my life has meaning again!”

    Which, of course, then cycles back to the load-of-crap “some of it’s just life” bit I started with.

  17. I agree with Rhett. I don’t focus too much on wellness. I try and get enough sleep and try not to be insane with eating. I should work out more, but there you have it.

  18. “But, is it really that we’re normal and the executive triathlete is the outlier?”

    Tl;dr: yes.

  19. I almost stopped reading the article when it equated autism to being a sickness that can be cured. That’s what’s wrong with most people in that mind-set. There are things that can be cured or treated with “wellness” practices and there are things that can’t. Later on someone said it best “you can’t reiki away an infection”. A person will always be autistic – if they are lucky, they will learn how to cope and function within the world.

    I am lucky to get 2 hours of yoga in per week. I’m going to try for 1 hour pilates and 1 hour yoga to spice up my life a bit. But those 2 hours are the only ones I can take to do those things. I really don’t have much more time (or my time does not line up with the gym schedule). I am starting therapy next week – my anxiety is at an all time high, and I can’t talk myself down effectively. It’s impacting every aspect of my life now. Hopefully this will help and if it doesn’t, I’m not above taking drugs to get my brain to STFU for a while.

    I keep trying to remind myself of the simple things – we have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food in our bellies. We have so much more than some members of our own families. Or at least less dysfunction.

  20. Rhett – I don’t know but it does seem like people have more things wrong with them at earlier ages. I read an article yesterday about millennials having strokes – more in cities than in rural areas. I think people fundamentally need to be in nature more and as I mentioned above people spend a lot of time indoors looking at screens. There are a lot of studies about blue light being harmful to human health because it disrupts your circadian rhythm. My kids and I are sleeping so well on Cape Cod – it is dark at night as opposed to the LED street light that sits outside my bedroom window at night. Anyway, we’re off to the beach.:)


  21. I wonder if it’s awareness that’s also contributing to the rise of diagnoses across the board. Are people are more aware of stroke symptoms now than maybe 30 years ago? Do they know what to look for so that they get treatment sooner rather than later? The article didn’t tease apart the type of stroke either – a person can have “mini-strokes” without knowing it.

  22. It may seem as though everyone is scrambling, but I see a lot of people in the middle of the day doing their errands and walking their dogs in relative calm. They amble through the store as thought they have all of the time in the world.

  23. Rhett, the executive triathletes with 3 kids are hiring someone to care for the kids/do household chores. They ain’t got nothin’ on the divorced moms working night shift.

  24. I’m naturally a pretty high energy person, and I really notice when my energy is low. Definitely not my default setting. That in turn affects everything, so I really try to make sure I manage it when it’s not right. I run regularly, pilates 2x/week, and try to get good sleep. I take a multivitamin, and I really notice the days when I don’t take it. I get hit by a 3pm slump so hard I can hardly keep my eyes open, but when I’m regularly taking the multivitamin, I don’t get that. Not sure the specific connection. I also take magnesium at night, which has made a huge difference in my sleep quality. I used to get nightly leg cramps and the magnesium has made those go away completely.

  25. Rhett, the executive triathletes with 3 kids are hiring someone to care for the kids/do household chores.

    Some do. Others just have a lot of energy and need little sleep.

  26. “Some do. Others just have a lot of energy and need little sleep.”

    ITA. My mentor/boss is like this; as long as I have known him, he has needed only 4-5 hrs of sleep per night. And more to the point, he is seemingly indefatigable — he can tackle complex legal and strategic issues at all of those hours, and he is interested enough that he wants to do it.

    Not surprisingly, he has been incredibly successful in his career — while also maintaining a great relationship with his wife and two kids (he was the first one here to ever go part-time when his kids were little; even when I first met him, years later, he was billing close to 3000 hours while still leaving work by 5:30 to go home and have dinner and spend the evening with his kids, before jumping back online after they went to bed to work until midnight-2 AM. Every night.).

    I have never had that kind of energy, even when I was a stupid teenager who didn’t know better or a stupid college kid who thought I was invincible. I have also never had the *desire* (or ability) to continue to focus on heavy work stuff for that many hours, at least over long periods of time (cramming for exams is one thing; years on end is another).

    As far as I can tell, the man is just a freak of nature, and he deserves all of the success he has achieved, because he worked his ass off for it. But, man, if I tried to hold myself to that standard, I’d have burned out decades ago.

  27. On sleep – I am 7.5 hours, like clockwork. Can’t sleep longer even if I try. Preferred sleeping schedule is 10pm – 5:30. Sometimes I stay up all the way until 10:15, and then my eyes pop open at 5:45.

  28. Even my kids who theoretically should be pretty similar from both a nurture and nature perspective have huge differences in sleep needs. One of my kids is never, ever tired. Even as a baby. No naps. Up until midnight just ready to go. I finally gave up with attempting for an early bedtime and now just roll with it.

  29. Rhode — I hope you feel better soon. You have an awful lot on your plate. My $0.02 is to not hesitate to try meds if you think they might be helpful; also, don’t hesitate to try a different type if the first type prescribed for you doesn’t work.

    For years I was regularly going to a strength class at the gym because I’d heard so much about how important it is for women to build (or at least not lose) muscle as they age. When I was recovering from appendicitis earlier this year, though, I couldn’t lift weights, so I switched to yoga classes. I felt SO much better being away from strength class — my body felt better, I was sleeping better, and I was just more calm and happy overall. I have come to the conclusion that heavy cardio (which I used to do, and which also made me feel like crap) and weightlifting are simply not right for me — they seem to stress my body and mind. I now do yoga once a week, barre/pilates once a week, and I walk whenever I can; that seems to be a really good mix for me.

    Re. bedtime, I have found lately that 11:00 is my deadline. If I’m in bed by 11:00, I feel fine the next day (irrespective of how long I actually sleep). Anything past 11:00, and I feel terrible.

  30. Oh, and sometimes I have to fight against nature in order to feel good. In the spring and summer, I have to wear a sleep mask and ear plugs to bed, so I don’t get awakened at 4:00 a.m. by the rising sun and chirping (or woodpecking) birds.

  31. There is a guy in my office who does triathlons, and has three kids. He if often sending emails well past midnight. He also falls asleep in meetings. So, not sure how much energy he really has.

  32. Going beyond Gwenyth promoted new age group frou, vaginal sits bath and sauna are age old rituals that are followed in India after a vaginal birth. It, err… makes things healthy and tight again. I would have totally done it.

    Itake multivitamins as I tend to be low on B vitamins even when I do not eat processed junk.

  33. NoB – thanks. It’s taken me weeks (months, maybe?) to finally pull the trigger. I just haven’t made the time.

    On energy – those people like LfB’s mentor are so not me. I know a lot of people like that and I pale in comparison. I tend to hold myself to their standards and then I realize I can’t because I’m not them… I need my 8 hours of sleep, and I feel so much better if it’s not interrupted. And I need me time – away from everyone and everything.

  34. “I tend to hold myself to their standards and then I realize I can’t because I’m not them”

    As I’ve said before, the reason I’m enamored with general frugality and investment income is because I know I don’t have the stamina to earn a large income on my own.

  35. I used to take Pilates reformer and mat classes before I had DD. It was my vice and I was addicted to Pilates. I gave it up for spinning, running and more aerobic activities to keep the weight level. I went back to Pilates when camp started because a friend joined a new Club Pilates place nearby. For 30 days, I can take unlimited classes. I’ve been going almost everyday and I love it. I forgot why I really needed something like this in addition to running and weight training. These group reformer classes didn’t exist 15 years ago. This studio is nearby so I can go early morning, mid day or evening. Even with a few days of vacation, I’m going to get my money’s worth of classes.
    I just have to figure out how to add in 1 or 2 classes when DD is back. It makes no sense for me to do the unlimited when she’s back because I can’t get so many days a week.

    I caught a very bad 24 stomach bug at the end of April. I was slightly sick for weeks after, and my Gastro explained that it can take many weeks for the intestines to recover from something so severe. I started to chew more Tums and the impact on my nails has been immediate. They completed stopped peeling and I think it’s because of all of the extra calcium I was getting for two months. I’m going to add calcium supplements because I think I was deficient.

  36. “I caught a very bad 24 stomach bug at the end of April.”

    Does Jack Bauer deliver chicken soup for that?

  37. As far as I can tell, the man is just a freak of nature, and he deserves all of the success he has achieved, because he worked his ass off for it.

    Is it really work though? I think of work as the mental and physically energy you expend to do things you don’t like to do. Someone the other day said their husband gets despondent when he has a business trip. If he had to do that 4x a month that would a huge amount of work for him. For me, no work at all. In my job I love solving technical problems but I dread the mindless paperwork. So working 39:40 hours doing technical problem solving requires almost no work on my part. But that 20 min doing my status report! Oh how I dread it. So for me it requires a huge amount of work.

  38. I know I don’t have the stamina to earn a large income on my own.

    What do you mean by large? As in add another zero to the totebag median?

  39. Hmmm. I more think of work as “things you pay me to do,” with the ultimate goal being to find that thing that is least painful to me and most painful to you, so I maximize my $/unit of effort. In my profession, you could also view it as “value to the client/recipient” — which, again, if you find something that you sort-of enjoy and the client can’t tolerate, allows the same sort of optimization.

  40. Rhett and LfB, I concur on the freaks of nature who thrive on 4-5 hr/sleep. But to me, “wellness” should be designed around most people’s needs, not the needs of exceptional people. Substitute “high achieving professor” for “high achieving executive” and i can think of a couple people like Rhett’s friend and LfB’s mentor. And all of them had help (SAHP, grandparent, or nanny/childcare) during the young child years. Meme is as close to a single parent doing it all as I know of.

  41. “What do you mean by large? As in add another zero to the totebag median?”

    Double the totebag median.

  42. Double the totebag median.

    I wonder about that in terms of the range within which you can optimize the return on dollars per unit of effort. If you’d been omniscient at 17 is there a path that would have you making $540k as the VP of sales/marketing at Avalon Pontoon?

  43. lol. I don’t know. But I’m not sure that guy is making that much. Those all tend to be companies in the upper Midwest. Seems like Indiana and Michigan build all our pontoon boats and RVs.

    Or maybe he is.

  44. OTOH, Rhett, It wouldn’t do me much good to change my path so I can make that from the ages of 50-55. The change would be to get it earlier, not when I’m old and ready to retire. I’ll have money at that age.

    We met up for drinks with my old boat friend in Manhattan, one of the ones who got out and went to a top MBA program and then to work for McKinsey. He left McKinsey for a series of startups, and I don’t get the sense that he’s making anything spectacular (actually, I really don’t think he is, based on our discussion over drinks of the same articles we discussed on here that complained about the 5% or 2% or whatever it was). He’s just as dissatisfied with his current employer as he was with our CO; I think some people are always going to consider themselves the lone genius in the room and everyone else is an idiot.

  45. Having lived in a place where health insurance is focused much more on wellness and good health than on the disease abatement our country mostly uses, I see huge benefits to having everyone assume they should be operating well.

  46. Yoga twists probably don’t make the liver release toxins, but they feel so good!

  47. WCE, I call bs on you calling bs. You eat well, mostly food that you have cooked/processed yourself, spend time outside every day, get sufficient sleep on a regular basis, and get any medical concerns looked at/treated promptly. That is a regime and a life geared towards wellness that many people cannot afford.

  48. Or maybe he is.

    I can’t find VP of Market/Sales but the CFO of Malibu Boats makes $768,734 which must go pretty far in Loundon TN.

  49. NoB, the strength classes I’ve tried have driven me crazy. Zero rest, tons of reps, not very high weight, just lots of movement, almost like cardio, but with a slightly lower level of coordination required. Lifting for me is stress-relieving when I have my simple, clear chart of what I need to do, and I can lift as slowly as I want, focusing on the muscle I’m working, taking 30-120 seconds in between sets or super-setting opposing muscles groups as I wish that day. It is a completely different animal than having a trainer get excited and try to get a bunch of people pumped to thumping music. You might enjoy it that way.

  50. @S&M: Not sure what you’re calling BS on WCE for? I thought she was challenging the focus in the article about these new froofy “wellness” trends among the UMC/UC folks, because that’s not how most people live or what they need, and people who care about developing/providing/encouraging “wellness” should focus on what normal people need, not 1%ers living in Manhattan. Which, I think, is sort of the same as your general line of thinking?

  51. That house has property taxes of ~$7k. With no income tax, how does Tn survive? I do not understand. Their sales tax is higher but not by that much.

  52. “I have been at the pool 2-3 times/week. . . . I should probably add some calcium since all of the women in my family get osteoporosis.”

    Especially since all that time at the pool probably will help with the absorption of calcium.

  53. I have some extended family-in-law, one of whom is a Directional State U. college grad and a state employee in a social worker type role. She might earn $13 an hour.

  54. went to a top MBA program and then to work for McKinsey. He left McKinsey for a series of startups, and I don’t get the sense that he’s making anything spectacular

    I’ve often found what jobs pay doesn’t always line up with what you’d think they would pay. Like how can these salaries be so low?


    All I can figure is they pay less than they otherwise would have to because the path out is either partner at 2.4 million a year or senior executive. As such a stint and McKinsey is sort of like a “post doc” program.

  55. I didn’t think 160 starting is so low. I don’t think my friend is making anything more than that now.

    Whatever threshold we were talking about in political terms, maybe it was $200,000, it was apparent that he did not consider himself as part of that loathsome group. Obviously, there’s a difference between single earner and combined incomes, but for someone who went to Stanford and work for McKinsey and is working in Manhattan in his late 30s, I kind of expect a little more, only because this is someone who has always been obsessed with pedigree and career and status.

  56. I call bs on the notion that most people cannot afford a healthy lifestyle. It actually costs money to smoke and drink, for example. Tap water is cheaper than soda. Screens cost more than a walk outside. Even grocery stores in inner cities sell inexpensive basics like apples, carrots, oatmeal and peanut butter.
    The obstacles may be poor education or lack of desire to improve poor habits. But they are not *primarily* economic.

  57. I can appreciate that it’s harder for the working poor to have a healthier lifestyle. I recently said that when my kids were younger and needed more attention at night, it was not realistic with my level of stamina to also fit in a good work out in the evenings. And when I want to eat healthy at lunch, I can afford to buy a nice salad with spinach and goat cheese and roasted beets and grilled chicken every day. If I had to bring all of that from home, it probably would not happen. That’s not to say it’s impossible, just harder. And maybe impossible for me.

    As for the nonworking poor, they have no excuse.

  58. What I meant to add to my first point was that if I weren’t paying someone to keep my house clean, then that would be yet another thing that would prevent me from exercising in the evenings.

  59. You can get some exercise just from doing your own housework, walking to/from stores or job, walking up/down stairs in house etc. The problem comes when people stop walking and just turn to their cars or public transit to go every where.

  60. I kind of expect a little more, only because this is someone who has always been obsessed with pedigree and career and status.

    That could explain the low income. A job with a lot of pedigree and status is usually very competitive. If he’d gone to work for a company that provides actuarial modeling software to the insurance industry or the tri-state area’s largest pest control company, he could be the CEO by now.

  61. But you don’t need a nice grilled chicken salad for lunch to be healthy. A peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread with an apple and some carrot sticks or raisins is very cheap, can be assembled even by a child in a few minutes and requires no refrigeration. BITD, this was our regular school lunch.

  62. You may have solved it, Rhett. He wants to work in Manhattan for startups that will be the next social media hit app. He’s not going to work for fu(king Orkin Pest Control

  63. Scarlett,

    We’re literally back to brown bread and raw carrots. Orwell explained why that’s harder for a poor man than a rich man.

  64. Rhett – I remember one night we were deployed, and it’s he and I in the wardroom after our watch had ended, plus the XO, and it’s about 2 am and he’s telling us — again — how great it’s going to be when he works for McKinsey, how their standards are so high, even for personal appearance, for the type of suits, and guys even have to have their fingernails polished so they get manicures…

    And the XO interrupts with “OMFG, I’ve heard this so many times from you, you want a fucking manicure, just go get one when we’re in Bahrain, OK? You have my permission. Get your manicure!”

  65. Milo -I was thinking about what you said. I don’t have a house cleaner and clean most of the house myself. I keep active but don’t have any kind of fixed exercise regimen. The only thing I really like is walking. If I had to join a class it would be yoga or Pilates but generally I don’t like classes.
    I wonder if this is enough along with the eating relatively healthy. I hope I have inherited the good genes of two of my grandparents.

  66. He wants to work in Manhattan for startups that will be the next social media hit app.

    As someone who’s been observing Silicon Valley employees for decades, I’ll just say “Good luck with that.”

  67. Laura, I saw her later comment about “single moms working the night shift”. You might be right that I misinterpreted her first statement.
    Veggies are the only thing I plan to steam for the foreseeable future. I think there is generally an entire segment of the spectrum from ER-only medicine to carrying crystals in your bra for their healing powers (it’s real–I’ve seen it online :)) that is missing from discussions of health and wellness in this country. It is the sweet spot of people living humane lives, being able to rise to challenges because they regularly partake in things–activities, food, restoration–that enable them to function well and to feel good. That is the most important part of the whole damn thing, and it gets skipped between discussions of diabetics who lose a foot because they can’t afford treatment and Goop’s goop. Now I’m going to go read the rest of the comments between yours and this one, and may well see that I’m repeating what someone else said.

  68. Louise – I needed to lose weight. I think you’re healthy and fit enough, so walking is great for maintaining that.

    And I’d post a chore chart for the in-laws. ;)

  69. “Even grocery stores in inner cities sell inexpensive basics like apples, carrots, oatmeal and peanut butter.”
    Look up the term “food desert”. I think you’ll be surprised. While you’re at it, take safety into account when you talk about the “affordability” of putting down screens and going for a walk, or having kids play outside when parents are at work, rather than staying in and watching tv. Everyone on here is priveleged, but we don’t have to put fingers in our ears and sing “lalala, I don’t hear any reason people can’t be as virtuous as me”.

  70. “The problem comes when people stop walking and just turn to their cars or public transit to go every where.”
    Public transit gets you a whole lot more exercise than driving!

  71. Here. I did it for you. Per the USDA, portions of the population that are over a mile from a grocery store and don’t have access to a car. “This has become a big problem because while food deserts are often short on whole food providers, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, instead, they are heavy on local quickie marts that provide a wealth of processed, sugar, and fat laden foods that are known contributors to our nation’s obesity epidemic”

  72. The pattern of besity in the US is startlingly similar to the pattern of food deserts.

  73. “Healthy eating is now more convenient” for people who can get to a grocery store.

  74. What is the criteria for “access to a car”? My kids live more than a mile from a grocery store, and they don’t have access to a car. I was a mile from a grocery store in college, and my car was also more than a mile away until senior year.

    Is it a concern when Amazon delivers groceries?

  75. Milo, in rural areas it’s ten miles. From what you’ve said on here, your kids have access to a lot of cars.

  76. “Even grocery stores in inner cities sell inexpensive basics like apples, carrots, oatmeal and peanut butter.”

    I don’t know, every time I see that you can get a family sized bag of chips for like $2 or two apples, I think that people see that they can be full for $2 or healthy and hungry for $2 and they choose full. Especially when you consider how few luxuries these people have, food might really be the only part of their day that they enjoy or look forward to.

    I’m done with the trendy garbage. I’m not gonna do anything that i can’t see myself maintaining for the long run. So now I walk the dogs 4 miles every day in the woods and throw in some planks and stuff. I’m done with the classes and all the other nonsense. Take care of my dogs, my mind and my body all at once.

  77. Milo, college students who live in a dorm and eat in a dining hall–really, do. you need someone to explain to you whether they are counted here? You seem to have a lot of questions. The USDA’s site will answer all but the most intentionally illogical of them.

  78. From the article you linked to.

    The fact that major retailers like Amazon are participating in SNAP’s online ordering program is a big deal. The ability to buy food online using food stamps could especially help those who live in food deserts (i.e. neighborhoods without access to fresh produce), those with disabilities, and the elderly.

    I wonder how it’s going– if they’ve started and if delivery drivers will go to the neighborhoods where it is most needed

  79. Our friend took a pay cut to go to McKinsey about ten years ago (he was an attorney) but the upside is so much bigger than being a law firm partner. They also put like $20K in your 401K and your health benefits are fully paid for. He took the $20K or $30K pay cut because he knew after a few years he would be way ahead of where he would have been as an attorney. The guy he worked for was making over $10M per year.

  80. Wal Mart had a smaller neighborhood grocery store in our area but it went out of business. I am guessing it’s not economical to have a full service grocery store smaller than a certain size. Ethnic markets are smaller but the quality of their produce is often not uniform. The one I frequent has good meats, fish and a variety of vegetables and fruits but those may not be as fresh as a regular grocery store.

  81. Saac – apparently it’s not as dumb a question as you thought.

    Group quarters population
    Users may be interested in highlighting tracts with large shares of people living in group quarters. Group quarters are residential arrangements where an entity or organization owns and provides housing (and often services) for individuals residing in these buildings. This includes college dormitories, military quarters, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, residential treatment centers, and assisted living or skilled nursing facilities. These living arrangements frequently provide dining and food retail solely for their residents. While individuals living in these areas may appear to be far from a supermarket or grocery store, they may not truly experience difficulty accessing healthy and affordable food. Tracts in which 67 percent of individuals or more live in group quarters are highlighted.

    Sounds like they do count — “highlight” — college students. Good to know. Next time don’t be so quick to dismiss questions.

  82. Never underestimate a government agency’s inclination to exaggerate a problem that they’re arguing for more resources in order to address.

  83. “Especially when you consider how few luxuries these people have, food might really be the only part of their day that they enjoy or look forward to.”

    I have to say, this rings very true for me, and it is probably part of why I have struggled with my weight. My mom was the “good” version of poor, i.e., very frugal and intent on saving money and getting her education so she could get a better job and support herself and me. She was the queen of delayed gratification. So all our food was homemade and healthy, and the little money she had was used for necessities; treats were few and far-between. And it worked.

    But from my perspective, when I was a kid, I knew I wasn’t getting “stuff” — no trendy clothes, no cool toys; no matter what it was that I wanted, the answer was almost always no, and when it was something reasonable like a bike, it was used from Goodwill or whatever. Not because she was mean (though she was anti-consumerist), but for several years because saying yes to a new toy would have meant skipping some necessities, and she always made the smart choice for her long-term future.

    But sometimes, when my mom had a particularly cheap week at the grocery store, we’d have enough food stamps left to get a packet of sugar cookies — four big cookies, made in the store, for probably $0.50 or something. Four of them — that was four nights that I could look forward to having a treat. And then I discovered that I could even make my own dough with some butter and sugar and flour, or make brownies with cocoa powder, etc.

    In short, food was cheap enough that it was an achievable treat, something I had a chance of hearing “yes” to. And because that was the only luxury that was attainable, basically ever, I learned to really, really look forward to it and probably appreciate it too much for my long-term health.

  84. During a summer in college, I and a group of my friends sublet an apartment in a not so nice part of town. We couldn’t get deliveries (this was pre-Amazon), because they would be stolen off of ourporch. I am not sure that waiting for the Amazon delivery is going to work for everyone.

  85. The whole concept of “food deserts” as the explanation for poor nutrition appears to be over-rated anyhow.
    “In this new model of nutritional disparity, differences in consumption are a result of variations in demand, more than supply. According to the study, at least half of the observed differences in consumption can be explained by tastes.” http://chicagopolicyreview.org/2015/10/26/if-you-build-it-they-wont-come-why-eliminating-food-deserts-wont-close-the-nutrition-gap/

  86. I don’t think safety is the only barrier to an Amazon delivery. Do you need a credit or debit card? if yes, I don’t think that this is going to be a solution for many people.

  87. “According to the study, at least half of the observed differences in consumption can be explained by tastes.”

    I think this is probably true. I still like a lot of the things that I had as a kid. I would like to see all public schools with a high % of kids who get free/reduced meals receive free breakfast/lunch that is healthy and good tasting.

  88. You don’t need a debit card. You can buy Amazon gift cards at convenience stores (and Walmart).

  89. Milo, here. They made this so you can highlight the places where people live in group quarters to subtract them from the rest. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-access-research-atlas/documentation/#GQ It doesn’t look like your arguments that it’s all people living in group quarters or that the free market will save the day by sending in delivery drivers are going to hold up. What’s your next one?

    Louise, are you and I just in different wu threads here? I can’t tell if that’s the case or if you’re trying to comment on low income neighborhoods where people don’t have access to cars and there aren’t grocery stores by saying things about your area. The former seems much more likely than you also being obstructionist.

  90. Scarlett, there are some people who hate Obama so much that they would prefer to roll back anything they associate with him rather than have kids develop a taste for healthy food. Blows my mind that people would want to screw people for their lives by messing with them in childhood, but there apparently are lawmakers who are that heinous, and voters who support such things.

  91. Yes, but did the government subtract them?

    And what about middle class old people who have given up driving, but take the Villages van to the grocery store? Or old people whose adult children take them shopping?

    The point is the criteria is weak, vague, and ultimately meaningless.

    For all these supposed access problems, you’d think the problem would be widespread malnutrition. Instead, we see the opposite.

  92. There was a story in the WaPo this past week about the lack of grocery stores in DC’s poorest ward. Lots of quotes from residents and community organizers about racial disparities and the grocery gap. Buried in the middle was this comment that goes a long way toward explaining the gap: “The greatest obstacle, he said, is that grocers in poorer areas need to make 30 percent more than a store in an affluent neighborhood to offset costs associated with shoplifting, security, cleanliness and staff turnover.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-news/as-dc-prospers-supermarkets-proliferate–except-in-poor-areas/2017/06/27/412fc0f4-5122-11e7-be25-3a519335381c_story.html?utm_term=.4cee9f9de73e

  93. Milo,

    Your Amazon theory runs into the same issue as the poor also being unbanked. In 10 seconds you could probably google and find them a credit union with no fee checking but a whole host of issues from cognitive ability and executive function, to cultural issues makes it difficult for the poor to heed your advice.

  94. Loving this thread.
    My own efforts at wellness consist of ~4-5x/wk at the gym, a combo of cardio and resistance. Sometimes I do a weights session at 50% of my “heavy” weights but many more reps. And eating better (mostly lighter on the carbs, specifically breads and sweets, and fewer overall calories).
    Sleep: i need 7.5-8hrs. So this summer that means to bed by 10 since I’m commuting with ds2 and working 730-430. Once everyone’s gone by mid-late august I’ll switch to ~815-530 and hit the hay by 11.

    Trip news: snorkeling day. Molokini and then just off the south Maui coast. Molokini is a federally protected crater about ~5mi off south Maui with coral reefs. But the coral is dying. It was much more colorful and there were more and more varieties of fish when we went in 1991. The closer in dive was to see sea turtles. Very cool.

  95. “but a whole host of issues from cognitive ability and executive function, to cultural issues makes it difficult for the poor to heed your advice.”

    Oh ITA.

    At the same time, you can be “unbanked” and still buy a gift card for cash from 7-Eleven. My point is that it can help some.

    Obviously some people are never going to be helped, or happy. There are people who can barely function in life and never leave their apartments but just constantly bitch about their problems.

    Just like Amazon grocery delivery is not a cure-all, a Kroger across the street from the isn’t going to solve all their problems, either.

  96. 70% took the fruit and 60% took the vegetable. And then the vast majority tried them. Seems pretty successful to me. Of course, we can just fall back on what Chris Christie and Ted a Cruz want for school food. Awesome idea!

  97. To be exact: “So in essence, just over half the students both took and ate some fruit, and about 42 percent both took and ate a vegetable.”

    Yeah, I’d say that makes it worth offering fruits and vegetables.

  98. But on the plus side, there are piles of uneaten fruits and veggies for the school compost bins.

  99. “Do you need a credit or debit card?”

    I don’t think you do to purchase food using SNAP benefits. IIRC, SNAP recipients are issued Visa cards connected to their benefits. I’ve seen people buy stuff at the local Safeway, and the transactions didn’t look much different than a credit card purchase.

    I don’t see why those same cards couldn’t be used at Amazon.

  100. On general wellness, I appreciate it now more than ever. Before I knew what was wrong with me, I was having weird symptoms in addition to being exhausted to the point of having trouble making it through what I had to do everyday. I got to a point where my feet did not always respond to my brain’s command of “now your turn”. I was finally diagnosed with a serious B12 deficiency (did you know your body can just stop absorbing it from your food?) It’s been around 18 months now that I’m taking supplements, and I am not exaggerating when I say I feel twenty years younger. I marvel at how good I feel some days, and all it takes is a little vitamin and some iron. So, now I walk more than I did, and I’ve added in the 7-minute work out video twice a day, and a yoga video a few times a week. I still don’t get enough sleep (and had promised myself I’d be in bed 45 minutes ago), so that is my next big push.

    Rhode, good luck with your appointment. I hope you are feeling like your old self soon.

    I am not entering the food desert discussion, but I will say that when I was in college I did not know how to be poor. I still ate out whenever I wanted, bought whatever groceries I wanted without looking at price, etc. now I’m always pointing out cheap food to my kids for when they’re broke. Eggs are less than twenty cents each! This whole bunch of bananas was 48 cents! This bag of lettuce is $2.69 and will give you salads for a whole week. (And obviously, they listen in rapt attention and thank me for these pearls of wisdom). Now that it’s not as important, I can stretch a buck.

  101. But on the plus side, there are piles of uneaten fruits and veggies for the school compost bins.

    If they did some simple work of adjusting supply to meet demand, there wouldn’t be much left over.

  102. My kids’ school has a salad bar for at least part of the fruit/veggie option. It has apple/orange slices, baby carrots, canned fruit, broccoli sprigs, and canned beans (kidney or similar) from what I hear. Most kids can find something they like. The entrees are not as healthy as I would like (lots of pizza) but it beats managing lunch myself every day, so far.

    My Dad lives near a Kwik Star, which is a common convenience store/gas station in Iowa. They sell onions, potatoes, bread and bananas for good prices and that’s part of their corporate strategy. It both gets people in the door and does the community service of making core foods widely available and affordable. (Some very small towns have only a Kwik Star as a business.) Maintaining a selection of high quality produce requires a lot of turnover and that can be hard to achieve in lower density areas, especially those off a major transportation route. Our local produce selection is helped by being near the I-5 corridor but hurt because I work in the westernmost city of over 50,000 in the lower 48. (And the fact that California is adjacent to Oregon does not make produce from the Central Valley “local”. Sorry, Safeway.)

  103. The former seems much more likely than you also being obstructionist.

    SM – I wasn’t and wasn’t commenting on low income food shopping. More like middle class neighborhoods including ethnic shoppers who do drive a long way to get to certain ethnic stores here.

  104. I haven’t read through the fruits and vegetables for kids but in my own house getting the required servings of fruits and vegetables into them is not easy.
    When my inlaws tell of food habits, one thing you pick up on is that there were no array of food options in their childhood. They had to eat what was put in front of them or went hungry.
    This cultivated in them the liking for all different types of vegetables. Similar with my parents, although my Dad’s could afford to make more luxurious foods like cakes for instance.
    I appreciate Michelle Obama bringing the issue up. It did raise awareness. It’s a first step, not the end of what is a long and often difficult and contentious road.

  105. Requiring schools to serve only whole grain bread and pasta items is a perfect example of well-intentioned but dumb federal agency overreach. Most adults would not eat whole grain pasta or hamburger buns if given a choice, and there is nothing wrong with the regular stuff in moderation, but the kids weren’t given a choice and so they voted with their feet. Or the trash bin. Pulling back on those rules was the right call.
    And Milo I too didn’t realize that schools could opt out but on reflection of course they can — they just don’t get the federal funds for the free lunch program. The school profiled in the link was able to continue to provide those meals because their revenues went way up after dumping the unappealing menu items.

  106. Louise our parents also had very little food choice and ate what was put in front of them. But a number of their kids were very picky eaters in childhood. Of course, we don’t know what our parents actually ate as kids, so maybe they didn’t eat as many Brussels sprouts as they claimed.

  107. “I take a multivitamin, and I really notice the days when I don’t take it.”

    That sounds too good to be true, but then I read Becky’s story of how supplements changed her life and I can understand how a particular deficiency can have such a debilitating effect.

    I tried meditating a few years ago but I lacked the motivation to keep it up. But I did learn how to meditate effectively and I find that exercising mindfulness is good for managing my mood. For kicks I tried meditating during a subway ride yesterday and I did feel the beneficial effects. After my mini meditation session everyone on the train seemed friendlier. Seriously.

    I thought we had discussed the myth of food deserts here, but maybe I’m thinking of something else.

  108. From one of the links July provided above on food deserts,this is a fascinating 2002 piece by Theodore Dalrymple, a British physician working with prisoners and other low-income groups. The whole thing is worth a read, as he begins with a description of the way in which malnourished ( really close to starving) drug addicted criminals use prisons as a means of restoring their health, the extent to which their poor eating habits began in childhood and the invention of the food desert as the culprit:

    “The liberal intelligentsia has several reasons for failing to see or admit the cultural dimension of malnutrition in the midst of plenty—in failing to see its connection with an entire way of life—and in throwing the blame instead onto the supermarket chains. One reason is to avoid confronting the human consequences of the changes in morals, manners, and social policy that it has consistently advocated. The second is to avoid all appearance of blaming people whose lives are poor and unenviable. That this approach leads it to view those same people as helpless automata, in the grip of forces that they cannot influence, let alone control—and therefore as not full members of the human race—does not worry the intelligentsia in the least. On the contrary, it increases the importance of the elite’s own providential role in society. To blame the supermarket chains is implicitly to demand that the liberal and bureaucratic elite should have yet more control over society.”

  109. The second is to avoid all appearance of blaming people whose lives are poor and unenviable.

    I think he’s right about that. You tend to blame the poor too much as you, being in at least the 98th percentile of cognitive ability and executive function, fundamentally can’t grasp what it’s like to be in the 2nd percentile*. On the other hand, those as far on the left as you are on the right tend to blame the poor too little and think all their problems are external. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

    * your comment the other day about middle class parents being surprised that they had to pay for college really drove that home.

  110. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but it seems to me like this thread is veering into the political realm. Can we get back to talking about (1) our own “wellness” habits and/or (2) making fun of Gwyneth Paltrow?

  111. I definitely think school lunches can meet the taste plus nutritional goals. It may mean backing off from kale salad but offering things like veggie cutlets, burgers, veggie fritters as options. If the kids are eating fresh fruits cups, offer that with a small dollop of whipped cream.
    In the home country a dollop of ghee (clarified butter) was added to lentils to add taste. Of course the puritans sniffed at this and touted the merits of fat free lentils.

  112. Agree with NoB.

    By the way, RMS, I am LOVING that pitcher you posted. I’m not great about drinking enough water after running, especially in this heat, but what a difference a little lemon infused water makes.

    I try to meditate about once/day. I completely and totally suck at it. I’m pretty sure I’ve never done it right. I usually give up after 5 minutes.

  113. I definitely think school lunches can meet the taste plus nutritional goals.

    The problem is the cost. It’s a lot easier to make $2.68/per kid appetizing if you’re making pizza or nuggets. Making fresh veggies appetizing is much harder at $2.68/per kid when you’re cooking for 400 kids.

  114. I’m glad the pitcher finally worked out, Lark!

    I’ve had a spiralizer for about 2 years now and I’ve never used it. I got some zucchinis and I am determined to spiralize them. Today is the day! Doesn’t help that I don’t particularly care for zucchinis and they don’t really have a fabulous nutrition profile. They’re mostly water.

  115. RMS,

    If you use half pasta half spiralized zucchini you get the water and fiber bulk of the zucchinis with enough of the carbs and mouth feel of the pasta to make it delicious and healthy.

  116. Louise — no, typically you sauté the zucchini noodles and then add some kind of sauce.

  117. “I definitely think school lunches can meet the taste plus nutritional goals.”

    I don’t think anyone has a clear concept of what the goals are. Are we worried that some kids are nutrient-deficient and need to eat baby spinach leaves for some specific nutrients, or iron or something? Or are we just trying to reduce the amount of calories they’re taking in (obviously a tricky goal for a program charged with combating supposed hunger)? If they succeed at getting them to eat Rocky’s spiralized zucchini that becomes little more than a water-based Ranch dressing delivery platform, is that a victory?

    With little evidence to support this, I would guess that school lunches have almost nothing to do with childhood obesity. My kids eat them all the time and are not obese; the same is true for hundreds of others — the vast majority — in their school. I suspect that the 98% contributor to childhood obesity is heavily sugared beverages as the primary and constant drink option for economically disadvantaged children, combined with a total lack of physical exertion. All the fretting about carrot sticks and “try a piece of fruit!” is not going to change that. Insufficient beta-carotene is not the issue at all.

  118. Here at our local chain, you can buy already spiralized zucchini, sweet potato, butternut squash and sometimes carrots. We use them just like pasta with a sauce. I have used them in salads with other greens. I just saw a recipe that uses thin sliced vs. spiralized zucchini in lieu of tortilla for enchiladas.

    On the vitamen front – I take a mutivitamen on opthamologists recommendation due to family history of macular degeneration, calcium and omegas on PCP’s recommendation, and zinc which since I was a teen helps keep my face clear.

  119. Regarding the school lunches, you also have to consider the socioeconomic/cultural background of the people serving the lunches. At my kids’ diverse elementary school, the salad bar innovation had serious problems with the staff figuring out that kiwis are only edible when ripe, not when they are hard as rocks and that a serving size of strawberries is more than one strawberry. If the staff doesn’t know how to fix/serve/make edible healthy options, the food they produce will not really be edible.

    School lunches are difficult for a number of reasons. Feeding 500+ little people with a variety of nutritional, religious, cultural, and taste restrictions on $2.68 is really difficult. Then throw in the reality that the staff are not in the 98+ percentile of executive function and it is hard to see how it is an achievable goal.

  120. I’m becoming an advocate for smoothies… I use it as a way to get veggies in a kid who goes full on Linda Blair when he sees green veggies.

    However, DS’s OT *hates* them and food pouches with a burning passion because parents use them as an alternative to solid/crunchy food, not as an addition.

    I was going to suggest smoothies as a way to get kids to have veggies in school, but I suspect many school boards would have parents/OTs/nutritionists screaming that the kids will lose their ability eat “real” food.

    I also see no harm is slathering veggies with gravy or cheese if it gets the veggies into the kids. Again, I’m sure my suggestion would receive the same backlash as smoothies.

    To bring this around to wellness – smoothies and veggies-as-gravy-delivery-system get veggies into a toddler, taste good to mommy/daddy, and keep the house sane. That’s a wellness win in my book.

  121. Two weeks ago, on a whim, I bought a package of already-spiralized zucchini at the supermarket. It is still sitting, untouched, in our fridge. At this point, I think I am just going to use it to make a couple of loaves of zucchini bread. Which totally defeats the purpose of buying it in the first place (which was, “I should eat more vegetables,” not “I should eat more baked goods”).

  122. DS’s OT *hates* them and food pouches with a burning passion because parents use them as an alternative to solid/crunchy food, not as an addition.

    DS’s OT is not the boss of you. People have always concealed foods. It’s called “cooking”.

  123. The school vegetable garden got one of my kids to try bok choy that was cooked up and served in the school cafeteria. I was very surprised because said kid did not belong to the garden club that planted the vegetables.

  124. Completely agree with Milo – school lunches are not the problem. Give kids some more recess and if you’re really going to try to solve the problem of malnutrition (and honestly most overweight people are malnourished), then just go full on French – charge parents more and actually upgrade the food and serve everyone breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack. When left to their own devices with parents who aren’t around, kids are not going to select the healthy food.

  125. “Which totally defeats the purpose of buying it in the first place (which was, “I should eat more vegetables,” not “I should eat more baked goods”).”

    Of course, you should just enjoy the bread, it will be delicious. But I think your comment illustrates the central confusion we often have. Is the goal really that you should eat more vegetables, or is that just an empowering Body-Positive euphemism for you should eat less food?

    Maybe a contributor to the obesity problem is that those with higher cognitive ability appreciate the wink-wink distinction of what is really meant by “eat more vegetables,” while those of more limited cognitive ability take it literally and think “alright, I’ll make an effort to add a salad to my regular diet.”

  126. “DS’s OT is not the boss of you. People have always concealed foods. It’s called “cooking”.”

    Oh totally agree. It doesn’t change my puree pouch buying habits in the least. I practically laughed in her face when she said what she did. But, in fairness to her, my kid doesn’t have a feeding issue where he can’t/won’t east solid or crunchy foods. Others in her class do have those issues.

  127. I really like zoodles (you must call them this if you want your children to eat them), but my kids prefer spaghetti squash as a stand in for pasta.

  128. We are leaving Charleston today. I had plenty of unhealthy food here this week, but most of it was worth every calorie. There were just too many great choices for a short trip. I have a great salad recipe that uses spiralized zucchini and squash, but I can’t access it from my phone. I like the spiralized veggies, but I am lazy about using my spiralizer. I buy the pre made stuff at the store, but it is much more expensive. I have been going to the farmers market every Saturday because of the fresh berries and now everything else is starting to show up at the stands. I love this time of year in the northeast because the fruit and veggies are great.

  129. Maybe a contributor to the obesity problem is that those with higher cognitive ability appreciate the wink-wink distinction of what is really meant by “eat more vegetables,” while those of more limited cognitive ability take it literally and think “alright, I’ll make an effort to add a salad to my regular diet.”

    I think that’s true. RMS mentioned that zucchinis are mostly water, which is the point of using them instead of pasta. As Ada has mentioned she’s never seen anyone outside of a chronic alcoholic with a nutrient deficiency. The reason to eat vegetables is to replace energy rich fats, protiens and carbs with zero calories water and almost no calorie fiber.

  130. Lauren – I hope you got some of the pecan pralines on Market St. If you went to Peninsula Grill, the shop is almost adjacent to it, and they’re always shouting at passersby to take a sample as they scoop the hot, liquefied confection from the big copper kettle onto the cold marble slab.

  131. Milo — I can only speak for myself, but in my case, it would be adding the vegetables to my current diet – not substituting vegetables for other things I already eat. For example, at dinnertime, I’ll often have a protein and a starch, but no separate vegetable. Fundamentally, I don’t like a lot of vegetables, and it’s an effort for me to get myself to eat them. But I keep hearing about how important it is to eat vegetables for health, cancer prevention, alzheimer’s prevention, yada yada yada, so I feel like I should try to get into the habit of eating them more often.

  132. BITD, school lunches were great exercises in portion control. If schools haven’t transformed their lunch delivery into the all you can eat bars typical of colleges, they could continue to help kids learn to stop eating when they aren’t hungry.

  133. So, losing all remaining Totebag cred, I must now ‘fess up that I use my spiralizer solely to make curly fries for DS. I tried the zucchini noodles once, and I detested them; I am definitely of the “hide the vegetables in something that actually tastes good” school.

    @Milo: I think the reference to zucchini bread had more to do with all of the extra sugar/butter/white flour — not sure that the nutrition from the zucchini outweighs the other stuff. Sort of like why pumpkin pie and carrot cake aren’t nutritionist-approved. :-)

    In an attempt to earn back a teensy bit of Totebag cred, I did hit the farmer’s market Sunday, and I picked up a bag of greens for like $5 that turned out to be baby red kale, and it made a delicious salad. I honestly struggle with salad (and greens in general), because arugula is too bitter, and frisee is a weird texture that bugs me, and kale is too chewy/stringy, and the regular options get very very boring. But this stuff had just enough flavor and texture to hold its own, without being tough or chewy. I’ve now had two dinners this week made up of a baby kale salad with warm balsamic-marinated grilled chicken, onions grilled with the same balsamic, and some hot bacon dressing made with some little cubes of pancetta I had in the freezer, and it was actually delicious and satisfying. Which, hello, this is me, talking about a SALAD.

  134. “they could continue to help kids learn to stop eating when they aren’t hungry.”

    To channel Mooshi, I would note that they probably don’t give them enough time, especially if the line is long, to eat slowly and achieve that, since I always feel that hunger is a delayed reaction.

    “and the regular options get very very boring”

    Feature, not a bug.

  135. sorry, hunger is not the delayed reaction. satiation is. it comes about 20 minutes after I’ve eaten all I need.

  136. From Rhett’s article: “Are they really so good for you that you need to endure the hardship of putting these foul plants in your mouth just to stay healthy?”

    LOL. That’s pretty much exactly what I’m thinking every time I’m staring at a plate of leafy greens.

  137. “LOL. That’s pretty much exactly what I’m thinking every time I’m staring at a plate of leafy greens.”

    Have you done 23 and me? It told me that I am much more likely than average to like that kind of stuff. And I do. I like argula and spinach and broccoli. They actually taste good to me.

  138. I find it so fascinating what people like and do not like. I love vegetables and crave them. I’m counting the minutes until I go pick up my big salad for lunch today.

    I really, really do not like sweets. Especially ice cream, but cookies and cake do nothing for me either. (Exception: ice cream sandwiches after the beach on a hot day.)

    But my dietary downfall is chips and fries. Can’t have a bag of chips in the house because I’ll eat the whole thing in one sitting.

  139. Especially ice cream

    I wonder if you’d like my new favorite ice cream flavor: Coolhaus’s balsamic fig and mascarpone. It’s more of an adult taste and not super sweet and cloying.

  140. “a plate of leafy greens.”

    Do baby spinach leaves taste bad to you? Our go-to salad lately is that, beets, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, some kind of candied nuts/cranberries, and a fancy, flavored vinegar (fig! chocolate! espresso! coconut!) from one of the ubiquitous oil and vinegar dispensaries that are popping up everywhere. Put that together, and I have the same feeling as LfB about it.

    But MIL, God love her, continues to grow increasingly averse to an unbelievably wide range of foods. She is a piece of work at restaurants these days. She doesn’t like, nay, “can’t eat!”, pretty much every kind there is, except for, I can’t even keep track any more, a specific type of romaine or something. Iceberg is off limits. ICEBERG!! It used to be that mixed spring greens were tolerable as long as they didn’t contain the purple ones — WTF? — but those days are over. Imagine that discussion with the waiter, and we’ve only covered the salad at this point. And this is at a place like Texas Roadhouse, not exactly the kind of joint where the wait staff is accustomed to running back and forth to the kitchen three times with questions.

    To be more sympathetic, there are adverse physiological symptoms like chronic coughs and reflux that she suffers, and eating an extremely limited and simple diet at home apparently alleviates much of it. However, they like to vacation and travel, and they like to go out to restaurants, and for some reason seem to believe that you simply have to eat three meals a day, and she refuses to ever eat a meal in on vacation (this is someone whose TV is always broadcasting the Food Network as a default setting if nothing else is on), so their travel planning now involves extensive restaurant research in advance, checking menus and coordinating with chefs about what substitutions can be made to various menu items (and this is all happening weeks in advance!). Incredibly, she reports that the chefs were extremely accommodating recently at many of the same restaurants I mentioned to Lauren. You couldn’t pay me enough to deal with that.

    Anyway, everyone needs something to keep busy.

  141. I’m one of those who actually like vegetables, and honestly the whole zucchini noodle thingy just seems like an awful lot of extra work. I don’t really like zucchini, but it’s ok grilled. Hiding vegies in sauce/gravy???? Ick I’m not that much on sweet except for ice cream and chocolate. I’m not fond of really sweet fruits either.

    I don’t think it’s a nurture thing. I have a brother who is a avid gardener and has been one for decades, but he doesn’t eat vegetables or fruits. He spends hours in his garden, but never consumes what he produces.

  142. I often have delicious salads in restaurants but then I get bored at the ones we prepare at home. I should just put more effort in recreating the salads I’ve had while dining out. Uh, I could also just pull some salad recipes off the internet.

  143. Milo, I did go to that store and I had the sample. I am bringing some home along with some benne wafers.

  144. LfB,
    I have the same opinions about those greens, especially frisée which DH loves but to me feels like eating a fern. The plants that even deer reject because of the fuzziness.
    Farmers markets often have really nice fresh spring mix collections but the ones in the tubs at the grocery store, even at stores like WF, usually end up slimy and inedible unless they are consumed immediately.
    I don’t know when roasted beets became a Thing that even Panera now puts in their salads, but it was a nice surprise to discover that beets are actually delicious.

  145. So my upcoming wellness program is going to be following the Blue Zones Solutions. Blue Zones are areas in the world that have a significant number of centenarians. The key for most of these areas is that these people engage in “natural movement” (as opposed to going to a gym to work out}, eat local foods that are not overly processed and have active social lives. They use meat only once or twice a week and limit sweets as well. The four always to eat are : 100 percent whole wheat bread, nuts, beans and fruit. The four to avoid are: sugar-sweetened beverages, salty snacks, processed meats and packaged sweets.

    The other book I’ve recently re-read is Slim by Design which offers mindless eating solutions. For example, having a fruit bowl on the counter increases one’s consumption as does leaving cereal boxes on the counter. So you leave the fruit but hide the cereal box. They also offer solutions for lunchrooms that would help kids make better choices without putting much thought. For example, you put the chocolate milk in the way back of the cooler instead of not offering. When it is not offered they kids rebel but putting in unflavored milk up front an more of it, more kids selected that milk. Displaying the fruit in bowls as opposed to the stainless steal serving trays increased kids selecting it too. Placement of veggies and fruit also matter.


  146. “I often have delicious salads in restaurants but then I get bored at the ones we prepare at home. I should just put more effort in recreating the salads I’ve had while dining out.”

    Or, you know, you could do what the restaurants do and lard them up with cheese, bacon, fried chicken, ranch dressing, and the like. Nothing like 900 calories of fat to make a salad taste delicious. :-)

  147. I detest making salads but will gladly eat them if someone else prepares it for me, but it has to have cheese, nuts, etc. in it. I generally feel better when I eat more veggies and I like them, but I generally think all food has good and bad points and one likely should just eat a wide variety of foods and not so much of one thing (like for people with thyroid problems, kale/brussels sprouts can be problematic).

  148. Canned beets are one of my favorite comfort foods. I will open a fan and eat it all. So good! My husband freaks out about it.

  149. About two years ago, DW and I split a beet salad from a restaurant and thought it was delicious. Prior to that, beets were a joke that Dwight Schrute farmed on The Office. The next day, after using the bathroom and being shocked that the water turned red, I texted my brother complaining about hematuria. Famous for his bedside manner, he replied that if I were older, it would almost surely be cancer, but such was unlikely at my age. Then I realized what it was.

    But now I eat them all the time, and that never happens. I don’t know what the difference is.

  150. I love arugula but agree on the frisee.

    Used to Lurk – that sounds like a good balanced diet to me.

    My kids will not eat lunch from the cafeteria. My daughter has heard too many of the other kids complain about the food.

  151. My go-to salad is similar to Milo’s, minus the atrocity that is beets. I generally find the combination of some sort of fruit (blueberries, dried cranberries, apple), nuts/seeds (almonds, sesame seeds, pecans), and cheese (cheddar with apples and pecans, blue with walnuts, goat with almonds, etc.) is pretty satisfying — it seems to hit the sweet, sour, salty, and umami flavors that I crave. My favorite, of course, is the pancetta version of the hot bacon dressing (with the pre-chopped pancetta in the freezer, it is easy to just take as much as you need and sautee it while the salad is coming together). But we also have a variety of olive oils and vinegars that work nicely — I have a lime-flavored olive oil and peach- and fig-flavored balsamics that I love (though not together).

    I also do a similar salad with either broccoli or raw brussels sprouts, with apple, cheddar, dried cranberries, and sesame seeds; for broccoli, I do the pancetta dressing and I mix in a little mayo for the creaminess.

    My all-time favorite is probably the “blue” salad I got from SIL — baby spinach, pecans, blue cheese, and blueberries, with a dressing that is whizzed up from blueberries, shallots, and oil and vinegar. Freaking delicious when blueberries are in season.

  152. oh, I missed a good topic yesterday. I was flying back from Italy. BTW, I have some CSA beets roasting in the oven right now. I intend to dice them, pour balsamic on them, and chill them for salad garnish

  153. Nothing like 900 calories of fat to make a salad taste delicious. :-)

    And now with calories on menus you may find that the burger you really want is 780 calories and the salad you think is healthy is 900 due to the addition of a quart of ranch dressing.

  154. I loathe the texture of many (most?) vegetables, especially things like raw broccoli and cauliflower. So I nuke big bags of frozen vegetables (Normandy blend, spinach/kale blend, whatever they have) and whiz it in the blender with chicken broth, warm it up, and call it soup.

    The advantage of this is you can actually get five servings of vegetables. Have you ever looked it up? A serving is 81 grams, usually. Do you know how much raw spinach that is? It’s like a mixing bowl. So your big spinach salad probably has about 1/3 of a serving of vegetables. Cook it down and drink it and you can get three servings, easy.

    That said, I do tend to agree that there is no good evidence for the five-to-nine servings advice. I researched it once and the basic answer is that a bunch of preachy public-health types (and there is no other kind) just pulled that out of thin air.

  155. “And now with calories on menus you may find that the burger you really want is 780 calories and the salad you think is healthy is 900 due to the addition of a quart of ranch dressing.”

    @Rhett: Truth. We went to Macaroni Grill once when I was on my diet, and I really, really wanted their wood-fired pizza. So I looked it up online, and it was like 950 calories. So then I said, oohh, I really like the Insalata Blu — looked that up, it was 1100 calories. Looked up another salad, it was 1200 calories.

    Said f*** that, I’ll just get the damn pizza I actually want and eat half of it.

    Never looked at a restaurant salad the same way again.

  156. ick, ranch dressing. I think it makes everything it touches taste vile.

  157. RMS, I have some recipes for really tasty veggie puree soup. including a spiced carrot one.

  158. I think the 5-9 servings is basically a filler; the more veggies you eat the less room you have for the bad stuff. RMS that is a great plan of adding them without much effort.

    The other thing with the Blue Zones is other then the 7th Day Advents, all the others drink moderately (1-3 drinks) per day over a meal. Now the authors are clear that they not sure if the alcohol adds the benefit or if the other aspects of their lifestyles negate it. They also consume most of their calories during breakfast and lunch and are done with all eating by 7 pm.

  159. Said f*** that, I’ll just get the damn pizza I actually want and eat half of it.

  160. wait, I just looked up Blue Zone, and it seems that two of the five are in Italy and Greece. Those are hardly countries where people stop eating before 7 – in fact, usually no one has dinner before 8!!! In both places, the diet is largely vegetables and seafood.

  161. OK, so I was just in Italy, in Bologna yet, home of sausages and cheese and pasta. And yet, people in that town are mainly slender or perhaps a little overweight. It is so different from what I see when I go to say Tennesee or Ohio. I know that Bologna is a much wealthier town, and it is a university town. But it is still striking compared to similar towns in the US. The big thing I noticed is much smaller portions in the restaurants. And everyone, including old people, on bicycles or walking.

  162. MM, one striking difference we have observed in other countries is far fewer people walking around guzzling large sweet beverages or eating snacks. Was that your experience in Bologna?

  163. “walking around guzzling large sweet beverages ”

    I really believe that’s the greatest culprit. And Starbucks is every bit as responsible as 7-Eleven.

    Restaurant portion sizes are a good one, but they don’t tell you how often people are eating there. Have you noticed how every successful fast food restaurant now has multiple drive thru lanes? On any given day, for at least a two-hour window, my local Chick-fil-A has both lanes of the drive thru packed, with employees out there taking orders on iPads to expedite the process. Any new McDonald’s that they build now has totally cut down the amount of floor space set aside to dining in by about half or more, and has doubled or tripled the amount of space devoted to servicing the drive thru.

    It’s less “going out to lunch or dinner” and much more “swinging through to pick something up on the way.”

  164. The drive thru business in our area is booming, and not just at ordinary mealtimes. The newest Starbucks has a line that is rarely empty. There can be 4+ vehicles in a line even when there is no line in the store.

  165. I would love a Starbucks drive thru. The only drive thru we have is McD. Even the Chick Fil A doesn’t have one.

  166. We just got two Starbucks with drive through. They’re too far to be useful on a regular basis, but it’s nice to finally have that option within 15 minutes. We finally have a drive through pharmacy. I would have loved one of those when DD was a baby.

  167. Scarlett – I know! The Midwest does some things very well. Pizza, toothbrush, beer and milk were all things that I could get at a drive thru in the town where I grew up.

  168. “A serving is 81 grams, usually. Do you know how much raw spinach that is? It’s like a mixing bowl.”

    We fry spinach in a little really hot oil, and add some garlic and a touch of salt. This way it’s really easy to eat multiple servings.

  169. “one striking difference we have observed in other countries is far fewer people walking around guzzling large sweet beverages or eating snacks.”

    Yes, in our foreign travels we’ve noticed that not only are the drink sizes in other countries are much smaller than in the US, but so are the food portion sizes.

  170. We fry spinach in a little really hot oil, and add some garlic and a touch of salt. This way it’s really easy to eat multiple servings.

    Yeah, that works too.

  171. “Regarding the school lunches, you also have to consider the socioeconomic/cultural background of the people serving the lunches.”

    My first exposure to tacos was as a small kid in the school cafeteria. None of us knew what they were or how we were supposed to eat them, and our teachers didn’t know either.

    My guess is that the cafeteria got the taco shells as part of a federal program, and the cafeteria ladies (they were always ladies BITD) had to figure out how to prepare and serve them.

    Eventually our teachers provided us some guidance on how to eat them. My guess is that the cafeteria manager provided them with that guidance.

  172. It was really hot last week in Bologna, and at one point I was looking for something to drink while I walked back to the conference – and I realized there was nothing. Not even any individual cold drinks in the minimart. There is a McDonalds in Bologna but it was nowhere near where I was walking. I ended up back at my conference where there was some remaining fizzy water left from a break, so I drank that. Also at the conference, all beverages were served in small glasses made out of glass, and coffee came in china. And cappucinos were not the giant things like they serve at Starbucks, but where the size of a small coffee cup.

  173. And you know how in the US, kids can’t go for more than 20 minutes without having Goldfish stuffed at them? That is just not normal in Europe.

  174. The fat/protein/carbs breakdown of banana bread made with Greek yogurt instead of butter are great. Replacing some of the flour with whey protein would improve it even more. Seriously no reason to feel guilty about eating that. Bonus for me is that my kid prefers it without butter.

  175. I hit “post” too soon. I expect that subbing Greek yogurt in for butter would similarly improve zucchini bread

  176. Mooshi, I remember when my boss came back to Berlin from a meeting in the US, he could not get over the paper cups that were always in people’s hands here. I agree with that, but also must consciously drink water when I go to Europe, because without drinking fountains, etc, I get dehydrated.

  177. My kids all adore spinach, lightly steamed with a little butter and drenched in balsamic

  178. Kids love these deep fried spinach fritters :-).

    Kids love pretty much anything that’s deep fried.

  179. MM, you are correct about the ranch dressing–but that seeet red “French” is worse.
    I wish I could get saac to eat soups like your spicey carrot. He generally doesn’t like them, and there is something about orange veggies that is a complete no-go for him. It too bad, because I like them.
    Laura, we order pizza nearly every weekend. My standard is a “personal” size that i think is delicious. It’s around 850 calories. I eat the whole thing. The only other things I have that day are coffee, a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk, and a glass of wine. The other weekend day I adjust my eating so that my averages are what they should be.
    On salads, I think i mentioned that the best things at WDW Wilderness Lodge were the salads. This one was at the “lounge” outside: Grilled Portobello Salad
    with grilled Portobello, Zucchini, Roasted Red Peppers, Tomato, and Multi-Grain Salad with Goat Cheese Dressing. It had a base of chopped-up mushrooms. I have no idea what the macro breakdown is, but it was good. I’ve never had anything quite like it.
    This one, from room service, was also unique and delicious. Organic Mixed Greens
    with Dried Tart Cherries, Pumpkin Seed Brittle, Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese, and Citrus Vinaigrette
    Like others have said, I do much better about eating salads when I make sure to have on hand everything I need for a really good one. One of these weekends, I’ll get around to making salads in jars for the coming week. The jars are waiting patiently in top of the microwave. One mistake I make a lot is not eating anything for far too long, until I feel sick, and then eating sugar. That seems to inflame my innards somehow, so it’s much better if I just make myself eat on schedule, even if it’s just a bowl of yogurt.

  180. Salad is one of my favorite food groups. We buy bags of precut salads. Also, I chop up a head of lettuce and put left-overs and sauteed onions on it as the week progresses. As to food deserts and other problems, it strikes me that the problem, whatever it may be, would be solved if society did what liberals wanted to fix it and individuals did what conservatives wanted done to fix it.

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