Food: The Cat

As promised, this is the blog on feeding the cat. Before I get to feeding the cat, I am going to discuss the cat as a pet, in general. The country is over run with cats. This is true, even as the cat was becoming the new pet of the 80’s, 90′, and right up to the present. Cats have always been considered easy to care for, when compared with the dog. I think this was used as a selling point, in shelters, to get people to adopt cats, and who could blame them. Thousands of perfectly healthy cats are being put to sleep, in shelters, every day. This idea that cat’s are easy to care for, has led to stress laden psychotic cats. I am hear to set the record straight, that cats are not easy. They have just as many needs as any dog. Granted, there are no 50 to 100 pounds cats, running around any bodies house, and when it comes to pets, size is a consideration. A big dog is going to cost more to take care of, especially medically, but the needs of the pets are pretty much, the same. Even though this is a blog about feeding the cat, let’s discuss one thing that is the result of eating, going to the bathroom and litter pans. Here are the rules, and they are unbreakable. If you are going to have a happy cat, or cats, you need one more litter pan, than cats. Yes, that does mean if you have one cat, you must have two litter pans. Everyday, those litter pans need cleaned, and replenished. If you do not think so, then just try a little experiment at home. If you have 3 bathrooms, have one toilet, that is not allowed to be flushed, and see how long people stop using it. If there are 2 people or more in the house, it will take less than 24 hours. The littler pans need cleaned every single day. Now, let’s get to feeding those sweet creatures.

Who ever invented the self feeding bowl for cats, should get the award for the worst devise every invented. This devise has turned many cats into blimps, and I am not talking about Goodyear here, because those cats will never leave the ground. Cat’s are very susceptible to stress, and many will stress eat. Free choice is not an option for a cat owner, no way, no how. Cats are known for vomiting, and many times, hair and hair balls, are blamed for this condition. Vomiting is a very non specific symptom, and there can be many causes. but it is rarely hair. If the cat vomits, anywhere from 3 to 7 times a week, and is healthy otherwise, eating, and drinking, and moving around, it is most likely the way it is being fed, that is the culprit. There are two basic differences, when it comes to feeding the cat, compared with dog. Cats need and should be fed canned food everyday. Cats can have some odd drinking habits, which the canned food can take care of, because of all the moisture content, in the food. They need to be fed at least 3 times per day, and preferably, 4 to 5 times per day. This puts less food on their stomach, and therefore takes care of most non illness vomiting problems. For two feedings you can mix dry and canned food together and for the other feeding just give a small amount of dry. I can hear the rumblings already. I work, I have kids, hell I don’t even touch my cat 4 to 5 times a day. I said the minimum is 3 times per day, which you can feed morning, evening, and bedtime. If you get up in the middle of the night, for any reason, then put a little dry in the bowl. Depending on the size of the cat, here is how I recommend to feed cats. First thing in the feed 1/8th cup of dry with 1/2 of a 3.5 oz. of canned. Around 10am feed 1/8 cup dry, followed up with 1/8 cup dry around 2. Then, at dinner time, repeat the morning meal, and feed 1/8 cup dry at bedtime. Now, do I follow this every single day, no, life does get in the way. But adjustments can be made. The more frequent you can feed the cat, the happier the cat will be. It is perfectly acceptable to feed 3 times, on those busy days, with a little more at each feeding, and on days when it can be done, 5 times is perfect. Cat’s should not have access to food 24 hours a day.

Two final things. Again, I am not going to recommend any particular food, just stick to a main brand, and remember, canned food everyday. Now, getting to those odd drinking habits of cats. Many cats will only drink water out of a bowl, until it gets about 2 inches below the lip of the bowl, and then they will not touch it. This requires two things from the cat keeper. The water needs to go through a complete change two times per day, and try to keep those bowls filled, if you see them down a bit. This is not like the dog, who slurps up water until it is gone, and then goes after what’s on the the floor. Cats require unique care, when compared to the dog, and I would call it far from easy. But they are the definition of cool, so you better take care of them right, brother.

Food: The Dog

No, this is not a blog, about how to cook the dog. Food has not been a very big topic lately, with the pandemic and all. Food to me, means a festive time, with friends and family, and certainly, things have not been too festive lately. I decided to write about how to feed the dog, since the dogs have no idea, that a pandemic is going on, and eating for them, continues to be a festive time. I am not going to discuss much about what to feed your dog, but on how to do it. The next blog will discuss feeding cats, who need to have a totally different method. What should you feed the dog? As long as you stick to a well known brand and company, you really can not go wrong. Common sense says that if 50 pounds of dog food costs about $15, how much nutrition can it have. On the other side of the coin, I do not think you need to spend 2 to 3 dollars a pound for dog food. The food the dog eats should meet three criteria. The dog should seem to enjoy it. The bowel movements should be nice and solid. The food should not create a lot of gas in the intestinal tract. It maybe very humorous, for your dog to pass gas, at a party gathering, but the fact remains, that gas is an indication the dog is having a hard time digesting the food. You may have to go through some trial and error, to find the right food. In some cases, it might be the way your feeding the dog, that is causing some of the problem. Follow the feeding guides on the bag, in order to know how much to feed. The only caveat here, is that the recommendation on the bag is based on the dog getting nothing else to eat. If you give the dog a treat or two during the day, like Milk Bones, then you will have to make an adjustment downward. Now let’s look at the way to feed a dog.

The first method you hear about is called free choice. What free choice doesn’t mean, is that the dog has access to all the food it wants, for 24 hours a day. The way free choice works, is first thing in the morning, you put down the dog’s daily food ration in a bowl. If the dog will nibble the food all day, then this method works just fine. There are some dogs, that will gobble the food up, all at once, making this method very unsatisfactory. If the dog eats, over half the food at one sitting, then you should put the dog on scheduled feedings. Many people that do this, will feed twice a day, dividing the daily ration equally. The problem arises on the timing of the feedings. They will feed first thing in the morning, and then again at 4 or 5 in the afternoon. This leaves too long of a time between the evening feeding, and the next morning feeding. Twice a day feeding should be 12 hours apart, as in 6am and then 6pm. However, the best way to feed a dog, to avoid a lot of digestive problems, is 3 times a day. I am not saying to feed it, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Feed it, first thing in the morning, then around 5pm, and a final meal at bedtime. When dogs were in the wild, they hunted in packs, captured their prey, and proceeded to over engorge themselves. Then they may go 2 to 3 days, before they ate again. The domesticated dog’s stomach has evolved, to be more like the human stomach. Many dogs, that are not given food for 10 to 14 hours, will have a tendency to throw up yellow, which is gastric juice, from the stomach being empty. Feeding 3 times per day, 1/3 of the daily ration at each feeding, will help prevent this problem, and make the food easier to digest, because there is not as much food, entering the stomach.

The final thing to discuss briefly, is whether to feed dry food, or canned food, or both. There is nothing wrong with canned food, except it is 70 to 80% water. Because it has such a high quantity of water, it is not a very calorie dense product. You can use this to your advantage, if you are trying to get a dog to lose weight. However, if you have a dog over 30 pounds, it can be very expensive to feed canned as it’s sole source of calories. As a general rule it is better to feed dry food. It is an entirely different story for the cat, which will be discussed in the next blog. Enjoy feeding the dogs, as they make it through this pandemic, in the beauty of ignorant bliss.

Food: What It Can Teach Us.

Food, the way it is prepared, and eaten can teach us many things.  First it can teach us the differences in people, and how that is not a bad thing.  People can be divided into two groups, when it comes to food.  You are either a foodie, or a non-foodie. The difference is easy to define.  A foodie lives to eat, and a non-foodie eats to live. The easies way to find a foodie, is to turn to any show on the Food Network, or the Cooking Channel. These people love to cook, and consume food.  They like to find new places to eat food, and find new ways to prepare food. They are enthusiastic eaters, and when  they are eating will use  words like, heaven, oh my God, and so good.  The non-foodie will eat, and enjoy certain foods, but will not go to any great means, to find unusual ways to prepare, and eat food.  Even though, there is a distinct difference, between these 2 groups, they all seem to get along.  No one, seems to discriminate against one group, over the other, when it comes to jobs, civil rights, and opportunities. The foodies and non-foodies seem to be fine with each other, despite their distinct differences.

Food can show how unique you are.  We all have foods, that on the whole, are good for the general populous, that can just, not make us feel good.  Mine is tomato juice.  About 12 hours after drinking tomato juice I will get a splitting headache.  My daughter can not eat broccoli. Then, there is the more serious allergic reactions, that some people develop to certain foods.   It tells you, that you are a totally unique person, and that is not bad.  You want to cultivate that uniqueness, into something special. You never want to worry about being a little different, than the “regular people”.  You are that one special person, with your own hopes and dreams, that only you can accomplish.

Food can teach you compromise.   The best example of this is microwave popcorn.  The compromise is between unpopped  kernels, and burned popcorn.   You do not want too many unpopped kernels, but if you try too hard to pop all the kernels, then the popcorn will burn.  I once, had someone tell me, they liked burnt popcorn.  This person turned out to be an idiot. For those of  us, of at least average intelligence, the goal is to pop as many kernels, without that awful burnt smell, when the bag is opened.

Food can teach you when to be creative, and when to have discipline.   When you are cooking food, that is the time, to let the creative juices flow.  When baking, you better have the discipline to following the recipe exactly.  You might be creative in finding a unique way to bake cookies, pies, and cakes, but you  better remember exactly what you did, or the next time will be a disaster. In cooking, when I make sauces, dips, and rubs I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. When the sauce, dip, or rub, really turns out well, and someone wants to know what I put in it, not only do I not the amount, but many times, I don’t remember all the ingredients.  In my view, that is the fun of it, just wing it. I do not do this, when I bake chocolate chip cookies.

Food can teach us to plan.  Planning what you are going to cook and eat for the week is a great way to learn how to plan other activities.  Planning your meals for the week can help you eat healthier and help your budget.  Plan on some left overs, which you can prepare in different ways from the original meal. You can get into your creative mode again.

Food helps you to get to know yourself, by listening to your body, on how it responds to certain foods, and cuisines.  This goes beyond the more severe reactions, we discussed earlier. Start to pay attention to how you feel, after you eat.  You should feel better than when you started.  Things that can make you off, after you eat, maybe related to waiting too long to eat.  There may be a certain food, that you can tell is difficult for you to digest, or just doesn’t make you feel right.  By paying attention to such things, you can improve your abilities in any endeavor you are doing.  You may sleep better, and be more relaxed by eating foods, that only make you feel good.

Finally, food is a great way to try new things.  Not much of a negative can happen to you, by eating something you have never tried before.  Being more adventuresome in the food world, may spread to other aspects of your life.  Getting use to trying new cuisines, may make your life a little more fulfilled. Even though we need food to survive, food is there to give us so much more.  Try to eat more mindfully, and enjoy every bite, by appreciating what all that good food can really do, to make your life better.

Food: How Did It Get So Important

Food is a necessity.  Without taking in food, you would die in about 6 weeks or less. We all have to eat.  You do not even have to eat healthy, to survive.  You must supply your body with fuel, to function. In the modern world, food is much more important than that. Food is associated with events and activities.   Popcorn at movies, Peanuts, cracker jacks and hot dogs at baseball games, the hot dog at turn, in golf, and cake at birthday parties.   Food has a whole day devoted to it, called Thanksgiving.  If the Pilgrims only knew what they started, they would have given thanks by only drinking water.  Even at the most casual get togethers, like playing cards, book clubs, and watching sports on TV, the host will feel an obligation to provide some food. So how did food go from becoming a necessity, to becoming the part of almost everything we do socially, to the point that sometimes it is the main event?  There are lots of ideas about the subject, and all the things that food can do, to make any social event better, and how much it shows you care, by providing food, and lots of it, at an event that you are hosting.  But no where is there any mention, on how this process all came about. There had to be sometime in history, where people got together to do something, and food was no where to be found. But there seems to be no documentation of this.  Even very old movies, made in the 1920’s show people gathering together, and eating and drinking, in almost the same way, that we do today. Naturally I have some theories, and there is very little data elsewhere, to dispute it.

It all boils down to the rich and famous.   There was a time in our history, particularly during the depression and World War II that food was hard to come by.  Even so, if you had money, then food was plentiful.  What better way for the rich and famous  to show how much money they had, by serving lots of  food at any big social function.  As times got better and food became more plentiful, and less costly, it was a way for the middle class to be just like the rich and famous, by having food included, in any social event that they were going to have. Plus, it was not a problem for the rich to distance themselves from everyday people, by other means.   Today, with the corona virus taking away all social functions and contact, food has become less fun.  We have returned to the day, where food, now is just a necessity, that we have to cook for ourselves, and whoever we are sheltering in place with.   Once this pandemic is over, I am sure food again, will take its place as the center piece of most any social function.  The way things are now, it is hard to believe that this will ever be.  We are a more open society today, than we were 100 years ago. Today, you can have quite a diverse group of people getting together for fun, food, and a good time, wherever that may be.  Food is taking a back seat, as the pandemic is moving on and on and on.  With so many questions on what will happen, concerning the virus, food has lost a lot of its importance.  So, no matter what started  food having to be at the center of all social events, these last two months have shown, that it is something that is ingrained in our beings, and is not helping us get through this crisis.

Hopefully, we will again, be able to enjoy food with our friends and family, in the not too distance future.   Food has been a big part of the human experience for a long time. This pandemic could affect how we enjoy and feel about food, for the rest of our lives. Let’s hope that we can all get through this, with as few emotional scars as possible, and that everyone we know remains healthy and safe.  As things begin to open up, I hope there will be no major setbacks in the near future.   I can smell those hot dogs already.

 

Food: Can it really do that?

When you read about food, there are many articles that talk about all the health benefits of any particular food. Looking at a particular nutrient of food, like the omega 3 fatty acids, is another popular topic.  Omega 3 fatty acids are give many positive attributes. One article I read, stated that there are 17, count’em 17, science-based, I mean real science baby, benefits of eating omega 3 fatty acids. Even the name sounds cool.  I am the Omega Man, the preventer  of many health problems.  Lot better than being called Celery Man. According to the article Omega 3’s can help with mental disorders, blood pressure, brain health for the fetus and in early life, and may even help prevent cancer. I am out the door to get 20 pounds of salmon and 30 cans of sardines.  This article will take you to many studies, to back up all 17 claims.  I read them, and they all have some flaws, and come to conclusions, that may not be correct.  Many health agencies want you to get 2 servings a week of a fish, that is high in omega 3’s  to reap the benefits.  However, fish oil supplement companies want you taking the product everyday. If you google the benefits of eating almost anything you will find results that are positive.   I googled garbage, dog poop, and processed foods, and they all came up with benefits, when they are consumed.  If you continued this process on any food, you would assume you could eat anything and live a long healthy life. Could that be true?

At first your answer would be no way.  When I googled the benefits of eating garbage, I came across a site, that said why do people eat garbage. My first thought was, I didn’t know people ate garbage, unless they were homeless.  But the garbage that this author was writing about, is food purchased at fast food chains, and highly processed foods. He  describes how nearly 90 percent of America’s budget is spent on junk food.1 What is more appalling is that nearly 60 percent of food eaten in America are ultra-processed,2 convenience foods that can be purchased at your local gas station. These processed foods also account for nearly 90 percent of the consumption of added sugar in the U.S. Now lets say that this is all true.  I have no doubt that it is true.  You have to wonder then, how does anybody make it to 85 years and beyond.  There are three diets that are describe in various sites.  The Mediterranean diet, which is a middle European diet,  the Natural diet attributed to Asia and Japan, and then the good old Western or American diet.  You could conclude that if you are on the Western diet, that you probably won’t make it past 40. If you have doubts about all the benefits that certain foods can give you, then possibly you should have doubts about all the harm that food could do. Are there any conclusions that can be drawn from this hodgepodge of claims and so called data?

Lets look as some things that we absolutely know about nutrition and health. There are absolutely a number of diseases, directly related to nutritional deficiencies.  They range from Scurvy, Rickets, Iron deficient anemia, Pellagra, and Calcium deficiency diseases. If your diet lacks certain vitamins. minerals or other essential nutrients you will get sick. There is no denying that.  There is no question that people have a sensitivity to certain aspects of food.  Gluten, certain preservatives, and spices may make some people sick. Once you eliminate the sensitivity issue, when you look at so called bad diets, it may not be what’s in them, but what’s not in them, that may be causing all the problem. The other issue, may be the amount of food, that is consumed rather the content.  What would happen if you put people on a plant based diet but they consumed vast amounts of that food, especially things like nuts and whole grains along with vegetables and became 40 to 50 pounds overweight. Do you think they might get some of the same health issues that overweight individuals get  from a processed animal based diet.   There are many more variables I can make up, but it shows why these so scientific studies are difficult, and may not be all that scientific. When it comes to food, variety and common sense, are the key ingredients.  To answer the question at the top of the page, can food really do that? I think we all know the answer is no.

Food: Caffeine

Caffeine is the most consumes drug in America, and probably in the entire world. In the United States, it is estimated between 85 and 90% of the people, consume some amount of caffeine daily, with the average being about being about 164 mg per day.  Over the years caffeine has gone from being bad for you, to being good for you, back to being bad, and now it is considered good for you, again. There are many medical and food sites, that discuss the pro and cons of consuming caffeine.  The general consensus is, that for the most part caffeine can help you, more than hurt you.  It’s pretty common knowledge, that caffeine affects the brain, and it seems to allow you to concentrate better, and be more alert, about one hour after consumption. The common side affects, are  keeping one awake at night, and it might give you some heart palpitations at higher doses.  Anyone can go on line and find the information.  However I did find some things that were interesting, and surprising, about how the scientific community feels about caffeine, and  there is still a lot to learned.

One thing I found that has to with nothing, but is interesting, is caffeine supposedly was discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder, who gave it to his goats, and it seemed to give them more energy.  Why you would want goats to have more energy is beyond me. The second new fact, for me anyway, was that there is not a lot of difference between what is safe to drink and what could cause some problems.  Taking in about 150 to 300 mg of caffeine per day seems to be very safe.  However taking in about 500 mg very quickly can cause some heart and blood pressure problems. So drink that coffee slowly. There is a debate in the scientific community, on whether caffeine is addictive.  Some sites say that it definitely is, while other sites say that it does not have all the traits of what constitutes an addictive drug.  All I know, is that some people do seem to have withdrawal symptoms from caffeine, if they try to stop taking caffeine abruptly.  They can get the shakes, headaches, and will be come more agitated in certain situations. My most surprising finding was that it seems that we are all drinking  coffee at the wrong time.  It all goes back to that darn circadian rhythm, again.  Its seems that when we wake up in the morning, that cortisol levels are at their highest, and therefore we do not need that jolt of caffeine, even though are brains may be telling us something different.  It is best to hit the coffee machine about 10 am, when your cortisol is starting to go down, and your body really does need that boost.  We seem to cycle back down around 1:30 so another cup will help again.   It is best to end the caffeine intake just after 2PM if you want a good nights sleep.

There is no doubt that caffeine is a drug, and the affects of are real.  On the whole caffeine can be a benefit, to help and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  However, there are more dangers involved than the general media puts forth.  After all, the coffee industry is a multi billion dollar business.  It goes back to those idiosyncratic responses that so many people have to so many different substances.  I know many people that say they can drink one or two cups of coffee at 7 to 8 PM, and sleep like a baby.  If I drank one cup at 7 PM, I would be up all night. Caffeine has many health and wellness claims, some more substantiated than others.  One claimed benefit is helping to prevent gall stones. The dose for prevention is 400 mg per day and even higher.  I think I would take my chances with gall stones.  I am going to start drinking my coffee later in the morning, when possible, and see if it makes any difference. It boils down to the same old thing.  Please. just listen to your body, it will tell you all you need to know.

Food: How Did We Get Here

The consumption of food is costing us billions of dollars every year. I don’t mean the cost of the food. I mean the results of consuming too much food for our own good.  Over half the world is overweight.  Over one third of world is a lot over weight.  I am not going to use the o word, in describing how much a person is overweight. In my view, any amount of weight over your ideal weight, can cause a problem. This is different than being pregnant, where you can be a little bit overweight.  This should not lull you to sleep, thinking that this is probably ok for your health, because it is not. Spend an entire day carry around a 10 bag of potatoes, and see how you feel at the end of the day. This is how your body feels, after it  carries your ten pounds of excess fat around, for the last so many years. This blog is not about how to lose those 10 pounds or more, but to try and find out how the world go so fat. How did we get to this state.  This is a problem that is on the rise.  More people die from complications of being over weight than smoking.  The cost of treating weight related diseases is estimated to be 147 billion dollars a year.  Each individual has to take responsibility for their own condition, but let’s look at some big picture elements, that have a lot to do with it, and what if anything we can do about it.

The beginning of the fast food chains, has done has as much as any industry, to cause people to eat more.  The fast food industry has taken a lot of criticism, over the years, for not offering as many healthy choices as they should.  Because of this criticism, fast food has improved in quality and variety. However, fast food still entices you, in many clever ways, to eat more than you should.  From catchy names like the Big Mac, The Whopper, The Whaler, MAKE IT A MEAL FOR ONLY $1.50 MORE and SUPERSIZE IT, DUMB ASS. Not only do they entice you with catchy slogans, but the more you eat, the less you pay per unit. A single Burger at Wendy’s is 4.49, but put another patty on, for just a buck, and make it a triple for just another dollar.   It goes on and on, and every chain is like this.  Should there be a law against this.  If that’s what it takes, to keep this from happening, yes, I am all for it.  There should be at least a suggestion, like on alcohol commercials, to eat responsible, because we all don’t want to pay for  those 5 stents you’ll get in 5 years.  You should not have to pay more, but you should not get a discount, because your appetite is like the offensive line of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The entire food industry is like this.  That’s the whole purpose to buying clubs like Sam’s and Costco’s, in that they want you to buy in bulk and save money.  Unfortunately, I think this makes you eat in bulk also.  This kind of thinking. in my view, must come to an end.  The idea of the bigger you buy, the less it will cost.  It is not doing us any good. By the same token, all you can eat food bars, should come to an end. Again, they just contribute to a problem that is escalating at an unbelievable rate. I know that none of these things are going to happen, but it would be interesting if they did, just to see if they helped this costly problem of American  and world health.

Everyone is responsible for their own health and well being, but it does not help when people are bombarded with the above nonsense.  Can we learn a lesson from all this? We can all get into the mode of moderation.  With some moderate consumption habits and some moderate exercise added to our daily regime I think most of us can get back to a more healthful condition of our body.  Even though I wrote that any amount of being over weight is not good for your body, any amount of weight loss is good for your body.  Enjoy your food, but only eat one patty of ground meat, and eliminate the word large or big from your vocabulary, anytime you are going to order food.  Unless you have a big family buy small and eat small.  In the long run you will make you and the world a better place. Now excuse me, as I take my 54 tater tots out of the oven.

Food: Breakfast, I Just Can’t Do It

The breakfast experiment is over, after only one week.  Maybe, you can not teach an old dog new tricks.   For 7 to 9 days,  I made a concerted effort to eat breakfast, before I started my day.  I will admit, I may have had more energy in the morning, but what I felt were problems, outweighed that perceived benefit. First, when I awake in the morning, no matter what time, I am not hungry.  There is nothing I can do about that.   Now believe me, I have eaten at other times of the day when I am not hungry.  I would have fairly large amounts to eat at breakfast.  I would have 2 hard boiled eggs, potatoes, and one sausage.  Another morning I had yogurt, with fruit, and two slices of toast, with peanut butter or cream cheese.   I would have more non traditional breakfast food, once having a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with pickle.  It did not seem to make any difference what I ate, I was always very hungry around lunch time, sometimes even sooner.  Though I may have felt I had more energy in the morning, I did not do anything more, than I usually do.  I walked about 3.5 miles and did my exercises.  Maybe I did not give it long enough, but I felt stupid, eating when I was not hungry, first thing in the morning. I will just have to face the fact, that I am heading for a 20 to 25% more chance of developing coronary artery disease and type II diabetes, by not eating breakfast on a regular basis.  Am I really?

The more I think of this breakfast thing the more I feel that my initial instincts were right.  I am not feeling this way, because of my failure to continue to eat breakfast.  Breakfast being considered the most important meal of the day is not something that is fairly new.  We have been hearing this since the late 1950’s and 60’s.  Let’s look at the three meals of the day, and I will take them in reverse order beginning with dinner. What foods do you associate with dinner.  The list can be very long, ranging from pasta, meats, vegetables, and other carbohydrates.   The same thing could be said for lunch, with some narrowing of the list.  For lunch, I think most people will think of soup, salad, and sandwiches.  Again, there can be a great variety of foods that one thinks about, for a typical lunch.  Breakfast has more of a traditional selection of foods.  Eggs, bacon sausage, toast,  home fries, waffles, and pancakes.  Breakfast cereals are at the top of the breakfast list.  Yes, some families for something different, may  have breakfast for dinner. There have always been more traditional breakfast foods.  To say the least it is a major industry.  Do you think the makers of breakfast cereals and eggs have anything to do with the thinking, that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? The cynical side of me definitely thinks so.  Maybe this is the same side of me that is not hungry in the morning.

I will not ague the point, that I did not give the breakfast experiment much of a chance. Eating when you are not hungry, just seems to go against the grain of what makes sense, from a heath and fitness standpoint.  One of the newer crazes right now is fasting.  I am not an advocate of that either, but you could argue that. this is what people are doing unknowingly, when they skip breakfast.  Fasting advocates talk about, that not eating for 16 hours is considered a fast. Even if you eat as late as 8 pm, and then get up the next day, and don’t eat until around noon, you have done a fast. I not saying this is good for you either, but its becoming something, that is suppose to help your health and well being. As they all like to say, more studies and research is needed.   I think the bottom line here, is that it just goes back to the fact, that most recommendations fail to consider individual idiosyncrasies.  Are these the exceptions that make the rule.  I do not believe that, either.  I think everybody needs to plan their own form of a diet and health plan.  It boils down to one concept.  If it makes you feel good do it and if it doesn’t don’t. I am meaning physically good not emotionally good. Try to leave emotion out of it when it comes to health and food.  This sounds so simple but as I get older I am finding out that the simpler you make  things the better results you will get.  If anybody else that skips breakfast wants to do the breakfast experiment let me know after you have done it for three months.  I failed miserably.  But you know what? I feel much better for this failure.

Food: Breakfast

In the last food blog I wrote, I discussed breakfast, and the notion that this was the most important meal of the day.  In my mind this fact has not been proven 100%.  I decided to look into this further, and started to go to sites that discussed breakfast, with various points of view.  Before I do an overview of all the studies and sites, and I looked at about 20 of them, I must define and explain Circadian Rhythm.  Circadian Rhythm is a natural internal process, that regulates the sleep wake cycle, and repeats every 24 hours.  There is a Circadian Diet, which advocates eating more in the morning and less at night, and eating basically from sunup to sundown. Once the sun goes down you should stop eating.  For this reason, breakfast is really emphasized, for those who believe, that the Circadian Rhythm should be constant.  This philosophy believes you go to bed the same time everyday, and wake up the same time everyday.  This subject could be another blog, but you can not look at breakfast studies, and not see this come into play.  What did I find out about breakfast?

Despite all the benefits of breakfast, on average at least 30% of adults skip breakfast, on a regular basis.  One of the biggest studies on breakfast, included 50,000 people.  These people belong to the Seventh Day Adventist, which is a religious group.  In this group 93% eat breakfast every day.  In this group 37% consider dinner their biggest meal of the day.  In the general population, well over 90% consider dinner their biggest meal of the day.  Even though this is a very large study on breakfast, some of the conclusions are tainted, because this is not what the general populous does.  There were many other studies on breakfast, not as large as the one mentioned, but on more of a cross section of the population.  So what can be derived from most of these studies.  Breakfast eating is not a major factor in weight loss, or weight gain.    Skipping breakfast does seem to lead to some increase health risks.  Skipping breakfast can lead to a 27% increase in coronary artery disease and a 20% increase in acquiring type II diabetes.   One oddity was a decrease in bone density in Japanese men, who skipped breakfast.  One study showed that college students did significantly better on exams if they ate breakfast, compared to students that skipped breakfast that day. Eating breakfast seemed to make children behave better, and not gain as much weight.  Skipping breakfast seemed to make people more lethargic, and less active in the morning.  A lot of the studies did not touch upon what type of breakfast, people were having.  There was little mention of the what I call the traditional breakfast of bacon, ham, or sausage, with eggs and toast, plus potatoes.  Those that did mention what to eat, advocated eating more protein and less carbohydrates and to stay away from the processed breakfast cereals.  Of course, pastries and donuts are big no no.  There is more talk of eating non traditional foods for breakfast, such as fish, chicken beans and nuts.   The Circadian Rhythm people feel one should make breakfast the biggest meal of the day.  This is not new thinking.  Adelle Davis, nutritionist of the mid 20th Century, wrote eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.

After reading all this over the last two days, will this change the way I look at breakfast.  I believe it will.  I will make more of an effort to eat breakfast, before I leave the house or start my day.  I like the fact that there is this trend to get away from the more traditional foods for breakfast.  Will I make breakfast my largest meal of the day? I do not think so, but I will make it second.  Dinner to me is more of a social gathering and I am not going to make any major changes in that process or what I eat for dinner.  Again after reading all of this I know there is a lot of work to be done on what and how to eat.  For the next 3 months I will make this effort to eat more for breakfast and see how it goes.  Let’s face it anytime you are going to eat more of something how bad can it be. Will report on this in three months.

Food: Eating Healthy

This would seem like an easy thing to do, have a healthy diet.  When you google eating healthy, there are many hits.  There are medical websites, nutrition websites, and weight loss websites. They all have similar things to say, with just a little bit of a twist, here and there. Some websites have things to sell, which is always a red flag on how legitimate their advice is on eating healthy. All the  sites are better at telling you what to avoid, rather than what to eat.  In general, they tell you to eat a wide variety of foods, mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein.  That about sums it up,  end of blog.  No, it is definitely not that easy.  You would think that eating healthy and weight loss would go hand in hand. Unfortunately it does not. These sites do not break down foods well enough, to balance the good and the bad. I am  going to break down foods, that I consider overrated and some that are not given enough credit, for being healthy.  I am going to discuss some nutrition “facts” that in my view, are far from proven. I looked through about 50 websites.  What follows is a composite of these websites and with my views sprinkled in. I can not rank any website as outstanding and most of what they say is the same thing, so I am not going to mention any particular site.

First, lets get to the easy stuff, what is bad.  The first and foremost is soft drinks.  They have not one redeeming quality.  I know I love a Coke once in awhile, so I can’t say I never drink them, but I try to limit them to 2 per month.  Fatty meat is a big no no.  It is hard to not like  fat,  when you here on the food channel, that fat is the flavor.  One thing everybody can do when they buy a steak is to trim off more fat.  Every little bit helps.  Sugar is bad, which is what makes pop so bad.  Stay away from sugar if possible.  Think of it as a dessert only food. This can help you avoid it,  during the day.  Please stay away form diet pop, it is even worse for you than regular pop, but that is a whole other blog.  Stay away from the typical snacks, they are high in fat, and calorie dense. Stay away from highly processed foods, like bacon, lunch meats, and energy bars.  Some processed foods can be better than others, but it is best to stay away. Eating these things in very limited quantities, is the best way to go. The one that is the hardest to avoid is bacon, because everything is better with bacon.

Now, for the so called good stuff, that may not be as good as you think.  I feel the most over rated food is the nut.  The so called benefits of nuts, is far out weighed by how calorie dense they are, and this is any nut you can think of.  An 8 ounce container of peanuts has over 1600 calories. I could eat that in less than a half hour.  I saw none of this emphasized, on the sites I visited. The second overrated food is fruit.  Now, fruit has more benefit than nuts, but it comes at the cost of sugar.  Some fruits are worse than others, but even the so called lower sugar fruits have 7 to 9 grams of sugar per serving.  Some of the low sugar fruits are not even the kind you eat, like lemons and cranberries.  So if you are watching calories or sugar, go easy on the fruit.  On the other side of the coin I consider dairy products the most underrated food.  Skim milk is a great source of Vitamin D and protein.  Eggs are low fat and high in protein.  Yogurt has many positive effects for you intestinal tract and health.  Even cheese is not all that bad for you, but  limit some cheeses, due to the fat content.  The big knock on dairy products is their digestibility. The lactose intolerant group can not eat dairy products, and this is understandable, but the entire world is not lactose intolerant.  There is a theory that we were able to digest milk when we were infants, but as we age our ability to digest dairy becomes less.  Again, this is not true for most of us.  If you have no problem with dairy products then eat more, because it is very nutritious with very little down side. Vegetables are definitely the super food.  The more you eat, the better your health is  going to be. But certain vegetables, you still  have to be cautious.  Any vegetable that is high in Vitamin A, such as carrots,  you must eat with some moderation. Vitamin A is stored and processed in the liver and consuming large amounts of Vitamin A could cause some liver issues if done chronically.

Then there is the one nutrition saying, that states breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  This statement has been far from proven.  There are lots of studies on this, although you could argue not enough, and the conclusions are still variable.  First, the number one reason that people don’t eat breakfast in the morning, is they do not have enough time. Maybe the results of not eating breakfast in morning, such as low energy, eating unhealthy snacks, and binge eating, could be attributed to a lack of sleep, and rushing in the morning. To me, the so called controlled studies about eating breakfast, were not all that well controlled.  Why not make sure that people are getting enough sleep, get up early enough to leisurely get ready for school and work, then skip breakfast, and see how they feel the rest of the day, compared to people, who did the same thing, but ate breakfast.  For me when I get up in the morning after a good nights sleep, I am not hungry.   Why should I eat?  This is the other area where I think nutrition falls short, and that is listening to you own body.  If you are not hungry in the morning why should you eat?  Despite what I wrote about the foods I think are underrated, if any of those foods make your digestive tract uncomfortable, then by all means avoid them. That doesn’t mean if potato chips are something easy for you to digest, that you should eat a half of bag full during the day. Remember to listen to your body, and that all foods have some drawbacks, even if they are reported to be healthy foods. There are plenty of choices out there, so stay away from the definite bad and still be cautious on what is supposed to be good.   In future blogs I will touch upon some of these things in more depth, especially the breakfast thing, which I find fascinating.