By: Jana Adams
The Banks County News
September 4, 2002
Nothing if not contradictory
Obesity, obesity, Americans are increasingly obese. Its the cry of the media these days, with sidebars on related health problems such as diabetes and heart disease and how children and adults today are more overweight than theyve ever been. Add that to the ongoing cries that we are busier and more hurried than ever (and eat out more often) and the unhealthy cycle is perpetuated over and over.
Well, our society is nothing if not contradictory.
Stick-thin models and super-buff bodies are on display to show girls and boys (and men and women) what they should be TV commercials, music videos, print ads and (dont get me started) womens magazines featuring perfect people are intermingled with you gotta eat flashes of giant burgers, fried chicken and, yes, the ever-addictive french fries. Immediate gratification and everything in a hurry even as we are encouraged to learn to relax and manage our time are the generalizations.
Be thin! society clamors, in one way or another, surely having little to do with health concerns, even as soft drink sales soar, fast food is a way of life and biggie size is to be had for an extra handful of change. A tub of coke, too big to lift in one hand, a slab of meat, no, make that three...What is the point in this? Is the fast food industry in cahoots with the producers of fat-burning miracle pills that you take at night so you can wake up in a new body?
Studies show....thats so cliché, but there it is. Studies show a direct correlation between soft drinks and obesity in children, for example (and thats not to mention the increasing cuts in physical education time at school). In the past couple of weeks, some California schools have elected to do away with their soft drink vending machines in an effort to reduce student obesity. They will lose a lot of money, no doubt, as will the soft drink industry, if that is a trend that continues and becomes more widespread. Yet the study results are not comforting. One report from a Boston, Mass., hospital showed that the average teen consumes an added 15 to 20 teaspoons of sugar a day from soft drinks. Its a nauseating thought, all those spoons of sugar lined up for you to eat, one at a time.
Maybe more isnt always the best thing.
There is something to be said about personal responsibility, of being aware of what you are being sold and what you are consuming, as best you can. Wasnt there a proposed lawsuit by a man who wanted to sue McDonalds because the food makes people overweight? Are the food and drink industries really going to be concerned with your health, rather than with sales? They might like for us to think they are, and might, in fact, be misleading from time to time, and thats where the lawsuits come in.
Most people know fast food is bad for us we know it is loaded with fat and calories, but maybe we just dont think about how much and maybe we just dont want to. But maybe we really didnt know french fries were cooked in beef fat, rather than the vegetable oil touted by some food chains. Why would that be advertised? If you think of it in terms of the number of spoons of sugar, or worse, spoons of greasy fat, it becomes infinitely less palatable. We eat it and drink it. Its quick, its easy, its relatively cheap and, face it, a lot of times it tastes good and satisfies a craving.
Im not pointing fingers at anyone here for their eating habits. I love french fries and other unfortunately unhealthy foods as much as the next person they are a guilty pleasure, a comfort food, a craving satisfied and a convenience.
But its still good to try to be aware, to not be sucked in by either end of the contradictory social spectrum, if possible, from the too-thin should bes to the too-heavy could bes.A difficult prospect, perhaps.
So, you know a burger and fries arent good for you (although you may choose to indulge from time to time), but what about the healthier offerings?
I like to eat out, more than I should, maybe, since Ive come to the conclusion that you cant really count on being able to eat healthy eating out very often. From the giant portions that can be as much as three times a normal serving to the hidden pitfalls of excess sugar and fat where you didnt expect it, the trapdoors are there. Sometimes you just dont want to know, you just want to enjoy. But if you are trying to eat better, its better to be informed.
On a recent work day, when I didnt bring my lunch, I thought Id try a salad. Something somewhat green for a change, right? Instead of the hamburger and fries I craved. I went to a local fast food restaurant drive-thru and ordered a spring mix salad. Out of curiosity, to see if I really was being healthy, I looked at the (lack of) nutrition information on the back of the dressing package. Oh...20 grams of fat. I shouldve just eaten a couple of candy bars and been done with it. I felt gypped, for me, and for all those other people who think Salad, that must be good for me, if Im going to eat out.
I laughed listening to the radio the other day to some sort of spoof on salad eaters. I dont remember the exact context, but the premise was making fun of the idealistic I am so healthy, I eat a salad when I go out, going on to describe the taco salad with the ground beef, olives, sour cream, cheese, chips and so forth atop three pieces of lettuce. Sad, but true. Wash it down with a tub of soft drink, and there you go.
Wed all be better off packing something light and nutritious for lunch every day, but some french fries and a coke sure would taste good about now, wouldnt they?
Should we sue because we were lured in for a grease and sugar fix? Could we?
Maybe well stop off for some fries, a salad and a soft drink on our way to purchase the latest midriff-baring fashions, a bottle of overnight miracle pills and a magazine to guide us on how we should be perfect without any real effort.
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.
By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Banks County News
September 4, 2002
Wives Tales abound even in 2002
Any pregnant woman can attest that everyone has an old wives tale to impart about how best to tell the sex of the baby theyre carrying. Yet youll never hear: if the ultrasound technician sees a penis, then its a boy or if the 23rd chromosome is an X X, then its a girl. After all that would be too technical to be imparted from generation to generation and it lacks the aura of a good story (though if the ultrasound is wrong it does make for a good story). So I thought Id take a moment to do a little old wives say vs. modern technology.
So-If theres extra weight out front, its a girl and if all the weight is around the hips and bottom, its a boy. Not true. Shorter people carry babies out front and a wide belly usually indicates the baby is sideways.
And another one-If the baby is carrying low, then its a boy and if the baby is carrying high, then its a girl. Still not a spec of truth. First-time pregnancies often carry higher because the muscles have not been stretched as yet by a nine pound bundle of joy.
My favorite one-Hold a ring above your bellyif it swings from side to side, its a girl, in a circle, its a boy. Do you think perhaps God has to hold his sides from laughing so hard as he watches us do this?
But there are old wives tales not related to pregnancy. You may even have heard them and not realized they were created by an overactive imagination and superstition.
For instance, feed a cold, starve a fever. Completely false. Both fevers and colds cause fluid loss and depriving your body of nutrients will only make you sicker.
Heres another good one I completely believed (Mom, I hope youre reading this one): Wait an hour after eating to go swimming. This is false. I know, its hard for me to swallow, too. I had bought and framed this little superstition as fact. I was convinced that if I got out of the water, ate a Cheese It and jumped back into the water, my body would have cramps and I would drown. The truth is the American Red Cross says it is not necessary for you to wait to swim after eating UNLESS you eat a large meal and plan on rigorously swimming, you know like the 500 meter dash.
Some more wives tales moms everywhere should take note of are: Caffeine will stunt your growth. It wont. Its not good for you, but it wont do anything to your growth. Not drinking your milk on the other handwell, that you must do. And the green vegetables are not a wives tale, they really are good for you. But carrots wont really improve your eyesight. The origins of the carrot eating wives tale may be WWII when British intelligence spread a rumor that their pilots had remarkable night vision because they ate lots of carrots. They didnt want the Germans to know they were using radar. (Isnt that a riot? Now Im holding my sides because Im laughing so hard.) Carrots will maintain healthy eyesight, but eating carrots all day long wont help you get rid of the glasses.
Some foods have gotten a bad reputation thanks to old wives tales. For instance, chocolate will not cause acne and spicy foods will not cause ulcers though they will aggravate an existing ulcer. Ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection or an overuse of pain medications like Tylenol and Ibuprofen.
And have you heard this one? If you go outside with that wet head, youll catch a cold. Next time you hear it, nicely tell your grandmother that cold weather, wet hair and chills dont cause colds, viruses do. People tend to catch colds more often in the winter because that is when they are most likely to be indoors in dry air (which is good for the viruses and bad for you).
Heres another one both my parents need to hearReading in dim light will not damage your eyes. So I do not wear glasses because I read under the covers with a flashlight when you called lights out. So there. Dim lighting will only cause eye fatigue. And sitting too close to the TV also didnt do anything to my eyes. Watching too much TV or sitting too close to the TV doesnt have any effect on your eyesight. But watching too much TV can cause obesity, aggressive behavior and a tendency to learn slower in school.
Another false supposition is that knuckle cracking leads to arthritis. It doesnt though it can lead to hand swelling, decreased grip strength and can result in functional hand impairment. Now thats a mouthful. Say it three times fast. Can you see why someone just said it leads to arthritis?
And the #1 old wives tale that is not true: If you cross your eyes, theyll stay that way. They wont.
Oh, but the loud music, it really can cause you to go deaf. So turn it down like your mother asked.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.