Donut-licking is an Aberrant Eating Behavior

ariana keep outBefore this “news” story hits the briney deep, I have something to say about Ariana Grande. She is the 22-year old celebrity of Nickelodeon TV, theater, and music fame who was seen in July, on a surveillance video, licking glazed donuts on an uncovered tray in a donut shop. On the audio, she was overheard saying, “What the f*ck is that? I hate Americans. I hate America. That’s disgusting!” There were entertainment-news stories and hash tags galore: #ilickdonuts – #donutgate – #donutproblems – #arianadonuts –  #arianagrandelickingdonuts –  #ariwearewithyou – #arianahatesamerica. This week I read that Ariana Grande Is Now the 2nd Most Disliked Celebrity, Following Close Behind Bill Cosby. Can you believe that? 

But for me as a clinician, donut-licking raises a red flag. It is an aberrant eating behavior on par with eating in a ritualistic way, chewing food and spitting it out, mixing strange food combinations, eating the same foods over and over, skipping meals, taking tiny portions, cutting food in little pieces, and refusing to eat with others. They are all aberrant eating behaviors that may be seen in eating disordered patients.

Ariana also happens to be extraordinarily thin, which wasn’t the case last year when (according to the Internet), at 5’1” tall, she weighed 106 pounds (BMI 20), a perfect weight within the healthy weight range. But within the past year (according to the Internet), she lost twelve pounds by following a vegan diet. I figure that now Arianna is in the underweight range, weighing 90-94 pounds (BMI 17).

Ariana Before Vegan

Ariana Before Vegan

Ariana After Vegan

Ariana After Vegan

I’ve explained why vegan diets are a problem in Beyonce Promotes Vegan Diet. Tricked by Her Trainer. But that doesn’t stop the knuckleheads on YouTube from praising Ariana’s weight loss. (See Ariana Grande Vegan Weight Loss Transformation.) The photos are telling.

I understand why Ariana Grande might let it slip that, subconsciously, she hates America. After all, we made her into an object that must stay dangerously thin (and hungry) in order to survive. As a role model, she spreads the poison to young fans. How can she feel good about that? When all she wanted to do was sing and dance. I hope she gets help.

Beyonce Promotes Vegan Diet. Tricked by Her Trainer.

BeyonceNothing against Beyonce. Look at her. Talented, beautiful, rich, the new Black feminist, works the Power Couple, not excessively vulgar like Miley Cyrus. I just don’t like it when well-meaning celebs put the public in harms way.

Today, I wrote an article for Diets In Review, “Beyonce’s New Vegan Diet Can be Delivered to Your Door. But is it Worth It?” Beyonce is promoting veganism because her trainer has her ear. See the article to understand.

Vegans don’t eat any meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or milk products. (Beyonce tacked on gluten, soy, and GMO restrictions too.) Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian? (add eggs and dairy) You bet! Pescetarian? (add fish) Flexitarian? (add a little meat) Bring ’em on! (I was actually an Ovo-Lacto Vegetariam since before Beyonce was born. See What the Hippies Knew.) But vegans? That’s just dangerous. Please be careful.

Bottom Line: Just eat more vegetables, legumes and whole grains and cut the processed foods. And don’t take nutrition advice from celebrities and personal trainers.

Your thoughts? Have you considered going vegan? Did you do it?

You Are No Match for Big Food as Stephen Colbert Explains

So, by now, everybody knows that, at the 11th hour, a New York State Supreme Court Judge overturned Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in New York City restaurants. Constitutionality aside, I think the judge didn’t want to wait in the long line at Dunkin’ Donuts. There will be appeals and the lawyers will get rich because the American Beverage Association spends millions and billions to fight soda taxes and laws like Bloomberg’s across the land every year. People don’t understand that we all pay for obesity in higher taxes to support Medicare, Medicare, disability benefits, etc.  And “personal responsibility” is no match against foods that are engineered and marketed to make us overeat. Stephen Colbert explains it better than I. Watch.

More Than a Trace of Nuts

Nut Lady Art

“O Nobody Ever Thinks About Nuts” by Elizabeth Tashjian

Back in the day when nuts were in the (unhealthy) group of “high fat foods,” I didn’t eat so many nuts. Times have changed. Now, my diet is full of (healthy) nuts. Monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidants, vitamin E, B-complex, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, fluoride and selenium…. How can I express that without being waaa-waaa-waaaaaaa, bored?

That nutty thought occurred to me while absentmindedly weeding through old cookbooks, when suddenly a newspaper clip from 1985 fell into my lap. On one side was for an ad for a diabetes cookbook that no longer interested me, but on the back was a story about a self-proclaimed nut fanatic, Elizabeth Tashjian, aka the Nut Lady. The Google machine led me to her obituary in The New York Times, Elizabeth Tashjian, 94, an Expert on Nuts, Dies. Nuts! I missed the Nut Lady.

The Nut Lady Lives

Elizabeth Tashjian was an accomplished artist who championed the nut. She was the daughter of aristocratic Armenian immigrants and studied at the New York School of Applied Design for Women and the National Academy of Design. See a photo of  young Elizabeth in her studio from the Smithsonian collection.

Ms. Tashjian made vaguely erotic nut-themed paintings, sculptures and masks. To showcase her work and collected artifacts made of nuts, she opened the Nut Museum in Old Lyme Connecticut. Admission to the museum was $2 and a nut. No nut, no entrance. See Nut Galleria, a tour of Elizabeth Tashjian’s nut art statements.

Later in life, Ms. Tashjian she appeared on late night TV – Johnny Carson, Nut Lady MuseumDavid Letterman, Jay Leno, and Chevy Chase  – to promote the Nut Museum and to expound on nuts. She delighted Johnny with a thirty-five-pound coco-de-mer that resembled a woman’s butt. An accomplished musician, she performed her nut anthem,  “Nuts are Beautiful,” on Johnny Carson. Watch the Nut Lady sing.

Elizabeth Tashjian was the subject of a documentary film, In A Nutshell: A Portrait Of Elizabeth Tashjian. It is a sad story about how her house was seized by the government and she was moved into a nursing home at the end of her live.  When the Nut Museum closed in 2002, Connecticut College inherited much of her art.

“Nuts have a heart. Hard and pricky sometimes on the outside, but soft and sweet on the inside. That’s my philosophy.” ~Elizabeth Tashjian  (Sound more than a bit like me.)

Your thoughts: Did you know the Nut Lady? Do you eat a lot of nuts? 

A “Healthy Weight Week” Reality Check

Baby on ScaleTake out your compass. I am celebrating Healthy Weight Week – the 20th Annual – and that means it’s time to focus on eating problems that originate from our media-fed perceptions of “healthy” weight. The images of women in the media are much too thin. They feed into our confusion about reference points and what is weight normal.

We have a Skinny Girl Fetish

Our society is primitive when it comes to  objectifying our idols. We expect them to attain and maintain unattainable slimness, and we settle for nothing less. Consider the unfortunate  Jennifer Lawrence, a 22-year old actress, nominated for Jennifer-Lawrence-Bikini-1Best Actress in a Leading Role, Silver Linings Playbook (trailer) Jennifer recently told ELLE Magazine, “I’m considered a fat actress.” “I’m Val Kilmer in that one picture on the beach.”  A Google search runs five pages deep into the topic of of Ms Lawrence’s weight. The real problem is our notion of a healthy body. Jennifer is perfect, but our view of women’s bodies is f—ked up.

Why Are the Natives Fat?

Do you ever wonder why the well-fed, native people we see in National Geographic Magazine are kind of chubby by modern Western standards? The natives don’t have mirrors or scales, or junk food, or cars; yet, they are not thin. In fact, the natives are like Jennifer Lawrence. Note: nature prefers a little meat on the bones for a rainy day. That meat is muscle and fat, not too little, not too much, just right. Reality check: Photographs of healthy native women.

The Next Step?

In South Korea, notions about perfection have led to the highest rate of plastic surgery in the world. Eyelid surgery, nose reshaping, facial contouring – Asians want a westernized face. See this article from Jezebel, I Can’t Stop Looking at These South Korean Women Who’ve Had Plastic Surgery. Reality check: celebrities have plastic surgery all the time. The shock is in the trickle down to the masses.

Korean_1

Your thoughts: How will you celebrate healthy weight week? Everything counts.

A Bad Week for Fake Nutrition

Ask Me About Girl Scout CookiesThe food industry is on to “nutrition” as a buzz word, and it’s already out of control. “Functional Foods,” foods with a function to deliver nutrients they don’t normally contain, were on my radar twice this week: first, in the form of a new Girl Scout cookie, MANGO CRÈMES WITH NUTRIFUSION™, that DietsInReview.com asked me to see, and second, in VITAMIN WATER that is nutritious – or not –  as Stephen Colbert explains.

 MANGO CRÈMES WITH NUTRIFUSION™

The Girl Scout bakery invented a new cookie, sans the trans fat and preservatives, pumped up with (only) 15% of the RDI (Reference Daily Intake) for vitamin B1 and 5% for vitamins A, C, D, E, and B6  – no mind to the hundreds and hundreds of other nutrients we need – and called it “a delicious new way to get your vitamins!”  Not so fast. Those cookies have as much sugar and saturated fat as other cookies, and as an aside, they are mango-less, but since they are made with the dehydrated juice of cranberries, pomegranates, oranges, grapes, and strawberries, I can’t complain. Just don’t say cookies are health food. Say, “Hey, we’d like you to try a new cookie and support the Girl Scouts.” That will suffice.

VITAMIN WATER

The Coca-Cola company is defending its Vitamin Water product against deceptive claims. Colbert connects the fake nutrition dots. How bad can it get?

Your thoughts: Are you confused by fake nutrition claims?

Claire Danes from My Vantage Point

Claire-Danes Golden Globes

Claire Danes at the Golden Globes

Last night during the Golden Globe Awards, Diets In Review emailed to ask me to comment on Claire Danes’ weight. Twitter was atwitter: “OMG! Claire Danes, wasn’t there just a baby in there?”  Claire delivered baby Cyrus on December 17, 2012, and now four weeks later, “Claire Danes Post-Baby Body Rocked the Golden Globes.” What gives?

My View

I feel uniquely qualified to discuss Claire Danes’ figure, not only because I am a registered dietitian trained in physical assessment, BUT because, in 2003, I saw Claire Danes in her underwear at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show. Claire and I entered the pavilion around the same time and we strolled through the booths more-or-less together. I sneaked peeks when she tried on tops. My observation? Claire has a pronounced a pear-shape with narrow shoulders, a long neck and torso, and short legs. She carries her weight below the waist.

At the Golden Globes, Claire’s gown accentuated her narrow upper body with a deep v-neck and halter straps, and minimized her lower body with a fluid skirt, high heels to elongate, and a color that melted into the red carpet. And as I’ve already explained, those stars wear Spanx. BTW: Claire has great posture.

Claire looked slim last night, but her arms are not too skinny. (The Statue of Liberty’s arm is my reference point) Claire probably gained the recommended amount of weight during her pregnancy. Her baby weighed around 7 pounds, he is in good health, and Claire is successfully breast feeding. Claire is known for eating wholesome, minimally-processed foods and she probably exercises with a trainer. She knows how to pose for the camera, she looks healthy, and her post-baby body does indeed rock.

You thoughts: Did you watch Claire Danes last night? What do you think?

The Wish Tree. Keep Wishing.

Wish Tree at the Brooklyn Museum

“Yes, I’m your angel – I’ll give you everything – In my magic power – So make a wish and I’ll let it come true for you. Tra, la, la, la, la.” 
~Yoko Ono lyrics “Yes, I’m Your Angel” from the album “Double Fantasy” (1980)

Yoko Ono presented a “Wish Tree” to the Brooklyn Museum in appreciation of her 2012 Women in the Arts Award. “Wish Tree” is an ongoing project that has been installed across continents for decades, gathering wishes from more than one million people so far. After each presentation, when all of the wishes are collected, they are buried (unread) around the Imagine Peace Tower, an outdoor light installation in Reykjavik, Iceland created by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon. The Brooklyn Museum’s Wish Tree is new, and so it needs more wishes, but when a wish tree is full, it looks like this:

For over fifty years, Yoko Ono has made art that requires viewer participation for completion. Yoko provides the pencils, tags, and instructions. (“Make a wish, write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it and tie it around a branch of the wish tree. Ask your friend to do the same. Keep wishing.”) You make the wish. Yoko encourages us to believe in the collective power of our hopes for the future. I encourage us to believe in the power of wishes for ourselves. Wish to make it easy to eat in a healthy way.

Your thoughts: Would you like me to hang a wish for you? Let me know. Keep wishing.

My Thoughts on Sarah Palin’s Diet Book

Mary Hartley as Sarah Palin

Yesterday, ABC News asked me for a quote about Sarah Palin’s new diet book. (The quote was not used.) I guess Palin’s book will be out soon, even though last October, People magazine couldn’t say if Palin had a contract or when the book would be published.

According to several news outlets, Palin said her book advocates “a balanced approach to weight loss” focusing on “self-discipline as we still eat our beloved homemade comfort foods.”  Of me, the ABC writer asked, “Is it OK to indulge once in a while?” and “Is this a good approach to weight loss?” To the first question, I answered, “Yes; only a control freak would not indulge once in awhile.” To the second question, I said, “Dunno.”

I do say this: Never take nutrition or medical advice from a celebrity.

Sarah Palin is no authority on diet and fitness, but she does have a loyal following and enough gawkers to sell a book. And then there’s the diet-crazed crowd. Get that book on the shelves by January 1st.

Sarah has lost some weight since she was a household name in 2008. She espouses a low-carb-, lean-protein-style diet, and so I presume that will be her focus. She drinks a “skinny white-chocolate mocha” for breakfast, and so I guess that is her indulgence. For decades, Sarah has been a distance runner, which accounts, in part, for her trim physique.

Without reviewing what Sarah actually eats, I cannot say whether her diet is wholesome and balanced. There are countless routes to a balanced diet. For instance, an Inuit does not eat like a Bantu, yet both native diets are correct.

I’m glad Sarah is happy with her own eating style, and as long as she meets her daily requirements for protein, carbohydrate, essential fats, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds with nutrient-like activity that are known and still unknown, it doesn’t really matter whether she focuses on low-carb or low-fat. That’s because total calories matter most when it comes to weight control.

The Palin family’s food choices don’t have to be yours. Every individual needs to find his own style in terms of personal preferences, resources and “life-style.” (Not my favorite term)  For me, moose stew doesn’t work, and I doubt if Sarah has tried my Portuguese Kale Soup.

Your thoughts: Would you read Sarah Palin’s diet book?

Breakfast (Cereal) With the Candidates

Choose between delicious Obama O’s and delectable Romney Flakes! Candidate Crunch, a limited edition breakfast cereal from Cerealize.com, is just plain fun. As much, or more, fun than binders full of women! I’m ordering a box of each.

Cerealize is a new company, in beta mode, that lets you create your own breakfast cereal and then they ship it to your home. The ordering is done online. I read about them in Food + Tech Connect, Breakfast with Obama and Romney, Courtesy of Cerealize.

Your thoughts: Would you buy custom-blended cereal?