National Eating Disorder (NED) awareness week: February 26th-March 3rd.

Did you know?… The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) states that nearly 10 million females and 1 million males in the U.S. are battling eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, while millions more suffer from binge eating disorder. Eating disorders occurrence usually starts during puberty and progresses till late teen and early adult years. People suffering from eating disorders frequently have an intense fear of being fat or think that they are fat even if their weight is normal.

Credit : Santiago Alvarez from flickr

Credit : Santiago Alvarez from flickr

 Eating becomes no longer enjoyable.

Credit : Christian Cable from flickr

Credit : Christian Cable from flickr

People with anorexia have an extreme fear of weight gain. The small amount of food they do eat becomes an obsession. They become very thin; weigh themselves at least once a day; count calories and portion food they eat. Some people with anorexia nervosa may also engage in binge-eating followed by extreme dieting, excessive exercise, self-induced vomiting, and/or misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.

People with bulimia nervosa, unlike anorexia nervosa, usually maintain what is considered a healthy or normal weight, while some are slightly overweight. They usually eat a huge amount of food, such as pizza, cakes, cookies or ice creams that almost dissolve in your mouth without chewing. They only stop eating when they are too full to eat any more or run out of food. Then they try to get rid of the calories they ate by vomiting, exercise for hours or use laxatives to prevent weight gain.

People suffering from binge-eating disorder like bulimia consume large quantities of food, however the eating is not followed by purging, exercise, or fasting. Consequently, they often are over-weight or obese. They also experience guilt, shame, and distress about their binge-eating.

When it becomes problematic

These eating behaviors become harmful to the individuals and can have detrimental health problems. People with eating disorders suffer from severe malnutrition and may even die. The constant vomiting can damage the stomach and kidneys; cause tooth decay from the stomach acids you throw up; loss of  essentials minerals such as potassium which can lead to heart problems and death. People with binge-eating disorder, who are obese, are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

Here is a preview of  THIN, a documentary based on the lives of four anorexic women undergoing treatment for eating disorders.

Many resources are available concerning prevention and treatment of eating disorders.Experts agree that binge eating treatment must tackle obesity and psychological problems.Also, families and friends can encourage people suffering from eating disorders  to develop a new thinking about food, eating and body image.

During this week of NED and all year long, let’s combat it .Encourage others to love their bodies and to engage in healthy diet. Get involved! NEDA will light up the Empire State building on February 28th , this  Tuesday, to raise awareness of eating disorders. Take part in this event.

Celebrating Black History Month with a taste of Soul Food

Soul food consists of a selection of foods traditional in the cuisine of African Americans. It is also considered comfort food for African Americans. The history behind it arises from when Africans were slaves and named it food for survival. It is taught that Europeans fed their slaves workers cheaply, meaning often giving them leftovers. Somehow forcing the captives to eat or cook with the ingredients at hand. Nowadays, it is part of the African American culture and  mostly cooked during  holiday seasons.

Nevertheless, Soul food became a “questionable” diet. It brought up lots of debates which enclosed the big question: is it healthy? Does it not somehow perpetuate pervasive health disparities in the black culture? Does it contribute to the multitude health concerns afflicting African Americans such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems?

Photo credit: Joits from Flickr

Some people argue that Soul food does not cause any problems to health since it consists of myriad of beans and all sort of greens. They used the case of George Rene Francis, a black man who died at 112 years old and whom shared to a reporter before passing away that he loved to eat “Soul Food” and considered to have lived a healthy life. However, some argue that the case of Mr Francis is amazing and of course, an exception. Dr. Taylor whom knows that case pretty well contends because of the sedentary lifestyles of African American, stress, smoking that eating too much soul food might be problematic to the body.

In aid to the various questions embedded around the term Soul Food, Oldways created a pyramid; African Heritage Diet Pyramid. It is made for any persons of African descendant of everywhere to familiarize them to their healthy heritage diet. Moreover, other persons like Jessica Harris encourage people of African descent to take pride in Soul food cuisine since it is based on fresh seasonal vegetable.

Photo credit from hikarilisa from Flickr

Other persons propose that a reinvention in the culinary heritage will also be helpful in improving the African-American diet. An entrepreneur Williams published a cookbook “Neo soul” for that matter. Dietitians are teaching family chefs how to flavor collard greens with smoked turkey instead of pork fat. Black churches are serving on Sundays’ dinners: baked chicken and fruit, instead of fried chicken and biscuits.Sylvia Woods from Harlem states “the problem is the way we prepare it”. Indeed, generally, Soul food   includes healthy vegetables such as dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes and cholesterol lowering black-eyed peas. However, problem arises when those ingredients are cooked with fat back, ham hock bacon, salt, that add saturated fat, calories and sodium to Africans Americans’ meals.

Thus, modification to Soul food recipes is important for the African American population since studies show that they are more susceptible to certain morbidity than other ethnicities. Take a look at this video on tips on how to adjust the cooking method. And always read the labels to monitor amount of sodium present.

Continue enjoying Black History month with heart healthy Soul Food 😉

Food and Happiness…Can what we eat lead to depression?

The Unites States published that eating foods high in trans-fats and saturated fats increases the risk of depression. They did so according to a Spanish study done on 2011, confirming previous studies that connected eating “junk food” with depression. It was a study done on an European population which usually consume food with relatively low intake of trans-fat. However, they realized that despite this factor, they were susceptible of suffering depression. Thus, this study emphasizes on the importance of taking this effect in the US for instance since 2.5 percent of energy comes from these fats.

The Los Angeles Times (like previous studies) contends that people who ate mostly “junk food “   have 48% increased risk of depression. Henceforth, the adjustment of our Western diet from saturated and trans-fats found in meat, butter and other fast food to more beneficial fats found in vegetable oils, fish, mono and polyunsaturated fats.

Solution?.. While certain diets or food may not directly put you in a better/happy mood, a healthy diet in your everyday meal may contribute as part of treating for depression. However, on the other hand, some research and studies found that omega- 3 can significantly help one fight against depression. Studies found out that people with a deficiency of omega -3 are more at risk for being depressed than those who consumes it frequently. It is also essential to eat adequately and to have in your every deal the necessary amount of amino acids, proteins rich food , good carbohydrates ,antioxidants ,Vitamin D. You can also refer to video below about what to eat.


Hello readers,

Food, I would contend, is essential for survival. Eating well is one effective method toward being healthy.It is key to prevent several illnesses but also to preserve your body,most importantly to maintain a healthy body. We know that what we eat is directly linked to our body. We also know that foodborne illnesses are causes of morbidity and mortality all around the world. For more info, feel free to visit the WHO or the CDC websites on food safety.

Nutritionists always say eat well, be diverse and balance meals. Well, how do we go about that? In Health in your meal, you will find posts about daily habits to adopt when eating, whether it be alone or with your family at home or socializing with friends at a restaurant.

We are often overwhelmed by the amount of food products available and are unsure of what to consume. This blog site,created during Spring 2012 as part of  the Media and Health class at Hunter College School of Public Health, will provide practical advises on what to buy and how to prepare balanced meals. There will also be several posts about nutrients intake, relationship between food and certain organs in your body and relationship between food and well-being .Please feel free to ask in the comment box about anything you would wish to read about and feel free to comment or like any post.