Turning Unhealthy, Healthy

This is the final post in the series in an effort to convince Safeway CEO, Steven Byrd to hire food concierges in every Safeway store across America. In this last post I want to talk in more detail about taking our favorite unhealthy recipes and making them better for your overall being.

The first I want to talk about is fast food. Just because you are craving a burger and fries does not necessarily mean that you cannot have that. Just don’t run out to the nearest McDonald’s to satisfy your craving. What about making one at home? Buy some ground beef and put it on the BBQ. I bet it would taste better than fast food, and would definitely be healthier than having one at a restaurant. Now for the fries. I have a bit of a french fry addiction myself, but there is hope, we don’t have to give them up entirely. It is simple to make them at home with this recipe for baked french fries. So much healthier than the deep fried ones I love so much from In ‘N Out.

And what about instead of the caloric pumpkin beverage at Starbucks, you make your own low cal one at home. There are a lot of ways to cut calories without cutting taste, it just takes a little research.

If there was someone in your local grocery store to help you figure out healthy alternatives to the foods we already love we could start to make little changes to the issues surrounding food and diet in this country.


November 2, 2012. Uncategorized. 4 comments.

It’s a Recipe for Disaster When Your Country has an Obesity Epidemic and a Skinny Jean Fad

Obesity is a serious issue in America and many people should start accessing their lifestyles and making the necessary changes. Business Insider provides 15 shocking statistics about obesity. Some of which I will start to go over in this post. First I want to share this map which indicates obesity throughout the country.

People with less than a high school degree have an obesity rate of almost 33% compared to those with a college degree and an obesity rate of 20.8%. Why is this? Are they less educated about healthy choices? Do their incomes not allow for the healthiest food?

Here is a graph showing that the obesity rate continues to increase as we grow older until the age of about 69. We must remember that as we grow older our metabolisms start to slow down and we must eat right and exercise to compensate for that.

November 2, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Can Sugar Really be That Dangerous?

Hey did you know that consuming all of those Halloween candies can add inches to your waistline? Duh. But did you know all of the other problems it can cause such as cancer or Alzheimer’s? Refined sugar is nasty stuff and although incredibly hard to stay away from, we should all consider limiting our sugar consumption.

A recent study by the Mayo Clinic shows that people who eat a lot of carbohydrates are almost four times more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, and the likelihood increases with high sugar diets as well.

I have also been reading a lot of studies linking sugar to cancer. We usually think of aspartame as the cancer causing sweetener, but that is not longer the case. On May 26, 2009, Robert Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” and in it he actually refers to sugar as poison. He compared the sweet stuff to cigarettes and alcohol explaining that it is killing us.

Now, don’t go thinking that you can never eat sugar again, because, let’s be real that’s never going to happen. I think the best thing we can do is to eat it in moderation. Pretty much anything is fine in moderation, right? Try to limit yourself to having sweets only once a week. I find that when I do that I don’t feel guilty eating the candy or dessert because it is my designated sugar day.

November 2, 2012. Uncategorized. 7 comments.

Don’t Forget to Exercise!

So far, all of my posts have been about food, which makes sense as I am trying to create a change in a grocery store. But, I don’t want people to forget the importance of exercise. Some sort of regular exercise helps our bodies to function properly. Personally, when I exercise I sleep better, am less stressed and am overall happier.

I want to suggest a few reasonable ways to exercise and stay healthy. The first is the Nike Training app. I absolutely love using this app when I just want a quick at home work out. My roommate uses it almost every day as her regular workout. It is a free app with tons of workouts that range from 15 minutes to and hour, and the more minutes you work out, the more work outs you can unlock. You can choose the areas you want to target on your body as well as a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level.

The second option I recommend is the eight-week healthy weight loss challenge on the blog six sister’s stuff. I did this challenge with my extended family this summer and it was such a fun way to stay healthy and in shape. It also inspired overweight members of my family to lose weight and they are continuing to do so. It sets reasonable expectations and works on a points system. My family did $25 to enter and whoever gets the most points at the end gets all the money. You get points for things like eating all your servings of veggies and working out for at least 30 minutes five times a week. If you have a chance I highly recommend you try it out! It would be great for all of those New Year’s weight loss resolutions.

Overall exercise is incredibly important and we must not forget about it when talking about a healthy lifestyle.

November 2, 2012. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Food Allergies

I mentioned in my last post my food allergies. I have a gluten and dairy intolerance that I discovered sophomore year of high school. I remember the first time I experienced the pain. It was a dull pain in my lower abdomen and really did not hurt all that bad. I was at track practice freshman year (yes freshman it took about a year to figure out the cause) and I felt the pain. I took notice, but did not think much of it and figured it would go away. Unfortunately it continued to get worse. It got to the point that I missed about three weeks of school my sophomore year. I started to fall behind and it became harder and harder to catch up as I continued to miss classes. When I could make it through a whole day of school I would spend my snack and lunch breaks making up tests and talking with teachers about how I would catch up again. I had countless doctors appointments and saw numerous specialists, but no one could figure out what was wrong. Finally, they all chalked it up to stress and was instructed to see a therapist. My mom did not tell me this at the time because she knew there was something else wrong and continued to seek help. After doing a bit of research on her own she decided to take me to a naturopathic doctor. She ran a blood test and there it was all on one piece of paper and done with only one test. Food allergies. As soon as I removed the various pain causing foods from my diet I started to feel so much better.

At this time, there were not a lot of gluten/dairy free options on the market and the ones that were, were truly inedible. I started to lose a lot of weight partly because I did not know what to eat, and partly because I was afraid to eat because I did not want to be in pain. At this time, it would have been so helpful to have one of the food concierges in the grocery store because I had to figure it out all on my own. There was a lot of trial and error, a lot of error. Half the time my gluten free pasta would fall apart in the water and there would be nothing left (now the gluten free pasta is amazing! My roommate who doesn’t even have gluten allergies eats brown rice pasta with me because it is delicious and much healthier).

Gluten and dairy intolerance is becoming so much more prevalent. That is clear when there are now gluten free sections in grocery stores. It would be so helpful for people who are just discovering their food allergies to have someone in the grocery store to guide them through this. They could bring in their favorite recipes and the concierge could help them make it suitable to their new diets.

November 2, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

What is GMO food doing to us?

Genetically modified food is a hot topic right now, especially with Prop 37 being voted on next week. It turns out that we all need to be aware of what foods are genetically modified and should make an effort to remove them from our diet. This article from the organic consumers association goes into further detail, in particular soy beans. I started seeing a naturopathic doctor about five years ago to put an end to my stomach pain. She told me to avoid eating anything with soy, even though I am not allergic, unless it is edamame beans, and still eat those sparingly. The reason she told me this is because soy has become so genetically modified that it is dangerous to eat. A quote from the article above from Ohio-based allergy specialist John Boyles, MD, says, “I used to  test for soy allergies all the time, but now that soy is genetically engineered,  it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it-unless it says  organic.” The article also explains that America has kind of become a guinea pig for the testing of these genetically modified foods. This is really upsetting to me because it has negatively affected my health.

I have a vivid memory of talking about my gluten intolerance (caused by genetically modified wheat) with my not-so-health-consicous best friend. She said “people have been eating gluten for thousands of years and it hasn’t caused any problems.” To which I responded, “gluten is only about 100 years old, and it has been causing problems since it was added into our food supply.” It saddens me that Americans are suffering from our food supply, which to an extent is out of our control.

My mom is also gluten intolerant and has worse reactions to eating it than I do. She has travelled to Italy twice now, where she ate as much bread and pasta as she desired and had no reaction. Why is this? Because there is no gluten in their wheat. It is not genetically modified. Europeans do not even really know what food allergies are. When I was there they looked at my like I was crazy when I required specific meals.

Next time you are at the grocery store, buy organic if you can. I know it can be expensive, but on occasion the organic version is not too much more. Also try to avoid foods like soy and corn which are highly GMO.

Here is a list of the dirty dozen (always buy organic as the pesticides really sink in) and the clean 15 (okay to buy not organic).


Check out this video about GMO foods to further educate yourself. Next time you go to the grocery store try to look for foods that are not genetically modified.




November 2, 2012. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Abs are Made in the Kitchen

What exactly does the common phrase “abs are made in the kitchen” even mean. It means that your diet dictates a significant amount of weight loss. I have heard that diet factors into 70%-80% of health and weight loss, and the rest is done at the gym. If you think about it, it is really easy to consume a lot of calories in one day if we let ourselves. These calories may be consumed from mindless snacking or eating unhealthy meals that you don’t even realize has such a significant amount of calories. We also need to be aware of what we eat when at restaurants. A meal that you order out is likely to have many more calories than if you cook it at home.

It is much harder to burn those calories than it was to take them in. To give you some examples according to livestrong.com an hour and a half of Bikram Yoga will burn 600 calories, also and equivalent to running for an hour and 15 minutes. Bikram Yoga is one of my favorites work outs, but it is also one of the most intense work outs I have ever tried, and it is unlikely that the majority of the population is participating in a 90 minute session of yoga or running for 75 minutes to burn off the excess of calories they ate. Another example, to help put things in perspective is that according to planetberries.com  you must walk the length of a football field in order to burn off one single m&m candy.

Now, next time you go to the grocery store really think about what you are buying and try to make healthy choices. Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was a food concierge at your local Safeway store to help you figure out how to make the best healthy choices for you and your family? I always like to think about what I put into my body. If it has a lot of ingredients I don’t want to eat it. If it has an ingredient that I cannot pronounce, why would I want that mystery product in my body?  I want to leave you with this image/quote that I like to think about when I am really craving some In ‘N Out french fries and a burger.

November 2, 2012. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

The Problems That May Occur

I know there are a few problems people may have with this idea such as, companies paying for their products to be in a certain place on the shelves and the concierges recommending products, or that this whole idea may be just too costly. I am going to address these potential issues and explain my thoughts as to how to resolve them.

The first issue I know is that companies pay a premium for their products to be in a prime location on the shelves and if there is a concierge in the store recommending other products, they have then wasted their money. My vision for this was not to have specific products recommended, but to suggest alternatives such as “you can replace all purpose flour with quinoa flour instead.” They could then explain how the cooking process may differ a bit for each kind of flour. There are many different brands of quinoa flour and it would then be up to the shopper to see which option best fit his/her needs and price range. Some shoppers, for example, may not know that they can eat brown rice pasta instead of regular pasta as a gluten free or healthier substitute. Specific products do not have to be named, but rather the category of the substitution.

The second problem that may occur would be that this program might be too costly. One way to lower costs would be to hire an intern from the nutrition program at a local college. They could work for free, while getting real life experience in their desired field. Another, could be to hire the concierge for only a few peak hours during the day rather than all day. And a third is to charge a small fee for the program to cover costs. It would be up to Steven Byrd to decide how much would be charged to make it worth while, but hopefully something many people can afford.

November 1, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

What is the Goal?

The overall vision is to have what I am going to call a “concierge” in all Safeway stores across the nation. That is the ultimate goal, but for the purposes of this blog I am asking Steven Byrd to test it out in just one store, of his choosing, to see if he thinks it would work and likes the idea.

The concierge would work in the store and discuss with customers what changes they should make in their diets and lifestyles.  This program could even have a small fee if Steven Byrd feels it would be best for business. The goal is to make this opportunity available to everyone who may need it. These consultants would go through the clients’ diets and exercise routines and help them to figure out what alternatives they could make, but also make suggestions that they could conveniently buy at the store. They can help customers with overall healthy changes and/or can help figure out what to eat with food allergies. The customers could bring in recipes they already love and would like to make a healthier version as well as bringing in healthy recipes they are interested in trying. The consultants would then either help them find a way to make the recipe healthier or give them guidelines on how to prepare the recipe. Having these consultants to make healthy shopping easier would hopefully encourage people to cook for themselves instead of going out.

My thoughts for this concierge is to have it help not only create a healthier America, but draw in more business for Safeway. The concierge would only have to be working in the store a few hours a day, maybe at a time that the store has the most shoppers. The food that the concierge would recommend products sold in the Safeway store. Hopefully this would also give Safeway business a boost because it might bring in more shoppers who want to use the concierge services.

This is an article about a grocery store chain who does employ a dietitian in almost every store and it has seemed to have very positive results.  

November 1, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.