October 2008

How Calorie Posting Will Help Everyone Lose Weight

Today’s article in the New York Times, “2,000 Is Really Enough”,http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/20/opinion/20mon3.html?th&emc=th
refers to the calorie count that most adults generally need.

It talks of the calorie count posting in restaurants of all food and how some fast food chains are getting on board.

Although not everyone knows that roughly 2,000 calories a day is about it, I think all of us probably have been surprised to learn how high the calorie counts are for so many things.

Even as a former obsessive calorie counter when I was dancing and dieting, I still get ‘sticker shock’ when I see that the rice crispie treat snack I always get at Starbucks is almost a quarter of the daily calories I ostensibly should/could have.

Certainly gives me pause as I ponder my options during that 4:00 p.m. slump.

Although I tend to try to help people become less obsessional about their eating, (which invariably tends to help people lose weight realistically and keep it off,) I think that this calorie posting does actually help consciousness. Consciousness being key to helping you decide whether you want to eat this or that, and helps you take in less calories overall.

Knowledge being power, definitely reigns in this “Post or Not Post Calories” era. I am glad to see that some fast food companies are getting on board, and that some states are looking at this more seriously.

Whether it actually helps us eat less will be another story, but it certainly won’t hurt. We will begin to understand in fact, what a true portion size is, its relative heft, and I think it will help people make choices.

I sometimes do choose to have the bulk of my calories in the afternoon in the form of a Rice Crispy Treat. Ironically, the Calorie Count Placards fits into the Weight Watchers program: You get to choose how and when you eat your calories.

We Americans like to know that we fundamentally have choices. I think Calorie Posting falls in line with the American Way as it helps give us the information on how we choose to even pick our poison. It is our right, and our responsibility, isn’t that the position?!

Ultimately, it is a more realistic approach to educating people about nutrition anyway. We all know what it takes to eat ‘healthy,’ and the Food Pyramid. But given the reality of most people’s lives, and our reliance on restaurants, fast food, and quicker options, it does help to know what we are taking in.

Happy Eating!

Here Comes Hallowe’en

Question foremost on parents’ minds, (or that they pose to me) when Hallowe’en comes, is: “How do you manage the candy?”

I thought of this the other day when I was throwing out yet another bag of candy I found that was several months old.

I have always been pretty loose about candy when my kids were young, and they seemed to do well with a combination of letting them find their limits, and with me setting up some structure when it seemed like they were really going overboard. As a parent, I found it useful to them at different moments, for me to say: “Okay, enough already.” Maybe they would have gone there themselves, but I was sick of seeing them eat that degree of sugar. We never got into power struggles over sugar or food.

Ironically, as teenagers, my daughters are now asking me to help them moderate their eating at times. They claim that they need the help, they want me to ‘stop’ them, and although it went against my original instincts, I have had to listen to their requests to help structure them, and at least they can ‘own’ it. It also does seem to help them break that cycle if they have been overeating on sweets, or overeating in general. You know how the first day or two can be the hardest to stop.

But when it comes to Hallowe’en, no one says to stop. My original theory always holds as well. That if they have access to their candy and enjoy eating lots of it on this fun day, that they will eventually bore of the treats. It does seem to bear out year after year as I throw the bags out by the summertime that are still left over. (Yes, they do rake in quite a bit of candy; hey we live in NYC: one apt. building and you are set for months! This not door to door miles to cover trick or treating!)

Yet again I am reminded the rule of parenting: We can have our styles, our rules and what we want to do with our kids, but we need to remain responsive to what they also need from us: To be flexible, and to remember, that the minute you have one stage figured out, they are onto the next and need something slightly different from you!

So, whatever rules you go with for Hallowe’en, the most important one is to enjoy, savor those yummy treats, no guilt allowed, and have fun eating!

Happy Pumpkin Day!

Yes, You Can Be Just ‘A Little Bit Pregnant’!

Saying used to be that pregnancy is just one of those things that you are or you are not.

But sitting with one of my patients who has undergone invitro fertilization and is in the week of limbo before she finds out whether she is ‘pregnant’ or not, simply defies that proposition.

 This limbo state of pregnancy is not uncommon these days.  With so many couples going through invitro, there is that ‘limbo week’ of being; I need to say, “A Little Bit Pregnant”.

Figuring out how to cope with the emotional roller coaster that comes with invitro or recurrent miscarriage, is a big part of the territory.  

But this particular week in the life of a couple, is unique.  “They tell me I am not considered technically ‘pregnant’ now, but what is this state as I am sitting here with an embryo implanted?!”  many women have asked me during this particular limbo. 

Everyone finds their own ways to cope with this particularly ambivalent state.  Each person finds ways to guard against being too hopeful, and  not too pessimistic.  Everyone universally wants to guard against the disappointment they have experienced leading up to all of this and know they will feel if that test turns out negative. 

I think that hope is one of the scariest feelings.  I also think that it is physically impossible to not to feel any hope while ‘with embryo’ despite many peoples’ attempts to protect themselves.  I think it is partly biological. 

I have come to counseling couples with infertility or pregnancy loss through my own experiences, not just my training in psychiatry.  Without meaning to, I became an informal ‘hotline’ for women who had lost pregnancies, as news of my own experiences and happy ending spread. 

For six years, my husband and I lost seven babies.  Two of them in the sixth month, five in the first trimester.   We tried everything.  Doctors could offer us no further options, so we turned to adoption.  One evening I threw caution to the wind and became pregnant.  For reasons no doctor to this day can understand, my first daughter was born nine months later.  My subsequent two pregnancies were also uneventful and lo and behold, we have our three daughters.

So as I sit with my patient during this exciting, scary, and yes, very, very hopeful week, I salute all of you women out there trying to have your babies. 


And yes, you can be a little bit pregnant.  Don’t let them tell you otherwise.