Nutrition

She Geeks Out Podcast

rachele-podcast SGO Have you ever met people that you just instantly click with? Like, at a cellular level? Rachel Murray and Felicia Jadszak from She Geeks Out are two of those people. Hysterical, smart, driven and, best of all, they just overall get it. We had an awesome time recording this podcast in my office at Simmons College. We cover topics from fitness to cells dividing, to vitamin D, to yogurt and we wrap it up with personal motivation. And we laugh...a lot. Check it out.

Also, check out She Geeks Out. They are an incredible organization of empowerment that provides a welcoming network, enables mentorship, supports girls, advances women, and encourages every woman to proudly fly their geek flag. THEY ARE AWESOME.

https://www.shegeeksout.com/podcast-episode-23-fitness-nutrition-rachele-pojednic/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fitness-and-nutrition-with-rachele-pojednic/id1128497037?i=1000380902783&mt=2

Mindfulness Blog Tour - Getting Real Food on your Plate

I'm so thrilled that this post is part of the Mindful Habits Blog Tour, a virtual “tour” where 13 women post on 14 different days about the power of habit for running a business, being healthy, and getting creative. The Tour is run by Sarah Hawkins of True North Business Management. Check out the full lineup of women posting as part of the tour here. Eat real Food

Everyone eats. But not everyone eats food. Less than 25% of Americans get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet but the annual sales of dietary supplements exceeds $36+ billion. Perhaps worse, recent studies claim that over 60% of the food we eat is highly processed crap, and that only 2.7% of Americans follow the four pillars of healthful living - eating healthy food, getting enough exercise, maintaining a normal weight and not smoking. TWO POINT SEVEN PERCENT.

Yet, despite our dismal behavioral choices, we are a culture obsessed with quick fixes, shiny packages, flashy logos, and gimmicky tag lines. We are hard wired for novelty and have become obsessed with instant results, rather than long-term health. As a result, we are constantly searching for the next diet miracle, ever distracted by the immediacy of now. And in a quest for instantaneous perfection and promised immortality, we have completely diluted our diet of food – real food.

With cruel irony, we have become obsessed with the prophesies of healthful eating, despite that fact that more often than not, we rarely stick to any particular fad long term. The average diet lasts five-weeks-two-days-and-43-minutes, before we begin to stray. And with the advent of 3-7 day juice cleanses and detoxes, that average is rapidly declining. Once the diet is over, we go back to our old eating habits. We blow it. We become retoxified, decleansed, contaminated, and the weight comes back. Along with the uncertainty and trepidation.

And, inevitably, the story changes. Coffee’s in, chocolate’s out. Or was it the other way around? Each flip-flop making us question the choices in our food truths, perhaps even inciting anger and frustration. Are green smoothies really the secret weight loss trick? Will lemon water actually detox my liver? How dare someone suggest that eggs are unhealthy! Do I need a vitamin?

Tragically, less than 30% of the food we eat is actually minimally processed or not-processed at all – meat, fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, pasta. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, it gets worse. Only 13% of Americans eat one to two cups of fruit each day, and even more alarming, only 9% eat the recommended two cups of vegetables.

Salad with Hummus

You may think this sounds a bit hyperbolic, but take a second and think back on the food you’ve eaten throughout your life. I hopped on the “Eat-More-Kale” bus in my mid-20’s, but before that I ate terribly, and I had no idea how bad the food really was. My mother worked hard to cook dinner every night, and we were a pretty standard meat-and-potatoes kind of family. But that’s pretty much where the real food ended. Every morning, my sister and I would fight over who got to read the back of the box as we shoveled down marshmallow laden cereal and slurped on pink, blue and green milk. For lunch, we had peanut-butter-and-jelly or ham-and-cheese on white bread, hold the crust, with chocolate milk and a pudding cup. On Friday we had giant greasy squares of pepperoni pizza, fries and a syrup-drenched fruit cup. We grabbed snacks of chips or candy from the school store on the way out to the bus. Dinner was typically a bit better, meat (chicken or steak), starch (rice or potatoes) and vegetable, with milk. Or, sometimes we had spaghetti and meatballs, or tacos, or Hamburger Helper. Rarely did we have salad.

So, how do we overcome the lure of shiny labels and right-now headlines? Especially when that nurturing and temptation starts in our early childhood? How do the Worried Well truly stay well?

This is where the mindfulness part comes in. And I'm not talking about contemplating the wrinkles in a raison kind of mindfulness. I'm talking about setting yourself up throughout the week so you can actually be a little mind-less. Because, while it would be awesome if you had time while you're on a conference call on a Wednesday at 12:30 pm to be chewing your perfectly portioned bento box 100 times per bite, it's just not reality. Instead, put a little thought into your food early on so you're not caught in a proverbial pickle as you make your way through your frantic days.

MINDFUL HABITS, people.

Now, these aren't easy, but here are three simple tips to get you started:

  1. Plan Ahead - Listen, this whole business of cooking a literal feast on the weekend so you can pack away (previously mentioned) perfectly portioned bento boxes all week completely escapes me. I can't do it, and frankly, I don't want to eat 5 day old salad in a mason jar. BUT, you can make a healthy 3-5 day meal plan, buy the ingredients in one single trip to the grocery store, and set yourself up for success throughout the week. And, if you're really clever, you can make a little extra healthy dinner to pack for your lunch the next day. One way to make that happen is to portion out your lunch before you serve yourself supper. In this way, you not only have a real food meal for a mid-day meal the next day (instead of a bar you had in the bottom of your bag and some crackers you found in the break room), but you also keep your portions and calories in check at dinner.
  2. Don't Buy Crap - If it's not in your kitchen (or desk drawer), you won't eat it. Instead, put a bowl of fruit on your counter. Research says that women who had a fruit bowl visible weighed about 13 pounds less than neighbors who didn’t and that normal-weight women were more likely to have a designated cupboard for snack items (and less likely to buy food in large-sized packages) than those who are obese. So, just don't buy it. But if you do, buy a treat in a small package and put it away in a place with a door to keep it out of sight.
  3. Avoid Packages - Food that comes in packages is way less healthy than food that does not. It's really that simple. An apple is better than a protein bar, and is equally as portable. In fact, most fruit comes with its own wrapper (unless you shop at Whole Foods and they peel an orange for you and sell it in a plastic container...wtf...). Add in some nuts and intact fish and meat (not fish sticks or cold cuts). From there, go to one ingredient containers - rice in a bag, quinoa in a box, and beans or tuna in a can. Then sprinkle in some multi-ingredient food as needed - pasta, hummus, yogurt, cheese.

And, that's it. It's that simple.

It's funny, I teach a course on nutrition and wellbeing at the Harvard Extension school, and every year, the students leave feedback that run the gamut from, "Life altering..." to "...all we did was talk about eating healthy" and they always make me laugh. Because, THIS IS SIMPLE STUFF! It is just so effing hard to make happen.

Remember, there are no tricks, or diets, or made-up super-foods that can save us. But, we can do this. We must simply #EatRealFood.

Don't Eat Crap

  • If you’d like to continue the conversation on getting real food on your plate please join me and the other Tour Guides in the private Facebook community.
  • Learn more about Tour, and meet the 12 other Mindful Habits Tour Guides here.

Running On Om Podcast!

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I was SO lucky to be able to speak with Julia Hanlon at Running On Om this week about health, movement and food. Check out the podcast here!

From the podcast: "In this episode, Rachele reflects on the lessons she learned as a coxswain for Northeastern’s DI Men’s Varsity Rowing Team. She discusses how she balances spin instructing at Flywheel Sports with her full-time research fellowship at the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine. Rachele explains the numerous research studies she is involved with that are devoted to the intersection between food and movement. She also provides insight on how America can make behavioral changes that will transform the nutritional and lifestyle landscape. Rachele reveals her perspective on the numerous fad diets and discusses the science behind what really works. Lastly, Rachele previews exciting upcoming projects and research."

Thanks, Julia!!

When East Meets West: Separating Science from Woo

My work toes the line of health related subjects to which many lay claim -- food, exercise, behavior, wellness. Scientists, dietitians, personal trainers, nutritionists, yogis, exercise physiologists, healers, physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, bloggers. Vaccines, juicing, acupuncture, pesticides, massage, supplements, wine, cleansing, intervals, gluten. How do you know who's right? Doctors? Bloggers? Researchers? Healers?

Holistic Healing

I do work and research on lifestyle as medicine. I truly and honestly believe that eating the right food, moving your body, sleeping well, and taking stress out of your life are essential to health. But, I'm also a scientist, and I know that modern medicine -- vaccines, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, blood pressure and cholesterol medication -- keep us healthy and alive. They are necessary in the treatment of illness, not simply the prevention of it.

Is there room for both? Of course. And we should embrace the combination of evidence-based natural health remedies AND modern disease treatments. I believe the best thing we can do is take what we have, what we know works, and blend the East with the West. But this doesn't mean we latch on to every tincture, herbal supplement, and naturopathic therapy (...oil pulling, I'm looking at you...). Nor does it mean we treat every runny nose with amoxicillin.

An example: I have been sick for the past three weeks. I don't mean sniffle, sniffle, sick. I mean, green snot everywhere, coughing all night, raging headache, no voice kind of sick. It's been a b*tch. It's also a virus, which means there's no pharmaceutical that can treat it. BUT, there are some promising natural remedies -- elderberry, garlic, and oregano have all been shown to exhibit anti-viral properties (although the evidence is pretty weak). However in my pathetic  and desperate state, off to Whole Foods I trudged (through 7ft of snow) to drop $65 dollars on extracts and pills. BUT, because I am a person of science with professional responsibilities, I can't rely simply on nasty tasting herbal pills to work their maybe-magic. I also went next door to CVS and bought some Advil with Pseudoephedrine -- because my head was pounding, my sinuses were completely clogged and I needed something to take the edge off. East. Meet. West.

East Meets West

Another (tragic) example: Over the summer, a friend burned herself. Bad. Grabbed a hot cookie sheet from the oven with no mitt on. While running her hand under cold water, it had already started to blister. Using her good hand, she implored the facebook universe for a "natural" remedy to what seemed like a 2nd degree burn. She specifically stated that she did not want any modern medicine. The responses were wide and varied - ice, salves, creams, tinctures, ointments, dietary supplements. As I read the posts, I started to wonder two things: 1) Why didn't my friend want a modern remedy for an injury that could potentially get ugly (especially if she induced an infection from these "natural remedies"), and 2) Where the hell were these people getting their information about all of these potions?

Now I'm all for a good dose of witch hazel on a pimple or some chicken soup for your cold, but this irrational fear of scientific progress and complete regression to witchcraft has got to stop. Using modern medicine -- when you need it -- is why so many of us live long, healthy lives today. It's why we can live with, and through, diseases that would have previously killed us. In an effort to return to our ancient roots, we may be seriously hurting ourselves in the process. Between anti-vaccination campaigns, treating cancer with raw food, or cleansing the liver, this anti-science, anti-medicine campaign has gone off the rails. People, we are smarter than this and we need to stop letting our fears dictate our actions. What's more, we need to stop feeling guilty and ashamed when we turn to modern medicine. Yes, we distrust of the pharmaceutical industry. Do they do sh*tty things? Unfortunately, sometimes they do. But, on the whole, their products keep you alive. ALIVE.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQZ2UeOTO3I

I know that if you get cancer, you should get chemo or radiation. I know that in order to prevent measles, you should get your MMR vaccine. In know that to avoid infection of your burn, you should use an antibiotic cream. Is it a perfect system? Does it work 100% of the time? No. Nothing possibly could. We live in the real world.

But, in a world where we used to die from papercuts and now kill ourselves with fast-food induced heart disease, I would say we need to start looking at how and why we use food, herbs, and drugs. Imagine you ate a perfect diet, exercised every day, slept 8 hours a night, and were never stressed...and STILL got a massive bacterial infection because you stepped on a piece of dirty glass. Would you take an antibiotic? Or would you take your chances on self-healing and oregano oil? If you got cancer, would you go to an oncologist? Or would you roll the dice with raw organic broccoli alone?

I think you should trust the science. Because, the consensus of data will point you in the direction of health -- and that is better than any ancient promise, guilty feelings, or big-pharma distrust. Don't ignore or deny science because someone on google said vitamins can prevent Measles. (They can't, but Vitamin A can enhance the effect of the vaccine).  Take your elderberry extract when you get a cold-virus, but take the Advil and Pseudoephedrine too. Because you have better things to do than wait around for supplement companies to fill the vacuum of pharmaceutical companies.

 

The Day I Became a Doctor.

This is a really quick post, but I just wanted to share some amazing news (and the reason that I haven't posted recently...I swear I haven't been slacking!). This morning, I successfully defended my PhD "The Role of the Vitamin D Receptor in Aging Skeletal Muscle and Inflammatory Response" at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy! I'm officially Dr. Rachele Pojednic. Woot!! (  ....notice the updated bio ------>  )

I will be moving forward to a postdoctoral position at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Institute of Lifestyle Medicine in the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness and I am SO damn psyched! Onward and upward...it's all a Strong Process!

PhD