Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mail from Readers

Since I safely posted my email address on this blog, I have been getting letters. I thought I would share a couple of them that I have permission to reprint here. If you send me email, I will answer it as I have time. I am not a trained nutritionist, and my only criteria for selecting foods and recipes for my own diet are those of calorie, sodium, and fat reduction. My personal goals are to consume less than 1400 calories, less than 20% of those calories from fat, and less than 1500 mg of sodium. This approach combined with working out for about 70 minutes 3-4 times per week, is working for me as I have lost 33.5 pounds since January 3, 2007, and my blood pressure is down from a dangerously high level to low normal without medication. Your recommended diet may be very different.

From L.


I followed a link (I believe from www.epicurious.com's forums) to your blog, which I found interesting. I had a couple of questions if you don't mind. I've never had to diet or exercise, always was thin, but after turning 40 (now 42) I find that it's a little harder to eat what I want and stay in shape (gained a few pounds). So, I was trying to watch what I eat, just started a week ago (and hoping it will last a little while). I love chocolate (i.e. the Cadbury mini eggs!), and a treat is hard to resist or just eat one of. Anyway, I noticed that you were keeping your calories below 1400. For what size person is this recommended? I have been using http://www.nutritiondata.com and it says that my estimated food energy is 1700 calories. And I have trouble keeping it below 2500! Any suggestions?

My Response

Hi L.

I'm happy to respond to your questions. In fact, I'm flattered that anyone would be taking me seriously as I am just a 57 year old man who is obsessed with food and who realized in January of this year that I had better start taking my health seriously. In my typical fashion, I jumped in with both feet and started a four-day-a-week exercise program and put myself on this low-sodium, low-fat, reduced calorie diet. I've learned that as we get older we don't metabolize calories as we once did. It takes fewer calories to maintain our body weight. It sounds to me as though you are an ectomorph in body style (somatotype). Ectomorphs may be inappropriately classified as healthy based on the BMI (see my blog “Body Mass Index (BMI) Lunacy” http://profbush.blogspot.com/2007/03/body-mass-index-bmi-lunacy.html if you haven’t already) because their weight falls in the normal range. As you get older, even ectomorphs tend to add a few pounds without changing their eating habits because of the age-lowered metabolic rate.

I started with a 1500 calorie diet, but lowered it to 1400 after the first week because I went to the Mayo clinic web site http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/calorie-calculator/NU00598 and entered my particulars in their calorie calculator. For my current height, weight, and activity level, I need 1900 calories per day to maintain my present weight (I’m still losing, I have a bit to go before I reach my goal). I then went to their Healthy Weight Pyramid tool http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/weight-loss/NU00595, put in my height, weight, sex, and age and it said for weight loss, I should be consuming 1400 calories. So, that became my new target for caloric intake. I haven’t tried the Nutrition Data calculator, but it is one of my favorite sites for facts on food. I like Monica’s nutrition blog on that site as well.

I like chocolate too but, for me, it is a matter of having the knowledge to make choices. I know that chocolate really is a health food. I even tried adding a teaspoon of cocoa to my morning oatmeal; it wasn’t a good idea. I like dark chocolate. My brother says it is because the only chocolate our mother would allow in the house, was baker’s chocolate. Even though there is a 14 year age difference between us (I’m the baby), he and I both remember climbing up on the kitchen counter to break pieces from the big bar she kept in one of the cabinets. I keep a bag of Dove dark chocolate in the refrigerator and, usually in the evening, if I have calories and fat to spare, I eat one. I don’t have a problem stopping with just one. I know that over-indulgence will show up on my daily recap. In a sense, I am accountable to my blog. I frequently eat low, or non-fat frozen yogurt in vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate. If I have the calories and fat to spare, I enjoy it. If I don’t, a nice ruby red grapefruit works just as well.

Your Cadbury mini eggs have either 190, or 210 calories per serving and 8, or 9 grams of fat http://www.foodfacts.com/public/items_by_category.cfm?results=images&item=1523 depending on what package you buy them in. One serving would be very hard on my diet and if you go over one serving very often, it wouldn’t be too hard to explain those extra calories. The saving grace may be that they are seasonal-only available at Easter, aren’t they? My advice is to consider them in the context of what other foods you are eating during the day and make a conscious decision whether you can skip something else in order to enjoy your mini eggs. For me, it comes down to my weight loss secret number 1, http://profbush.blogspot.com/2007/03/ten-secrets-of-weigh-loss.html and http://profbush.blogspot.com/2007/04/ten-secrets-of-weight-loss-part-2.html “Knowledge is Power-the power to make choices”.

I enjoy remodeling recipes of my favorite food into low-fat, low-calorie, and low-sodium versions. I wonder whether I could make a version of mini eggs-nah, probably not. I appreciate you writing to me (as though I had some real answers). I’m just writing from the truth of my own experience and using the blog to keep myself somewhat accountable.

L. Second Response

Hi Joel,

Wow. Thanks for all the information. I did go to the different links you sited. I guess I would be considered an ectomorph. It says my BMI is 20.3 with the "normal" BMI for an adult woman of my height being 18.5 to 24.9. I remember a letter coming home from school a year or two ago saying my son (who is now 9) had a BMI level showing him overweight. He hasn't ever been and isn't anything near overweight! That letter went in the trash.

The Mayo Clinic website says my caloric intake should be 1550 for sedentary, or 1700 for somewhat active. I still need to add some exercise, but that's going to be tough.

So, chocolate is a health food?! Wonderful! :) Yea, my Cadbury mini eggs will be gone soon - as soon as Easter's over.

My kids (9 and 13) are somewhat picky eaters when it comes to things like vegetables, so I can't rearrange my recipes and cooking too much. I have been changing a few things, whether they eat it or it's just for me. I've been tracking my calories and nutrition information, like I said, on nutritiondata.com from day to day lately, but I kind of like your idea and may see if I can be accountable to a blog for my own benefit.

I don't mind if you use my original email - I don't think there was any personal information in it - if you'll leave my name out. Thanks again for your time and suggestions.

Joel Second Response to L.

Hi L.,

As I looked over my response to you, I saw that I didn't make any really concrete suggestions. I drink a lot of water. It helps to control my appetite. Also, we sometimes confuse thirst for hunger. If I think my appetite is winning, I will eat a high fiber cracker or two (Ry-Krisp, Wasa, RyVita) and drink a lot of water. I keep bottles of Ozarka in the fridge and at work, it helps.

If it’s any consolation, I cook totally different meals for my wife and for myself. I’ve always done all the cooking. I guess it’s because my experience as a chef has always made me faster at it and I always get to eat what I want.

Yes, chocolate is loaded with healthy antioxidants. Now if we could just reduce the fat content. Thanks for letting me use your letter sometime. I won’t identify you other than by initial.

Best, Joel

From D.

Hello Prof Bush,

Spent some time this morning checking out your blog and was very much impressed with the number of posts and all of the work that you've done.

I am going to put a link to your site on my blog.

I might also like,now and then, to use a recipe from your site on my blog. Would you be comfortable with that if the post gave you credit for the recipe and included a link to your site.

Would like you to know that I found your blog to be personally inspiring. I have pretty much got the low sodium thing in hand but am not doing quite what I ought to drop some weight. So starting today I will go back to tracking the calories and bumping up the exercise.

Finally a question. I noticed that your email address resists being copied. I have not put my email address on my blog because I didn't want to open myself to programs that harvest email addresses and create spam. How do you create this email address?

Thanks, D.

My Response to D.

Hi D.,

Nice to hear from you, and thanks for your kind comments. I enjoy your blog and have subscribed to its feed so I can tell when you have posted new material. I very much appreciate the link. I really enjoy your writing and hope you post more frequently. You write well and we seem to be going down the same path.

I would be honored to have you post some of my recipes on your site. I have collected some emails since I recently put my email address on the site and thought I might want to post some of the comments/questions and share them for other people to read. I would never disclose your identity and just identify you with an initial if that's all right with you.

At first the sodium was a little hard for me too, but now it's just a habit and a change in the way I cook. I tackled calories, fat, and sodium all at the same time, and I've been really happy with the results in terms of weight loss and blood pressure reduction. Good luck with your effort.

You can get your own graphic with your email address on it at http://safemail.justlikeed.net/ I've really enjoyed making the blog a little more personal with correspondence. I too was concerned with having my email address harvested by SpamBots until I found this site.

Best regards, Joel

That’s the mail for now, keep those cards and letter coming.

Here is my recap for Sunday and Monday.

Daily Dietary Recap-4/8/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1215.53 75.88 g 201.72 g885.31 mg 19.02 g 14.08%

Daily Dietary Recap-4/9/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1358.72 66.9 g 266.47 g661.04 mg 14.4 g 9.43%

1 comment:

david mcmahon said...

Dear Joel,

Just wanted to say - on your blog and mine - sincere thanks for the unqualified, generous support you've given me.

Thank you, kind sir