Thursday, November 18, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The premise: 28-years-old daughter with a mother who is 48-years-old. And oh, did I mention that the daughter is a lesbian and the mother is pregnant?
This is a sweet, cute movie with a somewhat realistic portrayal of the Asian community - at least the clash between the older and younger generations as well as the Eastern and Western cultures. A big recommendation!!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Yesterday I read in the Wall Street Journal about a new vending machine that dispenses fruits. It has two compartments, an upper one for bananas and a lower one for other fruits. They are set at two different temperatures to help the bananas ripen slowly. Also, they came up with a banana elevator to gradually descend the bananas rather than dropping them down to the dispenser, causing bruising. Since my thesis topic was on vending machines in junior highs, you can see how I would be excited over such a topic.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
At work, there is always the same kinds of fruits: bananas, oranges, apples. Occasionally, there will be more exotic selection (usually during the summer): watermelon, peaches, grapes. Sometimes they will be mixed. Yesterday, I walked by the fruit section of the cafeteria and spotted a bright yellow in the clear, to-go box.
Under the mangos lie a layer of cucumbers and pears. All of which are my favorites. Except when I brought the fruit box back to my table and took a bite out of my pear, it turned out to be tasteless.
Jicama, my coworker informed me.
I spit it out. It was tasteless, not like the sweet, juicy pear I was expecting. Apparently you are supposed to eat it with lemon juice, except I was too lazy to head back into the cafeteria to find a wedge of lemon.
I tried the jicama + lemon juice combination today, and it is a lot better. That led me to wonder: what in the world is jicama?
Jicama is known as “Mexican turnip.” It is a root, is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon, or lime juice and chili powder, and is most often found in salads. It can also be cooked with chili powder, cilantro, ginger, lemon, lime, oranges, red onion, sesame oil, and salsa. Apparently, only the root can be eaten; the rest of the jicama is poisonous. Nutritionally, jicamas are high in carbohydrates, fiber, water content, and vitamin C, and are low in calories.
Here is a super easy and fast jicama recipe (from allrecipes):
1 large jicama
2 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
Peel jicama and cut into French fry-sized sticks. Combine with lime juice and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Serve as finger food.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
In the 1700s, sailors who sucked on lime on their sea trip were noted to not develop scurvy during their months without fresh vegetables and fruits. Thus came the discovery of vitamin C.
What does it do for me?
Helps make collagen and keep skin nice and supple
Helps with many bodily functions at the cellular level
Acts as an antioxidant, which may help reduce inflammation in the body
How much is enough?
90 mg/day (males); 75 mg/day (females)
To help you put it in context, a medium orange has about 70 mg of vitamin C.
What happens if I have too much?
There are no serious effects to taking megadoses of vitamin C (> 2000 mg/day) because it is water-soluble; the excess gets flushed out with your waste. The only exception would be if you have any kind of kidney disease, since now the damaged kidneys may not be able to process the vitamin C as well, increasing chances for kidney stones. There are, however, side effects to large doses of vitamin C, including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, and fatigue.
What happens if I don’t have enough?
Bleeding gums/other mucous membranes
I want some. Where?
Fruits: kiwi, persimmon, strawberry, papaya, citrus, melon, cranberry, tomato, blueberry
Vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, spinach
1. Smokers with vitamin C deficiency are at higher risk for lung diseases than smokers with adequate vitamin C.
2. Despite common belief, vitamin C has really not been scientifically shown to effectively reduce chances of catching the cold or shortening duration. Sorry, but that orange juice or Airborne you so faithfully buy may not be as useful as they claim to be!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
From IMDb: Beth is a young, ambitious New Yorker who is completely unlucky in love. However, on a whirlwind trip to Rome, she impulsively steals some coins from a reputed fountain of love, and is then aggressively pursued by a band of suitors.
I really like Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel, but for some reason this couple just didn't work for me. Add in magical coins, spells and curses, and a fountain of love (with Jon Heder and Danny DeVito), and I actually just wanted this movie to end. I was able to endure it though for glimpses of Rome, NYC, and Kristen Bell's chic outfits.
Monday, October 11, 2010
From IMDb: Set in the near future when artificial organs can be bought on credit, it revolves around a man who struggles to make the payments on a heart he has purchased. He must therefore go on the run before said ticker is repossessed.
What you might like about this movie: Jude Law. blood. action. more blood. very trippy ending. even more blood.
What you might not like about this movie: that you can't figure out if Forest Whitaker is a good guy or not. the amount of blood.
H thought this movie was alluding to credit card debt. I thought it was alluding to the increasing number of people with failing organs and the start of artificial organs (they are already developing and testing artificial pancreas as we speak). So I guess you can take different messages away from this movie. Or not and just enjoy the blood. And Jude Law.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I got into this book pretentiously knowing what to expect: that it was the story of a father-to-be questioning dietary choices available to his son. He would visit and vividly describe factory farms - I get it. But what I really got was a ton more.
Jonathan Safran Foer starts the book by questioning why we don't eat dogs. Not that he would eat a dog or supports the practice of eating men's best friends, but he questions the practice of eating fish, poultry, cattles, pigs, turkeys, and, wait a minute, why not dogs? They are not any more inferior or superior in terms of quality of meat or "animal-ness". I actually agree with his view. We don't eat dogs (or even think about eating them) because we use them as pets. What if, for instance, in a parallel universe men raise pigs as pets? Would the dogs and cats of that world become food?
The book disturbs me in not only the pictures it paints of animal life in factory farms or "farming" methods, most of which you and I probably know in the back of our heads but successfully ignores. For example: the overcrowding, the exorbitant amount of feces, and the castration/insemination (the last of which was new knowledge to me). It also describes the irony of the term "factory farming," precisely because what the factories are doing are the opposite of what we know to be traditional farming. Even the most dangerous and violent criminals have human rights to dignity and decency; what of these animals that have done nothing to perturb the human population to exist in peace? Don't they deserve any shred of decency in quality of life?
To say that one must not could not eat animals is not what Foer concludes. Eating (what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat) is personal choice, but that doesn't mean one should eat blindly. To not know where or how your food comes from and the travels it had to go through, that is simply ignorance. To be better informed and make educated decisions, that is perhaps what Foer suggests.
I'm not sure I can give up meat altogether. Throughout my college and graduate-school days, I did experiment with vegetarianism. (As a dietitian, I believe that I should attempt different diets to know what my clients and patients go through.) It seemed that my body craves animal protein from time to time. I could eat less of it, even none of it for a few days. Then the desire comes with an urgency. It's unexplainable, and I don't intend to understand it, even after reading this book. But I would like to be better learned about food sources and invest in products that have come from a better way of farming, travel, and slaughter (as best as possible anyway - is there really such a thing as humane slaughter?). I hope all is not too late and that I can improve the way my family eats as well.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
From IMDb: In a violent post-apocalyptic society, the drifter Eli has been wandering to west across North America for the last thirty years reading a unique book that he brings with him. He survives hunting small animals and seeking goods in destroyed houses and vehicles to trade in villages for water and supplies. When he reaches the village ruled by the powerful mobster Carnegie, the man offers a job to Eli to join his gang. Carnegie presses his blind lover Claudia to send her daughter Solara to convince Eli spending the night with him. The girl sees the book of Eli, and when Carnegie beats up on Claudia, she reveals that Eli has the sought book. Carnegie sends his gang to take the book from Eli, but the man is up for protecting the book with his life.
This movie reminded me a lot of I Am Legend, especially in the moment. Watch until the end though, for a "Sixth Sense" moment!
Monday, October 4, 2010
From IMDb: Post-WWII Germany: Nearly a decade after his affair with an older woman came to a mysterious end, law student Michael Berg re-encounters his former lover as she defends herself in a war-crime trial.
This is from a book. A book that I read 3-4 years ago. A book that I recalled the ending to only halfway through the movie. And let me say, the second half of the movie is much more dramatic and emotional than the first. I won't reveal anything, but Kate Winslet's acting most certainly moved me to tears. Quite frankly, I never thought much of her until now. I recommend both the book and the movie, but the movie is actually good enough that you don't need the book to understand what is going on (a rarity these days).
Friday, October 1, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Summer is really the best time to get fit. No matter where you live, the weather is most likely to be comfortable most of the time to be outside. Not to mention, it stays light out longer! As we approach the end of summer, there is definitely still enough time to make the most of it.
* Go outdoors! Whether it be taking a short walk after dinners on weekdays, or going to outdoor concerts on the weekends, being outdoors more can make you instantly feel healthier and help you unconsciously move around more. Try bike riding, walking on the beach, anything you like!
* Eat more fruits! That's right, I am telling you to eat more. Summer is really the best time to get a good variety of fruits reasonably priced: cherries, strawberries, kiwis, peaches, melons. If you are not a fruit eater to begin with, don't let these colorful things intimidate you! Stick to the fruits you know you will like but don't be afraid to try new ones once in a while. Make it a challenge among your family and friends to eat at least two servings of fruit a day. Try fruits with breakfast and as a snack. Be wary of juices and smoothies though as they tend to be high in calories and laden with sugar.
* Eat when you are hungry! As temperature heats up, our appetites actually go down. We can capitalize on this natural phenomenon by reminding ourselves to eat when we are hungry, not when the clock says "meal time." Ask yourself if you are truly hungry, or if you are eating because you are bored, because it is noon-time, etc.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Sicko was the first Michael Moore documentary I saw, and I loved it. It totally opened my eyes to the issue of universal health care. Why is it that in the world's richest country, so many of us are without healthcare and thereby subsequently so afraid to seek medical help, which in turn delays treatment and racks up monumental debt? Why is it that so many of us are workaholics and fail to take care of ourselves? Why is it that the society shuns the idea of healthcare for all just because it has the slightest connotation of, god forbid, socialism? Why is it that people are willing to sacrifice the health of other people and in turn the society as a whole in the name of money? I swear there is a conspiracy going on...
What really spoke to me was the healthcare system in the European countries. I guess it's not just the healthcare system themselves, but the way their government is set up. They really try to take care of their people: minimum of 5 weeks paid vacation, extra (paid) vacation for honeymoon and sickness, government help for new mothers, less waiting time at the ER... Man, it almost wants to make me move to Europe! (The healthcare in Taiwan is similar with the cheap drugs and procedures, short waiting time at the ER. However, this makes the people abuse the system by going to the doctor and/or the hospital at the slightest discomfort and hoard drugs. So yes, there is a downside to everything.)
The other part that really stood out to me was the scene where Kaiser of Bellflower decided to drop off a patient still in her hospital gown, because she could not pay for her hospital bill. This was picked up by the street security camera on skid row. What kind of human being decides that this was all of a sudden acceptable?! I don't and can't comprehend the meaning of it all. I shared my frustration with a coworker and apparently, it is not all that uncommon (although I would hope improved since this documentary).
I work in healthcare. I see the case managers and the discharge planners working their butt off to get certain people discharged because of their insurance (or lack thereof). I get it - hospitals are a business. Healthcare is a business. And the point of any sort of business is to make money. I get it - but I don't agree with it. I wish there was some way that I could help with the situation, but what am I, a singular individual, supposed to do?
Watch this movie. It will certainly open your eyes.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Makes: About 15 wings
You will need:
- 1.5 to 2 lb chicken wings, tips trimmed and cut at the joint (Note: Sometimes you can find “party wings” at your local store, or the frozen drumettes, you can use them if you prefer)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- About 1/4 cup canola oil
- wing sauce (recipe follows)
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Combine flour, seasoning salt, pepper and granulated garlic in one gallon plastic bag.
- In a bowl whisk together egg and milk. Transfer to another one gallon plastic bag.
- Put chicken wings in the egg wash first. Seal the bag and shake to coat.
- Transfer the wings to the plastic bag with flour. Seal the bag and shake to coat.
- Line a cookie sheet with aluminim foil. Lay wings in single layer. Drizzle with canola oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Wings will be golden brown and crispy. While your wings are cooking prepare your sauce.
For the wing sauce:
- 1 habanero pepper, diced fine (Note: you may want to use plastic gloves while dicing this pepper, and DO NOT touch your eyes before washing your hands)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 5 tablespoons sambal oelek ground fresh chili paste (you can find this in the Asian food section of your local grocery store)
- 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon cajun seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- In a saucepan over medium heat, heat canola oil. Add habanero pepper, quickly cook, about 1 minute, pepper will be slightly softenend.
- Add chili paste, garlic, cajun seasoning, seasoning salt and pepper. Stir to cominbe. Add vinegar and water.
- Cook over medium heat until sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.
- Add butter and cook until butter melts.
- After the wings have finished cooking in the oven. Transfer them to a big bowl. Pour wing sauce over them and toss to coat. Serve with celery and blue cheese or ranch dressing.
Monday, February 15, 2010
He talks about reforming school lunches. Teaching kids about food. Real food, not just fast food. My thesis was about school food environment, so I hold this topic close to heart.
The part where he goes around asking kids what kind of vegetable he is holding up, and every kid answers wrong, it just breaks my heart and makes me want to cry. (around 12:00 min)
Keep watching, and the part where he makes a visual about how much sugar there is in (flavored) milk nowadays is just... astounding.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Everybody knows that we should eat healthily, stop smoking, and exercise regularly. But how much good can those habits really do? It turns out that the answer may lie in the theory of epigenetics.
Wikipedia defines epigenetics to be "the changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by mechanisms caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA." Simply put, it's the idea that external factors, other than your individual DNA, can cause changes to what genes get turned on and off. "Our genes, not the whole story" in US News & World Report (February, 2010) explores this new area of research.
The article mentions a pilot study led by Dean Ornish that found that 30 men with prostate cancer were able to change lower their prostate-specific antigen scores and the activity of their tumors with intensive lifestyle changes, such as exercising 30 minutes daily, doing yoga or meditating for an hour daily, boosting their social support networks, and eating a low-fat diet based primarily on fruits, vegetables, beans, and soy protein.
Furthermore, the article cites stress as one of the factors that can change gene expression, for the worse. According to Moshe Szyf, an epigenetics researcher and profession at McGill University in Montreal, stress hormones "are pervasive...traveling to every organ and tissue" which can ultimately change actual genes that help us deal with stress.
This article excites me. It validates my belief that we have more control over who we are than we think. As Ornish states, "our genes are a predisposition, but our genes are not our fate." Family history may be strong for cardiovascular disease, or diabetes, or Parkinson's, or disease XYZ, but we do have the power to change or at least postpone its onset by developing good living habits and learning how to deal with stress (short and long term ones). Eating adequate fruits and vegetables and skipping sodas does matter; not smoking does matter; exercising regularly does matter - all in ways we may not be able to see. But our bodies can most certainly feel it. And in the long run, that is what matters the most.
For some education videos on epigenetics, check out University of Utah's site.
Source: Baldauf, Sarah. "Our genes, not the whole story." US News & World Report Feb. 2010: 24-26.
Ornish D, et al. Changes in prostate gene expression in men undergoing an intensive nutrition and lifestyle intervention. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008;105:8369-74.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
That got me thinking. Many times in working with clients, we may naturally assume that we know what is best for them. For me, I get super excited, and I just want to unload ontol them my knowledge as well as what to eat and what not to eat. However, I often lose sight of what is important to them. Perhaps soda is one of those things that a particular client is unwilling to give up, but he/she is able to stop having desserts after each meal. Or perhaps having that one piece of dark chocolate at the end of the day is what motivates another client to get to the gym and work at that treadmill.
Whatever it is they need to keep working towards their goal, it is up to us dietitians to find out. They should not be feeling deprived. Instead, dieting, as well as many other facets of life, should be more of a compromise - having less of the things you don't care about as much so that you can have more of the things you love.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
A little bit before the holidays, I ran across a social worker whom I had not seen in the hospital for a while. Nancy* and I started working at about the same time; we had sat next to each other at orientation, and we both started on the same floor. Even though she was many years older than me, we hit it off pretty well.
Anyways, there was something curious about Nancy that day. Her face looked blotchy as if she had been sitting in the sun for too long, and her fingers had cuts and band-aids all over. Yes, Southern California sun can be brutal even in November, but it just seemed too much! Little did I know, Nancy had more to share than just a story about being sunburnt.
Nancy said that she was declared vitamin D deficient by her internal medicine doctor and was prescribed 50,000 IU vitamin D once a week for 6 weeks. Two weeks into it, she started noticing that her skin was itchy. Thinking that it was her new laundry detergent, she re-washed all her clothes and bed linen with the old laundry detergent, but to no avail. By the time she went back to the doctor, she had already taken her third dose. The doctor had her electronic file and had asked her if she had taken any new medication, but both had neglected to consider vitamin supplements. By this time, her skin was itching so much that wearing clothes literally hurted her. Yet, she had to cover herself up to go outside because the sun rays hurt her skin. She was taking Benedryl around the clock and sleeping. "Life was miserable." By the time she took the fourth dose, Nancy's husband finally found online the side effects of vitamin D toxicity, all of which matched up to Nancy's. Astonished, Nancy called her doctor to inform him of this effect, to which he answered that he knew nothing about it and that he has been prescribing vitamin D to other patients with no complaints and reactions. Even more astonishing was when Nancy finally got a chance to look at her vitamin D lab report, her value was actually within the normal range, merely on the low side, meaning that she was not actually vitamin D deficient as the doctor claims!
To which I ask, then why the huge dose, doc?
It seemed scary that a doctor who has been presribing a vitamin supplement knows nothing of its potentially toxic effect. It also did not help that research about vitamin D toxicity is limited, such as the toxic dosage. Perhaps my friend Nancy was unlucky in that she had a sensitivity to the vitamin D, but perhaps other people also experience this without ever finding out the reason for their sickness. Symptoms of hypervitaminosis D include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, weakness, loss of appetite, and itchy skin. Vitamin D should also be avoided in those with kidney disease, hypercalcemia in the blood, atherosclerosis, and hyperparathyroidism. When taking a multivitamin, make sure the fat-souble vitamins A, D, E, and K are not meeting greater than 100% of the recommended needs. If taken in large amounts for an extended period of time, they can stay in your fat tissues and cause more damage than good.
Currently, the adequate intake recommendation for vitamin D is 200 IU (birth - 50 years of age), 400 IU (ages 51-70), and 600 IU (ages 70+), which can be met through an adequately balanced diet, 30 minutes in the sun daily, and an over-the-counter supplement as needed. Avoid long-term supplementation of more than 2,000 IU daily as that is the upper limit established by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB). Prescription-strength supplementation include vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), which provides 50,000 IU per capsule, and vitamin D2 liquid (drisdol) at 8,000 IU/ml, and should be reserved for those seriously deficient of vitamin D.
Lastly, don't forget: vitamins and mineral supplements are still considered medications. When taking a multivitamin, make sure the fat-souble vitamins A, D, E, and K are not meeting greater than 100% of the recommended needs. If taken in large amounts for an extended period of time, they can stay in your fat tissues and cause more damage than good.
1. Hancock JN, Shao A, Vieth R, Heaney R. Risk assessment for vitamin D. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85:6-18.
2. Kulie T, Groff A, Redmer J, Hounshell J, Schrager S. Vitamin D: An Evidence-Based Review. JABFM. Nov 2009; 22: 698-706
* Name has been changed to remain anonymity.
Edit: There is a recent New York Times article on vitamin D.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
I have been reading a lot motivational books and blogs and have been thinking about the common theme: Follow your dreams, follow your passions. It has led me to contemplate what my dreams and passions are.
I have (too) many.
Even though I thought I would never say this, but being a Clinical Dietitian has been one dream come true. It incorporates everything I love about being a dietitian - I get to help people, work with other medical professionals, and play around with numbers (especially now that I am in the ICU). While everyday is the same routine - you read charts all day trying to decipher doctors' handwriting then formulate your own notes in hopes that one, just one doctor, picks up on your recommendation(s) and writes the order, every patient is unique, and you never know what you are going to get when you get out of your car in the morning and walk into the hospital. It is so different from a regular 9-to-5 job that sometimes my family doesn't even understand what I do at work. *laugh*
But I want more.
I want to be able to write. To do creative work. To spread goodness, not only about nutrition and what you are supposed to eat (that was meant to be sarcastic) but about healthy living and everything beautiful in general. After I tried writing a simple article about vitamin D, and failed miserably trying to connect my coherent thoughts together to make one incoherent paragraph, I decided that I simply need more practice - practice observing, practice writing, and practice living out my dreams.
Thus, the birth of this blog.