Thursday, November 22, 2007

No matter what you eat or when, it's a beautiful day. Hope you enjoy it.

From today's NY Times:

Two weeks ago, Karen Oeh and her husband, Mike Balistreri, [above] who live not far from Santa Cruz, Calif., adopted two turkeys that had been rescued after an airline shipping misfortune in Las Vegas.

“I am like a new parent,” said Ms. Oeh, 39. “I instantly, totally fell in love, and now I just want to stay home with them.

This is also from the NY Times:

November 21, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor

Make It an Early Bird

Charlottesville, Va.

THE season of overeating is upon us. And once again the wind blows in all directions when it comes to diet advice: pro-protein or low-protein, high-carb or bye-carb, low-fat or no-fat, creating the dietary equivalent of fickle fall weather. While experts agree that plenty of fruits and vegetables and some whole grains and lean protein are good for you, the popular view of the ideal diet seems foggier than ever.

So what to serve for Thanksgiving dinner? Go healthy with skinless white breast meat and dairy-free low-fat pumpkin pie with tofu? Or throw caution to the breeze and savor a deep-fried whole turkey with larded gravy and Krispy Kreme bread pudding with butter rum sauce?

Make your own call. I offer counsel not on the content of your feast but rather on its timing. There may be argument over what you should eat, but there is agreement on when you should eat it, especially if you’re concerned about weight: early in the day. Not late at night. And never, ever in front of the television.

Not only does an ample morning meal provide energy for the day’s labors, but it better satisfies our appetites, perhaps because the brain’s satiety systems work best early in the day. People who take in more of their calories at breakfast — whether in the form of proteins, carbohydrates or fat — are likely to consume fewer calories overall than those who indulge in big meals later in the day.

New research by John M. de Castro of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Tex., suggests that morning intake of carbohydrates and fats in particular may reduce overall daily intake. He analyzed weeklong food diaries recorded by 867 people and found that breakfast eaters consumed significantly less than those who skipped the morning meal. On average, for every 240 calories more of carbohydrate or fat they ate early in the day, they took in 240 fewer total calories over the entire day.

It doesn’t much matter whether those morning carbs or fats come in the form of bacon, buttered toast or whole-grain cereal, Dr. de Castro found; they’re more satiating when they’re consumed early.

Eat a healthful whole-grain breakfast for a year, thereby decreasing your overall intake, speculates Dr. de Castro, and you could lose up to 11 pounds of fat.

Weight loss also calls for exercise, a nutritious diet and careful monitoring of portions. Still, breakfast appears to play a noteworthy role. Records kept by the National Weight Control Registry show that among people who have lost a substantial amount of weight and kept it off, 78 percent are breakfast-eaters.

But alas, so many of us are not eating our Wheaties. The current drift is toward the traditional Thanksgiving model — many younger people eat little or no breakfast and consume most of their calories later in the day. Dr. de Castro suspects that there may be a link between this tendency and the current epidemic of obesity. If we omit breakfast and eat a late dinner, we consume more calories overall during the day. At night, our satiety stoplight seems to dim, encouraging us to nosh on high-calorie snacks like chips, cookies and pints of Häagen-Dazs.

Worse still is eating on the TV tray. Lots of families skip the dinner table even on Thanksgiving, instead eating while they watch football or the Macy’s parade. (“How else would you not talk to your family?” one friend asked me.) Research shows that food intake increases with TV-viewing. One reason? Watching television while eating impairs your brain’s ability to perceive and monitor the amount of food you’re consuming. In one study, subjects asked to eat macaroni and cheese while they watched TV lost track of how much they put away.

So here is my proposal for revamping our holiday tradition: Invite the relatives for a morning feast of turkey frittata or wild turkey hash on English muffins, topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. In doing so, you may revive the pattern of the First Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims most likely dined after morning services so they could eat their outdoor banquet (wild fowl and venison and perhaps corn and carrots, collards and cabbage, pumpkin, onions and grapes) at a leisurely pace and still clear the tables before dark. About Thanksgiving in 1639, the Rev. John Lothrop of Plymouth Colony wrote, “Our praises to God in public being ended, we divided into three companies to feast together.”

Eating early offers another benefit: No more need to time your meal around the Lions and the Cowboys. Come afternoon, you may feel more like playing football than watching it.