Why You Should Avoid Ultra Processed Foods
- Written by Wendy MacMillan
- Category: Health
By now most of us have heard that eating processed foods can be bad for our health, but with our busy schedules and fast paced lives, cooking meals from whole foods is often easier said than done. We have all found ourselves at some point in time, giving in to the ease of serving packaged muffins for breakfast or heating up a frozen pizza for dinner. When it seems that nearly all foods are processed in one form or another (The Department Of Agriculture defines processed foods as any raw agricultural commodities that have been washed, cleaned, milled, cut, chopped, heated, pasteurized, blanched, cooked, canned, frozen, dried, dehydrated, mixed or packaged — anything done to them that alters their natural state) how unhealthy can processed foods actually be?
It turns out that there are varying levels of processed foods and not all processed foods are as equally unhealthy for us. Minimally processed foods such as fruits and vegetables that have been washed and prepared to sell in a store are of course, still considered a healthy choice. However foods that have been significantly altered with additives like preservatives and food coloring are much more harmful. In fact, a study recently published in The British Medical Journal links the consumption of ultra-processed foods to a rise in heart disease and cancer. As the report identifies, “Most ultra-processed foods are made, sold, and promoted by corporations, typically transnational, that formulate them to be convenient (ready to consume), affordable (low cost ingredients), and hyper-palatable, and thus liable to displace other foods and also to be over-consumed.” Since it seems processed foods permeate almost every aisle of the grocery store, how are we supposed to make healthy choices for ourselves and our families?
To help simplify and make sense of all the information on ultra-processed foods we turned to Scarsdale nutritionist Christine Jones-Howard, RDN, CDN. Ms. Jones-Howard is a Registered Dietitian who is passionate about eating and moving for optimum health and enjoys sharing achievable, practical nutrition and movement strategies with her clients. She can also provide recipes and shortcuts for healthy meals to minimize processed foods. Furthermore, Ms. Jones-Howard counsels her clients on: Weight Loss/Management, IBS, SIBO, IBD, Reflux, Celiac Disease, Sports Nutrition, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Hypertension, PMS. PCOS and menopause. Ms. Jones-Howard graciously answered the following questions:
Q: What foods are considered ultra processed?
J-H: Ultra processed foods are foods that have several ingredients added to them like sodium, emulsifiers, fats, sugars and additives. Some examples of ultra processed foods are hot pockets, hot dogs, some frozen meals, protein shakes, packaged baked goods, soft drinks and fast food.
Q: Are less processed foods O.K. to eat?
J-H: Yes, less processed foods are fine to eat. They include canned foods like tomatoes, beans, tuna.
Q: What should consumers look for on labels?
J-H: Consumers should avoid processed foods with high amounts of sodium, added sugar, food dyes and hydrogenated fats.
Q: What are some healthy alternatives to processed snacks?
J-H: Alternative snacks:
Plain Greek yogurt with fruit, nuts and seeds
Cottage cheese with fruit and nuts
Hummus with carrots
Q: What is your suggested diet for an average person?
J-H: I like to recommend that people challenge themselves to include more fruits and vegetables into their diet. They should also consume appropriate portions of lean protein at least 3 times a day. In my sessions I customize tips based on the client’s preferences and lifestyle. This typically includes whole foods and lightly processed foods.
Since people with different genders, sizes, ages and activity levels need different things, I can't give you specifics, but every meal should include fruits/vegetables, a small to moderate serving of high fiber carbohydrates and a small to moderate serving of a lean protein. I provide specific meal compositions to people once I've evaluated them.
It's best to minimize the processed meats to once a week or once every two weeks. Being as varied as possible is really the best for health. So sandwiches one day, salads with chicken, fish or hard boiled eggs on other days and maybe a nice chili or curry dish on another day.
For more information on how to avoid ultra-processed foods and adopt a healthier, whole-food diet please see www.nutritionistforhealth.com or follow Ms. Jones-Howard’s food adventures at https://www.instagram.com/cjoneshoward.rdn/
Even armed with all of this information, it can still be a struggle to find the time to shop for and prepare healthy meals all week long. Some Scarsdale families have turned to meal delivery services who make eating healthily a whole lot easier. Here are a couple local establishments that come highly recommended:
Not only does Estelle Gourmet provide a weekly meal service, she also offers cooking classes where students learn to cook classic french recipes.
In addition to weekly Family Dinners, Danny’s Catering also offers single dinner delivery service.
Heads Up! Recognizing and Dealing with Sports-Related Concussions
- Written by Dr. Steven Andelman
- Category: Health
The following was written by Dr. Steven Andelman, Orthopedic Surgeon
The arrival of football season – professional, amateur, and school-based – unfortunately brings with it a rise in concussion and suspected concussion cases. But it’s not just on the gridiron that such injuries can occur: any contact sport, including hockey, soccer and lacrosse (and even baseball, wrestling and basketball), understandably sees higher incidences of concussions than non-contact sports.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a concussion as “a type of traumatic brain injury – or TBI – caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.”
The statistics are sobering. According to the CDC:
• 1.6-3.8 million sports- and recreation -related concussions occur each year in the U.S.
• 10% of all contact sport athletes sustain concussions yearly
• Brain injuries cause more deaths than any other sports injury. In football, brain injuries account for 65% to 95% of all fatalities. Football injuries associated with the brain occur at the rate of one in every 5.5 games. In any given season, 10% of all college players and 20% of all high school players sustain brain injuries
• 87% of professional boxers have sustained a brain injury
• 5% of soccer players sustain brain injuries as a result of their sport
Concussions can occur at any age; various studies estimate that as many as 1.9 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur every year among kids 18 and younger. Last year, a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) report estimated that girls’ chances of sustaining a concussion is 1.88 times higher than boys, with one reason being that the circumference of a female’s neck is generally about 30% smaller than a male’s.
Symptoms of a concussion can vary widely, from a nagging headache, dizziness, and difficulty maintaining balance to nausea and vomiting, convulsions and, if not properly treated, even death.
Fortunately, concussions today are taken much more seriously than in the past; even as little as 10 years ago, it was not uncommon to hear that an athlete had “had his bell rung” when he appeared dazed – or was even unconscious – after an on-field collision. That perception was more or less eliminated during the 2010s, when the NFL instituted concussion protocols, wherein a player suspected of possibly suffering a concussion is immediately removed from the game and examined by a medical professional. If a concussion is confirmed, the player must undergo a five-step process before being allowed to return to the field.
Most sports played at high schools or in extracurricular leagues have their own concussion protocols in place. In the case of younger children, who may play in a park-and-recreation soccer league, for instance, there may not be a medical professional on hand. In such cases, the child should be removed from the game and, if symptoms persist, they should be taken to a healthcare facility. If the child has lost consciousness, it is imperative to get them to an emergency room immediately.
It should be noted that losing consciousness is not the only symptom of a concussion; over 90% of those who sustain one do not lose consciousness. Similarly, you do not necessarily have to take a blow to the head; any sudden jerking of the head, such as what happens in a whiplash injury, can also be a cause.
Preventing concussions can be complicated. Helmets in contact sports are usually mandatory, but while they can offer some protection, a severe hit can still result in a concussion. The NFL experimented with “Guardian Caps” during its preseason, a soft-shell, padded covering that goes on the outside of the regular NFL helmets. According to the NFL, wearing a Guardian Cap can result in at least a 10% reduction in severity of impact if one player is wearing it, and at least a 20% reduction in impact if two players in a collision are wearing it.
However, the NFL season is continuing without the cap and, as mentioned, the threat of a concussion remains even when wearing such equipment.
An untreated concussion can have significant effects, sometimes lifelong and even life-threatening. If you suspect that you or a family member has suffered one, I urge you to see a medical professional as soon as you can. As always, safety is the key.
Dr. Steven Andelman is an orthopedic surgeon at White Plains Hospital Physician Associates who specializes in adult and pediatric sports medicine. For an appointment, call 914-849-7897.
914: An Area Code and a Date to Remember
- Written by Daniel Love
- Category: Health
On Wednesday, September 14, 2022 or “9/14,” the Mario Cuomo Bridge was lit in gold in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Representatives from the Pediatric Cancer Foundation attended to recognize children in Westchester and beyond who are battling cancer, and to acknowledge the work that is being done to eradicate this dreadful disease.
This year’s bridge lighting event featured Pediatric Cancer Foundation's Child Ambassador, Emily Levy, who participated virtually.
Representing Pediatric Cancer Foundation at the lighting left to right were Terry Z. Feldman (PCF Board member); Stefanie Mittman (PCF Medical Liaison) and husband, Brian Mittman, Nancy Joselson (PCF Director), Jayne Maslansky (PCF Board member) with husband, Harris; Jennifer Love (PCF Volunteer), Cheryl Reiss (Grandmother), Olivia Smith (bonus or stepsister), Mark Smith (bonus or stepdad), Zach Smith (bonus or stepbrother) who gathered together in front of the bridge ahead of the gold lighting.
Emily’s siblings Zach and Olivia flipped a ceremonial switch on behalf of their sister at 8:30 pm.
In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness month PCF hosted several fundraising events in September. A Back to School bake sale was held at the Westchester Mall on Saturday, September 10th. In addition to the bridge lighting on 9/14, PCF also hosted a Shop ‘N Shuffle which combined a day of canasta and mah jongg with a boutique at the Metropolis Country Club.
Fractured Elbow? Surgery Might Not Be Required
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: Health
Regular exercise is of course one of the foremost priorities for most people. Dedication to a regular routine is fundamental. So it was that Nisa Lee recently completed a 30-mile bicycle ride ¬– despite having fallen and, unbeknownst to her, fracturing her right elbow.
“I was at a stop light on Broadway in White Plains and just fell off,” she says with a laugh. “I was on a road bike that has clip-on pedals,” which can be cumbersome. “I had actually fallen several times prior to that time. It didn’t help that I was on Broadway at the height of rush hour, which had already put the fear into me!”
Having persevered in finishing her 30-mile trek, Ms. Lee was well aware of the pain in her elbow. After a visit to an urgent care facility, which fitted her with a splint, she found Dr. Michael A. Schwartz, an orthopedic surgeon at White Plains Hospital through her health insurance network.
“She’d fractured the radial bone in her elbow,” Dr. Schwartz explains. “But the fact that she is very active with exercise and yoga, along with having a great, positive attitude and good energy, helped a lot. She is very fit, physically and mentally.”
Viewing Ms. Lee’s X-rays, Dr. Schwartz was able to treat her without performing an operation and – most important, she says – without prescribing painkillers.
“There was definitely pain, don’t get me wrong,” she laughs. “But I didn’t want any of that. And he and I share a philosophy about health and wellness, to let the body heal itself when possible, which is pretty uncommon. That made a huge difference to me.”
Instead, Ms. Lee was put on a physical therapy regimen to regain motion as soon as possible. “We were very proactive,” Dr. Schwartz affirms. “It’s very important to start physical therapy with something like this quickly, to avoid stiffness developing.
All told, PT took about six weeks at Motion Physical Therapy, which like White Plains Hospital is an affiliate of the Montefiore Health System. “Since I’m right-handed, and I injured by right elbow, it was a little frustrating,” she says. “I couldn’t cook, slice and dice, and a lot of other things. But fortunately through technology I could still communicate through texts and emails.”
By following the doctor’s instructions, and by diving into PT with an approach similar to what she employs when exercising (five to seven times a week), the White Plains resident had fully recovered within the prescribed period.
“She healed very well, and now has full range of motion again,” Dr. Schwartz says. “There’s no pain, and she’s back to all of her activities.”
“He was fantastic,” Ms. Lee enthuses, “as was everyone I saw. Three of my four children were born at White Plains Hospital, so I was already very familiar with it – it’s the hospital.”
Dr. Michael A. Schwartz is an orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine and shoulder specialist at White Plains Physicians Associates, seeing patients in our White Plains and New Rochelle offices. To make an appointment, call 914-849-7897.
What's for Dinner: Healthy Back to School Recipes
- Written by Jodi Greebel
- Category: Health
It’s fall and back to school, which likely means more schedules, carpools and running around than the last few months. And, everyone still needs to eat dinner. So, how do you get a nutritious dinner on the table with all of the chaos?
1. Make build your own meals where everyone assembles their own meal. This is one of my favorite ways to feed everyone, at different times, with different likes. Allowing kids (of all ages) to build their own meals builds confidence around food and makes your life easier.
2. Feed kids at a center island where you can multitask while kids are eating. Even if everyone can’t eat together, being together at mealtime is your next best option. When real estate clients ask about renovating a kitchen, I always recommend a large island.
Below are a couple of my favorite quick, healthy meals.
Build your Own Teriyaki Chicken Buddha Bowl
(peanut, tree nut, dairy & egg free)
Serves about 4
1 - 1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive or avocado oil
1/4 c low sodium soy sauce (or coconut aminos for gluten free)
1/4 c + 2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp peeled and grated ginger
1 large clove garlic, grated
2 tsp potato starch
brown or white rice
red cabbage, shredded
black and white sesame seeds
Dice chicken into 1” cubes. In small bowl, whisk soy sauce, water, honey, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and potato starch.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in large non stick pan. Add chicken and cook about 4 minutes per side until tan and cooked through (chicken should reach 165 degrees). Stir in sauce and mix with chicken until coated. Allow to thicken about 1 minute.
Allow kids to assemble their own bowls with desired toppings. For vegetarian, swap chicken for tofu or make without chicken altogether.
Quick tip: Don’t have time to make your own teriyaki sauce? Use your favorite bottled one instead.
Create your Own Chicken Gyros
(egg free, peanut-free, tree-nut free, sesame free and gluten free pita bread)
Makes 3 - 4 servings
3 tbsp greek yogurt
2 tbsp lemon juice, from one 1 lemon
1 1/2 tbsp olive or avocado oil + more for cooking
2 tsp red wine or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp dried oregano
pinch kosher salt
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins, cut into 1” cubes
In large ziploc bag or medium bowl, place yogurt, lemon juice, oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Seal bag and shake or whisk together. Add chicken and massage/mix together. Marinate at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day ahead of time.
Heat large skillet over medium high heat and add about 1 tbsp oil. Cook chicken about 4 - 5 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through.
Serve chicken in warm pita bread.
Let kids top with optional toppings.
These recipes were produced by Jodi Greebel, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Compass, Registered Dietitian and mom of 3. Follow her on instagram@jodigrd for decor tips, healthy meal ideas, lifestyle tips and more.