Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Practising Gratitude

Several years ago, my husband and I were visiting India on a vacation. Never having been there before, we were rather shocked at the disparate levels of wealth – we saw incredibly ornate and expensive weddings at the hotel we were staying at, while outside there were families sleeping on the sidewalk burning tyres to stay warm.

On one particular day, I woke up feeling miserable because I had come down with a bad cold. But complaining about my health stopped very soon after we left the hotel and I saw a leper begging for money. It made me aware that I had so so much to be grateful for!

More recently, at meal times, we’ve begun the habit of practising gratitude. It has been an especially important exercise for me in August which I have termed ‘Augustus Horribilis’. At the factory, we’ve had freezer malfunctions (first one, then the other), product loss, insurance screw-ups, a Revenue Canada audit, breakdown of our filling machine and then our forklift, and late payment from a US distributor. Yet, at the end of the day, I remind myself that we have each other, we have our health, we have a roof over our heads, and we have food on our plates. Yes, some months can be awful, but we have so much that we can still be so thankful for.

So, I thought I’d write about this on my blog, and provide some links for those of you who might feel that some greater power is conspiring against you to make your life miserable! Even on your worst days, I am sure that most, if not all of you have something to be thankful for.

Some links:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dads and Food

I’ve noticed a distinct difference between my and my wife’s approach to food for my daughter. And I’ve seen this with at least a half dozen of our friends/family who are in the same age group. So while not scientific I’m going to make a generalization here.

I concentrate on getting our daughter fed. My wife concentrates on getting our daughter fed well. I will shove any manner of filler in front of her: crackers, processed cheese, goldfish (combines crackers & processed cheese, neat!), fruit rollups, etc. My wife prefers to offer salmon, avocado, banana, grapes, artisan cheeses, and whole wheat organic pasta.

Thankfully our daughter eats my wife’s menu more often than mine. And I know it’s the right thing to do and will endeavor to move in that direction. But why do I default to the less nutritious quick serve foods? Here are some thoughts on why men may fall into this trap:

a) We are stuck in childhood. Remember the 1970s? Hamburger Helper. The microwave oven (oooh, pops popcorn in a bag!). Ritz Crackers. Cheese Slices. Birthday parties in the McDonalds party room. Hot dog day at school. Suffice to say “healthy choice” was not part of the vernacular.
b) We are lazy. If there is a sliced, pre-packaged, ready-in-a-minute, onesizesfitsall meal solution men will go for that. Ironically the healthy foods only take a fraction of effort more than the pre-packaged. But it’s perception not reality here.
c) We like the less nutritious foods. I do. I like snacks. There, I said it. If I came to a fork in the road to Heaven and one way said “Eternal Bliss” and the other said “Eternal Chips, Bliss Doubtful” I’d probably take a chance on the chips.

In summary, I know my daughter deserves the most nutritious food possible. And I know I must endeavor to provide it. So my approach (and recommendation to other men) is to acknowledge that this isn’t the 1970s; healthy foods can be easy to prepare; and snacks are OK in moderation. Now, pass the chips please.

- Rich Patterson is a father and business owner in Vancouver BC

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yes, You ARE What You Eat!

During recent travels, I’ve noticed something alarming – the number of overweight people, especially kids. Okay, so sometimes people say that their obesity is due to a medical issue. The research indicates that yes, this is possible. However, obesity due to health issues accounts for less than 1%, the other 99% is due primarily to diet and lifestyle issues.

Basically: Calories In > Calories Out = Stored as Fat

Weight gain should seemingly be easy to control, yet just look around you and you will see the alarmingly high number of obese children and adults.

When I looked into the stats, I found that there is a disturbing trend especially regarding childhood obesity. A recent report by Dr. Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity Task Force suggests that by 2010 nearly 50% of children in the Americas will be obese. In addition, Dr. James goes on to say that this is not a phenomenon limited to the Americas, but it is actually an international trend that is affecting children in ALL countries.

This is a huge problem as these children will suffer the health impacts of obesity, and will often carry these problems into adulthood. There is now pressure on food manufacturers to make changes to their products to make them healthier, and to cut back on advertising related to junk food. However, the junk food industry is huge with a great deal of clout, and will fight any changes that will affect their bottom line.

So, what can you do? As consumers, we have a choice. Our Top Ten Tips:

1. buy organic (organic is not always synonymous with healthy, but organic foods typically tend to have fewer of the nasties such as transfats and other artificial ingredients)
2. don’t use artificial sweeteners, or products with high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener
3. don’t buy anything with artificial colours or flavours
4. buy prepared foods with fewer and recognizable ingredients
5. don’t drink pop (especially important for kids)
6. don’t eat while watching TV
7. don’t eat at ‘All You Can Eat’ places
8. cut down on TV/Video game time, or better still get rid of TV entirely
9. keep the junk out – just don’t bring it into the home!
10. prepare food at home from wholesome ingredients as much as possible

Sorry, but there is no magic to weight loss despite all the diet aids, pills, and prescription diets that we see advertised wherever we go. The weight gain takes place over time, and losing it will take time too.

As noted previously, the formula is basically: Calories In > Calories Out = Stored as Fat.

Taking the equation apart, and reversing it:

Decrease Calories In – we need to cut back on calories taken in (check with your physician on what would be an appropriate level for your height/weight and activity level), and use the ‘Top Ten Tips’

Increase Calories Out – decreasing ‘Calories In’ on its own is not enough! You also need to increase ‘Calories Out’ by getting active (check with your physician before undertaking fitness program)

Adhering to this reverses the equation so that it becomes: Calories Out > Calories In = Fat Loss

Some links that may be of use/interest: for setting up and monitoring your calorie intake/expenditure has information on the trends related to childhood obesity has information on causes of obesity

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I think we may do this - go vegetarian for a day or two every week!

Going vegetarian for a day or two each week would be so easy and the impact tremendous!

Information excerpted from an article by Kathy Freston in the Huffington Post:

If everyone went vegetarian just for ONE day, the U.S. would save:
● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;
● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;
● 70 million gallons of gas -- enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;
● 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;
● 33 tons of antibiotics.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:
● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;
● 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;
● 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;
● Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.

A favorite statistic: According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads. See how easy it is to make an impact?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BOBS & LOLO on tour

BOBS & LOLO are on tour! Check out the locations and dates below - my 7 year old loves them and we hope to catch some shows:

Blog or Perish?!

Looks like moms are going online in increasing numbers to find out about everything from feeding kids, raising kids, restaurants, etc. etc. http://

It's really cool that moms are connecting with each other on an international level like this!