Thursday, March 22, 2012

Helpful Resources

The EWG Shopper’s Guide: This page provides information on the Clean 15 (the 15 least contaminated fruits and vegetables) and the Dirty Dozen (the 12 most contaminated). For example, it’s wise to always buy organic apples, celery, and strawberries; buying organic onions, sweet corn, and pineapples may not be ‘worth it’ because they top the Clean 15 list.


The EWG National Drinking Water Database: This page includes an “interactive ranking system to evaluate 100 water utilities that serve cities of more than 250,000 people.” Charlotte ranks #77 out of 100 in tap water quality – boo!


Skin Deep: The general Skin Deep site has a database of more than 69,000 beauty and hygiene products, including makeup, hair products, eye care products, nail polish, fragrances, and baby-specific products. Did you know that public health laws allow almost any chemical as an ingredient in personal care products (the no-no list is very short)? There is also NO required safety testing for new beauty products. Check out myths on cosmetics safety to learn more. “Every product added to Skin Deep is carefully reviewed by EWG staff to identify product type, product use and composition, target demographic, and special product claims.”


Skin Deep Sunscreens: This is my favorite EWG resource. Skin Deep’s sunscreen section provides a massive database of 1,700 sunscreens. I wrote a post summarizing which sunscreens the EWG recommends; you can also check out their Executive Summary for more information.


Cell Phone Radiation: The government does not require cell phone manufacturers to provide any disclosure information about cell phone radiation output. EWG ranks the top 10 best and worst phones and provides a database where you can look up your specific phone. You can also read the EWG’s full report on cell phone radiation here.


Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health: A very interesting and informative page on buying ‘greener’ meat and dairy products. You can read about the environmental impact of traditional farming methods and read the ‘At a Glance’ brochure. Did you know that different meats have a different impact on the environment? Lamb, beef, and cheese produce the most greenhouse gases. And if you eat one less burger per week, it’s like taking your car off the road for 320 miles? Neat!


Health Tips: And last, but certainly not least, check out the EWG’s Health Tips page. There’s loads of general information, including Preventing Cancer, Guide to Kids’ Personal Care Products, Guide to Feeding Baby, Healthy Pet Tips, and more.


Friday, March 2, 2012

PINK for weight loss?

P.I.N.K. Method: Review

WebMD Expert Review

If you want to change your life and improve your body, P.I.N.K. Method founder Cynthia Pasquella says she has the answers.

The hip, girly P.I.N.K. Method is a low-calorie diet plan with a rigorous exercise component promising a full-body makeover. "It can help you lose weight, improve your health, look your best, and change the way you think about yourself," Pasquella says.

P.I.N.K. stands for power, intensity, nutrition, and "kardio." It was designed for women and has been seen on Dr. Phil and The Doctors TV shows.

"The P.I.N.K. Method has some great advice addressing the whole person, recommendations to choose nutrient-rich foods and be physically active," says Heather Mangieri, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly called the American Dietetic Association).

But Mangieri also thinks the claims are over-promised. "Even in the best circumstances, many of the claims are overstated and not based on research," says Mangieri, who counsels overweight women in her Pittsburgh practice. "Foods are not fat burners and not everyone is going to rejuvenate skin, hair, and nails, and heighten their energy and libido on this plan."

P.I.N.K. Method Diet: What’s on the Menu

Foods allowed emphasize light proteins and unprocessed, whole plant foods. Vegetables, fruits, and carbs recommended are rich in fiber and take longer to digest. The plan recommends organic foods.

Refined sugars, alcohol, and processed foods are not on the menu. Caffeine is permitted in small doses. Alcohol in small portions (one to two servings per week) is allowed after the first nine weeks. Stevia is the only artificial sweetener allowed on the plan.

The P.I.N.K. Method diet is divided into four phases:

  • Reset: This phase lasts for three to 14 days. It's geared toward fast weight loss of up to a pound a day prior to starting the workouts. It's also used for four days between each of the plan's workouts. Sample menu items include a breakfast drink made with whey protein; vegetables for snacks; and protein, whole grains, and non-starchy vegetables for lunch or dinner. Apart from the morning drink, carbs are limited to vegetables throughout the day. It’s a good thing this phase is short, because sticking to the limited amount of food could be tough. "Reset has about 1,025 calories, which is too low. I never recommend going below 1,200 calories because it is impossible to get the nutrition you need," Mangieri says.
  • P.I.N.K. Primary: After losing five to 10 pounds, you move on to the P.I.N.K. Primary phase and start the plan's first workout DVD. Meal plans during this phase include protein, vegetables, and fruit. Mangieri estimates this phase contains about 1,600 calories per day. That should be enough to support the exercise component. "This phase has enough calories but is low in vitamin D and calcium," which are two nutrients that many women don't get enough of, Mangieri says. She suggests adding a few servings of nonfat diary or a multivitamin/mineral.
  • 7 Day Shred: When you are within five pounds of your goal weight, the plan calls for you to shift to the 7-Day Shred phase. This phase cuts down on carbs and fats, replacing them with a vegetable soup to help you peel off those last few pounds. Drink lots of water and take a multivitamin/mineral. Workouts are restricted to easy 15-minute activities. Mangieri recommends skipping this phase (and the Reset phase), because they are inadequate in calories and nutrients -- instead, go directly to P.I.N.K.'s Primary and Preservation phases.
  • PINK Preservation: This is the plan's maintenance phase, which you start when you reach your goal weight. It contains about 1,400-1,800 calories per day and is the plan's most flexible phase. "Preservation is the forever nutrition and fitness plan that keeps those lost pounds and inches from returning," Pasquella says.

P.I.N.K. Method Exercise Plan

The P.I.N.K. Method comes with three fitness DVDs. Follow them in order, using each one for three weeks.

Each DVD contains three workouts focused on sculpting, cardio, and flexibility for one to two hours. Bonus workouts are also included.

Physical activity is important for everyone, but "these tough workouts may be hard for older women or beginners," Mangieri says.

P.I.N.K. Method Diet: Food for Thought

Eating a wide variety of healthy foods and getting plenty of exercise is a well-known prescription for weight loss.

The P.I.N.K. Method is easy to follow and enhanced by online support and a nutrition guide. But it may be challenging because it is an inflexible, restrictive diet approach limited in calories.

If this program works for you, follow the wellness advice and P.I.N.K. primary recommendations to eat a cleaner diet with lots of healthy foods. Add a once-daily multivitamin/mineral to fill in the nutritional gaps, and get regular physical activity.

When dietary recommendations are not sustainable in the long term, keep looking for a diet plan that promotes healthy changes you can live with forever. Unless you change your eating and lifestyle habits permanently, the weight is likely to return. Better yet, consult a registered dietitian for a customized food plan just for you.

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.