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Thursday, Nov 20, 2014
Health & Fitness

Zapping your dinner could be zapping your health


Published:

“TV dinners, they’re going to my head/ TV dinners, my skin is turning red/20-year-old turkey in a 30-year-old tin/I can’t wait until tomorrow and thaw one out again.”

In 1981, when ZZ Top sang about their love-hate for this EZ food, they couldn’t have predicted that 30-some years later, the TV dinner would have led Americans into a frozen-meal habit costing $9 billion annually.

Americans eat 31 percent more packaged and frozen food than fresh food. These microwave-meals-in-minutes often deliver oversized portions, unhealthy fats, excess sodium and nutritionally anemic foods. So, when your family sits down for dinner, do you want to dish up a meal from a box, or make a quick, great-tasting, healthy dinner from almost-scratch? (Some shortcuts, like canned tomatoes, are smart and healthy.)

One popular frozen lasagna contains: corn syrup (a ticket to obesity and heart disease), dextrose and sugar (listed three times!), which increase your risk for dementia, depression and diabetes; and heavy whipping cream, which is loaded with make-you-age-faster saturated fat! Making your own ground-turkey lasagna with 100 percent whole-grain pasta and low-fat cheese boosts your nutrition immediately! You can find easy-to-make healthy recipes online. Bonus: Leftovers make a second meal inexpensive and easy!

Don’t stop there. Many frozen breakfast foods smuggle in heart-damaging trans fats. Opt for whole-grain cereals, nonfat Greek yogurt and berries. Pack lunches, and use fruit and one ounce of dark chocolate for treats. And ditch sweetened beverages; they shorten your life by many years.

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When Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) begins twitching at the mention of Inspector Jacques Clouseau (“Shot in the Dark” 1964), his body language tells you what’s going on with his emotions (rage, anger, fear), even as he declares he’s just fine and nothing is going to upset him.

True, there are times when you’re aware that you’re emotionally upset and know that it’s making you feel bad physically. But sometimes it’s hard to admit what’s going on in your head. For instance, today you may be sick to your stomach and decide you’re too ill to go to work. You miss that your symptoms are a result of that fight you had yesterday with a co-worker.

In such situations, your body is tapping you on the shoulder and saying, “Hey, if you pay attention to how your body is acting and why, you’ll know a little more about your emotional state of affairs.” Consciously acknowledging your emotions is a powerful way to de-stress and improve your mood and relationships, and reduce bodywide inflammation (a trigger for everything from dementia to heart attack).

To help folks have a clearer understanding of their emotions, Finnish researchers recently mapped the relationship between physical sensations and emotions. They found that most people feel anger in the head, chest, arms and hands, and disgust always gets you in the gut. On the positive side, love is felt throughout your whole body, except the legs (guess you’re not going anywhere); and hyped-up sensations all over the body are clues to happiness.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.

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