Saturday, March 29, 2008

Class 9: Midterm Exams

The Devil is in the Details
This week we had no lecture and a midterm exam. Once again, I get a sneaking suspicion the test will be curved. Even with an exam review this time around, there were some pretty tricky questions, and I have a feeling I did not do as well as I had hoped. I seem to be studying all the wrong concepts. Test your knowledge-- here's a sampling. I am only posted three because one, it's all I can remember at the moment, and two, the more I think about this test, the more annoyed I get about it. At least there were 80 questions this time as opposed to 50- statistically ups the chances if you miss a bunch to still do well. See the bottom of the post for the correct answers.

1. What percentage of the the total body weight is comprised of blood?
a. 5%
b. 8%
c. 92%
d. 97%

2. Insulin is made in the _____ cells of the pancreas.
a. alpha
b. beta
c. islet

3. Glucagon is made in the ____ cells of the pancreas.
a. alpha
b. beta
c. islet

The Cheating Ring Update
Because I was so engrossed in my test, I failed to turn around and see if there were any missing faces this week in class. Sorry to keep everyone in suspense!

In other News...
Several new developments have revitalized my workouts. First, my new ipod Nano has arrived, and I've been having a ball loading it up with new music. (Any suggestions for workout playlists? Send 'em my way!) I am especially fond of my new ipod case, a little hot pink felt pocket with an embroidered giraffe on the front. This may sound cheesy, but trust me, George the Giraffe has been a cute and wonderful protector of the ipod. Also qualifying me for the Nerd Herd... I am now an official subscriber to 3 --yes 3!-- NPR podcasts. "All Music Considered", "Marketplace" and "Wait, Wait Don't tell Me." Carl Castle is my hero!

Second, this past Monday, the brand new campus rec center opened, and it's gorgeous like a country club. Brand new pool with big sunny windows, clean locker rooms, tons of cardio equipment and weights, an 1/8 mile indoor track, racquetball, basketball and more. I am in heaven! And I pay no additional fees since the gig's included in tuition. I am SO there. So what if I'm the only one there under the age of 23? And the only one not using my tuchas as a billboard for either Victoria's Secret or my sorority? Stay tuned for details on if I'll be able to still do the AM routine or will have to switch to a post work-workout...

Answers
1. b. This factoid was written in the smallest font possible on one of 42 "Circulatory System" slides. 2. Insulin is made in the beta cells, while 3. Glucagon is made in the alpha cells. Once again, tiny tiny print. I could tell you all about the functions and purposes of these hormones, why they are important and what they regulate. Just can't remember the minutia of where they are created. Because IMHO, does it really matter? Apparently to my prof, it does. Sigh...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Class 8: Cheaters Never Prosper

And I'm not talking about cheating on a diet here, folks. I walk into Class 8, eager to take my lipid quiz and learn about the joys of protein. Instead, my professor opens up class with a rant on cheating. Apparently, we have a ring of about 4 people (who my Prof emphatically pronounced, "You know who you are!") cheating their way through the course. This blows me away for several reasons:
1. Now, I realize I am incredibly gifted in the brains dept- I was always the smart sister, not the pretty one-- but come on, the class just isn't that hard!

2. This is GRAD school, not GRADE school, isn't it? Is someone forcing these people to spend their hard-earned dollars on tuition against their free will?

3. Not that I think cheating is acceptable in ANY situation, but let me put it this way... if you cheat in Economics, no one dies. No one is going to hold you at gunpoint and fire away if you cannot explain the theory of the Invisible Hand in 30 seconds or less. Now, let's say you cheat your way through an RD program, and find yourself working in a hospital. I think it might be important to know that Harold, your patient on blood thinners, should be on a reduced vitamin K diet. Too much kale and old buddy Harold might kick it. So you get my point here... this stuff is actually applicable. So, it might be a wee bit important to actually learn it.

The big question remains to be answered-- will there be 4 less people in my class next week? Will they actually be kicked out of school? Stay tuned...

More on proteins later this week...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Class 6 is phat (with an F) and Class 7 is canceled (with a C)

This post is coming to you live from the campus computer lab. Why? Because I checked email around 10:00 AM this morning from work. And sometime around 10:25, my professor sent out a message canceling class due to illness.

So here I am, all ready to learn, with no one to teach. A good opportunity to catch up on posts and study, since I've already fought for a campus parking spot and walked here in the pouring rain.

I never posted from last week's class, so I'll start there. Class Six was all about Fats and Lipids. As delicious as they are, the class really wasn't all that exciting. I really wanted to discuss beefy hamburgers, creamy guacamoles and buttercream frosted cakes. Instead, I got a lot of chemistry. Of which I'll spare my readers. But, here's the lowdown... some fats are better for you than others. This we know. But, what many folks don't realize is that fat is an essential part of your diet. Don't assume that a fat-free diet is a healthy one. Your body requires several different kinds of fatty acids to function. Fats make up a huge part of your cellular structure (see my past post on the importance of cholesterol), plus provide you with transport functions, temperature control, organ protection and energy storage. Learn to love your fat, folks. It serves a purpose.

So, how much fat should we consume? And what kind? Read on...

The Good
When choosing fats to include in your diet, Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated are the way to go. These types of fats are considered the better fats, since consumption may be linked to lessening your chances of heart disease. Examples of foods high in monounsaturated fats include avocados, olives and olive oil, and nuts like almonds, cashews, filberts, and pecans. Additionally, if you like peanuts, peanut oil or peanut butter, you are in luck! These are also great sources of monounsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in some margarines, sunflower seeds and oil, and corn oil. It's also in mayonnaise, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

Also falling under the "good" category are the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Good sources of these fats include seafood, and in particular, cold water fish like salmon and trout. Now, many of my adoring fans will be quick to point out I do not eat fish. Neither does my Dear Husband. Fear not if you are not fond of seafood either! Other good sources include flax seeds, canola oil, soy and tofu, nuts, and--to a lesser extent but still in there--mustard greens and spinach. Eat up.

The Bad
Stay away from Trans Fats (often labeled "hydrogenated")! This type of fat has been getting a lot of media attention as of late, and there's good reason why. Because this fat is man-made, and because it has been proven to impact your health negatively, there's a huge push to get it off the market, out of the foods we consume, and banned forever. Current guidelines recommend we get less than 1% of trans fats in our daily diet. It was added many years ago to commercially prepared foods like cakes, cookies, pies and breads to keep them moist and able to stay on the shelf longer. But skip them! Eating trans fats is a bit like sticking an Oreo directly into your coronary artery. Look for alternatives labeled "trans fat free." (And before I get a million emails, Kraft made Oreos trans fat free way back in 2003...)

Also...watch your consumption of saturated fats. These fats are most commonly associated with animal and animal byproducts like meat, butter, lard, beef tallow and whole milk. Try to keep these under 7%-10% of your total caloric intake. That's an average of about 16 grams a day for a 2000 calorie diet. Now, I love a good steak as much as the next guy, so the key is MODERATION. Suggestions to get your intake down include:
  • Switch to low-fat and reduced-fat dairy product like skim milk, reduced fat cheeses and low fat yogurts.
  • Try to eat a vegetarian dinner once or twice a week.
  • Choose leaner cuts of meat like rounds and loins, and opt for chicken or fish, but don't eat the skin.
  • Select lower fat ground meats (like 93% beef, turkey breast or even buffalo).
  • Don't fry foods. Instead, bake, broil, BBQ, roast, steam or microwave.
  • Reduce your portions of high fat foods like ice cream, sour cream and butter.
  • Bake and cook with a mono or polyunsaturated oil rather than butter. Or, try substituting applesauce in baking mixes.
The Ugly
So, here comes the part no one really wants to hear. As Americans, we typically don't have an issue getting enough fats into our diet-- rather, the opposite seems to be the problem. Total intake should be between 20%-35% of your total daily calories. So enjoy your fats to an extent, but stock you plate full of complex carbs, lean proteins, and plenty of fruits and veggies. It's still the healthiest diet around.

In other news...
A big hello to friends and family I got to see in my very snowy hometown this weekend. And happy 90th birthday, Grandma! It was mainly you who inspired me to pursue my love of food and cooking, and turn it into a profession. Even if you still insist on baking with butter :-)

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