Nutritional Makeover: Size and Font Edition

New years bring new ideas, new looks, new focuses.  Along with various policy changes, health care shifts and other such political agendas, the FDA has decided to add some flare to nutritional labels.  This makeover was proposed after recent scientific research conclusions linked chronic diseases with diet.

Coming from a purely cosmetic and superficial stand point, the proposed changes make sense.  Not only do they make sense, but they infer an interesting biopsychosocial conceptualization.  Below is a side by side of the changes:

 

 

Quick observations direct the eye toward the calorie count and serving size at the top.  This definite alteration in order, placement, and size is smart.  Though the eye catches the actual caloric count first, it then looks to the approximate servings per container.  This maneuver is an attempt to slim down on over eating, etc.  In my opinion, it is easier to assimilate servings per package with a mental image of the proper amount of consumption, when presented in this way.  This allows one to consider the potential monetary value of consuming one portion at a time, rather than crash through an entire family sized bag of chips at once.  (Let’s be honest, it happens to the best of us.)  Currently, the actual portion size is the first thing listed on the label, but who carries around measuring tools in their pockets every time they go for the pretzels?  This simple adjustment invites a rather precise and direct idea for consumers.

The vast increase in font size for the caloric count may be an attempt to draw attention to the importance of the number alone.  Over indulging can quickly add up and cause a slue of health risks.  This risky behavior can threaten both pant size and life span.  Of course, other various health behaviors can impact the results in different ways for every individual.  Regardless, the message at hand is that this issue between American borders has caught the attention of just about everyone.  Things need to change.

Along with the cosmetic changes comes new information.  This proposal has added a new line in the ‘sugar’ section.  ‘Added sugars’ will now be brought into the spotlight, to aide in the confusion between natural and artificial.  This break down can help the monitoring of harsh modifications.  Perhaps this will help curb the added sugars all together.  Should this proposal take off, savvy shoppers may take notice and return the heavily modified product to the shelf.  One small step such as this can equal a giant leap in educational gains.

In the daily value (DV %) section, there have been more than a couple changes.  Vitamin A and C will no longer be legally required on labels, though vitamin D and Potassium WILL be a requirement.  Potassium has been found to help fight against chronic disease and has moved up the totem pole, so to speak.  Vitamin D aides with bone health and has gained prominence as well.

In addition to the swaps in vitamins and minerals, the actual DV requirements are under reconsideration.  The actual amounts are being looked at and investigated, to remain relevant.  Further studies will explore those changes and impacts to the final product.

Once again, the numbers gain prominence as the actual DV % is being placed in a column in front of the subject itself.  This may get more attention and grant further inspection of the product in return.  Furthermore, the actual weighted breakdown follows the subject.

Keep in mind that this is merely a proposal and could be completely different when all is said an done.  Whatever ends up happening, it’s something new that will gather attention and potential education opportunities.  Though the label will be new and improved, people need to be able to read it in order to use the information.  Health literacy continues to be a rampant issue among many demographics in the United States and does have an impact on the utilization of tools such as these labels. I’m remaining hopeful that major changes such as this spark a need for educational literature and communication.

For further information and updates, follow this link to the FDA press announcement:  http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm387418.htm

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A Small Glimpse into My Passion

I haven’t written anything in a few weeks, thanks to my horrible insane schedule with school and work, work, work, but here we go.  The following is a brief response assignment given by my Health Communication professor and mentor.  Throughout the semester, we have been journaling daily about our experiences with listening, reflexivity, and other concepts.  From here, we write bi-weekly responses about our experiences.  Below is my second response articulating my thoughts on “listening”:

Throughout the second phase of the listening reflections, I tried to focus my utilization of active listening along with concepts discussed in class.  Although I have been attempting to do this for the duration of the process, I made it a point to go back to the texts and reapply these skills and concepts more proactively.  In doing this, I was able to gain a better sense of the power and depth that these intersections have.

Because I am facing giant cross-roads in my personal life, with the transition of graduation and adult life looming around the corner, I have been speaking with many people about my journey.  Not only have I been receiving excellent advice for this time of my life, I have also been told personal stories and experiences from these people.  Whether they were friends, family, professors, or colleagues, every individual has told something worth sharing.  Therefore, it has been my mission to soak up as much as I possibly could.

Looking back at what I have written about these experiences, I am pleased to see that I have made quite a few succinct connections, which have strengthened my previous understandings.  For example, the ideals and depth surrounding identity has been further engrained in my mind and way of thinking.  I have been conscious of identities and how they come into play between individuals, but they are also prevalent through listening.  I began to notice a bit of a trend surrounding the ways in which I listen to people; their identity and it’s correlation to my own, may impact the way in which I listen to them.  It’s not necessarily a popularity contest or anything of the sort, but the more I respect an individual, the more actively I engage.  Of course, there have been exceptions along the way, but overall, this pattern occurs consistently.

As I gained knowledge from the stories of others, I found myself engaging in what seemed to be mini-interviews at times.  The further into the story they went, the more questions and reflexive introspection I was having.  Therefore, the story would transform into a dialogue, with reflexivity exhibited on both ends.  This point in my life is terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, so it’s been an adventure hearing about the journey of others, as they enjoy learning about mine.

In addition to identity, I have gained more awareness to perception and how that shapes the overall health narrative of an individual.  In my own experience, I have encountered a handful of health related visits over the past couple of months, which is more than I have had in quite some time.  Other than dental cleanings and annual womanhood check ups, I only see a doctor under extreme circumstances.  Therefore, it’s been really fun getting to experience these recent interactions with all of these concepts revolving around my mind.

It all began with my Mom.  She has a similar mindset as myself when it comes to doctor visits; we are both able to tough it out most of the time, and don’t bother unless something is legitimately wrong.  So, in my conversations with her about my concerns of discomfort, I paid close attention to her reception and willingness to listen to my feelings.  Of course, she’s my Mom, so she showed immediate concern when I brought up the issue.  From this point, she asked me an array of questions about the feelings I was experiences, and made me think of things that I hadn’t even thought of myself.  Being two hours away from her and from my doctors, the process of getting an appointment had to be executed very concisely and my Mom handled that better than anyone else could.  Through a string of short updates, she would relay appointment dates and times to me, after closely considering the best professional for me to see in the first place.  Time was a huge factor, between my busy schedule and my ability to drive back home, but Spring break came at a perfect time.  I have written about some of my experiences in the doctor’s office previously, but I never even thought to think about the communication that took place in order to get me there.  The saga isn’t quite over yet, but the solution is sight and the entire journey was executed very well.  A+ Mom!

My own health narrative has expanded quite a bit in the past few weeks, but I was thankful to have my Mom in the room with me a couple of times while I was being questioned about my family history.  That narrative is one that I am not all too familiar with.  I am well aware of the family health issues surrounding people in my lifetime, but before my existence, I am not 100% sure of everyone’s story.  I see how intricately woven all of this information is and how it can impact my own situation.  So while I sat there staring at the ceiling looking for answers, my Mom was able to fill in the blanks, therefore informing the professional and myself simultaneously.

Communication, dialogue, narratives, listening, and identity are just a handful of critical factors in the equation of effective progress.  Without harnessing these skills and applying them on a regular basis, I don’t understand how people can cohesively survive.  The concepts discussed in class are more than just concepts.  They are crucial skills that must be understood and executed as efficiently as possible.  I guess that’s just going to be motivation for my future career goals.  No wonder I love Health Comm so much.

 

This Makes So Much Sense

Between the piles of homework and household chores I’ve surrounded myself in today, I came across an article on Huffpost:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/anti-aging-secrets-look-younger-deepak-chopra_n_2861062.html

I was compelled to read this article, as it is from the perspective of a spiritual leader.  Deepak Chopra brings a lot of valid and captivating  points to the forefront of health, though I believe that this information can reach people of any age.  The primary basis of this article revolves around the anti-aging process and looking younger.  Being 22 years old, I’m not really concerned with regenerating my youth.  HOWEVER, I feel that the information he shares is important to being healthy in general.

I am currently working internally to better equip myself with reflexivity, while finding ways to deter stress and other negative things from my daily routine.  I may be 22, but I want my body to feel the same way.  College, jobs, graduation, life – everything combines into a little ball of fury if you let it get away from you.  These days, I’ve started to get myself in a better routine of activity and experimenting with food, etc.  I feel pretty darn good.  I’m not going to lie.  I know there is still room for improvement, while I get myself into the shape that I want.

That being said, I take the information from this article/video and apply it to what I’ve always known.  Most of this information seems like common knowledge to me, but it has been great having it presented back once again:

“’More than perception, but… yes,” he says. “There are 10 really very specific things that you can do to change your biological age. Your biological age means your blood pressure, your bone density, skin thickness, number of wrinkles, hearing, immune function…’”

My biological age is 22 and I want to continue to use my perceptions and reflection to keep myself in proper check with my internal and external environments.  The human mind is an amazing thing; it can control much more than we are aware.

For me, a happy soul and a happy heart can move mountains.  This combination is highly effective and potent.  It can keep anyone young and strong, no matter what age they are.  Age is only a matter of time.  It can only be measured through wisdom, not wrinkles.

 

 

Ponder, Ponder

Health care covers such a wide range in individuals, groups, ideas, and theories.  There is the mechanical side, the communicative side, the emotional side, and so many others.  Personally, I am interested in the realm of Health Communication – it’s intersections with gender and class in particular.  In order to go further in-depth, I am going to be interviewing a professional in the field and discussing their personal stance on interpersonal communication.  I firmly believe that the interpersonal communicative skills of all parties involved can make or break the experience.

This interview is part of an assignment for a class that I am currently taking, but I have hopes to branch off of this project and continue in the future.

That in mind, I am creating potential questions in which to structure the interview.  It is imperative that I structure these questions as precisely as possible, as language itself is so powerful.   I do have a few strong questions prepared, but was wondering if anyone had any suggestions to offer.  I am not 100% sure who I will be interviewing yet, or what exact profession they are a part of.

In the meantime, I would love to hear from anyone who has any words of wisdom to offer.

Thank you!

Progress Isn’t Always Progress

Though Halloween is upon us (happy haunts everyone), the truly frightening thing is that Nov. 6th is just around the corner.  So many issues are flying around in the air, and our candidates have been nothing but disappointments to me.  Needless to say, the well-being and independent posterity of the female body is at risk…in 2012.  2012!  

Now, I’m not going to ramble on and on about the issues that the majority of the people I interact with already know, but I will put in my 2 cents.

My main point is to shed light on the fact that progress is not always progress.  Sure, over the past few decades, women have made advancements both in and out of the office, but it’s still not enough.  Sure, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but where are the results?  I’m impatiently waiting, and waiting, and waiting.  Women are still making roughly 3/4 the amount of their male counterparts; wasn’t that supposed to be equal?  I won’t even touch on the health and body issues on the table…this post will never end.

Likewise, it’s true that in the past four years, LGBT issues have been making ground at record speed, but things still haven’t changed.  Papers keep getting signed, but that isn’t enough.  The overall outlook of the nation on issues such as gay marriage seem to be a draw, but that doesn’t mean that advancements are being made.  

More issues keep popping into my head now, but I will simply leave you with this:  The next president of the USA will have power…this is true.  However, so many of the issues being held on a silver platter will be up to the Supreme Court to decide.  NOTE: In the next four years, THREE of our current justices will be turning 80.  The president does choose the replacements.  Keep that in mind.

Enjoy your holiday candy and happy voting!

From Voluptuous Vixen to Bag of Bones

In the midst of mid-terms and classes all day long, I took a mental break and found myself on sparksummit.com today.  What I discovered, completely shocked me.  

Here’s a little background first: I am a feminist all the way, but even I buckle under my childhood relationship with Disney.  I grew up watching the classic Disney movies and loving everything having to do with Disneyworld, etc.  Now that I am older, I can see all of the issues with these movies, but I’m woman enough to simply acknowledge these issues and still sing along like always.  Of course, I was raised in a home with a chef for a Dad and a top-tiered teacher for a Mom.  My environment warmed me up to gender equity, without even knowing it.  My young adulthood has popped my sparkly little bubble and shown me the patriarchal issues of this world.

That being said, I digress…

Today marks the day that Disney has truly gone too far.  Ty Slobe, of SPARKsummit wrote an eye-opening piece on some horrifying displays that are found in the windows of Barney’s.  

I agree 100% with what Slobe had to say on the subject, so I will just provide the link for you:

http://www.sparksummit.com/2012/10/10/disney-characters-are-losing-weight-at-rapid-speeds/

When did it become okay to morph and alter the body images of characters that have been around for decades?!  These movies, TV shows, and characters are geared for younger audiences, and leave a lasting impact on their development.  If I can relate to character that is a lion, naturally, others can relate to more personified characterization.  The statistics surrounding six year old children with body issues is already stunning enough.  Why would a corporation, built (on the exterior, mind you) on the hopes and dreams of the individual self, allow something this misogenistically audacious to occur?!

I know and love this full-figured and fun villain…….not this horrifying Barbie zombie.

…I’m not even going to comment on Minnie Mouse. 

 

       

Poor, poor Mickey

Health Equation

A few posts back, I had a brief little poll that inquired upon people’s thoughts on the meaning of health.  After receiving a handful of answers, all but one agreed that health was an all encompassing term that deals with both internal and external factors.  These physical, mental, and emotional factors all work together to create one cohesive state of health, though every individual has a differing equation.

In order to better understand what all creates our image of health, so many variables have to be examined. My own equation is very extensive, but I’ll do my best to examine as much of it as I can in time.  For now, I’ll just focus on five main points:

1. Physical State of Being

As I grow older, I’m really starting to notice slight differences in how my body reacts to and handles various things: I can no longer go nights without sleep and live to tell the tale; Coffee has become a staple, and not just a favored drink; Stress physically effects me; Working out feels awesome; Late night snacking turning into a cruel joke when I put pants on later, etc…

Although I may be average in size and stature, with some muscle, I am totally out of shape and I can’t stand it.  My days of having a super metabolism and twig-like figure are totally over.  Aside from all of that, I’m really starting to feel how crucial proper nutrition truly is.

2. Mental State

Like mentioned above, stress is starting to affect me for the first time.  I’ve always been busy and a great multi-tasker…but college is new ballgame.  Although I can still manage everything very well, I sincerely have to find ways to maintain the stress and not let myself get overwhelmed, even in my fourth year.  (My drumset being 2 hrs away doesn’t help much).

Though I may be struggling with stress here and there, I try to remain calm and keep my normal down-to-Earth vibe about me.  So many factors work their way into the equation of my mental state.  For now, I’ll just cap it there.

3. Gender

Where do I even begin?! This could and probably will be a post of its own here soon enough.  For the time being, I’ll just keep this one brief.

Gender seems to be everything in this day and age, politically, personally, and in other ways.  This election season (for example) seems to be a constant battle of health and gender, focusing on how and why these two terms go hand in hand.  One moment, we progress forward.  The next, we make a screeching halt and go flying back to the 40’s.  Womanhood is constantly on the line, and somehow religion, economics, and two-party systems find their way into the mix.  Why does the stuff between my legs determine my rights as a human in every aspect, especially something as sensitive as health care?!

4. Media

With all of the technology readily available today, messages are smashed in our face every single moment of the day.  The number of mediated messages that register in your brain each day would probably astound you if you sat down and thought about it.

The media has a huge hand in what is deemed as healthy, proper, right, wrong, and so much more.  This could be anything from skinny mini models in magazines, to the font used in advertisements.  Therefore, one is swayed in different directions without even realizing what’s going on.

5. Family

In the most basic of ways, family and upbringing has a lot to do with what I deem as health.  I was raised with a very health conscious, fit, happy go lucky family.  Because of this, I listen to Enya while I relax and write papers, I love hiking for fun, brain power is wealth, being personally fit is important (that doesn’t mean I have to be a stick), happiness is a virtue, food is vital, awareness is key, and so much more.

Health can mean any number of things to someone and I’m sure those closest to me have a different set of variables in their own equation, than I.  There is no right answer for what health is and isn’t.   

Gender Awakening

First of all, thank you to those that contributed to my poll in the previous post.  (Please continue to do so if you haven’t had the opportunity yet.) Now, on to the fun stuff.

Looking back over the course of my life, I have grown to notice certain stages, stepping stones, milestones, and factors that have contributed to who I am today.  I’m in the point in my life where I am on the cusp of full-on, frighteningly-exciting adulthood.  Because of this, I have a firm grasp on who I believe myself to be, as well as what/who it took to get me here.  The one and only conclusion that I keep bringing myself to, is the fact that there isn’t one simple conclusion.  If I were to write down a list of these factors, the list would reach all the way to Tatooine; for now, I’ll focus on a few of the bullets on my list.

When I attempt to sum up who I am in just a handful of labeled terms, the list is as follows: Female, Woman, Daughter, Loyal, Musician, Inquisitive, Passionate, Driven, Stubborn, Etc.

The first few terms on my list deal with my gender; in my own eyes, I find power, prestige and worth in the fact that I am a female, and therefore always find myself placing those terms first.  Because of this, I constantly question the first thing that pops up in my mind when I consider my gender.  You should try it for yourself, right now.  Consider your gender identity, and then realize the first image that pops up in your mind.  Ready, set, GO!

The image that first pops up in my mind is that of my parents; my Mom and Dad standing side by side, both equally represented.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household with both my Mom and Dad, who are now happily married for 30 years.  Although I was always a Daddy’s girl growing up, my Mom has been a wonderful role model for me my entire life.  She is a very proud and loving woman, who has lived a life dedicated to teaching, and has changed the lives of many people.  She is a fantastic mentor and finds every opportunity to teach, whether it be about diversity when I’m watching cartoons, or carving a path for a scared, young teacher at her school.  Why wouldn’t I want to mirror that image in my own life?

I would, and I have.  Not only have I had a strong mother in my life, I have had other strong women throughout my family…from my grandmothers, to aunts, to cousins, to my big sister.  Better yet, I have had compassionate men in my life.  My Dad is the strong, silent type, who will always be there to catch me when I fall.  He has been supportive of everything my Mom has ever done, and has continuously pushed me to new limits, knowing my full potential.  Although he sometimes jokes with me and calls me the son he never had, I know he is proud to have me as a daughter and was never judgmental of my non-Barbie ways.  He has taught me so much, from how to play the drums, how to play basketball and how to cook, to how to be a strong woman, how to never back down, how to be proud of who I am.  He was blessed with strong family of women, being the only son, and has kept that mentality throughout his life to date.  Other male figures in my family have been he exact same.  So much of what I have become stems from things that my late Grandpa taught me, without even knowing it.

Knowing that I have been fortunate enough to have a family experience like this, I look to others to see how they became who they are.  I certainly can’t deny that simple mediated images of girls and girly stuff helped me understand the difference in cultural views of boys and girls, though my family taught me to be me.  It is impossible to stray from the imagery and messages the media show on a daily basis.  Since the moment of birth, most people are tossed into either a pink or blue blanket.  From there, it’s a never-ending battle of Barbie vs. G.I. Joe and so on.

Unfortunately for most, these mediated messages are what dictates how they express their gender.  For boys, the masculine messages tend to be that of violence and force; this image only seems to be getting more and more out of hand.  For a simple example, consider how much bigger secret agent 007’s gun has become over the years; consider the suave and sophisticated Humphrey Bogart to the maniacal look of Rambo.  As far as girls are concerned, we have anything pink, glittery and foo-foo.  To be a sex symbol is to be adored and not much else.  That may seem a bit extreme, but when

Norman Rockwell

six-year-old girls are having body image issues, there’s a major problem.  What ever happened to the likes of independent Eliza Thornberry of the great 90’s cartoon?

In my future posts to come, I plan to delve deeper into these issues and many more.  In the meantime, let these thoughts percolate a bit and raise questions of your own.  One of my favorite paintings that depicts all of this, Girl at Mirror, was painted by the late, great Norman Rockwell.

Just to Kick Things Off…

The simple term health can mean a lot of things to different people.  Before I truly put my nose to the grindstone and share my opinions, I would like to know where you all stand.

Howdy Everyone!

This is my very first attempt at a blog, let alone a scholarly one.  Regardless, I am super excited to be delving into this realm of communication and interaction.  I have many hopes and expectations for this venture, but primarily plan to grow and develop further into my passion of health communication. 

Please feel free to comment and question anything I post.  The more dialogue, the better!