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The Nutritional Value of Tomato Paste


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“Eat less, move more.”

If you’ve never heard this little adage, you’ve obviously never needed to lose weight.

The phrase is a simple, accessible way to explain the entire concept of weight loss without explaining caloric intake, metabolism, muscle mass and insulin levels. It’s supposed to be a helpful message for those stuck in the emotional tug-of-war of fad diets filled with grapefruits, chalky shakes and anti-carbohydrate propaganda.

But if you’ve ever tried and failed at losing weight, you’ll know “eat less, move more” is a fallacy. Psychologically and physiologically, eating less and moving more usually develops into a little affliction I like to call “nearly passing out in the middle of the gym” and later, “going home and eating whatever is in the fridge in hopes of feeling human again.”

Simply put, it doesn’t work. From my personal experience (which you can read about in “The Renovation” on page 55), getting healthy and fit comes down to what you eat…and how you move…and how much sleep you get…how much water you drink…sugar intake…emotional strength…food habits…and so on. I think that’s where becoming a more healthful person is a challenge: It’s not always simple and it’s never easy. And it’s a truly autonomous effort.

It’s like the whole world wants us to be fat. Most restaurants have little care for nutrition and portion size; though, of course there are exceptions. Unhealthy, processed food is often cheaper and more accessible.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s the American way.

Last month, Congress and the Obama administration debated “pizza as a vegetable”—a win for 10-year-olds
everywhere.

The debacle surrounds the final version of a spending bill that erodes school lunch standards the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed earlier this year. The USDA set out to strengthen nutritional standards for students’ subsidized meals—the first update in 15 years. The bill included reducing salt and starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and corn, as well as developing a maximum calorie allowance for meals.

But special interest groups intervened to save the mighty potato from prohibition. Schools worried standards would become an unfunded mandate—increasing their food budgets without extra funds. Some small government types complained about infringement on personal liberties.

Congress eventually blocked specific parts of the bill: nixing the standards that would limit starchy vegetables and salt as well as the requirement that half of grains and breads come from whole grains.

Legislators also found fault in the USDA’s proposed limit to how much tomato paste counts as a vegetable serving. Because schools are required to serve a minimum number of vegetables, the USDA hoped to make a half-cup of tomato paste equate to a serving of vegetables for soups, pasta sauces, chili and so on. The rule would disqualify pizza as a vegetable, and that just wouldn’t work, would it?

Pizza is a true comfort food, ingratiated into our psyches and souls as children. Remember the thick hunks of dough and cheese on bright colored lunch trays, heavy and hot? Giggles of girlish enthusiasm confirmed it was, in fact, Pizza Day. Delicious, atrocious Pizza Day.

We can wax neurotic all day about special interests’ influences on policy, and the influence it and the government have on our lives. But I think it really comes down to the fact that no one is looking out for our individual health or the health of our families. No one but us.

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email no info send march17th/09

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