Physicians Committee Member Helps San Diego Schools Go Meatless
Nutrition education takes place in many forms: in the classroom, at home, and in the community. Larry Hansen, M.D., a professor at the University of San Diego School of Medicine and member of the nonprofit Physicians Committee, leads by example by advocating for Meatless Mondays at the San Diego Unified School District’s Board Meeting this past Tuesday. The school district plans to adopt Meatless Mondays in all elementary and K-8 schools next year. Here is the letter Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee, sent to Superintendent Bill Kowba:
June 6, 2013
San Diego Unified School District
Superintendent Bill Kowba
Board of Education
4100 Normal Street, Room 2231
San Diego, CA 92103
Dear Superintendent Kowba:
As a dietitian, I’m delighted to learn about San Diego Unified School District’s plans to launch Meatless Mondays in elementary schools during the 2013-14 school year. San Diego Food Services Director Gary Petill received an honorable mention in our 2009 Golden Carrot Awards for serving fiber-rich vegetarian options that not only promote health and longevity, but receive popular ratings from San Diego students.
Science shows a healthful vegetarian diet helps people live longer and can prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and various forms of cancer. Research also finds moving from just one serving of vegetables each day to three or four can reduce the risk of cognitive decline by 40 percent. As students prepare for AP exams, spelling bees, and championship games, it only makes sense to offer brain and heart-healthy fuel.
The average American consumes more than 33 pounds of cheese, 200 pounds of meat each year, and nearly 60 pounds of added fats and oils. The good news? Going meatless, even just once a week, can make a big difference. A veggie burger is similar in protein content to a hamburger. But the veggie burger has a third as much fat and contains zero cholesterol, fewer calories, and more fiber.
Right now, one in three children in America will develop diabetes at some point in his or her life; one in three struggles with obesity; and one in five has a cholesterol problem.
Physicians at the nonprofit Physicians Committee, including Larry Hansen, M.D., a professor at the University of San Diego School of Medicine who recently spoke at the San Diego Unified Board Meeting, hope to work with you this month and San Diego schools to implement nutrition programs that can curb childhood obesity, reverse juvenile diabetes, and prevent arteriosclerosis.
I’ve enclosed popular nutrition resources for parents, food service directors, and school principals. Please let me know if you would like the Physicians Committee to create custom meal plans and educational components to advance healthful nutrition for the students of San Diego schools.
Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.
Director of Nutrition Education
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Paula Deen Museum: Offer Diabetes Education
The news is out: A Paula Deen museum is underway at Paula Deen’s childhood home in Albany, Ga. Caroline Trapp, a nurse practitioner and director of diabetes education and care at the Physicians Committee, hopes the Paula Deen museum café will preserve Ms. Deen’s legacy by showcasing diabetes-fighting recipes, including Collard Greens with Almonds, Sweet Potato Waffles, and Easy Cornbread Muffins.
Here is a letter Ms. Trapp sent to B.J. Fletcher, an Albany businesswoman who is funding the project:
May 28, 2013
Ole Times Country Buffet
1709-A Gornto Rd. #301
Valdosta, GA 31601
Dear Ms. Fletcher:
Your plans for turning Paula Deen’s childhood home in Albany, Ga., into a museum should include an exhibit on her struggle with diabetes and information that will help visitors prevent and reverse the disease that affects the more than 1 million Georgians.
Ms. Deen’s diabetes diagnosis mirrors the toll traditional high-fat Southern cooking takes on many Georgians. Between 2000 and 2010, diabetes prevalence among Georgia adults increased by 43 percent. In 2010, the prevalence of diabetes among Georgia adults was 9.7 percent. And at more than 11.1 percent, the prevalence is significantly greater in Albany.
These diabetes statistics alone are staggering, but diabetes is also inextricably linked to other deadly health problems. As of 2009, 72.8 percent of Georgia adults with diabetes had hypertension, 63.9 percent had high cholesterol, and 52.6 percent were obese.
A low-fat plant-based diet can help prevent and reverse all of these diseases, including diabetes. The Physicians Committee’s study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in Diabetes Care, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that a low-fat, plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains treats type 2 diabetes more effectively than a conventional “diabetes diet”—and even more effectively than typical oral medications. Many people with diabetes have found they can lose weight, gain control of their blood sugar, and reduce or eliminate their need for medications.
When Ms. Deen first announced that she suffered from diabetes in 2012, our director of nutrition education, Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., a native Alabamian who grew up on Southern cooking, wrote to her and assured her that Southern classics such as mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese translate very well into hearty, delicious vegan dishes. If you plan on including a café in the museum, Ms. Levin would be happy to provide you satisfying, health-promoting recipes.
In the meantime, I’ve enclosed the Physicians Committee’s Diet and Diabetes Kit and a copy of Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes by Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, M.D. I hope you’ll consider making these available to visitors.
Through Ms. Deen’s museum, you can ensure that part of her legacy is helping her millions of fans fight diabetes with this lifesaving information.
Caroline Trapp, M.S.N., A.P.R.N., B.C.-ADM, C.D.E.
Director of Diabetes Education and Care
Water Wings and Chicken Wings Both Covered in Poop
Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer fun. Americans are kicking off the season with swimming pools, barbecue, and the secret summer ingredient: feces.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study showing that at least half of swimming pools are contaminated with fecal matter. This is caused by swimmers not cleaning properly before taking a swan dive into an essentially communal bath. To “swim healthy,” the CDC issued a recommendation not to swallow the pool water.
But it’s not just public pools that are brimming with poop. Chicken barbecue and swimming pools have more in common than you might think. During processing, chicken carcasses become coated with fecal matter and then, like unshowered swimmers, cannonball into a vat of chilled water where the feces gets sloshed around. The biggest difference is that swimmers can get out and take a shower, but the chicken is permeated with the fecal water, which can’t be cleaned or cooked out. The contamination spreads beyond chicken. The Fecal Four (beef, chicken, pork, and turkey) are all harbingers of fecal matter.
Fortunately, there’s no need to turn off the grill! Fire up some veggie kebabs or portobello or tofu burgers. There are plenty of poop-free picnic options that have the extra benefit of being lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than meat products.
Let’s keep it clean—don’t ingest fecal water, whether it’s from pools or poultry.