hunger-obesity paradox and beer can chicken

by Kristen :) on August 4, 2009

IMG_4005I know, not the most fitting combination, but hey these are the next in line in my mind and on my table at the moment!  Lara from Thinspired gave me the idea about this topic since I made a comment on her post a few days ago about balanced eating, eating what you really want, and the rollercoaster many of us feel like we are constantly on.

When I went to New Orleans for the SNE conference a little while ago, there were a couple sessions that were just fascinating to me.  One of them was titled ‘Deconstructing a Hunger-Obesity Paradox’.  Here are some of the interesting statistics I jotted down:

    • 130 million American adults are overweight or obese, 61 million are obese, 6 million excessively obese BMI >40
    • Excess weight gain is greater in minority groups, 77% black women >25 years old
    • About 9 million children > 6 years are obese (bmi >95th percentile) and even higher in minority groups
    • 65% of Americans are overweight/obese with 117 billion/year in healthcare costs
    • 11.9% us families are food insecure, 1/3 also experience hunger

So the question is why does this happen?  What drives eating behavior?  Does a history of food insecurity lead to obesity?

Now I know that many of you haven’t experienced food insecurity and/or hunger, but it’s just interesting to see how the mind works in those ‘deprivation’ type situations whether it be real or manifested by ourselves.  How many times have we deprived ourselves of something that we really craved, something that wasn’t the perfect model of health but just sounded really good?  And how many times has that backfired only to crave it even more and not feel satisfied if we could have just eaten it in the first place (with reasonable portions)?

Here are some other interesting findings also presented:

    • WWII was associated with food insecurity
    • Holocaust survivors reported long-term effects of starvation, Couldn’t throw food away, hoarded food, craved certain foods, had difficulty standing in line to wait for food
    • Research on starvation study – subjects were found to focus on food, collect recipes, changed careers to be chefs
    • Veterans only 12.5% of them had a normal weight, they had to eat fast, overate at times, had to have food around

Now this is really startling:

    • Homeless youth, particularly 9-18 year olds, are the weight challenged of the future
      • 45 and 50 percent of boys and girls >85th percentile
      • 55% thought they didn’t have enough food at home
      • 25% went to bed hungry
      • Strategies – overeat because they don’t know when another meal may be, eat anything, eat disliked foods, eat at relative’s/friend’s homes
      • Environment – High energy dense foods cost less per kcal
      • Household
        • Strong Parental influence
        • Parents shop with kids in mind, but food sufficiency supersedes individual preferences
        • survival value and price are more important than nutritional value

I just thought these findings/statistics were really interesting.  While many of us fortunately don’t have to go through these types of situations in our daily lives, a lesson of balance can be learned.  I myself like to have something a little sweet after dinner sometimes.  Never at lunch or breakfast really, but only dinner.  I don’t know what it is, but I do.  Maybe it was those times when I was in HS telling myself that ‘those’ foods weren’t allowed, you shouldn’t have those kinds of foods if you want to be healthy, or after a long, strenuous dance class I felt I ‘earned’ it . . .

Bringing back the memories!  *tear*

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Dance Team at UNR!  3rd in the Nation!

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Really there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, only ‘everyday’ and ‘sometimes’ foods.  We tell our 8th graders in our program ‘everyday’ foods are those that we should have to help nourish our bodies and build our bodies to become stronger, happier, healthier.  ‘Sometimes’ foods aren’t bad, but they are foods that should be eaten in moderation and don’t necessarily help our bodies to grow and develop, but they are still fine to have.  Yes they are!

Now I allow myself to have a treat every once in awhile to satisfy the craving and truly enjoy it, or else it tends to build up and then there’s no turning back lol  And you know when I want to have a burger I’ll have a burger, when I want a milkshake by golly I’ll make one, or when I crave a giant salad I’ll chop and chop to get one.  It’s really about enjoying our bodies, being in awe of the things we do every day, and realizing that we should eat what we are truly craving and love to eat, watch portions and be active!

The rest of the presentation focused on SNAP-Ed (supplemental nutrition assistance program), formerly known as Food Stamps, and how this may actually be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

I am by no means an expert in Food Stamp offerings, and I am not putting down the program by any means, but here is the argument that was raised . . .

When food stamps first began in the 1930s, it was intended to help farm prices and give needed calories to the hungry.  Calories are great when people back then would buy food and make it at home, but today many people rely on quick energy dense foods to make ends meet because they are cheap and filling.  The program has since expanded but the message hasn’t changed.  With ‘nutrition assistance’ in the new title, this program should focus more on nutritional quality rather than just calories in general.  There is still a great support for energy-dense foods, including the soft drink industry.  This just doesn’t make sense to me.  Also the allotments are only given once per month, so there is generally a feast during the first week and then as the supply runs out the last week, participants are just getting buy.  It’s a continual feast and famine cycle, which may contribute to weight gain and eventually obesity.

Studies have found:

  • Significant increase in calories (400) during week 1 vs. week 4 of a SNAP cycle among food insecure, obese women.
  • Current participation is associated with 9% increase in probability of woman being obese. Previous participation vs. no participation increased chances of being obese.
  • 2k increase in snap dollars was associated with 7kg weight gain.
  • Increasing diet cost associated with lower ED, total energy, fat, sat fat, sugars and increased intakes of A and C.

Interesting isn’t it?

Now on to a great recipe!

IMG_4007I’ve never made beer-can chicken before just because I’ve never been a master at the grill (most of the manly men want that job), and honestly haven’t had a grill in a long time.  When I went to Home Depot to search for some grill gadgets to buy with our gift card, I found a gadget specifically for beer can chicken!  I thought I had to try it!  This recipe is fool-proof and the chicken comes out so moist and tender.  I even thought we overcooked the chicken at first because when we went to check the temp it shot up to 190!  But it turned out delicious :)

Beer-Can Chicken

For the brine (optional and will had some sodium to the chicken, so not the best if you are watching your sodium):  in a large pot stir 1/2-3/4 cup salt and 1/2-3/4 cup sugar in about a gallon of ice water and let the chicken sit in it for 2 hours.  Don’t go longer than 4 because it will get salty.  This really increases the water holding capacity of the meat, which yields it juicy and tender.

IMG_3998For the rub:  Chris put this together and didn’t really measure, but it contained cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, brown sugar, lemon zest, basil, AP seasoning, salt, pepper

Rub this all over the chicken, and under the skin to really enhance the flavor.  It makes a huge difference.

For the veggies:  Chop up a bunch of various veggies, throw them in the bottom of the pan and a cast iron skillet; sprinkle with AP seasoning, salt, and olive oil.  Make sure to stir them as they cook!  I think my favorite was the little cherry tomatoes because they get so sweet as they cook.  Their juice also lends a sweetness to the rest of the veggies.

IMG_3982 Simply place the chicken in indirect heat on the grill and cook for about 1- 1/2 hours, basting with BBQ sauce every 20-30 minutes.  This sauce from TJ’s is great in a pinch!

Cooking time will vary, depending on the size of your bird, but a thermometer should register 180 in the thickest part of the thigh. Our grill is pretty small, so we just put the heat on low and it was done in an hour.

Also grilled up some portabella mushrooms with some of the BBQ sauce from TJ’s.  They are so meaty!

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Overall a great meal with lots of leftovers!

Sorry this post was so long, and thank you for reading!  I sure look forward to your comments :)

What do you think of the hunger-obesity paradox or psychological food deprivation in general?

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eve August 4, 2009 at 7:37 pm

That was a really fantastic post. I think part of the problem is the lack of education. That in addition to how cheap packaged/processed food is. But we all know it is possible to make healthy meals for little money: rice & beans, PB sandwich, etc. I'm with you – I allow myself what I'm craving, it's so important for having a healthy relationship with food. I just wrote a post on "normal eating" which seems relevant too.

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2 Gina August 4, 2009 at 8:47 pm

It's interesting, so many people think if you are obese that you can't be going through "food insecurity", when in reality many people who are food insecure ARE obese, sine they aren't living around healthy foods that are at their disposal. It's really sad.
As for the food stamps, I believe congress is trying to pass some type of change to the food stamp program. I heard they will be requiring people to buy more healthy foods, such as skim and 1% milk, and more fruits and veggies. I do think they need to hand out the stamps more than once a month, very good point.

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3 Lainie August 4, 2009 at 9:07 pm

What an interesting post! I love your dance pictures – priceless! I'm actually making beer can chicken tonight. I didn't think about brining it but now I'm wondering if I should? I'm thinking about just using the exact brine you did…my chicken is about 4 pounds…how big was yours?
Love your site!

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4 kristen :) August 4, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Lainie – thanks! I think mine was about 4 lbs just like yours! It does make it nice and juicy :)

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5 Chow and Chatter August 4, 2009 at 10:02 pm

what a wonderful and insightful post really is a paradox, and the sad thing is poor nutritional food is cheaper on food stamps, great new header by the way LOL Rebecca

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6 Peanut Butter Swirl August 5, 2009 at 12:38 pm

wow this is such a great post! I never knew that obesity was the highest among certain ethnic groups! I did hear though that the depression/WWII caused a lot of people to have the motto "never throw any food away"

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7 Emily August 5, 2009 at 3:26 pm

I think it is really sad that unfortunately, eating healthily is costly and takes more effort than driving through McDonalds. I know some Farmers Markets are starting to take food stamps, which is a step in the right direction.

Love the beer can chicken! Looks great with those veggies. :-)

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8 allijag August 5, 2009 at 4:24 pm

3rd in the nation? that is crazy impressive!

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9 Mo August 5, 2009 at 4:58 pm

The pictures of your impressive meal are magazine worthy. Looks delicious, can I come by for leftovers?

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10 RunToFinish August 5, 2009 at 6:51 pm

i am really amazed at the obesity rates…it makes me so sad to knowt he problems these children will have because no one is able to give them true proper nutrition now

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11 She-Fit August 6, 2009 at 12:49 am

WOW! This is a great post! The statistics were incredible. Very interesting. I really like how you stated that there are not "good" or "bad" foods. I think for me I have always struggled with finding that balance. My husband says I am an extremist in all areas of life, so I go from one extreme to the other when it comes to food. Lately I have finally found that balance.

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12 burpandslurp August 6, 2009 at 2:05 am

I loved this post! Really informational, and really hit the spot. I know this woman in our church who got donates from the food bank weekly. Guess what she got each week? Loads of processed food like sugar-laden yogurts, pies, and white breads. Sad.

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13 Nicole M., MS, RD, LD August 6, 2009 at 11:32 am

Great entry! A lot of my current patient population are food-insecure and it takes a lot of being creative. Some of my patients…if it doesn't come from WIC or the Dollar General, they can't get it. It really can make things challenging, but I've certainly learned a lot, especially to count my blessings.

P.S. Your beer can chicken looked incredible! I'll have to be brave enough to try it someday!

-Nicole
http://produceprincess.blogspot.com/

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14 Michelle @ Find Your Balance August 6, 2009 at 1:22 pm

LOVE those dance pics! I used to dance on pointe too – man, that ruined my feet though. Also I think your chicken is lovely :-)

As for obesity, I wonder how many cases can be traced to a food-related or starved experience vs. an issue with using food to fill an emotional void. In my experience working with clients I'm finding that often, food is a 'good' substitute for love, comfort and interest in one's life.

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15 Thinspired August 9, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Wow, this is such a fascinating post! Thank you for the mention!
The homeless statistic is particularly striking. Wow.
I read a simialr study to this in the book "Intuitive Eating," I think it was about men who particated in a hunger study. SO, so interesting.

Your dance photos are lovely! And that chicken looks AWESOME! Yum.

Hope you're having a great weekend, Kristen!

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16 Astra Libris August 11, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Such a wonderful, important, thought-provoking post! Your points are so interesting and very insightful. I completely, completely agree with you about the need for changes within food-stamp type programs – there's a grocery near our house in a lower-income neighborhood that "flags" food items throughout the store that are food stamp approved, and it's amazing and alarming how many of them are either unhealthy or a less healthy version – for example, most of the sugary cerials were tagged as approved, but not the more healthful cerials that actually contained fiber and protein! Hopefully, with wonderful and wise RD's like you as advocates and educators, positive changes will occur!

Your beer can chicken looks amazing! I'm so impressed! You're definitely a grill-master!

Love the dance photos, too – gorgeous! :-)

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