Open Letter: J. Crew and The Little White Lie

It’s not Sunday, but we felt this was an important topic to discuss today with the current news. If you agree with the following post, please feel free to share:

Open Letter: J. Crew and The Little White Lie
By Lauren Cohen and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

 

Dear Ms. Lyons & Mr. Drexler,

I love your brand. J. Crew composes the greatest portion of my closet. I am eternally grateful to your style guides and student discounts. You have taught me that looking presentable and feminine is a beautiful and professional step forward in this world. Because of your brand, I am brazenly unforgiving about my love of simple fashion and bold accents. Everyday I wear your clothes, I feel proud to be a woman.

This is my honest opinion of you. I believe I deserve the same respect.

I was deeply impressed by your response to Jenni Avins from New York Magazine in regards to that one-of-kind swimsuit (read here), along with a series of other accolades surrounding your customer service. I feel this is the most fitting platform to discuss my concerns and gain your attention regarding your newest brand update—the rollout of size 000.

A few years ago, there was a scandal surrounding J. Crew and vanity sizing. Since the United States has no national standards on size, size inflation can happen here with little regulation. Vanity sizing is the practice of lowering sizes to reflect a change against the average sizes of industry competitors. For example, while at Ralph Lauren, you may be a size 4; at J. Crew you might be a 2 or 0. The practice is founded in the hope that consumers’ perception that they are a smaller size will boost sales. As a consumer, and a woman, I don’t love being lied to by someone I trust and admire.

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There is nothing regulating you to do otherwise, you have done nothing illegal. But now, you have found yourself in an odd situation. Your size 00 is roughly a 0-2 and your petite and Asian market can’t fit into your smallest sizes. To accommodate this, you had to introduce size 000. The Internet lost its cool. As a result, you have been under great fire.

My mother always warned that lies, no matter how small, would eventually get you into trouble. (Eli and His Little White Lie by Goldie Golding is available for purchase—used—from Amazon here should you need a refresher.) What started as perhaps an innocent lie to promote body image, shifted to full-blown dishonesty that enforces an unhealthy and popular desire to be thin enough to fit a size. We experience this pressure from all other forms of media, we don’t need—or expect it—from you. You are better than that.

This could have been avoided a number of ways. If you wanted to stand out, adapt your own sizing method. Use European sizes. Offer to custom make clothes as part of your “collection” approach to higher quality and standards. I say all of this because a 000 in other markets is smaller than teenage girls clothes. Women should dress like women, not teenage girls—J. Crew taught me that.

I hold you to a higher standard, it’s true, but it is a standard you have met time and time again. You can be the brand that promotes womanhood and positive body image without lying; I truly believe that.

 

With love and metallic pumps,

Lauren Cohen
Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics MS Candidate

Navigating the Gluten-Free Aisle: A Guide to GF Shopping

Navigating the Gluten-Free Aisle: A Guide to Gluten-Free Shopping
By Lindsay Marr and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

Photo Credit: Whatsername? via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Whatsername? via Compfight cc

The gluten-free world can be daunting, especially for a newly diagnosed celiac or gluten-intolerant. Navigating the aisles of the grocery store can seem even scarier. Thankfully, there are more gluten-free options in stores and the labeling laws are becoming stricter, making gluten-free shopping less of a matter of chance. We took to the grocery stores to try and help ease the confusion and offer you a list of some healthful gluten-free tips.

 

You may remember we wrote about the new gluten-free labels this past summer and touched on the different aspects of the gluten-free diet in the fall. To touch base, the FDA has decided to consider foods with no more than 20ppm (parts per million) of gluten as gluten-free. But, what does 20ppm mean, you ask?  20ppm is the least amount of gluten that can be found in foods via reliable scientific analysis testing. It is also the level that meets many other countries’ standards for safety.

 

Can you trust a gluten-free label?

With the new FDA rulings, you can expect food companies to be more cautious in their labeling. In fact, we may even see a few gluten-free products come off the shelves, as some manufacturers may not want to go through the trouble of abiding by the FDA’s gluten-free rulings. If you feel uneasy before the August 2014 deadline, you can look for two seals on packages to assure the products you’re buying are gluten-free.

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This image was used with the permission of The Gluten Intolerance Group.

Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO): The GFCO is currently the leading gluten-free certification program in the world. It is an independent organization that verifies the “quality, integrity, and purity of products” and certifies gluten-free products to no more than 10 PPM.
Click here for the label.
CSA (Celiac Sprue Association): The CSA seal is given to products that have undergone a review and testing of ingredients to ensure the product is free of wheat, rye, barley and oats.

 

Which gluten-free products should I choose? 

Gluten free food companies are making efforts to make their food products more healthy by adding fiber, using brown rice flour instead of white rice flour and some are even using gluten free grains like buckwheat for this first ingredient. EALM was quite impressed to see these changes. However, some food labels noted the addition of added fibers like inulin, which is a non-digestible form of fiber that can cause gas.

 

Photo Credit: Caden Crawford via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Caden Crawford via Compfight cc

Let’s Go Shopping!

When searching for the gluten-free foods with the most nutrition, we recommend using the following tips:

 

  1. Always double check!
    • Be sure to read the ingredients list for potential gluten, even if the product boasts a GF label or seal of approval from the organizations mentioned above. Food products and manufacturing practices change often and some companies even use the GF seals fraudulently. So, be aware and read those ingredients!
  2. Read the ingredients to educate yourself on which product is more nutrient dense!
    • When searching for healthier GF packaged goods look for nutrient-dense flours like quinoa, garbanzo bean, and brown rice. Also watch where these items are listed within the ingredient lists – ideally they are listed in ingredients one through five.
  3. Look for natural fiber!
    • As mentioned before, many high-fiber GF foods contain added carbohydrates like inulin or psyllium husk. While these carbs add fiber without affecting the texture or taste of the food, they can result in gas production (not so comfy for sensitive stomachs). Look for products that are naturally gluten-free, like corn meal or certified gluten-free oats. When in doubt, you can increase your fruit and vegetable intake for a boost of fiber, too.
  4. When in doubt…
    • Tap into some resources! There are a number of apps, subscription services, and organizations that keep consumers updated on all news relating to gluten-free. Take a look at our list below that will help you be a GF detective.

 

GF DETECTIVE Resources:

Celiac Disease Foundation

  • The CDF offers numerous resources for those affected by Celiac Disease, including a list of GF medications and supplements, tips for managing the holidays, as well as the latest research and gluten-free news.

 

Celiac Sprue Association

  • The CSA’s website offers a host of resources for those with Celiac and gluten intolerance. With lists of restaurants, recipes, and information on GF labeling, you are sure to find great information on all things gluten-free.

 

Gluten Free Watchdog

  • This handy monthly subscription is run by registered dietitian, Tricia Thompson, and for only $4.99 per month, you can have access to the latest in gluten free news and product testing results.

 

Gluten Intolerance Group

  • The GIG offers an annual membership with perks including access to food and medical information, educational programs, events, and even summer camps for children with gluten-sensitivities.

 

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (Celiac Central)

  • The NFCA offers a list of GF manufacturers, keeps readers updated on GF news, and provides free webinars for readers. This is a great site when looking for GF news and information.

Get Political: Speak Up About the Proposed New Nutrition Labels and Serving Sizes

Get Political: Speak Up About the Proposed New Nutrition Labels and Serving Sizes 
(A Huffington Post Blog)

Photo Credit: Caden Crawford via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Caden Crawford via Compfight cc

Do you catch yourself staring at the back of packaged foods trying to decipher what the nutrition labels mean? Let’s face it… food labels can be very confusing. Now is our opportunity to have a voice in making changes!

Have you seen the proposals for the new food label? This change would be the first major adjustment since food labels were mandated in the early ’90s. Up to this point, the only modification has been adding trans-fat amounts. The chance to finally update the label gives us an opportunity to help make these labels less puzzling for all of us!

For more of this article and information on the proposed nutrition food labels click here to be redirected to Laura’s article on Huffington Post.

The Scoop on Coffee

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The Scoop on Coffee
By Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

 

We’ve heard it before: “Coffee boosts your metabolism. Too much coffee causes dehydration.” But, do these sayings hold any truth? Does drinking a cup or two of java each morning really affect your metabolism? And what about your hydration? Research has linked coffee to numerous health benefits, including aiding in degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, boosting our mood, and the list goes on. We took to the books to find the scoop on coffee. Here is what we found.

Image courtesy of Puro Coffee
Image courtesy of Puro Coffee

Q: What’s the deal with caffeine?
A: Coffee stimulates our feel good hormones in the brain!! Makes you feel good (in moderation, of course).

According to a Harvard Health Letter published in Harvard Medical School’s Health Publications, caffeine is absorbed in the stomach and small intestine. It is then circulated throughout the body, including the brain. The caffeine circulation reaches its highest point roughly 30-45 minutes following ingestion. Once absorbed, caffeine affects the dopamine activity in the brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical that involves thinking and pleasure. Think about it that first cup of coffee in the morning  – part of that morning rush is associated with caffeine stimulating our dopamine receptors just like sugar and even drugs.

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Q: Can coffee be beneficial to brain function?
A: Caffeine is linked to better memory! 

A study published in 2012 tested the effect of caffeine on older adults with “mild cognitive impairment, or the first glimmer of serious forgetfulness, a common precursor of Alzheimer’s disease”2. The study found that those older adults with little caffeine in their bloodstreams were far more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who had a few cups of coffee per day2.

 

Q: Is filtered coffee healthier than unfiltered coffee?
A: Choose filtered coffee more often.

If you’re drinking unfiltered coffee on a daily basis, you may want to consider switching to filtered. Coffee naturally contains a substance known as cafestol, which has been shown to stimulate LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. However, when brewed with a paper filter, the cafestol doesn’t transfer to the coffee. While drinking unfiltered coffee on occasion isn’t terrible for you, if you are someone with high cholesterol, filtered coffee would make the better choice.

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Q: Can too much coffee be dehydrating?
A: Caffeine stimulates your bladder, while alcohol actually dehydrates.

A recent study published by University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom tested coffee’s effect on the fluid balance of habitual male coffee drinkers and found no significant loss of fluid balance in men that drank a maximum of 4 cups of coffee per day1.

 

Q: Does coffee consumption impact blood pressure?
A: Coffee can up our pump; think twice if you have already high blood pressure. 

It can. According to a study performed by Harvard University, continued caffeine consumption (via coffee) can lead to a slight increase in blood pressure. While coffee hasn’t been directly associated with an increased risk of hypertension, it is typically recommended that those with hypertension, specifically those who are finding it difficult to control, should switch to a decaffeinated coffee.

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Q: Can coffee really boost our metabolism?
A: Coffee boosts our central nervous system, but it usually takes more than 1 cup.

A study published in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior, the metabolic rate of regular coffee drinkers was found to be about 16% higher than decaf coffee drinkers. The reasoning? Caffeine is known to stimulate the body’s central nervous system, which can increase both breathing and heart rate.

 

Q: So, what’s the takeaway?
A: We will see you at Starbucks!

As the research we’ve highlighted shows, coffee drinking can benefit our brain health, boost our metabolism, and even help improve our mood. However, too much of a good thing can be harmful – drinking too much coffee can increase our blood pressure and drinking more than 4 cups per day can negatively affect our fluid balance. Though, like most things, coffee can be a part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. A cup or two of coffee per day could be beneficial to our health, but it is encouraged to limit coffee drinking to a maximum of 4 cups per day to avoid any negative side effects.

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Image courtesy of Puro Coffee

Laura recently traveled to Peru and came across a great coffee brand known for both their sustainability and commitment to the environment, Puro Coffee. Puro Coffee is sourced from Fairtrade co-operatives made up of hundreds of farmers together to grow the coffee naturally. They even use solar panels and recycle the heat from the coffee roasting process to power their factory!

For more information on Puro Coffee and their sustainable processes, please take a look at the following links:

www.purocoffee.com/us
www.purocoffee.com/uk/
www.facebook.com/fairtradecoffee
www.twitter.com/puro_coffee
or watch a great video on their story here!

 

References:

  1. Killer, Sophie C., Andrew K. Blannin, and Asker E. Jeukendrup. “No Evidence of Dehydration with Moderate Daily Coffee Intake: A Counterbalanced Cross-Over Study in a Free-Living Population.” PloS one 9.1 (2014): e84154.
  2. Santos, Roseane M.M., Tracy Hunter, Nick Wright, Darcy R.A. Lima. “Caffeine and Chlorogenic Acids in Coffee and Effects on Selected Neurodegenerative Diseases.” J Pharm Sci Innov. 2013; 2(4): 9-17.