Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Happiness is ...

Technology is a wonderful thing.  Honestly, I would be lost without my computer, and I do not say that lightly because I am part of the generation that did not grow up with computers.

I heard on Breakfast Television this morning that the remote control may soon be a thing of the past.  Several companies, including Apple of course, are working on a gesture-based television allowing the viewer to change channels by making hand gestures and wiggling fingers.  Growing up, I WAS the remote control.  My dad would send me to turn the dial, even expecting me to flip through ALL five channels to see what was playing.

There was one telephone in the house, with a rotary dial no less, the cord was about three feet long and it sat on it’s own little table.  A little table with a chair attached to it.  And yep, that little table was in the kitchen.  Tons of quiet, not to mention privacy, there!

When I needed to research something I went to the library to look it up in an encyclopedia (not to be confused with wikipedia) and if I had to look for a specific book I flipped through something called a “card catalogue”.  I had to take notes in a notebook and when I finally got home to write my report the sound of “clacka-clacka-clacka–ding-swoosh” reverberated through the house.  School rules dictated I was not allowed to bring a calculator to math or science class until the last year of high school (which was still called grade 13).

My college application was done through the mail, I used a newspaper to find my first apartment and I had to physically leave that apartment to meet people and socialize.

Oh my God I sound like a dinosaur.  Talk about “future shock”.  It really, really was not all that long ago.  I’m really, really not that ancient.  Does this sound as whiny as I think it does?

Deep breath … and … okay, I’m good now.

Back to the wonders of modern technology.  Now my lights at home turn on before I get there so I do not walk into a dark house.  The smoke detector blares if I forget something on the stove (or when the water boiling for my pasta starts to steam … grrrrrr).  My cell phone rings in my purse.  My computer beeps at me when I receive an email.  The alarm at work squeals if I enter the wrong code.  The dashboard of my car lights up when something is amiss.  The car will tell me that “my door is ajar” and it irritates the heck out of me because I always want to reply, “it’s not a jar … it’s a door” but that’s just the way my mind works sometimes.  My ABS takes over if the stupid contraption thinks I can’t handle stopping my own vehicle.  Some cars even park themselves.  Now that’s not a bad feature to have.  There seems to be a function, noise, beep, squeal or warning in almost every aspect of my life.

I’ve been enjoying the Nissan ad that is running on television lately.  The tag line is “wouldn’t it be nice if the rest of your life had the Nissan innovative tire alert?”

Always on the lookout for interesting topics for my TOPS group, lo and behold, I came across the HAPIfork.  Introduced at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show this is going to be the one utensil you did not know you needed – until right now! Billed as the “smart fork” it vibrates when you are eating too quickly.  From we learn that this fork:

 “Helps you monitor and track your eating habits.  It also alerts you with the help of indicator lights when you are eating too fast.

Every time you bring food from your plate to your mouth with your fork, this action is called a ‘fork serving’.  The HAPIfork also measures:

*How long it took to eat you meal
*The amount of ‘fork servings’ taken per minute
*Intervals between ‘fork servings’

This information is then uploaded via USB to your Online Dashboard to track your progress.  The HAPIfork also comes with the HAPILABS app plus a coaching program to help improve your eating behavior.

The science and thereby the premise behind the thought of this fork is sound because be it for weight loss or simply for developing healthier eating habits; eating more slowly is important for a number of reasons.

*Chewing food properly is the first step to proper breakdown of foods.  There are certain enzymes in your saliva that, along with mastication, reduce the size of food particles entering the digestive tract.
*Chewing food properly also signals those digestive enzymes and stomach acids to be produced for the next step of digestion.
*Food that is eaten too quickly is often poorly chewed making the work of the digestive tract more difficult
*The faster one eats, the more likely the possibility of gastric reflux
*Eating too quickly can be a contributing factor to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.  It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to send the “I’m full” signal to the brain.  Those twenty minutes can cause a lot of damage to a sensible eating plan.  The faster you eat the more you eat before your brain gets the message.  And of course,
*You enjoy and taste your food more if you eat slowly

Even my mother knew the truth in all that.  How many times was I (and probably you too) admonished to “Slow down and enjoy your food!” 

Well, hallelujah, now you have a fork that will help you do that without even having to think about it.

Not only that, but you can pair this up with the HAPImoments Tracker, load it all up to your computer or your phone app and share your bad eating habits with the HAPILABS online community and all your Facebook friends.  Just what I always wanted to be able to do!  Oh wait … I’m not on Facebook.

When I read about the HAPIfork they were strongly promoting the product as the final answer to everyone’s dieting woes.  But, so many, many questions came to mind.

*How does the HAPIfork know what I’m eating?  I can eat chocolate cake really slowly.  I don’t, but I can!  The point is I’m still consuming calorie laden chocolate cake.
*How does the HAPIfork sense the size of my portions?  I could be eating a whole chicken very slowly.
*Does the HAPIfork differentiate good food choices from not so good choices?  I could be having deep fried, breaded asparagus instead of steamed asparagus with lemon.
*What if I’m eating oysters?  Not much chewing going on there at all, yet I still have to bring the HAPIfork from the plate to my mouth.

I’m sure the inventors of the HAPIfork have only the best of intentions for my health and well-being, but the bottom line is, for this to work, I still have to govern myself according to my choice of a healthy eating plan.

The selling feature of this fork is the fact that it vibrates.  The vibration is the warning that I am eating too quickly.  I can’t help but compare it to my cell phone.  When I put it on mute and slip it into my pocket, even if I am expecting a call, when that vibration starts it scares the crap out of me.  If I am lifting this fork to my mouth and the fork vibrates am I going to have to same reaction?  Imagine it … suddenly my hand jerks in surprise and food goes flying off the fork hitting the person beside or behind me.  I could unintentionally start a really ugly food fight.

Then I think about dining out.  The waitress takes my order and says, “I’ll be right back with your drinks and silverware”.  I quickly whip out my HAPIfork and reply, “No, no that’s okay.  I brought my own.”

I can only see a future of dining alone.

Going back to the website to check if I missed anything important I noticed an update stating that the HAPIspoon is going to be available soon.  Well I suppose the fork needs a mate on the table.  I can’t help but revisit the vibrate function in conjunction with a spoonful of soup.  The possibilities of misadventure are endless and it does not paint a pretty picture in my mind.

These utensils should be available online sometime within the next month or so.  Oh – the price point?  It looks like they are going to retail somewhere around the $99 mark. 

I’ve made light of this product here, but sincerely, if it helps even one person achieve their health goals, then I hope its launch is successful.  Personally I am going to stick to the tried and true of putting my eating utensils down between bites, chewing each morsel well and enjoying my meals … without any vibration involved. 

Technology is a wonderful thing, but life was simpler when HAPPIness was a warm puppy.

TOPS weigh in on Monday:  I was down 3/4 ... still going in the right direction!

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