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Power foods, Dolvett Quince-style

"The Biggest Loser" trainer Dolvett Quince has several go-to foods; cake isn't one of them. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Dolvett Quince practices what he teaches as one of the four trainers on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”

I talked about his approach to a balanced life in a blog post earlier this week, the day after his visit to Buffalo on Monday evening for an Independent Health wellness expo. He’s also the subject of today’s What are you eating? story in WNY Refresh.

I didn’t get a chance to squeeze these two questions into the print piece:

What would be a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner for you?

There’s this brand called ‘Love Crunch.’ There’s two flavors I love and I eat that with almond milk. I love almond milk because I don’t put soy in my body – it’s been attached a lot to estrogen. I’m into oatmeal in the morning. I have a travel breakfast: egg whites, scrambled, with spinach and mushrooms, English muffin, turkey bacon.

A typical lunch for me? I tend to lean toward a chicken sandwich on multi-grain bread. I use avocado for spread instead of mayo. I’ll do a spinach salad; everything I eat, I try to put green in it. I want to add protein to the fiber, which is the spinach, so I’ll add salmon or maybe a chicken breast, blackened.

A dinner option would be salmon or some fish, and something green. That’s my go-to.

What about snacks?

I tend to eat string cheese. I do this almond-cranberry thing that I like. I take cranberries and mix them with unsalted almonds; just a handful. I love carrots, love hummus. Kale chips.

Is there a food you can’t resist?

Cake. If it’s lemon or carrot cake, and I’ve said this a thousand times, ‘Keep it away from me.' I love it. Love it.

I eat it, I time it. If I’m going to have something sweet, if I’m going to have a bottle of wine, if I’m going to have drinks with friends, I earn it. I don’t do it on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. There’s a rhyme and reason.

That’s how you win.

– Scott Scanlon

Horsefeathers winter market opens Saturday

Horsefeathers, the popular indoor winter farmers market on the West Side, will open for the season on Saturday.

The Saturday marketplace will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through May 3 in portions of the first floor and lower level of the Horsefeathers Market & Residences, 346 Connecticut St.

The market will feature farm-fresh produce and other local goods from as many as 20 vendors. Visitors also can get better acquainted with the establishment’s permanent businesses, including The Pasta Peddler, Blackbird Sweets, Jolie’s Traditional Chinese, Chow Chocolat and Martin Cooks restaurant.

Musical group Porcelain Train will perform this week from 10:15 a.m. to noon, organizers said.

Fare at the market will include fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, wine, biscotti, cookies, homemade dog treats, jams, soaps, chocolates and more.

The Frizlen Group Architects of Buffalo renovated the historic 19th century Horsefeathers Building, which along with the market and businesses contains 24 loft-style apartments.

For more information on the market, call 881-0046, email or visit

WNY fare to be featured during Taste NY Harvest Fest

Western New York wine, beer, sweets and spreads will be among the offerings at the State Fairgrounds in suburban Syracuse this weekend for the “Taste NY Harvest Fest.”

State Fair spokesman Dave Bullard, a former Central New York TV and radio reporter – and friend of mine from my days at The Post-Standard – tells me the following four WNY companies will be featured among about 50 during the festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Horticulture Building at the fairgrounds:

• Merritt Estate Winery, of Foresville: wine

• Heintz & Weber, of Buffalo: horseradish mustard

• Tripleberry Farm, of Kendall: jams and fudge

• Southern Tier Brewing Co., of Lakewood: beer

Samples and sales of items will include fare from those four, as well as other wine, beer, spirits, barbecue sauces, relishes, spices, sausages, pasta sauces, jams, cookies and condiments.

Tickets for the event are $15 if purchased in advance or $20 at the door; kids 12 and under are free.  Advance sale tickets can be purchased during business hours this afternoon by calling (315) 487-7711, and picked up at the Will Call window at the fair. A form to fax for tickets is available on the State Fair website. All admissions include a free “Taste NY” beer or wine glass with which to drink samples.

Bullard says in an email that Taste NY is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $60 million tourism campaign that is making its presence felt at regional festivals and Thruway rest stops across the state as a way to showcase and encourage local eating.

– Scott Scanlon

Is substance abuse a disease?

"There’s no doubt that there’s strong physical changes that happen when someone becomes dependent on one of these substances," Kenneth E. Leonard, director of the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions, says of drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
Charles Lewis/Buffalo News

By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

Kenneth E. Leonard has spent the majority of his professional career studying the impact of alcoholism on families, but in his newest role as director of the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions, he also helps oversee research on tobacco and drug abuse from the institute's offices on Main Street, along the downtown Medical Corridor.

He and about 30 other research scientists spend their time delving into substance abuse, seeking answers when it comes to cause and treatment – mostly treatment – and one of the questions they often are asked is this one:

Is substance abuse a disease?

Here’s what Leonard, the subject of today’s "In the field" story for WNY Refresh, had to say during a Q&A session we had last week:

Stress seems a thread that runs through a lot of diseases.

Some of the issues about dealing with stress relate to addictions, they relate to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, they relate to hypertension, they relate to diabetes, they relate to a lot of different diseases. That’s something that’s important to recognize.

One of the biggest challenges that run through a lot of interventions is that people don’t follow through. Across every kind of treatment, there’s often this problem of whether people will follow through with treatment as it’s specified.

There’s a lot of reasons why they might not, but one large one is the context of stress in everyday life. Negative affect interferes with the ability to follow through on a lot of things. At the very least, the stress has that thread of interfering with treatment.

Sometimes you even hear this about cancer. Do you find this more challenging as you’re posing this, at least to the public, that some people might not necessarily consider alcoholism or drug addiction, or even nicotine addiction, as a health condition?

I think (most people) recognize it as a health condition. I think you have to differentiate between whether it has health effects or whether it’s a disease. It’s difficult for them because the early parts of the disease seem to be according to peoples’ willful behavior. Before you become an addict, you choose to use those drugs or you choose to smoke or you choose to drink.

For a lot of these, there’s individual differences, so some people can develop the physical components to these drugs quicker and for some it takes a very, very long time, and some may be protected for some reason.

There’s no doubt that there’s strong physical changes that happen when someone becomes dependent on one of these substances. That change makes it very, very difficult for them to refrain from using that substance. I think people get distracted by whether that makes it a disease or not a disease. There’s very good evidence that there are strong neurological changes that then have an impact on behavior.

In the end, are these diseases like, say, diabetes?

There are long-lasting physical changes that, at the present time, it’s very, very difficult to reverse and they have  consequences for physical functioning and the ability to refrain from the use of substances.

In some ways, they’re comparable to diabetes. Diabetes is a disease, but there’s a lot of behavioral things you can do to make it better or worse. You can choose an appropriate diet. You can maintain a healthy weight ... be good about taking your insulin.

With addiction, some of these neuropsychological changes remain, and they can remain for a long time, but there are actions you can take that can help you maintain a safe distance from the substances you are addicted to.

There’s no really good analogy, completely, to addictions.

It doesn’t make any of these things more easy to deal with.

No. No. So you do have this strong physiological element, as well as the psychological, as well as the social. They all play a role. It doesn’t mean that this neurophysiological component is a determining factor. ... It’s something you have to deal with and address.

What your saying is it’s treatable?

It is treatable. It may take multiple times before treatment is successful, and it make take trying a variety of different kinds of treatments.

People can, and do, stop using these substances, or cut down on these substances, on their own, and they probably make up a majority, but we also know that among the people that are more severe that treatment is often necessary, and that we have things that will work. You just have to be persistent.

Leonard, 58, of Williamsville, joined the institute’s staff in 1986 and has led the place the last two years.

We also talked about several other facets of the institute and its work, including an ongoing study about children who grow up with an alcoholic father.

The research is ongoing, but Leonard did feel comfortable saying that strong mothers in such family dynamics can protect children from a great deal of lifelong baggage that can come with being the child of an alcoholic.

Here are other excerpts from our conversation:

Some of the researchers here, including you, have worked in the field for decades. How have things changed?

There used to be a few people who had some knowledge of alcohol and drugs to the point that now there are a number of people who are devoting lives and careers to understanding it. I started college in ‘72, about the same time that the institute developed. ... Back then, the number of people (across the country) who were really focused on alcoholism as a problem, and doing research on alcohol and alcoholism, was relatively small and they didn’t always stay focused on that.

Both of those disorders – alcohol and drug abuse – really require a interdisciplinary understanding in order to address them. There are biological components. There are neurological components. There are developmental components. There are social components. And all of those play into the person developing significant problems with alcoholism or drug abuse, and all of them play into the recovery, as well.

The ability to have what we often refer to as ‘the informal college of alcoholism’ or the ‘informal college of drug abuse,’ really allows us to sustain focus on these issues.’

What sort of research is the institute conducting on tobacco and what are some of the findings?

One is looking at the development of children who were prenatally exposed to nicotine, as well as postnatally exposed. We do know that nicotine probably has one of the most significant prenatal effects of the drugs that we study. It is robustly associated with low birth rate. Low birth rate creates a variety of problems as a child develops. One of the studies we’re looking at is what sort of treatments can be developed that are suitable for pregnant women – mindfulness, meditation. The result are currently being written up.

One of the other things we’ve been doing is looking at trying to address anger in the context of smoking. One of the things we know is that people often relapse in reaction to strong negative emotions. So we have two different studies that are attempting to address that. One is when there are anger problems, whether you can treat the anger like you treat depression or anxiety; the other study is looking at how self-regulation of stress might be related to relapse of smoking.

What would you say to a young man who parties several times a week and has already been in a few bar fights?

I have this view that there are certain mistakes that you can’t make once. So, drinking heavily a couple times a week, that can have some negative impacts on you. To the extent that influences your school work, your job, that’s going to have long-lasting consequences you can’t see now. Of larger concern are things like driving while intoxicated, drinking large quantities of alcohol, and alcohol poisoning. I talk about those as being the mistake you can’t make once, because the risk of that is so great that it could change your life forever with one misstep.

Does it help that you’re downtown on the Medical Corridor?

It does help that we’re downtown. It’s estimated that 40 percent to 50 percent of hospital beds are used as a result of alcohol, drugs or tobacco, which means that as the medical school gets down here, there’s going to be an increased interest in addressing addictions in the health-related sciences, and more and more opportunities for us to collaborate with physicians and understand how alcohol, drugs and tobacco impact disease and how we might be able to treat some of the patients who have these problems. (The clinical research center studies all are confidential).

What are some of the departments you’re touching with UB?

We have a lot of collaborations with psychology. We have contacts with social work, sociology, pharmacology and toxicology, School of Public Health – particularly the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior.

What is your vision for the institute?

There are 30 researchers here who do addictions work, but across campus we’re probably one of the strongest campuses in the country in terms of a variety of different types of addictions work. We have probably in the range of 80 or 90 scientists – faculty members, research scientists – who address some aspect of addictions work. If you add Roswell Park into the mix, we are unique in the country in our ability to address alcoholism, smoking, drug abuse.

RIA really looks to partner with these individuals to really make this the center of addictions work.

How can people plug in to what you’re doing?

They can go to our website,, which will launch Nov. 13.


Twitter: @BNrefresh

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About The Refresh Buffalo Blog

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon is an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered various topics in his quarter-century as a journalist in South Florida, Syracuse and Buffalo. He is aiming to pass along what he is learning these days about health, fitness, nutrition and family life.

@BNRefresh |