McDougall Teaching Moment

Aunt Pam, Steph and myself heading to Walnut CreekIt has been months in the planning stages and previous attempts to make plans seemed to always fall through. Yesterday, my sister, who is a flight attendant and lives on the East Coast had a layover in San Francisco. She hopped BART and made her way to my office, where I met her. About 30 minutes later my aunt joined us. This was the first time my sister and aunt have met after about a year of talking together. What started as a reunion turned into a McDougall teaching moment.

After I got off work we made our way to Walnut Creek and ended up at Pyramid Alehouse. It was a beautiful day outside and we got a table outside and were welcomed by our server. After ordering a round of drinks, yeah I gave in and order a tall Pyramid Hefeweizen, my first alcoholic drink in nearly 3 weeks. I figured it was a treat since my sister, who I rarely get to see was in town. The girls order Grilled Avocado and Watermelon served with a salsa fresca and a Hefeweizen fire sauce. I opted for nothing to eat, but after seeing these plates when they arrived, I would have been compliant if I ordered this.

We got to talking and it turned to exercise and food and opened the door to a teaching moment. My sister has taken to doing mud runs and will participate in her first half marathon later this year in Las Vegas. Her training consists of kickboxing 3-5 times a week as well as running, continually increasing her distance. Unfortunately her eating habits were questionable, not unhealthy but in my opinion she was starving herself of food and much needed nutrients.

I give her kudos for tracking her food using My Fitness Pal on her iPhone, but the talked turned to how much she wasn’t eating. Many look at calories in versus calories out. Unfortunately the day she cited, she only ate 871 calories, but burned close to 1100. Then she explained what she ate during the day and while the food wasn’t unhealthy (by SAD standards) it was not enough and sounded to me like she was starving her body, but not seeing the results she had expected.

While I wasn’t pushing my extreme bias, I was trying to educate her on nutrition, as was my aunt, a former vegan. She, along with her husband have a few of carbohydrates, like many in the United States they believe carbohydrates makes people fat. I used myself as an example citing a 44 pound weight loss, much without any exercise, but basing my eating habits around starch, something as simple as the potato (sweet potato) or brown rice. Based on how she was eating, I would believe she is quite deficient in her RDA of nutrients, it’s difficult to see otherwise. The suggestion I made was to base her daily meals around the potato (she never has been a big rice fan) in order to fuel her body and give her that much needed energy for her workouts.

I dropped Dr. John McDougall’s name and offered her my copy of The McDougall Program. While she was open and receptive to it, she forgot to take the copy with her. Thankfully she will be back my way this week and hopefully I can get the book in her hand. Hopefully reading the first 3 chapters, especially Chapter 3: Food Facts: Common Dietary Myths Dispelled will get her thinking differently about how she fuels her body. I also recommended trying to cut out adding oil to her cooking. There was no mention made of giving up meat or seafood, but I did say limit consumption to 6 ounces.

Hopefully she (and her husband) can make some minor changes to their diet and see starch in a new light and not as something that needs to be avoided. It’s nearly August and making changes now will still give her 4 months to improve her times for her half marathon in December. She could easily drop 5-10 pounds and possible shave off time on her running and be in better health when she hits the starting line.

The Starch Solution (Video)

The Starch Solution from John McDougall on Vimeo.

It’s not for you to understand why I made a decision to change my lifestyle and move to a starch based diet. The results have been short of amazing in less than 5 months. I don’t push anything I want to eat on my friends or co-workers. Sure I share many recipes and relate my story and experiences as they happen, but wanting to change and changing your diet takes commitment and determination to change.

I hear it all to often at work, “I can’t give up my meat!” People ask me all the time, “If you don’t eat meat, what are you cooking?” There is more to life than eating meat and dairy. It has taken me 42 years to realize everything I thought I knew about nutrition was wrong and now I am experience good nutrition as my health continues to improve. Thankfully my son will be able to experience the benefits growing up and not have to wait as long as I did.

Still people I talk to don’t want to change. A comment I hear usually come from women, “I can’t lose weight.” I am sure many of us have said that same thing at some point in our life. Then I tell them I have lost 30+ pounds and they are shocked. This leads me to ask, “Well what do you eat?” Unfortunately, before they answer that question, I know what they are going to say. In some form it ends up being the standard American diet. While they might be able to control portion size they are still eating meat and dairy, while cooking with oil. Instead of feeling satiated, they are hungry because of portion control or calorie restriction.

On the other hand, I don’t count calories or worry about portion size. I eat whatever I want and stop when I am full. In the 5 months I have been following this “way of eating” (or WOE) I have continued to see weight loss, but am eating more than I was prior to changing to this lifestyle. I have replaced much of the animal protein with plant protein and decreased the amount of fat I was eating by cutting out oil. Yes, even olive oil. As Dr. McDougall says, “the fat you eat, is the fat you wear.”

This video is just a brief introduction to what Dr. McDougall calls The Starch Solution. I am sure there will be many who won’t agree with what he says or believe the results be mentions in some of his case studies. Many long standing societies were based around starch, corn, potatoes, squash and rice. Along with eating well, getting healthy I have learned a considerable amount about good nutrition. Your doctor is not out for your good health, that is something each of must take control of.