Let food be thy medicine…

hippocrates_quoteI don’t expect many to understand my rational for changing my eating habits and opting for a healthy lifestyle, even when many consider my decision “extreme.” Yet it never ceases to amaze at what comes out of individual mouths as it relates to how I and many others eat following “a diet rich in whole plant foods, free of all animal products, saturated fats, oils, nuts, sugar, artificial sweeteners and food additives,” as Julie Marie Christensen explains over at Protective Diet.

Many question and criticize how I eat, but don’t give a second thought as what they put in their mouths and how it will affect their health. This as they pop another pill, or inject themselves to control a plethora of diseases that ravage their body. Good health comes in the form of food, it won’t be found a magic pill or fad diet or labeled on a box. These are a collection of quotes from many individuals when questioned about the plant based lifestyle they follow.

“I could never give up my meat. I love it too much.”

“But avocados and olive oil are healthy fats.”

“So, you don’t care about plants? You know carrots scream when you pull them, right?”

Where do you get your protein?

“So…you’re in a cult?”

We all have to die. So, why not enjoy yourself first?

Well, what did you eat when you were a toddler?”

“So all you eat are fruits and salads”

Wow that’s a lot of food! You eat all that?

“I can’t believe you eat all those starches.”

“You need to eat protein.”

“You can’t do it with diet alone.”

“I could never give up cheese.”

What DO you eat?

You can’t lose weight without exercising.”

” Well what’s left, what can you eat?”

You do not even use olive oil? Olive oil is healthy.

I will literally die if I don’t eat meat!

Nuts are good for you, why no nuts?

“You’re setting yourself up for osteoporosis and infertility.”

Everything in moderation!

You’re food is nasty, I wouldn’t eat it!

“What is hippie dust?”

“Carbs are so bad for you.”

Animals are meant to be eaten.”

I would get fat eating all those carbs!

Fish is not an animal, it’s healthy.”

I can’t afford to eat like that.

The bible says we should consume meat.

I don’t have time for all of that cooking from scratch. It’s not realistic.

“Come on…live a little!”

I could never give up cheese or ice cream!

You need healthy fats!

You need fat to absorb vitamins.”

Healing is much longer and harder when you are vegan (not enough protein).”

Why can’t you eat normal?

Do you think maybe your diet caused the kidney stones?

You have to spend all day in the kitchen.”

“It is too expensive to buy the proper cooking tools.

“You can’t tell me that you don’t miss a good piece of meat.

Why don’t you eat dried fruit? It’s good for you.

When you get to your goal weight, will you eat meat again?”

You can add some nuts back in when you get to your goal. They are healthy. It won’t hurt you.

Where do you get your calcium? You need to drink milk don’t you.

That so extreme!

I can’t do that. Maybe if I had someone to do all the cooking for me.

Carbs are not your friend…

You’re not getting enough good fats and protein. No wonder you feel tired all the time.

Why do humans have the kind of teeth we have if we aren’t supposed to eat meat?

One time isn’t going to hurt you!”

“No, I’m actually a healthy weight for my height.”

Are you trying to live forever?

“Well what CAN you eat then?”

“Okay, what did you give up this time?”

Humans need the vitamins found in meat.

What about all those GMOs and pesticides in vegetables, at least meat is clean.

I can’t do PD because I’m type O positive.

Soybeans cause cancer and soy gave me my thyroid problem.

I can’t give up coffee because I have to go to work.”

“I only eat organic fish.”

“You shouldn’t eat wheat it causes belly fat.

“That’s not a complete protein!”

“Do you eat fish?”

“Seafood?”

God created animals for us to eat.

Coconut oil is good for you, it is antibacterial, helps you lose weight, cures Alzheimer’s, cures cancer, blah, blah, blah. You can’t eat wheat or corn, those domestic crops are foreign to our bodies. I only eat grass fed organic meat and butter (grass fed butter?).

It won’t hurt you just this once to eat this.

It’s filled with things you don’t like to eat; meat, cheese, mayo…”

“You got to live a little.”

“One bite won’t hurt .”

Is it a religious thing?

“Your husband is going to get man boobs if he keeps eating all that soy.”

“Your kids are gonna crave meat anyway…why not give it to them and stop shoving your beliefs down their throats?”

“It’s extreme when you cut something, like meat or dairy out of your diet.

We each make our own choices, but with obesity levels continuing to climb something must be be done. Could it go as far as government intervention? Possible. The USDA 2015 Dietary Guidelines are up in public domain for comment before finalization (thanks Lani Muelrath). “The federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines is calling for the adoption of “plant-based” diets, taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television.” There is a demand to “reduce unhealthy options,” limit access to high calorie foods in public buildings, “limit the exposure” of advertisements for junk food, a soda tax, and taxing high sugar and salt items and dessert.” *source

No Cookies

gsa_cookiesIt happens this time every year. The mini cookie peddlers, in their green vests seem to invade many retail establishments with heavy foot traffic pushing their boxes of sugary “crack.” While I respect the Girl Scouts organization I won’t be buying any cookies, in fact I haven’t bought any in the last 2 years and this year won’t be any different.

The attraction to these boxes is pretty amazing worldwide. Prior to changing my diet I would have purchased a few boxes to help support the Girl Scouts. Now that support has waned because there is nothing healthy about these little bites of love. That in itself is an entire writeup of just how bad these cookies are for you. Sadly, you won’t eat just one.

Another topic I won’t hit upon are the GMO that are included in Girl Scout cookies including the sugar, cottonseed and soybean oil, as well as the corn syrup and soy lecithin. All these are consider toxic and contain GMOs. Yet this is another topic for another time. Little Brownie Makers, a division of Keebler/Kelloggs must be held responsible.

Reading on their website, cookie sales helps girls learn, “goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—aspects essential to leadership, success, and life.” I don’t experience the back end of this temporary business (goal setting, money management and decision making) but like millions of others, see the (lack of) people skills and business ethics.

This year I have seen them set up outside Lowe’s and Raley’s. Not once have I been greeted with hello or a reason why they sell the cookies. The first thing out of their mouth, “do you want to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” Obviously they are after one thing, my money. Not sure what is discussed when it comes to business ethics, but to taking up post regularly at retail establishments becomes frustrating to encounter. I have been approached multiple times in a single visit, going into a store and coming out. Not sure what the Girl Scouts have to say about that. In their defense I have seen tables and girls set up at the exit of some business only.

Fundraising is at the heart of many non-profit or not for profit organizations. I have been involved in fundraising with the local PTA as well as the Boy Scouts of America. Like the Girl Scouts fundraising is a necessary part of the organization in order to function. While I have been supportive of these fundraisers, I don’t support what some of them sell.

Our PTA has an apple fundraiser each year, by far one of the biggest ones opportunities with a good return on investment to help put coins in the coffer. While the apples are large and most likely juicy they are covered with sugary crap including M&Ms, carmel, Oreo, Snickers, nuts, white chocolate and chocolate, just to name a few. So basically this fundraiser, like that of the Girls are selling nothing more than sickness, disease and obesity. Just what Americans need in a county that sees a third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of our population obese and overweight.

To date the only fundraiser I have been involved with in scouting as been the selling of wreathes during Christmas time. Another great fundraiser, at least it was for our pack this year, but having nothing to compare it with I can only go off what leadership quotes based on last year. Of course during scout sponsored events, such as Pinewoord Derby, dens were asked to bring sugared goodies that would be sold during the event to raise money for the pack. So in retrospect this sort of fundraising is no better than other organizations.

Yet the Girl Scout cookies dwarfs both the PTA and local scouting events. Based on an NBC News report, “revenue from the sales of Girl Scout cookies has been around $700 million since 1999, based on sales of 200 million boxes at $3.50 per box.”

“Donna Ceravolo, CEO of Girl Scouts of Nassau County, New York, says a majority of the sales price of each box stays in the community. For each box sold, 85 cents per box goes to the baker to cover production, packaging, shipping of the cookies to the troop, and other incidental costs. Out of the remaining $2.65, 50 to 57 cents goes to the selling troop, which will use the funds to cover the cost of programming, community service projects and scholarships, and to offset the cost of participating in Girl Scouts.” *

While I don’t want to sound like a Grinch each time cookies selling season rolls around, I am more akin to lending support by giving a $20 donation as opposed to buying cookies. Selling seems to be so cutthroat to, with moms taking to social media, such as Facebook offering free delivery around the clock. So what are the girls doing if moms are the one peddling their cookies? Don’t see that as a good business ethic. So when school returns on Tuesday I will find my favorite kindergarten teacher and offer her $20 for her girls that are involved.

Put Down the Fork

PUT DOWN THE DAMN FORK, FATTY!

People need to put down the fork and pay attention to what is happening to their health. Many won’t, continuing to eat an industrial, Western pattern or “standard American diet,” characterized by high intakes of red meat, sugary desserts, high-fat foods, and refined grains. It also typically contains high-fat dairy products, high-sugar drinks, and higher intakes of processed meat (source).

Your worst enemy, the fork. This utensil has lead to one-third (34.9% or 76.4 million) of U.S. adults being obese. “Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death” (source). Yet with obesity numbers continuing to rise and the top 11 pharmaceutical companies seeing profits of $85 billion (in 2012), the message continues to be largely ignored.

Just over 3 years ago I was the poster boy for these “sad” choices in my diet. I failed to heed warning signs as my body was continually poisoned. Sickness and maladies plagued me, headaches were becoming a constant in daily life and my weight continued to increase. I was misguided to believe my pants and shirts, now ill fitting were getting smaller, as there were always bigger, comfortable, better fitting clothes to buy. That lifestyle changed overnight thanks to Forks Over Knives when I took control of my health

As we approach Thanksgiving, I have much to be thankful for. I have a beautiful wife, wonderful son, a great job, good friends and most importantly, my health. That’s similar to what some of my co-workers would say, with the except of controlling their health. As traditionally happens at the workplace, a potluck takes place and each employees provides a dish to share. This year, many wanted to pass on the early helping of turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes and opted to do breakfast/brunch.

givethanksWhile sharing ideas I was taken back by the negativity, jokes and rude comments when offering plant based suggestions to share. The responses were not surprising, the entire office knows I follow a strict plant based lifestyle, which some believe is void of flavor and no fun. Through education, experience and challenging myself with plant based recipes nothing could be further from the truth. I use my wife is the measuring stick, if she eats the plant based recipes I cook and likes it others will too!

The reality of the situation, it no longer bothers me but one would think I was offering servings of poison by the reactions I receive every time we discuss food and toss out truly healthy alternatives. Why? Can’t people accept he fact they can be healthy AND happy? As Dr. John McDougall says, “People love to hear good news about their bad habits.” That is how many individuals have chosen to eat and many willingly accept the future consequences to their health. Give plants a chance and be thankful.

Butter Better?

butter_betterLast week I posted a link on Facebook from the UK Daily Mail, Why Are We Fatter Than Ever?. Take a moment to review the graphs and associated data. There are a combination of factors that see obesity and health related illness, such as diabetes and coronary heart disease (CHD), on the rise. It’s not surprising all are interrelated as obesity is a factor in both diabetes and CHD.

Back to my post, which drew a smattering of comments from friends and acquaintances on the topic with a varied level of understanding in nutrition. Now, I am not a nutritionist, nor do I play one, even if I happened to stay at a Holiday Inn Express, but a comment caught my eye in response to some who said, “I feel like crying. I LOVE butter. Excessive amounts too. The response was “No, grass fed cow butter is good for you.”

Now, I have nothing but the utmost respect for my friend who responded with the “grass fed” comment and in some regards there is probably truth to be had eating “grass fed”  or “free range.” I made the decision to stop eating meat, favoring to go to the source and eat the grass, so to speak. I had to chuckle a bit as “grass fed” ranks up there with the term, “clean eating.” This was something that would require further research into, yet I didn’t think I would stumble onto this “superfood” while dabbling on the Internet.

The Business Insider carried the same graphs as from the UK Daily Mail site, titled What’s Wrong With The Modern Diet? As I read their commentary on the graphs, I stopped at number five.

5. People Replaced Heart-Healthy Butter With Trans-Fat Laden Margarine.

butter

The graph looked straight forward as “the “war” on saturated fat was an increase in margarine consumption.” But it was this comment, “Grass-fed butter actually contains nutrients that are protective against heart disease (like Vitamin K2), therefore the advice to replace heart-healthy butter with trans-fat laden margarine may have done a lot of damage (24),” which led me to Authority Nutrition.

Based on my reading, the individual in question does not have a nutritional background, but is a medical student and personal trainer, who “has spent years reading books, blogs and research studies on health and nutrition.” Doctors fail to make the grade when it comes to nutrition. “Thirty years ago, only about a third of medical schools required a single course on nutrition. That number has since dropped to only 1 in 4…No wonder doctors get failing grades in tests of basic nutrition knowledge about diet and heart disease, our #1 killer. More disturbing, the percentage of medical instructors that think this deficiency is a problem has also dropped over the last decade” (source).

Before I get well off topic, let’s handle the “grass fed” comment. Authority Nutrition has a piece under ‘Healthy Eating’ titled, “Grass-fed Butter is a Superfood For The Heart.” My heart stopped or so I thought. Butter is now good for your heart? I just had to research further. I found another top 10 list of superfoods and at #9, raw organic grass-fed butter. Understanding there are high quality nutrients, such as vitamins (D, E and K2), as well as trace minerals, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), “healthy” fats like omega-3 and omega-6, as well as Glycospingolipids (protects against infection) and Wulzen Factor, which ensures calcium remains in your bones and isn’t leached in joints and other tissues.

Still butter is fat and commercial butter must be at least 80% fat (source). I still hear the written words echo in my head from Dr. John McDougall, “the fat you eat is the fat you wear.” At what point do the negatives outweigh the positives when it comes to food, like butter? For all the “superfood” qualities it possesses it’s still 3200 calories/pound. A level high enough for weight gain or an inhibitor to prevent weight loss. Again, the words of Dr. McDougall are present, “people love to hear good news about their bad habits.”

There is no escaping the fact you are ingesting pure fat into your “healthy” body because it’s now labelled as a superfood. Many require butter on a wide variety of foods, I was this way just 2 years ago, but realized all this salty, fatty substance did was mask the true taste of food. Butter is still high in saturated fat and cholesterol. It’s other SUPER qualities; good at clogging arteries, super yummy, super addictive, super fattening.

As an option, I will still choose the safe and healthy way to get my EFA (essential fatty acids), in natural packaging such as starches, vegetables and fruits. “Here they are found in the correct amounts in protected environments surrounded by vitamins, minerals, fibers, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals to make them balanced nutrition. If you desire higher concentrations than are present in these foods then you will want to include more nuts, seeds, and soybean products in your diet” (source). I will continue to bypass butter, as it’s not better for me or my health.

Grocery Fat

fat_americaIt’s quite appalling to walk through my local supermarket, be it Raley’s or WinCo Foods and see the crap many shoppers toss into their cart. It’s really no surprise when you look at the individual pushing the cart and they are fat. Sorry, I don’t need to be politically correct and say, “obese”? Does that put a more medical feel to this alleged disease? It’s not a disease, it’s individuals making poorly informed decisions as to the fuel they feed their body with.

Just take a look at some of the statistics as it relates to this “disease” and then look at how simple the solution could be, if people were to learn nutrition and become responsible they would not need to rely on the medication establishment to find a cure.

  • More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

I will consider myself very lucky, as I was on the road to obesity 2 years ago but looking back it took a serious commitment and desire to make sure I did not end up another suffering statistic.

The numbers are staggering! It’s as if the population doesn’t care what they eat or the related health problems they suffer. As long as the medication establishment continues to push their drugs and provide “medical miracles”, consumers will go on eating as if it’s their last meal.

obesity1985

obesity2010If the thought of heart disease, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure or diabetes doesn’t scare you, then go on and eat whatever the hell you want. Being healthy isn’t completely on how you look, as those looks can be deceiving. It’s how healthy you are on the inside, which is why blood tests are imperative. You have no idea if you are one Big Mac away from a clogged artery or a coronary artery bypass graft.

Yet there is America (31.8%), a percentage point behind Mexico (32.8%) as the fattest nation among developed countries (source). The CDC images above are quite telling. We are all getting fat, especially the southeast. Yet many individuals are not willing to look at their diet and blame themselves for how they look or feel. As the saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” That is how it goes with nutrition, you can provide the populous with the necessary information, but if they don’t use it, the situation will continue to spiral out of control.

Two years ago I learned nutrition, not what the schools taught, as I now believe they got it wrong and I was misled growing up. Armed with this valuable information I made drastic changes in my way of eating and shed 44 pounds in 10 months! Two years later my weight remains at my goal weight of 175 lbs and my total cholesterol is at 150 mg/dL. Now these are just two indicators of my health, but after 44 years I have never felt or looked better.

Why is it so difficult to change what you eat? I am sure if left unchecked, my weight would be approaching 230-240 lbs. Why? Because I was like many typical Americans eating those fast and processed foods (frozen) loaded with fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugar and carbohydrates (the processed type). I was appalled at just how bad my way of eating had become. Thankfully I was able to look outside of the box, learn about nutrition and then commit to changing my lifestyle for myself, my wife and son.

I am not preaching to go out as I did and give up meat, dairy and added oil because it’s not easy. It’s even more difficult to control the intake of sodium and sugar since my taste buds had become so accustomed to foods high in both of these additives. Take a minute next time you are in shopping and pull off random items from the shelf, there is a high probability it contains HFCS or high fructose corn syrup. Better yet, read up on 5 reasons high fructose corn syrup will kill you. “Why is the corn industry spending millions on misinformation campaigns to convince consumers and health care professionals of the safety of their product? Could it be that the food industry comprises 17 percent of our economy?

If small steps were take by individuals obesity could be slowed and even reversed, but you are responsible for taking that first step. For some it’s a step that will never come. For others it’s a step they don’t believe they need to take (oh, I am already healthy). Yet for a few, who take that step they could be rewarded with better healthy and longevity.

While none of the “small steps” are simple, I believe cutting out all added oil is one of the best ways to start turning your health around. I don’t have statistical data or case studies to back it up. I do have a wonderful quote from Dr. Caldwell B Esselstyn and a piece I wrote regarding the myths associated with oil. It could that the benefits don’t necessarily outweigh the drawbacks. No longer do I sauté with oil or add ANY oil in all the cooking I do. When I shop, I make it a point to buy products that don’t include oil, even the exotic oils like palm, coconut, cottonseed, grape seed, or the “heart healthy” oil olive.

I challenge you, to challenge yourself and make a small change in the way you see and eat food. Remove dairy from your diet for a week, don’t use oil in cooking. Opt for almond milk instead of cow puss. Make it a point NOT to include meat in your cooking for 7 days. If you really feel up for a challenge try the 10-day free program that got me on the road to health and taught me about nutrition. The overall benefits have been amazing. Hopefully you can live longer and feel better physically and mentally. Live to eat, don’t eat to live.