Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Not so sweet

I have long been an admirer of Anna Louise Gittleman, even though I cannot follow her Fat Flush Plan for more than a few weeks.

But I love her newsletter because it is packed with valuable research. Her latest post concerns sugar, what she calls the greatest poison in our diet, linked to more than 60 sixty ailments, including Type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and Metabolic Syndrome.

Go anyplace and just watch the fat people parade by. More than 30 million have Type 2 diabetes and another 70 million qualify as pre-diabetic. Although the reasons why we are fat are many, if we simply cut out sugar we would all see some great changes.

I did two months ago, and I am not looking back. I thought it was going to be difficult to do, but honestly, once the first few days had passed, I haven't missed it at all. And it's not as if it hasn't been  offered. But now when I think of eating that piece of wedding cake or cute little cupcake, I think about how crappy I felt just a few short months ago and how well I feel now.

Gittleman talks about hidden sugars, the ones we have no idea we are eating. You'll find them in most processed foods, from packaged meats to soups to commercial salt. It's also in vitamins, aspirin, prescription and over-the-counter drugs and in cosmetics.

She cites studies that have linked sugar and refined carbs to cardiovascular disease. For example, the Masai and Samburu tribes of East Africa suffer no heart disease even though their diet is composed of mostly meat and milk.

And let's not forget sugar substitues -- artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup. Gittleman believes it's no coincidence that our cholesterol and triglyceride levels and our abnormal liver tests started escalating when HFCS began being slipped into much of our processed foods.

Why? Because our borides cannot metabolize HFCS, which skips right past the need for insulin production and goes right into our cells where it becomes an uncontrolled source of trouble to our organs. Since our bodies have no idea what HFCS is or what to do with it, it gets stored as fat.

No wonder we are all singing the sugar blues!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Allergic to what?

Lentils. Beans. Eggs.

We've been told for years to include all these in our diets, which I did. An egg for breakfast. Beans on my salad with the goal to eat vegetarian all day -- saving the meat, poultry and fish for dinner. Lentil soup before dinner, to fill me up before the main event.

That was my diet for months. Unfortunately, I am intolerant to all three -- PLUS ! Throw all dairy and gluten into my new list of no-nos. I also lack any kind of B or D vitamins, although I have supplemented these two for decades.

My allergy to all these foods is not the kind that has me grabbing an Epi pen and being rushed to the hospital. Mine is a food intolerance, which has caused me, in no particular order, to have:
  • Inflammation throughout my body, including excruciating carpal tunnel
  • Insomnia
  • An 18-wheeler-sized tire around my waist
  • Exhaustion
  • Red eyes
  • Dull skin
  • High blood pressure.
For a week, the bad foods have been banished from my diet and I feel fantastic.
  • More energy than I have had in years;
  • Nights of restful seven-hour sleep with no getting up three or four times to pee; 
  • And the wheel around my waist, although still there, is more the size of a luxury car now. But hey, it's only been a week.

I always knew the role good food plays in a body. I never suspected that the foods I eat could play such a role in all that was ailing me -- and that it could happen so quickly.

And I owe it all to Dr. Tamara Sachs, a functional medicine MD who doesn't treat symptoms. Instead, she's a doctor/detective, searching for the underlying issues of what is going on in your body.

I am forever thankful I found that woman!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I have been eating really healthy for the past eight months, but about six weeks ago turned it up a notch and got really serious. I breeze through my days hardly ever tempted to eat something I know will upset my tummy, but once I fall asleep, things change.

Every night I dream that I am chowing down on my old go-to comfort foods: Twizzlers. Pints of Ben & Jerry's. Nona's biscotti. I could go on.

I've had these anything-but-sweet dreams for more than a week. Granted, when I wake up in the morning and  discover it was a dream, the relief is huge and my commitment renewed.

But why am I having these dreams? Turns out, they are totally normal and it is not my sub-conscious telling me that my willpower is weakening. In fact, one sage person in a blog says when you have these dreams, enjoy them.  Revel in the tastes because they are costing you zero calories. Eventually they will go away, sort of like the dreams ex-students have that they missed a test.

Can't wait to see what tonight's treat will be.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fish tales

I love fish. And once I found out that our local fish market was selling fish previously frozen, I decided to give the markets a try. I would seek out the fish not marked "previously frozen" because I had no idea when the market started the thawing process. For all I know, it could have been a week ago. And to me, that's not fresh.

But what really galled me was that much of the fish I bought tasted, well, fishy. 

I started buying all our fish at Trader Joe's and Costco. The fish is frozen solid, I defrost it as needed, and the fish tastes like the ocean.

Which is why I was very happy to see that Barton Seaver, director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health agrees with me. 

“The technology of freezing fish has evolved to the point where it’s comparable to, if not better than, fresh fish,” Seaver told NutritionAction.com.“Historically, seafood was frozen as a last-ditch effort to keep it from spoiling. If fish wasn’t sold by Friday, it was frozen so it could be sold when demand was up. So it was a crappy piece of fish to begin with. But these days, fish is pulled from the water, filleted, and frozen within hours. That sounds pretty good to me.”

He goes on to talk about stores that sell previously frozen fish, which he says are "shortchanging the consumer of many benefits.f it’s frozen, it can stay in the freezer until you use it on your schedule,” says Seaver. “Why thaw it and start the process of spoilage? Retailers are playing to a taboo about frozen fish.”
 So frozen it is.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

All about the scale!

One of my new fave Web sites is Whole9, a community based on health, fitness, balance and sanity. Although I embrace all four concepts, it’s the last one – sanity – to which I relate the most.

One of the most helpful articles I have read on Whole9 is why we should take a hammer to our scales. For anyone like me who struggles to lose pounds, this is one habit I am trying to break. What follows are Whole9’s reason why the scale is woman’s worst friend:

  1.  Scale weight fluctuates, and over the day weight can fluctuate by as much as five pounds. Seeing the number jump from one day to the next is anything but inspiring. Weighing daily does nothing for the big picture.
  2. Scale weight says nadda about health. Plenty of skinny people are sick. Whole9 says that anyone can cut calorie count in half and exercise for two hours daily to drop weight. But does that say you’re healthy? No. Plus, your willpower will run out, you will start eating, and those numbers on the scale will jump up. That number says little about your relationship with food, hormones, digestive health or inflammatory status.
  3. The scale blinds you to real results. Here, here! I have been trying to fit into a dress for a wedding. A month ago it fit, but looked horrid. Today, it looks fine, and I’ve only lost a few pounds. But my stomach has decreased inches because of the way I am eating. Plus, I am sleeping better, I have tons more energy, and I am just enjoying life more.
  4. The scale keeps us stuck on food. We equate that number on the scale with the food we eat. Actually, a sleepless night can add some weight, but I never step on the scale and blame the higher number on lack of sleep.
  5. The scale controls our self-esteem. Using a number to determine your worth – which is what that number means to many of us – is just wrong. A daily weigh-in can determine how the rest of your day goes. A little gain, and we’re angry. I little loss, and we might just eat.

I think it’s time to ditch my scale. Or at the very least hide it away and take it out on the first day of every month.