The Season of Over Eating, Over Drinking and Weight Gain

As we start the holiday season, here is some information that is certainly not jolly!

I was reading on a fellow bloggers site that:

 

The Average North American gains 5 pounds a year after the age of 25, and that between 1 ½ to 4 pounds of this annual weightdoctor-scale  gain happens between Thanksgiving and New Year’s?!?

 

And even more disturbing, is the fact that more heart attacks occur during the holidays with a 5% greater increase in heart attacks between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  (There are a lot of factors that may contribute to this statistic such as stress, travel and putting off going to the doctor, but over eating rich, heavy foods is certainly a factor.)

 

When you think about it, all of this weight gain and poor health isn’t surprising. This is the time of year when we over eat, eat a lot of “bad” food, and over drink.

 

People make a point to see friends and relatives during this season, and these get togethers most often include not only food, but “fancy” food prepared with lots of sugar, butter and cream.  People don’t serve plain baked potatoes at the holidays, but rather a sweet potato casserole complete with brown sugar, butter and marshmallows!  Nor will steamed vegetables do; for the holidays the vegetables are served with buttery or creamy sauces to make them “special”.   Not to mention, at all these holiday parties we tend to “pick” at all the high calorie hors ‘devours and to over drink consuming lots of empty calories!  Plus, you can’t go anywhere without running into dishes of candy or cookies.  And who can resist those, especially when we are a little run down and tired.

 

Yikes!  What can we do?

 

First off, there are plenty of tips out there for not gaining weight during the holidays, and I’m sure you (like I) have read them all.  But, there is no simple fix.  The data proves that no matter what we say, we will not lose the extra weight come January.  The trick is to not gain it in the first place.

 

We can’t eat hundreds of more calories without gaining weight.  Increasing our exercise will help, but keep in mind that a piece of apple pie has 411 calories, add some vanilla ice cream and the calorie count jumps to 640.  An hour of brisk walking (3.5 on the treadmill) burns only 267 calories.  So as you can see, exercise won’t erase all the extra eating!

 

Even though it is the holiday season, we need to continue to eat healthy (that mean’s lots of fruits and vegetables), and eat and drink in moderation.

My Journey to Better Health

I haven’t posted in a while as I felt I was getting “preachy”.  Perhaps too much information about the dangers of animal protein, diet soda, sugar and dairy.  But it is hard not to share what I’ve learned about nutrition and health.  To me it seems so basic — healthy eating leads to a healthy body, and I want everyone to know the information that is out there and to live healthier lives.

 But, frequently I am met with comments such as the one I heard recently, “Yeah, I know all about what is good to eat and what isn’t, I’m just not going to eat that way.”  I simply said OK and stopped talking.  What I wanted to say was, “What???  You’d rather get sick and take pills that may or may not lea to ther problems??  Do you think it will be easier to eat healthy once your doctor ‘orders’ you to??”,  Oops, there I go again….

Rather than spew statistics about dairy consumption and cancer rates, meat and hear disease, or broccoli and it’s cancer preventative properties, I will share with you my real life experience.  Maybe it will give someone encouragement to take nutrition seriously!

I always ate “healthy”, that is I ate a  healthy Western diet — not too much red meat, plenty of chicken, fish and dairy, fruit and vegetables, and not too much dessert.  But I had gained 10 extra pounds that I wasn’t losing and more disturbing, my indicators for heart disease weren’t good:

  • Cholesterol 220 (healthy range is under 200)
  • Triglycerides  a whopping 182 (healthy range under 150)
  • C-Reactive Protein (a measure of inflammation in the body) 5.5 (low cardio-vascular risk is under 1.0!)

So I made some changes.  As with any new situation, the first place I turned was some reading material.  I highly recommend Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, The China Study by Dr. T.Colin Campbell, and the documentary, Forks Over Knives.    I also started seeing a physician who practices not only conventional medicine, but also integrates complementary medicine, balancing medicine with healthy nutrition, lifestyle and exercise.  (Shout out to Sage Integrative Medicine and Dr. Marney Roemmelt, MD).

Now, 18 months later, after eating a near-Vegan diet of mostly veggies, beans, grains, fruits, nuts and no dairy (no milk, cheese, butter or eggs),  my health is substantially better.  I lost those pesky 10 pounds easily, and my risk for heart disease has gone down dramatically:

  • Cholesterol 180
  • Triglycerides 78
  • C-Reactive Protein 0.5

Plus, my sports performance has improved.  (check out No Meat Athlete for information on athletic training and performance on a vegan diet).  I also have more energy, am more alert and have far less colds than before.

While this approach may not work for everyone, the research clearly shows that people in countries who eat less meat and dairy have far less incidence of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and auto-immune diseases that are so prevalent in western countries.  And, before you say, maybe it’s in their genes; research shows that when people from those mainly plant-based cultures move to our western meat and dairy eating countries, within 1 generation their incidence of the “western diseases” matches those of the native population.

So, I encourage everyone to at least incorporate more vegetables and fruits into their diet, to cut way down on meat (including chicken, pork and fish), perhaps to only 3 times a week, and a small portion at that (3 oz) — substitute other protein sources such as quinoa, tofu, tempeh, beans, more vegetables (yes vegetables have protein) and nuts, and cut out dairy!

October is Unprocessed Foods Month!

Did you know that October is Unprocessed Food Month?  Read up on it here and take the Unprocessed Food pledge.   What do you have to loose?

Andrew Wilder, who thought up this challenge is defining unprocessed food as:

“Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.

I call it “The Kitchen Test.” If you pick up something with a label (if it doesn’t have a label, it’s probably unprocessed), and find an ingredient you’d never use in your kitchen and couldn’t possibly make yourself from the whole form, it’s processed.

It doesn’t mean you actually have to make it yourself, it just means that for it to be considered “unprocessed” that you could, in theory, do so.”

There are even some ideas on how to organize your pantry posted here.

The basic idea is not to eat any processed foods, or at least cut down on processed foods.

Let me know if you are going to give it a try.  You can do it for the month, a week, a day, whatever works for you.  Any little bit helps!

 

The Protein Myth

I’ve written a little on protein, how we only need 0.8 gm of protein per kilogram of body weight (weight in lbs. divided by 2.2 x 0.8), and that there are excellent non meat sources of protein.

But still, the most common response I get when I say I don’t eat meat is, “How do you get your protein”.  I have finally found a terrific response:

Did you know that the strongest animal in the world is vegetarian?

elephant

 

Enough said!

photo from http://sharathpandukal.blogspot.com/

The Dangerous Success of the Dairy Industry

I have spent 30 years in the field of advertising and marketing, and so I milk know the power of advertising.  One of the most successful marketing campaigns over the past 50 years has been that of the dairy industry.  They have convinced us that drinking milk is essential to our health.  However, the more research I do, the more I realize that this is totally untrue!  Casein, the protein found in milk and other dairy products is in fact detrimental to our health.  Did you know that:

I strongly recommend that you read The China Study and read or watchForks Over Knives for more information.

For more information and references please refer to my earlier post on this subject.