When you read this, you'll probably have a moment where you say "Well, duh!", but what I will cover is needed to be said in this ridiculous no carb, fad diet atmosphere in which we live today. There are two issues I want to address.
Often our society sees overweight people as more than covered when it comes to nutrition. In actuality it does not matter if you are thin or overweight you can be just as starving for nutrition. If you do not eat nutritious food, your brain will tell you that you are hungry, even though you just ate a huge amount of fries with a giant coke and burger a couple hours before. Why? Because there aren't nearly enough vitamins and minerals in what you just ate.
Think about it, what do most overweight or thin nutritionally starved people eat? Bleached flour, sugar and high fat foods like bacon, burgers, etc... Now ask yourself... is there really any reason to think that our brain isn't going to be screaming for nutrients that comes with vegetables fruit and whole grains? Of course you are going to get signals that you are hungry even when your stomach is full, because you have not really fed your body what it needs and that is why we often over eat. There is a huge difference between being full and being truly sated when it comes to the nutrients your body needs to function. No wonder we always feel tired, have acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and other health problems to deal with.
When one tries to eat healthy they will experience withdrawal from the unhealthy food. They will experience what is similar to a drug withdrawal and have stomach pain, headaches and light-headedness as their body withdraws and clears the toxins they have been eating. Many people interpret this as hunger but there is another term for it... toxic hunger which means that it is not true hunger. It is why many people give up their diet of healthy foods and often go back to the unhealthy foods they are addicted to much like an addiction to a drug that is causing damage to one's body yet compels one to keep going back for more. Sugar alone lights up the brain like cocaine does so it is no wonder we are addicted to unhealthy food.
The good news is that if you can think of it as a drug detox and get through a couple weeks of withdrawal symptoms while eating healthy you will have fully cleared not just the toxins but after 6 weeks you will have reset your palate so that healthy things will actually taste amazing to you. I know, that sounds crazy that you would desire vegetables over junk food, but I personally have experienced the physiological change that happens and it really is true.
The Medical Profession Is Failing Us: My Story
I am not an alcoholic, I am not a drug addict, nor do I smoke... but when life gets stressful a nice blueberry muffin or high fat food used to feel like my best friend. The pleasure I get from food is truly amazing and frankly I was addicted to it. I know that many of you out there can relate to me on this. So let me share with you how I woke up from the delusions that many companies marketing unhealthy food and beverages as well as some unethical doctors and drug companies want you to have.
A decade ago
when I was in my early twenties I was working for a mental health
insurance company 40 - 50 hours a week, getting my Masters of
Social Work part time, and doing a 20 hour a week internship at
a group home for the chronically mentally ill. You could say that
I was a bit stressed and it was common for me to stay up until
3am to finish a paper, and then get up 3 hours later to go to
I was eating a great deal of dairy and "white carbohydrates" back then. They are the food drugs I so dearly loved like, pizza, doughnuts, cookies and other nutritionally void, yet tasty foods. Call it comfort food, call it crap... it tastes good!
Now, before I continue let me stress... I am not talking about the good carbohydrates like brown rice, beans, etc. I am talking about taking rich wheat or grains and killing it with chemicals and processing until you suck anything that was nutritional out of it to make white flour... nutritionally void and basically bad carbs. So, I was pretty much living off these tasty food drugs of the 21st century when suddenly during the few hours of sleep I was trying to get, I was experiencing acid that felt like it was going to burn a hole in my esophagus.
I went to my doctor and explained my symptoms. She of course (as unfortunately many western doctors tend to do these days) wanted to treat me with medication... not placing any importance on what could be causing it... rather just putting a 'Band-Aid' on it. I began taking Prevacid (which at the time was a prescription). It worked for a while, but I found myself still hurting at times... as the acid was really intense. So my doctor told me that it must be Acid Reflux Disease. However, there could be something more serious going on, so... I went to get an Upper GI. This is where you have the lovely experience of swallowing liquid barium (which tastes like mint flavored liquid cement) while they x-ray it going down the the esophagus and stomach to see if there are any irregularities.
A week later the doctor called to tell me that there does not seem to be anything wrong, so the official diagnosis is excess acid and keep taking the medication with no suggestions on what is causing it or how to prevent it. I kept popping Prevacid and other antacids while continuing to eat all the lovely processed comfort food I had grown used to eating and my doctor said nothing about. I also began to gain weight. I was terribly unhappy, so I decided to change my diet.
I took an Asian cooking class and learned about nutrition through an incredible teacher there. What I learned changed my life. I say 'learned' when really what I mean was that I was reminded, because deep down we all know this... we need to eat vegetables, fruit, healthy carbs like brown rice, beans, and a very low amount of meat if any at all. We should not consume dairy, soda, sugar substitutes, nor refined flour and sugar and we should exercise and drink water. I know... when I say it out loud, it seems so basic, but why have we forgotten these things? I mean isn't it common sense?
Okay, so it is not easy, but it is the truth. The basic diet (and when I say diet I mean nutritional lifestyle... not some fad, short term diet) I am suggesting is not going to sell many books and it is not going to make any one rich. The bottom line is that we simply need to get back to basics. I am not talking about the 1950's basics of a huge glass of milk and giant steak basics, I am talking about what humans have been meant to consume since day one based on scientific research... vegetables, grains, water and for your carnivores out there a little meat. We are not meant to be eating processed, refined while flour and sugar all the time, or large amounts of high fat bacon, beef and pork and yet most of us do.
We Are Nutritionally Starving Ourselves To Death
Our brain is screaming to please give it some nutrients and our answer to that is to go out and have pork rinds and soda on our low carbohydrate diet? What the hell? Have we lost our minds? Apparently the pharmaceutical companies and food and beverage corporations marketing such crap hope so, and they love every dollar of it.
Not To Eat
Why is dairy constantly being plugged for its health benefits? Because there are a lot of dollars in the dairy industry as there are in the meat industry. These are powerful lobbying groups know that if they keep repeating lies to us over and over and over again... we will become so familiar with the lie that it will feel true. It's called brainwashing, or in this day and age clever marketing or politics.
Why Should We Avoid Too Much Protein?
What is wrong with diets that promote high amounts of proteins through meat? The Atkins Diet, and others like it, triggers short-term weight loss through a process called ketosis. Ketosis occurs whenever the body lacks a sufficient supply of carbohydrates, a prime source of energy. During ketosis, carbohydrate-depleted metabolisms turn to other sources, including ketones from stored fat or protein, to satisfy daily energy needs. The weight loss from this is temporary, it is dangerous and the long term effects may be worse than being overweight!
One week after changing my diet to eating vegetables, fruit, beans, rice, low amounts of meat as well as beginning to exercise and drink more water, I not only dropped weight, but for the first time in two years, I did not need antacid medication. My teacher who was an Asian influenced nutritionist actually showed me one day what happens in your stomach when you add dairy and sugar by doing a little experiment for me in two glasses. In each glass, he had the properties for stomach acid and other ingredients so that it was just like the conditions inside a stomach and then added dairy in one and sugar in another. They both began to bubble and foam until they not only filled the glasses but ran over the sides. I remember my mouth dropping and saying "no wonder!" Of course I felt bloated all the time, and could barely sleep from all the stomach acid bubbling up toward my throat.
Common sense would tell a doctor to recommend to a patient that they change their diet before running expensive medical tests and throwing prescription antacids at them... but that is not the world we generally live in is it? Common sense would suggest to people to look past the marketing hype and eat nutritional food to feed their body, not just fill their stomach. Yet, Taco Bell's new commercial featuring people running around saying they're full from their value menu is quite the poster child for what we value... low cost, low quality, quick food that makes us feel full but that keeps us addicted to it and starving for nutrients.
Aren't we then saying... "Screw nutrition and make me feel full so that my brain can tell me in an hour that I am still hungry because I did not get nearly enough nutrients so that I can eat some more crap and feel full again?" No wonder we are so hungry and need such large portions! We are starving our bodies to death and I was certainly one of those people for many years.
You think if we started a new tasty cardboard diet that we could still feel full? You bet! You put enough cardboard with artificial, toxic sweeteners and flavors in there and we'd have the next new fad diet! And, guess what? You feel full while losing weight because the card board is low in calories. It's brilliant!
Okay, I know I sound highly sarcastic in this article, but to be honest I am pissed off. I am angry that there are so many companies out there treating us like we are complete morons and selling us things that further our food addictions, filling us with toxins while they make millions off of us. It's hard not to be angry about that! I believe we are worth more than that as the consumer and I really wish that companies would show that they not only value our wallets but our minds and health too.
Dr. DM Hagstead, Professor of Nutrition & Public Health for Harvard University had this to say regarding the responsibility of nutrition and health experts-
"The diet of the American people has become increasingly rich in meat and other sources of saturated fats (dairy) and sugar. Ischemic heart disease, cancer, diabetes and hypertension are the diseases that result from this and these diseases can kill us. They are an epidemic in our populations. We have an obligation to inform the public of the current state of knowledge and to assist the public in making the correct food choices. To do less is to avoid our responsibility."
Where Does The Accountability Ultimately Lie?
I am not saying that we are not accountable for our behavior. If we chose to go to McDonalds and stuff our face with crap than there is no way you will convince me that we are not responsible for that. We are responsible for our own behavior and no matter how many commercials McDonalds or any other company that helps to contribute to this madness, we have the free will not to consume it.
That leads me to my next point. If we as the consumer showed companies like Wendy's and Burger King that we were not interested in their nutritionally void food, and yes even their salads with empty iceberg lettuce loaded with stuff that is not really that good for you but seems like it could be because it is a salad (high fat dressings, high fat cheese, high fat beef, nutritionally void carbs in the croutons saturated in fat and high fat bacon bits, etc.) then maybe we would have health food to go on every corner.
Health oriented supermarkets like Wholefoods, Vitamin Cottage, Wild Oats and Trader Joe's that cater to the consumer interested in quality food and are an example of what we need more of when it comes to healthy food. If we as the consumer made stores like this as big as McDonalds as companies like McDonalds would have to change their tune. So isn't the power still in our hands?
We can bad mouth companies all we want, but the truth is that we have co-created them and that every time we buy food we are voting about what will stay and what will not with our wallets. If we did not provide the demand, they would not provide the junk food to us. If there weren't so many people choosing the low carb fad, companies would not be busting at the seams to provide more and more low-carb products. The bottom line is that they are selling... and we as the consumer are making this happen so it really comes down to us.
We have to accept responsibility for what we are choosing, and when we eat nutritionally empty food understand that the consequences for that behavior will not only affect our health, but the message to the companies is to keep selling us crap. It is only when we see ourselves as worth having quality products that we get them. Yes, we often have to pay more... but aren't our bodies worth the extra money. I mean most people have no problem paying for the extras on their house or car... but will skimp on their body. Yet if you don't take care of your body you won't get to enjoy the car or house!
Want To Lose Weight?
Where it gets confusing is how the body uses those calories and if you want a great book based on scientific research not fads, then make sure to read Dr. Joel Fuhrman's book called Eat for Health as it nothing short of brilliant full of common sense as well as scientific research to back it. The book has great recipes in it as well as a step-by-step guide for those who want their hand held during the transition and through is website he offers great articles, support and more. What I love about his work is that it is not a fad, it is the truth and requires you to make life changes that will allow you to live an energized life for a long time. What really is impressive is how it reverses diseases including common ones like diabetes and high blood pressure (and even sexual issues like female sexual dysfunction and erectile dysfunction).
The other way we make a diet harder is eating food that is low in nutritional value. Make sure you are getting your vitamins and minerals through fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains and small amounts of meat if you choose to eat it. Drink water and herbal teas such as green tea, and try not to burn out your nervous system on caffeine.
Late Night Eating
Foods Low In Acid
Hi acid in the body creates disease such as cancer. If you have ever visited a cancer wing in a hospital you will know the strong ammonia smell that comes with that. It is also often found in babies spit up or urine as cow's milk is high in acid and unfortunately is not healthy for us to be consuming let alone in mass quantities. Acid in our bodies is also created through emotional stress in our bodies and is why perspiration from stress often smells worse than basic exercise.
High acid foods have to be processed through the kidneys and the kidneys in turn generate ammonia which has a pH of about 9.25.
When your body has been inundated by high acid foods and high stress that generates acid for long periods of time your organs have to work overtime to try to keep the body balances. This is fine to have happen once in a while, but the organs in your body are not meant to stay on high functioning all the time. Eventually after months or even years the organs become exhausted and eventually disease will become an issue.
This is not to say that foods that are acidic are BAD for you. They are not inherently bad for you, rather they should be eaten in moderation making sure to eat high alkaline foods that will help process them. A list of examples is shown below. You may be surprised to know that some citrus is actually high in alkaline... I know I was.
Healthy Ways To Cook
Organic Foods -
A Healthy Diet
I know we all dream of fast food that is actually healthy for you, or for that miracle diet that does not require much effort of discipline, but don't let being tired and overwhelmed let the truth about this issue disappear. Don't fall into the trap of believing the hype because it is convenient. Stay empowered, stay in touch with your common sense.
The truth is that diets don't work, lifestyle changes do. These have to be changes that are made for the long term and ultimately because of healthy eating and exercise you will have more energy to deal with all the spam in your email in-box and the insane amount of work, information and stress we all deal with in this chaotic world.
Being someone who has always been drawn to food as a coping skill when things get rough, I know that it is hard to lose weight, to exercise and to commit to it for the long term. Many days in my past meant that I had rationalized in my head why ordering pizza was the right thing to do for dinner. None of us are perfect, nor should we strive to be. What we should instead strive for is to nurture ourselves through positive choices as much as we can and never give away our empowered decision making by giving up on common sense and our intuition. We are worth more than that. We each have something to contribute to this world and taking care of ourselves is one of the best ways to do that.
Examples of Healthy Food
As you can tell I admire Dr. Furhman's work and one of the easiest ways he has developed to remember what you should be eating daily is the acronym G-BOMBS: Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds. Below are other examples-
The suggestions above are just that... suggestions. It is important for you to discern what is the right diet for you is and to be educated about what you are choosing to do. Also, please don't think that just because I wrote an article on healthy food means that I always make the right choices and live a perfectly nutritional life. While I am proud to say that for years I have eaten nothing but very healthy food still sometimes struggle with binge eating when I am under a great deal of stress. Just because someone eats healthy food does not mean you cannot eat too much of it and I have to say my weakness for eating too much is often walnuts and pumpkin seeds which are of course great for you in moderation. I consider food issues to be one of the biggest struggles in my life. In order to deal with this, I have spent time researching healthy eating because I am challenged by it so the point of my article is to simply pass on information that I have found helpful to me.
If you struggle with food issues as well, you are certainly not alone and I truly empathize. From feeling weak and worthless because I have gained weight to becoming angry and pushing myself too hard I know the extremes of struggling with eating healthy and exercise. Being overweight or struggling with it has been a sign of weakness in our society, and often overweight people are thought to be lazy. As someone who has often struggled with weight issues, I can assure you that stereotype is not true. Most people would not call a smoker lazy for choosing that as their coping skill, and food is no different.
The important thing is not about being perfect, but understanding that this comes down to simply nurturing ourselves through tenacity and love for ourselves (self-esteem). Let's face it... discipline in doing anything good for us can be challenging. We all need to work at taking care of ourselves whether that means we need to focus on physical, emotional, mental or spiritual needs. Nurturing ourselves is one of the biggest tasks we can take on in life. Whether we nurture our bodies or nurture our integrity or emotional needs there are many ways we can take care of ourselves. After all, that is how we ultimately fulfill our purpose here... take care of ourselves so that we may offer the world the best of who we are!
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