Fat Fridays: Week 13 Eating to Live

Dr. Fuhrman wrote a book called “Eat to Live”. It’s a good book. I’ve always had a hard part with that “eating to live” thing though. What about birthday cake? And dessert? And donuts? And popcorn at the movies? And ice cream cones? What about eating for enjoyment? It’s a national pastime!

This past week has shown me how much “entertainment” eating that I do. When you are reduced to eating fruits and vegetables and nuts, some hidden habits start becoming very clear. At the beginning of this diet I bought a big bag of frozen berries to be my “treat” snack. I poured them into my pretty bowls and would pretend like I was indulging in the most decadent dessert, carefully eating one plump berry at a time. After a couple days I started getting tired of frozen berries. So I bought a different combination that had peaches and mangoes and grapes. That kept me happy for a couple more days and then my body just said, Enough with the frozen fruit already! I had been eating a bowl of frozen fruit in the evening when I typically would be eating a piece of chocolate or having a bowl of ice cream. Then, one evening came, and I was just tired of frozen fruit and I wracked my brain to think about what I should eat instead. As I was trying to think of something in the fruit and vegetable family that sounded appetizing, I realized that really, I wasn’t hungry. I had eaten a good filling supper and I didn’t need anything else.

This week has been about reaching for a habitual snack, remembering I can only eat fruits and vegetables, and then realizing that I’m really not hungry. I think I’ve actually started to “Eat to Live” instead of eating for entertainment, or to improve a bad mood, or calm down a temper tantrum, or all the other unhealthy reasons I was eating. A big part of this triumph has to do with the fact that fruits and vegetables do not give me the rush and feel-goodness that junk food and bread and processed meats like sausage and bacon do. I have read a bit about it and I know that there is science to back that up. Bread and processed meats actually have things in them that trigger your brain to be happy. It’s a drug. Really. I am realizing that without that drug, food has become a lot more about not-being-hungry than about seeking pleasure.

That’s not to say that eating a well-cooked vegetarian meal is not pleasurable, it just seems to be the kind of pleasure you can manage. You eat till you’re full and then you stop. That urge to eat just a little bit more isn’t near as strong with a vegetable bean soup as it is with a cheeseburger.

Well, I’ve finished two weeks on this vegan, grain-free diet. I have decided I’m going to give it three months before I start adding grain back into my diet. I feel like my body has only, in the last two days, started feeling adjusted to this new way of eating. I have not adapted quickly and easily. But, I can tell that I’m starting to lose some weight, so that’s encouraging. 🙂 I have the next size down in pants and I tried them on yesterday. If I really absolutely had wanted to button them, I could have. 🙂 I didn’t have any pressing reason to do that to myself, but I’m hopeful that these pants will fit me very soon!

Here’s the plan: stick to the diet and start trying to find some better recipes since I’ve had quite a few flops. An old back problem has limited my exercise this week, but I have stretches that are supposed to help that, so I will focus on getting my back in shape again so I can keep doing my elliptical. I’m also trying out a vegan shake for breakfasts. I’m not a big shake fan, but it seems really simple and full of lots of good nutrition. We’ll see how that goes. See you all next week!

Fat Fridays: Week 11 The Semi-Reluctant Vegan

Last week I said that if I could find a diet that would help with depression I would go on it. Well, two days after I wrote that, I received an email from a health network I subscribe to whose subject line was “Depressed or Anxious?” Inside the email was a link to a guy who has done extensive study on depression, anxiety, and dementia. I went and checked it out. A couple hours later I received another email from the other health network I subscribe to. The subject line of the email was, “Natural Remedies for Depression and Anxiety.” I opened that email. It had a link to the exact same doctor. I went and checked out the link.

http://masteringdiabetes.acemlnb.com/lt.php?s=ad5907f39a14b9a2c2601e7db4c5f57c&i=2074A2087A2A37606

They are having free online video sessions this next week, but they also offered links to two free ebooks that explained the premise of their study. The final conclusion was to adopt a plant-based diet. The challenge they gave was to try and just eat Fruits, Vegetables, and Nuts and then later reintroduce some healthy whole grains.

 

I am not unfamiliar with plant-based diets. Years ago my inlaws read Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live and adopted his diet plan. They had amazing results. They shared their journey with all their kids and I got the book and read it and even tried it for a while. But I was not sold enough to maintain it for very long. Then about a year ago my own father was struggling with Type 2 diabetes. I had read a study by a Dr. Neal Barnard that talked about reversing Type 2 diabetes by eating a low-fat, plant-based diet. My parents got his book, tried the diet and had amazing results, lowering my dad’s A1C from 6.4 to 5.7 in two months. I again half-heartedly tried the diet since I myself am prediabetic, but I wasn’t very dedicated and didn’t stick to it for very long.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to be vegan. I want to eat meat. I want to enjoy cheese. Vanity, wanting to lose weight, was not a good enough incentive for me to totally change my lifestyle. But, if you are telling me that perhaps I can come out from under this persistent depression, well, that seems like a good enough incentive. If I lower my A1C and lose weight, that would be great too.

I am actually feeling hopeful. I feel like I’ve been being nudged towards this diet for several years now and I’ve just been dragging my feet. So, I’m going to try it. I’m thinking I’m going to probably need to give it a couple months before I can give an honest assessment as to how it’s going. I’ll keep you all updated.

Here’s the game plan. I’m going to make myself a giant pot of vegetable soup so I have something easy on hand.  I put in a good supply of fruit and vegetables today. The only thing I forgot to buy was nuts. I’ll have to pick those up later. Wish me luck!