Tag Archives: diet

USDA Approves GMO Apples

The USDA has approved two varieties of Artic Apples, trademarked by the Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. Due to genetic engineering, these apples do not turn brown when cut, as the gene responsible for the browning has been turned off.

I for one am very and truly disappointed for the introduction of the first GMO apples into the apple marketplace. Apples have been one trustworthy food for non-GMO consumers. Apples are highly nutritious and delicious. I do not know of any health hazard accompanying this new GMO product, but my question is, was this really necessary? Is there such an outcry for non-browning apples? Maybe there is, but I for one will not purchase these.

The varieties approved for sale in the US are Artic Golden Delicious and Artic Granny Smith. I doubt that they will be on the markets soon, as Okanagan will have to convince growers to grow their apples and it will take some time for those trees to bear salable fruit.

With more than 70% of our food supply coming from potential GMO sources, the rise of food allergies, digestive problems and autism, it seems to be the wrong path to go happily skipping down. Biotech foods might not be the source of these problems but one has to wonder why the explosion of these problems, can it truly be just processed sugars and salts. I have no idea, but I do know that it is getting harder and harder to put ‘natural’ foods in our diets and into our bodies.

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The bear in me

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to sleep through the winter. When the air turns cold and the snow falls, I want to curl up and sleep until spring. I have also noticed that I have a craving for carbs during the cold. I think that, like a bear, my body wants to store up fat for the long sleep or at least insulate me from the surrounding cold. I am not sure, but it might be the decrease in serotonin that happens naturally in the winter months. Carbohydrate rich foods can increase serotonin production temporarily. But I am sticking with the bear analogy.

I am continually amazed at the separate intelligence that our body has. It’s incredible that our bodies regulate temperature, balance salt and water levels, and create cravings in an effort to get what it needs. Even when I sleep, my body continues its thousands, perhaps millions of functions. I don’t have to think about it, yet my brain is constantly busy. I wonder if bears dream. I hope so, sleeping all winter gives you lots of time.

I’ve been trying to combat my cravings for carbs with more protein. It’s working until the afternoon, then the compulsion for something sweet really kicks in. I will admit that I do sometimes succumb to the prodding. Now, how to I set my alarm for early spring?

This Incredible Machine

In my last post I wrote about the magic and wonderment of learning and being in awe of everything around me. I am thoroughly enjoying myself learning about nutrition. Even though I am not vegan, I want to learn about these options and how to apply different diets so that they fulfill the nutritional needs for those who choose them. I am fascinated by the effects of food and our environment has on our bodies, even changing the expressions of our genes. Not only are we what we eat, but everything has an effect on us, good or bad. Learning how our bodies change and react constantly to all the forces on us convinces me that there must be an intelligence behind us. I find these internal mechanisms too sophisticated and beautiful to come about by chance.

Our bodies are incredible machines, evolving and adapting every moment. The more I learn, the more amazed I become. I am not only learning this for my own health and satisfaction, I truly want to share this new found health with those that might be hurting. I am a long way from being able to provide any professional services and I hope that the passion for this does not wane.

Do you want to see something incredible? Look in the mirror. You are an incredible creation. You are an incredible creature adapting and changing every day. I hope that you like where you are today. If not, you can change it. No one knows the future, but it can be more assured if you take the steps to get to the future you want.

I know there can be tough circumstances, we all have had them. But think about how you came through those circumstances, usually stronger and wiser than before you faced them. You are an incredible machine, a living miracle. Have an incredible life. I wish happiness, love and health to you.

A Walk in the Park

I was on vacation this week and had the opportunity to take an extensive walk in our local canal park. Our canal park features Holley Falls, Salt Port pond, a playground, pavilions and grass areas for picnics and sunning. There is also a gazebo that features music on Friday nights in July. I have been in various parts of the park before but I took advantage of my renewing health and walked the major paths in and around the canal park.

The length of the trails that I walked was 3.24 miles. My son tells me that it would be rated a moderate to strenuous hike. Except for a small portion on the actual canal, the rest of the trails are hilly. He belongs to a hiking group and visits various parks and trails in Western NY. I sometimes accompany him as his guest. I am slowly building up my strength and stamina for these adventures.

Exercise is important. Even though my current diet was not purposed for weight loss, I am taking advantage of this wonderful side effect. I find that losing additional weight has been easier when I exercise. There have been occasions where hiking with my son wipes out all the calorie intake I had prior to the hike. This helps to speed up my metabolism, strengthen my muscles and add to my energy.

I am fortunate to live in an area with lots of green space. Not only do we have parks in many of the towns, there are trails that follow abandoned railway lines. These create segmented paths between roads establishing very visible start and end points.

Walking the greenways is a calm and relaxing way to exercise. I enjoy looking at all the different types of plants and trees along the path. The sounds of nature surround you. Whether walking alone or with others, you still get the benefits of the creations that abound. It is nice to feel the breeze when it kicks up as it rustles through the leaves. I may even be fortunate enough to see some wildlife.

So put on your most comfortable shoes and take a walk. It will be good for your health. It doesn’t have to be a long walk. If you are not use to walking, then start slow and work your way up. Walk for 10 minutes and then turn around. Do that for a week, then increase the time to 15 minutes out and 15 back. Before you know it, you will have reached the 30 minutes of daily exercise recommended by most health practitioners. Even if it isn’t every day, you can work up to that too.

See you on the trails.

Eating Well – Low Carb and Without Grains

I am often asked, and sometimes volunteer, what I eat on my diet. Of course I eat a variety of things. At first, the thought of eating without grains is foreign to eating a Standard American Diet which stresses carbs from grains, breads and cereals. So what else is there? The next time you are at your market, stand in the middle of the produce section and look around. If you are at a large supermarket like Tops or Wegmans, you will see a vast array of fresh vegetables and fruits. These have carbs but they are usually low glycemic. Your meat section is another area that is generally grain free unless it is prepared and breaded. Frozen vegetables and fruits are another area to add to your diet. Also, the bulk foods area offers many nuts and mixtures that are delightful sources of good fats and proteins.

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I enjoy the standard bacon (2 slices) and one egg breakfast except instead of potato and toast, I eat mine with sautéed broccoli and cauliflower (1cup each sautéed in 1tbsp of salted butter, with dried minced garlic and salt added). This adds bulk and slow carbs to the breakfast. I usually drink a 16oz glass of detox water (2oz Lemon Juice, 1oz Lime Juice, two packets of Splenda and 13oz of water). I also have a cup of coffee, This would seem like a lot, but the total nutrition for this particular breakfast, according to my LoseIt! app, is: Total Calories = 329, Fat = 24.6g (12.1g saturated), Cholesterol = 268.3mg, Sodium = 581.1mg, Carbohydrates = 10.8g (Fiber 5g, Sugar 1g, Net Carbs = 5.8g), Protein = 17.7g. You can lower these even more by using unsalted butter or olive oil, substitute turkey bacon and egg substitute. You can enjoy a satisfying meal that has little calories and is filling.

Another wonderful breakfast I enjoy is sautéed cabbage and vegetables. I usually slice up 4 – 6 cups of Savoy cabbage. I slice snow peas lengthwise into strips that complement the cabbage. I add carrot matchsticks, I also add small zucchini squash cut into matchsticks and shredded red or purple cabbage. I use a garlic and herb sautéing butter which adds wonderful flavor. I may add baby kale at the end and finish it with a sprinkling of lime juice. This makes it bright. For a protein component, I might add ham, sausage or chicken. A plate full of this goodness ranges from 200 to 300 calories, is delicious and satisfying.

Bullet-proof Coffee is coffee with 1tbsp coconut oil or butter added. I use coconut oil. My 16oz thermos of coffee, creamer and zero calorie sweetener with the coconut oil is 165 calories. As coconut oil is mostly medium chain triglycerides that are processed in the liver into ketones, it is great at staving off hunger.

My lunch can consist of 8 cups of fresh baby spinach / baby kale mix that is cooked down with minced garlic and onion in olive oil on top of turkey sausage. This is just under 200 calories. I usually eat a fresh grapefruit for an additional 106 calories. This lunch gives me a good supply of omega 3 fatty acids, plenty of vitamins and minerals, and fiber. I usually have herbal tea with my lunch.

My dinner usually consists of a stir fry using fresh or frozen vegetables and usually steak tips or fajita beef. With about 4oz of meat, vegetables and oil to stir fry, a calorie total is around 450 calories. I will then add some fresh pineapple for the sweetness, fiber and the great enzymes within the pineapple, the ones that disallow its use in gelatin. This meal completes out about 550 calories. I usually have my detox water (0 calories).

You can see that I can get variety, good flavor, and rich nutrition without eating grains. With that being said, I do find it hard to get enough fiber, so I supplement my diet with psyllium husks caps and ground flax seed (I usually add 2tsp to 3oz of low fat yogurt). I also take a multivitamin each day. Many people put no faith in vitamins but I think it is a wonderful insurance policy to get a greater range of vitamins and minerals in my diet.

Carb Sense

Carbohydrates are essential for good health. They give our body energy. But, we must be aware of how carbs effect our body. There are simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbs are absorbed quickly into the blood stream, whereas the body has to work at releasing the carbs in their more complex forms. Both enter the blood as glucose. How quickly they raise blood sugar is behind the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load numbers.
The increase of sugar in the blood stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin, which is a hormone that the body uses to regulate the blood sugar by informing your body it is time to store the sugar as glycogen and fat. Simple carbs cause a higher sugar load and causes a higher insulin response.
But aren’t their good carbs? Yes. Eat more fresh vegetables, more fresh fruits and less grains and cereals. Vegetables have sugar but it is harder for your body to get to it and causes a gradual absorption into the blood stream. Fruits have more sugar, in the form of fructose, which usually has a higher glycemic load than vegetables. Nature usually pairs these sugars with fiber.
Fiber is not digested by your body, so these carbs basically pass through you. These can be subtracted from the total carbs to get your “net” carbs, also sometimes called impact or effective carbs. If you eat something with a Total Carb count of 16g, with 4g of fiber, then this food would have 12g of net carbs.
You may notice that the fiber and sugar carbs listed on the label do not add up to the total carb count. For instance, a sweet potato, 5” long (130g) has 112 calories. It has 26g of Total Carbohydrate, 4g of fiber and 5g of sugar. So what is the other 17 grams? Those are complex carbohydrates or starches. It has a medium glycemic load of 11. Foods with a glycemic load of 10 or less are considered to have a low glycemic load. High glycemic load (20 and higher) foods increase blood sugar the most.
Keep your net carb count low by using fresh vegetables, supplemented by fruit. Not only do fresh vegetables offer complex carbs, they are usually packed with lots of nutrients. Foods such as raw cauliflower, broccoli, tomato, and even celery are very nutrient dense, make you feel full and accomplish all this with limited calories.
Happy eating. You don’t have to necessarily count carbs, just realize where they come from. Stay away or limit obvious starches as they quickly turn to sugar and increase your insulin (storage hormone) response. Good health to you.

Gluten Free Adventure – Part 2

Like many things in life, plans morph into something unexpected. My overall pain and arthritis pain has greatly subsided on the weeks of avoiding wheat, barley and rye. However, my stomach was still very much bothering me. Always being the inquisitive one, I began seeking information as to why my digestion discomfort continues. On this information search, I discovered a short video as to the number one mistake people make on a gluten free diet. Well, of course, that piqued my interest. The mistake was to not avoid all grains. The doctor spoke of a condition called Leaky Gut, or more clinically, intestinal permeability. Since my gut was not feeling any better on the GF diet, I decided that I would go on a Grain Free (GrF) diet. So I am now making it a point to have no grains, no nightshade vegetables (potato, tomato, eggplant), no peppers, and very limited legumes. I am also cooking all vegetables so that they will be easier to digest.

My current goal is to eat no more than 100 grams of carbs per day, mostly from vegetables and consuming low glycemic index foods.

Is it working? I have been on this diet for two weeks and my stomach has calmed down a little. More time will be needed to see if this is the right path. In the meantime, my wife and I are having an interesting time preparing very low carb meals that are satisfying. What we have discovered though, is that our cravings have subsided. We are less hungry even though we are consuming less calories. A side benefit is that we are losing weight.

Losing weight was not the plan or purpose of this adventure. The plan was to feel better and gain more mobility as well as heal our guts. My wife has digestion issues as well, but not the very same issues. Her gut is actually reacting better to the diet more quickly than mine. I am so very glad for her.

I am becoming more and more convinced that inflammation is generating a large host of problems for individuals. I am glad that the science is beginning to accumulate to help people find the answers they need and are right for them.  Body chemistry differs so blanket answers are difficult to form. Just like persons react differently to medications, the same can be true for foods.

One group of professionals is telling me that they have no answers and yet I seem to be finding them.  The internet is a wonderful tool to seek out those who looked for answers before. Are they all right? No. What works for them might not work for me. What works for me, might not work for you. Each of our bodies is unique. Differing blood types, differing sensitivities, and metabolic profiles require differing approaches. I believe the best way to achieve success is to try these different approaches, paying close attention to what our bodies tell us. There are so many diet ideas out there. The A to Z Diet study compared four popular diets showed that the subjects reacted differently to the same diet. So far, on my current path, my body is reacting positively, so much so, I do not want to do anything to reverse the progress.

I will gladly listen to a hundred differing opinions and seek out a common thread and test it for truth then to listen to just one voice which has already proven to me that it just isn’t working. But even with that said, I want to give thanks to all the friends, family, professionals and internet contributors that are accompanying me on this journey. It isn’t over yet and just may last the rest of my life.

Calorie Surprises

I have not had much success with diets, but about 6 weeks ago, I loaded an app onto my cell phone that lets me track calories. It calculates my caloric needs for the day and deducts 500, 750, or 1000 calories to arrive at a calorie budget depending on the amount of weight I want to lose each week.

The app is connected to a website but is quite self-contained. It provides charts, nutritional information, allows you to add friends to help motivate, and awards badges for achievements.

As I enter food into the log, I am often surprised by the calorie content. Things that I thought would be high in calories are actually much lower than those foods that I thought were low. A cup of granola cereal with raisins has about the same calories as six slices of bacon, who knew?

At work, our office provides bagels for the employees, making available a tub of butter and cream cheese. Although it may be healthier for me than a donut, it would cost me about 400 calories from my budget, a glazed donut would only cost me half that. I am finding that breads, biscuits, and rolls contain lots of calories.

Another surprise was going to a burger restaurant and finding that their fruit and nut salad had 300 hundred more calories than their regular burger. Most vegetables can be my friend. An entire cup of broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans is only 30 calories. A medium banana or apple has as many calories as two cups of sliced strawberries. Eating out is more interesting. The app allows you to explore menu items for many national restaurants. A potato encrusted fish entrée, at one of our frequent eating spots, with broccoli and glazed carrots are just over 300 calories and not only tastes wonderful but is quite satisfying.

Creating low calorie meals can be interesting. We usually rely on stir fry vegetables with lean meats and light sauces. Chicken breasts and strips usually fit the bill. We have also switched to low calorie drinks. It is amazing how many calories are contained in soft drinks and fruit drinks.

I found that eating slowly and matching up protein with carbs allow me to feel more satisfied. So far, I have lost 14 pounds. I don’t feel deprived because I get to pick out what I eat allowing me to feel more in control of what I consume. If I have enough calories in my budget, I sometimes have a portion of a candy bar or other treat. My diets have never lasted this long. I think it is because I don’t actually see it as a diet per se, but a lifestyle change. I want this to become a habit — a life-long habit.