EAT PLANTS, MAINLY PLANTS, MOSTLY PLANTS, AS MANY PLANTS AS POSSIBLE, DID I SAY PLANTS?
I’m sure there are more ways to say it (and lots of people have said it before me) but I certainly can’t say it enough. Plants are filled with everything you need. EVERYTHING. Between fruits and vegetables and grains, and a diet filled with lots of variety and all the colors of the rainbow, you can get your vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, polyphenol, micronutrient, calcium and protein needs all met without popping a pill. Human beings existed a lot longer on this planet than little sugar gummy bear chewable vitamins because they ATE their nutrients in their food. If you go back a hundred years there were no premade prepackaged dinners in the freezer section. Dinner had to be made from scratch, and most of the time you had to grow the food that went into it. There is no soft way to say this: not eating properly can shorten your life, and affect pretty much everything you think and feel about who you are. I want you to take a minute to imagine yourself sick. Think about the very worst health scare you can imagine. Now think about having to live with that every single day.
Maybe you already have to test your blood sugar multiple times a day. Maybe you already give yourself an insulin shot regularly. Maybe you have had multiple heart disease scares. Maybe you have gone through chemo or dialysis. Maybe you already have felt the effects of living in a body that is sick and tired. If that is the case isn’t it time to try something new to help yourself heal?
Most of us have been exposed relentlessly to media that tells you that you have to look and be a certain way. Raise your hand if you have done faddish crash diets to get there. (Mine’s up by the way) How many of them worked long term?
Don’t most diets work short term? Calories in, less than calories expended, it’s a simple equation, right? The problem is that most diets don’t consider the types of calories you are consuming or the insulin spikes that you are getting from the foods you are eating. I picked up a diet book from the best seller pile last year and skimmed through the suggested 100 and 150 calories snack list you were supposed to consume two to three times throughout the day. The author had actually included cookie and cracker products whose second ingredient was high fructose corn syrup or sugar and listed it as an acceptable snack to be eaten throughout the day!
I mean, really.
Which of you out there still think you can eat mass produced cookies loaded with sugar, hydrogenated fats, ultra-processed flours and chemically created flavors and lose weight and get healthy? If you believe that still, then I hate to break it to you about the tooth fairy. She hates sugar too.
Sugar is the number one thing that you need to remove from any eating plan in order to reboot your metabolism. If you consume sugar then it truly doesn’t matter how many calories you consume. You can eat far less calories than you expend and you will still gain weight. If you want the scientific research on this go to the reference section in the back of the book, but before you do, really think about it. Don’t you know deep down that this is true? How many diets have you gone on, counted your calories, paid close attention to your exercise and still not lost weight? Was your diet built on consuming the traditional 8-11 servings of grains a day? Were those calories painstakingly counted from processed grains, bread, breakfast cereal, or pasta? If you are counting the calories from the back of a package of processed food then what you are really doing is counting the calories of sugar.
1) Refined carbohydrates convert into sugar.
2) Sugar prevents you from losing weight and being healthy.
3) Sugar prevents your metabolism from working properly.
4) Your body cannot function properly on a diet of sugar or flour.
5) There is nothing else. This is really all you need to know right here.
So diet books (some of them written by doctors) are suggesting you can lose weight by eating cookies and pretzels. Big Food Inc tells you what to eat based on the amounts of sugar they can pump into processed foods and no wonder you are confused. Big Food Inc wants your money (sugar addiction lasts a lifetime) and will stop at no lengths to get it. It is up to you to start reading labels, start being aware of the marketing gimmicks and begin educating yourself and take matters into your own hands. I will give you the tools to deal with the grocery store, just keep reading.
And no, you can’t get healthy and lose weight long term eating cookies filled with high fructose corn syrup. But you can eat organic raisin oatmeal bars see page # — It’s all about the ingredients and what you put in them and how often you treat yourself.
So everyone knows that there are categories of food. But the categories of food on the USDA ‘my plate’ are not the ones we are going to utilize. First off, we are going to think more about nutrients and quality and less about volume. We are going to eat unlimited amounts of certain food and limit others. We are going to eliminate all simple carbohydrates for the first 28 days and all processed sugar. Once your body reboots its natural insulin producing response you can tolerate small amounts of naturally occurring sugars back in. Until then, Sayonara Domino.
Go open your pantry.
WAIT. Don’t do this until you are ready to commit time to the process and have at least a couple of hours to start. You good? Ok let’s go to work.
On our first raid we are looking for one thing: SUGAR.
You are going to take anything that has any form of sugar in the first seven, or better yet ten, ingredients and place it on the counter. We will go back over them when you have found all the sugar.
Glucose, sucrose, anhydrous dextrose, fructose, brown sugar, can sugar, honey, corn sweetener, corn syrup solids, corn sweetener, crystal dextrose, evaporated can juice, fruit juice concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, lactose, maltose, carrbitol, diglycerides, disaccharides, florida crystals, fructooligosacharides, galactose, mannitol, nectars, pentose, raisin syrup, ribose, rice syrup, rice malt, rice syrup solids, sorbitol, sorghum, mannitol, sucanet, xylitol, zylose, sucanat, hexitol, concentrated fruit juice, erythritol, glucitol, glucosamine, inversol, isomalt, maltodestrin, carbitol, aspartame and another couple of dozen I don’t know. The key is to find anything that says “ose” at the end or “ides” there are a few “ols” too. If sugar is listed in the first seven ingredients (and they are listed by volume) then you know a big percentage of that food is sugar. Just for good measure pull out all the artificially sweetened items as well. Anything with the suffixes mentioned attached to a word that sounds suspiciously vague, count as sugar.
If you are a typical American family, about 75-90 percent of your pantry will be on the counter. You can put back anything that has NATURAL sugar lower than the seventh ingredient. Put the rest in a box. Natural sugar is what you would see on a farm. Evaporated cane juice, honey (yes, I know this is not vegan), molasses, maple syrup, brown sugar, rice syrup, agave. You get the idea, right? It doesn’t mean you are going to eat the items containing the natural sugars. You are just not throwing them out.
Ready for the second sweep?
Anything that says “low-fat” “no-fat” or “reduced fat.” Surprised? Of course you are. The thing is low fat foods are processed within an inch of their life to take out the naturally occurring fats. Also, I will guarantee that literally anything you have on the counter is a marketing ploy and not real food. Flip over the box and read the ingredients. Do you KNOW every single ingredient on the label? Can you see it on a farm or buy it by the pound? If not, put it in the box. If all the ingredients are natural, put back in the pantry. My bet is that a lot of what is on your counter is simple carbohydrate sugar and not real food at all. Processed cookies and crackers, breakfast cereals, granolas…all these are loaded with low fat claims and most of them are really just highly processed pseudo food. Low fat yogurt actually contains more sugar than regular whole fat. Low fat is simply an excuse to pump it with other less desirable ingredients to pump up the taste.
Third sweep is any ingredient that you do not know what it is. Certain things are just going to sound sketchy like ‘red this’ or ‘yellow that.’ Other things like MSG we have known about for years but still manage to make its way into many processed sauces and dressings. Preservation of foods is to prevent decomposition, microbial growth or reduce the risk of food borne illnesses but humans have been preserving foods for millennium without the use of methyl-p-hydroxy-benzoate. Don’t ask me what it does, I don’t know.
Anything you can’t buy by the pound put in the box. Anything you haven’t seen at a farmers market put in a box.
*you can buy citric acid and xanthum gum by the pound you just never do. They are sort of ok but do have a high incidence of GMO.
Hydrogenated oils and enriched flours are next. Why enriched flours? Because they have stripped all the good stuff out, bleached it to snowy white, hyper-processed it, and then stuffed the supplements back in. Let’s just start afresh with the unprocessed flours (used in moderation!) which already have all the micronutrients left in. Yes, they are brown and not white, and made out of grains other than wheat, but you are not pumping snow white flour into your system and pretending that it is anything other than sugar smack. Any oils other than olive oil, coconut oil, organic safflower oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, sesame or grapeseed are probably shelf stable hydrogenated yellow grain and seed oils. They aren’t going to help you to thrive. They aren’t going to function in your body as nutrients. Put them in the box.
Next: anything with a flavoring packet, and sweetened dried fruits, any cooked nuts, anything that is there for a food binge.
If you are like me when you are done with this process you have canned tomatoes, pureed pumpkin and beans, unflavored rice cakes, a bag of brown rice that you virtuously bought and never cooked and little else. A few cans of coconut milk and some raw cashews and almonds. Now take the natural sugar items and write a day thirty days from now and put it back in your cupboard. This is your reward food. Now, put all the rejects in your garage to give to your cousin Kyle next time he comes to visit (you don’t like him much anyway) or take it to your local food pantry or closest homeless shelter.
We are now going to do a grocery shop next to get your immediate needs met for the next couple of days. Before you do, think consciously about the fact that YOUR BODY WANTS TO BE WELL. Your body wants to be fit and strong and filled with energy. Think about the time in your life that you felt the strongest and most vital and alive. Don’t you want that all the time? We can’t live forever, but we sure as hell can add quality to our years.
I don’t just do this because I’m afraid of my abs, ass and thighs looking like they’re fifty, I can solve that by crash, yoyo dieting or drinking my calories if that were the only reason. It’s because I don’t want my body to feel old and tired all the time. The best part of having a strong and compact body is being able to run as long as I want, not looking great in a bikini. That is a bonus. I eat the proteins and grains that give me unlimited energy, I eat the greens filled with calcium, I eat the right fats to store for home stretch. If you are anything like me, I hate it when people become holier than thou and born again about what they are doing and preach and judge anyone who isn’t on the same path. I won’t play the role of the zealot (because zealotry in all forms is tiresome) but it is AMAZING to feel strong and vital all the time. I want that for every one of you. You have to do the work though. I will be there to coach you, but you are doing the heavy lifting. Remember one important thing: it took a long time to get either fat or sick or tired. So it’s going to take a while to put it all back together properly. I promise you, if you eat the right foods to take care of your body, you will feel the results quickly. The weight takes time, the vitals take time, and the vitality takes time. What you are going to experience right away is better sleep, more energy, better sex, and bigger poops…the REALLY important things in life.
So what we are going to try is something different. We are going to try thinking about food and food choices in a whole new way. Sure, you think about what’s for dinner or when the next snack is going to be, but do you often think about what TYPE of food you put in your body? Where did that food come from? How was it made? What is it going to do for you? Is the food you are eating fueling your brain or your bones or your blood? Obviously you are here in my kitchen because you are curious and interested in cooking so I am going to teach you how to do that and more, but in return what I need from you is an open mind. You need to be willing to try something different without deciding you don’t like it first. See, every time you open your mouth and put something in it you are making a choice. A choice about how to live, how to thrive, how to be; you ARE WHAT YOU EAT and the food you put in your body is what you become or who you are. Every single particle of food becomes a part of you. You deserve the best healthy body you can possibly have, and one of the ways to get that is to give you the education about how food is made and why you are so important to FOOD INC.
stay tuned for part two tomorrow !