Tag Archives: diet

20-day diet prep plan: Day 17 – begin the process of choosing a diet

Book covers: sugar addict + 21-day sugar detox

Okay, time to process the last couple days’ assignments. By now you should have:

Now to process what you learned there.

But first, a note. To keep things upfront, I want you to know that if you buy any of these books by clicking the links on this page, I’ll get 4-6% of the price — but that doesn’t affect your cost at all, and it helps keep this blog viable. So if you decide to do that, thanks!  🙂

You certainly don’t have to buy any books to start a diet, but for me anyway, understanding the “why” behind something — and knowing that other people have found success with a certain approach — goes a long way toward helping me really engage in the process.

Sugar quiz results

If sugar is your captor:

If, after taking the Sugar quiz, you discovered that sugar is your Jabba the Hut…

leia+jabba

…then I recommend checking out this book: The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program, by Kathleen DesMaisons. DesMaisons proposes that some people have what she calls “sugar sensitivity,” making them biologically more susceptible to having an addiction-like response to sugar and carbs.

Sugar Addict's Total Recovery ProgramI was already living pretty sugar-free when I was introduced to this author, so I can’t speak firsthand about how her plan works, but the friend who told me about this book had good success with it, and the reviews on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive. (And DesMaisons’ advice about eating potato at bedtime did wonders for my insomnia!)

A little about the author’s background:

As Kathleen DesMaisons neared 240 pounds, she thought losing weight was simply a matter of willpower: develop enough discipline to keep the pounds off, and everything would be fine.

But as time went on and things didn’t change, DesMaisons felt like “a slug who couldn’t get it right.”

Her work as the head of a treatment center for alcoholics and drug addicts caused her… to see her compulsive use of… sugars and carbohydrates, as an addiction. When DesMaisons lost weight through a friend’s protein and vegetable diet — and kept it off — she returned to school, obtaining the first degree in Addictive Nutrition.  (Source)

She recommends that people with “sugar sensitivity” not rush to cut sugar completely out of their diet,  and she lays out five other steps to complete first, to make the break-up with sugar easier and more successful.

If sugar is your “frenemy”:

Maybe you have some difficulties with sweets and carbs. You’re in friendly company; most of us do!

If sweetened drinks (including artificially sweetened ones), other sweets, and/or carby foods such as chips, crackers, pasta, and bread/bagels/donuts/muffins/etc. are currently a regular part of your diet, you might do best to just concentrate on reducing or eliminating those items for now.

21 Day Sugar DetoxOne book that I think does a good job of this is The 21-Day Sugar Detox, by Diane Sanfilippo. Again, this isn’t a book I’ve walked through myself (I was already sugar-free when I started Paleo), but I kept hearing about it from others. Now I’ve read a good deal of it and it all sounds very solid! She explains the whys and hows of nutrition in simple, easy-to-understand language, and lays out a plan to get sugar and processed carbs out of your diet.

A little about the book, from Amazon:

Use the easy-to-follow meal plans and more than 90 simple recipes in this book to bust a lifetime of sugar and carb cravings in just three weeks. Three levels of the program make it approachable for anyone….

By focusing on quality protein, healthy fats, and good carbs, this program will help you change not only the foods you eat, but also your habits around food, and even the way your palate reacts to sweet foods…. After changing your everyday eating habits, you will begin to gain a new understanding of how food works in your body–and just how much nutrition affects your entire life.

So, if you’ve never eliminated sugar completely from your diet, or if you have but have backtracked, I think this would be a really solid place to start.

Let me repeat that, I want to make sure no one skips over it:

—————–

If you haven’t already eliminated

sugar and refined carbs from your diet,

start working on just those!

—————–

I’ll give you some specific direction later.

Already free from sugar?

Lucky you! If sugar and carbs aren’t a big deal for you, but you still have some issues you think may be diet related — such as fatigue, allergies, joint pain, digestive problems, mood swings, adult acne — you may want to consider eliminating some other foods from your diet. Read on…

About food sensitivities

If you scored high on the food sensitivity quiz — or even if you just have one item on the list that is particularly bugging you — you may benefit from trying an elimination diet.

That means eliminating one or more types of food from your diet completely for a specific period of time, watching to see if your symptoms improve. Usually, this is two weeks at the very minimum, but four weeks is better. Then at the end of the abstention period, you add back one type of food (if you were eliminating more than one) and watch to see if symptoms reappear.

Giving this proper attention would make this post reeeeeally long, so to keep your reading for today short, I’m going to continue this topic tomorrow.

New Year, New Diet: 20-Day Prep Plan! (And my salad equation)

20-day prep plan for starting a new diet

Are you thinking about starting a new diet — excuse me — a new way of eating at the beginning of the new year? Good for you!

applauding minions

 

Why not stack the odds for success in your favor? Instead of just diving in unprepared on January 1, use these last three weeks of December to gird your loins for battle! I’m here to help.

Every day, I’ll be posting an activity or two that will help you mentally or physically prepare for a fresh start on January 1. The weekday assignments will usually be pretty light; the Saturday and Sunday assignments will involve a little more time. But this is time that will pay forward to bring you greater success next month.

And since we’re starting on Saturday, we’re going to dive right into it! Your assignment for today: make a grocery list then do some shopping.

Get groceries for healthy salads

One of the things that can make or break your efforts to stick to healthy eating is knowing a few easy meals that you can throw together based on things that you always have on hand.

Salads are an easy meal, and can be a healthy choice that fits into almost any diet plan — as long as the dressing isn’t full of sugar, corn syrup, and other sugary things.

Here’s my equation for creating a delicious salad:

Greens + onions + something sweet and tangy + something crunchy and maybe salty + cheese (optional) + protein (optional) + dressing, including some healthy fat!

Your greens can be spinach, romaine, kale, mixed baby greens, or any combination. Iceberg lettuce contains few nutrients, though, so you’re better off with something else.

Onions can be white, yellow, green or red, or they may be blended into the dressing. If you’re concerned about onions overpowering your salad, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes or so, then drain them before adding to the salad.

Sweet and tangy is usually fruit, but can also be vegetable. Tomatoes are popular, as are craisins or other dried fruit. Consider other possibilities: fresh berries such as blueberries or sliced strawberries; diced apple or pear; or chunks of mango, orange, tangerine, or grapefruit. Diced cooked sweet potato is another nice option.

Avoid relying on croutons for your crunchy item. Nuts are gluten-free, low carb, and higher in nutrition. Skip anything candied or sugared; use raw or toasted pecans, walnuts, cashews, pepitas, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, almonds slivered or sliced… You get the idea! Crisp/crunchy veggies also work well: celery, jicama, cabbage. Crispy bacon is another solid option. Cuz bacon makes everything better! And a few crumbles of real, good quality bacon is not a diet breaker.

If you’re not avoiding dairy, cheese makes a nice addition to many salads. Popular choices include feta, blue cheese, and goat cheese. Parmesan and cheddar are appropriate for certain salads. Anything is possible, though. Except Velveeta. Please: never Velveeta!

If you’re going to make your salad a meal, some thinly-sliced, already-cooked meats will bring the protein you need. Chicken, steak, pork, shrimp, tuna, leftover salmon or crabcakes are all fair game! Eggs are another possibility: hard-boiled and chopped, or fried and laid on top! (Just look up #putaneggonit on Instagram!)

We’ll talk more in the coming days about the error of low-fat thinking, but for now, please just trust me on this: your salad needs fat! Lack of fat is one of the things that will make you hungry again in an hour or two. (Sugar is the other.) So replacing those low-fat, sugar-filled, store-bought dressings with healthy, whole-food, homemade dressings is going to make a huge difference in the frequency and strength of your cravings.

While there’s great controversy about which fats are healthy and which are not, pretty much everyone agrees on these: olive oil and avocados. Bacon, cheese, eggs, and nuts are other possibilities, but more controversial.

So make sure you have a good quality 100% extra virgin olive oil on your grocery list. (My favorite everyday brand: California Olive Ranch. Because it’s made in America, I figure it’s fresher, which is important. You can get it at Dillon’s and World Market. Possibly other places, but I know those two for certain.)

Oh, and this is not a hard-and-fast rulebook (except for the low-sugar, some-fat rule); just a few parameters to get you started. There are no salad police!

Not sure how to combine these? Study some online restaurant menus for inspiration, or search for salads on allrecipes.com, or your other favorite food blog.

Here are a few of my favorites:

 

antipasto salad

Sugar-free salad dressings

sugar-free poppy seed dressingI have several sugar-free salad dressing recipes on this site. Peruse these and pick out two or three you’d like to try:

Now make a grocery list of salad and dressing ingredients based on what you’d like to try, and hit the store! (If Creamy Italian is one of your picks, go ahead and make it today; it tastes better when the ingredients have had several hours to mellow and blend.)

Want to follow along for the rest of the countdown? You can do that by…

Like this page? – Please pin it!

20-day prep plan for starting a new diet

The miraculous factory: You

As a hobby, Eric Holubow seeks out abandoned architectural spaces — like old factories, churches, theatres, and prisons. The spaces are usually in some state of decay, and Eric photographs them as an art project, but with a journalistic feel.

Here is one example, from the original article:

Designed in an inspiring Neo-classical style… the massive Richmond Power Station in northeastern Philadelphia was built in 1925…. The plant’s Turbine Hall, one of the biggest open rooms ever designed, once housed the world’s largest Westinghouse turbo-generators, which provided power to the city’s bustling industrial and residential sectors. Closed since 1985, the plant has been used as a set in a number of Hollywood feature films. Ironically, crews that use the structure have to provide their own power generators, as the dormant plant is… no longer connected to the region’s electrical grid.

factory/power plant - photo by eric holubow

I share his fascination for things crumbling, rusty, and history-laden — but that’s not what this post is about.

It’s about you.

Continue Reading

Changing your diet starts with changing your mind… and then your kitchen

change the way you think to change the way you eat

Changing your diet comes down to some really practical things. And if you can break it down and look at it as a series of small changes, it becomes much less daunting.

I love these seven strategies that Dr. Mark Hyman suggests for revolutionizing your eating habits. And I think the number one item is especially smart:

1. Change your mind about cooking. When you view cooking as an act of love that you share with your family, you strengthen bonds, teach important life-extending skills to your children, and enrich and nourish your bodies and your souls.

How would it change your kitchen if you saw preparing food as an awesome privilege?

This has certainly been the case for me! I used to view cooking dinner as drudgery; now I see it as a creative outlet, and a way to thank my husband for working hard all day! And to bless any friends or family who might be joining us.

(Yes, I work too, but I have more freedom in my schedule than he does, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. Creating a healthy, enjoyable meal is one of the ways I show that gratitude. When he retires, there will be more sharing of the load!)

2. Keep staples nearby. …3. Choose frozen. While fresh foods in the produce aisles are ideal, frozen berries, vegetables, and other foods make longer-lasting alternatives. You can stock up and have [them] on hand in your kitchen for healthy, easy meals when you can’t get to the market or these items are out of season.

Some items I try to always have stocked in my kitchen: a bag of onions, fresh spinach and/or romaine, carrots, celery, cooked/diced sweet potato, tuna, one or more kinds of already-cooked meat, eggs, avocado (or Wholly Guacamole singles), and coconut milk. In the freezer: more meat (cooked or not), mahi mahi, shrimp, frozen berries and/or cherries, green beans and other veggies. More detail in my how I stock my kitchen post.

4. Reclaim your kitchen. Establish your kitchen as the ground-zero family meeting place and establish it exclusively for cooking and socializing.

clear off the kitchen table!

This one challenges me! I think we (me and the hubs) need to kick the laptops out of our kitchen. The clutter we accumulate nearby quickly takes over. (True confession: I tidied up a bit before taking the above picture of my end of the kitchen table!)

5. Re-evaluate your time. Time is the biggest excuse why many of my patients don’t cook. Keep a journal for one week to monitor your time. You might be surprised at how you spend your time.

I highly recommend this! I think most of us would find ourselves much happier and healthier if we gave up a few rounds of Candy Crush or a couple hours of TV or internet or “retail therapy” on the weekend to spend a little more time planning and prepping meals for the week.

6. Make mistakes. If you’re new to cooking or your skills have gotten rusty, don’t aim for perfection with your first recipe—aim for experimenting and practicing. Start with… basic recipes with few ingredients and work your way up to something more complex.

Yes, yes, yes! Just try stuff! Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t come out great. Learn and move ahead!

7. Get everyone involved. Enlist help from family members—drag your kids away from their video games and ask them to measure ingredients, pull food from the fridge, or even chop veggies if they’re ready to take on this task. Decide on meals together to get everyone excited about what’s in store.

Again — Amen! If you don’t have kids, make it time with your spouse, friend, or sister. Or, if you’re an introvert, choose your favorite music, crank it up, and relish the alone time!

If you do have kids, and if having all the kids in the kitchen at once is a sure recipe for chaos and bickering, take one kid at a time and make it a special one-on-one time for the two of you. Let them choose the music. Infect them with a love for preparing good, healthy food! (Spoken from one who wishes she’d done it this way early on. Oh well, maybe with grandkids.)

Start kids (or yourself) off with something fun and easy, like cookies (they could be Paleo! like these coconut cookies), and work your way up to healthier, more complex stuff. My daughter’s love for cooking began early — mostly in her grandma’s kitchen!

changing your diet starts in the kitchen!

 

By the time she was twelve, she was able to make chicken noodle soup from scratch, all by herself. Ten (fast!) years later, she’s now married and easily handles the day-to-day cooking. (I’m so proud of you, Sweetie!)

So don’t make changing your diet overly complicated. Start with learning a little more about prepping and cooking food, with simple dishes, and with changing your mind about creating meals!

(One way to learn? Follow me on Instagram. I often shoot a quick pic of my easiest meals and post them there with brief notes about what went into them. @janalovesrealfood )

“Changing your mind” typography by dudebeawsome on Instagram

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Ready to cut refined sugar and/or grains out of your diet –

but still want to enjoy sweets?

Check out my cookbook…

 sugar-free dessert cookbook now available

What percentage of daily calories should come from fat?

olive-oil-bottle-640



Excerpt from a Q & A with Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard School of Public Health and Amy Myrdal Miller, M.S., R.D. of The Culinary Institute of America. 

Do I need to watch my percentage of calories from fat?

Willett: No. When you cook or read nutrition labels, don’t fixate on fat percentages. As long as you use healthy fats, and you keep your portion sizes modest, it doesn’t matter if your dish or meal has 30 percent, 40 percent, or more of its calories from fat. The same is true for your overall diet: Don’t worry about the percentage of calories from fat. Focus on choosing foods with healthy fats.

(Now, if experts could only agree on what is and isn’t a healthy fat! Most everyone agrees that olive oil is healthy, and all agree that trans fats are nothing but bad. However, butter, cream, lard, beef fat, coconut oil, and peanut oil are all hotly debated.)

photo credit: USDAgov via photopin cc

Fat vs. low-fat: Low-fat diet means MORE heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.

Caprese Salad

There is growing evidence that the war on fat was misguided. One of the best studies to date compared a Mediterranean-type diet with added olive oil (at least 4 tablespoons daily) or nuts (a large handful daily) to a low-fat “prudent” diet. People consuming extra fat from olive oil or nuts had fewer heart attacks, strokes and deaths from cardiovascular causes (New England Journal of Medicine, April 4, 2013).
Not only did the Mediterranean diet with extra monounsaturated fats reduce heart risk, it also lowered the likelihood of developing diabetes (Annals of Internal Medicine, Jan. 7, 2014).

Source: Bradenton Herald 

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2014/04/29/5126434/eat-more-fat-to-lower-cholesterol.html#storylink=cpy

Your diet soda may be making you fat.

diet-pop-may-be-making-you-fat-550x900
Studies from multiple sources are discovering that diet soft drinks may not be the healthy choice that most people think they are.

Source of weight gain?

For one study, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio followed 474 diet soda drinkers for almost 10 years. They found that diet soda drinkers’ waists grew 70 percent more than non-drinkers. Even more shocking was their discovery that drinking two or more diet sodas a day increased waist sizes 500 percent more as compared to people who avoided the stuff entirely.
A few other reasons why diet pop may not be as good a friend as you think it is.

Greater risk for diabetes:

Drinking one diet soda a day was associated with a 36 percent increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes in a University of Minnesota study. Metabolic syndrome is a condition that includes increased waist size, and puts people at high risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

And it may not just be making you fatter, but sadder, too…

Possible link with depression:

A study presented at a the American Academy of Neurology meeting found that over the course of 10 years, people who drank more than four cups or cans of soda a day were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who steered clear of sugary drinks. The correlation held true for both regular and diet drinks, but researchers noted that the risk appeared to be greater for those who primarily drank diet sodas.

Possible factor in strokes and heart attacks:

Just one diet soft drink a day could boost your risk of having a vascular event such as stroke, heart attack or vascular death, according to researchers from the University of Miami and Columbia University. Their study found that diet soda devotees were 43 percent more likely to have experienced a vascular event than those who drank none. 

But how?

Other studies suggest a clue: “Artificial sweeteners could have the effect of triggering appetite but, unlike regular sugars, they don’t deliver something that will squelch the appetite,” says Sharon Fowler, obesity researcher at UT Health Science Center at San Diego.

Wikipedia weighs in:

(pun intended!)

The effectiveness of diet soda as a weight loss tool has been called into question. 

Changing the food energy intake from one food will not necessarily change a person’s overall food energy intake or cause a person to lose weight. One study at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, reported by Sharon Fowler at the ADA annual meeting, actually suggested the opposite, where consumption of diet soda correlated with weight gain. While Fowler did suggest that the undelivered expected calories from diet soda may stimulate the appetite, the correlation does not prove that consumption of diet soda caused the weight gain. The ADA has yet to issue an updated policy concerning diet soda. 

In an independent study by researchers with the Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts, soda consumption correlated with increased incidence of metabolic syndrome. Of the 9,000 males and females studied, soda drinkers were at 48% higher risk for metabolic syndrome, which involves weight gain and elevated blood sugar. No significant difference in these findings was observed between sugary sodas and diet drinks. The researchers noted that diet soda drinkers were less likely to consume healthy foods, and that drinking diet soda flavored with artificial sweeteners more than likely increases cravings for sugar-flavored sweets.

Learn more…
Sources: