Thursday, 31 May 2012

May 31

Wow, last day of May.  It went by fast.  It was a fun spring month I'd say.


Day 18 of my "diet."   Here's my food log, weight, exercise, and thoughts.

snack before exercise:  0.15 serving of housemate's smoothie.

breakfast, 10 am:  1 lb strawberries and homemade soy yogurt. 

lunch, course 1, noon:  baked oriental yam.  yummy yummy yummy

lunch, course 2, 2 pm:  big bowl of stir-fried veggies:  onions, mushrooms, kale, bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli, cinnamon, cilantro, frozen peas added at end.

dinner, course 1, 7 pm:    carrots (1 lb), sugar snap peas (1/2 lb).

dinner, course 2, 8 pm:  giant salad:  romaine lettuce, cabbage, seed mixture,  date vinegar.

Nutritional information:
Calories: 1326; protein 61 g; fiber 76 g.

Weight:  126.6

Exercise:  swim 1 mile.  bike commute 10 miles.

Thoughts/notes:
  • I'm eating less calories than usual, not sure why.  I could have added beans to my dinner salad but just didn't feel like it.    I love my dinner salad just how it is. 
  • the lunch veggies were really good.  I stir-fried without water or oil!  I started with the onions added to a hot pan.  they sizzle and brown a bit and then release their liquid.  the other veggies have liquid too, especially the mushrooms.   just enough to keep it from getting too dry.  I looked for some chinese 5-spice mixture but didn't have any so I used cinnamon.  I'll have to pick up some of this spice next time I'm near Penzey's.  
  • food prep was easy today.  I might be on to something here.  oh, next time I won't do quite so many veggies at lunch and that will make it go faster--I got a little over-enthusiastic today.
  • tomorrow I eat in a restaurant twice.  I will actually eat their food in one.  in the other I will eat mostly mine in my usual stealth way (order a plain salad and add my own calories).  I plan to go off plan a little in the first restaurant; or you could say on-plan since my plan allows for a small amount of off-plan food.  I guess I need to think of another phrase for planned off-plan, ha.  stay tuned!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

May 30



Day 17 of my "diet."   Here's my food log, weight, exercise, and thoughts.

mini-breakfast before appointment:  about 1/5th serving of housemate's smoothie.  1/2 cup beans.

late morning snack:  carrots (1 lb), sugar snap peas (1/2 lb).

lunch, 1 pm:  baked oriental yam (the BEST sweet potato!).  1 lb strawberries and homemade soy yogurt. 

snack to get me home after evening yoga class:  6 oz blackberries.  yum

Dinner, 8:30 pm (a little later than I'd like):  big delicious salad:  fresh local salad greens, fresh local baby bok choy, cabbage, red bell pepper, 1/2 cup beans, seed mixture, and 2 Tbsp of  date vinegar, all mixed together.    I guess you could call this dessert:   some orange remainders after making housemate's OJ.   it's more of a flavorful nibble but I kind of enjoy it, kind of like nibbling on meat from bone scraps which I use to enjoy too.  

Nutritional information:
Calories: 1356; protein 56 g; fiber 80 g.

Weight:  126.6

Exercise:  evening yoga class.  bike commute 14 miles.

Thoughts/notes:
  • "wing-it" Wednesday worked well!  All I prepped the night before was baking the oriental yam.   To work I brought along a jar of soy yogurt, a bowl, spoon and knife (for prepping the strawberries).  I stopped at the grocery store on my way in and got strawberries, carrots and sugar snap peas.  I ate lunch with a friend in the cafeteria.  I followed Shanna's advice on one of my previous posts, and got some salad greens from a bag, so no chopping of that (did chop the bok choy and cabbage).  Dinner prep took all of 15 minutes!  yes!   good thing 'cause I got home late.
  • dinner salad was really good.  I usually only use 1 Tbsp of  date vinegar but as a treat had 2 today.  yum yum.  The bell pepper was tasteless though.  They came from far away (Holland) and have a big carbon footprint since they are airlifted, so I won't feel pain avoiding them for a while.
  • I don't like exercising at night as much as the morning.  I was tired, late, and didn't get in my meditation/flute playing.  I decided I want to go to bed and read, instead of staying up late doing everything on my list.  next time I'll skip the evening yoga if I can't make the morning class.
  • this was lower calories than usual.  I was more hungry during the day than I'd like, but dinner was so late I don't feel hungry now.  

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

May 29


Day 16 of my "diet."   Here's my food log, weight, exercise, and thoughts.

pre-exercise:  about 1/6th serving of housemate's smoothie. a few carrots.

snack, 10 am:  the rest of my carrots (1 lb total).  I decided to wait until noon to finish breakfast and join housemate in her lunch.

late breakfast, noon:  1 lb strawberries and homemade soy yogurt.  sugar snap peas (1/3 lb)

lunch, 2:30 pm:  big salad topped with veggies.  The veggies were asparagus, onion, mushrooms.  salad is romaine, cabbage and kale (marinated in date vinegar), topped with seed mixture and apple vinegar.

dinner, 6 pm:  same as lunch.

snack, 9:30 pm.  some orange remainders after making housemate's OJ.   some nibbles on raw cabbage.

Nutritional information:
Calories: 1425; protein 72 g; fiber 84 g.

Weight:  128

Exercise:  biked 26 miles.  bike commute 7 miles.

Thoughts/notes:
  • sorry I was a little cranky last night.  I missed my meditation and flute playing.  :)  I have a solution already.  Holly gave me the idea from an email exchange we had.  It occurs to me that I don't have to get in all the GOMBBS (Greens Onions Mushrooms Beans Berries Seeds) that Dr. Fuhrman recommends every single day.  He has said that himself.   I can eat onions and mushrooms one day and none on another.  I can have one veggie one day and another the next.  Also I think I've been going overboard with the veggies.  I could make it easy on myself and have more sweet potatoes and grains--easy to prepare and a fair amount of calories.   So I think in general I'll make some veggies and grain/starch in the morning for lunch, and make a salad when I get home for dinner.  If I won't be home for dinner, I'll make salads for both lunch and dinner in the morning.   I'll see how this works out
  • I love my Tuesday morning bike ride. I saw 2 sandhill cranes right by the bike path.  so much to see in the city and countryside.
  • dinner was a little early because I have a meeting tuesday nights.

good people

I've been so fortunate to spend the past couple of weekends with some really good people. The kind of people you can pick up a conversation with even after a year [ok, a couple] of not seeing one another. People who will ride for 3+ hours with you in 90 degree heat and standstill Chicago traffic...in a car without air conditioning. People who like to talk about things that matter but have no problem teasing you about your love for "Michigan hipster beer" and love being ridiculous.


I was in Chicago in what was quite possibly the hottest weekend of the year so far but had the most gracious hosts (who have the cutest Chicago apartment, complete with a mini greenhouse) and had fun despite the crazy hot weather (and the fact that my car's air conditioning is currently non-functional...yay summer). 


Highlights included dancing sweat detoxing in the gorgeous but non-air conditioned reception hall [if we look delirious, we probably were], battling NATO security...



and eating Longman and Eagle, which you should definitely visit if you're ever in the area {photo courtesy of ryan}. Such creative, thoughtful {and delicious} dishes, with tons of flavor. 


And this past weekend was spent in Bloomington, IN visiting my sister who is done with grad school and smack-dab in the middle of job searching and other important grown-up things. We brunched at Feast before turning into lobsters at the community pool. Their coffee is locally roasted and seriously amazing but probably shouldn't be consumed hot on a 95 degree day. 


Definitely in need of some detoxing via kale smoothies and homemade gazpacho after 2 weekends of good food and good fun. This is definitely my new favorite thing to make because it takes 10 seconds and includes a ton of veggies.


To make, add the following into a blender:
  • 32 oz can of tomatoes (or use your own!)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 jalapeƱo pepper
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
Blend until mixture reaches desired consistency. Eat with a spoon or drink up. 


It was so good to see friends I don't see often during this concentrated period of time; why is keeping in touch so difficult sometimes? I really need to be more intentional because good people are worth the extra effort. I think I'm especially mindful of this as I'm currently living in a city where I know very few people, and I miss having the sense of community I've experienced at other points in life. At the same time, I know that life isn't static, and that's why friendships change and people change and growth happens [incredibly grateful for all of these things]. 

Hope everyone has a good pseudo-Monday. Here's to a 4 day week!

Monday, 28 May 2012

May 28



Day 15 of my "diet."   Here's my food log, weight, exercise, and thoughts.

pre-exercise:  about 1/9th serving of housemate's smoothie.

breakfast, 10 am:   1 lb strawberries and homemade soy yogurt.

lunch, noon:  carrots (1 lb), and sugar snap peas (1/2 lb),  1/2 small cantaloupe

snack, 2:30 pm (hungry):  the other half of the cantaloupe

dinner, 7 pm:  cooked veggies over lettuce.  the veggies were broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, seed mixture, a little apple vinegar.   also had some bites of guacamole that I made for housemate.

nibbled on veggies during tomorrow's food prep.

Nutritional information:
Calories: 1375; protein 65 g; fiber 82 g.

Weight:  127.6

Exercise:  swam 1 mile.

Thoughts/notes:
  • I am considering revolt.  I spent too much time with food prep and cleanup tonight and didn't have time for 3 other things I wanted to do, and I'm irritated.  Actually it would have been fine if I hadn't have followed tonight's dinner prep and meal with tomorrow's food prep and cleanup.   So I think I'm done with preparing tomorrow's meals ahead of time.  Tomorrow will be same as usual since I did the food prep already.    I already planned to make Wednesday "wing it" day because I will get home late tomorrow.  I'm going to make every day wing-it day.  stay tuned.

Calories in the 6 week plan

I have had this feeling that Dr. Fuhrman's 6 week plan could be too high in calories for some of us older women so I decided to do a quick analysis of the calories.  Below is a list of items that many people on the Fuhrman forums would say is consistent with the 6 week plan, and my estimates of the calories.  I'll put calories in red:

1 lb raw veggies.  150 (can be 100-200 so I picked the average).
1 lb cooked veggies.  150
1 cup cooked beans.   250
at least 4 fresh fruits.  400.  this is very uncertain.  fruits vary widely and people vary widely in their interpretation of how much counts as 1 serving. this is a danger zone if you ask me.   I used 2 large apples and 2 large oranges for this number.
1 cup cooked starchy veggie or whole grain.  200
1 oz nuts and seed.  180
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed.  50
2 oz avocado  90


total:  1470.

That's more than I want when losing weight.   It's fine for a man or a young woman but not most of us women 50 years and older.   This is why it's not such a horrible idea to count calories just for a few days.  This diet could be tweaked in many ways to get down to 1300 calories:  e.g., by limiting the fruit to1 lb of low-sweet fruit, e.g, strawberries, which are only 150 calories per lb.  Then the total is 1220.

Or, say you have some extra fruit one day, then maybe nix the avocado, or the starchy veg.   I don't think I need an entire oz of nuts and seeds + 1 Tbsp of flaxseed plus 2 oz avocado for my healthy fats every single day, especially since I eat about 5 oz of soy yogurt every day which has a lot of healthy fat.

My point is, for older women, you might have to mix and match the fruit with the starchy veggies and healthy fats--i.e., not eat the full "recommended" amount all in one day.

For jollies, here's what I've been having lately:

3 lb raw veggies.  450  
1/2-1 lb cooked veggies.  100
1 cup cooked beans.   250
1-2 lbs fruit (1 lb if I eat a starchy veg).    150-300
1 cup cooked starchy veggie or whole grain (sometimes).  0-200
1/2-1 oz seed (depends on if I eat a starchy veg that day).  75-150
soy yogurt (also good healthy fat source)  50

total:  1400.

I mix and match my fruit and seeds and starchy veggies; that is, I don't eat the max amount of all three.

So say you don't want to count calories.  It seems to me the recommended amounts should be bit lower on the high calorie foods.  Dr. Fuhrman has said you can include your flaxseed in with your 1 oz nuts and seeds, if trying to lose weight.  How about 1 lb fruit maximum, and if you want avocado or soy products (edamame, tofu, soy yogurt are all high in healthy fats) one day, lower your nuts and seeds for that day.  Then you get:


1 lb raw veggies.  150 (can be 100-200 so I picked the average).
1 lb cooked veggies.  150
1 cup cooked beans.   250
1 lb low-sugar fruit.  150.
1 cup cooked starchy veggie or whole grain.  200
1 oz nuts and seed (including 1 Tbsp flaxseed).  180
0 oz avocado  0

total:  1080.

Fortunately this is too low for most people.  Now you can add in some extra things you like, but not all on the same day:   a serving of fruit (maybe even a sweet one), a small amount of avocado, soy yogurt, a date, etc.  My go-to treats are soy yogurt (on my strawberries), and lots of carrots and sugar snap peas. I also love sweet potatoes, and sweet corn in the summer.  


How to talk to people about healthy eating


A reader, Kristi, posted this comment a few days ago:
"I had an interesting conversation with some neighbors yesterday. One guy has what sounds like out-of-control diabetes (A1c > 12, glucose > 300, etc.) and he has been trying to control it with diet and exercise. He went to a vegan cooking class and got convinced to go vegan but his sugar is getting worse. He still eats a lot of refined grains, high sugar fruits, etc. It's no surprise to me considering what he eats and what I think he should be eating. Surprisingly (to me), he has read ETL but obviously hasn't really absorbed the info or applied it. He made the comment, "there is so much advice out there about how to eat and exercise, it's hard to know what to do." His comment (and another unrelated conversation with someone this weekend) got me wondering how to communicate about my own understanding of nutrient dense eating and why I'm convinced that it is the best way to eat. I read ETL and became convinced right away that it made the most sense and was backed up by peer reviewed scientific research. It also gave me great results when I applied it to my own body. 
I don't have any interest in converting people to the ETL diet-style, but when people ask me about it and challenge me about why I do it, I find myself at a loss for convincing explanations. I don't have the research studies on the tip of my tongue. I end up usually dropping the subject and saying that ETL isn't likely to be widely adopted because it is too far away from what most people think that they want to eat. At the same time, while I don't want to be an evangelist, I don't want to discount the benefits I've experienced either
How do you answer people who ask about ETL? 
What could I say to people who have already followed Dr. X, Dr. Y and Dr. Z, with no good results? Isn't Dr. F just the next flawed doctor with the next flawed idea? It feels sometimes like trying to convert people from their lifelong religion. It may be that the people asking are in a defensive position and not one of true curiosity. But then again, I don't know *for sure* that ETL is the right answer for everybody. Maybe it would be best just to encourage people to try the six week plan for themselves (if they really want to know) and see if they feel better. "
First let me say, I don't know.  And yet that won't stop me from responding (haha).  I don't think you can convince anyone of anything or convert anyone.  And I think Kristi agrees, judging by her statement that she has no interest in converting anyone.  On top of that, because it's so hard to know what to believe, people will tend to believe authority figures or credentialed people over their peers.  I'm an astronomer and it seems that most people will believe anything I say about astronomy.  Medical doctors are considered authority figures on health and dietitians on nutrition.   So when a person's doctor says diet doesn't play much of a role in your health, perhaps with the exception of your weight, most people believe that.  I did for the first 45 years of my life.  I am a "peer" when it comes to health and nutrition so why should anyone believe me?

That said, I have been successful at planting a seed and being an example.  I haven't converted anyone, but people have converted themselves and in some cases I provided the catalyst for that.   I don't need to be an eloquent debater, armed with facts, to do this.  I refer to the Drs (Fuhrman, McDougall, Esselstyn, Campbell, Barnard) and their books.  I offer to loan people the books.  They (the doctors) are the authority figures, not me.  People can then decide based on the books.  Most people politely decline.  Some people read the book and decide it's not for them, some people bite a few years later, some people get completely convinced and ask for advice and I am very happy to help out.

How to plant the seeds?  I taught a vegan cooking class in my church a few years ago.  It influenced a few people.  It took a few years but when one of the students' partner was stricken with a terrible relapse of ulcerative colitis (UC), he tried this diet and has now become a complete convert.  The same thing happened with another couple I know.  I loaned the books to one person who was facing illness--she wasn't interested but her partner (another UC case) totally jumped in and is a happy convert.  I've offered the books to others who politely declined.  Now most people in my work and church know I eat this way, and of course the vast majority would never consider it for themselves.  But they know who to ask for more info if they were to consider it.  Some of my close friends eat a lot more salads and veggies than they used to, and ask my opinion about nutrition.

I don't try to argue about anything or say why Drs F,M,E,C,B are better than X, Y, and Z.   I do understand how people can be very confused and not know who to believe.  I don't see how anything I can say would sway them to believe one doctor over another.    I just say this works for me and describe how my health has improved if they want to know.

I don't know if that helps at all.  It is difficult watching people's health decline and wishing I could help them.  Someone on the forums said it's like being in heaven and hell at the same time:  heaven because you feel so good, and hell because you are surrounded by so much suffering, much of it avoidable, and you are helpless to do anything about it because no one would believe you if you said, "diet can cure that."  and I do understand their point of view:  here they are suffering terribly and you say "diet can cure that."  that probably feels very insulting to them.  that's not what their doctor says and they just went through a bunch of painful medical interventions with terrible side effects and you are saying that it all could be avoided by eating differently?  how dare you?   they invested all that pain and suffering and money, and to think it could have been avoided is unthinkable.   well, I am getting off-topic sorry.  this is what makes me suffer...

Sunday, 27 May 2012

diet review

It's been two weeks since I started my diet.  It's gone well.  I think it helps that I might have solved a personal problem that has bothered me for about 3 years and I haven't been wanting to do the emotional eating the last few weeks.  My average calorie intake was 1416, protein, 64 g, fiber 80 g.  I've felt very satisfied with this amount and enjoyed the food.  I've lost about 3 lbs.  I think I want to lose about 3 lbs more.  I'll see as I go.  I don't want to lose too much, just enough to remove some excess stomach fat. I weighed about 10 lbs less a year and a half ago and that felt too thin.  I was cold all of the time, especially in the pool.  Plus I think (or perhaps fantasize) that I'm stronger now from the mountain biking and swimming, and want to keep the muscle.   So here's hoping for another good two weeks.  fingers crossed, knock on wood, wish me luck.

may 27


Day 14 of my "diet."   Here's my food log, weight, exercise, and thoughts.

breakfast, 8 am:  about 1/6th serving of housemate's smoothie.   1 lb strawberries and homemade soy yogurt.

lunch, noon:  grapes (1/2 lb), carrots (1 lb), and sugar snap peas (1/2 lb), nibbles on cabbage and spinach.

dinner, 7 pm:  giant salad:  lettuce, kale, broccoli, beans, seed mixture, date vinegar, apple vinegar.  nibbled on spinach during food prep.

"dessert", 8 pm:  a bowl of peas and corn with some d'angou pear vinegar.  Some orange remainders.

Nutritional information:
Calories: 1411; protein 63 g; fiber 72 g.

Weight:  128.0 

Exercise:  rmountain biked, 1 hour.

Thoughts/notes:
  • I actually measured how much of housemate's smoothie I drank (it was easy and I'm a geek), and realized I eat closer to 1/6th than 1/10th!  so my daily calories have been underestimated a bit.
  • today was record hot, at 94.  I was mountain biking at that time.   I rested before some steep climbs as a cautionary measure but I felt fine.  It was as fun as ever.  I am an addict.
  • I was going to cook some veggies for dinner but it was too hot want to cook.  So I just had salad.  It was really good--that fancy pants vinegar is really good!  It inspired me to change up my meals some this week.  I'll have my strawberries and yogurt for breakfast.  then no fruit on the salads, but veggies and mushrooms and onions and things like cucumbers and red bell peppers.  yummy.
  • another fabulous day.  I enjoyed not having to do food prep tonight since I'm not going to work tomorrow.
  • here's a picture of the intrepid mountain biker: