You go to the doctor’s office. The doctor says, “You have to lose weight.” It’s a 1 minute conversation, if that. So what do you do? Count calories? Eat less? Exercise more? Skip dessert? Eat low-fat? Lose five pounds only to regain it all before the next doctor’s visit?
Research and medicine are stumbling on to the knowledge that how we’ve been telling you to eat is a set-up for disaster. (You can almost hear me say it, “It’s not your fault.”) Carbohydrates and dairy, in most of us, cannot be the foundation of a well-functioning body. Foods full of preservatives and sugars are detrimental to the balance of beneficial gut bacteria so underappreciated in the 20th century, but slowly gaining respect in the 21st. Chronically elevated insulin as a result of constant carbohydrate introduction (cereal, granola bar, milkshake, sandwich bread, pasta, pizza, crackers, soda pop, juice) is Inflammatory Monster 1. High omega-6 intake from processed oils, touted as healthy, is Inflammatory Monster 2. Inflammatory Monsters abound in today’s processed food.
My Mother-in-Law and Her Weight
Tomorrow I am going to share my mother-in-law’s nutritional intervention story, but today I will set up the background information. Her story is an “everyday story.” She didn’t drop 100 pounds. She didn’t cure something like ulcerative colitis in herself. She isn’t a famous person. She wasn’t falling on the floor sick, but she was overweight, like many. Her stamina was deteriorating, like many. She could be your mom. Or you. Or your wife. And now she feels better…
My mother-in-law is a saint; she has immense treasure waiting for her up in heaven. As one of the nicest, most patient people who ever walked the earth, she kindly puts up with her son and I, both strong-headed mules (you are allowed to take the analogy one step further and not be too far off from the truth).
She has always been a tiny, 62-inch woman (1.6 meters), until recent years, when she started blossoming OUT. She usually respectfully heeds my medical advice when it is needed regarding her health. Over the last several years, as she struggled with her weight slowly creeping up and up, I had no wise medical words to offer this diligent, conscientious-to-a-fault, woman. So, you’re gaining weight? Welcome to the real world. Move more. Eat less. Calorie in. Calorie out. Next.
Finally, her cholesterol sadly followed her weight. Never one to break rules, she studied the food pyramid and made every effort to do just what it said, posting lists of “healthy” foods and appropriate serving sizes on cupboard doors. Ever trying, trying to shed creeping pounds and cholesterol numbers. When her cholesterol went up, her doctor told her to eat more oatmeal. So EVERY morning it was oatmeal for breakfast. Still her weight and cholesterol trended up. Her doctor wanted to put her on a statin for cholesterol. She has VERY few other risk factors, if any.
By now, I had stumbled across GAPS, SCD, Paleo, Primal, Terry Wahl’s (M.D.) and Whole30 type diets. (They each have their own unique, important spins, but they preach a very similar message which I believe is crucial for a healthy functioning body.) My whole family was feeling better. We had even lost some weight. My husband lost 30 pounds eating this new way. I lost 10. (The man always loses more. No biggie. HE had more to lose anyway.)
We focus(ed) on:
- nutritional density (whole fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed meats)
- removing foods and drinks known, or suspected, to treat the human body badly (like things with artificial colors, preservatives, and sugars)
- eliminating foods that seemed to treat our own individual bodies badly (grains, dairy, eggs, nuts)
What started as a search for a cure for my severe, chronic constipation problem via the GAPS diet has turned into a wonderful journey of just feeling so much better overall: fewer headaches, less asthma symptoms, less allergic rhinitis, better bowel movements, more energy, alleviation of common female problems, and identification of SIDE EFFECTS of food.
As we experienced astounding success, I watched my mother-in-law continue to struggle to get that weight down, internally fretting and bemoaning her poor results. She was in NO way obese by somewhat distorted American standards, and most people in America would have called her normal size. However, by medical standards, her assessment of herself was correct; she was overweight.
One morning when my in-laws and my family was vacationing together in Grand Cayman, we sat around the breakfast table conversing, and diet and weight control came up. (Who knows? Maybe my id brought it up.) I couldn’t control my intensity as I looked at my mother-in-law: “You really want to know how to lose this weight? Get your cholesterol numbers better?”
Due to my intensity, she looked like a deer in headlights: “Of course I do!”
With much vehemence, I said, “Well, the oatmeal has to go. So do ALL the grains: wheat, rice, corn, soy, quinoa, you name it. Wheat is a treat and only for birthdays and holidays. No crackers. No bread. No bagels. No added sugars. No preservatives. Nothing with added colors. If you eat dairy, it can’t have anything added to it by the manufacturer. None of this pink yogurt crap.”
Being so good–she wouldn’t argue with the devil–her gray, purple eyes met mine and I saw that jaw of hers clamp down with this challenge. She thought I had read one too many diet book on this vacation: “Okay. I’ll try it.”
Changing my diet a year and few months ago for some health reasons was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I really didn’t think a change in my diet would really do all that much–but I wanted to prove it to myself. I was at my ideal weight (albeit the upper end), exercised daily, ate “healthy food” (along with my cinnamon rolls and cookies), and just looked to be the epitome of health. Diet change really sucked at first; somewhere along the line, though, I started feeling good. And I liked it. I now know this dietary intervention has been the best thing I did for myself, my husband, and my children. And if I can share that as an inspiration to others, great.
I have been slowly, painfully, letting it be known that I have a blog to people I know. I figure I love them best, and if it’s that important to me, they ought to get a piece of the carrot. I let my mother-in-law know about my blog a month ago, and I asked her hopefully if I could share her “nutritional rehabilitation” success story. She is a profoundly private person, so I didn’t know what to expect. Surprisingly, she said “yes.” I think it’s because she senses my urgency and desperation in this matter. It’s that important to me.
Doctors haven’t sold their souls to the devil. They’re not in a conspiracy. We don’t want you in misery so we can make more money. We aren’t in cahoots with drug companies. We want you to be healthy. We want you to feel good. We just, for so long, haven’t been properly trained on nutrition–the cornerstone of health.
For too long in medicine we’ve sided with moderation talks. We’ve dealt in “diet and exercise.” Calorie in. Calorie out. It’s not effective. It’s not working. It’s not working. It’s not working. QUIT BANGING YOUR HEAD INTO A WALL!
Goodness, no wonder I was having headaches.
Tomorrow I will share my mother-in-law’s words. Thank you for reading this far, if you did!