Inappropriate weight is a SIGN from the body that it is struggling with our food choices.
Our bodies function best on whole foods.
Thank you to my mother-in-law for sharing her whole-foods conversion story. Yesterday’s post contains the introduction to her story. Choosing nutrient-dense foods is allowing her body to start functioning like it should, and she deserves that. We all do. You do:
Terri, here it is. For better or worse.
My name is Mary and I’m overweight. My cholesterol number is 11 points above the desirable number and I have an irregular heartbeat (supraventricular tachycardia). [Allow me, Terri, to mention the time we were walking and her irregular heart beat acted up and her blood pressure dropped. I had to leave her supine on a park bench while I sprinted 1 and 1/2 miles home to get the car.] I walk 2 miles a day, 4-5 days a week and spend summers in Indiana and winters in South Carolina.
I never meant for it to happen, but over the years I’d added a pound here and a pound there until I was 20 pounds overweight on my 71st birthday. [At some point in life, we get to forget about weight! I don’t care about my mother-in-law’s “weight”, but I do care about her “function.”] It was then that I decided to do something about it. Doctors on TV had said that one way to reduce cholesterol was to lose weight. And I remember back in the 60s my husband attended a science convention in Atlantic City where the keynote speaker presented information about his topic: “Man is getting too big for his heart.” I reasoned that maybe I could improve my cholesterol number and improve my heart condition by losing a little weight.
So I began my daily diet regime: a bowl of cereal with skim milk for breakfast and then a little meat, chicken, or fish, a serving of fruit, and 3 servings of vegetables divided between the other two meals. I did allow myself a little grain (bread or pasta). By November I had lost 5 pounds. But then came Thanksgiving and my weight spiked up again. Before I could lose the weight again, along came Christmas and a repeat of Thanksgiving. Then there was New Year’s Eve. I just could not seem to move ahead with my weight-loss goals.
Then in late February, my daughter-in-law told me about the success her family was having with whole foods and eliminating grains and dairy from their diets. [Our success came in “function”: Energy levels, coughs, headaches, stomach aches, constipation, inability to concentrate, sleep, runny noses, stuffy noses, etc. Weight did follow.] I decided to give “no grains” a try. I wasn’t ready to give up ice cream altogether, but I would try to give up grains. That in itself seemed a daunting task – goodbye pie, cake, pasta, yeast rolls, corn, even cereal. Was there anything left to eat??!! What I was expected to live on was a little meat or fish, a little fruit, and lots of vegetables. I took it a step further and eliminated white potatoes; and although I did not eliminate dairy altogether, I did significantly decrease my intake of milk, cheese, and butter (choosing olive oil instead). And, yes, I decreased the frequency of ice cream treats. To be sure I didn’t fudge the results, I kept a daily log of my weight.
Although I kept a daily log, I will present only the weight on the first day of the new diet and each month after, as close to the anniversary date as possible.
March 3 114.0
April 2 111.6
May 3 108.6
June 10 106.0
July 3 104.8
I have noticed a number of health benefits as a result of losing 10 pounds, some of them hoped for, some expected, and some a complete surprise.
- My waist size has decreased 2-3 inches
- I can bend more easily to tie my shoes
- I can walk all the way up the hill without stopping to rest midway
- My heartbeat is more regular during exercise
- My blood pressure has decreased about 10 points
- I have more energy and really notice I have sluggishness with increased grain and/or sugar intake
You May Wonder:
1. What do you eat for breakfast? Normally I have a smoothie for breakfast made with ½ c. coconut water, a banana, ¼ apple, some cinnamon and/or nutmeg and then another fruit (blueberries, strawberries, peaches, and mangos are favorites). Ice is optional. If I am traveling, I will opt for egg, sausage, and fruit.
[I, Terri, have a whole list of breakfast ideas if you click here. Although I like smoothies, they don’t stick to my ribs. Protein and fat last me longer and don’t give me a post-breakfast sugar drop, which may be what she’s experiencing. Real fats, if we remove processed sugars, excessive sweet consumption, and carbohydrates from grains should not scare us anymore. However, convincing somebody who has been trained to be afraid of animal fats for 40 years is very tough.]
2. Do you ever get hungry between meals? Yes, especially after the breakfast smoothie. Usually I walk 2 miles after breakfast, and after that walk I am very hungry. The trick is to get very busy and stay that way until lunchtime. If hunger is too overwhelming, a handful of nuts helps.
[Here I, Terri, would again point out “the smoothie crash” I mentioned above. I would also add that any whole foods snack will work: a banana, an avocado, olives, apple slices with almond butter, a leftover hamburger patty, a boiled egg, a can of tuna in olive oil. Something with protein and fat will curb true hunger.]
3. When is it hardest for you to resist grains? When the person across the table from me is eating a warm, fluffy, yeasty-smelling, buttery-topped pan roll, or a piece of warm rhubarb custard pie topped with ice cream, or a stack of pancakes with maple syrup dripping, or a piece of hot pizza. You name it. It’s a struggle.
[She mentioned to me once that she knew exactly what an alcoholic must go through.]
4. Do you ever fall off the wagon? Oh, yes! But I just climb back on again. And to compensate, I may adjust by eating only vegetables for the next meal, or a small piece of fruit and a handful of nuts. Or I may exercise a little more.
[For myself, I focus on how poor my energy level is, how irritable I feel, how bloated I am, how my constipation flares up, or my headache. Reminding myself that I like to feel good helps me start renewed the next morning.]
This life style change for me seems to be working, although I seem to have reached a plateau at around 105 pounds. Maybe there have been simply too many graduation parties, holidays, and family picnics. But when I fall off the wagon, I get right back on. I’ve come too far to turn back now. The prize is just around the bend – 5 pounds to my optimum weight and whatever health perks come with it.
[Here I would encourage people to focus on the “health perks” and not the weight. IT IS NOT YOUR WEIGHT THAT DETERMINES HOW GOOD YOU FEEL. IT IS THE REMOVAL OF EXCESS FOOD/EXCESS CARBOHYDRATE-FOODS AND THE INSULIN EXTREMES THAT ACCOMPANIES THOSE FOODS. THE REMOVAL OF CHEMICALS. THE ADDITION OF MICRONUTRIENTS ABSENT FROM GRAINS. The feeling better is the key that something good is happening. The weight will come. Focusing on weight will bring failure. Focusing on that horrible sluggish feeling grains often gives some people is a much better incentive. Or the supraventricular tachycardia symptoms that are so uncomfortable and now going away.]
Thank You For Reading
My mother-in-law is a wonderful woman! She deserves to feel good, have great energy, desirable cholesterol, and be able to walk without a racing heart. For me to hear that her irregular heart beat (which is under the great management of her cardiologists) and stamina seem to be improving is joy to my ears. She is losing about an average of 2 pounds per month, a perfectly sustainable weight-loss.
I didn’t hand her a book to read on any particular diet. Although I am self-experimenting by following GAPS diet, the word “diet” sets my teeth on edge. We would all function (and therefore feel) much better if we could simply choose foods in a more whole state. (After achieving that wonderful feat, discerning individual food intolerances and adding in a few tweaks will complete “The I Feel Good Conversion.”)
Free to do what she chooses, I laid down these ideas (I’m sorry if you follow along that you have to see these again.):
- No processed foods or drinks.
- Nothing with artificial colors and preservatives (including drinks).
- Nothing with added sugar, corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners.
- No grains except for special occasions, hopefully not more than a couple of times a month.
- No dairy with anything added to it (sugar, colors, carrageenan). Read labels.
- Added fats in the form of olive oil, butter, coconut oil, and animal-sources are fine and do not need regulated.
- Eggs are not bad.
- Most calories need to come in the form of fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed meats.
I hope you feel good today. I hope, if you don’t, you can find what it is that will help you. Whole food is the perfect start. (And a check-up with a doctor will help define any serious problems!)
Ack! “No grains” will be torture for us – we’re Asians and rice is a staple in our diet. Having said that, my hubby is now a lean, mean fighting machine because of cycling (finally have the time to pursue his passion) and our nutritional choices (like yours because husband is allergic to MSG so nearly all our meals are cooked from scratch). Yep, when people comment at how our kids are taller than us (I’m 5’6″), I want to shake them and say “Ditch the sodas, the chips, the pastries, the snacks, the cereals, etc …” For us, all those smoothies are so worth the time and effort (if I weren’t homeschooling, we’d have them all the time).
Terri, I haven’t had time to look around your blog lately but am just curious … have you written anything about menopause and diet?
Hi, Athena! Last time we corresponded, you were on a little break! Over now? That’s so awesome that your husband is finally able to cycle. My husband loves cycling too! Sometimes I can ride with him, but not very often.
I’ve come to think that no grains is useful for certain disease states, certain people, at certain times, etc. Kind of fluid.
Right now, my garden crop of spinach and kale is on! So we’ve been making our favorite green smoothie recipe. Well, **I** have! They are time and effort!
I don’t have anything on menopause and diet. You never need to look around. Just ask, and I can try and tell you what I’ve written on the blog here. I’m 42, so give me a few years and as symptoms hit, hahaha!, I’ll bet I get something researched and written up! Unless, heavens bless me with a symptom-free transition… If you’re researching for you, I hope you’re not too uncomfortable.
Terri, I always wonder where our last break went because it doesn’t seem like I had one (my kids, of course, got a break from school) what with all the curriculum planning, the spring cleaning, the meal planning, not to mention the cooking and baking. Thing is, I have three boys who eat lots and lots all the time.
I have stopped gardening. Summer here in the Levant means all the flowers that bloomed during the cooler months will die. I so envy you your fresh spinach and kale (and yes, I know they are time and effort!). Veggies here are so expensive nowadays ever since the government stopped importing veggies from five countries for reasons I have forgotten. One really has to look at the place of origin and price otherwise you’ll end up paying 3x for veggies from Europe. But we’ve got three basketfuls of eggs from our free-range chickens …
I will someday get around to searching the Net for articles on menopause and diet. It’s not uncomfortable (we’ve got AC 24/7 and if it’s not working it’s considered an emergency call), thank you for your concern. But the insomnia is hard. I take melatonin because if I don’t get enough sleep I’m irritable. And I’d rather send my kids to school than homeschool if I’m crappy all the time. Yeah, I know melatonin is not for the long term so I try to fall asleep as naturally as possible. Hope your homeschooling is going fine 🙂
Wow! I need to remember just how lucky I am to have my little garden and its produce. And if that fails, how I can get nice stuff at a grocery here.
Levant. Sounds so exotic called that way. One day, I’d love to visit that region, if humanity can tolerate each other long enough for me to get there.
We’re on summer break-ish! Enjoying it!