Choosing healthful foods has not always been so easy for me. I have an intrinsic sweet tooth and intense carbohydrate cravings (which aren’t necessarily bad things if I stick to whole, real foods). Knowledge keeps me on track. I think knowledge helps keep us all on track.
Today, if you don’t already know, I’d like to share briefly with you about why
- choosing fresh vegetables, including root vegetables, and fruits;
- avoiding food preservatives found in foods and drinks; and
- limiting sweeteners and sweetened foods
In your intestines live trillions of bacteria which are supposed to be there. They are called your “microbiome” and they
- break down and beneficially use substances in foods that your own body simply cannot.
- transform toxins (and potential toxins–like any food dyes or pesticides you ingest) that you eat into something the body can get rid of.
- make substances to inhibit the growth of illness-causing bacteria that you may come in contact with, like Salmonella or stomach viruses.
- make your own personal nutritional supplements, like B vitamins, vitamin K, and necessary fatty acids.
- help you regulate blood sugars, obesity, and your moods.
Choosing real, whole foods supports these helpful bacteria. Eating sugar-laden, preservative-laden, boxed foods deprives your body of the help it needs from these bacteria. Every day, every bite is a choice. Will I choose to strip my colon of these beneficial bacteria, or will I take the high road?
Will I eat for me? Or for my tongue? Or for the person whose feelings will be hurt if I decline?
I know what makes me feel best day-to-day. I know about the bacteria in there. I know what harms them. I can share my knowledge with my kids and husband in a loving, kind way so that they may also have the knowledge and power to choose.
I can share my knowledge with you that maybe you can go about your life making better choices day in and day out.
Don’t obsess. Don’t fret. There are times to eat cake. There are times of joy and feasting. But day in and day out, I’ve got some bacteria I want to take care of.
How about you?
PS: I know there is SO much conflicting information out there about what is and isn’t healthy. Meat. No meat. Grains. No grains. Beans. No beans. Carbs. No carbs. Dairy. No dairy. If you are a person who gets lost and confused in all of this, simply focus on making your choices as close to nature as possible. Read EVERY label if there’s a label. Honest and pure is what you want. Just like your honey’s heart.
Questions (and comments) always welcomed on this safe spot. And as always, don’t use my blog information as medical guidance.
Such an important message Terri, we need to shout this from the roof tops. I think people get so lost with what they should or shouldn’t eat and simple messages about real food would be the best starting point. I’ve just read an article saying that new research suggests that the microbiome of CFS patients lack the diversity and number of healthy people. Given my gut issues were the beginning of my health slide I think this is fascinating. Must protect our biomes and eating real healthful food is the first step.
I read that article too. 🙂
I think nutrition and medical science has dropped the ball entirely by distracting people with fat, cholesterol, meat, glycemic index, Mediterranean diet, and so on. Many, NOT ALL, health issues can be controlled, reversed, minimized by whole, real food. Then, tweaking from there can help certain people even more. But as most people think eating out of a cereal box is normal and actually healthy, we’ve got a lot of educating ground to make up.
And each person has a unique set of gut bacteria. I’ve yet to come across an intervention that will work for 100% of the people that try it. As a start, I think 100% of humans do benefit from giving up the biggest non-food food items: artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors, refined sugars and flours, and refined seed oils. Especially the many foods that have 6 of these things in them. If I read a nutrition label, it’s not for fat or carb counts, it’s for things I can not pronounce and artificial things.
And every set of gut bacteria gets a unique human. 😉 Such lucky creatures.
Yes. I agree with you. Just wish the “food pyramid”–or whatever they’re calling it now-a-days–reflected your six guidelines. Would save a lot of healthcare burden our country will never be able to keep up with. And keep moms from thinking that Gogurts were healthy.
Great post! The only thing I might add is that there is an end point that can be achieved. I do not know what to call it. A “coincidence of wants”? I’ll try to explain.
I was just like most people. Diets confused me. I’d read the stream of press articles about how one should eat this, not that, etc. in particular, I have a family history of heart disease and was showing the initial signs of developing it. So I was told to eat low fat, in particular low saturated fat, etc. If I had an insatiable craving, I felt bad, like I was failing. It was not benefiting me.
But then I started my grand fiber experiment. Long story told elsewhere several times. I fed the bugs. I’m not sure how or why, but I reached an equilibrium point: I always eat what I want. And as much as I want. The concepts of cheat days and insatiable cravings are now alien to me. Something inside me tells me what to eat. And makes me adverse to some foods. I think it’s the bugs.
i now know what the right diet is for ME. My bugs tell me. We have all kinds of candy and sweets in the house, but in 3 years I’ve never eaten any. Ice cream, cheese, chips, it doesn’t matter. I can give many examples.
But more important, in my opinion, is what I do develop cravings for. I need saturated fat. Pure animal fat. I once ate a large bowl of chicken skins fried in lard. Butter. I need it. My doctor goes into denial when I tell her this is an important part of my diet. Now I eat lots of veggies and carbs, but the saturated fat is what I had been avoiding most of my life. And guess what? Within 6 months, my lipid panels went from foreboding to beyond stellar. My health improved tremendously. My doctor keeps trying to fit me into a box, but just tells me that whatever I’m doing is working. Keep it up. Something in my makeup needs this.
I’m not saying that my diet is good for everybody, or even anybody. It’s good for ME. Having developed and fed my bugs, I listen to them. I have strong cravings, but they are satiated very quickly. If I fought the cravings – by consciously avoiding saturated fats, say – it would turn into an out of control spiral as my bugs tried to get what they want. I’ve experienced that when visiting friends who eat low fat! If you work hard to develop the bugs, at some point they need to be trusted. Turn off the puny consciousness of the first brain, and set free the mighty unconscious interactions of the first and second brains. What results is a personal diet.
So I eat what I want. It just happens to be what is good for me. A coincidence of wants? It’s better than when I simultaneously want to eat what I do not want to eat! It’s freedom from that anxiety.
Good explanation. I think I relate and understand as best I can to most of that.
I am shocked at what I don’t eat, don’t want to eat anymore. However, and although you may not remember (we’ve interchanged about this somewhat before at Vegetable Pharm about a year ago.), when I eat certain grains and seeds, my addictive overeating still sets in. If I bake a loaf of bread (buckwheat or nut based or seed based or combo of all these) or eat oatmeal or quinoa (say in a salad or something), I cannot stop until the food is gone. I can feel my reward centers soaring. And obviously if this is the case for these nuts/seeds/grains prepared blandly, then when I eat a muffin or cookie I make for the girls with sweetener–and I decide that it would taste nice and eat one– well, if I eat one, I can always count on eating about six of them (as I did even before I changed my eating four years ago) and feeling a nice euphoria temporarily until the scalp aches, dull headache, and flat mood set in.
I’ve often pondered your words from my oatmeal/blueberry/potato starch experiment a year ago that perhaps my microbiome would be well-served to follow this “craving” for nuts/seeds/grains (oatmeal was the grain in question at the time). What to make of that idea in light of how it triggers addictive behavior followed by the mentioned side effects. (I have a family history of obesity and likely food addiction. I have a cousin who was buried with a candy bar.)
I feel like I’m in a nice equilibrium. I loved it when you used the word endpoint. I keep endpoints in mind for myself, although I think your endpoint was not chosen by you, it just occurred. My endpoint is to be off of anything except food for my slow transit. Maybe this is not possible from years of GI abuse. Or maybe it is possible, and the “fibers” from grains/nuts/seeds would be a part of that I’m just not willing to or ready to wholeheartedly attempt yet.
In general now, food is a lovely gift to me and not a struggle. I think it did come from a change in the gut bacteria, as sheer will-power doesn’t explain it. Can’t explain it.
Anyhow, that’s my story. I chuckle thinking about your poor doctor listening to you explain how chicken skin fried in lard is bringing your lab panels into line. Like you said, you’re not saying your diet is good for everybody, but that it’s good for you–and it came from eating what your gut bacteria are fed well on. And as I’ve read your story elsewhere, I know it’s not a shake formulation you buy flavored as mint chocolate chip or high “fiber” supplemented breakfast cereal.
I do believe in personal diets. I see even in my four daughters who needs more meat and who needs less. Who needs more carbs and who needs less. Who doesn’t carry the addictive trait and who does. I allow for that variation in what I cook.
Well, speaking of girls, I hear them waking up. So I’ll sign off and go see who’s awake. Wouldn’t mind hearing your take on the grain/nut/seed and addictive eating pattern.
For years before my experiment, and even after but before releasing myself to the bugs, I would get immense cravings for a cheese quesadilla right before bed. Except it was never just one, but two or three. I always thought I’d lose weight if I could just stop eating them, and my heart concerns might be lessened too. I certainly felt like crap eating a bunch of gooey cheese and being demoralized right before bed.
I realize now that it was probably my gut’s desperate attempt to get me to eat saturated fat. It had to do so in a way that put me in conflict with myself. It wasn’t pleasant, as I’m sure many people know. Essentially I was eating for two: me and my gut. And getting the calories from both.
I still get the cheese every day, but in a 2-X-large egg omelette. Food that would have been considered bad before. It’s also loaded with a head of garlic and other veggies. That’s what I want every morning. I think it’s what my gut wants too. I feel no inner conflict. I have not had a pre-bedtime snack in a couple of years.
I have no real restrictions on what I eat. I eat bread, desserts, everything. Except processed food, which is part of what you’ve been saying. On things like desserts, I’ll go maybe a month with none at all, and then something will look good. Then I might go one or two more days with dessert, and then something inside me feels like that is enough. Then I’ll go another month without.
I’m just throwing this out as an idea. I’d feel really silly offering you anything that might be advice!
What if you are right about your bugs need something that’s in seeds, nuts, or grains? Magnesium comes to mind given your transit issues. But what if it’s not that? What if it’s some special something in those that GROWS the bugs that will help your gut to better utilize and absorb magnesium. Something that would be missing in supplements? When you start eating those things, they create euphoria in hope that you will continue? (They can do that!). Then, once those bugs have been grown and stabilized into the colonies, your insatiable cravings turn into satiable ones like mine. (Salted cocktail nuts at a bar while on vacation are unbelievably tasty and before my fix I could eat many bowls, but now I could never eat more than a few in the palm of my hand. This has been empirically verified several times! I had high blood pressure, which might have been related to magnesium.)
Maybe the the specifics are wrong, but what if you purposely try eating foods that have similar nutrition but that you wouldn’t really be at risk of overeating? Or if you did, it would be clear message? I’m thinking of something like ground flaxseed. A tablespoon mixed in a cup of water. If you can’t stop drinking it, well… Or chia seed mixed in water. Or cumin seed. If you suddenly start putting cumin on everything, the worst is that you’ll have tasty food! My gut has informed me that freshly and coarsely ground cumin from whole seed is necessary – the ubiquitous powder is not the same. These are all things I do! They were never conscious decisions or the fruit of research – just one day I wanted coarse cumin on my omelette. I had no idea it was high in magnesium until I just now looked it up (but somehow I inwardly knew it).
What if you continue drinking flaxseed for, say, a month since there might be a quantity/duration tradeoff? The, if like me, you actually enjoy flaxseed in water, you might think it’s the bugs letting you know you’ve done a good job.
What if the source of yours (or anyone else’s, including my former ones) are our guts’ attempts to tempt us with foods that appeal to us to get nutrients it needs? The inner conflict is then a result? You’d probably never be tempted by a spoonful of cumin, but you might by that banana nut muffin! My wife has made many of the latter over the past few years, and I haven’t eaten one. But I haven’t missed my spoonful of cumin more than a few times. Or my flaxseed and chia.
I admit that deciding to trust my gut felt a lot like jumping off a cliff. Being on this side, though, I feel like doing so was necessary. But again, that’s for me. Good luck!
The main ideas of this I have considered. When the time is right and summer traveling calms down, I think I will try it. Because things like chia, flax, cumin, poppy seeds, oats–thinking about those things seriously lights up my craving centers right now as I type. I’ve tried cutting off my right hand (my grain/nut/seed eating)–and it is working well for me. But what if instead it would be better to allow the “beach ball” to pop up to the surface? To let the darkness come to light and recognition to see what it is trying to tell me. Okay. Yes. Been reading too many psychological and mind-body books lately.
I get what you’re saying. And also get the sharing experience rather than handing out advice. I don’t like when people ask for my advice or give me too much advice. Experience? Love to hear it and love to share it.
Do take care and do pipe in every now and then.
Ah yes, our co-inhabitors. We’ve got to keep them healthy and well fed. If they’re not happy they will let us know, by kicking our backside. As Alessio Fasano said: Disease begins in the gut. So looking after them well is in our best interests.
Basic concept to those who’ve done this “game” a while, but not driven home by medical doctors and nutritionists that people frequent!
Our best interest is in our “best intestines.” 🙂
I was really on a roll for a long while. I’m going to be SO healthy! Pregnancy – so so healthy! But like yes, I ate a lot more than normal… and probably had too many popsicles.
But then the baby came. And now I’m like “we stopped buying frozen dinners why?”
AGHHH. Still trying. Sort of. Trying. There is still effort sometimes.
You made me chuckle over the frozen dinners! Ha! I can hear you saying that in my head.
Things get easier when the baby hits four years old. Unless you have more…
KEEP TRYING. What’s holding you back? Time? The baby screaming? (This is actually a big one for me. My head doesn’t do well with screaming while I’m cooking.) Working? Not having enough “go-to” recipes? Not knowing what to cook? A picky husband? Maybe picky yourself? Money?
Tell me. Tell me! You can do this. Real food. Keep it simple. As you feed your body and microbiome more and more, your body will shift naturally away from craving any boxed foods so in that sense, it’ll get easier over the long term. But time, babies, husbands, money—those are different battles to embrace. I always want to know people’s barriers so I know what they’re up against.
Well, my baby woke up early and is going to be an utter mess today as we have lots to do. Blessings to you!
Always awesome Terri! xoxxo I still cannot seem to get off of sugar… may have to go to rehab… wouldn’t that be a great way to get off it… a spa rehab for sugar addiction… if there isn’t one already, maybe I should start one. After I get off sugar of course!
The worst addicts make the best recovered coaches, right?!
When the time is right, I have confidence you’ll kick the sugar! Really!
Ah. I do dream of a nice spa. You know, the ones you see in magazines and movies. Ha! Right now, heck, even my toes are unpainted.
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