Friday, August 30, 2013

Why do we eat like we do?

Here is what I remember eating as a kid:
Starch anyone?
TV dinners were big in my house because both of my parents worked. I remember coming home for lunch one time and my high school friend opened the freezer stocked with TV dinners and said "wow, this is awesome"! Coke was like water to us and Fig Newtons were healthy right?

If I had not developed Celiac disease would I still eat that way?  Probably... but I feel lucky (yes, you heard that right), lucky to have this disease.  There is heart disease on both sides of my family and I could have serious health problems right now if I hadn't changed how I eat. I was forced to look at what I put into my mouth at every meal. I began reading labels.  I started trying new things. I learned how to prepare food correctly. I learned to love kale.

So take some time to think about why you eat the way you do.
  • Were you heavily influenced by your family? 
  •  Did you have a bad experience with a certain vegetable as a kid? 
  • Are you influenced now by your friends or partner? 
  • Just can't resist those mouth watering ads on TV?

Understanding the why is the first step for change. It helps you to step out from behind the "that is just how I am" door.  Why do I always crave something sweet after dinner?  Because that was a tradition in our house.  Ice cream right before bed, which is fine if you have the metabolism of a 12 year old. So when I decided to get healthy and lose some weight, I knew that I'm was up against a tradition but traditions can change. My first step was to have a piece of fruit after dinner.  Once I got used to that I decided to take the next step and have a nice warm mug of tea or take a walk with my dog.  See how I transitioned to a non food activity?

So in a nutshell...  Take inventory of what you want to change. Identify the why behind it. Understand the why behind it.  Then take your first step to change that behavior. Remember it doesn't have to be a giant first step.  It can be a baby step.

Good luck! And remember, you aren't alone. You can always reach out for help. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Let's Talk About Fat Baby...

I will try to keep this simple because it can get complicated.  We need fat. But there are many different types of fat. 


Small amounts of natural trans-fats occur in meat and full fat dairy and that small amount is ok to consume. Note the word natural.  Because it is the artificial trans-fats you want to steer clear of.  Those are found in processed cookies, cakes, pizzas, stick margarine, vegetable shortening, fried foods, pre-mixed cake and cookie mixes, frozen dinners, chicken get the idea.  The items in the supermarket where you look at the long list of ingredients and you can't pronounce half of the words. 

Long-Chain Saturated Fat 

Affectionately known as LCSF.  The ever so informative Chris Kesser (Chris Kesser) explains LCSF better than I can:

"These fats are found mostly in the milk and meat of ruminant animals like cattle and sheep. They form the core structural fats in the body, comprising 75-80% of fatty acids in most cells, and they’re the primary storage form of energy for humans. In other words, when the body stores excess energy from food for later use, it stores it primarily as long-chain saturated fat.
Unlike polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) and carbohydrates like glucose and fructose, saturated fats have no known toxicity – even at very high doses – presuming insulin levels are in a normal range. Long-chain saturated fats are more easily burned as energy than PUFA. The process of converting saturated fat into energy the body can use leaves no toxic byproducts. In fact, it leaves nothing but carbon dioxide and water.
This means that, assuming you are metabolically healthy, you can eat as much saturated fat as you’d like without adverse consequences. I’m sure this will come as a surprise to many of you, since we’ve been collectively brainwashed for 50 years to believe that saturated fat makes us fat and causes heart disease."

Medium-Chain Triglycerides

MCTs are found in coconut and mother's milk and are a great source of energy.  They do not metabolize like other fats.  Which means they are not broken down in the digestion process, they go directly to the liver via the portal vein.  MCTs are used as a fat source when someone is fed via a feeding tube. Data also supports that this type of fat may help fight Alzheimer's Disease. 

Monounsaturated Fat

MFA for short and also called oleic acid. It is found in beef, olive oil, avocado, lard and certain nuts (macadamias). There is some evidence that eating these foods improves blood cholesterol levels.  You are okay to eat MFAs but nuts do contain omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (see below). 

Polyunsaturated Fat:  Omega 6 and Omega 3

PUFA are chemically unstable and prone to oxidation (think heat). They are found in numerous foods: nuts, oils, vegetables, cereal grains and meat.  There are two types of PUFA.  And we need a 1 to 1 ratio of these fats in our diet for optimal health. Unfortunately the average American has a 10 to 1 or 20 to 1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3.

Omega 6
Also called linoleic acid, your body cannot make it so you have to consume it.  You can find linoleic acid in vegetables, cereal grains and meat. But here is the tricky part, Omega 6 is found in large amounts in processed oils like soybean, cottenseed, corn the problem with the 10 to 1 ratio.

Omega 3
Omega 3 can be broken down into short chain (DHA, EPAI)and long chain (alpha-linoleic acid, ALA).  ALA can be found in flax seeds and walnuts.  DHA and EPA are found in fish and small amounts in animal protein (think grass fed beef).  Some research shows that the body has a hard time (in people with nutrient deficiencies or illness) using ALA.  DHA and EPA might be a better choice for Omega 3.  But make sure your fish and meat is from a good source (organic and grass fed).

I hope this will help you make better choices when it comes to fat.  Remember fat is your  friend and not your foe.