25 Top Tips to Eat Healthy & Honor God with Our Lifestyle (Part 2 of 2)

Now that we know God has a better plan for our health, how do we find it? What do we do now? How do we get healthier? 

1.  Start wherever you are. Making small changes over several weeks can add up to MAJOR health benefits. Some people can go “cold turkey,” cutting out all grains & sugars, but many of us just cannot do that. So, take baby steps. One change today, another change in a few days, & on we go to a healthier life. 

2.  CHOOSE to ADD a healthier food to your life. AND Pick something you are willing to cut out and cut it out. Lay out a plan over the next few weeks to ADD something healthy AND cut out 1-2 unhealthy items each week. People are much more successful at accomplishing goals when written out and planned well.

3.  One of the most common changes people make is to reduce or cut soda from life. Soda is loaded with chemicals & sugars or sweeteners that trigger a lot of chemical reactions in the body; many of these chemicals & reactions have been linked to all sorts of health problems & chemical imbalance. I confess – I used to be one of those people that swore I’d NEVER stop drinking my soda. I frequently would drink 2-3 liters per day! And I hated water. But as my weight neared the 200 pound mark, I knew something HAD to change. So I switched to green tea. After many months, I was able to cut out the tea and now I drink water. Because 67% of the human body is made of water, it is extremely important to drink plenty of water every single day. The “rule of thumb” is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs., your water needs are nearly 1 gallon – at 100 ounces per day. 

4.  Seek out people to join and support you on this journey to better health. Look for authors, groups, and friends who are also focused on similar health goals and spiritual support as yourself. Start a support group in your town, community or church. 

5. Keep your efforts positive! Don’t focus on cutting out the unhealthy items; focus on adding healthier foods. Remember that natural fats are NOT unhealthy. Add butter, coconut oil, avocado & olive oils, tree nuts, & even cheeses. 

6.  Remember that fats will keep you fuller longer than carbohydrates. Adding healthy fats to meals can help you go many hours without feeling hunger, thus reducing your intake. When I drink my fat-filled coffee, I often go 6-8 hours to my next meal, obliterating the standard “rule” to eat every 2-3 hours. 

7.  Start by reducing portion sizes. Remember that the stomach is only about the size of your fist. So, an easy method to eat less, is to cut portions in half when you prepare your plate. I teach people to eat on saucers or salad plates to help keep portion sizes down. Separate your plate of food into halves or thirds; from that division, make a “takeout” for lunch the next day or split with your spouse or meal companion. 

8. Keep meat portions small – about the size of a deck of cards. This tip is vital for people with high glucose or sugar problems. Eating large quantities of meats while cutting out carbs can trigger a process where the body will produce glucose from the excess protein, and can result in elevated glucose levels – not helpful for people with metabolism problems or diabetes. 

9. Drink a glass of water about 10 minutes before eating to help your stomach signal fullness sooner during eating. Remember that it can take up to 15 minutes for the brain to recognize fullness and tell you to stop eating. Most of us can finish off a huge plate of food in less than 10 minutes. If you finish a plate of food in under 10 minutes, wait before refilling your plate. 


10.  Use this plate as a general guide to preparing your plate. Try to decrease carbs as you increase fats – remembering that this specific tactic should be used VERY short-term. Consuming high amounts of carbs AND high amounts of fats for weeks or months st a time, may increase your risk of heart disease and a decline in health. 

11.  If you cut out carbs “cold turkey,” do your research into “carb flu” or “keto flu.” Carbohydrate conversion to glucose has caused addiction in most of us; dropping carb intake suddenly can contribute to a variety of vague symptoms that can be quite significant to normal function. Symptoms can include headache, muscle aches/cramps, feeling tired, mood swings, irritability, insomnia, and slower bowel movements. In general, these symptoms last about a week or so; some people take a few days more or less to overcome these symptoms. Being prepared with lots of salty broth, avocado, magnesium & potassium-rich foods help dramatically. I typically don’t recommend going cold turkey for most people because many folks get frustrated when symptoms seem worse right away when they’ve been told they will feel better giving up carbs. Some people just can’t seem to fight through these temporary symptoms. 

12..One of the most shocking truths that people seem to struggle with is the idea that fruits also have to be cut. Subbing out a candy bar for a banana sounds like it would be MUCH healthier, but in all reality, it’s only slightly better. Fruits have been genetically engineered to taste maximally sweet – that sugar must go somewhere – it fills the bloodstream with excess sugar that must be managed by the body.  I usually recommend at least 30 days of no fruit, sweeteners, or processed foods, once most of the carbs have been cut out. This method allows the taste buds to reset and enjoy less-sweet flavors and it helps the liver with detoxification, reducing its workload. 

13. Pay close attention to your body’s signals. Hunger is designed to alert us to the need for fuel; it should signal that it’s time to seek food by a stomach emptiness &/or growl. A clock or social event should not dictate meal times as we’ve thought in modern times. The most basic rule to go by is: if you are not physically hungry, do not eat. There is no need to put fuel in a full tank. 

14. The new buzzword today is “gluten-free.” Don’t fall for it. While I do recommend going grain-free, substituting more high-carb, processed, nutrition-less fake foods will not contribute to good health. Gluten-free foods utilize rice, potatoes, fruits & other grains to make comfort/snack foods. So, paying for high-priced food-like chemicals will not improve your nutrition status. 

15. Because we’ve become accustomed to eating low fat foods, our tendency now is to purchase similar foods and think we’re making healthier choices. When possible, make full-fat choices. Foods are either flavored with fats or sugars. Sugars are the most detrimental to our health as evidenced by elevated glucose levels after consuming them. 

16. When buying groceries, try to shop the perimeter of the store; avoid aisles of processed, boxed & bagged food items. The edges of the store typically contain the produce, meat, & dairy products – most of what is in your new lifestyle. 

17. Read labels. Look for non-food words, like preservatives, chemicals, & sugars. With 60+ terms for sugars, it can take a while to figure out how manufacturers attempt to hide sugars from us. Keeping food choices closest to the farm will help keep shopping focused – at least for the first few weeks. Frozen foods are often fine; some canned foods may be ok as well. Purchase the cheapest cuts of meats as these will contain the highest natural fat content. Just make the best possible choices within your budget. Cutting out expensive processed foods will also contribute to decreased spending! What a bonus! 

18. Record your intake. Write down everything you eat and drink. Or use an app. MyFitnessPal and Cronometer are both very popular apps for helping to keep track of intake and macros.  Finding your “sweet spot” with macronutrients can take a little time, depending on your specific health conditions, medicine use, & body chemistry. Macronutrients are proteins, fats & carbohydrates. While I typically recommend 70-80% fat, 15-25% protein, & 5% carb intake for the average person, I often individualize a plan that is very specific and based on personalized needs.

19. In addition, adjusting medication doses for patients means I also build great relationships with my patients because they come in for visits as often as every week – at least for a while. I am a firm believer in keeping communication with your provider very open; if you are cutting carbs while on medicine, many doses may need to be decreased, while some meds may need to be stopped. Even if your health care provider is NOT very supportive of low carb nutrition, they will still need to be aware of your glucose & blood pressure levels in order to make medication changes safely & accurately. 

20. I remember when I began implementing these methods of weight loss during the Bible study. For the first few days, I would go about 11-12 hours waiting for true physiological hunger to signal me to eat. For people with sugar problems & diabetes, this step should be done with the assistance of a trained healthcare provider to avoid dropping your glucose to an unhealthy level. Using both diet AND medications for sugar control can cause serious drops in your glucose level. It is very important to seek out help managing medication doses and appropriate reductions in your prescribed medicine. 

21. I also found that frequent prayer helped me focus on eating healthier. Staying in close communion with the Holy Spirit helped me be aware of eating when I wasn’t hungry or eating after I was full. I really tried to keep Proverbs 23:1-2 in my mind & heart 24/7.  

22. Find an accountability partner – in addition to the Holy Spirit. Research shows that people who change lifestyle habits succeed at much higher rates than people who go it alone. Eating is a social event, so changing your diet WITH someone is much easier than eating two different meals. Purchasing groceries for one meal plan is also much less expensive! 

23. A lot of people making lifestyle changes begin or resume taking loads of vitamins & supplements. Most are unnecessary, not helpful, poorly absorbed & pricey. I don’t typically recommend multivitamins at all any more. I usually recommend Vitamin D, as we are all pretty deficient. If you have your level tested, you can monitor your level annually to be sure you stay in the normal  range. Many cardiologists are also recommending magnesium supplements now too; for one, it’s great for heart health & it aids in the absorption of the Vitamin D. 

24. Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings as you enter this journey. Record your current symptoms and as you begin to notice relief, record that too. My hip arthritis & psoriasis disappeared after 2 weeks of cutting out the grains – totally unexpected benefit! Record methods that God uses to help you reduce intake or make healthier choices. Keep track of blessings so that difficulties are easier to bear! 

25. Lastly, do NOT wallow in guilt, fear or shame. There are loads of tips here. You do not have to make every change mentioned here. Just pick a few that seem like they would benefit you the most & start with those changes.  Come out of that darkness and into the Light. God wants us to LIVE. He wants us to LIVE a long and healthy life. He wants us to be blessed and to bless others. 

Does God care if I’m overweight or unhealthy? (Part 1 of 2)

 

Many years ago, I took part in a Bible study that focused on losing weight using several different techniques that did help me become thinner. One of the weekly studies focused on a Bible verse from Proverbs 23:
When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.

That verse struck me as quite harsh and shocking. I had never really thought about overeating or eating just to eat might be anything that bothered God or was sinful. I knew He’d set forth all sorts of dietary laws in the Pentateuch, but I never made a connection between HOW & WHAT He wanted us to eat.

So, this verse in Proverbs really rocked my world. I pondered and meditated on this verse for days. I never thought I might be a glutton! That realization was VERY hard to wrap my head around. I tried to rationalize my overeating, my emotional eating, my eating when I was bored. It seemed that everywhere I turned, I heard this verse in my head. I saw evidence that God did not want me to overeat. Various “accidents” happened; I dropped bites of food. I spilled soda. I was repeatedly shocked by the simple methods God used to decrease my food intake.

For the past 10 years, I’ve continued to utilize many of the techniques I learned in that Bible study; I’ve even taught patients to use some of them. But I’ve rarely mentioned the verse that stirred such guilt & shame in my own spirit & emotions. I was afraid. I was guilty. I was ashamed. I was shocked. It was very hard for me to recognize that God wanted me to “cut my throat” if I was going to overeat. It sounded so very harsh then and still sounds harsh today. But in the years since I first studied the verse, I’ve begun to come to terms with what I believe God tried to set forth in this verse.

img_6275First of all, I know I’m not perfect. I still sometimes overeat or make an unhealthy choice. My goal is to help people see that God knows the desire of our human nature is selfishness – even in eating – and He does not want us to feel so guilty, fearful, or ashamed. He wants us to enjoy eating. He wants us to be joyful. He wants us to LIVE. In Deuteronomy 5, Moses wrote to the Israelites, saying ” Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (NIV, v 33).

 

Do you see that God wants us to LIVE? Living is not surviving. Living is not becoming overweight, unhealthy or unhappy. Living is being able to overcome & be victorious. Living is joyful – even during trials & tribulations, we can have inner peace & joy when we pursue LIFE. God really does WANT us to live with this idea at the heart of our being; He wants our focus on Christ and His ways so that we can LIVE a long life. Proverbs 10:7 says, “The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.” God isn’t saying that life will always be shortened as punishment, but may be a result of poor choices. Scripture is full of evidence of poor choices that resulted in serious consequences. God’s desire is NOT to punish us. His desire is to bless us – over & over again. He wants to give us long, healthy lives. When we make repeated bad choices, often those choices have their own consequences by laws of nature, science, chemistry, or physics. God is not going to override natural laws to save us from ourselves. Some of these consequences include illness and shortened life.

How can we obtain God’s favor and live long healthy lives? It’s easy. We seek His will, guidance & pursue a relationship with Him. We also go back in history to learn how people ate in the past. In Biblical days, many people lived to be well over 100 years old; Moses lived to 120. Joshua died at age 110. Noah lived 950 years. How? Why? Even if years were measured differently then (they weren’t much different), Noah lived a LONG, LONG time. How? Why? Can we adopt any of the habits or culture to help us today? I believe we can.

In Genesis, God gave the Garden of Eden & livestock of the land to Adam & Eve. He gave these to Adam & Eve for their own nourishment. He provided plants and animals for eating & satisfying our need for fuel & nutrients. He wanted us to enjoy eating and so He created a variety of tasty plants.

However, modern society has taken advantage of the earth & altered methods of planting, harvesting, & processing. Many of these methods have adulterated natural foods and removed nutritional value that God intended. One of the most common ways to improve nutrition state, is to cut out most or all of the processed, highly chemical-laden foods. Most processed and prepackaged food items have almost no nutritional value. Read nutrition labels, if you’re skeptical. Compare labels of white bread and whole grain bread, for example. There is very little difference in nutrient content. If whole grains are supposed to so much healthier for us, why is there no increased nutrient density?

Looking back over time, having bread at every meal every day was not common. Breads were difficult to have in large quantities because wheat and other grains have a long growing season & require a large amount of field to grow enough for use. With poor storage methods, grains were used seasonally, not daily. The only time in history that people ate bread daily is when God provided manna from Heaven to the children of Israel. He instructed them to gather it daily except for the Sabbath because it wouldn’t keep well. That manna provided plenty of nutrients because Scripture is clear – they ate manna daily for 40 years – and the people suffered no ill health effects. Other than this specified 40 years, humans have only had breads/grains seasonally. What did they eat the rest of the year? Meat. Meat is the only food source that has always been available.

Fruits & vegetables were only available seasonally. Very few plant products were easily stored for weeks or months on end. They did not use chemical preservatives to keep foods stable on a store shelf for months at a time. They used salt and fat to preserve foods. They built in-ground cellars where temps were cooler, but food was rarely stored for more than a few months.

In summary, God intends for us to LIVE long, healthy lives. How? First, realize that He has provided a way. Next, look to nature for most food sources. Avoid eating food-like items that man has conjured up in a chemistry lab or manufacturing plant. Look to the farm – the closer a food is to nature, the higher the nutrient content. Nutrient-dense foods are from the farm/garden. Foods with the most nutrition are meats, vegetables, & natural fats. Only consume fruits as occasional treats – fruits would only have been available seasonally, not year round. Substituting fruits for unhealthy highly processed carbs may seem like a good option, but remember they still convert to fructose & glucose, and too much can still cause ill health.

Finally, does God care if we are healthy or not? Of course He cares. He wants us to be healthy. He wants a full life for each of us. He’s designed a great way for us to be healthy and live a long time. Our next blog article offers tips to do just that!

KetoNurses’ Grain-Free Fake Ziti

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KetoNurses’ Easy Fake Ziti

I recently saw a segment on “Rachael” the featured a White Ziti and I was intrigued immediately! I decided to tweak the ingredients just a bit in order to make a grain-free, low carb Ziti.

KetoNurses Grain-Free Fake Ziti Recipe

2-3 Tbsp olive or avocado oil

5-6 cloves of garlic (1 bulb works)

10-16 ounces thawed chopped spinach

ground nutmeg (optional)

salt & pepper to taste

2-3 zuchinni, sliced thinly

16-24 ounces ricotta

16-24 ounces grated parmiagiano-reggiano

16 ounces shredded mozzarella

Start by coating the baking dish with butter or oil and preheat oven at 350 degrees. Set baking dish aside while combining ingredients. Heat oil over medium heat, stirring in garlic, spinach, & nutmeg. Heat and stir for about 2 minutes, or until heated thoroughly. Salt & pepper to taste.

Add sliced zuchinni, ricotta, & parm.  Mix well and turn out into greased baking dish.  Top with grated/shredded mozzarella and bake in oven until some of the top begins to brown.  Using smaller quantities allows for smaller dish & less baking time; an 8×8 dish will be done in about 30 minutes, whereas a 9×13 dish will require about 50 minutes.

Options:  Brown 8-16 ounces of ground beef or pork sausage and add to heated mixture. I made my version with a pound of ground beef because my hubby refused to eat it without meat.  LOL

This dish is a very flexible base and I hope to try developing a few other options over the next few months.  It offers a power pack of nutrients including iron, protein & multiple vitamins essential for good health.

I have really enjoyed learning to use “zoodles” in place of grain-based noodles; using zuchinni in place of typical noodles also significantly improves nutrient content, & that is vital for improving health.  Zoodles are also a fun way to get kids to eat more vegetables!!

Fake-Ziti is quick and easy to make, and can be made ahead and saved in serving size portions for use later in the week.  Smaller portions also make terrific appetizers for pot lucks or parties.

Add a colorful salad and serve – so quick and easy to provide a highly nutrition meal for your family.

Rachael recommended a nice white wine to accompany her Ziti; I’m not much of a wine chic, so I’ll just have to take her word for it.  LOL

Please share your photos and experiences making our Ziti on our KetoNurses Facebook page or tag me on Instagram; I’m KetoNurseJen.

Happy Low Carbing!

What’s all the hub-bub about low carb?

 

Over the past 50 years, nutrition advice has been a bit fluid with regards to a variety of nutrients or macronutrients. In the most recent 5-10 years, a few grass-roots experts have come forward with even more changes they recommend for our eating health.  Some physicians and authors are encouraging complete grain-free nutrition, while others advocate for a 100% plant-based diet.  Now comes along this idea to cut carbs from our diets.  Here, we will attempt to define and discuss carbohydrates, their purpose, sources, and whether or not we actually NEED those carbs.

First, let’s take a look at the 3 macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, & fats.  These macronutrients are the largest sources of food and nutrients for our bodies.  In the past, it was believed that 45-65% of our daily intake should be from carbohydrates, 10-35% % of our intake should come from proteins, and that 20-35% of our intake should come from fats.   Fats were touted as being minimally necessary to bodily processes, while proteins & carbs were proclaimed as more important nutrients the body needed.

Carbohydrates in high quantities were thought to be necessary because they provide instant energy for usual daily activity, body processes, and exercise. Prior to 1980, when the first dietary guidelines were published, there had been little to no scientific research published regarding these macronutrients; however, some very strong personalities with governmental and financial support were able to advocate for dietary guidelines not too different from today’s high carbohydrate recommendations.  With no supporting data and no real science to back up the 1980 nutrition recommendations, they were advertised and supported by a myriad of governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and medical providers across the country; the media was complicit in assisting in “educating” the public on these rules, and magazines/newspapers published countless news articles encouraging the American public to reduce fat intake and significantly increase carbohydrate intake. (You can read more on this story here:  https://ketonurses.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/does-cholesterol-cause-heart-attacks-is-fat-bad-for-me/.)

Fast-forward 40 years and take a look at the devastation to our bodies by such high carb and nutrition-less food-like items we’ve been consuming. Prior to the 1980 dietary guidelines, there was little heart disease, type 2 diabetes, few strokes & heart attacks, and minimal obesity.  There were fewer cases of cancers & inflammatory conditions like arthritis and lupus.  How did people die in previous decades? Infection was the number 1 killer up until antibiotics became the mainstay of healthcare in the 1960s-80s.  Accidents and injuries were another top cause of death, but heart disease and obesity did not become prevalent until more modern times.  Looking at graphs that show our fat intake decline can be compared to the rates of heart disease, and you will easily see the inverse relationship between them; fat intake dropped while heart disease sky-rocketed.

And of course, as fats were cut from our plates, we replaced them with “healthier” carbohydrates. As manufacturers and food processing companies worked to make work easier and less laborious for their employees, nutrients were lost.  As nutrient content began to fall, it was decided to supplement or “enrich” many of these foods with some vitamin or mineral to help make the food seem healthier and more nutritious to consumers.  If you can find an older food label from the 1950s and compare to similar food item today, you will see a big difference in nutrient-density; today’s food-like items contain almost no nutrients, no vitamins, no minerals, nothing at all the body actually needs – except for carbohydrates.

And now, we come to the $6 million question – Does the body need all these carbs? Well, let’s look back at the hunter-gatherers a hundred years or more ago – even thousands of years ago.  What carbs did they eat? Where did our founding pioneers obtain their carbs?  What foods did the Native Americans thrive on?  Looking back over hundreds of years, we can see that our ancestors primarily consumed proteins and fats – both of which were generally accessible year-round.  During summer/fall seasons, there were some carbohydrates to be found in the fields & orchards – but they were SEASONAL and only consumed as special treats.  These high carb-content foods were very rare on the family table, and breads/grains were a real treat due to the prolonged growing season and space required for farming them.  It wasn’t until after WWII that industry began seeing food manufacturing as a money-making business; most families and communities farmed nearly every food item consumed.  Families and communities bartered and traded foods & services; there just wasn’t room in the economy or the daily life for many “frivolities” to be eaten.  Farmers and plant workers thrived on proteins and fats for sustenance and energy.  Breads and cereals did not provide long-lasting energy for the typical 12-16-hour day, with rarely a “lunchbreak” for a mid-day meal.  Jerky, or dried meats, was easy to keep in a pocket or bag for a snack “on-the-go.”  While pondering on these thoughts, let’s go back to our question – Does the body need all these carbs?  Our grandparents and great-grandparents will mostly say an unequivocal “NO” to this question because they lived on very few carbs during their entire lifetime.  They did not see much need for them 100 years ago; some of them still keep carb intake to a minimum today, regardless of the “rules” that push high-carb diets on all of us.

Now then, the question becomes, “how many carbs should I eat?” Well, the Standard American Diet (SAD) guidelines typically recommend 250-300 GRAMS of carbs per day for the average American adult.  How much is that, you ask?  Take a look at this graphic from The Noakes Foundation:

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Take a look at the sample menu; substitute some of your own favorites and if you’re really brave, look up the exact carb content on your food labels. This typical diet contains over 300 grams of carbohydrates for 1 day, AND an additional 34 teaspoons of refined sugars, for an ADDITIONAL 137 grams of carbs – the SAD is truly sad for Americans. Consider that the average body only needs 4 TEASPOONS of glucose in the bloodstream ALL DAY.  This sample meal plan for 1 day contains a total of 466 grams of carbohydrates – all of which will be converted rather quickly into glucose, floating around in the bloodstream and triggering all sorts of body processes in hopes of lowering the blood glucose level as quickly as possible.  The intake of glucose triggers the pancreas to suddenly secrete a load of insulin which is programmed to seek out glucose molecules and transport them out of the bloodstream quickly; while the insulin is taking the glucose OUT of the bloodstream, it is taking the glucose INTO cells to be stored as fat; over time, this one process causes weight gain and insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance is what happens when the body is overworked and forced to make and secrete a lot of insulin.  I tell this story to my patients when I see them in the office:  If you are working on an assembly-line and your rate of work is comfortable to you and you meet production at the end of your day, you feel good that you were able to meet your goals and produce a good, high-quality product.  But what happens when your boss tells you to DOUBLE production?  Do you work faster? Do you work more carelessly?  Does your faster work put out high-quality product?  Do you feel bad at the end of your day because you did not meet your standards?  A similar process occurs when the pancreas is forced to make too much insulin to manage the extremely high glucose intake and the insulin becomes less and less effective, even though MORE quantity is being produced.  This one faulty product (poor quality insulin) can cause a myriad of chemical & hormonal imbalances within the body, contributing to all sorts of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes.

So, if 400+ grams of carbs per day is actually RECOMMENDED, it’s no wonder that over 2/3 Americans are overweight & diabetic. How can we change this plan?  Well, the dietary guidelines will be reviewed again in 5 years – that’s a LONG time to wait.  You can change YOUR diet TODAY!  I like helping people understand where all the carbohydrates are hiding – they are in MANY foods that experts have claimed to be HEALTHY for the past 50 years.  I start by helping people see the worst sources of carbs – the junk foods, the soda, the sugary treats, the boxed cereals loaded with sugars, and fast foods.  Once people are aware of the sources, it is MUCH easier to start making healthy choices.  But how many grams of carbs do we actually need?  Some current experts say we need as little as 10 grams per day; others say that staying under 50 grams is best.  My suggestion to my patients is to start where you are and try to eat 100 grams LESS for a week or 2 and then decrease again and again, learning as you go.  Read labels, identify foods with high carb content and start cutting portion sizes until that food is used/gone.  I tell people that it’s important to start right where you are and to NOT expect yourself to make such a massive change overnight.  While some people are able to go “cold-turkey” off carbs, many find it a serious addiction and very difficult to drop such a huge amount in a short time.  The best method of understanding where you are, is to record your intake; if you have a smartphone or tablet, there are many apps available.  My favorite app for this task is Cronometer because it’s accurate and pretty easy to use.  Once you’ve recorded 3-4 days of intake, it’s easy to see what your macros are.  Your macros are your macronutrients – carbs, fats, & proteins.  These are the only 3 major nutrients we consume.

Back to our original questions: 1) What is low carb eating?  Low carb eating is a way of eating that drastically cuts carbohydrate intake to less than 100 grams per day; some plans and experts recommend MUCH less, but the general definition of low-carb is less than 100 grams per day.  2) Is low-carb unhealthy?  After reading this article, I hope your answer is a resounding “NO, low-carb eating is very healthy.”  Eliminating wasteful, highly processed, very chemical-laden food like items actually rids your body of toxins and chemicals that are often linked to chronic diseases and cancers.  3)  What do I eat if I’m eating low carb?  This question is often one of the most commonly asked questions of all of us trying to teach this method of eating.  Eliminating carbohydrates typically means no longer consuming any type of bread, rice, corn, potato, wheat, pasta, cracker, cereal, chip, juice, & most milk.  Reviewing your daily intake record, you may find that much of your intake consists of these foods – a VERY common dilemma!  However, I provide a list of resources to my patients, and will add them at the end here.  I typically recommend eating eggs, bacon, unsweet sausage, most meat in small portions, and non-starchy vegetables, and all of it cooked and covered in healthy fats like REAL butter – NOT margarine.  Other health fats are listed here:

oils-photo

My favorite method of cooking veggies is to roast them! Ahhhhh, so delish and easy to make; just chop into small fairly evenly-sized pieces and season to taste. I shake them in a large storage bag with lite olive oil to cover, then pour onto a large cookie sheet and bake on about 375 – 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or just until edges begin to slightly brown.  Remove from oven and serve immediately.  I also often serve with a small bowl of butter for dipping while eating.  Trying to change our 60++% carb intake to 70% fat intake can take quite a while to understand AND implement.  If we could learn to consume mostly fats with small portions of foods, we could nearly eliminate chronic diseases & medication use, and we could change the face of health care, while extending life span AND improving quality of life.  Now, tell me, who wouldn’t like that?

Take a look at some of these resources and do your own research before deciding what you should do about carb intake.

References, Books, Websites, & Recipe sites for Low Carb Lifestyle

Books:

The Art & Science of Low Carb Living

Cholesterol Clarity

Wheat Belly

Grain Brain

Keto Clarity

The Diabetes Solution

Effortless Healing

Websites:

www.ruled.me                                                  www.dietdoctor.com

www.ketonurses.wordpress.com             www.authoritynutrition.com

www.mercola.com                                          www.ditchthecarbs.com

www.livinlavidalowcarb.com                    Facebook group – Reversing Diabetes

www.lowcarbconversations.com

www.buttermakesyourpantsfalloff.com

FREE YouTube Videos: Dr. Sarah Hallberg             Steve Phinney & Jeff Volek

Dr. Richard Bernstein            Dr. Eric Westman

Bob Briggs (Butter Bob)        Jimmy Moore

Recipes:    www.alldayidreamaboutfood.com

www.peaceloveandlowcarb.com

www.joyfilledeats.com

www.nobunplease.com

www.ibreatheimhungry.com

 

Is that little red heart a good thing?

Is your breakfast heart-healthy? According to whom?  Check your box of cereal or your container of yogurt.  Do you see one of those little red hearts on the front label?  Just what does it mean? And who says so?

Some years ago, the food industry and the American Heart Association (AHA) came together to allegedly help consumer identify “healthier” good items while shopping.  The intent was for shoppers to be able to quickly choose a healthier food item over another, aiding in reducing the stress of grocery shopping.  But, has this step helped? And does that little red heart really mean your food is actually good for you?

Ever since President Eisenhower’s in-office heart attack, many strong personalities pushed the diet-heart hypothesis forward, promoting the idea that fats were the major dietary & health hazard.  Although this concept was galvanized by many so-called experts and government agencies since the 1950s, there was absolutely no scientific data to support their theory.  Even today, there is scant independent scientific research that links dietary fats to heart disease, stroke, or even diabetes.  Yet, that philosophy continues to abound throughout the land.

Doctors, nurses, fitness experts and even nutritionists all continue to support an old, outdate, and totally inaccurate perspective of dietary fats.  First of all, let’s take a look at some of the major ways the body actually USES dietary fat:

  • Every single cell (that makes up every single body part) needs fat for proper structure of the cell wall or membrane. The phospholipid bilayer, as the biology teacher calls it, is composed of a layer of fats – the lipid part of the 2-layers of the outer wall.  This lipid layer is vital to the structure of the cell; without adequate fat intake, this cell membrane may not be healthy or strong enough to function normally.  Weakened structural walls of the cell can contribute to slow wound-healing or tissue repair.
  • Certain fats can actually decrease inflammation within the body’s tissues. Inflammation is a process that contributes to a myriad of symptoms and a variety of conditions; recently, inflammation has been linked to heart disease, heart attacks, and plaque build-up inside blood vessels.
  • Certain other fats can lower the LDL – (bad cholesterol) while raising the HDL (good cholesterol). For years, experts have told us “the only way to raise your HDL is to exercise,” but we now know that statement is completely untrue.  Avocado, in particular, can greatly improve cholesterol levels, and yes… even RAISE HDL.
  • Some fats can help lower and stabilize blood sugar levels; for patients with diabetes, this little known and poorly reported fact could make a dramatic improvement in blood sugar levels – if only people could know the truth.
  • A particular fat, coconut oil, has been shown to improve brain health and thought processes; it is currently being studied as a new and significant method for treating and/or curing certain brain conditions like Alzheimer and Parkinson.
  • Fats are a much more efficient source of energy than carbohydrates; have you ever had a cheese or nut snack? How long were you feeling full or satisfied? What about having an apple?  You were likely hungry again in about 20 minutes after the apple.  Fats take much longer to break down during digestion and thus allow the brain to be satisfied and not signal hunger or cravings.

So, if fats are so beneficial and can do all these things for our bodies, why have fats been so demonized?  It goes back to all those strong personalities from the 1950s – 1970s.  These strong-willed personalities held power, authority, and gained easy access to financial support and were thus able to push forward their own opinions as fact.  They had no data.  They had no science.  They had no research.  Nothing backed up their claims.

Today, grassroots efforts from all around the world are making quite a difference in nutrition science; a handful of brave and daring physicians, scientists, and other experts are making headway using an entirely different approach to health.  People like David Perlmutter, Eric Westman, Jeff Volek, Steve Phinney, Jimmy Moore, Jason Fung, Nina Tiecholz, and Richard Bernstein are publishing books, videos, and working on social media to spread the word.  There are now many Facebook groups geared toward diet, nutrition, and lower carb eating.   My personal favorite Facebook group is Reversing Diabetes; loads of great tips, advice, and helpful admins there to guide and instruct.  There are several smartphone apps designed to help us track our intake and exercise; some even have built-in macro calculators to aid the user in eating the correct proportion of fats, proteins, & carbs.

Go back to your breakfast labels…  let’s take a closer look.  Did you find a little red heart?  Take a closer look at the nutrition label.  Is the food fat free? Or very low in fat?  How about carbohydrates?  Just who says a heart-healthy food must be low in fat?  Who makes up the AHA?  Who funds the AHA?  Why don’t these experts come out with new dietary guidelines now that we know better?

I truly wish I had the answers to these questions.  However, the AHA is getting the message, slowly but surely. Just a couple of weeks ago, the AHA did issue a new recommendation for children.  The AHA now recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar from all sources in a day for children.  Why did they make this change for children?  My personal belief is that they are afraid to speak out against sugars for adults; adults have lived their lives, made their major choices, and are pretty set in their ways.  If the AHA can start making new lower sugar recommendations for children, new habits will be formed and the parents will also reduce sugar intake somewhat.  There is much more at stake than just eating less sugar, but at least reducing sugar intake can be a huge first step to better health.

So, what about that little red heart?  I view it as a warning sign…. NOT as a helpful dietary sign.

The Truth About Grains

10 Facts You MUST Know About Grains

Whole grains, like wheat, corn, and oats, have been touted for many years as healthy and nutritious, but over the past decade, grains have come under attack. Are whole grains healthy or not? If not, what makes them unhealthy? Looking back over history, grains were never a major source of calories or nutrition until the industrial revolution was able to offer machines for planting, harvesting and processing. Early Americans rarely enjoyed wheat because of the long growing season; the original 13 colonies offered poor growing seasons for wheat and oats; they did find Native Americans growing corn or maize. But even so, corn was very seasonal; they had few methods of storing grains safely for long periods of time.  Reviewing dietary intake of early colonists and Native Americans reveals high intakes of fats and proteins, not carbohydrates. These Americans also had very low rates of heart disease and diabetes; the biggest threat to survival was infection, like pneumonia or tuberculosis.

Over the past decade, authors like David Perlmutter and William Davis have published articles and books regarding the dangers of wheat and other grains. Blogs and social media abound with articles and commentary about grains and the risks they now pose to health. Going “gluten-free” is the new fad among “health bloggers” and “crunchy moms” who are trying to provide improved nutrition to their families and friends. All the while, governmental agencies and non-profit health organizations continue to advocate the consumption of high amounts of grains as part of a healthy diet. So, how do we figure out the truth? What is good or bad about grains? Is gluten-free good nutrition?

Here are 10 facts about grains for you to consider:

  1. All grains, no matter their glycemic index result in elevated glucose levels. Test for yourself. You can purchase glucometers over-the-counter at discount chain stores. Test your glucose first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. This number is your fasting blood sugar level. Eat white bread. Test your glucose level at 30 minutes, 1 hour and 2 hours AFTER eating. Record these numbers. Another day, eat whole grain bread and test again at the same intervals. There will be very little, if any, differences in the percentage of change in your glucose levels. Anyone can do this test; it does not apply only to patients with diabetes.
  2. All breads sold commercially have similar nutritional values. Go to the store and locate the bread aisle. Locate any 2 or 3 brands or kinds of bread and compare the nutrition label. You will find that most breads contain very few vitamins and the ones you DO find, have been “enriched”. Enriched products SOUND healthy, right? However, what that word really means is that most nutrition was stripped during growing or processing, so to make product somewhat healthier-appearing, something was added. Usually it’s iron or B vitamins that are added. But take note of the nutrition label; notice how many carbs are in 1 serving and then how much nutrition is 1 serving providing?   Is the minimal nutrition TRULY worth the high number of empty calories?
  3. According to Davis & Perlmutter, grains, especially wheat, contribute to significant systemic inflammation which in turn creates health problems. Perlmutter has said that wheat may be one of the greatest unrecognized health threats today. Evidenced by a huge rise in diagnosis of celiac disease since 1950, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and even asthma are being linked to wheat intake by some experts. Bloggers and author around the world attest to reducing or eliminating symptoms by eliminating wheat, gluten, or grains in some capacity.
  4. It costs approximately $8 to produce a box of cereal, but cereal sells for approximately $3-4 per box. How is this possible? Many years ago, the small farmers struggled to make ends meet; buying expensive machines to aid in planting and harvesting economically overwhelmed family farms. Farmers appealed to their governmental agencies for help; thus began the biggest subsidy effort undertaken by government ever. Over time, the family farms have all but disappeared, yet, the subsidies continue because they have been passed on as farms were purchased by bigger and bigger corporations.
  5. Genetically modified organisms or GMOs are commonly found to contribute to less nutrition and more inflammation according to a variety of authors and bloggers, including Perlmutter and Davis. With the advent of the industrial revolution, machines took over many processes and techniques involved in planting, harvesting, and processing. In order to speed up & economize processes has genetic modification created potential health hazards? Have GMOs been so altered that they are making us sick? According to NPR.org, genetically modified seeds appeared mysteriously in a farmer’s crop in 2013; these seeds had never been approved for marketing, sale, planting, or harvesting by the FDA. These particular seeds had been treated with a glyphosate-tolerance gene inserted into some varieties. The investigation was finally closed with absolutely no resolution; the GMO seeds were never found to have a source. No one was even found to be responsible for releasing these unapproved seeds into circulation and use. This “release” of GMOs into the fields allows for cross-contamination as pollination occurs.   Because of the lack of governmental oversight and refusal to pursue a responsible party, many authors believe that GMO use is becoming more widespread and is quite subtle, as seen in the example above. Even among our governmental agencies like the FDA, experts are warning that this subtle release of GMOs into our food supply is producing unpredictable and dangerous side effects, likely contributing to all sorts of ailments and illness.
  6. Independent research into whole grain nutrition is extremely limited. Most of the famous recommendations, advocating whole grain consumption as part of a healthy diet, are either produced by or funded by grain growers, supporters, pharmaceutical companies, or governmental agencies that support grain consumption. That’s like the pot calling the kettle black.
  7. Carbohydrates from grains can cause significant gas and abdominal pain in many people because of the way some are digested. FODMAPs are fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols – osmotic components of some carbohydrates that pull water back into the intestines, creating discomfort and bloating. This chemical reaction begins to cause fermentation secondary to poorly digested carbohydrates moving through the intestines; fermentation results in gas formation and results in discomfort and abdominal cramping.
  8. Gluten-free is just a new buzzword that many people are using to justify a supposedly “healthier diet.” However, many people who go gluten-free are only substituting other high carb, junk-food type products for gluten. For example, many alternative flour mixes contain bean, rice, or potato flour instead of wheat. Many times, this substitution results in a higher carb intake overall and sometimes even less nutrition. Remember that the front label is designed to attract a customer; most of the nutrition information on the front of packages can be very misleading.
  9. Grains have been encouraged for 50+ years as part of a healthy diet in order to provide “energy”. While carbohydrates DO convert to glucose and are utilized internally for cellular energy, fats are a much healthier source of energy. Overconsumption of carbohydrates is pretty easy, especially when governmental agencies and nutrition experts recommend up to 7-10 servings of whole grains on a daily basis. 1 serving of generic whole grain bread can provide about 12 grams of carbohydrates; multiply 48 calories by 10 servings for the whole day and you see quickly that 480 calories of energy is provided to the body. (Remember that carbs provide 4 calories per gram.) Now, 1 teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams; eating 10 servings of breads & grains in 1 day is the equivalent of eating 120 teaspoons of sugar. Medical experts have reported that the average healthy adult’s bloodstream usually contains approximately 4 teaspoons of glucose at any given time.  If 4 teaspoons is all we NEED at any given moment, why do health and nutrition experts continue to recommend such enormous amounts of sugar, carbs, and grains?
  10. Whole grains have been advocated as healthy because refined grains are so unhealthy, but labels do not support this idea. Experts have long claimed that whole grains are so much healthier than processed and refined grain products. Reviewing over the previous 9 facts, this author challenges that statement utterly and completely. There are too many questions surrounding the health of grains today; from GMOs, processing methods, enriching products, and uncertain governance from the FDA, grains now take the limelight of nutritional attention. While it is easy to see that refined grains and processed foods include poor nutrition and empty calories, it is often assumed that whole grain versions offer a much healthier and more nutritious alternative; when really reading nutrition labels, it becomes clear that whole grain foods are similarly nearly devoid of vitamins and minerals the body needs.

As more evidence makes it way to the forefront, consumers will make more decisions and choices regarding health and nutrition. Some health care providers are even on board with lower grain and carbohydrate intake because so many ailments improve significantly when patients change eating habits. While carbs have been the “favored” child of nutrition in previous decades, fats may be a better source of energy without significant side effects; healthy fats do not cause weight gain, elevated glucose, high cholesterol, or obesity – all of which are known contributors to heart disease and mortality. Increasing fat intake actually improves many conditions like diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. As these conditions are life-altering, increasing fats will provide a much healthier lifestyle with fewer risks of complications and health problems; decreasing carbohydrates will also contribute to a much healthier lifestyle with fewer risks of health problems. The controversies surrounding low carb vs. low fat will continue over the next few years, but more of us in health care can make a difference in people’s lives…. One patient at a time.

 

Husband’s Delight Low Carb Dessert

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Husband’s Delight Low Carb Dessert

LAYER 1:

1 ¼ cup almond flour

1 stick (4 oz) real butter, melted

½ cup finely chopped nuts, optional

Mix well and press into 9×9 baking dish or deep dish pie pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Crust edges should just be slightly darkening to be considered done. Let cool for about an hour.

LAYER 2:

1 cup heavy cream

8 oz full-fat cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered Splenda or Stevia

Whip heavy cream and sweetener until stiff peaks form. Add in cream cheese and continue mixing until well combined thoroughly. Spread over cooled crust.

LAYER 3:

1 ½ cups fresh blueberries (frozen can be used, but thaw, rinse, & dry first)

Spread blueberries evenly over mixture.

LAYER 4:

1 large pkg of sugar-free Vanilla Jello

1 ½ – 2 cups heavy cream

Mix well and spread evenly over blueberries.

LAYER 5:

1 cup chopped nuts – I prefer pecans, but almonds, cashews, or walnuts will work

Sprinkle nuts over top. Chill for at least 2 hours.  Serve.

Fats Got a Bad Rap…

For the past 50 years or so, we’ve all been taught that fats are unhealthy for us; we believed these “experts” because they seemed to be honest and respectable scientists and doctors.  However, most of these experts had very strong personalities and pushed their way to the forefront of nutrition advisory councils, various dietary boards, and media outlets across the nation.

Capitalizing on President Eisenhower’s heart attack, researchers and nutrition “experts” used the diet-heart hypothesis to set forth recommendations to cut fats.  Food processing companies fell right into line with these new low-fat recommendations, producing a myriad of convenient food items.  More families became 2 wage-earner supported and life became busier and more hectic; convenient, boxed low-fat foods began to line the shelves and household pantries.

Time rocked on; companies produced more convenient foods.  More scientists said low-fat nutrition was good for us. As the low-fat mantra was repeated and stressed, more of us believed it; more of us cut fats out of our lives.  We swapped natural butter for factory-developed low-fat margarine; we traded natural farm-raised dairy cow’s milk for low-fat and skim milk, and we succumbed to peer pressure to stop using old-fashioned lard for highly processed and lower fat vegetable oils.

Food-like Items Take Over the Supermarket…

As less natural food entered our daily intake, more chemicals and preservatives found their way into more and more foods.  Low-fat became the buzz-word for sure.  One of the biggest battles was in the dairy industry.  Low-fat and skim milk products were not well-accepted by the public; it just did not seem “natural” to alter nature’s apparently near-perfect food.  Finally, in the 1970’s repetition was finally successful, and low-fat sales actually overtook regular whole milk sales.  However, as fats were removed from our daily diets, the incidence of heart disease and diabetes sky-rocketed.

Millions of dollars were donated to research studies and organizations with goals that ranged from reducing heart disease, curing diabetes, to the development of dietary guidelines.  The major problem here, though, is the list of companies donating to organizations.  The American Diabetes Association had been struggling to make ends meet, as it tried to develop resources for millions of Americans being diagnosed with diabetes.   (Diabetes is a condition where insulin is no longer able to transport glucose out of the bloodstream into the body’s cells for use.  When the glucose cannot leave the bloodstream, it remains within the bloodstream, resulting in very high levels of glucose and serious organ damage.  The ADA was trying to organize and develop dietary and management guidelines to aid patients in better control of their health and thus reduce organ damage.)  As medications for diabetes were developed, pharmaceutical companies began donating millions of dollars to the ADA and the American Heart Association.  ADA and AHA board members often included physicians, researchers, authors, and other medical experts, employed or contracted by pharmaceutical companies.  So, not only were the operating expenses for these non-profit agencies being funded by pharmaceutical companies, but these same companies were “loaning” or “sharing” many of their most well-respected experts with these health-oriented organizations trying to help heal Americans.

Remember the food processors? Well, they wanted to help Americans too, so big cereal producers like Kellogg’s and General Mills also began donating money to the ADA and/or the AHA; while intentions were likely honorable, now that we are beginning to understand carbs, fats, and funding relationships, it doesn’t look as honorable as CEOs and other health experts once thought.

Significant Conflict of Interest…

Now, take all that information… Fats have been removed from diets; carbs and grains have replaced them.  Grain processors and pharmaceutical companies have become the major funding sources of agencies which are also providing board members and decision-makers to non-profit organizations and governmental agencies that are developing dietary guidelines for Americans.  The USDA was urging people to consume 9-11 servings of grains per day.  The grain processors and drug companies were financially supporting the non-profit agencies now in control of making dietary recommendations.

Are you still with me?  The diet guidelines that we have used for the past 40 years have been established by people with a serious conflict of interest.  In no other segment of our society, would rules be allowed to be made by people or companies profiting from the advice.  How have we allowed this to happen?  What do we do about it now?

It is time to take control over our OWN health and that of our families.  The food industry responds to our dollars.  If we stop buying all the processed food, they will hear.  I recently read an article where cereal companies have already begun to see a drop in sales.  They see the handwriting on the wall.  The advent of the internet, social media, and ease of interacting online has contributed to grass-roots efforts to change dietary advice, using N=1 experiments.  The N in a research study is recognized as the number of participants; a well-designed and reputable study usually includes as many participants as possible in order to account for variables.  But over the past 20 years, the internet has multiplied the effects of N=1 experiments via social media.  People from across the country are researching and finding their own methods to healing, reversing illness, and taking control of their health.

If we change our spending habits, manufacturers will see the drop in sales and will perform market research to identify food interests; this research will in turn create opportunity for companies to create and sell lower carb, higher fat foods.  If we stop eating cereals and low-fat products, companies will stop selling them.  If we eat more vegetables and fats, more farmers will grow more vegetables and animals.  Becoming a healthier nation really is a grass-roots effort…pun intended…LOL

Cut the CRAP…

We START by cutting out the CRAP – literally.  C – stands for carbonated drinks; R – stands for refined sugars.  A – stands for artificial sweeteners; P – stands for processed foods.

Basically, if someone else made, bagged, boxed, or canned it, it isn’t likely to be healthy for us.  To keep food stable on the grocery shelf for 3-6 months at a time, there are likely unhealthy preservatives and chemicals that contribute to high blood pressure, elevated glucose, and organ stress.  Even the FDA recently published a statement that says most processed foods should no longer be recognized as safe for human consumption, due to the high content of trans fats used.

Carbonated drinks contain lots of chemicals, sugars, and chemicals that companies are not required to divulge on labels.  Carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide; remember basic breathing anatomy? We breathe in room air, consisting of nitrogen and oxygen and we breathe out carbon dioxide.  Why should we have a DESIRE to swallow hundreds of ounces of carbon dioxide weekly, when they human body recognizes it as a toxin that should be eliminated by the lungs with every breath? Many people who have lung problems often find that the more soda they consume, the harder it is for them to breathe; why?  Because intake of carbon dioxide stresses the sick lungs; the weakened lungs are struggling to keep up with the demands of normal life and then there’s a whole new load of carbon dioxide to eliminate.

Refined sugars are extremely dangerous; high intake of sugars causes elevated glucose levels and signals the pancreas to secrete insulin in order to transport the extra glucose into cells and triggers a myriad of processes throughout the body to help keep blood levels of sugar within normal range.  When we overeat carbohydrates that our bodies cannot utilize right away for energy, the liver begins to store some of the extra sugar as glycogen; glycogen is like “money in the bank” for our bodies.  After glycogen fills muscles and the liver, the excess sugars are then knitted together to form chains of triglycerides; this process allows for longer-term storage… like putting money into a trust or annuity – it’s there, but it takes more work to get it back out.   Elevated glucose and triglyceride levels within our bloodstream contribute to thick, sticky blood… like syrup.  Imagine pouring syrup from one bottle while you pour water from another.  What do you see?  Syrup moves slowly and in very thick and large globules or streams, while water runs freely and in a thin stream. Which do you think moves more easily through tiny blood vessels?  Which do you think forms microscopic beaver dams, preventing proper nutrition and oxygenation to body parts?

Artificial sweeteners have been found to contribute to all sorts of potential hazards to health; from chemical poisonings to Parkinson’s, to multiple sclerosis, hundreds of ailments have been linked formally and informally to the use of aspartame, saccharin, and other artificial sweeteners.

Processed foods, as mentioned previously, contain all sorts of preservatives and trans fats and can sit on grocery store shelves for many, many months at a time prior to purchase; many foods come with expiration dates up to a year away from moment of final production.  Foods are packaged, boxed, and shipped via boat, train, and truck for days to weeks at a time, often sitting in shipping containers in the heat or cold of the day, in warehouses with poor ventilation, and then are stocked on a shelf, just waiting for your purchase.  Chemicals and colors used as food additives have been linked to allergies, hyperactivity, high blood pressure, and even cancers.

Time to Make a Change…

Reducing the CRAP is where we start — start by picking something you are willing to live without and ADD some healthy fats.  Many people are afraid of change; they don’t want to spend money on another “fad” diet.  Patients are tired of yo-yo diets and are skeptical to make a change.  So start small.  Pick a couple things you KNOW are unhealthy and replace it with vegetables and healthy fats.  And gradually keep this habit up until all the unhealthy items are completely out of your pantry.  While some people are willing to make massive changes, it just isn’t practical for many of us; most of us have hundreds of dollars invested in our groceries in our pantries and refrigerators.  I couldn’t afford to throw all that money away either, so starting small helps avoid a huge grocery bill.

The other problem that many people believe about eating healthy is that it costs more.  This myth can often be seen as real when shoppers try to ADD healthy groceries to their normal purchases.  And in the past, buying “healthy” foods would be much pricier than “regular” foods; for example, replacing a $2 loaf of white bread with a $4 loaf of whole grain bread doubles expenses. Eliminating CRAP, though, is about cutting out expenses… NOT buying processed and pre-packaged foods.  When most of these food items are cut out, most people actually see a reduction in grocery costs.  Focusing on natural, farm produce and less expensive meat cuts, not only reduces costs, but increases nutrient density…. Meaning, you get more vitamins and nutrition for your dollar than when you eat processed foods.  Another benefit to eating low carb, high fat is that we usually purchase the higher fat-content meats; I buy the 80/20 ground beef, at a savings up to $1 per pound or more.  We eat chicken, pork, turkey, beef, fish, and other wild game.  We use heavy cream and butter; we eat fresh and frozen vegetables, and we drink bulletproof coffee.  Our grocery bill runs about the same now as it did before low carb nutrition.  We just get more nutrients for our dollar now.

It’s Just Too Expensive…

In general, fats are not very pricey, and keep you feeling much fuller than carbohydrates.  A mug of bulletproof coffee can keep me full til around 2-3 pm every day — No need to munch, no growling tummy, no snacking or craving.  On work days, I do carry a tiny plastic box of leftover dinner items for lunch the next day.  Occasionally, I have a piece of cheese or a handful of toasted almonds for a snack.   I can buy a 3 pound bag of almonds and use it over about 10-12 weeks; eating a small handful once every 3-4 days is a nice addition nutritionally and costs approximately $.65 per snack… less than most other individually-packed commercial snacks. So, while some foods may seem a little more expensive on this nutrition plan, it really works out about the same.  Fewer foods consumed in smaller amounts, with more nutrients available for absorption and use, with little difference in expenses, adds up to a much more sustainable, long-term lifestyle change that is much easier to maintain.

So, what’s holding you back?  You’ve seen the articles.  You’ve seen the dangers.  You’ve known for some time you needed to eat healthier.  You’ve heard the success stories of low carb, high fat nutrition.  What is keeping you from becoming healthier and reducing your risk of heart attack or stroke?

 

 

Nurses as N=1? Let’s Do This!

As nurses, we are trained in critical thinking processes and much of our classroom and clinical experience is designed to facilitate practical application of critical thinking, logical reasoning, and actions and consequences.  We are taught to use these skills as we deliver care to our patients.  We are encouraged to utilize these reasoning skills even as we follow physicians’ and other provider’s medical orders.  For example, when a provider writes an order for a medication, we are taught to calculate it for ourselves, read and re-read the label, and even certain medications require verification by another nurse.  If we find that the order seems different from the expected order, we are obligated to notify the original prescriber to verify and ADVOCATE for the safety of the patient.  Over the years, I have seen many nurses and nursing students confront many providers over orders that seemed “not quite right” or somehow seemed unsafe.  I’ve seen labor & delivery nurses put their jobs on the line advocating on behalf of sick women who are in a most vulnerable state during labor and pre-birth situations.

Advocates – that’s what we are.  We are taught by some of the best advocate nurses in the nation.  We learn logical and reasonable process skills that help us determine the best method to advocate for our patients.

As patient advocates, nurses change the world…. or at least the world of the patients for which we provide care.  We make significant changes that patients remember; during some of the most dire moments in hospitals, nursing homes, private homes, and clinics, we hold hands, offer support, and administer treatments. We assist our clients and families make changes that improve quality of life.

Over the past 15 years or so, nurses have been recognized as the most trusted profession; we are trusted because we are advocates, and we help patients maneuver the health care system, medications, and treatment schedules with only the interests of the patient in mind… and patients SENSE that we are truly interested in their lives.  We laugh and we cry with our patients – sharing emotions helps build trust.

All this groundwork I’ve laid out serves to arrive at this point…Patients TRUST nurses…

For the past 50 years or so, nurses have taught the standard American diet rules: high carb, low fat, and encouraged many highly processed food-like items as food.  We listened to the “experts” who told us that President Eisenhower’s heart attack was caused by high cholesterol.  We heeded the warnings of the American Heart Association that issued statements connecting high fat intake to heart attacks and strokes.  We participated in teaching patients to adhere to the American Diabetes Association’s guidelines encouraging patients to consume upwards of 160 grams of carbohydrates daily.  We were GOOD nurses.  We listened. We learned.  We followed the rules.  We taught those rules.

We were wrong.

We have betrayed our patients.  We were wrong to blindly heed advice that goes against all our common sense, logical reasoning, and critical thinking.

Even ants will seek out the sweet urine of a person with diabetes.  That is how diabetes acquired its name; diabetes means siphon, and mellitus was added later as it means honey – diabetes mellitus… the disease where sugar is siphoned into urine.

In the early 1900s, diabetic patients were given a strict diet; there was no insulin.  There were no fancy medications.  Early practitioners made the logical and reasonable connection between sugar-in & sugar-out; they advised patients to have no more than 10 grams of carbohydrates, 75 grams of protein, and 150 grams of fat daily.  This nutrition plan also allowed for 15 grams of alcohol and provided approx. 1800 calories per day.  Patients were instructed to eat meats, poultry, game, fish, clear soups, gelatin, eggs, butter, olive oil, coffee, and tea.   This nutrition plan is a FAR-cry from the 160+ grams of carbohydrates recommended today.

Once our nation entered the industrial era following World War 2, companies and manufacturers began to produce massive quantities of food items.  Many of these floundering companies and small-time farmers petitioned and lobbied the government for grants and subsidies to help them reduce consumer costs so they could invest millions of dollars into more machines, planting, harvesting, and processing techniques – techniques that could save time and money, so the companies could invest more into production.  It was a vicious cycle and the American family thrived on this new form of employment.  The returning military veterans often transitioned back into society with handicaps and trauma, and at the time, there was little known or recognized in our mental health care system that helped these wounded warriors.  Many of these vets settled into assembly work easily; there was a set schedule, with pre-determined tasks and responsibilities, easy methods to do their jobs and bring home a paycheck.  Wives, often now widowed, entered the workforce like never before; many of these women had been denied education and thus were considered unskilled laborers.  Factory work suited many people, singles, marrieds, separated, etc.  No one questioned the plans.  Not that anyone had real plans then.  It was just the many pieces of the puzzle coming together.

As many companies made arrangements with government, grains in particular became much less expensive to grow and process.  With a growing season of approximately 4 months, wheat required a huge labor force and many hours in fields; too costly to really become profitable, governmental subsidies allowed companies to purchase smaller farms and bigger machines & equipment.  Researchers began looking for ways to shorten the growing season and reduce weed and insect infiltration.  As generation after generation of seeds were harvested and modified, the processing costs were absorbed by governmental grants and subsidies, providing companies with increasing profits.  This vicious cycle has continued into today’s modern American society; this subsidy program is why a box of cereal costs you about $4 at the supermarket, but actually costs about $8 to produce a box of cornflakes.

Then, President Eisenhower had his heart attack while in office; his care was widely publicized; many doctors and scientists capitalized on his illness by using the TV time to make claims that high cholesterol was going to kill all our citizens.  The media played a huge role in pushing the low-fat, low cholesterol theory, showing the President eating his dry toast and egg whites every AM for weeks.  The SCIENCE they all failed to mention is that at the time of his heart attack, Eisenhower’s cholesterol level was actually NORMAL.  By the time he left office, however, and while eating his low cholesterol diet, his cholesterol level climbed to over 250, well above normal limits.

As fat intake was discouraged and fat content in dairy products and other foods plummeted, the grain-producing manufacturers had an “aha” moment: “if fats were so unhealthy for us, then grains are not fatty and thus we can make millions of dollars selling all kinds of low-fat foods!”  And that is exactly how we came to be where we are today.

Nurses, are you angry yet?  The “system” has used us…. Used our connection to patients…. Used our ability to care…. Used our compassion…. Used our education… used our hard-earned trust….

It is time we take on our advocate role – more seriously than ever before.  It is purely common sense that intake of carbohydrates causes glucose levels to climb, forcing the pancreas to secrete more insulin, but eventually the pancreas is working so hard, something happens that changes the insulin; the insulin is no longer effective at transporting glucose into the body’s cells for use.  Over time, insulin resistance and continued unlimited carbohydrate intake worsens, and patients become diabetic.  This effect can easily be measured by using a glucometer to check fasting glucose levels, then eat a carbohydrate, and monitor glucose levels every 15 minutes for 3 hours.  Charting glucose levels is a simple and scientific method for monitoring the effect of any food on a patient’s blood.  It is much more expensive to check insulin levels, but that can be done at any health care provider’s office or lab.  Beginning to record this effect will help cement the concept that carbs are killing us, while fats were never the evil nutrient we were told.

Once the concept of “sugar-in, sugar-out” really registers, it is vital to start changing your own way of eating.  Eliminating the

C – carbonated drinks

R – refined sugars

A – artificial sweeteners & colors

P – processed foods

becomes easier.

This simple plan is such a great way to start your journey to a healthier you, and in turn, you will begin leading the way to improved health for your family, friends, patients, and colleagues. Yes, you can become a test case.   While N=1 experiments used to be frowned upon, the internet, social media, and bloggers are all promoting N=1 trials and experiments.

Nurses, it is time we band together, use our logical reasoning, and ADVOCATE for the health and well-being of ourselves, our families, and our patients.  N=1 usually means N is the number of participants in a research study for an experiment; let’s use it to mean millions of NURSES are working as 1 when it comes to advocacy & improved health for our patients; let our ONE voice be heard.