Eat like your grandparents did!

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I was inspired to write this blog post mainly because this week I’ve witnessed dozens of epiphanies from people who’ve been dieting since January. Obviously, we all know several people who jump on the dieting bandwagon the first month of the new year. What some of us may not have known — is that it would seem come the new school year many of these same people begin questioning their diets. If I saw one, I must have seen a dozen people come to the following revelation >>> They’ve decided to try eating in moderation because some book told them to. So add moderation as a trend to the trendy diets for the people we know who are on diets 11 months out of the year.

I’m really not trying to be snarky about any of this. Dieting is serious stuff. Dieting, constant dieting and changes in your body, can and will do serious damage. Dieting is always temporary. Temporary until the dieter falls off the wagon temporarily, temporary until the next trend comes along, or temporary until the dieter quits for good. Quick weight loss plans are quick temporary diets. Unfortunately, the damage dieting can do may not be as temporary as the diet itself.

The plain fact of the matter is dieting leads to disaster–every single time. This is a fact that is backed up by doctors, therapists, dieters, and healthcare practitioners. Nowadays there are diets that eliminate food, bread, dairy, meat, grain, plants, supplements, air, etc. You get my drift. I know at least one person on each one of these “diets” and some that are on a different diet train month after month after month. Hey, do what’s best for you but know this– it’s been proven that trendy diets do more harm than good. It’s clear to see that naming which diet, diet plan, or supplemental drink you’re on via social media is trendy, but in the long-term none of it will do your body good.

Slowly but surely most people come around to the idea that if they eat in moderation, eat whole foods, and exercise they will lose weight and improve their health. Diet gurus, MLM’s, influencers, and bloggers have really done a number on people. I see people all the time throwing out big boxes of meal plans, diet books, shakes, supplements, kits, and so on. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars of stuff. Yes, they lost a couple of pounds, maybe even 20 or 30 pounds, but they starved something somewhere in their body to do it. It’s a fact that once they stop whatever they are doing they will put the pounds back on and probably continue to keep putting them on. Which will reaffirm to them they should be dieting or that said diet was working.

It’s your mind that you have to put on a diet, not your body. You need to learn about nutrition, food, and what each thing that you put into your mouth does or doesn’t do for you. You need to learn about portion size, about eating whole foods and what whole foods are, and how to buy, store, and prepare nutritious foods.

Fifty years ago common sense informed people that eating in moderation was the only way to diet. In the last thirty or so years people have written most common sense off as old wives tales(apparently) and instead have spent millions of dollars trying the latest fad. And now? The latest fad is to eat in moderation. Go figure.

It’s also sad that people have to buy dozens and dozens of books to teach or reteach themselves how to feed their bodies. Has society really and truly strayed that far away from the obvious answers?

If you need to buy books then at least buy books by licensed nutritionists and registered dieticians. Your family doctor is great for everything health related to your specific health needs, but if he’s like mine will be the first to tell you he didn’t study nutrition in med school. Again–I repeat, when it comes to nutrition seek out licensed nutritionists and registered dieticians. That means you don’t look for or take advice online from— commission based sales representatives, MLM distributors, motivational speakers, or doctors, med school students, or armchair doctors before consulting your physician.

Take what you can from any information you find whether online or at the doctor’s office–whatever directly and safely pertains to you. In every “fad” or “trendy” diet there is some good. For instance you will learn about portion size, or exercise, or how to cut out bad carbs, or to drink more water, and eat a variety of different fruits, veggies, and foods. All this is good information until the fad or trend tells you to stop doing this or stop doing that (which has nothing to do with moderation). Moderation works! Consult your physician so that he or she can give you the full picture on your health and then ask to speak with a licensed nutritionist or registered dietician before trying any of the popular diet fads or trends discussed online 24/7.

Though I may not have ever gone on a “diet” I have spent the last twenty years on a 1600 calorie a day meal plan.  This isn’t a fad or trend diet meal plan, but one that is set up for my age, weight, and health concerns. I limit sugar, I don’t drink anything with caffeine, and I keep my carbs at 800 calories of carbs a day. I walk briskly 3 x a week, and stretch and do yoga 3x a week. Every day I eat 3 fruits and try to eat 3-4 veggies. I don’t eat processed food. I do eat bread. I do eat meat approx. 3-4 times a month. I drink half my body weight in water every day. I’m by no means perfect and I haven’t always eaten this way.

Full disclosure– thanks to genetics I have the potential to balloon up to 250-300#– maybe more. I have many things in common with my paternal grandmother; including her body shape (pear) and ability to pack on the pounds.  I have never ever been on a diet. I am not skinny. I weigh 35# more than I should, but it’s not due to eating unhealthy. In fact, 99% of it is due to not being able to be as active as I need to be due to a back issue. I’ve been eating whole foods in moderation for over a decade and have never weighed more than 168#. I deal with arthritis in my feet and Fibromyalgia issues daily which also limit my ability to walk, hike, and ride a bike as much as I’d like to. I get a lot of advice on what foods and drinks to avoid based on my issues. Time and again I hear–don’t eat dairy. First, I am not allergic to dairy nor am I lactose intolerant. It is my strongest desire with the issues I deal with to have good strong bones. I drink 12 oz of organic milk every day. I also eat 2-3 slices of organic cheese a week, and during the summer months enjoy the heck out of a good ice cream cone 1-2 times a month. I experience zero inflammation from dairy. There is a link between lactose intolerance/milk allergy and inflammation–I found a great article on this which is below:

Inflammation and  dairy

Metabolism Basics

Why Dieting is Harmful by a Fitness Expert

Five Reasons Not to Diet in 2018

Diets Don’t Work–so why do we keep trying them?

If you take anything away from what I’ve just written I hope it is that I am very concerned about all this trendy dieting. I totally understand people want and need to lose weight. I totally understand all the emotions connected with people and their weight/body image, and health. I worked in healthcare for twenty years starting as a certified nursing assistant and retiring in healthcare management. I worked with certified nutritionists and registered dieticians all the time developing meal plans for clients throughout the twenty years I worked in healthcare. These are the people to go to, consult with, and work with for weight loss and better health.

I think there are a lot of well-intentioned people on the internet that try something and enjoy good results and then want to pass that information along to others. Whether by selling others shakes or powders or supplements. I certainly don’t begrudge them trying to help people, while also trying to support their family with extra income.

That said– it is wise to consult your physician, naturopath,  or nurse practitioner before trying any new diet or supplement being sold or shared online. As I stated before your doctor may not be able to advise you on nutrition based on what he/she learned in med school, but they will be able to tell you whether a new diet or supplement is a good idea based on your health, current meds, and any information they can glean about said new diet or supplement.

Until next time–give whole foods and some of these nutrition books a try–(Amazon links, but not affiliate links)

Basic Nutrition

Good Calories Bad Controversial Science

The Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook-1000 recipes for choosing, cooking, and preserving whole foods.

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Apple Fritter Bread

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Every fall we make our pilgrimage to an area I used to live in and buy our mums, our apples and our apple fritter bread. We bring along a thermos of hot cocoa, a pat or two of fresh butter, and head up the hill in La Crescent, Mn for the views on Apple Blossom Scenic Drive. It never gets old and I’ve been doing this for the better part of almost 30 years.

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Apple fritter bread is not hard to make, I found a recipe here that I’m going to try. But even when I try the recipe and I’m able to make my own fritter bread we’ll still make our annual trip to Bauer’s Marketplace for it. Heading out for the day in Minnesota is a tradition and my husband and I value traditional things and love creating new memories every year during this time.

Thanks everyone for the wonderful feedback regarding my posts about whole foods. It’s where my family and I are at right now. You know I started this journey twelve years ago now when I quit smoking. Once I detoxed myself from years of living like a rock star, I decided I only wanted to put organic food in my body. Boy was I in for a bumpy ride. Organic food in these parts weren’t to be found in the marketplace. Soon though things became easier until gluten started bothering me. So I tried gluten-free and then I tried foods that had 5 ingredients or less in them. Finally I chose to limit or eliminate all additives and preservatives and my gluten issue worked itself out. Probiotics and whole foods have helped me a lot with my food sensitivities.  Our diet today consists of mainly organic whole foods.  I am happy to share my experiences here on my blog about what whole foods mean in terms of meals and lifestyle.  Until next time!

What Are Whole Foods?

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In the simplest of terms, whole foods are foods without additives and preservatives. It’s food as close to its natural state as possible.  I first heard the term whole food in 2004 right before my family began transitioning to a diet that would contain more whole foods. Our diet previous to a diet of whole foods looked like most people’s diets. Our vegetables were canned store-bought vegetables, bought by the case, and 100% of what we ate was processed including our meat and dairy.

I don’t think I’d ever heard the word organic before 2004 either, but soon learned what it meant after traveling to a bigger city and spotting organic milk in the dairy department.  That milk, which we have now drunk for some sixteen years, was Organic Valley milk. At this time in my life, I’d also just quit smoking. One of the things I learned about smoking, that helped my cessation go a little bit smoother, was that cigarettes had over 600 ingredients in them. It’s a real eye-opener when you learn, for the first time in your life (thanks to the computer era), that cigarettes contain formaldehyde, lead, and arsenic to name just three of a very long list of scary things. Once I quit smoking I felt I owed it to my body, after having abused it to the point of death for so long, to eat food without chemicals. How to start? That was a good question considering I’d never made anything from scratch before and I wasn’t sure how we would afford to transition our kitchen supplies and lifestyle into exactly how kitchen supplies were during my grandparent’s life.

The first thing we made a change to was dairy. We stopped buying conventional milk and began buying Organic Valley milk. Within a year our milk consumption went up 80%. None of our local grocery stores, including Wal-Mart, stocked Organic Valley milk so we had to make a two-hour commute to buy it. That may sound extreme to some people, but for us, it was only the beginning of the long journeys we would have to make to transition to a whole foods diet.  Nowadays organic products, whole food products are available in almost every store. There are also many sites that one can order whole foods from in bulk. Eventually, we were able to buy Organic Valley eggs, milk and butter when we made our two-hour commute.

Our next challenge was to go from canned vegetables and fruit to locally grown vegetables and fruit. Unfortunately, the farmers’ markets around the area we lived in were nil, so again we had to make a two-hour commute to purchase fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers.  Twice a month we would make the drive on Saturday mornings, at the crack of dawn, to get to the Dane County Farmers’ Market in Madison, WI. There we would walk around the Capitol Square with hundreds of other foodies and buy fresh produce.

Transitioning to a whole food diet means in the long-term not eating any food that is processed. Processed food is almost all the food in the supermarket except the produce. And as far as the produce goes, the produce in most grocery stores that we shop in, in this part of the country, are not local and most of the produce sold is not even grown in the U.S.A. Eating local means eating food within 100 miles of its production. Because we were having to travel so far to purchase whole food we began to really look at what eating locally would look like to us. What if we couldn’t drive to purchase our whole foods? We weren’t in the position to garden and grow it ourselves and we definitely did not have a farm close by where we could buy organic milk.

Without our car and our $ability to drive to purchase whole foods we would not have been able to change our diet, unless we moved, until closer to 2010.

By 2010 a couple of farms in our community began having CSA’s and our local grocery store began selling Organic Valley dairy products.

One of the first steps we took in our transition, once we made decisions about produce and dairy, was the elimination processed boxed, canned and frozen food. That means no mixes, no boxed dinners, no frozen pizzas, no tv dinners. Anything in jars or bottles had to have less than five ingredients in them. No more Kool-aid, soda, juices or fountain drinks. Cookies are homemade, snacks are popcorn bought at a farmer’s market, sauces, cakes, crusts, and bread all homemade. If we wanted applesauce we had to go buy a 10# bag of apples and make homemade applesauce.

To give you a good idea of what a whole food diet looks like this: you go grocery shopping and when you get home all the food you bought is stored either in the refrigerator, freezer or pantry shelf (bulk baking stuff for making things from scratch). You won’t have anything but baking products in cans or jars and they will either be organic or will have less than 5 ingredients in them. Soups and stews are homemade; no more Campbell’s soup. Produce will line your counters and you’ll invest in at least two crock pots.

It sounds like a lot of work, and a lot of sacrifices, but I promise you the rewards are priceless and long lasting and you will never ever want to go back to eating processed food again. In my next post, I will explain the time involved in the transition along with how to set your pantry up and what to buy to get you started.