I was recently interviewed about my experience with my autoimmune disease by a friend and colleague that is unfortunately going through the same thing. Read part 1 & 2 and check out the rest of her blog here: https://fitnessquestmama.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/one-hundred-days-with-hashimotos-day-14-welcome-claire-her-story/
I bet most of us can relate to the feeling that we think we deserve some sort of treat for accomplishing something. After all, marketing tells us this all day every day. THEY say we deserve certain luxuries, adventures and foods. Unfortunately, if we’re being honest, none of these things actually bring us what they promise, long term happiness, health or love. In fact we often feel disappointed in our decisions. And instead of the occasional treat after a big event we are rewarding ourselves for regular daily tasks like waking up in the morning. And, I get that for some people that is a big deal but for most of us it’s not.
I’m not against treating yourself occasionally but what I want to do is change the treat or rather change the conversation to deserving health. YOU DESERVE HEALTH. YOU DESERVE TO FEEL HEALTHY AND STRONG. Most of the things we are told we deserve don’t contribute to us feeling healthy and strong. Changing this mindset is one of the most difficult obstacles I see with clients. They are super reluctant to give up their sugary treats or after work cocktails. And while there might be a place for these things sometimes, most of them don’t stop at one and that’s when we get into trouble. That’s what can turn our bodies into inflammation creating machines. What I try to explain to them (and remember myself) is that however weak you feel and tempting your treat may seem at the end of the day you always feel better that you didn’t consume it the next morning. You never regret saying no thanks. You always feel stronger the next day in both body and mind.
Before your next tough day make a list of things you can treat yourself with and ask the question will these things make me feel healthy and strong? Do they contribute to my overall health? This way when you do have a rough day you already have a pre-approved list of healthy treats to pick from. #nutrientdenseliving
I was born in the mid 1970’s. I was the youngest of three at that point. My parents divorced early on and both worked full time jobs. Life was busy for them and dinner was usually whatever was easiest. At my mom’s house, we each had a night to cook. I think my specialty was pork chops with zesty Italian dressing. We probably ate tater tots and fish sticks weekly and macaroni and cheese with Velveeta on a regular basis until it was diet time and then there was a lot of orange roughy. At my dad’s house I remember things like Spaghetti O’s, frozen cupcakes – the variety pack, spinach soufflé. There were trips to Burger King and Pizza Hut for special occasions or when our parents were just too tired. This was the norm then. Fast food whether from a chain restaurant or frozen was all the rage. It simply made life easier. Iceberg lettuce salads with a wedge of tomato compensated as your vegetable.
They didn’t know. No one knew. Not until, well really the past decade or so did people start questioning the health of our food. That’s right, our food can be healthy and unhealthy. And in turn it can make us healthy or unhealthy. Some of it’s obvious. Whether we want to admit it or not, we know that Hostess Cakes are probably not good for us. But some food masquerades as healthy, full of vitamins, etc. You know the ones, the boxed cereals that claim they have all essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs. And even others seem like they could be the right choice but because they are pre-packaged and processed they are likely to contain additives and fillers to keep it (fake) fresh.
What has driven me to write this book is twofold. No fault of anyone, probably defective genes plus decades of poor nutritional choices, I found myself 40 pounds heavier and exhausted in my early thirties. I had never struggled with my weight like this. It felt like it happened overnight but in reality, it crept up on me over a few years. After several doctor visits complaining about weight gain and exhaustion with no clear answers other than I should exercise more, eat less and get more sleep, I was “lucky” enough to end back up in the doctor’s office with chest pains. Long story short, I was finally diagnosed with hypothyroidism. But that was only the start of another even longer chapter – it took years to find the right doctors to get me on track. I suffered through hives for 15 months, miscarriages, exhaustion, fluctuating weight and that was all after I was diagnosed.
The second driver is my own kids. I feel like we know so much more now than we did. I want both my daughter and son to grow up with healthy eating habits, with an appreciation for whole foods and a recognition of how food can make you both healthy and sick based on your choices.
I know this knowledge, while more available, is still a huge luxury. And I hate it. I think it’s a crime that we are being fed junk both literally and figuratively when it comes to what is healthy. The goal of this book is to help you better understand why it’s important to choose whole, nutrient dense foods over processed junk, tips on how it’s easier than you think and recipes that toddlers will love and that you can feel good about.
One more thing, I promise I’m not one of those moms that has it all together, not even close. I fly by the seat of my pants most days. I never leave the house in a presentable fashion. My hair is typically sticking up in the back, my socks rarely match and I’m usually covered in whatever meal I served, the day before. So if I can do this stuff you can too. And, while I want you to feel a little upset about some of the information in this book, I also want it to empower you to start making small changes, build the confidence that you can do it and grow from there.
I often share what my kids are eating to provide examples of nutrient dense food that toddlers will eat but I think it’s important to mention, often, that my kids are not perfect eaters! I’ve spent many meals picking out vegetables from their pasta even though they would willingly eat said vegetables next to the pasta just not in the pasta. I’ve thrown in the towel and let my daughter go on a fruit only binge. There’s even been ice cream before dinner and therefore really no dinner. And really, if plain toast is what they want, fine. The thing of it is, I keep trying. It’s exhausting and frustrating but I’ve decided for many reasons that it’s important. The good part is, more often than not they come around and that’s why I keep trying. I know that if I totally quit it would be much more difficult later on to impact their choices. I don’t do “fancy”. I’ve said it before, I hate to bake because I simply don’t have the time or patience to follow directions. So I make easy meals that are filled with mostly whole foods. And, I try to lead by example. Now that they are getting older, I try to have them eat smaller versions of what we are eating; not always of course but often. So please don’t worry, my kids are not perfect eaters. They are good eaters but only because of a little luck and a lot of perseverance.
Question from a follower:
HI 🙂 I have a question for you. I’d ask on your personal page but I thought your response would be useful to your followers too. I know recently we’ve heard a lot about not fearing saturated fats, etc. and Derek and I are on the bandwagon of rejecting processed stuff and eating full-fat dairy, nuts, lots of meat, veggies, etc. But why is it that we can eat all this fat and lose weight? What is it about sugar that makes your gain weight as opposed to fat? And why were we taught to think otherwise? (I say this because despite eating LOTS of fat these last couple of months, we’ve both lost weight!) Sorry for the rambling question. 🙂
First, it’s important to remember is that our understanding of all of this is still unfolding so while I feel more confident that the “fat is bad” bubble is bursting, I think there’s more to understand. At least we are starting to appreciate that everyone is unique and what might work for you may not be exactly what works for your husband. Maybe he does better on dairy than you or vice versa.
Ironically, lots of this stuff is what I’m including in my book and while I’d say “wait to see it in print”…that’s not very helpful to you or anyone starting out on this new and somewhat scary path. It’s scary because it’s going against the grain. While it’s becoming more commonplace (in some ways), it’s following a path that is the exact opposite of what we were raised on. We were clearly told over and over that FAT is Bad, that low-fat was the only way and that processed foods made your life easier. Period.
I know there are conspiracy theories all over the place about this stuff. But over the past year you can find articles even in the mainstream media. I’m not suggesting that mainstream media makes something true, far from it, but I’m saying that the research and the reporting are coming out from under the rocks. This is a good thing. The more you learn, we all learn, the more you may feel pissed off in away. We were all led astray. Sometimes out of wanting to do good and sometimes out of pure politics.
Here’s an example of how we ended up here. In Denise Minger’s book Death By Food Pyramid, she eloquently tells the story of how the food pyramid actually came to life back in the 1970’s. Boy is it a vision of pure politics. Very little was actually in the interest of the public. As the story goes, a woman named, Louise Light was tapped to become the Director of Dietary Guidance and Nutrition Education Research. As Minger discusses, Light’s recommendations ended up being starkly different from what actually came to fruition! For example, Light promoted five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables, good sources of protein found in meat, fish, nuts and beans. She even suggested having four tablespoons of cold-pressed oils daily on top of the fat that was naturally occurring in foods. Plus she recommended to keep sugar low (less than 10% of your total daily calories) and she banned white-flour products and greatly limited grains. Take a minute to let that sink in and think about what you eat on a regular basis. Okay, ready? I’ll go on. Due to intense lobbying efforts, what came back was almost the exact opposite. The recommended fats were gone (the beginning of fat is bad), the amount of grains was increased fourfold, initially the fruits and vegetables were cut to only 2-3 servings and the restraints on sugar went from a low recommended amount to a vague “moderate consumption” recommendation. What I want you to understand is that these recommendations are not based on what is actually healthy for us but based on industry lobbying efforts. So while many of us believe, and rightfully so, that we are eating well, the basis of what’s healthy is manufactured by interests groups rather than science and research.
So why “fat = bad” in the first place? Back in the fifties a studied was completed by Dr. Ancel Keys. Basically he concluded that people who ate diets higher in fats, especially saturated fats were more likely to die of a heart attack but he relied on correlation not causation. It was known, even back then, that his evidence was weak but the country wanted to have an answer to an increase in heart disease. In a recent WSJ article, Nina Teicholz writes:
“But there was no turning back: Too much institutional energy and research money had already been spent trying to prove Dr. Keys’s hypothesis. A bias in its favor had grown so strong that the idea just started to seem like common sense. As Harvard nutrition professor Mark Hegsted said in 1977, after successfully persuading the U.S. Senate to recommend Dr. Keys’s diet for the entire nation, the question wasn’t whether Americans should change their diets, but why not? Important benefits could be expected, he argued. And the risks? “None can be identified,” he said.”
However what we are faced with now is the result of decades of eliminating fat and replacing it with sugar and additives to make it taste good. Let’s take a minute to appreciate that fat tastes good. When you eliminate it, you need to replace it with something else to make it taste good…sugar. And over-processed sugar at that.
What we saw was the elimination of nutrient dense fats that our body needs to think, move, and sleep properly with something that is churned and burned so quickly that our body needs to replenish more often (in a bad way). In addition, sugar has the potential to create the same cravings that we see when drug users experience times of withdrawal.
On the surface, natural sugar is okay if it is in moderation (not in the high amounts that the FDA says is okay). Best is to consume sugar found in fruits and vegetables that also contain stuff like fiber, which helps slow down the metabolism of the sugar so that your body uses the whole fruit more efficiently. But again sugar burns quickly leaving you feeling unsatisfied and leading to over-eating, weight gain and health problems.
Why is fat good? Fat helps absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K (which between them affect every system in your body). Fat is essential for cell construction, nerve function, digestion, and for the formation of the hormones that regulate everything from metabolism to circulation. Beyond being essential for your mind and body, fat takes longer to break down, thus leaving you feeling satisfied longer. Not all fat is created equal though and quantity still matters. We need to re-balance the Omega 3 and Omega 6 ratio. Right now, we eat drastically more Omega 6 fats than necessary which can lead to weight gain. And while Omega 6 is essential, it’s not healthy in the load we are consuming. The quality of meat is key here. Grass-fed organic meat and wild caught fish contains higher levels of omega-3 which is anti-inflammatory and help to balance the ratio between Omega 3/6. Often, when people are eating the “right” things, meats, fish, veggies, fruits but not losing weight, we can examine the types of fat they are consuming and find that they are eating too much omega 6 producers (nuts, seeds, chicken). By lowering their consumption (not necessarily eliminating) of these fats and rebalancing them with Omega 3, weight loss revs up again. And remember, we’re all different so the exact number of grams of fat vs. protein vs carbs will look different for you than me. But that’s another post.
But YOU ALSO HAVE TO EAT YOUR VEGGIES and A LOT of them. (Yes I’m shouting. Not at you, at all of us, even me). If you don’t get the majority of your nutrients from a wide variety of vegetables you’re not going to help yourself in the long run. And, while I sincerely believe that if you eat a whole foods diet, avoiding what you need to based on your personal health history, you do NOT need to count calories, if you find yourself not losing weight or gaining you need to readjust your portions and identify any foods that may be causing inflammation (bloat). For example, right now and maybe forever, gluten, legumes, and grains of any sort create inflammation for me. In fact I consumed various forms of these things over the past few weeks and put on 10 lbs. No joke. It’s all inflammation. So now I’m in the process of rebalancing my body. I’ve removed them all, I’m drinking a ton of water, trying to manage my stress (way down now that we’ve moved) and get back to a good sleep schedule (with two toddlers).
I know this was long and I’ve included some links to articles below if you’re interested. If something wasn’t clear, please don’t hesitate to post a question!
I’ve been meaning to write this for some time now and just haven’t made the time. That said, I got a little unintentional nudge from a friend this weekend. She sent me an email with a link to a piece about the dangers of soy. Her initial message said “Claire… What kind of milk do you drink? This freaks me out! We are a soy drinking house. Yikes ! Help.”
Let me take a step back. I was born in the 70s. I grew up drinking both powdered milk (awful) and typical milk – usually low fat and mostly skim. That’s what you drank. We were in the beginning stages of “fat is bad” for you. We were also in the processed-food-saves-the-day mindset.
I really never thought about milk. I stopped drinking it as an adult for no good reason. My husband drank it and used it in cereal so we had it in the house. That said, it wasn’t a staple. But between the birth of my daughter and my program at IIN I started to think about it, a lot.
One of the things I learned was how processed low-fat/skim milk really is. John Douillard has a piece on the myths of milk. In it he states:
“The biggest factor regarding calcium absorption is getting adequate amount of Vitamin D3, which we primarily absorb from the sun or supplementation. In the cream portion of milk is a good supply of Vitamin D3, along with the other essential fat soluble vitamins A, E and K. Unfortunately these vitamins are broken down in the pasteurization and homogenization process. As a result, milk is fortified with synthetic Vitamin A, D2 (not Vitamin D3) and calcium.”
Skim milk means that the cream (fat) is “skimmed’ off the milk leaving it without the natural fat that you need to absorb any leftover soluble vitamins. I know, I know, it’s been hammered into your brain that milk is essential, that low-fat/skim milk is best and that without it you won’t get the proper calcium and vitamin D for your bones (picture an elderly person hunched over a cane…). But the truth is the best way to get vitamin D is from direct sunlight. That means sun on skin without anything in-between. This doesn’t mean to frolic in the sun without any protection. It means to keep your frolicking to a minimum but to get 10, 15, 20 minutes of direct sunlight before you put on the hat, the shirt or the sunblock.
And as for calcium, green leafy vegetables, sardines, wild caught salmon, almonds, etc are all GREAT sources of calcium.
If you’re lactose intolerant, you should definitely look at John’s piece linked below. He suggests that for most people the intolerance is to the processing of the milk (pasteurizing and homogenizing) rather than the milk itself. Therefore, you may very well be able to drink raw or VAT pasteurized milk.
So what about other “milk” products like soy, almond, hemp, coconut, etc… Most of these have additives that are not good for you over the long run either. Soy milk is particularly troubling because soy is now known to be an endocrine disruptor. What does that mean? Simply, it can doesn’t allow your endocrine system to act properly, which can lead to things like thyroid disease, early puberty in children, and breast cancer in women. In addition, most of the soy in the US is genetically modified and while it is still unknown whether GMO food creates additional damage to the human body, I’d like to see the evidence that it doesn’t before I over-consume it. And people, soy is in everything from chocolate, to processed food, to most conventionally raised animals that you may consume.
So, what do we drink? I still don’t really drink milk. Sometimes I opt for half and half in my coffee if we have any. My husband typically puts grass-fed butter in his coffee these days and no longer eats cereal. I use coconut milk (the pure stuff with no additives found in bpa-free cans) in cooking or even my coffee. My daughter does drink a local brand of milk that is full fat, not homogenized and only pasteurized once. I disagree with the notion that toddlers should switch to low-fat milk. Milk is not what is causing our kids to be obese. It’s the processed food and sugar we feed them. We get one bottle per week and when it’s gone, it’s gone until we grocery shop again. We thought about going the raw route but it felt kind of overwhelming to get it (even though it’s probably not). We also considered goat milk but it’s just really expensive. So mostly, we drink water.
As for cheese, my daughter does eat organic string cheese. If my husband and I eat any cheese it’s usually organic and raw. My son is already showing signs of intolerance or an allergy to dairy so when I wean him, he will be getting just water (with lots and lots of green leafy vegetables and salmon and a short but good dose of sunshine).
So ultimately, it’s up to you. Just don’t be so quick to assume that because the milk industry has really good ads that you have to drink milk or find a subpar replacement for it. Part of the challenge here is just that, challenging yourself to feel confident enough to think alternatively about how and what you eat. Milk is such a staple in our lives because we are told we have to drink it and because it has been married so nicely to our typical breakfast selection – cereal. When you step back and think about it, it’s all just marketing.
Happy drinking (or not).
For additional information please check out these sources: http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert
I honestly don’t even know where to start with this one. Information like this that I come across gets me incredibly riled up. Okay, deep breath. Let me take a step back. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to listen to a webinar by the awesome Lara Adler, fellow health coach and environmental toxins guru. She was teaching other health coaches about the importance of talking about environmental toxins in our discussions with our clients. Most of us health coaches tout the importance of balance in our lives, healthy food + healthy lifestyles + healthy sleep habits, etc. but often forget to educate our clients about the importance of ensuring that the products that we use are also healthy – toxin free. Over the next few posts, I’ll start to share with you some of what I learned. It’s overwhelming, even for someone like me that knew a little about the negative impacts these everyday products have on our overall health. What I didn’t know was that not only do these products (from every product you use to get ready in the morning to what you carry your lunch and water in to what you use to clean your house) may not only be contributing to major diseases (cancer, heart disease, thyroid disease, etc.) but also may be making us fatter. That’s right, I bet I just got your attention.
Many of you may have heard at some point that the chemicals used in say, conventional cleaning agents aren’t that great for you. Many of you may even know to look for BPA-free plastic containers to store food in, drink out of etc. But I bet most of you didn’t know that many of these everyday items that we rely on have the ability to make us fat. How? Synthetic estrogen has been linked to numerous diseases, including obesity.
Based on the Mother Jones article that discusses the reality behind “BPA-free”, in the mid-90s Congress passed a law requiring the EPA to screen ~80,000 chemicals for endocrine disrupting effects. The article states “under US law, chemicals are presumed safe until proven otherwise, and companies are rarely required to collect or disclose chemical-safety data.” As of today, the EPA has yet to test any of the 80,000 substances. Yeah, you read that correctly, 80,000 untested substances may include synthetic estrogen. Even if only 10 substances include it, they could be in your rotation of everyday products.
Furthermore, the article states that these BPA-Free items we so proudly buy now aren’t any better. When tested the results showed “that ‘almost all’ commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens—even when they weren’t exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. According to Bittner’s research, some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.”
Are you upset yet? Well read the full article and you’ll likely be outraged. What can you do? Start small, where you can. Replace your Tupperware with glass. Use glass or stainless steel products for drinking. This blog had a few additional suggestions with specific brands that I cannot attest to but may be helpful. We made the move to glass Tupperware recently. Right now, I’m mentally scanning my kitchen to identify what needs to go. Stainless steel and iron cookware – check. Glass bottled milk and water – check. Plastic plates, cups and utensils for the kids – a BIG FAT X. I promise this will be changing soon.