A Grain of Truth

Haha.  I love a good title.  That’s about all I got at this time of night, except the wanderings of a food-obsessed mind.

Lately, I really have been thinking a lot about grains.  I like them.  A long time ago I stopped eating pretty much anything made with refined (white) wheat on a regular basis (the occasional treat notwithstanding,) and then I decided to stop eating wheat, pretty much.  Then I read Wheat Belly, and even though I didn’t believe everything he said, there is so much bad press out there on the inter webs about the evils of grains that  I tried to limit my grain intake.  Actually, according to the USDA, I still DO limit my grain intake.  Egads, who eats 6-11 servings of grain a day?

Anyway, I am trying to stop thinking of grains as evil, and something that I need to feel bad about if I eat more than one serving a day!  I think most days I have 2 servings of whole grains, and once in a while I will have 3.  I like grains in the morning, and I like popcorn at night once or twice a week.

I also was thinking about why I like to try vegan recipes.  It actually has nothing to do with veganism, but it does seem that they like to use alternative flours.  And that is a good thing, I think.  It just seems healthy to eat a wide variety of grains, instead of having everything in your life revolve around wheat.  NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT LOL.  My latest flour that I am enjoying is the brown rice flour in baked goods.

So when I was on vacation (and consuming more grains than usual, thank you to the THREE bakeries in the small town of Sisters,) I was very interested when I got this email with a link to an article titled “Should You Avoid Grains?”  Its a pretty well-written article, and has some very good points.  The author is a former body builder who is also a registered dietician.  Of special interest to me was a reference to a scientific article titled “Wheat Belly–An Analysis of Selected Statements.”  [Okay, disclaimer here.  I just noticed–this article seems to be written very scientifically, but it is for a publication called “Cereal Foods World”???]  Well, check it out.  It still seems to be a pretty fair-minded article.

I know there is a lot a testimony out there about it being easier to maintain weight loss if you will eliminate grains.  MOST of the testimony comes from people who have lost weight in the last year or two.  As I like to say these days–come back in five years and talk to me.

Layer upon Layer, A Body of Knowledge is Built

How long have I been doing this?  In January 2013, it will be 9 years since I started this last weight loss journey.  NINE YEARS!!  Nine years of reading and researching how to do it, anything and everything about food and nutrition, various types of diet theories (Weight Watchers, paleo, vegetarian, raw food, intuitive eating, low carb, calories in/calories out, whole grain, you get the picture,) the whole psychological component to weight loss, why some people succeed at maintaining weight loss and what and how they do that, oh, and exercise.  I’m sure I left something out.  But you know.  Its a LOT of information.

And the thing is…all of it is useful.  Even the stuff I have decided is not true for me.

Yes, it is frustrating that there is not more definitive information about obesity, its causes and cures, and weight loss maintenance.  But still, we have an awful lot of knowledge to draw upon.  Layer upon layer, I have added all this to the base of my eating and exercise habits.  When I decided to try The Hunger Game, I did not throw away everything I knew about good nutrition and what works in my favor.  If anything, I am using that information more than ever.

It kind of drives me nuts when people who have been doing this a long time figuratively throw their hands up in the air and act like they do not know anything.  We know a LOT.

Part of what I know is that it is hard work to maintain a lower body weight.  It is hard because as you age, something or other goes on in your body (more efficient?  slower metabolism? hormones?) and your body holds onto weight.  Helen reminded me that you don’t need to eat as much when you get older, and the next day I got an article in the mail saying that women who have gone through menopause need 200 calories LESS a day!  Oh my goodness.

It is hard work to maintain a lower body weight if you have previously been very overweight for an extended part of your life.  That is a theory I believe because of the overwhelming amount of objective information available (evidence gathered by various scientists, and also the testimony of many many people who have lost weight and maintained that loss with varying degrees of success.)

I know a LOT about food and nutrition and how the body processes food.  (Oh, side rant:  I know many of you would be more comfortable believing that the body is a machine–that you can input certain food or exercise and you will receive the same results every time.  I’m sorry, but that is simply not true.  The body is closer to a work of art than it is to a machine. Period.  end rant.)  So at my best, I am easily able to choose healthy, balanced whole foods that will keep me satiated for 3-4 hours.

I know a lot about exercise, and what part it plays in weight loss (very little) and weight loss maintenance (a lot.)  I know that the body gets accustomed to the same exercise and gets more efficient at how it processes that exercise (not fair!) so that it is good to continue to challenge your body with exercise by increasing the intensity or by changing the type of exercise periodically.  I know that it is good for your heart and your mind.  I know that it keeps me from becoming stiff as a board, so I keep doing it!

It took a while, but I do understand very well the part that the mind plays in food choices and eating.  I learned that for me, anxiety was the single largest factor in why I overate.  Just learning that was a tremendous step forward in changing my relationship with food.

So I know all this stuff.  I did not discard one bit of it when I decided to WAIT UNTIL I WAS HUNGRY to eat.  Honestly, it just makes sense to me.  Just one more piece of the puzzle.

I Grew A Tomato

Tonight I didn’t take a walk.  I watered my plants instead, hoping that Noah would get enough exercise running around the yard (sorry, Dog Whisperer, I know its no substitute for THE WALK.)  Anyway, look what was ripe on my little tomato plant!  I am such a proud mother.  I got some old planter boxes from my mom, and thought they might work like raised beds (because the bottoms of the boxes were rotting out,) so I got one tomato plant and one zucchini plant.  I laugh at myself every time I see them, because they were little plants when I got them, so I very nicely planted pink petunias in the corners of the boxes, thinking how pretty and decorative it would be while I was growing vegetables.  Poor petunias. They don’t see much sun these days.

Anyway, this is not a good picture of my tomato, but it is the funniest ever.  A good follow-up to last night’s photo op.

Along the lines of vegetables (we were talking about vegetables, weren’t we?,) as always, when I come home from a trip I am absolutely crazed for vegetables.  Seems I get enough fruit on trips, but veggies are hard to come by.  I know, salads.  But I like cooked vegetables a lot.  So I guess that’s my version of mindful eating.  I just really really want to eat a lot of vegetables.  Tomorrow I am going to make a pot of steel cut oats and push the envelope to see how much zucchini I can add and still enjoy it.  There’s a lot of zucchini in zucchini bread, so I think it will work well.  That makes me think that it would also work really well in baked oatmeal.  I will try that in the fall.

And at the same time (coincidentally, I think,) I have watched a couple of documentaries:    Food Matters and Dying to Have Known.  Both are along the same lines, about the great qualities of a vegetable based diet.  Dying to Have Known was all about the Gerson Diet/Therapy/Cure,   Dr. Gerson was a physician in the 1920′s who discovered that a plant  based diet could cure quite a few incurable diseases, including  cancer.  Even if you don’t believe all of the evidence that they provide, you can’t help but think that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is a good thing.  I know I don’t get sick very often.  Dr. Gerson also believed in coffee enemas, which I used to think was REALLY weird.  But this time when I heard it, I thought about all the recent articles I’ve read about the “hundreds of helpful components” of coffee, and studies that show that coffee drinkers live longer (raises coffee  cup to Lori!) and I thought, why not?  If it works good in one end, why not the other?  Its not any weirder than some of the other things they use from that direction.  And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Here’s a couple of other random thoughts I’ve had about these documentaries (and others like them.)  One thing they never mention (on both the vegetable and the paleo side of the fence) when they talk about how much better people feel/lose weight/are cured/etc. is that  most of these people are going from a highly processed crap-food diet to a purely whole food diet. Whichever end of the whole food spectrum they are changing to, it has to be a wonderful shock to their body.

There is one thing I kinda disagree with the vegan documentary people about.  That is juicing.  They seem to think its necessary to juice to get enough vegetables in.  Is that because it would take too long to eat the vegetables the normal way?  Because in America we are in too much of a hurry and couldn’t spend that much time eating?  Or is it because your body wouldn’t allow you to eat that many vegetables?  They don’t address it.  It doesn’t seem right to me.  God didn’t put a Veg-A-Matic in the garden.  On the other hand, it sure seems like a good excuse to get one of those super VitaMix machines that I see at Costco.

Oh, and now that I’ve mentioned God, let me give you my opinion on the whole Paleo, eat like our ancestors did thing.  I kinda think that before the fall, when God first created everything, man  didn’t need to eat meat to have a perfect diet.  All those plants were plenty.  And I think there were grains in the Garden of Eden too.*

(*disclaimer:  I did not go to theology school or Bible college.  I haven’t even spent a lot of time reading Genesis for proof of my theory.  So take it with a grain of salt.  BUT NOT TOO MUCH SALT!!!)