5.28.2012

Difficulties of Being Away from Home and Misrepresentation on the News about Eat To Live

Since being away from home (I am visiting Kevin in his hometown of Sequim, WA) it is always difficult to stick with a plant-strong diet, but I am doing my best.  The most difficult thing has been for me to refuse food that is made for me or to be picky about how it is made.  Although his family understands that I don't eat meat on a regular basis, and nearly completely avoid dairy products, the ideas of eating mostly fruits and vegetables without oil is harder to get across in a polite way.  This is strange for me because to anyone else I have no problem preaching the Eat to Live way, but I guess because I'm not wanting to insult my future in-laws, I'm being more cautious.

While dealing with this issue, I was reading a post from Diseaseproof.com about Dr. Torres (ironic because I'm going to be Mrs. Torres) from a Colorado News station misrepresenting the Eat to Live lifestyle (video of newscast, skip to 2:15).   This got my nutritarian-preaching wheels turning!  Here is his answer to the question: "Are you familiar with Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and what do you think of his diet?"

Dr. Torres' Answer:
"This diet is known as the "Eat to Live" diet. It mostly focuses on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables with limited amounts of whole grain products. It avoids animal products. Like most diet plans, it can help you lose weight and in some cases the results have been dramatic. But this is a very strict diet plan that will prove hard to maintain for most of us. As humans we tend to crave variety and if we try to stick to a restrictive plan it doesn't work. This is part of what accounts for the "Yo-Yo" diet phenomenon people experience with most diet plans. Your best bet, for not only losing weight but also in keeping it off, is to make sure you incorporate healthy lifestyle changes you can sustain for years on end. This means eating better, eating less and exercising more."


My first response to this terrible explanation is to criticize him for the use of the word "diet."  As defined biologically, a diet is merely the foods and liquids consumed by an organism on a regular basis that are used to perform its daily functions and for growth and development (my written definition).  The word "diet", in pop culture, often means to change your diet, usually by restricting calories or some type of food, with the usual goal of losing weight.  Because diet is defined as such by most Americans and can conjure up many negative emotions of deprivation and failed will-power, I like to avoid this word completely.  

That is why I like to call the nutritarian way of eating a lifestyle, because that is exactly what it is.  It is not merely changing what goes in your mouth, it is also changing how those foods taste, it gets rid of your food addictions and toxic hunger, it gives you energy and encourages you to be active, AND provides with the nutrients your body needs to heal and prevent diseases.  Oh, and some nice perks to all of those benefits is that you will lose fat from your body, lose weight if you need to, and maintain a weight that your body says is healthy.  Who doesn't want all of those things from a wonderful lifestyle change?

Yes, the nutritarian lifestyle focuses on eating an abundance of vegetables and fruits, which are high in micronutrients that help prevent illnesses.  They also have a very high nutrient density, which means that there are large quantities of nutrients per calorie of food.  This means that you will become satisfied sooner with less calories consumed.
The nutritarian lifestyle does not restrict whole grain products, but the Eat to Live 6-week kickstart plan does suggest that you minimize your whole grain and starchy vegetable intake to 1 cup a day.  Whole grains, especially in their original forms such as quinoa, oats, barley, etc. are a great source of fiber and are very filling.  However, the majority of your fiber and nutrients should come from fruits and vegetables; so Dr. Fuhrman would suggest not focusing your eating plan around grains, unlike the old American Nutritional Pyramid suggested.

On the E2L plan, you can completely avoid animal products as a vegan nutritarian, or you can make animal products up to 10% of your eating plan.  Animal products would include meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs.  The reasons for limiting animal products, as Dr. Fuhrman suggests, is because they are high in saturated fat, as well as high in cholesterol and calories with little to no vitamins, micronutrients, and fiber.

This is not a "strict diet plan that will prove hard to maintain for most of us," this is a lifestyle change that is satisfactory, delicious, and sustainable for anyone who wants good health.  First of all, it is not a strict plan because it doesn't require any measuring or counting, it only requires that you make fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, and nuts and seeds the majority of your diet.  This focus of this lifestyle is that you give your body the nutrients it needs to flourish and keep your body disease free!  

The main battle of the lifestyle change, at first, is to battle your food addiction and toxic hunger.  Most Americans are addicted to a diet, the Standard American Diet (SAD) of highly processed, salty, sugary, and fatty foods whose properties create a sensation in the brain similar to a drug addiction.  Most Americans also experience toxic hunger.  This happens when your stomach is finished digesting your last meal and your body works on ridding your body of toxins that have built up in your body.  If you are eating a diet full of toxic processed foods and little whole plant foods, your body is full of toxins.  When most Americans eating the SAD get to the toxin-breakdown stage, they feel uncomfortable, usually in the form of headaches, stomach cramps, anxiety, etc.  This is very similar to a drug addict coming down from their drug high.  SAD Americans identify this as hunger, and eat to eliminate these symptoms.  This causes them to go back into the digesting period and abandon ridding the body of toxins.  It is a viscous cycle that causes SAD Americans to overeat calorie-wise, and to build up a lifetime of toxins in the body.

Dr. Torres also claims that "As humans we tend to crave variety and if we try to stick to a restrictive plan it doesn't work."  Again, the Eat to Live way of eating is not restrictive.  But as for the variety, really?  There are more edible plants on earth than I'm sure any human will ever try, how could anyone eating this diet ever run out of variety?!  On top of many different types of vegetables, fruits, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds, there are also tons of different spices and herbs to use to flavor any nutritarian dish that you make.  Compare this to the SAD, there can be variety, but all foods are mostly made up of sugar, salt, fat, and animal protein.... Yum?  

His advice for watchers was very vague and not helpful: Americans need to be "eating better, eating less, and exercising more."  I'm sure every overweight person has never heard those statements!  How about instead hearing that you get to eat nutrient-rich, delicious foods, eat as much of those foods as you want, and you will lose weight and gain the energy to feel like and enjoying exercising!

Ah, I feel better now that I got my Nutritarian ranting out of the way.  For those of you who would like to voice your opinion on this misrepresentation of E2L, comment on this page why you think the E2L way is great and voice that you would like to see Dr. Fuhrman on the show to set the record straight.  Now to try to eat healthy around Kevin's family without being rude.... 

Do you have any suggestions on how to approach non-nutritarian people about how you eat, so that they will accommodate you without sounding overbearing, judgmental, or rude?

12 comments:

  1. Hide a big salad in your purse! haha!

    I have no good advice because it is like you are speaking an alien language and who wants to give a big lecture to future in laws? Are they ok with you going to the store and buying stuff for a simple salad? If it is uncomfortable in any way using the kitchen and feeling like an invader, just go with the flow for now! Having an entire new person (no matter how wonderful they may be)join the family is stressful enough and soon you will get to know them better and it will be easier. (Now that I have children and have peeked into the future I have a thousand times more patience and understanding of inlaws)

    Maybe there is a natural market and you could find some prepared food for an alternative and eat less of the unhealthy stuff, just enough to be polite?

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    1. Shanna,

      Sneaking a big salad in my purse doesn't seem like too crazy of idea! Hehe! I was able to go to a local market to buy some fruit for breakfasts and desserts, as well as getting some kale and ingredients to make the dressing for the Hale to the Kale salad. The rest of the time we ate out, and I did my best at choosing the better options. I'm starting to learn that it will be a whole new experience become a part of another family. All the same, I'm so excited because we are down to 100 days till the wedding. Thanks for your insights about food away from home and future inlaws!

      Amy

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  2. Can you cook for them? Maybe whomever is the cook in his family would be interested in seeing how it is possible to saute without oil?

    I've approached it with my family as the "not adding" lifestyle--I don't add anything to my food that doesn't come from nature. So I don't add oil (isn't found in nature) but I do add spices.

    Remember, even little steps are HUGE for anyone eating SADly. :)

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    1. Great suggestions Jackie! I wasn't able to cook anything for them while I was there, but I did get some questions from his mom about how I make my homemade oil-free salad dressings that I used the week+ that I was there. Maybe that will encourage them that salads can taste great with natural dressings. Also, I think I was a good example for changing little parts in your eating habits, like making the salad the main dish and including fruit as a desert. By the time I left his family had at least one meal as only a salad and was using strawberries as snacks. Maybe that was because of silent encouragement from me?
      "Not adding" lifestyle sounds a good way to approach explaining how you eat. I will keep that in mind next time I'm in a similar situation. Thanks for reading, Amy

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  3. That is such a tough position to be in. Traveling is hard enough but staying with people is even harder, especially family-to-be! The best idea is to be prepared by bringing your own snacks if you can. You can also ask to take a trip to the grocery store and stock up on healthy foods for meals that aren't usually cooked, like breakfast and lunch. Then explain how passionate you are about food and cooking and insist on "helping out" by preparing one side for every dinner you have together.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions Val. I made do with having some fruits and veggies around from a local produce market. I am usually a very passionate person when it comes to explaining the plant-strong lifestyle, but for some reason I was so shy about preaching to his family about it. Hopefully over time we will get to be more comfortable about the eating subject and I'll feel more comfortable (nutritarian-wise) when visiting. Thanks for reading- Amy

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  4. I just got back from vacation visiting my family and constantly ran into this same issue. For the same reason, I tend to hesitate any time I have to go to my wife's family. You can feel so alone when there's no one else that sees food the same way. When going out, people look at a piece of cake and see deliciousness; I just see tons of heavily processed, high fat and sugar ingredients shaped into a circle and cut in wedges.

    For me, I just tell people not to make me anything and I can fend for myself. This results in me bringing some frozen veggies to microwave steam. I can't stand not knowing how my food was prepared, but if someone insists, I just ask that they do or add nothing when cooking my portion...if that's possible.

    I gave up trying to offer advice unless I'm asked. Otherwise, I just smile at any comments about my food choices. Lead by example is my best advice to you. When given the chance, show how much energy you have or how good you feel...maybe others will make the connection.

    Good luck while away, I totally get how you are feeling, but don't make changes for others...keep on your path for yourself!

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    1. RC, That is exactly how I felt. I didn't want to offend anyone or try to say "what you eat is wrong and what I eat is right". I know how eating plant-strong makes me feel and how eating the SAD way used to make me feel that I wish I could explain to others in a sensitive way how much better they will feel with some changes in their eating habits. But, after all, it is only that person's decision on how they eat. Thanks for the encouragement, Amy

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  5. I'm telling people how I came to the decision (not why THEY should). ...our kids have to take asthma medication every day, and one of them has severe allergies. Three out of four of their grandparents are obese,both of their parents are obese, and diabetes runs in our family. This lifestyle will protect them from those future diseases, and maybe even improve their current health. We are so excited that there might be a dietary answer to asthma! Also, I've NEVER NOT had food cravings, and it has been such a relief to not feel like the kitchen is calling out to me all day long. :)

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    1. Lindsey,

      So happy to hear the approach you are taking to help (hopefully illuminate) some allergies and other problems with your children. It is unfortunate how American diseases often follow the family line, but when it comes down to it, everyone has a choice. Although our genes are what they are, it is the food and environmental exposures we experience that have influence over which genes are turned on or off. I like to think that every time I eat a salad, I turn on my cancer and disease protecting genes! Good luck to you and thanks for reading!

      -Amy

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  6. Just cruising your posts - I agree with your comments about the abundance of the Nutritarian lifestyle. I started my journey around 4th of July last year, and was very concerned about winter - I love in the mid-Atlantic, and love our summer veggies but was not sure I could handle the change. I have never eaten such a wide variey of food as I have for the past few months. It's as if I not only got to see the seasons change with my eyes, but taste them as my diet changed to earthy fall and winter vegetables. It's spring, so I am looking forward to the summer vibrance that will return, and don't feel deprived in any way.

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    1. Hi Dave, I totally agree. Non-nutes that I work with always are always asking if I get bored with the food I eat, and that couldn't be farther from the truth. At lunch meetings I like to point out that while they are having a deli sandwich with 4-5 ingredients that is relatively small, I'm eating the same or less amount of calories with my HUGE lunch salads that have over a dozen healthful ingredients, not only giving me energy but the nutrients and vitamins my body needs.
      I can't wait for summer either. WATERMELON is my FAV!
      -Amy

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