You mean that fruit flavored yogurt isn’t good for me? What about that Gatorade? Or that granola bar? Or that cinnamon flavored oatmeal packet? Foods often billed as “healthy” can pack a major sugar rush. Unfortunately, there’s no daily requirement for sugar in the human diet. We just DO NOT NEED IT to survive. In fact, it’s a healthy diet saboteur for sure. While some carbohydrates are necessary to fuel the body you can get all the carbs you need from from fruits and veggies. Next time you have a sweet tooth, skip the lemon meringue yogurt and reach for an apple.
All posts in DietWhore
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) seems to think that a lower carbohydrate, higher protein diet can improve a woman’s egg quality. This certainly bodes well for the gluten-free, higher protein lifestyle that I’ve adopted as of late. Want to read more from the ASRM and why I’m trying to limit my carb consumption to 40% of my diet? Click here. Note that I’ve decided to move all posts about my personal journey with fertility to that link, my personal author site.
I knew it was time to do something when I opened my fridge today in search of a snack. My veggie drawer stared up at me empty and alone, no fruits and veggies to keep it company. Unfortunately, my closest farmer’s market isn’t until Saturday and our weekend schedule is already packed full with yoga, acupuncture and dog grooming (just your average American couple!).
Enter Farm Fresh To You, a service that makes getting your fruits and veggies easy! You select what you want, when you want it and a box of organic and local produce shows up on your doorstep. Exciting, right?!
My friend the Skin Owl has been raving about how easy juicing is because of her weekly produce deliveries. I’ll be cooking up some of her famous Glow Juice in no time now that I’ve jumped on the CSA box bandwagon (Community Supported Agriculture). According to the Skin Owl, I also can expect a wild variety of veggies to arrive forcing me out of my butter lettuce salad, spinach omelet routine. Cheers to a colorful plate bursting with nutrient dense, LOCAL, ORGANIC, and FARM FRESH fabulousness!
How do you make sure your fridge and fruit bowl are stocked full of healthy snacks all week-long?
I arrived at Yahoo this morning to check an often forgotten email account and saw this headline:
Are Those “Healthy” Snacks Actually Bad for You?
Sounds scary, right? Like all this time you’ve been haphazardly snacking on poison! Oh the horror.
Here’s a list of the snack foods Yahoo’s experts said to avoid, plus my commentary:
#1 Rice cakes. Their take, the rice cake “has a mere 35 calories, but consists of high-glycemic, puffed-up white rice with a low nutritional profile.”
My plan: Rice cakes aren’t on it. If my blood sugar’s gonna sky rocket, I want to actually enjoy it while it happens. Enter a piece of dark chocolate. Or better yet, grab an apple or handful of berries for fiber and antioxidants.
#2 Kale chips. I’m new to Kale so I’ve never actually had these, but without a lot of oil and salt, they sound gross! Yahoo claims that “some veggie chips contain more additives than you’d think” and goes on to explain that many bags contain mostly dehydrated potatoes. If only potatoes were as good for us as Kale!
My Plan: Here I’ll take Yahoo’s advice to make my own (someday when I’m feeling brave). Or I’ll do the next best thing and actually read labels. If the chips I’m buying have more than a few ingredients and contain chemicals I can’t pronounce and understand, I’ll play it safe and reach for a handful of raw nuts or a piece of fruit.
#3 Sweet potato chips. They’re so darn good, aren’t they? Almost as good as sweet potato fries (just because they’re “bad” for you doesn’t mean they’re not disgustingly delicious!). Yahoo’s expert explains that “sweet potatoes contain more fiber and vitamins A and C” than their white counterparts.
My Plan: These crunchy little suckers pack a nutrient dense punch. As long as the ingredient list contains only sweet potatoes, veggie oil, and salt, I’m in! Still, these babies are higher on the carb side so if you’re watching your glycemic load have just a few.
#4 Protein bars. Or should we say glorified candy bars? Just read the ingredients. Low sugar alternatives, like ThinkThin bars may be an option if you’re seeking sweet satiety, but they’re still loaded with wacky chemicals like malititol, an ingredient that can cause gastrointestinal upset . I think the air I breathe in Los Angeles is toxic enough, don’t you?
My Plan: I’ll take a protein smoothy with almond milk and berries over a protein bar any day!
#5 Baked chips and crackers. The term “baked” is mostly a marketing ploy and only saves you a few grams of fat, but not the high fructose corn syrup, high-glycemic inflammatory wheat flour, and other mile long, hard to pronounce ingredients.
My Plan: No backed chips and crackers for this body. Unless they’re Flackers, my newest gluten-free, flax seed cracker obsession, I’m not interested.
Other items on Yahoo’s list include Popchips and Rice Crackers, two other starchy, processed foods. And that’s the thing that every item listed has in common: it was born on a conveyor belt. I will always prefer a handful of nuts, a few mandarin oranges, or even a bag of pumpkin seeds (dried seeds + salt = Yum)! Real food is always a part of this girl’s plan.
My Week Without Wheat has now lasted over a month and I’ve never felt better! Throughout the process of purging my cabinets of bread, pasta, and crackers I discovered Flackers. This flax seed cracker contains only organic flax seeds, organic apple cider vinegar, bragg liquid aminos, organic rosemary, and organic sage. AND we’re talking 7 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein per serving!
I’ve discovered all sorts of amazing ways to eat these crunchy little flax crackers. For example, I’ve paired them with hummus, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes for the ultimate snack. This low carb, high fiber, and absolutely delectable gluten-free option has a place in my grocery cart every trip. But note, I’ve only been able to find them at WholeFoods. If you’ve seen them at other stores do let me know in the comments!
When I worked at Red Bull, my svelte forty something boss used to lament the wonders of the Spaghetti Squash. Back then the thought of it scared me. Squash that you can substitute for pasta? Gross. I was happy in my wheat induced haze. I was happy eating crazy carb loads at every meal. But no more. Being gluten-free means getting creative with meals, means braving new vegetables like the squash pictured above. Combined with a thrown together meat sauce (sugar-free pasta sauce with organic turkey and fresh mushrooms), this has become my husband’s favorite new gluten-free meal.
Here’s a link to this great pasta substitute’s nutrition info. In summary, the spaghetti squash has 42 calories per 155 grams (which equates to over a cup!). Compare that to around 174 calories in 1 cup of whole wheat pasta. Even if you’re not ready to go gluten-free your waist line will appreciate this recipe. It only has 10 carbs per serving too, compared to around 36 carbohydrates in the aforementioned pasta, which makes it the prefect treat for those leaning toward a lower carb lifestyle.
Here’s now to make this low-glycemic index, gluten-free, and positively delicious food:
- Preheat your oven to 375 (ovens vary so adjust as needed).
- Wash the outside of your squash with soap and water thoroughly.
- Carefully slice the squash down the middle into two halves. Scoop out the seeds.
- Fill a 2 inch baking dish with an inch of water.
- Place both halves of the squash face down in the pan.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on your oven (30 minutes is prefect in mine).
- Remove squash, allow to cool in fridge for 10-20 minutes (I’m impatient so I wait about 5-minutes, honestly).
- Grab a plate or bowl. Then run a fork over the inside of the squash in a scooping motion so that strands separate into your bowl.
- Season, butter, or oil to taste.
- Finish with the meat or vegetarian sauce of your choice!
Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? Now that I’ve been without wheat for over a week, I’m even more committed to a gluten-free lifestyle. I do, however, find myself craving sweets occasionally. So when I purchased gluten-free oats from Trader Joe’s, I jumped at the opportunity to try the gluten-free oatmeal cookie recipe on the back. I decided to improve the recipe’s over all glycemic index by substituting refined white sugar with coconut sugar AND by reducing the sugar added.
Here’s the recipe:
1/4 cup butter
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 coconut sugar (TJ’s called for 1 1/2 cups of sugar!)
3 cups rolled oats
6 oz dark semi-sweet cocolate chips
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or chopped walnuts (I used walnuts!)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup peanut butter (yay for extra protein!)
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine sugar and butter and beat until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, and baking soda and mix well. Add peanut butter and mix. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and nuts. Place a teaspoon full of dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet about two inches apart (I grease with coconut oil). Bake 10-14 minutes depending on your oven or until lightly brown around the edges. This recipe makes around 30 cookies! Four cookies later, these are absolutely DELICIOUS!
Amanda shares more about her journey with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet here! She’s on a roll, ladies and gents, check out how she’s doing it.
SCD Day 7:
I actually downloaded a new app just to make my grocery list (I usually make a list in a mini-notebook). Today, I was determined to go grocery shopping. The SCD diet is so much like the bodybuilding diet I used to follow, in that it requires PLANNING. You have to grocery shop and prepare food (and do dishes), and it is tedious if you are used to eating out or buying food that is already cooked and assembled. I have become used to eating convenience foods, since straying from the “bodybuilding lifestyle”. While struggling to get my footing with the SCD diet, I still have to shop and prepare meals for my husband, and he supports me but he is not even close to interested in the SCD diet for himself. Fine by me, that means I don’t have to share my food.
Before launching my mission, I needed to eat something. Ugh. I settled on 1/2 a chicken breast with a couple small pieces of parmesean cheese and some sun dried tomatoes, heated it in the microwave and wolfed it down. I also had 1/2 an orange. Good enough.
I proceeded to hit up Trader Joe’s for the bulk of my groceries, because they are economical (cheap) and close by. Using the list on my phone was great, so I didn’t go in circles. I wanted to get more cheese, so I looked at the aged “SCD Legal” cheeses. I saw Vermont Cheddar is aged 3 years, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong and grabbed a hunk. I then proceeded to Whole foods for a couple of items I couldn’t get at TJ’s: almond flour, coconut flour, and yogurt starter culture. I love to bake and I sure as hell miss bread, so I’m ready to experiment. Unfortunately, a bag of almond flour is $9.99! The same sized bag of coconut flour is $6.99, still expensive (it’s a small bag) but I decide I will just get the coconut and not the almond. I also found freeze-dried yogurt starter.
So I came home, put away groceries, made dinner for my husband, and decided to take a stab at making SCD Yogurt.
Homemade SCD Yogurt
1 Gallon Organic 1% milk
I followed the directions for how to make yogurt in the oven (without a yogurt maker). My oven is bad ass and has a “bread proofing” setting that keeps the oven at 100 degrees (right where it needs to be). Since it is supposed to…um…ferment, for 24 hours, I haven’t tried it yet. I really hope it doesn’t disappoint.
You can find the original recipe here.
Coconut Flour Drop Biscuits
I also decided to make some coconut flour biscuits. Yum!
1/3 c. coconut flour
1/4 c. melted butter (or coconut oil, I used butter)
1/4 c. honey
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
**blend ingredients, drop biscuits onto a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes
I had already made a new batch of baked apples, so when these biscuits were done I ripped a couple off the pan, topped with apples, drizzled with honey and dug in. This was quite delicious and very satisfying. However, the biscuits by themselves are not awesome. The coconut flour has A LOT of fiber and so they are meal-y, and the flavor is just kind of weird. Since I was starving (as usual) when I ate these, I porked out and now my tummy is too full, since I haven’t eaten any voluminous or highly fibrous meals in a week and I think my stomach has shrunk. So I would caution: don’t pork out on these biscuits. I also think, that if one is determined to make the SCD diet their lifestyle, it would be smart to find someplace (online?) to buy almond flour–I cannot imagine eating a slice of cake made entirely out of coconut flour.
Today I started eliminating wheat from my diet.
I am so inspired by Dr. William Davis’ book Wheat Belly, by the advice of my OBGYN Dr. Christine Collins, and by Amanda Palmer who’s following SCD (a wheat free diet) that I’m really truly going to try to stick to it for the next 7-days. I’ve tried this before, after my last pre-surgery appointment with Dr. Collins, but I wasn’t strict. Interestingly, Dr. Collins and I discussed a possible connect between endometriosis and wheat and soy consumption. I explained that when I cut out processed soy products (veggie sausage lunch + veggie burger dinner = body poison) I experienced less pain during my period and less PMS before. She further theorized that wheat’s insulin spikes and inflammatory properties cause inflammation in the body, like the endometriomas she found inside me. She then pointed me to the current bestseller Wheat Belly.
I’m only halfway through the book, but here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Modern wheat is Bad!
The wheat we eat today is markedly different from the wheat our grandparent’s used fifty years ago. Beginning in 1943 a man named Dr. Norman Bourlaug developed an exceptionally high-yielding dwarf wheat. This new wheat was easier to grow and harvest and by the 1980s this dwarf wheat, along with the information gained in producing it, lead to thousands of new strains of wheat, “the most high yielding of which have been adopted worldwide.”
As a result of bringing more food to the world, Dr. Bourlaug received the Novel Peace Prize in 1970. While he did help the globe respond to spikes in population in places like China, none of this new wheat was examined for safety or for long-term effects on humans. After all, it wasn’t nature’s carefully orchestrated natural selection process that gave birth to this new breed, but a sped up, scientific hybridization approach. Finally, around 1999, the FDA imposed restrictions on genetically modified foods, requiring tests and studies before these foods can be introduced for human consumption.
With that said, there are things in modern wheat (strains developed long before the FDA stepped in), that we just don’t understand. While “95 percent of the proteins expressed are the same,” there are compounds found in hybrid wheat that can not be traced back to either parent. Some differences include “fourteen new gluten proteins” and ” a higher quantity…that are associated with celiac disease.” Great. Modern wheat is just bursting with irritating proteins and mysterious molecules.
And all that is just the tip of the wheat kernel. Dr. Williams provides all sorts of interesting, peer reviewed research, on why genetically modified and/or hybrid strains of wheat (among other things) may be wreaking havoc on our country’s weight loss efforts.
A piece of wheat bread has a higher Glycemic Index than a tablespoon of sugar!
Thought you made the smart choice when you reached for that extra fiber extra whole grain bread, didn’t you? I sure did. Dr. Williams explains that various studies demonstrate that bread is a belly fat fighter’s nightmare.
“The GI [Glycemic Index] of white bread was 69, while the GI of whole grain bread was 72 and Shredded Wheat cereal was 67, while that of [table sugar] was 56. Yes, the GI of whole grain bread is higher than that of [sugar]. Incidentally, the GI of a Mars bar – nougat, chocolate, sugar, caramel, and all – is 68. That’s better than whole grain bread. The GI of a Snickers bar is 41 – far better than whole grain bread.”
So why does the Glycemic Index matter? It represents the ability of a food, relative to that of glucose, to increase the level of glucose in the blood. The Whole Foods website explains that, “An awareness of foods’ Glycemic Index can help you control your blood sugar levels, and by doing so, may help you prevent heart disease, improve cholesterol levels, prevent insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes, prevent certain cancers, and achieve or maintain a healthy weight.” So, in other words, it’s important to pay attention to how much glucose the food you eat creates in your body.
Wheat will get you high!
According to Dr. Williams extensive research on the subject:
“Common wheat, upon digestion, yields polypeptides that possess the ability to cross into the brain and bind to opiate receptors.”
He further explains that the same opiate-blocking drugs given to heroin addicts to make them “come down” can be used in normal people who consume wheat. The effects of these drugs reduce appetite, cravings, and calorie intake because they are blocking the effects of wheat.What does this reveal? Wheat lights up the same regions of the brain as do some narcotics, therefore creating a “high.” This can potentially makes us behave similar to an addict, thereby consuming more calories while seeking those calories in insulin spiking foods. Holy loaf of bread! No wonder I’m still starving after that piece of whole wheat toast in the morning! I’m like an addict that’s craving MORE insulin.
My week without wheat starts TODAY!
While I have the rest of Wheat Belly to finish, I’ve already skipped ahead to some of the delicious wheat free recipes. Think egg and pesto flaxseed wrap and coconut berry-smoothy. Mmmmmmm! I’ll also be pulling from Amanda’s SCD journey for inspiration and other meal ideas since her diet follows similar guidelines.
Next week I’ll report on my progress, but in the meantime I highly recommend you check out Wheat Belly yourself. Dr. Williams manages to make science easy and even pleasant to read and understand. As a cardiologist who’s treated 2,000 patients with diabetes, obesity, and heart problems, he provides insight you might not want to miss.
Who is Amanda Palmer?
Amanda is a friend from my college days in Hawaii. There she astounded us all when she transformed her body for fitness competitions. Around the same time, while dieting and exercising to the extreme, she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. Crohn’s disease is a related condition. Ouch!
Since then, having put fitness competitions on the back burner, she’s tried various diets and nutrition plans to stabilize her weight. In the process, she’s struggled with issues that arise because of ulcerative colitis. So, after extensive research, she’s now decided that enough is enough. She is determined to get her health and weight back on track. She hopes to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of the disease by sticking to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). We’ll be following her progress here.
What is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?
Here’s what SCDLifestyle.com has to say about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet:
”The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is a group of foods which are grain-free, sugar-free, starch-free, and unprocessed. While removing many foods that are toxic and digestively harmful the diet remains natural, extremely nourishing and representative of what our ancestors ate.
Eating SCD is a way to “re-boot” your digestion and give you an overall health boost. The diet will probably have you feeling better than ever even if you don’t have any intestinal damage. But if you are one of the lucky few who needs a bit of digestive support this diet was created especially for you.”
Interestingly, my doctor just recommended the book Wheat Belly. She is a major proponent of a grain free, especially wheat free, diet. In fact, based on what she outlined, it sounds like she’s already following SCD’s principles herself. And believe me she is one hot doctor! I’m sure if Amanda visited her, this is exactly what she would prescribe.
Amanda’s story, Amanda’s words – SCD Day 1
I started chronicling my SCD experience yesterday. Figured I’d share it with you, get your feedback, and give you an idea of how I’m approaching it.
2 egg/2 eggwhites
3 low fat turkey sausage links
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Packet of organic, no sugar added blueberry oatmeal
**2 c. Coffee, minus the usual soy milk, only one packet of splenda
Amy’s Organic Black Bean Soup w/a handful of Trader Joe’s corn/veggie chips
Large Honey Crisp Apple with (a lot) of almond butter
**2 or 3 c. Coffee w/one splenda (each)
If you’ve read the “legal” and “illegal” foods list, and the list of rules, for the SCD diet, then you’ll notice that I have broken a lot of those rules. I didn’t even discover the SCD diet until about 3:00am this morning–yesterday was my feeble attempt to kick off the New Year by kicking refined carbohydrates out of my diet. Today, I woke up starving and wanted to start the SCD diet, but I was unprepared and had no plan of action. Black beans are on the list and I really needed some kind of starch to make my stomach stop growling, so I chose the lesser of many evils and went with Amy’s Organic southwest black bean soup. But I added a few chips. I wasn’t really planning on writing about this and, at the time, I was comfortable lying to myself about the chips.
I noticed today, that my mouth and teeth already feel better, although it’s hard to explain how. I think my saliva has been thick and probably riddled with candida (yeast) and it would leave a film on my lips every time I licked my lips–which are constantly chapped and peeling. But today seemed better! Also, I noticed that I was peeing a lot, which is normal given the fact that I gorged on pizza, chicken wings, cake and wine a couple nights ago (ringing in the New Year!) and since I haven’t eaten very many carbohydrates in the last couple of days, so I’m dropping a lot of water. It feels good, I can feel my lower abs again–contract them! My stomach has been feeling mushy for quite some time, to the point where I prefer not to look at myself in the mirror naked and start comparing my “now” with my “best”, because they are night and day.
My Ulcerative Colitis has been “flaring” more the last couple of days (I will not go into detail), and the symptoms are worse today than they have been–I hope the SCD diet makes it stop.
I went shopping today at Trader Joe’s and picked up a bunch of produce. I was particularly excited to make this “detox water” I saw on Pinterest, which has nothing to do with the SCD diet, but since all the ingredients are “legal” and detoxing is a goal of mine, I picked up the stuff to make it.
**The picture on the recipe showed Mason jars, and I’ve been wanting to buy some anyway for myriad hipster-ish pinterest projects, so I made 4 big ‘ole jars. It’s easy. Slice up the lemon and 1/2 (or more) of the cucumber, add mint leaves and water, and refrigerate for an hour or overnight. The recipe says it lasts a couple of days in the fridge. I just tried it, and my husband is laughing at me for being so giddy about it–delish!
I have to figure out what to eat tomorrow. Maybe some sort of beef stew? A chicken salad with almonds? Definitely eggs for breakfast. Okay, so tomorrow is first official day of my SCD diet….