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The Next 50 Lbs: Food for Thought

Any of you who read this blog with any regularity know that it is meant, in part, to chronicle my personal weight loss journey.  But another big part of it for me is helping others to see what a terrible predicament we’ve gotten ourselves (and our children) into as a nation through bad nutrition.  Every day, I try to think of new ways to inspire people to eat in a healthful way, to get proper exercise and sleep and to find their way to a healthy weight and a happy life.  Simply put, it has become my dream and passion to end obesity in this country and yes, even the world.

Lofty goal, I know.  But if you’re going to dream, you might as well dream big.  Go big or go home.

I don’t really preach about any one way to eat or exercise, because I feel that these choices are individual.  Your health should be based on how you feel, yes?  I don’t live in your body and, therefore, I cannot tell you what eating plan will make you feel best.

What I can do, however, is share the information that I gobble up like a ravening wolf on everything and anything having to do with nutrition, food production, disease prevention and obesity.  I feel strongly that if I can give you some food for thought (pun intended, I guess) that you are smart enough to make choices for yourself and your family that will lead to feeling great every single day of your lives.

Today, I want to share some articles and videos and other resources that I find absolutely fascinating.  I hope you’ll take the time to read and watch all of it because something just might spark something inside you that will change your life forever.  So…onward.

If you don’t believe that disease can be prevented and cured through better nutrition, then I highly recommend you watch Food Matters on Netflix.  This documentary is a real eye-opener into how little nutritional education today’s physicians receive.  A good portion of the film is devoted to teaching us that foods have properties that can potentially heal terrible physical and even mental conditions.  The irony in the Hippocratic Oath that all healthcare professionals must take resides in the third paragraph: “I will apply DIETETIC measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment”.  The man who reportedly wrote this oath, Hippocrates, said, ”let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.  So why is it that our mainstream healthcare system isn’t using nutrition to prevent and cure disease?  It’s curious, isn’t it?  Check it out.  http://foodmatters.tv/

I am not a vegetarian.  I love, with a capital LOVE, meat.  My oldest daughter became a vegetarian after watching the documentary Food, Inc. in her 7th grade cooking class.  It completely grossed her out.  She’s been a vegetarian now for two years and doesn’t seem to want to go back to meat at all.  She has a fondness for animals, yes.  But I think her anti-meatism actually came from seeing how inhumanely the animals are treated and the kinds of toxins that some along with eating some of them.  You can watch the film on Netflix for free and visit their website at http://www.takepart.com/foodinc

If you are beginning to be concerned about inhumane treatment of animals (as I am), even if you want to keep eating them (which I DO…AND THAT’S OK!!!), you might want to start thinking about checking out http://www.eatwild.com/basics.html.  This site will give you some basic facts about the impact of factory farming on not only the animals, but on the environment and our health.

I know that purchasing grass-fed beef, pastured chickens (and their associated eggs and dairy products) and organic fruits and vegetables can be seen as cost-prohibitive.  I’d like to try to shift your way of thinking about spending money on food.  This is the stuff that is going INTO YOUR BODY.  Into the bodies of your precious children.  If you tell me that you can’t afford to buy the highest quality food to cook at home, but then you tell me that you eat at McDonald’s several times a month, I might have to slap you.  Ok, I won’t slap you, but please…can we just try for one minute to rearrange our priorities to make the things we feed ourselves and our families move to the top?  WHAT IF…you cook at home and don’t spend money on crappy fast food?  WHAT IF…you pack wholesome, healthy lunches for your children (or better yet, teach them to pack their own) and stop giving them $3/day for frozen pizza and mystery-meat chicken nuggets?  WHAT IF…you look for small ways like this to put money back into your pocket so that you can spend it on higher quality food?

Plus, can I just tell you how divine grass-fed beef tastes?  The difference between commercially packaged meat and grass-fed is AMAZING in quality, taste and fat content.

But where do you get it?  One place would be Whole Foods.  They prominently display labels in their meat and seafood cases, letting customers know what is grass-fed, wild caught, etc.  Another great choice is your local farmers market.  My farmers market has several booths from local farmers and one of the ways you can save money and still get pastured meats, eggs, jerky, etc is to think about taking part in a Community Supported Agriculture program.  My favorite local farmer offers a 10-week CSA package for $250.  That is $25/week for a large shopping bag filled with enough meat, poultry and eggs for two people.  I can tell them exactly which products I’d like in my bag for the week and pick it up it one of two local farmers markets.

If you are reading this and thinking, “Gosh, Jill.  I am an unemployed single mom with three kids to feed and there is no way in hell I can afford to buy grass-fed meats and organic fruits and veggies.  I can barely afford groceries as it is!” believe me, I feel your pain.  It wasn’t so long ago that I did all of my shopping at the 99 Cent Store.  Maybe you can’t afford the higher-grade stuff, but maybe you could at least move away for the frozen, processed, packaged non-food items?  Even if you need to buy commercially packaged meats and regular fruit and veg, it is FAR better for you than the packaged crap and I will bet you a donut that it will save you money as well.  Thank you to my lovely friend Claudia for reminding me that some families simply cannot afford the luxury of super high-quality foods.  But, I believe that ALL families can afford to purchase REAL food over fake food.

If this interests you, you can find additional resources at http://www.eatwild.com/products/index.html.

My final word on buying higher quality food: No one ever lost weight on the Hamburger Helper Diet.  Just sayin’.

I think it’s time that I fess up to having a fourth boyfriend.  I’ve already introduced you to the first three (my REAL boyfriend, Pete; my fitness guru, Bob Harper; and my spiritual advisor, the Dalai Lama), but have a look at THIS GUY!


This is Mark Sisson, the author of The Primal Blueprint and the voice behind the popular blog, http://www.marksdailyapple.com.   What if I told you that Mark is 59 years old?  What if I told you that he believes that eating and exercising like a caveman can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, rid yourself of illness and get a body…LIKE THAT.  As a meat-eater, I have to say how much I love the principles of this way of eating.  Just eat grass-fed beef and pastured poultry/eggs, wild-caught fish and shellfish (and certain kinds of farm-raised fish and shellfish), organic fruits, veggies and some nuts and seeds.  Avoid most dairy products (but cheese or yogurt made from the milk of grass-fed cows is ok in moderation), avoid legumes (this includes peanuts and its derivative butter) because – and this is the short answer – they contain things that act like toxins in our bodies, according to Mr. Dreamy.  Try to get as close to nature and as close to what our paleo brothers and sisters ate as you can.  Awww….are you missing the grains already?  How many times have I said that grains – even whole grains that are touted as healthy – make most of us fat and cause allergies?  FYI, the cavemen didn’t eat grains.  Why?  Because agriculture hadn’t yet been invented.  Go check out Mark’s blog at http://www.marksdailyapple.com and pick up a copy of The Primal Blueprint (a truly fantastic book).  See if it makes sense to you and more importantly, see how this way of eating makes you feel.

Ok, maybe you don’t share my enthusiasm for meat.  Or maybe you have heard enough lately from doctors about the perils of a meat-based diet.  The best documentary I’ve seen on the subject, hands down is http://www.forksoverknives.com/.  Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn will take you through their years of research into a whole-foods, plant-based diet, citing that this type of diet can prevent and, in some cases, reverse, diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even several forms of cancer.   My biggest problem with vegetarianism is that most people think “if it doesn’t contain meat, then it’s vegetarian.”  That means eating lots of cheese, carbs and yes, even McDonald’s french fries.  Not all vegetarians do that, but a lot do.  My daughter does.  I have to remind her that, while vegetarian, candy and chips are not a major food group.  SIGH.  If you’re interested in switching over to a vegetarian diet, watch Forks Over Knives and see if it appeals to you.

Since we’re on the subject of plant-based diets, another great documentary to have a look at is Fat, Sick and Nearly dead.  The film follows Australian Joe Cross on his trek across America to try to regain his health.  One hundred pounds overweight and suffering from a rare autoimmune disorder, Joe goes on a 60 day fruit and vegetable juice cleanse, talking to people along the way and sharing his thoughts on juicing and the body’s capabilities to heal itself.  I love that Joe calls the cleanse a “reboot”.  How many times have you thought that maybe you just need to purge your body of all the built up toxins and just start all over?  Joe shows you how.  Go to http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com/  to read more and definitely watch the film on Netflix FOR FREE.

I’m an information junky (can you tell?) and I’m always looking for new places to find out more.  Lo and behold, the other day my friend Ali posted on Facebook about https://www.coursera.org, a site where you can take online courses from some of the best universities in the country FOR FREE.  I promptly signed up for three classes and they are:

Economics of Obesity – taught by Johns Hopkins professor, Dr. Kevin Frick

An Introduction to the US Food System: Perspectives from Public Health – taught by Dr. Robert S. Lawrence and Dr. Keeve Nachman, both of Johns Hopkins

Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention – taught by Kate Clark, a registered dietician and professor at University of California, San Francisco

Oh, I don’t know.  This could be cool maybe.  WHAT???  THIS IS AMAZING!  Courses on nutrition and obesity FOR FREE?  Come on.  I can hardly contain myself for the classes to start.  But it doesn’t stop at nutrition.  There are classes in so many things, you can’t even believe it.  If you’re a LLL (Life Long Learner) like me, you owe it to yourself to visit https://www.coursera.org and see what they have to offer.

Alright, have I given you enough food for thought?  Go…read, watch, explore, research.  Experiment with different ways of eating and keep a journal.  Discover what makes you feel f***ing fantastic.  These are your bodies, folks.  Don’t put the choices into the hands of others.  This is all YOU!

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Thank you for this

Thank you for this comprehensive and inspiring post, Jill.  

I am a vegetarian.  I have been inclined that way since I was a baby.  My mother says I used to spit out all meat.  Then, however, the medical luminaries scared her into forcing me to eat the stuff.  I believe different foods are good for different individuals.  The important thing – which is, sadly, not encouraged in the Western world – is to get attuned to your body.  It will always guide you to what is good for you at any particular time.  I often find I have cravings for a particular food, or fruit, or herb.  I always give into that craving because I trust my body.  Often, when I look up the properties of that food, I discover that it contains, indeed, something I was lacking at the time.

What makes me despair, at least in England, is the regular "this is good for you so eat it, everybody" fads.  What is good for you may not be good for me, or vice-versa.

Sorry to rant... I wholeheartedly agree with the stress you put on the importance of eating good food.


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Thanks Katherine!

If I could tell the world just one thing, it would be...LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!  I'm so glad that you enjoyed the post.  I need to go over to your profile and read your latest and greatest as well!