Thursday, November 8, 2012

Battle of the Bulge: It's Not About the Bulge, Really

When I was in high school, I was not very aware of my eating habits; then I went to college, and my cluelessness continued. It was when I had a terrible schedule of many unoccupied hours that I noticed a trend; I was munching all the time. 

I made a decision to cease unhealthy food consumption. That step towards health begat another, then another, and so forth. It was not until I read this article that I suddenly realized—I am actually on that plant-based diet they are always yammering about.

The purpose of my "Bulge Battle" posts is not about being slender for the sake of being so; it's about eating well, which usually, in turn, leads to being lean and bouncy. 

For instance, Dean Ornish is writing here how while some diets (and by "diets," I mean those "get-skinny-quick" schemes) have amazingly thin results, they do a mean number on the human body. Like Atkins. Sure, one may have lost poundage, but one is now a ticking time bomb. 

I have realized that I don't really like red meat. If meatballs or stuffed pepper is on the menu, I actually love the tomato-y sauce more, ladling the pot dry while ignoring the cow parts. Steak? Blah. I like the birds more, especially duck (a rare treat). But for the most part, I don't really need any fleish to be happy. 

My primary foods are whole grains, along with colorful fruits and vegetables. Whenever I veer, such as by simchas or guesting, my body slows down; I feel sluggish and meh.

The benefits of a plant-based diet (with some fish) is mind-boggling. 
In 35 years of medical research . . . we have seen that patients who ate mostly plant-based meals, with dishes like black bean vegetarian chili and whole wheat penne pasta with roasted vegetables, achieved reversal of even severe coronary artery disease. They also engaged in moderate exercise and stress-management techniques, and participated in a support group. The program also led to improved blood flow and significantly less inflammation which matters because chronic inflammation is an underlying cause of heart disease and many forms of cancer. We found that this program may also slow, stop or reverse the progression of early stage prostate cancer, as well as reverse the progression of Type 2 diabetes.
Also, we found that it changed gene expression in over 500 genes in just three months, “turning on” genes that protect against disease and “turning off” genes that promote breast cancer, prostate cancer, inflammation and oxidative stress.
The program, too, has been associated with increased telomerase, which increases telomere length, the ends of our chromosomes that are thought to control how long we live . . . As our telomeres get longer, our lives may get longer.
In a randomized controlled trial, patients on this lifestyle program lost an average of 24 pounds after one year and maintained a 12-pound weight loss after five years. The more closely the patients followed this program, the more improvement we measured in each category — at any age. 
I can't stand it when people say things like "low carb." Whole grains are carbs, but they are good carbs, magnificent carbs, the carbs that keep one full and balanced. Food labels like "low fat" are a crock, since they "magically" have no difference in taste and flavor—they often replace that missing fat with mysterious ingredients, so while, yeah, it is "low in fat," it isn't the best for you.
It’s not low carb or low fat. An optimal diet is low in unhealthful carbs (both sugar and other refined carbohydrates) and low in fat (especially saturated fats and trans fats) as well as in red meat and processed foods.
It's just about teaching oneself to crave the stuff that not only will you love, but will also love you back. 

So that is why I rarely eat out, why I abstain from white-flour based breads and cakes, why sweet potato, the scourge of my childhood, is my new best friend. 

Even if someone is a size 4, it doesn't automatically mean that she's in the prime of health. Because it matters more how and what one eats rather than being a smaller dress size.

I feel Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Lentil soup, anyone?


Nechama said...

This has nothing to do with your actual post, but I couldn't find a spot to email you from your blog.

It just occured to me that you are likely in a perfect position to answer a question that has bugged me for a long, long time.

Can you share your opinion on the topic?

As an Auntie, would you charge your siblings when babysitting their sleeping children? I'd imagine you'd prefer a bed in their place, considering your early-to-bed-early-to-rise description.

But would you charge?

Princess Lea said...

I have been heartily and routinely abused by my siblings, I don't deny it. Now most of them have big kids who can do the babysitting now, so for once I have a (slight) respite.

However, I never charged. I should have, in retrospect. But I really did want to help my siblings out, and I didn't want to put a price on spending time with my nieces and nephews, even if they were a royal pain.

What was really hard for me was saying no if it was truly inconvenient. I didn't want to leave them in a bind, but I learned I don't have to turn my life upside down if I have a cold and two exams the next day.

One time, after sleeping over by my brother, he insisted on giving me $20. I didn't want to take it, since I knew in his mind this will somehow make things "even." Heck, my hourly rate is practically $20.

What I do is try to build up a careful reserve of guilt I can exploit if the occasion calls for it.

This is definitely an individual choice. But if there is an auntie out there who wants to make money on the deal, God bless. You earned it, cookie.