Friday, September 2, 2011

Your Questions Answered


Thank you all so much for your honest responses to yesterday's questions. HGK blog doesn't receive that volume of comments unless I'm hosting a giveaway! I guess sometimes we all start to question whether or not we are on the right path and need feedback. So thank you to everyone who took the time to leave your thoughts. Your comments, on any of my posts, are appreciated more than you could ever know.

Because of your input, I want to take this post to tell you all some stuff about HGK and me personally, some stuff that is not obvious from the blog, and things that might answer a lot of readers' questions from yesterday.

(1) The Beck Diet Solution is NOT a "diet."

There seems to be some (understandable) confusion about The Beck Diet Solution. Yes, the name is totally confusing and it would be logical to think that it was just another new fangled food plan. Eat this, don't eat that.

But Beck isn't a food plan, it's a thought plan. One designed to get you to stop thinking the thoughts that have gotten you into a situation where you have extra weight. You know those thoughts, they sound like this one: "Uuuuugh, I shouldn't have eaten that! I'm such a mess. I might as well not even try to lose weight. I'll never succeed at this. I should just eat whatever I want for the rest of the afternoon (or day, week, month, year)."

These kinds of thoughts will never get us to where we want to be. Beck knows how to fix this using cognitive therapy. It works. That's why I keep going back to it.

(2) Why I haven't been posting a lot of new recipes lately.

Dr. Fuhrman has this great expression, "The salad is the meal." I think I heard this for the first time about two years ago, but there are moments where it really impacts me in a big way. Right now is one of those moments. I have been focusing a lot more on making my and my husband's dinner really be about the salad. There's just not that much excitement in creating post after post about the Hugh Jass salad we ate for dinner, so you can see how the recipe posts start to dwindle.

That doesn't mean our salads are not awesome! Just give me the word and I will write a post on how to build dinner salads. I'm a master!

That also doesn't mean I'm not cooking really incredible Plant-strong food, I am.
What I have been doing lately is inviting guests to our house for one very special meal per week. I start planning this meal six days in advance, creating lists of dishes and grocery lists. About three days before the meal I start to prepare the food and refrigerate it. I reheat everything and dress the salads right before everyone arrives. This way, I get to enjoy the "plant indulgent" food (as Chef A.j. likes to call it) at least once a week.
If I were eating this type of plant indulgent food daily, I would gain a lot of weight. That's why you rarely ever read postings on HGK about dessert, even healthier versions of classic desserts, like you see on so many a vegan blog. I have to limit my intake of them to rarely or I put on weight. I really take seriously Dr. Fuhrman's advice about salad. Believe me, I know this from experience. Wish it were different, but it's not.

(3) What I do eat on any given day. Well, my best days. They're not all like this:
Breakfast: Huge green smoothie or oatmeal. And coffee with soy creamer (no, I am not a Super Hero, I need coffee)
Lunch: Vegetable or vegetable/bean soup and a salad. Sometimes a more plant-indulgent vegan dish.
Dinner: Hugh Jass salad with the works and no-oil dressing. Also, soup or a whole grain dish or a green smoothie or a vegan specialty.

My challenge: after dinner snacking, aka "night eating."

(4) How I feed my family.

I consider myself very lucky and also very challenged in this arena. First off, my husband has this philosophy that since he doesn't do any of the cooking or grocery shopping, that he should just happily eat whatever slop is placed in front of him. Smart man.

Lucky man.

Lucky that I'm his wife. You should see how he looks at age 48. He could be a Plant-strong poster boy like Rip. But that wasn't always the case. Thank you nutrient density!

The kids are a whole nother story. My oldest, who is eleven, adopted a Plant-strong diet at about the same time I did and has never looked back. She came with me to hear Rip speak, read Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman, and read The Omnivore's Dilemma For Kids by Michael Pollan.

Smart kid.

I can't say she's as adventurous an eater as my husband, but compared to other kids her age, she's a model eater. Her typical lunchbox contains a bean soup and fresh fruit and then either fresh veg, whole grain crackers, hummus, etc. No meat, no dairy, no oil.

My littler ones (3 and 6) are another story. I keep a ton of fruit in the house at all times because that is where I have been most successful with them. Apples, oranges, grapes, strawberries, bananas, kiwis, blueberries, mango . . . I'm spending their college funds on fruit, so they'd better get scholarships.

They are used to almond milk, 100% whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta (the 365 brand from Whole Foods is the best). But that's pretty much where their healthy eating ends. I'm not proud of it, but I still buy cheese ravioli, yogurt, cheese and occasionally sliced turkey breast, for them. I limit the boxed Mac-n-cheese now to once in a great while. Lower sugar processed cereals, whole grain waffles, pancakes--they eat a lot of that. Vegetables are a rarity. What I don't do is prepare them home cooked SAD meals just so they will have a hearty dinner.

I figure that when they are ready, I will expose them to the same influences that I am exposed to and let them make the choice over whether or not to eat dairy, meat, oil or processed food. Whether or not to embrace the power in vegetables. I trust that they will see the light.

(5) How does healthy food preparation fit into an otherwise very busy work/kids/exercise/social/charitable schedule?

First off, I prioritize it. I figure if I don't have my health, well, I don't need to elaborate on that one.

Part of prioritizing my health means that I spend a lot of my disposable income on domestic help. No, I don't have a private chef, but I do have hired help with other domestic duties like grocery shopping and kid schlepping. I'm very fortunate that this is even an option, and I thank my lucky stars for it every day (and for her--you know who you are! :) ). I may not have a fancy wardrobe, vacations or new furniture (I am a magnet for hand-me-down furniture), but I have the time and space to think about and prepare healthy food, and I value that tremendously.

I eat a ton of salads and smoothies, which are all about having the fresh ingredients on hand and not about cooking time. Even without domestic help, one big grocery shopping trip on the weekend could stock any kitchen with the right raw ingredients. And once you get a system going for yourself, the grocery list just repeats itself over and over and over, with a few minor adjustments for a special dish you want to try. The basics are the basics. Check out my complete list of staple foods here.

I don't cook from scratch very often, but when I do, I make a lot. I generally double every recipe that I make. I invested in a huge soup pot.  When I invite guests over, I know that I want to make extraordinary Plant-strong food and then also have leftovers to feed my husband, my oldest daughter and myself for a few extra days.

I sleep a lot less now that I am a Nutritarian than I used to. This gives me all of the extra hours in the day that I would ever need to prepare any food that I would ever want to. I went from sleeping 9-10 hours per night to 6-7.

So time is not my issue. Emotional eating at night is. That's where my struggle lies.


Ruchi said...

This was great Wendy! Love reading how you handle food for your little kids. Makes me feel a lot better!! What is SAD?

Healthy Girl said...

SAD = Standard American Diet

Cindy Marsch said...

Thanks for this post, Wendy. It's a nice way to connect with your readers so that I can see the discussion going on. As your children "age" you'll find that routines and jobs and foods and all kinds of things change with the years. I have only one of four left at home now, though the eldest may come back for a while between jobs, and I'm really having to adjust with the grocery shopping!

Raven said...

I'd love to hear about your dinnerbsalads; I love salad but my husband, not so much. So I make salad for me, he makes processed vegan meat-analogues (gardein, tofurky sausage) and I end up eating both.

Sara said...

I have trouble with salads for dinner, they never fill me up and then I snack. I'd love to hear your tips for making a filling dinner salad.

princess singular said...

I would like a post on building a salad too. Our Whole Foods started carrying peach infused white balsamic vinegar in the bulk section which is to die for so I am doing better with more salads but always need fresh ideas!

Brenda said...

I would love love love to read about your salad building skills on your blog. My husband and I eat one very big salad a day. ( he also feels the same way your husband does about the food and cooking-lucky us). I am always looking for interesting salad ideas because more than 3 days of looking at the same salad makes me roll my eyes and sigh. I make a version of you chinese no chicken salad and a cherry walnut salad which are 2 of my favorites, but could always use more. Keep up the great work- you are inspiring.

infinebalance said...

Thanks for sharing this Wendy! I really appreciated your comments about "domestic help." I too have hired lots of help -- but I often feel guilty about it. Working full time and with two small kids I often feel like I should be spending more time with them instead of leaving them to the sitter. But without her -- oh my!! life would be crazy. Forget about healthy eating or working out. I thank her everyday for adding some "balance" to my life (and doing the laundry!!)

yeah -- and my kids eat cheese raviolli too.

katshealthcorner said...

You are an inspiration Wendy! I understand you with your younger kids. My mom and I eat really healthy, but it's a whole other story with my sister and my dad. They eat whatever they want, whenever. I HAVE converted them to Bananner Ice Cream though (my sister loves it SO much -- I just tell her that whenever she wants some, just come and ask). I really want them to develop for themselves a love of healthier eating, and I have found that setting the example is one of the best things to do. Wendy, you are such a great example to your children -- they look up to you. When they grow up, I'm sure they will be just like you -- not only by what they look like, but with what they do, just like your 11 year old. :)

katshealthcorner said...

You are an inspiration Wendy! I understand you with your younger kids. My mom and I eat really healthy, but it's a whole other story with my sister and my dad. They eat whatever they want, whenever. I HAVE converted them to Bananner Ice Cream though (my sister loves it SO much -- I just tell her that whenever she wants some, just come and ask). I really want them to develop for themselves a love of healthier eating, and I have found that setting the example is one of the best things to do. Wendy, you are such a great example to your children -- they look up to you. When they grow up, I'm sure they will be just like you -- not only by what they look like, but with what they do, just like your 11 year old. :)

Anonymous said...

I am new to this and would LOVE your salad ideas! Also any ideas on other quick dinners. I'm running out of ideas besides soup, especially for my family. They are supportive and will try whaterver I make so I want them to enjoy it, too. They will eat a sandwich if they don't like it, but if I can get them to eat the veggies instead, it would be so much better for them! Thanks for your blog!

Tami said...

Thank you Wendy! Your answers to our questions were awesome and you gave me some insite on how to make my household a plant strong one for the ones of us that want to do it and options for those of us not yet ready.
I love salads for every meal and am happy eating them as the "meal" as Dr. Furhman suggests. I would love your help with ideas, recipes and all of your creativity.
I feel so impowered this morning after reading your blog today!
Thank you so much; you ROCK!!! XOXO

Elisa said...


I like hearing about the Beck book as emotional night eating is my biggest problem. My husband travels during the week and I am tired after work so I watch tv and snack.
Soy chips and Rice chips but I do eat a lot. I have been thinking a lot about breaking this habit. I intend to buy Beck's book so when I feel that I truly want to change I'l have it on hand.
Love the blog, and please include parts from the Beck book. I like to go back to your posts and reread them.

Bonnie said...

Thanks for the background info, Wendy. My husband is also willing to eat what I make (and has a better body than when I married him 42 years ago); he's the one who first learned about plant based nutrition when one of his running partners (he's 65 and his running friend is a speedy and amazing 67) loaned him Caldwell Esselstyn's book. Neither of us has had any trouble with weight for the past eight years of lots of exercise and a nearly vegetarian diet, but we both dropped to our 9th grade weight within months of going completely plant strong a year ago - and feel great. We'll never go back! Our four kids are ages 29 to 37 - and none live nearby (two in NC, one in Chicago, one in Tokyo) so our biggest challenge comes when the kids are around. They'll eat what I cook with varying degrees of acceptance and indulgence for our quirky habits, but the grandkids (six under six, soon to be eight under seven) mostly are quite unimpressed. (Guess that's why they have two grandmas - so that the OTHER grandma can be the awesome cook; I'll be the healthy cook. I do, however, make an amazing gingerbread "biscotti" that meets my healthy treat standards). I love your blog and like your other readers would love to read about salad meals and am inspired by your regular posts. Glad I had the chance to meet you at Whole Foods.

su said...

Hi Wendy, Like others have said I enjoy your blog postings tremendously. I can relate 100% with your challenges - luckily for me ,like you I have a very supportive husband who eats pretty much whatever I feed him. I am trying very hard to follow Dr Fuhrman and make 'salads' the main meal but I struggle with it as I find myself falling into a rut - also dressings are an issue as vinegar does not particularly agree with me. During week days (since I have a salad bar at work) i eat salads usually using fruit as a substitute for dressing but I don't find this emotionally/mentally satisfying like I am missing something...:( I do well on smoothies and soups (vegetable and bean) are life-savers - although here again I tend to eat the same thing over and over and that does get a little monotonous at time... I would love to get some recipes of your salads - what veggies you combine and most important recipes for oil-free dressings. BTW, the salads/dressings category under Healthy Recipes brings up an empty page.

Dawn said...

Thanks Wendy! Appreciated hearing how you are a normal person! Hah! I know that sounds crazy but I think you know what I mean. I don't have kids but am very busy and think sometimes I know I could be better at this, etc... Also, my husband is very supportive of plant-strong eating and happily tries many dishes with me. It was hilarious the other day when he said, "Could you please get me some regular skim milk at the grocery store? I'm just tired of this almond milk." He looked a little pitiful. Of course I will get you milk! I mean he is a grown person and can decide for himself what to eat. I guess we all are trying to adapt and accommodate. Thanks again for the insights.

QZB said...

DEFINITELY a salad building post! I have a couple I *can* do, but I get bored with the thought of them. Terrible, I know. But the photo of Hugh Jass is making me hungry, so I'm going to mosey down to the kitchen and see what I can come up with. Thanks for the inspiration!!

chickpeafreak said...

I would LOVE to see pics and hear about how you put together your Big Jass Salads!! Dressings would be most welcome also! =) I think that we are all creatures who act on visual cues [which is why marketing is so very effective]. Seeing your soups + salads inspires me to make beautiful, interesting, and delicious nutritarian meals.
Thanks for sharing yourself with all of us.

Megan C said...

Thank you Wendy for this GREAT post!

Lori said...

Salad posts would be really great! I can make salad my meal once in a while, but to have your postings about salads as an inspiration would be a big help!

Shannon said...

I am so comforted to hear how you handle food with your kids. My sister started earlier than I did on this plant strong life and so her kids are more naturally "plant strong" programmed than mine are b/c they've been doing it longer. Mine are 10 and 13 so giving up the junk and making dietary changes is alot harder. This is one of my regrets as a parent, but i didn't become Plant strong till this year so I guess I should give myself a break. I often think to myself that I should just force them into this lifestyle, but I don't think that will work. I think it will push them to eat more and worse when they are not at home. Since my kids are teens and pre teens, I guess I see my role as trying to make their meals that I do make as healthy as possible. I am constantly changing little things here and there and tweaking our meals as best I can. I also see my role as leading by example and talking to the kids about why I am making the choices I am and how they can work to be healthier individuals. I am not perfect and we do have some "junk" in my house, but this is a process for us and I am treating it as least where the kids are concerned. Thanks for getting me thinking about this. I think it'll be my next blog topic. Love your site, Wendy. Thx.

Anonymous said...

Yes, to detailed posts on great salad combos!

Ohio_AT said...

I enjoy your posts! As I was reading today's, I saw your reference to the Hugh Jass salad. I read that a couple of times before it clicked... hahaha love that name.

Cheryl Cross said...

Hi Wendy, thanks for keeping this going. I would love to check in daily with others following the Beck program. I don't have a coach so an online community would be great! Night eating is an issue for me and I am on Day 13- Cravings. Anxious to try the tools in this chapter. I am babysitting my 18 month old grandson so our household is a little crazy.
I have been giving him green smoothies since he could eat from a spoon. Now he has his own container with lid and straw and comes running when he hears the Vita-mix. My daughter uses a Bullet mixer so he has shakes daily. We hide all kinds of veggies in there! We use frozen, organic fruit and plenty of flax or chia seeds.

Anonymous said...

Why is nighttime overeating so difficult to overcome?! I struggle with that too!

Caroline Miller said...

I loved hearing about your family. My husband, who was vegetarian for 20 years, all of a sudden decided he needed to eat fish for Omega 3's. He eats only legumes, veggies, fish, and eggs. He won't touch anything I make except for Friday night dinner (the 25 hours of Shabbat is his weakly "cheating" time). My 16 year old is rebelling against anything I make, won't touch veggies (she does eat fruit though), and she is now having a lot of, um, gastrointestinal issues. My 9 year old eats veggies (when watched) and fruits but won't touch anything I make. She eats dairy and fish sticks. I am very frustrated. Thank you for showing us all that you are striving to do the best you can for your family situation. It really helps. You are so lucky to have two of your family members eating full on plant-strong with you! I would also like to see a salad building post. Because of you I would like to get the Beck book. The night eating will be the death of me too. I used to do daily journaling when I was on Weight Watchers and that seemed to help. I have to get back to it.

Audrey said...

I'd love to hear more about your meal-size salads.

kim du bry said...

Thank you! I have a 5 year old daughter and struggle sometimes. I started doing green breakfast smoothies about two years ago, but I am burning out on them. Glad to see the oatmeal post earlier this week! I would love to see posts on your big salads! And more Beck too! Thanks for being such an inspiration!

Tamar said...

Love the blog, as always! Have you read Dr. F's Disease Proof Your Child? I actually read that before I read ETL. It may change your mind about the way you feed your younger kids. My kids are 8, 5, and 20 months. And boy do they miss chicken nuggets, pizza, and cheddar bunnies. But I've explained to them that this is the way we eat at home. When they go to playdates, birthday parties, Shabbat services, ect they can eat whatever is served. But at home we eat plant strong. However, I won't lie to you and say that it's always sunshine and rainbows. Regarding your younger kids and the vegetables, have you tried giving them green smoothies?

Jackie Smith (the other one) said...

I am totally with you on the emotional night eating. I eat great during the day, and blow it at night. I'm going to work on that by making myself stick to my meal plan and pre-cutting veggies.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy, wonderful post, I really appreciate you sharing and really appreciate your honesty and candor. You are such an inspiration and I have even more respect for you for being transparent with your day to day life.

Mandy Robinson said...

Yes, please do a salad building post--especially a man-friendly salad. Plus no-oil salad dressing recipes.

And would love the vegetable/bean soup recipe you send for your daughter's lunch.

Thank you!

Alexis (hummusapien) said...

Hey wendy! It's a shame that I just discovered your blog today-- I already love it!! I was at Organic Energy today and Tom reccommended that I read your blog because I have my own and he knows I'm obsessed with healthy food :) I see that you had Swiss Chard Roll ups and soup for lunch...which is so funny because I had the exact same lunch at OE today! I'm obsessed with tom's food! glad you like it as much as me! Happy healthy eating!!

Anonymous said...

Please don't take this as an attack, I'm just really confused!

I'm REALLY suprised to hear that you feed 2 of your kids meat and dairy still. Surely if you have realised that a plant-based diet is the best there is for your health and for the world, surely this is what you would want your growing kids to benefit from too? You'd be giving them the best start in life. And along the way you can teach them about why we don't want to hurt/eat animals, so that they grow up with both compassion and great health.

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