If you missed my last blog post with my first official HGK podcast episode, check it out here! I'm thrilled with the response and I hope you love it too. If you've got questions for Dr. Shah, a plant based pediatrician, please feel free to leave them on yesterday's post because I will be conducting a round 2 interview with her very soon.
The longer I stick around the dieting and human nutrition space and the more experts I listen to, the more I am convinced that there isn't a one size fits all diet. So anyone who tells you that they know exactly what you need to do to lose weight and get healthy is a little over the top, IMHO.
But what we can talk about is "possibles."
It is possible that eating at least one pound of non-starchy vegetables as your first meal of the day will help you to lose weight and to stop craving sugar.
But then again, maybe not for you. (I would argue that this recommendation is
really worth a try!)
It is possible that eating nuts, seeds and avocado in your otherwise healthy plant based diet is preventing you from losing weight.
But then again, maybe that's not the case for you. Maybe eliminating healthy fats from your diet for an extended period of time leads to unintended negative consequences for you, like increased anxiety or memory loss, so you have to balance the weight loss benefits of going really low fat with the drawback of new health issues.
It is possible that eating whole wheat flour and other otherwise healthy plant based flours like chick pea flour, buckwheat flour, etc. are causing you to gain weight.
But then again, maybe you are the kind of person that actually can keep the "healthy" Vegan muffins, cookies, pancakes, waffles and cakes to a once-in-a-great-while minimum, so why should you not enjoy them every so often?
It is likely that eliminating oil, meat and dairy from your diet will lead to lower cholesterol and weight loss.
But not if you replace those foods with processed carbohydrates instead of vegetables and fruits.
There are no guarantees when it comes to human health and nutrition. It's a complicated balancing of so many factors.
One has to experiment with dietary changes for him or herself and see what happens. And not just for a few days and then stepping on the scale and thinking something did or did not work. It's going to take more effort than that-a longer experiment than a few days or maybe even a few months.
A few years ago I was at a place where I was really struggling with food. I had gained 50 pounds on what I thought was a healthy, plant based diet.
I had been on this diet already for many years, and I very much desired to be "plant perfect" but the longer I was on it the more trouble I experienced being 100% plant based when faced with processed foods that called my name in moments of weakness.
One particular moment of weakness seemed to occur each weekday at 5 pm. I would arrive home from work and begin the process of making dinner for the family. Unpacking lunchboxes with leftovers from school lunches was part of my late afternoon routine. At this time in our lives, my youngest child, an extremely picky eater, was really into eating bagels with cream cheese, so bagels and cream cheese it was.
But on so many days, his lunch would arrive home barely eaten.
So there I found myself, after a long day already, having to muster up the energy to start making dinner. And I was pretty tired and hungry, which is not a good combination. And the bagel with the cream cheese was there, and even though I totally know that it was the last thing I "wanted" to eat, I found myself eating it more often than I care to remember.
Not only was I not doing my waistline any favors, I was an embarrassment to my plant-based diet blogging self.
The combination of feeling burnt out from full time work plus three needy children and feeling like a failure at my healthy plant based eating was a little depressing. I was kind of at wit's end and when Chef AJ asked me if I wanted her to coach me using her newly formulated weight loss system, I was more than happy to become her student.
I think one of this first things that we talked about was that 5 o'clock time of day when my eating was most out of control. AJ said that she like to think of this time of day as "the witching hour" and she explained that it was likely that my brain was sort of out of glucose at this time of day. She said that she wasn't surprised that I was seeking calories at this hour and then she recommended that I try something different.
Turns out it was one of the best nutritional experiments that I ever did.
It was really simple.
AJ told me that when I arrived home hungry from work each day that I should eat a potato, preferably a sweet potato.
I also think it was around this time that, also based on AJ's recommendations, I began purchasing Japanese Sweet Potatoes.
All I can really say is that this was clearly the moment for me that my processed food addiction came to a screetching hault. Eating potato at 5 pm each day was the cure that I needed.
I absolutely loved the taste and texture, and not only did it completely prevent me from having any more cravings for my kid's leftover processed foods, it took the edge off of my hunger for the rest of the day.
It was like it had an effect on my brain chemistry.
A stabilizing effect.
AJ also recommended that I read a book called Potatoes not Prozac by Kathleen DeMaisons. I wanted to understand why my cravings for processed food had diminished so abruptly, and this book had the answers.
Needless to say, I have become a HUGE fan of potatoes.
For so many years I had limited my intake of starches, hoping to achieve the dramatic effects of those that have been successful on Dr. Fuhrman's Nutritarian plan. I so wanted it to work for me, but in it's purest form, it never did. I'm sure it work for many people, it just didn't work for me.
Does that mean that eating potatoes every day is going to be the magic bullet for everyone? Not likely. But if you are a sugar addict, I think it's worth an experiment. According to Kathleen DeMaisons, potatoes are "medicine" because they raise serotonin levels (p. 143). And we all know how much Dr. McDougall loves the potatoes.
Just don't eat a potato before you go and workout. That's not going to have the effect that you want!
Do I still eat a potato every day at 5 pm? No, I don't. My potato experiment allowed me to distance myself from those processed carbohydrates and then the magic happened-my brain healed-and I no longer craved processed carbohydrates. Now I'm more likely to just eat dinner at 5 o'clock. But it was those potatoes at 5 pm for months on end that saved me.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention "the ridiculous scientific study of last week," since it was a study on the effects of potato consumption. All you need to do to feel better about this one folks is to go to the article on the New York Times online and read the comments. You'll feel so much better about potatoes, and humanity really. We're not going to be fooled! Click here to access the article.
Have you experimented with eating more potatoes to curb sugar/flour/alcohol cravings? If so, please share your experience!