Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Reader Advice Day: Dietary Experiments Gone Too Far

Greetings Friends!

It's been an amazing summer and I'm not quite ready for it to be over yet, but the one thing that I'm most excited about as fall rolls in is that I will have the time and mental space to get back to blogging!

That and the orange barrels that are filling up what seems like every last road in Cleveland will be GONE soon and we can all return to a state of sanity until at least next May.

Let me tell you peeps, that while I appreciate very much that my local and state governments have the money to fix the roads, this summer has been a nightmare in my little corner of the universe. Aaaaargh.

But back to blogging.

I've been incredibly influenced lately by the work of Elizabeth Gilbert.

I might dare to predict that reading her most recent book, Big Magic, just might be a game changer for me personally. 

If you are a creative person in any capacity, I implore you to read this book. 

I beg you.

You will be totally and completely rocked to the core.

And you will want to create again if you have been blocked.

I feel like I am becoming unblocked.

Here's a link to the book so that you have no choice but to order your own copy. 

Anywho, I received an email from a buddy of mine this morning and I just felt compelled to share the conversation that's going on in my head right now with all of you.
Hi Wendy!

I was wondering if you have come across any people doing veggies for breakfast and a sos-free diet who have lost too much weight. I haven't gotten my period in five months or so and the overwhelming theory is that my body fat is too low. I am torn as to exactly what to do and I realize there are registered dietitians out there who can probably help guide me but I know you are heavily involved in this fringe community so I thought I would ask for your thoughts. I feel like if I go to an RD with a food log they will think I am insane :)

Miss you!

So here are my thoughts on this "situation:"

Dear Anonymous,

First off, I just want to honor you for being so dedicated to achieving optimal health that you are open to experimenting with new "eating techniques" when you learn about one that's intriguing to you. 

That being said, and since I happen to know you personally, I feel that I can speak about your situation from a perspective that I'm not usually privileged to speak from.

Weight loss has never really been your goal, has it? I mean, maybe you thought it would be nice to be thinner, because what woman in the year 2016 doesn't want to look like a supermodel, but you weren't overweight when you embarked on your uber healthy eating path, were you?

And if I recall correctly, food addiction has also never been your issue. You seemed to me to have a really great relationship with food and once exposed to superior nutrition, you eagerly jumped on the plant based bandwagon many years ago.

You should be getting your period. That is a real sign that something isn't in balance right now.

Some of the things that you experimented with just happened to be weight loss tools, not really healthy eating tools. I'm going to list some here, so that folks know what I'm we're talking about, bearing in mind that Anonomous hasn't necessarily used all of these techniques:

1. eliminating high calorie plant based foods like nuts, seeds and avocado from the diet
2. intermittent fasting
3. "veggies for breakfast"
4, eating only "to the left of the red line" (for those of you familiar with that terminology from Chef AJ and John Pierre's Ultimate Weight Loss Program)
5. eliminating all salt from the diet
5. eliminating all sugar from the diet
6. eliminating all flour from the diet
7. eliminating all gluten from the diet without being gluten sensitive or a celiac

Maybe you did some or all of these things just to see what would happen.

I believe that you got your feedback and it's time to listen to what your body is saying.

You have been practicing techniques that are appropriate for people who need and want to lose weight. Like I mentioned, you were never one of those people and without a shadow of a doubt you are not one of those people right now. So it seems to me that it's time to move on from some if not all of these experiments.

If there is one thing that I have learned along the way in all of this it is that what works for me right now is most likely not going to work for me forever. Life is very predictable like that. Change is certain. 

It's pretty clear from your lack of menses that you need more calories. You can get those calories very healthily by eating more, eating more frequently, adding more healthy fat and healthy starches to your diet.

Do you need intermittent fasting anymore? Probably not. Maybe just a few days a week instead of 7. 

If you are not eating any flours, there are certainly many healthy flours out there like garbanzo bean flour and buckwheat flour that you can be incorporating into your diet for more calorie dense foods.

I'm not a doctor or nutritionist and I'm not dispensing medical advice, but I'm fairly certain that you can gain weight healthily and get back to a completely healthy state while still maintaining a whole food, plant based diet.

And while we are on this subject, I'd like to add that I have had some concerns about the use of these nutritional techniques as sort of "Pro-ana" type thang. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, I mean that these techniques might be taken by someone who suffers from an anorexic mind and used to achieve an unnaturally thin and very unhealthy state. You can read more about pro-ana here on Wikipedia. I don't believe that this was ever the original intention of the doctors and promoters of these nutritional tweaks, but I have definitely seen people take these whole food or plant based dieting ideas too far, IMHO.

I wish you a complete and speedy recovery from your condition. Much love and respect for reaching out to me on this topic!


Got some thoughts of your own on this issue? Please share in the comments section.

Got a question of your own? Please e-mail me at healthygirlskitchen@gmail.com.

P.s. If you are into Elizabeth Gilbert as much as I am right now, be sure to check out her podcast as well. Seriously, there's magic going on over there!

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