What we eat matters.

Last spring, I made a concerted effort to gain weight.  Many would say it’s a good problem to have-unless you are the one trying to gain weight, because often it’s equally as difficult to gain weight as it is to lose it.  The Paradox: what you think is the right way to eat based on your knowledge, is in fact quite the opposite it some cases. Below is my story.

Due to a few reasons I had lost some weight over an 18-month period. In 2017 it was time to work on weight gain.  I wondered what could I eat and drink that would be helpful?  My answer was drinking grass-fed heavy cream in gainer shakes and eating potatoes both white and sweet, laden with grass-fed butter.  I indulged in a few “healthy treats” oatmeal cookies, blueberry muffins etc. I did eat some processed foods like crackers and cheese, but only UDSA organic meats and chicken.  I did this for about a month and was not seeing results.  I added in two 530 calorie Boost drinks a day to my eating plan.  I gained about 1.5 lbs.  Frustration set it. I wasn’t feeling well. 

My efforts for healthy weight gain thus far were failing. I went to the doctor for lab work. My hair about blew off after I received my results on-line. My Doctor’s initial comment was simple, “What is going on?”  My cholesterol was through the roof and my fasting sugar (Glu) was the highest it’s ever been.   It must be the heavy cream, the healthy treats, alcohol and the “healthy Boost drinks”.  My immediate thought was “Stop drinking alcohol” because it turns to sugar.   That’s usually my first “go to” correction.   The alcohol consumption stopped which was immediately followed by the elimination of heavy cream shakes and the Boost. I figured I would just be thin.

A couple months prior to this in February, I came across a video by Dr. Steven Gundry a cardiologist and heart surgeon.  The video was long, but he was credentialed and what he said made sense.    He talked about his “Lectin Free eating plan”.   His new book outlining his plan “The Plant Paradox” was coming out in April.   I kind of blew it off and proceeded with my heavy cream shakes from February into April. 

I struggled along trying to eat healthier, gain some weight and feel better. Corrections with Bioidentical hormones were made which was helpful.  My search for health expanded into inflammation. I have psoriasis, so I focused intensely on the inflammation piece.  I read about inflammation and learned about how it affects our bodies.  All kinds of diseases have a root cause in inflammation. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Depression, Gut health, Heart, Crohns, IBS, Allergies, ADD, Diabetes, Psoriasis and others. Inflammation in the body is a big deal.  My brain synapses were really going off, I was connecting all the dots in my mind of how one thing directly affects the next.  

In July, the Gundry website came back into my mind.  It just came to me, like someone whispering in my ear to go look at that again.  I listened, and I revisited the website. I studied it and I bought his book “The Plant Paradox”. A paradox is defined as a statement that produces a contradictory outcome, yet provides proof for something that goes against what we intuitively believe to be true. The Gundry Plant Paradox is a lectin free, mild/moderate Ketogenic way of eating.  Translated Gundry promotes eating healthy fats, lots of veggies, and small amounts of healthy proteins.    It made complete sense to me. He wrote about disease and how food directly affects the overall health of the body.  Alternatively, how poor food choices negatively affect the body.  I began the Gundry Plant Paradox eating plan in mid-August. Now entering my 11th week I am still going strong and doing well on the program.   My appetite has completely returned and although I have not gained weight it will come in time.  The food is delicious, and I have become quite the little chef if I do say so myself.

Regarding the Paradox, those of us my age were told growing up “Fat is bad for you, it gives you heart disease and makes you fat”. Instead we were encouraged to eat sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, diet drinks and simple carbs.  Those foods are harmful to our bodies.  They contain neuro and excitotoxins, look that up if you want some late-night reading.  It is not a debate. Put down that diet Coke, in fact put down Coke period.

 The old saying “We are what we eat” can now be expanded into “We are also what they ate”.  Translated if we aren’t eating organic, pasture raised poultry/meat and wild caught fish we are eating what that animal ate.  Including the GMO feed, hormones and antibiotics.  This is not goodness.  The increase in ADD/ADHD and disease expression across all categories has escalated exponentially due to our food supply.   Today, no one with any kind of access to information would dispute this except maybe Monsanto and Dow Chemical. 

Healthy fats depending on your personal body chemistry are very good for you. Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, small mouthed cold-water fish and certain nuts are at the top of the list. Organic pasture raised chickens, organic vegetables, eggs, avocados and leafy greens of all kinds should be in your diet.  My personal favorites include: Kalamata Olives, artichokes, coconut ice milk, pistachio nuts and a couple squares of 90% dark chocolate!  It's interesting when I talk to people about eating fat, often the response is “I can’t eat all that fat”, it still rings true in their heads the negative idea of fat.  What is true, is they can’t eat all that healthy fat if they continue to eat simple carbs, drink soda and eat any treat they want.  That combination does not work. It is destructive to your biology.

Healthy eating starts at the personal level.  (excluding places where food insecurity exists and lack of access) We have two choices, we can choose to give our best effort regarding what we put in our bodies or we can participate in destructive habits by eating whatever comes across our path. Our bodies will respond in kind.  For the “haves” we could make healthy choices. It matters what we eat. This much I know is true.

Circling back, what motivates a person to get started on a healthy path?  May I suggest a phone call or an e-mail from your Doctor.  It’s when the doctor says, “Hey your cholesterol is high, your sugar is high, your stress test came back iffy” or someone close to you gets a disease. Maybe you have a family history of specific diseases or you just plain don’t feel well.   For women many times it’s when we hit menopause and things change very rapidly like it did for me.  This is when we “Wake up”. We realize the fragility of life. It becomes important to make better choices. It’s the time in our lives when we take stock of our choices, we voice our regrets and hopefully we are motivated to try and do better. This includes our diet.

I’ll end with a hospice story.   After ten weeks of the Gundry Plant Paradox I went to the personal care home (the pauper house) where my hospice patient resides. I typically go early on Saturday mornings to visit and help serve breakfast.  This past week I arrived as the cook was loading the plates with food.  It was pancakes, syrup, whipped cream from a spray can and strawberries.  The whole meal made me feel sick because every single part of it was loaded with sugar. Then we top it off with coffee, fake cream and two packs of sugar. Sugar is one of the worst things you can put into your body.  It is a leading promoter of cognitive decline and disease.  Out of the 17 people that come out to the general dining room each week 13 have some degree of dementia.  It was a soul disconnect for me to serve up that “sugar plate” to these people who are at the mercy of their care givers.   I had to focus on what part of me I could bring to their table and look past the food.  I can’t change that facility. I can’t supply the money they would need to eat in a healthy manner. All I can do is respect the residents as people and engage with them in a positive way.

When I left, I got in my car, put my sunglasses on and tears started running down my face.  Tears for the people who live there and what they eat.  Tears for the animals who are fed unhealthy GMO feed they didn’t ask for in cramped conditions.  Tears for those people who don’t have the ability, knowledge or the money to make better choices. Tears for the “have nots” that their choices and access are limited.

Don’t wait for the doctor to call. Your health is in your hands. Making good choices now will assist you in having a long and prosperous life.

“Choices may be unbelievably hard but they’re never impossible.  To say you have no choice is to release yourself from responsibility and that’s not how a person with integrity acts.”

-Patrick Ness, Monsters of men

Until next time,

Sat nam.