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Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts
Like I mentioned in the Powersheets post on Monday, I have some more details to share about the goal I titled 'How Not to Die Year.' It does essentially boil down to a vegan year, but with a few more nuances. First though, the results of my food sensitivity test!

Food Sensitivity Test Results 

One of the things that John got me for Christmas was a food sensitivity test. I asked for it, of course, so I was very excited to send it back in and get my results. The one I got is from Everlywell (not sponsored but you get some sort of discount with that link if you want to try it out for yourself.) It's fairly straightforward - the kit they send includes two lancets. You prick your finger and place the blood drops on the card with your name on it. Mail it back in and your results come in just a couple of days. I couldn't believe how quickly it came. But yes, if you have issues with blood or needle pricks, this is not for you! I have no such issues so the whole thing took me maybe 5 minutes.

My results? Thankfully, not super highly sensitive on anything they tested for. But a few moderate sensitivities, which can still cause symptoms: cow's milk, eggs, cashews, brewer's yeast, clams, ginger, and yogurt. And to a lesser extent, mozzarella and white mushrooms. I guess I'm not surprised - cheese has always caused issues for me, and most people can't tolerate cow's milk, we all just have it anyway. Lots of reasons for that, from marketing to government subsidies, but that's a post for another time. And I never really ate eggs on their own, but it makes sense why so many desserts turned me off, especially cookies, since eggs are a main baking ingredient. Made my decision to have an all vegan year that much easier. I've never eaten meat, so the only real holdouts for being totally vegan were cheese and chocolate, both things that very much cause some digestive issues for me, along with headaches and flushed skin.

But the other foods on the list did surprise me, and for that, I'm glad I took the test. Because I never would have figured them out on my own through an elimination diet. I mean, cashews? I've never had a visible nut reaction so it wouldn't have even occurred to me to test myself for this, but cashews are the main ingredient in processed vegan foods, like vegan cheese and sauces! No wonder I always say 'I don't like vegan cheese.' What I really mean is 'vegan cheese gives me stomach pains and headaches' but I guess I only knew that information subconsciously. 

And brewer's yeast? I mean, why would I even consider that the problem. I knew certain beers were bugging me and causing headaches, but in America, beers are required to be yeast free so it's all filtered out. I assumed it was a gluten or sugar problem (in a fun turn of events, gluten is an absolute 0 on the reaction scale for me, I have no sensitivity to it whatsoever), but apparently the effects of the yeast in the beer before the filtering is enough to cause issues. It's also present in wine, which explains why I also get an instant headache from wine and dislike it so much. Oh, and it's in soy sauce, so it probably wasn't the high sodium in Chinese food that was bothering me, or at least not solely. It was this tricky brewer's yeast.

How Not to Die Year

This title comes directly from the book by Dr. Greger. I've mentioned this before, it's one of my favorites. As is the corresponding cookbook. At the end of the day, it's a book advocating for a plant-based lifestyle. Each chapter contains information on the leading causes of death for Americans, mostly diseases that can be prevented through eating the proper nutrients. Nutrients that come only from a well-rounded plant-based diet. And specifically through avoiding all of the bad stuff we already know leads to clogged arteries and more, like meat, trans fats, dairy, and processed who knows what. It's a fascinating read, and one that I'm working my way through again right now. This time with little sticky tabs to mark the most important passages.

Last year, I worked on the Blue Zone Living Challenge, which is very similar in terms of what to eat, but also emphasizes the importance of things like family and community connections, regular daily movement, and regularly de-stressing. I tackled these other aspects really well, but not so much the food aspect. So I wanted to focus on that this year, which made the How Not to Die plan a better fit, because it's much more detailed about the 'diet' plan. It's not actually a diet designed for weight loss, but a whole vegan diet based lifestyle change.

Although the book contains tons of scientific studies and detailed information, the author was able to condense it down into the Daily Dozen plan, and provides a free app to track your days by. It's incredibly straightforward. Each day, Dr. Greger recommends eating 3 servings of beans, 1 of berries, 3 of other fruits, 1 of cruciferous vegetables, 2 of greens, 2 of other vegetables, 1 serving of flaxseeds, 1 of nuts and seeds, 1 of herbs and spices, and 3 of whole grains. I would never remember the full count on my own so the awesome thing is, the app tells you exactly how much constitutes a serving, and offers a full list of foods to eat to cover that serving. Plus you get a nice little box for each serving to make a check mark in. It even includes space to check off your water intake, moderate daily exercise, and your B-12 supplement. 

Now, I may not hit every check mark every day, but the closer I can get, the healthier my eating habits. If I include all those things into my day, I wouldn't even have room in my stomach for anything else on the more unhealthy end, like cheese and processed grains! I'm someone who needs a lot of guidance and hand-holding in making my meal plan for the week, so something this structured is exactly what I'm looking for. Plus, the recipes in the cookbook (and I've loved everything I've made so far) note at the bottom which serving and how many of them they check off.

So this year, I'm mainly aiming to stick to a vegan diet so I'm not triggered into physically feeling bad by eating the things high on my sensitivities test. And the Daily Dozen plan is definitely the best way for me personally to make sure I'm getting the nutrients I need across the board, without feeling stressed and overwhelmed when making a meal plan. To consider this a win or give myself an A at the end of the year, I need to: (a) stick to a vegan diet, (b) cut out processed foods, even vegan ones like frozen fake meat burgers or nuggets, (c) take my damn vitamins daily and not sporadically like I currently do, and (d) end the year with completely normal blood test results. Which they mostly were this year, just insanely low on vitamin D and a little too high on some of the 'bad' markers.

If you have an vegan (cashew free!) recipes or meals that you love, please share. I'm always looking for new options.

Have you taken a food sensitivity test? What gives your immune system issues?

How Not to Die Year (and Food Sensitivity Test Results)

Friday, January 7, 2022

If you've been reading for awhile, then you'll know that I attempted to go 'no sugar' over the summer of 2021. And I did great all the way up to Halloween candy. Damn that candy. I don't even like it! It's just that addicting. So I decided to tackle this goal again, and get more months and good habits under my belt before the holiday season hits. No sugar 2022 it is.

No added sugar, I should say, because some whole foods are perfectly healthy for you but contain sugar (fruit! quinoa!) and are not off the table this year. But everything else is, because sugar, namely fructose, is poison. Don't believe me? You simply must watch the most interesting hour and a half video on YouTube. There are so many obesity related diseases rampant in America and no matter how many no carb, no fat, no meat, no ___ diets people try, Americans are still fatter and more unhealthy than ever. And it's directly correlated with sugar. (And seed oils, but I don't eat much of those anyway so one problem at a time.)

The No Sugar Science

Sugar, namely fructose, is highly addicting. The more you eat, the more you want to eat - the average American eats half a cup of sugar a day. Drinking something with fructose (juice or soda) before a meal actually makes you eat more. Unlike drinking a glass of water which fills the stomach the same way, but makes you eat less. So sugar itself may not be highly fattening, but it encourages you to eat so much more, leading to weight gain. And the cycle only gets worse because, like any other drug, the more you consume sugar, the more you need to get the same high and satisfy the craving. Which is why quitting cold turkey for an extended period of time makes the most sense - it's hard to just limit intake on addicting substances.

Sugar also lowers your immune system, increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol,  heart attacks, certain cancers, fatty liver disease, depression, dementia, and Alzheimers. I'm sure there's more - it's poison. There's a lot of science behind why the glucose in fruit is necessary for humans and why fructose absolutely isn't and blocks insulin but again, I recommend watching the video because science major I am not.

My Own Sugar Issues

Here's the thing I already know - added sugar makes me feel awful. It's an absolute migraine trigger for me. I started paying much closer attention to sugar. Vegan brownies made from dates? Delicious and pain free. Conventional brownies? Sugar crash, including pounding headache, within 30 minutes. It became clear that my issues were all associated with consuming added sugar. And looking back at 2020, when I couldn't seem to get headaches under control, they were highly correlated with sugar intake. When I intentionally started losing weight and eating better (October 2020), the headaches subsided, but it still took me until mid-2021 to make the direct sugar connection.

The added sugar in just about everything makes it really complicated. Bread, ketchup, pizza, tacos, salad dressing, frozen foods, etc etc - everything has hidden added sugar. Because that's what makes it taste good and keep you buying more, so companies keep on adding more. And I need to quit it. It directly over laps with my vegan diet I plan on talking all about in tomorrow's post, but since sugar is such a specific subset, I decided it needed its own goal and its own post.

My No Sugar Year Rules

I'm a rule follower by nature (enneagram Type 1 here, and an ESTJ), so I have to have a list to refer to. I'm also an obliger and extrinsically motivated, which means I need to post about it here and have other people read it in order to remain accountable. So here's what I came up with:

1. No added sugar. It sounds simple enough but sugar really is in everything, and under sneaky chemical names, so it can be tough when determining whether something processed fits the bill. It almost never does, so that means real food - more on that tomorrow. No sugar means: white and brown sugar, cane sugar, powdered sugar, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, maple syrup, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane syrup, honey, agave, fruit juice, sugar alcohols, and artificial sweeteners. I'm sure there's more I forgot, so if I find myself buying something packaged, I need to research the ingredients list to make sure it's not hiding in there under another name.

2. Fruit is fine. Fruit is real, whole food, and it's good for you. It has fiber and nutrients that negate the bad effects of fructose, and fills you up before you even hit danger levels of sugar. So I'll be having fruits often, hopefully daily, but about 3 servings a day or less. (I actually don't like it that much so...) And like I said, a lot of whole, real foods have sugar, like quinoa. That's okay. Fruit juice is still the devil's drink though, no fruit juice allowed.

3. Medication and vitamins are exempted. Is there sugar in my Flintstones chewable vitamin? Sure tastes like it. But I'm not checking the ingredients list because it's the only multivitamin I can ever take regularly. Because I'm 7. So I'm giving myself an exemption for this, as well as any other medication I may need. Because almost all of it has sugar of some sort, but it's obviously not the same thing as a cup of ice cream.

That's it's, three simple rules! Simple in theory, at least, not so much in practice. But that's the point. Let me know if you think there are any hurdles or details I forgot about, so I can include them into my rules list. I love starting with a well-thought out plan.

No Sugar Year - 2022

Thursday, January 6, 2022