Megan’s Musings #4

It’s been a few weeks since my last musings post and a lot has happened since then in my life. Summer is on the horizon which means a big change in routine for me! I love, love, love my kids but also love, love, love having quiet time during the day to think. I am hopeful we will get into a new summer routine that suits us all very quickly. I will need that to stay sane. I’m hoping to be able to carve out some focused time to continue sharing with you but we will see how that pans out. Until then, here’s a peak into some of what I’ve been up to lately….

 

Books

The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving A Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost by Donna Freitas. Scott read this recently and shared many interesting passages with me.

Eat Fat, Get Thin: Why The Fat We Eat Is The Key To Sustained Weight Loss And Vibrant Health by Mark Hyman, MD. I checked this one out purely out of curiosity, not because I’m trying to lose weight or because I even agree with or promote this approach for weight loss or long-term health. However, since I’ve been seeing a functional medicine doctor myself and have been experimenting lately with a higher fat diet, I thought this book would be worth a read. I liked Hyman’s approach to diet in general as he seems to come back to the fact that as a society we have gotten way off track in terms of the things we are eating and that optimal diet is very personal and unique to each individual. While he believes there are definitely overarching principles that apply to everyone (like sticking to whole foods and the more plants the better), the specifics will vary from person to person. I wholeheartedly agree with him on these points! And it certainly sounds like his plan has worked for a large number of people at least in the short term. I also agree that not all fats are made the same and that we should not be afraid of good, whole food (and plant-based in my opinion) fats as they are essential for overall physical and mental health. I’m just not convinced quite yet that there is enough evidence to support a diet that is very high in fat (saturated fat specifically) for long-term health. This blog post from Dr. Alan Christianson popped up in my email box today and it’s funny how he shares his skepticism of the very same thing. I also know that the majority of experts in the plant-based community would agree that high-fat and high in saturated fat in particular is not a good thing. One of these days I will dig into the research myself. Until then, I will proceed with more fat because I need it but not to the extent that a diet like Hyman’s or a keto diet would recommend.

The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity by John Mackey. I haven’t read this but would like to. Dr. Fuhrman mentioned it in one of his recent emails and I’m sure it’s worth checking out.

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker. My counselor recommended this book when we were talking about my interest in minimalism and simplifying life in general. The title says enough for me to know I will like it. BodyWise: Discovering Your Body’s Intelligence for Lifelong Health and Healing by Rachel Carlton Abrams, M.D. I heard Rachel on the Rich Roll Podcast several months back (Listening To Your Body’s Intelligence) and had forgotten about the interview until I heard her again on the Food Revolution Summit. As much as I “preach” listening to the body when I teach yoga I have to admit that it’s been a struggle of mine since I was very young and continues to be a daily struggle. My personal experience and very real struggle with the idea of listening to the body is probably why I want to share it so much with others. It’s what I live every day! I like her approach and the very practical suggestions she offers to guide us toward a more intimate connection with and understanding of our body.

 

Podcasts and Videos

Food Revolution Summit with John Robbins and 24 experts in the food world. The Summit has now ended so you’ll have to buy the package to hear the interviews but, nonetheless, great information and well worth the investment! Or if you don’t want to spring the money for the package, at least check out some of the experts he interviewed as they all have great info to share! If you’re not familiar with John Robbins, he’s of the Baskin Robbins family and passed on the opportunity to follow the path of his forefathers in the ice cream business to pursue fulfilling and meaningful work educating people on the benefits of a plant strong diet and leading the charge for a food revolution in our country. He wrote a great book called Diet For A New America that I highly recommend reading!

The Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields with Adam Alter on Addicted to Tech? Here’s How to Tell (and what to do). Adam’s the author of Irresistable: The Rise of Addictive Technology and The Business Of Keeping Us Hooked. They discuss our addiction to technology and the (far-reaching) ramifications of this addiction and also addictive behavior in general. I have a more detailed post on this topic on the radar!

The Rich Roll Podcast with Rich and Leo Babauta on Leo’s Mission to End Human Struggle – Ruminations on Suffering, Simplicity, & the Power of Mindfulness. Great podcast and this quote from Leo pretty much sums it up when it comes to simplicity – “Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” It sounds so straightforward but how easy it is to get caught up in all the non-essentials of life – all the stuff that preoccupies us and takes us away from the essentials (faith/spiritual growth, relationships, our health, etc.).

Simon Sinek on Millenials in the Workplace. I love Simon and think he puts out great material! In this video, Simon addresses some critical issues around the millennial generation specifically in the area of addiction to technology and the domino affect this has on other areas of life like relationship building. Again, I hope to address this in more detail very soon.

 

“Take 5” With The 5-Minute Journal

One of the most appealing aspects of functional medicine to me is that it is all encompassing and focuses on the mind, body, and spirit. My doctor is very gifted at providing encouragement, hope, and inspiration to her patients and encourages patients to do the same for themselves. To that end, journaling is part of her “prescription” for health. She gave me The Five-Minute Journal at one of my first visits and I love it! I have journaled off and on for many years but often find it hard to come up with something to write about. I know there’s plenty of benefits to just writing whatever comes up but I appreciate the structure this simple journal provides. I’ve already reaped rewards from consistent journaling in the short time that I’ve been doing it. It has helped me focus my mind on gratitude, recognize what feeds and fuels me, speak inspiration, motivation, and truth into myself, and identify areas that I want to prioritize. I wouldn’t go as far to say that it is some sort of magic formula, but there is definitely something to consistently speaking and writing messages of gratitude and optimism.

 

Diet Experimentation – Adding More Fat

Dietary fat is one of those controversial food topics that stir up strong emotions and opinions on both sides of the spectrum. Advocates of both low and high-fat diets seem to make pretty strong cases for their approaches and it’s easy to get lost in the middle of seemingly conflicting information. I feel like I’ve equipped myself with a lot of knowledge and I still have a hard time deciphering the truth!

High-fat diets (like Dr. Hyman’s diet mentioned above and the ketogenic diet) are garnering quite a following lately and conversations around fat seem to be taking center stage in diet/nutrition circles and popular media alike. But fat hasn’t always been a shining star. Do you remember the fat-free craze in the 90s? I was for sure on board that bandwagon! The fat-free / low-fat fad lined up perfectly with the beginning (and most difficult part) of my struggle with anorexia and definitely served as fuel to the fire. I severely limited my food intake in general but was particularly afraid of fat. I remember carrying around a little fat pocket guide and would calculate fat grams like it was my job. I avoided it at all costs. I remember the dietician I was seeing at the time as part of my treatment suggesting I eat a wrap with a few tablespoons of peanut butter and sunflower seeds. There was now way I was going to touch something as fattening as that! Taking her advice was completely unfathomable to me at the time. Of course the focus in the food industry at the time was on alternatives that were far from whole foods and consisted of mostly fat-free and low-fat processed junk foods that were filled with sugar and other crappy ingredients but I was much more comfortable with those things than the dreaded and demonized fattening foods even if they were natural and whole. I lumped all fattening foods into one category in my mind as “bad.” As the years went by I became more comfortable eating more fat but it was always something that I monitored to some degree. I paid more attention to calories and fat than I did on the quality of food I was eating and would choose low-fat and low-calorie options over the regular options.

I’ve spent the better part of my time while following a plant-based whole foods diet over the last 2+ years sticking to higher amounts of whole food carbohydrates and minimal added fats (and no added oils) as this was the approach my friend who coached me along my initial transition took and is also what many of the top plant-based docs recommend (based on very strong science and practical experience based evidence to support it). By adhering to this approach I was able to lower my cholesterol significantly, get my A1C down to a much better number, and overall felt pretty great, however I maintain very low body fat (and weight) for a woman and have struggled with a few issues that have propelled me to try incorporating more healthy plant-based fats in my daily diet and have cut back some on the carb end. I haven’t been tracking anything or trying to achieve a very specific fat/carb/protein ratio but I’ve been eating more fat mostly in the form of nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut-based products, and some oils (coconut, avocado, Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 blend, and MCT. So far, I’ve felt really good overall. My body seems to be adjusting very well to the changes I’ve made other than the fact that I’ve been dealing with a cold pretty much since I changed things up. I’m not sure if this is at all related but I am suspicious since I haven’t had a lasting cold or any other sickness in years. I will be curious to see how I feel after a longer period of time and if/how my health numbers will change as a result.

I’m not sold on a one-size fits all approach to fat consumption (or any other aspect of diet) and realize just as I mentioned above that the evidence pointing to the ills of a high-fat diet is quite strong, so I will proceed with caution. I will also stick to the aspects of diet that I am confident apply to me and all people: optimal diet is personal and unique to each individual, the more plant-based whole foods the better, the closer to the ground the better, if it’s something God made it’s better than something man-made / manufactured, and no two bodies will process all food in the same way. For example, I may be able to eat loads of fresh fruit without experiencing blood sugar spikes while someone else may eat one piece of fruit and experience a spike. Nutrition is complex and our approach to nourishing our bodies will look different based on our own unique makeup, current state of affairs in our bodies, goals, gut health, digestion, our starting point, etc. I get just as frustrated seeing all carbs lumped together in one big category and labeled as “bad” as I do seeing all fats lumped together in one big category and labeled as “bad”. There are not-so-good, good, better, and best options in both categories and the extremes on other end raise red flags for me.

 

Products I’ve Been Trying

Do you like coconut? If so, then you need to try coconut manna/butter. Let me just say that it’s so yummy! I got some to aid in my effort to consume more fat. I’ve seen it on the shelves of many health food stores but I found it cheaper on Amazon. Great for many uses including smoothies, toast, crackers, sweet potatoes, homemade coconut milk, and more.

I saw this coffee flour (made from ground coffee fruit) on the new product shelf at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and passed by without taking a look at it as I couldn’t think of what I would do with flour that tasted like coffee but when I went again the other day I decided to take a closer look at the package and read more about it. Since Trader Joe’s has an easy returns policy if you don’t like a product, I decided it was worth a try. I looked up coffee flour uses when I got home and found this informative page and several other sites including this with more info on the benefits and uses for this great new gluten-free flour. I put about a tablespoon of it in my afternoon smoothie with a few frozen strawberries and cherries, half a frozen banana, a scoop of protein powder, 1/4 of an avocado, chia gel, greens, and water. I’d agree with the description of the product that it doesn’t taste like coffee but more like rich roasted fruit and it tasted great in my smoothie. I can’t wait to try it in other recipes!

 

Quote For The Day

“He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.” Victor Frankl

Whatever you’re trying to do, if your WHY is strong enough, you will be able to succeed! But first, you must take the time to identify your why(s).

 

I’d love to hear from you! What have you been learning, reading, watching, and/or listening? Please share in the comments section below!