FODMAPS, Gluten, Nocebos, My Upper Arms, Knees, and Toes!

The haters of gluten-free living have been having a great month!

First, everyone reveled in showing those of us who have self-diagnosed as gluten-intolerant the following Jimmy Kimmel video:

Following the logic of this piece, if you don’t know what a carcinogen is, you would be immune to the cancer-causing effects of asbestos or plutonium! Ignorance truly would be bliss!! For the record, I DO know what gluten is (a composite protein of gliadin and glutenin that makes up the endosperm of grains in the family Triticeae, including wheat, barley, rye, and spelt).

A reason for the spike in gluten intolerance, and the rising numbers of people who choose to live gluten free may result form the fact that modern grains have been bred with much larger endosperms containing higher levels of gluten, and, thanks to the Farm Deal, we are being inundated with gluten in baked good, salad dressing, soy sauce, toothpaste and lipstick! I remember a woman who worked at the animal facility in grad school telling me that anyone who works there long enough will develop allergies to animal dander. In other words, anyone -ANYONE- who is exposed to artificially high levels of a potential allergen will develop an allergy to it. And when it comes to gluten, we are all that “anyone”. We are exposed to levels of gluten not seen in nature that we are just not meant to be consuming.

Gliadin

Glutenin

Also this week, the media picked up on a publication where it was shown that “gluten intolerance” may actually result from FODMAPS or “nocebos*.” In a nutshell, a scientist who had previously shown that non-celiac gluten insensitivity is responsible for certain digestive issues redesigned the study and determined that Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols, or FODMAPs may be the real culprit. I’m a little science-d out having worked overtime this weekend, so I’ll let wikipedia elaborate on what a FODMAP actually is.

The media jumped all over this report, and in its sadly characteristic modus operandi, distilled the report down into a simplistic talking point without doing any actual journalism, or having someone who understands science explain the study to them in the  monosyllabic words to which they appear to be restricted. First, I do want to reject the point that a lot of my friends on the gluten-is-evil team are saying. This study was well-designed, independently executed and properly peer-reviewed. It was not influenced by “Big Flour”.

However, there are still a couple of things to note about this study, or any scientific study you read. First, Professor Gibson is not the only person studying Gluten. The media has decided that his original paper showing gluten-sensitivity was the only paper ever demonstrating this phenomenon. It isn’t. Here’s a paper that Christina of BodyRebooted posted a couple of months ago. In this study the authors demonstrate that non-celiac subjects develop an immune response to gliadin (a component of gluten). In other words, these people were sensitive to, or intolerant of, gluten.

Another thing to note is that Professor Gibson’s study only looked at a specific set of issues related to gluten insensitivity, specifically digestive issues. He did not examine other issues such as skin health, inflammation-related pain, or longterm outcomes such as obesity, cancer, or autoimmune issues. And nor should he have. No one study can ever be expected to examine every single aspect of a complicated issue like gluten insensitivity. But the fact remains that if he didn’t look for these issues, he can’t make the claim that gluten doesn’t cause them. And to be fair to Professor Gibson, as a good scientist, he hasn’t been making these claims; it’s the media that has been overreaching and misinterpreting his data.

Journalists ≠ Scientists!

When we are trained in science, we are taught to scoff at people who say things like. “Well, I smoked my entire life/never wore a seatbelt/was spanked by my parents/never paid attention in science class, and I turned out fine,” because this is anecdotal evidence, and can be wildly unreliable. A good example of this is Winston Churchill, who smoked cigars every day and lived until he was 90. Based on that evidence you may think that you can smoke your way to longevity. However, if you look at a sample of 100 smokers, or 1000 smokers, or 1,000,000 smokers, you will see that the projected life expectancy for smokers is actually quite poor.

Your new Health Guru!

That said, here’s my N=1 anecdotal evidence:

When I came to DDP Yoga, I was absolutely certain that I would never give up gluten. I was firmly in the you-either-have-celiac-disease-or-you-don’t camp, and I knew for a fact that I was not allergic to it, and that it wasn’t causing any of the lifelong issues I had. In fact, it had never been suggested to me that gluten could cause anything other than digestive problems, so its role in skin problems and my chronic knee pain wasn’t even on my radar. In other words, there definitely weren’t any psychosomatic effects (or “nocebos”) in my case.

I cut gluten during the course of my weight loss simply as a calorie-controlling mechanism, and I wasn’t expecting anything else in terms of benefits to my health. I have written about the benefits to my knee pain before, so I will be brief here. Cutting gluten prevented a large amount of knee pain that I had suffered with for years. Doing DDP Yoga certainly had a role in resolving this issue, but I have noticed that when I accidentally consume gluten or dairy, I have flair-ups of pain. I often don’t find out that I had consumed gluten until after the pain happens, and I retroactively investigate why it happened, so we can eliminate “nocebos” as the cause.

More recently, I had a amazing revelation of the power of GF living. For my entire life, I have had nasty, scaly, dry red bumps down the back of my upper arms and on my legs. I have tried everything to get rid of them. On the (lazy) advice of a doctor, I spent months at a time religiously moisturizing them. I tried exfoliating, I tried wrapping them at night, I tried old wives’ tales. Everything. And nothing worked so I just gave up trying. I completely gave up on trying to get rid of them over a decade ago. The other day, I was working on my computer, and crossed my arms as I thought about what I wanted to type. In doing so, I felt the skin on the back of my arms, and realized that it was completely soft and smooth! I couldn’t’ believe it. Some light Googling lead me to learn that gluten may cause dry scaly issues. This is yet another example of GF living resolving an issue that I didn’t even know gluten was causing! I have also written about the role of gluten in another skin issue here.

Photo on 5-19-14 at 8.46 AM

The bruise by my elbow is from running the Tough Mudder… DDP Yoga turned me into a M%^&*# F&^%$in’ Monster! But the rest is baby smooth!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t close by saying that as a scientist, I fully understand that FODMAPs may be responsible for the issues I had with both my skin and my knees (as well as digestive issues and weight, which I had but didn’t elaborate on in this piece). By excluding gluten from my diet, I will inadvertently remove FODMAPs from my diet too, and therefore experience the benefits of a FODMAP-free diet through GF living. If that is the case, great! I will continue to live GF, and I will continue to be healthy. I honestly don’t care which specific molecule was causing dry skin, chronic knee pain, acne, overweight and bloating/gas. I have found a healthy, whole-food diet through the DDP Yoga plan, and I am NEVER going back!

In all reality, humans are a heterogeneous bunch, and the answer may be “all of the above”. Some people may have celiac-based gluten intolerance, whereas others may have non-celiac sensitivity. Others still may be allergic to FODMAPs, and some people may have no issues with gluten or FODMAPs. I know this doesn’t fit the simplistic, one-size-fits-all talking points the media likes to use, but you shouldn’t be getting your scientific information from a journalist anymore than you should be expecting a professor of archeology to keep you up to speed on current world events!

I will make one last plug for the gluten-is-evil theory, and why I think gluten, and not FODMAPs, were responsible for my particular issues. The first time I went vegan back in 2009 (pre-DDP Yoga), I loved making Gluten Sausages. The main ingredient in these sausages is pure gluten, so we can eliminate FODMAPs as the culprit. I would make batches of 6 – 12 sausages at a time, and they never lasted very long. While they were delicious, over time I started noticing that if I ate them for more than 2 days in a row (which I often did), I became severely constipated for up to two weeks at a time and, well, this T-shirt explains the rest…

TMI, Darling!

 

Okay, so there was nothing in this piece about my toes. I just liked that song as a kid!

 
*This is an obnoxious neologism. We already had a term for this phenomenon; it’s called a psychosomatic response. And while you’re at it, take back “Aha moments” Oprah; the correct word for this is “epiphany”!
** Yeah, Dairy is bad too! 

Now, You Kn-oatmeal

It’s sad when bad things happen to good puns, huh? If you have read any number of my posts, you would be forgiven for accusing me of holding an overly-inflated opinion of DDP Yoga and thinking it can do no wrong. Well, if that were the case, this is the post for you! The DDP Yoga nutrition guide to which I adhere says oatmeal is fine in Phase 1, but not thereafter. While I adhere to Phase III in most every other way, “you can pry the [oatmeal] from my cold, dead hands!”

Yes, I do!

I have replaced all the nasty, gluten-filled cereals I used to eat with oatmeal, and until recently I was eating instant oatmeal because mornings in our house start around the 5th snooze, and culminate with frantic shoving of people and goods into the car after 10 – 20 minutes of chaotically trying to get everyone, including a toddler, ready. Anything to cut down on time is a welcome assist. However, I had been worrying about the chemicals that might be lurking in my breakfast bowl. Everyday we learn about some awful additive that big companies are shoving into our food supply, and failing to inform us thanks to a complete lack of regulation. I had been told that the only difference between real and imitation vanilla extract was whether pods or bark were soaked in alcohol until I checked the label in the imitation vanilla extract in our cabinet. Somehow propyl glycol had worked its way in there. I understand that it has GRAS status from the FDA, but I also know that means nothing. As I strive to eat actual food without strange chemicals, the vanilla extract wound up in the trash can! I had similar concerns about oatmeal. What strange chemical process was being employed to make oatmeal’s cook-time plunge from upwards of 45 minutes down to 1-2 minutes. I was worried that I was consuming large amounts of organic solvents or chemicals with lots of numbers and hyphens in their names. This process seemed like the kind of opportunity to introduce poisons into our diet that the food industry usually revels in.

Well, that’s unsettling!

So, I went to the most reliable and accurate source of nutritional information I could think of*, and started learning about how oatmeal is made “instant.” I was skeptical when the first webpage I read explained that it was simply boiled briefly and dried out in large ovens. Surely some benzenoid organic solvent would be used to speed up evaporating the water? Result after result assured me that was not the case. The next question I had was whether there was any nutritional deficits with instant oatmeal, so once again I employed my top-of-the-line research tool**, and found a lot of conflicting information. Sifting through it, I learned there are three basic types of oatmeal: instant (most processed), quick-cooking (intermediate processing), and steel-cut (minimal processing). Instant oatmeal is made from oat that have been rolled flat, and then boiled and dried out in large ovens. Steel-cut oats are not subjected to these processes. A number of websites claim that the amount of soluble fiber is the same in instant and steel-cut oats, and comparison of the (limited available) nutritional data from online databases yielded the same finding. However, that doesn’t seem to make sense. It seems obvious that the soluble fiber would be lost in the boiling process. One website published a comparison which shows that steel-cut oats contain more soluble fiber than instant oatmeal. In case you don’t know, soluble fiber is extremely important in the diet as it binds and carries fat and cholesterol out of the body and stabilizes blood glucose levels by slowing sugar absorption. From my own experience, I am inclined to believe that information. I have seen when cooking steel-cut oats, a visible amount of soluble fiber collects in the water, and I have found that eating steel-cut oats helps with digestion in ways that instant oatmeal does not.

Yes, I do.

Whatever the case, I am attempting to be as close to a fully unprocessed, unrefined, whole food, vegan diet as I can be. Everything I learn about nutrition has lead me to the conclusion that the less refining a food has gone through, the healthier it is for us. My cabinet is stocked full of organic steel-cut oats and devoid of genetically-modified instant oats. Just don’t tell DDP I am still eating a Phase 1 foodstuff!

* Google
** still Google

Yum, Yum, Yum, Yum, Yum… Delicioso!

If you don’t understand the title…. lucky you!

Arborio rice (risotto) is awful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious. But it’s awful for your health. It’s as highly refined and processed as white rice. You’d be as well to pour a bowl of sugar into your mouth in terms of the spike in blood sugar, and ensuing inflammation. Thanks to a friend in grad school, I was able to find an equally delicious and creamy replacement, and I have spent the last few years fine-tuning variations on my recipe. The following is a base recipe which you can adapt to replace any other risotto recipe you enjoy!

Materials:

  • 6 Bell Peppers
  • 1 Cup Wild Rice
  • 1 Cup Steel Cut Oatmeal
  • 6 Cups vegetable stock
  • 1-2 Cups vegetables (corn shown here)

Method:

In a large pot under medium heat, add the rice and oats. Stir in one ladleful of stock at a time, and stir until all liquid has been absorbed. This should take about 40 minutes. At this point, your wild rice may still be uncooked. Continue to stir in ladles of water until the rice and oats are softened. If you want to speed up this process, precook the wild rice according to manufacturer instructions.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350F and cut the tops off the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds. Place the peppers onto a pyrex dish (I like the 9″ rectangular thin ones… basically, you want it to be tight enough to keep the peppers upright, this will be more of an issue later). Cook the peppers until they are nice and soft and remove from the oven leaving them in the tray (20-25 mins, depending on the pepper and your preference). Turn the oven up to 450.

When the “risotto” is cooked, stir in the vegetables. These can either be frozen or prepared to your liking (caramelized onions for example). Fill the peppers with the risotto mix, and stick back in the oven. If you’re not as strictly simple,whole foodsy as I am, you can top with some GF breadcrumbs. Bake until the rice is brown on top and serve!

Note: you may have some risotto mix left over depending on how big your bell peppers were, and how much vegetables you used. It freezes really well, so just buy some more fresh bell peppers next time you want them, or do anything else you would do with risotto!

photo 3

 

10 Things You Need to Know About Losing Weight!

I’m down 50lbs! Woohoo! More importantly I have kept it off for over half a year now. While there is no one right answer, I have found a collection of things that work, after spending years and years documenting all the things that don’t work! Hopefully, you can skip past all the mistakes I made, and past my learning curve, and grow this list yourself as you discover more things that work!

1. You Need to Workout AND Eat Healthily.

Weight loss with diet alone is difficult; weight loss with exercise alone is impossible. You need to add exercise to your regime because it’s good for you, it builds metabolism-speeding muscle, and it adds a couple of calories to your overall allowance, and having a bit of leeway in your food allowance is going to improve your chances of success. You need to eat heathily for a zillion reasons, many of which are outside the scope of weight loss. Specific to the weight loss, you need to eat healthily (as opposed to some fad diet) because a healthy body, with enough vitamins, minerals, fiber and water will feel full longer, perform better and lose weight in a sustainable fashion. Healthy eating is sustainable for the longterm, so you will keep the weight off once it’s gone, where crazy and unhealthy diet plans won’t offer you long-last results.

2. You Need to Eat Enough.

So, you starved yourself all day so now you can plough into a triple-layer chocolate cake? Great plan! That’s exactly what sumo wrestlers do in order to gain weight before a match. Eating too few calories sends your body into famine mode, which means it lowers your metabolism. Any calories you do eat will hit you like a ton of fattening bricks. And it doesn’t stop there. You’re brain will stimulate your appetite, so you will be spending your entire time miserably battling an urge to binge on junk food. Not fun, and not the path to success. The number of calories you need is dependent upon your gender, your current weight, and your weight loss goals, and should never drop below 1,400 calories/day. In lieu of obsessive compulsive calorie counting, you can find far more success with whole-food, plant-based diets such as a low-meat version of the DDP Yoga Nutrition Plan.

Here’s what a 500-calorie diet looks like!

3. Cut Down on Your Meat Intake.

Why low-meat? Because meat is fattening in two ways. 1. It’s the most calorie-dense thing in the food supply. That means you’re going to be hungrier sooner, despite consuming a heavy calorie load. Second, it has been shown that meat intake positively associates with weight gain, and this associate persists after adjusting for total energy intake, and a decrease in meat consumption improves weight management. Eating 250 gram meat/day gives a 422 gram gain extra compared to a diet with the same number of calories but less meat! In other words, if you have two people both eating exactly 2,000 calories per day amd doing the exact same amount of exercise, one vegan and one meat-eater, the meat-eater will weigh more than the vegan. Again, there’s a slew of health-issues outside of weight loss where meat is concerned. For more information, check out the science-based information at nutritionfacts.org! Also, this goes for any animal product (dairy, eggs, meat). Full disclosure, I am a vegan. That said, I am not a proselytizing vegan; I spend precisely 0% of my time thinking of ways to convert people to veganism. I am more interested in the science of nutrition, and finding ways to enable people to be the healthiest they can be.

You are what you eat… clogged with saturated fat if this wound up on your plate!

4. You are Dairy- and Gluten-intolerant

Dairy proteins and gluten are the most inflammatory things we put into our bodies, and cause a host of issues, both weight-related and other. Sadly, when people try to eliminate these foods from their diet, they tend to cut either dairy or gluten, not both, and they don’t cut them for long enough. The problem is that these intolerances tend to go hand-in-hand so if you don’t cut them simultaneously, you won’t reap the rewards of cutting them. And what are those rewards? Again, we’re limiting this discussion to weight, so on top of relief from bloating and discomfort, you will reduce gastrointestinal inflammation. A healthy digestive system will properly absorb nutrients. As a result, your brain will get the message that whatever nutrient your body wanted has been received and stop triggering your appetite.

No… just, no.

 

5. Take a Multivitamin

In a similar vein, taking a multivitamin first thing in the morning will set you up for less random hunger pangs during the day. Aside from the great benefits of having a well-rounded vitamin and mineral intake, you will avoid falling of the wagon into consuming empty carbs and sugar-loaded junk food. Here’s why: as a protective mechanism against famine and other food-shortages, our brains are little sugar-crazed junkies always craving the next simple-carb fix. When our body runs out of a nutrient, let’s say Vitamin B12, it sends a message to our brains to make us go fetch some. However, that message gets passed via the fidgety sugar junkie huddling in the corner of our brain who rips it up and replaces it with a message saying we need to go get some refined carbs. One large fries or Cinnabon later, we feel sated for about half an hour until our body remember it still needs that B12. So, it sends another go-get-B12 message to our brain, and the whole cycle repeats again and again until we either accidentally eat the nutrient we needed in the first place, or go to bed! Word to the wise, if you are going to take a vitamin with iron, make sure you take it with food… trust me!

Muffins are rich in Vitamin M? Right?

 

6. Good Bacteria

While you’re in the supplement aisle, pickup some probiotics. Acidophilus is great, but it’s worth investing in a multi-strain probiotic. You don’t need to bankrupt yourself buying probiotics, I found a great 6-strain probiotic at the local grocery store for $10 per 60 capsules. It’s a good idea to keep probiotics refrigerated once you get them home, they contain live cells, and the cooler temperatures slow down their activity until you get them into your digestive system! So, what is a probitoic? It’s bacteria… Aagh! Before you freak out, you should know that we all contain bacteria in our digestive systems, and it’s not just there; it’s an active part of our digestion. In fact, people who completely lose their digestive bacteria suffer from malnutrition and diarrhea, and ultimately require fecal bacteriotherapy (which is as gross as it sounds). More interestingly, the bacterial makeup of your digestive system can determine whether you are obese or thin. Studies have shown that when bacteria are taken from humans —overweight or thin—and transferred to mice, mice with bacteria from a thin person stay thin while mice with bacteria from an obese person gain weight! A probiotic can help you develop healthier bacterial flora, and can also help with Candida overgrowth. Candida is a yeast that likes to grow in our guts, and when in excess, can cause bloating and sugar cravings. Bacteria and yeast battle for the same resources, and you can tip the scales against candida with the bacteria of a probiotic (and by cutting out refined sugar and carbohydrates).

Fotor0511154136

One of this pictures is of Acidophilus, the other E-Coli 0157-h7. Good luck choosing which one is safe!

7. Food Doesn’t Come in Packages

In the average grocery store, there are only about 3 or 4 places actual food is sold, and the remaining 90% of the floor-space is dedicated to selling you food-like substances that are chock full of weird and strange chemicals that have never been demonstrated to be safe for human consumption. When you’re shopping, start in the produce section and fill your cart 75% full. Then, head over to the organic section and buy some dried beans/lentils, oats, raw nuts and ingredient peanut or almond butter. Technically these will be in packaging, but that’s because stocking loose lentils or globs of peanut butter on shelves is problematic at best. Then, and only if you must, pick up some organic meat and eggs… but only if you must! Note, you didn’t buy any juice. That’s nature’s answer to soda, i.e. a lot of sugar with no fiber to slow its absorption. Similarly, you didn’t buys any gluten-free flour, vegan mayonnaise or low-fat/sugar-free anything. Don’t replace unhealthy gluten-ful products with equally chemical-laden gluten free versions. Instead find a whole food alternative in the produce section (replace lasagne noodles with zucchini strips, replace cookies with an apple). Et voila, you found the needle in the haystack that is actual food in a grocery store!

Aisle 21: Natural Foods. So, what the heck were you selling on Aisles 1 - 20?!?!

Aisle 21: Natural Foods. So, what the heck were you selling on Aisles 1 – 20?!?!

 

7. Drink Your Water!

Your digestive food is extremely similar to a garbage disposal; you put food into them to be broken down, and you would never dream of using what comes out the other side! We all know that you should never run a garbage disposal without running water into eat, so why would you ever eat food without first drinking water? Drink at least 8 oz of water before you consume any food. This serves a number of important functions in weight management. It stops you from overeating by contributing to an overall feeling of fullness.  It also slows down your food consumption and forces you to be more mindful about eating which is known to help people lose weight. Finally, it helps food transit through your digestive system without causing constipation or bloating. So why did I underline the “before?” Imagine an icing bag with a relatively thin nozzle. If you pour in a large amount of (gluten-free) flour, add the water in second, and then start squeezing, the flour will clog the nozzle, and nasty cement will form at the interface of the water and flour, and most of the water will remain at the top not mixing with anything. If you had pre-filled the bag with some water, and also premixed the flour with some water before putting into the bag, everything would have flowed through easily. Drink a large glass of water before you eat, and continue to drink while you are eating and afterwards too*. And continue drinking throughout the day. 3/4 of the time we think we are hungry, we’re actually thirsty. Dehydration is responsible for most mid-afternoon fatigue… you know, the slump that makes you feel like you need to hit the vending machine for an energy jolt?

“Water, water everywhere. So, let’s all have a drink!”

 

8. There is NO Such Thing as a Superfood

One week we are meant to eat acai berries, the next it’s almonds, then kale, then pomegranates. Each one is lauded as the quick fix to all your health and weight woes, and is usually packaged into a highly processed and refined pill form for your convenience. But here’s the thing, there are no free lunches in nature. Here’s how super-foods are born: Some study looks at an ethnicity or population that tends to have longer lifespans or lower rates of a disease and figures out what they do differently. For instance, we figured out that Chinese men drink a lot of green tea and tend to have lower rate of prostate cancer than men in the US. In response, we spend millions of dollars studying what about green tea offers a protective activity against cancer, and everyone rushes out to buy all the green tea Target has on its shelves. Here’s the rub. Yes, green tea is probably good for you, and probably has a small amount anti-cancer activity. But adding it to your daily intake of triple cheeseburgers, soda, ice-cream and french fries probably isn’t going to ward off cancer. The simple fact is that the old guys in China pair the green tea with a diet of organic, whole foods, mostly vegetables and small amounts of meat and fish. Similar misguiding information is rife in advertising. I saw an ad for some ghastly, refined, sugar-addled cereal boasting that it now contained whole grains, and added that people who eat whole grains tend to weigh less. But that doesn’t mean that eating the whole grains is what makes those people thin. Before cereal corporations started shoving nominal amounts of whole grains into their food-like products, the people who were consuming whole grains were probably also consuming large amounts of whole fruits and vegetables while avoiding animal products, refined sugars and artificial additives. The simple fact is that no one food will get you thin or healthy, nor is it good for you to overdose on any one food. There are no shortcuts to losing weight and warding off disease. You have to overall your entire diet and focus primarily on whole, plant-based foods.

New rule of thumb: don’t eat any food that goes “BANG” or “POW”

 

9. Meditate, Sleep

In the late 80′s/early 90′s there was a huge craze over meditation and self-hypnosis tapes. There were all sorts of promises made of self-hypnosis tapes. They were going to help you attract the opposite sex, lose weight, quit smoking and land a job. Needless to say, none of this worked out; if it had, we’d all be swinging pocket watches in front of our faces to lose weight. However, self-hypnosis or meditation does have some practical applications. Self-hypnosis can be used to relax yourself, relieve stress and anxiety and curb physical pain. I used it to deliver my daughter painlessly without medication, and just today employed those same skills to get through having a rather large tattoo placed on my shoulder. But back to the weight loss! Taking the time to relax and unwind can help relieve the issues that have you heading to the fridge to overeat. There are some great hypnosis tracks available on iTunes and Amazon that specifically target overeating or sugar addiction. Others are available to help you get to sleep, which we know is an important part of weight management for numerous reasons. While hypnosis may not be your thing, find something that helps you to relax while you are awake, and make sure you are getting plenty of sleep.

You are getting motion sick…. motion sick….

10.  Do Your DDP Yoga

When it comes down to it, it works. I tried numerous systems and lost nothing (other than hundreds of dollars in copays for psychical therapy resulting from injuries). With DDP Yoga I lost 50 lbs, and (more importantly) found the motivation to make it a long-lasting and meaningful part of my lifestyle, both the exercise and nutrition components of DDP Yoga. And I have heard that same story over and over around TeamDDP. More and more people who couldn’t find success with weight loss are shedding pound after pound with the DDP Yoga system. Are you the next success story?

BANG!

* If you are prohibited from drinking while eating, I recommend building up to 16 oz of water before eating and a similar amount after your meal. 

Clean Produce

Do you wash your produce? Here are some things you may want to consider:

1. B12

If ever you hear discussion of a vegetarian or vegan diet, once people are done fretting about where you could possibly be getting your protein, they will invariably bring up the complete lack of B12 in your diet. And, it’s true, there is little to no B12 in the vegan diet, and B12 is critically important. But how do you square that with the fact that there are various cultures that eat an un-supplemented, plant-based diet without suffering B12 deficiency. The answer lies in washing (and cooking) our produce. In doing so, we lose the bacteria that live in the soil. Those bacteria take our relatively B12-poor foods and use it to create B12 as they journey through our mouths and into our guts. However, what about all the bad bacteria in or on our food? Shouldn’t we wash them off? Yes. Yes, we should. It would just be nice if we didn’t have to like in the good old days.

2. Bad Bacteria

Remember when you were a kid how you had to eat tainted dairy or undercooked meat to get food poisoning? Now it seems like we can’t go a week without hearing about  sprouts or spinach or cantaloupe crawling with listeria, salmonella or E-Coli. It’s pretty terrifying. That’s not to say that animal products aren’t still lousy with deadly pathogens, but why the vegan diet no longer a safe haven? The short answer is that the modern food supply is unnatural and poorly regulated, and thanks to modern marvels such as prophylactic antibodies, CAFOs and corn-feeding of cattle, the manure (which then goes onto our produce), is teeming with all sorts of pathogenic microbes. Those bacteria end up on the surface of your produce, and then in you. Washing your produce can certainly help, but when you consider that it only takes one E-Coli cell to establish and infection, it seems like a somewhat futile endeavour.

3. Pesticides:

Another reason people rinse their produce is to remove residues of pesticides. Here’s the rub. Water doesn’t budge those chemicals. If it did, they would wash off every time it rained, or anytime the crops were watered. They are specifically designed to be waterproof. If you have purchased conventionally-grown* produce, and want to put even a dent in the chemical concoction it’s coated in, you need to use something like washing-up liquid. Yes, I know it seems completely counterintuitive to use toxic petroleum derivatives to wash other toxic chemicals off something you plan to eat, but the modern food supply is counterintuitive!

 

Before you commit to a Breatharian diet, which I’m said to say is actually a real thing, there are some practical approaches you can take to having a safe and nutritious produce supply. First, you can grow your own produce. If you are going to use manure, make sure it has been treated properly. Fresh manure can harbour E-Coli, but once is has been composted and turned, it is usually safe.

To avoid pesticides in your diet, try to buy as much organic produce as you can. To ensure your own safety, make sure as much of it is locally sourced as possible. To cut down on cost, you can refer to the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list.

Or if you eat a wider variety of produce, you can http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php.

*Here, when we say “conventionally-grown,” we of course mean, “drenched in unnatural, toxic compounds.”

 

Finding the Right Combination

This counts as food combining, right?

I had a recent “spirited debate” about my diet with a friend, and by “my diet” I mean the Phase III nutrition plan of the DDP Yoga guide. The debate centred around whether or not the food combining is a fad diet, or  has some basis in science.

The argument for it being a “fad” is pretty straight forward. The gluten-free, dairy-free and food-combination rules create the same temporary calorie restriction in a similar fashion to the low-carb, low-fat, only eat foods of a certain colour, only eat foods while standing on one foot, or any of the other fad diets you’ve heard about. However, there’s a little more to it than that.

When you think about what we’re meant to be eating, you need to look back to our caveman ancestor, or one branch over on the evolutionary tree to the chimp or the bonobo. The first think you’ll notice is that none of their food comes in packaging, nor is it delivered to them by a waitress; your food shouldn’t be either. Start in the produce aisle and buy whole foods.

The next thing you’ll notice is that their food is not laden with chemical pesticides or fertilisers, or any of the other other zany additives that are in our food-like substances these days. When our cave-dwelling great, great, great…. great-grandparents prepped their food, they did not use two-hundred and forty-something ingredients. Neither should you!

“But Ms. lizDDPyoga,” you say, “it sounds an awful lot like you are promoting the Paleo diet?” Well, yes and no. The Paleo diet has the best of intentions when it comes to eating cleanly and healthily, though I think the DDP Yoga nutrition plan is better for a number of reasons, some of which I will get into here, and offers a stepwise approach that allows you to ease in and avoid getting overwhelmed. The issue I have with the Paleo diet is that it wildly overestimates how much meat our ancestors had access to, or how healthy large amounts of animal products are in the human diet. If you look at our chimp or bonobo cousins’ diets, you find that they are largely vegan. While they do eat some meat, it constitutes less than 1% of their diet, and, if you want to be a fanatical Paleo dieter, you should know that a lot of their animal protein comes from termites, yummy! That said, if you absolutely, positively, cannot or will not go vegan or vegetarian, the Paleo diet is infinitely healthier than the typical western diet, so in that respect I am promoting the Paleo diet.

However, the DDP Yoga diet has some benefits that the Paleo diet lacks. First, as I mentioned above, it has three distinct phases that comprise logical steps to transition from the typical US diet to the healthy DDP Yoga diet. It also contains a lot of wiggle-room to make it your own. For instance, while it does not promote veganism, it is compatible with a vegan diet, or any other restriction you may have in your eating.

Second, and in my mind most importantly, the thing that sets the DDP Yoga diet apart  is the food combining phase. The phrase “combining” is a little bit of a misnomer here. We already combine the foods; the DDP Yoga plan asks us to stop! Again, this may strike you as a little “faddy”. But think back to our ancestors again. Mrs. Cavewoman probably wasn’t combing home with a bushel of apples, sticking them in her cave fruit bowl, going back out to get some lettuce and celery, bringing them home, sticking them in her cave fridge’s crisper, and then hopping into the car to get some eggs. The apples would have rotted, or been stolen by the time she got the eggs. Instead, she probably ate the apples the second she picked them. They were probably long digested by the time she found her celery or proteins.

You may also think, “who the heck cares what Mr. and Mrs. Caveman ate?” The reason it matters, and therefore the reason the DDP Yoga nutrition plan is grounded in reality, is that our digestive system evolved around the availability of food, and eating habits of our ancestors. We were not built to have dozens of ingredients, or different types of foods flooding our digestive system at once. We were built to eat simple, whole foods, and to eat certain foods separately.

Certainly, there is a balance to be struck here, and these food philosophies can very be taken to extremes. But I highly recommend at least trying as many features of the DDP Yoga nutrition plan as you can. You’ll be surprised how great it feels to be healthy!

What DDP Yoga Really Means To Me

I have written pretty extensively on this website about what DDP Yoga has done for me in terms of weight loss, strength-building, flexibility, mastering poses, etc. etc. One facet of improvement that I haven’t been so forthcoming on is the improvement to my mental health, but I think it’s about time I document this in the hopes that it can help others.

From the age of 12 into my mid-twenties, I struggled with eating disorders, mostly bulimia. On a superficial level, I was bulimic in an effort to get to some ideal weight goal or body shape I had in my mind. Ironically, despite the purging of food, there was no overall reduction in weight. But as with all eating disorders, there’s an underlying control issue. The physical act of purging food was enjoyable on some really strange level and was a (wildly detrimental) way of venting. Just to be clear, I am not promoting bulimia as a stress-control method! What little relief comes from emptying your stomach contents is not worth the expense to your mental and physical health. Sadly, I lacked that insight as a 12-year-old and so I became an eating disorder statistic.

To this day, I am not sure why I developed an eating disorder. I don’t know if there was a clear-cut cause, or if it’s just “one of those things.” The reason I never nailed down the source of the problem is that I never went through any eating disorder-specific therapy or rehab. My parents sent me to a general psychologist when they found out I was having problems early in my teens, but I didn’t go for very long, probably because I wasn’t ready for counselling at that point. Instead of ever addressing any issues, I simply became more careful to hide my behaviour. Over the years, I wasn’t consistently bulimic; it was more of an on-off behaviour with me, so much so that I almost felt like an impostor referring to myself as bulimic, as if I were disrespecting the “real” bulimics who were more committed to it (this is probably a prime example of denial)! But I was 100% ON when it came to having the personality that would develop an eating disorder. I was completely dysmorphic in my body image, I had low self-esteem and I never addressed the underlying reasons for those problems.

Somewhere in my twenties, I just sort of stopped. For now apparent reason, I outgrew the behaviour of purging. Note, I didn’t say I outgrew the “binging and purging” habit, just the purging. I didn’t cease purging because of some break-through in therapy; there was no therapy. I just stopped sticking my fingers down my throat until food came up. I still had all the inner demons and issues that lead to the eating disorder. I certainly kept the binging part going, and continued through to my thirties with an extremely unhealthy relationship with food. Where I had previously exerted “control” over food, I now descended into a complete loss of control with food. The rest as they say, is history. I shot up to almost 200 lbs, and became unhealthy and depressed.

In both my controlling “binging and purging” and completely uncontrolled “overeating” phases, I had a negative body image, low self-esteem, unhealthy relationship with food, and other personality problems that come with those issues. I am focusing on the mental effects of eating disorders here, but I obviously suffered all the physical ailments that come with being either bulimic or an overeater too.

When I started DDP Yoga, I did so with purely physical goals in mind: pain reduction, weight loss, improved flexibility. I didn’t have any expectation that DDP Yoga would alleviate my depression, mainly because I didn’t know I was depressed – it’s surprisingly difficult to realise you are depressed in the middle of it, you only realise you were depressed after the fact. Similarly, I didn’t I expect DDP Yoga to fix my body image, my relationship with food, or any other mental health issue I landed on its doorstep with. Why would I? It wasn’t sold to me as a mechanism to do any of those things. I was sold a workout system that would help me lose weight and improve my strength, and that’s what I hoped it would do.

DDP Yoga certainly delivered on those promises! As I have written about (extensively) before, DDP Yoga got me to a healthy weight, with an athletic body fat percentage, and enabled me to achieve many feats of strength and flexibility that I had never dreamt of before. Through some combination of the cardio and strength-building from the DDP Yoga workouts, and the healthy eating from the DDP Yoga nutrition plan gave me a healthy, strong body.

But DDP Yoga did more than that. After reaching my goal weight, and maintaining that weight for a number of months, some thing really amazing happened. For the first time in my life, I stopped caring about my weight, or any physical measurements for that matter. I realised that I had made peace with my body. I now feel united with my body, where once it had been an enemy that I battled with, and I fought dirty. Now, I am motivated by a desire to make my body healthy and strong. I respect my body and I want to treat it as well as possible for my long term health. When I am trying to get something out of my body these days, it’s on the order of mastering a new Yoga pose, or completing a feat like a full marathon. I am not trying to bow to some societal pressure like getting a “thigh gap” or hitting some arbitrary number on a scale. In fact, because of marathon training, I recently gained a few pounds, and I was delighted, because I know that weight went on as muscle and it means I am getting strong enough to run a full marathon.

I am not at the summit of perfect mental health. I still struggle with overeating and sugar-addiction, but that is now purely a physical issue. What I mean by that is that I will eat my way to the bottom of a packet of gluten-free, vegan cookies because sugar is more physically addictive than heroine. But I am not eating my way there in some vain attempt to find love or fill some empty part within myself. I have love, and that love comes from within. I love myself and I love my body. I am happy and I want to continue to get strong, inside and out. I will address my sweet tooth in an effort to be healthy. But that’s all it is now: a garden-variety sweet tooth. I am no longer bulimic. I never again will be bulimic. Nor am I depressed, or unfulfilled, or suffering from body dysmorphia.

I don’t know what about DDP Yoga worked for me where other exercise systems, school counsellors or psychologists failed before. I know I have enjoyed the fact that DDP Yoga is fun, effective and challenging. I have felt so grateful for the fact that DDP is unique in how genuine he is, and how legitimately concerned he is with the health, well-being and success of those that do DDP Radio beyond just getting us to buy his program. I have certainly been honoured by receiving praise from DDP from shout-outs on DDP Yoga all the way to winning the DDP Yoga challenge, and the trust that has been placed in me as a representative of DDP Yoga. I know my physical goals were met because of the completeness of the DDP Yoga exercise and nutrition package, and from a connectedness to the community at teamDDPyoga.com. Somewhere in there is the magic that led me to exorcise my inner demons and fix my mental health once and for all, but I don’t know what specifically accomplished it. But it was accomplished. And for that, from the bottom of my increasingly strong heart, I will be forever grateful to DDP, Craig Aaron and everyone else who has made DDP Yoga what it is.

Thank you.

 

 

 

Shorts: Breathe Easy!

As someone who used to smoke (sad but true), I am very interested in knowing what good I can do for my lungs*. I don’t eat much pomegrannet (blech!), pumpkin, or grapefruit, I do chow down on healthy amounts of the other items on this list!

*Recent research has shown that your cancer risk from smoking doesn’t return to that of someone who has never smoked until over a decade after you quit smoking! Sadly that means, I still have 5 or 6 years to wait it out!

One Year Later

Today marks the first full year of my DDP Yoga journey.

This time last year, I looked into the mirror, and this is what was looking back at me.

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My knees where in chronic pain, I overweight, and I was depressed. I had no energy. Every movement felt heavy and painful. I had spent my twenties trying every diet plan and exercise system you could name, and the picture above was the sum total of those efforts. Now, I was in my thirties. My metabolism was slower, and I had a child to look after. If I couldn’t get the body and health-level I wanted in my twenties when everything was working in my favour, I certainly wasn’t going to get it now. The depression wasn’t restricted to my body image; it seeped out into my marriage, my self-confidence, my enthusiasm for anything.

On April 7th, 2013, after viewing the Arthur video for the umpteenth time, I placed my order for the max pack and joined TeamDDPyoga.com. I did the Diamond Dozen that day, took my 6 pictures, and went shopping for a heart rate monitor. And I haven’t looked back since.

In the past year (and I know I am going to leave many things out):

  • I lost over 50 lbs (8 dress sizes and 2 ring sizes)
  • I became the co-first female DDP Yoga Level 1 Instructor with Christina Russell
  • I won the DDP Yoga Challenge with Christina
  • I ran a half-marathon, two obstacle races, and several other 5 and 10Ks
  • Mastered dozens of “impossible” poses
  • Met DDP!
  • Changed careers and became a DDP Yoga Instructor

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But that list doesn’t scratch the surface of what DDP Yoga has done for me. I have happiness and confidence both within myself and in the things I do like never before. I am a better mother and wife, because I am not held back by depression, and I can run around with my daughter (or do DDP Yoga together) because I feel light and free from knee pain.

I also feel like I can do anything now. In the run up to starting DDP Yoga, I was working for an extremely abusive boss who spent his time telling me I couldn’t do anything right, and I spent the years I worked with him internalising that criticism and extending it to anything I thought about trying. Now, I walk into job interviews or any new challenge with my head held high knowing that I am smart, strong and capable.

I feel healthy, light and strong. I have met my weight goals, but more importantly, I have learned to stop caring about weight (that statement is a HUGE achievement coming from someone who had an eating disorder – bulimia in case you’re curious- from age 12 into her twenties). I am now more interested in achieving feats of strength like running a full marathon, or nailing Forearm Balance. My low weight is merely a side-effect of my healthy lifestyle now.

mara

DDP Yoga has given me the gift of connection through everyone at TeamDDPYoga.com, and I know that my success, as well as the assurance I have that I won’t fall off the wagon in the future comes from all the love and support I receive from my friends there.

DDP Yoga has given me so much. It was the best decision I ever made.

Thank you DDP, Craig Aaron, and everyone at TeamDDP xoxo

 

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