Which Diet Should I Try?

I am asked regularly what I think about this diet or that diet. Adkins, Ketogenic, low-carb, Eat Right for Your Blood Type, etc. Usually my answer is some variation of this: Most of us eat too many processed foods, high fat meat, refined flours, sugars, and not enough healthy fresh plant foods including vegetables, fruit, whole, diverse grains and healthy sources protein. In addition to that, I recommend people eat organically grown and minimally processed food as much as possible. We should limit our consumption of pesticides, additives (preservatives, food dyes, etc.), foods made with hormones, antibiotics and GMO.

I have recently read (and re-read) Grain Brain, South Beach Diet and Diet Cure. My answer is still the same.

While there are more and more books coming out all of the time and new and updated theories about what we should be eating and not eating, the popular book “The South Beach Diet” written in 2004 (updated in 2009) is still a good overview of what a balanced diet can look like, and allows for the reader or “dieter” to enjoy foods they love. Importantly for our current state of simple sugar over-consumption, the book offers a specific detox plan to help purge the sugars and manufactured carbohydrates out of the body. The detox program helps with cravings, weight loss, food intolerances and more, and it only lasts a couple weeks. The plan also allows for more and more freedom as you progress from week to week.

I do feel that the South Beach Diet includes too many animal sources of protein for my preference however.

As I often say, education is ideal. The more understanding one has about nutrition the more freedom one has to choose and therefore  the more likely they are to be successful. For any diet to be successful you should look for doable lifestyle changes, not strict diets or regimented menus which are limiting and therefore unsustainable.

As I say in my book “A Nutrition Revolution”, learn to fish rather than being sold a fish- as the old saying goes- and you will have more freedom, choices and will therefore be more likely to be successful. Check out my book for more on this and to gain a better understanding about nutrition and why many of us are stuck on a perpetual diet and sickness wheel (hint: ignorance and $$$) and what we can do about it.

I have included my favorite recipe from The South Beach Diet for you to check out. To make it completely plant based, vegan cheese can be substituted for mozzarella. Enjoy! Be healthy and happy.

Portobello Pizza

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine oil and garlic in a small bowl and rub the mushroom caps on all sides with the mixture.
  2. Place caps, top side down, in a circle on an oiled baking sheet.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Arrange the cheese, basil, and tomato slices alternately in a circle on top of the mushrooms.
  5. Sprinkle with oregano, if using.
  6. Bake at 450 until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes.

Heal the Planet, Heal Yourself

You try to eat healthy. You buy organic. You travel to the farmers market whenever you can to get fresh, local produce. You try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink the proper amount of water. You exercise. So how much is this helping, in this toxic environment? Is this enough to stay healthy? To keep cancer at bay? Asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease? How much does the environment affect you, despite your “healthy” choices? What if anything can you do about it?

These are the questions that come to mind when I try to do the right thing. I can’t help but wonder how the environment (air, soil, water) is affecting my food, body, mind and health, despite my best efforts.

Food, the environment and our health are inextricably linked. What we do to our planet, we do to our food – and to the air and water – and then to ourselves. Food grown and produced in an unhealthy environment is unhealthy. We introduce toxic chemicals into the food, air and water supply and then it enters our bodies. Pollution exits our tailpipes and factories and infiltrates the environment, and our bodies. This causes cancer, asthma, allergies, birth defects and more. The planet is changing, temperatures are rising and as a result farmland and crops are being affected. This can be overwhelming to think about and make one wonder, what can I, “little old me” do about it?

The health of the environment is definitely a problem, and needs to be addressed. At the same time, what we put into our bodies does matter. We should eat quality food, drink plenty of water, exercise, work to reduce stress, etc. Lifestyle choices do affect health. For instance, many healthy plant foods have proven cancer fighting abilities. Components of plant foods help the body to flush toxins out, before they can do harm like cause cancer. A healthy diet and lifestyle also have many other health benefits, including reducing stress  – a major cause of disease – and the risk of diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. So it does matter, but it ALL matters. We must also do what we can to help heal the planet. But where do we begin?

What can I do to help heal this floating blue ball we call Earth that must heal and sustain us?

I recently watched the documentary (with a long, awkward title): “How to Let Go of the World and Love all the Things Climate Can’t Change”. I was inspired and better understood what is going on with our planet, on a macro level. On a micro level, I firmly believe that awareness is the key to solving these and other problems. One person at a time, one click at a time, can change the world. If you can access this documentary, I recommend watching it and please spread the word. Share with all of those you can. We can do this, but only if enough of us wake up and demand change.

 

Vegan Baking for the Layperson

Allrecipes.comVegan for the Holidays

By Elizabeth Kahn, Dietitian and Wellness Educator

It is possible to survive off of – and even bake with – plant food alone. People who do not consume any animal products are called “vegan” or someone who eats a plant-based diet (the term vegan also refers to someone who lives strictly without any animal products). I have known a few incredible “vegan” cooks and have tasted, and now make myself, some of their delectable dishes. Vegan desserts can be especially delicious.

Why have a vegan diet or plant based diet? The majority of Americans consume too many animal products and not enough plant foods, and therefore, most people in this country should probably become more “vegan”.

Plant foods are extremely healthy. Plant foods have more vitamins and minerals and less saturated fat and cholesterol than animal products. Plant foods also have far fewer calories than animal products do, overall.

Eating a carnivorous diet may be purely due to habit and limited knowledge about vegan cooking. It may then help to know a few tricks of this healthier cooking trade.

Vegan Baking

In baking, one medium banana and a teaspoon of baking soda, or soy yogurt can be used to replace one egg. This can add moisture and improve taste. Plant milk (coconut, rice, almond, hemp) can be used in place of cow’s milk in recipes, and vegetable margarine can be used instead of butter.

Like most any skill, vegan cooking can be learned. Try these and other recipe substitutions and not only will you be eating more plant foods, which most of us need to do anyway, but you will also reduce your total caloric intake, have more energy and will look and feel healthier. Cheers to a happy holiday season and to good health! Happy baking.

The Power of Thought Over Health

Practicing Positivity with “The Four Agreements”

By Dietitian and Wellness Educator, Elizabeth Kahn

There are many studies that show the mind has a powerful effect on the body. We all know that we can control our thoughts, but how many of us actively do? Since our thoughts, like diet and exercise, determine body function, we should also practice healthy thinking.

The Power of Thought Over Disease

Many research studies show that positive thinking is an effective tool in the fight against cancer and other diseases.

Stress is a leading cause of disease. Stress can be reduced with modified thinking as stress levels are based on an individual’s interpretation of how stressful something is. Basically, if we believe an event is stressful, our bodies will respond accordingly. The reverse is also true. So, how do we control our thoughts in order to remain disease and stress free?

Recently, I benefitted from reading The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz. This book is a great tool to learn how to move our thoughts, and our behaviors, into a healthy direction. This book dramatically changed my thoughts and life, and so in honor of the holidays and your health, I will summarize the four agreements.

The first agreement: Be impeccable with your word. Your word is your power to create and is how your intent manifests. The word is a force, the power you have to express, communicate, think and create the events in your life. The word is like a double edged sword. It can create a beautiful reality or cause destruction around you. Your word can be pure magic, but, to misuse the word is what the author calls black magic. Too often words are used that injure or create fear. Impeccable means “without sin”, so to use your word impeccably means to speak without sin, or with good intent. In other words, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

The second agreement: Don’t take anything personally. This one is a bit more self-explanatory however, for most people it is easier said than done. If someone sees you on the street and says, “Hey, you are stupid.” it is not about you it is about them. If you take it personally, perhaps you believe you are stupid. How would this person know if you are stupid or not? Is he psychic?  Ruiz points out that this second agreement is based on the first as if we are all impeccable with our word, we will not shout comments at others like “you are stupid” nor will we speak that way to, or believe these negative things about, ourselves.

The third agreement: Don’t make assumptions. The first thought that comes to my mind is the wife or girlfriend who pouts without saying a word hoping the husband or boyfriend will figure out what is wrong (I of course have never done this!). Most men are not psychic and he is therefore probably not going to figure it out, unless she tells him. This is the idea behind the third agreement. Don’t assume people know your wants, needs or expectations; communicate them instead to avoid hurt feelings and arguments.

The fourth agreement: Always do your best. This agreement allows the other three to become deeply ingrained habits. Doing your best can mean doing better one day than another, as your best will vary depending on whether you are tired or well rested, unwell or healthy, but always do your best—no more and no less.

There is a reason this powerful little book was on the New York Times Bestseller List for over seven years. I highly recommend it to adjust your thoughts, improve your health and change your life.

This book will also make a great gift. Giving a positive gift like this may also boost your health as there are studies that show acts of kindness improve the mood and health of those who perform, receive and witness them.

There are many of us who can benefit from improving our thoughts and therefore our health. Additionally, when I see television commercials with wives criticizing their husband’s laundry folding abilities and those that condone lies and humiliation, as well as programs like “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” and those with characters that regularly insult each other, it only enforces my already held belief that our society can benefit in many ways from practicing The Four Agreements.

May peace, love, positivity and kindness always be with you. Happy holidays!

Resources:

Ruiz, M. A. (1997). The Four Agreements. Amber-Allen Publishing; San Rafael, CA.

 

 

Example of a Personal Diet Analysis

By Dietitian, Wellness Educator and eHow Contributor, Elizabeth Kahn

A personal diet analysis is where a dietitian or nutritionist evaluates the daily diet of an individual to determine its healthfulness. There are many reasons that diet analysis can be necessary. An individual may have health concerns or problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obesity, diabetes and Crohn’s disease. There are many in Western society who would benefit from diet analysis as many of the typical Western diets are out of balance nutritionally and this can cause a host of diseases and other health problems

Software, Online Tools

There are software packages that can be used at home. This would involve the individual entering his or her daily food intake into the computer and allowing it to do the diet analysis. The diet could then be modified and re-entered until the right nutritional content was reached. Many dietitians do this for their patients. The software costs anywhere from $2 each month (online) to $800 for the software dietitians use. There are also free tools for diet analysis, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s tool, MyPyramid.gov.

In-Person Diet Analysis

There are dietitians and nutritionists who do one on one counseling. Many nutritionists
charge under $100 per hour. Thirty to 90 minutes per week for several weeks
(approximately 10 weeks) would be sufficient for most people.

Food Journal

In person, individualized nutrition counseling typically involves the patient or client
keeping a diary or a food journal of what they eat each day. Most food journals
are kept for a few days to a few weeks. The diet is then evaluated for
nutritional content, balance, calories, portion sizes, fat and carbohydrate
intake, etc. The nutrition expert will then review the journal and make suggested
changes to the patient or clients diet.

Example of a Daily Food Diary

Breakfast:

2 eggs

2 tbsp. butter

1 piece white toast

3 cups coffee

Lunch:

1 hamburger

1 large fries

1 large soda

Snack:

1 cup barbecue potato chips

Dinner:

2 cups chicken casserole w/potatoes, cream of chicken soup, cheddar cheese,
onions

1 french roll

Dessert

1 cup chocolate ice cream

Problems

This diet is high in cholesterol, calories and saturated or “bad” fat. This diet
is also high in processed foods including white flour that have many nutrients
such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids removed. As a result, this diet is
also low in fiber. While it does contain a sufficient amount of protein, it
actually contains too much. This diet also contains enough servings of grains but
not enough whole grains as guides like the food pyramid intend. The body
responds similarly to white flour as it does to sugar, so it should be
considered more of a sugar than a grain although it does contain some
nutrients. Sugars and fats have a thin stripe on the food pyramid, meaning we
should limit our intake of those things. This diet is too high in the fats and
sugars and needs more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Foods like fruits,
vegetables and whole grains contain many important nutrients such as vitamins,
minerals, amino acids and fiber, which this diet and many typical Western diets
are lacking in.

Recommendations

A nutritionist or dietitian would suggest something like the following:

Breakfast:

1 egg

1 tbsp. canola oil margarine

1/2 apple sliced

1 piece whole-grain bread

1 to 2 cups green tea or juice

Lunch:

1 tuna sandwich on whole-grain bread w/lettuce and tomato and 1 tbsp. low-fat
mayonnaise

(or 1 turkey or veggie burger on whole-grain bread with lettuce and tomato,
ketchup and mustard, 1 tsp. mayo if desired)

1/2 cup baked chips

1 glass water or juice

Snack:

1 whole orange or 4 slices of 3-4 inch celery sticks with peanut butter

Dinner:

1 cup chicken casserole with mozzarella cheese, onions, scalloped potatoes,
low-fat milk

1 cup green salad with 1 tbsp. olive oil and vinegar dressing

1 to 2 pieces whole grain bread of their choice (i.e., slices, roll or
baguette)

1 glass water or juice

Dessert: 3/4
cup chocolate frozen yogurt

Explanation of Recommendations

The recommendations made will add many nutrients and will lower the amount of
calories, bad fat and cholesterol. This modified diet is much more balanced and
incorporates the right amount of each food group. There are many ways to modify
an individual’s diet. Personal counseling and interviewing is useful in
determining what types of foods to incorporate into the diet. This diet was
modified by taking the client’s existing choices and making them more
healthful. There are many creative ways to change one’s diet and personal
consulting by a nutrition expert is the ideal method for achieving that and
finding a solution that will last.

Resources

MyPyramid .gov

The American Dietetic Association

Find A Nutrititonist.com

 

Nutrition and ADHD: Alternatives to Focalin and Other ADD/ADHD Drugs

By Dietitian, Wellness Educator and eHow Contributor, Elizabeth Kahn

Focalin or dexmethylphenidate, is a psychostimulant drug commonly prescribed for A.D.D. (attention deficit disorder) and A.D.H.D. (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).  Focalin is a milder version of Ritalin (methylphenidate). As an alternative to such stimulants, there are many successful natural remedies that include nutrient and allergy testing and diet therapy (2: Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Balch 2004).

Primary Treatment

  • Currently the primary course of treatment for sufferers of ADD and ADHD is stimulant treatment. The other more commonly prescribed drugs for these disorders are Adderal and Ritalin.

Nutrition and ADD

  • Nutritional imbalances can cause ADD symptoms. For example, symptoms of hypoglycemia often resemble ADD symptoms. Blood sugar irregularities can mimic ADD symptoms and can be caused by a diet high in refined, processed foods. Food allergies, vitamin, mineral, amino acid and other nutrient imbalances and food additives can cause ADD symptoms.

Nutrition Research

  • There are many nutritional implications in ADD. More and more people are looking for alternative treatments and are turning to nutritional remedies.  In “The ADD Answer,” Dr. Frank Lawlis shows that according to many studies, nutritional remedies such as diet modification and food allergy testing were successful in 70 percent of cases.

Warnings

  • Stimulants are being prescribed to many children, including preschoolers.  These medications are often chopped up and inhaled through the nose and can act as gateway drugs for these children.

 

Resources

 

 

 

Remedy Using Desiccated Liver Powder | eHow.com

By Elizabeth Kahn, eHow contributor

Desiccated liver powder is concentrated, dried liver, usually that of a cow. Liver is a nutrient-dense supplement that can help boost energy, libido, muscle growth, brain power and general health. Liver is a rich source of nutrients such as vitamin A, arachidonic acid, DHA and B vitamins.  Liver contains an unknown “anti-fatigue factor.” Supplements given to rats greatly boosted their swimming endurance. It may be because liver is rich in carnitine, lipoic acid and other energy-related nutrients whose food sources have not been sufficiently researched.


Desiccated Liver

  • Now Foods sells a desiccated liver supplement with minimal additives. Dr. Ron’s sells a grass-fed version of this supplement.

Grass-Fed Liver

  • It is a good idea to use organic, grass-fed liver. For a source of local, fresh, grass-fed liver you can contact your local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter. North Star Bison has great tasting, fresh liver.

To Treat

  • Desiccated liver supplements can be used to treat anemia, low energy, liver disorders, and to build healthy red blood cells and relieve stress.

Vitamin A Concerns

  • Liver is high in vitamin A and consuming an amount of vitamin A over 100,000 international units daily over a long period of time can cause problems such as abdominal and liver problems, hair loss and pregnancy related problems including birth defects.  Watch your overall vitamin A intake while taking this product. Consult your doctor before taking this or any supplement.

Resources

 

 

Food and Diet for ADD | Elizabeth Kahn | Soyouwanna.com

Overview:
  • ADD, or attention deficit disorder, is a name given to a set  of symptoms with an unknown cause that relate to the nervous system. It is  estimated that 3 to 5 percent of children have this disorder. Most commonly  prescribed for these disorders are amphetamines. These drugs stimulate parts of  the brain that are inactive in many sufferers of this disorder. Food and diet  have been helpful in reversing symptoms in 50 to 70 percent of ADD sufferers,  according to “The ADD Answer” by Dr. Frank Lawlis.

Dietary Causes:

  • There are many foods that have been found to cause ADD.  These  include chocolate, dairy products, white flour or gluten, a low-protein diet and others. In one study 74 percent of ADD  sufferers responded abnormally to an insulin test, which means many may have a  problem with sugar. Food allergies often also play a role in ADD, and the culprit foods can be  discovered by doing an elimination diet. Many patients who have been diagnosed  with ADD have allergies to food additives such as dyes, preservatives and  salicylates in food and others.

ADD Diet:

  • An organic diet rich in vegetables, some fruits, whole grains  and legumes can be helpful in determining if dietary factors are causing these  symptoms. Follow the proportions of the food guide pyramid. Avoid dairy  products, white flour, sugar, carbonated beverages and foods that contain a high  amount of phosphates, juices high in sugar, processed foods and foods that  contain salicylates such as almonds, berries, cucumbers, peaches and  tomatoes.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Commonly suspect and foods to avoid include ketchup, fat,  apple cider vinegar, chocolate, corn, ham, chili sauce, mustard, pork, colored  cheeses, refined sugar, simple carbohydrates, butter, candy, luncheon meat, salami, meatloaf, milk,  sausage, soy sauce, milk, salt, tea and wheat. Also avoid antacid tablets, cough  drops, throat lozenges and commercial toothpaste (use only natural  toothpaste).

Recommendations:

  • A nutritionist can help identify what dietary factors, if any,  might be causing these symptoms. Additionally, both lead and copper have been  implicated in ADD, and these can be identified by performing a hair analysis.  Once the food culprits are identified and the diet and body are put back into balance, many of  these foods can be reintroduced successfully.

References & Resources:

  • “Prescription for Nutritional Healing;” Phyllis A.  Balch; 2006
  • “Ritalin Nation;” Dr. Richard DeGrandpre; 1999
  • “The ADD Answer” Dr. Frank Lawlis; 2004
  • My Pyramid.gov: USDA Food  Pyramid

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