Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Well, friends, it’s been a long time since my last posting.  In the meantime, though, I haven’t been idle.  No, no.  My time has been spent trying different diets.  

One thing I’ve come to believe:  no single diet works for everyone.  Although for a number of reasons (mostly relating to animal welfare) I’d dearly like to go vegan as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve found my body doesn’t do well on it.  I can’t handle all the carbs that a vegan diet emphasizes.   Especially oodles of fruit.  Because when it comes right down to it, isn’t fruit pretty much just sugar with fancy-colored skin?

In the last time period, I’ve been following (roughly), the Atkins diet using the book, New Atkins for a New You by Westman, Phinney and Volek.   What does this mean in terms of what I eat most days?  Meat, poultry, fish, cheese and yogurt, nuts and a bit of berries.  I try to avoid all grains (yes, popcorn, we’re talking about you!), beans, and most types of fruit.  Using this diet I’ve been on a roll, losing 2 pounds a week.  And I don’t feel that hungry – yay!

New Atkins meets my criteria for a good diet book:  easy to understand, well organized, and it includes studies giving the scientific basis for the points made in the book.  I highly recommend it for anyone wanting an entry into the World of Low-Carb eating.

After all, there is apparently no metabolic requirement for carbohydrates.  The human body requires certain essential fats (fatty acids) and proteins, but NO CARBS.  What would you conclude from that except maybe we should keep the carbs at a minimum?

The Atkins book includes some recipes, and there are many low-carb cookbooks on the market now to help you feed yourself with tasty fare.  My bitch about the cookbooks is only….I HATE TO COOK.  So, my friends, what good is a book entirely filled with recipes to me?   Although I love to eat gourmet cooking, my aversion to cooking means that most of the time, I have become content to eat the same thing every day, and the dishes can be very simple, i.e. some grilled chicken from Trader Joe’s slathered with mayo and garlic powder over romaine.  Yogurt with walnuts and berries, right?  Yum.

The result of my dietary quirks is that I have had to accumulate low-carb recipes that:  1) don’t require much time standing at a hot stove; 2) don’t require scads of ingredients; 3) don’t EVER require using a food processor (have you tried to clean one of those things?  You have to take it apart!); 4) are for desserts.  I figure, if you’re going to go to all the trouble of actually putting together food from a recipe while standing in the kitchen YOU BETTER END UP WITH SOMETHING DECADENT LIKE A DESSERT.  

I don’t want you to suffer, so in future posts I will share some of these recipes in case there are other Kitchen Slackers like me who feel that being lazy shouldn’t affect whether or not you get dessert.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More Salt in the Wound...

Have you been trying to cut down on salt because the American Heart Association told you that would be a good idea?   Limit your sodium to 1500 mg./day they've warned:  http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp   

But maybe you'd rather listen to the USDA who recommended, in their 2010 Guidelines, that you limit sodium to 2300 mg./day:  http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf.

There's a big difference between 1500 and 2300 -- even I, with my deteriorating math skills, can figure that out  (though I am a long way from first grade, I'm telling ya).    Why are we giving so much charity money to the AHA and so much of our tax dollars to the USDA if this "guidance" is the best they can come up with? 

To muddy the salted water even more, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) just came out with a study that indicates you may have problems if you eat TOO LITTLE salt:  http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2013/Sodium-Intake-in-Populations-Assessment-of-Evidence.aspx


Want yet more food for thought?  An article on Business Insider discusses a  recent medical study which indicated that low sodium levels in the urine were associated with higher mortality:  http://www.businessinsider.com/high-salt-diets-and-hypertension-2013-3

So, what's the answer:  more salt, less salt, sea salt, no salt?  Hop on the Diet Merry-go-Round, but don't fall off!

One scientist who places the emphasis not strictly on the amount of salt you consume, but on the ratio of salt to another mineral is Dr. Richard D. Moore.  Moore's 2001 book, The High Blood Pressure Solution: A Scientifically Proven Program for Preventing Strokes and Heart Disease, sets forth the idea that  the majority of cases of stroke, heart attack, and hypertension can easily be prevented by maintaining the proper ratio of potassium to sodium (K/Na) in the diet.   He recommends you keep at least a 4:1 ratio, each day, of potassium content of your food to sodium content.  You can find more about Dr. Moore  and his book at his website:  http://thehbpsolution.com/Home_Page.html

How to keep a healthy K/Na ratio?  Well, would you be surprised to hear that those foods that tend to be highest in potassium are vegetables (followed by fruits).  No, I didn't think so.

Did you ever hear anyone tell you that broccoli is bad for you.

No, I didn't think so.

I don't necessarily want to hear someone tell me broccoli is bad for me.  But I would dearly love hearing someone tell me that CUPCAKES are good for me.  Health food, that's it -- health food.

Dr. Moore believes that not just blood pressure is affected detrimentally by a poor K/Na ratio, but on his website says the following things are affected as well:

"About 95% of the cases of high blood pressure.
At least 90% of strokes whether or not high blood pressure is involved.
Much of the osteoporosis and kidney stones.
An increased likelihood of h-pylori infection with resulting stomach ulcer and stomach cancer.
An increase in the severity of asthma.
An increased likelihood of mental decline with aging.

In addition, there is some evidence that this low K/Na ratio in the American diet contributes to insulin resistance, to obesity, and to adult diabetes."

Wow -- that's a lotta troubles.  All of which I'd like to avoid, if I could.

Moore's book is thoroughly footnoted and thorough in its analysis.  You might find it worth the time to look at it, although it's not an easy read:  it is fairly technical, and requires a close reading.  Although Moore doesn't specifically say this, it seems to me that if you are trying to follow his program, your eating habits will end up being pretty close to 100% vegan.

As always, I'd love to hear from anyone who has some thoughts on what to do about the Salt Conundrum.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Let Us Now Praise LETTUCE

In my mind, lettuce used to be the Rodney Dangerfield of veggies and I accorded it No Respect.  Was this a function of too many ice berg lettuce salads foisted on me at a young age?  Perhaps.

In any case, I held lettuce in very low regard and wouldn't have thought of it as anything that could contribute massively to my good health.

Was I ever wrong.

Lettuce, as it turns out, and many of its sister greens, can be a big contributor to your good health.  For this knowledge, I have Victoria Boutenko and her book about Green Smoothies to thank. 

Last year, while cruising online bookstores, I happened upon Victoria's book, Green Smoothie Revolution.  I wanted to lose weight and become healthy and had tried almost every other diet you could name.  So, without much optimism, I tried a variety of the Green Smoothies mentioned in her book. What happened?   I lost weight.  I had more energy.   I was sold.  Now, I won't let a day go by without drinking at least one (and some days more) Green Smoothies.

Looks good, doesn't it?

In Green Smoothie Revolution,  Boutenko says that the green leaves of plants accumulate nutrients more than any other part of the plant.  And this, she says, "...puts greens in the category of the most nutritious foods on the planet."  (p. 5)  For those interested in learning more about the nutritional value of greens, you can consult her book, Green for Life.

Victoria Boutenko is not the only writer concerned about health who believes greens score high on the list of Super Foods.  In his book, Eat to Live, Dr. Joel Fuhrman says that when looking at nutrient density, Dark Green Leafy vegetables (kale, chard, spinach, and others) are the best things you can eat (p. 155)  And even Romaine lettuce scores high on nutrient density although not as high as kale and spinach.

After reading Boutenko's book, I whipped out my trusty Vitamix blender (amply praised by me in a previous post) and prepared a Green Smoothie.  I must say before I drank my first, I had doubts about whether any smoothie that was green could actually taste like something I wanted to drink.  Combining a selected fruit with the greens makes the taste delicious!  I was on my way.

Since I don't like vegetables all that much, and I don't like to cook, it has been hard for me to get enough good veggie nutrition into my diet.  Green Smoothies have turned that around.  Because of the ease with which they are prepared (and consumed!) I am now able to get a much increased amount of vegetables into my daily fare.  It is the ONLY THING that has ever worked for me.

Maybe it will work for you too!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Eat like a Rabbit, Live Forever?

Want to live longer and you're willing to make sacrifices by paring down what you eat?  Join the Calorie Restriction movement.  Various studies, including some led by the researcher, Dr. Roy Walford, have indicated that humans might obtain a longer lifespan by eating fewer calories each day.  And I do mean FEWER.

The primary experiments showing the value of calorie restriction were on rodents, but Dr. Walford (and others) maintain the effect has also been shown to apply to humans.  Support for this assertion can be found here:  http://www.walford.com/coleart.htm.  You can also get information from the association dedicated to the methods of Calorie Restriction, the CR Society International, which has a conference coming up soon in California:  http://www.crsociety.org/

Don't know about you, but I would LOVE to live longer in good health.  But calorie restriction to the extent required in this model -- well, I don't know.  Too hard for me and, I expect, too hard for many other people.  In my opinion this is an option suited mostly to those with an austere mind and a discipline that's beyond me.  I know because I've tried.

Here's some bare bones info about the diet (this is my summary so take how you will):
  1. no junk food (pretty obvious, eh?)
  2. LOTS and LOTS of salad (I think to do this diet, it would help to be part rabbit!)
  3. eat lots of other non-starchy veggies.  As the CR website says, "By volume (and often by calories), vegetables are the major component of many calorie restricted but not nutrient deficient diets."

Put another way, kinda like being a vegan without getting to claim the hipster label and wear the cool non-leather shoes...

Because you will be restricting calories pretty severely, the diet seems to require you pay serious attention to calculating  and monitoring exactly what nutrients you will take in.

So, this diet falls off my list of "possibles" for 2 reasons:
  1. severe restriction of calories and what you can eat;
  2. lots of work keeping track of exactly what you eat each day and balancing it out with the other things you are eating.

That being said, I think this would probably be a great thing to do and encourage anyone who thinks they can keep up with such a robust program to take it on.  And then you are sure to live forever (without having to become a vampire -- there is no fresh blood on the CR diet!).

Friday, May 10, 2013

Jet Engine in your Kitchen? The Mighty Vitamixer!

I would be nowhere without my Vitamix blender.   There, I've said it.  Admitted my powerlessness.  Taken the first step -- I am addicted and I don't want to change.

If there was a fire in my house and I could only grab a few things before I ran out...I would grab the Vitamix.  SAVE THE VITAMIX! I'd yell to everyone in the house.

The Mighty Vitamix blender

By firing up my Vitamix blender with the contents of a Green Smoothie inside (the awesome Green Smoothie will be discussed in other posts), I was able to lose 10% of my body weight in one year and even better -- KEEP IT OFF!  And for me that was a big deal because I hadn't been able to do anything like that despite having tried many other diets (whose names you would recognize and may have tried yourself).

Want to know more about the Mighty Vitamix?  You can get the details here:  https://vitamix.com/

Why do I love my blender?  Let me count the ways:
  1. It's lasted almost 30 years without needing any repairs.  So, what else could you buy that could do that?  A rock, maybe.
  2. It's incredibly powerful.  You can blend up just about anything with it.  You could probably chop wood with it for your wood stove.  Don't put your finger or small children in.  Make sure you wear goggles when you're blending (...just kidding).
  3. You can make soup, ice cream, or anything in between.
  4. I hate to cook and I don't much like to eat vegetables, yet with my Vitamix I can whip up tasty, healthy Green Smoothies so fast and easy it would make your head spin if you were in my kitchen when I was blending.
  5. You can buy parts for it online and almost always fix it yourself. If it needs fixing.  Which it probably won't (see Point #1 above).  Awesome, am I right?
So, don't waste another minute.   Talk to the nice folks at Vitamix and see what you think.  If you are going to lose weight and get healthy, I'd say you are  GOING TO NEED THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT.  First things first.  Get on board, get a Vitamix.

And then come back here so I can wax poetic about Green Smoothies.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Want to learn how to be healthy? Good luck with that!

Want to lose weight?  Want to improve your health?  Shouldn't be that hard, right?  Just do a little research on what the current medical thinking is, put it into practice by modifying your food choices, and you're on your way.  Plenty of books out there and stuff on the Internet with ideas on how to achieve major bombastic weight loss.  I know you've heard about this diet book:  Become a Sparkly Skeleton in 10 Days Eating only 5 Carbs and Chewing on Paper Napkins.  Piece of cake.  (Well, not cake, maybe -- what about sugar free pudding?)

But what is the current medical consensus on the best diet or the best exercise?  I hate to say it, but there's no way for us mere mortals to tell.  There are doctors who say you should pretty much eat an All Meat All the Time diet and those who say Meat is the Devil.  And you can find doctors, athletes and poseurs championing everything in between.

Best exercise?  Well, all you need to do is walk moderately for 30 minutes a day, right?  No, no, that won't do it -- you need to do some High Intensity Interval Training for your exercise to matter.  Gotta get your heart rate into the stratosphere.  You need yoga, you need kick aerobics -- and on and on.

I'm so confused by all the contradictory information that's out there, much of it coming from people with impressive credentials.  Maybe you are confused too.  There are so many differing opinions.  I'm getting a headache just thinking about it.

But despite that each diet advocate insists that theirs is the best and only diet that will work for everyone, I'm beginning to think that no one "diet" is right for everyone.  Same as to exercise programs.  I have tried a zillion (only a slight exaggeration) different diets and only gotten results from a very few.  But I have, finally, gotten results, and I know you can too -- if you find the right diet for you.

This blog, Food Choice City, will provide my reviews of the various diets I come across.  I am going to run through them here for you to save you the time spent reading all the various books now on the market.  I also hope to cover exercise programs, with special focus on running.  My current love is for trail running because pounding the hills and dipping into mud pits puts me in a meditative state.

Just to let you know where I stand on food choices -- my current bias (for myself, at least) is toward a vegan diet.  I have not achieved this even close to 100 percent.  It is just a goal that I have made some progress toward.  And I do believe it would be good for me if I could go 100 percent Vegan.  But there are some writers who swear by a diet that's heavy in meat and other animal products, and I respect their detailed analysis. For them, these diets seem to have worked and worked really well.  And maybe they would work for you.

Because of my current bias toward a vegan diet, I will probably early on cover some of the Celebrities of the Field:  Neal Barnard, T. Colin Campbell, Joel Fuhrman, Scott Jurek.  But I also respect the work of Gary Taubes and there's no way this man could ever be confused with a vegan.  No Way.

So...on we go.   In each post I will try to cover some of the major points of one of the diets I have read about in the hopes that someone out there might discover something they haven't heard about elsewhere that will help them achieve their health goals.  So hop on for the ride -- you have only your Porcine Physique and flabby gluteus maximus to lose!

Be careful, though -- I am not a Medical Doctor nor do I play one on T.V.  I am not even a PhD. So everything I post here must be taken with a grain of salt and run through your own rigorous process of evaluation (Ouija Board?  Random numbers generator?) of what is really best for you and your health.  You may even want to talk things over with your own Doctor.   Me, I am just a humble Book Reviewer and Ten Cent Pundit,  offering unsolicited opinions and trying to insure that Information (which needs to be Free) gets the best possible Circulation.