Tag Archives: diet

Paleo Day 9

Its been 9 days since I started the “strict” Paleo diet. Here’s what I learned so far:
1. Staying away from grains is not that hard. I just need to plan my meals/restaurant choices. If worst comes to worst there is always salad at most restaurants.
2. Staying away from cheese 100% is a completely different story. Most of the salads at work have some feta or other cheese on them. I had a little emotional issue on monday and felt like I “deserved” some expensive French cheese…I ate it with apples, improvement right? I am going to work harder on this part of it this week.
3. I am not seeing any “miraculous” results yet. My Raynaud’s is bad and my joints are a little achy. Maybe if I try harder on the cheese thing I might see a little improvement.
4. I have been doing great on the supplements. All it takes is a little planning to make sure I have the supplements I need. I don’t even notice the fish oil burps anymore!
5. My performance at Crossfit has really declined. This is the most frustrating part. Robb Wolf says that it should take 3 weeks to fully adapt. Right now I am about 1.5 weeks in…I guess I have another 1.5 weeks to really see improvement. It is frustrating now because I am exhausted during the workouts and am not used to it. Its really been a struggle.
6. I think I need to eat more protein. It is so easy for me to eat veggies and fruit. For the next week I am going to try to get rid of some of the fruit and increase the protein. I am going to get some recipes that include more protein so that I will get motivated to eat more.
7. I have lost about 2-3 lbs..weight kinda fluctuates. I think that is pretty good for me in 9 days.
8. My occasional digestive issues are gone. I do love that about eating more fiber.
9. I really don’t feel hungry. I don’t really want to munch at night. I feel satisfied after my meals.

I think I am going to continue what I have been doing with a few tweaks. There are always things one could do better and be stricter about. Hopefully in another week or so I will start seeing the results I am looking for…weight loss, less joint pain, improvement in Crossfit…for now I will just have to wait it out.

Autoimmune Disease Rant

I’m sorry, I try to be positive. I try to look for solutions instead of focusing on problems, but today I feel like just ranting a little…for one day. So, here goes…

As many readers know, I have an autoimmune condition that has not been given an official diagnosis. Currently they call it “mixed” or “undifferentiated” autoimmune disease. Basically, we are waiting for more symptoms, so that we can give it an “official” name. Lupus? Scleroderma? Who knows? “We” (doctors) are just waiting to see where else in your body this is going to pop up so we can put a label on it. After a bout with pleurisy about 2 years ago, I finally agreed to take the medication Plaquenil. Its an anti-malaria medication that is shown to decrease inflammation levels. The problem is that after the doctor tried to convince me the medication was “mild”, he then said, ”oh and you need a yearly eye exam to make sure you don’t go blind from it”. Really? So the side effect is blindness? Great. I was desperate at the time, so I took it. I have been on it for about 2 years now.

A little over a month ago, I stopped taking it.  I decided to do trial run to see if I could stay off the medication. I have been pretty good with my exercise, Paleo diet, stress management, etc so I felt like maybe I didn’t need it anymore. It takes about 6-8 weeks to get out of your system, so I have been feeling the same for the last few weeks. Until maybe the last 3-4 days. Today its my knee that is aching. Last night it was the bottom of my feet. Over the weekend it was my wrists. I am afraid that my illness is going to come back full-blown. I am afraid I am going to have to get back on my medications. Or medications that are worse than the Plaquenil.  I am afraid that this knee pain is going to go back to how it used to be where I didnt even want to stand-up to walk my patients to the door. I am afraid my lungs or kidneys will spontaneously fail. I want off the meds, but I am so afraid right now.

I went to see an alternative doctor yesterday that put me on an even sticter diet plan. No granis, no dairy, no alcohol. I already knew that that is what I needed to do. The problem is that I think 100% compliance is unrealistic. For example, I was not pefect with my diet over the weekend, I ate Mexican food on saturday and some crackers and cheese at an Oscar party on sunday. BUT, that is not even two full meals of cheating. All my other meals were Paleo meals.   I feel that is as compliant as I am going to get.  Sometimes I want some spaghetti or Mexican food. I can’t live on 100% paleo all the time, I have a real social life. I can’t constantly live in this place of deprivation, eating salads and meat only. Never enjoying a glass of wine, cheesecake, or a delicious Italian dinner. Feeling guilty over too much fruit. I desperately want to get better, but I desperately want a balance. I want to eat a good diet, be at a healthy weight, feel good about my health and my life, and enjoy foods that I like from time to time and not be so afraid. I don’t know where that balance is….

My boyfriend says, that if I really feel that way, I should get back on the medications. That way I don’t have to be 100% compliant all the time (although I probably still will eat mostly Paleo, just because its better for me) AND I won’t have any pain. I just don’t know if I want to take that risk of getting back on the meds. I also can’t live with this diet forever, always trying to be more and more compliant, and never feeling good enough.

So, thats my rant for today. I am tired of thinking about it all the time. I am tired of reading the blogs, feeling my diet doesn’t add up, feeling that my results are not good enough or dramatic enough. My body is struggling with inflammation. I don’t know definitively why. Some say diet, environmental toxins, genetics, stress. I think its all of those factors. Just a big combination of things making my body freak out and attack itself. The solution as I see it today are 2 things: take the meds that could have side effects; or follow a diet that makes me feel sad and deprived that I will never be able to be 100% compliant with.  What would you choose?

Gluten: Why you should eliminate it from your diet

Since I have been having so much pain from the cheating this weekend, this week I am continuing my research into the Paleo diet and trying to come up with as many air-tight arguments as possible to present to my cheating self when the temptation hits. I have been doing a lot of research on gluten and autoimmunity so here is what I found…and it explains why my freakin wrist hurts so bad today….
Gluten found mostly in wheat, barley, etc (like many grains) contains a protein called lectin. This protein is not broken down in normal digestion and passes through the intestine intact. The passage of these lectins through the GI tract cause holes and irritation in the small intestine leading to what has been called “leaky gut”. These holes allow all sorts of proteins and other foreign objects (viruses, bacteria, etc) to enter the body.
Immune cells sit right outside the intestine waiting to attack these foreign invaders before they get any closer to the body’s vital organs.  This process would normally be ok and is used to protect us from viruses, bacteria and other illness….BUT…..the molecular structure of these proteins is VERY SIMILAR to the body’s other proteins…i.e.the structural proteins in my wrist, fingers, and whatever other body part has the “-itis” on a particular day. Therefore, the body has created a full scale attack against its OWN proteins. This leads to all sorts of autoimmune issues and inflammation…because inflammation is basically a reaction of the immune system. Compound this with general overall chronic inflammation from stress, lack of sleep, too much sugar, processed foods, etc and we have a serious inflammation problem! Its systemic inflammation, everywhere in our bodies! No wonder I have the “-itis”!!!
There is research out there which explains this process and its connection to autoimmune conditions. There have been several articles that have linked a diagnosis of lupus to gluten sensitivity, in rheumatology journals. Why didn’t my doctor tell me that?

So Why Does Paleo Eliminate Dairy?

We feed grains to cows. Cows are meant to eat grass, they have 8 stomachs for god sakes! When cows eat grains, they have the same immune reaction, causing an increase antibodies against gluten, and drinking their milk/cheese/etc causes these proteins to come into our bodies. Feed cows grass!

The Wheat Series- Part 1

My time here in Brazil is allowing me to do some research into different topics I don’t really have time to look into in my regular life. I have been reading the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, which describes how the genetic modification of wheat has affected human health over the last 50 years. I have decided to write a series on wheat based on what I learn from the book, including some of my own research on the topic. Hopefully, you will get more educated on this topic as well.

Why is it necessary to even genetically modify wheat or any products in the first place? Why not just leave things the way mother nature created them? The main reason is to increase crop yields is to feed a growing world population (now estimated to be at 6.98 billion). About 1/6th of the world is hungry and suffering from malnutrition. That doesn’t even include those who are undernourished and not getting adequate vitamins or minerals needed to truly thrive. For those of us who generally have too much to eat, not having enough food seems like a crisis, and we need to solve it! We need to feed these people! Everyone should have a chance, right? It would be inhumane to not help these people! Don’t get me wrong, I have a bleeding heart myself. I donated money to Doctors without Borders because I learned on the evening news that 25,000 children had died recently in Africa, I bought towels for the victims of hurricane Katrina when Oprah asked me to. I get the desperation to fix human issues like world hunger.

So, scientists were put to work to figure out HOW to increase crop production,  so we could feed more people for less money. Of course part of the problem is about power and social inequality more than it is about lack of food, but that is a whole other post. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (IMWIC) located in Mexico, decided to start working on genetically modifying wheat to produce larger yields and make it more energy dense. Norman Borlaug, one of the primary scientists at the IMWIC, created a dwarf wheat plant (shorter than normal varieties) which could hold a larger seed, was disease resistant, and had a high yield. He won a Nobel Prize for this work and is called the father of the Green Revolution. He was able to help several countries, who were on the brink of famine, feed their population. This was an amazing feat! The dwarf wheat he created is now more than 99% of the wheat grown worldwide. This means all of us eat the wheat he created, people are being fed because of this genetically modified wheat. This is awesome right?  The issue is that none of this wheat was tested for safety….stay tuned.

The 2 Day Diet Giveaway!

Great news! The great people at Random House, who send me books to review from time to time, sent me an EXTRA copy of the new book “The 2 Day Diet” by Dr. Michelle Harvey and Professor Tony Howell. An extra copy for me to give away to my readers! Woot!

The 2 day diet is based on the principle of intermittent fasting/dieting. You can read more about that in my blog I wrote for HUM Nutrition here. This principle basically says cut your calories low on a few days a week to balance out what you do the rest of the week. Now, this won’t balance out a terrible diet the rest of the week, but the authors of this book don’t recommend you going crazy on the 5 non-diet days. Instead, they recommend you follow a Mediterranean diet for the 5 days. Great advice!

Anyway, whoever wants the extra copy and wants to learn more about the 2 day diet, comment below. I will choose a winner at random on July 10 and announce it on the blog. Good luck!

Week 2- Yoga Retreat

Today starts week 2 of my Brazilian diet plan. Last week I walked every day on Ipanema beach with my dad for about 45-60 minutes in the morning. I injured my back somehow last year (according to my chiropractor because I sit too much at work and was trying to hit it too hard at Crossfit) and I have realized (after A LOT of fighting it and denial) that I really can’t do intense exercise anymore, at least for awhile. I tried to do to the Insanity DVD with my brother, but that aggravated my back. I had to go to get a massage and it took about 5 days for it to stop hurting. I think my days of running and Crossfit are over for a bit. Maybe some day I will go back. For now, walking and yoga are going to be my primary forms of physical activity.

I started the free yoga class on the  beach today.  It was AMAZING! The yoga was super chill and was exactly my speed. There were a few challenging moves, but it was mostly stretching which is what I really needed to try to rehab my back. The teacher handed out a flyer about an up-coming 3 day yoga retreat and I have signed up! I’m really stoked because I have always wanted to go on a yoga retreat. Its in a beautiful mountain location called Teresopolis, which is a few hours outside of Rio. It seems like its going to be an awesome experience! The best part is it will be about 1/3 of the cost of what something like this would be in the US. Awesome!!

So even with the walking and yoga, I didn’t lose any weight this week. I think that this week I am going to focus more on what food I am eating. Its difficult here because there are so many delicious things to eat that I haven’t eaten for awhile. The worst of which is probably this delicious mini French bread that most Brazilians eat for breakfast. My dad stops by the bakery and picks up warm bread every morning. Its hard to resist. I know I can’t eat refined carbs like that in the morning, especially not topped with requeijão (the Brazilian equivalent of cream cheese but MUCH tastier). I think I have been kind of lying to myself about what I am eating and indulging too much in delicious, deep fried, Brazilian street food. I have 10 weeks left until I go back to the states. I think its reasonable to think I can lose about 1 lb per week and come back about 10 lbs lighter. And tanner….got to hit the beach for that. Wish me luck!