Sandra in Canada has a great story of health through plant-based eating!

Dr. Joel Fuhrman
Dr. Joel Furhman

Recently we got this story from Sandra P. in Canada I thought you would enjoy!

My family started our plant-based journey less than a year ago. My husband saw Dr. Joel Fuhrman on the Dr. Oz show, and cut out all animal products, as well as all processed foods and oils from his diet! I was stunned by his declaration and told him that if he thought I was going to cook two separate meals for our family, he was crazy! I mean how could he ask me, with my Italian descent, to cut olive oil from my diet!

Nonetheless, he ignored my drama and began eating only whole plant-based foods (vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds) and he started losing weight. That did it for me! There was no way he would lose weight effortlessly and leave me behind with the extra weight I couldn’t get rid of no matter what I tried!

veggiesDon’t get me wrong; this is a lifestyle change that doesn’t happen overnight! It took me a while to completely cut all animal products. My family thought I was insane and my mom tried to force feed me chicken! The hardest thing for me to give up completely was cheese! Now I notice that dairy products give me cramps, hives, and gas.

My children have been off dairy since September. One of my sons, Michael, was diagnosed with asthma as a baby and has been on puffers since then! This is the first season that he hasn’t had a chest infection!

Overall health benefits for all of us: weight-loss, anxiety and depression gone, sleeping better, more energy, and I’m always in a good mood, which is a bonus for the rest of the family, too!

Forks over KnivesYou already know about the amazing Robyn Openshaw, also known as Green Smoothie Girl! She is helping to spread the word about the benefits of plant-based nutrition and has already changed so many lives! Watch Forks Over Knives, and read Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and Dr. Campbell’s The China Study too!

The greatest gift that I gave my family was that of knowledge! They can now take their health into their own hands, and can make our world a better place, one person at a time!

God Bless,

Sandra Perri

 

 

Are you a “stress eater?” Here’s what I do about it!

stress eatingHave you noticed that most people line up in two camps, when they’re under heavy stress: the people who don’t eat enough, and the people who overeat?

Nikki, our operations manager, asked me recently to write on stress eating. She’s in the hot-seat in a major new venture we’re working on, and both she and I have been under considerable stress.

So I agreed—it’s an important topic.

I probably can handle more stressors than the average person and seem to thrive in a space of 95-99% capacity and a significant amount of pressure. But there’s always a “too much,” and I’m pretty sure every human being on the planet has gotten into that “red zone.” When I reach that threshold, with stress, where I tip over into “I’m not happy, and I’m not coping well,” my reaction is to NOT eat much.

The reason is, I’m not enjoying the food anyway, since my stomach is tied in knots! So I eat functionally. In these periods of my life, I eat the healthiest. The only food I eat is just to meet caloric needs, so it’s vegetable juices and green smoothies and the like. I usually drop several pounds below my normal weight.

(In periods of my life when I was overweight, it was because I was bored and NOT stressed! A mixed blessing.)

You may be very different than this. I’d love to know what you do, to check yourself, from eating bad foods just because you’re stressed out?

The most helpful thing I’ve come across is a book on “mindful eating” I read many years ago. I think it was called Intuitive Eating. And I didn’t finish it, because it was one of the those books where, 50 pages in, I was like, “Yeah, I got it. I don’t need to read the whole book.”

But the authors taught a method of checking in with yourself. Getting very purposeful about eating. In other words, stopping every few bites to ask yourself a few questions:

“Am I hungry?”

“Do I really want this?”

“Why am I eating right now?” If the answer is not “because I’m hungry,” then ask yourself, “Am I feeling emotional right now and eating to make those feelings go away? If so, is there something else I could be doing to help myself out of this situation?”

It’s important to always stay “in choice,” giving yourself permission to eat whatever you want. That way, when you opt out, you can do it with your chin up:

“I can if I want to, but I choose not to!”

Then it feels like living a purposeful life, rather than denying yourself. Repeatedly denying oneself generally leads to binging later, creating a cycle of sabotage.

Then, if you’re not sure if you are hungry and REALLY want more, wait five minutes to see if you have another serving, or whether you choose the dessert.

Almost every time I require myself to wait five minutes, at the end of it, I don’t even want the dessert, or to eat more of the food.

The book reminded us to plug into the fact that satiety, or the feeling of being “satisfied,” comes 5 or 10 minutes after you stop eating. So, let it catch up. Stop eating sooner, and check in with yourself. If you wait, giving yourself permission to have more in 5 minutes if you still want to, you’ll end up eating less.

Now these ideas aren’t mine, nor are they about choosing whole foods, which is my biggest agenda. (The authors’ premise is, there are no bad foods, but you have to eat them only minimally. I disagree with that, of course. I think living in the “real world,” we all eat things that aren’t good for us, to a greater or lesser extent, but there are certainly bad foods!)

Until reading that book, I was not very mindful about my eating. Now I stop and check myself more regularly. I also try to not eat anything while working at my computer, unless it’s something super-healthy like my quart of green smoothie. If I eat at my computer, I’ll overeat, being consumed in the email I’m writing or topic I’m researching! Suddenly I’ll notice I ate twice as much as I intended to! (I learned this one the hard way.)

The “mindful eating” principles are good, and they’ve helped me significantly. Consequently, my weight is in check and my health is better.

Depression and Anxiety Nutrition Strategies, part 2 of 3

1.      Are you getting enough greens? They contain the most bioavailable minerals of all foods. Bioavailable refers how much of the nutrient is actually utilized by your body, as opposed to how much of that nutrient is in the food. (For instance, dairy milk is high in calcium. But human beings use very little of it, and the milk from cows causes other problems, for instance, it causes the human body to produce mucous. For baby cows, the calcium in their mothers’ milk is VERY bioavailable.)

Living green foods have to be plentiful in the human diet. Our digestive tracts, the way they’re built, demand lots of plant food. And all the nutrients in greens are highly bioavailable to humans. Cows, too, it turns out. Jordan Rubin is raising “green cows,” who not only eat only organic plant food, but eat GREENS rather than grains and other weird additives to increase weight that the big farms are now feeding dairy and slaughter cattle. Greens are what cows in nature eat, and the quality of the cows’ milk changes radically when they’re fed something else. Even organic dairy ranchers aren’t going to the length that Rubin is, to create a food supply that our grandparents took for granted, before we morphed our food supply chain into a Frankenstein-ish disaster.

In my research published in The Green Smoothies Diet, half of my 175 respondents said green smoothies alone improved the stability of their mood.

2.      Are you eating 60-80% raw or better? I am not convinced that 100% raw is necessary or even ideal, but a diet high in unprocessed, raw foods gives you enzymes that take little away from your higher functions so that you can achieve truly transcendent states, like peace, happiness, harmony in relationships, and self-actualization.

Patty, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 7 years ago at age 40, has been living with us for a month and making our food, according to the way we have always eaten. We eat cooked soups made with vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. In addition to lots of raw in the form of green smoothies, vegetable juice, salads, and just snacking on carrots, bell peppers, etc. Patty is used to the obsession, on the other side, with RAW, RAW, RAW.

I love raw food and EVERY meal or snack around here is 60-80% raw. Count it in the bulk of the food, or count it in calories, I don’t care—but eat a primarily raw, plant-based diet. But humans have rarely eaten “all raw,” and legumes and whole grains are good food and very difficult to eat much of, unless they’re cooked. It’s a natural human tendency to want their food hot, now and then.

Patty said to me, “I feel amazing, eating your diet!” It’s not 100% raw, but it is 100% whole foods, and well over half of what we eat is raw.

I’m not absolutely convinced that eating organic, wild-caught, or free-range meat is all bad, as a smaller part of the diet. I don’t personally want those things, or prepare and serve them in my home.

And when the economy falls out—which it will, since it’s mathematically unsustainable that we continue forever the way we’re going—and you have to pay $40/lb. for your meat, what will you eat? Best to just learn to eat like that anyway. The U.S. government massively props up meat and dairy. It doesn’t prop up vegetable, fruit, and legume crops. Obviously we’re paying less than we should for beef, if it takes 20 lbs. of plant food to yield 1 lb. of beef.

3.      If you ARE eating meat, please ensure it is wild-caught fish from clean waters (not farmed, and not caught in dirty places like, no offense my Michiganian friends, the Great Lakes). Or range-free, organic chicken or turkey. Or grass-fed, organic beef. NEVER processed meat or dairy. It’s full of hormones. It surely has the potential to affect mood disorders.

4.      Are you staying out of the drive-thru? Virtually everything sold there puts you at high risk for depression. Even the toxic dressings on the low-nutrition salads. Not only because of low nutrition, high calorie foods, with their cascading effects.

But also the fact that they are denatured and your body has to work excessively to digest them. This takes away from higher functions, like neurological function. This results in a far higher likelihood that your brain and spirit are brought low, too, even as their host, the physical tabernacle, is forced to struggle and toil. Possibly the worst thing coming out of the drive-thru are toxic, heavy fats, which are difficult to metabolize, in some cases impossible to metabolize, and cause cell damage.

And the fried foods you buy in the grocery store have got to go, too. Chips. Gone. Please.

The last five items in this Nutrition Strategies for Depression and Anxiety list, tomorrow!

Depression and Anxiety Nutrition Strategies, part 1 of 3

My friend Shari called me last week. “Guess what. My friend Emily was totally normal, and has been in mental hospitals for 12 years now. They found out a few months ago that it was the MEDS they started her on that made her crazy. She’s been off them for two months and she’s just FINE.”

What a tragedy. Shari continues, ”Twelve years ago, she had two men who wanted to marry her. College-bound. Totally normal. She had everything going for her. But they put her on one drug after another and she was suicidal and psychotic.”

I’m a former mental health professional and have a master’s degree in social work. So let me make this disclaimer: you don’t want to go off your psychotropic drugs without careful supervision. Emily’s experience is not everyone’s experience. I bet her getting off those drugs was careful and gradual. Psychotropics are no laughing matter, and the transition ON or OFF can be scary.

Some of them are class C narcotics, and others are narcotic central nervous system depressants. SSRI’s, the most commonly prescribed, cause sexual dysfunction, increased risk of bone fractures, drowsiness, nausea, weight loss or gain, renal impairment, suicidal thoughts, and other symptoms. And, two meta-analyses of dozens of clinical trials (2008, 2010) for those drugs did not meet the criteria for a “clinically significant effect.”

For people upside down in a mental health crisis, a drug may be a lifesaver. People who want to kill themselves don’t have the wherewithal to sit down and problem-solve the actual life circumstances that seem overwhelming, let alone make major dietary and lifestyle changes.

But is the prescription a lifelong crutch, rather than a temporary sanity-saving measure while you figure out the actual PROBLEM and solve it? That I have an issue with. I know plenty of people who have been on psychotropics for a decade with no effort by them or their doc to solve the problems.

I also take issue with the dispense-it-for-every-little-complaint M.O. of too many docs. It should be a temporary, desperate act, putting someone on these hard-core drugs, while the doc helps get at the core causation. Not a first line of defense at the first sign of trouble!

The following discussion are my thoughts and should not be construed as medical advice. Please see your qualified practitioner for individualized help with depression or anxiety.

Mental health has its roots in biochemistry. And food is the fuel of our biochemistry, of course, causing it stability or instability. Does it not, then, make sense, that food can play a major role in good mental health?

It certainly has, in mine. I was born anxious. Oldest child. Type A. Red personality. Overachieving stereotype. All that stuff.

As a small child, I had stressed- out, sobbing meltdowns if I got a B on my report card or made a mistake in a piano performance. If I let someone down, or if someone didn’t like me.

I have struggled with anxiety my whole life. It is completely managed and no longer costs me sleep or causes any trouble. The past 10 years, it is where I want it. It is a good thing, when it is managed. That is: it fuels my constant drive to build things, learn and grow, help good causes, and GO-GO-GO. My anxiety no longer makes me cry or wrecks my well-being.

The only exception, before I QUIT COLD TURKEY, used to be when I’d eat sugar, or especially corn syrup. Eating something with HFCS in it sets me back for days—I wake up having panic attacks for 5 days after eating a handful of Junior Mints!

Why? Because sugar burns out adrenal glands, and virtually everyone living in the modern age has heavily taxed adrenal glands even WITHOUT sugar.

So let’s talk about things you can do, nutritionally, if you suffer with depression or anxiety. I start a nine-item list in my next blog entry.

 

Do all of GSG’s friends drink green smoothies?

The answer to that question is NO. Only about 95% of them. A longtime holdout is Kristin, very possibly my best friend, who is a newly single mom and stays with me 9 nights out of the month when her ex moves in with the kids. She also works for GreenSmoothieGirl.com, and she’s been my assistant at tons of my speaking events. She drinks up to 84 oz. of Diet Coke every day. It’s her safe place, her stress reliever, her energy prop.

Kristin has lost 38 lbs. in the past year. She has a thing she has done to stop buying junk food (M&M’s formerly being her vice). When she goes to the store, she walks past the candy aisle and sneers, says to herself, “I don’t eat that s%#! any more!” I don’t know if that’ll work for you, but it works for Kristin so I’m passing it along.

Despite being surrounded by offers of green smoothies and raw food, at my house, and listening to my enthusiasm for the topic nearly ad nauseum, she had yet to try anything except Hot Pink, which I have fed her for breakfast fairly regularly and which she likes.

How is this possible, you ask? Believe it or not, I don’t talk about food much when I’m not teaching about it. I probably talk about it less than the average person, in fact. I figure, when people want to know, they’ll ask. They know I know stuff.

Kristin has never asked. I have, on a rare occasion, made a mild comment. Like, “Hey, I really think your anxiety isn’t just circumstantial. Nutrition might make a real difference.” Stuff like that.

I watch and wait. I’ve been friends with someone for YEARS, or dated a guy for many months, before they really get motivated to start the GS habit. Finally, this week, Kristin announced that she’d started green smoothies the day before. Mostly because her oldest daughter (age 18) decided SHE wanted to!

Next day, she went to Costco and they had no spinach. Her 12-y.o. twin daughters cried, “Oh no, what will we do?!” LOL.

I asked Kristin what her experience was after 24 hours and 2 smoothies. She’s one who always tells me the truth, good or bad, because we trust each other completely. She said, “I feel happier today, not my usual anxiousness. I got up this morning easily and was alert–-I actually WANTED to go for a run.”

Then my friend Liz came over last night for a while. She asked me to tell you her tip. Like Kristin, she’s a busy, working, single mom of 6 kids. She spends two hours, every few weeks, making 40 GREEN SMOOTHIES and freezing them! Her counter is covered with green foods and fruits and she just bangs it out and fills up her big freezer.

Not a bad idea–then your nutrition for a few weeks is a guarantee. She takes hers to work frozen and it thaws there.

Help with anxiety

[posted by a reader]

I am going through some major problems in my life right now, out of my control.  I am suffering from major anxiety and I am having panic attacks.  I am tempted to start medication because I need a quick fix, something like Xanax to take the edge off.  This is very uncharacteristic of me because I never use medication and follow GSG, but I am desperate right now.  One of the sad things is, is that it will be cheaper to get medication.  I need help.  The only time I have felt free of my anxiety is when I eat 100% raw food, but I have a very hard time keeping it up.  Any suggestions?