The Mortal Coil

Today, I’m “recovering” from a bad cold after five days of suffering.

I know how I got it – I was stressed out. I haven’t been sick in years (two years in fact – I wrote about getting a cold in April 2013!) Since then, I haven’t had so much as a sniffle. (All that healthy living, I’d like to think.)

But last week my body broke down in what seemed like moments.

It’s true that stress takes a toll on your immune system, and I’m sure that’s what did it for me. I felt the waves of stress on a Monday and Tuesday. On Tuesday night I felt the cold “coming on” and by Wednesday morning I lost my voice.

I’m not sure why, but when I get sick it’s always an upper-respiratory thing. And when I get sick, I lose my voice. It’s happened this way my whole life, so there’s no surprise when I start croaking like a bull frog. If I talk to anybody on the phone, they have no idea who is on the other end. (Yeah, it’s that bad.)

What bothered me most about getting sick this time around was how fast I deteriorated into a sneezing, sniffling, body aching pile of goo that couldn’t lift my head off the pillow.

I mean, here I am … going to the gym several times a week like a religious fanatic, eating tons of veggies and super-healthy food, stuffing my gob full of vitamins and good-for-me supplements, but two days of stress and the entire house comes crumbling down.

What’s up with that?

It made me realize how tenuous it is to be “healthy.” Maybe I’m over-reacting since it was “just” a common cold that hit me, and now, six days later I am coming out of my funk … but still, the experience shook me up.

I don’t know. Maybe, if I wasn’t as healthy as I am normally, the cold could have been much worse and I would have been sick for 2 weeks instead of 6 days (I am still counting today as a recovery day since I am not fully back to normal.) Or maybe, if I’d been in truly poor health, my cold would have turned into bronchitis and that could have become pneumonia.

Is this how things break down with the body?

Something innocuous like a cold starts you downhill, and then the other germs pile on and attack different parts of you until you’re done?

It’s a gruesome thought.

I’ve been taking Zinc and 2000 milligrams of Vitamin C every day of this ghastly cold, along with a daily Echinacea supplement. If you read up about this cocktail, you’ll get some people swearing it reduces the severity and length of a cold, and another group of people saying it does nothing.

I’m not a statistical sampling of one, but I do believe these items helped reduce the length of the cold. As to reducing the severity, it’s hard to say. My experience is what it is – I have nothing to compare it with – I suffered with plenty of body aches during the worst of it.

It’s unpleasant to be reminded how easily a bacteria or viral particulate, so tiny I’d need a powerful microscope to see it, can take me down.

I’m glad I never had to go to a doctor to get over this, and did not have to request antibiotics or if I had gotten some severe bronchial thing, something even stronger.

Yes, I’m on the mend now. But it gives me little peace of mind to be so “healthy” when I see how easy it is to take my legs out from under me.

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Bad News for Vegan Aging

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a doctor or a nutritionist. I am NOT recommending that anyone reading this post take any supplement without first consulting their own health care professional.

In the year plus that I’ve been mostly vegan, I’ve learned some things about nutrients that people who are consuming a vegan diet are missing. I found a new one which I’d like to share.

L-Carnosine

Please READ THIS ARTICLE on Carnosine, which details the many health benefits of this amino acid. (Some may refer to Carnosine as a dipeptide, meaning two amino acids joined together. In the case of Carnosine, it’s the combination of beta-alanine and L-histidine.)

Most notably, in my opinion, Carnosine helps reduce protein glycation – which is a fancy way of saying that as your body takes in sugars like fructose (from eating fruit, for example), those sugars create free radicals and damage your cells. This damage causes, among other things, cells to age.

Carnosine is naturally ingested by people who eat meat. However, Carnosine is available as a supplement too.

It is VERY ironic to me that vegans will “suffer” the ill effects of not ingesting Carnosine to help delay the aging process unless we use supplements. However, even eating a lot of red meat may not be sufficient amount of Carnosine to accumulate the benefits of this amino acid.

 

Previously, I’ve written about the use of Creatine and my personal experiences with that supplement too. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you have very low levels of creatine in your body from not eating meat. If you are an athlete, you may want to consider supplementation. Please look for my other posts about this.

In keeping with this form of experimentation, I have ordered some Carnosine and once I get the supplement I will begin taking it.

No one seems to know the “correct dosage” for Carnosine, however the supplement producers are making 500 mg capsules as the daily dose, so my plan is to begin taking the 500 mg daily. I will plan to report back on the effects, so far as I am able to observe them (nothing like being my own lab rat!)

Some final thoughts…

Vegans are probably, by nature, already health conscious since we are careful about what we’re putting into our bodies. However, we still have to be mindful that by deleting entire food groups from our meal plans, we are missing different nutrients (B12, Carnosine and Creatine for example.)

If we choose to, we can take supplements to remain in better overall balance, while still avoiding the foods we don’t want to eat.

In my opinion, a great daily multi-vitamin is a wonderful place to start. If you are a (pre-menopausal) woman, and a vegan, get a multi that has B12, calcium, iron and zinc.

If you want to go beyond that, consider supplements that are right for you.

I’ve chosen to be mostly vegan. I consume eggs, and I also choose to take a fish oil based Omega 3 supplement daily – although I do not eat fish. (Yes, I know flax and chia seeds have Omega 3’s, but not anywhere near supplement levels.)

Now I will add a Carnosine supplement too.

Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to get straight answers about health and nutrition in this country, especially as it pertains to supplements. It’s always a good idea to do as much research as possible, or talking to your personal health care provider, until you feel comfortable with what you decide to take.

I’m wishing everyone great health!

 

Additional Reading on Carnosine

Wiki page for Carnosine

Life Extension Magazine on Carnosine

BodyBuilding.com (older article) on Carnosine

A Year of Being Mostly Vegan

I’ve been keeping a personal journal for many decades, and periodically I re-read entries. Today I re-read an entry from November 16th, 2013 which noted that I’d moved from eating vegetarian to eating vegan.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this (crazy) eating regimen for over a year now! BUT, right now I’m in the best shape I’ve been in, probably in my life.

In June this year I began going to the gym regularly. I started out going every day, now I have two rest days within the week, but I’m still lifting and doing cardio 5 days a week.

And while I haven’t lost much weight (today I am 7 pounds lighter than I was this time last year) I have lost inches and dress sizes. I’m down to about a size 6 – I’m really proud of that!

On the eating front, I am mostly vegan. I’ve continued allowing egg whites into my diet so I can ensure I’m getting enough protein, which is a constant battle. I use my brown rice protein shake to supplement, but I must be mindful of the foods I choose to get the daily requirement of protein.

This year has been a great learning experience. I’ve experimented more with my diet and now find myself in a place where I eat lots of veggies and fruits, along with legumes, nuts and seeds.

Have I been a perfect vegan? Heck no. I estimate I ate chicken about a half a dozen times this year (no, I won’t be eating turkey on Thanksgiving!) and I do allow myself some buttered toast or buttered bagel every now and again as a treat.

These changes ARE CHALLENGING, but I still believe they are worth it.

As the holidays approach, I already know my eating habits are not fun at parties. Many times there is absolutely nothing I can eat when I’m at a party, or I wind up defaulting into eating junky processed food like potato chips. I think I’m going to start bringing food to parties… maybe a bag of carrots and a container of hummus dip, so that I’ll be sure to at least have one thing I can eat that is healthy. But when it comes to sour cream and onion dip, cheese and cracker plates, pigs in a blanket, cream filled whatever, and meat, meat and more meat… I’ll be skipping all that, thanks. (Hmm, maybe I need more vegan friends, ha!)

So here I am, beginning year two of being vegan. No one is more amazed than me, I’m sure.

My immediate goals are to continue eating healthy, continue going to the gym, and yes, I’d still like to lose 10 pounds. Who knows, maybe I’ll wind up being a Size 4 someday. I’ve never been a size 4 in my life, but as I achieve new health milestones it’s possible my body will continue to be transformed.

The biggest obstacle to becoming vegan in the first place was psychological. Most people believe they cannot give up X, Y or Z foods. Or perhaps even when they try to eat healthier, they still are in a deprivation mindset, instead of embracing the opportunity for better health.

So, let me warn you now, if you eat healthier and do it consistently, the foods you love now will taste BAD to you in the future. Do you know why? Because the foods that are not healthy for you are usually fake, processed foods. Ersatz food. And once you give that up, if you go back and taste processed foods, you’ll know they’re disgusting.

I have my own example of this. I used to like banana chips. I eat fresh bananas regularly, but I also used to enjoy banana chips as a snack. But after a while, I noticed that when I ate the banana chips, I could taste the oil the chip was fried in rather than the chip itself, and it tasted gross to me. Eventually, I could taste that the chip was very slightly rancid from the oil.

If my palette wasn’t as finely tuned, I doubt my sense of smell and taste would have registered this a year ago. I would have eaten the food then and enjoyed it. But when you convert your body and taste buds into eating fresh food 99% of the time, these things become obvious.

Good luck to everyone out there working on changing your diet and improving your health. I’ve achieved some decent milestones in the past year, and I’m looking forward to another year of improved health.

 

The Tyranny of Protein – or – Vegan No More

This decision has been weighing on my mind for months.

I’ve struggled with my vegan dietary habits mightily, and after about 8+ months of eating mostly vegan, I have decided that I can no longer sustain this level of dietary restriction.

However, I have particular reasons and I have a set of ideas about what I will do next, moving forward.

For those of you that have been following along with me on this journey, please keep reading.

1) I originally thought going vegan was going to help me lower my cholesterol to the point where I could get off my cholesterol medications. This was a patently false assumption on my part, and was unfortunately validated through blood tests with my doctor. After eating vegan with a rare exceptional egg in the diet, my bad cholesterol and triglycerides were higher than my previous readings … because I’d slacked off on my cholesterol medication. According to my doctor my form of cholesterol is (probably) genetic. There will be no miracle dietary intake to get me off my meds.

2) Now that I am entering week five of my daily gym routine, and I am one week into eating eggs again, and because I have not successfully kicked my daily hopping on the scale habit, I have noticed something radical.

I AM LOSING WEIGHT.

And I’m losing weight now at a more steady pace, since I have re-introduced animal protein into my diet.

Other than the dietary change, I am not exercising more, so I ascribe the weight loss to the dietary change.

I have to say, this is not a shock to me. As someone who has been eating vegan for 8+ months, I know that in order to consume my vegan protein it comes with a LOT of carbs. Black beans, lentils, and quinoa are all terrific sources of vegetable protein.

However, please consider:

  • 15 oz can of black beans = 315 calories / 24.5 grams protein / 66.5 grams carbs
  • 1 cup of lentils, cooked = 622 calories / 48.4 grams protein / 108 grams carbs
  • I cup quinoa, cooked =    635 calories / 22.3 grams protein / 117 grams carbs

VERSUS

  • 3 fried eggs                   = 260 calories / 18.6 grams protein / ZERO CARBS

.

I’m not making complex carbohydrates my enemy, however in my struggles to lose weight at a steady pace, the levels of carbohydrate intake in a vegan diet are not working with me, they’re working against me. I have to work much harder to lose weight with the levels of carbs I’m taking in.

In the subject line of this post, I’ve put it out there – I am vegan no more because I am eating eggs again.

Theoretically, I’m now a vegetarian… except, I’m still not eating dairy. I see no need to reintroduce dairy into my diet at this time and I’m comfortable sticking to that.

But given where I am in my journey, I am going to reconsider the possibility of consuming two other foods, in addition to eggs, that are animal based: chicken and tuna fish.

Both chicken and tuna fish are lean sources of protein, and are generally healthier than most other forms of animal protein (like red meat, pork, bacon, etc.)

Also, like eggs, they are extremely high in protein, relatively low in calories and cholesterol and have zero carbs. These factors make these particular food sources attractive options if I decide I’m okay to go back to eating animal protein again.

Since I have proven to myself that I can live with many different kinds of dietary restrictions and stick with them, I’m comfortable with the idea of eating chicken or tuna every once in a while. I suspect my body will “tell me” if it wants animal protein.

In fact, higher levels of protein … between my brown rice protein shakes, which I still use daily for a decent boost of 24 grams of protein, along with other sources, has made my workout recoveries more bearable. I can tell I need higher levels of protein than the “normal” 46 grams of daily protein recommended for an adult woman to see the results I want.

And speaking of results, it’s been a while since I posted a progress photo of how I am doing.

Here’s how I look now… and the journey continues………

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Progress photo - 7-25-14

Progress photo – 7-25-14

Full Scale Addiction

As I progress on my wellness journey, from pretty darn healthy to hopefully much more healthy, I am in pursuit of a normal Body Mass Index, BMI.

If you want to calculate your BMI, the (US) National Institutes of Health provides a handy calculator that provides both US Standard and Metric calculators.

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm

Right now my BMI is 26.6, while a normal BMI is 25 or under. In other words, I know now what I knew then… I am STILL about 10 pounds overweight.

And how do I know that I’m about 10 pounds over my goal weight? Well, that’s what my scale tells me.

Every morning.

Every darn morning, my scale laughs at me.

It tells me, oh you’ve been going to the gym everyday for a month and guess what? You have lost about 2 pounds. HAHAHAHA.

Yep, that’s what the scale says. It’s killing me every time I hop on it.

I’ve talked about this a lot before, so pardon me as I continue to obsess over it. However.

So, the trainers at the gym have been telling me NOT to look at the scale. Don’t get on the scale, they say. See how your clothes fit. See if you are losing inches (I think I am.) See if you are getting results (I am, I see more muscle definition too.)

But, that damn scale. It’s an addiction, getting on it everyday and somehow hoping it’s going to say something other than what it always says. The same number.

I mean, it can’t keep doing that… right? (For goodness sake, someone please tell me it WILL eventually go down!)

I’m being so good in what I eat, and watch my calories and do my best to eat super duper healthy (think cucumbers!) And I work out, weights, cardio, the whole enchilada (without the actual enchilada!)

But in all my self-discipline, I can’t seem to kick my scale addiction. It’s very hard not to want to SEE the scale saying something other than that number it shows me every morning.

Maybe it would be better to just stay in a state of scale ignorance, and keep going with the plan.

Sigh.

Well, today is literally one month since I began going to the gym, and it has made a big difference in my stamina and strength. I notice it when I take flights of stairs more easily, have more oxygen and can take deeper breaths, not to mention my muscles are looking more defined now. These are all positive signs of progress.

So what if the scale isn’t corroborating it?

Yeah, that’s what I’ll tell myself.

Tomorrow.

The Wellness Dilemma

I’m frustrated to date by my level of progress in my wellness routine.

I’ve been on my new weight lifting routine at the gym for three and a half weeks now, and I continue to watch what I eat and to maintain my vegan regime. However, the scale has been persistently stubborn. I have barely lost two pounds.

Most everyone I’ve spoken to about this: the trainers at the gym, and others, have said don’t look at the scale because you will likely lose inches with a weight lifting program, rather than pounds.

Okay, but what if I want to lose inches AND pounds? (Hint: I do want to lose inches and pounds!)

I decided that it might be a good idea to see a nutritionist to assist me with my eating plan. I went online and searched for holistic nutritionists, figuring that a holistic nutritionist would know about supplements, vegan dietary requirements and the like.

Today I had a free consultation with the holistic nutritionist I found online. I was so discouraged when I left the consultation, I am unsure what I’m going to do next.

I filled out an extensive health questionnaire, which asked me about my eating habits, the supplements I was taking, what kind of exercise I do, what my goals were, etc. I filled all that out before the appointment.

In the conversation today, I found out that this person, who bills themselves as a holistic nutritionist, tells me that they do not know about supplements nor do they have any way to comment on supplements as part of my diet. Moreover, this person said, and I quote, “I couldn’t be vegan because I couldn’t eat beans everyday.” I replied, “I don’t eat beans everyday.” Then the person said, “well, there aren’t many sources of protein left…” and then they went on to try and convince me that maybe I should try eating chicken because that’s “more pleasurable”! (Seriously, wtf?)

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, and that’s pretty bad, this person said “I’m not a fitness coach, so I won’t have any suggestions about your exercise routine.” Fair enough, but when I asked about how my exercise routine would factor into my eating plan, I was told that as long as I was doing exercise, that was good enough for them to know.

HUH? How the heck is a nutritionist going to come up with a viable eating plan for me if they don’t know HOW MUCH EXERCISE I AM DOING??

ARGH!

That experience was TOTALLY disheartening. If you have a disease, the doctors know what to do and health insurance covers it. If you have a cavity, the dentist knows what to do and dental insurance covers it. BUT, if you are WELL … if you are healthy, and want to maintain your health, or maybe improve it … then you are completely on your own. Good luck with all of the contradictory information too.

Based on this person’s comments today, I’d need to assemble a health team to deal with my wellness program. I should hire a nutritionist, a supplement expert, a personal trainer, and probably a damn secretary for keeping all these appointments straight.

Yes, I am frustrated; frustrated by my desire to be healthier than I am today, without a clear path on how I can achieve that.

More research will follow, no doubt. There’s still hope I can achieve the goals I’ve set for myself … even if I have to carve my own path through this wellness wilderness.

My (mostly) vegan experiment gone horribly wrong

A little over 6 months ago, I began to transition from my vegetarian eating habits to a new regimen of eating (mostly) vegan.

I was already restricting my diet, but I decided that to further my health goals of lowering my cholesterol, I was going to give up all dairy and egg yolks, but – I decided – that I’d continue to consume egg whites for protein.

And I can tell you that for the past 6 months, I have … for 99% of the time … not consumed any dairy. No cheese, no pizza, no milk, no ice cream, no sour cream… nope. Every once in a while, I would get a craving for toast with a little butter on it, and I’d estimate I ate a slice of buttered toast less than once a month during that time. That would have constituted ALL dairy ingested, which is – to say the least – such a miniscule amount as to be nearly nothing.

As for eggs, the vast majority of the time I was consuming egg whites, although every once in a while … again, very rarely and mostly while on the road, I would eat whole eggs.

While all this was going on, of course I consumed absolutely no meat, chicken, seafood… nada. Zero. Zip.

I ALSO added a daily, high-dose Omega 3 supplement too…which has been shown to help reduce cholesterol. I have been taking Omega 3’s every day, without fail.

I was SO excited about the fact that I’d given up 99% of any and all sources of cholesterol in my diet, that I admit I began slacking off on taking my cholesterol medication. I was fully prepared to go in to see my doctor after 6 months and for her to tell me, wow your cholesterol has dropped tremendously, of course you can go off your meds!

Since I have already written the title of this post, you know this isn’t a good news story.

BAD RESULTS

After 6 months of a lot of sacrifice, my triglycerides are HIGHER than what they were 6 months ago. My LDL (bad cholesterol) is HIGHER than it was 6 months ago. And my HDL, while still in a good range, is still lower overall than it was 6 months ago.

This is TERRIBLE news. It is a horrific result based on the many, many changes I have made.

Moreover, it’s very clear to me that I need to be taking my cholesterol meds religiously, NO exceptions.

Eating (mostly) vegan has literally done nothing at all to lower my cholesterol levels. (And if you’re going to tell me that eating the equivalent of less than a teaspoon of butter in 6 months was the thing preventing me from lowering my cholesterol, I will knock your block off. The changes I made were serious, and difficult.)

Now, some people would take that news and use it as an excuse to fall off the bandwagon and start chowing down on pizza and ice cream and whatever else happens to come across their path.

Not me.

I’m WAY too stubborn for that.

In fact, I’m going to up the ante on myself. Not only am I going to start taking my cholesterol meds every night, I have already started removing white carbs from my diet. That means: no white bread or pasta, no white rice, and sadly … no white potatoes.

Why remove white carbs? Because eating white carbs can drive up the amount of sugar your body produces, and when the body has an excess amount of sugar, it stores it as fat on the body. When the body stores fat, it can elevate your triglyceride levels (particularly fat stored in the abdomen.)

I’ve been clinging to eating eggs for the past 6 months, and maybe it’s time for me to bite the bullet and try to go the next 6 months without eating them, to see if I can do it.

Also, I want to say, for the record, eating like this SUCKS. It’s HIGHLY restrictive, and it makes for some difficult conversations with friends about “where to go for dinner” when I eat out. Yes, I cook for myself a lot at home, but with the new restrictions, it’s going to further limit what I can eat and will require me to change up my habits yet again.

You know, you’d think with all these restrictions, plus the amount of exercise I’m doing every week that I would have been losing weight too, right? But no, I’m not. I have been working on increasing the amount of exercise I’m doing, and I with the additional restrictions I’m imposing on myself, I hope to break through the plateau I’ve been at, weight wise, for many months.

I am not happy to be writing this post, but I AM being honest. The changes I undertook have not really seemed to make a difference in contributing to my health, and that is extraordinarily disappointing.

Once I go back to taking my cholesterol meds every day, religiously, there will be no way for me to tell if any further changes to my diet have helped reduce my cholesterol … and at this point, I no longer have cholesterol reduction through dietary changes as a goal because it seems completely unrealistic.

However, I do want to see my overall health improve. I want to lose weight and achieve a healthier Body Mass Index (BMI).

I’ve been dabbling with the idea of seeing a holistic nutritionist to help craft a strategy with me. I’m very knowledgeable about nutrition, supplements, the glycemic index and eating habits in general, but I’m not a professional … and maybe it’s time to “up my game” and go the extra step.

In the meantime, I’m going to have to figure out how to readjust my eating habits yet again…

The Wait is Over

I’ve reached an important milestone today! My mostly vegan* plant-strong diet, coupled with my 4-6 mile exercise walks a few times a week, and my calorie counting on FitDay.com has led to a new low interim goal weight for me.

I’m now a “mere” 8 pounds from my goal weight, and 10 pounds from my stretch goal weight.

It’s been a good challenge, these last three months, watching my calories** – even through the holidays – and now the results are showing. It’s exciting stuff!

Stepping on the scale this morning brought a renewed motivation to get to goal!

What’s cool is FitDay allows me to track my current weight and progress towards the goal online, along with tracking daily calorie consumption and calories burned from exercise. I also created custom nutrition goals*** for myself too. It’s not the only site that offers these tools for free, I just happen to like it.

If you’re also in the process of your journey to lose weight and feel great – please share it here. 🙂

And… more updates as the good news continues!

 

  • * I still eat egg whites.
  • ** My daily calorie intake has been 1500 or less.
  • *** Adult women need to consume 46 grams of protein a day to not be in protein deficit. It’s an important custom nutrition goal I take seriously as a vegan.

Thankfully…

Dear readers,

Maybe it’s the improved levels of Omega 3’s in my body due to the new eating regimen, or maybe it’s me feeling good just because, but I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

This year I have had a lot to be thankful for: good health, good friends, and amazing opportunities to travel and enjoy life.

2013 has been a blockbuster year for me to see art, both locally in NYC and abroad: the Tate Modern, Prado, Sophia Reina, SMAK Contemporary in Gent, the Armory Show retrospective at the NY Historical Society, Chelsea galleries, and many more events and museums than I can mention now. (Check out the “Art” tag in the tag cloud for posts.)

It’s been a blockbuster year for music too: seeing BB King live was a high point, along with visiting tons of jazz clubs from Amsterdam to Madrid to Barcelona, along with local jazz in Jersey City too, and “discovering” jazz pianist Bill Evans for myself has really made my year. (Check out the “Music” or “Jazz” tags in the tag cloud for posts.)

The amount of artistic talent I’ve been exposed to in 2013 in incalculable – but it has had a tremendous effect on me. I’m inspired to keep putting my energy into seeking out musical, artistic and writing talent.

Amazingly (to me, at least) I’ve also continued to have editors accept my work for publication. While 2013 was not a highly productive year for me when it comes to producing finished fiction, I was able to regularly maintain this blog (thank you readers!) and recently, I joined a Jersey City writers group so I can invest more energy into this creative part of my life, which is essential to me. (Yes, I’m doing it, damn it!)

Finally, although it’s a challenge, I continue with my mostly-vegan eating patterns, plus I’ve given up caffeine. This change has been significant, and has already produced tremendous benefits, like more energy, regulated sleep and digestion, losing weight, and a feeling of well being. I look forward to more of the same!

I hope you, dear reader, have much to be thankful for too. I hope you are living up to your creative potential. I hope that this year gave you many reasons to be inspired, and that you seek out ways to continue to be inspired.

If I’ve played any part of that at any point this year for some of you, I’m grateful.

Thankfully,

Carol

 

The Incredible Edible Egg (White)

After scrupulously journaling every bite of food going into my mouth for the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a trend: I’m falling short on my daily protein requirement.

And how do I know my daily protein requirement? WebMD is a source I trust, so I got it there.

WebMD says:

Protein requirements are complicated because the amount we need changes with age.

  • Infants require about 10 grams a day.
  • Teenage boys need up to 52 grams a day.
  • Teenage girls need 46 grams a day.
  • Adult men need about 56 grams a day.
  • Adult women need about 46 grams a day.

Okay, so on Fitday.com I set my daily custom nutrient goal to between 45-50 grams a protein a day. On many days I haven’t come close.

Why?

My analysis shows me that I’m eating lots of vegetables everyday, along with fruits, nuts and seeds along with some whole grains like quinoa. But unless I’m eating beans on a given day, my protein requirements don’t stack up.

But I don’t wanna eat beans every day.

Why else?

The Jury is Out on Soy

I have decided that for me, soy is not the right go-to food to supplement my protein intake. And just because the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides huge subsidies for the soy crop in this country, just as they do for corn, doesn’t mean I want soy in every product. (Does anyone remember what high fructose corn syrup has done for us?)

Here are some things to consider:

Beginning in 1996, bacteria, virus and other genes have been artificially inserted to the DNA of soy, corn, cottonseed and canola plants. These unlabeled genetically modified (GM) foods carry a risk of triggering life-threatening allergic reactions, and evidence collected over the past decade now suggests that they are contributing to higher allergy rates.

So after about three weeks of eating vegan, I’m at a fork in the road (yes, pun intended.)

What I’ve decided, for now, is that I will go back to eating egg whites. Egg whites are a protein super-food with zero fat content, and low carbs too. (Bodybuilders have known this for a long time.) Also, I can eliminate cholesterol and saturated fat from the egg by not using the egg yolk.

Last night, after a few days in a row of falling short on protein, I made a “hash” of 1/2 cup of egg whites, mushrooms, 1/4 cup of black beans, and 1/4 cup of diced tomatoes with various spices, salt and pepper. It was delicious, nutritious and filled with protein.

I finally put my protein consumption into the green again.

Ironically, the jar of mayonnaise I’ve been discussing on the blog with religious fervor still remains in the refrigerator unopened with its saturated fat content intact. 🙂

Let me also say, for now, I am still committed to staying off dairy products. Dairy does have saturated fat and cholesterol, so for now I see no reason to go back to it … because there is something pretty satisfying about having a food log that reads: Daily Cholesterol = 0 mg!

It’s just one more step in the journey…

Five Websites for Better Health Choices

I’ve been scouring the internet for useful websites as I continue on my journey to eat in the healthiest way possible and take good care of my body.

Below please find a list of five websites that may help you if you are on a similar journey.

Enjoy!

  1. VegWeb touts itself as the largest collection of vegetarian (and vegan) recipes on the web. I don’t know if it’s “the largest” but it does have tons of interesting recipes. If you can’t figure out what to make for dinner tonight, look here.
  2. Local Harvest – I just can’t say enough nice things about this website! It is an encyclopedic database of farms and co-ops and food producers and farmers markets across the United States. You can browse the products you want to source directly from the farm and place an order.
  3. Happy Cow – another good searchable database type website to help you find local providers of vegetarian and vegan offerings, including restaurants. This has links for cities globally. Sometimes it lists places that are “veg friendly” which means not strictly veg, but offering some stuff that is…
  4. What’s On My Food – This website is scary. It will tell you the kinds of pesticide residues you find on produce. If you eat non-organic food, and you take one look here, you’ll shocked at which toxins you’re ingesting. (One of the organic farmers I spoke to – after placing an order with him via Local Harvest – told me he would never eat a commercially raised blueberry again after he looked at this site.)
  5. FitDay – If you are interested in tracking what you’re eating, the FitDay site has a huge database of foods and the exact nutritional and caloric breakdown of each, by portion. FitDay also has journaling for any exercise you are doing, and then if you want to really go crazy, you can graph your progress of daily caloric intake vs. the amount of exercise you’re doing. I find the site most useful to know, let’s say, the number of calories in a cup of grapes, but that’s me.

F.D.A. Ruling Would All but Eliminate Trans Fats – NY Times Article

YES!!

It’s about time the Food and Drug Administration take steps to eliminate heart attack inducing trans-fats from the American diet. This is great news!

I have to strongly commend NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who started the trend by requiring NYC restaurants to stop using trans-fats in 2005. It was an important catalyst to help get things where they are today with the FDA. Good job mayor Bloomberg!

You will need to click on the link to read the entire NY Times article, I have posted two excerpts here.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/health/fda-trans-fats.html?_r=0

EXCERPT 1

The Food and Drug Administration proposed measures on Thursday that would all but eliminate artery-clogging, artificial trans fats from the food supply, the culmination of three decades of effort by public health advocates to get the government to take action against them.

Artificial trans fats — a major contributor to heart disease in the United States — have already been substantially reduced in foods. But they still lurk in many popular products, like frostings, microwave popcorn, packaged pies, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers. Banning them completely could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year, the F.D.A. said.

“This is the final slam dunk on the trans fat issue,” said Barry Popkin, a nutrition epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The proposal is a rare political victory in an era when many regulations to protect public health have stalled. A landmark food safety bill took years to carry out, in part because it collided with the 2012 election season. And rules to regulate the tobacco industry are still stuck, four years after the law calling for them was passed. But just last month, the F.D.A. toughened restrictions on narcotic painkillers over industry objections. Thursday’s announcement got the attention of food experts.

“The F.D.A. is back,” said Marion Nestle, a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.

The agency has proposed that partially hydrogenated oils, the source of trans fats, no longer be “generally recognized as safe.”

EXCERPT 2

Partially hydrogenated oils are cheaper than saturated animal fats like butter, and for years were thought to be healthier. They are formed when liquid oil is treated with hydrogen gas and made solid. They became popular in fried and baked goods and in margarine. Crisco, originally marketed in the beginning of the 20th century, was the archetype, although it now contains no trans fat.

But over the years, scientific evidence has shown they are dangerous because they raise the levels of so-called bad cholesterol and can lower the levels of good cholesterol. In 2003, the F.D.A. required that artificial trans fats be listed on food labels, a shift that prompted many large producers to eliminate them. Two years later, New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told restaurants to stop using artificial trans fats in cooking; other places, including California, Cleveland and Philadelphia, followed suit. Many major chains, like McDonald’s, found substitutes and eliminated trans fats.

Those actions led to a stunning reduction in consumption: Americans ate about one gram a day last year, down from 4.6 grams in 2006. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that blood levels of trans fatty acids among white adults in the United States declined by 58 percent from 2000 to 2009.