Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bob's 46 Pound Success Story

Bob's wife sent us these great before and after pictures with his permission.  He is still working on more weight loss, but these pictures will give everyone a true idea of what this no grain diet actually does.

Bob, September 2009

Bob today, having lost 46 lb and counting
Congratulations, Bob - you're an inspiration!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Having recently written about eating out vs. eating in, I feel I should qualify this with something that works for us, when we do eat out.  Admittedly it's not often.

When placing your order, you can ask your server to replace the carb portion, whether it's the fries, baked potato, pasta or bread with additional vegetables.  Many restaurants are happy to do this without extra charge.  That way you won't even be tempted and the bonus is that you'll leave the restaurant feeling pleasantly full but not bloated.

If you're in Canada, the health-check menu choices at Swiss Chalet already include this as an option, though at other restaurants you usually have to ask.

Here's another tip I saw online somewhere, and it's one I have used successfully:  when you're not sure whether sugar was used in the preparation of the dish (e.g. when it has a rub or marinade), you can ask whether the dish is suitable for diabetics.  Your server might not know the answer and is likely to ask the chef, which means you'll probably get accurate information. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

A delicious chocolate treat

I have been making the most delicious chocolatey custards in the microwave lately.  They are great for breakfast or as a snack.  You need:

a cup of milk
an egg
a heaping teaspoon of cocoa
sweetener - I use Splenda, but you can use any other low-cal sweetener
vanilla essence (optional)

  1. Heat the milk in the microwave for 2 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, using an immersion blender, mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl or jug.  You could use a regular blender instead.
  3. Blend in the hot milk.
  4. Return to the microwave for 7 minutes at 20% power.
  5. Leave to stand a couple of minutes.
I sometimes overcook mine, in which case I give it a couple of zaps with the blender to give it a custardy texture again.  If your microwave runs very hot, this might happen to you as well.

The role of price

The other day, I came across the following comment from somebody who feels price is an obstacle to eating healthier foods:

The basic problem with people eating healthy is that healthy food is on average more expensive then junk food. You can get a burger mean for around 3 bucks at most burger joints..a healthy wrap? between 5 and 7, with no drink.The same applies in grocery stores. Studies done have proven that middle to lower income families find it financially difficult to eat healthy, although many are aware of the healthy food choices. Perhaps a better option would be to find a way to make healthy foods competitively priced with the junk food.

She may have a point, but it struck me that the underlying assumption is that we are eating out.  In my opinion, as a society, we have put on so much weight, especially since the 70's and 80's, because so many people either eat out several times a week, or they buy foods at the grocery store that have already been prepared (think pizza, packaged meals, store bought dips, and even deli counter coleslaws, potato and pasta salads).

We say we are too busy to cook, but isn't the real reason that cooking is no longer taught to us by our parents or in school and that many of us have become totally reliant on restaurants as a society?

Luckily home-cooking is enjoying a major resurgence and there are unlimited websites and TV shows to reteach the skills that have been lost.  The economic decline of the past few years has also made it more socially acceptable to eat in, and this is another benefit.

One great example of a thrift-driven cooking site is Cook for Good. It shows that:
You can eat healthy, delicious food for an average of $1.13 a meal per person, based on grocery prices from October 2010. Every lunch includes a snack to be eaten when you like. Every day includes at least one dessert, two servings of fruit, and plenty of fresh vegetables. You can take this same menu and cooking plan green for just $1.72 a meal using mostly organic, sustainably grown, and kindly raised ingredients.
Now Cook for Good is far from grain- or sugar-free, so although it's a great site, it's not going to help you get off the grain ride. 

Many of the ingredients that go into a grain-free diet are admittedly somewhat more expensive:  for example a meat dish (especially if you use organic pastured meat) is usually pricier than a vegetarian pasta dish.  However, if cost is an issue, there are still many ways to make it work.  For one thing, a grain-free diet does not have to be meat-heavy - it's still about sensible portions.  Choosing seasonal produce - or better yet, growing your own - is also much more cost-effective than that which is not readily available where you live.  There are plenty of vegetarian options, and if you eat eggs, you will definitely be able to plan cheap meals that don't involve meat.

So in spite of the Cook for Good limitations, I think it's a very informative site for thinking about the cost-effectiveness of preparing all your food yourself.  There is little doubt in my mind that people who eat out regularly not only have less control over the ingredients that go into their daily diet, but they also spend more money overall than those whose meals are home-cooked.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Looking for a realistic New Year's Resolution?

At this time of year so many people vow to join a gym, go on a diet and lose all their excess weight after January 1st, but how many keep it up beyond the first two weeks?  How many actually succeed in losing a single pound?  Tara's story over on Mark's Daily Apple with some unbelievable before & after photos is truly inspirational, and epitomizes what we're talking about on the Grain Ride:
I was miserable. I tried everything to lose weight, but I was just so tired all of the time. I diagnosed myself with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Metabolic Syndrome, endometriosis and depression, which the doctors then confirmed. They put me on Prozac, which made me gain more weight. At my heaviest, I was around 235 lbs. I am a 5′9″ female. 235 lbs is not a healthy weight. When I asked the doctors HOW to lose weight, I was told, “We don’t know. Just lose it. Then symptoms will go away.” So, Google it was.
 And about exercise:
...nutrition is 80% of the battle... you don’t actually have to do as much as the industry would have you believe. ... Hours of “chronic cardio” on the treadmill is actually having the opposite of the desired effect – people are overtraining, injuring themselves and making themselves hungry as hell. (It’s a lot easier to justify a donut when you’ve worked out hard, right?!) I didn’t have to work out hard to see results. 

Before you sign up at the gym or the weight loss program you've been eyeing, you need to convince yourself that you will have a greater chance of success doing it alone.  Sounds unlikely, but it's true.

Don't buy into the conventional hype!

Instead, figure out how much money you would be spending on those New Year's resolutions, and use it to stock up on the right grain-free foods instead (actually, chances are you'll have quite a bit of change left over even after stocking up).  Challenge yourself to 2 weeks without grains, and then decide.

And, at the end of those two weeks, please remember to leave a comment below to tell us how you did.

Read Tara's story...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why grains are harmful

The Automatic Earth is an interesting blog that covers the economy, peak oil, survivalism, food security, among many other pertinent current issues.

Today's post includes an explanation of exactly how it is that carbohydrates make us fat, essentially saying exactly the same thing we are saying in this blog.  In this hard-hitting piece, the author, Nicole Foss, even posits that metabolic syndrome (what happens when chronic sugar consumption leads to chronic over-production of insulin in the body) cannot be treated on a vegan diet, because it is too high in carbohydrates.
We are told that diet-related health problems are the result of eating too much fat and too little fibre, while doing too little exercise. We are told to limit the consumption of fat, especially saturated fat, substitute more carbohydrate and eat more fibre. If we are carrying stored mass that we are not comfortable with, we are told that we should restrict calories, especially fat, and burn off excess through exercise.

If we fail to burn off the excess in this way, we are told that we must be either greedy, or lazy, or both. Moral judgements are very common in the field of nutrition, yet these are uninformed and highly unfair.
The food industry cashes in selling us addictive foods, and then cashes in again by feeding on our insecurities about the resulting health effects, especially weight gain. As over-consumption of carbohydrates promotes a state of chronic inflammation, to which the body responds by producing cholesterol, the pharmaceutical industry can also profit by promoting cholesterol-controlling drugs. These attack the symptom, not the disease, leaving us just as prone to heart disease as before, but poorer. The status quo is highly profitable in all ways. No wonder it has been so difficult to challenge.
Do check out the whole article

If you'd like to know more about the author, Nicole Foss, this is what her bio says about her:
Her academic qualifications include a BSc in biology from Carleton University in Canada (where she focused primarily on neuroscience and psychology), a post-graduate diploma in air and water pollution control, the common professional examination in law and an LLM in international law in development from the University of Warwick in the UK. She was granted the University Medal for the top science graduate in 1988 and the law school prize for the top law school graduate in 1997.