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Friends, Family and Food

So this weekend was my final big cheat until Thanksgiving and boy did I do it up right.

I celebrated with a Halloween party last night and a big brunch with Ryan’s sisters this morning.

We are a society where food, family and friends seem to almost be inseparable.

We sit down to dinner as a family for some “family time.” We meet up with friends for a meal to “catch up.” We celebrate with parties centered around food.

At the heart of most of our socializing is FOOD.

Does that make sticking to your diet, especially around the holidays, easy?


But that doesn’t mean that you can just give up!

Sure use a few get-togethers and specific holiday gatherings as cheat days, but choose them wisely. Choose ones that are meaningful and satisfying.

Don’t just eat bad food to eat bad food.  Don’t just be lazy and take the easy way out.


I know it is difficult to turn down bad food. I know there are tons of articles with special tips about plate size and drinking water to supposedly help you avoid overeating.

But let’s face it…Once you eat a few bad things at a party and have a drink or two, your inhibitions will be lowered and you probably won’t end up eating only a “bit or two” of the bad food.

So instead pick and choose events to eat badly at.


Even if that planning is just knowing that you are going to have a few big cheats over the next few months, but are going to eat super clean in between them.

Think about which events you will really feel deprived if you don’t indulge at and plan to cheat at those. Come up with a plan of action at the others to help you stick to your diet if you don’t want to cheat at them. (This will prevent you from losing all willpower after a drink or two at the party.)

If it is at a restaurant, check out the menu ahead of time. If it is at a friend’s house, there is no harm in asking what the menu will be like.

I always find that when I’m aware of the food choices beforehand, I can create an action plan to keep me on track while enjoying the party and not feeling like the odd man out.

Family, friends and food – You don’t have to miss out OR give up on your diet!

Ingredients – Where are yours coming from?

A little bit ago I wrote a post about what the U.S. could learn from other countries about staying slim and being healthy. One of the big points I brought up is the fact that so many other countries eat “farm to table.”

Local farms produce the food in natural ways and that food goes straight to people’s tables. In other countries, people don’t buy a whole lot of processed crap or get all their animal products from conventional farms. Even the grains consumed in countries such as France, are in the form of freshly baked bread – not bread that stays good for weeks because it is baked full of preservatives.

But that really isn’t how we operate here in the U.S. We rarely eat farm to table. And, in general, people don’t worry about our farming system.

But slowly, things are changing. (YAY!) And last night I watched a great movie about the importance of caring where your ingredients come from called “Ingredients.” 

A documentary film, “Ingredients” is all about eating local, naturally raised food. It talks about the dangers of our current food system with its monocrop production system and unnaturally raised animals.

Attention being paid to the local food movement comes at a time when the failings of our current industrialized food system are becoming all too clear. For the first time in history, our children’s generation is expected to have a shorter lifespan than our own.The quality, taste and nutritional value of the food we eat has dropped sharply over the last fifty years. Shipped from ever-greater distances, we have literally lost sight of where our food comes from and in the process we’ve lost a vital connection to our local community and to our health.

I don’t know about you, but this film made me really wish there were more farmers markets around. It also made me super excited about the fact that a client of mine knows a few farms in New Hampshire that ship products!

But even if that doesn’t workout out and I can’t get food straight from the farm, the least I can do is try to buy as locally as possible and get animals raised in the most natural way possible.

Watch the film. Do you care where your ingredients come from?

Self-control – Keeping the tank full

Your self-control is like a tank of gas.

You start with a full tank, but each and every time you use your self-control, the tank goes down.

And you know when you hit empty – it’s the day when no matter how hard you try, you just can’t stop yourself from stuffing your face with everything in the cabinet.

So how do you keep yourself from getting so low on self-control that you lose all control?

You give yourself days to recharge where you don’t have to use your self-control!

We take days off from working out to rest our bodies. We take days off from work to recharge for the next week.

So why wouldn’t you need to take a day off from eating a perfectly clean diet?

80/20 remember!?!

This recharge each week isn’t an all out cheat, which can be good to do every once in a while if you enjoy non-healthy foods like I do.

But instead this recharge day, unlike the other 6 days of the week when you try to not eat past being satiated, you can eat till you are absolutely and completely stuffed full of all the Primal foods you enjoy!

For me this day is Saturday, each and every week. Yep even during my very strict two months, I had a day to recharge.

Each and every Saturday, I would indulge in all of the Primal foods I loved until I was so stuffed full I didn’t want to eat anything else. Depending on the week, I could have anything from potatoes fried in duck fat to full-fat cheese, dark chocolate, nuts and fruit.

All still whole, natural foods, but I didn’t worry about the quantity in which I ate them. If I wanted a huge hunk of cheese, I ate it. If I was craving something sweet? I would eat dark chocolate macadamia nut bark, or fruit or my primal “sorbet” (frozen berries, heavy cream and dark chocolate pieces all mashed together).

Not only did this day help me refill my self-control tank so that I could make it through another week of meat and veggies, but I also truly believe that this high calorie day really helped me get as lean as I did in two months.

All of the diets that I’ve found to be successful and fairly easy to maintain, are diets that have give you one “cheat day” each and every week. I mean just take a look at Lean Gains or Tim Ferriss of the 4 Hour Body.

And these diets incorporate cheat days because cheat days promote fat loss because they:

  • Increased thyroid hormone output. When in a caloric deficit, underfed individuals produce less T3 and T4—both important thyroid hormones that play roles in the regulation of metabolic rate. A cheat day or strategic overfeed is used in part to increase these hormones.
  • Increased 24-Hour Energy Expenditure. A caloric surplus from a cheat day causes the body to upregulate basal metabolic rate (BMR). Some studies have shown an increase of 9% above baseline, and it’s hypothesized that more is possible.
  • Increased serum Leptin levels. The big one that most harp on. Leptin levels drop while in a caloric deficit (lasting as little as 72 hours), and a periodic bump in leptin coming from a cheat day has several benefits including increased thyroid output, increased energy expenditure and BMR, and overall increased thermogenesis.

Of course, there’s the psychological benefit of being able to take a day off from your diet; eat whatever you like and be comfortable in the knowledge that you’ll still get lean. It’s hard to quantify how much that actually helps, but the majority of folks who opt to use cheating protocols cite this as one of the most significant benefits. (RFS)

So if you “cheat” once a week not only can you recharge your self-control, but you also make your diet more conducive to fat loss (and more enjoyable)!

WTF – Meat is the new tobacco!?!

I swear I uttered just about every curse word I know while reading an article that Ryan sent me called, “Meat is the New Tobacco.”

I try not to rip on vegetarians too often as I do firmly believe that different diets work for different people. Also, eating WHOLE FOODS is what is really important…(Of course most of the vegetarians I know eat more processed crap than most meat eaters I know…but that is a rant for a different day…)

But seriously…comparing meat to tobacco!?! How did someone even allow such a RIDICULOUS article to be published?

This article is ridiculously biased AND the research Kathy Freston cites has been criticized and torn apart.

Her first ridiculous, unfounded statement:

Animal products kill a lot more Americans than tobacco does.

The West’s three biggest killers — heart disease, cancer, and stroke — are linked to excessive animal product (this was linked to the China Study) consumption, and vegetarians have much lower risks of all three. Vegetarians also have a fraction of the obesity and diabetes rates of the general population — of course, both diseases are at epidemic levels and are only getting worse.

Do you know when the obesity and diabetes rates started shooting up?

They started increasing in the 1980’s when the consumption of RED meat started to go down. And guess what we started consuming more of in the 1980’s?

Carbohydrates in the form of refined grains and starchy vegetables and processed vegetable oils. Yep when we REPLACED animal products (butter and lard) with vegetable and seed oils (such as canola oil), we started to see an obesity and diabetes epidemic.

As a post on Fatty Lane states:

1950- 33% of Americans overweight. 10% Obese

1970- 47% of Americans overweight. 15% Obese

Today– 65% of Americans overweight. 30% Obese

Those are some pretty big changes over 60 years. Health “experts” say we’re getting fatter because of too much fat in our diets and not enough heart healthy “whole grains.” Let’s break it down. (See every year here)

So our meat, egg and nut consumption has increased 4.1% since 1970

Our fruit consumption has increased 22%

Our dairy consumption has decreased 3.7%

Our vegetable consumption has decreased 2.4 percent

Our added sugar consumption has increased 14%

Our added fat consumption has increased 56.3%

Our grain consumption has increased 44.6%

So is it really meat? Or might it be the grains, sugars and processed oils?

Now onto Kathy’s obsession with Dr. T Colin Campbell and his China Study, which she claims proves the link between heart disease, cancer and stroke and consumption of animal products.

His China Study is full of holes. I found numerous articles and a WHOLE SITE dedicated to providing studies refuting the China Study.

First off, the first part of the China Study was an epidemiological study in which a questionnaire was mailed to the Chinese people asking what they ate. Off of this Dr. Campbell claims that the people who ate more meat were at higher risk for disease.

BUT he doesn’t take into consideration what else the meat eaters consumed. He also didn’t take into account what their lifestyle.

Oh and by the way….his data doesn’t actually prove what he claims it does!!

People that have analyzed the study have shown that:

Significant differences in the diet of rural Chinese populations studied suggest that wheat consumption may promote higher insulin, higher triacylglycerol, and lower SHBG values. Such a profile is consistent with that commonly associated with obesity, dyslipidemia, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. On the other hand, the intake of rice, fish, and possibly green vegetables may elevate SHBG concentrations independent of weight or smoking habits. (From Raw Food SOS)

There are more quotes I could pull and studies I can cite, but I gave you a link to a ton so I’ll let them speak for themselves.

Only one more point about the China Study, which has to do with the second part of the study.

The other part of the China study was a rat study in which rats were either given powdered casein or gluten. The rats that consumed casein got cancer while the rats that ate gluten didn’t.

There are two problems with this. One, powdered casein isn’t a whole food and doesn’t accurately represent milk and meat! For example:milk contains vitamins A, D, E, and CLA & omega 3, which are anti-cancerous, which I’m sure the casein powder didn’t have! Secondly, the rats that ate casein, lived longer!! As with any population that lives longer, there is going to be a higher incident of disease! Any reasonable study considers mortality to be the most important factor…but not Dr. Campbell’s….

And now on to my last point…since I’m giving myself just three or I would literally write a ten page rant about this.

Going back to the initial comment that ticked me off: “Animal products kill a lot more Americans than tobacco does.”

Uhm seriously?

I would beg to differ:

According to pure vegetarian ideologists, people consuming vegetarian diet have better health and live longer than nonvegetarians, because persons consuming milk, dairy products, meat, eggs and fish are at health risk. In fact the most healthy people in Europe are inhabitants of Iceland, Switzerland and Scandinavia, consuming great amounts of food of animal origin.

So the healthiest people consume the most animal products…..Hmmm doesn’t sound like animal products are killing more people than tobacco…

Maybe we should be consuming more meat and not less…Maybe processed CRAP like grains and vegetable oils are really the reason we have such a high incidence of heart disease, cancer and stroke…

Ok…now I’m ready for all you vegetarians out there to try to refute me…bring it on!

Diets around the world – Is the U.S. behind?

We have a fat-phobia here in the U.S. We are so afraid of fat that we would rather eat processed crap food than whole foods with saturated fat. And we think our low-fat diet is healthiest even though we are the most obese country.

So what are other countries doing that we aren’t? How are other nations staying lean? had an article about what we could learn from other countries’ diets called “The Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Women.” And while I don’t agree with all of what they wrote, I do think they bring up a great topic for discussion.

And I think the most important thing we can learn from studying other countries, is that eating whole, natural foods is key and that fat…really doesn’t make you fat.

In the article, the author states that French women stay thin because of portion control. And while yes they do use portion control to stay slim while eating butter and cream, I think something more important is being overlooked. It isn’t the small portion that keeps them slim…it is actually the fatty rich foods that do! Butter and cream are minimally processed and low in carbs (check out this article by Mark Sisson about why grass-fed butter is good for you)! And with the full-fat cheese, cream and butter, they consume fresh foods and antioxidant rich wine! Even the baked goods they consume are FRESH…made from FRESH, minimally processed ingredients. And on top of that, they burn the carbs they eat unlike 90% of Americans out there. They walk everywhere!

The article then mentions that “Scandinavians eat farm to table.” This is definitely something we, Americans, don’t do. It is also more proof of how important it is to eat organic, free-range, grass-fed livestock and produce. So shouldn’t we be eating any and all whole foods instead of buying processed low-fat crap? Isn’t a grass-fed steak with some saturated fat better than whole wheat bread which is PROCESSED!?!

Anyway, moving on…The article then highlights the Japanese diet. It states they are so healthy because “they practice hara hachi bu, or eating until 80% full.” And people think I’m crazy when I fast? How is fasting any different from calorie restriction by eating till only 80% full? UHM…IT ISN’T!! Also, again what are these people eating? WHOLE, NATURAL FOODS! They are getting a great ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s unlike 90% of Americans. And yes, they are eating carbs…but NO GLUTEN! AND they have “the highest concentration of centenarians (people aged 100 or older) in the world.”

So now onto the section that both makes me happy and a tad bit angry…the Mediterranean diet.

The article states:

The much-heralded Mediterranean diet has been linked to a longer life and a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. As we’ve heard before, this diet includes good fats (olive oil, nuts, fish), lean proteins, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and a moderate amount of wine.

What people interpret this as…”I can eat chicken and fish ONLY.” EH! WRONG! Grass-fed, naturally raised beef is LEAN! It is way leaner than its grain-fed counterpart. So if you buy naturally raised animals, you will be eating LEAN meat…so you CAN eat steak!!!

Anyway, this is definitely food for thought (pun!). I also actually do like the article’s 7 tips at the bottom – especially “learn to love the foods that love you back.”

What do you think? Are Americans behind in their dietary beliefs? Do we have a lot to learn from other countries?

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