Five hurdles to overcome obesity

Sometimes, it seems that the more warnings we read, the more dire the situation becomes.  But, is it the fault of those who do the warning, or is it something else?

Stop-ObesityObesity, as the issue of smoking was when I was a child, is the topic du jour.  And, frankly, it is no wonder.  Those who want to eat whatever they want, without regard to their health, are doing nothing different from those who continue to smoke tobacco, even with all the culture “noise” and health warnings that have been drummed into them.

It is, ultimately, a decision in which the “eater” has to consider the benefits, weigh them against the costs, and then, change his/her own behavior.

But, there are significant hurdles to overcome.  Here are a few:

  1. The “pleasure” hurdle — the inability to deny ourselves the pleasure, fleeting as it may be, to eat whatever we want, whenever we want, and in the quantities we want.  Self-denial and delayed gratification have become rare, and is bordering on extinction.
  2. The “peer pressure” hurdle — the desire not to be seen as “odd”, “difficult to please”, or “picky” when it comes to eating.  Blending in to the culture, whether it be the mainstream or one of the countless countercultures, reigns supreme in our value system, and it takes its toll in many ways, including our health.
  3. The “procrastination” hurdle — as long as we have lived, to date, there has always been tomorrow.  We may know the facts, when it comes to eating unhealthy foods, but we still have time to enjoy what we want with no immediate impact, we believe.
  4. The “health care” hurdle — With drug companies always offering newer and better drugs to counteract our unhealthy eating habits, we surrender our nutritional choices to pills.  Also, doctors seem more hesitant than ever to prescribe lifestyle changes in lieu of drugs.
  5. The “convenience” hurdle — the preference not to put ourselves to any trouble, if we can avoid, and if we can afford it.  Convenience foods, whether at a fast-food restaurant, or in convenient prepared meal packages at the supermarket, make life easier, or so it seems.

The warnings will continue, and they should.  People will hear them, read them, and believe them, and at some time in the future, it may matter to them enough to do something to help themselves without depending on the health care system to do it for them.  But, the hurdles will have to be jumped.

This article, “34% of Kids Eat Food on a Given Day, Study Says“, on time.com sorts out some of the facts and assumptions about childhood obesity and the “fast-food” component of the cultural problem.

Home-grown microgreens

I enjoyed my first taste of soil-grown sprouts this weekend, and I was impressed with how much this technique of growing them in soil intensified the flavor.  I grew these in partial sunlight, and this picture was taken fter only six full days from seeding.

These are lentil sprouts, grown in a clamshell packaging flat, with just a few drops of water added as needed during the week.  We had a couple of 90-degree-plus days, lots of sunshine, and plenty of TLC from the gardener (me!).

Lentil microgreens

After trimming these, I placed them back on my outdoor shelf to see if I could get more growth from some of the “slower” seeds.  After one day, I’m seeing more sprouts, and I’ll get a full second harvest, it appears.

Microgreens, such as these, deliver a large dose of antioxidants for just pennies a cup, when you do it yourself.  Another big plus is that you can grow your own salads 365 days per year.  Whether grown in soil or in a Mason jar, the nutrient density per dollars spent make it worthwhile for your health.

Another tip: I continue to grown them even when I have plenty in the fridge.  I package the excess in reusable containers in my freezer to use for my morning smoothies.

Here’s a link to Dr. Greger’s blog regarding micronutrients.  It also links to some of his short videos that explain the cost effectiveness a little more.

Dr. Josh Axe’s Sprout Guide – the Best I’ve Seen!

sprouts4This is the best “Why?” article I’ve read about sprouting.

Dr. Axe is a triathlete who is on a mission to inform others about the benefits of eating superfoods.  This article on sprouting is an “everything-you-need-to-know” piece, and most impressively (in my view) is his list of the reasons why sprouting is important for nutrition-conscious people.

The list is much longer, and as I said, there is much more in the article besides the “why’s”.  Click on the source below the list to read the full article.  Then, sign up for his newsletter and receive some terrific pdf files with recipes and other important nutrition information.  Here are four items from the benefits list, just to give you a taste:

  1. Increases Nutrient Absorption — B12, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc
  2. Makes Foods Easier to Digest
  3. Decreases Antinutrients & Phytic Acid
  4. Increases Protein Availability

And, much more…

Here’s the full article:

Sprout Guide: How to Sprout Grains, Nuts & Beans

There are giants in the land

“Some people think the plant-based, whole-foods diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.”

~Caldwell Esselstyn

When it comes to plant-based nutrition, there are so many “giants in the land” of the enemy that it is much easier to submit to their rule in our lives than it is to subdue them.  Just ask anyone who has ever made a life change from eating a meat-based diet to one of whole foods, based 100% in plants.

assortedplantDr. Esselstyn’s quote (above) is taken from his groundbreaking book,  Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure.  It states the obvious irony: people will go to extraordinary extremes, both in health and in financial expenses, to correct, or treat, the outcomes of a poor lifestyle before they will adopt preventative one if it requires changing what they like to eat.

It’s absurd, and it’s true.  Been there, done that, with 60 years of experience!

Like anything else, however, there is comfort in numbers, and the numbers of doctors, nutrition researchers and experts, and plant-based diet adherents are growing, and this alone will turn the course toward disease prevention and away from disease treatment as the primary “fix” for health.
The benefits of a plant-based diet begin at day one when a person simply decides that disease prevention and/or reversal is their biggest health priority.  Making the decision empowers the other activities that move us physically to the better path, and it feels good just to breathe the fresh air of change.

Source for quote: The Top 100 Vegan and Vegetarian Quotes, and the aforementioned book by Dr. Esselstyn.

Simple Saturday pleasures

Turnips and fennel curry

Saturday finally arrived, with no plans, a stack of books I want to read, and a stocked refrigerator with several things already cubed, diced, turned into a paste, and spiced the way I like it.

I started getting out of bed around 5:30, my body totally “slept out” and ready to welcome the day.  As is my habit, I took a blood pressure reading, and it was the lowest I’ve had in over a year.  This has been the trend lately with better eating, and the accompanying weight loss that has been the secondary benefit.

First up, make some tea.  My favorite tea is “bush” tea from South Africa, also called “red tea”, technically rooibos.  This organic brand from Davidson’s is my favorite.  It also has some dried mint leaves in it, and it’s perfect for a great start to the day.  I added a little ground cardamom and whole anise seeds to spice it up even more with the sweet fragrance that each one brings to the cup.

Perusing the “ready” items in the fridge, and in the mood for some turnips in a curry, I was in luck!  I pulled a small “one-serving size” skillet from my stack of “loud banging noise” cooking vessels with minimal effort, and it woke no one in the house who was still sleeping.

I put in two tablespoons of my curry paste I made for my curry dishes early in the week, consisting of onions, garlic, ginger, and turmeric.  I added about twice as much unsweetened coconut milk and brought it all to a slow simmer.  I added two slices of fresh fennel and a diced turnip, brought it all back to a simmer, covered it, set the stove to low, and sat down with my tea and my pups on the soft couch next to the first light of the morning showing through the glass in my door.

When I finished the cup of tea, I checked on the tenderness of the turnips and fennel, and it was perfection!  After pouring it into my bowl, I added some freshly sprouted adzuki beans and topped it all with some hemp heart seeds.

A perfect morning to read, to write, to snooze, and to love life.

When Less is More; Farmers Are Reaping the Benefits of No-till Agriculture | FoodTank.com

This is a great article on the benefits of using a “no-till” method to enhance the soil for growing crops.

For backyard gardeners, like myself, the consequences of lifting the soil to allow oxygen to the roots does not seem like a big deal, since we can easily replace any potential lost organic material by hand, but on a much larger scale, as with farming and large-scale agricultural businesses, the consequences of lost organic material and erosion can be devastating, causing many farmers to resort to, or continue to depend upon, non-organic fertilization and chemical soil amendments.  And, where does that go?  You got it!  Inside our bodies!

As backyard gardeners, however, there is still a benefit to be gained from “no-till”.  In many ways, the backyard garden is perfect for “no-till.”  Weeds can be controlled with minimal effort by hand, and the dependencies on herbicides and non-organic materials for growth enhancement are gone.  As gardeners we focus on the plant, not the field crop.  The basic principle of organic gardening and farming is to protect the soil, whether the grower focuses on the plant or the crop.  The best thing to do is let the soil take care of the plant with as little help from us as possible.

Any gardener who pays even minimal attention to his/her gardens can control weeds and pests, and enhance fertilization, through composting and mechanical methods (pulling weeds, removing pests by hand, spraying foliage with organic fertilizer, and adding generous amounts of compost in just a few minutes per day when necessary).

I’ve been on a two-year hiatus from gardening, but with my new commitment to healthy eating and lifestyle, gardening is back on the horizon.  In gardening I get to enjoy many of the things that make me happy: eating healthy, working with nature as a friend rather than an adversary, spending time getting free Vitamin D from the sun.  Plans are being made for the fall and winter garden prep, and composting has begun in earnest again.

From Food Tank:

No-till agriculture can help farmers reduce erosion, improve soil quality, and sequester carbon in soils.

Source: When Less is More; Farmers Are Reaping the Benefits of No-till Agriculture | FoodTank.com

Why vegan? My reasons.

There have been three primary motivations for choosing to go with a plant-based diet.  I’m sure there are others, but these are my own.  These are not in any special order, and they are equally ranked.  At different times, one may be ascendant to the others, but that’s mostly because I have a particular thing in mind that day.

Day 1 sproutsHealth reasons

From my reading over several years, I believe the evidence is overwhelming, plant-based diets are better for longevity and quality of life.  The work of T. Colin Campbell, particularly, has been the most thorough and most convincing.  The diets espousing the benefits of animal protein over plant-based proteins notwithstanding, the longitudinal research of Campbell and others supports the notion that plant-based is not only adequate for protein, but is superior in every way.  For another book on this particular subject, The Protein Myth, by David Gerow Irving, is definitive.

Senseless animal slaughter

I won’t post the pictures here, but there are so many outstanding books on the subject of how we get meat, along with dairy produce, to our tables, that I believe it is morally damaging and condemnable for me to eat animal products.  One of the best books, written by Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals, opens that window into animal cruelty like no other has done for me.  There are dozens of outstanding books and films on the subject.

Environmental damage

With the evidence mounting that food shortages will become the number one global concern within my own lifetime, we can no longer afford to give up the amount of farmland it takes to satiate the appetites of a meat-eating population.  This, along with the effects of cattle raising, including pigs and poultry, upon negative climate change and water pollution, means to me that continuing to perpetuate this cycle is to commit a major crime against humanity on a global scale.

My reasons may not be everyone’s reason.  But, they have been carefully considered over many years.  The appetite was not hard to kill once the evidence was in.