Monday, October 17, 2011

October 16

Comments today instead of pictures.  I ate the same thing for lunch and dinner.  Farley had left me some of the chickpea recipe frozen.  I thawed in and poured it over rice and greens.  The recipe and pictures are shown earlier in the month.  I take 2 demerits for two glasses of wine I drank with my wife.  We were so happy to see each other after the week apart that it called for a celebration.

I don't worry about the occasional glass of wine because it is something that I can control.  It is important to recognize when you can control something.  I think that almonds are something that I can't control.  I bought some last week because I couldn't find the walnuts.  Walnuts I can control, but I found myself overeating the almonds, and eating them between meals.  No more almonds.  The interesting things was that, the day after eating way too many, my fbs was down to 96.  Go figure.  My comments today are about
Working on the Right End of the Equation.
I failed previously trying to apply Dr. McDougall's teachings, and I always look to others who are either succeeding and failing to see what I can learn.  One of the turning points IMO is which end of the "equation" people work on.

I am talking about how our food tastes to us.  We can try to emulate the SAD (Standard American Diet) foods we used to eat by making, e.g. vegetarian mayonnaise, or we can learn to like plain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

I see a lot of people focused upon how to make vegan treats.  This is easy to do, because you can use the same tricks as with SAD food.  Just add salt, sugar or its equivalents, fats or their equivalents, processing, and increased calorie density.  Popular foods with this approach are rich sauces, processed vegan foods like fortified cold cereals, baked and flour goods such as brownies, dried goods, such as puffed cereals, rice cakes, baked tortilla chips, etc.  While these are ok for just about everybody occasionally, I don't see a lot of success with this as a general approach.  By doing this, we are trying to appease our taste and or addiction for calorically dense food.  It is an easy approach, since it is not hard to find or make calorie dense vegan food.  Vegan ice cream, here we come.

The other end of the equation, which is too often dismissed, is to adapt our tastes to healthier foods, such as plain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  When I found out how sick I was, one of the smartest things I did was hire Jeff Novick as a dietician and food coach.  Jeff explained to me very clearly that if I wanted to reclaim my health, I need to focus upon plain whole plant foods.  The plainer the better.

This seemed like a daunting task at first.  My food pleasure went way down.  It was so bad in the first few weeks that at times I considered abandoning what I was doing.  But I stuck with it, and the concepts of Dr. Douglas Lisle were really crucial to me in keeping up my resolve.  Dr. Lisle is co-author of a book entitled "The Pleasure Trap."  Dr. McDougall also sells some of Dr. Lisle's DVDs on his website, and they are excellent.

I had to  rewatch the DVDs and reread the book often during the transition to better foods because I knew that I could not suffer like I was for the long term.  What Dr. Lisle assured me was that I did not have to suffer long term - that shortly my tastes would adapt to the new foods.  Of course, he was correct.  In a matter of a few weeks I was enjoying the whole plant foods as much as I ever enjoyed any foods.  In fact, more, because I no longer experienced the indigestion or drugged out sensation I experienced with the old foods.

So many people know about the benefits of healthy eating but cannot pull it off.  I think the main reason is that they do not understand how quickly good foods begin to taste great, and how quickly your body responds by feeling so much better.  But there is not question that there is a steep hill to climb at the outset.

The bottom line to me is that it is so much better to adapt your tastes to the foods you know are healthy than it is to adapt healthy foods to appeal to your existing tastes on a SAD diet.  We think of our tastes as static, but as Dr. Lisle explains, they are not.

Another important thing to consider when "down regulating" our tastes to more simple food is that total abstinence is required.  We crave calorie dense foods, and sadly, we know how to refine and combine foods to increase their appeal to us.  As long as we indulge our taste with little bits of this high calorie density foods, our taste mechanism never down regulates.  Those little tastes are all it takes to make the healthy food continue to taste bad.  As long as we are tasting chocolate now and then, vegetables are never going to taste great.

So the one thing that you need to take on faith is this.  If you commit to a healthy diet, and abstain from processed and calorie rich foods, you will soon be liking the new food as well as the old.  And you will have all the benefits of the healthy diet, which are tremendous.

But as long as you are searching for the perfect vegan brownie or ice cream recipe, you are never going to like healthy food.  So work on the right end of the equation - your tasting mechanism.  You will be so glad that you did.


  1. How true! For so long I ate a vegan diet .... and of course french fries, coke, etc ARE vegan. And I wondered why my progress was not so impressive... Then I gave up the fries and Coke (well, on and off, that devil's brew has been my undoing many times, all becaue I THOUGHT I could handle a sip. Need I say that a sip can become 6 cans a day in the blink of an eye?) but still ate a lot of processed foods. Yes, better... but the difference focusing on unprocessed foods has made is amazing. Getting the taste buds on board takes some time, but seeing the scales drop is sure a nice reinforcement!

  2. Angela, I did the same thing myself. Seeing the scales drop is great, but to me it even better to feel good instead of feeling old and sick.

  3. I don't remember where I posted it, but I'm certain way too much effort is wasted into trying to make meals that taste like "normal" - the old animal based ones - and making vegan sweets and cakes. The idea that just because it is vegan doesn't mean it is a good food choice is slowly taking foot. I don't know which one I find more annoying - the vegan recipes that are just as fat, sugar, salt, oil... rich as the "old SAD" ones, or the animal based ones that have a selection called "healthy" - they don't have a selection called "unhealthy"?
    Thanks once again for all of the effort you have been putting into this blog.

  4. I learned very early on in my relearning to cook our style that trying to recreate bad SAD (interchangeable words, right?) food into healthy food seemed ridiculous. Since eating animal products is unhealthy, why would I want to put extra effort into my daily cooking to make a burger or cheese spread or a dairy treat when that is what I am avoiding? By making these types of "vegan" foods you are just prolonging your desire for them and it seems to me would invite you to go off and eat the real thing when presented to you.

    We know that it does take time to prepare our food and that is why I have learned to make our meals simple. When we first started this nearly 4 years ago I felt that I still had to make an attractive plate with a variety of choices. HA! As you can see that has changed drastically. I switched to serving our food in large bowls as you may have noticed and just layer all those good starches, veggies and fruits together. Keeping it simple is delicious while generating success in improving our health and weight loss.

  5. I only eat out of bowls! When I finally got married, I wanted only a few things: a cat, beautiful dishes and excellent pots. I have all three... and now I eat only out of huge bowls!

    I'm reading my posts and am shocked at how I've lost my native tongue - english! I read like when many non-english speakers are being interview on the radio: close, but no cigar.

  6. I am glad that I found my way to your site, Sactobob. Like you, I've known about McDougall for years but never figured out a way to integrate it into
    my life for very long. I just did not understand the mechanics, and lacked the faith that it would really result in weight loss.

    Seeing your meals that Farley has prepared for you and those that you have prepared has dramatically illustrated to me how simple a meal should be.

    Ditto about trying to create "vegan/vegetarian" meals that mimic the texture and taste of the SAD. It's just SAD meals "in drag"...

    Scary Hat