Saturday, October 1, 2011

October Unprocessed Food Challenge

With Farley's help, I intend to blog for a complete month everything I eat.  Pictures and recipes will be posted as well where necessary.  I will strive to make my diet really excellent, and in compliance with the teachings of my heroes - Drs. John McDougall, Joel Fuhrman, and Jeff Novick.  Dr. McDougall is a legend.  Jeff Novick is/was my personal coach, and directly responsible for my health recovery.  Dr. Fuhrman is a brilliant physician whose ideas have recently helped me greatly.  I will try this month to eat a diet that would adhere to the teachings of all these great men.  Although each has slightly different ideas, there is a large area of common ground, and that is where I will try to stay.

In addition to posting each day's meals with pictures and recipes, I want to challenge myself (and you if you wish to join) to try some new things.  The main challenge is eat nothing but unprocessed and unrefined whole plant food.  This should be a revelation to anybody who has never tried it.  An additional challenge is to write down each day whatever refined or processed foods that you do eat.  This too could be a revelation.

I also will periodically address some concepts that have made a difference for me in my diet. Today's concept is what Dr. Fuhrman call "Toxic Hunger."  It is an important concept for me because, despite my excellent diet over the last 3+ years, my weight was still a bit higher than I wanted.  (194 pounds at 6'0").  My wife got to a very trim weight eating a more liberal diet then I did - but we both noted that I ate a tremendous quantity of food.  In part, I thought that this was a residual from converting to a McDougall/Esselstyn diet.  It was so important that I adhered completely that I made sure that I was never hungry so that I would not be tempted to stray.  I got used to eating a lot of whole plant food.

In his excellent book, "Eat to Live" (revised edition) Dr. Fuhrman distinguishes between Toxic Hunger and True Hunger.  Toxic hunger is felt mostly in the stomach often as an unpleasant sensation of emptiness, and can be accompanied by a feeling of shakiness or belief that blood sugar is crashing (which it is not).  However, this is not true hunger.  It is just the body shifting gears once the stomach is empty.

When the stomach empties, your body stops digesting food and does a number of other important tasks, such as detoxification.  During this time, you are operating on the food stores that you accumulated during the digestive cycle.  This is when you really burn fat and repair your body.

Many people, such as me, consider this empty feeling to be hunger, and indeed, eating dispels the unpleasant sensations.  I was in a cycle where I was constantly digesting food, because I always ate at the first sign of what I thought was hunger.

If you challenge yourself to skip a meal or two, you will notice that the unpleasant toxic hunger sensation subsides, and you can go for hours until you experience a different type of hunger, which is felt more in the throat.  It is not such an unpleasant sensation, but you are definitely interested in food.

For the last few weeks, I have been eating only when truly hungry.  My weight has dropped from 194 to 187 and I feel fine.  I no longer eat breakfast since I am not truly hungry when I awake.  Therefore, there is not breakfast listing for today.  For those who need breakfast, a great choice is oatmeal with some fruit mixed in (no soy milk or rice milk - that would be processed).

The revised edition of "Eat to Live" is such an excellent book that I would recommend everybody get a copy.  I really can't praise this book enough, and I will be discussing it more as the month goes on.  So that is this morning's entry.  For those who do not participate in the McDougall forum, I recently posted some before and after pictures of my wife Farley, which shows what this diet can do.  The before picture is over 8 years earlier than the after picture, and this is the sort of change you should expect if you are unhealthy and overweight.


  1. Looks interesting, Bob. I will certainly be following your adventure. I am considering joining you as I am trying a similar experiment for Oct. I call "Frugal McDougall." I'm experimenting with the cheap traditional peasant food highlighted in one of the newsletters a few years ago at the hight of the global financial crisis. Have you considered using Twitter and linking it to your blog? It could streamline your posting.

  2. Oh, and perhaps you could post a more detailed version of your rules to clarify your challenge for the people. For instance, does whole grain pasta count as refined? Condiments? Thanks and good luck.

  3. Thanks for the comments. Both pasta and condiments are refined foods. Whole plant foods are the way they come out of the ground or off the tree. Peeling, slicing, cooking, etc. are ok. Anything you could do with basic tools in yours kitchen.

  4. I am ready for this! I was doing well at no snacks, then fell off the wagon a week or so ago in several ways. Time to climb on!

    The hardest part for me is that no one in my family is remotely interested in this way of eating. At all. Since I am chief cook and bottle washer LOL! I still end up making SAD meals. Sigh... to flat out refuse would not respect the fact that they have a choice in this, and would cause WW3.

    So, this group is my support!

    Today, so far: 2 steamed red potatoes with salsa (only natural ingredients, so I figured ok?), Dr. Furhman's anti-cancer soup, and salad with orange cashew dressing (recipe from his website). No plans to eat again until dinner time several hours from now.

  5. Angela,
    the phrase "only natural ingredients" means a lot of things to different people. The question would be, what are the ingredients on the label, and how many calories per serving and how many calories from fat per serving and how much sodium per serving. Those are the things you would need to see if the salsa is ok or not.

  6. What a GREAT idea, Bob! This is just what I was meaning a while back when I told you that it helps me SO much to see pictures. I'll be following along!

    I'd also like to add that your wife is gorgeous. (c8

  7. Thanks, Mrs. D. I hope the pictures will be a bit larger tomorrow. We are still figuring things out.

  8. Oh, no calories from fat. I definitely checked the label - tomatoes, onion, etc. Nothing bizarre! Few calories per serving at all, and very little sodium.

    Growling belly in the afternoon, but then things calmed down and I ended up with a small dinner.

    Good start to the month!

  9. This is a great idea! My typical diet includes the occasional bit of cacao powder and herbs and spices that are not intact. Aside from that, I do ummm, "detact"(?) a few things in my kitchen, like running buckwheat that I sprout through the food processor before making Manna bread. But that's it for over 3 1/2 years now. Plants as they come from the garden, can't beat it.

  10. Wow, that bit about toxic and true hunger, I wish I had known that 30 years ago. I have always had that feeling in my stomach, along with the shakiness. So I would eat and then I would feel better. Ate my way up to 374 pounds at my all time high. Better knowing this late then never.