“One problem I see with those of us who want to be humane is that while we invariably support calls for justice at a macro level, some of us are not above taking advantage in our personal, day-to-day dealings. I once rented a room in a house full of Marxists, and one of them was one of the least just individuals I’ve ever met. Yet he regularly marched in favor of justice for the oppressed peoples of this world. If we want peace, it’s essential that we be peaceful. And if we want justice, we have to be just—down to the smallest transactions. I think a lot of people can agree with this easily. But there are always “grey areas.” That’s where we have to be especially disciplined and thoughtful.” -Mark Bittner, We Must Be Just, April 2013

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Diet And A Diet

In the past I have sought answers from doctors on how to manage my body's desire to put on weight. I have always been taught that being overweight is unhealthy, but my body just didn't seem to want to comply with that rule. I didn't really know what I was doing wrong. I ate from the food groups that I was supposed to eat from, making sure to have my meat and dairy portions every day as I was taught in school. I would even make sure we had cooked corn, carrots, peas, or green beans with dinner. I just didn't know what else to do for myself so I sought the advice of a medical doctor. He recommended a few different diet plans to me, all of which were too expensive for my pocket book. I couldn't afford to buy specialty meals that would make me loose weight. Why did maintaining a healthy weight have to be so expensive? Is that the only option for me? Isn't there anything else my doctor could recommend? But if there was something else, wouldn't my doctor know about it?

Doctors spend years in medical school learning how to treat a sick and diseased body through the use of modern medical procedures and drugs, but are woefully lacking in knowledge pertaining to the maintenance of health through consuming a proper diet. This is not entirely their fault. In school we are taught what we should know, and medical school is no exception to these teachings. Dr. T. Colin Campbell has researched this issue and shared his knowledge and discoveries in his book The China Study. Here are some excerpts of what he has had to say:

In 1985 the United States National Research Council funded an expert panel report that investigated the quantity and quality of nutrition education in U.S. medical schools. The committee's findings were clear: "The committee concluded that nutrition education programs in U.S. medical schools are largely inadequate to meet the present and future demands of the medical profession." But this finding was nothing new. The committee noted that in 1961 the "American Medical Association Council on Foods and Nutrition reported that nutrition in the U.S. medical schools received 'inadequate recognition, support and attention.'" In other words, over forty years ago, the doctors themselves said that their nutrition training was inadequate. Nothing had changed by 1985, and up to the present time, articles continue to be written documenting the lack of nutrition training in medical schools.

In conjunction with the 1985 government report, the president of the American Medical Students Association, William Kassler, writes:
Most nutrition in the formal curriculum is incorporated into other courses. Biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology are the courses most often alleged to contain some nutritioninstrucition. Too often in such courses, nutrition is touched on briefly, with the primary emphasis on the major discipline. It is quite possible to finish such a course and not even realize that nutrition was covered [my emphasis]. Nutrition taught by those whose interest and expertise lie elsewhere simply doesn't work.

It gets even worse! When nutrition education is provided in relation to public health problems, guess who is supplying the "educational" material? The Dannon Institute, Egg Nutrition Board, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Dairy Council, Nestlé Clinical Nutrition, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Baxter Healthcare Corporation and others have all joined forces to produce a Nutrition in Medicine program and the Medical Nutrition Curriculum Initiative. Do you think that this all-star team of animal foods and drug industries representatives is going to objectively judge and promote optimal nutrition, which science has shown to be a whole foods, plant-based diet that minimizes the need for drugs? Or might they try to protect the meat-centered, Western diet where everyone expects to pop a pill for every sickness?

- T. Colin Campbell, The China Study, pg. 327, 327-328, 328.

How often do people, especially women, go to a doctor for the magic diet pill or for advice on which diet plan they should follow? Our diet directly and immediately affects the functions of our bodies, both short and long term. If we want to be healthy we need to give our bodies only healthy foods beginning today and continuing for as long as we want to be healthy. Our diet should be a lifestyle, not a fad. The fat, funny cat we all know named Garfield once said "Diet is 'die' with a 't.'" I think he should have said "A diet is 'die' with a 't.'" Dr Joel Fuhrman, M.D., a board-certified family physician who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods, has this to say about diets:

What is wrong with every single commercial weight-loss program? They are all too high in fat and toolow in fiber because they cater to the American love affair with rich, high-fat food.

Weight Watchers brand foods contain 24 percent of calories from fat. Lean cuisine contains 25 percent of calories from fat. The Jenny Craig program requires the purchase of packaged meals with entrees such as cheese souffle and Salisbury steak, meals that are almost as bad as what most Americans eat at home. These commercial diet plans, since they are not very low in fat, must restrict portion sizes to offer "low calorie" meals. These "skimpy" portions represent an obsolete approach with a dismal track record. [...]

You can't eat out of boxes and consume powdered drinks forever, either. If you do lose some weight, you will always gain it back. Instead, permanent changes in your eating habits must be made. Learning new recipes and adopting different ways of eating that you can live with will maintain your weight loss and protect your health for the rest of your life.[...]

The result of denying yourself food is that when you go back to eating normally, fat accumulates even more easily than before because of a low metabolic rate. This leads to the familiar yo-yo phenomenon in which dieters lose weight, only to rebound to a heavier weight than when they started.[...]

So, instead of searching for weight-loss gimmicks and tricks, try to adopt a resolution to be healthy first. Focusing on your health, and not your weight, will eventually result in achieving successful long-term weight loss. Eating a healthy diet, one that is rich in an assortment of natural plant fibers, will help you crave less and feel satisfied without overeating. All diet plans fail because they cater to modern American tasters, which include too much processed foods or animal products to be healthy.

Stop measuring portions and trying to follow complicated formulas. Instead, eat as many vegetables, beans, and fresh fruits as possible, and less of everything else. Any other program is an insult to your intelligence.

- Joel Fuhrman, M.D., Eat To Live, pg. 114-115.

Our dietary habits should be those that keep our bodies at a healthy weight without extreme intervention, consisting of food that we can consume our entire lives without detrimental effects to our bodies and instead help them to thrive and function. If we are treating our bodies right they will adjust and maintain their weight within healthy parameters. This not only holds true for those who are overweight, but for those who are very thin as well. Every person's body is different and each person's body has its optimal weight. People should be realistic about what their optimal weight is, but not justify an unhealthy body as being their norm.

We only get one body in this lifetime. Why do we treat it so badly? Our bodies are one of a kind, they are irreplaceable. Once a person's body has worn out there is no going back for another. Our bodies give us what we give them. We truly are what we eat. If all we eat is unhealthy food then all we will get out of our bodies will be disease and illness. It is up to us individually to care for ourselves through proper dietary habits. Our bodies were made to consume natural foods, not packages ones. It also makes sense to me that the foods that are easily replaced through the seasons should be the ones we consume the most of. An animal takes months or years to reach the maturity necessary in order to consume it or its by-products; plants continuously grow and produce food throughout the warm months and some plant foods can store well for the duration of the cold months. Perhaps those are the portions in which we were meant to consume such foods in our diets.

Eating right doesn't have to be expensive, confusing, difficult, and filled with time consuming methods to determine if we have reached our maximum levels of fat, calories, sugars, etc. Following a dietary lifestyle that is based largely on fresh plant foods can help us avoid excess weight, disease ,and illness and grant us a long, high-quality life.

Soaring Potential

To fly with an eagle is to see sights unseen, as starlings fill the skies.

Even that little brown bird on the ground knows where it’s potential lies.

The ostrich and emu share a common trait, running is their forté.

Other birds, when allowed to be, seem to enjoy their play

A bobbing cockatoo dancing on it’s perch is truly a silly sight.

Now imagine that bird, free with its flock, as it passes in graceful flight.

Have you ever seen a pandemonium of parrots descend upon a tree back home?

For, you see, in reality, parrots weren’t bred to be alone.

The nightingale brings beauty to our ears, the peacock beauty to our eyes.

While all through the trees, where the mourning doves roost, hang the mourning dove’s mournful cries.

The flamingo stands on one leg for hours, while the penguin soars through the deep.

And though variety abounds throughout, they’re all birds from their very first peep.

There are birds that mimic, birds that screech and birds that can sing a soothing tune.

There are birds that welcome the morning as it breaks and birds who serenade the moon.

There is beauty to be found throughout the world of birds. Still, and none the less,

Only a bird, who is allowed to soar free, knows it’s own potential best.

“Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings.”

André Gide

"All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education"
- Sir Walter Scott