Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How to stay healthy on Thanksgiving, 2015….

Today's Post:  Wednesday, 11-25-2015

There are two ways to a healthier Thanksgiving Dinner.

Yesterdays post was about ways to prepare a healthier Thanksgiving Dinner.

This post today is mostly on how to stay healthier eating a Thanksgiving Dinner no matter how it's fixed.

There's no perfect way to do either. 

The focus at Thanksgiving & at Thanksgiving Dinner must be on enjoying the day.  Enjoy the food.  Enjoy the company.  And, enjoy the time off work!

My Brother in Law once said at Thanksgiving Dinner that he did NOT want to hear anything about what he shouldn't eat for Thanksgiving Dinner just in case I had any ideas of doing so.

I didn't then; & I won't this year.  I agree with him.  I believe as he does that the focus at Thanksgiving & at Thanksgiving Dinner must be on enjoying the day.  Enjoy the food.  Enjoy the company.  And, do nothing to distract from that focus.  If anything, help make it happen instead!

That said, here are some ways to stay a bit healthier and leaner and still enjoy the food.

1.  Focus on the people.  Find out what people have been doing and catch up with what's been happening with them.  Enjoy the people you enjoy; and be mellow, courteous, gracious, and if necessary, a bit forgiving with the rest.

2.  Practice the strategic sandwich method.  Before and after Thanksgiving, eat a bit less food and make virtually all of it be the healthiest you know how - and, keep up your exercise routine to the very best of your ability at least two weeks before and particularly for the two weeks AFTER Thanksgiving.

If necessary, do some kind of workout in your room if you are away from home or cut the intensity a bit; but do your very best to exercise several days a week the two weeks before &  after Thanksgiving (& before Thanksgiving next year.).

This method works.  Once when I was getting the amount of exercise each week that I should be before and after Thanksgiving and eating right otherwise, I ate very well at Thanksgiving to the point of being very slightly stuffed.  And, I gained ZERO pounds for November and December both.

 A couple of years ago, blogger Vera Tweed came up with a delightful strategy for thinking about this that I read.

Her idea was to think of the Holiday Season the way an athlete trains for a competition.  Focus on eating right and exercising as if you are in training during the Holiday Season.  Every meal that isn't a holiday dinner or other event, at all your other meals, eat right and only eat right.  And, make sure to exercise during this time.

Her idea that I liked best is to start NOW to do this instead of waiting until January when all you can do is catch up and repair the damage of the holiday season as many people do!

3. During your Thanksgiving dinner, eat strategically.  Eat well from the healthiest foods; eat a small portion for one serving only of the less healthy foods that you enjoy; but have them and enjoy them; and do your best to edit out the worst for you foods.

a) The turkey and the vegetables are the best for you.  So eat well and generous-sized but not very large portions.  (You need to not overdo those so there's enough to go around and YOU have room for at least some of the other foods.) 

Cranberry sauce may have sugar and even some kinds have high fructose corn syrup; but the cranberries are a superfood you likely don't eat often; and they add a festive air and are a great pair with turkey or gravy and mashed potatoes, flavor-wise. 

Cranberries are, along with organic wild blueberries the most health enhancing berries on the planet.  (You can also ask to bring a version you make at home with thawed diced organic cranberries from the frozen food section at Whole Foods with zest from organic oranges and diced organic raisins.  That will have some sweetness and extra flavor with no added sugar or HFCS to worry about!)

Many people rarely have green beans or Brussels Sprouts or yams or sweet potatoes or cooked onions; but they are often served at Thanksgiving.  They are all good for you.  And, they fill you up so it's much easier for you to eat smaller portions of less health OK foods than you otherwise would.  If they aren't your favorites, try pairing them with a good tasting food.  Eat some green beans and then immediately eat a bit of stuffing with gravy and cranberry sauce for example.

A recent article even found evidence that the alpha carotenes in carrots, squash, yams, sweet potatoes, darker greens, and broccoli may be as effective or more in turning off cancers as raw broccoli or cauliflower do with their cruciferous vegetable phyto-nutrients.  Alpha carotene was found to be connected to a 39% lower risk of dying from any cause the study reported.  Even better, when cooked and eaten with fats or oils, the carotenes of all kinds in food become more bioavailable and likely to benefit you.

Believe it or not, that specifically means that the filling in pumpkin pie is good for you! 

For this nutrient, carotenes, cooked broccoli works in fact.  Yams or sweet potatoes or the filling in a sweet potato pie are also good for you.

Last year I tried making a dairy free pumpkin coconut oil pie filling.  I used two 15 ounce cans of pumpkin puree, the free flowing 9 ounces from a 13 ounce plus can of coconut milk.  I used about half a tablespoon each of allspice, powdered ginger, and cinnamon.  I added about a tablespoon of dark molasses and 2/3 cup of dark brown sugar.  I stirred those together until smooth over low heat in a cast iron frying pan large enough.  I then whisked together 3 extra large raw eggs in a separate container.  Then I poured that into the rest and using the whisk, I stirred it in for several minutes until it was thoroughly cooked.

I then let it cool enough to be OK putting into the refrigerator in a glass container large enough.

When I tasted it the next morning it was delightful.  I'll serve it with a bit of pumpkin pie spice to sprinkle on top for people who want that traditional flavor.  But, just as I fixed it, it had more flavor and tasted far better than 95% of the pumpkin pie fillings I've ever had.

You can also add whipped cream or pecan meal or almond flour or a combination you like. 

Maple Hill Yogurt that is whole fat and from grass fed cows is now available at Whole Foods.  So you can even use that instead of cream as a topping.

Serving it by itself this way makes it gluten free and grain free as well.

My wife found out that nonfat Greek yogurt plus dark molasses also work in a pumpkin pie filling as a substitute for evaporated milk.  Now it’s available, Maple Hill Yogurt that is whole fat and from grass fed cows for this.  In fact, you could add some real maple syrup too!

If raw vegetables are available in a relish tray, the cruciferous ones and the ones with carotenes are the best for you.  Broccoli florets, radishes, carrots, and cherry tomatoes are particularly good. 

Have very little dip unless you know what's in it.  Some dips have hydrogenated oils.  One year my wife wanted to just buy a dip and all of them but one had hydrogenated oils!

My wife and I bring the relish tray.  One year we were bringing sour cream with nothing added and hummus with the container showing the ingredients for dips. 

Hummus is good for you but avoid overdoing it to leave room for the dinner. 

Recently I discovered that commercial hummus all has high omega 6 canola oil. So, be even more sparing of how much you eat of dips based on it.

( I hope real hummus with olive oil makes a comeback or someone begins to sell nonfat hummus.)

If you have a Vitamix, they include a recipe for hummus.  You can now use that with no oil or with coconut oil or with extra virgin olive oil.  I found out the hard way NOT to use more raw garlic than the recipe calls for because the taste becomes too harsh. But if you gently roast a few cloves of garlic or sauté them in mild extra virgin olive oil first, you can add those for a richer flavor.)

Sour cream is OK in small amounts occasionally; but don't overdo it.  We were bringing guacamole; but no one but me ate any before, so I no longer do that.  But if your family likes it, do bring some.  It's actually a good for you dip.

b)  Stuffing, particularly if it was cooked inside the turkey; gravy; mashed potatoes; the filling in the pies, and many other dishes have great flavor but include less than healthful ingredients. 

If you are exercising and eating right otherwise and have no serious health problems to be very careful of, the strategy I use is to have some of them; but hold myself to one small serving.

That way I enjoy them but avoid overdosing my system with their less OK ingredients.  And, having had turkey and vegetables first I don't have room left to eat a large amount anyway.

c)  Soft drinks, rolls, biscuits, pie crusts, most commercial jam currently, and candied marshmallow topping for sweet potatoes are the worst foods and drinks for you in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. 

Simply don't eat many of those or to the best of your ability pass on them totally.  Or, if you do eat some, have tiny, quarter of normal sized portions. 

And, only eat the ones that you most enjoy.  Don’t waste your tummy capacity on harmful things you don’t even enjoy a lot!

If you've already eaten well from the healthier foods, that's much easier to do. 

Here's personal example of that.  I've always loved pie, including the pie crusts. 

But I've found out since that many, if not most, of the pies I'm likely to get at Thanksgiving have crust made with refined grain flour and Crisco, which is basically massive amounts of Trans fats (aka as partially hydrogenated oils).  Partially hydrogenated oils are such high impact heart attack starters and build up in your system that it’s really important to never eat them voluntarily. 

What I do now is take small servings of my favorite pie or pies & only eat the fillings.  So I can enjoy cherry or blueberry pie filling, pumpkin pie filling, and/or candied pecan filling; but I leave the crust. 

The only exception I might make is to have one single bite of a browned bit of crust since it has the most flavor.  Once, I didn't even do that as I no longer had room for it.

Also, if you bake at home, it’s possible to make pies with a gluten free flour you have pre-tested to work to make decent pie crusts AND you can use Kerry Gold Irish butter from grass fed cows now available at Whole Foods. 

Butter tastes about three for four times better than Crisco in a pie crust. And though you want to avoid eating too much butter too often, hydrogenated oils are such a potent heart attack starter, butter is about ten times better for you!

4.  A relish tray with the best for you vegetables and good tasting dips that have no hydrogenated oils and pies with crusts that have no gluten and use real butter from grass fed cows, illustrate another method. 

Arrange to bring foods that you know are good for you or less harmful and which others will also like.  That way you for sure have foods at the dinner you can fill up on or eat at all when you otherwise might not.

5.  Limit your alcoholic drinks to one or two or at most three if you drink. 

And, drink when you first arrive or at the start of the Dinner.  That way, if you need to drive afterwards, the effect will have mostly worn off plus it will be buffered by the torrent of dinner.

Recently, I found out this also makes it much easier to drink less.  By starting out with it, at the point you might have been tempted to drink too much later, you can much more easily pass because you will be feeling mellow from what you already drank.

I found out the hard way once that if you drink a lot more than that, it prevents you from enjoying the people you really wanted to talk with.  That year I only really got to have the first half of Thanksgiving and lost the rest. 

(Some people are better off not having any alcohol.  They may be unable to stop at 3 if they have 3 or have to drive soon after the dinner and late at night and/or not metabolize alcohol well.)

 I love the flavors in a Bloody Mary.  So I also recommend the Virgin Mary drink as it has almost the same flavor. (Unfortunately, most Virgin Mary mixes have high fructose corn syrup and are not very good either.  So, only get a Virgin Mary if a real bar tender is making it or you make it from an online recipe you've tried and liked.)

Red wine is a bit better for you and goes with the dinner. 

And, if you do have more than 3 drinks, leave later or stay overnight -- or to be safest, have someone else drive.  That way you can enjoy Thanksgiving next year too!

Do the best you can with these strategies.  Enjoy the day and the people. 

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fix a healthier Thanksgiving Dinner, 2015....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 11-24-2015

Here is my 2015 update on the versions I posted in 2008 to 2014. 

There are two ways to a healthier Thanksgiving Dinner. (You can use all the info if you are doing it all or just for the dish or two you bring.)

1.  Today we talk about ways to prepare a healthier Thanksgiving Dinner.

2.  Tomorrow, we plan to post on how to stay healthier eating a Thanksgiving Dinner no matter how it's fixed.

There's no perfect way to do either.  The focus at Thanksgiving & at Thanksgiving Dinner must be on enjoying the day.  Enjoy the food.  Enjoy the company.  And, enjoy the time off work!

My Brother in Law once said at Thanksgiving Dinner that he did NOT want to hear anything about what he shouldn't eat for Thanksgiving Dinner just in case I had any ideas of doing so.

I didn't then; & I won't this year.  I agree with him.  I believe as he does that the focus at Thanksgiving & at Thanksgiving Dinner must be on enjoying the day.  Enjoy the food.  Enjoy the company.  And, do nothing to distract from that focus.  If anything, help make an enjoyable stress free dinner happen instead!

That said, there's a very large list of ways to make the dishes for the Thanksgiving Dinner either better for you or far less bad for you -- for those dishes you make yourself.

If there is a family favorite that you've made forever that has not so great ingredients, make it anyway or move it just a bit in a healthier direction to make it a bit less bad for health.  Do your best to make a version that people will still really like.

However, to the extent you can reduce or replace any of these next ingredients with healthier alternatives, it's a good idea.

1.  Sugar.

Real sugar or brown sugar or real maple syrup or dark molasses or local, unrefined honey are least bad for you and most likely to be in some holiday dishes.  (Artificial sugars and agave nectar are NOT OK for health and many hate the taste of Stevia.)  The key is to use real sugar and go easy the days before and after Thanksgiving Day and eat the dishes with sugar On Thanksgiving only after eating some protein and vegetables.

You can also take a cinnamon supplement a few minutes before you eat a sweet treat with sugar.  This cuts back on both the blood sugar and the insulin surge to make it less harmful and fattening.

In making the food, you can try making it half with brown sugar or real maple syrup or dark molasses because those have flavor in addition to the sugar.  (If you can get it, C & H sugar from Hawaiian sugar cane is NOT GMO nor is real maple syrup.)

You can then add organic raisins for some dishes instead of the other half the sugar in some dishes.  That adds fiber and a new kind of taste to the dish.

Two changes from last year:

a) Last year we suggested half coconut sugar to make the overall sugar lower glycemic since coconut sugar is only 45 while regular is 65 and half and half is 55 instead of 65.

Oops!  Don’t do it!

(Using whole organic coconut that has been run through the pulverize cycle on a Vitamix is OK since it has the balancing fiber and fat and protein.

BUT, like Agave Nectar, despite its low glycemic reading coconut sugar by itself is far too high in fructose and likely harmful to eat much of!)

b) In previous years we suggested that:  “…you can use half of one of those and half erythritol.  That has half the sugar and calories so the glycemic load is less too.  Erythritol is a sugar alcohol but is available in granules much like real sugar.  Like coconut sugar, it’s a bit less sweet than regular sugar; but by being only half the sweeteners the combination with a form of real sugar will be close to as sweet. “

We no longer think that a good idea at all.  The erythritol is fine; but the source is NOT!

Unfortunately I’ve since found out that the source of erythritol available to you at the store is heavily processed corn syrup from GMO corn from the same folks that make high fructose corn syrup! 

My favorite suggestion is to use half the sugar as real maple syrup or brown sugar from C & H or dark molasses and half as loosely packed organic raisins.  That combination will be festive and taste sweet and be health Ok as long as you go easy on the number of servings.

2.  High fructose corn syrup.  (Much of it contains mercury and the research finds it harmful.)

Be very careful to NOT use any ingredients or foods or drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup.  Recent research finds it to be a heart attack starter and much more fattening than real sugar!)

3.  Refined grains or rice. (These spike blood sugar more than sugar! 

Don’t use those or any kind of wheat and avoid whole grains too.  That information is well tested and new this year.)

You can also use quinoa instead which makes a rice like dish that both has more protein of better quality and is much lower glycemic than whole grains, rice, and brown rice.

It also ONLY comes as non GMO.  (That’s because the bitter taste you have to soak off is the plant’s natural pesticide.  So it needs no pesticide either sprayed or genetically added to the food where it cannot be removed as GMO grains do.)

Quinoa has a very nice texture but tastes like low quality green peas.  So the trick to using it is to add a lot of flavor with things like sautéed, diced organic onions, or pecan meal, or both.

Black eyed peas and lentils also work with similar flavors added. 
(Though be careful to include an alternative dish and disclose these because some people are allergic to beans.  The same is true of pecans and walnuts and other tree nuts in recipes.)

4.  Salt.  (Use some but don't overdo it. And, have some salt free choices for those who need them.  For example, be sure to include some unsalted vegetables raw or cooked to counter balance it with their potassium.)

Small amounts of sea salt work well.  They have more flavor, counterbalancing minerals like magnesium, and less sodium.

5.  Fat from grain fed animals that is also high in omega 6 oils.  (You're virtually guaranteed to have some.  But where you can, in recipes, substitute some fat from animals that are 100% grass or pasture fed or substitute extra virgin olive oil.

6.  Trans fats (aka as  partially hydrogenated oils).

(Deadly stuff! Use NONE of it voluntarily.  Use no Crisco or other trans fat based shortening. Use no margarine -- which also is high in omega 6 oils besides the trans fats.

Real butter is better!  And real butter from grass fed cows is best if you can get it.  Just use a bit less or when you can, use extra virgin olive oil.

Our Whole Foods carries Kerrygold Irish butter from grass fed cows; and it has GREAT buttery taste.)

7.  Soft drinks.  (Both regular and diet, these are the worst fatteners consumed by humans. 

More recent information is finding both regular and diet soft drinks are as harmful to health as smoking which is astounding because so few people yet know this!

The rest of the Thanksgiving dinner feast is enough already! Add no more fatteners!  Since these are the worst known, refuse to bring them or drink them yourself on Thanksgiving.)

8.  MSG.  MSG both fattens even with the same calorie intake AND is thought to be one of the many causes of the damage that causes mental decline too!  Don’t use MSG or foods or spice blends containing MSG or autolyzed yeast or “spices.”

1.  Sugar. 

(This is a separate and second bit I wrote about ways to keep enough sugar to enjoy or to have people who want it to enjoy.  It has some slightly different ideas than the one above.)

Make or serve slightly smaller portions of foods with sugar.  Even 10 % less will help.  (More than 20 % less will likely cause a request for bigger portions or a second helping.)

Make enough for 1 and a half servings each instead of two or three.

Let people serve themselves that food.  That way people who prefer to not eat the sugary food get no sugar from it all. 

Use 10 to 20 % less sugar in the recipe.  The flavored sugars such as brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and dark molasses can make this hard to detect since there is still a good bit of sugar AND their distinctive flavor to make sure the sugar is noticed.

Substitute raisins or sugared dried cranberries (You have to make dried or sweetened cranberries yourself such as using un-dried cranberries cut in half and then simmered in real maple syrup but only use the cranberries. 

The store bought dried and sweetened cranberries use high fructose corn syrup)

Or substitute walnuts or pecans for part of the sugar if no one is allergic to the nuts.  For some foods, bits of bittersweet dark chocolate might work.  If it will work in the recipe OK, use flavored sugars, brown sugar, honey, or 100 % real maple syrup.  The flavor will make up for the sugar reduction somewhat.  If the recipe works with it, add cinnamon for the same reason.  In addition, it helps your body handle the sugar you eat it with.

(In 2009, we suggested using Agave nectar or syrup. Do NOT use it!
Since then I tried it and found it NOT to be a very good substitute for sugar. I found it to have a harsh undertone.

AND it's basically straight fructose which is actually WORSE for you than sugar.  Things like maple syrup or brown sugar taste better and actually are better for you!

Last year we suggested coconut sugar which tastes better but which I found out recently also is too high in free fructose.

2.  High fructose corn syrup.

Currently, this means no store bought pies or other desserts.  Too many of them still contain this.  Do your best to get homemade with real sugar instead even if you have to trade favors with the cook if you don't cook or haven't time. 

Make a strong special effort to not serve or use jam or jelly unless you've read the label and it ONLY has real sugar.  It's changed but at one time, over 90 % of store bought jams and jellies still had high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar. 

Similarly use real maple syrup only in recipes that call for it instead of other kinds. Over 90 % of those that just are syrup for pancakes etc still have high fructose corn syrup while 100 % real maple syrup has only sugar. 

And, either substitute a bit of brown sugar or real maple syrup with a bit of a mild tasting or bland extra virgin olive oil instead of commercial marshmallows as I've read they also tend to have high fructose corn syrup. 

(Since I wrote this section initially, it came out that about 30 % of all high fructose corn syrup including in name brand foods is contaminated with mercury.  Has this been fixed since then? I very seriously doubt it.)

(Pretest recipes before you cook the one for the Thanksgiving Dinner if you can, for best results!)

3.  Refined grain.

Aim NOT to use ANY wheat food of any kind.  And, use little or no whole grains of other kinds.  We now know today’s wheat harms everyone who eats it and whole grains are not much better.  This information is new this year, 2015.

That said, if you must have whole wheat or bread stuffing or croutons, the least harmful one is the one we had last year:
Use organic, sprouted whole grain breads (such as Food For Life Ezekiel or Genesis Bread) for bread or toast crumbs for the stuffing.  They contain sprouted whole grains and are higher in fiber and protein than refined grain breads. 

They have far less wheat and a more health OK kind; and they have multiple other ingredients.  Plus they taste good.

Even many diabetics find these breads do NOT spike their blood sugar like refined grain breads do.

(Make sure that if you make this that people know it does have some wheat and gluten.)

Experiment with gravy made with lightly toasted gluten free buckwheat flour &/or canned black eyed peas that have been run through a blender for refined grain wheat flour in the gravy. 

It also works to add button mushrooms or diced onion that has been sautéed in extra virgin olive oil.  (Minced garlic and sautéed mushrooms and extra virgin olive oil and pureed cooked black eyed peas and a bland extra virgin olive oil make a decent vegan gravy I found.  It also has zero gluten.)

Use gluten free buckwheat flour for pie crusts and make pies with a bottom crust only or a top crust only instead having a crust both places.  Or use the lattice style on top.

Avoid commercially baked pies and pie crusts if you can.

With the possible exception of those from Whole Foods Markets, or a custom, to-order bakery, they all contain refined grains. 

Even worse, most to almost all commercial pie crusts use shortening or other hydrogenated vegetable oil and trans fats.  That stuff is heart attack starter.  So do NOT use or eat commercial pie crust except those that only use butter or use slightly healthier oils as the special pie crust shells at Whole Foods do.   (Since I discovered that, if I'm served commercial pie, I eat the filling only and leave the crust.)

4.  Salt.  Try to use no packaged or commercial foods as they virtually all have added salt and two or three times as much as they should or have the salt when it's not needed. If you can, make it yourself instead &/or use fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned. 

And, use a bit less in recipes that otherwise would be a bit salty.  (Unless you are making a dish just for someone who cannot have ANY salt, leave in at least a quarter teaspoon or so per serving or two as a recipe that normally has salt tastes "off" with none at all.

And/or use sea salt as it has salts of other minerals besides sodium in it. 

Of course, in many dishes, you can substitute a bit of minced raw garlic or a very small bit of cayenne pepper for some of the salt for a dish that still tastes good. (Pretest this before you cook the one for the Thanksgiving Dinner though, for best results!)

5.  Less total and more health OK fats.

Cook the stuffing on the stove top instead of inside the turkey. (Inside the turkey stuffing soaks up a lot of total fat, and in grain fed turkeys, a lot of omega 6 oils.)

Serve a small pat of butter or two on top of a dish after it's cooked and still pretty hot instead of using more in the recipe.  (You get the great taste but with a lot less of the fat and calories that way.)

Where you can, substitute extra virgin olive oil.  For example you can strain out the fattiest bits out of the turkey drippings and mix that half and half with extra virgin olive oil for the gravy.  Or you can do 2/3 strained turkey drippings and 1/3 extra virgin olive oil. 

If you include lightly toasted gluten free buckwheat flour &/or button mushrooms or diced onion that has been sautéed in extra virgin olive oil or a bit of minced, fresh garlic, the extra flavor makes up for less turkey broth.

Also consider adding dried and pitted (& checked for being pitted) dried sour cherries to the gravy and the stuffing.  They add a tasty, festive touch AND help your body process the saturated fat.  Diced cranberries also work and fit the traditional Thanksgiving taste themes.

And, to the extent you can, let the turkey drippings drip out of the turkey before it's served.

Minimize cheese dishes or make small portions and use those from grass fed cows. 

Kerrygold Killaree Irish Cheddar is one such cheese. (Kerrygold also makes a butter from cows fed only grass.)

Butter and cheese from grass fed cows do have saturated fat -- but we now know that in moderation  it’s OK for health and even may help protect your heart. 

The omega 6 oils in cheese and butter from cows fed GMO corn are NOT OK to eat if you value your health.  Use extra virgin olive oil and other protein foods instead if you can’t use grass fed. At least eat very little and do NOT cook with it.

Precut butter into small pats instead of serving it by the quarter pound.

Lastly, to the extent you can, include onion and fresh minced, garlic in the foods unless one of the guests will dislike them or be allergic.  They help your body process saturated fat and extra fat.

If you can reliably get a truly pasture raised turkey to cook, it will have less saturated and total fat and omega 6 oils even before it's cooked than a grain fed turkey will.

Use gluten free buckwheat flour for pie crusts and make pies with a bottom crust only instead of one on top as well.

Avoid commercially baked pies. With the possible exception of those from Whole Foods Markets, or a custom, to-order bakery, they almost all use Crisco which has trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils.

Use butter instead.  It's dramatically better for you than Crisco!  And, you can just make pies with only a bottom crust so there's a bit less butter in them.

6.  Trans fats (aka as partially hydrogenated oils).

Avoid buying commercially baked cookies or biscuits as most still have this junk. 

And, either substitute a bit of brown sugar or real maple syrup with a bit of a mild tasting or bland extra virgin olive oil instead of commercial marshmallows as I've read they also tend to contain hydrogenated oils. 

Use whole gluten free buckwheat flour for pie crusts and make pies with a bottom crust only instead of one on top as well. Avoid commercially baked pies.. With the possible exception of those from Whole Foods Markets, or a custom, to-order bakery, they almost all use Crisco which has trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils.

Use butter instead.  It's dramatically better for you than Crisco.

To repeat, most to almost all commercial pie crusts use shortening or other hydrogenated vegetable oil and trans fats. 

That stuff is heart attack starter.  So do NOT use or eat commercial pie crust except those that only use butter or use slightly healthier oils as the special pie crust shells at Whole Foods do.  

(Since I discovered that, if I'm served commercial pie, I eat the filling only and leave the crust.)

7.  Soft drinks.

Soft drinks, both regular and diet are about as harmful to consume as is smoking. 

And, on top of that, they are each extremely fattening. 
Do yourself and everyone else a favor and don’t buy any to reward the companies that still make them!

Club soda and iced tea also work.

In very careful moderation, Champagne or a Sparkling Burgundy or Sparkling Pinot Noir also works.

Do your very best to avoid serving regular or diet soft drinks unless you know your guests will be extremely unhappy without them. 

Or if only one or two guests want soft drinks, politely request they bring their own.  At least you won't help enable their bad habit. 

(The evidence now is that drinking abundant amounts of regular or diet soft drinks is about as bad for you as smoking.  It just makes you fat and tends to cause type 2 diabetes & heart disease – just like smoking does.)

8.  Add some good for you foods that help people fill up without the extra amounts of less good for you food components.

Be sure to include good tasting vegetable dishes and a salad or two served without dressing that people can add their own serving of dressing to; and provide a couple or three almost OK kinds in various flavors.

(There are now several dozen recipes from the Wheat Belly people and the Paleo people for really great tasting vegetable dishes that you can make.

Hope to have a few of those and some links next year. 

I’ve not tried either one.  But here are two that you might experiment with:

Curried coconut cauliflower:

Dice up some organic cauliflower and cook it over low heat, and low heat only -- until it’s just begun to soften, in organic coconut milk with turmeric powder and mince garlic and some sea salt to taste.

Try it out well before to make sure you can make a version that tastes good for Thanksgiving.

That’s a way to include a very low glycemic serving of a cruciferous vegetable in a good tasting dish that also is good for you in other ways.

No crust festive pumpkin puree:

Get a can of pumpkin puree only.  Whole Foods often has those on sale this time of year.

Mix it half and half with Maple Hill grass fed yogurt.

Then add some pumpkin pie spice, some cinnamon, and raw pecans or walnuts, and some real maple syrup or dark molasses to taste.   (As long as you go easy on the maple syrup or dark molasses, this will taste great and taste better than most pumpkin pies!)

And as another example of ways to get some health OK vegetables available, my wife and I also now bring the relish dish.  We include raw organic broccoli florets, radishes, pitted olives, carrot sticks from peeled carrots, and sometimes celery sticks or raw chunks of cauliflower. 

We take real sour cream or Maple Hill Yogurt with curry powder; hummus, and a health OK dressing from Annie’s Naturals which Whole Foods carries for dips. 

(Guacamole is OK & even good for health but no one but me used any the time we brought some.  So we stopped bringing that.  It didn't work for the rest of my family.  Yours might like it. Try it and see.)

New in 2013 and still available in 2014!  Maple Hill Farms makes a full fat yogurt from grass fed cows that is available at Whole Foods.  Try that in moderate amounts instead of sour cream from grain fed cows for dips. It’s very rich tasting.

9.  As we discuss next tomorrow on how to enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner no matter how it’s fixed --

In your own eating, eat a bit more of the protein foods and a lot more of the healthier vegetable dishes and smaller servings of only the less healthy stuff that you actually like.

Eat virtually NONE of the less healthy stuff that you find OK but not great. 

That way you'll certainly be full enough to feel like you've been to a feast and eat foods you enjoy -- but with minimum damage!

Do the best you can.

Then focus as much as you can on enjoying the food and the people. 

It won't be perfect; but it can be better. 

Let yourself enjoy it; & focus on the parts that ARE going well.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!  

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Monday, November 23, 2015

My monthly fatloss report....

Today's Post:  Monday, 11-23-2015

[This month’s report is a mixed review with some positive and some negative events to report. I both gained some leverage and lost some. That status seems like AND IS where I’ve been stuck for some time!

My hope of course, is that I’ll gradually make progress by relentlessly continuing the things that have lost and kept off the fat I no longer have;

Having the things I’ve added get traction and gradually help lose some more fat;--

AND find things with more leverage that work well when I try them -- and then keep doing them also! ]

Here’s the key news. 

1.  Last month, I don’t know for sure what occurred; and a new scale is coming shortly!

IF it’s accurate, which I no longer believe it is, I lost a pound.  (My weight reading I go by as a “normal’ weight and compare month to month is my weight before breakfast + my weight after breakfast divided by two.)

The reason I think the scale needs to be replaced is that it seems to get stuck and not show small changes in weight. 

This month on my monthly weigh in where I do both before and after breakfast and measure my chest, waist, and hips, both my before and after breakfast weight readings were the same. 

(If it was the same, the average I use went down by one pound.  If I gained the pound or two I usually gain at breakfast I might have weighed the same as last month or a half pound less.  But NOT the whole pound.

It was possibly accurate as I took a dump in between too. But in all the time I’ve been doing this, that’s never, ever happened before.  I’m typically one or two pounds or 1.5 pounds heavier after breakfast than before.

Also recently, I weighed before a dump and after and ALSO got the same weight when I clearly was lighter.    So, I’ll be replacing the scale soon! 

(The better news is that I did add some things that over time will remove fat and so the half pound or pound loss might have been real.)

My waist didn’t go down for the measurement that was slightly tensed. 

And,  the more relaxed one also was the same. 

My chest was the same; and my hips went up about half an inch.  (That might be muscle as I’ve added an exercise twice a week, holding a 50 pound dumbbell while I do 7 super slow full squats  -- about 10 seconds down and 10 seconds up.  Those are called goblet squats.)

The bad news is that there is basically no or little progress. 

 The good news is that what I’m doing is consistent enough that I’m not losing ground either.

That leaves the promise that if I can upgrade my efforts effectively, I’ll be able to keep the progress I get.

2.  The MUCH better news is that last month I DID upgrade my efforts effectively.  And, best of all, this time I’m actually sure it is sustainable!

As I’ve posted about recently, trying to cut back on my red wine intake at dinner has never been sustainable for me before. 

Because then I’d try to force myself to drink a half drink when I badly wanted a whole one. 

Now I always get the whole glass of red wine I want.  But instead of doing that both before dinner and after as I was doing, NOW I simply only do it BEFORE dinner.  Then after dinner when I’m feeling the effect of the full drink before dinner, I’ve found I can and do easily pass on ANY wine after dinner.

The four weeks previous to this month, I drank 40 & a half drinks of red wine.

But using that method, THIS past month I only drank 31 drinks of red wine.

Nine and a half drinks less in 4 weeks is 2.375 drinks a week less.

And by being able to sustain it this time, the 1.5 pounds of fat per drink a week conversion means that I WILL remove 3.56 pounds of fat that will not return!

That’s nowhere near the 24 pounds of fat I believe I need to lose of course.

BUT it IS a seventh of it.  And, by adding 6 more methods that good it will be gone.

AND, of the 7 pounds over the weight I want to see on the scale, it’s a bit over half!

(I added a lunch time change I think may cut another pound or two of fat that is quite sustainable so far.  So between the two I may be on track to lose all the 7 pounds I am over my goal weight AND over a fourth of the 24 pounds of fat I want to lose.)

3.  The foods and supplements that I had hoped would help with increasing my muscle and strength seem to be still working.  I did get slightly stronger since last month and I kept my other gains. 

4.  I also continued the two things that may have been as important, or more so, than the foods and supplements. 

The Perfect Workout information was that optimum progress came with slow repetitions of 10 seconds up and 10 seconds down.  I had been doing much faster although slow reps; but when I re-read that 10 seconds each way is best, in one of my two weekly strength training sessions I have been doing just that.  It does seem to be working.

And, I read a study that people doing strength training who were given a placebo they thought was anabolic steroids increased the weight they used right away to levels the people not given anything were doing!

So, I thought, what if I just boosted the weight in a comparable way?  I did so.  And it seems to be working!

I’m doing more reps with the now heavier weight on dumbbell triceps extensions; and in one exercise, the one arm dumbbell curl, I may be able to add 5 pounds soon from 35 to 40 pounds.

There is also better news.  I’ve discovered that when I can get to a gym with heavy barbells and resume doing the deadlifts I did when I was last lean at my goal weight and increase the weight to what I did then or close to it, there is strong evidence I’ll gain enough muscle in my lower back, buttocks, and legs to remove at least half and maybe a good bit more of my excess fat!

And, at a gym in the two exercises where I can do more weight easily than I have at home, the dumbbell row with one hand braced on the bench and the shoulder shrug, I’ll be able to use more weight.

*And, there may be a gym I can get to often enough to do this before the end of the year.

(My recovery from my Achilles tendon injury on my left leg is 100%; and the repair of the stress fracture in my lower left leg seems to be standing up still to the very slow building back program I’ve been on.  And, I’m getting close to a level where I may be able to speed my progress a bit.)

So I wrote last time; but the progress has stalled due to how weak the muscle got.  And, it’s not responding as well as I’d hoped – at least not yet. 

Also the stress fracture, though not seemingly cutting my strength increases, is not quite healed after all this time. It’s a bit off to one side of where most of the effort comes from.

My hope is that by the time my strength returns, the increase in circulation and growth hormones will also finish healing the stress fracture too.

* Since last time, my efforts to restart doing jump rope are improving slightly.  (Even tiny amounts build fitness extremely well.)

I was able to reduce the length of the jump rope in a way that makes it more normal to hold instead of having to hold bunched up sections to make it short enough.

And, even though I’m not quite fit enough or skilled enough to do consistent sections of 10 or more, I am getting sections of 7 to 11 without having to throw my right shoulder into a injury to do it!

I also got coaching as to holding my elbows in a bit once I have the rope moving which has helped.

Despite the low rep start, it now looks like persistence will get the job done!   Hopefully by a month or two from now, I’ll be able to report even more progress.

My best set without a glitch now is just 11 most times AND yesterday the total was 83 over my several attempts: and the one before was 87. That’s almost twice what it was last month, 47!

My goal is to do 70 and rest and 70 and rest and 70 more.  The elapsed time is just 90 seconds of jumping because I jump fast enough that 70 only takes 30 seconds. I know because I did 70 of the as if jumps without the rope in 30 seconds with my temporary jump rope coach.

When I can do that, I’ll be quite fit for sprint type of exercises and this may cause some fat loss from calories burned for a few hours afterwards according to what I’ve read.)

4.  My blood pressure medication is working decently now.  I’ve not been able to improve the readings with any significant fat loss yet.  But when the hot weather leaves I may be able to double the diuretic dose safely which was giving me good results before.

I thought that initially; but the drug may have some negative heart risk effects as measured by actual tests I took.  So I may add a relaxation session and cut the dose in half instead.

If the extra turmeric with black pepper I added measures as reversing the heart risk effects, I’ll keep the diuretic the same and expect my blood pressure to go down a bit from the relaxation session I’m about to add.

My sleep is better from stopping wine after dinner and stopping caffeine at about Noon instead of 3 PM.

And, my at home sleep test will be about the time of my next report.  By a month to three after that, I may have better blood pressure to report from sleeping even better.

5.  I got the Thync device; but discovered I have to also get a smart phone to use it.  I’ve delayed getting one; but will do so if only to use the Thync device on it.

Since a month ago, I now HAVE the smart phone, an Apple i5s.  With luck, now that I have the stylus so I can actually enter numbers and characters on it, by a month from now, I’ll be able to use it well enough to try the Thync!!

It looks likely that the 10 minute session of the calm setting that I can do other chores while I wear it will de-stress me enough that I’ll sleep better and likely will have slightly lower blood pressure AND that may cut my cortisol enough to cause a bit of belly fat loss too.

In addition, I may be able to make just a bit more strength progress by using it on its energy boosting setting before my one heaviest strength training session each week.

6.  My hopes for the cooling packs to lose fat are much lower than they were when I first wrote of them.

In fact, despite it now being the right time of year to try them, I find just adding the Thync and keeping up with my normal schedule is about all I can add just now.

Perhaps in a month or two or next fall, I’ll try them.  I certainly still have them. And the packs are in the freezer still.

7.  Because I have cut back on salt and no longer use the iodized and processed salt at all, my only iodine supplement has been the 150 mcg in my multi.  I read it may boost my thyroid enough to give me a bit more energy and maybe burn more fat, to get closer to 500 mcg a day of iodine.  I found a kelp supplement that has 400 mcg.  So by adding that I’ll get 550 mcg a day.  I now do it each day!

Since I’m only 6.2 pounds fatter than my weight on the scale goal, if this removes 2 to 6 pounds that could help!

And, there are times during the day having even 5% more energy would help!  

And, in a related effort, I posted recently on the fact that adding a serving a day of organic, ceremony quality, Matcha, green tea might boost my metabolism enough, perhaps by 5%, to remove about 7 or 8 pounds of fat over a few months.

It has health benefits.  So it’s winning strategy even if no fat leaves me!

AND two days ago I started doing it!  By next month, I may see some fat loss from it.


AND if drinking the matcha green tea does remove that much fat by next year, by also drinking less red wine successfully; lowering my cortisol and stress with the Thync device; and the successful increase in calories burned from jump rope and muscle gain, I’ll be at or below my goal weight of 161 pounds AND with a fat loss of at least half of my 24 pounds I want to lose.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

You can quit smoking without gaining weight....

Today's Post:  Thursday, 11-19-2015

Today is the Great American Smokeout Day that happens every November a bit before Thanksgiving.

The hope is that some of the people who pledge to not smoke just for today will realize they can just not restart tomorrow and will quit successfully.

And, of course with thousands who get the message and quit just for today, a small percentage WILL quit smoking and never smoke again.

But that’s pretty weak.

Surprisingly we DO now know how to help people quit successfully.  But it hasn’t yet been packaged and sold to the people who need it and want it.

There are three reasons people fail at quitting smoking.

1.  Some people want to quit smoking but won’t even mess with trying because they absolutely do NOT want to get fatter!  This goes double for women smokers. But it’s true for men also.

And except for very light smokers and very heavy smokers who quit, people who quit smoking routinely gain as much as 5% of their previous weight as added new fat.

Not only can you quit and NOT get fatter, the things you do to not get fatter make it more than twice as likely you’ll quit smoking successfully!  (We cover that last.)

2.  People either see no reason to quit at all or only try 5% hard enough if they do try to quit because they have no clue how horribly harmful tobacco smoke and using tobacco products that touch your mucous membranes actually is!

3.  People who try to quit often cannot beat the addiction to nicotine.

This post will cover those in reverse order.

3.  Recent research has found that of the two main uses of smoking, boosting your ability to concentrate and relax when too stressed, the addictive part of nicotine is the boosting it does to your ability to boost your mental energy when you want or need to do so.

Then when people quit smoking, they not only lose that tool, they have their ability to focus and concentrate go down and stay down enough it slashes their quality of life enough it’s very challenging to put up with it.

You almost have to have sky high motivation or training in continuing in very unpleasant circumstances that would to credit to a Navy Seal to quit.

There are three pieces of good news on this one:

a)  If you really knew what was going to happen to you that is completely avoidable by quitting, your motivation WOULD be sky high!  (That’s coming up next right here!)

b)  Navy Seal, retired, Rorke Denver, wrote a book, Damn Few, that has the mental strategies and practices that you can use to get the skill of continuing in very unpleasant circumstances.

And, in his book and in a comment by another retired Seal is the basic strategy:

If you prepare by learning to make an extra effort when it counts by becoming unusually physically fit, you can do far more than you may realize.

Then, when you are tested with a difficult problem under harsh conditions, you may have to try so hard to succeed at it and hang in there that you are 100% exhausted after you do it.

The trick is what comes next:

You say to yourself as Rorke Denver did in his own style of course,

That was insanely hard; but I did do it.  Since this is important to me and that shows I can beat these challenges, I’ll keep beating the next ones too.

It may be tough; but I CAN do this.

The people who fail say something like this: 

That was insanely hard.  Maybe I’ll not be able to beat the next one.  Then they drop out.

But the underlying ability to beat the challenges is about the same!

So, if you are tempted to quit in that way, once you know this, the cure is this.

“I’ll not beat myself and give up. 

No matter what the next challenge is, I’ll assume I can do it and I’ll try just as hard or harder than I did on this one. 

They’ll actually have to give me an impossible task before I stop; and they may not be able to.

I refuse to quit before that actually happens!  Based on my beating this last one, they may not be able to!

c)  There looks to be a new way to do what nicotine does well enough to simply overcome the withdrawal and boost your concentration so well on demand that you’ll never need to waste your money doing it with nicotine again!

I’ve not tested it yet personally; so I’ll hold off on posting about it yet.  But if it does work that well, beating nicotine addiction will be a slam dunk!

(Hint:  Don’t buy tobacco company stock!)

2.  People either see no reason to quit at all or only try 5% hard enough if they do try to quit because they have no clue how horribly harmful tobacco smoke and using tobacco products that touch your mucous membranes actually is!

Lower class people don’t expect good health or long life. And, since smoking likely won’t kill them next week since it didn’t happen last week, they simply believe smoking isn’t harmful.  And, few of them have any interest in quitting.

But most people, and for sure those literate enough to be reading this post, have tended not to try hard to quit for a different reason.  They have heard and believe that the big risk of smoking is lung cancer.  Many smokers don’t get lung cancer.  (True: Even in very heavy smokers 3 of every 4 won’t get lung cancer.)  Then since they have other things to deal with, they just assume they’ll be in the lucky group of people.  Then they don’t try to quit.  Or, if they try, they don’t try very hard.

This will be brief.  But OMG this is SO wrong!

Would you get off the track if an express train was coming?

If yes and you smoke, are exposed to second hand smoke, or use nicotine or tobacco products in other ways, you are at enough risk you should try at least that hard to put a screeching halt to it.

a) Every single puff of tobacco smoke begins to build up heart disease by harming the inside of your blood vessels which your body patches in a way that will close them eventually. 

b)  Every single puff of tobacco smoke begins to age your lungs enough to make you functionally MUCH older.  This happens to new, teenaged smokers.  When some of them got their lung function tested and tested like they were decades older, they quit.

c)  Every single puff of tobacco smoke shortens your telomeres and dramatically speeds up your aging process.

d)  The excessive cadmium in tobacco smoke and tobacco products not only is one of many ways they cause cancer, it doubles your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease!

Those mean that every single puff of tobacco smoke harms you. If you smoke even a few cigarettes a month, YOU are being seriously harmed.

NO ONE who is routinely exposed to cigarette smoke escapes!

If the exposure happens, so does the harm – every single time!

e) What about cancer?

OMG!  THAT is far worse than most people have a clue it is too!

Because tobacco and tobacco smoke cause cancer so many ways, it looks like fully half the people who have cancer would have escaped it had they not been exposed to tobacco smoke or tobacco products.

The cadmium in tobacco causes cancer; nicotine causes cancer; NKK is a nicotine metabolite in tobacco leaves and cause cancer; polonium is in tobacco today and is radioactive and causes cancer anywhere and everywhere in your body your blood goes once you breathe tobacco smoke or use tobacco products.

THEN, if you smoke and use a lighter with its very hot flame your risk of cancer AND of lung cancer skyrockets up.  (Almost all smokers today use lighters too!)

Here’s the much better news!

1.  Some people want to quit smoking but won’t even mess with trying because they absolutely do NOT want to get fatter!  This goes double for women smokers. But it’s true for men also.

And except for very light smokers and very heavy smokers who quit, people who quit smoking routinely gain as much as 5% of their previous weight as added new fat.

Not only can you quit and NOT get fatter, the things you do to not get fatter make it more than twice as likely you’ll quit smoking successfully! 

a) People who begin to exercise regularly each week, even if they start with just few minute walk or exercises for a few minute ONE day a week, begin to see themselves as health oriented and able to make other health changes.

In fact, 50 years ago, it was found this effect was so strong people found it so much easier to eat better and smoke less they simply began to do so!

Then of course most of them add more days a week and learn to exercise better and in more ways.

Here’s the best news:  Research shows that people trying to quit smoking double their chances of success if they do this.

b) That same research found that if people added ONE serving of a non-starchy vegetable ONE day a week to do every week, people trying to quit smoking also doubled their chances of success if they did this.

c)  Maybe people who do both – and starting at that easily doable level that’s quite easy to
do – won’t be four times as successful in quitting; but they will be more than twice as likely to succeed.

d) What about stopping smoking without permanent fat gain?

If you start regular exercise and eating vegetables alone and keep getting a bit better, you will dodge gaining any permanent fat.  And your chances of quitting go up that much too!

e)  What if you want to be sure to not gain fat?  Is there anything I can add to do that?


Some will find it easier than others.  But if you exercise and eat vegetables also stopping the foods and drinks that only fatten you, many people lose over 25 pounds from that alone!

Stop all soft drinks totally.  Both regular and diet soft drinks test as extremely fattening.  And research is beginning to find they are almost as harmful to your health as smoking!

Stop eating anything that contains the high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners that are in soft drinks.  They are just as fattening and harmful in other foods.  Read the labels because so many foods contain them!

Stop eating ANY food that contains wheat as an ingredient.  Both refined white wheat flour and real whole wheat flour we now know are as fattening and harmful as soft drinks.

Stop eating any food that contains any trans fats or any kind of hydrogenated oil.  Any regular intake builds up in your system to high levels that then become nearly as harmful as cigarettes.  AND, almost everything they are in contain the other things on this list too!

Conclusion:  It’s not only possible to quit smoking without fat gain the news is even better!

If you do these things – or even begin them all at that tiny a level – you will also more than double your chances of quitting smoking too! 

And, if you do ALL these things you are quite likely to wind up LESS fat than you are now!  

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