One of my friends on Facebook asked “what are you two doing?” where she commented on a post I did sharing my weight loss with some secret weight-loss competitors. I decided that question is best answered with a blog posting. Patty and I have had quite a ride this year 2014. We both keep a packed bag of clothes because we’ve been traveling so much. We have lost weight in the process of it all. And, we’ve had weight loss as our goal for a while now. This year we’re making it happen.
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2010 after my first wife Kim died. I’ve tried to eat right in the past but to no avail. It’s very difficult to eat healthy when everyone else in the same house is hooked on sugar, loving the microwave, and staying hydrated with soda. When Patty and I got married, she brought with her a history of baking. And, she loves it. I measured her love for me in grams of confectionery sugar and cream cheese icing. We have all but shut down the bakery now. And, it hurts.
We use Stevia now for a sweetner in small amounts. It’s a sugar that comes from a plant. Do be careful what you buy because some of it contains milk powder you don’t really need. Do not use any other artificial sweetners. They fool your body and still upset the natural balance of sugar in your blood and how it’s used by your body’s cells for energy. The best sugar for energy comes from fruit.
We both have known how to eat right and we both describe it as God’s diet. We knew that bread was bad for you, especially bread made from bleached flour. And, what I would call processed bread (store-bought) is terrible for you. We still ate it. When I eat white bread my blood glucose numbers go up and it usually takes 3-4 days to come down. The same thing happens with regular pasta. White rice and white potatoes are not as bad, but still cause irregular levels for me. I’ve eaten the bad carbohydrates and let the doctor try to keep me healthy by giving me new medicines. I was shortly told that I would go on insulin next. Insulin makes you fat and you’ll have a hard time convincing your doctor that you don’t need it anymore. Some people cannot live without it. Type 1 diabetics have to inject insulin every day.
Type 2 diabetes has been said to be chronic as well as genetic. I do not agree with these statements at all. What that really says for me is that one is shoving about the same amount of garbage down their pie-hole as their parents did before they got genetic type 2 diabetes. You don’t catch type 2 diabetes, you create it.
Patty and I moved her mom from Maryland to Gloucester Point this summer. About the same time we were to move her mom, my dad committed suicide. We stayed at my dad’s house and with my brother-in-law and his family. We’ve been back and forth doing things to prepare my Dad’s house for the market and also doing inside work at her mom’s condo. When you’re overweight and you don’t feel good, it’s hard to take care of the things that need attention. We’ve almost ignored our yard at home for 2 years and our new puppy has been in a kennel more than she’s been with us.
We decided when things calmed down to stock the pantry and the refrigerators with only healthy food. We also decided to compete with some family members to lose some weight. Whoever loses the most wins. The prize is rather controversial so I’ll leave that out.
How-To (Hard Part)
We started with the pantry. Here’s how we decided what we would NOT eat. Anything with high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar was out. We got rid of anything that had sugar as an ingredient. The food corporations try to hide the sugar by using different and confusing terminology. They are concerned about making money so they add sugar to 1) make it taste good and 2) to make you buy it again. They want you to be hooked on sugar. Yes, it’s addictive. It’s been proven it’s more addictive than heroin. No one has cared because we (almost everyone) regularly consume it and society doesn’t frown upon sugar junkies. It’s like the alcoholic that doesn’t have a problem with drinking as long as he has a drink. You have to rid yourself of processed foods with sugar. And, they call it sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, and it goes on and on. This site contains 57 names for sugar. They want your money and they don’t want you to associate brand loyalty with continued profit.
Next, we focused on preservatives and chemicals one can’t pronounce. I’m not going to list these here because I think it’s best to educate yourself about these ingredients. And, when you look them up yourself you find out about what they are and also how they can harm you. E.g. things like the sauces, dips, and dressings you buy pre-made (processed) are terrible for you. When they first started with the health-craze it was not about sugar it was about fat. The companies rushed to the boardroom to design new low-fat foods. I personally believe that the “low-fat” products are worse for you than things that are made from real foods, including natural cane sugar. Today, the bad guy is sugar because the research has shown that some fat is actually good for us. We threw away low-fat things in the house too.
We then threw away (we returned some to the store) all of the white wheat pasta and any white rice we had. And, don’t be fooled by whole wheat pasta because it’s bad for you too. It contains wheat-gluten and many people are allergic to it and don’t even know it. It can make you feel like you’ve been poisoned or have an upset stomach. When we feel bad sometimes we don’t know why. Even most shampoos have a chemical in it that’s horrible for your skin. It’s proven to irritate your skin but our bodies put up with it because we’ve been programmed to enjoy the wonderful smell and the rich lather. The bad chemical is sodium laureth sulphate and it’s what causes the nice lather. If the shampoo didn’t lather we wouldn’t like it and ultimately wouldn’t buy it. We have all eaten or used personal care products that have probably caused our bodies some negative reaction but our brain-washed intelligence overlooks it and focuses on the pleasure we experience from other senses.
The same spring-cleaning process was used on the refrigerators and freezers. We keep more frozen food in the old fridge outside in the garage. We freeze a lot of meat and vegetables. Almost everything in the refrigerator door got tossed. Most of the condiments, dressings, and other jarred products were removed.
Imagine a recipe for a great ranch salad dressing. The ingredients: vegetable oil (first ingredient), water, egg yolk, sugar, salt, cultured nonfat buttermilk with natural flavors?, dried garlic, onion, vinegar, phosphoric acid?, xanthan gum?, modified food starch?, monosodium glutamate (msg, knew that one. Makes anything taste better and migraine sufferers to have an attack), artificial flavors?, disodium phosphate?, sorbic acid?,calcium disodium EDTA (for strong bones and teeth), disodium inosinate?, disodium guanylate? (more salt) and then the recipe says contains: egg, milk, and soy. It’s noted that it’s also gluten free. Where would one get those ingredients if one wanted to whip up a super tasty ranch dressing for his family? And, why would the cook that recorded the recipe want to tell you a second time it was gluten-free and contains egg, milk, and soy (God’s food)? This recipe is for Hidden Valley brand “Original Ranch” dressing. Millions of people have had it and we’ve have had it in our house too. I love it as much as I do Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. You might as well toss the soup too.
This process is not easy. You won’t want to waste anything. You have spent good money on these items and you have eaten these things for most of your life. The Campbell’s soup thing really bothered me. Our situation is a little more painful than it has to be. My overweight 18 year old son is not genetically skinny like I was and he still feels the need to keep his pie-hole filled with good old American corporate food and soda. He does, however eat our healthy dinners with us most of the time. That’s a big plus.
How-To (Easy Part)
The easy part is getting over the chemical withdrawals and breaking old habits, cravings, and addictions. I labeled this as easy because I want to alter your mind and brainwash you into doing the right things for your health. Every time you get ready to put something in your mouth (pie-hole if that has more emphasis for you), ask yourself is this good for me? Remember that you still need to educate yourself on what’s really good or bad for you. Don’t let the Corn Growers Association educate you on the differences between cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup. And, remember that our brains work with fuzzy logic so addiction, family habits, culture, and advertising play a big part in this so-called education. You have to want to learn about what you are putting in yourself or on yourself.
I’ll give you a scenario for me after dinner last night. Neither Patty nor I felt like making anything for dinner and Patty wasn’t hungry. I was so hungry I could have eaten 2 of those trademarked Cinnabons® coated in crystal clear confectionery sugar icing. I saw hot dogs in the refrigerator and we had those Martin potato buns in the bread basket. I could have had a frozen pizza we had in the freezer outside but I actually came up with healthy choice and it was quick. I reheated leftover wild rice blended with some kind of nutty seeds from Trader Joes and I cut fresh tomatoes to put in it. I also added some black olives. Now, the black olives are questionable but the tomatoes and rice blend were not. I was still hungry late before I went to bed so I had an apple. I know that the Trader Joe wild rice blend does not affect my sugar levels as long as I eat a small portion. I had made a good decision in my preparation of something quick and nutritious. I wasn’t just satisfying a desire to eat something I craved. I was creative and made something smart.
We now buy those plastic tubs of spinach and kale at Sam’s Club. We use the spinach for salads now and many times we add pulled chicken, sometimes beef, or boiled shrimp to a salad and that’s the only dish we eat. We generally use apple, dried cherries, cranberries, almonds, or pecans with our salads. We’ve also started using roasted flax seeds as a garnish. The flax seeds taste very similar to sesame seeds but they are high in Omega-3.
One day for lunch a week ago, I made Patty and I a plate that contained spinach, apples, cheese, olives, grapes, chicken, tomato, and flax seeds. I organized the items on the plate instead of mixing things. It was a great lunch because it looked appealing and there were many flavors to enjoy. And we did not have to drown everything in creamy salad dressing. We are now using balsamic dressings to add flavor when we make salads that are plain or may only be spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, or whatever we have on hand.
We make either make our dressings or buy ones that we know are not loaded with oil and are healthy. My mom gave us a blueberry balsamic in a bottle about the size of those tiny sample liquor bottles. It was the best light dressing we’ve ever had. We are now going to order it from the company in Maine where my mom purchased it. It’s called Maine’ly Drizzle. My point with the salad dressing is to completely rid yourself of store bought dressings (grocery store ones). You can pay the price for the yuppie variety at the gourmet market or just make your own. I personally like vinegar and good olive oil. Try out new spices and experiment. We sometimes coat salads with lime juice.
Get creative with your dinners and have fun doing it. We came up with the recipe for a really good dinner made from shrimp, pineapple, and tomatoes. Everything was made from scratch. We chopped a whole pineapple into bits for a salsa with sweet peppers, tomato, onion, garlic, lime juice, and coriander. Some of the tomatoes were used to make a caprese salad with fresh mozarella, and fresh basil. We used italian seasoning on the salad. And, I put some Old Bay on my boiled shrimp. This dinner was fantastic and it wasn’t unhealthy. Try to watch the salt. It’s not good for you in excess. And, if you are cooking with real food, there’s no salt unless you add it.
You should also reduce your portion sizes. Your brain needs to tell you to eat less. You have to make a conscious decision to lose weight. You now have to ask yourself, “do I really need more or want more?” The answer is always that you want more. Just say no to that food drug. Everything we eat is mind-altering. We eat and our stomach tells the brain we are full. I don’t understand what our brain is thinking when we eat too much. I think it’s because we’ve stretched our stomachs and when it shrinks you get the benefit of being full sooner.
To simplify all this you really have 5 things to seriously think about. I’ll bullet them here in order of precedence:
- Educate yourself to what’s really bad for you
- Throw out all the bad food in your house
- Stock your house with real food
- Get creative, develop new dishes, meals, or meal plans
- Eat smaller portions and less carbohydrates (absolutely no bread if you are diabetic)
I’ve also highlighted the two questions you need to ask yourself every time you put something in your mouth and with each consecutive bite:
- What are you putting in your mouth and will it harm me today, tomorrow, or 10 years from now?
- Do I need another bite or do I just want another bite?
I embellished the questions here just a little for emphasis because it’s very important that you realize what your brain is telling you. When your body performs an operation there’s not much logic behind the brain’s decision to tell your arm to bring that poison berry up to your mouth and drop it in. You have to make a conscious decision before you actually eat it. You will question, “is that berry safe for me to eat before I put it in my mouth?”. You won’t eat it because your brain immediately goes to what your parents drilled into your head, “Do not eat those poke berries, they will make you sick.” You may not know of this particular plant but you were probably taught not to eat anything you find outside. That’s a much better warning for children. My point here is that you were warned, and if your hand plucked the berry you still will not eat it because your brain told you it was poison or not good.
Let’s switch gears now and pick an ice-cold Mountain Dew from the refrigerated case at your local convenience store. I love Mountain Dew. I was taught by the advertising that Mountain Dew is good. I’ve had lots of it and I agree with their assertion, “Mountain Dew is good”. Really, Mountain Dew is NOT good. The first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). A couple of years ago, the Corn Refiners Association via http://sweetsurprise.com was all over TV trying to convince the public that it’s just like real sugar. HFCS is not the same as natural sugar. It doesn’t get to be HFCS naturally. It can’t be found in nature (God’s place). It is found in corporate places. It’s cheaper than cane sugar so companies don’t want to use cane sugar. In the 70’s president Nixon and the goverment subsidized the farmers to grow corn and then the supply was in excess. They complained to the government because they couldn’t sell it all. They sell it all now because president Nixon allowed a Japanese scientist to patent HFCS in the US. The rest is history. My post here is to convince you pay more attention to the food that you consume. You’re programmed daily by companies to use bad logic when you make decisions that affect your own health and safety. I guess I want to shake everyone and tell them “wake up!”. My logic on not eating the poison berry is just as strong (I think) as the one that says have that good ole’ Mountain Dew. Treat yourself. Think about it.