A Young Adult Kicks the Junk Food Habit

Ruth is a newlywed with a full-time job and active lifestyle who has successfully learned to embrace the nutritarian diet-style 100%. Even though she was raised on the typical standard American diet of “home cooked meals” and fast food, and was addicted to junk food, she’s been a Nutritarian for a couple of years now and loves it. Welcome to Disease Proof, Ruth.

What was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian approach?

I grew up in a home where the evening meal usually consisted of a main entrée such as spaghetti, lasagna, meatloaf, roast beef, fried chicken, stir fry, or pizza; and bread, butter and milk were staples at every meal. And on busy nights we ate plenty of fast food as well. Breakfast was usually a bowl of processed cereal and milk, and lunch was a deli meat sandwich, chicken nuggets, pizza pockets, or macaroni and cheese. We always had sweets available to eat so I loved cookies, ice cream and chocolates of all kinds.

When I could drive, I had a part-time job at a coffee shop that sold baked goods. At closing, employees could take home the day’s leftovers that didn’t sell: yeast rolls, cinnamon rolls, scones, cookies, etc., and consequently I became addicted to coffee drinks and sweets; in fact, by my late teen years I didn’t eat much else. However, I was tired and sick all the time. I had colds continually and took over-the-counter meds to treat the symptoms. 

 

How did you find out about Dr. Fuhrman? 

My mom had lost a lot of weight by following his nutritarian diet-style and felt so much better, which inspired me. She gave me a copy of Eat for Health, and after reading it, I applied some of the information. Over time, as I learned more, I eventually committed 100%; both feet in.

 

How do you feel now?

I have so much more energy now, and I never get sick. I haven’t had a sick day from work since fully committing to eating this way. My skin is clear, and I’ve noticed that I don’t have bad breath or body odor anymore, and I’m also thirty pounds less than what I weighed in high school. The energy I now have enables me to keep up with a full-time job and active lifestyle. 

 

What are your success tips?

 

  • No matter how busy life gets I always make time for shopping and food prep. I spend less than an hour a week cleaning and cutting up all the vegetables. This is a time saver when I’m in a hurry and need to pack my lunch, assemble a salad, or make dinner.

  • I drink a green smoothie in the mornings after my workout and before I leave for work. It energizes me, and I feel so good to start the day.

 

Congratulations Ruth for taking the necessary steps to kick the junk food habit and live in the best health that’s possible!

 

Sleep. I bet you could use some.

Twenty-four hours in a day usually doesn’t seem like enough to “get everything done,” does it? Exercise and sleep are often sacrificed in our busy lives.

You may think that you’re tough – that you can “get by” on just a few hours of sleep. I assure you, you are wrong. Your “sleep debt” (the accumulated lack of sleep that causes daytime fatigue) will catch up with you.

Consider this statement: “the effects of sleep deprivation are actually so damaging that it is now prohibited as a method of interrogation in most countries.”1

And yet so many of us consistently deprive ourselves of sleep – by choice!

Sleeping baby. Flickr: storyvillegirl

Americans are sleepy people. Sleep studies have revealed that the average American’s sleep debt is likely close to 25-30 hours at any given time.2 According to the National Sleep Foundation’s most recent poll, 63% of American adults report that their sleep needs are not being met, and 43% report that they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep on weeknights. As a result, according to data from the CDC, 37.9% American adults report falling asleep unintentionally during the day in the preceding 30 days – a sign of being dangerously sleep-deprived.2

Daytime sleepiness is dangerous. Inadequate sleep is a health hazard; even worse, the resulting daytime fatigue impairs performance (just like alcohol). Sleep-deprived people perform tasks poorly, make more mistakes, and experience more accidents at work – it’s similar to being intoxicated.3 One Australian study showed that 24 hours without sleep is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.1% (0.08% is legally drunk in most U.S. states) with regard to hand-eye coordination. Being awake for only 17-19 hours still impaired hand-eye coordination – this was equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.05%.4 Numerous accidents – of small and large scale – have been attributed to fatigue; from medical errors to plane crashes to the Exxon Valdez oil spill.2

More consequences of inadequate sleep:

  • Impaired immune response.5 The quality of sleep before becoming infected is a significant determinant of the severity of cold symptoms. Even one night of inadequate sleep reduces the number and activity of natural killer cells the next day.2
  • Impaired learning and cognitive function– blood oxygen levels in the brain are measurably lower after insufficient sleep.6,7
  • Increased snacking – lack of sleep results in dysregulation of hunger and satiety hormones.8,9
  • Weight gain, impaired insulin sensitivity, and increased risk of diabetes.10-13
  • Increased inflammation, high cholesterol, and hypertension.14,15
  • Diminished appearance - sleep-deprived people look less healthy and attractive than well-rested people.16
  • Emotional disturbances and excessive emotional reactivity.17
  • Increased risk of death.18

What is sleep and why is it so important?
The question ‘what is sleep?’ is still somewhat of a mystery. Sleep occurs in 90-minute cycles of REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep; REM sleep is thought to be the most restorative part of the sleep cycle; REM sleep is thought to contribute to brain development, and almost all dreaming occurs during REM sleep. Tissue repair and growth (in children) is heightened during sleep.2 Also during sleep, our brains ‘stabilize’ newly formed memories, which is one reason why lack of sleep can impair learning (caffeine does not help, by the way). This is thought to occur by the brain ‘replaying’ brain activity from waking experiences during sleep. Interestingly, the greatest impact of sleep deprivation is on memories associated with positive emotions, compared to those associated with neutral or negative emotions.17 Sleep is also thought to fuel creativity, since creativity is dependent on learning, memory, and motivation.2

Sleep, like good nutrition and exercise, is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Don’t try to be tough – practice self-care and make sleep a priority. Maybe you didn’t finish everything on your mile-long to-do list. Let it go - you owe yourself some rest!

 

References:

1. Hunter P: To sleep, perchance to live. Sleeping is vital for health, cognitive function, memory and long life. EMBO Rep 2008;9:1070-1073.
2. Dement WC, Vaughan C: The Promise of Sleep. New York: Delacorte Press; 1999.
3. Swanson LM, Arnedt JT, Rosekind MR, et al: Sleep disorders and work performance: findings from the 2008 National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America poll. J Sleep Res 2011;20:487-494.
4. Williamson AM, Feyer AM: Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occup Environ Med 2000;57:649-655.
5. Opp MR: Sleeping to fuel the immune system: mammalian sleep and resistance to parasites. BMC Evol Biol 2009;9:8.
6. Miyata S, Noda A, Ozaki N, et al: Insufficient sleep impairs driving performance and cognitive function. Neurosci Lett 2010;469:229-233.
7. Taras H, Potts-Datema W: Sleep and student performance at school. J Sch Health 2005;75:248-254.
8. Kim S, DeRoo LA, Sandler DP: Eating patterns and nutritional characteristics associated with sleep duration. Public health nutrition 2011;14:889-895.
9. Aldabal L, Bahammam AS: Metabolic, endocrine, and immune consequences of sleep deprivation. Open Respir Med J 2011;5:31-43.
10. Gangwisch JE, Heymsfield SB, Boden-Albala B, et al: Sleep duration as a risk factor for diabetes incidence in a large U.S. sample. Sleep 2007;30:1667-1673.
11. Spiegel K, Leproult R, Van Cauter E: Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. Lancet 1999;354:1435-1439.
12. Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, et al: Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med 2011;364:2392-2404.
13. Patel SR, Malhotra A, White DP, et al: Association between reduced sleep and weight gain in women. Am J Epidemiol 2006;164:947-954.
14. Gangwisch JE, Malaspina D, Babiss LA, et al: Short sleep duration as a risk factor for hypercholesterolemia: analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Sleep 2010;33:956-961.
15. Gangwisch JE, Heymsfield SB, Boden-Albala B, et al: Short sleep duration as a risk factor for hypertension: analyses of the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Hypertension 2006;47:833-839.
16. Axelsson J, Sundelin T, Ingre M, et al: Beauty sleep: experimental study on the perceived health and attractiveness of sleep deprived people. BMJ 2010;341:c6614.
17. Walker MP: The role of sleep in cognition and emotion. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2009;1156:168-197.
18. Cappuccio FP, D'Elia L, Strazzullo P, et al: Sleep duration and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Sleep 2010;33:585-592.

 

The Holidays

With the holidays just around the corner, I thought it would be advantageous to remember “why” we are launching the Holiday Challenge again this year. For many, the six weeks between mid-November and January 1st is a time set aside for indulging in rich and decadent, disease-promoting foods; and somehow there’s a false belief that the damage can mopped up in the new year. That mindset is a lie, because after the holidays there are Super Bowl parties, Valentine chocolates, birthday parties, anniversaries, Easter candies, Mother’s Day celebrations, graduation open houses, Father’s Day cookouts, weddings, more birthday parties, July 4th picnics, summer festivals and county fairs, Halloween treats, and then back to the holidays all over again. So together, let’s continue to establish new traditions that will not only cause us to feel alive and well over holidays, but throughout the entire year as well!

         holiday picture

I always dreaded the holidays to some degree, because that’s when I ate my worst. Not that I ate well the rest of the year by any means; the holidays just fueled my food addiction one hundred fold, all at once.

And, to top it off, it was expected by everyone to partake in the rich indulgences of the season. After all, “Everyone’s doing it.”

Well, that was the excuse, at least ~ a license to indulge ~ because the messes could be mopped up in the new year. It was a lie of course, but I believed it nonetheless.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the twinkle lights, the music, the festivities, the Nutcracker, the warm fuzzies of extra family togetherness; most everything about the season  . . . . . . except for feeling miserable from the food addiction hangovers. 

That always fogged my lenses with a dark cloud.

Not only did I have to deal with feeling lousy (understatement), I had to figure out what to wear as absolutely nothing fit from year to year.

How do I face seeing in-laws who hadn't seen me since an additional thirty pounds was packed on? What do I wear to my husband's employer's holiday party? (Thankfully, he eventually became self-employed, and those parties were crossed off my list of anxieties.) The women had buff arms and tummies to show off their *stuff* in those cute cocktail dresses. Me? The same baggie, black sequin jacket layered over a long black skirt.

To this day I will not be caught in anything with sequins. However, when I was obese they did hide my rolls of fat and large arms. For that, sequins do serve a wonderful purpose; plus, they do give off a shimmery holiday glow to cover-up the mounting depression within.

Oh, and the never ending supply of iced cut-out cookies. I always made triple the amount of dough and put some of it in the freezer; nothing like eating partially frozen cookie dough when no one was looking.

I would line the long dining table with waxed paper, and the kids would ice their cookies. Of course, much of the icing dribbled onto the waxed paper so I'd make sure to "clean it up" with my index finger. After we had dozens of iced and sugar sprinkled trees, bells, stars, circles, and hearts; they'd be layered between waxed paper in large, plastic containers to be enjoyed later (that night).

Throughout the season we always had boxes of those "surprise" chocolates. You know, the kind that are filled with maple or vanilla cream, raspberry jelly, nuts, fudge, and orange fluff. Those were over-the-top something to look forward to, right along with the gooey cherry cordials.

I was the Mom who invited the kids' friends over to make gingerbread houses. I'd ask each child to bring a sack of candy for the event. I was in heaven . . . . a table full of frosting and tons of candy. There was always such a generous amount donated that it never hurt for anyone to eat several pieces between "gluing" the houses together with the frosting and decorating with the decadent confections. Plus, everyone had too much fun to notice candy disappearing.

After six weeks of gluttonous eating: cheeseballs, dips, scalloped potatoes & ham, etc., by the end of December, I was saturated in misery. Well, that's putting it mildly. I was waaaay beyond miserable; more like suicidal at times. Seriously. Desperation drives the mind to irrational thoughts, and my heroin-like food addiction began to cloak my brain with some pretty irrational ways of escape at times.

January 1st couldn't come soon enough. A clean slate. Another promise. "I'm really going to stick to my resolution this time."  Yeah, right.

Well, by the Super Bowl, I was celebrating once again; and just in time for chocolate candies and iced cookies for Valentines, and birthday cakes laced in-between. 
 


With birthday parties, graduation open houses, and special occasions all throughout the year, I was never at a loss for my heroin-like, food addiction fix. [This must be the way a heroin addict feels.] 

Oh, those were the days of utter delight, especially when I'd clean up afterwards and find partially eaten pieces of cake in the trash to calm my jitters and shakiness. Okay, maybe not delight, but you know what I mean. I hated being trapped in the food addiction dungeon and tortured to near death on a daily basis, yet something inside of me enjoyed every minute of it. I hated it, yet I loved it. It was definitely a sickness of the mind, the body, and the soul.

 

The perpetual darkness shrouded any ray of hope. Little did I know that freedom was knocking on my door; however, the knocks were muffled by the noise and chaos.

But nonetheless, freedom was knocking.

Okay, so maybe I didn't keep my New Year's promise, but at least I got to thoroughly enjoy my birthday in May with my favorite Dairy Queen ice-cream cake.

I could always start over again the following January. Maybe I'd really mean business by then.

At least that was always my hope.

 

  

Christmas before and after  

                                                                

Based on my own personal experience and the observations of those around me, one can easily consume over 50 cups of sugar and the equivalent to 42 sticks of butter over the holidays!  (A stick of butter = 91 grams of fat.)  The following are the grams of fat in some typical foods:

fudge pecan sundae 62g

slice of cheddar cheese 10g

1 chicken breast 13g

slice of pecan pie 27g

2” square brownie 10g

1 serving fries 14g

Danish pastry 17g

1  muffin 8g

1 chocolate nut bar 19g

bacon, egg & cheese bagel sandwich  18g

2 chocolate chip cookies 10g

slice meat & cheese pizza 17g

 

 

The following are grams of sugar in foods & beverages (4 grams = 1 teaspoon sugar):

12 oz soda  38g

1” cube of fudge  15g

3 oz pancake syrup  59g

slice of fruit pie  20g

chocolate candy bar  25g

¾ c. processed cereal  12g

piece of cake  20g

hot fudge sundae  54g

2” square brownie  36g

2 iced cookies  25g

6 oz of ice cream  40g

energy drink  68g

 

 

Do the Math.  It's dangerous.   

  

Stay tuned to DiseaseProof or DrFuhrman.com for complete details about the upcoming Holiday Challenge. The kick-off begins in just two weeks! 

Are you continually fatigued?

Do you find yourself grabbing a cup of coffee to make it through the morning?

Do you reach for a pastry when you need a quick boost of energy?

Is food a stimulant to keep you going?

Emily Boller when she was a young motherFor years food was my stimulant to combat fatigue. As a young mother it was my drug of choice to make it through a stress-filled day of caring for a three-year-old, an 18-month-old, and a newborn. Fatigue was temporarily overcome with morning donuts and a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. Nap time for the babies meant *down time* for Mom; a bowl or two of caramel praline ice cream and corn chips. Nine o’clock bedtime for the kids began my happy hour of processed cereal, milk, and crunchy peanut butter. 

I didn’t know at the time that my overwhelming fatigue was an addictive withdrawal symptom from eating poorly. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman says that fatigue is one of the chief withdrawal symptoms mistaken for hunger and an excuse to eat for more stimulation. When a person eats healthfully, he/she no longer feels fatigue; although tiredness may be experienced when more sleep is needed. There’s a big difference.   

My addictive cycles continued for years.

When those babies got older, I had to keep up with the rat-race of soccer practices and games, wrestling matches, dance practices and recitals, 4-H meetings and projects, sleepovers, birthday parties, thrift shopping for kids’ clothes and shoes, and the never ending mountain of laundry that five children produced. Because I continued to eat poorly, McDonald’s drive thru was a necessary, mid afternoon pick-me-up when my fifth baby was asleep in his car seat in-between an older sibling’s dance practice and music lesson. Then I desperately needed that late night bowl of cereal and milk to calm my shakiness before crashing in bed.    

Food temporarily enhanced my alertness; it kept the shakiness and cravings of withdrawal at bay and boosted my motivation when I was down-in-the-dumps. Food had nothing to do with nutrition, but everything to do with stimulation and moment-to-moment survival. In fact, I had been incorrectly taught that shakiness and cravings were signs of low blood sugar and that I needed to eat, when actually they were symptoms of withdrawal. 

Perhaps today is the perfect time to hit the “pause” button of life and ask:

  • Is food a stimulant to temporarily energize the symptoms of fatigue due to addictive withdrawal?
  • Or is food a source of optimal nutrition to keep the body functioning at its very best?

 

The former will produce a sub par life of disease and continually feeling blaahhh.

The latter will produce a disease-free life full of health and vitality!

 

 

 

Introducing Stephanie

 

 before portrait of obese female

Preface:  Over the next year or two, I'll be following the weight loss journey of Stephanie, age 39, who is 200% committed to getting her health back.  Her husband died recently and she’s currently raising four young children under the ages of nine, plus attending nursing school.  Stephanie has courageously volunteered to share her thoughts and medical stats with DiseaseProof readers as she undertakes the journey to optimal health.  Welcome Stephanie!

 

Why have you chosen to commit to nutritarian eating?  I currently weigh 398 lbs (5’10”) and I’m tired all the time.  I cry a lot and get easily irritated and aggravated.  My knees hurt, I have constant headaches and acid reflux.  My local doctor feels that I’m unable to lose weight on my own and is urging me to have gastric bypass surgery.  I want to play at the park, ride bikes and be a fit and healthy mother for my children.  Most importantly, I want to BE HERE for them.

What are some of the events in your life that have led you to this point?  I’ve been overweight my entire life, but have steadily added more pounds each year; especially after having babies.  Last year my husband died after a battle with congestive heart failure and a failed heart transplant.  In an instant, I became a 38-year-old widowed mother of four children ages eight to three, and the stress has been overwhelming.  During this past year I have been diagnosed with premature osteoarthritis in both knees, high blood pressure, ADHD, and major depression. 

Describe a typical day for you:  My alarm goes off at 6:45 am, but I hit the snooze button four times before I drag myself out of bed.  I struggle to pull myself together and prepare the kids’ breakfasts and get them off to school.  I plan my day by prioritizing how much energy and/or steps it will take to do an activity.  It’s difficult to do much with my children, because I’m unable to move fast due to my size. 

                                           I feel like I’m a prisoner in my own body. 

                                     front and side profile pic of obese female

  • Weight  398 lbs.
  • BMI  57.1
  • Blood pressure  140/100
  • Waist measurement  58”
  • Cholesterol  180
  • Triglycerides  98
  • HDL  48
  • LDL  112
  • Fasting blood sugar  87
  • currently taking anti-depressants, amphetamines for ADHD, and medication for urinary incontinence

Stephanie’s “official” starting date is November 1,  2009, and I’ll be posting her progress updates the first week of every month.  We are cheering for Stephanie and wish her all the best as she takes this courageous step to get her health and life back!