Thursday, February 28, 2013

Intermittent Fasting--Is it right for you?


Before I even get started on this topic I want to warn you that I am NOT a physician nor a biologist. I may be a scientist and I may understand a thing or two about medicine and biology but I don't give medical advice. I can only speak to what works for me and what has worked for others with whom I've been in contact. If you ever want to try something I mention in this blog but feel uncomfortable doing so, I would advise you either trust your gut OR get a medical doctor's opinion.

Intermittent fasting (IF) is when you go for a period of time without eating anything. That period of time can last anywhere from several hours to more than a year, as the case was with a Scottish man who fasted for 382 days. The choice is yours. Of course, if someone told me they were going to live on water and vitamins for a year I'd probably slap them on the side of their head and ask if they'd lost their mind. If you're interested in the story about this guy you can read it here: http://pmj.bmj.com/content/49/569/203.full.pdf .  What impresses me the most is that he has maintained his weight loss and did not become ill. So, if you want to be monitored almost continuously, go ahead, fast for a year. Otherwise, you may wish to take a more conservative approach.

There are several different approaches to this and if you are considering it then you need to read about all four of the most common types of IF and choose the one that meets your needs as they all have different strategies and goals.  I will provide links to two of them as well as links at the bottom of this post to the various medical journals, etc., that support the notion of IF.

Finally, before I really delve into the topic you need to be aware of one thing that none of the studies or anyone, really take into account  is that if you are a female, your stage of life (pre-, peri-, or post-menopause) will determine if this is even a viable option for you. Well, that seems to be the case with almost anything. Yes, it does matter if you are in one stage of your life or another, and yes it does matter if you are overweight or not, and yes it does matter what your hormones are doing. Only you can determine if something is right for your body at your particular time in life.

I've written half a page and haven't even started the topic.

So, why fast? There are many health benefits associated with it, that's why, and here they are:

·       FAT BURNING
Increased growth hormone factor which aids in fat loss, decreases insulin in the body and increases the body's ability to burn fat, increases insulin sensitivity thereby improving the body's fat burning mechanism, increases the levels of epinephrine and noradrenaline--two substances that activate hormone-sensitive lipase that is present in fat--and releases that fat to be used as fuel. There has also been a study that shows that for those who have binge eating issues or those who eat out of boredom, rather than true hunger, are able to stop these behaviors and will naturally decrease their caloric intake. So, for weight loss and/or getting your eating under control while sparing lean muscle mass, this is a good thing.

·       CANCER
There aren't many studies on humans with regard to IF's ability to help cancer patients and I find it ridiculous when scientists use animal studies to provide "proof" of something that involves human health--we are, after all, not rats--but there has been a study, with humans (not a great one, but there you have it) to which I will turn.

This study involved 10 cancer patients of different genders with different types of cancer. This is what they found (I will put quotes here and citations at the bottom of the page) "patients...voluntarily fasted prior to (48-140 hours) and/or following (5-56 hours) chemotherapy. None of these patients, who received an average of 4 cycles of various chemotherapy drugs in combination with fasting, reported significant side effects caused by the fasting itself other than hunger and lightheadedness.The six patients who underwent chemotherapy with or without fasting reported a reduction in fatigue, weakness, and gastrointestinal side effects while fasting. In those patients whose cancer progression could be assessed, fasting did not prevent the chemotherapy-induced reduction of tumor volume or tumor markers."
·       NEURONAL AUTOPHAGY
Just a fancy way of saying that nerve cells eat the old, tired, cells and recycle the waste, and repair themselves. I know this is an over-simplified definition and certainly not complete, but that is the gist of it. I will include links so that you can read, in-depth about this if you choose.

Without this process your brain would not develop or function the way it was meant to.  Some scientists believe that Alzheimer's could be prevented or even delayed by IF.  I can't really say a lot about this because the studies are mice studies and again, we aren't mice. I can only tell you what some of the possible benefits and give you the links. You can decide for yourself.
So, we have these, and a few other, benefits to IF.  Should you try it? Well, that depends on what you want to believe and what your goals are.

I didn't start out doing it intentionally. It just sort of happened naturally and then I read Mark Sisson's blog posts (links at the bottom) about this process and the benefits. I can only speak to the weight-loss/maintenance side of things because that is what I know about personally and from anecdotal evidence of others. Yes, I trust anecdotal evidence from reliable sources.

The first type of IF that I want to share is called Leangains.  My husband, Rudy, who is a personal fitness trainer and has about 6% body fat just naturally eats and trains this way.  Neither of us had ever heard of Leangains until I started my research on IF.  I know this works, even if I am at a loss to explain why. Honestly, I always worried about Rudy and his "horrible" eating style.

Rudy doesn't eat anything all day long. Then, after a very rigorous weight lifting session that will last anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, he will go another hour or so before he even thinks about eating. He normally does not eat a single bite of food until 9 or 10 PM--15 hours after getting up, and about 2 hours after working out. The thing is this--he really eats a lot when he does eat. Lots of fat (all natural fats), meat, vegetables, and fruits. Then, he eats again an hour or so later, then off to bed. Seriously, this freaked me out and I feared for his health even though he NEVER gets sick. I've known him for 13 years and he has never had a cold, the flu, or even a tummy ache. He has sickle cell and has only had two minor crises (both times when he got too cold), yet takes no pain medications--he doesn't need them, and suffers no ill effects from a disease that is fraught with pain and illness.

Well, this is essentially the Leangains method--not 100% but close. In Leangains you fast for 16 hours and then have 8 hours of feeding--typically 3 meals in 8 hours.  Your workouts should take place toward the end of each fasting period.  What you eat depends on what your workouts are.

You should weight train 3 days/week, always eat high protein, and on training days you should eat more carbs than fat, and on non-training days more fat and less carbs, and your meal following your workouts should have at least half of your calories for the day.

Most men have no problems with this method, but many women have said they gain FAT while doing this and others say it works fine.  Again, those pesky hormones.  If you are a woman and want to try it, go ahead, but if you notice that your sleep is at all interrupted or troublesome when it previously was not--stop. That is your warning that this method of IF is not right for you, so stop before you start gaining fat.

Another method is the Alternate Day fast.  So, for this you stop eating at a certain time, say 11 PM on Sunday to begin your fast. You don't eat at all on Monday and then you break your fast Tuesday morning, and resume your fast on Wednesday..... I personally couldn't do this as I do endurance training on a daily basis and I need the calories from eating every day. I suppose if I were less active or downright inactive, or was worried about plaques building up in my brain, I would give it a go--but for now, nah, I'll have to take a pass. Many people, though, have reported great fat loss on this.

Then we have the Ori Hofmekler method for building big muscles. With this method you fast for 20 hours and then you have a 4 hour window in which to eat. You eat only one meal/day but you consume a huge meal. If you need a snack during the fasting period, make it small and low calorie as well as a non-protein snack. All of your protein should be eaten during your big meal.

While there are many other fasting methods I actually just use, accidentally, the Eat whenever I am hungry method.  If I am hungry when I wake up, I eat. However, most days I don't eat anything until 5 or 6 PM--and I'm up at 4:30 AM and in bed by 10 PM--so that works out to about 19 or 20 hours of fasting.  My fasts--again, unintentional--are normally broken with cheese, nuts, and coffee. I find this the most relaxing part of my busy days and is more of a ritual than anything.  Then at about 7 PM I eat my dinner which is almost always a gigantic salad filled with a variety of fresh, brightly colored veggies, sometimes mandarin orange segments too, 6 to 8 ounces of chicken breast, and a very creamy dressing. Other times, it's something like pork and pumpkin plus a green vegetable. The thing is, these meals are usually very high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs.

This way of eating took a long time to come about. I used to binge eat or eat when I was bored.  I rarely, if ever, do that any longer. Is it because I accidentally fasted? I don't know, but there are others who have said the same for themselves.

I have no problems with my daily long runs or my TRX training--in fact, I do better when I don't eat just before or just after my exercise.  I usually feel very energized throughout the day and other people who do this report the same thing.

The only other thing I really want to emphasize is this: If you are NOT fat adapted, meaning you have been paleo or low carb long enough such that your body naturally burns fat for fuel first, it will be very difficult to go such long periods without eating. As you progress more with this lifestyle your body will function better and become more efficient with fat burning and your periods of hunger will just naturally be spaced apart further and further. You'll know when you are fat adapted, but the only way to do that is to limit the amount of carbohydrates and the type of carbohydrates that you eat during the day.

So, try a short fasting period and then gradually increase the amount of time before eating--but ONLY if you are not hungry. If you start to feel ravenously hungry but still have 2 hours before your planned meal, eat anyway and forget the schedule. Your body will let you know and you should listen to your body.

Oh, something else that I found interesting is that people who have done the Atkins diet more than once sometimes have a hard time losing when going back to a lower carb diet (50-100g/day for weight loss) have benefited from doing these types of fasts and have regained their ability to lose on a lower carb diet.

By the way, I am a 50-something, peri-menopausal woman and my experiences may be different than yours, whether you are male or female.

Now, if you want to read some of the studies, or if you just want to read someone's summaries of these studies (remember, I don't believe in reinventing the wheel), here are the links. Personally, I would go to the first one, Mark's Daily Apple. He goes into a lot more depth than I have and has tons more studies spaced out over 7 different articles.  If you browse to the end of each article there is a menu with links to the others. Enjoy!





So, until Monday when we'll look at the glycemic index and the glycemic load: facts, misconceptions, and downright lies.




Monday, February 25, 2013

No time for scratch cooking? Think again.

So, you think you don't have time to cook from scratch? I'm here to tell you that you do. I know, you have a busy schedule--you have a full time job, you have kids, you have pets, etc. Well, many of us do and many of us still manage scratch cookery. It isn't as hard or time consuming as you may think.

No matter what the diet you choose you will most likely be told to eat fresh and to avoid processed foods, unless the diet consists of processed prepared meals such as Weight Watchers and many others.  The only exception to the no-processed food laws are found when you are told to use fat-free mayo, cheese, and the like or if you subscribe to Atkins and have their products, which are all heavily processed, dangled in front of your eyes--even their recipes call for Atkins processed products.

It's hard to get away from processed foods, and when I say processed, I'm not talking about everything because foods like oils, butters, and many more require some amount of processing. I'm talking about the ones that require additives and extra chemicals to make them look and taste like actual food.

The most important thing you can do is to plan and prepare in advance. Yes, everyone tells us how important that is and there is a reason for it--it works.  Advanced planning and preparation can save you time and money making it possible to cook or prepare fresh healthy meals every day.

Look, I don't have a maid or a personal chef or any help at all.  I am up at 4:30 every morning (personal choice because I love the early morning), having my coffee and lacing up my running shoes. Next comes the run. I run almost every morning for about an hour to an hour and a half.  I take the dogs so this provides their exercise as well. 

I run a small baking business that takes up several hours of the day, but while things are in the oven it allows me time to do other things.  I have a 4 bedroom house to clean and here in the desert it must get done daily, I do my laundry--all of it--by hand, plus do the marketing for fresh fruits and vegetables every day.  In the midst of all of this I must also find time to do my online courses, write my books, take my Spanish lessons with a neighbor, teach English during the winter months two evenings a week, crochet, knit, weave, along with making time for my husband and other things I'm sure I've forgotten to mention.

This does not make me superwoman. It makes me super organized. Believe it or not, I am usually done with everything and relaxing by 7 pm most days.  I still have plenty of time for pleasure reading, social networking, or watching movies, and getting to bed by 10 pm.  I am not moving about at a frantic pace nor am I breathless with exertion. I am just organized and methodical. This didn't happen overnight. It took me a long time to become this organized but I found what works for me.

The most important part of organization is planning.  Trust me, without a plan my life would be a disorganized mess--a nightmare from which I would never awaken.  The plan came along slowly as did the increase in activities and much of the planning came quite by accident.  I'd be baking and need to finish a blanket or something else I was working on and say to myself... "hey, those cakes are going to be X amount of time." So, instead of watching TV or sitting around doing nothing, I would take that time to work on a craft or start the housework. It grew from there. The baking would be done and it would still be before noon most days so while things were cooling and waiting to be packaged for delivery, I could walk to the farmer's stand near my home buy what I needed for lunch, dinner, and the next day's baking get back home and start making lunch.

When I realized I was spending way too much time in the kitchen preparing meals and getting precious little else done during the afternoon and starting to feel overwhelmed because I was getting behind on other things or cancelling classes, etc., I realized that a lot of what I was doing was the same thing I had done the day before and the day before that. This is when I decided that I could start doing many things in advance and there'd be no problems. 

I buy my onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, and some salad vegetables for the week.  I chop these items that I use every day all at once, put them in air tight containers and pop them in the fridge. I can buy my fruit for personal consumption, wash them and put them in a covered fruit bowl and they are ready to eat. You wouldn't believe the amount of time that saves. Doing this every day means you have to wash, chop, and clean your work area every day. Doing it in advance means you don't and it is the clean up that takes the most amount of time--for me, anyway.  

Now, when I go to the farmer's stand on the corner, I just get whatever I need for that day only. I use a salad spinner to quickly wash my green leafy vegetables that used to take a lot of time and waste a lot of water before I started using one. Now I just take my kale, Swiss chard, and spinach, toss it in the salad spinner with enough water to cover it, spin it, drain, spin it again until no more dirt or sand is left and then spin it dry. It takes only a few minutes and these dried greens will keep perfectly fine in the fridge for a few days and be ready when you need them for salads or for cooking. 

Hot breakfast cereal? Great! I love it. Each weekend when I'm chopping onions, peppers, and the like and doing so much of my other do-aheads, I take a few hundred grams of shredded coconut (without sugar) and cover it with boiling water and give it a good stir and then let it sit until it comes to room temperature. Squeeze the coconut and what you have left is coconut milk. Pop that in a container and put half in the fridge and half in the freezer along with the coconut you used to make the milk. Now, both are ready to use for a super, duper, grain-free porridge that I make with the coconut, coarsely ground almonds, walnuts, and fresh fruit. You can grind these nuts on your prep day and put them in an airtight container and then scoop them out just before you make your breakfast porridge. Chop the fruits or wash the berries during your prep and you can have a filling, nutritious, low carb breakfast every day in just a matter of minutes. Not allergic to or don't object to using regular milk? Well, you can skip the whole making coconut milk part and just put the nuts and shredded coconut in a small pot with milk and cook until the fruit is hot. Easy peasy. 

Get yourself one or two whole chickens. Roast them. Take the meat from the bones, which are now roasted, and use those bones to make the richest stock on earth. This stock can be used for soups, stews, or cooking liquid for so many things.  Cooking the stock doesn't have to be a chore because you can put it on and let it simmer away with some onions, garlic, celery, and a carrot or two, then go about your business doing other things.  The meat from the chicken can be used in your salads or in casseroles. Shred or chop it and pop it in the fridge or freezer. Once your stock is made, strain it and put the liquid into containers and freeze or refrigerate. 

Homemade tomato sauces and soups are easy too. Rough chop those tomatoes add some water and let them simmer away. Use a stick blender to blend them right in the pot for a smooth sauce or cook them longer and mash as you go for a chunkier sauce or soup. Easy. Of course, I know that in some places tomatoes aren't as cheap as they are here (so cheap they're practically free) and you may not be able to afford to buy 8 or 10 pounds to make sauce. Feel free to buy canned sauces but check the ingredients. You wouldn't believe what they put in that stuff! Wheat in tomato soup? In tomato sauce? Yep, some companies do that.  Even if you buy canned stewed tomatoes, please check the label and make sure you aren't getting wheat or corn or sugar along with the tomatoes.

Pumpkin. Super duper food and in many countries you can buy it canned, year-round.  I think Libby's is a brand that is just pumpkin. It's for more than pies and sweet treats. I eat pumpkin puree several times each week but I have to cook it every weekend.  We can buy pieces of pumpkin here at the farmer's market all year-round and have it fresh.  When you can get it fresh, it is worth the effort to cook it. So, when you're getting your pumpkins for carving this Halloween, grab a few extra for cooking. You'll see. Nothing tastes quite so good as fresh pumpkin AND very few vegetables have as much nutrition.

Keep your meals simple.  There are many chefs that will tell you that you don't need a million ingredients to make a good meal and that often times the more simple meals are the best.  I have found a great deal of truth to that.  I also found that if I make enough for more than one meal the leftovers often taste better than the first round because the flavors have had a chance to marry.  

Use the freshest and best ingredients you can afford and if possible, buy local and seasonal. The gold standard for eating is: local, fresh, and seasonal.  I know many of you would also say "organic."  Then there are those who will say "I can't afford organic," to which the first group would say "you can't NOT afford organic," and the debate rages on and on.  Firstly, not all of us KNOW if something is organic. Here, in Chile, when you go to the agricultural markets the vendors have no clue. There are no laws here that say it is required to disclose this. So far, nothing has killed me. Then, I've also read that much of what is sold in other countries that is labeled as organic is not really organic at all. 

My take on this whole debate is this: Buy the best and freshest you can afford. If you really don't have it in your budget to shell out for organic this or organic that, don't feel like you are going to fail at this lifestyle and just give up.  I personally believe the dangers of eating wheat, oats and, depending on your genetics, other grains, far outweighs the potential hazards of eating non-organic foods or those that aren't labeled as organic.  As I said, my health has improved drastically--nay, miraculously--and I have no clue as to whether or not my food is organically grown or not. 

So, plan ahead, prepare ahead, keep meals simple, make more than enough for one meal, buy the best and freshest and preferably local, and you'll find it isn't that hard or time consuming to do some great scratch cooking. 

Until next time.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why Paleo?

Although I will from time to time eat some grain (rice only), my eating style tends to be purely paleo or primal.  What is this, exactly?  The answer varies from person to person and the rigidity or laxness varies from person to person also.

I have learned the hard way that rigidity doesn't work for me. Heck, it doesn't work for most people.  For me, paleo means fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, meats, natural fats, and no processed foods. Never. Ever. I also don't subscribe to protein shakes, meal replacement bars, or supplements. If I need protein, I'll eat it. If I need a meal, I'll prepare it.  If I need a vitamin, mineral, or nutrient, I'll eat the foods that contain it.

I want no part of powders and pills.  However, I don't and won't criticize or condemn those that feel they need to use these things as we are not all blessed to live where I do and have access to such a wide variety of healthy foods that are not spoiled by pesticides and chemical fertilizers or  priced so high that I can't afford them. Almost everything is in season all year 'round and many of the so-called super foods like quinoa (seed), amaranth (seed), and maca (root), are native to this region and cost almost nothing.  I know this is not the case in most of the world, so if you don't have the access or finances or even if you just like shakes and meal replacements/shakes, fine. You'll get no quarrel from me.

The best part of a paleo diet is the lack of hunger and the wide variety of foods at our disposal.  It can be as low carb as you want or need it to be without having to sacrifice anything--except those pesky grains. Once you get past your wheat addiction (I do specify wheat here because it is the ONLY grain that has scientifically proven physically addictive properties), cravings for things like bread, cookies, and other grain-based foods pretty much disappear and you can, if you choose, have a gluten free treat once in a while without problems or triggering your addiction.  For me, I have gained freedom from the shackles of the high carb food addiction and that helps me to keep my weight and health in good order.

It is a healthy way to eat even though there are those in the Establishment that would say otherwise.  Of course I've never been one to care much what the Establishment has to say because every other day they publish a new study that contradicts the one from the day before and it just gives me a headache to keep up.  I also found out from personal experience just how wrong they are.

Tomorrow I'll go into how easy it is to prepare delicious and nutritious paleo meals.

Until then.






Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Getting started

Too many of us have spent too many years on too many diets with too few lasting results.  Why?  Probably because we were trying to do a one-size-fits-all diet without taking into account our individual body chemistry, individual tastes, individual lifestyles, and so on.

I, like many of you, have struggled with my weight, health, and overall fitness for decades. I've been on low fat diets, low carb diets, low calorie diets, and even the insane grapefruit diet. All of them worked.  For a while.  Eventually, all of them failed.  Personally, I don't think I failed the diets but rather, the diets failed me.

The end results were always the same, though, regardless of who or what was to blame.  The weight came back on--fast--and was even harder to take off the next time around and I felt like hell both on my diets and off.  Being fat and miserable was just something I expected to be forever. Turns out, I was wrong.  After starting and completely my last diet I made some very startling discoveries about myself, about food, and a lot about the science of weight loss, weight control, and most importantly physical well-being and general good health.

In January 2011 my sister told me that she was going on the HCG diet.  I immediately went online and researched it.  Initially, I was frightened for her because it just seemed so extreme and dangerous.  However, after 7 months of research I came to a few conclusions, the first being that it likely was not dangerous and that when a person is morbidly obese, as I was, the risks associated with morbid obesity far outweighed any risks associated with an extremely low calorie diet.  During that 7 months my sister went on to lose an enormous amount of weight.  She felt great.  She had energy to spare, her ability to think and concentrate improved, and she experienced a myriad of other improvements in her health.  I decided to give it a red hot go.

Within the first 2 weeks my hip and knee pain went away.  This was followed by all of my arthritis pain in my other joints and by the end of the first 40 day round, I had lost 28 pounds and had so much energy and sense of well-being, the likes of which I could not recall ever having.  I was able to exercise comfortably and without pain. The irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) from which I had suffered for over 25 years was gone as were my allergy symptoms.

Stabilization was extremely low carb and lasted for about 3 weeks, during which time no symptoms returned.  Then came the first maintenance period in which I was allowed to add starches and sugars.  At first, there was no problem. Then, suddenly, the IBS returned, followed by the allergies and arthritis pain.  My energy decreased and depression started to kick in.

I went back on the HCG and 'lo and behold, everything went back to rights.  I was sorted again and feeling good.  However, I did worry about finishing this round of HCG because I was certain that it was the HCG that was creating all the healing in my body and that once I went off the health problems would return.

Each round went fine until I got to maintenance.  I then began to look at my food diaries and the only thing that seemed to trigger the recurrence of my health problems was when I would add grain back into my diet.  The day I saw that a friend of mine suggested a website that was about the Paleo lifestyle.  That is when I had my light bulb moment.

I decided that I would forego grains and grain products, processed foods (of which I rarely ate to begin with), and legumes.  When I started my lifetime maintenance this way my symptoms did not return and my weight stopped fluctuating so much.

And then it happened.  I wanted bread so badly that I caved in and ate some thinking to myself that a little wouldn't hurt.  That little bit turned into a bender. I couldn't shovel enough wheat into my system fast enough to keep the demons at bay.  I found myself seriously hungry and out of control, and worse, gaining weight. I eventually got a grip but not without a lot of effort on my part.  I swore off the grains again.  This cycle repeated itself a few times.  I couldn't understand what was going on.  Why couldn't I have a piece of bread or a bit of cake without feeling like I was losing control?

I found out why when I read Dr. Davis' book Wheat Belly.  Turns out, wheat is highly addictive.  He stated in his book that it actually crosses the blood-brain barrier and stimulates the opiate receptors--the only know food product to do this. Not even sugar can do that!  I also happened to be taking some courses at the time that confirmed what he said through functional MRI's (fMRI), that showed this phenomenon.  Another course dealt with genetics and evolution (from Duke University) and this professor discussed just how long it takes for the human body to adapt, genetically, to certain foods and substances.  For instance, 10,000 years ago 100% of all humans were lactose intolerant. Today that number is about 20%.

If it took that long for one item that didn't change at all over those 10,000 years why would we expect to be able to eat foods that have had their genetic makeup altered repeatedly over the centuries?  I don't see how it's possible.  When you realize that the grain that we call wheat isn't even the same as the wheat from 30 years ago, you really have to wonder.

Ok.  So, if wheat is harmful to our bodies, and not just for those who suffer from celiac disease, how are we supposed to have the things we have loved for years? What? No bread? No cake? No way, I say!

This led me to start researching other things, such as the genetic makeup of rice, corn, and other grains as well as legumes.  Turns out, besides corn, most of these things are still the same and a good number of people can consume them without any ill effects.  While there are those who would disagree with me, citing all the substances that cause inflammation with these grains and legumes, I would say to them--the one diet fits all way of thinking is wrong, and just because you're pretty certain that paleo man didn't eat them doesn't mean that he didn't or that they are harmful.  Who am I, or anyone else, to say what your genetic code permits or doesn't permit?  No one can say definitively that ALL grains are bad for humans to consume.  There simply isn't enough scientific or even anecdotal evidence to support such claims.  Likewise with legumes.  Not everyone is genetically predisposed to have a bad reaction to them.

So, my journey continued.  I began trying other grains to see what would happen.  Rice. No problems. I can eat rice without feeling the need to just keep eating it.  I can have a small portion once in a while without any recurrence of my symptoms and without it triggering cravings for more. Legumes, except chickpeas without the skin, really give me grief, as does corn and oats.  Peanuts--no problem.

Mostly, I eat a Paleo, or grain free, diet.  However, every once in a while I find that I'd like to have a bit of cake or bread so I have to make some without using wheat, corn, or oats.  I tried the Paleo breads and found them to be disgusting.  Same with the cakes.  Coconut or almond flour with eggs and a boatload of fat does not bread or cake make.  I was so discouraged.  Then, I decided to start playing around with with other grains and mixing starches and grain flours until I found something that worked.  Something that gave me the texture and taste of breads and cakes, yet wouldn't trigger cravings for more. If you take a look at the inside of my book, Greek Without The Gluten, the recipes for two of the flour blends I use are there. Of course, I can't use the corn flour blend, but many people can.

Now, though these flour blends are gluten free, don't be fooled here. They are not low carb, low calorie, or even healthy.  They will spike your insulin faster than wheat flour.  The difference between these flours, though, is that they will not trigger a desire to overeat.  You will be satisfied with a serving and go on with your life without having to battle your addictions all over again.  In this case, if you are not sensitive to the grain being used and are not an insulin dependent diabetic, I just don't see the problem with having an occasional indulgence.

Each of us is individual and our genes have differences that allow or disallow certain things.  It is up to us to find what those things are.  We also must find what fits our lifestyle best--paleo or low grain, gluten free--so that we can live with the choice we make.  After all, if you're going off the wagon and struggling to get back on several times a year, is your choice really a sustainable one?  I don't think so. What I do think is that sustainability is the key to success in the long term--and not just for weight loss--and we must find the balance that works for us.

I want to be able to share what I have learned with all of you.  Transitioning and maintaining this lifestyle is not always easy, but there are ways to ease into it and ways to make it less difficult.  I want to share recipes that embrace my mostly paleo lifestyle as well as what I do for exercise, rest, and relaxation.  When I find interesting studies I would also like to share those with you as well. Thanks for sharing my journey with me.

Until next time.