While attending the IDEA World Nutrition and Behavior change summit two weeks ago, I was struck by how conflicting and confusing all of the information on nutrition must be for anyone for doesn't research and learn about this field on a regular basis.
In this episode, I cut to the chase and talk about simple ways to figure out what's right for you, respect but, perhaps discard other people's opinions of what you should eat be eating, and throw out labeling yourself and your diet for good.
Listen in and discover how to create your personalized nutrition plan that leaves you feeling good and NOT guilty!
Read Full Transcript Below:
How am I supposed to know what to eat???
Welcome to episode 11 of the breast cancer recovery coach
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Two weeks ago I spent four days at the idea world fitness conference in Las Vegas.
This is the 5th year that I have attended this conference and every time I go, I come back even more on fire about sharing information and supporting other people in getting healthy, moving your bodies and just and feeling good. This is the second year that the conference included a two day nutrition summit where physicians, dietitians and other professionals talk about nutrition and behavior change.
Why it’s important to talk about behavior change with nutrition, nutrition alone is just food.
I remember not that long ago when you ate breakfast lunch and dinner and your mom smacked you if she caught you eating a snack too close to dinner because you would ruin your appetite and not finish the food she was preparing for the family. That was nutrition in a nutshell. At least it was in my house.
Now, holy cow nutrition is this dynamic, scientific and controversial and confusing science. Sometimes I feel like the more we learn about nutrition the more confusing it becomes to know what to eat.
For example, Dr. Michael Greger, the author of “How not to Die”, and the founder of nutritionfacts.org, give a fabulous presentation on plant based eating, where he bashed any diets that incorporated animal products, in a very convincing way.
I love plant based foods and I’m an advocate of everyone eating more veggies, but at the same time, as I listened to the science he presented, I thought I’ve read those same outcomes with respect to a ketogenic diet which does include ample amounts of animal products and its impact on cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
How is someone supposed to make sense of this? What if you’re a cancer survivor and you feel like your life depends on understanding the “right” way of feeding your body to prevent a recurrence. I have to tell you that I gave this a lot of thought, and I brushed up on some research to reassure myself that the information I talk about is credible and here’s what I decided.
Just like the saying that there is more than one path to God, there is more than one path to good health. Maybe your path is a plant based diet but for your friend they feel unsatisfied and can’t even focus during the busiest part of their day because they’re so hungry if they don’t have some kind of meat or eggs in or with their salad.
We also have to consider individual genetics, family history and age as it relates to carbohydrate tolerance. I can tell you that for most of my life I could eat whatever I wanted and stay lean, energetic and feel good. Then, after going through chemotherapy and working diligently for several years to get my blood sugar under control, I realized that if I eat certain carbohydrates or over a certain amount of them, I feel bloated, fatigued and I gain weight.
I was in one workshop on working with diabetic clients and the presenter, a dietitian and certified diabetes educator, was talking about signs to look for in a diabetic during exercise to be sure they’re safe and questions to ask about what they had eaten during the day before beginning exercise. One of the statements that she made was that everyone needs a minimum of 120 gm of carbohydrate a day just for their brain to function normally.
Since I was sitting their, functioning normally, and I make it a practice to eat fewer than 40 grams of carbohydrate and day and I have done so for months. I disagree with that statement.
Do you see what I’m getting at? There is a lot of great and fascinating science out there and a lot of smart specialized people but they are not you, and you have to decide what makes you feel good and what works for you and your lifestyle.
That doesn’t mean that other approaches are wrong, it just means that they are not right for you.
I encourage you try different types of nutrition plans. Give something a week and then ask yourself, “How is this working for me?” Do you have enough energy to get through the day or do you need a nap at 2pm? Do you sleep deeply and soundly at night? Do you feel satisfied or are you always hungry and looking for more? Do you feel bloated or gurgly in your gut and is your elimination easy and regular? Are you able to maintain a healthy weight for your height and age?
If all of these things are working for you BOOM! You found what your body likes, stick with it. But, if some of these areas aren’t so great then tweak something for another week and see if that feels better. Even if you decide to eat paleo or ketogenic, there are still lots of variations within dietary plans. For example my husband and I follow a ketogenic way of eating but I love my veggies and he loves his meat. So my way of eating has a lot more salads and vegetarian dishes because I feel heavy and funky if I eat too much meat. Make sense?
Even once you find a way of eating that works for you be aware that it too may change with the season, as you age, if you feel ill. So, even though the nutrition industry is fraught with labeling, know that you don’t have to label yourself and then feel like you’re stuck with a certain way of eating because everyone thinks you’re a vegan and how will you explain that you felt like eating a hamburger??
Food is not about labels, it’s about fueling your body, and you are the one who gets to decide what you’re body likes best. I like to think about dietary labels as a tool for clarity, meaning that if I say I’m following a ketogenic way of eating now it ‘s a quick way for me to understand your food preference but its not a lifelong sentence, and it certainly doesn’t meant that I think all grains are bad or people who eat them don’t know what they’re doing. No way!
One of my favorite treats is a piece of toast. Does that sound weird?
I LOVE toast! I do. I love the way it smells when its toasting. I like to cook it just to the point of being burned but not quite so its super crunchy, then I slather it with Vanilla bean ghee and a top notch raspberry preserve and I take every bite slowly and indulgently and I never feel guilty. Why should I so that’s about 35 g of carbohydrate in one serving but hey, life is short. I don’t think of it a s a cheat or a bad thing. It’s just a piece of toast! Somedays I’ll calculate the carbs into my daily preferred carb intake and some days I don’t care and neither should you!
I talk with people who say oh I was at a wedding and I had a piece of cake so since I blew it I’ve just been eating at McDonalds all week now. What the heck!!? If you had one piece of cake, so what, it was a special occasion, you should enjoy come cake. It was a Sunday morning and you wanted a piece of toast. In the scheme of life my friends that’s nothing! Enjoy it and move on and continue your normal healthy balanced way of eating.
I’ll share a story with you here. I have a dear friend who does a lot of humanitarian work and one summer, my youngest son went to Uganda with her to bring much needed supplies to a school and orphanage that is in the middle of a slum there. When my son came home and he was telling me all about his experience their he was very excited that the organization that he traveled with was teaching the people in the slums how to grow, roast and sell coffee. Because these people used to be farmers and then became refugees and now that they have been refugees for a couple of generations, and have been isolated in this encampment they have forgotten how to farm. That knowledge has been lost because their environment has changed so dramatically.
That’s kind of how I see the way we are with eating in the United States. There was a time just a couple of generations ago when your mom and your grandma taught you how to cook, when kids got up in time to eat breakfast, grabbed their sack lunch on the way out the door and the family sat down to dinner at night. Eating was not a big mystery. You just did it 3 times a day. But our environment has changed so much in these past few generations, not only with respect to how we live at families but also with respect to the availability of foods and the type of foods that are accessible to us that we’ve kind of forgotten how to just eat.
Even when I came home from school after a sports practice as a kid and I was allowed to have a snack my mom would tell me to sit at the table and eat that. There was no standing or walking around with food. Fast food just wasn’t a thing in or out of the home.
So why is this even important? Who cares what we eat or how we eat it as long as we’re lucky enough to not have to deal with starvation/
Well, the obvious response to that is the epidemic of overeating and addictive food behaviors that is correlated with the rise in obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer heart disease etc… but I think, even more importantly than that is a point made by Dr. Pamela Peeke at the Idea world nutrition and behavior change summit.
Dr. Pamela Peeke assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians. In her presentation at this conference she talked about the incredible science of epigenetics. Essentially, how everything you do, whatever you eat, how you move, what you think, everything, has an effect on your DNA and can not only change your health for better or worse, regardless of your genetic disposition, but it also effects the health of your children and their children, and potentially their children too. How crazy cool is that? I highly recommend listening to Dr. Peeke’s TED talks to learn more about this fascinating science.
As we look at a new generation of children who for the first time are not expected to outlive their parents because of the early onset of lifestyle diseases, this is a concept that we need to give some serious thought to. And as cancer survivors who may or may not have a genetic predisposition to get cancer, this is great news for us! Because by making better choices with food and nutrition we can change the way our genes work and perhaps lengthen our life and improve the quality of our life.
Cool right, but as I said before food is just food rules we create and establish the healthy behaviors that support us in making healthy food choices. So where do you start with that? How do you change a behavior or perhaps lots of behaviors?
Well I’m going to give you a tip. This is a tip that I’ve talked about before but it’s so simple..not easy…but simple and it can have a profound impact on the food choices that you make because it forces you to notice how food is effecting your body. This is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that today is called mindfulness. That’s right, eating mindfully is a big step in the right direction.
Commit to yourself to only eat when you’re sitting down, just like mom used to tell me. Then make a practice of only eating, no reading, no cell phone, no tv, if possible even avoid talking at your meal. Even if you can only do this for one meal a day. It will begin to change your relationship with food. Notice how the food feels in your mouth, how it feels in your gut, how it effects your level of energy for the next couple of hours after you’ve eaten, or notice if the same food affects you differently if you at it at different times in the day. Maybe you digest meat better in the afternoon but it doesn’t sit so well and disturbs your sleep if you eat it at dinner.
This, my friends is the key to working your way through the confusion of diet labels and competing nutrition philosophies.
So I’m putting a challenge out there for each of you to try this mindful eating practice for the next week. Pick one meal of the day to do this and then post your comments and challenges with this practice on my facebook page. I’d love to hear how it works for you.
If you don’t already follow me on facebook, you can find me by my name Laura lummer on facebook and twiteer or breast cancer recovery coach on Instagram. I”d love for you to becaome a part of our thriving survivor community so go to my website, Laura Lummer. Com where you can give my your email address, or download my free e book, 6 habits of healthy happy breast cancer survivors. You can even click on the share your story link and tell me your story of cancer survival so that I can share it online and inspire other survivors through it.
Thank you so much for listening today and I want to acknowledge the support I get to continue to put on this podcast from beautycounter, a company that works diligently to get safer cosmetics and skin care into the hands of every woman. As cancer survivors, what we but in and on our body needs to be as safe as possible but it also needs to work well because we like to look good! I’m grateful to beauty counter for finding the right mix of safety and effectiveness and I’m proud to represent this brand. You can check it out on my website by clicking on the shop link or go directly to beautycounter/lauralummer. Have a wonderful weekend and be sure to check subscribe to this podcast so that you never miss an episode.
Until next time, let your lifestyle be your medicine.