Keep a Journal (not just about food)

“Keep a diary or journal. Record your reflections on your life experience in a journal. You will find this simple practice to be invaluable in your quest for wisdom.”

Warren Bennis (March 8, 1925 – July 31, 2014) was the distinguished professor of business administration and founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. He has advised several U.S. presidents and more than 150 CEOs. Bennis is author or coauthor of more than 20 books on leadership, change, and management.

The spirit of the writer is different from the spirits of other artists. Writers are quirkier. Maybe not as quirky as painters or the artist who builds things out of toothpicks. These artists qualify as top of the heap quirky. The spirit of the writer who has lost 200 pounds and kept (most of it) off for nearly 50 years also qualifies for top of the heap quirky. The Digital Truth Machine display showed 176 one week ago. So I went to my journal searching for the raw truth. Well, I found things like “the weather got hot back home in Oklahoma and there’s nothing like a really cold beer on a hot day…” Trouble in Paradise.

I didn’t realize just how many bad habits I allowed back into my life. My own words should have been enough to make me stop and change. But knowing what to do and actually doing it are two different things… Before our Colorado trip I was 168.

7/18
Last night M&M’s and some chocolate drizzled popcorn. I woke up this morning tipping the scale at 170. I’m not sure how much longer I can cheat like this and not gain any weight but I’m sure enjoying whatever time I have before I need to start restricting certain foods and drinks.

8/19
Well maybe I need to hit the panic button. Last night I snacked, drank beer and managed to stay clear of ice cream. Surprisingly I am lighter this morning and I feel fairly thin despite my lack of willpower. After a year of stringent measures I lack the discipline to avoid beer. Again, if it’s not in the house it’s much easier to avoid consumption. Lesson learned, over and over again.

8/22
It’s been nearly three months since our Colorado vacation where I abandoned all self-discipline and started drinking beer again. I managed to put on three pounds last month while boasting that my weight hadn’t changed a month ago. I’m not close to hitting the panic button but we all know why I’m gaining weight.

8/23
I put on four pounds in less than a week.

On 9/11 I hit The Panic Button.

Let’s count how many Gary’s Rules for Weight Loss got ignored. Eat only when hungry. Portion control. Snack but not too much and only healthier foods. Beer, sugary and other things you shouldn’t have in the house got into the house. My journal and fading memory produced the following list of what I did to myself: dairy whole milk, full fat yogurt, beer, wine, Cheez-Its, peach cobbler, potato chips, beer, granola bars, M&M’s, cookies, cakes, brownies, beer, AND a half gallon of ice cream that was purchased for a Tiny Human visit that ultimately got consumed by the Big Human. I had stopped keeping a food journal. There might have been other food and drink that I’ve forgotten about.

Welcome to my world. I need to ensure the new suit I just bought for a wedding in November won’t require alterations.

Finally Feeling Normal

Monday I restarted a food diary. The recollection of my indiscipline over the past several months plus a recent online article on this topic reminded me of the effectiveness of writing down what you eat especially if you want to lose weight or maintain what was lost. Put simply I’ve been bad. Time once again to get better at what I need to do. Two months ago I wrote “I’m not sure how much longer I can cheat like this and not gain any weight but I’m sure enjoying whatever time I have before I need to start restricting certain foods and drinks”.

The scale read 176 a few days ago.

I hit The Panic Button.

At the present I am walking a tightrope between normal and overweight.

The struggle continues. But sometimes I plug in the old numbers to remind myself of the old me.

Keep a Journal/Food Diary

Journaling, it seems, is one of the most successful strategies for achieving long-term weight loss.[3-4] It increases a person’s awareness of what they’re eating and helps to unveil habits and patterns of eating. A Kaiser Permanente study with 1,700 participants found that those who kept food diaries six days a week lost twice as much as participants who didn’t journal.[5-6] Keeping a food journal also encourages us to take in fewer calories.[4-5]

Could Keeping a Food Journal Be the Missing Link to Finally Losing Weight? — https://nutritionstudies.org/could-keeping-a-food-journal-be-the-missing-link-to-finally-losing-weight/

I write in my journal nearly every day. I used to keep a food diary within my journal but somewhere along The Path I stopped.

I’ve gained some weight.

I have started to track my food intake again.

A Study (funded by the Hass Avocado Board) Suggests Women Can Reduce Their Visceral Abdominal Fat by Eating an Avocado a Day – (this is not a joke)

Female participants who consumed an avocado a day as part of their meal had a reduction in visceral abdominal fat — the hard-to-target fat associated with higher risk — and experienced a reduction in the ratio of visceral fat to subcutaneous fat, indicating a redistribution of fat away from the organs. However, fat distribution in males did not change, and neither males nor females had improvements in glucose tolerance.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Avocados change belly fat distribution in women, controlled study finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2021. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/09/210907110702.htm.

I love reading about studies that demonstrate the positive health benefits of a particular product where the organization that funded the study has as its primary objective to increase sales of the product that was studied.

Grocery Store Bargains

With food inflation absolutely skyrocketing I decided to write a post about finding bargains. Yes, bargains in the grocery store. A little while ago I boasted about finding a dozen eggs for $0.89 and wrote Egg Salad (because you will be eating more eggs). Well eggs in my part of the world are no longer this cheap but you’ll never guess what I found at the store yesterday.

$0.49 a pound!

Even though The Boss is not a dark meat chicken person at this price she will be eating dark meat chicken for dinner. Besides, The Boss really likes Chicken Thighs with Spinach which I’ve made several times since discovering the how to video online. I just need to figure out some decent recipes for preparing drums.

The increasing domestic demand for thighs is incentivizing producers to keep chicken legs, which have historically been heavily exported overseas, in the US market. But since every bird has one drumstick for every thigh, it leaves more drumsticks in the market, often at bargain-basement prices.

Big Chicken’s Drumstick Dilemma — https://tastecooking.com/chicken-drumstick-dilemma-dark-meat-thigh/

My big old roasting pan came in handy. Cover the bottom with foil for easier clean up. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Artfully place the drums in the pan, coat with some olive oil, and add some herbs and spices. I used salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and thyme. Bake for 45-50 minutes flipping over once about halfway through. After removing from the oven let the drums sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

De-boned chicken drumsticks.

The picture represents about half of the drums. The other half got served with squash and rice on the side. There’s plenty of leftover chicken to top a green salad, make chicken salad, quesadillas, tacos, Ampaipitakwong Fried Rice (aka Pete’s) or just about any other dish that has cooked chicken in it. Like my One Rotisserie Chicken series except you get to cook the chicken.

One Rotisserie Chicken, 50 Meals – #1 Salad

One Rotisserie Chicken , 50 Meals – #2 Spinach Salad

One Rotisserire Chicken, 50 Meals – #3 Sour Cream Chicken Enchillada Casserole

I picked up two packages of drums. Not bad for two bucks.

Eat More Walnuts – the WAHA Study

“Regularly eating walnuts will lower your LDL cholesterol and improve the quality of LDL particles, rendering them less prone to enter the arterial wall and build up atherosclerosis, and this will occur without unwanted weight gain in spite of the high-fat — healthy vegetable fat, though — content of walnuts,” Emilio Ros, MD, PhD, senior author of the Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA) study, said in an interview.

WAHA is a parallel-group, randomized, controlled trial that followed 636 patients over 2 years at centers in Loma Linda, Calif., and Barcelona. They were randomly assigned to either a walnut-free or walnut-supplemented diet, and every 2 months they were underwent nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and recorded their compliance, toleration, medication changes, and body weight.

Walnuts Lowered LDL Cholesterol in Healthy Seniors: WAHA Study – Medscape – Aug 30, 2021. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/957523?src=rss#vp_1

The study was funded by the California Walnut Commission.

But don’t let that stop you from eating walnuts.

Scientists Find Missing Link Between High-fat diet, Microbiota and Heart Disease (that many of us already know about)

The collaborating research teams found that a high-fat diet causes inflammation and damages intestinal epithelial cells in animal models. The high-fat diet impairs the function of energy-generating mitochondria, Byndloss explained, causing the intestinal cells to produce more oxygen and nitrate.

These factors, in turn, stimulate the growth of harmful Enterobacteriaceae microbes, such as E. coli, and boost bacterial production of a metabolite called TMA (trimethylamine). The liver converts TMA to TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide), which has been implicated in promoting atherosclerosis and increasing the relative risk for all-cause mortality in patients.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Study reveals missing link between high-fat diet, microbiota and heart disease.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/210812145052.htm (accessed August 14, 2021).

OK so maybe I’ve exaggerated a wee bit about most of us having knowledge about TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide). If the news about TMAO is new to you I suggest visiting Dr. Michael Greger’s website www.nutritionfacts.org and start here: https://nutritionfacts.org/2020/09/29/updating-our-microbiome-software-and-hardware/

20 Sweet Potato Recipes – The First Mess

Laura Wright is a vegan cookbook author and blogger based in the Niagara region of southern Ontario, Canada. She just posted a link to 20 of her sweet potato recipes which can be accessed at https://thefirstmess.com/. I have linked to Laura’s earlier collections 25 Vegan Soup Recipes – the First Mess and 25 Vegan Chickpea Recipes – The First Mess.

A gentle reminder to my readers. I take no credit for these recipes and Laura isn’t compensating me for this post. This is another Giant Sticky Note that serves as a reminder to try these recipes because I love sweet potatoes too.

Here’s the link https://thefirstmess.com/2021/08/11/sweet-potato-recipes/

Have fun! I constantly remind myself I own Laura’s cookbook and need to fix some of her recipes. This post makes three Giant Sticky Note reminders to myself to expand my vegan and vegetarian meals beyond my world famous Wheat Germ Veggie Burgers.

Probiotics in Cheese? Yes!

Is cheese a healthy source of probiotics?

Q. I’m trying to add more probiotics into my diet. Is cheese a good source?

A. Probiotics, good bacteria that can contribute to gut and overall health, can be found in some types of cheese as well as in dietary supplements, fermented foods, and yogurt. Typically, probiotics are in cheeses that have been aged but not heated afterward. This includes both soft and hard cheeses, including Swiss, provolone, Gouda, cheddar, Edam, Gruyère, and cottage cheese.

Harvard Health Blog — https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/is-cheese-a-healthy-source-of-probiotics

11 Types of Cheese That Contain Probiotics — https://fermenterskitchen.com/11-types-of-cheese-that-contain-probiotics/

Lifelong learning. The end of formal schooling should not be the end of your education. I keep my brain active by trying to be less stupid each and every day. Who knew some cheeses are good sources of good bacteria?

Since the beginning of the pandemic I’ve been eating more cheese. I became a lot less worried about the saturated fat and more focused on the nutritional benefits. Now I have another reason to eat more feta cheese. The next taco meal will be Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw – (NOT) Bon Appétit.

Fermented Foods for Gut Health – Center for Applied Nutrition UMass Medical School

Top Fermented Foods

Kefir

Plain Yogurt

Dry Curd Cottage Cheese or Farmer’s Cheese, or fermented cottage cheese

Certain aged cheeses (check label for live and active cultures)

Fermented Vegetables

Tempeh (choose gluten free)

Miso (refrigerated)

Pickles (in salt, not vinegar)

Sauerkraut (choose refrigerated)

Kimchi

Kombucha (no sugar)

Other probiotic drinks (no sugar), like beet Kvass, apple cider

Fermented Foods for Gut Health — https://www.umassmed.edu/nutrition/blog/blog-posts/2019/6/fermented-foods-for-gut-health/

I’ve spent some time at the request of a reader to list the top fermented foods for gut health. Many websites have very similar lists. If you’re interested in learning more about what some of these foods are the Healthline article 8 Fermented Foods and Drinks to Boost Digestion and Health is a decent source. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-fermented-foods

But if you really want to learn about fermented foods you’ll never eat because you won’t find a store nearby that carries them read the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fermented_foods

Although I think I can get Bánh cuốn at the Vietnamese grocery store.

The take home lesson is simple. Find a few fermented foods you enjoy eating and eat them often. Beet Kvass? No thanks. I’ll stick with yogurt, pickles, and sauerkraut.