Vegetarian Journal – 2021 Issue 2 – Scientific Update

One study focused on almost 9,000 breast cancer survivors and asked the women about their diet every four years after their diagnosis. Over the follow-up period, averaging 11.5 years, women who ate more fruits and vegetables and women who ate more vegetables had a lower risk of dying from any cause than did women with lower intakes of these foods. Women with the highest intakes of vegetables and fruits averaged 7.4 servings per day; those with the lowest intake averaged 2.2 servings per day.

Farvid MS, Holmes MD, Chen WY, et al. Postdiagnostic fruit and vegetable consumption and breast cancer survival: prospective analyses in the Nurses’ Health Studies. Cancer Res. 2020;80(22):5134-5143.

Total fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a reduced risk of frailty with those averaging seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily having a lower risk than those averaging fewer than three servings a day. Leafy green vegetables, yellow and orange vegetables, and apples and pears were specific fruits and vegetables associated with a lower risk.

Fung TT, Struijk EA, Rodriguez-Artalejo F, Willett WC, Lopez-Garcia E. Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of frailty in women 60 years old or older. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 [published online ahead of print].

The quotes above are just two of the studies profiled in the Vegetarian Journal’s most recent scientific update. Unfortunately the citations are not links to the original studies. Here is the link to the full Vegetarian Journal Scientific Update:

https://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2021issue2/2021_issue2_scientific_update.php

Eat your vegetables!

Random Thoughts – July 2021

Monday 7/5

“We can’t escape from the fact of our eating; no matter what, we are killing living things so that we can live ourselves. If it’s not an animal, it’s a plant or something else.”

Deborah Madison is a chef, writer, and author of 13 celebrated vegetarian cookbooks, including the modern classic Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Today is the 5th of July and I have the day off from work. Yesterday was the real 4th of July holiday which was celebrated in a typical American fashion, a cook out by the pool. I didn’t have to cook which made the fourth a special fourth for me. I know how much work and preparation goes into hosting a large gathering and my heartfelt thanks go out to our relatives in Claremore, OK.

The morning started with a little tree trimming in the yard followed by some deep thoughts no one should have on the Fourth of July. Reminder to all who read this: these are random thoughts. If I lose you, just stop reading.

The level of personal indiscipline since leaving Colorado has been astoundingly high. In plain English my diet has regressed. The rules and lists I’ve crafted over the years were not adhered to since coming back from the Rockies. I blame Colorado. The State of Craft Beer https://www.coloradocraftbrews.com/colorado-breweries/ overwhelmingly managed to delete the #1 item on my Do Not Have It in the House list. Beer is back in the house.

The folks in Colorado make real good beer. The Mountain Man and his Colorado Girl keep plenty of the good stuff in their fridge. Pizza out twice during the trip meant more good craft beers. We also stopped at Casey Brewing in Glenwood Springs, which is the only brand name I remember. Back home I continued the Colorado theme with some Odell and Blue Moon. As I’ve done for years I am monitoring my weight daily. I need to. See my previous post Consistent self-monitoring of weight: a key component of successful weight loss maintenance — Random Thoughts 01.02.21. To repeat myself – There’s beer in the house.

Abandoning old habits is hard especially when the old habit is just so damn satisfying. But if you want (or need) to lose weight you must change your habits. Colorado was fun and a lot of old habits crept back into my routine. I shouldn’t be surprised that some of those habits are still sticking around. The weather got hot back home in Oklahoma and there’s nothing like a really cold beer on a hot day…

One of the books I’ve been reading is Aging as a Spiritual Practice by Lewis Richmond, a Buddhist priest and meditation teacher. I’m nearly halfway through the book and it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Buddhist priest and meditation teacher. But every now and then we all need stark reminders of the obvious which we tend to forget about. Richmond reminded me of the value of being flexible.

“I hate when people say they want to go plant based or give up meat. But won’t mind eating chicken, eggs and bacon. I need to find vegan friends.”

Anonymous Twitter user

Flexibility, honest respect for differences in opinion, and critical thinking skills all seem to be in short supply, especially in younger generations who have become willing victims of confirmation bias on social media platforms. Maybe if they spent more time reading books…

So before you label me a hypocrite I have created a new list called Things That Are OK to Have in the House and BEER IS BACK. Food and drink that get put on this list are subject to swift removal if the trend-line on the Truth Machine takes a sharp turn to the north. Yet even after a month of indiscipline the number stands at 170. Check back next month for the next exciting installment of my lifelong struggle.

Postscript

Deborah Madison is not and never was a vegetarian. She wrote vegetarian cookbooks. Flexibility!

Veggie Burrito Spice Blend

Spice Blend for Veggie Burritos

2 tsp chili powder – 1 tsp cumin – 1 tsp smoked paprika – 1/2 tsp coriander 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp garlic powder

Chickpea and Broccoli Burrito — https://www.badmanners.com/recipes/roasted-chickpea-and-broccoli-burrito

This blend of spices is literally stolen from the chefs at https://www.badmanners.com/. The last time I took a theme on a spice blend the author tracked me down and threatened something close to legal action if I didn’t give her credit and a link to her website. So this time around I’m giving credit AND three links. I’m also not going to write down any instructions for making a roasted vegetable and chickpea filling for burritos. I suggest you go to the original recipe at https://www.badmanners.com/recipes/roasted-chickpea-and-broccoli-burrito if you need detailed instructions.

My Tips, Hints, and not too Secret Secrets

A really good tortilla makes all the difference. But today I’m going to wrap this filling in a Greek style whole wheat pita for lunch. I tend to roast vegetables for at least 40 minutes with a good stir midway through to prevent sticking. You can also add more olive oil at this point too. I hope I have a lime in the fridge. The last time I made this filling The Boss used it as a topping for a Taco Salad. She liked it. I hope she was telling the truth because when you cook up a pound of dried chickpeas it is a LOT of chickpeas. One cup dried will produce between 6 and 7 cups of beans. I used about 4 cups for today’s mix. The other 3 cups went into a Sweet Potato and Chickpea Stew (no link yet, recipe is still in draft form).

I used some metal pie pans as roasting pans because I didn’t want to use the big pan which is a pain in the ass to clean because of its size. Preheat your pan(s) before roasting. I leave the mixing bowl uncleaned and use it again once the veggies are roasted and done. Let the mixture cool for a bit, toss everything back into this bowl, mix well again to capture the spices that have stuck to the bowl and then adjust your seasonings.

Postscript

No lime. I used lemon instead.

I wasn’t kidding about using pie pans.

5 Fruits and Veggies a Day May Be Optimal for the Greatest Mortality Benefit

Five servings of fruits and vegetables a day — in particular, three vegetables and two fruits — provide the greatest mortality benefit, according to an observational study and meta-analysis in Circulation.

Researchers analyzed results from the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Over 100,000 people regularly completed food-frequency questionnaires and were followed for up to 30 years. During that time, nearly a third of participants died.

After multivariable adjustment, the greatest mortality benefit was seen for five servings of produce a day, compared with two servings (hazard ratio, 0.88). Eating more than five servings a day was not associated with greater risk reductions.

5 Fruits & Veggies a Day May Be Optimal in Terms of Survival — https://www.jwatch.org/fw117568/2021/03/01/5-fruits-veggies-day-may-be-optimal-terms-survival

There is a link to download the original study on the NEJM Journal Watch page. The discussion section of the study is worth reading if you’re interested in the details.

Is Fast Food Healthier When It’s Plant-Based?

As a nutrition journalist, I find the whole trend a little baffling. The number of Americans who follow a vegetarian diet hasn’t changed much in recent decades. In fact, adult vegetarians in the U.S. dropped from 6 percent of the population to 5 percent between 1999 and 2019, according to a Gallup poll.

Is Fast Food Healthier When It’s Plant-Based? — https://www.outsideonline.com/2420371/is-plant-based-fast-food-healthier?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Spoiler Alert – the answer is no. The entire article is still worth reading despite me giving you the answer to the question.

Fast food is fast food whether it’s “plant-based” or contains animal products. There will always be lots of salt and saturated fat for your dining pleasure. It might be time to take another look at my list of foods I No Longer Eat just to see how much fast food is on that list.

The Challenge to Stay Active During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Certain COVID-19 measures, including the closure of sport and exercise facilities, as well as remote working practices can lead to sedentary behaviors for both young and old. With less outdoor activity and more indoor time, people reported turning to comfort foods and “pandemic baking.” In fact, grocery stores struggled to keep up with the demand for flour. Dr. John Morton, Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at Yale New Haven Health Systems, says that during telehealth appointments, he has seen patients who have gained 5-30 pounds [5].

Physical Health, Obesity, and the Challenge to Stay Active During the COVID-19 Pandemic — https://www.rgare.com/knowledge-center/media/covid-19/physical-health-obesity-and-the-challenge-to-stay-active-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

Author Disclaimer – The quote and article link above have been sourced from my employer and is not a shameless act of self-promotion. The paragraphs following this disclaimer are indeed a shameless act of self-promotion to generate interest in purchasing my future best seller which is currently a work in progress.

I have lost over 20 pounds during The Great Pandemic Year One.

Boom.

Random Thoughts – February 2021

Monday 2/1

“We can feel the book in our bones, but the writing of it can seem like we’re always at the beginning, always trying to figure out what the hell we’re doing. At least, that’s how I often feel.”

Amy Grier

A year ago I was either 194 or 192. I recorded two different starting weights for 2020 in my journal so when I write about how much weight came off it might not be 100% accurate. Look anywhere online you’ll find stories of Pandemic Weight gain but somehow I went in the opposite direction. The scale dipped below 172 this morning. As you know I try not to get too hyped about these random fluctuations.

My personal quest is to document what I’ve done so that others may possibly benefit. Of course I’m referring to my future best seller. But I must admit writing all of this is not easy. This blog helps as part of the process. Maybe I’ll write a few words here and there that will end up in the book as well researched, tightly edited prose. Then most days I’m not sure if anything like that will happen. Most days I end up like Amy Grier always at the beginning, always trying to figure out exactly what the hell I’m writing about.

I need to remind myself all of this is a process and that things have changed over the years. What worked for me at 20 may not work now as I travel the road towards 70 (except maybe the no beer thing). When I lost the bulk of my excess weight my diet was extremely restrictive both in calories and food/drink choices. During the past Pandemic Year of Isolation my diet was less restrictive in terms of food/drink choices but still somewhat calorie restrictive. I pretty much adopted The Boss’ dietary pattern and started losing weight again.

This past year has made me question my long held belief in veggie/non-meat meal percentages of 90/10. My personal pursuit of health didn’t result in any weight loss. I no longer keep a food diary so I can’t determine the exact percentages of meat free meals versus meat/dairy/eggs I’d eat in a week. Yet I’m still convinced the more plant based meals you consume the more you improve your chances for being and staying healthy.

Today’s meals were or will be:

Oatmeal with raisins, maple syrup, and soy milk.

Bowl of homemade chicken soup with vegetables and white beans. Cornbread (both homemade).

Chicken vegetable fried rice.

Maybe I should redefine and rename my 90/10 strategy to a minimal meat strategy. The MMS Diet. How to Lose 200 Pounds and Keep Them Off Forever! Yo Oprah, I’m waiting for your call.

Five Simple Guidelines for Good Vegan Nutrition

1. Eat at least three servings per day of beans, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, veggie meats, peanuts or peanut butter.

2. Consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens and dark orange vegetables plus good sources of vitamin C like peppers, citrus fruit, and strawberries.

3. Get most of your fat from healthy sources, like nuts and nut butters, avocados, seeds, and moderate amounts of oils. Be sure to eat a good source of the essential omega-3 fat ALA found in flaxseed, hempseed, canola oil, and walnuts.

4. Eat three cups of calcium-rich foods every day including fortified plant milks, fortified juices, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and cooked kale, collards, bok choy, or turnip greens (double the amount of greens if you eat raw greens instead of cooked).

5. Don’t shun supplements. All vegans need vitamin B12 from supplements or fortified foods. Most also need a supplement of vitamin D, at least during the winter months. You may wish to consider vegan DHA and EPA supplements. If you don’t regularly use iodized salt, it’s prudent to take an iodine supplement. Vegan.com maintains a supplements page that provides current and helpful information for all these nutrients.

Vegan Nutrition Guide, by Virginia Messina MPH, RD — https://www.vegan.com/nutrition/

These guidelines are very good ones to follow even if you’re not vegan. Here’s the link to Messina’s website https://www.theveganrd.com/.

Be The Person You Want to Be – now what’s your plan?

“The best solution is to change the way people eat, the way they live, the lifestyle, and diet,” Mackey says. “There’s no reason why people shouldn’t be healthy and have a longer health span. A bunch of drugs is not going to solve the problem.”

Americans are not taking as good care of their own bodies as they ought to be, Mackey says: “71% of Americans are overweight and 42.5% are obese. Clearly, we’re making bad choices in the way we eat,” he says. “It’s not a sustainable path. And so, I’m calling it out.”

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey: The ‘best solution’ is to not need health care and for Americans to change how they eat and live — https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/04/whole-foods-ceo-john-mackey-best-solution-is-not-to-need-health-care.html

Monday 1/18

Today is the fourth and final day of my long weekend. The Boss and I are already planning more time off together this year. You reach a point in your life where the Work Mojo is no longer the same as it was in previous years. But that’s OK. I’m fortunate in having work which I’ve managed to weave into my life seamlessly. Some days I’m in my office working, other days my computer based activities bring in zero revenue. I’m still talking myself out of buying another guitar but that’s another story.

Today began as all days begin with coffee and catching up on news. I started this post half-awake then left to do other things which is normal for this writer with ADD tendencies (now you know why my future best seller is not finished yet). More coffee, a little jazz, shower. Back in the office I took another look at Mackey’s quote and had a different reaction from my initial reaction when I started writing this post. Why is this guy an expert?

We have too many self-proclaimed experts telling people what they should or ought to do. Read the Mackey quote again and you’ll see what I mean. Simply stated the problem is way more complex than most people realize and the solution is a lot harder for most and even harder for others. But to be the person you want to be you have to make tough decisions and understand this race is a marathon with many hard choices along the way.

The Boss and I got out of our pre-Pandemic habit of eating lunch out on the weekends. Instead we’ve done the drive through or curbside pickup routines for our non-home prepared meals. Yesterday we had Okie-Mex for the first time in a while (kind of like Tex-Mex but not nearly as good). I chose a combination plate large enough to be served on a turkey platter in the restaurant if you know what I mean and I think you do. We shared the platter and still had leftovers. There was a time when I would/could finish such a meal all by myself. Now here’s my point: when you hear or read about changing your lifestyle and diet what are you willing to do to become who you want to be? Do you have the willpower and discipline to eat just half of a typical restaurant serving or are you eating it all?

Habits become habits for a reason and can be challenging to change. But changing your habits (lifestyle and food choices) are the only way to lose weight and to maintain the loss. I actually found a randomized controlled trial (n=130) that supports my opinion on habits.

Habit-based weight-loss interventions—forming new habits (TTT) and breaking old habits (DSD), resulted in clinically important weight-loss maintenance at 12-month follow-up.

Cleo, G., Glasziou, P., Beller, E. et al. Habit-based interventions for weight loss maintenance in adults with overweight and obesity: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Obes 43, 374–383 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-018-0067-4

This habit changing thing hit home as I was searching my cookbook collection for lunch ideas. I settled upon a quick chickpea salad sandwich filling and if it tastes good I’ll post the recipe. As a young man gorging myself on the worst possible foods on the path to 370 I didn’t even know what a chickpea was.

Change your habits, change your life. Start with one habit you want to change. Substitute a good habit for the bad one. Give it time to stick. Repeat.

I haven’t had a beer since mid-December. Trust me. This is real painful.