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.

25 Vegan Soup Recipes – the First Mess

The Digital Devil told me I had dipped below 173 and I’m resisting the urge to overthink this. I can’t explain this bizarre behavior. It’s just part of my makeup, a tiny piece of me that tends to repeat over and over and over again. If the number goes up I’ll try to figure out why. If the number goes down my mind does the same thing. Why? Why is my weight going down? Is this merely a random fluctuation or can I pinpoint a reason for my successful weight loss/maintenance? As I wandered the internet I found a website post that had the answer I had been searching for.

Soup. I’ve eating more soup.

Laura Wright is a vegan cookbook author and blogger based in the Niagara region of southern Ontario, Canada. Her most recent post is 25 Vegan Soup Recipes and can be accessed at https://thefirstmess.com/. To be clear I haven’t tried any of these recipes yet but I needed a reminder to do so. Thus this post and link.

It’s like a giant Sticky Note that says “Hey, try these recipes. Also don’t forget you already bought her cookbook and it’s sitting on your eCookbook shelf.”

I actually forgot I bought Laura’s cookbook.

The PREDICT 1 Study – Link between Gut Microbes, Diet and Illnesses Revealed

The PREDICT 1 (Personalized Responses to Dietary Composition Trial 1) analyzed detailed data on the composition of participants’ gut microbiomes, their dietary habits, and cardiometabolic blood biomarkers. It uncovered strong links between a person’s diet, the microbes in their gut (microbiome) and their health.

Researchers identified microbes that positively or negatively correlate ‘good’ and ‘bad’ with an individual’s risk of certain serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Surprisingly, the microbiome has a greater association to these markers than other factors, such as genetics. Some of the identified microbes are so novel that they have not yet been named.

King’s College London. “Link between gut microbes, diet and illnesses revealed.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210111112208.htm (accessed January 15, 2021).

Journal Link: Microbiome connections with host metabolism and habitual diet from 1,098 deeply phenotyped individuals. Nature Medicine, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41591-020-01183-8

Eat more plants.

Consistent self-monitoring of weight: a key component of successful weight loss maintenance — Random Thoughts 01.02.21

Consistent self-weighing may help individuals maintain their successful weight loss by allowing them to catch weight gains before they escalate and make behavior changes to prevent additional weight gain. While change in self-weighing frequency is a marker for changes in other parameters of weight control, decreasing self-weighing frequency is also independently associated with greater weight gain.

Consistent self-monitoring of weight: a key component of successful weight loss maintenance — https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18198319/

And another year of the lifelong struggle begins. I’d be lying if I said all of this effort is easy. It would also be a lie if I said substantial weight loss is easy. The hard truth is everyone is different and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. We are all somewhere along the continuum as we trudge ahead in year two of the Great Pandemic. In writing the memoir genre stands alone. The author picks and chooses what she wants to share. But memories dim with age and the memories themselves change over time. Many just disappear never to be brought to the surface again. Other memories get fleshed out by the memoirist and a really good piece of memoir writing is always part fiction. For the writer this technique is especially useful. We write with the intent to tell our stories even if some of the facts are muddled or made up.

I step onto The Digital Devil nearly every day. You might think I’m OCD (and in fact I’ve wondered that myself). But I’m not OCD because I know that 75% of people who have lost a lot of weight and kept it off weigh themselves at least once a week and 36% weigh themselves daily according to published research. This March marks 14 years of feeding information to The National Weight Control Registry http://www.nwcr.ws/. Here’s proof I didn’t make this up:

Yes Eagle Eyes, same institution where Dr. Lee did his residency.

2020 was the year I got serious again about my weight. I’m where I want to be so 2021 is maintenance mode. Some the behavioral changes I made last year were easy. Other changes came about from the virus and turned out to be positives from a weight loss perspective. This year has just started and I’m not confident how long beer will remain on the Don’t Have It In the House List. All I know is no beer makes it a hell of a lot easier to keep my weight where I want it to be. At the same time a good beer is pure heaven on earth.

Due to the holidays there are two packages of tiny chocolate peanut butter cups in the Pandemic Pantry. I over bought chocolate and The Boss didn’t bake as many cookies as she could have. These tasty nasties belong on the Don’t Have It In the House List. But so far both bags are unopened. I’m not confident about the shelf life of these things. Could be short. Time to stop thinking about chocolate and get back to writing my future best seller.

YIKES! How did these things get in the house?

Random Thoughts Xmas Eve Day 2020

Thurs 12/24

“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 G. Bennis 1925-2014

Wednesday 26 January 2005

I downloaded this application last night from the Treepad website. Someone on the planet took the time to create a tiny word processor in the Treepad file format. S(he) uploaded it to the site and the app is free. It can be used to document just about anything you want to track by date.

I’m going to use this app for tracking food consumption, exercise, and any other random thoughts that enter my mind. I will also use this space to capture notes on my progress towards my goals.

It is also a good space to write. Just write.

I started keeping a journal 15 years ago. Bennis was brilliant and 100% correct in saying keeping a journal is invaluable in your quest for wisdom. I don’t feel I’m wise enough yet so I keep writing. Most of what I’ve written will never be read by anyone other than me. And for some strange reason that bothered me. When I started a blog I was troubled by sharing my most intimate thoughts online. As the years have passed I’ve begun sharing more online. I came to the realization that if I only help one person through sharing my life experiences it’s worth it. Even if that help is merely my One Rotisserie Chicken, 50 Meals – #3 Sour Cream Chicken Enchilada Casserole recipe.

This morning I did the Old Person Hour at the grocery store. Not exactly the best time to do your grocery shopping because there were a lot of empty spots on the shelves and restocking had just started. It was hard to tell which items were unavailable due to hoarding. Still managed to get everything I had on my list except fresh cilantro, a specific brand of tortilla chips and canned green chilies. The lack of chilies is a hoarding thing but no tortilla chips is a restocking issue. Trust me on this.

I must have stood in front of a neatly stacked tower of light beer for at least five minutes. Before me was a new offering from a major brewery, low carb, low calories (probably tasteless too). At this very moment I realized my fat jeans were feeling kind of loose and baggy. I didn’t buy any beer. The holidays are hard enough for those of us struggling with our weight. I ate three cookies yesterday! So for the rest of this holiday season beer stays on the Don’t Have It in the House List.

Losing weight is hard. Keeping the weight off is harder. Remember not to get too high nor too low. Make the The 90% Solution your strategy. I’m probably around 60/40 now but always strive to do better. Which reminds me, I should work on my book today.

Random Thoughts at Christmas – 2020

Sunday 12/20

Random Thoughts

Thanksgiving is now three weeks ago. The scale read 175.4 two weeks ago and as always I reminded myself never get too high, never get too low. In a past life I would gain five pounds in a weekend just doing weekend stuff followed by an agonizing week or two to lose the pounds I found. I have a funny habit that if I believe a particular strategy works I try to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work. The strange thing is what works doesn’t always work again which is frustrating as hell.

The Digital Devil surprised me this morning at 173.8 and I always have to remind myself to never get too high, never get too low. Honestly I shouldn’t be surprised. I can’t remember the last time I had a beer (I majored in beer at college). When did I make chili? One week ago Sunday according my recent Pandemic Pantry One Bean Chili post. Part of my Pandemic Life is to be kind to old people. At my age it’s not easy finding people older than me to be kind to but our friend across the street qualifies at the spry age of 80. So last week I traded a healthy portion of chili and some homemade Texas Corn Bread with the spry one in exchange for two beers. A fair trade no doubt and I drank one that night and the second the following night. So the last time I had a beer was nearly a week ago Monday. This is not rocket science. If you’re not sucking down 300 extra liquid calories a night your weight should come down.

All of this is intentional since I believe this calorie restriction strategy is working. The last time I bought beer was well over a week ago. I’ve added beer to my Don’t Have It in the House List along with potato chips, ice cream and M&M’s. If it’s not in the house you can’t eat or drink it. So not buying beer translates into less beer consumed. You don’t have to go crazy restrictive with your own not in my house list. Allow some relaxation of self-imposed austerity. For example, pizza is not on this list. Pizza is a food group and absolutely essential for good health and a long life. Additionally my total alcohol consumption pattern is different. Single malt scotch or bourbon on ice, single shot, not every night.

Losing weight is hard. Keeping the weight off is harder.

That’s it. Do the hard things you know you need to do. Speaking of hard things time to continue pecking away at the keyboard on my book.