Fiber and Reality

Photo by Jason Vandehey

How “healthy” are you eating habits?  We all hope our genetics are good enough to allow us to eat whatever we want and still be healthy.  The reality is that it is an abnormal rather than a common occurrence.  It is possibly more likely to win the lottery or get struck by lightening–something like Genetic Roulette.  So the first question is…what is healthy food?  There are so many foods and so many types of people.  I don’t think there is a straight answer for everyone.  But the word “healthy” is thrown around all the time.  I like more science then hearsay about this question, especially if I’m giving up things I really like to eat.  There is another point…if we are eating so many healthy things (as per the label on the box) why are we overweight? (as a nation) and have so many medical problems?  As some of my children and I (and many of our friends) develop so many food intolerance and allergies…I ask the next question…is there something we could do that can improve our health?  I was fascinated by a movie one of my friends recommended to me.  It has a lot of science and huge population sample size (statistically that is important).  The movie…”Forks Over Knives” (can be streamed from Netflix).  I’m not going to be playing genetic roulette.  Since I have a family history of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, it’s a bad idea.  I am excited to over the prospect of gaining back some of the ground my gene pool has taken.  Not to mention the added bonus of maintaining a more healthy weight.  Why do we think that we should be able to eat anything we want and not have consequences.  So what is healthy for you?

1. Find out a good weight for your frame (women’s weight chart)

2. Find out how many calories you need to maintain that weight (a quick calculation)

We all know fiber is important for cancer prevention (it carries out toxins), heart disease, diabetes and over all digestion.  I’ve always tried to eat things with fiber in them, but I’ve never took the time to calculate the fiber content in my daily diet.  Given the fact that I have been on a high protein diet for the past 5 years, I’m sure I was ingesting grossly insufficient amounts of fiber (meat has no fiber).   The health gurus recommend to get at least 30 gm of fiber per day.  I’ve even heard of over 50gm.  This goes beyond just keeping the skin on a few fruits and vegetables.  Really this whole reality explains why people are so over weight (one of the reasons).  To eat the stuff I want to eat and the stuff I should eat (to get the fiber and vitamins), puts my daily caloric intake higher then it should be to just maintain my weight. (which means over time I would gain weight) Go ahead and calculate your daily fiber intake.  (a normal day, not just the good days)

Fiber content in food chart (This is really interesting!)

To get enough fiber in my daily diet I would have to be really intentional or become vegan.

The biggest question that comes up is, “what about protein?”  To convenience my teenager that he was getting enough protein, I calculated how much protein was in a cup of quinoa.  Quinoa is a complete protein (by itself) and 1 1/4 cups is roughly equal to 1 cup of meat protein (about 30 gm, recommended intake for women is 40-70gm/day, 100gm for men).  In addition to protein you get 15 gm of fiber, 60% of your iron, and 200% riboflavin (B2).  I’m no longer concerned about protein.  As long as I eat a wide variety of grains, beans, fruits and vegetables, I’ll get the nutrients I need.  (I will add B12.  It is harder to get it in a vegan diet.  It is even difficult to get enough in a regular diet.)  The movie was insightful and it gave me the confidence to pursue strange new ways of eating.  Will I become a vegan?  I’m still exploring the possibility…  The evidence is overwhelming.

While I’m thinking about it, I have been checking out vegan cookbooks from the library.  They are not all created equal.  There are a lot of processed foods that are still considered vegan.  I was looking for a book that didn’t over use them.  And since wheat and peanuts are “whole foods,” I would still be substituting some ingredients.  If I have to substitute over half of each recipe on most of the book, the book isn’t worth the space on my shelf.  I was very impressed with Appetite for Reduction their shepherd’s pie was great.  I’m getting ready to try the famous Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna from the Engine 2 Diet cookbook.  I tried several of his recipes from his Engine 2 DVD (can stream from Netflix).  They were great!  Even with the shift in the main protein bearing foods, I still think it is important to have a daily source of live probiotics (i.e. kefir, sauerkraut, non-milk yogurt, pickles…)  Wild Fermentation is an excellent resource for live culture foods.  The live lactobacillus helps to balance the digestive flora and maintain a more healthy system.  In the end I want to “eat to live” instead of “live to eat.”

My Favorite Quinoa Recipe: Coconut Almond Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cup quinoa & 4 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp dry red bell pepper flakes
  • 2 cup coconut
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cup sliced almonds or pumpkin seeds
  • 8 cups spinach or kale
  • 2 cups fresh vegetables (cucumbers, peppers, zucchini…)

Cook quinoa with everything, but fresh vegetables and almonds/seeds, for 20 min.  Mix the rest of the ingredients and serve or store in the refrigerator.  The extra virgin coconut oil seems to tame the quinoa.  I add 1 or 2 Tbsps of coconut oil to the water every time I make quinoa.

Optional: 1 cup currents and 2 Tbsp vinegar (The kids didn’t like the vinegar.  They really liked the currents but my husband didn’t.  I set the currents on the side.)

Update March 13, 2014…

I tried a vegan diet for 2 years. During that time, I did not heal. At first I felt better, but no real healing of my digestive system. I found the Specific Carbohydrate Diet a year ago. After tweeking the diet with FODMAPS and taking out nightshades/legumes/dairy/nuts and less fruits, I was able to advance my healing by leaps and bounds! I still have a ways to go, but I am not on death’s doorstep anymore. The question of fiber…Do you need it? Fiber from fruits and vegetables, the answer is totally and completely, “yes.” But from “whole grains,” the answer is, emphatically “no!” It is a lie we have been feed by big business and the four lobby groups, other wise known as the food pyramid. The thing I like most about my time with the vegan diet is that it helped me to appreciate produce so much better than I ever did before. I continue to eat lots of veggies. But the grains kept me from healing. So if intestinal, autoimmune or brain healing is what you are looking for in a diet, try a paleo type diet and ferment as many foods as you can.