Episode 17: Plant-Based Diets
One of my listeners had asked me to explore plant-based diets, and so here it is!
There can be overlap between whole-food, plant-based and vegan diets, but there are also some basic differences. This episode defines 8 different ways to eat while still being considered a vegetarian, or plant-based, eater. Then I go into depth on two popular approaches: "Forks Over Knives" and Dr. Fuhrman's "Nutritarian Diet." I explore the mistakes we tend to make when considering plant-based eating and the cost of making them. This week's actionable coaching advice helps you to start to shape the way you would like to eat.
The VFO (Valuable Free Offer) for this week is my booklet, "The Brilliance of Chocolate Cake."
1:11. Personal Story
6:53. Definitions to help you understand plant-based eating styles
10:46. Forks Over Knives
17:03. Dr. Fuhrman's Nutritarian Diet
21:46. What mistakes are we making?
22:45. Why are we making these mistakes?
24:03. What is the cost of making these mistakes?
25:27. Calling out a better way
26:37. This week's actionable COACHING ADVICE
28:48. VFO (Valuable Free Offer)
31:12. Episode 18, coming up
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THIS WEEK'S VFO: The Brilliance of Chocolate Cake
Breaking Free From Diet Prison Facebook page
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ACCESS Transcript Here
Episode #: 17 Plant-based diets
You’re Listening to the Roadmap to Diet Success Episode #17, Plant-Based Diets.
Did you know that you don't have to spend money on a diet program or weigh, measure and track your food? What if you could learn to have success by following an easy roadmap that takes you on adventures from learning how to change your mindset so that you can believe in yourself, to learning about what foods work best in your body and why? Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Breaking Free From Diet Prison, as I give you actionable coaching advice that is sure to empower you so that you will finally find peace with food and learn to trust your body’s signals. You’ve got this, girl!
Oh, and before we start, I want to let you know that the primary purpose of this podcast is to educate and does not constitute medical advice or services, and I’m keeping up with the science as fast as I can so I can share with you the latest breaking research in this area to help you achieve your dreams!
1:11 Personal Story
Of all the diets and ways of eating I have tried in my lifetime – and believe me, this 70-year-old podcaster has done dozens, eating a plant-based diet was not one of them. It never appealed to me in the long-term.
My spotty flight of fancy into the plant-based world came when I was in college, and discovered Adelle Davis, who was a writer and nutritionist. She was considered to be the most famous nutritionist in the early to mid-20th century. She was an advocate for improved health through better nutrition. She praised the value of natural foods and criticized the diet of the average American. Her books were aimed at educating readers. In her book, Let’s Have Healthy Children, she criticized obstetricians and pediatricians for being ignorant about nutrition. She also advocated for proper nutrition during pregnancy to avoid numerous medical problems for the women and their children. Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit was a primer on nutrition for the layperson. She highlighted the harm of a typical diet from growth hormones, preservatives and other additives in food, high salt and sugar, and pesticides. She was well beyond her time. Although she was not a vegetarian, and ate moderate amounts of animal protein, she was still the go-to if you were trying to learn about being a vegetarian and eating more plant-based foods.
Some of her recipes I still use today, and the vegetable curry is still one of my favorites. There is much to learn about her, from her social concerns about nutrition, to her books and recipes. There is a large critique of her, however, and if you want to see the other side of Adelle Davis, there is a lot about this on Wikipedia that is accurate. I gathered a lot of the information that I wrote here from that source, just to keep it simple. With the criticism, I take it with a grain of salt because the political lobbies for cereal grains, baby formula companies, pesticides, additives and the like, were – and still are – very strong and probably funded a lot of litigation and criticism. I say this with no proof, just observation and extrapolation, so please don’t send lawyers after me! As I have been saying in my introduction, I am trying to keep up the science on all of this, and as far as I can tell, she was right on the money with a lot of her claims.
And, just in case you think you have never heard of Adelle Davis, you actually have, in a way. The phrase, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” is hers!
My other foray into plant-based eating came with my infatuation of the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook. At that time in my life, I had come off from being a diehard Weight Watchers member, so I was thrilled to find interesting and exciting low-fat recipes. As with Adelle Davis, this was not a fully vegetarian approach, but, except for some fish recipes, it was all about fruits, vegetables, grains and tofu.
So there you have it. My total experience with the vegetarian side of things. I am going to take a non-judgmental approach in what follows, but if you will indulge me in a soap-box moment. You will lose weight on any eating plan. There I said it. I think of an old Weight Watcher’s saying that was: It works if you work it. If you are looking for weight loss, just pick something and do it the right way. The main trick, if you want to call it that, is to respect your hunger and satiety cues, which I did not do with Paleo and Whole30, and therefore did not lose weight.
The second thing I want to say is that any legitimate way of eating can back itself up with science. If you want to show that Keto is the only way to go and that plant protein and carbohydrates cause heart disease and cancer, then you will find proof of that. If you want to eat vegetarian and show that is the only way to go and that animal protein causes heart disease and cancer, then you will find proof of that. If you want to find that Keto will wipe out your type 2 diabetes you can back it up. If you want to find that being a vegetarian will do the same thing, you can back it up. If you want to show that intermittent fasting brings superior health, there is evidence to back it up. If you want to show that eating six small meals a day brings superior health, there is evidence to back it up.
I of course have my own ideas and biases – and the science to prove it (I say that half laughingly) – but it is important to share with you all the legitimate eating styles, and vegetarian is certainly one of them, so here goes…
6:53. Here are some definitions before we get into the two popular vegetarian approaches I am going to cover in today’s episode.
“Whole foods” are natural foods that are not heavily processed. That means whole, unrefined, or minimally refined ingredients.
“Plant-based” foods come from plants and is free of animal ingredients such as meat, milk, eggs, or honey.
There can be an overlap between whole-food, plant-based and vegan diets, but there are also some basic differences. While a vegan diet can include highly processed imitation meats and cheeses; a whole-food, plant-based diet shuns these products in favor of whole or minimally processed foods that make it easy to meet your nutritional needs.
There are many types of vegetarian diets that people choose for health, environmental or ethical reasons. Here are the seven ways to eat to consider yourself a vegetarian.
A lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet includes eggs and dairy products. It typically excludes all meats, including fish, chicken, pork and beef.
A lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream, but excludes eggs, meat and fish.
An ovo-vegetarian diet includes eggs in all forms, but does not include dairy products, meat or fish.
A flexitarian diet emphasizes plant foods while also being flexible by incorporating meat and animal products in small amounts and only occasionally.
A pescatarian diet includes fish but does not include other meats like beef, pork or chicken. A pescatarian diet may include dairy products and eggs.
A pollotarian diet is a type of semi-vegetarianism in which chicken is allowed, but red meat and pork are not. Some pollotarians may also include eggs and dairy in their diet.
A pesco-pollotarian diet – you guessed it – includes fish and poultry.
A vegan diet is entirely based on plant foods, excluding all animal-derived ingredients. Veganism typically extends beyond the plate and excludes consumer products that use animal ingredients or are tested on animals. You will notice that vegans do not wear leather shoes or use leather belts and leather pocketbooks.
Not a judgment, but a fact: Vegan diets tend to be low in some nutrients that really can only be found in animal products. Remember, other than vegan, most of the other schools do allow some sort of animal product, even if it is just eggs or dairy. For this reason, it is often recommended that vegans take certain vitamin and mineral supplements, including vitamin B12, iron, omega-3 fats, zinc and others, even if only trace amounts are needed. Except for the B12, some of these others can be found in food, but it is more difficult to eat the quantities needed.
10:46. Forks Over Knives
This is a popular introduction into vegetarian eating. The website is forksoverknives.com, and what follows is taken from this website, under the beginner’s section. There is also a documentary available on their website, but please remember what I told you about biased slants. Not that the information is not true, but the research they choose to use is, at this point, outdated, never mind the bias behind it. However, if you are interested, there is some interesting information and worthwhile to watch just to add to your general knowledge base.
Here is what is presented on their website. Forgive me for just reading straight text like this, but I am not familiar enough with Forks Over Knives to present it in an informative and complete way. However, there are a few points where I can’t help myself from interjecting, NOT TRUE.
“The Forks Over Knives Diet was born out of the transformative power that whole-food, plant-based eating can have on health and well-being. It is centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plant foods and excludes or minimizes meat, dairy products, eggs, and highly refined foods such as bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil. My interjection: They do not acknowledge the benefit of healthy oils, and they are suggesting not to use oil at all. In one of their blogs, they do take on a Harvard study that supports the use of olive oil, but still stand by their belief that no oil and no fat is best.
Going on with their website information: While leafy vegetables are an important part of a whole-food, plant-based diet, they don’t contain enough calories to sustain you. Consider that you would need to eat almost 16 pounds of cooked kale to get 2,000 calories! Not eating enough calories leads to decreased energy levels, feelings of deprivation, cravings, and even binges.
You will also be eating fruit, vegetables, tubers and starchy vegetables, grains and legumes.
The center of your plate will be starch-based comfort foods that people around the world have thrived on for generations: think potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, brown rice, quinoa, black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas.
They may be prepared a bit differently—leaving out oil and dairy, for example—but most of these foods will be familiar. In addition to starch-based foods, you can eat as much whole fruit as you like.
One of the major advantages of the whole-food, plant-based diet is that you won’t need to count calories or practice portion control. Plant-based foods have a lot more bulk because they contain more fiber and water than foods that make up the standard American diet. This bulk takes up more space, so our stomachs end up stretching sufficiently to shut off hunger signals despite our having consumed fewer calories overall. As such, a whole-food, plant-based diet is the only way to eat to feel full while also consuming fewer calories.” – Please allow my interjection here. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Bulk is not the only way to feel full. Eating fats and regulating your insulin will help you to feel full.
Going on… “No food is a single nutrient, and we should never think of foods in that way. What matters most is the overall nutrient profile. Whole plant foods contain all the essential nutrients (with the exception of vitamin B12) in proportions that are more consistent with human needs than animal-based or processed foods.
Why waste any of what we eat on inferior packages? As long as we choose a variety of whole, plant-based foods over time, we will easily meet our nutritional needs.” Again, my interjection: NOT TRUE. Even they point out that you cannot get B12 from a plant-based diet and thus, contrary to what they also say, you will not easily meet your nutritional needs eating this way.
They go on to say…”Even on this diet, people sometimes tend to worry about eating a certain type of green vegetable for calcium, beans for protein, nuts for fat, and so on. We ask you to let go of that kind of thinking. The most important thing in this lifestyle is to choose the whole plant foods you enjoy most!” Here I almost agree – I talk a lot about not being machines with an exact exchange of calories in-calories out. So, I do agree that it is necessary to let go of a lot of the dry statistical ways of eating and instead find a lifestyle that is generally healthy and most enjoyable. However, leaving it to a Forks-over-Knives follower to “just” eat plant foods they enjoy the most, could lead to deficiencies, not just B-12.
17:03. Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Diet
This is plant-based and nutrient-dense. Dr. Fuhrman is popular on the PBS circuit and you may have seen his lectures as well his New York Times bestsellers, Eat to Live or Eat for Life. He has many other books that have sprung from his Nutritarian Diet, including The End of Diabetes, Super Immunity, The End of Heart Disease, The End of Dieting, Fasting and Eating for Health, Nutritarian Handbook, Eat for Health, and Disease-Proof Your Child, and all the accompanying cookbooks. I have several of these on my own shelf, and again, as with Forks over Knives, the information is interesting, but not my cup of tea.
As with what Forks Over Knives and many other vegetarian people claim, there is scientific evidence that most chronic diseases can be reversed by eating this way. A nutrient-rich, plant-based diet can dramatically reduce the risk, and in many cases resolve, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disease, certain types of cancer, and other major illnesses. Remember what I said though, you can spin any diet any way you want. It’s as important to see the other side of the coin as it is to be open-minded about what you are being presented with.
The Nutritarian eating style focuses on what Dr. Fuhrman considers to be nutrient-rich foods that unleash your body’s tremendous ability to heal, achieve optimal weight, and slow the aging process. The foods are:
1. 90-100% vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and beans. 5-10% can come from fish and egg whites.
2. Whole foods are fresh and clean rather than food that comes out of a package
3. Focus on G-BOMBS
His buzzword (everyone has to have one) is G-BOMBS. What are they?
G-BOMBS is an acronym for Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds. Dr. Fuhrman believes these to be the most health-promoting, anti-cancer superfoods on the planet. He asks that you make sure that you include some or all of them in your diet every day.
Greens: Greater consumption of these vegetables is linked to reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, and a longer life.
Beans: Beans and legumes are rich in fiber and resistant starch, which help keep blood glucose, blood pressure and LDL cholesterol down, and nourish the microbiome.
Onions: Onions and garlic are linked to a reduction in the risk of several cancers, and their distinctive sulfur-containing phytochemicals have a number of actions that benefit the cardiovascular system.
Mushrooms: Mushroom phytochemicals are unique in their promotion of immune-system function with powerful anti-cancer benefits.
Berries: Berry phytochemicals have anti-cancer and blood pressure-lowering effects and are linked to a reduced risk of heart attack.
Seeds: Eating raw seeds and nuts regularly is associated with longevity, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, common cancers, and a healthy body weight.
Large, long-term studies have consistently concluded that more plant protein and less animal protein is linked to a longer life. Although I agree with most of his G-BOMBS research, I think there is some wiggle room on the beans, which are high in carbohydrates and lectins, which have their own pandora’s box of nutritional issues.
21:46. What mistakes are we making?
· We make the mistake of falling hook-line-and-sinker for the latest, greatest new eating lifestyle that makes a splash.
· There is no harm in trying something new, but when we are all excited about a way of eating that promises weight loss, immunity support, and superior health, we tend to lose our sense of what might be true and what might not be true.
· We make the mistake of not being aware of contradictory research and evidence.
· We fall into eating styles that we could never maintain or make work with our lifestyles.
· We slide into our all-or-nothing thinking. Never have oil. Never have meat. (And this is equally true for the other side: Never have a piece of bread. Never have a spoon of sugar.)
22:45. Why are we making these mistakes?
· We make these mistakes because the voices that push an eating style are louder than our common sense that would normally tell us to look at both sides of the story.
· We are making these mistakes because we don’t take the time to look at both sides of the story. The point I have been trying to make in this episode is that both sides have a story and both sides have research to back up the story. Know both sides before you jump in.
· We make the mistake of thinking we must fit a label. Are we pesco-pollitarians or are we nutritarians? We forget that we can just eat in a way that WE OURSELVES define as healthy. We know not to eat chips and candy or beans and rice all day long. We don’t need a label to do that.
· It hurts my heart that we have lost all sense of what and how to eat and that we think we must turn to experts or turn to the latest and greatest new way. My heart hurts for myself because I am you and you are me and I understand this.
24:03. What is the cost of making these mistakes?
· The ultimate cost is that we lose our best chance at good health even though these eating styles promote that they will give us the best health. I am not saying this as an aspersion of these plant-based diets. Not at all. I am saying it because often we do not follow these plans the way they are intended to be followed. You might be comfortable eating the whole grains and legumes, but don’t also grab a bag of Cheetos or a cookie that you shouldn’t also have. And even with Keto, because I want to show that I am not saying this as a bias against plant-based, who told you to put ½ stick of butter on a ribeye? With Paleo, who said that just because you could have fruit you should be eating a dozen servings a day – either in fruit salads, smoothies or as whole fruit. A portion is ½ a cup. Do you eat only ½ cup of fruit? Did I?
· And the cost that springs from this is, again, the negative self-talk that arises such as, “I will never lose weight,” “I must be stupid because this isn’t working,” or the big one, “Why even try?”
25:27. Calling out a better way
· One of my favorite phrases is “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” There can be plenty of good in plant-based diets, especially if you are open to having some animal products. You can eat mostly plants, meaning fruits, grains, vegetables, seeds and nuts, but a sprinkling of animal products – eggs, fish, dairy, if you can, will round out your meal profile.
· Be very careful before you eliminate full food groups. One of the criticisms of Keto has been that it eliminates full food groups. In a way, this is true if you are talking grains and legumes, but it does not eliminate the nutrient of carbohydrates, found in dairy, nuts and seeds, vegetables and berries. Keep that in mind if you follow a plant-based diet, and make sure that it does not eliminate the nutrient of fat or does not give you enough complete protein.
26:37. HERE IS THIS WEEK’S ACTIONABLE COACHING ADVICE
Your personal roadmap to diet success will probably lie somewhere in between a heavy animal protein way of eating such as Keto and a heavy plant-based way of eating such as Forks Over Knives.
Take out your journal or a plain piece of paper and make two columns: “What I can live without” and “What I can’t live without.” Using only whole, natural foods (in other words, not potato chips or even bread) put foods in each column. I can live without beans but thought of never having another baked potato is a little tough. Erase eating styles and labels from your mind for now. Forget Keto or Paleo or Nutritarian. Forget labels of good or bad. I only want likes and dislikes on this list.
Do you find that you couldn’t care less if you ever had a piece of meat again but would hate to give up shrimp and lobster? Do you find that you don’t care if you ever eat another potato or carrot, but boy you would miss stir-fry ingredients and salads? Do you find that you don’t care about pasta, but you love your rice with meals?
Just pretend that weight loss isn’t an issue. Neither are auto-immune issues. Nor what you think you should be eating or what your family likes. Come on. This is wild rollercoaster ride that I encourage you to take, not the diet rollercoaster ride.
Start to shape a way that you would like to eat. Remember it is just whole natural foods. We can add the bread, sweets, and treats at another time. Right now, I just want you to think of fresh and natural. Okay, my friends, we are starting the trip. Let’s work on that roadmap.
28:48. VFO (Valuable Free Offer)
Episodes coming up next month will be on urges, cravings, habit hunger and head hunger. I would like to introduce you to a new booklet that has to do with why we want all the yumminess that lights up our brains. I have called it “The Brilliance of Chocolate Cake.” It shows you that you are perfectly normal for wanting hits of “feel good” chemicals in your brain. The download is available at miriamhatoum.com/brilliance, and the direct link is in the show notes and transcript.
And, if you like what you hear, please like and subscribe, and remember to leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast. It helps other people find the show. Also, don’t be a stranger. Come on over to my Facebook page, Breaking Free from Diet Prison, and let me know if there is anything you would like to see on the show. I always look forward to hearing from listeners. You can also mail me directly … firstname.lastname@example.org. This week’s topic of plant-based diets was suggested by one of my listeners.
30:12. Next week’s episode
Next week’s episode explores the concept of Kaisen. This is a Japanese term meaning “change for the better” or “continuous improvement.” Using this system to achieve goals is the best way to see steady and long-lasting improvement. Once you understand the concept of Kaisen, we will use it to help make tiny changes that will help turn around urges, habits and emotional eating.
So go share the show with your friends, let them know that’s coming up in the next episode, and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become free from diet prison with my Roadmap to Diet Success.
Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time.