• count calories, live longer?

    July 17, 2009

    A few months ago I went to a talk about caloric restriction (CR) at the Science Museum.  The focus of attention that evening was a very skinny man who looked visibly uncomfortable.  You can’t blame him.  Aside from eating around 1500 calories a day, he had an audience slinging questions at him, from the expected, “What do you eat in a typical day?” to the more confrontational, “What are you afraid of?”

    The most striking thing to me was that the man was 52 years old.  He looked about 38.  And that’s exactly the basis for CR: eat less, live longer.

    He explained that he followed a mostly paleolithic diet consisting of vegetables and lean meats.  He also said he began CR because he didn’t want to get illnesses associated with ageing.

    As I sat there, a million thoughts swirled through my mind.  I agree that eating too much is a drain on the digestive system, and this in turn can accelerate ageing.  But I also believe that the benefits of CR are actually derived from what people are NOT eating than from what they are.  This man said that the first thing he did when he changed his diet was to cut out all the junk and processed food.  Well, there you have it.

    While I respect everyone’s dietary choices, I can’t help notice the negativity and deprivation CR seems to be couched in.  The word “restriction” sums it up.  Isn’t it better to focus on what we CAN have than what we can’t?  That’s my focus on Green Appetite:  joy, not restriction. This is the approach I also use with my clients:  focus on adding, not subtracting. Thankfully, we’re blessed with an enormous bounty of food from the plant kingdom. And guess what?  A lot of it happens to be quite low in calories.

    Actually, consuming fewer calories happens naturally as a result of eating a diet based on whole, plant foods as close to their natural state as possible.  Why?  These foods are nutrient dense, which means our bodies are satisfied on a lot less.  Over time, the body also becomes more efficient at utilizing this nutrition since it’s not bogged down dealing with unnecessary fats, toxins, hormones and all the other unsavoury stuff that’s not on the ingredients lists of many processed foods.

    Going back to our man at the Science Museum, it’s also interesting that he was afraid of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.  Yet we all know that these diseases are claiming more and more children every day.  These aren’t diseases of old age; these are diseases of affluence and the lifestyle that goes with it.

    In case you’re wondering what a person on CR normally eats, check out this article about Paul McGlothin who had been practicing caloric restriction for 10 years at the time it went to press.  Interestingly, the story appeared in Fortune Magazine.

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  • mom’s first green smoothie

    June 10, 2009

    I feel really proud of my mom right now in that “baby’s first steps” kinda way – yesterday she made her first-ever green smoothie!

    They say that children end up teaching their parents, but while this is often said in the context of taking care of them in their old age, I believe this is so from the moment of birth.  One of the reasons I want to have children is to learn from them – from their innate curiosity and spontaneity that comes from being in the moment as only children know how.

    And a big reason I started Green Appetite was for my mom.  A year ago this father’s day, I got an awful call – my mom had just had a major heart attack.  Being an ocean away and experiencing the gulf more than ever, I’d never felt more useless in my life. That is, until my mom not only survived the horrible event but came away from it with an undaunted determination to turn her diet around – not an easy task, yet one she has pulled off amazingly guided by her tough spirit and selfless support of her husband who took on the same heart-healthy diet right along with her.

    When I came back from visiting her in Florida, there was only one thing I could do – if I wasn’t there to shop and cook with her, the next best thing was to come up with creative ways for her to eat deliciously while protecting her precious heart.  My mom’s commitment to health is proof that people can and do change when they choose to and when there is plenty of love to support it.  She has been an inspiration for most if not all of the recipes on this site.  And now here’s my mom’s recipe, exactly as she emailed it to me.

    The Lucy Smoothie

    l mango
    l ripe banana
    Bunch of raisins
    1/2 of a cucumber
    Piece of papaya
    l cup of bottled water

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