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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

McDougall conversion take 2

A while back I followed, generally, a low-fat, high-carb diet. Ornish and McDougall are doctors who have promoted this type diet for their patients and have achieved dramatic results conquering heart disease and other diseases. So I got into the habit of using water instead of oil for sauteeing, reducing fat in many ways. I was a nice weight and I had energy and most importantly my arthritis did not bother me much. But over time I let the fat back in. Not to mention other items, like white bread.

I remember several years ago when my then-tenant brought in a big bottle of olive oil and gave it to me. I wondered how long it would take me to use it up, because I simply did not use that much. Over time, though, I started using it rather lavishly, taking to heart the messages that this or that oil is "good" fat, and olive oil certainly was in that category.

Spurred on by my daughter's and son-in-law's recent attendance at a McDougall seminar, I decided to go back. Since then I have waxed and waned, given what I had to deal with (travel, for example), but now I am settling in with a fairly standard McDougall diet. I have two of his books (which include recipes) and have also looked up additional recipes online, and of course it is not difficult to convert a lot of dishes.

The good news is that I am in fact losing weight. I need to lose it to take pressure off my joints and thus stand a chance at relieving my arthritis. The bad news is that the pain persists. Right now I am suffering from hip pain that extends down my leg and often into my right foot as well. Walking has become painful much of the time, and the pain is sometimes not relieved all day long. In spite of eating quite healthily I still hurt.

So now I am considering doing an elimination diet for one week. This diet removes all likely allergens - for that may be what is going on - and if a food is a culprit in the inflammation this diet should show it up. After a week I should notice significant pain reduction.

It will be a challenge but the good part - the second good part - is that with McDougall plans there is no calorie counting, no portion control. I can eat when I want as much as I want. The food as a rule is filling but low-fat and generally low-calorie as well.

There are some things I have on hand that need to be eaten up so I may not achieve the full elimination diet the first day.

Have a look at the McDougall newsletter that explains this diet and lists the foods in it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What now?

If I were in a controlled study for the improvement of arthritic joints I would be doing just one thing differently from before. But I am impatient and am doing two. I suspect most of us jump in with both feet when we get obsessed with making a real change, and I am no different.

So in addition to the yoga routines, I have changed my diet somewhat. I have been vegan for about two years, vegetarian for about 26. Vegan diets, like any other diets, can be healthy or not. I could try to live on french fries, for example. Vegan, but not healthy. Over the past several years I have slid into the use of more oil and more bread. Neither of these is necessarily unhealthy. Too much of either, though, can have a bit of an impact. So while I eat a lot of good, fresh foods - fruits and vegetables and grains - I have been shoveling in calories that aren't doing so much for me, and because my body is what it is, those calories have turned into extra pounds.

I do not apologize for my weight or feel guilty about it. I do not believe that I am "bad" or lacking in "will". I'll put my will against a host of thinner folks and likely come out ahead. But my body easily puts on pounds. This isn't the place to get into why my body more than that of somebody who has never been fat, so I'll leave it at that. The issue is simply that the extra weight puts more strain on my joints and causes increased pain and difficulty in moving and I'm sick of it.

So I have also moved to more of a McDougall-style diet. When I say "diet" I don't mean calorie-controlled, portion-controlled, any of that. I mean a way of eating. This way of eating means cutting out the oils that don't come naturally in the food. It means eliminating the white breads. Otherwise, it's a vegan diet based on the use of whole plant foods. I eat as much as I want.

I therefore expect that when I see improvements (note that I say "when", not "if"), they will come from both ends: from the yoga-style exercises and the change in diet.