I am thrilled to tell you all that today an article I wrote titled “Nutrition Intuition for Kids” was published on CrazySexyLife.com. Crazy Sexy Life was founded by Kris Carr of “Crazy Sexy Cancer” and “Crazy Sexy Diet” fame. She is an amazing person and a huge inspiration to me. I am sure it doesn’t hurt that Kris also reminds me of a dear family friend, Marcia McWilliams, whom I adore.
The publishing of this article has been in the works for quite some time now and I received word on Friday that it would be published today. Hopefully this is the first of many more articles to be published through Crazy Sexy Life.
This is the most recent post written by Brenda Davis, RD, on Crazy Sexy Life. Vegan junk food has become a huge problem in that people believe that if it is vegan/vegetarian, it must be healthy. Let me tell ya… junk food is junk food. – Gretchen
Brenda Davis, RD, is co-author of seven books, including “Becoming Vegan,” “The Raw Food Revolution Diet,” and “Defeating Diabetes.” Brenda is the lead dietitian in a diabetes intervention project in Majuro, Marshall Islands and is a past chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association.
Many people assume that becoming vegan means giving up donuts, cheesecake, s’mores, gummy bears, ice cream bars, cheezies, chicken wings, cheeseburgers and every other favorite treat imaginable. Twenty years ago, they would have been right. Today, they’d be dead wrong. Vegan versions of almost every convenience food, snack food and fast food are now yours for the taking. It is wonderful and horrible all at the same time. On the one hand, it is a bit of a relief to know that you can provide your child with a “reasonable look-alike” when their friends are enjoying ice cream bars on a hot summer day or roasting marshmallows at their highly anticipated class camp out. On the other hand, if you get a little too cozy with these processed foods you could end up with a vegan diet that is as bad as the Standard American Diet (SAD) that we’re so determined to avoid.
In this hectic world of multitasking, convenience foods have an undeniable attraction. While popping a veggie pie in the microwave is no doubt faster than preparing dinner from scratch, you have to consider the cost of cutting corners with the raw materials used to replace your brain cells (and the rest of your body!). Processed, packaged foods are carefully designed to tantalize your taste buds and keep you coming back for more. This task is cleverly accomplished with salt, sugar and fat, all of which have a nasty way of coming back to bite you in the butt.
Not so long ago, most people had no clue what the word vegan meant. Those that recognized the word associated it with extreme, dangerous vegetarian diets. Today, the word vegan is viewed in a far more flattering light. This shift is the direct result of a couple of decades of scientific evidence confirming the safety, adequacy and potential benefits of a well-planned vegan diet. You can walk into any mainstream grocery store and find products with the word vegan prominently displayed across the label. Producers use the word vegan to sell goods because consumers associate this word with wholesome, nutritious, ethical and green. Many assume that foods baring the “v” word are nutritionally beyond reproach. Don’t be fooled. Just because you see the word vegan on a label does not automatically qualify the item as healthful. Nor does it qualify the food as low-calorie, low-fat, low-sugar or “low” anything. Some of the world’s most unhealthful foods are 100% vegan – soda pop and deep-fried salty snacks being two perfect examples.
What does this all mean when it comes to our food choices? Can you afford to eat any of the tempting treats sitting on natural-food store shelves? While you don’t have to completely eschew the tasty convenience foods that are appearing in ever-increasing numbers, you best be savvy about where on the health food spectrum these foods really lie. The following guidelines will help you sort the proverbial wheat from the chaff.
1. Eat mainly whole plant foods – vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Make these foods the centerpieces of all your meals. Go for at least 10 servings of vegetables and fruits, including at least three servings of leafy greens, each day.
2. If you eat vegan convenience foods, do so in moderation. Frozen entrees, veggie meats, frozen whole grain waffles, packaged mixes, and the like can offer variety and enjoyment, but they should not become dietary staples. These foods tend to be high in salt and sugar and are sometimes exposed to harsh chemicals in their processing.
3. If you eat vegan snack foods and fast foods, do so in moderation. Foods that fall into this category include vegan hot dogs, ice cream, candy bars and sweet baked goods containing white flour and/or sugar.
4. If you use soy foods, stick to organic, first generation soy products such as edamame, roasted soybeans, baked soybeans, tofu, tempeh and soymilk. Minimize highly processed soy foods, especially those based on isolated soy protein or soy oil.
5. Learn to read labels! While the nutrition facts give you a lot of valuable information about salt, sugar, fat and nutrient content, the ingredient list is every bit as important. Ingredients are listed by weight, so whatever appears first is present in the greatest quantity. Take note of the sources of fat, sugar and protein in the product.
6. Make sure you take care of the nutrients of concern – particularly vitamin B12, but also vitamin D, calcium, iron, zinc, iodine and essential fatty acids. Ignoring these nutrients can erode most of the advantages enjoyed on a whole-foods vegan diet.
To read this post directly on Crazy Sexy Life click here.
People are always so curious about where I get my protein. There is a misconception that plant based diets are deificient in protein. I stumbled upon the post below and thought you might like to read Brendan Brazier’s take on protein. This post is from Crazy Sexy Life By Brendan Brazier on March 5, 2009. To read the post directly on the Craze Sexy Life website click here.
Properly balanced plant-based protein can offer several advantages over more traditional animal-based options. I discovered this along the way when I was searching for a performance advantage. At the age of 15 I made the concerted decision that I wanted to race Ironman triathlons professionally. Aware that staking the odds of making this happen in my favor would rely heavily upon a sound nutritional strategy, I began to search for one. Going somewhat against the grain, I decided to experiment with a plant-based diet. As you might imagine, criticism flowed: where would I get my protein? Until it worked. I raced Ironman triathlons professionally for seven years, all on a plant-based diet. I honestly believe that the detail I applied to my nutrition program was a large reason for me even having a Pro Ironman career at all. The following is what I learned about protein and how you can apply it to boost your overall performance, improve muscle tone and increase your energy level.
It was once thought that only animal protein was complete and therefore a superior source to plant-based options. Complete protein is comprised of all ten essential amino acids. By definition, essential amino acids cannot be made by the body; they must be obtained through dietary sources. And, in fact, there are actually several complete plant protein sources. However, to obtain all amino acids in high quantities, it’s advantageous to consume several complementary sources of protein on a regular basis. For example, hemp, yellow pea and brown rice protein make up a superior amino acid profile that rivals any created in the animal kingdom.
Additionally, one of the big advantages of properly balance whole food, plant-based protein over animal protein is its only slightly acidic or neutral pH. In contrast, highly processed foods are acid forming, and even more so are animal based foods. Whey protein isolate, for example, is highly acid forming. Whey, strait from the cow, would be numeral and even slightly alkaline, but once the protein gets isolated (therefore rendering it no longer a whole food) and it is then pasteurized, these two steps of processing lower its pH, making it considerably more acid-forming. Meat, pork in particular, is also highly acid forming. Acid forming foods include all those that are cooked at a high temperature or highly processed. Among the most acid forming are meat, coffee, pasteurized milk and cheese, prescription drugs, margarine, artificial sweeteners, soft drinks and roast nuts as well as all refined flour-based foods. Refined flour-based foods include: most commercial breakfast cereal, white pasta, white bread, conventional baked goods.
As a basic rule, the more that has been done to the food, the more acid forming it will be. The less that has been done to alter its original state, the more alkaline forming it will be.
It’s advantageous to maintain a neutral pH. Eating too many acid forming foods will promote inflammation, reduce immune function and cause highly-alkaline calcium to be pulled from the bones to keep the blood in its neutral state of 7.35. This of course leads to lower bone density and in many cases, osteoporosis. In fact, the over consumption of highly refined foods is the reason that we as North Americans are contracting osteoporosis at a younger age than ever before in history.
The most alkaline forming foods are those with chlorophyll, the green pigment in many plants. Leafy greens for example. Hemp is an excellent example in that is contains complete protein, yet the fact that it is not isolated and that it contains chlorophyll helps maintain a more alkaline pH.
A large salad is also a good high-quality protein option. I realize that when many people think salad, protein is not usually what comes to mind. Although, dark types of lettuce are up to 40% protein and spinach registers at about 45% protein. Since leafy greens are light, of course, this doesn’t add up to astonishingly high numbers in term of grams of protein. However, since protein in leafy greens is already in amino acid form, the kind usable by the body, it doesn’t have to be converted; therefore it saves the consumer energy. The body can’t use protein as is, it must convert it to amino acids first. Therefore in my book Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, I classify foods with this quality as “one-step nutrition” foods. They offer a significant advantage. Since the step of converting protein to amino acids is eliminated, the body will conserve energy through the assimilation process. And, because of this energy savings, you will have a greater amount. If you don’t spend it, you still have it; that’s the premise of another one of the core principals in Thrive called “energy through conservation as opposed to consumption.”
If a large enough salad is eaten, taking into consideration its “one-step nutrition” quality and therefore its ability to provide more energy than foods that don’t assimilate as efficiently, a substantial amount of usable protein will be ingested.
“Pseudo grain” is the term given to what is technically a seed, yet commonly referred to as a grain. Examples include: amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa and wild rice. Since they are all in fact seeds, their nutritional profile closely reflects that. They are gluten free, and higher in protein than grains. They can also be easily sprouted. The sprouting process converts the protein in pseudo grains into amino acids, putting them in the one-step nutrition category, thereby significantly improving their digestibility. Additionally, sprouting raises their pH making them an alkaline-forming food. And with greater than 20 percent protein in amino acid form and superior digestibility, pseudo grains are a sound protein source. Adding half a cup of sprouted buckwheat to a large salad will certainly yield a high-quality protein meal.
What can I say…this book is AMAZING! Kris Carr has been one of my heroine’s since I first saw her documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer. This is a woman who 8 years ago was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that had/has no cure and no treatment. She decided that wasn’t good enough…(In her own words), “My wake-up call encouraged me to make a total lifestyle upgrade inside and out. This extraordinary journey led me to crank the stress down and the joy factor up. It brought me back to nature, the garden and the people (and animals!) who fuel my spirit each day. In the process, I created a blueprint for a healthy and happy life and I want to share my secrets with fabulous you!”
I’m not the only one who thinks Kris Carr has got it going on! Check out these testimonials from some of my other heros:
“Kris has been there, and she brings the depth of her experience to this uplifting book and offers tips from experts and success stories along the way. She even offers a 21-day cleanse with recipes included. Kris Carr is an incredible and tireless advocate for health and she’ll be your coach, confidant, and companion page after page. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have.” -Neal Barnard, M.D.
“Kris Carr makes practical and hopeful suggestions as we face greater and greater numbers of our friends and family falling prey to chronic degenerative disease. I am personally inspired by her example in leading the way for people to take control of their bodies and their health.” -T. Colin Campbell, PhD
“Kris Carr titillatingly turns a kitchen into a pharmacy. -Dr. Mehmet Oz
“Consider this not a diet book, but a guide to living fully; not a meal plan, but a road map to self-empowerment, adorned with Kris’s unrivaled enthusiasm, humor, and compassion.” -Dean Ornish, M.D.
So, in honor of the amazing Kris Carr I’m giving away a copy of her new book Crazy Sexy Diet to the 20th person who signs-up as a Veggie Grettie e-mail subscriber today (the subscription area is under the header picture of veggies on the right-hand side of my homepage).
Kris has decided to share the first chapter of her book with you for free! Click here if you would like to get a taste of this great book…I’mm sure you’ll want to go out and get a copy. Enjoy!
"The diet that helps to reduce weight in the short run needs to be the same diet that creates and maintains health in the long run."
~T. Colin Campbell
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