Archive for April, 2011

Tip #8 for Getting Sugar Out of Your Diet

April 29th, 2011
By Craig Fear

In my last blog I gave you 7 tips for getting sugar out of your diet.  On paper (or your computer screen) this may seem easy.   But in reality it can be very difficult.  You may recall that Tip #7 was to “Go Easy on Yourself”.   Sugar is everywhere, in almost everything and it can be difficult to resist.  It’s also addictive.  So weaning off it can take some time, patience and guidance.

This is where Nutritional Therapy can really help.  And that is Tip #8 for getting sugar out of your diet.

Try Nutritional Therapy!

Let me explain a little more how Nutritional Therapy works.  It is much more than just telling someone what to eat.  Yes, weaning off sugar, processed foods and replacing them with whole, nutrient dense foods is the foundation.  But there’s a lot more to it than that.

For example, you may eat the healthiest diet the world has to offer but chronic digestive issues can impact your ability to break down and absorb the nutrients in your food.  Chronic heartburn, bloating, constipation, IBS and dozens more digestive issues are very common in America.  Other deficiencies and imbalances may make dietary changes more difficult than they appear in blogs, articles or books.

As a Nutritional Therapist, I help people navigate these obstacles.  Let me just explain a little of what I do and how I work with people.

First, everyone must fill out a 3 Day Food Journal before the actual date of our consultation.  I want to see what the current diet is like.  This can help me help you understand how your diet is connected to your health concerns.  Because again, if you live in America, you’re probably eating a lot of carbs and this causes problems, especially the refined ones, as they are broken down in the digestive process to simple sugars.  90% of the Food Journals I see are loaded with carbs.  And if you’ve been following my blog lately you know this means weight gain, fatigue and a whole host of connected health problems.

Next I’ll have you fill out a few questionnaires which can help me see a bigger picture of what’s going on.  These help me to zero in on the underlying issues that can disrupt good health.  You can take a look at these questionnaires on the “Consultation” link on my website.  The last one, the Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire, contains lots of possible symptoms that you may experience.   These questions are divided into various systems in the body such as stomach function, small intestine, liver and gallbladder, adrenal function, etc.

For example, do you have chronic bloating, heartburn or bad breath? Are you not hungry in the morning?  Is your stomach upset by taking vitamins?  All of these are signs of upper GI dysfunction, in particular, a compromised ability of your stomach to breakdown food.    Diet alone may not be enough to correct this.

These questionnaires plus the Food Journal give me an initial picture.  You fill these forms out ahead of time and I review all of this before I even meet you.

On the day of the consult, we’ll  go over all these forms together and go into more detail.  I’ll see where you’re at with your ability to make dietary changes and  clearly communicate the dietary changes that need to be made.  Some need to go slow, others are ready to really dive in.  I never know until I meet someone how things are going to proceed.   Regardless, you won’t leave without a very clear and specific protocol

Last, I’ll perform what’s known as a Functional Evaluation.  This is a simple, hands on assessment of various reflex and pressure points on your body that are associated with various systems.  For example, you’ll lie down on a massage table, (unfortunately, I do not do massage), and I’ll push gently around your belly button.  This is where you small intestines lie.  Our small intestines should be very soft and squishy.  For many people, with just a slight amount of pressure, they feel discomfort.  For me it feels hard and resistant to my pressure.  This is a sign of small intestine dysfunction.  I perform dozens of these little tests that can help me zero in even further on specific bodily weaknesses.

I also give lots of handouts and suggestions for further education via books, websites and various articles.  I have the most success with those people who follow up on these suggestions.  I understand that the nutritional advice I give is often counter to what most doctors and dietitians say, so I offer these resources so that you can feel confident in your dietary changes.

So maybe you’ve been thinking about getting a little extra help lately.  If you’re like me though, when it comes to making big decisions with your hard earned money, you probably delay it, contemplate it, delay more, make an excuse that this is just not the right time and eventually forget entirely about it.  It’s human nature.  I know.

So here’s what I’m gonna do.   For one week, from today until next Friday, May 6th, 2011, I’m gonna offer half off my initial consults.  Any consults scheduled within the next week, even if they’re scheduled beyond next week, are half off.  As I get busier and busier in my practice, I doubt I’ll be offering that again anytime soon.  Truth be told, I don’t even know why I’m doing this.  Just feeling generous today I guess.  So if you’ve been thinking about it, don’t wait!  This offer won’t last long (I’m really not trying to sound like a car salesman).

So what’s the price of your health?  What’s the cost of living with chronic fatigue, excess weight or type II diabetes?  In one simple consult I can show you how simple it can be to reduce your risk of chronic disease by making a few simple dietary changes.

I think that’s a pretty good deal, don’t you?

7 Tips for Getting Sugar Out of Your Diet.

April 18th, 2011
By Craig Fear

So now that we’ve established that sugar is truly the leading culprit in our national health epidemics, let’s start getting it out of our diet!

These 7 steps are the foundation of where I start with almost everyone who walks through my door.   Regardless of what the health issues are be they weight loss, diabetes, digestive issues, skin issues, depression, etc., it all starts with getting sugar out of the diet.

Dr. Thomas Cowan, in his article, “Treating Diabetes: Practical Advice for Combatting a Modern Epidemic“, writes:

During the 1980s, researchers began to ask whether obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension and other common medical problems that occur together are really separate diseases, or manifestations of one common physiological defect. The evidence now points to one defect and that is hyperinsulinemia, or excessive insulin levels in the blood. Hyperinsulinemia is the physiological event that links virtually all of our degenerative diseases. It is the biochemical corollary or marker of the events described in heart disease.

And as we know now, excessive insulin levels are directly related to too much sugar in the blood.

So what to do?   Get the sugar out!  Have I mentioned that yet?  Here’s how to do it:

#1  Increase fat and protein

This is the key.  Boosting fat and protein will start to shift your metabolism from a fat storing one to a fat burning one.  Sounds a bit counter-intuitive, I know, but the science behind this is unmistakable.  Excess sugar in the blood gets converted to fat.  Eating more fat and protein will start to release the stored fat and boost your metabolism.  It will also shift your taste buds away from constantly craving sugar.  It will satiate you.  It will slow digestion and keep you from reaching for sweets for a quick boost in energy.  Remember, we burn through carbs much faster than fats.  This is why you can sit on the couch at night and mindlessly chomp through a box of cookies, a tub of ice cream, a bag of potato chips, etc.  There’s a reason Lays motto is “Nobody can eat just one”.

As logical as this sounds, we’ve been so thoroughly conditioned to believe that fat is unhealthy, that for many people, in particular women,  it can take a great leap of faith to start eating more of it.   So you must also overcome your fear of it!  When I sense this fear in someone, I always send this article, “Taking the Fear Out of Eating Fat“.

#2  Reduce grains

This of course is implied with #1.  Grains are converted to sugar in the digestive process.  The standard American diet is very high in grains.  This is primarily because the food industry can grow them cheaply and efficiently and convert them into the tons of processed foods in the middle aisles of our supermarkets.  Wheat and corn (yes, corn is a grain), along with soybeans make up the majority of processed foods.  Just look at the ingredient labels.  And if you want to see it for yourself, get in your car and drive across the country.  Starting around western Pennsylvania and continuing all the way to the Rocky Mountains, you will see a tremendous amount of corn, wheat and soybean fields.  Much of that will go to raising animals in factory farms as grains fatten them up too.  The majority of the rest goes into junk food.

#3  Don’t skip meals and snack regularly

As you shift from a sugar to a fat burning metabolism, your body will still crave sweets for awhile.  Skipping meals can cause your blood sugar to dip, causing you to crave sweets even more.   Don’t do this.  And especially don’t do this with breakfast.  Snacking between meals will help keep your blood sugar stable so that you not only don’t reach for the mid-morning or mid-afternoon sugar treat, but it will also prevent you from overeating at your regular meals.  Of course, eat healthy snacks.  Nuts, nut butters with veggies, pickles, avocados, cheese, hard boiled eggs, hummus and veggies are just a few examples of some simple, low carb snacks.

Of course, some of you may be saying that if you’re eating 3 meals and snacking that perhaps you’ll be eating too many calories.

#4  Don’t restrict calories!

Never do this.  The over-consumption of sugar will slow metabolism.  It withdraws vital nutrients from the body which feed our hormones, in particular our thyroid and our adrenals, important endocrine glands that help keep our metabolism healthy.  Low thyroid and sluggish adrenals are extremely common in our country.   What we’re trying to do is to re-set our blood sugar levels.  Counting calories can exacerbate sugar cravings, in particular if we’re restricting fat.  This is why low fat diets leave most people fatigued and hungry.  Eating more fat and protein will help us begin to regulate our appetite naturally.  When the sugar cravings fall away, we begin re-connecting with normal, healthy food cravings.  And in the end we don’t have to obsessively rely on a scale or some controversial label to tell us how much to eat.

#5  Eat cultured and lacto-fermented foods

This is not only helpful for cutting sugar cravings, it’s incredibly healthy.  All traditional cultures, before the advent of refrigerators and freezers, consumed cultured foods on a regular basis.  Culturing foods preserves them for long periods of time.  It’s a natural process by which the starches and sugars in fruits, vegetables and dairy are chemically broken down by naturally occurring bacteria and converted into lactic acid.  Thus culturing is also referred to as lacto-fermentation. Lactic acid preserves food and prevents spoilage.  More importantly these chemical changes have some remarkable health benefits.  They are truly super foods with powerful healing properties.  Sauerkraut and kimchi (my personal favorites), pickles, yogurt and cheese are just a few examples.

Why do cultured foods reduce sugar cravings?  Actually, I’m not sure.  Something about the bitter/sour flavor in lacto-fermented foods seems to counteract our cravings for sweets.  Countless people have told me this and I’ve clearly noticed this in myself too.

#6  Drink kombucha

This lacto-fermented beverage deserves a separate mention on its own.  It can be pure magic for zapping sugar cravings, especially when the urge hits at night after dinner.   That’s when it usually hits for me.  One cup of kombucha and it’s instantly gone.

What is kombucha, you ask?  It’s a fermented tea drink from Russia.  With lots of sugar!  But the sugar is transformed in the fermentation process into beneficial acids which are great for digestion.  So is a good amount of the caffeine.  What’s left is a soury, slightly fizzy, slighty sweet, delicious beverage somewhat akin to ginger ale.  It’s catching on too.  You can find it bottled in most health food stores now.  But it’s a lot more fun (and cheaper) to make it at home.  It’s super easy too.  You’ll have to find a kombucha starter culture (also known as a kombucha “mother” or “mushroom”) to get going and there are plenty of online sources with directions for how to make it.  If you ask around though, I bet you’ll find a neighbor or nearby friend who can give you a culture and show you how to do it.

#7  Go easy on yourself.

Don’t beat yourself up if you have a setback.  It’s common.  Just keep at it.  Little by little your taste buds (and your blood sugar) will reset itself naturally and your sugar cravings will be replaced by healthy food cravings.  In the process weight will come down, cholesterol will come down, mood will improve, energy will improve, digestion will improve, skin will look better, hair will look better, you’ll get enlightened, etc etc.  OK, maybe not that last one.  But I bet your health will greatly improve.

Keep in mind, if you’ve been consuming a mostly sugar based diet, you probably won’t want to go cold turkey right away.  Cut back by little by little each week until you feel ready to take it all out.  And be prepared for cravings, moodiness, irritability and fatigue.  Your body is used to using sugar as it’s primary source of fuel and it can take some time to wean off this.  Those that do go cold turkey with success usually report a two to three day period of fairly intense misery.

No one said this was easy.  But compared to weight gain, fatigue, heart disease and type II diabetes, a little suffering though can go a long way to averting A LOT of suffering.

Try this for two to three weeks and let me know how it goes.  And if you need a little extra help and support, give me a call.  This is what I do.

Good luck!

Sugar. Why it’s killing us and what to do about it.

April 12th, 2011
By Craig Fear

Every now and then I come across and article so important that I wish I could have everyone in the world read it.  I think to myself, “My God, if everyone read just this, imagine how much suffering could be avoided.  Imagine the far reaching effect this could have.  Just imagine.”

Well, you may say I’m a dreamer.  But I’m not the only one.

I say this because I read just such an article yesterday morning.  The title of the article is “The Cure for Diabetes”.   And I want you to read it.  And then I want you to share it with someone you know who’s been affected by diabetes.  Put it on your Facebook page.  Blast it out to the Twitter universe.  Just share it with as many people as you can. 

It will make you understand why we’re in the midst of this epidemic that is affecting tens of millions of us and why it’s showing no signs of stopping.  It will make you understand how a few simple dietary changes can dramatically improve your life and the lives of your loved ones.

This is an epidemic that may do all of us in.  Seriously, I’m not kidding.  Because this one is very inconspicuous.  It’s not on the front of your newspapers every morning.  It’s not on your radio.  It’s not featured on CNN or any other news program.   But if you’re eating the standard American diet, it is on your breakfast plate every morning, it’s in your beverages, it’s in your lunch, your dinner and pretty much everything else you eat.  And if you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you know I’m not talking about fat and cholesterol. 

I’m talking about sugar.

We are killing ourselves in this country with the unbelievable amounts of sugar we collectively consume.  Never before in human history have we introduced dietary changes so quickly and so dramatically in such a short time span.  In the mid to late 1800s when sugar was becoming more available due to the Industrial Revolution, the average American ate about five to ten pounds of sugar per year.  With the increased availability and efficiency in production, today the average American consumes over 150 pounds per year.  This is wreaking absolute havoc with our health.

When you’re done reading the article, I want you to take a simple home test to determine if you’re eating too much sugar.  It’s what I call the Yogurt Taste Test.  This test will gauge whether or not your taste buds are overly acclimated to sugar.   Do it with your friends, your family, your kids and your colleagues as well.

Here’s what you do:

Buy full fat, whole milk, PLAIN yogurt.

Take a few spoonfuls.

Ask yourself, “Does this taste bland?”

If you answered yes, you have too much of a sweet tooth. 

Whole milk yogurt has a natural sweetness due to the natural sugars present in milk.  It is mildly and pleasantly sweet.

But if we’re so used to eating sugar, whole milk yogurt will taste very bland.  This is why yogurt companies add all sorts of sugary fruit flavorings, most of which have added sugars, including artificial sugars.  If you need that strawberry-peach-vanilla flavored yogurt or the blueberry-banana one to appease your taste buds, there’s a good chance you need and crave sugar in many of your other foods too.

The food industry knows this and they’re more than happy to oblige by tricking you into buying their high sugar junk food. On the front of their products, in big, colored lettering with lots of exclamation points and with the endorsement of some government health organization will be a low fat and low cholesterol label.  Don’t fall for it.

Now look at the ingredients on the back.  Along with a long list of unpronounceable, bizarre chemicals, you’ll see things like corn syrup, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, sucrose, dextrose, disaccharides, polysaccharides, etc.  All hidden sugars.

We’ve become so accustomed to these things in our foods that we don’t even realize they’re unnatural and loaded with sugar.  Worse, we become addicted to sugar.  It gives us a temporary boost in energy and mood.  This is why we reach for that sugary sweet mid-morning or mid-afternoon.  It feels good but again, it’s temporary.  Eventually we crash and we need more sugar.  And the vicious cycle perpetuates.

Over the long term, our health deteriorates.   It used to happen slowly, but today because we’ve become so ignorant and misinformed about diet, kids are coming into this world eating primarily sugar based diets.  This is why type II diabetes can no longer be called adult onset diabetes.  What used to take decades to unfold, is now happening in children.  This is frightening.

I cannot over emphasize this enough.  I will try though by using the caps lock key on my keyboard. THE NUMBER ONE MOST IMPORTANT THING WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR DIET IS TO REMOVE SUGAR!!!  You must start understanding where the hidden sugars lie and to start weaning yourself off sugar.  Please do it with your kids too.

The question is,  how?  On the surface it seems easy, but it’s often quite difficult.

Stay tuned.  In my next article, I’ll give you several essential tips for how to do this.

In the meantime, here’s the link to the article, “The Cure for Diabetes”: http://bit.ly/eyPaA4

And again, please share it with others.  And if you like this blog, please do the same!

The shocking secret to lowering high cholesterol.

April 9th, 2011
By Craig Fear

So in my last post I mentioned that cholesterol is not the life threatening substance we’ve been conditioned to believe.  And I left off with this question:

So what to do?

OK, ready to be shocked?

Eat more cholesterol!

Sounds crazy right?

The truth is that it’s very difficult to change your blood cholesterol levels through the dietary intake of cholesterol.  Cholesterol is so essential and so vital to so many roles in your body, that your body makes it on its own.  Consume more and your body makes less.  Consume less and your body makes more.

Except under one circumstance: the over consumption of carbohydrates, in particular, refined carbohydrates and sugar, which are essentially the same thing.  In this case, your body will over produce cholesterol.

Let’s understand why.

First, let’s consider just a few of the essential roles of cholesterol:

That last one is key to understand.  Something every doctor knows is that your cholesterol skyrockets after surgery or even after a dental procedure.  Why?  Because cholesterol is an anti-oxidant!  It’s a key component of the inflammation process which is necessary for healing damaged tissues.

High cholesterol is almost always a direct response to inflammation, in particular from pro-inflammatory foods.  

The standard American diet is a pro-inflammatory diet.  Refined carbohydrates and sugar will damage your body.  Guess what your body does in response?  It protects you.  But it can only do it for so long.

Keep eating sugar and your body will continually store it as fat.  Weight gain and obesity develops.

Keep eating sugar and eventually you wear out your body’s ability to get it out of your blood.  Blood sugar rises.  Type II diabetes results.

Keep eating sugar and it can damage the lining of your arteries.  Your body will from a clot made of fat and cholesterol to protect you.  Heart disease develops.

Sugar will degrade the functioning of every system in your body.  It will depress immune function, demineralize the bones, upset the gastrointestinal environment, etc.  Get the idea?

Am I saying to never eat sugar again?  Of course not.  Who doesn’t have a sweet tooth?  We can enjoy a sugary treat here and there.   Your body can handle it in small amounts.

But there’s no doubt that we have to reduce the unbelievable amounts we consume.  1 in 3 children born in the US will contract type II diabetes if the current trends continue.  That’s scary.  Folks, type II diabetes is a disease of chronically high blood sugar.  This is directly related to the 150 plus pounds of sugar that the average American consumes per year. 

I have no doubt that someday the sugar industry will be looked at in the same light as the tobacco industry.  There is no longer a shadow of a doubt that smoking causes lung cancer. But hard as it is to imagine now, there was a time when the research was controversial.  Over time, it became clear.

The same thing is happening with sugar.  People still blame fat.  They still blame cholesterol.  They blame meat.  They blame eggs, whole milk, butter.  But as the dust settles, as our epidemics grow and as the low fat and low cholesterol approach continues to fail, one obvious culprit remains: sugar.  Am I oversimplifying it?  I don’t think so.  Yes, there are other reasons for our collective health problems – stress and toxins, in particular.  But in my opinion, sugar is at the top of that list. 

On my last blog post, here’s what one person commented: I used to have high cholesterol. Then I stopped eating sugar and processed food. I also eat a goodly amount of (healthy) meat, eggs, dairy, and fat– probably a good amount more than before. Guess what happened– yes, blood work was done, cholesterol was waaay down, doctor was frankly astonished. He (the doc) had been contemplating prescribing a statin. I’m so glad to have avoided taking statins.”

Statins reduce the production of cholesterol.  But as we’ve seen, the body is not stupid.  It’s over producing cholesterol on purpose.  Remember the analogy I used in my previous blog?  Statins prevent the fire department (cholesterol) from getting to the scene of the fire (inflammation).

Not very smart. 

I see this time and time again.   When people come to see me I almost always have to educate them about sugar.  I show them all the hidden forms it takes in cereals, fruit juices, refined grains, sweetened yogurt, etc.  I show them that they’re consuming a larger amount that they’re aware of.  It’s almost universal.  And then I show them how to take it out.  And when they do, weight comes off, cholesterol comes down, energy goes up and many other health issues start to improve as well.

It’s not rocket science.

So the question is, how much sugar do you eat?  Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll show you a simple test you can do at home to see if you have too much of a sweet tooth. I’ll then give you some essential tips for getting sugar out of your diet.

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