In this video I talk about my personal experience following Dr. John McDougall’s program The Starch Solution, how I feel on the program, what kind of weight-loss success I’ve experienced (or not), and how I will be proceeding in the future.
For those who don’t know, The Starch Solution is a low-fat, high-carb, whole-foods, plant-based eating plan whose central focus is based on eating most of your daily calories in the form of starch. What, exactly, is “starch”, you may ask? Well, it’s NOT refined grains in the form of white bread, pastries, cakes, cookies, etc. Dr. McDougall defines starches as “whole plant foods” such as; potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, starchy squashes like butternut, acorn, and pumpkin, brown rice, corn, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, or any other whole grain. He does allow for some whole grain breads and pastas but mostly for those who don’t have a lot of weight to lose. These foods are the center of each meal. They are to be supplemented by other green, yellow, orange, and red vegetables and some fruits. Absolutely NO added fats or refined oils are allowed. And they prefer that you consume no caffeinated beverages, carbonated beverages, or alcohol. That is the essence of the program. Watch the video to learn more about my own experience following Dr. McDougall’s plan.
In 2000, at age 38, for the first time in my life I started experiencing some strange health challenges.
We had recently moved to a 20 acre piece of property we purchased in Central Oregon and were drinking the local, city water while waiting to put in our own well. Shortly thereafter I began experiencing muscle weakness in both of my arms and dizziness that became nearly debilitating…especially whenever moving from a horizontal to a vertical position, or when rolling over in bed at night. Kind of like an ear infection would affect your equilibrium. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that it might have something to do with the water I was drinking (strange that no one else in the family had these symptoms, though…) and I quickly started purchasing 2.5 gallon dispenser jugs of purified water to consume. The pain got better almost immediately. But the dizziness persisted…not nearly as badly as it had been before changing to the purified water…but it still clung to me, off and on, for several years afterward.
In late 2006 my younger cousin, Floyd, who was 40 at the time, was diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a softball. This had a significant impact me, both emotionally and psychologically. I desperately wanted to find a way to help him beat that illness. Combined with the fact that my father had suffered a double heart attack, several years earlier, at age 60 and was experiencing a gradual, but progressive, decline in his health, I was motivated to begin research on ways to heal the body through diet and nutrition.
This is when I found the Raw Food lifestyle. And without going into all of the history surrounding that (I’ve already written about that experience in detail on my other blog: http://tracyjprez.wordpress.com) I will say that over the next couple of years I followed that lifestyle with quite a bit of personal success. But it caused a significant challenge with my family, who did not embrace the idea of eating mostly raw foods, and this resulted in a fractured home-life, when it came to meals and food consumption. So, in early 2008 I gradually began eating more and more cooked foods.
During this same time frame I began noticing that my body was starting to experience some definite hormonal shifts. I wasn’t FEELING any different, but my monthly cycle was becoming sporadic, so I knew that something was changing. I hadn’t really experienced much weight-loss on raw foods during my first attempt following a high-raw diet, but most of my strange symptoms did go away, and I really LIKED the lifestyle. However, due to the situation with my family and other factors, I was lead back to eating mostly cooked food again. By January 2009 my weight was at an all-time high of 193 and I was feeling awful about myself. I’m tall, 5 feet 8 inches, so I can carry more weight than most women without looking especially over-weight. But no matter how you stack it, 193 is about 50 pounds more than I should weigh in order to be healthy. By this time most of our children had grown and were off, living on their own. So, I was in a better position to take a serious shot at Raw Foods again. And this time I did succeed in losing some significant weight! Between March and July I lost about 35 pounds and was feeling sooo much lighter and happier! I was energized and feeling more enthusiastic about life and this way of eating than ever before!
In November of 2009 I launched my online magazine, Eighty Percent Raw (www.eightypercentraw.com), fully convinced of the benefits of this lifestyle. Again, I’ve written all about that experience on my other blog: http://tracyjprez.wordpress.com. So, I will skip writing about all of that here, again. I want to get to the point of this post…
And that is this – Raw Foods and Menopause. Looking back on all of this upheaval and fluctuation in my weight and my health, with the symptoms that have come and gone in the process…I really think almost all of this can be attributed, primarily, to the hormonal changes my body has been going through. And I don’t think enough serious consideration, or discussion, is given to what havoc is really wreaked in a woman’s body, nor for how LONG, throughout the whole menopausal adjustment period. This isn’t like some short-term “condition” or illness that we go through and then get over in a couple of months. At least not in my experience. And if you are anything like me, you have tried all kinds of things in an attempt to force your body to cooperate with you to “fix” the problem. Well, guess what? Apparently the body wins. OMG! LOL!
Sooo…here is where I am today. I am returning to a high-raw foods lifestyle, once again. I am no longer experiencing debilitating joint pain in my knees (which always resurfaced whenever I would go back to high-raw or high-carb in the recent past…but, again, this appears to be related more to hormones and not to diet, as I previously believed) and my general health seems to be better than it’s been in quite a long time now. But I still struggle with the weight.
Raw foods is the one “diet” or lifestyle that helped me lose weight and KEEP IT OFF _without even trying_ for nearly two years. That is saying something, for me!
Here are some of the insights I’ve gained, so far as my own body and weight-loss and diet are concerned –
1. I can’t eat starches and lose weight (ie; cooked grains, legumes, potatoes, etc.)
2. I have to watch my fat intake. I can’t eat a lot of nuts, seeds, avocados, oils, etc. and lose weight (though, I was using eating lots of nuts, seeds, coconut, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and olives with no problem prior to the major hormonal change, so I am going to be watching this)
3. Not sure if I need to be careful about condensed sweets like dried fruit, agave nectar (not currently using), pure maple syrup, honey, etc. So I will also be watching these. Also, not sure if I need to be cautious about high-sugar, high-starch fruits like banana, mango, papaya, etc. But I have my suspicions, so I am also keeping a close watch on what happens with these. *I _have_ noticed that I break out and get swelling and cracking around my lips when I consume much raw pineapple or watermelon lately… so I seem to have some weird food intolerance’s that I haven’t experienced before.
I would LOVE to have an open dialogue with other women who have had challenges going through menopause, especially where weight gain and hormonal symptoms are concerned. And I would particularly enjoy hearing from those who have overcome these symptoms and are following a high-raw foods diet & lifestyle!
Until next time…
Ok, folks, here is my “standard, go-to, favorite” Green Smoothie recipe. I’ve posted it on Facebook before, but never with a photo. So, if this recipe is one you’ve seen before, I hope you won’t mind the repeat. Personally, I think it’s worth sharing again, since it’s so easy and delicious! And I’m trying to do a better job of posting photos of all my raw food recipes now 😉
So, keep in mind…I’m NOT a purist when it comes to raw foods…or any diet program or lifestyle…for that matter. I think we all have to listen to our own bodies and inner voice, first and foremost, and do what works for us, as individuals. No two of us are identical. We each have different bodily chemistry, ancestry, environmental factors, family tendencies, etc. So, you will find that this smoothie (and almost all of my recipes), while being HIGH RAW, is not 100% raw. Alter it to suit your own tastes and preferences 😉 Personally, I prefer to use a juice base for my smoothies, rather than a water base. I just like the flavor better that way. And, hey, it’s still getting me a huge serving of greens and fresh fruits, so I figure that is going to be to my benefit.
1-1/2 c. orange juice from concentrate (or fresh squeezed, if you prefer)
2 c. baby spinach greens (more or less)
1 ripe banana
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. frozen fruit mix (mine is from Costco: strawberries, pineapple, mango, papaya)
Put orange juice and spinach into blender and blend until the spinach is completely broken down and incorporated into the juice. Add banana, vanilla, and frozen fruit mix and blend again until smooth. Enjoy!
Makes 2 glasses full.
I’m not a huge juicer…I normally do smoothies instead. But this is one of my standard recipes that I never get tired of! It’s my version of a Raw V8 Juice! Hubby, who is not a raw foodist, also really loves this! It’s great as is, iced, or slightly warmed, as a soup, too! If you try it, let me know what you think!
Tracy’s Raw Vegetable Juice Cocktail
3 whole stalks (organic, if possible) celery, leaves and all
3 whole carrots, unpeeled
1/2 a large cucumber (peeled if not organic)
1/2 a large, red bell pepper (de-seeded and stem removed)
thick slice yellow or other onion
Splash of Worchestershire sauce
Splash of Tobasco sauce
Sprinkling of Dulse and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Put all of the vegetable ingredients through a juicer. Add seasonings and enjoy!
This is a great corn salad to take to a potluck or any family gathering! I have received sooo many compliments on this concoction that I feel pretty confident recommending it, if you are looking for a crowd pleaser that isn’t a dessert 😉 It’s quick, easy, and very nutritious, since it’s completely RAW!
(for 1 LARGE main dish serving or 2 – 4 side dish servings)
2 c. frozen, sweet, white corn kernels, (run under hot tap water in a fine mesh strainer to thaw)
1 small or 1/2 lg. avocado, diced
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
Generous sprinkling of; cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder (optional)
Drizzle of olive oil (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all vegetables into a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir well.
Sprinkle top of salad with all of the seasonings. I go heavy on the cumin. I didn’t use chili powder today, but I do frequently and it’s delicious both ways.
Olive oil is optional. The salad is just as good without it and if you are trying to lose weight then the avocado provides plenty of fat. But the addition of olive oil DOES make a little more of a “dressing” for the salad. So, you can make it without, taste it, and then add it if you think you need it. This is a very forgiving recipe! Sometimes I also add sliced black olives and/or a couple of heaping tablespoons of commercial salsa. You can add a splash of Tabasco sauce or a sprinkling of cayenne pepper to give it and extra KICK!
Let me know what you think!