Skinny Doesn't Mean Healthy Podcast

A new podcast is up and ready for you!

In this episode MJ (my copilot!) shares how being super skinny her entire life didn’t mean she was actually healthy! She also shares the very unconventional way she became vegetarian and how her birds-eye view of the healthcare industry (she supervises daily reports of diseases people have) reinforces her belief that healthcare is self care.

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MJ is also a mom, and she talks about raising her daughter vegetarian (but making it work with an omni in the house) and her thoughts on “kid foods.” (I love love LOVE her insight that kids “eat by example”).

We also talk about life as the ONLY vegetarian around and what to do and how to cope when loved ones get super defensive and think you’re nuts-o!

This podcast is a total 180 from all the others -- Amazing to see how we all really are on a different journey, but yet headed to the same destination! All roads lead to plants!

Get the current meal plan now.

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What Brands to Buy {Bread, Pasta & Tortillas}

Yesterday you learned that carbs don’t make you fat (just ‘cuz they're carbs)

and that not all “carbs” are created equal (AND that the body NEEDS carbs to run properly!)

That’s one thing that makes me batty – all these foods are lumped into a single “carb” category…

We must also get away from lumping all carbohydrate-rich foods together as “carbs.”

All plant foods have carbs, proteins AND fats. Even among the “carby” items, there's still a spectrum.

Wheat berries vs. whole-wheat pasta vs. all-purpose flour vs. an Oreo, for example.

BUT when it comes to pasta, breads, and tortillas…

There are good choices and not-as-good choices.

There are things to look out for (and avoid) especially if you’re trying to lose weight or feel awesome.

Selecting whole grain varieties such as brown rice pasta or 100% whole-wheat bread is the first step.

But be careful with “wheat” breads – make sure it’s 100% and not white bread with a tan ;)

Next, you want to make sure you're picking brands that don't contain oil and preferably, no added sugars.

Here's a list of Meal Mentor recommended crackers and breads:

Alvarado breads

Dave's Killer Bread (contains seeds)

Edward & Sons Crackers

Engine 2 Crackers (contains seeds)

Food for Life/Ezekiel products

La Tortilla Factory 100 Calorie Tortillas

Lundberg Brown Rice Cakes (some "flavors" are not vegan)

Manischewitz Whole-Wheat Matzos

Mary's Gone Crackers (may contain seeds or nuts)

Mission Corn Tortillas

Ryvita crackers (some "flavors" contain oil — check the box)

Sandwich Petals GF tortillas

Streit's Whole-Wheat Matzos

Yehuda Matzos (Whole-Wheat Bran Matzos)

Wasa Crackers

Your local bakery (or even the bakery at a supermarket) can be a treasure trove!

I found off-brand corn tortillas (just corn, water, salt, and lime!) and oil-free pitas (just whole-wheat flour and water!) in my local Kroger, too!

Of course, you also have the option of making any recipe wholly awesome and using the whole grain or a vegetable instead.

For example, serve it over a potato or a bed of rice instead of in a tortilla. Or use spaghetti squash as a stand in for pasta.

See the gluten-free note on your meal plan shopping list for whole grain conversions and ideas.

Bottom line: You can absolutely eat pasta, tortillas, and bread and still lose weight – and FEEL YOUR BEST. (The body runs on carbs!)

The “carbohydrates” aren't the problem, it's that the more processed they are, the easier they are to overeat, and excess calories leads to weight gain or lack of loss. AAAND processed carbs tend to keep fattening company that also triggers overeating.

Take out the guess work – make consistent good choices with the meal plans.

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Are You Avoiding Bread, Tortillas & Pasta?

“But won’t bread and pasta make me fat?!”

The fear of carbs and starch runs deep, I know.

We were all brainwashed by the media, even if we never quite bought into the Atkins craze.

As a former low carber, I get the carb fear and it took me a while to get over it and realize it was just a bunch of poo poo ca ca.

The sugar in starches are NOT converted into fat.

After eating, complex carbs found in starches are digested, then transported to trillions of cells to provide energy. Carbohydrates (sugars) consumed in excess of the body’s daily needs can be stored (invisibly) as glycogen or burned off as heat (a process known as facultative dietary thermogenesis).

The body NEEDS carbohydrates to function properly – it’s the primary fuel source! And diabetics need not fear carbs either. (Dr. Neal Barnard’s book on diabetes will rock your world! Click here to watch his TEDx Talk.)

The thorny issue with carbs is the more processed they are, the easier it is to overeat, because the fiber chains are broken and you don’t feel as full as fast.

It’s all too easy to eat several slices of white bread or a handful of pretzels (say, 300 calories worth) and not feel full, but eating that calorie equivalent of brown rice or baked potatoes would leave you feeling very satisfied.

I can eat a baguette or a big bowl of white pasta effortlessly in one sitting – a blink and 600 calories is gone, but I can’t do that with potatoes or corn – or even corn tortillas! After three or four (50 cals each) I’m very satiated.

The problem isn’t the carbohydrate, but overeating because you don’t reach satiety.

This is why we base the meal plans around caloric density – more food, less calories.

We choose whole foods over processed foods because the fill-me-up fiber is still intact.

(Plus whole foods are healthier.)

But that doesn't mean there isn't room for more processed grains like bread or pasta on occasion.

Breads, tortillas, and pastas can add great variety and depth to your culinary landscape.

And they can ABSOLUTELY be enjoyed in a way that aligns with your nutritional goals.

In fact, that's one compliment we hear all the time! That our pasta dishes are not only delicious, but surprisingly filling, too.

Part of that (shh… this is our big secret!) is because we never just serve you pasta.

We always balance it with vegetables and other nutritious foods to boost satiety and maximize nutrition.

But when it comes to pasta, breads, and tortillas…

There are good choices and not-as-good choices.

There are things to look out for (and avoid) especially if you’re trying to lose weight or feel awesome.

Tomorrow you’ll find out EXACTLY what to look for in bread, pasta, and tortillas

(with specific brand recommendations!)

Have you ever noticed that rice fills you up more than bread? Or potatoes more than rice?

Share your experiences in the comments below.

For now, I want you to answer an honest question:

What fills you up more? Rice, potatoes, pasta, tortillas or bread? (There’s no wrong answer!)

Share your answers below.

P.S. Remember that heavily processed carbohydrates tend to keep poor company, which is another part of the problem. It's not the potatoes in fries that's the problem, it's the oil. Likewise, it's typically not the pasta, but all the cheese surrounding it. These amigos don't just pack a calorie punch, they also tend to be addictive, making you even more likely to overeat.

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American Food Culture Podcast

A new podcast is up and ready for you!

In this episode Sireesha (my copilot!) offers an interesting and thought-provoking perspective of American food culture. Originally from India (and vegetarian all her life!) Siri recalls her first impressions of American food while comparing and contrasting aspects of both cultures in terms of food staples, habits, and practices.

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There’s a lot we can learn from India’s traditions and every tidbit Siri shares will give you something to think about. (I also loved her insights and thoughts around oil and eating out!)

Get the current meal plan now.

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Coffee and the WFPB Way of Life. A Serious No No?

Are you java the hut? ;)

Unsure whether coffee is a serious no no?

Or a superfood?

Coffee (and caffeine) are two things I get emailed about all the time…

This topic also exploded in the Meal Mentor FB group and forums last week.

Coffee and the whole foods, plant-based diet… a serious no no?

Use of caffeine (and alcohol) is a very personal decision IMHO.

Is it a “health food”? Well, it’s not quite an apple….

BUT as long as you’re not abusing it…

AND you don’t have a pre-existing medical condition that can be worsened by caffeine use...

consumption is your business.

HOWEVER, if you’re going to drink coffee, drink it black.

(Maybe a little bit of almond milk or powdered soy milk)

You want to make sure your coffee isn’t really a candy bar in a glass.

If you can’t get it down without sugar and creamer, stick to water :)

The sooner we get used to not sweetening our foods and drinks just to get them down, the healthier we’ll be :)

"Hi Lindsay - wanted to say thanks for pointing me to the "hidden culprits". I measured today and in the 12 days since I received this email and stopped drinking powdered creamer in my coffee I have lost 3 pounds and an inch in my waist. I didnt measure my upper abdomen when I started and I imagine I lost multiple inches there. I no longer have an Alfred Hitchcock profile. I am going to look for more hidden culprits now. Thanks! (P.S. I went from drinking 3 pots of coffee a day to less than half a pot cause I don't like the taste without the creamer. That's GOOD NEWS.)"- Diane H

And remember how super addictive sugar is?

(If you missed the sugar series, you can have it emailed to you here.)

It takes a week-ish, but you’ll get used to black coffee, promise!

Of course, coffee is still a DRUG with side effects.

1. being dependence

2. it’s a little like paying a credit card with a credit card ;)

3. coffee can raise your “bad” cholesterol (but only if it’s unfiltered)

Some people also experience raised blood pressure, heartburn and acid reflux, digestive issues, irregular heartbeats, palpitations, and anxiety after drinking coffee.

Drinking coffee late in the day can also interfere with your sleep (and good, sound sleep is critical to mental and physical health as well as weight-loss! Go to SLEEP!)

BUT there’s also ample research suggesting coffee DECREASES the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, liver disease and some cancers.

(Though tea is probably still healthier all said.)

Here are a few observations by Meal Mentor members:

"I loved coffee but my body would not lose weight while I was drinking it so I quit cold and increased water and walked a lot. My body said thank you. My energy is up and my head is not in a fog even when I have a rest less night."- Sandra C

"I drink two cups a day, and honestly don't feel like it's a problem. I love coffee and have been drinking it for 40+ years. The rest of the time I drink nothing but water, it was the soda habit that I kicked about 10 years ago that was of much more concern than coffee. It seems that coffee comes in and out of favor on a regular basis. It's not something that I'm going to worry about."- Marcia J

"I quit drinking caffeinated drinks in the mornings, and noticed an improvement in my workouts. Caffeine is a far more effective drug when you don't use it all the time."- Jennifer E

"Coffee is how I make my living and I will likely never not drink it. I enjoy the ritual and the art of making a beautiful espresso drink, although my drink of choice most of the time is a soy cafe au lait on ice. I definitely think coffee is the least of my dietary challenges."- Michelle N

"IMO, I am healthier without caffeine. My coffee consumption was the major cause of some of my migraines/headaches. I have been over a month without it, and don't plan on going back."- Eileen M

"I won't give coffee up. I don't use sugar, I drink 98% decaf and 2% caffeinated and I use almond milk creamer. Coffee isn't a bad habit, it's one of my most pleasant routines."- Viki H

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Please share YOUR thoughts on coffee and experiences in the comments below.

Bottom line: If you are an otherwise healthy person (no known medical issues) and drinking coffee is the worst thing you do, you’re doing great.

But if you’re going to “use” coffee, please consume responsibly ;-)

Admittedly, I was totally and completely addicted to coffee -- 10 cups a day! And it caught up with me. I quit cold tofu 7 years ago (boy was that miserable!) but I still do like the taste of coffee and have some on occasion.

(And when I do? Look out! I’m a bouncing bomb of ADD...)

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P.S. A GREAT substitute: Teeccino

If you LOOOOVE the taste of coffee but don’t want the caffeine -- enjoy Teeccino.

Love coffee? Hate it? Totally addicted? Former addict? Share your story below.

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Buy This Brand of Bread

Love bread? Me too!

Bread's gotten a bad rap the last few years, and there are definitely some breads to stay away from...

Like this guy... yikes!

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BUT there are plenty of healthy, good-for-you choices, too.

Try your local bakery first. Fresh, top quality, and usually made without preservatives or cheap fillers.

(Many bakeries will also make custom orders for you, such as whole-wheat buns or baguettes by request. If the bakery has a minimum order requirement, no worries -- you can freeze the extras for later!)

Commercially, the best brands are Alvarado, Dave's Killer Bread, Trader Joe's Sprouted Bread, and Food for Life (Ezekiel). Ikea also has a bread mix (just add water) that's oil-free, dense, and super delicious.

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What to Look for: Make sure there is no oil in the bread. If there is sugar, make sure it's toward the end of the ingredients list and there aren't multiple sweeteners.

Remember: It only takes water, flour, and yeast to make bread so anything with more than 5-6 ingredients deserves a raised eyebrow of suspicion!

Also be weary of marketing.

"Whole-grain" can often be a scam! 6 overly processed grains slammed together doesn't make for a wholesome choice. Similarly, there are a lot of "wheat" breads out there that aren't truly whole-wheat.

(I call them white breads with a tan!)

DIY Recipe Make my super easy beer bread: 3 cups flour + 1 T baking soda + 1 T sugar (opt) + pinch salt and 12 oz of your favorite mild-tasting beer. (Bake @ 375F for 1 hour).

(I've also had great success making GF bread with a GF blend and GF beer!)

Lastly, make sure bread accents your diet -- but don't make it a key player, especially if you're trying to lose weight.

There's absolutely a place for bread in a healthy balanced diet.

Find that balance with the meal plan's help.

And if you want to avoid bread altogether -- no problem-o! Simply substitute 1 whole-wheat or GF tortilla (or two corn tortillas) for a bun or bread. OR go even more whole and put it over a baked potato or cooked grains like rice.

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