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Monday, July 11, 2011

Appalachian Symposium - Part One - Calorie DESTINY

A few weeks ago, a friend (Hi, "A"!) and I traveled to Athens, Ohio, to attend a symposium on healthy eating.  I was so thrilled for the opportunity to see several of my nutrition heroes up close and in person, as the symposium featured T. Colin Campbell (author "The China Study"), Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (author "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease"), Jeff Novick, and Rip Esselstyn ("Engine 2 Diet").  I was fortunate to hear Rip speak once before, very early into my plant-based, whole food diet, and he is a terrific speaker, very down-to-earth, and inspirational with his sage advice, so I was anxious to see and hear him again, now that I am nearing the one-year mark of this way of eating.

I was not dissapointed and even had a 'rock star' moment as I found myself standing next to T. Colin Campbell in between lectures.  Wow.

The event was extremely well-organized and there were tables of fresh (vegan) food available as well, all complimentary.  I'm not sure how the event was funded, but it was an incredible opportunity for locals to come in, have some testing done (blood sugar, etc.), and get educated on how to take charge of their own health through diet.

Jeff Novick.  I've watched several of Jeff's videos on YouTube, (here is a short clip of Jeff-I recommend watching all of his videos), and on some of them you get a sense of his impish style, but nothing is captured on film that truly emanates out of him in person:  the man is a leprechaun!  He is hilarious and his enthusiasm is palpable and bubbles out of him like a mountain spring.  I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of his presentation.

Here are my notes from Jeff's talk.

He speaks quite a bit about calorie density, and this information is on youtube in his videos as well.

Calorie Density is the most important factor for food.  (I have come to think of this as calorie in: where are the calories destined to go... i.e. my hips???)

Per Jeff, forget glycemic index....this has very little practical effect. 

Forget simple vs. complex carbs.  Too much confusion.

A good carb is one that is UNrefined and UNprocessed. 
The refining process reduces water, fiber and nutrients (basically everything that would make food FOOD!).

In healthy populations, 80-90% of the diet consumed is complex carbs.

Calorie density is the number of calories per pound.  There is a range in foods of more than 40 times from lowest to highest.  We are much more likely to overeat those foods that are high in calorie density.  Jeff notes that there aren't that many broccoli bingers around.  (Jeff, you are so flippin' funny....seriously....I don't know what was funnier, the words he said or the MANY times that he cracked himself up with his own corny humor!).

1# of broccoli = 128 calories
1# of oreos = 2197 cal.
1# of oil = 4000 cal.

Jeff has also coined the acronym C.R.A.P.  = Calorie Rich And Processed.  (A trip to any 'regular' grocery store shows shelves and freezer cases filled with C.R.A.P.  I am sometimes stunned at the lack of real food available in stores.  It's almost like someone doesn't want us to eat healthily....hmmmm......).

He spoke of satiety and explained that hunger is a built in survival mechanism.  Hunger HAS to be powerful.  Hunger is your friend, like breathing.  Could you breathe half as much?  It wouldn't work.  So you can't think of just eating half as much.  Need to think of calories in vs. calories out.

What would you rather eat?  2 chicken nuggets or 1 1/4 C of veggie/lentil soup?  (Both being about 100 calories).

There are stretch receptors in and around the stomach and we need volume and weight or bulk to feel full.  We can have water in foods that will contribute to volume but bulk or fiber is the biggest contributor to satiety.  Also a factor is how high in nutrients the food being consumed is.  (See nature is a wonderful thing and we have all of what we need to eat properly in place physiologically! Of course, breaking habits we were raised with and learning to tune into our bodies is vital.  ---my words, not Jeff's, but I am sure he would agree).

Generally speaking, there are 100 calories per pound of veggies, 250 calories per pound of fruit, 500 calories per pound of unrefined carbs, 600 calories per pound of legumes and 1200 calories per pound of refined carbs.  There appear to be cut off lines for weight management:  if you eat predominately 400 cal/pound foods, weight will be lost.....if eat 600-700 calorie/pound foods, weight stays the same or weight lost, if increase to over 700 cal/pound, weight gain takes place.

In the last 25 years, food has drastically shifted in an increase in caloric density.

The World Cancer Fund, Dec. 2007, stated that the number 1 factor in cancer is weight. 

Jeff recommends the balance point of 550 cal/pound on the one would try to consume mostly fruits, veggies and some legumes staying away from oils and other highly processed foods.

For more on Jeff (and for a darn cute picture....tell me this guy doesn't look like a leprechaun...) see his web-site here:
(Symposium notes to be continued).

I've been playing around with different recipes lately, to try to avoid getting into my proverbial food ruts.  You know how it goes:  you get a few favorite recipes and then make them over and over and over.  Also, this time of year is such a celebration of fresh foods and that creates inspiration to try new recipes. 

In an effort to encourage food exploration, I found a local CSA to join.  I have been thinking about joining one for several years, but hadn't located one I thought would work for me.  Since becoming vegan, I am always on the lookout for new fruits and veggies to try, but sometimes chicken out when at the store.  I figured that a CSA would force me out of my comfort zone a bit and also allow me to contribute to something local, more than just shopping at our weekly farm market.  (CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  You basically buy a 'share' of the year's crop committing to a certain length of time.  The CSA I am a member of, The Wayward Seed,, has weekly packs for us from late June through early Dec.).  I've been very excited by the items in my weekly CSA....I've had 3 weeks so far, and the variety of lettuces alone that I have been exposed to is wonderful.  I'll cover our CSA more in future posts.

Speaking of lettuce, I can now live happily-vegan-ever-after thanks to Lindsay Nixon's fantastic ranch dressing.  I adore Lindsay's book, The Happy Herbivore, and look forward to her new one which is coming out soon.  Her ranch dressing whips up quickly and is wonderful as a veggie dip as well.

Also from Linsday's book is an incredible version of a 7-layer dip.  She uses a low-fat guacamole in it that is made with peas or edamame, I used a combo of both.  It is yummy and I mean yummy.  Former carnivorous husband loved it.  With respect for Lindsay's work and her generosity of allowing me to put her queso recipe on here, I'm not including the recipes for the dressing and the 7-layer dip here, but for about $12. you can have your own copy and it is well worth that.

Lindsay Nixon's 7-layer dip and her sour cream --- oh yeah.

Sue, eating at the 550 mark, in Ohio