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Diet is a four-letter word

The diagnosis of diabetes is not the best news to hear, but it’s not a death sentence, said Constance Brown-Riggs, a certified diabetes educator. People who control their glucose can live long and productive lives, she added. Even healthy eating for those with diabetes has gotten so much easier. At one time there was a specific eating plan that people with diabetes had to follow. “Not anymore,” said Brown-Riggs.

The American Diabetes Association has updated its nutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with the disease. The eating plan recommended for those with diabetes is the same as that recommended for everyone: a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.

Don’t use the word “diet” around Brown-Riggs. She considers it a four-letter word. “It’s a lifestyle change,” she explained. “It’s a new way of life rather than an on-and-off again fad diet.”

What’s even better is that each healthy eating plan is unique. “You must look at the individual,” she explained. “One size does not fit all. Identify what the person is eating and go from there.”

Chances are you can find acceptable healthier alternatives.

One of the biggest mistakes made by people with diabetes is to make a 360-degree turn-around in what they eat. You cannot sustain that, Brown-Riggs cautioned. After about three months, most people fall off the wagon. Focus on what you already eat and like rather than try to incorporate popular trendy foods, such as quinoa, into your diet.

“Make moderate changes that can be sustained,” she said. For instance, if you drink five cans of sugar-sweetened beverages a day, cut it down to four. That small change takes 10 teaspoons of added sugar a day and 70 teaspoons of added sugar a week out of your eating plan. Added sugar provides no nutritional value and is a culprit behind obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Brown-Riggs gives simple tips to help people start a plan. First is a self-assessment of what one eats and drinks every day. That means everything — including portion sizes and every nibble of cookie. Writing it down can help present a clearer picture of one’s habits. People tend to underestimate how much they eat. What one approximates as a half cup is really a cup and a “small” helping of ice cream can burgeon into two portion sizes.

The second step is to emphasize what’s healthy and cut back on the junk food and desserts. Contrary to a common myth, people with diabetes can eat desserts, but they have to be included in the daily portion of carbohydrates. As a general rule, Brown-Riggs recommends 45 grams of carbs per meal for women and 60 grams of carb per meal for men.

It’s hard not to cheat every now and then and eat too much food or too many unhealthy snacks. That will make your blood sugar go up, but “it’s not the end of the world by any means,” Brown-Riggs explained. She has a quick solution. “Take a walk,” she advised. “That will bring your glucose level down quickly.”

One of the easiest ways to lose weight is about to get easier in the US

Starting in 2015, nearly all chain restaurants and places serving ready-to-eat foods in the US will have to post calorie counts and other nutrition information next to each item on the menu. They’ll also have to make this disclosure: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

Similar rules were enacted years ago by local governments including Seattle’s and New York City’s. The federal requirements unveiled today mean that for the first time the whole nation will be subject to calorie-labeling laws, thanks to the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Though the efficacy of such measures for improving public health has been debated, they do satisfy consumers’ hunger for more information when making choices that affect their health. People don’t necessarily want dozens of options when choosing what to eat, but often they would like to know everything there is to know about whatever’s on the menu.

Several food chains, including McDonald’s and Starbucks, already display caloric information next to menu items, a move that hasn’t hurt traffic or revenues. As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday:

A 2011 study found that Starbucks patrons in New York ordered just 6% fewer calories following the publication of required menu labeling in that city. The study, conducted by Stanford University, showed that Starbucks Corp.’s revenue wasn’t affected.

Counting calories is by no means necessary for weight loss or maintenance, but it is one simple, effective method. Even if making information about calories in specific menu items available doesn’t change consumer habits by much, it is welcomed by many and easily ignored by others.

“Consumers are accustomed to seeing the calorie counts on restaurant menu boards,” says Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant industry analyst at NPD. “Those consumers who are calorie or health conscious will take note and order accordingly, and those who are not will order what they want regardless of the calories.”

The new standard applies to movie theaters and vending machines, too—making life easier for any calorie-counter who’s ever felt misled by a mystery trail mix that, after it had been released from the machine and its nutrition facts panel made visible, turned out to be calorically equivalent to a Snickers bar.

The palaeolithic diet and the unprovable links to our past

We still hear and read a lot about how a diet based on what our Stone Age ancestors ate may be a cure-all for modern ills. But can we really run the clock backwards and find the optimal way to eat? It’s a largely impossible dream based on a set of fallacies about our ancestors.

There are a lot of guides and books on the palaeolithic diet, the origins of which have already been questioned.

It’s all based on an idea that’s been around for decades in anthropology and nutritional science; namely that we might ascribe many of the problems faced by modern society to the shift by our hunter-gatherer ancestors to farming roughly 10,000 years ago.

Many advocates of the palaeolithic diet even claim it’s the only diet compatible with human genetics and contains all the nutrients our bodies apparently evolved to thrive on.

While it has a real appeal, when we dig a little deeper into the science behind it we find the prescription for a palaeolithic diet is little more than a fad and might be dangerous to our health.

Mismatched to the modern world

The basic argument goes something like this: over millions of years natural selection designed humans to live as hunter-gatherers, so we are genetically “mismatched” for the modern urbanised lifestyle, which is very different to how our pre-agricultural ancestors lived.

The idea that our genome isn’t suited to our modern way of life began with a highly influential article by Eaton and Konner published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1985.

Advocates of the palaeolithic diet, traceable back to Eaton and Konner’s work, have uncritically assumed a gene-culture mismatch has led to an epidemic in “diseases of civilisation”.

Humans are, it’s argued, genetically hunter-gatherers and evolution has been unable to keep pace with the rapid cultural change experienced over the last 10,000 years.

These assumptions are difficult to test or even outright wrong.

What did our Stone Age ancestors eat?

Proponents of the palaeolithic diet mostly claim that science has a good understanding of what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate.


Let me disavow you of this myth straight away – we don’t – and the further back in time we go the less we know.

What we think we know is based on a mixture of ethnographic studies of recent (historical) foraging groups, reconstructions based on the archaeological and fossil records and more recently, genetic investigations.

We need to be careful because in many cases these historical foragers lived in “marginal” environments that were not of interest to farmers. Some represent people who were farmers but returned to a hunter-gatherer economy while others had a “mixed” economy based on wild-caught foods supplemented by bought (even manufactured) foods.

The archaeological and are strongly biased towards things that will preserve or fossilise and in places where they will remain buried and undisturbed for thousands of years.

What this all means is we know little about the plant foods and only a little bit more about some of the animals eaten by our Stone Age ancestors.

Many variations in Stone Age lifestyle

Life was tough in the Stone Age, with high infant and maternal mortality and short lifespans. Seasonal shortages in food would have meant that starvation was common and may have been an annual event.

People were very much at the mercy of the natural environment. During the Ice Age, massive climate changes would have resulted in regular dislocations of people and the extinction of whole tribes periodically.

Strict cultural rules would have made very clear the role played by individuals in society, and each group was different according to traditions and their natural environment.

This included gender-specific roles and even rules about what foods you could and couldn’t eat, regardless of their nutritional content or availability.

For advocates of the palaeolithic lifestyle, life at this time is portrayed as a kind of biological paradise, with people living as evolution had designed them to: as genetically predetermined hunter-gatherers fit for their environment.

But when ethnographic records and archaeological sites are studied we find a great deal of variation in the diet and behaviour, including activity levels, of recent foragers.

Our ancestors – and even more recent hunter-gatherers in Australia – exploited foods as they became available each week and every season. They ate a vast range of foods throughout the year.

They were seasonably mobile to take advantage of this: recent foraging groups moved camps on average 16 times a year, but within a wide range of two to 60 times a year.

There seems to have been one universal, though: all people ate animal foods. How much depended on where on the planet you lived: rainforests provided few mammal resources, while the arctic region provided very little else.

Studies show on average about 40% of their diet comprised hunted foods, excluding foods gathered or fished. If we add fishing, it rises to 60%.

Even among arctic people such the as Inuit whose diet was entirely animal foods at certain times, geneticists have failed to find any mutations enhancing people’s capacity to survive on such an extreme diet.

Research from anthropology, nutritional science, genetics and even psychology now also shows that our food preferences are partly determined in utero and are mostly established during childhood from cultural preferences within our environment.

The picture is rapidly emerging that genetics play a pretty minor role in determining the specifics of our diet. Our physical and cultural environment mostly determines what we eat.

Evolution didn’t end at the Stone Age

One of the central themes in any palaeolithic diet is to draw on the arguments that our bodies have not evolved much over the past 10,000 years to adapt to agriculture-based foods sources. This is nonsense.

There is now abundant evidence for widespread genetic change that occurred during the Neolithic or with the beginnings of agriculture.

Large-scale genomic studies have found that more than 70% of protein coding gene variants and around 90% of disease causing variants in living people whose ancestors were agriculturalists arose in the past 5,000 years or so.

Textbook examples include genes associated with lactose tolerance, starch digestion, alcohol metabolism, detoxification of plant food compounds and the metabolism of protein and carbohydrates: all mutations associated with a change in diet.

The regular handling of domesticated animals, and crowded living conditions that eventually exposed people to disease-bearing insects and rodents, led to an assault on our immune system.

It has even been suggested that the light hair, eye and skin colour seen in Europeans may have resulted from a diet poor in vitamin D among early farmers, and the need to produce more of it through increased UV light exposure and absorption.

So again, extensive evidence has emerged that humans have evolved significantly since the Stone Age and continue to do so, despite some uninformed commentators still questioning whether evolution in humans has stalled.

A difficult choice

In the end, the choices we make about what to eat should be based on good science, not some fantasy about a lost Stone Age paradise.

In other words, like other areas of preventative medicine, our diet and lifestyle choices should be based on scientific evidence not the latest, and perhaps even harmful, commercial fad.

If there is one clear message from ethnographic studies of recent hunter-gatherers it’s that variation – in lifestyle and diet – was the norm.

There is no single lifestyle or diet that fits all people today or in the past, let alone the genome of our whole species.


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Series: What is the Paleo diet?

There are several diets out there that each claim to accomplish different things and offer their own unique benefits besides weight loss.

One diet that has people talking is the Paleo diet, a style of eating that is said to mimic how early humans consumed food.

This diet mainly consists of meat, fish, vegetables and fruits, and excludes foods that modern humans would eat, i.e. food that has to be processed such as dairy and grain products like bread and baked goods. Basically, anything processed isn’t included.

This diet, like most, is equally supported as it is criticized. It is supported because the train of thought is that eating natural foods in its most basic state is the best for your body because it works with our genetics, just like it did for our ancestors, and feed our bodies to make us strong, lean and full of energy.

This is opposed to the modern diet which is chock-full of processed and refined foods that’s full of trans fats, sugar and chemicals. North American obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease rates are at an all-time high, and these types of foods, and less physical activity are the reason why.

The Paleo diet means you are consuming lean proteins that support strong muscles and healthy bones, optimal immune function. Fruits and veggies are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and healthy fats from nuts seeds, olive and fish oil provides essential Omega-3 fats which helps decrease diseases like cancer and diabetes, while boosting brain function.

While this sounds perfectly logical, skeptics of this diet say that while this diet is supposed to mimic the foods our ancestors gathered, the problem is that this diet today is probably nothing like the food our ancestors ate. For example, our “meat” of today is raised differently, fed artificial diets or grass, grains and fed hormones and antibiotics, and nothing like the meat our ancestors would have consumed.

Also, eating whole grains and legumes, for those who don’t have Celiac Disease, actually improves our health and are an important source of protein and nutrients for everyone, especially vegetarians and vegans.

While there are both benefits and detriments to the Paleo diet, your best bet is to eat healthy balanced meals, eat processed foods in moderation if you have to, and live an active lifestyle.

Dr. Phil McGraw to Launch New Diet Plan, THE 20/20 DIET: TURN YOUR …


Dr. Phil McGraw to Launch New Diet Plan, THE 20/20 DIET: TURN YOUR WEIGHT LOSS VISION INTO REALITY, 12/2

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Phil McGraw reveals the secret for finally putting an end to the never-ending rollercoaster of failed weight loss attempts with his new diet plan, “The 20/20 Diet.” In the no-nonsense, get-real style that he’s known for, Dr. Phil brings much-needed truth and certainty to the struggle of losing weight. Scheduled for release on December 2, 2014 exclusively onwww.TheBookNook.com,and in full distribution on January 6, 2015,the book not only programs readers for success by helping them take control of their eating and exercise habits, it also harnesses the power of emerging scientific theories and research indicating that certain foods can potentially increase caloric burn and work with the body to amplify the feeling of fullness. “The 20/20 Diet” is being released a full 10 years after Dr. Phil’s initial weight management book, “The Ultimate Weight Solution,” his biggest selling book of all time, and updates 10 years of progress.

Together with his proven strategies for impulse and habit control, Dr. Phil believes this new weight loss plan can turn the tide for millions of people by waking them up to misleading diet gimmicks and helping them lose weight in a healthy way that includes adopting a new mindset and lifestyle. He also debunks pervasive weight loss myths about such important but widely misunderstood concepts as willpower and shows the reader how this type of safe weight loss can ultimately lead to a return to overall health.

“The 20/20 Diet” inspires readers to create a perfect, 20/20 vision of what their lives and bodies will look like when they finally lose weight, and then empowers them with tools to achieve their goals. By conducting a detailed national survey, Dr. Phil identified the seven most prevalent and recurring reasons people rebel against their diets and repeatedly fail at weight loss, which he refers to as The Top Seven Ugly Truths about Dieting. This insight allows the reader to reverse engineer their own successful weight loss by finally understanding the reasons they’ve failed in the past.

Since the release of his blockbuster #1 New York Times bestselling book, “The Ultimate Weight Solution” (Free Press; September, 2003), important new theories and research have emerged that allow Dr. Phil to be even more effective at helping readers solve these seven core problems.

“This is really exciting,” says Dr. Phil, “Now we know more than ever about how certain foods and activities affect our bodies and brains.” He and his team have harnessed the power of those discoveries and molded them into a plan that anyone can follow now and for the rest of their life without rebellion!

Readers will discover 20 key foods, called the 20/20 Foods, which theories indicate may help enhance the body’s thermogenesis (or caloric burn) and help you feel full. But that is just the beginning! This book reveals the truth about why some people haven’t been able to lose weight in the past and gives readers important cognitive, behavioral, environmental, social and nutritional tools to finally reach their weight loss goals. As Dr. Phil says, “You can choose to see your goal with 20/20 accuracy, and when you see a goal that clearly, youcanachieve it.”

Page 2

Dr. Phil McGraw to Launch New Diet Plan, THE 20/20 DIET: TURN YOUR …


Dr. Phil McGraw to Launch New Diet Plan, THE 20/20 DIET: TURN YOUR WEIGHT LOSS VISION INTO REALITY, 12/2

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Phil McGraw reveals the secret for finally putting an end to the never-ending rollercoaster of failed weight loss attempts with his new diet plan, “The 20/20 Diet.” In the no-nonsense, get-real style that he’s known for, Dr. Phil brings much-needed truth and certainty to the struggle of losing weight. Scheduled for release on December 2, 2014 exclusively onwww.TheBookNook.com,and in full distribution on January 6, 2015,the book not only programs readers for success by helping them take control of their eating and exercise habits, it also harnesses the power of emerging scientific theories and research indicating that certain foods can potentially increase caloric burn and work with the body to amplify the feeling of fullness. “The 20/20 Diet” is being released a full 10 years after Dr. Phil’s initial weight management book, “The Ultimate Weight Solution,” his biggest selling book of all time, and updates 10 years of progress.

Together with his proven strategies for impulse and habit control, Dr. Phil believes this new weight loss plan can turn the tide for millions of people by waking them up to misleading diet gimmicks and helping them lose weight in a healthy way that includes adopting a new mindset and lifestyle. He also debunks pervasive weight loss myths about such important but widely misunderstood concepts as willpower and shows the reader how this type of safe weight loss can ultimately lead to a return to overall health.

“The 20/20 Diet” inspires readers to create a perfect, 20/20 vision of what their lives and bodies will look like when they finally lose weight, and then empowers them with tools to achieve their goals. By conducting a detailed national survey, Dr. Phil identified the seven most prevalent and recurring reasons people rebel against their diets and repeatedly fail at weight loss, which he refers to as The Top Seven Ugly Truths about Dieting. This insight allows the reader to reverse engineer their own successful weight loss by finally understanding the reasons they’ve failed in the past.

Since the release of his blockbuster #1 New York Times bestselling book, “The Ultimate Weight Solution” (Free Press; September, 2003), important new theories and research have emerged that allow Dr. Phil to be even more effective at helping readers solve these seven core problems.

“This is really exciting,” says Dr. Phil, “Now we know more than ever about how certain foods and activities affect our bodies and brains.” He and his team have harnessed the power of those discoveries and molded them into a plan that anyone can follow now and for the rest of their life without rebellion!

Readers will discover 20 key foods, called the 20/20 Foods, which theories indicate may help enhance the body’s thermogenesis (or caloric burn) and help you feel full. But that is just the beginning! This book reveals the truth about why some people haven’t been able to lose weight in the past and gives readers important cognitive, behavioral, environmental, social and nutritional tools to finally reach their weight loss goals. As Dr. Phil says, “You can choose to see your goal with 20/20 accuracy, and when you see a goal that clearly, youcanachieve it.”

Page 2