The USDA and other “official” agencies all shake their fingers at us and say,” You’re overweight because you’re gluttonous and don’t exercise enough! You drink too many soft drinks, eat too many chips, play too much XBox, and watch too much TV.”
But my experience, even in young people, has been different. Sure, there are young people who drink Slushees, live on junk food, and lay on the couch most of their day. But there are plenty of people who are not this way, yet struggle with weight and health.
Graham is the story of a young man who, despite doing everything “right”–organic gardening, exercise, yoga, etc.–still couldn’t find perfect weight and healthy . . . until he rejected conventional advice to eat more “healthy whole grains.”
I had been a 26 year lacto-ovo vegetarian (since I was 11) who long suspected that replacing animal based food with massive amounts of carbohydrate-rich food wasn’t necessarily doing my system any favours (to be fully blunt, I had met a lot of fat vegetarians and vegans over the years- a disproportionately high number I thought, considering the apparently healthy choices we were making).
I have been somewhat active my whole life, and have always eaten as well as I knew how. But I had carried extra weight since I was a child – no matter how much I worked at it (at times very diligently, exercise- and diet- wise) I could never seem to shake the spare inner tube. And as the years advanced, I added a little weight. I was around 170-75 in December last year, up from around 140 at the end of high school (even then I still had my belly rolls). Fatigue had been a constant in my life – I never felt I had anywhere near the energy a young man in good health should have. And despite my apparently healthy eating habits, I have always been susceptible to illness, and worried about my immune system.
Earlier this summer I had finally read Michael Pollan’s latest book “In Defense of Food” – the one with the opening line, “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I had read his other books and consider him an excellent investigative jounalist, one who, like yourself, has nothing to sell me (incidentally his book pairs very well with yours – he voices suspicions about a seed based diet, and I would love to see a second edition that included your work). So by July I had all but eliminated the “white” foods – flour, sugar, rice. Very little processed food too, which has been the case for me for years. My wheat consumption was at a lifetime low, and I enjoyed modest health benefits. I should mention I had started incorporating small amounts of carefully sourced meat. Where I live I can buy 90% of my food directly from the farmers, and I only eat meat that has been traditionally farmed (grazed), and it is usually organic. I am also a diehard organic gardener, so lots of food from my backyard too. I have probably eaten meat once a week since July. I think my weight was down to 160 on September 15th when I read your article.
Yesterday morning I weighed 143, at the two week mark. The weight just kind of vanished, and I have eaten like crazy. I started by cutting out wheat, and after reading your book I have drastically reduced rice, oats, corn and starches as well. I have had a few tiny portions of brown rice on a couple of occasions, some airpopped organic popcorn (I have a healthy fear of GMO corn for so many reasons). But basically I have adhered quite strictly to your food recommendations.
I was so apprehensive to cut that wheat umbilicus! It was something that had been with me almost every day of my entire life. Wheat in all it’s forms is just so comforting to a vegetarian; it seems a staple of unquestionable virtue. Of all the analyses I did of my eating over the years ( I flirted at various times with the philosophies of veganism, raw food, Fit-for-Life, Body-for-life, Diet for a Small Planet, Diet For a New America, probably a few others I can’t remember) I could never find a way to nourish myself properly in order to feel well, stay lean and stay in good health. These eating regimens were so difficult to sustain in the long term.
In addition to my rapid weight loss, I have energy and focus like I have never felt before. I no longer have the endless cycle of energy surges and crashes I now recognize have always been with me. I still eat “Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” But I have tempered that with your excellent caveats Dr. Davis, and it has truly changed my life. I had a moment or so five days into “wheatlessness” (probably not a real word but I like it) where I mourned a little for the foods I will probably never eat again. But now I look at foods with wheat, and all I can think are thought of being heavy and tired. I am a sporadic home yoga practicer (Baron Baptiste! fantastic stuff) and I hadn’t done any for a while until this week. It’s amazing how much easier “side plank” gets without the wheat belly! I’ve also been a lifelong insomniac, and I seem to be sleeping for several hours at a stretch almost every night, again a lifetime first.
Hunger is never an issue as well – I just eat when I want to, as much as I want to. At times in this two weeks I have absolutely feasted, even completely overeaten, while adhering to the instructions outlined in your book. Last Sunday I was visiting a few people in Toronto, and due to the social nature of the day I indulged richly throughout, tons of everything and even a few questionable things. I know full well that 4 deep fried spring rolls and plum sauce don’t do me any good at all….Woke up, did that morning thing, and I was lighter than the previous day.
Now I am always travelling with raw nuts (a staple for years for me), veggies, cheese, maybe a little fruit as well. I find I go long periods without thinking about food – once my body is receiving what it needs, it just stops bugging me!
It’s truly too early for me to be making global health claims, but in short I feel better than I have ever felt in my life. I used to imagine aging as a long slow decline in one direction, and it’s a pleasure to know it doesn’t have to be so! I’ll send along some photos. I didn’t take photos two weeks ago, but I have some shots from about 9 months (about 30lbs!) ago. So I’ll send some “before” and “during” shots along (there is no after).
Thank you Dr. Davis, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for being given this knowledge.