Monthly Archives: May 2012

Gluten or No Gluten?

Gluten-free or not gluten-free, is the question?  I get asked this more & more these days. Thanks to the media & food corporations driving this “fad,” people don’t know how to eat anymore. I talk with clients that have adopted this style of eating and are not really sure why? Other than, they have jumped on the latest “fad-wagon.”  Scarsdale, Atkins, Caveman.. all are just another name for the same diet. Higher protein, low or no carbs. And now, it’s the Gluten.

I recently got an email from a former client that had moved away wanting help with her diet because her cholesterol had gone up so much that her MD wanted to put her on meds. She is trying to avoid meds and wanted me to take a look at her eating plan. The first thing she told me was that she went Gluten free 2 years ago and now her cholesterol is sky high and has become pre-diabetic. She is fearful because her family has a high rate of heart disease related deaths. (By the way, this woman is lean and strong and works out regularly)
I asked her “why did you go Gluten Free?” She said…”I’m not sure, my chiropractor told me I should” AArgh….enough said!

My reason for sharing this client story is to remind you that Gluten-Free has become another fad diet. Unless you are one of the very few that have had an intestinal biopsy to show you truly have Celiac Disease, a gluten free diet is not a magic pill. Just as we have had no sugar, no fat, high protein, no carbs in the past…now we have no gluten. ( maybe next will be high gluten 🙂

A few points:

* Gluten comes from wheat and at some level, just about any commercially available food either contains wheat or has trace contamination from wheat, so a gluten free diet is much easier said than done.

* The history of human culture is closely tied to the history of bread. Bread was one of our earliest portable foods, which made it possible to take long journeys. Its carbohydrate content made it a high energy food, and combined with its light weight, bread was about the best food you could have with you. Bread made it possible for humans to migrate. Gluten built the bread that built the world.

* And since then, gluten has been used in many other foods as well. It’s handy as a protein supplement, and as an all-natural way to add elasticity to foods. People usually lose weight when first adopting a gluten free diet because it immediately takes away all of the favorite foods we like to eat i.e. bread, crackers, chips, etc. The gluten free foods are often high in fat and calories. It is not considered a “healthy diet” because it is high in overall fat and cuts out one very important food group. In a recent study of the healthiest diets, it ranked 25th out of 25. Need I say more?

Please be sure to educate yourself before starting any new extreme diet. Moderation is key to longevity.

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The Accidental Runner

I figured when writing my first post on a health blog, it was important to tell how I became a runner…accidentally.  I grew up as a dancer. We were never allowed to run for exercise because it “shortened our muscles” said our dancing teacher. ( We were also not allowed to get suntan lines, miss a class, complain, or eat….that’s a whole separate issue) So, being a good student, I never ran and frankly, it felt like torture when I had to run in PE class. I could dance forever, and often did, but run 4 laps around the track…forget it!!

Fast forward to my young adult life…I had transitioned from being a dancer to aerobic instructor. ( It was the 80’s after all) I loved teaching aerobics, it enabled me to be a “dancer” and get some exercise teaching others at the same time. Plus it helped me earn some spending money in college. My mom had just started “jogging” and asked if I would join her in a big race called Bay to Breakers. I said sure but I was NOT running. Could we walk the entire 7.5 miles? She said sure and promised I didn’t have to run. Off we went to San Francisco to walk this famous running event. There we stood at the starting line amongst real runners looking all too serious. I say one more time, ” we are just walking, right?”  “Yes,”  she assures me. The gun goes off and we are on our way for an enjoyable 7.5 mile walk through the city by the bay.

Ha! That “walk”  lasted less than a mile. The crowd was so thick, that we were getting pushed along by the running crowd. “This will thin and slow down any minute,” I tell myself. 3, 4, 5 miles go by and I am still running. I can’t believe it. And I was kind of liking it. Weird?! I pass the 7 mile mark, digging deep. I can see the finish line…luckily, it’s all down hill and the crowd is cheering loudly. My mom and I cross the finish line together. We had finished our first race and had RUN 7.5 miles! I couldn’t believe it but I loved it! That was the day, 25 years ago, that I became an “accidental runner.”

I don’t suggest every new runner start with a 7.5 mile run. No new runner, ever should begin with too much too soon. Consider your current fitness level and begin from there. Maybe it’s 30 seconds of running mixed into some walking or 30 minutes of running if you are more active. Start slow, don’t rush it and enjoy the process. You never know….you too may become an “accidental runner.”

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