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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarian Essays/Vegan Essays

Janice Stanger, Ph.D. is an author, educator, speaker, and health industry expert. Her mission in writing The Perfect Formula Diet is to help people and the planet at the same time through a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Janice was motivated to research plant-based nutrition by the examples of her two daughters, who stopped eating meat at ages 11 and 13. She is in her fifteenth year of critically analyzing scientific studies on nutrition, weight loss, environmental toxins, and health.

While working as a consultant to employers on their health benefits, Janice has observed one health insurance industry gimmick after another, including managed care, fail to control costs and keep people healthy. In her continuing work in the health insurance industry, she sees every day the devastation that obesity and illness brings to both individuals and companies struggling to stay in business and provide benefits. Janice has a Ph.D. in Human Development and Aging from University of California, San Francisco - one of the country's leading health sciences campuses. She is certified in plant-based nutrition through the T Colin Campbell Foundation and eCornell. She also has an M.B.A from University of California, Berkeley.

Vegetarians in Paradise review of The Perfect Formula Diet appears at http://www.vegparadise.com/vegreading.html

How to Protect Your Body While You Lose Weight

By Janice Stanger, Ph.D..

As obesity levels skyrocket, weight loss is an elusive goal for the two thirds of Americans who are overweight or obese. The most commonly recommended approach to thinning down, which is portion control and lots of "lean protein," simply does not work. After a few days or few weeks of hunger and deprivation, the famished dieter typically gives up. The end results are yo-yo weight, despair, and worse health than ever.

Yet those stubborn pounds can easily vanish into history. The secret is a whole foods, plant-based diet. Choose a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, beans, potatoes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. Avoid animal foods and manufactured foods (including oils, margarine, and protein powders). Eat when you are hungry. Pay attention to your body, so that you stop eating when you are full.

The Perfect Formula Diet On this eating plan you will likely lose a sustainable one to two pounds a week. Some dieters yearn to shed pounds faster. Misleading programs make silly promises such as "lose two dress sizes in the next week," or some similar exaggerated claim.

The truth is that it would be unhealthy to lose weight that fast, even if it were possible. First, you want to get rid of fat, but retain muscle. When you cut calories too drastically, your body can start disassembling your muscles for fuel and other raw materials to survive.

Too rapid weight loss can also permanently slow your metabolism. This means you will naturally burn fewer calories in a day in the course of your normal activities. So you will gain weight more easily once you start eating a reasonable amount of food.

Dr. Neal Barnard of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine suggests the rule of ten for dieters. That is, at a minimum you should consume at least ten times your ideal weight daily in calories to keep your metabolism from getting sluggish. For example, a dieter who has an ideal weight of 120 pounds should eat at least 1,200 calories a day. On a whole foods, plant-based diet, following the innate hunger signals from your body, this should naturally happen.

A powerful reason to lose weight at the pound-or-two a week pace is that, as your fat shrinks, dangerous persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are dumped into your bloodstream. Persistent organic pollutants are deadly chemicals linked to thyroid and hormonal disruption, immune system suppression, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and more. A study in International Journal of Obesity included 1,099 adults. The researchers found that those who lost the most weight over one and ten years had the highest circulating levels of POPs.

POPs dissolve in fat. This means they usually remain on the surface of plants, but collect in the fat tissues of animals. This process, called "bioaccumulation," can magnify POP concentration up to 70,000 times more than the original amount in the environment. Jamice Stanger

Animal foods - including meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products - are the likely source of 89% to 99% of the POPs dissolved in your fat. While fish are generally the most chemically contaminated food, organic plant foods have the lowest POP levels. POPs get into the environment, and then animal foods, from pesticides, herbicides, building materials, plastics, flame retardants, personal care and household cleaning products, construction and electrical materials, and many other man-made products.

A study in British Journal of Nutrition found that vegans had lower levels of several POPs in their blood than omnivores did. The researchers concluded that vegans are less "contaminated."

Use these suggestions to protect your body against the devastating effects of the POPs which permeate our environment.

  • Aim to lose the healthy, sustainable pound or two a week that will naturally occur with a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Make sure you do not shortchange your hunger. It's important to consume beans, potatoes, and whole grains. You will feel satiated, making the diet sustainable. These foods also have enough calories per forkful to put the brakes on too-rapid weight loss.
  • While not living exclusively on fruits and vegetables, you do want to eat a generous amount of these nutritional powerhouses. Phytochemicals are protective substances found in optimal amounts in plant foods, and are most concentrated in fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices. Eating substantial amounts of these foods provides phytochemicals that will help your liver detoxify the POPs that are dumped into your blood. So consume flavorful foods, livened with herbs and spices, and a wide variety of fruits and veggies, each with its own phytochemical benefits.
  • Eat organic foods to the extent possible while you are losing weight. This will minimize additional POPs that might enter your body from foods with pesticide residues.
  • Never microwave in plastic.
  • Do not consume protein supplements, even if these are from plants. You want to get your protein only from whole plant foods. This is because your liver has to dispose of toxic excess of protein if too much is in your diet. Your liver can be overwhelmed dealing with an influx of POPs into your blood at the same time it is disposing of too much protein.
  • If you feel sick initially while you are losing weight, be patient with yourself. An initial period of flu-like symptoms may be due to POPs and/or withdrawal from addictive substances in animal foods. If you do not feel better after an initial detoxification period, see your doctor.
  • Avoid supplements, as these can never substitute for the power of whole foods, and can further imbalance your body. The only exceptions are vitamin B12, vitamin D if you don't get enough sun, and any supplements your doctor prescribes for a medical condition.

With a whole foods, plant-based diet you can enjoy all the benefits of getting to your ideal weight while protecting your body against the weight loss process itself.

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