Hell, Happy New Year! Proud to be asked to blog for Overcoming MS recently, and replicate my blog here. It’s inspired by my patients, of course, and the ups and downs you experience in moderating your health by adjusting lifestyle factors to address the serious condition, MS, and this is the first in a series of 2!
OK, so one problem people worry about, is losing too much weight.
What is “too much” weight to lose? What is ‘normal’ ?
We know that the average weight keeps on rising, with the USA leading the way; the average weight for women in their 20s has increased by 13kg (29lb) since 1960 (1).
A recent Gallup poll found that the average American man’s weight was up 7kg (16lb) since 1980 to 88kg (196lb), and women’s up 6kg (14lb) to 70kg (156lb).
But the really interesting finding from that poll was that people’s perception of normal has also moved. The weights people stated as their ideal had shifted almost as much as their actual weights – men’s were up by 6kg (14lb) and women’s up by 4kg (11 lb). And despite being over their ideal weights by these figures, most people reported that their weight was ‘about right’. (2)
In our culture we’re used to seeing skinny models – in a weird stylised magazine world – but not skinny normal people, unless they’re unwell. But thin does not necessarily mean weak or unwell. In my 20s I spent quite a bit of time in India, and I remember being impressed at how incredibly strong the very skinny, but wiry, bicycle rickshaw drivers and train porters were…and feeling quite ashamed of my weak, chubby, western ways!
Perceptions aside, another thing to remember is that weight loss will probably stabilise.
Increase your good fats
Firstly, remember the OMS diet is not a low fat diet – it’s a low saturated fat diet. Here’s what George Jelinek kindly replied to me in an email one time:
“There is no real limit to the amount of fat we should be consuming. Remember it is not a low fat diet, but a low saturated fat diet. That said, if you eat a plant-based wholefood diet with seafood, it will be really hard to eat a high fat diet, almost impossible unless you eat bucket loads of avocados, nuts and oily fish every day. Most people just physically can’t eat that much of that sort of food because it fills you up so much.”
So it’s okay to double-up on the flax seed oil, increase your nuts, seeds, avocados and oily fish if you feel you are losing too much weight.
Eat protein-rich food
It’s obvious I know, but if you’ve been used to eating ‘meat and two veg’, it’s important not to slip into just two veg. For inspiration from a culture with a history of getting its protein from a plant based source, we can again look to India, which has around 500 miliion vegetarians, and perhaps the most sophisticated and ancient vegetarian cuisine, based on the ancient medical understanding of Ayurveda, and using anti-inflammatory spices and flavourings which complement the flavours of vegetables and grains.
Vegetarian Indian meals will always include a dhal or pulse dish, rice, a vegetable dish, and a chapati or pure. I don’t worry about making so much each time, but I always try to include a source of protein. Pulses are a cheap and filling way to do this, and my next post will be on the best way to cook pulses for optimum digestion, and digestion in general!
Need I say more?
Exercising for muscle mass
This subject deserves it’s own post I think. I’m going to direct you to a great blog I found called ‘No Meat Athlete’ by a vegan athlete Matt Frazier. Here he talks about the method he found effective to incerase muscle mass as a vegan, managing to put on 7kg (17lb) in six weeks. www.nomeatathlete.com/gain-weight-vegan
For the time being, all the best!
1) Centre for Disease Prevention and Control USA