Tag Archives: diabetes

Gluten-free for 19 days and what have I noticed?

First of all, I cannot believe how quickly these last few weeks have gone by. The first day of my gluten-free journey I found myself at a wonderful Italian restaurant with my husband Joe and son Conor: dilemma #1: don’t reach for yummy warm focaccia and dip it into spicy extra virgin oil, as I would normally do. Temptation averted, the rest should be easy! I chose polenta and sausage for my entree, thus avoiding pasta and felt quite satisfied sipping on a glass of full-bodied red wine and walked away not feeling quite as stuffed.

Red wine, Pinot noir in particular, is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant protector of healthy cells against aging. When taken in moderation (no more than one glass a day)  it also is known to have hormone balancing benefits.

Red wine, Pinot noir in particular, is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant protector of healthy cells against aging. When taken in moderation (no more than one glass a day) it also is known to have hormone balancing benefits.

It’s those first few days of making a change that are always the hardest and most daunting but once I settled in to my new routine, I found it easier every day to not reach for the pretzels….or grab a piece of whole grain toast for breakfast….sneak a bite of a cookie that someone(usually me!) brought in to work….grab some pita chips to dip into my hummus….order pizza for dinner or bagel and cream cheese for breakfast(these are some of my favorite foods, by the way).  Instead I made up a big batch of quinoa which I would have for breakfast with some cheese or eggs( in lieu of toast) or some polenta to have with roasted veggies and some protein for lunch or dinner. I often had thin rice cakes with hummus or nut butter for breakfast and I found some very tasty quinoa chips at our local New Seasons Market.  It took a little bit of planning and an occasional , ” oh right, I can’t have that right now” moment but it has been  fairly easy to eliminate gluten and wheat from my daily diet.

So what have I noticed? I don’t feel as full or bloated after a meal, my waist is at least 1 inch smaller, I haven’t felt as hungry between meals, my blood sugar feels more even and I haven’t had as big an energy dip after lunch. That last one is huge as I usually get up at 4:30 am during the week so I can get to the gym and walk my dog before work…so when 2:00pm rolls around, the temptation to take a nap can be pretty big(those Latin cultures with their afternoon siestas are ONTO something). Sleep has also been deep and restful , another substantial  plus as we all know how important getting adequate sleep is for restoring our adrenals and keeping cortisol levels balanced, equating to less belly fat: wow , this stuff really does make sense, doesn’t it? Avoiding gluten/wheat not only helps to even out our insulin production but it also helps to regulate our cortisol levels, both of which then help to reduce that dreaded belly fat/muffin top/menopot which we all are trying to avoid or diminish.

That dreaded belly fat! Reducing consumption of gluten-containing foods can help you to lose it

That dreaded belly fat! Reducing consumption of gluten-containing foods can help you to lose it

Now that I can see the finish line of this experiment, I am left wondering how I will apply what I have learned from these 21 days to my future diet and lifestyle.  As I suspected, my digestion, mood  nor skin haven’t changed so I don’t think I personally have gluten intolerance.  But I do think I will benefit from minimizing its consumption on a regular basis so I will treat eating wheat and gluten-containing products like I do sweets: small amounts, occasional consumption more like a condiment than a staple of life. That way I can indulge in a piece of pizza, a nice hot piece of focaccia, a warm chewy cookie from time to time.f

And that is the way we should eat, the way Michael Pollan has so eloquently laid out for us: “Eat food(whole), not too much , mostly plants”. If we all followed this advice, our level of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease , inflammatory diseases, and even mental illness would drop greatly. Adapting a whole foods, plant-based diet leads to optimal health and wellness, hormone balance and an improved quality of life. What could be better than that???

Spring is in the air and flowers are popping up everywhere: definitely adding to our quality of life...

Spring is in the air and flowers are popping up everywhere: definitely adding to our quality of life…

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5 days gluten-free, 16 to go

I cannot believe it is already March 6th and I am officially gluten-free, at least for now. So far, it has been way easier than I had imagined, which is great because I often feel a pang of guilt when I recommend trying this style of eating to some of my patients. I always suggest deleting gluten from the diet of patients with Hashimoto’s(an autoimmune version of hypothyroidism) , insulin resistance and diabetes, arthritis, IBS(Irritable Bowel Syndrome), diverticulitis, fatigue, weight issues and even mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Those who have followed this advice often report a significant reduction in their symptoms, so much so that they are happy to stay off gluten indefinitely.

For breakfast, I have had either gluten-free toast with peanut butter and homemade jam, rice cakes with hummus,  Greek yoghurt with fruit and nuts, eggs with lots of sautéed veggies  or quinoa with cheese. I have not felt deprived at all.

Lunch is usually a salad loaded up with veggies, a source of protein or two and some nuts thrown in for crunch(I am definitely drawn to crunchy, salty and spicy foods over others). Snacks include sliced up apples or pears, a handful of grapes or a small portion of nuts(10 almonds/walnuts, or 40 pistachios is just the right amount).

Dinner has consisted of roasted veggies and goat cheese, tomato sauce over steamed broccoli with parmesan cheese(here is where my Italian roots come out: I just love a hearty tomato sauce and have found it to be quite wonderful served over veggies instead of pasta: another way to lower sugar and gluten consumption), chicken + yams + a salad, seafood and quinoa and veggies: really the possibilities are endless. I went to one of our favorite Italian restaurants last weekend and chose the polenta with sausage: YUM! I avoided the warm crusty Italian bread with olive oil: ouch…but I survived and happily so. I honestly believe this is a good change for me as I am one of those who often fills up on bread if it is there.

I have noticed that 1. I feel great: lots of energy. 2. I am not as hungry between meals( I am quite the grazer usually) 3. My clothes around the waistline feel a little looser.  So these are subtle changes but it has only been 5 days. I will keep you posted throughout the next 2+ weeks.

Bon appétit, sans gluten.

Another fun birthday celebration(they just keep coming, thankfully): this time gluten-free for me

Another fun birthday celebration, Melinda’s(they just keep coming for all of us, thankfully): this time gluten-free for me

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Don’t miss it …..here it comes…..

I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing woman in Portland, OR these past 6 months. What you may not know about me is that I am one of those people who love to network and make connections . As a result, I am able to help my patients on a broader level by putting them in touch with other providers and experts who offer different skills that they might need.  My ultimate goal for each of the women I see is for them to achieve optimal health and wellness and this often ‘takes a village’.

Candace has been educating all of us about the links between unbalanced hormones, unhealthy weight, unmanaged stress, poor food and environmental choices and the risks of developing breast cancer and other inflammatory conditions. It is sometimes hard to understand the physiology behind all of this but bottom-line , “You are what you eat” and what you eat eventually catches up with you, either in a positive or a negative way. There is just no avoiding it so the sooner you make a choice to make positive changes in the way you approach food, the sooner you will feel better and be on the path to long term, sustainable health patterns. Believe me, it gets easier as you go! Little changes, big results(please read the post I wrote on Oct 8, 2012 for more about this):……really. I am not kidding. TRUST ME.

So back to the amazing woman: her name is Andrea Nakayama(functional nutritionist and educator) and she is hosting a terrific webinar this weekend that will explain how hormones and diet can help you achieve your weight goals and hormone balance. I am providing the link below to listen to her program. If for any reason the time that she is holding the live webinar doesn’t fit into your schedule, you will still be able to listen to her talk . That information will also be available through the link provided below.

Invitation to: Andrea Nakayama’s FREE 90-minute webinar, Tipping the Scale: The Role Your Hormones play in Influencing Your Health, Happiness & Weight Loss Goals that’s happening THIS Saturday, October 26th at 9am PT/ 12pm ET. This class will help you to learn the tell-tale signs that your hormones are out of whack. Head to the enrollment page to retrieve a free hormone honing handout, plus 2 additional gifts after you register for the call!

If you have any problems connecting to this link, please e-mail me at kylebmcavoy@gmail.com and I will help you. You can also leave a comment on our blog.
Wishing you balance through lifestyle and awareness. Namaste

Wishing you balance through lifestyle and awareness. Namaste

 

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Back to that gut feeling, remember???

Eating a wide variety of whole foods helps diversify your micro biome

Eating a wide variety of whole foods helps diversify your micro biome

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about the importance of paying attention to the ‘micro biome’ of our intestines. I mentioned that just about everywhere you turn these days, there is somebody talking about this: the links between our micro biome and health issues, such as our immune system, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression: the list goes on.

I would like to share this excellent piece that just aired on NPR(National Public Radio, for you uninitiated into the wonderful world of public radio….). You can choose to listen to and/or read the transcript. The information is presented very clearly and should provide additional insight into this important and timely topic. Bottom line, pay attention to the health of your gut. The implications are enormous.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/07/22/203659797/staying-healthy-may-mean-learning-to-love-our-microbiomes

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Getting ready for Spring cleansing

We will be starting our ‘spring cleanse’ on Monday March 4th and as I mentioned in my last post, everyone has the option to either power through for 10 days straight or divide it up into 2 separate 5 day sections. I am going to do this March 4-8 and then again from March 18-22. So please pick the option that works best for you, as this is supposed to be something that works for YOUR life.

It always helps to have a plan before starting on something, even as seemingly simple as a ‘cleanse’. Otherwise even your best intentions(and strongest ‘wantpower’) can get derailed due to a sudden feeling of hunger and no idea of what you should eat. So let’s get started with a few basic concepts”.

1. As you are planning your dates for the cleanse, check your calendar for any important events/trips that might get in the way during that particular stretch of time. If your life is like mine,  it seems that there is always something that comes along to stretch your ability to stick to the plan. I have found that things like vacations, graduations, holidays and weddings are real deal busters for me which is why this time I have decided to separate mine into 2 parts. And the idea behind a cleanse like this is to help you feel empowered to make small but significant changes in your diet.

2. Jot down some of the reasons WHY you are doing this: for example, you want to cut down on caffeine as you feel too dependent on it to feel awake, or you would like to lose some belly fat and you know that sugar is a big culprit, or you just like the way that you feel when you have specific guidelines for eating, etc.  You can refer back to this list during your cleanse to help remind you why you started in the first place!

3. Make a shopping list and go the store at least 1-2 days before you start. Include things like hummus, whole grain breads/crackers, quinoa, brown rice, cheeses, nut butters, organic chicken, omega-rich fish, fresh fruits and veggies, free range antiobiotic-free eggs, olive oil, avocadoes, nuts, herbal teas(be sure to include some green tea for all of its benefits!), tofu, tempeh, coconut oil, dried fruit(eaten in small amounts), unsweetened carob(great for those times when you want something “sweet” but want to avoid sugar.

Some of my 'go-to' whole grains

Some of my ‘go-to’ whole grains

4. Plan to eat a ‘rainbow’ everyday. I am currently in NYC attending my third Integrative Medical Conference and this is one of the take-home messages from today’s series of lectures. Pick something red(red peppers, strawberries, cherries, red grapes, beets), something blue/purple(purple grapes, figs, purple potatoes, eggplants, blue or black berries), orange(tomatoes, oranges, carrots, squash), green(lettuce, kale, green beans, artichokes, broccoli) and yellow(peppers, lemons, squash) every day. This will insure that you get an adequate amount of phytonutrients everyday. Research has shown over and again that these nutrients are anti-inflammatory and will help to prevent the development of breast cancer, heart disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, dementia, arthritis and a multitude of other diseases.

Some of my favorite produce choices

Some of my favorite produce choices

I will be in touch when I return to Portland this Sunday. I am looking forward to having a bunch of you join in with me on Monday or whatever day works for you. Remember, for every 5 days that you complete the cleanse, your name will be entered into the contest at Pearl Women’s Center. Become a fan at facebook and /or comment on the blog so that we can keep track of your progress.

Off to a great start! See you soon.

Live from New York!! Wishing you health and balance.

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Reflections on the ‘cleanse’ and more reasons to stay away from most sugars

Well, I made it through the past 10 days and amazingly, this was not as difficult as I had anticipated. Honestly I was a little nervous before I started, as I had re-developed the mid-morning and sometimes early afternoon coffee habit over the past 6 months….and I was worried that I would be falling asleep mid-sentence! I also love to savor a glass(or 2) of full-bodied red wine in the evening, as a way to separate the busy-ness of my work day from the relaxation that I like to enjoy when work is over. And all too often  I found myself sneaking in a few potato or corn chips or occasional bites of chocolate, without paying too much attention to how all of these things added up over the day. The bottomline was that I found myself reaching for the cup of coffee or the quick snack to rebuild my energy when it dipped so going without seemed a bit daunting.

So here it is 10 days later and this is what I noticed during that time:

1. I slept better than I had in years. BHRT(bio-identical hormones) have clearly improved my ability to sleep(no night sweats, more REM sleep, ease of falling and staying asleep) but by developing some of my previously mentioned habits, I was often tossing and turning in the middle of the night, unable to find that rest again. Not so these past 10 days: my sleep was deep and wonderful and I woke each morning feeling refreshed.  And for those of you who have sleep issues, you know how priceless a good night’s sleep is!

2. My head was clearer, memory sharper and I found it easier to do tasks that I might usually keep avoiding.

3. My energy level was terrific. I found that could swim and walk faster and my workouts gave me more energy back.

4. I lost almost an inch around my waist(that darned belly fat…even though I am relatively lean, I still struggle with that…and that is not the good kind of fat to have: it is directly correlated with a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer; Belly fat begone!), shed about 3 pounds  and my clothes fit better. And I felt full and satisfied after eating and I didn’t crave sugar or caffeine….astounding.

5. I had fun trying new recipes and teas…and I didn’t mind the 5 evenings when I was around family and friends who were having wine , beer and cocktails…it was actually very pleasant, not an issue at all.

Some healthy and delicious food choices, packed with powerful nutrients

So now I am on day 11 and actually have decided to continue for a few days longer. A few of my friends asked me last evening if I picked 10 days for any particular reason. My reasoning for that is I don’t think a week is long enough , 2 weeks sounds too long to many people, and  you can make it work so that you are only on it for one weekend. I also think you get to see more results if you make it the full 10 days. Again, this is just something I made up for myself to help me make a few small changes and gain a feeling of empowerment.  But I have heard quite a bit of positive feedback from the women who joined me(there are also 3 men…I would love to hear how they did as well!). Everyone noted better sleep, better energy, less sugar cravings and a feeling of control.  Wow, so small changes really had a big impact.  That is pretty powerful.

Kyle and Candace at our local farmers’ market: so many wonderful food choices, grown locally

I guess there are no coincidences after all. When I came home from work and started to read today’s Living section in our local paper, the Oregonian, I of course noticed the article skewering sugar and its relatives by Dr. Oz and Rozen.  Many points were made in this article. Here are just a few of the highlights: sugar alters essential proteins in the body, particularly if you already have insulin resistance; too much fructose(we are not talking about whole fruits here: more like High Fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, brown and white sugar, honey, agave and turbinado sugars) causes your liver to turn the excess fructose into fat: this in turn can lead to fatty liver and/or cirrhosis; drinking large quantities(30 oz of fructose-containing substances)/day can drive up your blood pressure; high levels of fructose are directly related to the development of diabetes.  Recommendations include: cut down on those sugars in general(try to limit consumption to 20 g or 3 Tblsp/day); eat fruit for dessert and use stevia as a substitute, in moderation of course.

There really is no avoiding the news about sugar and its effects on our health.  So this cleanse for me came at a particularly powerful time, right before Halloween(yikes: just think how much candy we have all consumed as a result of that holiday!!) , Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah. I am motivated to find recipes that will rely minimally on added sugars and I will share them with you. Please do the same for us and all of our readers.  As always, wishing you joy and balance.

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Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness