This week marks a full 6 weeks since I stopped taking medication for high blood pressure. I attribute my being able to do this to 6 months of a low carbohydrate/healthy fat way of eating and a weight loss of over 25 pounds. I cannot tell you how much of a miracle this is to me! I had pregnancy induced hypertension with both of my now adult children and have struggled with my blood pressure ever since. After watching my mother lose her ability to walk due to a massive hypertensive stroke, I became determined make some positive changes in my lifestyle to improve my health. I have spent at least the last 4 years trying to exercise my way to better health. During that time I used interval running to train for and complete 44 Half Marathons. Not only did I continue to need blood pressure medication, but I also managed to put on about 10 lbs! It was not until I took the focus off exercise and switched to a way of eating that keeps my insulin levels low that I was able to see significant positive changes in my health. The fact that I am no longer requiring blood pressure medication is testimony to the impact that eating real whole foods and limiting processed carbohydrates can have on a person’s health.
Because I am also prediabetic (diabetes runs rampant in my father’s family), during my previous attempts to get healthy I was very careful to avoid desserts. However, I continued to eat a diet dominated by low calorie processed foods (like sugar laden protein bars and baked gluten free chips) and low fat foods in an attempt to keep from gaining weight. Boy did I have it all wrong! In an act of desperation last fall, I tried a popular weight loss plan that featured portion controlled meal replacements and one meal a day of green vegetables and protein. While I lost a few pounds doing this, what I learned was that any diet that reduces your carbohydrate and caloric intake will lead to short term weight loss if you stick to it. However, I also learned that I did not want to be told exactly what to eat for the rest of my life. You see, I really love to eat and I need to be able to eat and enjoy real food! I just needed to find out not only WHAT to eat but WHEN to eat in order to improve my health. I also needed to learn how sleep, stress levels, emotional eating and exercise fit into a healthy lifestyle. As I have made these discoveries, I have shared what I have learned in this blog.
I am so ecstatic to be medication free at the age of 64 that I am highly motivated to continue to do the things that got me here. Long term health is not a quick fix, it is a series of decisions we make every day. After 6 months of learning to make good decisions, I am convinced that with a little guidance, each one of us can take control of his or her own health! Toward that end I have developed the following lifestyle tips that I shared in part in an earlier blog. I consider them the guidelines by which I plan to live the rest of my life. Just as Hippocrates said hundreds of years ago, food truly is medicine!
Dr. Moore’s Lifestyle Tips to Promote Wellness and Avoid Disease
- Avoid added sugars, white bread, potatoes, pasta and deep fried foods as well as ALL junk food. There is a reason it is called junk! Ditch sugary drinks and fruit juices and drink more water! You are better off eating an orange with its fiber than drinking the orange juice.
- Increase your intake of non-starchy vegetables and green salads. Make berries your preferred fruits. These are less likely to spike insulin levels. Insulin is a fat storage hormone.
- Include a small amount of lean protein (fish, shellfish, lean meats, poultry, nuts, and eggs) at each meal.
- Incorporate foods containing healthy fats into your meals. Some examples of such foods are salmon, avocados, olive oil, olives, eggs and nuts. Healthy fats are important to satiety and controlling hunger. Consuming healthy fats at mealtimes will help you to stop snacking between meals.
- Time restricted eating – stop eating 2-3 hours before bedtime and eat breakfast only when you are physically hungry. Your first meal of the day is still breakfast (breaking your fast), regardless of how late you choose it eat it. These periods without food result in lower levels of insulin which will help to prevent fat storage. This is a very gentle form of intermittent fasting.
- Try to get least 30 minutes of exercise most days, preferably BEFORE eating. This allows your body to rely on your stored fat to fuel your exercise. This can be as simple as taking a brisk walk. Try to vary your workouts to include cardio, strength training and flexibility training.
- Eat intuitively rather than recreationally. Eat only when you are physically hungry and stop when you are full. Practice portion control.
- Sleep 7-8 hours each night. Proper rest is important to control not only your insulin levels but also your hunger and fullness hormones. Try to reduce the amount of stress in your life by setting boundaries.
- Move around more during the day. Do not sit when you can stand. Take the stairs over elevators and escalators. Just because there is a people mover or moving sidewalk available does not mean you have to use it! Get an activity tracker and aim for 10,000 steps a day.
- EAT REAL FOOD!! When eating out choose whole unprocessed food and ask that your food be prepared simply and in a healthy way. Better yet, whenever possible, try preparing your own healthy meals at home! This way you will know EXACTLY what you are eating.
“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”
3 John 1:2 (NLT)