Holistic health Q&A
with Jaison Greene (click for my pre-interview insights)!
Q: What is a common misconception about how many calories you should be eating?
A: Well, this is usually the place where people go first to lose weight.
What calories and calorie counting don’t take into consideration is what foods are related to those calories. You could have all very high calorie foods and only eat a few things and use up all your calories. That high calorie food you’re eating may or may not be unhealthy. It may just be a high calorie food like a healthy fat like an avocado. Or, it could be a Big Mac. The real question is how you discern the types of calories you’re getting.
Each type of food, whether its a fat, a carb, or a protein has a different caloric value. So when people say ‘I’m not eating carbs’, in their minds they’re talking about white carbs and fattening, starchy foods like potatoes, pasta and white rice. Kale, carrots, broccoli, and many healthy, ‘colorful,’ vegetables are all carbs as well. Caloric intake can provide a basic understanding of what a person is consuming. Numbers can be helpful to a point, but it only goes so far. Calories are best used as a guide to help understand what you are eating. Knowing caloric values can help assist in this understanding. Calories need to be personalized and specific to you, your lifestyle, and your metabolism.
Q: How important is balancing different types of carbs in your diet?
A: I think it’s important. Everything is a carb unless it’s a fat or protein. We all need carbohydrates to convert into glucose, which is the fuel that our body runs on. In fact, vegans and vegetarians are pretty much eating mostly carbs, with a little vegetable protein.
Carbohydrates are a very important building block of our bodies. The types of carbs you are eating really do make a difference. I’ve worked with people who are vegetarians and they eat french fries and candy. The bottom line, when it comes to health, it’s all about balance. That is the goal. It is the destination. It’s a moving target, however, meaning it’s going to change as you get older. As your lifestyle changes, your body is going to want to find a new definition of balance.
Q: Along the lines of being vegetarian, what are the most important elements in a balanced vegetarian diet and do you recommend meat substitutes as a source of protein?
A: If you seriously want to approach a healthy vegetarian diet, the first things for you to find out would be to understand your family history, a little bit about your metabolism, about your blood type, and do a couple of food elimination exercises. Food elimination is where you restrict your diet away from one particular food for one week and on the 8th day you overload on the food you’ve been restricting to see what kind of reaction your body has.
Once you get clear on what foods work for you and don’t work for you, there are a few building blocks of a healthy vegetarian diet you should focus on. Lean toward the colorful vegetables, the leafy greens, the oranges, the beets, the peppers, the melons, the squashes, the sweet potatoes, etc. Fruits and vegetables are going to be at the forefront.
Then, throw in legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds. If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough, supplement your diet with the grains, eggs, vitamins, etc. If you have to drink milk, coconut, almond, rice, etc. have been a great substitutes and a healthier options than cows milk has been a great substitute and a healthier option than cows milk.
Now, soy is a hot topic. There are people who believe soy is good for you in small amounts and is a great meat substitute. There are other people who believe that, because of the phytoestrogens in soy, it can adversely affect thyroid function or other important functions, such as hormone regulation. An unnatural disruption in your hormones can cause overgrowth of cells and tumors. There is some research that has been done on cancer linked to soy.
If you look at it in perspective, once soy became widely marketed as an alternative to meat, we started seeing more products with soy. Just like people who develop a gluten intolerance; if you’ve been eating soy your whole life, if it’s not right for your body, eventually your body is going to react. Your body might just take all this stuff you can’t process and put it somewhere for safekeeping. You don’t want to be storing bad stuff in your body for years to come.
Q: What is the most commonly abused food that should be eliminated from diets?
A: Wheat. Whole wheat, white wheat, pasta, barley–all different names for wheat-based foods –you name it. The kind of modern, “franken-wheat” that is produced in this country (banned everywhere else) has got an addictive gene put in it on purpose. It digests super fast, your body has to store it quickly because it spikes your insulin, and because of the way it’s grown here, there’s no real nutrition. It’s a completely processed food.
Wheat these days is extremely irritating to the lining of your small intestine, where everything is absorbed into your body. Even when you don’t experience any adverse affects such as a gluten intolerance, it can be weighing you down in other ways. Wheat will give you the muffin-top and the pot belly, and it’s in beer and many other products. Gluten free is a great place to begin experimenting as a way to get away from wheat products, because gluten is a key culprit.
Right next to wheat, I would say comes dairy, as well. If we’re not drinking mother’s milk, then cow’s milk is the substitute. But adult cows don’t drink milk. Why are we drinking milk as humans, well into adulthood? If it’s for the calcium, you can get more calcium from broccoli. The kind of calcium you get from leafy greens is also more readily assimilated by your body when accompanied by citrus (lemons/limes/oranges). Dairy can create a lot of excess mucus in your system, which slows down all other systems. It creates sinus infections, and it’s a huge contributor to allergies, and so on….
Q: So that seems like a very wide range of foods…
Well, yes, wheat and dairy. They speak to a wide range of foods, but here’s the thing, it’s all in moderation. If you ask me that question, that’s what I’ll say. It may not be the answer you want to hear, because then it compromises your lifestyle. Because then you have to choose between what you like to eat, what you want to eat, what’s easy to make, and self care. Addressing your health. Making changes that are going to be everlasting.
As a health coach, I’m not interested in trying to convince anybody that they need to have a health coach. That’s just too much work, plus they wouldn’t be a good client if they’re not ready anyway. Every time I meet with a client, I keep a record and we find what works, what they like, what they don’t like, what they say they want, and I just find the most interesting, enjoyable, impactful way to get them there.
Something I learned that was a big surprise to me was that it’s mostly not all about the food, either. It was a big revelation to understand that the thing that’s in the way between this person getting a level of balance in their lives usually starts off with food, but it doesn’t usually stay there.
Q: What are some key ways to recover and boost a metabolism that has slowed down?
A: I would say to first see if it’s food related or emotional. Depression will slow you down. Having children and becoming more sedentary slow you down. Food-wise, I would start off with a detox to clear anything that would be hindering your system. Then we would rebuild the hydrochloric acid in your stomach to speed up the metabolism. Another factor would be to look at your physical activity. Exercise is a huge component. Eating too many calories plus not exercising: that will slow you down. These are some of the things you would need to look at.
Q: How do you know if you are at your natural weight?
A: I don’t think it’s a matter of weight and what you’re looking at in the mirror, I think it’s a matter of feeling a sense of satisfaction. You’re implying that ‘natural,’ or normal is somehow determined by somebody else besides you. Natural is what you say is natural.
That’s not to get out of answering your question, but when you say natural, are you saying what the American Health Association deems an appropriate weight, or your gym teacher? Look at the people you come from. Genetics is huge. Some people just can’t be a certain size, they just won’t be. They’re spending so much time being frustrated that they’re adding another layer of imbalance to them. It’s a vicious cycle.
Q: Any tips for saving money while shopping healthy?
A: That’s easy. Learn how to cook and how to enjoy it a little bit. That’ll save you tons of money. Don’t buy prepared foods because they’re going to cost more than if you were to make it yourself. Stick to the produce section and buy whole foods. Stay away from all the processed foods, which are essentially all the middle aisles in the supermarket..
Q: I read somewhere that weight loss is about an 80 to 20 ratio. 80% being diet and then 20% being exercise. Do you have anything to say about this?
A: I think that’s close… I would agree. A lot of people think that if you just work out, then you can eat whatever you want. I would say that if you find the right diet for you you will achieve your natural weight, whether your natural weight is heavier or lighter than your current weight.
Q: Okay, last one. What are you thoughts on fat free and sugar free items.
A: Very simply? Hell no *laughs*.
First of all, I do believe in a whole foods approach. For example, the egg yolk and the white… go together. Some people try to avoid the cholesterol. Well, your body makes more cholesterol than an egg is going to give you. When you separate the yolk from the white, you body knows it’s not a whole food.
Your body knows what to do with whole foods. Fat free foods have been loaded up with sugar to taste good. Sugar free is all mostly artificial manmade chemicals that have no business being in your body. If you’re going sugar free, it doesn’t mean your sugar cravings are going to go down. They may actually spike because you’re not getting real sugar. If you’re going to switch out dessert, switch it to fresh fruit, not ‘sugar free’. Get real sugar, a whole foods sugar. Your body will appreciate it a lot more than the dessert.
Most people just don’t have a conscious idea of why they’re eating what they’re eating. They’re just eating the way they did when they were kids. And when they grew up and left home, they’ll tend to gravitate to what’s familiar to them. Even if our subconscious mind knows it’s not good for us, familiar is better than new and unknown. This is why it’s so hard to break certain habits. They’ve been deeply ingrained over the course your lifetime.
An effective health coach can help you begin to understand what those habits are and what they’re made of so you can do the work of dismantling them piece by piece. As the coach, I don’t do the work for you. I encourage you and hold you accountable for what you say you want and I keep track of everything you’ve done.
It’s all about self-awareness, self care, and maturity. The ability to take responsibility for your own health a basic foundation of freedom.
Briauna Mariah (: