Friday, October 15, 2010

Fasting and an Update


It was another chilly start to the day here this morning. Somehow when you wake up and it is 49 degrees that feels SO much colder than 51 degrees. It is all in my head I am sure but it did seem cool to me this morning. On the bright side it was crisp and the sky was a gorgeous cloudless blue.


Guess who said he wanted to try the savory oats this morning? Yep, it was Dan. I was a bit surprised but happy to hear it. Dan liked them, he said he still prefers the fruit and nut but given his sweet tooth that isn’t much of a surprise. He did say he would be happy to eat the savory oats whenever I make them which I thought was a great sign.

Once Dan was out the door I got myself ready to run to the library. I had books to take back and others to pick up. Have any of you read “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat”? I happened to see this while I was there and picked it up because the title made me smile. Additionally I love Japanese food so it seemed like a natural for me to read.

When I got home I also had a bowl of savory oatmeal. I am going to need an intervention soon as I feel like I am addicted to the savory oats at the moment. The funny thing is that I never loved oatmeal with fruit and nuts but savory oats I adore. Thank you Courtney for sharing the idea with me I really love it!

I followed the oatmeal with a mug of double green tea and a bit of ascorbate C powder added after the tea steeped for 10 minutes. The vitamin C is added at the end of steeping since isn’t terribly heat stable.

Thank you:

I appreciate all the feedback regarding the impact of diet on your relationships. It is nice to know that I am not alone on that one. When people around us first starting getting defensive about food it shocked me. Naively I expected everyone would want to know what simple changes they could make to improve their health. When that was not how they responded I was completely caught off guard.

One of the best things about having the blog is that I can share what I have learned with people that want to know. In my perfect world everyone would want to learn about nutrition and make the best possible choices given the current science. Do I think this will ever happen? Probably not. However I can still be hopeful that more people will become interested in nutrition as time passes.

I think that science has a way to go to determine if there is an “optimal diet” for everyone.  I suspect this will be different for different people. Additionally many studies that I see are poorly designed and that doesn’t help. Thankfully I had a grad course that focused on study design that helped teach me that because a study shows a correlation doesn’t make it meaningful. Knowing that many studies are flawed makes it difficult to have faith in things I read. Many of the headline grabbing studies have been poorly designed when I looked into the details. These things cause great confusion in the mainstream and make it difficult to get people to consider drastic dietary change. I know I get confused and I spend a ridiculous amount of time on this stuff. I can only imagine how people that just read the headlines feel. I bring this up so that you have it in the back of your mind when you see something on the news that seems illogical. There is a good chance it was a poorly designed study. You would be amazed how often that happens. *shakes head* If I ruled the world things like this would not happen, LOL.


Today was one of those days where I stood in front of the refrigerator staring inside waiting for something to jump out at me. Even though my refrigerator is packed I wasn’t in the mood for any of it. I moved to the freezer to see what was in there that could be interesting. Things that go into my big freezer tend to get lost for long periods of time so eating from there makes a lot of sense when I think of it.

I happened to notice a box of veggie meat crumbles and started to think what could do with them until I read the ingredients. There is that darned processed soy again. Needless to say into the trash went that box. Oh well, that made room in the freezer.

Finding that nastiness in my freezer caused me to reach for a piece of European chocolate Dan’s little brother brought home from some trip. I put on a plate, photographed it and popped it into my mouth. As soon as I read the ingredients I saw fractionated palm kernel oil. Yes I spit it out immediately and threw the remainder of chocolate away too.

Why am I telling you this? I want you all to know that you aren’t alone in your battle against processed food. I have some of it in the house too, though less now than earlier today. It seems like most processed food is garbage. I have gotten to the point where I don’t think it is worth my time reading the ingredient list because I will probably find something that I don’t want in my house.

After the veggie crumbles and chocolate I just gave up and had a big glass of fresh veggie and fruit juice and two Brazil nuts (for the selenium) and called it lunch.

Not the perfect wife:

I felt terrible this morning because Dan went to work without lunch. I did make him fresh juice and his favorite trail mix but no lunch. Somehow yesterday I got sidetracked and didn’t cook anything to be able to pack in Dan’s lunch. I offered to make him a big salad with falafel from the freezer but he decided that he would rather pick up steamed veggies with cashews from the Asian place and a bowl of vegan soup from the deli. Many of you have mentioned what good care I take of my husband. While I generally agree with you I am also human which means that some days he has to fend for himself.

Maybe admitting this online will help me to make sure this happens less often. This really shouldn’t take place since I am home all day.


I had to post this because I thought it was just too cute. Nicco (aka Binky or Killer as the vet calls him) crawled up into my arms like a baby and laid his head on my shoulder and promptly went to sleep.  Who ever said cats aren't affectionate needs to meet my little four footed angels. I took this picture with my cell phone to show Dan. Binky is so adorable when he is being good. It is a shame he gets so frightened and tends to lash out when we go to the vet.


I wasn’t feeling like I wanted dinner last night so I skipped this meal. Dan wanted strawberry banana soft serve and since it is quick and easy to make I was happy to make it for him.


This morning started out cold and humid. Given the nor’easter that was predicted today the morning weather was not a surprise. Poor Dan had a site inspection with 10 people scheduled for 10am in the morning. Hopefully they will be inside more than outside. By 8am it was already raining though the wind hadn’t really picked up yet.

Dan decided he would have a kale, banana and walnut smoothie this morning. It still amazes me that Dan actually asks for a green smoothie some mornings. We have come so far with him which makes me incredibly happy.


I decided to fast on Thursday. Fasting is something I have done off and on for 30 years. I have my own method which I will explain. I fast one or two days a year depending on how I am feeling. When I start to crave unhealthy foods, like sweets I will start to consider fasting. The reason I say consider fasting is that it isn’t something that is a good idea any time so I always plan for it.

I start the day with multiple cups of hot water (either plain or with lemon) to keep myself hydrated. When I fast I alternate between drinking water and fresh veggie and fruit juice during the day. The reason I alternate the two is that fresh juice is much higher in calories than I want for a fast but I need a little natural sugar. When I am drinking the juice I will also have a few nuts so provide fat for the fat-soluble vitamins.

Fasting for one day is very simple and not terribly unpleasant. I feel much lighter after a one day fast. It is important to fast on a day where you can be reasonably still. It isn’t a good idea to do too much when you are fasting. You may experience light headedness so I recommend that you avoid driving and exercising when you fast. I drink the fresh juice to keep my blood sugar from getting too low. My typical fasting blood sugar is in the 80’s (which is low) so the dizziness may not be an issue for everyone but it is for me.

Days when I fast I also take a break from the news and normally work in a nap which I did yesterday. Fasting days for me become a day to relax and recharge.

Do I believe the hype I read about fasting helping your body to detoxify? Not really. The body detoxifies everyday that is one of the most important functions of the liver and kidneys. I believe the best way we can assist the body in detoxifying is to get plenty of water, fiber and rest every day. I also think that if you eat a healthy whole food plant based diet you aren’t adding to the items your body needs to detoxify. This is one of the main reasons we gave up processed food. Since processed food adds to chemical load your body needs to remove each day why do that?

Results of the fast were what I was hoping they would be. My appetite is less ravenous which is definitely a good thing. Additionally the chocolate craving appears to be gone. As I said earlier I don’t fast often or for long (never more than 36 hours). However an occasional short fast seems to help me reset my appetite and cravings and that works for me.


Since I didn’t eat dinner on Wednesday I was ready to eat by dinner time on Thursday. I wanted something simple and easy for my body to digest but that would also provide a little bulk. I made a pot of brown rice and got myself a small bowl which I topped with dulse granules (for the iodine) and a few dehydrated leeks. Later I had a banana because I wanted something sweet.


Wow it was cold this morning. We were back in the upper 40’s this morning. This was one morning I was glad hadn’t had the windows open last night. The nor’easter we had blow threw was good for something.

For breakfast this morning Dan wanted oatmeal with mixed berries, flaxseeds and walnuts. He seems to be alternating between oatmeal and green smoothies. However this is so much healthier than the Danish and doughnuts he used to eat in the past (years ago now). I can still remember when the idea of drinking green tea didn’t appeal to Dan. It is amazing how far he has come in terms of eating healthy.

Dan and the boys at work are going out to lunch today. Since he was going out for lunch it meant my morning was a little easier. Once I made the fresh veggie and fruit juice and breakfast I was finished in the kitchen.

This morning I grabbed some leftover carrot and walnut soup for my breakfast. This is something I made Dan last night in the Vitamix and there was a small bowl leftover. I didn’t measure anything but I can tell you what I did. I roughly chopped 5 carrots and put those in the Vitamix with a handful of walnuts, some water (to process), turmeric, cumin, coriander, black pepper and nutritional yeast. I processed that until it was smooth and hot. I served this with the cooked brown rice, a dollop of salsa, fresh cilantro and dehydrated leeks. To go with this I had a small glass of fresh veggie and fruit juice.

I hope everyone is starting to see the pattern to my cooking. There are a few items that I rely on: dehydrated leeks, walnut parmesan, cashew crème fraiche, cooked grains, Vitamix pureed soup, fresh herbs, leftovers and salads. Those few things make up the bulk of our meals. I keep them interesting by using different seasonings.

Signing out:

It is time for me to run my errands and check on my folks. I hope to have some time to spend in the kitchen this afternoon. Wish me luck that I come up with something interesting, tasty and of course healthy. Talk to you all again soon.


  1. Thank you for sharing your feelings on fasting, Ali.

    I used to do the master cleanse--a full 10 days--every 6 months. I would take that time to really look inside myself, I would journal a lot, usually do a major cleaning of my condo.

    I claimed to be doing it for the "right" reasons, I claimed it was really spiritual for me, but really, now that I look at it more honestly, it was a major symptom of my unhealthy relationship with food.

    I feel so much better, so much healthier, with how I'm now handling my eating.

    Thank you.


  2. Nicco is looking too sweet there. I love getting pictures of the furbabies when they're sweet looking like that. I hate those days when you just stare into the fridge like that. I mean seriously, food isn't going to appear ;-)

  3. LJ,

    I learned about fasting in college but much of what I "learned" I no longer believe to be true. What fasting does for me is reset my relationship with food in terms of what I want to eat and how much. It also reminds me what real hunger is which is always good.

    I can't imagine a 10 day fast let alone doing that twice a year. How you could fast and have the energy to do a major cleaning is really impressive. I needed to take it easy and I only fasted for 24 hours.

    Something tells me if any of us look back we would see life differently. The good thing is that you now see it. We can't change what we don't recognize. ;-)

    I feel like I have a much healthier attitude toward food now too. It seems to just take time to develop but at least it happened. :-)

    thank you for sharing your thoughts,

  4. Heather,

    Thanks for letting me know I am not the only one who stands there staring into the frig. Why do we do that? LOL

    Binky was so darn cute when he curled up in my arms like a baby and went to sleep with his head on my shoulder. It really is no wonder why both Dan and I are wrapped around their fuzzy little toes. It is so sad to have 3 little cats run the house, LOL. Oh well, there are worse things in the world.


  5. Hi Ali,
    I rarely have luck when I try to fast, probably because I am not properly prepared:)
    Glad to know you've got a system! Also, let us know how that book is. Looks cute.

  6. Aimee,

    I can't fast without including the fresh juice or I get too jittery. If that happens to you it may be low blood sugar.

    I have four books ahead of that one to read but I am looking forward to it. I love Japanese food and culture. It should be a light read. ;-)


  7. Ali, funny that your post was on a day of my fast. I try and fast for 24 hours periods regularly because it resets my relationship with food. I will normally fast from 5pm-5pm so I am really not going a full day without food. It reminds me of being hungry and gets me back on track. It sure does stop the cravings. But everyone needs to be careful of the first meal after the fast....this is no time to go crazy.

  8. Jennifer,

    Sounds like we fast for the same reasons I do it to bust the cravings primarily. I find it is very helpful to remind me what hunger feels like. We have so much food in America it is easy to go a lifetime and not experience hunger.

    I hope you had an easy fast,

  9. Ali, my fast was so easy I volunteer for the church rummage sale and then played a singles tennis match :) on nothing but water and a cup of green tea!

  10. Jennifer,

    Wow! I could not have played tennis yesterday though that would have been fun. I have loved tennis since high school when I was on the tennis team.


  11. I know this is a little out of place but here I go.

    I'm a long time vegetarian who is starting the transition to veganism. And your blog has played a role in this. For a long time I was interested in veganism but scared of it. My primary concers were how to meet my nutritional needs and how it would affect my relationships because so much socializing is done around food.

    I'm not sure if you've posted on this on your blog but I was wondering if you had tips for those of us who are 'beginning' vegans? Equipment needed to ease the transition. Foods to try. Things to absolutely not do. Anything would be awsome.

    As an aside, I tried a collard wrap the other day and I love it. Thanks for the great idea.

  12. Shannon,

    Yay for transitioning to becoming vegan! Thank you so much for letting me know I played a small role in that. ;-)

    I would be happy to help you any way that I can but will need more information. You can either tell me by comment or send me an email at

    Here are my questions: 1) how comfortable are you in the kitchen now, 2) how much time do you have per day or week to cook, 3) are there omnis in your family that you need to feed, 4) do you have a favorite cuisine or two? That should be enough to get me started on a reply.

    I am SO happy for you on your transition.

    talk to you soon,

  13. Glad to hear your fasting helped you feel lighter and more balanced : ) And your dark red juice looks so delicious and nutritious it makes me want to get out my juicer right now.

  14. Stephanie,

    A quick fast typically helps me get my unhealthy cravings under control. It is rather like hitting the reset button for me.

    The beet red juice is our standard "house juice". I have been making it for months now with slight variations. Both Dan and I like the flavor a lot.

    I hope you are having a good evening and that the test goes well tomorrow,

  15. Hi Ali
    I've just found your blog and been reading it over the past few days. I'm a long time vegetarian - almost vegan (no dairy, just very occasional egg) and I need to improve my diet, so I've been enjoying getting some ideas from your blog.

    I have been wondering, though, if you have a list or summary anywhere if the principles of your diet - what foods you avoid or try to include in your diet and why.

    As I read through your blog there is so much info there spread through all your entries - I will get through many of them but would love to find a summary of your diet ideas somewhere or even links to where you have learnt a lot of this information.

  16. Tomato Jam,

    Thanks for leting me know you are enjoying the blog. I am glad something about it resonates with you.

    I don't think I have summarized what we eat specifically. But I can do a simple version of that in my next post which should be today.

    Where I learned the things I have is a much bigger question in fact it could be a book in itself. I read about nutrition every day (literally) and that is where much of the information comes from. If you have any specific questions I can probably point you to the book or article. Let me which specifc tid bit you are looking for the source, I should remember. ;-)

    My primary sources early on were "Life Over Cancer" written by Keith Block, MD and "Eat for Health" by Joel Fuhrman, MD. I also liked "Anticancer" by David Servan-Schreiber, MD. Those three books are good resources if you are looking for information on how to stay or get healthy. Since then I have started spending a lot of time reading articles/studies on PubMed. I hope that gives you some idea of where the information is coming from. I am careful not read junk science since health is so important to me.



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