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Week 4 - Rethinking Your Plate

Week 4 - Rethinking Your Plate

Rethinking Your Plate

So you've now eliminated most of the bread and grain products from your diet.  And you've increased the amount of vegetables you normally would consume.  You understand how a large colorful salad will provide your carbohydrate needs along with an abundant variety of vitamins and minerals. 

We still need to address fruits, snacks, drinks, etc. so hang in there.  But please, for now, get under your belt the habit of eliminating bread and adding a large colorful salad as your dominant dinner item and adding vegetables any chance you get.  MaryLynne and I went out to eat tonight to a nice restaurant but they had no salads as a meal but offered only a wimpy salad as a side.  I was forced to order pasta prima vera, soup, and a side order of vegetables.  I left most of the pasta alone.

What I'd like you to consider now is your plate.  Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner you need to be looking at protein, carbohydrate, and fat.  Where is each in this picture?


Dinner Plate The vegetables contain the carbohydrates, the rice is carbohydrate also, while the salmon provides both protein and fat.  

So now with every meal this week I want you to identify the food you are eating and investigate if it is protien, carbohydrate, or fat.

Roughly I would say keep the carbohydrates at 50 %, protein at 20%, and fat at 30% of your calorie intake.  You could even up your carbohydrates to 60% and cut the fat back to 20%.  If you are under 20 years old you will need more protein, but less as we age.  And why so much fat you may ask?  Remember, it's the good fat, from oily fish, grass fed beef, olive oil, and eggs that every cell membrane needs.  And we are constantly making new cells.  (See fats chart below)

We have been conditioned in typical western diet fashion to have a main dish of meat, a small side of overcooked vegetable, a side dish of a starch, and a small bland salad.  I want you to re-think this and transition to be looking at a dinner plate of mostly greens and vegetables, a small side dish of meat, fish, or beans, with minimal if any starch. 

My goodness, if it's a plate of mostly greens and vegetables, and less meat and starch that will lead to health and vitality, and therefore, happiness, why wouldn't you want to change?  Because it doesn't "fill you up"? Because it's not the way you grew up eating?  Yes, culture does have a lot to do with sabataging change.  And a full belly does feel satisfying, I know.  But it's not like you're starving yourself by eating more vegetables.  As the abundance of nutrients ease into your bloodstream you will obtain the same level of satisfaction from your meal, but you will also have energy to do more than just collapse on the couch.

White potatoes have a high glycemic index and should be avoided.  Also white potatoes are famous for being "dressed" with unhealthy sour cream, etc.  You've seen a picture of my salad, and I know it requires more chewing but that is something you will get used to.  Rice is ok when combined with beans, but avoid pasta (grain), and corn (grain).



 It has been estimated that 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration. Amazing when you realize clean water is available in everyone’s home.  Two thirds of our weight is made up of water, including 95% of our brains, 82% of our blood and 90% of our lungs. We eventually shrink mainly because the water content of our discs diminishes with age.

Short term memory loss, basic cognition, and concentration are all affected by a 2% drop in our bodies’ water supply.

What we gain in providing ample amounts of water is what I want to emphasize. Water provides a lubricant, helps regulate both metabolism and body temperature, is essential in digestion, and helps fight disease.

 How Much?

 We should be drinking half our body weight in ounces. In other words, if you weigh 150 lbs. you should be drinking 75 fluid ounces of water per day. Now you can see how so many Americans may be chronically dehydrateMAn drinking waterd!




Water is essential






This week:

  • Continue to eliminate the grains and add veggies
  • Increase your water intake as above
  • Examine your food and determine if your food items are protein, carbohydrate or fat.
  • Read and appreciate the information below.


I realize this may be a bit laborious but we need to be healthy if we're going to change this world.  It takes a while to break bad habits and incorporate new ones and I don't want to go too fast for fear you will be falling behind.  Seriously work on these few things and we can build on them as we go.  Stress management, our topic after Nutrition, will come so much easier when you are in control of your diet.

What Do We Need From Our Food?


Protein, Carbohydrates,

Fats, Vitamins, and Minerals.



Proteins are basically “what it’s all about”. In other words it is protein that not only gives us our physical structure but also carries out the physiological processes within a cell that produces energy, repairs tissue, digests our food, cleanses our system, and fights disease.

Proteins are involved in nearly all functions of life.  As a matter of fact, genes within our DNA are merely recipes telling the cells how to make proteins.  More on that phenomenon in another course.

Proteins are long chains of amino acids. There are twenty total amino acids that produce the 100,000 or so total proteins that regulate body activity.

Of the 20 total amino acids there are 9 that are “essential” that we ingest from our food. Our body produces the others. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient”, as our bodies need large amounts of them. The “micronutrients”, vitamins and minerals, are needed in small amounts. But unlike fats and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein.

Animal sources of protein contain all of the amino acids needed to produce a complete protein. Vegetable sources of protein are incomplete in their amino acid makeup and require a combination of vegetable sources, such as rice and beans, to provide a “complete protein”.  

Animal sources of protein

  • Fish, lean meats, chicken, eggs

Vegetable sources of protein

  • Beans, lentils, soy products, quinoa (a complete protein)

and other whole grains, nuts and seeds, and many vegetables.


Nutrient transportThe cell membrane’s middle layer, a lipid (fat) barrier, restricts foreign objects from entering the cell.  But the cell needs nutrients.  Protein receptors, imbedded in the membrane, are able to sense which nutrients are needed, grabs them from the blood stream, and transorts them through the lipid barrier into the cell.

Cell structure Proteins provide the “beams and girders” forming the cell’s “skeleton”.

Intercellular Communication Proteins receptors are able to communicate between cells, forming a literal community.

Transport Proteins act as vehicles for other substances, as in hemoglobin, the protein that transports oxygen to every part of the body.

Regulators Proteins turn processes on and off in the cell allowing balance.

Enzymes Proteins that act as catalysts in the production of more proteins.

100,000 proteins There are over 100,000 different proteins playing a role in every cell function.  Each protein is produced via instructions from a gene in our DNA. 



Come in three varieties, sugar, fiber, and starches.  The basic building block of every carbohydrate is a sugar molecule, a simple union of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.  The body breaks down carbohydrates to the basic sugar molecule and utilizes the sugar for energy. 

The body does not, however, break down fiber but moves it through the body undigested.  The fiber aids in transporting and pushing food through the digestive system, promoting regularity and preventing constipation.  Fiber also helps eliminate low density lipoproteins (LDLs), the “bad” cholesterol.

The digestible carbohydrates are broken down to simple sugar and converted to glucose (blood sugar).  Glucose is a universal energy source.

When glucose enters the blood stream the pancreas secretes insulin into the blood to aid the absorption of glucose into the body’s cells for energy, and for storage in the liver, muscle and fat cells.  When blood sugar gets low from the effect of insulin secretion the pancreas secretes another hormone (glucagon) that tells the liver to release its stored sugar, thus keeping a rather consistent low grade amount of glucose in the blood stream available for delivery of energy.  Pretty cool how the body balances itself!  eh?  It needs to because too much or too little glucose in the blood (hyper or hypoglycemia) is toxic.

Now, foods that have a high glycemic index - that is, foods that cause a rapid spike of blood glucose - naturally will cause a rapid increase in insulin production.  As the insulin delivers the glucose there is a quick low (a crash) in blood sugar before the liver can release more glucose into the blood stream.  This results in fatigue and causes the body to want food to replace the lost blood glucose, thus a CRAVING for sugar occurs.  Craving leads to hunger for quick sugar release type foods… and the vicious cycle is in motion!

As we eat more and more carbs that have a high glycemic index the body is forced to secrete more insulin.  But the liver and muscle cells can only take so much glucose with the rest stored in fat cells.  Obesity!  Also along the way cells become sensitive to the toxic overproduction of insulin and begin to reject the insulin which results in the glucose remaining in the blood stream – insulin resistance.  The cells become resistant to insulin and reject the glucose it is carrying.

What occurs then is an overabundance of blood glucose (type 2 diabetes).  The pancreas secretes more insulin as it simply responds to the increased blood sugar (glucose).  Increased blood glucose (hyperglycemia) and too much insulin (hyperinsulinemia) is very toxic as it affects brain and kidney function.  It also can lead to osteoporosis and induces the body’s stress response that we will learn much more about later.

Fat cells release triglycerides into the blood stream.  Triglycerides are fats that normally provide energy when there is no glucose available.  The fat cells are confused thinking the body needs energy since they are not storing glucose due to the insulin resistance.  Now you have free fatty acids circulating in the blood.  This leads to heart and artery disease.  The increase in insulin in the blood also causes the kidneys to retain sodium which results in high blood pressure.

Storage of sugar in the form of fat was necessary for our hunter-gatherer ancestors who were not always guaranteed a steady food source.  Our supermarkets have solved that problem for us.

The best sources of carbohydrates are slow release / high

fiber carbs found in fruits and vegetables.


Energy Storage Synthesized in the mitochondria and produces ATP.  ATP is the main energy source for the majority of cell functions. 

MetabolismAll cell functions, whether creating proteins, neutralizing wastes,  dividing or contracting the cell needs energy to function.

RNA & DNA Provides the backbone of RNA and DNA’s structure.



Facts on Fats


Unlike carbohydrates, fats, or proteins, vitamins themselves do not provide energy or serve as building materials for tissues.  Vitamins are necessary as co-factors or catalysts for many functions of the cells.  For example, Vitamin D is involved in the intestines’ ability to absorb calcium and phosphorus, and B1 aids carbohydrate metabolism.

For now what you need to know is that Vitamins are micro nutrients that assist growth, repair and the maintenance of homeostasis.

Most vitamins cannot be manufactured by the body and must be included in your diet.  No single food contains all the needed vitamins so it is necessary to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and other foods rich in vitamins.



Unlike vitamins, which are organic molecules (basically those that contain carbon), minerals are inorganic substances. 

Similar to vitamins, however, minerals act as catalysts (helpers) and are necessary for many of the cellsMinerals’ physiological functions (making proteins, creating energy, disposing of cell waste, etc)  

Biochemistry can be a bit complicated and cannot be reducedto simply the manufacturing of tissue and energy using available carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.  Life’s processes rely on vitamins and minerals to help many of these functions occur at the right time, to an efficient degree, and in the correct amount.

Minerals may combine, as in sodium and chloride to make salt, but they do not form long chains like protein, so they cannot build tissue material by themselves. 

However, they often are a necessary part of many tissues of the body.  For example, calcium and

phosphorus combine to give stability to bone.

 4% of your total body weight consists of minerals.  (6 lbs. of minerals for a 150 lb. individual).

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