Book Recommendations: And some gentle reminders

I always have my nose in a couple of books at once. I love to read novels before I go to sleep and health and wellness books when I have a few minutes during the day, or I am researching a specific topic for a client. Here is what I am enjoying right now.

Obesity: The Modern Famine by Dr. Kathy Campbell
Dr. Kathy is a pharmacist who focuses on helping people not need medication. She is a friend and a mentor. In her book Obesity: The Modern Famine, Dr. Kathy takes a deep dive into looking at obesity as a modern disease of famine. Modern life has created a famine that is starving our energy, gut, cells, fiber, oxygen, sunlight, sleep, connection, and more.

In each chapter, she explains the famine or lack of resources using science, real-life examples, and humor. She also offers doable solutions. Even though this book focuses on obesity, it is full of information and tips that pertain to anyone who wants to build health, especially as we age.

In one of the first chapters, she talks about the famine of energy and stresses the importance of the chemistry and nourishment of what we eat over the calories in that food. When we think about it, we all know that one hundred calories of broccoli will act very differently in our body than 100 calories of potato chips.

Dr. Kathy reminds us that food companies are in the business of creating hyper-palatable foods, those foods with just the right amount of sweetness, salt, and fat so that we can’t just eat one.

She challenges us to take back our control over what we eat by beginning with an assessment of what we are eating and then adding in nutrient-dense foods until we are consuming the chemistry contained in a minimum (some of us may need more depending on our size, needs, absorption, digestion, medication interactions …) of;

  • 7-10 servings (1 cup cooked, 1/2 cup cooked) of plants, AND
  • 7-12 servings of protein (one ounce of lean meat, fish, and cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 cup tofu,1/2 cup of cooked beans)

Eating less than these serving sizes, we are likely lacking critical nutrients at the cellular level to create enough energy for our bodies to function properly and, thus, in a famine.

I took Dr. Kathy’s advice and have set a goal to eat 10 servings of vegetables and fruits each day and enough protein. I have made it into a game and have been having some fun with checking off all the boxes. What I have noticed is that having concrete goals helps make me more intentional about what I am eating, and when I really follow this prescription, I don’t have a lot of room or interest in some of those hyper-palatable foods.

It’s pretty easy to hit that vegetable number if I eat a big salad for lunch, but when it is cold out, I often want a hot lunch. This week, I made a big pot of chicken soup that I had for several lunches. I added a generous amount of shredded carrots, shitake mushrooms, cilantro, spinach, and leeks, creating more of a stew than a soup to add vegetables, and topped each serving with some extra herbs and/or kimchi for an extra plant boost.

I’ll continue experimenting with this practice and sharing some of my successes on my social media. I would love to hear about your experiences.

Chill: The Cold Water Swim Cureby Mark Harper, MD, PhD
Over the last 6 months, I have developed a cold dipping practice. I feel energized, have less joint pain, and have noticed that I am in a better mood after I get in the cold water. Dr. Harper is a cold water swimmer and researcher who helped create a program in the UK that uses cold water therapy to help people with anxiety and depression. What I like about this book is that it offers simple, free tools to start a cold water practice. It is approachable and, while well-referenced, does not read like a textbook.

Many years ago, I got in the San Francisco Bay early one morning in a wet suit with a triathlon training group. I did not know what to expect. I started hyperventilating; I got very cold, my arms did not feel like they were working, and I had to get some help coming in. It was a miserable experience. Added to that, as someone with a low-functioning thyroid, I run cold, especially my hands and feet. I never expected to be someone who enjoyed getting in cold water.

Educating myself, knowing what to expect, planning, and having a supportive community have made all the difference. If you are curious about the benefits of cold exposure, I encourage you to read more about it and find out if you are a good candidate.

Next Steps
As you strategize reaching your health goals this year, now might be a good time to check in with yourself and see if you may benefit from a diet and lifestyle upgrade. If you are confused or overwhelmed by what you read and hear or feel that making changes in diet and lifestyle is overwhelming, book an exploratory call (for new clients) or a follow-up visit (for existing clients) at book an appointment so we can dive deeper together. My goal is to support my clients while they make changes in a doable, long-term way.