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  • Joy Stevens ND

Nothing Beats Self-Experimentation

A few weekends ago I inadvertently conducted an experiment on myself. And as any science fair aficionado knows, experiments don’t always turn out well.

For years I have been starting out my day out with a breakfast loaded with vegetables and a couple of eggs for protein. This is a breakfast I enjoy eating, it makes me feel good, and it has staying power, meaning I am not hungry again in a few hours. In fact, it is so loaded with veggies that I eat at least half, and sometimes more, of the nine servings of fruits and veggies we are advised to eat each day.

Don’t you love how doctors advise you to eat nine servings each day but rarely explain what exactly is a serving? Me too. So here goes. A serving of most fruits and vegetables is ½ cup. That’s all! Just ½ of a cup or 4 ½ cups all day. Go to your kitchen now and look at how small ½ cup really is. The exceptions are the leafy greens such as lettuce and kale where a serving is 1 cup.

My eating experiment inadvertently occurred while I was in San Diego. I’m not a California girl so my perception of southern California and the reality didn’t quite jive. I was expecting to find fresh, whole food restaurants on every corner.

The first evening, my roomie and I found a raw vegan organic restaurant called Peace Pies (photo from about 1 ½ miles from our rental and decided to walk over for dinner. Not exactly on the corner, but I have never eaten in a raw vegan restaurant before and I am always game to try something new, especially if it is healthy. Whatever my expectations, they were definitely exceeded! The food was delicious, but the best part was the walk back. I didn’t feel full, but I didn’t feel hungry either. My energy wasn’t zapped in the least like many meals have done. And I didn’t get hungry later in the evening either. I can honestly say I just felt perfect afterwards. How often does that happen?

The next morning the experiment started. We were staying in Ocean Beach. In fact, our rental was literally three houses from the world famous San Diego pier. In other words, we were smack in the middle of tourist central. Unfortunately, the food in the area fit the theme – typical Standard American Diet (SAD) fair. How would I feel going back to eating that way after so many years? Although I tried somewhat to eat healthier, mostly choosing Mexican for the beans and veggies, I also succumbed to the temptations of the fast and easy. And I paid the price. My energy levels waned, my digestive track let me know it wasn’t happy with what I was sending its way, and although I have avoided the scale since the trip, I am certain I gained weight. It took most of the next week to recover. Lesson learned. Experiment deemed a success. Even eating on the better side of a SAD diet, I didn’t feel well. Returning to a diet of fresh, whole foods, mostly vegetables, is what turned me around.

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