The Atkins Illusion

by Tracy Rohland

Many Americans are obsessed with weight loss. Millions of dollars are spent each year on weight loss programs, diet books, diet foods, miracle drinks, and surgeries in order to get our bodies to shed those extra pounds. With the latest resurgence of the popular Atkins diet, also known as the "low-carb diet" or the "protein diet", millions of people are emptying their pocketbooks to jump on board. These high-priced “low-carb” foods, which include “nutrition” bars and ready-to-eat meals along with tons of meat, cheese and dairy products, deny the body proper nutrition. Dr. Atkins has successfully convinced many people that carbohydrates are the enemy, when in fact the body needs carbohydrates more than any other food. While it is important to limit simple carbohydrates like white flour and sugar, complex carbohydrates like whole grains are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are crucial for good health.

There is also a real danger in excessive protein consumption, which is at the heart of the Atkins diet. Dr. John A. McDougall, author of "The McDougall Plan", and "McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss", said the body of a healthy adult man uses less than 20 grams of protein a day. When an individual consumes large amounts of protein, the body does not have the means to store the excess and so it is eliminated by the liver and kidneys. The elimination of this protein overworks these organs, causing damage to organ tissue and proper function. For individuals who already suffer from kidney problems, such as diabetes, the increased stress from a high-protein diet can have serious consequences.

Additionally, the kidneys use minerals from the body to help eliminate this excess protein. The most important mineral that is sacrificed in this process is calcium. Calcium deficiency leads to osteoporosis later in life. McDougall cites a case study of the Bantu tribe in Africa versus a group living in the United States. The Bantus subsist on a low-protein vegetable-based diet and have virtually no cases of osteoporosis, while a genetically related group of people studied in the United States who consumed the typical American diet rich in meat and dairy, had high osteoporosis rates. Native Eskimos who consume a diet extremely high in protein from sea life have the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world.

When a person eliminates carbohydrates from his diet, he also eliminates fiber. Fiber is a crucial part of the human diet and it is not found in animal-derived foods. Fiber binds to toxic substances in our bodies and washes them out of our system. It allows for rapid movement of food through the intestines, preventing harmful bacteria from building up due to constipation. Fiber also binds to cholesterol, explaining why a high-fiber diet is associated with healthy cholesterol levels and lower heart attack rates. Fiber is also important in regulating blood sugar by encouraging carbohydrates to be absorbed at a slower rate, which keeps the blood sugar levels balanced. Overall, a person on a low-carb, high-protein diet puts himself at risk for kidney stones, osteoporosis, heart attack, and constipation among other complications.

How can we stay healthy and lose weight? According to McDougall’s research, the diet that best supports health and healing for humans is a pure vegetable diet based around starch foods, with the addition of fresh fruits and vegetables. Carbohydrates provide the most efficient and available source of energy for our bodies. They are plentiful in vitamins, minerals, fibers, proteins and essential fats. To deny the body the carbohydrates it needs is irresponsible and dangerous. Eating a variety of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit, along with eliminating (or at least limiting) one’s intake of saturated fat and cholesterol-laden foods, is an effective way to promote weight loss while providing for the body’s needs.


Facts from this article were taken from:

  1. McDougall, John A. The McDougall Plan. New Win Publishing, Clinton, NJ. 1983.
  2. McDougall, John A. The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss. Penguin Books USA , New York, New York. 1994.

Weight Loss the Ayurvedic Way

by Brent Hewinson

The term Ayurveda is slowly becoming a household name. Pronounced Aa-yer-vay-da and originating from India, it is said to be the world’s oldest healing science. As more people turn to natural solutions for their health problems, the popularity of Ayurveda continues to grow.

There is much skepticism about the myriad of fad diets that come and go, so it is wise to turn to ancient wisdom that has stood the test of time. We see more and more evidence that crash diets are no solution for long term weight loss. For starters, we see that the weight lost on such diets is often quickly put back on once the dieting stops. And there is also evidence that some crash diets can have detrimental side effects to our health, sometimes long term.

So what we should be looking for is a holistic solution that allows us to lose excess weight and keep it off, while also improving our overall health. The Ayurvedic approach is the perfect answer.

The Ayurvedic system can be applied to every person’s body type (unlike some diets that may help certain individuals, but cause problems for others) and it is an overall health system that works towards wellness physically, mentally and spiritually.

Ayurvedic healing and weight loss is generally done on an individual level, with a plan being tailored to the individual, however there are some guidelines that are helpful to everybody.

Here are some tips that are applicable to people of all body types who are trying to reduce their weight.

If you want to go on a diet:

  • A mild, long-term plan is more natural than crash diets.
  • Winter is not a good time for dieting because the cold can lower one’s resistance and body heat.
  • Reducing or Lightening therapy is helpful, with a light diet, fasting, digestive (spicy) herbs and mild laxatives.

To lose excess weight and maintain a healthy body weight:

  • Do not overeat – especially cold, oily and heavy things.
  • Do not sleep right after eating.
  • Do not eat late at night.
  • Avoid refined sugars.
  • Avoid carbonated drinks.
  • Cook with spices like cayenne, tumeric, black pepper, ginger and rock salt.
  • A teaspoon of grated ginger with a pinch of rock salt is a good appetizer.
  • A teaspoon of ghee with rice aids digestion.
  • Avoid drinking water immediately before or after meals as it will slow digestion.
  • Excess consumption of water may produce obesity.
  • Avoid eating substances prepared with wheat like cakes, pastries.
  • Avoid eating meat products, they slow digestion and cause heaviness.

Aside from the above suggestions on eating habits, we should also look at our overall lifestyle. Naturally we need to have regular exercise to maintain a healthy body, and we should also try to reduce stress, as stress is often the cause of bad eating habits. Stress can be reduced by various relaxation and meditation techniques, and a calmer mind will give us more willpower to control our eating and lifestyle habits.


If you are interested in looking further into the Ayurvedic health system, and how to lose weight according to your particular body type, check out the different books on Ayurveda at our Down to Earth stores.

Reverse Obesity by Adopting a Plant-based Diet

Obesity continues to be a huge problem in Hawaii and the United States as a whole. Last month, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported survey results for 2007 showing that 25.6% of Americans are obese, up nearly 2 percent from just 2 years ago.1

Happily, the CDC also reports that residents of Hawaii make up one of the top five leanest states in the nation—with an obesity rate of 21.4 percent.2 However, this means one out of five residents are too fat. If you count among them, there is reason to be concerned. Research indicates that as weight increases, so does your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

How do I know if I am obese?

Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above. BMI is calculated using height and weight. For example, a 5-foot, 9-inch adult who weighs 203 pounds would have a BMI of 30, which puts this person into the obese category. A BMI from 25 to 30, is considered overweight, while a healthy BMI is in the 20 to 25 range. To determine your BMI, there is a free online calculator you can use at

How do I lose weight and keep it off?

While you may be able to lose pounds quickly on the latest fad diet, to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight usually requires long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits. The key to losing weight is that you must use up more calories than you take in. Switching to a vegetarian, plant-based diet is a great way to reduce calories and help you lose excess weight. Research by the Mayo Clinic has shown that, on average, people who follow a vegetarian diet eat fewer calories and less fat than non-vegetarians. Vegetarians also tend to have lower body weight relative to their height than non-vegetarians.3

Small changes can add up to big benefits

Dr. William Dietz, Director of CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity makes a good point, "We need to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables, engage in more physical activity and reduce the consumption of high calorie foods and sugar sweetened beverages in order to maintain a healthy weight." The good news is that even a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight (e.g. going from 200 to 190 pounds) can improve your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels and decrease your risk factors for chronic diseases related to obesity. Simply switching to a vegetarian, plant-based diet and getting a little exercise can easily achieve that kind of weight loss. So don’t get discouraged, losing weight doesn’t have to be difficult. If you are overweight or obese, be sure to check out this month’s Health Tip for some healthy and effective ways you can lose weight.

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, News Release: “Latest CDC Data Show More Americans Report Being Obese,” July 17, 2008:
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Report: “U.S. Obesity Trends 1985–2010,
  3. Mayo, “Vegetarian Diet: will it help me loose weight?”:

How to Avoid Gaining Weight at Christmas

by Tracy Rohland

Winter is here and holiday treats are on their way in abundance. During this time, it is not uncommon to worry about the numbers on the bathroom scale gradually increasing. So, this season do not let your weakness for Christmas cookies and pumpkin pie get the better of you by following a few suggestions to help you stay healthy

  • A vegetarian diet is the best place to start. By sticking to a vegetarian diet, you will avoid a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol.
    • Use vegetable broth instead of chicken or beef broth in your gravies and soups. Instead of turkey or ham, try a main dish of grilled seasoned tofu or a hearty vegetable stew. There are also turkey alternatives such as Tofurky and Un-Turkey. Our recipe section on the website has some great holiday recipes.
  • Make a variety of vegetable side dishes. Think beyond steamed green beans and mashed potatoes and experiment with apple-beet salad, baked basil-eggplant, curried vegetables or sautéed butternut squash with shitake mushrooms.
  • Be sure to include a raw salad. It will help fill your plate as well as your stomach and will aid in digestion. Make it festive by using a variety of greens and adding walnuts, cranberries and apples.
  • Avoid white-flour rolls loaded with butter. Instead, make your own whole wheat rolls and top them with cranberry-orange relish.
  • When dessert comes around, the important thing is portion control. Take less than your eyes want and eat slowly. Resist that second piece of Pecan Pie ala mode. It is okay to indulge a little so long as you do not go overboard. For dessert, try a lighter version of the classics – see our recipe page for ideas including No-Bake Pumpkin Pie, Tofu Cheesecake, and Apple-Apricot cobbler.
  • Be sure to stay properly hydrated. Carbonated drinks, alcohol, and coffee all lead to dehydration so it is important to drink plenty of water or herbal tea to make up for the loss.
  • Finally, do not forget about exercise. When you have a little free time, grab your water bottle and take a long walk, a bike ride or do some yoga.

It is up to you to maintain your health over the Christmas season. It is natural to gain a couple of pounds over the winter because your body is trying to preserve itself for the cooler temperatures ahead. Just as things in nature are hibernating, closing and going inside, your body does the same. But do not be a victim of holiday excess – stay active and check out Down To Earth’s website for great recipe ideas.

Packing a Healthy Lunch for School

by Tracy Rohland

According to a 2004 report by the Institute of Medicine, the past three decades have seen the childhood obesity rate more than double for preschool children aged 2-5 years and adolescents aged 12-19 years, and more than triple for children aged 6-11 years. Currently, approximately nine million children over 6 years of age are considered obese.

Statistics like this can be scary to nutrition-savvy parents who are concerned with their children’s health. When children are at home, parents generally have control over what goes into their mouths, but what about when they go to school or day care? It can be a big challenge to ensure that a child maintains healthy eating habits even when away from home.

Most school lunches are loaded with refined sugars, saturated fats, sodium and artificial additives. Packing a lunch for your child (or helping them pack it) is the best way to avoid these negative nutritional influences. The trick is to prepare a nutritious meal that is also fun and tasty so your child won’t be tempted by the lunch line junk foods. Following are some tips to get your ideas flowing:

  • In addition to a main course, pack a variety of snacks that are tasty, colorful and low-calorie.
  • Luxuriate in vegetables, include a fruit, and avoid too many refined carbohydrates.
  • Many healthy items, such as carrots, celery, nuts and fruit, now come in convenient single-serve packages.
  • If your child won’t eat plain vegetables, try including a dip or topping such as nut butter or natural cheese.
  • Pack baked chips or soy crisps instead of greasy potato chips.
  • Focus on whole grains in sandwich bread and crackers.
  • A whole wheat veggie wrap is a great main dish that your child can help stuff with their favorite ingredients. Top it with a light sauce of omega-rich vegetable oil like olive oil or flax oil mixed with a bit of soy sauce and nutritional yeast.
  • A burrito is another convenient and healthy meal. Fill a whole wheat tortilla with whole beans and grilled vegetables.
  • See below for a delicious Mock-Tuna sandwich spread recipe.
  • Grill some tofu the night before to make a sandwich or eat with crackers.
  • Pack a bottle of water for during the day and organic milk or 100% juice for lunch. Don’t overdo the juice however, as even 100% juice contains a lot of sugar.
  • For dessert, pack something naturally sweet like all-natural fruit leather, whole wheat graham crackers, or a fruit & nut bar.
  • Finally, maintain a healthy relationship with your child by including a nice note telling them you love them and wishing them a fun day!

Down to Earth is your source for delicious, all natural and convenient lunch foods. We have kid-friendly snacks free of chemical preservatives, refined sugars, and trans-fats. Everything you need, always at affordable, down to earth prices.

  1. Childhood Obesity in the United States: Facts and Figures. INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES FACT SHEET • SEPTEMBER 2004

10 Tips to Healthy and Effective Weight Loss

by Tandis Bishop

A low-fat vegetarian diet abundant in whole foods, combined with regular exercise, is the basis for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Below are ten tips to keep in mind while trying to achieve your optimal weight:

  1. Replace animal products such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and whole fat dairy with whole grains, vegetables, and legumes.
  2. Eliminate the refined carbohydrates from your diet such as white flour, white sugar, corn syrup and white rice. Replace these with whole grains such as brown rice, oats, wheat berries, quinoa, barley, and sprouted whole wheat breads.
    • Refined carbohydrates are about four times higher in calories than in whole foods; therefore more calories are consumed when eating refined food. Carbohydrates in their pure (refined) form are about four calories per gram. But carbohydrates in the whole form such as brown rice are about one calorie per gram.
  3. Consume foods in their whole form such as whole grains and whole vegetables, rather than in a processed form. Plant foods in their whole food form contain the fiber, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that processed food normally lacks. The result is better digestion, absorption and utilization of the food eaten.
  4. Replace calorie-dense beverages such as soft drinks, fruit juice, beer, etc. with water. Sugar-free beverages such as Diet soda should also be avoided as these have been linked to higher obesity rates and weight gain.1
  5. Eat whole fruits in moderation. Limit intake of tropical fruits such as mangoes, bananas, and pineapples as they are higher in simple sugars and are higher in calories. Better choices of fruit include berries, citrus fruits, apples, grapes, etc.
  6. Limit intake of processed foods such as baked goods, canned meats and packaged food. These foods tend to be laden with sugar, fat, and refined flour.
  7. Reduce your intake of fat in general, including vegetable oils, to about 10% of your daily calories. This means cooking with less or no oil, having less oil in your salad dressing, etc. Vegetable oils are also high in calories and can easily be consumed in high amounts.
  8. Eat a fresh green salad everyday. Leafy greens are high in calcium and fiber.
  9. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 2 -3 times a week. Exercise will increase your metabolism (the fire in your body that burns calories) so you can even burn calories while you sleep.
  10. Understand that this is a lifestyle change as opposed to a fad diet. In order to lose excess weight and keep it off, you must gradually change your eating habits; this is not an overnight process. You can go at your own pace. The closer you are to following these standards, the easier it will be to lose excess weight.

Down to Earth is here to help you in reaching your weight-loss goals. Take advantage of our free monthly vegetarian cooking classes and quarterly vegetarian nutrition classes (Visit for more details). References:

  1. CBS NEWS Article: “Can Diet Soda Make You Gain Weight?” Jan 4, 2007

Prevent Excess Weight Gain While Enjoying Holiday Cooking

by Tandis Bishop

The Holiday season is here again and right along with it are all the tasty goodies and home-cooked meals that are such a part of our lives during this time. To the dismay of many of us however, these delectable indulgences tend to leave behind some undesirable extra pounds on our bodies. Is it possible to enjoy hearty meals and sweet treats without the extra pounds? We at Down to Earth say, “yes!” Read on for some ideas to help you maintain a healthy weight during the holidays...

  • This holiday season, go meatless! You will greatly reduce your calorie, fat and cholesterol intake if you have a meatless, plant-based holiday feast. Our website has great vegetarian holiday entrees, salads, and side dishes to choose from. If you are unable to eliminate meat altogether, try to fill up more on the veggie side dishes such as yams, green beans, and cranberry sauce, and less on the main dish, which is usually very high in fat.
  • Make healthier desserts, such as cookies without refined sugar (see recipe at the end of this article). Experiment with agave nectar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup or honey as sweeteners and take them with you when you gather with your family and friends for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This way you are giving yourself and your loved ones healthier dessert choices. In addition, you should try to consume less of the other desserts which are rich in cream and refined sugar.
  • Choose whole grains when making or eating holiday dishes. Use whole wheat flour or exotic brown and wild rice blends when making stuffing and dressings. Use whole grains when making desserts and bread rolls. Whole grains maintain the fiber, vitamins and minerals that refined grains lack.
  • Instead of high calorie beverages such as eggnog, hot cocoa, soda and alcohol, explore the vast variety of herbal teas available at DTE. Lightly sweeten them with a tiny bit of maple syrup or honey. Offer to bring the drinks at the next party and reduce your calorie intake by the hundreds. There are numerous teas, including holiday-spiced varieties, which are perfect for such occasions. Teas can be served hot or cold with ice.
  • This is a great time to bond with your family and friends and enjoy some quality time together. What better way to do this than enjoying some sort of physical activity. Especially here in Hawaii, we have the luxury of enjoying many outdoor activities. Get the family together for a fun game of beach volleyball or tag football. Enjoy a game of tennis at a community tennis court. Go for a hike together, enjoying some of the world’s most beautiful trails and work off any excess calories at the same time. Make sure you have a water bottle with you to stay hydrated!

It is certainly possible to maintain your health and weight over the holiday season. The key is to fill up on veggie dishes, avoid refined foods and control your portions – don’t overdo it even on healthier treats. And remember, choosing these healthy, organic and natural foods won’t cost more than conventional foods and is often less expensive.

Want to Lose Weight? Tune Out Your Inner Cathy

Illustration: Cathy Comic Strip

by Caitlin Rose

Ack! Any woman who's ever tried to lose weight can identify with those three little letters. Standing on a scale, reaching for a donut or trying on a bathing suit all bring that familiar refrain to mind.

Even though I was never a big fan of the comic strip Cathy, it still made a big impression on me. In fact, thinking back, my impression of what a diet was supposed to be mainly came from Cathy's continual struggles to maintain one. A diet, according to the Cathy universe, is when you stop eating everything fun. Of course, you can't keep this up for long. Sooner or later, when you are tired of depriving yourself, you'll break down and reach for that donut, and then, because it's been so long, you'll eat another, and another, and when the whole box is gone you'll remember why donuts aren't so much fun after all. Then you'll feel guilty and go stand on a scale. Ack!

What if this idea of a diet as deprivation never even entered our minds? There's nothing in the word that's inherently bad. Merriam Webster defines diet as "habitual nourishment." That sounds like a good thing! Who doesn't want to be habitually nourished?

Dr. James O. Hill, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado in Denver, explains that while cutting calories helps a person lose weight, the best way to keep that weight off is to make moderate, long term, realistic changes.1 Dr. Hill co-founded the National Weight Control Registry and has been studying the habits of people who successfully stay at their target weight for fifteen years. His advice is to eat high-fiber, low-fat foods while maintaining a regular exercise routine. Eating a plant-based diet is a great way to meet Dr. Hill's diet criteria, and starting a garden or helping at your local school or community garden would be a great way to get your exercise.

Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains are naturally high in fiber and low in saturated fats. The American Heart Association confirms that vegetarian diets are "usually lower than non-vegetarian diets in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol" and lead to a lower risk of obesity.2 In addition, the AHA assures that you can get all the essential and non essential amino acids needed for protein formation from plant sources. Plus, vegetarian diets are fun! Fresh, organic fruits and veggies are sources of a delicious variety of new colors, tastes and aromas.

Try a root bake with purple sweet potatoes, orange yams and red beets tossed with olive oil and garlic, or a breadfruit and banana pudding with coconut milk. For a main dish, taking the meat off the plate makes more room to experiment with healthy alternatives like lentil loaf, crunchy yuba BLT's or tofu scramble.

To see a great collection of vegetarian recipes check out the Recipe page on Down to Earth's website.

The most important thing to remember is not to psych yourself out by setting unrealistic goals. Many doctors stress that even modest weight loss can have a beneficial effect on your health. Losing as little as four and a half pounds can significantly lower blood pressure. Study participants who lost ten pounds reported a 20-30% reduction in aches and pains.3 Losing ten percent of your body weight can alleviate sleep apnea. Finally, sustained weight loss can balance blood sugar levels, correct structural heart damage and decrease risk of developing diabetes.4

So next time you're starting to panic about your weight, take a deep breath and remember that the goal of losing weight is to support your health. You don't have to be a bikini model tomorrow, and if you take even a small step in the right direction today, your body will thank you for it. (See more of Caitlin's writings and commentaries by other thoughtful writers by visiting "Let's get down to earth" a blog by Mark Fergusson and friends: )

10 Foods to Help You Lose Weight

Photo: Woman Eating a Salad

by Tandis Bishop, DTE Nutritionist

When it comes to eating healthy we all have our ups and downs. Even the most fit and health conscious people admit to falling “off the wagon’ during the holiday season. But the good news is that you can just as easily get back on track by incorporating more healthy foods that will not only help you shed excess weight but also improve your health. Simply incorporate these “fat-burning” foods into your diet by substituting them for your normal “fattening” foods. These foods are healthy and low in calories which can be eaten all the time as part of a wholesome, plant-based diet.

  1. Quinoa – Although a seed, quinoa is considered a grain as it has a fluffy, creamy, slightly grainy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. It is high in protein, including all nine essential amino acids. Part of the same family as spinach, quinoa is high in fiber and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and iron. Lots of protein and fewer calories make this not only a great food choice for weight loss but also a great plant-based meat substitute!
  2. Oats – Oats are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates which are needed to keep your metabolism up by keeping insulin levels low after a meal. Eating foods that lower insulin levels is helpful in loosing weight since insulin spikes make your body think it’s time to start storing the fat.
  3. Beans –Beans provide you with almost complete nutrition and are a great meat substitute. High in quality protein and rich in fiber, this a great diet food as it helps keep you feeling full longer and insulin levels low. Also low in fat, there are numerous types of beans to meet anyone’s fancy. So pick the ones you like and add them to your meals.
  4. Hot Chili Peppers – Such as jalapenos, habaneras, and cayenne…. hot peppers can help burn a few extra calories and a little more fat according to a recent 2010 study from the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition.1 Researchers led by Dr. David Heber, tested a compound related to the capsaicin found in hot peppers which suggests that heat generated by peppers can cause your body to burn more calories and "oxidize" layers of fat. This latest study follows other studies finding hot peppers may increase metabolism.2 Although it is not a magic bullet, these compounds work in support of a well-balanced diet.
  5. Apples – Apples are a great addition to your weight-loss plan for numerous reasons. Apples are rich in vitamins and minerals and low in fat and calories. They are also high in fiber which helps keep your stomach feeling satiated or full longer. Apples don’t shoot up insulin levels like some other fruits.
  6. Dark Leafy Green Vegetables – Super calcium-rich dark leafy greens including kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, chard, collard greens, etc. are ideal for helping weight loss. One of the key components to weight loss is increasing your metabolism rather than starving the body of calories, which slows down the metabolism and hangs on to energy—fat—more intensely.3 Studies have shown that high-calcium diets favor burning fat rather than storing it, mostly by speeding up metabolism.4 These green leaves are also high in weight loss-assisting vitamin C and fiber as well as a plethora of nutrients for good health.
  7. Broccoli – This super food is packed with nutrients including calcium, vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin A, fiber, cancer-fighting nutrients and even protein. This high-calcium food can contribute to weight loss for reasons mentioned previously and are full of antioxidants that provide a large number of health benefits including decreasing the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
  8. Green Tea – Green tea contains a chemical called epigallo-catechin gallate or EGCG that causes the brain and nervous system to work faster and helps burn more calories. EGCG is also a powerful antioxidant which can help fight disease.
  9. Lemons – Lemons stimulate the body’s digestive system. Rich in citric acid, lemons work with other acids and enzymes for healthy and effective digestion by stimulating stomach juices.5 The acidity of lemon juice can improve your digestion and balance blood sugar levels from a meal. Try seasoning your meals with some lemon juice or having a little fresh lemon juice in water before a meal to boost your digestion. Proper digestion is important not only for weight loss but for overall health and longevity.
  10. Papaya – Papayas are rich in enzymes, making it another food that is good for digestive health. Papaya contains the enzyme papain which digests protein as well as other enzymes such as alpha amylase and protease to help break down starches, carbohydrates and protein. This is essential for weight loss and boosting metabolism.

Losing excess weight and maintaining good health should be a gradual and practical process that becomes a habit rather than a phase. Make it a habit to choose healthy foods as much as possible and don’t worry if you have a “bad” day here and there, just fall back on your healthy eating habits.

  2. Mahmmoud et al. Capsaicin Stimulates Uncoupled ATP Hydrolysis by the Sarcoplasmic Reticulum Calcium Pump. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2008; 283 (31): 21418 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M803654200

Taking Off the Pounds Made Easy!

Making one meal a day vegetarian helped Armando drop a whopping 50 Pounds!

Photo: Armando

Here we go, one more time! It’s January so that means another resolution to eat healthier and lose weight. Somehow ya’ gotta get rid of those extra five to eight pounds from holiday feasting!

An easy way to do this is to do what Armando did. He’s our night shift manager at the Down to Earth store in Kailua. Since coming on board almost 1½ years ago, he lost 50 pounds! No, we didn’t work him to extreme. All he did was substitute his usual meat-based dinner for a plant-based one. That’s it!

“My dinners were usually stir fried meat and vegetables drenched in oil with plenty of salt and all the rest,” says Armando. “Or it was pork adobo or some other meat with potatoes or rice. It seemed I couldn’t have a meal without rice. Breakfast included tocino. These are thin strips of pork that sit for several hours (or days) in a mixture of sugar, salt, garlic, and oil, and then fried up in a hot pan until the coating caramelizes. And rice!”

“It was yummy,” says Armando.  “But not so good for my weight or my overall health.”

He’s right. Research shows that healthy plant-based diets support a lifetime of good health and provide protection against numerous diseases, including our country’s three biggest killers: heart disease, cancer, and strokes. The American Dietetic Association states that vegetarians have “lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; ... lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer” and that vegetarians are less likely than meat-eaters to be obese.[1]

“I never used to think about it,” says Armando. “But since I started working at Down to Earth I found myself opting for a healthy plant-based meal from the company’s deli salad bar and hot table. At first, it was just convenient because dinner is in the middle of my shift. As time passed by, and I kept adjusting my belt one more notch tighter, I realized it was due to the plant-based dinner I was having every night. My waistline dropped from size 38 to 32. I look better and feel healthier. Now I'm a believer!”

“My doctor asked what did I do? I explained and he said to keep on doing it. Now instead of seeing him three times a year, I see him only once.”

None of this came easy to Armando. He was raised on the traditional meat-based diet typical of Pampanga, a province in the Central Luzon Island of the Philippines. His Chinese grandmother favored traditional stir-fried vegetables with lots of oil and meat. His father worked for the U.S. Department of Defense as chief cook of Clark Air Force Base in Luzon. No vegetarians there.

“I really didn’t think much about a plant-based diet. How would I get protein? Working at Down to Earth, I now see firsthand how easy it is do. I found out all vegetables have protein.”

“Think about it,” one of my vegetarian friends said. The biggest land animals are plant eaters. In prehistoric times, this included a wide variety of huge dinosaurs. Today, the ten biggest and strongest land animals are all herbivores. The elephant, white rhinoceros, hippo, giraffe, horses, bulls, and cows.

“And where do they get their protein? Well, plants of course! If these large animals with big, strong muscles can get adequate protein from plants, then so can we,” he said.

“You don’t need to do anything drastic,” says Armando. “A little bit at a time. I only changed one meal and now I have a healthier life and better prospects for a longer life with my daughter.”

The key is variety. As a general guideline, aim to have your daily intake of whole grains, vegetables, and legumes to easily meet your protein needs. Dairy products, although not plant-based, also provide significant amount of protein and can be a part of a balanced plant-based diet when consumed in moderation. Veggie meats or meat substitutes are also great sources of protein. During the past few years there’s been an explosion of new vegetarian meat substitutes on the market that look and taste very close to the real thing—without all the bad stuff. In fact, with major U.S. food manufacturers increasingly adding veggie burgers and other veggie meals to their lineups, it’s likely that many meat eaters will reduce consumption in 2018. Well, at least a little, eh? But 50 pounds... think about it!

If you don’t cook or want a quick and healthy meal, you must try those wonderful tasty and delicious dishes on the Down to Earth Deli hot bar.

The fact is that eating meat is unnecessary because nature has provided ample vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and dairy products for human sustenance. For more information check out this article on the Down to Earth website, "Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?"

As always, “Love Life! Eat Healthy, Be Happy!

Down to Earth Cookbook

40 vegetarian recipes inspired by popular dishes from our cooking classes and salad bar

$19.99 In Down to Earth stores—Local Every Day Local Price

$33.95 or $3.99 e-book Online (Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Balboa Press)

Down to Earth’s first cookbook is a soft-cover 112-page book that includes 40 vegetarian recipes, one for each year of the company’s history, and beautiful pictures of each dish.  The recipes are a collaboration by vegetarian chefs of the Community Outreach Team at Down to Earth.

“We have always been an all-vegetarian store, and our signature offering is our deli, says Mark Fergusson, Down to Earth CEO. “So it was natural that we celebrate our 40th anniversary with a cookbook.”

Click here to learn more about the new Down to Earth Cookbook.


[1] Ann Mangels, Virginia Messina, and Vesanto Melina, "Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian Diets," Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Jun. 2003, pp. 748-65.