Happy Herbivore Blog

August 10, 2013

This Week's Q&A (Talking Bread, Pregnancy, Soy, Psoriasis, and Getting a Flat Tummy)

You've got questions...


Q: What kind of bread do you suggest when done with the reboot?  

A: See my post, Looking for Plant-Based (Vegan) Bread.

To summarize quickly: Look for breads that are 1. vegan (no milk, eggs, whey, butter, or other animal products), 2. 100% whole-wheat, and 3. do not contain oil. Also try to find breads that do not have a sweetener (i.e. honey or sugar), have less than 5 ingredients, and buy sprouted if you can.

However, remember that bread is not a whole food, even if it's made from whole wheat. There is no bread tree ;) Bread should accent the diet, but not be a staple food. Focus on fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains as your main food source. Try the meal plans if you need some tasty inspiration or dietary guidance.

Q: I'm 21 years old, vegan, and I just found out I was pregnant a couple of days ago. I'm not sure what kinds of foods I should be eating as a vegan while I'm pregnant to ensure that my baby as well I will be healthy. I'm really worried!

A: Congrats! We've done a few posts on pregnancy you can check out. The short of it? All women who are pregnant have higher nutritional demands, regardless of their diet, but you can meet those demands with your plant-based diet — and it's better for you and baby.

Raising Herbies (Part 3): Vegan/Plant-Based Pregnancies, Formula, Doctors & More

Plant-Based (Vegan) Pregnancy

Herbie of the Week: Margret (and Plant-Based Pregnancy)

Herbie 101 Series: Pregnancy, Kids, and Bodily Functions

Q: Isn't there a hormone effect with soy?

A: There isn't a hormone effect with soy, that's a myth. Dairy, however, does do all sorts of wild things to our hormones and bodies (and not in a good way). I always tell people if they can only give up one thing, to get off dairy.

Here are some posts to check out (many of them have links to research, etc by doctors).

How to Give Up Cheese (And Dairy)

Herbie 101 Series: Soy & GMO

When Friends Ask: “Why Don’t You Drink Milk?” (via Dr. McDougall)

Finally, the Truth About Soy (via Zen Habits)

Q: Can a plant-based diet help with psoriasis?

a: A plant-based diet has been shown to help with psoriasis. Animal foods cause inflammation and plant foods can help decrease inflammation. A study in Sweden showed psoriasis sufferers who ate vegan/plant-based had fewer symptoms than those who ate animal products. Acidic foods like wheat, citrus, tomatoes, soda, coffee, pineapple, tend to also aggravate psoriasis in most patients. One of our past HOWs, Mary Lou, found diet helped.

Here's some more info:

Video: Caroline Duke no longer suffers from psoriasis (via Dr. McDougall)

Plant-Based Diets for Psoriasis (by Dr. Greger, via NutritionFacts.org)

Psoriasis Discussion Board (Dr. McDougall)

Q: Is there anything that you can suggest to get a flat stomach? Even with the weight that I've lost, I still have a pretty big stomach that I'm constantly trying to hide.

A: Abs are made in the kitchen. We all have a 6-pack, it just happens to be hiding under fat for most of us. 

The more weight you lose, the flatter it will get. I find a lot of my clients were surprised at how much they have to lose to get a flat stomach. I know I was. I lost 15 lbs. Then 30. Then crept to 40 and finally my midsection was starting to look better. I couldn't believe how long it took — how much overall weight I needed to lose. 

It's possible, but there's no skirting around the need to reduce total body fat. There is no amount of sit-ups, or crunches, magic ab machine on an infomercial etc. that will get you an ab-tastic midsection if you still have a high percentage of body fat. At least, that was my experience as a personal trainer :)

Also, for some men and women, the midsection is where they store the bulk of their weight (compared to butt, hips, back, etc.) and for people with those shapes (i.e., apple shape), it takes even longer, since you will really have to whittle down the body fat. I've only had one client in the history of my clients that couldn't get her stomach to flatten with diet and weight-loss, and we discovered that there was a medical reason. She'd split the muscles in her abdominal wall when carrying twins. Nothing was going to fix that but surgery, unfortunately — but she was the only case. 

That said, your guts are pretty heavy. Doing sit-ups and crunches can help (even if you have weight to lose) because it will strengthen and tighten those muscles, pulling the abdominal wall back and holding in all those heavy guts pushing against it. Many of my clients saw noticeable changes once they started incorporating some ab work. They didn't have a 6-pack, but their belly didn't protrude as much. Small victories! Instead of doing "ab exercises" like crunches that everyone hates, I always had my clients do movements that engage their abs. I find a lot of yoga poses accomplish this beautifully.  

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