October 2021 – Biannual Health Test Results Great

My biannual blood test results were done this week, and things continue to be great. I was slightly worried about my HbA1c blood sugar results, because the last few months I’ve been eating more fruits every day, and also some 100% honey hard candies (honey is not vegan, but OK with Dr. McDougall, though Dr. Greger thinks honey is only slightly better than sugar, and Chef AJ frowns upon it).

What can I say? It’s just a 50 g package, and it lasts all day, and it’s a pleasant distraction sometimes. There are permitted variations like this among WFPB (whole food plant based) people. We aren’t fanatics. 🙂

For fruits I’ve been eating like three a day. Lately, mostly Fuji apples (my favorite apples), but sometimes frozen melon, or fresh watermelon.

Anyway, I’ve been eating more sweet things like fruit lately and… my blood sugar actually went down since my last blood tests!

On top of that, I’ve been completely off blood sugar meds for a full two years now.

So eating WFPB seems to have reset my body. My doctor said I have absolutely no more blood sugar worries, and I should just concentrate on building upper body strength. I get plenty of cardio exercise with my dog walks, but I do need some resistance training.

The doctor also repeated that I don’t need to lose more weight. I am trying to maintain. I’m at my lowest weight in my adult life right now: 143 lb (65 kg) and have lost about 141 lb (64 kg). That’s down about 8 lb since my last biannual blood tests in May.

Side note: While I’m not trying to lose more weight, I can’t help but notice that if I lose just 1 more pound I will have lost exactly 50% of my original weight.

You can read more in detail about what I eat in my blog post, Oh Boy! Doug Food Again! But to sum up quickly, I follow WFPB (whole food plant based) eating: mostly vegan, no oil, very limited nuts, and limited sugar and salt. No intermittent fasting, no keto, lots of carbs including potatoes and fruits. I stick to low calorie density foods to help with maintaining weight loss. For example potatoes are surprisingly low calorie and bread is very high calorie. 

And here’s a recent before-and-after photo.

I also log my food and exercise calories in MyFitnessPal, and keep within 1600 net calories per day (food calories minus exercise calories). I recently upped that a bit. Today is MFP streak day 3,448. 

Anyway, my blood sugar remains normal, without medication (HbA1c is 5.3, normal range 4.7-6.2). My cholesterol is fantastic (total 130, normal range 120-219; bad cholesterol LDL 56, normal range 70-139; good cholesterol HDL 46, normal range 35-80), triglycerides are fine (96, normal range 30-150), and blood pressure is great (106/59 with heart rate 60 bpm). If you are interested you can check my last biannual results to see the historic values and how they have improved over time.

I do recommend WFPB eating for both health and weight loss. Unless you’re 95 and healthy anyway and enjoy what you eat (Yes, I’m talking about you, Muttle. Enjoy.)

Oh boy, Doug food again!

Caution: Boring note ahead if you are not interested in dieting and healthy eating. Yes, you, Muttle. 🙂 So feel free to skip.

Note: Originally posted 3/31/2021, Updated 9/12/2021 with current weight, MyFitnessPal streak days, and some different things I’ve added to my typical daily diet. I also updated my before/after photo after getting a haircut and some new clothes in June.

What I Eat Every Day

The reason I posted this is because recently I’ve been talking with someone I met on Facebook in one of my diet groups. As you might know, because of Facebook bugs/issues I cannot create new posts in more than half my groups, but I can comment in all of them. I commented, he noticed what I wrote, read about the success I’ve had with my way of eating, and we struck up a conversation. He asked me to lay out my weekly meal plans. I explained I don’t have a weekly meal plan; I basically eat the same thing every day. In fact I basically eat the same thing all day long. I’m not opposed to variety, I just find I don’t need it so much. And I don’t like spending time in the kitchen cooking. Plus I don’t have great cooking facilities. I’m happy keeping it simple. So this post is more about what I eat during a typical day, which is what I eat almost every day.

If you look at my post from November you’ll see the great health effects I’ve achieved from eating Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB). My blood sugar is down from dangerously high levels to a completely normal range, and I’ve been off blood sugar medication for almost 2 years now. My cholesterol is in the “heart-attack-proof” low range. All my tests are great, and my doctor is very pleased. As is my nutritionist.

I’m at my lowest weight in my adult life – currently 65.4 kg = 144 lb. That’s a total weight loss of 63.6 kg = 140 lb. My BMI is 21.6, well into the normal range. My doctor says I don’t need to lose any more weight, and I’m trying to maintain now, and want to focus on upper body resistance training if I ever get around to it. Even though I’m maintaining I’m still losing weight, though at a very slow rate and keep making minor adjustments. I enjoy what I’m eating. I think it’s healthy any satisfying. I don’t feel deprived at all.

A New Before and After Photo

Here’s a before/after photo showing me a few years ago, and in June, having a (safe, sanitized, socially distanced) birthday lunch with two friends. I got some new clothes finally. The shirt is an ordinary Japanese L size, and is comfortably loose on me.

In an earlier post I described the kinds kinds of foods I eat. You can read many of the details there. I won’t repeat them all here. It’s basically vegan, no oils, and no nuts. In that post I wrote about Dr. Michael Greger’s “Daily Dozen” recommendations, how calories do count (whether you count them or not), the impact of nuts on weight loss, Chef AJ and her discussions about low calorie density, “sequencing” (going from non-starchy vegetables to more satisfying starches to finish meals), fruits, things I like snacking on (like carrots), healthy fats (not oils!), how I do not do intermittent fasting, and how I continue to log every day with MyFitnessPal (today is streak day 3,401!).

My cooking facilities and interests

Basically none. I don’t like cooking. I’m not interested in cooking. Recipes are boring to me. I don’t have a lot of cooking facilities – basically just a pot and pan, a stove top, a microwave, an air fryer I haven’t used in over a year, and an InstaPot I bought two years ago and still haven’t plugged in. I have no regular oven or blender.

The friend who asked me to write up a “weekly menu” didn’t seem to get it. I don’t have a weekly menu. I eat basically the same thing every day (like the dogs in the cartoon).

[Note for visually impaired friends: The “featured image” is an old “Far Side” cartoon. A woman is opening cans for her dogs and one dog excitedly says to the other, “Oh boy! … It’s dog food again!” Thus the title of this blog post.]

Like the dogs, Doug doesn’t seem to need much variety. There are some foods I enjoy, and I don’t mind eating them day in and day out. But I promised I would write up the details of at least what I eat every day, and what I avoid.

Trigger foods (including fruits)

Some foods I like, but are trigger foods, so I don’t eat much of them. This includes most fruits. For example, I love bananas. But if I buy a bunch of 4 and eat one (it takes about 30 seconds to eat a 100 calorie banana), it isn’t filling, and it triggers me to eat the rest of the bunch.

Same with apples. If I buy 6 Fuji apples, I will eat them all in one day. It’s sort of a waste of calories.

I do better with bags of frozen blueberries. A 200 gm bag is only 98 calories, and it takes a long time to go through. So I usually limit my fruits to at most a bag of frozen blueberries a day. Lately I’ve been having some watermelon and Asian pears, being careful to weigh them so I don’t overdo it.

Nuts to nuts

Dr. Greger recommends nuts in his Daily Dozen and claims that in certain amounts they don’t seem to hurt weight loss. Many WFPB people have discussed this, and many, including me, disagree. My final word on nuts I wrote in this blog post. I respect Dr. Greger and his suggestions, but he isn’t God. It’s important to note that he talks in statistics. 65% of people experience this. 80% experience that, etc. It’s not always 100%. That’s how I feel about nuts. I tried his Daily Dozen recommended servings of nuts and it was definitely hurting my weight loss. Why? The calories were just too high. Calories count, which is why I log calories. So there are some things I disagree with him about.

That said, his book, “How To Not Die” was a really big inspiration to me. It got me back on WFPB eating and I’ve been on it now for over 900 days. The effects have been fantastic for my health: blood values, blood pressure, weight loss, etc. I’ve gifted the book to friends and family. My doctor is amazed. It’s the basis for how I eat – with some input from other people in the field, and variations.

I think of Dr. Greger as a great place to start. And the same thing with the Daily Dozen. But in the end you have to see what works for you and tweak as necessary. Because as I said, nothing is 100%. Dr. Greger’s research analysis shows that. I don’t think he anywhere says 100% of everybody will experience such-and-such if they eat 3 extra servings of fruit a day, or things like that.

It’s important to note that his book is not a diet book per se. It’s a healthy eating book. So I have to take into consideration overall calories too. He did write a followup on weight loss, “How To Not Diet,” which I found less informative, though there are a couple of hints there as well. Still, calories count. That’s the bottom line for me.

So to me, Dr. Greger is a great start. But in the end you have to see how it goes and what works well for you, and what needs to be tweaked more. Some WFPB people are completely no salt and no sugar. Greger is not. Some WFPB people are completely no nuts. I’m basically the same. Nuts are dangerously high in calories and for me, at least, it hurts weight loss. In WFPB groups we’ve had lot of debates about nuts.

Anyway, the book is an inspiration and Dr. Greger is a fantastic resource, and I recommend it highly to everybody. But after you try things you might have to tweak this-and-that, and that’s what I’ve done.

OK, so what is a typical day’s menu for me?

My new friend asked me what I ate exactly. So here are details from a typical day. Actually, the day I chose, yesterday, I ate a bit more than usual. But it didn’t hurt weight loss. And I stayed within my net calorie goals of 1500 calories (eaten, minus exercise calories). Note that I started with a net calorie goal of 1800 calories a day, but as I lost weight I needed to adjust it downward a bit to keep losing. This is net calories though – so if I exercise more I can eat more.

Breakast (512 calories)

  • Doug’s Healthy Salad
  • Potatoes (436 g, about 1 lb)

For potatoes, I usually have two or three medium-to-large sized potatoes in the 400 to 600 g range. I scrub them, stick them 4 or 5 times with a fork, and heat them in the microwave at 900W for 14-15 minutes. Then I mash them, add spices to my liking (things like smoked paprika, chili powder, turmeric, ginger powder, black pepper, a Japanese spice mix called yuzu shichimi), sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top, and add some soy milk to moisten it.

My salads are made from bags of pre-washed, single-serving salad veggies from the supermarket or 7-Eleven. My favorites are a spinach and green salad mix with a few soy beans it it, and a bag of coleslaw with some kernels of corn in it. Each bag has 125-130 g of salad in it and has 35-40 calories. To that I will add some cherry tomatoes, a sliced up cucumber, and a teaspoon of flax seeds for my healthy fats.

For salad dressing I make “Doug’s Healthy Salad Dressing” for each salad. This is my only “recipe claim to fame.” In a measuring cup I add 100 cc of soy milk, a squirt of grated ginger, a tablespoon of nutritional yeast, stir it, and then add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar which magically thickens the dressing. The dressing has a substantial amount of calories (about 75), but it has lots of protein and fulfills my legumes quota for the day.

The soy milk I use has exactly one ingredient: organic soy beans. Also, the okara (soy bean fiber) is left in it making for a creamier, thicker soy milk.

The nutritional yeast I use is Now Brand nutritional yeast flakes I get from iHerb. They deliver free to Japan in just a few days! Nutritional yeast is tasty (a slight cheese-like taste) and is fat-free and has loads of protein, and is very low calorie. It’s also fortified with vitamin B12, the only vitamin missing from a vegan diet.

Between the soy milk and nutritional yeast I meet my protein requirements for the day, though everything I eat (all the veggies, and the potatoes, and everything) also have protein in it. So there is definitely sufficient protein eating this way.

Lunch (282 calories)

  • Doug’s Healthy Salad (see details above)
  • Japanese mixed vegetables

Usually I just have my salad and soy milk based salad dressing for lunch. That’s my busiest part of the day, and it’s just a few hours since breakfast, and Pao is waiting for his walk. So I typically have a small lunch (about 140 calories) and save my calories for later in the day when I feel like snacking and eating more. Sometimes, like yesterday, I might also heat up a bag of frozen veggies in the microwave and sprinkle some nutritional yeast on it.

My go-to frozen veggies are 300 g of either western style veggies (99 calories for the whole bag) or Japanese style veggies (141 calories for the whole bag).

Dinner (495 calories)

  • Doug’s Healthy Salad
  • Potatoes (417 g)

See the breakfast section for how I prepared everything. Dinner is basically a repeat of breakfast with maybe a different salad combo, and a different amount of potatoes, and different spices added to the potatoes. Like I said, not much variety. I’m not philosophically opposed to variety, I just don’t feel like spending time achieving it. I don’t mind eating this way.

Snacks (368 calories)

After I get back from my dog walk, and before dinner, I do snack. Here is what I had yesterday.

  • A carrot (163 g) sliced up, heated in the microwave for 3 minutes, and sprinkled with some nutritional yeast.
  • Another carrot (217 g), prepared the same way. I love carrots. I think I’m becoming a rabbit.
  • An extra “Doug’s Healthy Salad” because I felt like it.
  • Yet one more carrot (174 g).

As you can see, I also don’t have much variety in my snacks. I might have a bag of frozen blueberries instead of one or two of the carrots. A 200 g bag is just 98 calories.

Note: Since originally posting this in March, I tend to snack more on things like cherry tomatoes and cucumbers (plain). They seem refreshing and are also very low calorie. I might also have bags of frozen green beans – just 60 calories for a 200 g package, microwaved and sprinkled with spices and maybe some nutritional yeast.

My three meals totaled 1,657 calories.

Exercise

I took two walks yesterday: a 55 minute walk in the morning to run some errands and do some shopping, which my Apple Watch told me burned 93 calories. And after lunch I took Pao for his afternoon walk, which was 74 minutes and burned 185 calories (I walked further during the Pao walk). So I burned a total of 278 calories. Not so much, but it gives me a nice calorie buffer, and it’s good to get out and move.

My total calories for the day was thus 1,657 calories eaten – 278 calories burned = 1,379 calories net, which is below my goal of 1500 net calories for the day.

And that’s how a typical day/week/month goes.

Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen

If we’re looking at Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen I satisfy his beans quota every day with my soy milk and the few soy beans in my salads. I often, but not always, satisfy the berries quota with bags of frozen blueberries. I rarely satisfy the other fruits quota because I find them to be “trigger foods” and higher calorie than you might think and I tend to overdo them if I get started. I satisfy the cruciferous veggies quota in my salads and frozen veggies I heat up. I satisfy my greens and other vegetables with my salads and snack carrots. I satisfy my flaxseed quota with the teaspoons I add to each meal salad. I do not satisfy the nuts and seeds quota (see above) because I just think they are too high in calorie, and many WFPB people agree with me. I satisfy the herbs and spices quota easily. And for the whole grains quota I eat lots of potatoes, which aren’t grains, but count, and are lower calorie density than rice or other grains. Sometimes I might heat up microwave rice instead of potatoes. It’s higher calorie per 100 grams, but sometimes I don’t even feel like going through the trouble of cooking potatoes.

And I satisfy the exercise quota by lots of walking. I do feel I need to do more resistance training, which I never seem to get around to doing, but at least I move around a lot.

I also don’t eat late at night. I tend to finish up eating around 7 pm. Dr. Greger does recommend that in his 2nd book, and I take that into account, but mainly I just feel eating late at night doesn’t feel healthy and can lead to problems like acid reflux which I haven’t had for years now.

And that’s about it. I hope my new friend, and maybe some other people, find this useful, simple as it might be.

Milestone! Down 140 lb! New weight 144 lb.

As mentioned before, I’m not really trying to lose any more weight. On the other hand, I don’t want to gain weight either, of course. I’m trying to “coast to a safe landing” and maintain. My weight continues to very very slowly go down though. Like really slowly. Even though I’m also incrementally adding calories.

I think part of the reason might be that I simply have lots more energy lately! I find myself walking more, and walking faster. I generally feel quite good.

Anyway, my new weight, as of this morning is 65.4 kg = 144 lb, a total weight loss of 63.6 kg = 140 lb and an all-time low adult weight for me! My BMI is down to 21.6. I’ve lost 49.3% of my original weight.

My blood sugar dropped over time from a dangerously high HbA1c of 11.8 to a perfectly normal 5.4, and I’ve been off blood sugar meds for nearly two years now. I eat lots of carbs every day, including potatoes, veggies, and several fruits. My cholesterol is “heart attack proof” low. My blood pressure is about 106/59. My doctor is very pleased. I do need to do some more resistance training though to add muscles.

As my friends know, in addition to logging calories in MyFitnessPal (calories count whether you count them or not), I eat WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based), which is basically vegan + no oil. No intermittent fasting.

For easy weight control while eating WFPB, I stick to lower calorie density foods. I try to limit added sugars and salts, but do have them in small amounts. For more on what I eat, here is a post from earlier this year: https://lerner.net/oh-boy-doug-food-again/

Here’s a post from a few months ago with a before/after photo: https://lerner.net/diet-note-down-over-135-lb-to-149-0-lb/ – and also check out https://lerner.net/may-2021-biannual-health-test-results-and-a-happy-ending/

I recommitted to WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based) in September of 2018, after being inspired by Dr. Greger’s guidelines in “How To Not Die.” I also follow additional recommendations for comfortable, sustainable weight loss from people like Chef AJ, Potato Strong, and Plant Based Gabriel, with some tweaks of my own.

I did finally buy new shirts and things. An ordinary Japanese L size, which is comfortably loose on me.

Thanks for everybody’s support!

Diet Note: Down over 135 lb to 149.0 lb

Just a note in passing as I reach a new all-time low weight. Note: I’m not actually trying to lose more weight, but I just have more energy lately so I’ve been taking more walks. My appetite is fine and I really am not sure what to actually eat more of to stop losing more weight – a “problem” I never in my life imagined I would have 🙂.

This morning my weight was 67.6 kg = exactly 149 lb. I’ve lost 61.4 kg = 135.4 lb. My BMI is now 22.3, and I’ve lost 47.6% of my original weight.

My blood values are all great. My HbA1c dropped from a dangerously high 11.8 over time to a perfectly normal 5.4 and I’ve been off blood sugar meds for over a year-and-a-half now. My cholesterol is in the “heart-attack-proof” very low range. My blood pressure is great.

I eat whole food plant based foods, lots of healthy carbs like potatoes and veggies. I really can’t think of a thing to change. I don’t feel deprived at all. I don’t do intermittent fasting; if I feel like snacking on something I do – usually things like sliced carrots or eggplant sprinkled with nutritional yeast. Plenty of protein. It’s really a perfect way of living I think.

I do continue to log my calories and weight with MyFitnessPal. Today is “streak day” 3,318.

Maybe if I can do more upper body training increased muscle mass will stabilize my weight where I am, which I think is a good weight. I could also mix up my starches more, like add more brown rice in instead of potatoes. Rice has a higher calorie density than potatoes. Or add a bit of fruit.

Some other posts of note: https://lerner.net/may-2021-biannual-health-test-results-and-a-happy-ending/ and https://lerner.net/november-28-2019-quarterly-test-results/ where I talk more about what I eat and don’t eat, and who in the field I follow. For more on “meal plans” see https://lerner.net/oh-boy-doug-food-again/

And here’s a before/after photo from this month at a birthday lunch.