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Grain Brain Challenge

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on the behalf of Brain Grain.

Disclaimer: As a FitFluential Ambassador, I was given the opportunity to participate in the four week challenge based on the book Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter for compensation. After much consideration, I decided to participate. The Grain Brain Challenge is about lifestyle changes that you can make to keep your brain healthy and vibrant. The challenge includes eating gluten-free and taking certain supplements. Although I am doing this challenge for the health benefits, the possible weight loss is a nice perk. I do much better with programs when I am being held accountable to someone else (weight loss challenges, DietBet, etc.) which is why I decided to participate in the challenge.  I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. All opinions are 100% my own.

Grain Brain

Grain Brain is a book by Dr. David Perlmutter. Dr. Perlmutter is part of the American College of Nutrition, the president of Perlmutter Health Center, president of the Perlmutter Brain Foundation, and a medical advisor to Dr. Oz.

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The basis of his book is that the fate of your brain is in the food that you eat. Many brain conditions are caused by inflammation which can be triggered by carbs, especially those containing gluten and high sugar levels.

Good fats are important in our diets and our brain is 70% fat. Good fats such as DHA omega-3 help reduce inflammation and vitamins A, D, K, and E require fat in order to be absorbed in the body. According to Dr. Perlmutter, we need 200 to 300 milligrams of DHA daily and less than 25% of Americans consume this amount.

Dr. Perlmutter’s book describes the affect that gluten and carbs have on the brain, why our brains thrive on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age.

The Grain Brain Challenge

Dr. Perlmutter’s plan is broken down into four week.

  • Week 1 – Food: Shifting your body way from relying on carbs for fuel and adding brain health supplements. These supplements include resVida – enhances blood vessel dilation and supports healthy blood flow, Omega-3 Fish Oil – helps maintain heart, vascular health, and brain health, and DHA – a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid the body needs and important for brain health. 007
  • Week 2 – Incorporating a fitness routine
  • Week 3 – Getting restful, routine sleep seven days a week
  • Week 4 – Establishing a new rhythm to maintain these healthy habits

Of all these weeks, Week 1 will be the hardest one for me. I have no problem exercising and I usually get enough sleep. Week 4 is about tying all these components together.

Basically, the challenge will consist of eating gluten-free, low carb, and low sugar for four weeks. After reading Grain Brain and learning about the affects that gluten and carbs have on the brain and body, I am willing to try and follow this plan for 4 weeks. I’m not saying that I will be gluten-free or low-carb for life, I am simply saying that I would like to see what kind of changes I can notice.

A sensitivity to gluten is actually a problem that affects many people and even people that aren’t sensitive to gluten can benefit from a gluten-free diet. Symptoms include bloating, headaches, constipation, fatigue, etc.

In case, your not sure what gluten is, it’s a protein composite that acts like an adhesive material, holding together bread products and plays a role in letting bread products (crackers, baked goods, pizza dough, cereal, etc.) rise. I also helps cheese spreads and margarines keep their smooth texture, and prevents sauces and gravies from curdling. Pretty much gluten is everywhere and can cause many unwanted symptoms in people.

This four week plan isn’t just about eating gluten-free, it’s about eating healthy. Just because a product is gluten-free doesn’t mean that’s it’s healthy. It’s about eating whole and “real” foods, relying on fats instead of carbs and eating low sugar.

I will admit that I am a little nervous about starting this challenge but part of me is also excited. I seem to thrive when I am being held accountable to someone other than myself. I did a weight loss challenge about a year and half ago and came in first place. I did the Biggest Loser program at my gym and lost another 11 pounds. I participated in and won three DietBets. But on my own, I seem to just eat a lot of yummy food :)

I am excited to see how this challenge will benefit me and will try my hardest to stick with it for four weeks  – it starts Oct. 28th and is set to end right before Thanksgiving.

Foods Not Allowed:

  • Gluten including whole-grain and whole-wheat forms of bread, noodles, pasta, pastries, baked goods, and cereals
  • Processed carbs, sugars, and starch – corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chips, crackers, pastries, muffins, pizza dough, cakes, doughnuts, ice cream, jelly, processes cheese spreads, juices, honey, sugar, corn syrup
  • Packaged food labeled “fat free” or “low fat” except for things like water, mustard, balsamic vinegar
  • Margarine, vegetable shortening, cooking oil
  • Soy – soy burgers, soy nuggets, soy hot dogs, etc.

Maybe you’re thinking what the heck can you eat then?! I thought the same thing when I was going through the list. But there’s still tons of good and healthy foods to eat.

Foods Allowed:

  • Healthy Fats – extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, organic butter, almond milk, avocados, nuts and nut butters, cheese (except blue cheese) sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds
  • Herbs, seasonings, and condiments
  • Low Sugar Fruits and Vegetables – avocado, bell peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, lemons, limes, leafy greens and lettuce, spinach, broccoli, onions, Brussels sprouts, green beans, celery, garlic, asparagus
  • Protein – whole eggs, wild fish, grass-fed meat, fowl, poultry, pork

I am not really a meat eater besides fish so the majority of my protein will come from eggs and salmon.

Foods Used in Moderation (once daily or a couple times a week):

  • carrots
  • cottage cheese and yogurt
  • cow’s milk and cream
  • beans, lentils, and peas (exception: hummus)
  • non-gluten grains – buckwheat, rice, mille, quinoa, oats
  • sweetners – natural stevia and dark chocolate
  • whole sweet fruits – berries, melons, pineapple, etc.
  • wine

I definitely think that this will be hard and take some getting used to but I think as long as I can come up with a meal plan it will make things a lot easier. I plan on going grocery shopping this weekend and would love any suggestions for gluten-free, low carb recipes.

Eggs play a big part in this challenge especially because you can buy DHA Omega-3 cage free eggs and there is a great egg recipe from the Grain Brain book that I can’t wait to try out!

Huevos Rancheros Recipe from Grain Brain

This classic Mexican dish has been modified so instead of eggs served on tortillas, they are prepared over a bed of fresh greens.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 4 Gold Circle Farms DHA Omega-3 Cage Free Eggs
  • 4 cups coarsely torn frisee
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 tablespoons salsa
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Add butter or olive oil to skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Crack eggs into skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes for runny yolks, more for firmer yolks.
  3. Serve eggs over a bod of frisee and top with cheese, salsa, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

 

  •  Thoughts?
  • Are you gluten-free?
  • Any good gluten-free or low-carb recipes to share?

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Thirteen Reasons Why Book Review

I recently read the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher for Julie’s PBF Book Club.

About the book:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on
it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by
Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks
earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she
decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He
becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about
himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

I want to start out by saying that I think teenage suicide is a serious situation that shouldn’t be taken lightly. That being said, I think some of Hannah’s reasons for committing suicide are absolutely ridiculous.

This post will contain spoilers of the book, so please come back and read it after you’ve read the book. :) My personal opinion is that you should read this book. It’s well-written and a story that will suck you in, although I can’t say that I loved the book.

I enjoyed the way the book was written – it flips between Hannah and Clay’s points of view within the same chapter. I have never read a book written like this, and while I see how it can be slightly confusing it works out well if you pay attention to the story.

I like reading Hannah and Clay’s reaction right away rather than having them tell their story by switching off each chapter. I liked Clay’s character. I thought he was a believable character, and you can’t help but keep reading to see where he fits into Hannah’s story. I think a lot of the choices that he made were predictable, but they’d have to be for the story line to work out.

Hannah’s character, on the other hand, I did not like. At all. Here’s where the whole thing about teen suicide is a serious subject comes in. I thought some of Hannah’s reasons for killing herself were absolutely ridiculous.

There are teens in the world that face horrible problems – problems with bullying at school, problems with drugs and alcohol, problems with being hurt and abused. I was surprised that Hannah’s reasons for committing suicide were so petty. For example, one of the reasons that she adds to her list of reasons why she killed herself is because she was voted best ass at school.

There are kids in the world that are getting bullied and beat up at school, and even killed, and she’s upset because she was voted best ass? That’s a joke. I understand that this then lead to a guy feeling like had the right to grab her ass, and yes, I don’t agree with that, but there are a lot worse things that could happen at school than being voted best ass.

The book was written so that each person that Hannah blames for her suicide receives a tape explaining why it’s their fault. So now these people will feel guilty for the rest of their lives because they did something as normal as vote a girl best ass in high school. These are normal things that happen in high school. I mean, it’s high school! I’m not trying to make light of Hannah’s feelings, and I understand that vote then lead to more problems, but if someone voted me best ass, I’d be pretty darn happy.

Then, by the end of the book, she’s putting herself purposely into bad situations and then blaming others for her decisions. I know that people who commit suicide usually “give up” on life and don’t really care what happens to them, but I don’t think Hannah should have put herself into a bad situation and then sent a tape to someone saying that it was all their fault.

Also, Hannah is so upset by all these people who have added weight to the decision to kill herself, but she sits by (in a closet) while something bad happens to another girl. She wants someone to “save” her, but she doesn’t want to have any part in reaching out and helping someone else.

I did think that this book was well written with an interesting story line. I like that you can hear Hannah’s side of the story from beyond the grave through the cassette tapes rather than her being a ghost or something like that.

The story kind of sucks you in because you want to find out what happens next and who’s on the tapes. And, of course, you’re relieved to find out that Clay isn’t on the tapes for a bad reason. Although, I did find that part slightly unbelievable. She’s going to blame 12 other people, but then add one person who did nothing wrong. I think it was just the author’s way of sharing the story without making you hate Clay.

Thirteen Reason Why got great reviews on Amazon, and it seems like I’m in the minority of people who didn’t like it. And it’s not even that I didn’t like it, it’s just that I thought Hannah’s reasons weren’t exactly as horrible as some things kids truly go through.

Hannah seemed very self-centered and she enjoyed spreading the guilt to all these people by shoving it into their faces and saying ha-ha. I do think that some of those people maybe deserved to be on her list, but it makes Hannah a very hard character to relate to and feel sorry for.

Bottom line is that I was very much sucked into the story and would recommend reading it, but I can’t say that I agree with all of Hannah’s reasons why.

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