Thoughts from the Chair: Daniel Ballin talks about his evolving diet and its
impact on his health
Given the persistence of egg white omelets on restaurant breakfast menus, I often wonder what they do with all those yolks. And that's where my story begins, though I want to mention once again that the messages I enjoy sharing with MHL readers reflect my own opinions – based on a personal approach to overall health – and should not be taken as medical advice. So let's get back to the eggs.
I generally eat three to four whole eggs every day and have been doing so for about two years. I haven't done this yet, but some day I look forward to going to my favorite breakfast spot and ordering an egg yolk omelet. Since restaurants often charge more for the all-egg-white variety, I figure my version, despite using the most nutritious part of the egg, should cost considerably less -- not to mention the fact that it would go a long way toward reducing waste.
To complement my eggs, I enjoy some bacon, a small side of fruit and my coffee mixed with almond butter and coconut oil. We're talking about a high fat, low carb meal for breakfast and increasingly, for the other meals of the day as well.
In my last column, I discussed my move away from grains, a trend that has only intensified as I do more research on the potentially negative effects of a diet high in grains and carbohydrates. By following a lower carbohydrate diet we can expect an incremental lowering of blood glucose (blood sugar) over time. This decrease in blood sugar is associated with a reduced risk for diabetes and heart disease, as well as for dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
There is research that also indicates that all humans, when they consume gluten, have an inflammatory response in the body and brain. Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species including rye and barley. Gluten insensitivity is usually associated with Celiac disease but even individuals who consume grains without the "gut-related problems" that are typically associated with gluten intolerance or insensitivity are still at risk for developing inflammation.
One dietary approach to this situation is to increase the body's fat intake, and that means getting over our fat phobia to embrace healthy fats as a positive rather than a negative addition our diets. In fact, I've found that by reducing carbs and filling the void with healthy fats, I stay full longer and also gain the benefit of more stabilized blood sugar throughout the day.
The specific direction I've taken toward this objective is to increase my intake of Omega 3 healthy fats which have been shown in some studies to be anti-inflammatory. Good sources of Omega 3 fats include walnuts, salmon, sardines, kale, collard greens and grass fed beef. At the same time, I've been avoiding the trans fats that are so prevalent in processed foods.
So those are some of the steps I've taken in my personal dietary journey which can be summed up as avoiding grains and focusing on healthy vegetables, wild fish, nuts and seeds with an abundance of fat from olive oils, avocados and coconut oil. As I mentioned, this approach represents my very personal effort, based on my own research, to eating, feeling healthier and, I might add, having more energy. And don't forget that coffee infused with almond butter and coconut oil – you just might develop a taste for it! In the meantime, I'll be trying to do my part to help restaurants limit food waste by volunteering to take those egg yolks that otherwise get thrown away.
Stay healthy my friends.
Chair – My Healthy Lifestyle Employee Wellness Committee
(Editor's Note: In addition to serving as Chair for the Employee Wellness Committee, Daniel Ballin is the Administrator of Riverside's Therapy Group, Wellness and Outpatient Services and oversees all of Riverside's therapy services along with Riverside's Wellness and Fitness Centers in Newport News and Gloucester.)
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