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Spirituality and Nutrition/Low carb not working?

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Question
James
I have prayed a lot about this, so I will appreciate your viewpoint. Is it possible that very low carb diets dont work for some people, possibly because of genetics?
After two months of eating less than 20 grams of carbs, I have lots of energy,lost some weight on my extremities and face, but my waist actually got bigger, and I ganed 5 pounds.
Last year I went the other way and ate vegetarian, lots of carbs, and while my belly shrunk, I was tired all the time.
Looking at my Dad and uncles, who were all big meat eaters with big bellies, but died early from cancer and heart disease, maybe I need to cut back on the meat, at leat the red meat or saturated fat. There has to be a genetic component to it.
Thanks for your thoughts!

Answer
Dear Bud,

Iíd say itís hard to know about the role genes play with diet. But maybe itís not necessary to know ó you have to go by your experience with what works or doesnít work.

It sounds like the high carb vegetarian diet last year didnít work and that the present low-carb diet isnít working so well either.

It also sounds like losing weight is a concern? If so, low-fat or low-carb diets work easier because they allow you to fill up on either carbs (for a low-fat diet) or meat and fat (for a low-carb diet). Yet because both restrict one or the other type of food, many people find it difficult to stick with them over a long period of time. Itís hard to do without carbs or meat and fat. Low carb diets donít work for everyone and low-fat diets donít either.

If losing weight is your main concern, a mixed diet with carbs and also meat and fat is more difficult because when theyíre mixed, itís easy to get too many calories, especially if the carbs are refined like white flour, rice, and sugar. The quality of the carbs is important. As much as possible, minimally refined carbs are preferable.

From a spiritual point of view, a mixed diet with carbs and animal foods is preferable. Too much meat and fat can slow down inner activity, which is not so good. But most people need some animal food and fat. How much depends on the person. We have to go by intuition and experience. Itís the same with carbs. Theyíre an important source of energy and the historical trend is for us to eat more and less animal food. But many people have problems with carbs. Good quality is a key, but some people have problems with carbs that go beyond quality.

I recommend the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Itís a recipe book with lots of good information about a healthy mixed foods diet. Check out the reviews on Amazon. Itís possible to lose weight with a mixed diet too. Nourishing Traditions can help by focusing on good quality foods.

But if you continue having problems, see a doctor or nutritionist! Health is the ultimate measure of what works or doesnít work. If what youíve been trying isnít working, you may need help figuring out whatís healthy for you.

Sincerely,
James

Spirituality and Nutrition

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James Morgante

Expertise

I can answer questions about the relationship between spiritual and religious teachings and nutrition -- why some advocate vegetarianism (yet most don't require it), why some have an ambivalent attitude, and why some pay no attention to the subject or even reject it. Based on my research, I would generally recommend to everyone that they include some form of animal food in the diet (dairy at a minimum) because of the nutritional importance of animal foods. There is no religious tradition that requires adherents to exclude all animal foods. I cannot answer personal questions about diet as individual diet must be based on individual needs. Personal questions should be addressed to a qualified dietary or medical practitioner.

Experience

I have been studying the relationship between spirituality and nutrition for over 30 years and wrote an academic thesis on the subject. I have now completed a manuscript and am seeking a publisher.

Publications
Health Progress, "Toward a Theology of Wellness," November-December 2002, http://www.chausa.org/2002_Annual_Index.aspx

Education/Credentials
M.Div. (Master of Divinity) and BA and MA in psychology

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