Food News & Chews follow-up

The podcast is live – and I’d love for you to check it out both via Apple Podcasts & on Spotify – and be sure to subscribe! “Not just about cooking, FNC is all about food and its place in our lives. And more than just one more recipe for cheese onion dip or leftovers after Thanksgiving, the world of food is explored as something more than that in our lives and culture. Whether related to health and wellness, safety, environmental protection, economic strength or access and affordability, food lies at the root.”

We really crammed a LOT in during our discussion, and I wanted to share some follow up information and references if something piqued your interest!

*Please note, I am not a physician and this is not medical advice – it is imperative to check with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet and exercise regime*

moderation vs 80/20

I am not a fan of the word moderation when it comes to making healthy diet and lifestyle choices. First, I feel like it’s such a subjective term that can allow us to justify bad habits – who’s to say how much of an indulgence is a moderate amount? Additionally, if I were to have a “moderate” amount of sugar, “moderate” amount of fast food, “moderate” amount of saturated fat, and so on, I’d pretty quickly shift away from more healthy options as a whole. I coach my clients to be more accountable in an objective way by identifying a few healthier habits at a time and aiming for an 80/20 approach. We use a tracker (DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY HERE) and check off each habit daily while allowing for occasional indulgences or ‘miss days’. If 80/20 seems daunting, try 50/50 and increase over time to a higher rate. Check out my tracker for this month – note that I also list all the different plants I consume each week – more on that topic below! (I had a lot going on the first week of the month & didn’t list them).

olive oil

THIS ARTICLE in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that “Consuming more than 7 grams (>1/2 tablespoon) of olive oil per day is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, cancer mortality, neurodegenerative disease mortality and respiratory disease mortality, according to a study publishing today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The study found that replacing about 10 grams/day of margarine, butter, mayonnaise and dairy fat with the equivalent amount of olive oil is associated with lower risk of mortality as well

diversity of plants/american gut project

Check out the Fiber Fueled book HERE

What’s the microbiome (“gut”)? Learn more HERE

The American Gut Project HERE


When my sweet tooth needs attention, my favorite healthier indulgence is below. It doesn’t sound super exciting, but it is delicious!

  • 2 dates – remove the pit & split open lengthwise to make a little crater
  • smear a little natural nut butter in the crater
  • top with a couple non-dairy dark chocolate chips, if deisred

… and HERE is the mug cake I make (note -this definitely is NOT a healthy, whole food and includes inflammatory oil that I typically avoid – but I count it as a rare/ occasional indulgence in my 80/20 lifestyle). Sometimes, you just want a little treat!

inflammatory oils

Industrial seed oils (including Canola, Corn, Cottonseed, Soybean, Sunflower, Safflower, Grapeseed) are thought to be highly inflammatory and raise our omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratios, which may have significant consequences for our health. I avoid these and personally prefer to get my fat from whole plant foods including organic olive oil, avocados, nuts, flax and chia seeds. Ask your healthcare provider for more info, and check out THIS ARTICLE for easy to read facts about these oils.

mediterranean diet

Check out the Blue Zones HERE

The Mediterranean Diet and the Ornish Diet tied for #1 in best heart healthy diets in U.S. News – check out the rankings HERE. Read more about the Ornish lifestyle HERE ( I love his book, Un-Do It!)

Check out my thoughts on “busy-ness”in THIS POST.

carolina gold rice

I order from Anson Mills HERE and check out THIS ARTICLE about the history and benefits of Carolina Gold Rice.


Please consider subscribing to my email list at the top of the page, follow me on social media on Instagram @gretchen.farah and Facebook @goalfitmethod, and join our monthly membership community HERE where I share Food, Fitness, and Focus strategies to up-level and live your best life. As I said in the podcast, life is so short and precious, and we have each been gifted this on vessel in which to live it. Let’s take the best care of it that we can.

Food News & chews – tips and “busy-ness”

I just finished recording as a guest on the Food News and Chews radio show and podcast.  We discussed all kinds of things from the one thing I recommend everyone cut out when aiming to eat healthier, to gut health, my favorite indulgences, the 80/20 approach & more.  At the end of the discussion, we talked about the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle which got me thinking about our American way of life and “busy-ness” – so here are a few more thoughts about being busy vs being mindful & how we can level-up! I’ll be sure to share the podcast link once it goes live.

CLICK HERE to check out the membership site to join for $10.99/month and be a part of our community focusing on Food, Fitness and Focus strategies to live your best life!

Exercise and Weight loss

A recent article in Time, ” Why you shouldn’t exercise to lose weight” references studies showing that overweight individuals didn’t lose weight by exercising. Don’t let this title deter you from working out.  We all know that the primary driver of weight loss is related to what and how much we’re eating. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. 

BUT… don’t forget about the myriad benefits of exercise: 

“It’s been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, dementia, depression, colds, back pain, osteoporosis and premature death. It can also improve sleep, boost energy, fend off old-age feebleness and even enhance our sex lives.

What’s more, while it’s not very helpful for melting away pounds, exercise can prevent weight gain and improve your appearance by increasing muscle mass and reducing visceral fat, the type indicated by a large waist that’s linked to heart disease and diabetes.

Imagine a pill with this long list of benefits. We’d all be clamoring for it.” SOURCE

why whole food plant based?

Here are a few resources for the benefits of WFPB eating and comparison to other popular dietary approaches:

  • A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that “A low-fat vegan diet improved body weight, lipid concentrations, and insulin sensitivity, both from baseline and compared with a Mediterranean diet. Blood pressure decreased on both diets, more on the Mediterranean diet” SOURCE
  • A plant-based diet has been shown to help improve risk factors for heart disease, including hypertension, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis and inflammation.
  • And check out this article comparing the benefits of a Mediterranean Diet to a Low-Fat Vegan diet which showed: “an average weight loss of 13 pounds (lb), whereas the Mediterranean diet produced no mean change; greater loss of visceral fat than the Mediterranean diet; greater loss of fat mass (about 7.5 lb more; reduction of LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels, while the Mediterranean diet produced no significant changes, reduced insulin resistance and increased insulin sensitivity, while the Mediterranean diet caused no significant changes. Both diets led to a drop in blood pressure, but the Mediterranean diet reduced it by about 6.0 mm Hg and the vegan diet decreased it by 3.2mmHg.”

Recommended watching:

Recommended reading:

  • Ornish Living – Dr. Dean Ornish’s lifestyle approach to reclaim your health & undo disease
  • from Michael Greger, M.D. offers over 2,000 articles and videos – just search the specific topics that interest you to read/watch evidence based information to help you make healthy choices
  • The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine offers a ton of research as well on a variety of topics – click HERE to search
  • Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and was one of the first researchers to promote a whole foods plant based approach to disease prevention and treatment.
  • Dr. Michael Klaper has served thousands of people on their journey to reclaim health through proper nutrition and a balanced lifestyle for over 40 years.
  • Veganuary has a ton of information & recipes
  • Plant Strong is also full of great info & recipes
  • No Meat Athlete covers all the bases regarding plant based eating as it relates to athletic performance

Personally, I can say that I have eaten fully plant-based (“vegan”) for 5 years. I have had two body scans that show that my body composition (muscle mass, fat mass) are ideal and my lab values are now all normal whereas they weren’t before eating a WHOLE FOODS plant based diet (you *can* be a junk food vegan and live on Oreos & french fries, but that doesn’t yield the same results as when eating whole unprocessed foods). I also used this approach to lose 65 pounds and keep it off for nearly 5 years. Some may call a whole foods plant based approach “extreme”, but that’s fine – I want to be extremely healthy, not moderately healthy, and it’s easier than ever to follow this way of eating!

*always speak with your healthcare provider before changing your diet or exercise routine – this is not medical advice*

don’t be a sitting duck!

So you get up at 5am to get in a workout? Great! But then do you go to work and sit for the rest of the day, drive home & sit some more? Bad news -” too much sitting, as a distinct concept from too little exercise — is a novel determinant of cardiovascular risk”.

“Prolonged, uninterrupted sitting detrimentally affects several biological processes related to cardiovascular risk”, and “…new evidence suggests the potential for broad cardiovascular health benefits through reducing and interrupting sitting time through practical and acceptable approaches involving ‘sitting less and moving more’.” SOURCE

Sitting for more than an hour can result in a reduction of production of the fat-burning enzyme lipase by up to 90%, which in turn reduces the rate at which glucose is metabolized and lowers levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.

Excessive sitting can also lead to:

  • Weakened legs and glutes
  • Weight gain
  • Pain in the hips & low back
  • Stiff neck & shoulder pain
  • Potentially increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. SOURCE 1; SOURCE 2
  • Increased risk of varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis

Get up & move! Experts suggest going for a walk and staying active throughout the day. Enjoy some ‘exercise snacks‘, consider a standing or convertible desk, make a habit of taking phone calls while standing or moving about your office when feasible, take the long way to the bathroom or copier – just don’t sit in one place for too long, aiming to get a few minutes of movement for every 20-minutes of sitting.