“I had hoped that the USDA would be able to give Americans the clear advice about diet that they deserve,” says Dr. Walter Willett, Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, and chair of the Dept. of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. “However, the continued failure to highlight the need to cut back on red meat and limit most dairy products suggests that ‘Big Beef’ and ‘Big Dairy’ retain their strong influence within this department. Might it be time for the USDA to recuse itself because of conflicts of interest and get out of the business of dietary advice?”

Dr. Walter Willet of Harvard on the new US Dietary Guidlines.

Check out our iPhone app Livifi for the TRUTH on what to eat, and a way to make that knowledge into a habit!

I’ve decided to do the multi-faceted cleanse/challenge/diet craziness that I did back in May again this month:

No alcohol

No caffeine

No refined sugar

No processed foods

No dairy

No red meat

Basically, I try to follow the diet my Ayurvedic doc prescribed me. I made it for the whole month of May with only a few cheat days – a vacation weekend and a couple meals out – but at the end of it I felt amazing, and (judging from the number of separate incidences in which people used the word “radiant” to describe me) I looked good too.  I started yesterday, and after walking 20 miles with my mom, I was proud of myself for resisting one of my favorite things in the world: Claim Jumper’s Cheesy Garlic Bread. Of course, the night before I’d pigged out on deep dish Chicago pizza and a literal mountain of banana caramel chocolate cream pie, but that’s for another blog.

It helps that I just watched that video (and am reading the book) by the neurologist who blames cancer on sugar. It also helps that I went to Vegas last month, not to mention Palm Springs and Santa Cruz, and had a Bacon Donut, and had Bloodcake and various other forms of Pork Fat at my favorite gastropub, Waterloo & City. Again, that’s for another blog. (W’NB!).

I do Challenges regularly but, aside from the Blog-A-Day-For-30-Days, I haven’t been the best at keeping the public updated on my Challenge experiences. So I’ll attempt to blog about my no alcohol-caffeine-refined sugar-processed foods-dairy-red meat experience at least every other day.

P.S. Serendipitously, DailyOM posted an article about Inner Spring Cleaning today! Though it’s summertime… Not that you can really tell in LA this year.

Have you ever looked at what you’re eating (or drinking) and thought, “What’s in this??” A lot of what we choose to put into our mouths ends up making us sick.

For the month of May I’m attempting not to eat any processed food, refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or any other intoxicants (I hadn’t thought of sugar as an intoxicant until someone pointed it out…but it does affect your mood!). Also, no dairy, except for goat milk. I’ve been seeing an Ayurvedic doctor for a few years – he practically cured my mother’s Multiple Sclerosis, and I went to him for recurring sinusitis/bronchitis. I don’t get either of those anymore.

I’d need to spend a few hours going into detail about Ayurveda, but I like to describe it as the Indian version of Chinese medicine. Ayurveda is all about keeping your body in balance by eating the right foods for your system. Imbalances cause disease. The whole premise is that if you eat right and keep your body in balance, you don’t need doctors. In the same way that Western Medicine/science is finally figuring out why Buddhists have been meditating for thousands of years (thickens your brain & gives you all kinds of emotional benefits – that’s a whole ‘nother blog post too), scientific research is finally starting to back up the things that Ayurvedic wisdom figured out 5,000 years ago…when people didn’t have anything else to do besides sit around and figure the best things to eat for your system.  🙂

Anyways, here’s what I’ll be eating for this month, according to the diet perscribed to me (it’s different for everyone, and the diet gets less restrictive as you get more in balance). I’ve tried to roughly stick to these guidelines for the past few years, but I’ve never tried it 100%. It’s not about eating vegan, or even raw – for me, everything’s supposed to be cooked (though I don’t cook my fruit…):

Spinach, Green Leafy Veggies, Carrot, Celery, Cucumber, Zucchini, Green Peas, Leek, Beets, Asparagus, Squashes, Sweet Potatoes, Endive, Artichoke, Kale, Eggplant, Radish, Sprouts, Turnips, Onion (cooked), Bittergourd, Cilantro, Dandelion

Apples, Pears, Persimmons, Dates, Figs

Almonds, Almond Milk, Hot Low-Fat Goat Milk, Honey

Kidney Beans, Lentil, Mung Beans, Masoor Beans

Chicken, Turkey

Garlic, Ginger, Basil, Pepper, Sage, Salt, Thyme, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Fenugreek, Mint, Mustard Seed, Nutmeg, Oregano, Parsley, Turmeric

Whole Wheat, White rice (basmati), Brown Rice, Corn, Oats, Spelt, Kamut, Barley, Buckwheat, Millet, Rye

Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Corn Oil

Popcorn, Puff Wheat, Rice Cakes, Rice Chewies

Tea: Ginger, Peppermint, Black Tea, Breath Easy, Burdock, Chamomile, Dandelion, Eucalyptus, EMR, Eyebright, Fenugreek, Licorice, Mint, Sarsaparilla, Throat Coat, Uva Ursi, Valerian

Read this Dan Millman quote today:

“You are the expert on your body and life — who knows it better? Listen to others’ views — then find out what works best for you. Life is an ongoing experiment. We only reach a conclusion when we get tired of thinking.”

So, I’m experimenting.  I got a psoriasis flare-up around Coachella; scientists don’t know what causes psoriasis but lack of sleep and acidic food/drink (coffee and alcohol) can be triggers. I’ve tried to make some small adjustments to my diet in the last few weeks but the psoriasis is sticking around. We’ll see if a month of this helps!