Saturday, May 19, 2012

Nourishing My Brain

From time to time on this blog, in between the many posts of recipes for calorie-laden treats, I write of the latest diet I'm on. The older I get the less effective any of them is, but I continue to think I can restore my youth if I can just change the way I eat for a couple of months.

The latest one I fell for was Dr. Amen's diet for brain health. I saw it on PBS, in fact I've seen him many times on PBS since there are three PBS options in this area, all of them using his lectures to raise funds. He seems so lithe, so reasonable, and everything he says makes sense, so he must indeed have a healthy brain himself. What he proposes is a version of the CRON diet, which I've read about and written about, but is so strict that I just don't seem to be able to do it. I certainly cannot claim that I've adhered to it strictly enough that I've lost any weight. I console myself with the notion that I just may be replacing fat cells with muscle, but I have no real evidence of that.

Last month I saw Dr. Amen talking about his sister-in-law who was on an extremely unhealthy diet and was feeling so listless and depressed that she went to her doctor. He prescribed that she change the way she ate--have NO sugar, NO bread, NO pasta, NO alcohol, and NO coffee. She responded, "Well, those are the only things I do eat!" but she followed instructions. Of course, within a month she had lost something like ten pounds and felt better than she ever had in her life. She has stayed with it and continues to lose weight and be happy. Dr. Amen stresses that this is not a weight-loss regimen, but a way to improve the function of the brain.

I decided that for the month of May I'd try it. And if it worked even a little, if I felt my brain was working better, and/or I was losing a little flab here and there, I'd continue for at least another month.

It hasn't been easy. I am not able to be very strict with myself, but I limit coffee to two cups a week at this point, spacing them from Wednesday to Saturday. Bread was probably the hardest thing to forgo, particularly living in a town full of Italian bakeries. I decided an occasional half of a whole wheat pita would be okay. I haven't been able to go completely sugar-free either, but I cut out the health-food-store cookies which I was eating daily. For other things I switched to agave nectar, which is as high in calories as sugar, but slower to metabolize.

I've been white-knuckling it to some degree. I keep seeing the end of the month in sight. I don't see any difference on the scale, but I'm sticking with this as best I can. And I feel a little smarter, more alert, more focused and very proud of myself. I'll let you know if I make it through June as well.

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