Posts tagged healthy-living

Understanding the Transition to a Low Fat Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet

One of my favorite presentations during my plant based nutrition certification through the T. Colin Campbell foundation was by Dr. Doug Lisle regarding what is known as The Pleasure Trap. This helped me to understand why people would constantly say to me, “you eat vegan? I could NEVER do that!”. This is also why people start their transition into a whole foods plant based diet and then quit just shy of success.

There is a hidden force that undermines our health and happiness. It is something called the Motivational Triad. This will explain how food cravings can both serve and mislead us.

When you understand how the pleasure trap works, then you will have the power to beat the system and reach success. We can now expect the process and push through until our body adjusts to the healthier food and we truly end up enjoying it!

Why is it, that when we know what the right thing is to do, (the right foods to eat, in this case) it’s so hard to do?

 “If you do the wrong thing it feels right and when you do the right thing (after having been doing the wrong thing) it feels wrong.”

~ Dr. Lisle

Our evolutionary instincts (guidance system) are to EAT – SURVIVE – REPRODUCE

 The Motivational Triad is as follows:

  1. Pleasure (Feels Good!)
  2. Pain (Feels Bad!)
  3. Energy Conservations (Be Efficient!)

We all have the same motivational triad. We are all hard-wired to unconsciously make decisions using this triad. By nature we seek out pleasure, try to avoid pain, and attempt to do both by expending as little energy as possible.

The pleasure trap occurs when you take someone and put them into an environment they were not designed to handle. This explains why FOOD is now the #1 pleasure trap among us.

What are some of the most popular foods? Chocolate, hot dogs, cheese, French fries, chips, burger, pizza and donuts of course!

Sugar, fat, and salt… foods that we were DESIGNED to seek out (but not as they are today) These processed foods have a very high caloric density unlike whole fresh plant foods. These calorie dense foods are much more attractive biologically because they support the Motivational Triad by giving us pleasure, quickly eliminating anxiety that accompanies hunger, and by being so calorie dense they give us the BIGGEST bang for our buck which supports our biological need to conserve energy.

The most important thing to realize is that we quickly become addicted to processed food and when we eat this food it triggers a pleasure response in our brain, however this pleasure response deadens with time and the same exact junk food does not taste as good to us as it originally did. This makes us want/need a little bit more and a little bit more and… Think about a time when your senses were dulled. Perhaps someone walking into your home and smelling something good cooking but you can’t smell it because you are right there in it… and your senses have been dulled.

When we try to eliminate fat, sugar, and salt from our diet, we will most likely go through a painful withdrawal. Whole unrefined foods are not going to taste very good to us initially because our senses have been dulled. Fortunately, we now understand the process

This process takes 8-12 weeks for our bodies to reset what pleasure is. At first there is a reduction in pleasure. Be aware! Then our taste buds adjust to enjoy the new diet. Our bodies are designed to crave this kind of foodwhole plant foods!


Dr. Lisle believes that the leading cause of weight gain is OIL. For example, Apples are 300 calories a pound. Oil is 4000 calories a pound. Oil is a huge part of a standard American diet!

Here is an interesting statistic – Between the ages of 20 and 40 women gain about one pound per year. NOT by massively overeating, but by systematically eating a LITTLE bit too much at a time.

There are only 3 species on the planet with weight problems; do you know what they are?




It’s rather troubling that these three species are found within our homes and are fed by us.

Conversely, in NATURE when food is abundant, animals still do not get fat! Animals follow the Law of Satiety which states that Animals eating to full satisfaction (satiety) in their natural habitat will – over time – eat neither too much nor too little for optimum health.

Dr. Lisle believes that weight problems are NOT because of psychological issues, but weight problems can CAUSE psychological issues.

If you are overweight you are eating foods that are too concentrated.  Simple as that.” 

~Dr. Lisle

When there is fiber deficiency and fiber damage the result is over consumption of calories due to artificial concentration in our diet.

Which is more filling: A pint of Ice Cream…. Or a half-gallon of raw salad, three ears of corn, two baked potatoes, and a pound of cherries?

If we are trying to lose weight, the key is not deprivation, but eating plenty of the right kinds of foods so that we eat to satisfaction with a large amount of whole, unprocessed foods. So the key to losing weight doesn’t mean, NOT eating as much as we want!

If we eat an appropriately calorie dense diet of whole unprocessed food our body will take us where we need to be… we do not need to try and consciously eat less.

Trying to deprive ourselves of the proper volume of food will lead us to problems in that our biology will kick in and push us to seek those calorie dense (fat, sugar, salt) foods that we need to avoid. WE MUST NOT GO HUNGRY or we will set ourselves up for failure.

Dr. Lisle suggests that we take these steps when we sit down to eat and make this our new religion:

1.     Eat our salad first

2.     Then eat our veggies

3.     Then eat our concentrated carbohydrates

To successfully escape the pleasure trap and transition into a whole foods plant based diet we can try the following:

1.     Eat a low fat plant based diet for 70-90 days and let nature readjust our taste buds

2.     Fast – do a water fast for a few days and we will be dreaming about carrots!

3.     Juice for a few days, omitting salt, and fat leaving only carbs to reset the taste bud receptors and heighten our taste bud sensitivity

4.     Go to prison… meaning a medically supervised health center where they will be strict, but help us to fast through the addictions (when all else fails)

All of the above methods take our fat, salt, and sugar receptors offline and essentially reset them.

The other important thing we can try is to get ourselves really hungry, go all day without food and then sit down to a healthy meal that we know we liked before and this will really reset those taste buds: Monday morning, don’t eat for a while. Go all the way to Monday night. What will happen is that the sensitivity of our taste receptors will increase, our motivation for eating is going to rise, and then once we have a meal that we know is healthy and that we have liked before, we increase the likelihood that we will actually enjoy that meal. So getting hungry is a quick way to try to move through this trap.

The ideas in this post are all part of Dr. Lisle’s theory. You can read more about Dr. Lisle’s theory in his book, “The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that is Undermines Health and Happiness.” Click here to purchase from the Karmatarian store… it helps support this site. Thank you!

Watch Dr. Lisle as he talks about How to lose weight without losing your mind! It’s fascinating information that everyone needs to know, but settle in, it’s a little over an hour in length!

Enjoy the Journey,

~The Karmatarian

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Oil – Harmful or Helpful?

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It dawned on me that I’ve been bouncing between the ideas of three different diets and nutritional lifestyles. When it comes to the idea of oil, each diet is different. Oil has been a conditioned staple and part of my cooking process FOREVER, so the idea of giving up oil for optimal health has been a bit of a struggle for me. I wasn’t ready to hear or accept why I should. But I finally grasp why it is important to avoid oil and I gathered a bit of information below that helps me to better understand the “WHY” and if it helps me, I hope it will help you, too.

One of the diets I like, the raw food diet, happens to be very high in fat and oil, It seems the raw foodists are turning up their noses at the advice of nutritional scientists and doctors regarding how much fat we actually require. The other diet, the general vegan diet just avoids animal products (for that alone, I am a huge fan) but for many it remains an unhealthy diet filled with sugar, processed food, fat and oil as part of an everyday menu. But the whole foods plant based diet is totally scientific, optimal health focused and does not condone sugar, processed foods or oil at all!  No oil. ZIP. This is the ultimate healthy diet in my opinion and in the opinion of many modern nutritional scientists. This is what I strive for. I love raw foods but I accept that I will never be 100% raw. I love to cook. I find myself eating mostly raw all day long and cooking a vegan/plant based dinner in the evening. This is my happy place right now. Cooking food is just fine and you can reach all of your health goals with cooked foods too, no matter what the raw food community tries to tell you.

The WFPBD is the diet I have studied more prominently and became certified in through the T. Colin Campbell foundation. But, I find that I still try to make my way through the opposing studies, one side saying oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, flax oil and hemp oil etc… have health benefits and the other side saying they have nothing to offer but premature aging, blood vessel damage and added fat onto our thighs to name a few things. I’m trying to figure out if I can still partake with a tiny bit of oil because I have no known health risks or if I should just steer clear.  So here we go….

How oil consumption is harmful

First, I must point out the obvious, oil is 100% FAT. Period. Extremely high in calories and every one of them = pure fat!

Oil has zero fiber which would otherwise help ease this fat into our system. Instead it gets dumped in and it messes with our pancreas. So in other words, extra fat in our diet especially in the form of oil, lends a very big hand to diabetes and offers us a very good chance of some form of a sugar metabolic disorder.

“It’s rather simple but as everyone knows, oil is a lubricant, oil coats things and if there’s more fat in our bloodstream than we’re designed to handle, it not only coats the blood sugar molecule, it also coats the insulin. Well, when the insulin is coated and the sugar is coated, it’s very hard for the insulin to link up with the sugar. They don’t recognize each other. Not only that, but the portal where sugar exits the bloodstream becomes clogged with fat, so it’s hard for sugar to get out again. Well, the blood sugar level continues to rise and eventually, more insulin is produced and the insulin’s job is to find sugar. So, eventually it’s going to, but now there’s twice as much or three times as much insulin in the bloodstream as there is supposed to be and eventually your blood sugar crashes.

~Dr. Doug Graham, Author of The 80-10-10 Raw Foods Diet (Interview with Natural

The average American, eating roughly 40 percent of his calories from fat when the world authorities are recommending 10 percent as a maximum. And if we keep doing that we will all become diabetics. The raw fooders, I thought, we’re doing far better until I started keeping track, and after interviewing about 5000 raw fooders, I feel pretty comfortable in giving averages, and the average raw fooder consumes 65 to 70 percent of their calories from fat.”

~Dr. Doug Graham, Author of The 80-10-10 Raw Foods Diet (Interview with Natural

When oil enters into our stomachs, due to it’s condensed nature and lack of fiber, the receptors and regulators, namely the Hypothalamus, are not properly informed. Our stomach’s stretch receptors are not triggered properly and neither are our body’s nutrition receptors (think toxic hunger). Both can cause us to over eat.

Free Radicals

When oil is heated, it becomes denatured, oxidized, and rancid. Oils increase our need for Vitamin E and Antioxidants because of the free radicals they produce and free radical damage such as premature aging, cancer and disease result along with deficient levels of Vitamin E. Free radicals attack our cells and tissues setting the stage for cancer, and initiate the buildup of plaque in our blood vessels by triggering mutations of our cells DNA/RNA strands. Free radicals also set us up for auto-immune diseases like arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s and Cataracts.

“Excess consumption of vegetable oils is especially damaging to the reproductive organs and the lungs—both of which are sites for huge increases in cancer in the US.”- Dr. G, All about Wellness, Blog

“Every mouthful of oils and animal products, including dairy foods, initiates an assault on these [cell] membranes and, therefore, on the cells they protect. These foods produce a cascade of free radicals in our bodies, especially harmful chemical substances that induce metabolic injuries from which there is only a partial recovery. Year after year, the effects accumulate. And eventually, the cumulative cell injury is great enough to become obvious, to express itself as what physicians define as disease. Plants and grains do not induce the deadly cascade of free radicals. Even better, in fact, they carry an antidote. Unlike oils and animal products, they contain antioxidants, which help to neutralize the free radicals and also, recent research suggests, may provide considerable protection against cancers.”

~ Dr. Esselstyn, page 38 of “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”


Polyunsaturated fat although deemed the healthier fat, still has the potential to turn into saturated fat in our bodies.

Fat, no matter the type, in excess, can be stored on our butts, thighs and hips etc. Be careful with supplementation of things like Omega 3.

We require as little as 10% of our total calories to come from fat. Yet the standard American Diet consumes an average of 40% fat and the raw food dieters can consume up to 70%!

Fat stimulates the production of hormones. If we want to avoid hormone related cancers, diabetes and disease etc… it is important to stick to a low fat plant based diet.

The more fat a person consumes, the more competition there is for the enzymes that convert ALA to DHA (Omega 3) therefore causing an Omega 3 deficiency.

A high fat diet consisting of oils (including and especially fish oil supplements) seriously increases Vitamin E deficiency. This is due to the free radical damage promoted by the oil and our body’s requirement of antioxidants and Vitamin E to fix the problem.

I would have to agree with Dr. Doug Lisle who believes that the leading cause of weight gain is oil. Consider apples which are 300 calories a pound.  Oil is 4000 calories a pound. Oil is everywhere in the standard American diet!

As a woman, I particularly agree with this next quote:

“Here is the reality for breast cancer patients. Most breast cancers are estrogen positive, and most women receive treatment for their cancer that an increasing number of doctors are starting to acknowledge is overkill.

Estrogen levels are easily lowered for most women by consuming a low-fat, high-fiber plant based diet, exercising, and by achieving and maintaining optimal weight and body composition. Women should be given this information both as a means of preventing breast cancer, and certainly as a primary means for preventing recurrence. Dietary excellence and optimal habits are considerably more effective than tamoxifen without the negative side effects.” 

~ Pam Popper, ND

Can oil consumption be helpful?

After reading the above information, it’s hard to see what could be helpful about oil at all. It just seems much more beneficial to eat the whole food with fiber and antioxidants intact.

Having attended Dr. Gabriel Cousens’ spiritual nutrition workshop and reading about the health benefits of coconut oil and other oils around the internet, it’s easy to be left confused.

If there are any healthful properties or phyto-nutrients in oil, they are certainly destroyed with cooking. Oil should be consumed raw, cold pressed and never refined if it ever is to be consumed. What took me a while to realize when comparing raw food diets to the other diets and what makes the oil different for each diet is cooking the oil versus not cooking it. However, oil is still pure fat and very high in calories. The only way I see it being beneficial is if you are an extremely high oxidizer and require more energy as fuel. As long as you know you are going to burn it, you may need the extra fat in your diet.

Olive oil supposedly lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and coconut oil has a million healthful properties. Oils such as hemp, and walnut have high vitamin E which are better because the other types of oils rob our bodies of vitamin E. Flax oil is very great for Omega 3 but low in vitamin E which makes for a short shelf life (oil and ground seeds). It still makes more sense to add a scoop of ground flax, the whole food, to your morning breakfast rather than coat a salad in just the fat. I personally prefer Chia seeds for Omega 3 along with their hydrating properties and amino acid content.

So, where am I now in all of this?

I get it! I have cut back drastically on oil and fat. Oil has pro inflammatory properties. I can feel the difference and see a difference in my skin. Yet I still don’t see giving up oil 100% at this time. But as far as cutting drastically back on oil, it’s a conscious transition and an effort. I have no health issues that I know of and I am not trying to lose any weight. I do however want to avoid diabetes which runs in the family and I never want to experience breast cancer. Also, who wants to pre-maturely age? So I am cutting out the excess fat and as much oil as I possibly can. I am reading the labels as I always have and avoiding added oils. If I cook with oil, it’s mostly coconut oil sometimes grape seed but I’m ditching the olive oil, especially for cooking. As you may realize this blog was started a long time ago, before I became certified in WFPBN. There are recipes on this blog of varying kinds including those with oils and processed vegan foods with healthier and healthier recipes to come as I have grown on my journey.

If we try our best to avoid oil, we won’t feel as guilty when we happen to find ourselves enjoying it, in say a raw dessert for example. This is my view anyway. Rip Esselstyn said in his Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue DVD, something along the lines of…  after you avoid oil for a while and experience it again, it just tastes like man made goo. This has not happened to me yet. If you are one to adhere to a strict whole foods plant based diet with zero oil, awesome! It should be the goal for us all. You might have even learned of this diet while being lucky enough to skip over the other diets which taught me and plenty of others bad habits. Your life may depend on avoiding oil, especially if you are overcoming illness, so keep up the amazing health crusade!

People generally don’t know how to moderate very well, that is why I feel oil is not recommended at all whatsoever for a whole foods plant based diet. What is a little oil to one person is a lot to another and vice versa. And it would most likely be cooked which is a bad idea. And don’t forget, we are talking about a lot of seriously ill people that a WFPBD is trying to fix. I like to believe that I have a handle on the oil. Lol… sure, right, don’t we all?  Would I recommend oil to you for your daily diet. Nope. I wouldn’t. But if you partake every now and then like me, I guess we are all just eating at our own risk. So do what you will with this information. I hope it at least convinces you to cut WAY BACK on the oil.

I will be sharing some good ideas to help you cut back on oil in my next blog post. So keep a look out for it. *Update- the post is up, check it out Tips on Avoiding Oil

Thanks for reading and enjoy the journey!

~The Karmatarian

Some great articles and references for this post:

Dr. Doug Graham – The 80-10-10 Raw Foods Diet and How Much Fat to Eat (Part 2)

Patient information – Health Benefits Of Oils

Coconut Oil Benefits: When Fat Is Good For You

Dangers of Vegetable Oils

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