David Mendosa’s Journey from Sick and Obese to Total Wellness, Part 3: A Super Healthy Diet is Key
In part 2 of my interview with David, he and I explored his dramatic weight loss and how he gained control of his health. If you’ve already read that, then skip the introduction below and go directly to the interview that follows it. In this part 3 of the article, David and I take a deep dive into his super healthy diet that has kept him slim and off his diabetes medication for years.
My friend David Mendosa writes on the HealthCentral Diabetes site. Although we have not yet met, David and I have become friends because we share a common bond – we each were fat and sick with diabetes and other obesity-related diseases. And each of us has taken similar, yet slightly different, journeys to wellness.
The common thread is that we each lost a significant amount of our body weight, and have made lifestyle and dietary changes to maintain that weight loss for the long term. This has affected the remission of our diabetes and improved our overall health and quality of life. I cannot stress that last point enough: Improved our quality of life.
Oh yes, and our journeys have led us to health activism. David is well-regarded as a diabetes advocate. In this interview, David and I discuss his transformation from fat and sick to total wellness and his health activist endeavors. In fact, David and I talked about his journey in such detail that I had to break the interview into several parts to make it easily to digest. Believe me; you do not want to miss a word he says. David has a fascinating patient journey conquering not only obesity but also several obesity-related conditions. Please read on…
David Mendosa before and after his 156-lb weight loss.
Q: Please tell us what do you typically eat in a day?
Essentially, my diet is to eat no more than about 50 or 60 grams of total (not net) carbohydrates per day. My typical meals keep changing. But lately this is what I generally eat when I am at home:
Breakfast: Two poached eggs, 4 oz. of smoked wild salmon with capers added, and a little kimchi or sauerkraut.
Lunch: A large salad consisting of baby greens (including spinach and, when available, kale), bok choy, and broccoli. For salad dressing I use apple cider vinegar and either extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil. Sometimes the salad will also have green onions, green peppers, a small avocado, a can of sardines, mackerel, or salmon, a little hard cheese, a little summer squash, cucumber or radish slices, or a few pitted green olives. I always add a sprinkling of chia seeds.
Dinner: This is the meal that varies a lot. Sometimes it’s just a bowl of plain whole yogurt with a few organic blueberries and a sprinkling of chia seeds. Often instead it is a quarter pound of fish; wild ahi tuna is my favorite, but wild salmon is the healthiest, because of its high omega-3 level. Rarely it is beef, and only if it is grass-fed.
I rarely snack, but when I do it's a couple of olives, a handful of almonds, a bit of hard cheese, or no more than two Brazil nuts.
I make sure to eat dinner at least three hours before lying down for the night. I never have anything to eat after dinner. I skip dinner entirely if my weight is up and it’s above my goal weight. Read about Fasting Diets and Weight Loss
This probably doesn’t seem like enough for most folks. But in fact I am never hungry. I never need more. That’s because as we weigh less we don’t need as much food. We don’t need to feed all that fat!
Q. You mention some exotic foods such as kimchi and chia seeds and coconut oil. For readers not familiar with these foods, will you please explain why they are part of your healthy eating plan?
A. Kimchi is a fermented food, which has good bacteria in it that counteracts any bad bacteria that we can have in our guts. That's why we call it pro-biotic. I think of it as the Korean equivalent of the German sauerkraut that is more familiar here. Kimchi is, however, much spicier, and I love spicy food. I have written about kimchi at "The Buzz About Kimchi."
Chia seeds are about the size of poppy seeds, but these little seeds are a great source of essential omega-3 fats, as well as being high in antioxidants and fiber. They have a neutral taste, and I love their crunchy texture. I have written about them at "Chia Seeds."
Coconut oil is the natural fat that is highest in medium-chain triglycerides, which our bodies can burn most easily to fuel our energy. Since I follow a very low-carb diet, I need to get my energy from fat, the only other macro-nutrient that can give us energy. I have written about coconut oil at "Coconut Oil: A Different Kind of Saturated Fat."
Q. Along this same vein, you stressed grass-fed beef and organic blueberries. What is the importance of grass-fed and organic in your diet?
A. Grass-fed beef has a much better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats than feedlot beef. I have written about this at "Reducing Omega-6 and Meat."
Studies show that organic food has more nutrients than food grown conventionally. Organic food lacks the coating of pesticides that farmers spray on conventional food. Especially food that doesn't have an outside layer, and that includes berries and greens, I eat only organic when I can get it. I wrote about this at "Diet with Diabetes."
Q. You also mentioned decreasing your intake of omega 6 and increasing your intake of omega 3. Why is this important?
A. Most people know that the amount of omega-3 fats that Americans generally get is far too low for the health of our hearts. But the basic problem is that we get too much omega-6 fats, and that these two fats compete with each other to get into the cells of our bodies. Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory, while omega-6 is pro-inflammatory. We have to start by eliminating or at least cutting way back on the most commonly consumed foods high in omega-6 that have no redeeming value. They are soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, and cottonseed oil. I have written several article about omega-3 and omega-6, including "Cutting Back on Omega-6."
Q: Can sugar substitutes (artificial sweeteners, fruit juice, agave nectar) be part of a healthy diet to promote/sustain weight-loss or are they mostly hype?
A. I doubt if the sugar substitutes you mention are healthy. I am concerned with the chemical composition of artificial sweeteners and use only stevia myself. Stevia is natural as well as having no calories. Fruit juice isn’t as unhealthy as agave nectar, but it sure isn’t as healthy as fruit.
In part 4, the final part of my interview with David, he and I look at how his life is so much better today after taking control of his health, and his advice for others who wish to do the same.
Living life well-fed,