Learnings from the Whole Food Plant-based “2 Forks” Event

I am enjoying the 2 Forks event in Pasadena, California today. I’m learning a lot about healthy eating and “reversing” diabetes, so I want to share with others.

Rosane Oliviera, DVM, PhD shared great information about how to maximize our health for a goal of being “100 and healthy.” She warned about simply using the number of carbs or the glycemic index as the primary deciding factor of choosing food. Instead, there is a measurement called the “Insulin Index” that is a more accurate method of knowing how a food will affect blood sugar.

I also learned about mTOR, which is our master driver of growth and aging. It is affected by the following 2 molecules: Insulin and Leucine. Meat contains leucine and continually drives aging.

Rosane shared information about “Blue Zones,” which reflect the lifestyle and environment of the the world’s longest-lived people.

The main reasons these people live so long seem to be:

  • People move naturally. People walk everywhere
  • They have the right outlook. They know how to downshift and have a purpose.
  • They eat wisely. A frequent motto is “Eat until you’re 80% full.”
  • They connect with one another. They foster their relationships.

These people primarily eat plants. In Okinawa, their diet is 96% plant-based. In Icarian Greece, people follow a Mediterranean diet, around 93% plant-based. Mangiafoglia = “Eat Leaves” is present in every meal. People in Lima Linda, CA don’t smoke or drink alchohol; they live 14 years longer than the average American. The common food among all 5 blue zones: LEGUMES.

Rosane said that people who drink wine are healthy despite the wine. Any food that damages endothelium cells is food we don’t want. Research shows that wine without alcohol improves function, so it seems to be the grapes that help. She recommends simply eating the grapes instead!

She also doesn’t recommend fish. There are plant-based sources of omega 3’s. Fish only have them because they eat short chain omega 3’s. Better sources: walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds. One tbsp of flax seeds gives you all the omega 3’s you need in a day.

In the next session, Marc Ramirez shared a personal story about how he reversed his diabetes. He discussed his family history, where diabetes is rampant.  Despite being a professional football player, he also got diabetes. However, unlike his siblings, he started a whole food plant-based diet. He lost a lot of weight, got off his diabetic medications, and feels healthier and more energetic in his 50’s than ever. Very inspirational!

Marc Ramirez and man drinking cow's milk
The last session before lunch was by Chef AJ (from “Healthy Living with Chef AJ” on the Food Network). She demonstrated preparing healthy whole food with no oil or salt.  She encouraged the use of an instant pot and air fryer. She made some Brussels sprouts with onions and garlic, and shared it with whomever was interested in the audience…. like me! It was delicious. 🙂

Chef AJ and Rip Esselstyn at 2 Forks in Pasadena
We then enjoyed a whole food plant-based buffet.  I ate brown rice, black beans, salsa, corn, veggies with balsamic vinegar, and some guacamole.  No oil, no salt, and no refined sugar, and it was delicious!

Brown rice, black beans, salsa, corn, and salad
Today was the first day I have eaten dessert since my diabetes diagnosis. I tried the tofu-based “chocolate raspberry mango parfait.”  Wow!  It was wonderfully decadent.  I felt my cheeks turn red after just a few bites, so  I know it had a lot of (unrefined/natural) sugar.  However, those bites were enough to definitely increase my happiness levels.

During lunch, Rip Esselstyn requested that we all share a selfie when we have kale in our teeth.  Kind of gross, but also fun. Thank goodness I also brought some floss with me.

Libby with kale in her teeth. #GotKale?
After lunch, Chef AJ spoke about calorie density. “Calorie density is simply a measure of how many calories are in a given weight of food, most often expressed as calories per pound.” It can be used for simple, life-long weight management. I enjoyed learning about this topic, and I have lots of notes to share:

  • The least calorie-dense food group is non-starchy vegetables. It’s not really possible to overeat these foods.
  • The second least calorie-dense food is fruit.
  • The keys to the kingdom: fiber + water = bulk = feeling full. You’ll flush out toxins and greatly support weight loss.
  • Third place is unrefined complex carbohydrates (starch). 80% of our calories should come from this food group. Excellent nutritious examples include quinoa, oats, legumes, and sweet potatoes.
  • If you’re going to eat fat, choose avocado. However, be mindful of serving sizes (2 tbsp or 1/5 avocado) because it’s addictive.
  • Nuts are very calorie-dense. Flax seeds and chia seeds may be a better choice to minimize overeating nuts. People vary with how much fat they can eat without gaining weight. Chef AJ used to eat exactly 1 oz. of nuts per day. She replaced eating nuts with potatoes and lost 50 pounds! She eats more now than she ever did before.
  • Chef AJ works with a lot of women who want to get to their “skinny bitch” stage.  This cannot be done if the person drinks alcohol.
  • If you’re an emotional eater and want to eat too many potatoes and vegetables, you’re not going to get fat if you’re not eating fat. The extra calories get released through heat (fissure factor) or get stored as glycogen.
  • Popcorn is not a weight loss food. (See my next blog post: Is Popcorn Good for Weight Loss?
  • Chef AJ has a new book, and her website is http://www.eatunprocessed.com.

The next session was “Plant-Power Way” by Rich Roll. Rich is an inspiring athlete. We talked about the fact that protein is abundant in plants. If you eat a lot of vegetables, beans, and whole grains, you’ll get all the protein you need. Oxen, bears, elephants, rhinos, buffalo also get their protein from plants! Apparently Rich is quite popular, because there was a long line for autographs after his speech.

Healthy protein sources
The next session was “Build-a-Bowl” by Rip Esselstyn. He shared his passion for making big bowls of healthy food for his meals. Following were some of his tips:

  • If you used canned beans, rinse them to remove about 30% of the salt.
  • Do not eat nuts except for walnuts, which have a great omega-3 ratio. Almond milk is a great choice because it provides the nutrients of almonds without the fat.
  • Prepare all your favorite whole grains and veggies a week in advance and place them in the fridge. Use them to build your own mixed bowls.
  • Rip uses 365 (Whole Foods) brand brown rice that can be made using a microwave.  Canned beans are also easy as a base for a “build-a-bowl.”

Rip and Jane Esselstyn
The final session was “Getting Along without Going Along” by Dr. Doug Lisle.  He discussed the social and psychological issues associated with having a whole food plant-based diet. When you eat a Vegan diet, you’re likely going to have people ask “Where do you get your protein?”  Freud helped us understand their motivation via unconsciousness. People who ask a question like that usually don’t know why they’re asking; they have unconscious motivation. They feel that if your food is too healthy, it’s basically preaching right from its bowl.  They want to reduce your esteem.

Other people may also try to eat healthy unsuccessfully, so they are self-conscious about their eating. This type of person often tries to force you into eating outside your norm. “Oh come on, one bite won’t hurt.” Even doctors can act this way.  Your instinct makes you want to share knowledge, but it’s easy to be shut down by these people. Dr. Lisle shared great anecdotes and tips for dealing with these situations, such as simply answering their questions in a basic way.

I’m glad to have had the opportunity to enjoy a plant-powered knowledge-packed day with great people.  I hope you may have learned something as well. Live long and prosper.


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