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  1. #1
    FlyingPig's Avatar
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    What do I say to my 56 year old mom struggling to lose weight?

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    I'd be interested to hear any tips from forum members about performing a kind of "intervention" in the diet of a family member.
    My mom has seen how I lost 13kg (28lbs) in about 3 months eating primally and am slowly getting lean. (I started off doing the slow carb diet with cheat days but quickly moved on to 90/10 paleo, have read a dozen books on it now and "get it") She has done Weight Watchers on and off, has seen progress with it but surprise, surprise, always ends up gaining the weight back. She's quite aware about the WW marketing nonsense and having seen her son getting results, she actually asked me if I could sit down with her one day to discuss her diet.
    So far so good. Now, how do I approach this? I was thinking the first thing I need to make clear to her is the way the human body works and give a very simplistic explanation about how it can burn fat and glucose, the chronic glucose overload in most diets, the need to encourage it to run on fat not glucose, etc. Like many people chronically "dieting", she has no idea about the broader hormonal picture of losing fat. Then I think I need to make it clear that dietary fat does not mean you will get fat. I can probably use myself as an example, explaining how I eat lots of butter and coconut oil and how it only makes me feel better and happier.
    We live in different countries and I don't see her often so I don't have the best idea of what she is doing wrong, but I do know she loves her bread, pasta and potatoes, but also lots of fruit. I guess I should suggest cutting down a lot on the fruit, even eliminating it to once a week or so, and to replace that low fat yoghurt with full fat Greek yoghurt. She likes cheese, so maybe to ensure compliance I shouldn't let her not have it, but tell her to have it on its own. An Atkins style induction type of diet would probably work well for her initially as she's never done low carb.
    I was also thinking of writing down a few "rules" for her to refer to. Since I have her ear I think I am in the position of asking her to follow them strictly. I think something simple like Tim Ferris' rules:

    1. Drinking lots of water
    2. 30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up
    3. Avoid ‘white’ carbohydrates
    4. No dairy
    5. 1 Cheat day per week
    6. Don’t drink calories
    7. Leave fruit for cheat day
    8. Don’t get hungry
    may be useful. Keeping it simple will probably help, though the above will need to be tweaked to make it a bit more Primal. The cheat day is probably not in her best interests, though it did help me initially when I started out myself.
    Finally, what about exercise? She has had several major surgeries on her back and cannot do much at all (she was on very strong pain-killers for a while and now has a device implanted targeting the nerves in the back, as she does have chronic pain that is hard to imagine for us). I was always surprised how her doctors never prescribed any exercise besides peddling a bit on a stationary bike (which she no longer has). I'm wondering if she may benefit from doing very moderate weight lifting, though me mentioning weights for her would probably freak her out.
    She's a middle aged woman so I guess I shouldn't encourage her to skip breakfast and do IF, but I need to get her off the bread and "healthy whole grain" crackers and tell her to go wild on bacon and eggs with real butter.

    That's my strategy so far but I thought to write this out and to ask for any feedback from people who have experience with advising friends or family who are willing to listen. Obviously I am aware that what worked for me, a 30 year old male, may not work for her, with menopause and all that...
    Last edited by FlyingPig; 08-28-2012 at 06:24 AM.

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    palebluedots's Avatar
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    You might want to have her start by reading a book. I'm reading the book "Wheat Belly" right now, and it is a very easy and interesting read, and makes a very good case for why wheat makes you fat.

    I think your overall strategy is good. I am not so sure about leaving fruit for only the cheat day. Fruit might be the only thing that helps her get through those first few weeks without grains. I know it was for me. She might also get confused when you say "avoid white carbs", and may think that whole grain breads would be ok.

    Your mom is lucky to have you. You're a good kid for putting so much care and effort into this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by palebluedots View Post
    You might want to have her start by reading a book. I'm reading the book "Wheat Belly" right now, and it is a very easy and interesting read, and makes a very good case for why wheat makes you fat.

    I think your overall strategy is good. I am not so sure about leaving fruit for only the cheat day. Fruit might be the only thing that helps her get through those first few weeks without grains. I know it was for me. She might also get confused when you say "avoid white carbs", and may think that whole grain breads would be ok.

    Your mom is lucky to have you. You're a good kid for putting so much care and effort into this.
    Thanks, I'm lucky to have her so it works both ways!
    Her English is not the best and I doubt she can read a whole book in English (she lives in Belgium, land of chocolate and beers). I guess I could compile a few articles in Dutch and transfer it to her Kindle. She's a keen reader and I think it may help her indeed, as reading about it and understanding things was crucial for myself, now that I think about it.
    As for fruit, maybe I can encourage her to focus on berries?

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    your intentions are great, but a lot of this depends on your mom? is she truly amenable to ditching cw and sad? sure, she wants to lose weight and feel better, but it will mean major changes and probably defying what her doctors have told her is "healthy."

    IF she can overcome this, i think your initial outline is good, and the thought of doing a low-carb "induction" is excellent. how much fruit are we talking? a handful of berries or 2-3 pears? big difference in the insulin impact. you'd also have to teach her how to deal with the low-carb flu. feeling worse before you feel better is a major discouragement to many.

    she won't need as much food as you do, and at her age, calories will matter. can she take walks or swim?

    you may also want to discuss inflammation and the role certain foods play there. for somebody living with chronic pain this may the key that opens the primal gate for real for her. by ditching crackers and bread, she kills 2 guilty inflammatory birds : crap grains and crap oils.

    good luck!
    As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

    Ernest Hemingway

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingPig View Post
    Now, how do I approach this?
    At the appropriate time, just say "Yes. Your arse does look big in that." Then when you get back up from the floor, offer a book or two to that you've read on this subject to make up.
    Why use a sledge hammer to crack a nut when a steam roller is even more effective, and, is fun to drive.

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    noodletoy's Avatar
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    2. 30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up
    this would be 3 large eggs and 5-6 strips of bacon, plus the butter for cooking, that may be too much food for her.
    As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

    Ernest Hemingway

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    Tercio's Avatar
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    All good ideas. I'd also point her to the other thread about the 1958 diet book http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread65010.html as proof this isn't some crazy, new internet fad, but is instead a rediscovery of what used to be common knowledge.

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    She could read this post (I can read half of it):
    Het primal blueprint dieet - Plazilla.com
    Female, age 51, 5' 9"
    SW - 183 (Jan 22, 2012), CW - 159, GW - healthy.

    Met my 2012 goals by losing 24 pounds.
    2013 goals are to get fit and strong!

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    Don't bother. Maybe point her toward some resources and frame it as this is what worked for me. Then leave it alone. My mother thought oh wow, I'm going to try this, and what she did was make almond flour pancakes for breakfast and eat ice cream sundaes every night for her "20%". After a few weeks she declared that the diet didn't work for her. She never heard my message about eating only meat and vegetables. She claimed she couldn't eat that much protein. In the end, she didn't lose any weight and didn't stay with it, but she thanked me for turning her on to almond flour pancakes.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Current squat: 170 x 3. Current Deadlift: 220 x 3

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    See what books have been translated into her language. Surely there must be some.

    I'm actually dealing with this with some friends. Depending on her personality, the most effective might be some personal stories pulled from here, or ANY OTHER Primal/Paleo blog. There's a ton of them out there, and when you start reading and understanding how it works, it is mind-blowing.

    I would also make sure to arm her with some recipes -- what are some of her favorite foods that you could tweak? How about some new recipes with her favorite meats, cheeses, or subbing an alternative flour? Make her your favorite primal bread -- sometimes people need a transition, and they need some primal-ized foods. It's a necessary emotional crutch for the first hurdle. Now I rarely make such things...but in the beginning, it helped me transition.

    I would help her locate resources for the food she should be eating and go shopping with her. Let her see the whole world of yummy foods that are out there. We have a relationship with our farmers, and it makes such a difference -- I feel guilty if I buy from the store now, because I would prefer to visit our local neighbors and give them the money.

    Half the battle of the transition is making connections -- it has a lot less to do with restrictions. Once those connections are made, this gets really easy.

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