We’re talking today Nicolette M. Dumke, author of the health/fitness book, Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss: Control Your Body Chemistry, Reduce Inflammation, and Improve Your Health (Allergy Adapt, Inc.).
Nicolette has a system which is explained in her book on the right way and the wrong way to diet. Not just another diet book, the principles in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss are universally used by men and women who have tried every diet in the book yet they still can't get a grip on things. Today, Nicolette talks about food alergies, Weight Watchers and shares a delicious recipe with us.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Nicolette Can you tell us where you are from?
I live in Louisville, Colorado, between Denver and Boulder and close enough to the Rocky Mountains for a great view.
Q: Why did you feel you had to write your book?
I wrote books because there was a real – in some cases desperate – need for the information in my books. For some of the books, a family member or I needed the information and recipes that later became a book. I began my latest book, Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss, after I heard of the struggles a friend with multiple food allergies was having to lose weight on the Weight Watchers™ program. Then I remembered how I had been unable to lose on a similar diet 30 years ago but finally discovered how to achieve painless and permanent weight loss.
Q: What do you believe is the #1 food allergy?
Grains are the most problematic foods for most of the people with whom I have spoken over the last 25 years. They often are allergic to wheat and/or corn initially, and usually respond as I did by substituting rice, oats, rye or another grain for wheat in their diet. After a few years of eating the new grain daily, they develop an allergy to it also. A rotation diet will help prevent this spreading phenomenon, but most allergy patients do not learn about rotation until they, like me, are allergic to many or all true grains.
About five years ago I wrote a book called Gluten-Free Without Rice because I was receiving an increasing number of phone calls from people who said, “I was told to follow a gluten-free diet two or three years ago and now I’m allergic to rice. I’m going to starve! What can I eat?” This book introduces them to less common gluten-free grains and non-grain alternatives such as amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat.
Q: What would you suggest to parents of allergic children if they want something to snack on in between meals?
Although between-meal snacks have been much-maligned in the past, they are good for everyone. For the weight conscious, snacks keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable, thus promoting weight loss. Kids get hungry between meals, and nutritious snacks not only stabilize their moods, they also can be a nutritious addition to their diets.
It’s hard to keep children with food allergies on their diets if they don’t like what you offer them to eat, so make their snacks fun and give them choices. When our older son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies at age 4, one of his favorite snacks was carrot sticks with almond or cashew butter as a dip. He had lots of fun dipping, and the protein gave him energy to run around and play after his snack.
Fresh fruit is another snack children usually enjoy. Give them a choice between a few kinds of fruit. This helps them feel empowered and realize their allergy diet is not so limited after all. Variety in fruits also gives them a wider range of phytonutients, etc. in their diets
If you have time to bake, cookies made with fruit sweeteners and healthy grains or grain alternatives are a real treat for kids. My first book, Allergy Cooking With Ease, grew out of keeping my son happy on his diet and contains a large collection of kid-tested and approved cookie recipes.
Q: What do you think of Weight Watchers?
I think the social support system offered by Weight Watchers™ is excellent and helps many members stick to the diet and lose weight, at least temporarily. However, in my experience with people who have been in Weight Watchers™, the diet rarely leads to a permanent, easily-maintained normal weight. The Weight Watchers™ diet is very low in fat, which makes it low in protein, and high in carbohydrates. Without enough fat and protein, staying satisfied after a meal is a problem, and the high carbohydrate intake causes high insulin levels. High insulin causes hunger and “tells” our bodies to deposit food as fat as well as to hold onto body fat. For an explanation of the physiology behind this, visit this page: http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com/controlling_hormones.html
The key to losing weight permanently and without hunger is to keep your body in a “burn fat” mode by keeping your blood sugar level stable and your insulin level low and stable. This can be achieved by eating protein-containing breakfasts and small between-meal snacks and by keeping carbohydrate intake at a sensible level with most of the carbohydrates low to moderate on the glycemic index (GI). (Low to moderate GI carbohydrates do not promote dramatic swings in blood sugar and insulin levels). Carbohydrates should be eaten with protein rather than alone. For more details about how to balance carbohydrates with protein for stable insulin and blood sugar levels, see the third paragraph of this page – http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com/carbohydrate_foods.html.
Q: Is rice as good for you as they say it is?
Rice is the only grain that is high on the glycemic index in its whole grain form. Therefore, it is more likely than wheat to cause blood sugar and insulin levels to bounce up and down, thus leading to hunger and a body physiology determined to hold on to fat, as discussed above.
A fallacy I often hear is, “Nobody can be allergic to rice.” This is untrue, and the person telling me this is usually trying to prove that someone’s food allergies are not real. Rice allergy is the most common food allergy in China, where rice is the staple dietary grain. Anyone can become allergic to any food, rice included.
Furthermore, rice produces denser baked goods, so a visually normal-sized slice of rice bread may contain three times the carbohydrate level as the same size slice of wheat bread. In addition, rice is bland-tasting, so commercially prepared rice-containing foods usually are made with more fat and sugar than their wheat-containing counterparts to improve their flavor. This means that if you’re trying to lose weight, rice is not your friend.
A moderate serving of brown rice eaten with protein is healthy, but rice eaten to excess or as the main ingredient in processed gluten-free foods is not.
Q: Do you think Americans as a whole are healthy?
I have met or talked to some very healthy Americans. They are usually people with good health habits who were born with a strong constitution, and they may reach old age avoiding medical care. However, I have talked to many more people who have had a health problem that was made worse when they followed bad advice. There is a lot of dogma like, “Calories are all that count for weight loss,” “Nobody can be allergic to rice,” and “Almost everybody middle-aged or older needs statins,” that is widely believed but untrue. Our medical system is broken in more ways than the politicians discuss on the news. Wrong treatment, overuse of drugs, and invasive treatments sometime seem to cause more serious problems than they solve. Each one of us needs to retain personal control of our health care, be well educated about our health problems, and avoid unnecessary or harmful drugs and procedures if at all possible.
Q: Can you share a favorite recipe with us?
Since we discussed cookies for children, here is my cashew butter cookie recipe. It is gluten-free since it is made amaranth, a grain alternative, and is sweetened without sugar.
Cashew Butter Cookies
1½ cups amaranth flour
½ cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
½ teaspoon baking soda
? teaspoon unbuffered vitamin C powder
? cup cashew butter
¼ cup oil
¾ cup Fruit Sweet™, agave or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
Preheat your oven to 400°F. If you are using the agave, line your baking sheets with parchment paper for easiest cookie removal or lightly oil the baking sheets. Combine the flour(s), baking soda, and vitamin C powder in a large bowl. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix together the cashew butter, oil, agave or maple syrup, and vanilla. (A hand blender is helpful for thorough mixing especially if the cashew butter is fairly solid from having been refrigerated). Stir and mash the cashew butter mixture into the dry ingredients. Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Use an oiled fork to flatten the balls of dough, making an “X” on the top of them with the fork tines. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?
Yes, I’m eager to tell everyone I meet about what I’ve been hearing recently from people who have followed the eating plan in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss. What amazes me is that many of them are losing weight without following much of the advice in the eating plan. One woman made only one change – she began eating breakfast – and lost 10 pounds in a couple of months. Another woman cannot seem to give up sugar completely, but she is very disciplined about eating protein between-meal snacks, and she has lost several dress sizes in about 6 months. A third has been following the plan pretty closely for over a year and losing weight slowly and steadily without ever being hungry. She had a health problem last summer which took away her appetite. When she began eating very little and skipping snacks, her weight loss stopped cold! Eating too little and not often enough must have consistently elevated her insulin level.
I think what I’ve been hearing shows that when we do whatever it takes to make insulin levels low and stable, no mater how small the change, we will lose weigh and see other positive results. In addition, as it says in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss, we are all different. Each of us must know and listen to our own body and do what is best for us.