Dear Dr. Foster,
I have recently turned vegetarian and have been following a macrobiotic diet. What concerns me is that no matter how much food I eat, I am left hungry. Last week, I was so hungry, I ate a piece of fish. I was immediately satiated. My friends tell me that I must be suffering from some sort of deficiency caused by this diet. I want to stay vegetarian, help!
-Confused and hungryA:
Dear Confused and hungry,
Your question is one I hear often from people trying to make a transition to a more healthful vegetarian diet. There are many possible reasons for your complaint of always being hungry. I think the following points will be helpful:
1. Many people do not drink enough water, and they misinterpret the feeling of thirst for a sensation of hunger. According to Dr. Batmandjelij in his book Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, most Americans have been chronically dehydrated for so long, they don’t even realize that this is happening. This occurs because we do not drink enough water and because we consume so many caffeinated beverages - sodas, coffee, tea, chocolate, etc. which cause us to lose vital fluids. Ideally, one should drink 2 quarts of water and/or diluted juices every day. This is also important for the healthy functioning of the colon.
2. The problem of feeling hungry is not always due to inadequate food intake, but the inability to absorb nutrients from the intestines. Food absorption is blocked by toxins lining the intestinal walls. Most, if not all Americans have many years' worth of hardened, accumulated rotting food and drug residues on the inside of their intestines, mainly, the large intestine (the colon), but also in the small intestine where most digestion and absorption takes place. Because this material is literally glued to the walls of your intestines, it is NOT eliminated in a bowel movement. Most people living the standard American lifestyle have retained pounds of old fecal material in their intestines, and did not know until they took some sort of intestinal cleansing product, during which they eliminated this material. This material is like the deposits that accumulate on the inside of household pipes. If not cleaned out on a regular basis, it will eventually become clogged. Most Americans think nothing about cleaning out their pipes with enzymatic cleaners, yet they think twice about keeping their own bodies clean on the inside. To remove these residues that block the absorption of the foods that are eaten, I use The Intestinal Rejuvenation Program.
3. In people who live in primitive countries, where refined flour, refined sugar or other processed foods do not exist, we find that their bowels move once for every meal they eat. In our society, we have been taught that having a bowel movement once a day is sufficient. If that were so, then why is there literally an epidemic in this country of digestive disorders ranging from indigestion to constipation, to diverticulosis, to colon cancer? Bowels that do not move regularly begin to retain wastes which in turn are reabsorbed directly into the bloodstream poisoning the entire body. Dairy products and eggs also contribute to this toxic buildup in your intestines. You may have noticed that Lizzie the Cow is the picture on the front of Elmer’s glue bottles. This is because glue is made from milk protein. When people eat dairy products and eggs, they tend to "stick" to the bowel and contribute to this toxic buildup. Many other substances accumulate in the bowel, including pharmaceutical residues (antibiotics, painkillers, etc.), pesticides, and heavy metals (from those mercury amalgam tooth fillings among other things). One can imagine with all of this material in the body that it would be very difficult for the body to assimilate any nutrients. I have seen some people with the purest, best vegetarian diets, and they still have health problems because dietary changes alone will not remove these residues from the intestines. To clean the bowel, I use a combination of cathartic herbs and an herbal fiber formula containing things like charcoal, apple pectin, clay, slippery elm, psyllium seed, and other herbs (Colon Detox Caps which I use in combination with either the Vibrant Colon Formula or the Colon Start Plus).
4. The latest estimates are that 80% or more of all Americans have some sort of parasitic infestation! These parasites feed off the nutrients that we eat leaving us feeling starved. Their wastes are absorbed into the body robbing us of energy and vitality. There are many anti-parasite herbs available that kill parasites, among them garlic, wormwood, black walnut, pomegranate root bark, quassia, etc. (Anti-Parasite Formula) This formula typically kills parasites during the first week, so one does not have to take it for several months like other milder formulas. But the key to getting rid of parasites is to clean out the filth in our intestines off of which they feed. Not only do our pets need to be de-wormed on a regular basis, but we need it, too! The major sources of parasitic infections I see come from heavy meat-eaters.
Meat is literally teeming with parasite larva. The same goes for fish. According to ABC’s Prime Time Live (2/3/94) two thirds of all fresh fish tested, bought at various markets, was technically rotten. It had toxic levels of bacteria and parasites, even though it looked, smelled and tasted normal. Twenty-five percent had toxic levels of mercury. Another two thirds tested positive for toxic levels of PCB’S. In a 1992 report done by the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, it was discovered that women with breast cancer had over double the concentrations of PCB’s in their bodies. They warned against the intake of fish and dairy products, and blamed fish as a main culprit in breast cancer.
5. Depending on each person's individual metabolism, some people may need more fat in their diet (yes you heard me correctly). By fat I mean essential fatty acids such as those found in flax oil, borage oil, and evening primrose oil. Essential means that these substances must be obtained from the diet because the body is not able to manufacture them. Fat is what makes us feel satiated, but you do not need to fill up your bloodstream with animal fats and cholesterol to feel satiated. Nuts and seeds are often not absorbed very well since most people don’t chew their food adequately enough to digest them, and because it’s difficult to absorb anything when we have that toxic buildup in our intestines. The most absorbable forms of vegetable fat include avocados, nut butters, nut and seed milks, soaked and/or sprouted nuts and seeds, and high quality oils like the ones mentioned above, in addition to olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, etc. (the unrefined ones at the health food store which are cold-pressed and hexane-free)
Some raw fooders and vegetarians are very fearful of fat, yet they end up being deficient in fat, which can cause a lot of problems, including insatiable hunger. Please do not be fearful of vegetable fats. Everyone needs fat in order to have a healthy nervous system and a healthy endocrine system. Pure, unprocessed vegetable fats and oils are not the enemy here. Rancid, animal-based, hydrogenated refined fats ARE. Please feel free to consume as much vegetable fats as you feel you need in order to satisy your body's individual needs.
6. The macrobiotic diet was designed for people who lived in Japan. It works very well for many people. It has drawbacks for people who live in hotter climates (such as southern California). Because it is a mostly cooked diet, it does not contain as many vitamins or enzymes as a diet high in raw foods. This lack of vitamins and enzymes can contribute to feelings of hunger. To do the macrobiotic diet correctly can take up quite a lot of time. Sometimes, it's easier to cut corners with the diet. Also, it is more difficult to digest a cooked meal as it places an extra burden on the organs of digestion (the pancreas, liver, etc.) to produce enough enzymes to digest the meal. Because of the high content of enzymes, raw foods practically digest themselves.
7. Even more absorbable and assimilable are fresh squeezed juices. Remember that juices are concentrates, so it is best to dilute them half and half with pure water (filtered, distilled, reverse osmosis, etc.) so that it is not such a sugar load which aggravates yeast overgrowth in people who are susceptible, or aggravates diabetes. Juices are a good way to get in concentrated nutrients. One reason you may feel starved is that no matter how much you eat, if you do not get enough nutrients, your body will still send you messages that say it is still hungry. This is why many people feel hungry even though they've eaten a full meal and their stomach feels full. Click herefor more information on juicing and how to do a juice fast.
8. Everyone needs trace nutrients - things like selenium, boron, copper, manganese, cobalt, chromium, germanium, molybdenum, and many others. Organically grown foods normally test higher in all nutrients. However, even organic foods do not always contain all the necessary trace nutrients due to the condition of American soil - extremely depleted. It may take farmers decades of organic farming to replenish what has been lost through commercial farming techniques. The body will register a lack of nutrients as hunger, and no matter how much food is eaten, although the stomach will "feel" full, the hunger will not be satisfied. This lack of trace nutrients is a major reason for the American overeating and obesity epidemic.
obtain trace nutrients, no matter what the diet, I usually recommend
what I call "Superfoods" which include powdered algae (spirulina,
chlorella, blue green algae, Dunaliella salina), cereal grasses
(wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa grass, Kamut grass), dulse,
kale, spinach, beets, lemon and orange peels, rosehips, and /or
nutritional yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the nonfermentable
kind which does not aggravate yeast conditions). These are natural,
completely absorbable, and contain high amounts of naturally occurring
vitamins, minerals, protein, chlorophyll, amino acids, enzymes,
antioxidants (beta carotene, vitamin C, even coenzyme Q10), etc.
(the most powerful ones are contained in Essential
Nutrients) This is what I recommend over synthetic substances
which I have seen have beneficial effects but which do not achieve
the "miraculous results" I have seen clinically using these whole
food concentrates. These foods will give a natural energy and mood
Vegetarians should consume these foods or the Essential Nutrients Formula every day. The green foods are very important in the vegetarian diet - without them, some develop anemia, and anemia can show up as chronic fatigue which is now very common in America. Algaes are frequently used in Asian countries as a successful treatment for anemia. I've had many people tell me they shifted over to a more healthy vegetarian diet, but didn't feel any energy until they started taking this formula.
9. You could have a subclinical hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which is being aggravated by the large amount of carbohydrates contained in the cooked grains of the macrobiotic diet. Heavy daily consumption of breads is acid-forming and causes congestion in the body. One or two starches per day should be sufficient for most people, although individual tolerances do vary. Remember to eat whole grains instead of processed grains. The Essential Nutrients Formula also helps to balance blood sugar whether it's too low or too high.
10. Many people are chronically tired and hungry because their endocrine systems do not function at peak efficiency. (This is not something that shows up on a blood test) When people have significant drops in the blood sugar, it leaves them feeling ravenously hungry, exhausted and highly anxious. What’s responsible for blood sugar regulation are the thyroid, the adrenals, the pituitary, the pancreas and the liver. Because the liver has such a major role in regulating the blood sugar, an herbal liver healing program (The Liver Regeneration Program) designed to remove toxic drug residues, fat and cholesterol, stones, and other "sludge" that accumulates in the liver will greatly contribute to your recovery. I use a liver healing formula (L/GB Formula) and a digestive tea (DeTox Chai Spice<) in a liver cleansing and healing routine. Hormone balancing herbs (such as Female Harmony or Adrenal Support) and essential oils (such as Sweet Essence Essential oil blend) are also helpful.
If you've tried everything above and you're still feeling abnormally hungry, the vegetarian diet may not be for you. Some people can be vegans for life and feel great, while some can't. Some people learn that the vegan diet is the best diet, but they believe as long as they're vegan, they can eat plenty of junk food and still be protected against disease. It's not true. You can't live on potato chips, white bread, and vegan chocolate chip cookies. You need to have healthy plant fats such as coconut milk, coconut oil, olives, avocadoes, nuts and seeds. If you're craving sweets, it usually means you're not getting enough fat in your diet. If you eat too many sweets over the long-term, you could create a Candida problem. Therefore, you have to be careful to eat enough fat as a vegan, otherwise you can create problems for yourself.
Although the vegan diet is the best for detoxifying the body, and is absolutely fine for the short-term, it may not be so great long-term (over many years' time) for people with faster metabolisms. I've known a couple of women to lose hair on a long-term vegan diet or who had hormonal difficulties due to a diet too low in fat, who improved when they added eggs back in. So, please make sure you experiment to find the diet that works for you. When or if you add animal products back into your diet, do it slowly and make sure they are pure animal products - hormone-free, free-range, antibiotic-free, rBGH-free and monitor your responses to each new food you add back in. If you feel weak or fatigued as a vegetarian but feel stronger when you eat animal products, you're missing something in your vegetarian diet.
12. One final note: we often do not realize how toxic our bodies have become until we do a cleanse after which we rediscover that long lost feeling of energy, mental clarity, and well-being. The other time we realize how toxic our bodies have become is when we are lying in a hospital bed agonizing over which invasive treatment we are going to allow ourselves to submit to because we did nothing to prevent this horrible calamity. Please don't wait that long. The time to do something about your health is right now - before any bad health problems emerge. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
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