392: The Ultimate Weight Loss Program
Chef AJ And Ashley James
- The Real Truth About Weight Loss Summit
- Eating the way your ancestors ate throughout human history
- You cannot be protein deficient unless you're calorie deficient
- Complex carbs and refined carbs
- Eat until no longer hungry and still full instead of until full
- Anytime you process a food, you make it calorically rich and nutrient poor
- The real secret to weight loss and weight maintenance and good health is to eat more vegetables
- Health At Every Size
- Metabolic disadvantage concept
- Health mistakes people make
- Ultimate Weight Loss Facebook Group
- Feel Fabulous Over 40
- How To Eat Healthfully Anywhere
- Ultimate Weight Loss Program
- Weight Loss Wednesday
In this episode with Chef AJ, we are going to discuss and share about healthy eating and secrets to weight loss. Find out the real truth about Weight Loss Summit, healthy eating anywhere, the ultimate weight loss program and so much more
[00:00:01] Intro: Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of Learn True Health Podcast. I'm really excited for you to hear today's interview with Chef AJ. When I had her last on the show just over a year ago, I didn't know that that episode would absolutely changed my life. I adapted her style of eating the whole food plant based no oil, no flour, no processed foods. Just focusing on plants and eating lots of vegetables. And my health has gotten even better this last year. And I should go into that in this interview.
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Welcome to the Learn True Health Podcast. I'm your host, Ashley James. This is Episode 392.
I am so excited for today's guest. We have back on the show Chef AJ. I had her on the show, Episode 278. That was July 26, 2018. Man, has so much happened in the last – almost a-year-and-a-half. And it's just been a whirlwind. I have become – since I interviewed you I've become a raving fan of yours, Chef AJ. I think every single person on the planet should listen to our first interview and should get your books and should absolutely learn from you. You are a godsend. Thank you so much for the mission that you're on. You have a big cheerleader over here.
[00:04:04] Chef AJ: Thank you so much. I admire your work too. Thank you.
[00:04:08] Ashley James: Awesome. Well, yeah. So since July of 2018 having you on the show, I joined your – you have this outstanding Facebook Group as part of your course – one of the courses. You have several online courses that are all community based, which I think is really helpful. And it's such a thriving community. And what I'm inspired by every week, it's really emotionally helped me to be in your Facebook Group. Because it's seeing the success stories of people transforming their lives through using food as medicine, whole food plant based diet. And the things that people are transforming is so beautiful. And every week, there are dozens of stories. It's a very active group. And to have that level of support in the community and people always are asking questions and always supporting each other. So it's this beautiful community.
But what I see is you foster community wherever you go. And I think that's really beautiful. Because we're not alone in this. I love to expose these concepts that we often feel too ashamed to talk about, like addiction, and emotional eating, overeating, binge eating. Things that many, many people do and may not even realize they're doing because they have emotional issues or maybe they're eating foods that are so hyperpalatable, they hijack the brain. And what we really want to do is figure out how to use food as medicine. And how to heal our bodies and have optimal health . Ad you teach a wonderful way to do that in a way that's delicious. So because your name is chef, Chef AJ. So you do teach us how to make delicious food, right?
[00:05:50] Chef AJ: I do my best. Absolutely.
[00:05:51] Ashley James: Yes, you do. I love every episode of – every episode – every recipe I've ever made of yours has been a huge hit. I made your lasagna. Oh my gosh, you mentioned in your book – I think the unprocessed was the book that you – your book unprocessed has the lasagna recipe. And it's to die for. And I made both versions, one with the noodles and one with the eggplant. And both trays of it, we're eating that day. And it wasn't just by me. It was the whole – like I had friends over. But you say in your book, this doesn't go in the freezer because it there's never leftovers.
[00:06:28] Chef AJ: There's never any leftovers. That's why I call it the disappearing lasagna. Because honestly, I don't even know if it freezes because there's never been leftovers on that particular recipe. And that is the God's honest truth.
[00:06:38] Ashley James: I took that as a challenge. So I actually took the recipe and times it by four. And I made four times the amount that the recipe calls for. And I have pictures. Four giant trays of lasagna and I baked them all and I had friends over. And they wanted to all take some home. I mean, there was no leftovers. That lasagna was so good. And I even some zucchini and I added some extra vegetables. Because I was like, “There's not enough vegetables here. Let's add more.” And it was so amazing. We had kids over and they were eating it. And this lasagna doesn't have any dairy. It doesn't have any meat in. It's whole food plant based. And it is so delicious. And the kids, which these kids never eat vegetables, were just like, “Can I have another? Can I have another?” So it's really satisfying when you can make something that's so delicious and also so wholesome and so healthy. So every recipe I've ever made of yours has been outstanding and easy to follow.
So anyways, I could praise you for the next two hours but I'm sure we want to start learning from you. So since July of 2018, I know a lot has happened in your life. I'd love to hear the updates what's been going on?
[00:07:52] Chef AJ: So I've been busy but in a good way. So one of the things I did is I changed where I live. Because environment to me is critical in any one's success, whether it's success trying to lose weight or be happy in life. And I pretty much was born in Chicago. Pretty much I was born in Chicago. But I pretty much was raised in LA from the time that I was 11 until January of this year. And I love LA for so many reasons. But man, it's just not for me anymore. It's busy and it's crowded, and it's noisy. And I just wanted to live somewhere peaceful. I'm going to be 60. Not that I'm trying to retire. But I wanted to just have a calmer, slower pace of life. So I moved to the desert. I live near Palm Springs now. I have a house instead of an apartment. And it's just been beautiful. And it's allowed me to do just more work it with what I love in giving this information to people. And I've been doing it through educational programs. I have a partner now and we do these online courses.
But one of the things I did that just blew my mind was that I got to host one of those wonderful online summits. And this was called The Real Truth About Weight Loss Summit. This was offered to me, this position. I always wanted to do a summit but not being very tech savvy, I just couldn't figure out how to do it. Just like you, I've always wanted to do a podcast. But man, I can barely turn on my iPhone. So when this opportunity came about, I thought I was just being asked to be a guest interviewed for something called The Real Truth About Weight Loss Summit. When they said, “No. We want you to do the interviews.” It was amazing because I got to handpick the experts. There were a few that were already decided upon. Maybe the people that I didn't know but they were all great interviews. But I got to really handpick, like, the best of the best and create something that I'm going to forever be proud of. Because it answered the question, “What is the real truth about weight loss?”
There's so much conflicting information and misinformation. And we had 34 experts that pretty much agreed about pretty much everything. There were some nuances, how many nuts should we eat? But for the most part, they all agreed. And it was interesting, actually, because, as you know, when you're doing this podcast, you're listening to me but you're also kind of involved. You have to watch the tech. You have to do things. When I was interviewing them, I couldn't really pay attention as well as I wanted to because I had to look for bells and whistles on the computer. But then when we ran the summit and I listened again, I'm like, “Oh my god.” We did the summit for free. I mean, people could buy it afterwards for a nominal fee to own the recordings. But I'm like, “This information is like mind blowing. Why are these people on the cover of Time Magazine?”
[00:10:23] Ashley James: Well, I definitely want to pique your brain as to what you learned as the interviewer for the series? I watched some of the episodes or the interviews that you did, that you conducted. And I loved it. I love the information. It was very thorough. I will let you know that since starting following your protocol, I've lost over 40 pounds and kept it off. I'd been, like, yoyo-ing my entire adult life. The second a diet would end, it was like, poof. It would just all blow up in my face. And with your program, it's not something you ever end. So it's something that you just – and you never feel like you're deprived because of volume metrics. You eat to live. Your plate is full of delicious food. You never go hungry. Through eating how I learned through you and through Dr. Goldhamer and this whole food plant based way, my body is just naturally slowly healthfully shed.
I just went last week to my doctor. I go every few months just to my Naturopath to get blood work and check in. And she had a smile on her face from ear to ear. She was so happy with my numbers. She was so happy with my slow and consistent and continual weight loss. Everything is coming into balance. All my numbers are coming just better and better and better. My cholesterol has never looked better. All my inflammatory markers have never looked better. Just everything. All my hormones are even better. I mean, just everything is better and better and better. All I'm doing is just filling my plate with this delicious food that's whole food plant based. And I've been on over 30 diets. And I've never been on a diet where I felt completely satisfied, completely nourished, completely taken care of. And also my body was coming to a place of health more and more and more. It really does work.
[00:12:26] Chef AJ: That's amazing. And congratulations. And the thing I want to just say is, you're not really on a diet, you're actually just eating the way your ancestors ate throughout human history. The way our species was designed to eat. Because we've gotten so far away from that. And most people don't even eat food anymore. Most people eat something like 70% of their calories from processed food. They think of the way we eat now is restrictive or a diet. Yet this is how humans ate throughout all of human history until just a few hundred years ago, actually.
So it's so true, Ashley, because you mentioned volume metrics. And Dr. Barbara Rolls was one of the only people that I didn't get to interview for the summit because she had broken her arm. But we are going to rerun the summit next February with some new speakers and she is going to be one of it. Because volume metrics is the ticket. I call it ultimate weight loss. I also call it lose weight with a full plate. But it's not a diet. Because on diets they asked you to give up certain food groups, like carbs. And they ask you to eat less or weigh and measure your food or count points or things like that. We're not on a diet. I eat the same way that Dr. Joel Fuhrman eats. He's never been overweight. We eat huge quantities of delicious whole food. It's not a diet.
[00:13:38] Ashley James: For breakfast this morning, I had the soup. I texted you a picture of the soup my husband I made. We made two giant things of soup. And this soup is like a stew. The soup is so hearty. And there are carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, and spices like rosemary time, bailey, the regular stuff you'd put in soup, and legumes, brown lentils. I maybe forgetting a few vegetables. Because we put in a lot of stuff in this thing. And then we just let it simmer for a few hours. We had it yesterday for lunch. We had it for dinner. Then we had it for breakfast. And it tastes different the longer it kind of sits in its own juices. It tastes like a different experience. [Inaudible 00:14:23] turned to me and said, “I could eat this every day for every meal. It's so good. And so filling.” I just had a soup I had a soup for breakfast and I am so full and I feel – I have so much energy. It's very low in calories but it's very dense in nutrition.
And I was even tracking my protein because people are freaking out about, “Where do you get your protein from if all you eat are potatoes and vegetables?” On average, I get 50 grams of protein a day from a variety of sources that are obviously not animals. So have you ever seen anyone protein deprived not eating meat?
[00:15:00] Chef AJ: Never. That's called kwashiorkor. And from my understanding, there's never been a single case of it in reported history with the exception of, maybe, like a child abuse case or an anorexic or somebody actually was calorie deficient. You cannot be protein deficient unless you're calorie deficient.
[00:15:19] Ashley James: So if you fill your plate up with whole foods with plants, basically, you're good in terms of protein?
[00:15:26] Chef AJ: Absolutely. There's actually more protein per calorie in broccoli than steak. I believe that 100 grams of – broccoli has 11.2 grams of protein and 100 grams of steak – 100 calories – excuse me – 100 calories of steak has something like 5.4 grams of protein. So I mean, think about it. All the large herbivores that have walked this planet for centuries, you know, elephants, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, giraffe, they're not worrying about where they're getting their protein. They eat plants. The animals that we eat are the plant eaters. We're not eating carnivorous animals like the lions and the tigers. Were eating animals that eat the plants. Cut out the middleman, eat the plants. You don't need to eat animal flesh.
There's a great book about this by Dr. Garth Davis – he'd make a wonderful interview for you – called Proteinaholic. I highly recommend that if people really want to understand this. And of course, The China Study. Think about it, when a human being needs the most protein in their life is when they're an infant, when they're growing. Breast milk is less than 10% protein. So why would we have a system that we need more of it when we're not growing. This is just absurd. This is such absurdity.
[00:16:37] Ashley James: Can you share the things that you learned from your summit around carbs versus fat versus protein? Did any of the guests, the experts that helped people with successful weight loss, did any of them cover that?
[00:16:50] Chef AJ: They did. One of the things they had covered was that it's the difference between complex carbs and refined carbs. So in other words, carbs have a bad rep. You know, we shouldn't eat carbs. Carbs make us fat. But you can't just say carbs without knowing what the carbs are. Because there are complex carbohydrates that are unrefined, found in nature, like sweet potatoes and winter squashes, and legumes, and whole grains. And then there's refined and processed carbs, which is what most Americans are eating that make them fat and sick, like flour and sugar and alcohol. So you can't just lump carbs all together. That's like saying, you can't lump people together saying all these kind of people are bad. There's different kinds of people in all these various groups. Just like there's different kinds of carbs.
And so definitely they explained that when you're eating the whole plant found in nature, that has the fiber, and the water, and the vitamins, and the minerals, and the phytochemicals, and the micronutrients all intact. That is so different to your body than when you're stripping the fiber away and having these processed carbs like flour and sugar. Which go through the same refining process, by the way, as drugs and alcohol. And it just makes no sense. How can we now be designed to run on fat or fat and protein when that's all our ancestors ate throughout history were these unrefined, complex carbohydrates. The longest lived people in the world from of the blue zones. The Okinawans, for example, eat something like more than 70% of their calories from sweet potatoes. Those are carbs. They don't they're not overweight or obese. They don't have heart disease. They don't have cancer. There's a book by Dr. Colin Campbell called the Low Carb Fraud. And what's happened is because of these processed carbs, all carbs have gotten a bad reputation.
[00:18:38] Ashley James: Throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I had to really come to terms with that. Because growing up my mother was obsessed with dieting. She was never overweight but she was obsessed with dieting. And so she instilled in me a fear of carbs. I remember her yelling at me once at a restaurant because I ordered the fish. I thought that was going to impress her. I ordered the fish. It's so healthy. But the fish came with the side of rice. And my mom yelled at me in the restaurant and food shamed me – and I was like 12 or something – because I was going to eat rice. In healing my relationship with my body and with food, I had to also heal – I don't want to call it trauma – but the belief system that I had adopted from my mother, which was a fear, a real fear of healthy carbohydrates like whole grains. I am gluten free because my body just does not respond well to gluten, whole grains like brown rice, or even potatoes. My belief system developed because my mother would have me feel shame and guilt for eating those foods. And I just wonder how many people are feeling negative emotions around healthy foods because of the belief system they were raised in?
[00:19:57] Chef AJ: Yeah. That's a good question. And I think if they do an experiment where they maybe given themselves three weeks to eat nothing but these foods and see how their health improves, how they lose weight. It's absurd to think that these foods make you fat. They don't make you fat if they're in their unrefined form. It's what you put on them. So if for example, it's the butter that people put on the rice. It's the butter, and the sour cream, and the cheese, and the bacon that people put on potatoes. If carbs made people fat and sick then how did they end up doing these studies with just potatoes? For example, something called the KON Potato Study – you can Google it – where it healthy young couple who are actually were athletes ate nothing but potatoes for an entire year. This wasn't a weight loss study. They were trying to show that you would not be any deficient in any nutrient just by eating potatoes. And in one year of eating nothing but potatoes, they didn't have any nutrient deficiencies. They actually lost too much weight they had to start adding oil to their potatoes in order to get enough calories.
There's a man named Andrew Taylor who lives in Australia, who became well-known as spud, fit for eating nothing but potatoes for an entire year and lost 120 pounds. And reversed his food addiction and his depression. And Chris Voigt of the Washington Potato Commission, several years ago, was very upset that the government would not allow people to use food stamps to buy potatoes. Bbut they could use them to buy Kool Aid and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. And so he basically for 68 days, I think, was something like 20 potatoes a day and he was still eating oil and cheese and animal products. And he still reversed his high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high triglycerides. Carbs, they're the fuel that our body is designed for. Just like you wouldn't put lemonade in your gas tank. Can we run on on fat? Like a keto diet or protein. Yeah, we can. But that's not what the body was designed to do. That's like an emergency state that people do called ketosis. That was never what we were supposed to do.
And it's very unsatisfying. It's funny that you mentioned rice shaming. Because I speak at a lot of spas and cruise ships, they're not even vegan or plant based just because I'm known as somebody that has helped lots of people lose weight. So they booked me for that. It turns out that my protocol is vegan. But I don't even have to say it either in my lecture or to get booked because it just so happens that the foods that are the healthiest and also lowest in calorie density but highest nutrient density all happened to be plants. But I remember one of these spas because it's a weight loss fight. It's like they weigh and measure your food and you get really sparse portions. And you get literally, like, a-half-a-cup of rice which doesn't even fit in my hand. I had to actually go to the doctor or the nurse and get a permission slip to get an extra half cup of rice. Now when I eat rice at home, I eat like two to four cups in in a serving. And I'm thinking like, “How does anybody eat a-half-a-cup of rice? That's like nothing.” I just don't get it. It's just it's sad to me that people feel that that's what they need to do to lose weight and be healthy. When the exact opposite is true, they need to eat more but of the right foods.
But the problem is that they like our system, Ashley, which is ad libitum. where we eat as much as we want to the left of the red line. But they want to include their likely glass of wine or their soda or their Starbucks macchiato or their rich desserts. And unfortunately, you can't have it both ways. You can't eat all you want of the nutritious foods and still include the unhealthy foods. If you want to include foods of a higher caloric density or unhealthy foods, you can do it and possibly maintain weight loss. But you're going to then have to do portion control. And who wants to do that? We aren't designed for scales.
[00:23:45] Ashley James: There's this book, First Bite: How We Learn To Eat by Bee Wilson. And she said that they did these experiments. Of course, they probably can't do them nowadays because it would be like child abuse. But they did experiments on orphans. They took a bunch of children, like toddlers, and they put many, many different kinds of foods in front of them. Instead of forcing them like, “Here's your macaroni and cheese. Or here's your hot dog. Or here's your chicken nuggets.” or whatever. They put everything broccoli, beans, carrots. They just put everything out in front of them and let the children choose what they want it to eat. And they then calculated all the nutrients. And they'd figured out that, intuitively, these toddlers who they're too young to have had societal – I don't know – norms imposed on them. They're just listening to the instinct of their body. They kind of looked at a whole week's snapshot of what they ate all week.
So maybe one day they did mono eating. They only ate carrot. So they only ate rice. And of course, as a parent, you're freaking out thinking, “Okay. This kid is going to be nutrient deficient because they're only eating this one food.” But by the end of the week, all of the children had a balanced diet of all the nutrients they needed. And their illnesses started to reverse. So they started to notice that over time, letting the children gravitate towards and choose the food. So intuitively, they wanted to eat, like, let's say, all broccoli that day. And then the next day they want to eat only apples and only bananas. And their bodies just knew to eat what they needed to eat. Children eat until they no longer feel hungry versus adults eat until we feel full. We have to feel the sensation like nothing else can fit inside me. Whereas, children will eat just until hunger goes away and then they'll go play. And I thought, “Man, that really -” because I was trying to think when I was young – when I was a kid, I was skinny. And food wasn't even in my mind. I would eat when I was hungry until the hunger went away and then I go and play again. So it's a real big difference. Something shifts in us.
[00:25:55] Chef AJ: [Inaudible 00:25:57] profound. That is really profound. Eat until no longer hungry and still full instead of until full when overly. A lot of people until they're completely overly stuffed they don't even know they're full. And I think part of it has to do with eating processed food and animal products. Because think about it, Ashley, processed food and animal products have a lot in common. And that they aren't completely devoid of fiber and water. And when you're eating, most of your calories are from animal products and processed food. Which is what most Americans do, over 92% of calories, in fact. You're not going to feel full until you've over eaten because your stretch receptors aren't going to be activated by the water and fiber that would be in those whole plant foods that we were designed to eat.
[00:26:39] Ashley James: Uh-huh. Right. So if you're eating a turkey sandwich or something, there's bread, for example, is dehydrated in a sense that it's very calorically dense but doesn't take up a lot of room in the stomach. So you have to eat a lot more before you feel full. But then you've eaten hundreds of calories more than you actually needed.
[00:27:02] Chef AJ: Absolutely. Because think about it, all whole grains are about 500 calories a pound. When you mill the whole grains into flour to make bread, it's now 1,500 calories a pound. It's triple the caloric density. So anytime you process a food, you make it calorically rich and nutrient poor. So you you're right, to feel full, you have to eat a lot more bread than you do whole grain. And that's why I wrote my first book on processed because my feeling was, whether you want to be vegan or not, I can't make you. But we're still not designed to eat processed foods. Our stomachs are about the size of a cantaloupe. They hold about a liter of food, which is about 4.22 cups. I can easily eat 500 calories of brown rice. That's about, let's say, it's three cups or something like that. I'll feel really full because I'll activate my mechanisms of satiety, my stretch in nutrient and calorie receptors. But if I have to eat that much flour or bread, I won't feel full because they won't activate the mechanism stylus
Water is so important. I don't mean just drinking water, which of course we should. Because water in it of itself has no society. It won't make you feel full. Even if you drink a gallon of water, it will make you feel full for a little bit but it exits the digestive tract too quickly. But when water is bound to the whole natural food, like the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and legumes, it not only has weight but it creates bulk because it's attached to the fiber. And that bulk is what creates satiety that allows us to stop eating before we're overly full. That's why people mutilate their bodies and have gastric bypass is to make their stomach, which is about 4.22 cups now hold maybe a cup or less so that they will get in touch again with what it feels like to feel full. Whereas, if you just change the composition of what you eat, that's nature's gastric bypass.
[00:28:53] Ashley James: I love how you have a rule of eating two pounds of vegetables a day at a minimum, right? So it's a minimum.
[00:29:01] Chef AJ: That's minimum. When I was losing weight, I was eating probably four or maybe more. That's the minimum that I think everyone should eat just for optimal health. But if you're trying to lose weight, you want to eat more vegetables. Vegetables are the food that are not only lowest in caloric density but highest in nutrient density. And whenever your diet is nutrient deficient, you're going to over, over eat on calories looking for nutrients. But you're looking for them in all the wrong places. Some vegetables are actually considered fruits botanically. So things like zucchini, eggplant, tomato, bell pepper, okra, and cucumber. These are botanically fruits. But we classify them as non-starchy vegetables. There are about 67 calories per pound. For the same amount of calories in one tablespoon of olive oil, you could eat two pounds of zucchini. That's a lot of food. You can air fry it and make it taste as delicious as you want.
But when people really understand calorie density, most people opt in. Because who wants to eat gimbal sized portions of food and be chained to having to weigh and measure their food for the rest of their life? So vegetables are incredible because they fill you up on so few calories. It's almost as if you burn more calories in chewing and digesting of the vegetables than even in the vegetables.
And I think you might have interviewed Dr. Alan Goldhamer. He's one of my mentors. Well, one of the things he said to me is, “Show me an overweight person. And I'll show you someone who is unwilling to eat enough raw salad and steamed vegetables.” That really is one of the greatest secrets to weight loss and weight maintenance and good health is to eat more vegetables. And people are like, “I could never eat two pounds.” “Really?” Because they don't have a problem eating a two pound box See's Candy. It's not that much two pounds of vegetables. And that's true, if you were trying to eat two pounds of raw kale, that would be a lot. But if you cook your vegetables, if you steam them, it reduces the volume.
Honestly when I make my balsamic Dijon glazed Brussels sprouts from a pound of Brussels sprouts, it's like two handfuls of food. It's not that much food. And because you've got the fiber and the water intact, it's going to be filling. And I don't want people to just eat vegetables because that wouldn't be enough calories. They need the starch. The complex carbohydrates that we talked about at the beginning of the show that people are afraid of, the potatoes and sweet potatoes and winter squashes and rice and beans to feel full. But I mean that is really the secret. Every meal you eat, even breakfast, make sure that half of your plate is non-starchy vegetables. You do that your health will soar, your weight will decrease if you need to lose weight, your skin will glow.
Like I'm almost 60. And if people watch my YouTube channel, there's some episodes where I've got a lot of makeup on because I play around with makeup. Actually, since I live in the desert, I don't wear it anymore because it's just too hot and it will just melt off your face. But I enjoyed in the past wearing makeup. So you'll see some [inaudible 00:31:46] wears a lot of makeup. But really, most of them now, nothing. No makeup. And people say, “Oh my god, your skin glows.” Well, it's the vegetables. It's the fruit and vegetables, the antioxidants. Most Americans are on an antioxidant poor diet. They look for these health creams or these potions to put on their skin with antioxidants. You've got to take them internally by eating lots of fruits and vegetables. That really – it seems so simple but yet so few people do it.
[00:32:17] Ashley James: I love that you bring up this idea of antioxidants. Actually, that's something that Eric Thornton, who I told you about has been on the show several times. He says, “You know, humans don't make their own antioxidants like vitamin C.” And we do make glutathione. It's very hard for the body to make glutathione. There's a lot of cool factors. It's very expensive – I should say – for the body to make glutathione. So that's our own antioxidant. But our body doesn't produce vitamin C. For example, cats, and dogs, and goats, and wolves, they make their own vitamin C. So animals that are designed to eat other animals and don't eat plants need to make vitamin C because they're not going to eat it.
And that's another argument for why we're supposed to be plant based. We need to eat the vitamin C. We need to take in the antioxidants from the plants. Because our bodies don't produce it. So we need to bring it in as much as possible because we're not going to get it. So like these animals that don't produce it, get it from their food, get it from the plants. So plant eaters don't produce the vitamin C. I'm sure a zoologist could correct me if there are any animals that are an exception. But my understanding is that animals that do produce vitamin C almost exclusively eat meat. And animals that don't produce vitamin C and other antioxidants, don't do so because they were designed to get it from plants.
[00:33:51] Chef AJ: It doesn't make sense what you're saying. There's really nothing you can't get from a plant based diet that you can get in a better and more utilizable form in an animal based diet. There's only one exception, vitamin B12. And it's not because animals contain vitamin B12. It's because they eat the dirt. Which we have very good hygienic practices now and the soil is depleted. That's where the vitamin B12 is. People they go, “You need the cow to get the B12.” The cow got it from eating the grass because the dirt is where the B12 was. So that's really the only thing that people have – if they have to worry – worry about. And the truth is, there are just as many carnivores that are B12 deficient as being. So it's not even really something to worry about.
[00:34:34] Ashley James: Right. You're saying that people, regardless of what diet they're on, whether they eat meat or not, there's a percentage of the population they're B12 deficient because they don't get enough of that bacteria, basically. So that's a good supplement to be on. It's a really good bioavailable form of B12. Unless, we're going out in our own garden and picking stuff out of the ground and eating it while the bacteria is still on it. There was a study done on vegans in India versus the same heritage of people eating the same diet in the UK. And they found that those in India were not vitamin B12 deficient and they were vegan. But it was the bacteria that they were getting from the food versus the very sterilized food that they were eating in the UK. And so they were showing that it's more about the bacteria. And maybe if you're eating food that's right out of the ground, really fresh, not sterilized, that you are less likely to be B12 deficient. So it's nothing to do with meat consumption necessarily. I like that you pointed that out.
I started steaming a pound of vegetables for breakfast almost every morning or trying to get it in as early as possible. But I found that when I do that, my energy goes through the roof. I feel so good. My family has been able to quit caffeine and not even feel a blip. Not even feel caffeine deprived. Some people go, “I could never do a day without.” If I get a pound of vegetables in, in the morning, that's like my cup of coffee now.
[00:36:09] Chef AJ: Yeah. Absolutely. And do you drink the liquid? Because that's called pot liquor, Ashley. And I love the liquid from the steamed greens. That's like a turbocharged drink. You don't need caffeine when you have green, seriously.
[00:36:21] Ashley James: That is so funny you mentioned that. So my grandmother was born in 1912 in Toronto. And she was about to die of type 1 diabetes. When insulin was invented and first used in Toronto on the children there, she was one of the first ever to receive insulin. And she lived to be 77 years old. Would have kept living but it was very hard to manage them back in the 80s. It was in 1987. A harder back then to manage type 1 diabetes and so she fell into a coma. And we didn't catch her in time because she was still living on her own in her own condo. She taught me as a child to steam vegetables and then let the water cool and drink the water. And that was one of the things she did every day and was one of her secrets to her health. So I love that you brought that up.
[00:37:04] Chef AJ: Absolutely. And it's delicious and it tastes different every day depending on what vegetables you use. If you use something like butternut squash, for example, it's going to be really sweet. But I love pot liquor, it's the best. I didn't know it was called that, actually, until I spoke in New Orleans. I just thought it was broth but it's really good.
[00:37:22] Ashley James: So are there actually nutrients? Is there, like, a noticeable amount of nutrients in the water? Or is it just hydrate with flavorful steamed water?
[00:37:32] Chef AJ: Yeah. I'm sure that there's nutrients. They say something like 30% of the vitamins and minerals of vegetables are lost during cooking. But if you're steaming them and if you drink the water, you're not missing out on any of them.
[00:37:46] Ashley James: How many minutes do you steam your vegetables for?
[00:37:51] Chef AJ: So it just depends if I'm doing it on the stove or in the pressure cooker. So if I'm doing it in the pressure cooker, my Instant Pot, and they're not cut up small, the greens, I might do as much as five minutes. But if it's a vegetable like zucchini or even broccoli where it's going to turn to mush, it might be zero to one minute. On the stove, it probably takes a few more minutes. Just until the water boils.
[00:38:11] Ashley James: You've got some fantastic videos on YouTube. I love all your cooking videos on YouTube. You make it really accessible. I really enjoy that. What other points really stand out in your mind? Did you have any aha moments as you were doing your summit?
[00:38:27] Chef AJ: Yeah, so many. I almost wish I could have been a guest on my own summit after the summit just to summarize everything I learned. But one of the things is, there's a movement called like Health At Every Size. And of course, we should never make fun of people, criticize them, blame them, shame them for having any kind of disability or disease. I think of being overweight or obese as a disability.
But what this doctor said that is that, that's a myth. You really can't have health at every size. And they explained why medically. Every disease is, you're so much more susceptible to having these diseases, even cancer and the specific kinds of cancer when you're overweight. And of course, the more you're overweight, the more risk. So it's not just about visually looking a certain way. It's about that when you have more fat, you have more blood – I'm not going to do it just as the way these doctors explained it medically. But your risk for disease just increases exponentially with every pound. You have to take this seriously. Like 66% more likely to get type 2 diabetes and all the various cancers. Breast cancer, for example, that you're going to be more prone to with every extra pound of body fat. And I never really looked at it that way, because as a female, you just care about being thin because that's how you're raised. It's better. And you won't get a date or to go to the prom. I didn't get asked to my prom. I was the fat kid from age five until age 50.
I never really thought about that the health consequences long term or short term of being overweight or obese. But these doctors explained what they were. So that was really, really eye opening because people should accept themselves and love themselves at every weight. But they have to understand that a lot of people – I've heard people say, “Well, I'm healthy.” They have a physical or maybe there's just no markers at that time when they've had their blood tested. But if you are overweight or obese, you're not healthy. You're certainly not as healthy as you can be. That you are a disease waiting to happen, if you will. And so I think people need to understand that from a health standpoint. And maybe they'll take better control of their health. And of course, if people would just eat better and eat in a healthful manner, their weight would come off.
So people are approaching it backwards. They're approaching it like, “Well, I have to go on a diet and lose weight.” But they're not even going on a healthful diet like the one we. They're going on something that will give them results very quickly like a keto or a paleo. Because when you don't eat carbs, of course, you'll lose all that water weight. But you're not really losing fat. The way we eat, I mean, it took me 27 months to lose 50 pounds. It's slow weight loss but it's sustainable. And I kept it off for almost eight years now. So many people are desperate to lose weight that they're willing to mortgage their health in the short term doing the keto type diet. So you need to look at it like diet – and again, one thing they all agreed on is if you eat or diet for health. If you eat for health, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, a whole food plant based diet, lower in fat, no processed food, no animal products, alcohol, things like that. Then when you eat in this manner for health, the weight ceases to become an issue because it really does fall off. And so people are approaching it backwards.
The other thing I learned that I wish I hadn't learned. And if you're female, you're not going to like this. And I'm sorry, but it's good to know. And this was from Dr. Rosane Oliveira, who is a geneticist at UC Davis, and Dr. Michelle McMacken, a family practice doctor in New York. They both talked about this concept called metabolic disadvantage. And we all know that most people can lose weight. And they have lost weight sometime in their life following whatever dietary style they chose at the time. But most people can't maintain their weight loss. Something like 98% of people that ever lose weight through a great deal of suffering and deprivation, gain it all back usually within two years. And part of it, I think, is because people look at this as a diet. So they look at eating a certain way to lose weight. And then they go back to the diet that made them fat and sick and think that they're going to maintain their weight.
[00:42:32] Ashley James: Temporarily, yeah. Eat this way temporarily and then it'll be done.
[00:42:37] Chef AJ: Yeah. It's sort of like an alcoholic saying, “You know what? I'm not going to drink any alcohol until I get sober. But once I'm sober, I'm going to go back to drinking alcohol.” Well, then you're not going to be sober anymore. It's sort of the same thing. People understand this with other substances but not so much with food. But what these doctors explained is that – and this is especially important with females because they're generally the people that really want to lose weight – for example, if you have a woman that is five-foot-five inches tall and weighs 125 pounds, which is probably a pretty good weight for that female. And let's say this woman has always been that weight as an adult never had weight issues. She needs a certain amount of calories every day just to maintain her 125 pound, five-foot-five inch frame.
Let's say you have another woman that's five-foot-five inches and weighed 175 pounds or whatever she weighed. And then she lost weight to now weigh her ideal weight of 125 pounds. Well due to this penalty, if you will, a metabolic disadvantage. And the reason Dr. Oliveira knows this is because she has a biologically identical twin sister. And they've done all kinds of experiments. Because the sister went on a low carb diet. And Dr. Oliveira eats a low-fat whole food plant based diet. Has never been overweight. The sister was 50 pounds overweight. And eventually lost the weight but it's been very difficult. Compared to Rosane.
Now, is the person that lost weight needs far fewer calories to maintain your 125 pound frame than the person that was never overweight. And this is why it can be so difficult. Because while you're overweight, you get to eat many more calories than you do once you lose weight. But if you've been overweight, it's like a penalty. And you can't eat as many calories as somebody who is your exact weight that's never been overweight.
Now, Dr. Oliveira says in a couple of years, if you stick to the program, this often can reverse itself so that you can get more calories. But this is just completely unfair. But people need to know this. And when they know this, if they follow the way of eating I recommend – losing weight with a full plate in accordance with the principles of calorie density – they can still eat large volumes of food. Maybe even more food than they ate before. And still maintain that weight loss without going hungry. But they need to know that they can't go back to eating the way they were eating before they lost weight.
[00:44:51] Ashley James: That's one thing when I first went this way of eating. I was hungry all the time. And my first thought – and I think I even asked you in our interview or I think asked you may be outside the interview – I can't remember – but I remember going, “Am I protein deficient?” Because again, I was a newbie. I was eating lots of vegetables and lots of legumes and beans and nuts and seeds and all that. But no meat. And I was hungry 45 minutes after or an hour after eating a meal. And I couldn't figure out why. And I think you were the one that told me you're not eating enough. And I was like, “Oh.” Because my plate would be – I'd fill my stomach up. And it would only be like 200 or 300 calories because it's a potato and some beans and some broccoli. And it was delicious. And maybe put some homemade salsa on it or something. Again, very low calorie, very high dense nutrition wise, lots of fantastic vitamins and minerals, and really great nutrients for the body. But then an hour later, I was hungry. And so I'm thinking, “Is it because my body is missing something? And it's like, “No. silly. I just didn't eat enough food. I just need to eat more.”
So that's one thing that happens when people transition into this is that they're hungrier because they think they just eat a potato and some beans and some spinach. And that's only like 300 or 400 calories. It's not what they're used to. They're used to like 1,200 calories a meal, right?
[00:46:25] Chef AJ: Right. Absolutely. And that's why it's really important, in my opinion, to understand calorie density so that you know you have to eat more to weigh less. You have to. Because if you apply the same thinking to your previous dietary failures to this way of eating, you will starve. Because like you say, vegetables are 100 calories a pound, fruit 200 to 300 calories a pound, sweet potatoes, potatoes 400 calories a pound. We need to eat. However, many calories we eat, we need to eat several pounds of food a day in order to feel full.
Dr. Barbara Rolls at Penn State University who studies human eating behavior in her laboratory. The author of the book, Volume Metrics, that you had mentioned previously. She discovered that we all eat about three to five pounds of food a day. Now, an Olympic athlete, is going to eat more than a four- foot-ten, 90 year old woman. Of course, not everybody eats the same amount of food. But most of us consistently eat between three to five pounds of food per day. We need to eat that much food in order to feel full. And so when you change the caloric density of your food, if you are eating most of your calories from animal products and processed food, which are of very high caloric density -what I call to the right of the red line – you wouldn't need as much food. But now, if you're lowering the caloric density to 600 calories per pound or less – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes – you're going to need to eat a greater volume of food in order to feel full. And this is a mistake people make.
Another mistake they make is they shun the starch. The starch meaning the whole grains, the legumes, the potatoes, and winter squashes. People are still afraid of starch. So they'll give up the animal products and the oils and the processed food and the alcohol. And they'll just eat fruits and vegetables, which is very healthy. But it's a mistake. Because without starch, you won't have that satiety. That feeling of fullness that tells us to stop eating. No starch, no satiety. Starch is to the hunger drive, what oxygen is to breathing. And that is what's going to make you satisfied.
The fruits and vegetables they fill – think about like you have a box. And if you just filled it with packing peanuts, there's still be lots of space in the box. And you need to fill the whole box. And your stomach is like that box. So you can you can fill it with the packing peanuts, with the fruits and vegetables. But there's still a lot of space left over. You need to have the starch. So the starch is going to make you feel satisfied. But the fruits and vegetables are going to make you feel full. So that's why you want to eat half your plate vegetables, then the other half mostly starch with maybe some fruit. You'll feel full. You'll feel satisfied. If you have a lifestyle related disease like heart disease or type 2 diabetes, most people will be able to reverse it. And many people will be able to prevent it by eating the way that our ancestors ate.
[00:49:11] Ashley James: I like that you brought up type 2 diabetes. I used to have type 2 diabetes. And I reversed it by shifting my lifestyle and my diet. Originally, when I shifted it, I went low carb. It felt like a long uphill battle with constantly checking my blood sugar. It took a long time to get to a point where I didn't have diabetes anymore. I noticed I could easily recreate blood sugar imbalance. Going on this diet, I kept hearing all the experts that I've interviewed say you can absolutely reverse type 2 diabetes 100%. You can even get type 1 Diabetes to be more efficient. Some people have reported getting on 75% less insulin needed after eating this way. And yet it's the most carbs they've ever eaten in their life.
So I was tracking what I was eating and it was over 200 grams of carbohydrates a day eating this way. And this little voice in my head is thinking, “You're crazy. You're going to give yourself diabetes.” And of course, most of my brain went, “No. Just listen. Just wait. Wait and see. You're going to be impressed.” The little critic in my head. And sure enough, like a month after eating this way, I took my blood sugar two hours after a meal and burst into tears. I'd never seen healthier blood sugar in my life eating this way. My blood work I just got back from the doctor – and I haven't been diabetic for years. But it's always monitoring it. And my blood work is- my insulin is super healthy. A1C is, like, 4.7. And I'm eating more carbohydrates than I ever have in my life. They're just the right kind.
And so for those diabetics that are listening who are afraid to eat a banana or afraid to eat a potato, why is it that when we cut out the meat and the fat from – the processed fat, like the oil, and we eat a whole food plant based, why is it that bounces blood sugar? Everyone's blaming the sugar.
[00:51:12] Chef AJ: Right. And when the problem is fat. And you know who can answer that question for you beautifully other than Dr. Neal Barnard, is Robby and Cyrus. They have a program called Mastering Diabetes. They are both type 1 diabetics. And they actually have a podcast too. They make great guests individually or together for you. Because they can totally explain why a high carb, low fat diet works beautifully for health, for reversing, and living with diabetes for the people that are type 1. And also just for preventing other common diseases of lifestyle and reversing them like obesity and heart disease.
[00:51:47] Ashley James: Yeah. I had one of them on my show. That's what convinced me. Because they have type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They eat nothing but bananas for the first three days just to kind of reset themselves. And people are freaking out. But then they're like, “Wow. My blood sugar is coming back into balance. I can't believe it.” So that's what had me kind of go, “Wow. This is really real.” And there's something about fat that clogs up the cells. It seemed totally – I mean, we're myth busting. But it's going against the mainstream narrative. The mainstream narrative is diabetics need to cut back. You know, basically diabetics should go on keto is what the mainstream narrative is going towards. And yet, that's going to create further problems with insulin resistance down the road.
[00:52:31] Chef AJ: Absolutely. And the thing is it works. I mean, they get better numbers. But then they're creating heart disease for themselves.
[00:52:39] Ashley James: It only works as long as they're in ketosis. But then the second they eat even an apple, they're having problems because it's actually the fat that's creating more and more insulin resistance. And it's the wrong kind of fat. If you eat a handful of walnuts, it's not going to do it. It's the processed oils and the meat and the dairy. It's just amazing looking at the science of food and how we can heal the body. It's really exciting.
And of course, these diseases that are coming back into balance, people even in your Facebook Group are sharing, “You know, I used to have this and now I don't have it.” What kind of amazing lifestyle diseases have you seen reversed, eating this way?
[00:53:19] Chef AJ: Oh my gosh. So many. Just this week when I spoke at a conference, a lady came up to me and she is on the donor list for a kidney. And because of eating this way, it just keeps getting delayed. So I don't know if she's still going to need that kidney or not. But the point is, is that she's not in dire kidney failure anymore. She just keeps getting better. And they're like, “Oh. We don't necessarily have to do this now.” I had somebody come up to me once and said, “You know, I didn't even buy your book. I just watched your YouTube show. And I reversed stage four kidney failure.” I mean, that's unbelievable, right?
I mean, usually by then they're getting ready for dialysis. So it's unbelievable what it will do if people will just give it a chance. I mean, heart disease is the one you hear all the time, high triglycerides, high cholesterol, high blood pressure. That, you hear all the time because we know that from Dr. Esselstyn [inaudible 00:54:14] prevent reverse heart disease if people eat this way. Those things are pretty much guaranteed to improve. But as you said, type 2 diabetes. Type 1, no. I've never seen anybody completely reverse it. Like you say, they have lowered their need for insulin dramatically and gained health in other ways. Cancer, I can't say anybody said. Who knows what they're preventing with this. But I have never seen anybody just reverse their cancer eating this way. But I've seen them improve their health. So that when they have to go through the procedures that they often get with chemotherapy or radiation, their health just improves while they're doing it
I would never say, “Eat this way, you won't get cancer. You reverse it.” No. But I think you will just greatly improve your health on so many levels that when you're dealing with any kind of disease, it's going to be so much easier. Well, of course, obesity. I mean, people have been – as you know, being in the ultimate weight loss group, people have reversed that. We've had people lose 300 pounds. That was the most spectacular one. But it's very common for people to lose 50 and 100. And keep it off. Well, that's the most important part.
[00:55:27] Ashley James: Yeah. But also, I love that the culture of your group encourages people to share the non-scale achievements. The successes that have nothing to do with getting on scale because we can kind of sabotage ourselves by jumping on a scale every day. And so people are sharing like, “I've never been able to run around my grandchildren. And I just spent the entire day running around with them.” Or, “I've never been able to go hiking with my dogs and now I can.” Or, “I'm fitting into clothing I have been able to fit into since college.” And they're sharing these emotional breakthroughs that they're having incredible energy and vitality. And they're feeling free of the constraints of this disease that is in part created by, obviously, the food choices but also the hyper palatable foods that contribute to triggering overeating. So some people actually have an addiction, addictive personalities, or they're looking to food in a way like we would look to drugs or alcohol.
But other people don't necessarily have an emotional eating issue. But food is like a drug. And that hyper palatable food is designed to trigger the brain to want to eat more and more and more of it. It's like cleansing the palate when we eat the way you teach us to eat. It cleanses the palate and calms the mind. So now the mind is not being hijacked by food anymore.
[00:56:55] Chef AJ: Absolutely. We call them non-scale victories, NSV, which is also an acronym for non-starchy vegetables. But yeah, you're right. Those are so much more meaningful especially that they're more meaningful than losing the weight. But they're more immediate in a lot of ways. Because people don't realize that you don't lose weight overnight. If you're a female, you lose about two ounces of fat a day. And that's why weighing yourself is one of the worst things you can do while you're losing weight, especially if you weigh yourself every day. Maybe every month. But you can have other things like improvement in your markers, like blood pressure, and all the numbers, like cholesterol and triglycerides, and things like that. Or getting on the floor and playing with your grandchildren. I mean, to me, that's the reason to do it.
[00:57:40] Ashley James: Uh-huh. Absolutely. Any other keys that stick out in your mind that really were big aha moments when you were doing your interviews for your summit?
[00:57:51] Chef AJ: Yeah. It's funny because one of the things Dr. Allen Goldhamer, who I mentioned previously, as my mentor, he has this funny thing where he says, “You know, I assess a person's intelligence by how much they agree with me.” And I actually spoke very little in the summit. I had about four questions that I asked each guests for the one hour interview. But it was really mostly about the guests. And I was kind of just there to run tech. But I had about four questions that I asked everyone.
And what was interesting is that there was something that I had been teaching since day one, when I started coaching people and running the ultimate weight loss program, first in person and then online, was the importance of your environment when you are trying to lose weight or recover from an addiction or just improve your health or lifestyle in any way. And people would always get upset with me. I'm not a doctor. And they would just like, “Well, I can it's too hard. I live -” all these excuses. Every single person on the summit said how critical the environment was. From Dr. Doug Lisle, who said, we must work harder on the environment than we do ourselves. From Fitness Guru John Pierre, we must sanitize our environment. There was one saying about they have the saying AA – not LA – but maybe in LA at the AA, whereas, if you hang around a barbershop long enough, it's just a matter of time until you get a haircut.
I've been saying to people for years that, if it's in your house, it's in your mouth. And it's not a question of if you will eat it only when. But then when we have the co-author of The China Study, Dr. Tom Campbell saying, if you have temptation anywhere in your environment, you will fail. People actually listen because he's a doctor. So the environment is critical towards your recovery from an addiction of any kind, towards your success for weight loss. We're not designed to eat these foods. And we're genetically hardwired to always consume the most concentrated source of calories in our environment. And if it's in your house, you're going to eat it. And you might be able to use willpower in the short term. But eventually, you're going to have a bad day and you're going to be hungry and there's going to be sometime in the future or even if it's not your favorite flavor junk food or whatever, you're going to eat it. It never fails. And that's why for an in person client, I will not work with them unless they completely sanitize their environment and I actually see it. But it's going to be really hard if you're not willing to clean your environment.
A lot of people say, “Well, my husband and kids won't eat this way.” That's fine. They can eat however they want out of your house. But you can't have junk food in your environment if you want to recover. If you're an alcoholic, you can't have alcohol for company. You just can't. And you got to know it's the same thing with these high fat, high calorie, hyperpalatable foods. So it was really reassuring to hear that I've been on the right track for the last 20 years explaining to people the importance of cleaning their environment if they want to affect permanent dietary and lifestyle change. So that was great to have that reinforced.
And then the other thing that I also teach after the environment is clean is, you've got to have some kind of preparation. You can't just clean the environment of all the crap and then just have no food in your house. You'll be like Mother Hubbard with a bare cupboard. You have to have the healthy food there so that that is the default. People say, “Oh, my kids are such picky eaters.” Your kids aren't picky. They're just not hungry. And as long as junk food is a choice, instead of cut up vegetables with hummus and guacamole or fresh fruit, they're always going to pick the junk food. They're never going to pick the healthy food. But if all you see when you open your refrigerator are beautiful glass jars of cut up fruits and vegetables and cooked sweet potatoes, you will eat them, your family will eat them. So now we got to figure out how to get that food in your house. Preparation always tramps motivation. So if you're angry, tired, lonely, bored, but that's all that's in your house is whole natural food. Guess what? You're going to eat it. So how do we get the food in there?
Well, a lot of people don't even know how to cook. Believe it or not. I had a client recently with a 44 year old woman. She didn't even know how to microwave a potato. I'm not kidding you. People eat fast food as their primary source of food these days. So we either have to teach you how to cook. And there's plenty of programs, mine, there's other programs, you can take cooking classes online or in person. So we need to teach you some kitchen essentials, like how to use an instant pot, maybe an air fryer. So we either got to teach you how to cook or we got to get the food in there some other way. Like, maybe using one of these whole food delivery services where you can get the food delivered to you, either dehydrated or refrigerated, so that the food is there. Or you got to get somebody else to do it. And it's not as expensive as you think. So it's like you need the environment clean but you need the preparation to have the good stuff in the environment. And these sort of go hand in hand.
And then I would say, the third leg of – I don't know how many legs does a stool have, three or four? Well, the third the third leg of the triangle – I'm not sure – I think about it as sort of a three-fold process. You clean the environment of the bad stuff. You learn how to get good stuff in the environment on an ongoing basis. And you find a community to support yourself. Many of the experts said that that was really important. Because no man is an island. And when you're asking somebody to do something that goes against the norm, that's completely different, then possibly they're friends and family. See, it's great that your family did this as a unit. But not every family will be cooperative. You need to find like-minded people. That's why we have the Ultimate Weight Loss Facebook Group. I have now one called Feel Fabulous Over 40. But you don't have to be over 40. You don't even have to be a female to be in there. Where we provide ongoing education and support so that people don't feel so alone. And the education is so important, Ashley. Especially when you have all this misinformation out there about keto and paleo and even doctors telling you to do this. If people don't have some rudimentary answers to give people and they say, “Well, why are you eating vegetables? ” They need some kind of education and support system so that they don't feel alone. And when you're with like-minded people and you're raised up and supported by people that are on the same path as you, that's really a wonderful thing.
[01:03:58] Ashley James: I love it. I love that you said preparation tramps motivation. I feel like I've had to learn all this the hard way. Even though I've heard it along the way, I feel like I still am one of those people that I just have to do it the hard way. And if there is anything in the house that is a temptation – you're right – if it's like I'm tired, it's dinnertime. I'm going to go for the easiest possible, like, the frozen pizza, right? The easiest possible solution. I'm not going to go for the, “Oh, it's going to take me a-half-an-hour to cook this. No. I'm going to go for the what can I throw in the oven.” Because when we're hungry, it's like all of our goals go out the window.
[01:04:36] Chef AJ: Yes. Also, willpower, which you can use for a short period of time. Will power gets depleted easily, especially if you're tired, especially if you have to make a decision. But you never have to decide to not eat something that isn't there in the first place.
[01:04:53] Ashley James: Exactly. What I do is I go to Costco when they have it. They don't always have it. But they have a right now at my Costco, at least. And it's a giant bag of sweet potatoes. There's probably about ten of them in there. One bag lasts us about three days, I'd say. We also had a farm close by, U-Pick Farm. So we did this all summer long. And it was all organic. And they had two kinds of potatoes. And I would fill up buckets, like giant, giant bins of potatoes. Having a ton of them in the house. And then I bake a bunch. Like I get a huge thing that fills the oven and I bake six to eight big sweet potatoes at a time, 375 or 400 degrees for 90 minutes. I just let them go. And then I peel them. And I have them in the fridge and they're ready to go cold. Cold as a snack. I'll have potato is a snack, like, in between interviews.
I heard this summer that sweet potatoes gives you energy for nine hours. It take nine hours for the body to digest and absorb all the nutrients from it. So it's kind of like this slow drip of nine hours of energy from sweet potatoes. My son who's four and a half love sweet potatoes. And I think, like just last night for dinner, that's all he ate was a sweet potatoes for dinner. And then we'll add it to salads cold or we'll heat it up and make a mash or we'll make a stew out of it. It's a great base for a stew. But just basically having a ton of cooked potatoes and cooked sweet potatoes already in the fridge is great. And then I usually have a few pounds of cooked vegetables or steamed or sautéed or baked – and sautéed with no oil, it's with water – in the fridge just ready to go. And so if I'm really hungry – and I love you're saying, “If you're not hungry enough to eat vegetables, you're not hungry” because that's become my mantra. I open the fridge and I fill my plate.
And there's that voice that goes, “This isn't going to be fun. Where's the fun food?” But the second you start eating it, that voice goes away because the food is delicious. I just have to acknowledge that that there's that voice that wants to cover it with cheese or ranch dressing or something completely gross and unhealthy but that it's hyperpalatable. So there's that little voice in my head that still goes, “This isn't yummy. Where's the yummy food? Give me the bad food.” And I just have to tell it to take a hike. And the second that sweet potato or homemade salsa on some kind of vegetable hits my lips, that voice goes away because the food's delicious. And it's very satisfying. So eating foods that are whole food, meaning you know exactly what you're putting in your body, you know all the ingredients. And then it's just something amazing happens where my energy, I feel like I'm buzzing. My body just feels like I'm burning clean fuel. Do You know what I mean? It feels so good.
[01:07:52] Chef AJ: Absolutely. I could live on sweet potatoes and I practically do. And what's great about Costco is they're actually organic.
[01:08:00] Ashley James: Oh, yes. I only buy organic as much as possible, as often as possible. And then Whole Foods has lowered their prices since Amazon bought Whole Foods. And so a lot of people who have avoided Whole Foods because of pricing, go back. Go back to Whole Foods. They do have more affordable organic vegetables now. So we do that and we buy in bulk. If you have a large family, there's ways to get organic for cheap. You can talk to the grocer. And often you can order in bulk, like by the case. And that saves a lot of money. So there's fun tricks.
And then the thing that has really fallen into place for me has been staying on program when I'm leaving the house. Because that's where it's like I can clean my environment. I can control my environment in my house. But I can't control the chaotic world outside. And so I think I'm only leaving the house for one errand and then one leads to another leads to another and now I'm out for the whole day and I'm really hungry. And that's where it's like, “Good luck finding really healthy food.” And so I love that you have a technique where you pack food with you wherever you go. Can you share a bit about that?
[01:09:07] Chef AJ: Yeah. I actually [inaudible 01:09:09] free webinars. It's on my YouTube page, How To Eat Healthfully Anywhere. And it's true. The world is not set up to support us in healthy eating. Your environment is everywhere you go. So you could have a perfectly clean environment at home with delicious food. But you go out and eating unhealthful food, junk food is socially acceptable, readily available, easily affordable. It's everywhere. You go to the hardware store, you go to the pet store, there's m&m's at the counter. Even though dogs aren't supposed to eat m&m's. A cooler, I have actually – because I'm female and I don't mind having a purse. I mean, the gentleman may not want to have a lady's purse. But if you're lady that already carries a purse, they make so many beautiful cooler purses. I've gotten some from Tupperware. I've gotten some on Amazon, Bed, Bath and Beyond. I think my favorite are in my Amazon store. But these look exactly like stylish women's purses but their coolers. And you can have an ice chip in there so that you can sneak them into the movies or wherever you go. And I always make sure – and it's not just about fruits or vegetables, but you got to have that [inaudible 01:10:15]. We call it pimping it, P-I-M-P, you know, Potato In My Purse. Always have a cooked potato or sweet potato with you. So that is so, so important to do that.
The one day you don't take the food is the one day you're not going to be back in an hour. “I'm just going to stroll. I'll be back in an hour.” And that's the day that you're going to get a flat tire. It's going to be like six hours. So while it's true that hunger is not an emergency. And I like to teach my people that they can go several hours without food. That you always have it with you. I generally don't like people to eat dried snacks, dehydrated stuff. They're not as good for weight loss because the water has been [inaudible 01:10:56]. But there's certain things that you can get without oil, sugar, or salt, like a [inaudible 01:11:00] or sprouts. It's just carrots but they're dried, right? Or just beats. And having those, you won't need a cooler for those. But those might be some good things to have in your glove apartment or with you if you really feel like you're going to be starving. Unfortunately, it's very hard to get a healthy meal at a restaurant that's completely oil free or salt free. It depends how much you want to reach your goals and why you're doing this, how strict you want to be. But in general, any food you bring is going to be less expensive. It's going to be more bountiful. It's going to be more delicious than anything you can get on the outside.
And I've traveled everywhere from Canada to Mexico multiple times, across the United States almost every week for many years and I've never had a problem. I bring my instant pot with me on the plane. I have the three quart instant pot and I can cook in my room. I have one of these little microwave steamers from Tupperware and Pampered Chef that if I don't want to bring my Instant Pot, I can easily cook vegetables. Because most hotels now have microwaves. And if they don't, there's usually one in the lobby that you can use. But you really have to learn how to have healthful food with you.
[01:12:07] Ashley James: I love it. Oh, yes. It's made such a difference that concept. I make food in bulk. So I cook once, eat four times. They say cook once, eat twice. I like to cook once, eat for a whole week. So I fill the oven with potatoes, for example. Or when I steamed vegetables, I'm steaming close to four pounds of vegetables because I have those bamboo steamers. You stack the bamboo and it's so great. You can get them in Asian markets you can get them on Amazon. But these bamboo steamers are phenomenal. And that you can stack them. So you could do, like, three layers, three stacks or four stacks and you steam a ton of vegetables. Super delicious.
I have food already cooked in the fridge like the beans, and legumes, and the brown rice, and potatoes, and the vegetables. And then if we're going somewhere, I'm just filling up some glass, whatever Tupperware and throwing it in the cooler. That was, for me the biggest trick. That was, like, the last thing to kind of make everything fall into place. Because if I were to eat out at a restaurant and go eat, even if it's vegan food, it's still covered in oil and just filled with salt and sugar and all kinds of stuff. I would feel kind of crappy for a few days after eating that. But then the cravings come back. And then it's like a mental mind mess for a few days. Because then I'm like, fighting those little voice in my head saying, “Oh, you deserve this.” Or, “You should have this. You feel so deprived.” And then it becomes more of a mental emotional fight.
[01:13:40] Chef AJ: It's so hard. The first bite is the only bite than anybody can refuse. And I just think it's so much easier to stay on track, at least for me, than to constantly trying to have to get back on track.
[01:13:56] Ashley James: So seeing how you do it has really helped. And you talked about taking it into the movie theaters. My friend Naomi, who's a listener – so she's listening. Hi, Naomi. Her and my husband and I went to see the premiere of the Game Changers last month. And she brought in her cooler purse, she baked and seasoned chickpeas just like popcorn. So we just popped these wonderfully seasoned chickpeas into our mouth. And then, I think, she had hummus and dip. And then she had baked some kind of zucchini cookies that were – she did some fantastic thing with vegetables and made them into these cookie looking things. And so we just – it was like I didn't feel deprived at all. I didn't want that oily salty popcorn. Actually no one in the theater was eating bad food. It was kind of funny because they were all on board already. But yeah, we were sitting there just feeling really satisfied bringing our healthy food into the movie theater.
I love that. I love the ability to feel prepared. And it actually gives me a lot of – it gives me a sense of wellbeing to feel prepared no matter what. It feels so good eating this way that I want to stay on this path. It's obviously working because my Naturopath says that my blood work keeps getting better and better and better every few months that I get it taken. So I'm not deprived at all. I just love it. I love it.
It's kind of like the skeptic wants to ask this question, the skeptic amigos. Has anyone ever gotten unhealthy eating this way? Has anyone ever gone like, “Man, you know, my doctor put me back on steak because this wasn't working for me.”
[01:15:39] Chef AJ: Well, I mean, I haven't had a client that has happened to that really has followed the program the way it was laid out. But there are people that do their own variations with their own additions of food that don't necessarily thrive or lose weight the same way. What I've seen though when people have been told to go back to meet by the doctors, it's often the unhealthy vegans that are not following the health promoting diet. That are just vegans for ethical reasons, which is great, because I am as well. But they eat a junk food diet and they get some kind of a disease. And their doctor says, “Oh, well. It's because you didn't eat meat.” And I'd have seen people go back to eating meat because it'll help. But not when following a whole food unprocessed plant based diet with enough calories from delicious fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
[01:16:28] Ashley James: Yeah, that's right. I think a lot of people will learn a diet like you learn your lifestyle. And then start to make little alterations. Like start to add in alcohol or the sweets or the oil once in a while. They're not going to give up the dairy in their coffee or something. They sort of negate those little things and then they start altering it more and more and more and making their own version of it. I've seen that happen in many other types of diets.
[01:17:00] Chef AJ: And you know, that's fine. But then they complain that the program didn't work. And that's because they weren't doing the program. It's like people being vegan for over 42 years and people say, “Oh, I'm vegetarian. I eat chicken and fish occasionally.” Well, you're not vegetarian. It's like, “I'm faithful to my wife except when I go on business trips.” This is where the concepts of abstinence comes in. But people don't like abstinence. It's hard. It's not sexy. And it's not something most people look forward to doing. But I will tell you that complete abstinence is a lot easier than perfect moderation. And that is a direct quote from St. Augustine.
[01:17:38] Ashley James: Wow. I like it. It's awesome. Yeah. So you have so many programs that I want to make sure that my listeners know about all your programs. So you have the website, eatunprocessed.com or chefajwebsite.com.
[01:17:58] Chef AJ: Right. They're both the same website. Absolutely.
[01:18:01] Ashley James: Okay. So either. I'll make sure the links to everything you do is in the show notes of today's podcast at learntruehealth.com. Now, you have your ultimate weight loss program, which that's the one I keep referring to this Facebook Group. And that's part of the – the Facebook Group is part of that. But just let listeners know what is the Ultimate Weight Loss Program.
[01:18:23] Chef AJ: So what that is – just so they know so that I don't want them to think that I'm there every second answering questions. I'm actually not in that group except for twice a month where I do a live q&a based on their questions to all the members, myself, and John Pierre. This is a pure supported group for people that are following the program. But what they get when they join is lots of audios and videos.
And just to explain what the program is, this was created before my book came out. So it might just be easier and more cost effective if they just want to pick up like the Kindle version of my book for less than 10 bucks to understand what the program is. But if they need the support, if they want to connect with the tribe of like minded people, then this is why they might want to join the program instead of just reading the book.
[01:19:06] Ashley James: It's worth every penny. Your Facebook Group is worth every penny. And I told my friend this I said, “You know the videos and the audios are great. They're all great. Of course, you can get it from the book too.” But really it's worth every penny for the Facebook Group support. I go in that Facebook Group almost every day and get so much information. And I love sharing in that group. I love getting the inspiration from others. And the support is truly a beautiful community. So I highly recommend. That Facebook Group is phenomenal. Yeah. Absolutely.
[01:19:43] Chef AJ: Thank you so much. And you know what's nice is that people get to know each other virtually. And then when we have our annual conference, which next year is moving from Las Vegas to Palm Springs in May, they know that people already. And so it's like a reunion or old home week or going to camp. So that's one of the nice things about it that the people have made some really nice connections and forged so many friendships. So That's pretty cool.
And in July, I started a membership website, which is a little bit different way of delivering content. And it's actually quite affordable if they go in for a whole year. It's like $12 a month. But what I do is, every single week, Wednesdays at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, we go live where they can ask questions. And not just of me but I have just amazing experts like Dr. Doug Lyle and Dr. Alan Goldhamer that come in and do these classes or do some success stories where we interview people that had that. So we have a weekly interaction for at least an hour. Plus, just meal planning tools. And my partner, Toby, we just built this amazing system where they could go in and search anything that I've ever said. Like, if they have a question and it takes it right to the video. Because I've done almost 500 YouTube videos now. And it's kind of hard, like if you have a question like, “Is stevia okay?” I don't know where it is. But if you're in the membership area, you just put the word stevia in. And anytime I've ever mentioned it in my life, the video will pop up. It's very, very cool. And there's a way to get an accountability partner. And we do, like, videos for yoga and Zumba. So it's kind of cool. It's just another group for people to have a different way of delivering content. Also, not everybody likes Facebook. And so the Feel Fabulous is not Facebook dependent. There is a group for it. But we interact with the website, which is very nice.
[01:21:33] Ashley James: Nice. So that's feelfabulousoverforty.com?
[01:21:37] Chef AJ: Yeah. And if they go to slash register, they can have two weeks for free. So we wanted to do that because we don't want somebody in there that's going to be unhappy. So we give everybody two weeks for free. And they can see if they like it. They can print out the recipes. They can create their own customized meal plan. Find an accountability partner. I mean, the longer this goes, the more videos there are. But there's just tons of these. Not everybody can be with you. live at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays. Many people are several hundred are always there on the group videos which we do through WebinarJam. But they can watch these as often as they want. And it's kind of a really cool website. So check it out. You might like it.
[01:22:14] Ashley James: Awesome. Very cool. I love you, Chef AJ. I love what you do.
[01:22:19] Chef AJ: Thank you.
[01:22:19] Ashley James: And you know, you look like you're in your 40s. I know that you're –
[01:22:24] Chef AJ: Almost 60.
[01:22:25] Ashley James: I know right? And this – if any listener is vain and just really wants to freeze their youth and hold on to their youth as long as possible, you got to eat this way. Because every person I've interviewed who eats this way – I feel like even if you listed a dozen people, Dr. Allen Goldhamer, Dr. Esselstyn, you, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and Dr. Joel Khan, and a handful of others, they all look 20 years younger than – and Dr. Bernard, they all look 20 years younger than they are. And they feel it. And it's amazing that this way of eating prevents disease.
Now, some people like to say that the China study is bogus. And vegans don't live a really long life. It's complete baloney. That we have to eat meat in order to live a long life. Is there anything that you would like to say to that? I know you're not a doctor.
[01:23:30] Chef AJ: No, I'm not.
[01:23:31] Ashley James: But you've interviewed a lot of them. You've worked with a lot of them. And this has been your passion to teach people how to eat in a way that helps them come back into balance, come back into health. Have you any information around that you can shed light on that –
[01:23:50] Chef AJ: Yeah. The China Study, I mean, I would refer your listeners to the book, The China Study, where they found that these people – yes, they ate about something like 10% of their calories from animal products. Not necessarily everybody's ready to go or willing to go 100% vegan. But my goodness, to think that that's what you're supposed to eat and that's where the majority of your calories are going to come from. Look at the Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. These successful populations, the longest lived people in history, and longest lived people today, it's the Okinawans in Japan. The people on, I think, [inaudible 01:24:22] Costa Rica. There's five locations.
[01:24:23] Ashley James: Right. [Inaudible 01:24:24], the Georgians –
[01:24:26] Chef AJ: They eat primarily – primarily – a plant based diet. We are not carnivores. Think about it, those little teeth that we have in our mouth called canine teeth, do you really think we could bite into flesh and eat it if it wasn't killed for us and cooked by somebody else? No.
[01:24:49] Ashley James: Right. Go chase an elk.
[01:24:54] Chef AJ: I remember Harvey Diamond who wrote Fit For Life, who, fortunately, I don't think is vegan anymore. He wrote a book once and he said, “You know, take a baby and put a carrot and a bunny next to the baby. And if the baby plays with the carrot and eats the bunny, I'll give you a $10,000.”
[01:25:16] Ashley James: Oh, that's so cute. I love it.
[01:25:17] Chef AJ: Is that funny?
[01:25:18] Ashley James: Yeah.
[01:25:18] Chef AJ: Dr. Michael Greger once said, “I know I'm going to die. I just don't want it to be my fault.” And so by eating the way that we eat, you really do make yourself bulletproof against so many of these Western diseases that our ancestors never suffered from. And we get to eat a healthy long life without destroying the planet, without harming the animals, and without harming ourselves.
[01:25:43] Ashley James: Beautifully said. Do you have any homework that you'd like to give us?
[01:25:49] Chef AJ: Maybe. I have a series I do every Wednesday called Weight Loss Wednesday. I think there's about 150 episodes now. They shouldn't watch all of them obviously unless they want to. But there's a couple of them where they could maybe really learn, like, what I eat in a day so they can see. I think it's Episode 36. So that they can see how much food you really need to eat if you want to eat in accordance with the principles of calorie density. Or Episode 24, I believe it is, the vegetable edition just to see how easy it is to prepare vegetables very easily. Those are the ones I'd recommend. I have a very short YouTube Easy Meals To Make You Thin just to kind of an overview. Or if they really want to know where I came from and how I achieve success, one called From Fat Vegan to Skinny Bitch.
I guess my homework would be just to try this for three weeks. There's a holiday called Lent, where for 42 days people do incredibly difficult things like giving up things they love, like coffee or alcohol. Why not try this for three weeks? Just do an experiment. See how you feel. You can always go back.
[01:26:54] Ashley James: Brilliant. I love it. Thank you so much, Chef AJ for coming on.
[01:27:00] Chef AJ: My pleasure.
[01:27:01] Ashley James: You're welcome back any time. I love what you do. And I'm so inspired by the work that you do. And I know that my listeners, especially the ones that take you up on your challenge, will also love it. I highly recommend reading your book on processed. And Episode 230 of my podcast is the one I did with Dr. Alan Goldhamer. And that's when I first learned about his book with Dr. Lyle.
[01:27:29] Chef AJ: The pleasure trap.
[01:27:31] Ashley James: Yes. Where I learned about the book, The Pleasure Trap, you were the narrator.
[01:27:34] Chef AJ: Yeah. That was fun.
[01:27:36 ] Ashley James: That was great. I love it. Because I'm really so busy, sometimes I just can't sit down and read a book. But man, I can definitely listen to one while driving. And what's extra great is my husband gets to listen with me because we do a lot of driving together. And we both work from home. So when we leave the house, it's like our quality time together. So we'll go drive, you know, we'll be together. Yeah, listening to you it was very pleasurable to listen to The Pleasure Trap. That's a fantastic book to start with because it's talking our history, or genealogy, or what we were designed to do. Which you'd mentioned is, we're designed to seek out the most calorically dense foods possible. And that was fine 200 years ago when there wasn't really highly, highly processed foods. And flour wasn't in abundance. And sugar was definitely not an abundance. And so we still wouldn't eat very unhealthy 200 years ago because we didn't have access to this incredibly calorically dense food. And even meat wasn't a daily staple for most people. They couldn't afford it. Most people that ate meat, it would be something on the farm, right? So if you had to kill a chicken and pluck it and all that stuff, that's pretty tiresome. That's something that maybe they would do once a week or that was something like they do on Sunday or on Friday. That wasn't a daily thing. And now, we're sort of marketed, too, to expect to eat meat three times a day and have it basically be. And every meal has to include it. And so it's been all marketed to us, our belief system. That's why I love the movie, the one that's about to be on Netflix really soon.
[01:29:28] Chef AJ: It's on now. Are you talking about Game Changers? Because Game Changers is on Netflix and Amazon Prime at least right now.
[01:29:34] Ashley James: Is it on right now? Okay. It's on Netflix right now. I thought it was on the 26th. So it's on Netflix right now. So Game Changers is great because it shows us – it kind of exposes – I love this documentary because it doesn't do fear mongering. It doesn't sort of make us feel belittled. Some other documentaries kind of beat us up and make us feel bad. This documentary, not at all. It feels really positive. But it does show us and expose how much our choices that we make every day are actually we've been programmed. We've been brainwashed by years and years and years of marketing. And so looking at that our bodies want to because it's part of how we survived for however many thousands of years and however many generations. We've looked for the foods that are the most pleasurable. And that's because the pleasure, The Pleasure Trap, because the pleasurable foods are the high density caloric foods to help us survive famines.
And so this whole book – which your audio book is wonderful so listeners can just get it from Amazon and listen to Chef AJ narrate The Pleasure Trap by Dr. Goldhamer and Dr. Lyle – helps us to understand why eating the way you teach us to eat is actually the healthiest for brain and our body and also for our emotional state. So it's really beautiful because it helps break that addiction. So if someone finds that they're addicted to drugs or alcohol or food, this is a fantastic book and a fantastic diet as well. So I love that. Thank you so much for that.
[01:31:21] Chef AJ: Yeah. Absolutely. I love that book. That book was a game changer for many people.
[01:31:27] Ashley James: And I hope I hope this interview and your information will be a game changer for many people as I know it has been for me. Is there anything that you'd like to say to wrap up today's interview?
[01:31:38] Chef AJ: Let's see, I think I've said just about everything. Just eat plants. Eat plants.
[01:31:47] Ashley James: I just wanted to make sure I squeezed every drop of wisdom I could get out of you before saying goodbye. So eat plants everyone.
[01:31:54] Chef AJ: Eat plants, fit into your pants. That's what I say.
[01:31:55] Ashley James: Eat plants, fit in your pants. Love it. Okay. Fantastic. Awesome. Thank you.
[01:32:00] Chef AJ: Thanks, Ashley. Thanks everybody. Take care everyone.
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Health Coach, Podcast Creator, Homeschooling Mom, Passionate About God & Healing
Ashley James is a Holistic Health Coach, Podcaster, Rapid Anxiety Cessation Expert, and avid Whole Food Plant-Based Home Chef. Since 2005 Ashley has worked with clients to transform their lives as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-linguistic Programming.
Her health struggles led her to study under the world’s top holistic doctors, where she reversed her type 2 diabetes, PCOS, infertility, chronic infections, and debilitating adrenal fatigue.
In 2016, Ashley launched her podcast Learn True Health with Ashley James to spread the TRUTH about health and healing. You no longer need to suffer; your body CAN and WILL heal itself when we give it what it needs and stop what is harming it!
The Learn True Health Podcast has been celebrated as one of the top holistic health shows today because of Ashley’s passion for extracting the right information from leading experts and doctors of holistic health and Naturopathic medicine
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