As many of you know I’ve been working on changing my eating patterns.
What does that mean? Well, getting back on my mostly gluten free habits is a start. I was “mostly” gluten free – let’s be honest – to be completely gluten free is almost impossible and for someone like me who is sensitive but not celiac it is a very good habit to be in to avoid wheat based bread and pasta as a start.
In the last year I fell horribly and miserably off of avoiding gluten. And in turn, I paid for it. My energy went down, my pain levels went up. I knew I had to get back into the habit of better eating and I wanted to take my these habits (notice I’m not saying diet) to the next level. At about that time, my younger brother Jason, and his wife Amy, who is a registered dietitian, said they were going to change what they were eating as well. Voilà – incentive and camaraderie… and a healthy dose of misery for me, but as the saying goes at least I’d have company. I also wanted to figure out how to make this less miserable – life is too short for that!
I started on November 4th with the caveat that I’d go 60 days to see what happened and… that Thanksgiving Day was off the table. I wasn’t eating tofurky and vegan pumpkin pie. A girl has to have priorities!
But, some interesting things have happened in my first 30 days. Here are a few of my observations!
1. Cutting out gluten for the second time in three years was much easier than the first time. I’ve already experimented on the different brands, become used to the little tinsy pieces of commercially available GF bread, and I have become comfortable with Pamela’s GF baking mix. All good things for a smooth transition the second time around.
2. I realized that I don’t really adore labels on eating based on categories. This seems too final, too committed for me. I am not a vegetarian but will more often eat meals without meat. Eating fish, especially those with higher amounts of Omega 3’s – like salmon and trout is always a better option than beef. I am not vegan; I have vegan tendencies – there is a difference. A cookie made with GF flour or Almond meal, no butter, and sweetened without refined sugars but using an egg – is a grand and lovely cookie! Much better for you than the ones I grew up making and still adore – the Toll House recipe! So for heaven’s sake put an egg in there and get MOST of the way there!
3. I don’t cut meat out of my diet because I’m an animal lover, although I do love animals and think the way we produce meat is often times horrific. I philosophically see eating meat in an ecological food chain manner of prey vs. predator. Seriously. Natural apex predators are the only conventional meat food source that I won’t touch – I know, I’m weird. For more on this concept – click here. Thankfully I have no interest in eating the Honey Badger – and the Honey Badger, well he doesn’t give a sh*t! (oh, how I had to say that) and I will do all that I can to eat ethically raised and farmed food as well as non GMO and organic but I won’t make an extra spoon spending stop if I can’t get what I need – I will buy what is available. When I eat beef I want to try to eat grass fed beef for example. I think the idea of “eating further down the food chain” is a great idea. We can survive and even thrive on less meat but to cut these items out all together is simply not practical or appealing to most people.
4. If you are vegetarian or vegan I applaud you – it takes one heck of an effort. And a RAW vegan – oh my God you are truly amazing! Like Andrea of Betty Rawker who has helped me see that I can still make goodies like Raw Brownies or these Hazelnut Truffles! I really never need to eat a “regular” brownie again. Maybe someday I will go that hard core but the concept of doing anything hard core awakens the rebel in me frantically working to not join any. group. ever. I’m a really bad joiner and tend to keep it to a minimum with things like membership to the SAA or AAA and I will admit that if you parse my words, yes, my coffee club punch card means I’m a sell out. But! When we take the label away from how we eat, I think the idea of simply cutting back becomes a way more people can prosper from healthy eating patterns. For me it is easier to see this as a long term strategy if I don’t have to beat myself up for eating a snickers bar on occasion. My friend Ria who blogs at Cigarettes & Melted Chocolate has a wonderful sane approach that I agree with as well. Do your best and if you do eat that donut, forgive yourself immediately and get back on the healthy eating wagon – don’t allow one slip of the mouth cause you to have the next goodie and the next, well, until the next time you do. My food mantra, “Do your best”!
3. Because of the above, I am not becoming a vegetarian or a vegan. I am simply me, eating mostly foods that help me be healthier which again, for me, is a focus on foods that don’t contribute to inflammation in my body. Some of the foods you can classify as acting against inflammation so that is where we talk about this being an anti-inflammatory eating approach.
4. So the items on the mostly not to eat list are as follows:
Meat except fish/shellfish but only once or twice a week.
Dairy – except for an occasional egg.
All Soda and any beverage with sugar in it.
Refined sugar – replacing it in as many places as possible with applesauce, bananas, agave, honey, or stevia for example.
5. Check out Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid – it is a great resource and I’ve seared it into my mind but keep a printout of it in my car for food shopping trips to keep me in check! Remember to check with your doctor first as with starting any new approach to eating or dieting. I drew my own above cuz it was fun and I like to use my own images :)
6. I am taking supplements. I compiled a list a few years back that works for me. I’ll try to share that list at some point if anyone is interested.
7. Now you are wondering how it is going after 30 days and I think it is going well. At my Remicade infusion my weigh in had me down 12 pounds! I’m finding a groove and getting to a comfort level with it. Doug is mostly eating what I eat at dinner so I don’t have to cook two of the big meal of the day. I made some spaghetti with GF pasta and on his I added some meatballs and cheese while I went without. I look for those types of recipes. I’m definitely feeling more energy and I definitely did not feel well after my Thanksgiving binge but Thanksgiving does that in general. I think my skin looks better so that is a plus and I’m happy about this so that is another plus. I do feel the need to make all the Christmas goodies I make for my family because that kind of baking is a creative process for me on top of loving to give boxes of handmade yummies to my family so I will not take that away from me and I ask you for your encouragement and strength to get through that with little to no slip ups! I’ll let ya know…
So, this is how I will work to eat in a way that is beneficial to me both physically and mentally. I balanced approach IMO!
I’m posting pictures on my Instagram account and on my profile on Facebook – please send me a friend request or subscribe to my public posts if you’d like and you can follow along there on a more daily basis than here on my blog.
I have to say that the most interesting thing about the last 30 days is that you all are interested in a cookbook! It’s a great idea and I’m already on it. I see it as a combo of my story of living with AS and doing advocacy work, my art, this eating approach and recipes! But I’d really like a lot of the recipes to come from you so send my your favorite recipes and I’ll attempt to give them an Anti-Inflammatory makeover and if I find a publisher – put some in the book – with your permission of course!
Peace, love, and food – glorious healthy food!