Okay, here it is. As promised, The Food Post.
How I love thee, and hate thee.
How I savor and appreciate each and every bite; each subtle difference in flavor, texture, temperature.
Or scarf wildly,
shoveling, barely stopping to chew.
You are my friend, and my worst enemy.
How complicated I have made you.
How I need a change.
Over the past two and a half years I’ve drastically shifted my focus on food, from that of the non-fat, dressing-less salad mentality, to the increasingly popular traditional foods diet, where I know fat is not the enemy and making my own bone broth and soaking nuts is a near daily occurrence. I have become so much more involved with my food, whether it’s keeping a small garden (which I’m choosing not to do this year), understanding sustainable and organic agriculture, protesting the next food slated for GMO, or forcing myself to remain educated about factory farms. Though I fill myself and my family with highly nutritious, filling meals, there I am at the end of the night, exhausted, staring blankly, eating the entire contents of my fridge. Needless to say, I’m overweight. There. I said it.
Nearly three months ago, my health took a nose dive: allergies, out-of-control asthma, scary near-fainting spells, exhaustion, depression, anxiety – meltdown. My entire system was screaming at me like Susan Powter to: STOP THE MADNESS! I finally looked at myself, like really saw myself, and realized just how big I had gotten. And it freaked the shit out of me. All those late night Second Dinners as we call them, (oh God just typing that and I’m realizing the horror of it), treats and “just this once” foods made me fat. And not just fat, but sick as well. I just didn’t realize it before*. I was so used to constantly feeling like crap: bloated, gassy (yup going there), stuffed up nose, headaches, blurry vision, stiff joints, moody, and fatigued, that I accepted it as being normal. Or sometimes I was so numb from over-eating that I couldn’t even tell the severity of my symptoms. Um, that’s not normal. That’s not healthy. Time to heal.
My acupuncturist suggested the Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet, or GAPS, which is pretty hardcore, but is centered on healing the gut and thus healing the mind. A recalibration if you will. About four years back I got a nasty infection that resulted in six months of antibiotics. They had me try 14 different kinds. Talk about gut flora imbalance. So yeah, I’ll say it again: healing my gut is the priority. That said, after doing some research and talking it over with my acupuncturist, I am now following an advanced GAPS/Paleo diet. For the simplicity of this blog, I’m just going to refer to it as Paleo. It’s slightly less hardcore than full-out GAPS, but is similar enough to allow me to heal as well as lose weight. Win-win. So what am I eating? Vegetables, fruit, meat, fat (animal and two oils: olive and coconut) and some nuts and seeds. That’s it.
The challenge: stay away from grains, starchy vegetables (including corn), legumes, dairy, sugar, soy, alcohol, and caffeine.
Since embarking upon this Paleo adventure nine weeks ago, I haven’t been perfect (coffee coffee coffee) (wine wine wine), but that’s not what I’m after right now. Trying this new way of eating on for size, seeing how my symptoms improve and literally feeling my mind and body heal, just a bit, day in and day out, is my main focus right now. And of course, the weight loss has kept me motivated to stay fairly strict. Over these past nine weeks I’ve managed to drop over 20 pounds…I’ll show (eek – gnaws on nails) you that later this week. So. yeah. A new blogging topic has emerged. Let the journey begin!
I’m wondering, have you ever made a significant change to your (or your family’s) diet? What motivates you to eat healthy, and what does healthy eating mean to you?
*UPDATE: I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the thoughtful, encouraging and positive comments so far. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such stellar comments and for telling me about your journey as well. I feel it important to note that I am truly not viewing this as simply a fad diet to lose the pounds (though losing weight is extremely relevant for me as I’ll chat about later this week). As a whole, I agree that fad diets are freaky (which is why I’ve never done one before) and so often unhealthy. While losing the pounds is of course a huge benefit of the diet, the weight loss is secondary to healing my gut, the major source of my health concerns. While I didn’t completely stay away from junk before this, I routinely cooked with whole grains, soaked and prepared at home: whole wheat you-name-it, rice, beans, quinoa, millet, to name a few. As it stands now, my body is unable to fully absorb the nutrients from my food, thus I’m currently depleted in vitamins and minerals. Symptoms (and tests) point to both dairy intolerances and grain sensitivities, namely Celiac Disease. The latter is more difficult to diagnose without gluten in the diet and I had already taken that out of my diet when tested. At this point I’m not willing to add it back in. My body really has quite a bit of healing to do.
One of the (many) reasons why the Paleo diet appeals to me, is for its healing properties, as well as it doesn’t tout itself as a weight loss diet, but rather a lifestyle diet – because it is. The weight loss is simply a welcomed benefit. I truly am in this for the long haul. I think the most difficult aspect of Paleo for people is the absence of grains. It certainly was for me. But after following the diet for over two months now, I’m not certain humans are meant to eat grains, of any sort, gluten-containing or otherwise. Honestly. I realize some appear to tolerate grains quite well, but so many absolutely do not (like me), and still others don’t realize that more minor ailments, both physical and mental, could be helped by changes to their diets. I truly do believe that so many of our health concerns in this day and age stem from what we’re eating: genetically modified organisms, artificial ingredients, and foods, even whole foods, that some bodies just aren’t able to fully process yet in this stage of evolution. So here’s to living healthy – whatever that means for you! And I DO want to keep reading about your journeys as well, even if they don’t jive with the method I’m following.