Wednesday, February 06, 2013

it's time to talk diet

I've been putting this post off for ages because every time I write in out inside of my head it just gets longer and longer.  But seriously, it's about time that I tell you what I've been up to with my diet.... because it has almost been two months now since I made the change!

Let me start by saying this: I'm not dieting. i am not on a diet.  I am changing what I eat and how I eat it. I am hopefully changing my life.

Most of these changes have been made within my own home, as I have been eating out less.  But every time I am dining out with friends, I am asked why I am eating like a freak. As a result of needing to explain myself over and over again, I've now got the reader's digest version down pat for you:

During the car accident in 2004, I had antibiotics pumped through me so hard while I was in the ICU that I broke out in a full body rash and I am now allergic to penicillin. Knowing what we all know about antibiotics and probiotics and what goes on in our intestinal tracts, I can only assume that my system was thrown out of whack.  Honestly, I swear I have never been the same since.  Since the accident I have had skin conditions, a sluggish digestive system, migraines, and fatigue. After years and years of researching and reading, visiting doctors, having allergy tests, tracking what I eat, etc...I have finally come to my own conclusion.  I believe that all of these symptoms are somehow linked to my digestive track being out of whack, and that my system needs me to hit a big fat re-set button.


Since just before Christmas I have removed from my diet:
Sugar (including high glycemic natural sweeteners like honey or agave, and I have even removed fruit). I have removed Gluten. Dairy. Soy. Vinegars. Caffeine. Alcohol. Some of the starchier vegetables. Anything artificially processed.

I'll let you digest that for a minute (pardon the pun), because surely you are trying to figure out what the heck is left. What on earth am I eating?!! Right??

Well, there ends the short version of my story.  Here comes the long version.
Lemme tell ya' about eating.

Lots of rice and quinoa, lots and lots of roasted or steamed vegetables. Salads. Soups.  Eggs. Fish. Chicken, either sliced over the rice and veggies, or turned into a chicken salad by way of aoli with scallions and a few chopped nuts.  Rice cakes topped with guacamole. I've even learned how to make gluten free muffins.  I have been writing down the recipes and tricks I've come up with and have been taking pictures, so I'll be posting about what's worked for me and what has not.

You might find this hard to believe, but I have not suffered from intense cravings. I cannot tell you how this has happened, except just to say that I was so ready to embark on this way of eating (finally), and that my desire to feel well is greater than my desire to eat foods I know do not make me well.  But truthfully, I honestly have only had just a few intense cravings.  And they passed without my eating what I was craving.  I was clear enough to observe that the cravings were coming at times of emotional distress or habit.  I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help not feel so deprived and will post about those in the coming weeks as well.

I have indeed diverged from the eating plan on a few occasions.  When Christmas and New Year's Eve rolled around, I stuck to my eating plan like glue.  I was just in the first couple of weeks. Now that it's February, I've allowed myself a couple of special treats. At Birthday Dinner #1 I ate a few bites of a profiterole dessert.  It was delicious, and to quote Chef Bobby Flay, "The fifth and sixth bites don't taste any better than the first two or three, so why bother."  He is so right.  At the Birthday Crafternoon, I ate about a third of one of those cupcakes. I didn't even want more than that, because I didn't feel so great afterwards, and while it was tasty, it wasn't like it was so good that I had a spiritual experience or anything (unlike those profiteroles...yum!).  I also diverged at Birthday Dinner #2 when I had a cocktail. And then a couple more cocktails at home. Vodka with tonic, so not quite as bad a sugary rum fruit concoction, but that was probably the farthest I have diverged....and it was great fun, but I paid for it the next day, to be sure.  You wont see me doing that often.

There have been a few other times I have diverged.  Like I have thrown a couple of blueberries into the muffin mix, or like the orange juice in the dressing for those scallops and quinoa I made last weekend.  Extremely minimal amounts of the more tolerable substances, and we are talking like maybe once every week or two that I have done something like this. I am rarely eating out, so I can control what's going into my food.  And when I do eat out, I have figured out how to spot what will work and what wont, and how to ask for adjustments without being a pest (at least I don't think I am being a pest LOL).  I will be passing those tips along over the next few weeks, too.

I've made a few other changes, like starting to take some supplements, taking some probiotics, drinking more water and starting to exercise.

So how do I feel?  Well, I'd say the most obvious shift is that I have not had a single migraine in six weeks. That is a personal best.  It's almost unbelievable, really.  Weight loss was not my goal (health is my goal), but I have lost 17 pounds. Not hard at all to do, as before I started this, I was eating cookies for breakfast at times, and occasionally skipping dinner and eating candy. For real.)
Yes. I know.
I hid it well.
My joints don't ache, my stomach doesn't feel so "thick" (if that makes any sense) and my gut is less sluggish. I am sleeping better. I have more energy.  This skin condition is starting to clear.

Basically what I am doing here is following an anti-candida diet.  To give you an overview, you can click here...but let me tell ya', if you google candida diets, you are going to find a ton of conflicting information out there. Information varies widely from site to site and book to book, sometimes there is even conflicting information within a book or website. It's sort of crazy making really, and I'll be blogging about that as well, and about how I have figured out how to take what makes sense for me and make this work.

Will I stay on this restricted of a diet forever??  No.  I truly am a believer in the notion that everything is okay in moderation.  Except in cases like mine, when the system is damaged and needs repair, due to the fact that moderation was not happening in the first place. In cases like mine, I believe a hosing out is in order.  So I am giving my system a rest. I have committed myself to 3 months of eating this way before reassessing.  I've felt so sick for so long, that it is entirely possible that I may continue a bit longer.  Or I may start reintroducing some foods very slowly.  The healthier foods.  Like the occasional potato. Some fruit.  I'd like to get the vinegar back into my vinaigrette, so to speak...hahaha.  My goal is to not eat the same way as I did before. I'd like to be able enjoy a good piece of artisan bread from time to time, but not sit down to a pile of poor quality crackers.  I'd like to enjoy the occasional bakery made cookie as a treat, but not to make the box of store bought cookies a breakfast staple.  I'd like to eat fruit and use natural sweeteners like honey and dates from time to time, but not dip deep into the sugar bowl.  Make sense?

So there ya' have it.  A grand update really, as this has already been happening in my life for 7+ weeks now!   Hopefully this will help my future posts make sense as I start to share the occasional recipe or dining strategy.  I don't think doing a phase of restricted eating is something that will interest all of you, but even if you are just trying to get more veggies into your diet and more crap out of your diet, I think you'll find some of the tips and tricks I have tracked down interesting.



Ludmilla said...

I'm so happy for you that you feel better. Yes, please, let us know how you developed your "diet." When I moved to Ohio from California (sob, sigh), I left the land of delicious fresh vegetables. And I entered the land of sinus infections (never had 'em before). The last 2 times, the doctor gave me ampicylin (however you spell that) and my body reacted the same way as yours. I looked up candida diets, but gave up because the library books had conflicting information. I probably won't start eating differently until summer and the short Farmers' Market season here, but would appreciate hearing about your experiences.

painting with fire said...

Hope it continues to help. Longtime migraine sufferer here and quitting gluten 2 years ago stopped them. The temptation to cheat is just not there for me either given how much better I feel without it. Have not gone to the extremes you are exploring but I remember all too well that feeling of something has got to give - can't keep feeling like this!

~Donna~ said...

I am very interested in your recipes as my body is changing due to hormones, age, weight, etc etc.

I have started several things and have only had success on one. Definitely felt a difference in my body and health. Unfortunately I get bored because I don't do very well with food creativity and eat the same "example foods" over and over.

I bought myself a "fitbit one" and have been increasing my walking and exercising. It has helped a lot.

My goal is also not weightloss, I want to be healthy and feel better and work with my body to get thru this "change of life" time without the aid of hormones or other drugs.

So, please share recipes. :)

Congrats on working this all out for yourself and belated Happy B-day!

Linda said...

Thank you so much for your observations about how inconsistent the literature on candida-free diets can be, among others. It is heartening to do as you are doing, and take one's health into one's own hands. Great, isn't it, that changing what one eats can resolve so many complaints? I'll be following your posts with interest. CONGRATULATIONS on all the positive results thus far: it is inspiring.