Being Well

Food

(Photo credit: NickNguyen)

So, for the past few months (beginning August 1), I’ve been undergoing a radical change in the way I eat, and the way I relate to food. It was something that needed to happen for a very long time.

Let me give a little background first. When I was younger, I kind of just ate whatever I wanted to (like most younger people do). Our family ate ok – meat, veggies and starches usually made up dinner, but I had (had? Ok, have) a raging sweet tooth, so sweets were always around. We also ate like most typical Americans: breakfast cereals, flavored yogurts, packaged snacks and sodas were typical. Maybe we didn’t consider them healthy, exactly, but these things also weren’t off-limits.

As an adult, my metabolism did start to slow down (as most do) and I started to gain weight. I would restrict my sweets, like cookies and brownies, but they had a death grip on me. My cravings would get out of control and I would binge. Nothing outrageous – at my heaviest, I was probably 10 lbs. overweight.

Then, I got pregnant with Baby I. After the horrible, horrible nausea passed, I was excited to be able to eat my “normal” diet again. But that didn’t last the entire pregnancy, because I got diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. I was devastated and scared. The nutritionist at my OB’s office helped design a strict diet I had to follow. GD is a lot like Type 2 diabetes, but the difference is that there really isn’t any time to waste getting your blood sugar under control with GD. The longer your blood sugar is high, the longer it affects the baby you’re carrying, so there’s really no room for cheating on your diet.

So, here I was, 7 months pregnant, faced with a VERY abrupt change in my diet. I did it for my baby’s health, and never had one high reading after I changed the way I ate (whew). But I felt deprived. I hated every minute of it. And when I delivered Baby I and got the GD all-clear, I went back to my old “normal” diet – extra heavy on the sweets. I had just missed them so much!

About a year and a half later, I was heavier than I had ever been (except while pregnant), tired all the time and beginning to feel sick. I knew I had to do something, even though part of me didn’t want to. A friend of mine was reading Practical Paleo and suggested it for me.

I was skeptical; I had heard so much about how the Paleo diet can be not-so-good for you. And I had also tried other diets before with limited success. I thought: even if Paleo works for me, it’ll probably just be a temporary thing and then I’ll gain all the weight back when I revert back to my “normal” diet.

It’s been three months, and I think it’s safe to say that Paleo has been radically different from anything else I’ve ever done. Dear readers, I don’t want you to think I’m trying to be a Paleo evangelist or asking everyone to eat Paleo. That’s not the case at all. I know it’s not right for everyone, and actually, I don’t even eat strictly Paleo all the time. But I do want to share what I’ve learned while changing my relationship with food over the last three months:

First, protein is king. I don’t think my old diet contained nearly enough protein, and now I make sure I have at least a serving of the cleanest protein I can afford at every meal. This is almost always an animal protein, because I think that makes me feel the best.

Fat is prince. I used to feel like I had to have a LOT of starch to round out a meal. Ever since I started making sure I get enough fat in my meal, my need to eat starch has dropped off considerably. I don’t think I was eating nearly enough fat in my old diet, and my body was screaming for “something more,” which I usually interpreted as sugar or starch. My favorite good fats to include in my meals are butter, avocado, and yummy olive oil.

Eating can sometimes actually make me feel worse. Before I took an honest look at my relationship with food, I often ate when I had a headache, when I had a stomach ache, when I felt tired, etc. But the problem with that was I was actually on a path to feeling sicker, not better. So logic would dictate that, at best, food wasn’t helping with my ailments, and at worst, food could actually be contributing to or causing my ailments.

Insulin is the key. One thing that most Paleo diet experts agree on is that keeping your blood sugar stable is one of the most important things you can do. As a (former, and temporary) diabetic, I knew the dangers of having high blood sugar, and I also knew that the likely cause of my sudden, intense sugar cravings was unstable blood sugar. I also knew that it was imperitave for me to get my blood sugar under control, because women who have had Gestational Diabetes are at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes for the rest of their lives. What I learned is that keeping my blood sugar stable would also help my mood, my weight, and even prevent gout attacks.

Most of all, I was finally able to believe that (a.) getting healthy has little to do with weight and the numbers on the scale, and (b.) healing my relationship with food did not have to mean writing down everything I eat, slavishly counting calories and measuring portions, or worrying over labels. In fact, the best way to eat is to eat things that don’t have labels, and to just eat them until I’m full. This way, I’ve found that I actually think about food a whole lot less, and even when I veer off from the strict Paleo diet I started out with, I find that I’m able to maintain my weight without much effort at all.

So that’s what’s been going on in my belly the last few months. Have you heard about/tried the Paleo diet? Have you ever had to change your relationship with your food and/or your scale?

The Obligatory New Year’s Post

1 Times Square, 2008 NYE

1 Times Square, 2008 NYE (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here we are at the last day of 2012. I was thinking about what one word I would use to describe this year, and you know, I can’t pinpoint one. Contenders included joyous, exhausting, triumphant, devastating, difficult, life-changing and life-affirming. I think they could all apply equally, depending on which part of my life I’m looking at and/or the time frame.

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30 Days of Healthy – Challenge Recap


The 30 days is already over! Whew…I don’t know if I would call it a blinding success. I didn’t lose 30 pounds or 20 inches and my teeth aren’t whiter and my skin isn’t glowing. I didn’t expect any of these things though; the challenge was really more about being intentional about my health. And that, I did accomplish.

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On Becoming an Old Man

Note: I wrote this post several days ago as a follow-up to my foot complaints in this post. It’s been sitting in my drafts folder, and I just finally got it published. I’m feeling much better now, and plan to see a urologist (the people who officially diagnose gout) the minute I think I’m having another episode.

I hobbled into work last Monday, and a coworker asked what was wrong with me now.

It’s true that lately, I have had a long list of ailments. From changed (more intense) seasonal allergies to being insanely sore after a workout, and now to limping because I can’t bear much weight on my right foot, it seems like I just can’t catch a break.

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30 Days of Healthy: Week 2 Recap


As you can tell from my uncharacteristic lack of posts this past week, I have been excruciatingly busy. And being busy does not always allow for putting physical and mental health first, but this past week, amongst all the craziness (which I hope to visit later in a blog post), I did try to keep my health goals in mind. So, even though week 2 of my 30 Days of Healthy Challenge wasn’t perfect, I’m still proud I didn’t fall completely off the wagon!

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30 Days of Healthy: Week 1 Recap


Dear reader, I have a confession to make. Immediately after I wrote my kickoff post for the 30 Days of Healthy challenge, I went to the company vending machine and bought a pack of Reece’s Pieces.

Sigh. But the rest of the week actually went pretty ok. I’m feeling much better today than I did this time last week. Here’s a breakdown of how I did on each of my goals:

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30 Days of Healthy

Public domain image (translation: no, that’s definitely not me. I mean, look at her perfect form. Definitely not me.)

So, I stumbled upon a website called Social Workout, and decided on a whim to commit to 30 days of consciously meeting healthy goals. I try to think about being healthy every day, but sometimes I think about healthy things while eating pie straight out of the pan with a giant serving spoon.

Ahem.

So, this site inspired me. (It’s social media, so log on and find me; we can connect fitness goals!) There are several categories you can go to and select goals to set for yourself, including fitness, meditation, eating, sleeping, green living, and ‘other’ goals. I set goals in every category except sleep. Because, let’s be real, I’d just be setting myself up for failure.

Here are my healthy goals:

  1. Do four workouts per week for four weeks
  2. Buy local one day per week for four weeks
  3. Declutter (get rid of) one item per day for 30 days
  4. Eat 2 servings of fruits and vegetables per day for 30 days
  5. Write one thing I’m grateful for per day for 30 days

I’m pretty pumped…hopefully I can keep these up for the next month. I plan on checking in on the blog once a week to tell y’all how I did. So here goes week 1…see you on the other side!