30 Day Challenge: Day 4

Breakfast: Strained yogurt with coconut, walnuts & apple.

Lunch: Tuna salad, veggies & dip

Dinner: Roast chicken & carrots, broccoli

Snacks: Dark chocolate, kale chips

Remarks: Ate a handful of prunes this am. Feeling…um… irregular lately… yuck. Something I have never dealt with in my life except for immediately postpartum. I have been taking an iron supplement for about a year now, and went off it a few days ago because I thought maybe I was getting too much iron with my newfound meat-and-egg habit. Will see if that makes a difference.

Upped my Vit D supplement from 1000 to 2000 IU because I have not noticed an improvement in energy levels over the last 5 weeks. (Although MDA suggests 4000 to start – maybe I should double my new dose?)

Also really starting to miss crispy, salty snacks. Haven’t had popcorn or chips in several weeks but the kale chips are a good substitute. Will hopefully try to make some nut crackers in the next few days. I just feel like I’m getting a little sick of everything we’re eating.

30-Day Challenge: Day 3

Was up later than normal last night, and had another early morning… I’m tired. Tried to make it an early night tonight; hopefully I’ll be asleep by 10pm.

Breakfast: Regular yogurt with apples, unsweetened coconut and walnuts. Didn’t have coffee!

Lunch: Leftover pork green curry, veggies

Dinner: Bacon & eggs, fruit salad

Snacks: veggies & dip, kale chips (amazing how quickly one person can eat an entire bunch of kale that way!), coffee with cream

Remarks: I’m sort of feeling meat overload. It’s not that I miss the taste of beans, necessarily, just the option for something other than meat or eggs for 2 out of 3 daily meals. I got outside to enjoy the long awaited return of SUNSHINE! Planted some stuff in my front flower beds and my little guy enjoyed watering everything. Then did some sidewalk chalk drawings and enjoyed the fresh air and sun. Hopefully this nice weather will stick around now!

30-Day Challenge: Day 2

Today started out with being up at 6am with my little early bird, so I ate breakfast earlier than usual. Was hungry by about 9:30, so while prepping some cut veggies, I made a greek yogurt dip and munched on those. Even so, by noon I was ravenous, but didn’t get to eat until 12:30 or so. I ate less yogurt this morning than usual so maybe that’s why I was hungry so quickly? Tomorrow maybe I’ll try throwing some nuts and coconut into the yogurt for some extra fat. I have noticed over the last week or so that despite eating more or less the same over the past month, I have started feeling hungry (that gnawing feeling) shortly after meals. Not sure what’s up with that. Maybe I just need more fat. I’m not afraid of it, just am not sure how to get it.

Breakfast: Strained yogurt with a kiwi and half a banana. Coffee & cream.

Lunch: Leftover butter chicken & veggies, 1 hardboiled egg

Supper: Pork green Thai curry, Thai salad with cukes, carrots, peppers and green onions

Snacks: veggies & dip, trail mix with unsweetened coconut, raisins, walnuts & pumpkin seeds. Hardboiled egg after yoga.

Remarks: Restoration & Meditation yoga class tonight. I love that class. It has been miserable, rainy, and cold for this time of year the last week or so, so I haven’t been outside as much lately. Can’t wait for the sun to come out! Looks like the weather improves tomorrow and holds. It will be nice to get out for some walks.

30 Day Challenge: Day 1

Well, today’s the day. It hasn’t been much different from the last few weeks. Last night at family supper, I had my farewell piece of bread and a beer. Today I’ve already messed up – I had some dip at lunchtime that came from a mix with all sorts of other nasty stuff in it – it needed to get used up, and I totally forgot about the fact that it came from a mix. Oh well.

I said I would post my starting weight and measurements. This morning I was 179lb! That is 10lbs since I even started thinking about eliminating most grains, about a month ago. After a traumatizing experience with the tape measure, I’m not going to post my measurements. Hopefully at the end of the 30 days I will want to share the numbers – even if only the changes.

Anyway – here’s what I ate today.

Breakfast: Strained yogurt (homemade – can’t believe it worked so well!) with a kiwi and half an apple, coffee with cream

Lunch: 2-egg scrambler with ham, peppers, onions, tomatoes and cheddar, and veggies and dip

Supper: Butter chicken (C’s adaptation), roasted cauliflower with lemon-tahini sauce, roasted cherry tomatoes and red onions

Snacks: Small piece 85% dark chocolate. Leftover veggies & dip.

Remarks: A great breakfast. Kept me satisfied until lunch. At lunch I only ate half my eggs… just wasn’t that hungry, I guess. Then felt peckish by 3pm. Ate some veggies. With all the cream in the butter chicken, plus cheese at lunch and yogurt this am, this was a dairy-heavy day.

Just do it

As much as it pains me to use that phrase, I think the time is right to just do it: stick the the PB way of eating for 30 days. I’m going to start this coming Monday. I’ve been slowly making changes in my eating for the past three weeks and I think I’m ready to try for 100%. I knew I would try the 30 days, but wasn’t sure when I would start. I still think this is going to cost more in groceries, but I’m going to try to make it work.

What has nudged me into being ready is that the last few days I’ve let go of some of the principles I’ve been working on adopting — just becoming less focused. Yesterday was the worst. I wasn’t really prepared for dinner and we needed to eat earlier than usual. I wound up picking up some tortillas so we could have wraps. I ate one, and I felt fine physically, but for the rest of the night I couldn’t stop thinking about snacking – the first time since I’d started consciously shifting my diet that this has happened. I wound up eating another tortilla, some olives, about half a jar of spicy pepper rings, two glasses of wine and some chocolate. It was ridiculous, and I felt totally out of control. At one point I was standing in front of the fridge and actually said out loud, “Stop!”. And this morning on the scale, I was up, instead of the same or down. It’s probably just all the salt I ate, but still… not a good feeling.

I’ve also slacked on the veggie loading a bit and this will be a good way to be more mindful of that. Especially with summer and all its delicious produce on the way!

I have to say, though, it has been interesting so far… I was expecting low-carb flu and headaches, but so far, so good… it seems like as long as I eat enough protein at a meal, I’m less likely to get hungry between meals. Some of my clothes feel looser, so that’s a bonus, too.

Anyway, tomorrow night my husband and I have date night and have a gift certificate to a nice restaurant. I actually can’t remember the last time we’ve done this, so I’m looking forward to it. I see this as a treat and not a cheat, so I’m not making any deals with myself about what I’ll eat or won’t eat. We’ll just see.

Another reason I feel like I’m ready to commit is that I have noticed an improvement in my skin and I love that. Around the time that I started changing my diet, I started using a new moisturizer during the day and just straight jojoba oil on my face at night, so it’s hard to say for certain whether it’s the gluten/grains/sugar or the different skincare regime, but I’m thinking the diet it can’t hurt.

This 30 days will be tough. My husband isn’t on board with PB and he misses his carbs, so in the interests of having a happy partner there will still be starches on the menu, I’ll just be avoiding them.

So, my plan is to do daily posts of what I ate to keep myself accountable and have a record of what my diet is like. Hopefully that will allow me to find patterns of success (replicate good days!) or challenges that can be solved (maybe figure out why I was so hungry on a particular day). I guess I’ll post my official weigh-in and measurements, too.

Only one question: can I still eat chocolate and drink red wine on the 30-day challenge?

Food culture and breastfeeding

Over the last few years I’ve been reading more about food, where it comes from, how it’s produced, and our relationships with it. Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was a big one for me, and more recently I read Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing up Bébé and was intrigued by how the French think and act around food —  it’s appropriate that the UK version of the book is called French Children Don’t Throw Food. I’ve also got a request in at the library for Karen Le Billon’s French Kids Eat Everything.

Lately, I’ve been reading Jeannie Marshall’s book Outside the Box (which I mentioned here) and so far, it’s really good. One of the earlier chapters deals with infant formula as the first processed food (“food product”) babies can be exposed to, and Marshall shares her own experiences with breastfeeding challenges (and ultimate success) and then goes on to talk about the role of breastfeeding in a food culture, generally.

I found this fascinating. I’m a huge proponent of breastfeeding (and more specifically, women overcoming cultural and institutional ‘booby traps’ and getting the personal support they need to be successful at breastfeeding) but I’d never stopped to think about it in this way. Of course, while a fetus is in utero, it’s eating everything its mother eats, and we’ve all heard that’s why babies in certain parts of the world will eat strongly flavoured curries with no objection when they first start solids – they’re already used to those flavours and intensities. But I had never stopped to think that, of course, breastfeeding is the next logical step in the introduction of a food culture to a baby. Marshall writes,

“Valeria [her midwife] also started preparing me to think about the process of breastfeeding and assured me that my diet during that period would also continue to influence his [her baby’s] tastes. It is a fact that flavours like garlic and broccoli pass from the mother’s diet into breast milk, and there is a lot of evidence to suggest children tend to gravitate toward those flavours once they are weaned. The healthy benefits of mother’s milk aside, this was the next step in the gentle process of raising a child to appreciate the taste of his particular family and the region where he’s being raised.

All of us had clearly gotten the message that “breast is best” for the baby’s health, that everything from a strong immune system to higher IQ levels later on are associated with breastfeeding. But we don’t often think about the role breastfeeding plays in shaping our children’s food preferences too, the way it influences what they eat later and how that consequently affects their health. In a place like Italy, or even more specifically, Rome, there is a range of tastes and a sort of coherence to the way foods and flavours work in the overall diet, so breastfeeding is an obvious way to pass those flavours along at the earliest stage of life – as long as everything else falls in tnto place.”

The weirdest thing is this: when I picked this book up from the library, I took a quick look at the new releases shelf and spotted the La Leche League book Feed Yourself, Feed Your Family, and just a few hours after I read the above passage from Marshall’s book, I read this in the LLL book:

“Unless you truly suspect your baby has a serious food sensitivity or allergy, don’t hesitate to continue to eat the good, wholesome food you’ve always eaten. If you come from a family or background where special dishes, spices, and ingredients are a prized part of your heritage, they are part of your baby’s heritage, too. You are passing along your culture through your milk, and if it tastes like onions, so be it.”

Just interesting that, what with all the fuss made over picky eaters who won’t eat vegetables, we don’t hear this argument for breastfeeding more often. I had never heard it myself until this weekend, and I read A LOT about breastfeeding. Or maybe I’m just noticing it more these days, as I’m thinking more about food.

In my own experience, I didn’t purposefully stop eating anything in particular when I was pregnant or nursing. In the early days of pregnancy, I had all-day morning sickness, and carbs were all I wanted: potatoes, pasta, crackers… the thought of protein, especially meat, made me even queasier. I remember that for a while, I had to turn away from the sight of gooey, cheesy pizza on TV commercials, but I practically had the number for Thai takeout on speed dial – the spicier the curry, the better.

Now, at almost two, my son has always been a non-discriminate, enthusiastic eater — and lately, he’s been asking for “d’autre spicy” (“more hot sauce”). He can’t get enough of it. Did he get a taste for this before he was even eating solids? It seems entirely plausible. In his wonderful book Hungry Monkey, which I read while I was pregnant, there’s a hilarious scene where Matthew Amster-Burton discovers that his daughter will happily eat insanely spicy foods, “panting and sweating — and asking for more”. I think it’s true that we often get in the way of what our children might like to eat because we assume they won’t like it.

Anyway, all food for thought. Sorry, couldn’t resist. It’s a good expression! So, the Primal tie-in to this topic is that I’m glad that PB emphasizes the importance of breastfeeding. I will admit that I am having a hard time reconciling the rich, healthy food cultures found in Marshall’s Italy and Druckerman and Le Billon’s France with PB’s no-grains, no-legumes mandate. But that’s a post for another day. This also has me thinking, what is my family’s food culture?

A shelf full of cookbooks, a reader full of feeds

So, last night’s Banh Mi salad was delicious – but notes to self: do not just dump a bunch of jalapenos into your bowl without first testing to see how spicy that particular pepper is. And make some homemade mayo already – the soybean oil in storebought mayo does nasty things to your throat! But moving on…

I knew it would be fun to find new recipes to incorporate into our meal plans, but I also knew it would be painful in some ways to let some of my favourite blogs go. I love Bakerella’s blog, which features desserts that are practically works of art. It’s not that I ever even use her recipes, they’re just so fun to look at. The Kitchn is another favourite, but I wish I could filter out 3/4 of the recipes because they’re not PB-friendly. (Credit for featuring a cookbook called “Lard” today, though!)

For a long time I thought I didn’t have FOMO (fear of missing out) but I realized that I do. It’s not tied to social media or connectivity, as it is for many; it’s tied to blogs. When I let my feed reader get out of control I have a hard time making all as read, because what if there was something really interesting in there?? Unsubscribing is like that, times ten.

But, I’m trying to see this as an opportunity to subscribe to some new primal-friendly food blogs (Elana’s Pantry, Paleo Spirit, The Primalist – which is great because it’s Canadian) and unsubscribe from some that I love but are probably not going to be supplying me with many appropriate recipes.

As for my cookbooks? I’ve been slowly culling other books from my way-too-large collection and next up, I should do the cookbooks. It’s not that I’ll be getting rid of anything that’s not PB-friendly, but more that I should ditch the books I never look at or only use one or two recipes in.

Alrighty – it’s the long weekend and I’m looking forward to a belated birthday breakfast with my SIL at the Tallest Poppy. No fergasa for me… which makes me sad… but maybe I’ll get some extra bacon to make up for it.

What we’re eating…

The process of moving towards primal cooking has been surprisingly easy. Because I love cooking, I’ve been finding it fun to scope out new recipes. Here’s what’s on the menu for dinner this week:

  • Banh Mi salad
  • Cauliflower crust Hawaiian pizza & broccoli salad
  • Shawarma salad
  • Coconut curry salmon with cauli-rice [use yogurt instead of cream cheese, and add extra peppers and onions to the sauce]
  • Pork taco salad (sans chips, I guess!)
  • Bacon & eggs with hashbrowns (maybe) & tomatoes

For lunches: leftovers. For breakfasts: yogurt; eggs, fruits, avocados, coconut pancakes, etc.

This morning I attempted to make banana pancakes. I mucked with the recipe (added more eggs and bananas and threw in a handful of ground pecans) and they were hard to keep intact, but they tasted great with berries. They were pretty sweet, so I didn’t even miss syrup. But I prefer coconut ones.

I’ve been doing pretty well on the snacking front. I do find that if I eat enough protein at meals, I’m not hungry in between meals. When rice or bread is a main component, my stomach is rumbling with hunger shortly afterwards.

I do need to find some sort of snack that satisfies my cravings for something salty. Though I have cut way back on popcorn, I know it’s got to go completely (except for as a treat, of course!) and that’s the only snack I have that really fits the bill for something salty. I need to get on those primal crackers. They’d be so good with some cheese and olives.

That’s it for me for today. Ciao!

Checking in, feeling good

The PB promise of effortless weight loss seems to be true.

I haven’t even started the 30-Day Challenge, but I’ve been cutting back pretty substantially on grains and sugar… and my weight just keeps going down. A week ago I was at 185 and this morning I am at 181. Even after my weekend of debauchery! I keep thinking the scale must be broken. I’ve been eating more eggs and cream than ever… but also more veggies, which I feel great about. Eating cauliflower “rice” the other day, I realized I wasn’t even thinking of it as a substitute for real rice, but as getting a whole extra serving of veggies. It’s nice to eat some things (cream, bacon) without a niggling sense of guilt.

I”m not going to lie, I’m sort of excited for my next physical and bloodwork to see what my numbers look like. What a weirdo!

Not noticing a huge change in energy levels but not feeling any better or worse, so that’s good. I’m trying to make an effort to ask for (or just take) what I need to feel happy, balanced, and healthy. Last night I went to an amazing “restoration and meditation” yoga class at Peg City Yoga – in 75 minutes we did only 3 poses and there were lots of blankets and bolsters and good music involved. Sign me up for next week, and the week after, too! This week I’ve asked my SIL to babysit for a couple hours one afternoon so that I can do some summer clothes shopping in peace. And I didn’t feel guilty about it!

Going to have lots of computer work coming up over the next few days, so I need to be diligent about getting fresh air, too!

Treats, not cheats

Being the language nerd that I am (okay, full-on nerd, what with the grocery flyer fixation and all), I’ve been thinking about the terminology associated with diet, and specifically, with dieting.

I’ve been reading the MDA eBook “Primal Living in the Real World” and while it’s full of really helpful advice, one thing that keeps jumping out at me is how often people talk about “cheating”. This term has always rubbed me the wrong way and I feel like it’s even more misplaced in a nutritional diet like PB than in a traditional diet like Weight Watchers.

The way I see it, it’s not a test. You’re not being graded. Cheating implies that you’re doing something morally wrong. That you’re getting credit for something that you didn’t do. The thing I like about the PB philosophy is that it’s not about tricking your body into feeling better or losing weight. I prefer to think of food-related “cheating” as “making bad choices” or “eating my feelings”!

Likewise, your relationship with food is not like your relationship with your spouse. You can’t “go behind the back” of your bacon and eggs by eating a slice of toast at the same time.   I just feel like calling this sort of behaviour “cheating” is not helpful at all. It’s almost anthropomorphic, in an abstract way. Like food is actually human in some way. Like good food can be betrayed by not-so-good food. I don’t know if that makes any sense.

Anyway, the other interesting thing is this: when do we differentiate between cheats and treats? If a treat is really a treat, it should be enjoyed. A treat is something that is relatively rare, because if it were more common, well then, it wouldn’t really be a treat! So how do people decide which indulgences are worthy of being called treats and eaten without remorse or guilt, and which are just bad choices — what they call cheats?

I guess a “cheat” implies an element of guilt, or of weakness, or lack of control. Would you call it a treat and be glad of it if you felt like you were letting yourself down?

Mark calls red wine and dark chocolate “sensible indulgences”. Are these treats, or is a treat something above and beyond an indulgence? I’d like to think so — I’d like to have a glass of red wine more often than “rarely”.  But a treat – say, a rich dessert made with lots of sugar – enjoyed in the moment and then moved on from? That sounds good to me. But packaged crackers, tortillas, and rice aren’t “cheats” or “treats” – they’re just not optimal choices.

Thoughts from anyone? Does the word “cheat” belong in the PB vocabulary?