An open letter to anyone with questions about what I'm eating. :)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I've been asked quite a bit recently about what I'm eating....and what I've eaten while losing weight. You know, "what's your secret?".

Truth is I have no secrets. There is no magic. All I've done is commit to making the best choices I could make for myself at any given time. "The best I can do" has evolved over the nearly 5 yrs that have passed since I decided that things had to change and I had to make it happen. I still continue to challenge myself with varying degrees of success. :)

Anyway, I just finished replying to someone who read an old message board post and was asking my about my paleo eating style. Ummm....yeah, not really eating paleo anymore. (I don't have anything against it. It served me well for a long time. It's just not where I'm at these days) Perhaps it's time I do some updating of the old SparkPage lol.

So I thought I'd share my response since it was all long and thoughtful. LOL! Here it is:

I feel kinda bad because I haven't updated my SparkPage in forever and it's really not all that accurate anymore.

I did eat fairly paleo for 2-3years...up until a few months ago. But I'm always reading and learning more and I'm always open to trying new things in an effort to be my healthiest and my latest tweak has made it so I can no longer claim "paleo-ism" lol.

My personal version of paleo was very heavy on vegetables, light on meat (which had to be well sourced-organic, grassfed for beef, hormone-free...chicken not fed arsenic to increase growth). And that had my grocery budget out of control...which was a factor in why I was lighter on meat than what you typically see on a paleo plate.

I also went back and forth on dairy. Not the high-fat dairy you see with primal eating (which is paleo + dairy) because at some point I found that my weight loss stalled with too much fat. But I could be tempted by cottage cheese with berries or Greek yogurt or a little cheese here and there.

Anyway over the summer I committed to no dairy...strictly paleo. In the past I mourned the loss of dairy when I cut it out but this time I found I didn't miss it. And then around the beginning of October there were hints that my husband may be laid off soon. So I went on a mission to figure out how to eat healthy on a tighter budget. So I experimented with swapping out legumes for meat as the paleo no-legume arguments didn't seem all that strong to me. I didn't mind no legumes as they were never a big part of my diet but I also didn't feel strongly that they were a bad thing either, if that makes any sense.

So around October I swapped legumes for meat. Reeled that budget way in. So I guess at that point I was eating a "grain-free, sugar-free, oil-free vegan" diet. (oil-free came from reading a lot by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who has been a big influence on my current way of eating) Interestingly, I found that my body really seemed to like eating this way. It liked paleo eating and I thought I felt my best....but it loves eating this way and I feel even more amazing than I did eating paleo. I didn't even know "more amazing" was possible.

I thought I was at a stable goal weight but after that tweak I lost 10lbs without trying. I didn't know I had an extra 10 to lose! I've been able to stop counting calories completely and just eat when I'm hungry and until I'm full. And every day I'm shocked to see I still weigh the same.

And the more I read up on it the more I'm becoming convinced that this way of eating (which I never really seriously considered because it seemed way too restrictive) might actually be best for me with my health considerations. I don't at all miss anything and it's been a fun challenge to learn new ways of cooking (like using nuts/seeds/avocado for fat rather than refined/bottled oils).

All that said, I don't think I could have been successful eating this way when I began nearly 5yrs ago. It would have been too much...too drastic a change...too overwhelming. I began with creating a "no sugar" law and an "eat more vegetables" goal.

No sugar was no negotiable. I was addicted and I wanted it to stop. I relied heavily on artificial sweeteners in the beginning. Over time I've gotten to where I only use a fraction of what I used to use. Eventually I'd like to get away from them entirely but I'm not there yet.

As for vegetables, I challenged myself to buy something new from the produce dept every week. Or to try again a vegetable I thought I didn't like...but this time prepare it a new way. I still hate canned green beans and frozen-then-boiled brussel sprouts and boiled cabbage...intensely. I LOVE green beans that have been stir fried with garlic and topped with almond slivers. I love brussel sprouts roasted with apples and carrots. I love cabbage in soup or thinly sliced and sauteed. I eat kale or collard greens nearly every day. I never would have tried them had I not challenged myself to try new things. There was a time I would have turned down pizza because it had mushrooms on it. Now I won't touch pizza but I just bought 6 packages of mushrooms at the store yesterday. We CAN change if we want to. :)

I don't pay any attention to carb grams anymore. I really haven't in quite a while. The really carby refined stuff just isn't a part of my world anymore. I've found substitutes for pasta (spiral cut zucchini or thinly sliced cabbage), rice (cauliflower that's been chopped or grated in a food processor...sometimes add mushroom and/or zucchini in there too), crackers (I make seed/nut based crackers that are awesome!). I've played with baking with almond and coconut flour and have found that I can satisfy all my desires without grain or sugar.

These days my four food groups are Vegetables, Fruit, Nuts/seeds, Beans/legumes. That's it. Simple. I've reached the point where my cooking skills and my changed taste buds have reached a balance with my desire to be as healthy as I can be. It's taken a lot of time and quite a bit of effort but I'm really happy with where I am these days.

I hope that answers your questions. If not, feel free to ask me anything. Best of luck to you on your journey!! (that applies to ALL of you!! *SMOOCH!*)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thank you for telling about your journey. I'm trying to find something that works for me. I tried being vegan for a month but I still had so many cravings. The thought of cutting out all animal products plus sugar, oil, and grain terrifies me. But if it would stop the cravings and constant hunger, it might be worth it!
    3059 days ago
    Thank you so much for posting this! I randomly came across one of your posts today and when I saw your weight loss ticker, I went to your SparkPage imediately to see how you lost so much weight. You are such an inspiration!
    3095 days ago
  • NEKEL16
    Thankyou for this post I found it fascinating. I have been the same thing with the finding new fruits and vegetables home. I brought a fish today with a head ha ha. I would never of gone for that normally plus some very strange looking fruit I haven't ever seen before! I have just 25lbs off of my 220lbs to lose and to come across someone like yourself who has been there and done it all. priceless!

    3191 days ago
    Very nice wallpaper and GREAT information re: the paleo system. You look fantastic!!!
    3208 days ago
    Wow oh Wow! I agree with Pandas10 as to how I got here! Congrats that's amazing. Hopefully, someday I can get there. I'm super picky when it comes to food- especially fruit and veggies, but I am trying to add more to my plan.

    Congrats! You look fabulous!
    3210 days ago
    I'm so happy to have found your SparkPage! First off, let me say JOB WELL DONE. You are living proof that we can accomplish much more than we imagine if we are willing to take the journey, work hard, and never throw in the towel.

    This blog post is a beautiful example of what I believe is a crucial piece of the puzzle for getting and staying healthy: Every body is a unique and vibrant system, and only I can be the ultimate expert on MY body and how it functions best. The way you have made your eating choices a PROCESS is fantastic! I strongly believe that all-or-nothing thinking is the downfall of many an otherwise successful program.

    I am on a mission to slowly and carefully discover exactly what the optimal diet is for my particlar body. However my eating choices evolve, the primary goal for me is to treasure my freedom from the obsessions, compulsions, and soul-numbing griefs of eating poorly.

    3232 days ago
    I can't tell you how appreciative I am of this blogpost!! I too, am taking babysteps in similar directions as you...it is working so much better than trying to dive into dietary ideals, although those dives were fun and full of learning, they didn't seem to be built solidly.

    I'm now completely dairy and gluten free, almost sugar free -sort of, but I still have potatoes and chips. I eat a ton of vegetables and just ate cauliflower rice. I have had zucchini noodles before also (was raw vegan for 2 months straight). I don't eat beans just because they give me too much gas, but maybe I will change my mind in reading Furhman's book...I have heard of no oil as well so I do have a couple of questions on that. How are you making stirfry with no oil and also the cracker recipes I know of that use nuts and seeds, also use oil too. Could you share a couple of your tricks with that?
    3236 days ago
    Thank you for posting this. I agree that legumes are good food, and that is one thing that sort of rubs me the wrong way about paleo. Good to know that tastebuds can continue to change. Your acheivements are really inspirational!
    3236 days ago
  • PANDAS10
    Wow... I saw your post on a message board and visited your page. Mostly, it's because I saw your profile pic and figured there was no way that could understand what is to be really fat... can you imagine my surprise when I took the time to learn about your journey?! :) You are definitely an inspiration me and others with long roads ahead.... I'm so grateful that this blog reflects the common sense that is so often missing when embarking on the journey - changing habits doesn't happen overnight; it is an evolution of sorts. Thank you for showing everyone what maintenance looks like and that there is always something to be improved upon.
    3246 days ago
    I'm glad you wrote this!! (at least it proves I'm not completely crazy. I think?). I've never particularly studied the paleo systems, particularly, but various popular systems have emphasized meat over beans/legumes and I just always felt worse. I'd rather have fish than beef or chicken. I've kept kosher since very young, really don't remember too much about any of the pig I ate as a toddler.

    Later on, I read an interesting book "What Would Jesus Eat" by Don Colbert, MD and he mentions that a biblical diet typically utilized a lot of beans/legumes and meat was more of a celebration party food, maybe once or twice a month at most, or on the Holy Days. So I always thought that was cool!

    I also noticed in studying other cultures that beans /legumes factor in fairly high in areas that are not particularly Judao-Christian in outlook... many Muslim countries also use legumes or beans, as well as the various peoples of India etc.

    Sounds like it's the "right thing" for you, in any case!

    And I love the colorful "Chakra wheels"? or whatever the mandala like artwork is on your background!! Such passion and vibrancy!!


    3251 days ago
  • no profile photo CD1570300
    thanks for sharing.....i like that you remind us that not everyone can overhaul their diet overnight but it is a journey of many steps. your progress is very inspiring!
    3252 days ago
    You've had quite a journey, but it sounds like you're in a very good place. Keep up the good work and happy Sparking!
    3252 days ago
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