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!*)