Eat Your Greens

“I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” George Bush Sr.

Maybe President Bush would have eventually learned to like broccoli if he’d eaten a few cookies that had taken on the shape of the ubber green crunchy. Who knows?  What I find funny is how people respond to me when I tell them what I’ve learned about plant-based foods and how they’ve affected my health.  It appears that even solid proof, in the form of blood test results, is not enough to convince some people.  After I received a diabetes diagnosis in late 2011 and changed my eating, I lost 37 lbs and my sugar levels all dropped into the normal range without medication.  Still, I am not a believable witness of what healthy eating can do when it comes to some people. When I tell my diabetic friends, some who are on large amounts of insulin, that I got healthy by drastically reducing my intake of dairy products and meat they get defensive. They tell me what I heard from the medical nutritionists I talked to immediately after my diagnosis (and before I had done my own research), that if you want to control blood sugar you must eat more protein, not less. 

Hunh. That is not how it has worked for me.

Last night I was going through my copy of, Forks Over Knives, again. I was looking for recipes that are plant and fruit heavy. I have not tried many of the recipes in this book, mostly because the ingredients needed to prepare them are not currently in my cupboard. I’m not a big fan of tofu either, and they use it a lot in the recipes. I am willing to try a few of the recipes in this book and even buy weird ingredients in order to prepare them properly, but not having ate them before, I am a little hesitant to spend too much money collecting ingredients that I might use for a single recipe. I wish I knew of a place where you could buy sample packs of these ingredients, packs that held a couple tablespoons of commonly used vegetarian or vegan spices and/or additives.

Note: I am not vegetarian or vegan.  I call myself a flexitarian, because while I do concentrate my greatest efforts on purchasing, perparing and eating plant-base meals, I also eat animal protein in limited amounts.

I don’t know if my friends are hesitant to switch to plant-based foods because, like President Bush, they hate broccoli, or if they have just gotten so used to driving up to the window of a fast food restaurant and ordering the biggest, greasiest, bun-covered concoction they can afford that they can’t imagine eating any other way. I will admit that eating better requires more work and maybe a higher grocery bill, but I’m a firm believer that in this life you either pay now or pay later. I can shave a few dollars off my grocery bill by purchasing white bread, chips, canned soups and boxed meals, and it will fill hungry bodies, but it won’t take my numbers down when I get my blood tested again. Eating tons of fatty beef and pork won’t bring my cholesterol within normal ranges either. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Truthfully, it wasn’t until my eating changed, that my health improved.

My gramma always said, “Eat your greens.”  She was wise in more ways than one.  Finally, I’m following her advise,  and quickly, I’m getting better.

Have you ever tried to eat differently? What changes have you made, in order to get healthy? What proofs have become evident to you about food, after changing your eating habits?

Thankful, even on the Bad Days

Everything in life seems harder to accomplish on a bad food day!  That’s when all my good intentions turn to chaos.  

Take today, for example. I had to deal with some personnel issues at work. Normally, when the food is good, these things are not big issues for me. I do what I have to do, forget about insults or eye-rolls, and go on from there without much drama. Today, though, because the food is calling my name, it is much harder to let bygones be bygones.

When the food is bad, I want to kick a dead horse. I want to hold onto resentments and be as moody as I want to be, for as long as I want to be.

Self will run riot, you say? You got it! On the bad days, its hard to be good.

This week has been a white-knuckle affair. Why, I ask myself? Why, am I having problems with substances that haven’t been problems in a long, long time? Maybe the answer is that the honeymoon is over concerning this diet. I don’t think that is it, because I’ve been doing this for more than a year now, but maybe.

Maybe its hormones. Could be, but I don’t think so.

Maybe it’s because the weekend was long and I have a lot on my plate right now, and I have to deal with trying to dot all those i’s and cross all those t’s without a computer that will work right.

Bingo! That could be it.

Why does work frustration translate into food obsession in my life, you ask? That is the 64 million dollar question, for which I do not have an answer. Just lucky, I guess.

The truth is that I have used food as medicine, and sought comfort in its embrace for too long for it not to come to mind when I’m frustrated.

Triggers are triggers.

To get my mind off the food for a while I have decided to count my blessings. I am thankful for a blog where I can work out my feelings through writing. I am thankful for others who walk this path alongside me. I am thankful for good friends who support me, even when they don’t understand my demons. I am thankful for other bloggers who share some of the same feelings I am writing about today. I am thankful that I am not alone in this struggle, because knowing I am not alone gives me hope.

I know if others have been able to eat sensibly today, I can too. Food is just food, and feelings are just feelings–they do not have to run my life. They only have power enough to tempt me. They cannot take me down. Like so many others, I find I am stronger than I think I am. Fifteen minutes of abstinence turns into thirty minutes, than forty-five minutes, then one hour. Eventually, bedtime comes and I sleep away the obsession. I remind myself: This too shall pass, and it does.

My journey to recovery unfolds one day at a time. One healthy, well-balanced, nutrient-rich, active-without-pain day at a time. For this, I am truly thankful!

What sends you reeling?  Do you have a hard time keeping your balance on bad food days?  What strategies do you employ to stabilize your food when you’ve gotten off track?

Keeping the Tiger Caged

I once heard that for the food addict, interacting with certain foods is like taking a wild cat out of its cage every day and then trying to get it back in again.  Active addiction can be like that. In the past, the urge to eat foods that are not good for me has indeed felt like living with a wild animal under my skin. I was anxious, stressed, obsessed and held captive by food’s dangerous allure.

It is with this mental image of cat-wrangling that I approached the medical testing I had scheduled this week.  In order to be ready for my procedure, I was asked to abstain from eating any roughage for five days.  Spelled out in terrifying terms, that means no vegetables, no fruits, no nuts, seeds, or pods.  No fiber whatsoever. One day prior to the procedure I was asked to refrain from eating any solid foods.  Suggestions for what I could eat included the following:  soda, clear broth of the chicken or beef variety (no veggie broth), popsicles, sherbet, jello, coffee, tea, juices without pulp of any kind, and water.  I’ve fasted before, many times, but I have to say that I went into this fast with a whole lot of angst.

On this special diet I could eat lots of meat, gravies, white bread galore, puddings, cakes, eggs, cheese of all kinds–in essence all the things I have foregone in order to get healthy.  Are you kidding me, I thought?  How am I supposed to do this and not be tempted to revert back to old, harmful habits after this diet is done?  Come on, how much can one girl take?

A few nights before the fast began I was pretty shaken.  I was scared to begin this process–scared to leave the safe haven I had found in un-processed foods.  I’d gotten to the point that I actually crave raw and al dente veggies and fruits.  I’ve wanted to lose myself in a salad, or dine on ancient grains.  I needed to feed my body with micronutrients and not boxed stuffing mixes or muffins.  I didn’t know how I would do it, how I would get through it; the darkness that spawned my addiction so many years ago.

My blog is dedicated to three things:  God as love, food as fuel, and the belief that change, long-lasting change, realistic and healthy change, and a once-for-all-change is possible.  I would get through this trial the same way I had gotten through my diabetes diagnosis.  I would pray.  I would ask other to pray too.  I would concentrate on a power greater then me, who knew how to handle addiction successfully.  I would remember, every day, every meal, what it felt like to eat right and feel good.

I got through my crisis and my test results were good, once again.  I know God helped me to let go of fear, to trust the process I had embarked upon, to eat the way others were advising I must eat for my continued health.  I’m so glad this experience is no more than a bad memory at this point.  A bad memory with a happy ending.  Yay, another NSV achieved!

What do you do when life requires you to switch things up?  Are you ever nervous about diet changes?  How do you process unfounded food fears? 

Welcome 2013!

January 1, 2013.  Wow, how did that happen? How did we move through twelve months that quickly? It seems like yesterday that I was trying to remember to write 2012 on my checks and paperwork, and now its time to change again.

Looking back, I’m grateful for the freedom I’ve found from food obsession in the past year. Changes have taken place in my life, leaving me joyful to be alive, thriving and adopting a new attitude with food.  I feel like I’ve made measurable progress over the past year, and for that, I’m thankful.

Some of the success I have realized over the past twelve months is due to the information I’ve gleaned from fellow bloggers.  Reading their postings, I’ve learned how to say no to sugar, incorporate more whole foods into my diet, restart my program every morning, get on the scales without worry and stop looking to food to help me take the edge off.  Today, I don’t have a pantry full of canned, creamed soups.  I don’t add sugar to every cup of hot coffee.  I don’t have sodas sitting around, begging me to drink them.  Thanks to them, I believe I can be healthier.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to all you who have led the way to food freedom for me this year.    You are my heroes.  Please keep posting and sharing your experiences.  Together, we get better!