Life: Why I’m not doing Whole 30

I’m under the impression that a lot of people are doing Whole 30 this month.  I’m not that tuned into the Whole 30 community online (or off for that matter), but I do appreciate and like the idea of a Whole 30.  I’ve reached that point in my eating habits where my eating is a lot more fluid than it was when I started eating paleo/primal. However, a month of clean eating would probably be a good thing for me, especially since paleo/primal desserts and sweets have crept into my diet.  I would also like to drop a few stress induced pounds that have been hanging out since December.

So, why oh why am I not participating in this month’s Whole 30?  Well, for a number of reasons.  The biggest reason is that my mind is not there.  I have a lot of things going on and I just can’t pay enough attention to do Whole 30 right now.  Trying to force the food issue right now would only result in more stress, not less.  I tried a few times over the last few months to eat cleaner, but it never really stuck.  Right now is just not the time and I just have to be okay with that.  

I eat all right for the most part, so when I have that mental space and time, I’ll jump in and do a month of clean eating.  For now, as much as I hate to just let it go, I am letting it go.  

Eat: Roasted Beet Hummus

If you like beets at all, even just a little bit, you have to try this Roasted Beet Hummus recipe from The Primalist.  This recipe has garnered rave reviews.  Ever since I shared the recipe with some friends, the rave reviews are nonstop.  You can even boil the beets if you don’t want to go through an hour of roasting the beets.  My only thought now is trying this with golden beets.

Had I known about this recipe over the winter when I was suffering from beet overload, I might have been on better terms with beets during the late winter and early spring.  No matter, this recipe is for the save and use over and over again file.

Go try it:

Roasted Beet Hummus Recipe by The Primalist

 

PS If you have a food processor, save yourself some grief and use that.  If you don’t, I hope you don’t end up fighting with your blender like I did.  After fighting with my blender, a Vitamix is on my wishlist.

Life: Monday Musings

Some thoughts that have been floating around in my head.

1. Eating strict paleo is easier when you don’t know about all the paleo substitutions that exist out in the world.  (Technically, all these paleo substitutions aren’t really paleo, but that would be a long discussion and debate.)

2. There seems to be some merit to the gut healing theory.  Personally, after two years of paleo/primal eating, I can eat some wheat based products without feeling completely terrible and in need of a long slumber to sleep it off.  Not that I am going to go back to eating wheat.

3.  I found out that my reaction to wheat is much improved because my sister made these amazing cookies while I was home this past weekend and I couldn’t resist.  I probably ate a dozen of them…maybe I’m exaggerating just a little.

4.  I also made cauliflower pizza crust with my sister this past weekend.  She was in charge of the toppings.  Good thing, since she actually makes things look pretty and tasty. (Hopefully, I’ll be sharing some photos soon.)

5.  My goal is to clean up my act this month and eat cleaner and sleep better, but I’m afraid to actually announce that here because I’m not sure I can or want to be that committed.

6. I’m transitioning to writing one blog, this one, and getting it better organized.  What do you think about the new title format?

7. I like the number seven so I’m going to end here.

 

Eat: Green Smoothie

I don’t know when the last time I wrote a blog post was.  It’s been a while.  A good long while.  In that span of a while, a lot of things have happened, but nothing productive that I wanted to happen really happened.  Life has been chaotic and I feel like I’ve been dragged around by life rather than my being in control of my life.  I suppose we’re not always in control, but I feel better when I think I’m in control of what’s going on.

Stress has a way of making me lose my appetite.  Food hasn’t been all that appealing and I’ve definitely gone to sleep a few nights this past week without eating dinner.  Tonight, my solution to this problem was to make a green smoothie.  I was inspired by this recipe: Ginger and Spinach Green Smoothie.  Check out the link for beautiful photos of a what sounds like a very tasty green smoothie.  I didn’t take any photos of mine.

I made some changes to the inspiration recipe and this is what I came up with:

Funny Eater Green Smoothie

Arugula, a handful

Spinach, two fistfuls

Fresh ginger root, about two inches long, peeled and chopped

Coconut milk, about 2 cups

Chia seeds, a few tablespoons

Frozen mango chunks, a few large chunks

**Dump everything into a blender and blend until smooth.**

As you can see, there aren’t any exact measurements.  I tend to use whatever I have on hand when cooking.  I prefer not to buy more ingredients when I don’t have to.  My farm share started a little over a week ago, so the arugula and spinach were fresh from the farm and oh so tasty.  I had some left over mango chunks in the freezer and this seemed like a good time to use them.  I liked that the mango evened out the green flavor without eliminating the peppery spiciness of the arugula and the zing of the ginger.

I’m usually not a fan of drinking my calories, but right now I need to get some calories in at dinner time and this seems like a good way to do it.  So, mission accomplished.

What kind of fresh smoothies do you like to make at home?

 

 

Why Organic Food…

**Note: I use the term organic because that’s what most people are familiar with.  When I say organic, I mean foods that are grown naturally without chemical pesticides and harsh treatment.  This includes naturally grown foods and other food designations that encompass this method of food cultivation.**

A lot of people like to write off organic food as overpriced nonsense that the bourgeoisie like to use as a status symbol.  While the use of organic food as a status symbol may be true, organic food is not BS, as one of the physicians I worked with declared one morning.  The reasoning was that if food was all grown organically, the world’s population would starve and that we wouldn’t have gotten to this place in the first place.  That sort of unthinking declaration made me really mad.  I considered responding with a persuasive argument, but as the absolute lowest person on the totem pole, I had nothing to really gain from trying to educate someone who was going to insist that organic food is nothing but a scam.

Organic food is hardly a scam.  Sure, considering the types of things that tend to harm people first, the distinction between organic and conventional food is low priority.  Most of the people I see in the hospital have other more pressing issues to resolve – substance abuse, poverty, gun shot wounds, infection, heart disease.

Organic food does make a difference though.  Organic food means food grown without heavy chemicals.  I have a farmer friend who told me that pesticides were really not too big of a concern for the consumer because most of it is broken down by the time the food reaches the consumer.  The bigger problem was the farm workers who applied pesticides.  Those were the people who got all the ill effects of pesticides.  While on a macro level, this might be true, I imagine that on a microscopic level, that whatever is left of pesticides on foods is not good.  Not to mention that foods grown in an unnatural state tend not to be very nutritious.  (If you want better researched and thought out information on this, click on the links at the bottom of this post.)

If you’ve ever grown your own garden or had organic food from your local farmer’s market, I’m telling you organic makes a difference.  Same goes for “organic” meat.  This past Thanksgiving, I debated the merits of hauling a free-range, organically fed turkey home to my family or just going the easy route and letting them buy a turkey locally.  (I’m sure there are free range, organically-fed turkeys where my family is, but I don’t know where to get one.)  After a lot of back and forth, I bought a turkey and packed it in the trunk of my car with 18 pounds of ice and drove home to my family hoping that the turkey wouldn’t go bad.  The effort paid off.  Everyone raved about how the turkey was the best they had ever had.  Of course, while we can’t discount the role that my sister’s amazing culinary chops had in making a tasty turkey, I have to say, the turkey was exceptionally good.

I know my Thanksgiving tale is just one example, but I can tell the difference between organic foods and conventional foods.  The taste is different and all of a sudden those vegetables and meats that I choked down before are actually appealing to me.  Organic foods also means humane treatment of animals, healthier farm workers, and happier people overall.  I think that’s a pretty picture that I want to be a part of.

Yes, organic food is more expensive, but if you can afford it, why not treat your body to the best that nature has to offer?  Why not support the farmers who are out there trying to make a difference?  Sure, there are big commercial organic farms.  I try to buy local and organic before resorting to commercially grown organic food, but even that is better than the alternative – a world filled with toxins where there are people getting sick and exposed to pesticides just so you can eat.

I might be cynical about a lot of things, but you can taste the difference in your food and that alone is worth eating organic.  Local and organic is even better, but the local foods discussion is another discussion for another time.

Finally, for some intelligent and coherent discussions on organic foods, read the recent bunch of articles posted by Mark Sisson over at Mark’s Daily Apple:

What do you think about organic food?

Morning treats

I’ve had a stupid head cold that I haven’t been able to shake all week. I blame the room that I’ve been stuck in for most of the last couple of weeks and the other people I’m working with. I will refrain from telling you my opinion of both of these entities for fear of ruining someone’s appetite and because it’s not nice to talk about other people. (Unless you’re saying nice things of course!)

20121005-071628.jpg

So now I’m sitting here with this beautifully topped Americano waiting for breakfast. The lovely people at this coffee shop are mostly used to my crazies because I probably came here every morning for the better part of a month when I was moving and ordering whip cream on top of my Americano. Now, they don’t question it.

Well, I better get ready to eat since it looks like between the rain that has just started to fall and my late start this morning, I’m going to be making a run for it.

PS In case anyone cares, I love my new phone! 🙂

One Change

One change can go a long way.  I just read Domestic Man’s post about Easing into a Paleo Diet and he has some great advice on how to make some small changes to get yourself eating better.  Reading his post got me thinking about how even one change can really improve a person’s health.

Back in the days of yore, I had a classmate in college who between freshman and sophomore year lost a good amount of weight.  When someone asked her how she did it, she said that she cut out soda completely along with some other dietary changes.  She remarked that just by cutting out soda, including diet soda, she lost 10 pounds.  That was before she made the other dietary changes.  I remember thinking one simple change could make a big different.  I also remember thinking, “Soda really is evil!”

Fast forward to the present day.  I had a patient that I was seeing and I asked him about his diet and he said that ate a lot of meat and drank a lot.  He had already quit smoking, so I decided to ask him to make two changes – stop drinking and eat more vegetables.  He readily agreed to try it.  I think that instead of asking him to stop eating meat, which appeared to be a huge part of his culture, I just asked him to add something to what he was already doing.  Stopping alcohol might be a bit harder, but I figured I had a window of opportunity and asking for two changes didn’t seem like a whole lot.

Contrast giving that kind of advice to giving the kind of advice that I’ve heard most people give other people.  You need to eat better.  Well, I think most people know that, but when you give advice in general terms, people become overwhelmed.  Those people start to feel guilt that they aren’t eating better and they can’t seem to ever get to the point where they are eating better.

Writing this gives me an idea for creating a hierarchy or a list of nutritional advice that’s focused on getting people to actually make a positive change that could be used in the medical setting.  I don’t agree with a lot of the nutrition advice that’s being doled out in physicians’ offices, but I think that things like eat more vegetables is something that we can all agree on.

Lots to think about.

I’m interested in other people’s experiences with nutritional advice and interactions with the healthcare system, so leave me comments.

To Be or Not To Be

Caffeinated.  That is the big question today.

I never was much of a coffee drinker until after I graduated from college.  Starbucks was for the corporate and wall street types and as far as I know studying in coffee shops was not the hip thing to do.  Or maybe that was just my college, since there were plenty of cooler placees to get your study on.  Then again we are talking about a pre-Facebook era.

In any case, the most coffee I would have would come in the form of a blended coffee drink of some sort maybe three times a year.  I just never really got into the whole coffee thing.

Now, I’m not sure which came first, but somewhere between the amazing coffee that my sister brought back from Costa Rica and a backpacking trip though Spain, I started drinking coffee.  I loved the way it tasted and smelled and I got a nice euphoric high off of it that would have me going all day long.

Pretty soon, I knew which types of coffees I liked and would seek out novel coffees to see if I enjoyed them.  Around this time, I was also spending a lot of time in New York and well, there is some pretty darn good coffee there.  A busy schedule meant that I started drinking coffee almost everyday.  Unless I had to cram in extra work into the wee hours of the morning, I only drank one cup at breakfast.

Fast forward a few years and without the crazy schedule, I stopped drinking as much coffee.  I didn’t need to make sure that I was alert and ready to go at 5 AM any more, so I didn’t see the need for it.  Of course, if I did enjoy indulging in a good cup of coffee every so often.

More time travel to the summer of 2011 when I changed to paleo eating.  I ate a really strict diet for a month and then it sort of naturally continued on from there.  I didn’t drink coffee until I started having overnight shifts and even then, I only drank coffee when I needed to.  Up until this point, I never noticed that I had an issue with coffee.

A little side note here.  I might be sensitive to coffee in that it can keep me wired for three days after one good cup, but I never had the shakiness or the palpitations that some other members of my family had.

Welcome to the present day.  I drank a cup of coffee this morning that I brewed myself, french press style, and my heart is pounding pretty hard.  I’ve noticed over the last couple of weeks that this has been happening to me when I drink coffee.  I’m not liking it.

I love the clarity and up that coffee used to give me, but now coffee seems to just give me heart pounding and not a whole lot else.  I don’t know if this is because I eat such a clean diet that this issue was not apparent to me in the past or if the whole mycotoxin theory is actually correct.

The only reason I am even drinking coffee at this point is because it’s allergy season and anti-histamines make me drowsy (yes, even the non-drowsy kind).  I’ve noticed that this year I’m doing okay with one allergy medicine (versus three in years past) and that skipping a day or two of allergy medicine doesn’t cause huge problems.  However, I still have work to do.

So, much to my utter disappointment, I believe the correct answer here is to not be caffeinated.  I’ll just have to be that much better about eating well and getting good sleep.

In the end, I would love to have all the energy I need without relying on any sort of caffeinated beverages.  I’m pretty sure my reliance on them in the winter of 2010-2011 is what precipitated a huge burn out (another story for another post).  So, we’ll see if I can actually get through everything without the occasional caffeine boost.

 

 

What it all comes down to

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while and while there have been posts by other more eloquent writers out there about various diets and eating habits and how they compare, I’m going to add a little more noise to the bunch with my thoughts.

I have been eating a paleo/primal/ancestral diet for about 9 months now.  When I tell people about how I eat, they wonder how I do it.  They wonder how I can stick to a “diet” for so long.  The thing is that I don’t think of it as a diet.  I hate diets.  I don’t believe in diets.  Paleo is the way I eat, not a restrictive thing.

I don’t find paleo eating hard.  Sure, maybe when I go out, or when I’m in a different town it’s a bit harder to figure out where to get the kind of foods that I want to eat.  Other than that, in my regular every day life, I don’t really think too much about it.

I think that the point that people are missing when they hear about the way I eat is that what it all comes down to is eating high quality foods.  Similar eating frameworks are all basically saying the same thing.  Even those diets that include things like wheat and dairy still encourage eating high quality foods in their basic forms.

I say that I eat paleo just to give the way I eat a label, but the truth is that it’s far from describing the way I personally eat.  I make eating choices based on the issues that I have and the things that I want to improve about my health, my body, and my life.  So, while paleo really means a grain-free, legume-free, dairy-free diet at it’s most basic level, after an induction period of strict paleo for a month, I’ve figured out what works for me.

I found out that milk and I don’t agree with each other.  Yogurt, cheese, butter, and heavy cream are all okay.  I eat them, but they are not a big part of my diet.  I also found out that wheat is bad news.  If I eat something that has wheat in it, I will feel terrible afterwards.  I will be sleepy and lethargic and not in a good way.  It’s like I’ve been drugged.  I’ve heard of people who are able to go back to eating wheat much later on, but I don’t really miss wheat.

I do miss rice sometimes though.  If I’m craving a whole lot of carbs and I don’t feel satisfied with what I’m eating, I might eat a bowl of rice.  This probably happens less than once a month.  I don’t stress that I’m eating a grain.  If my body wants it, I eat it.  I know my body well enough to know that wanting to eat some rice isn’t going to become some sort of binge fest of grains and whatnot.  I just simply need whatever rice has to offer and once I eat some, it’s over.  The end.  Not a big deal.

I also eliminated nightshades from my diet, but that was a conscious decision based on research and not a personal experience.  Other decisions that are more conscious rather than experience based are eating organic foods, eating locally, and eating pastured, grass fed meats.  Although, admittedly, these types of foods taste better than their conventional counterparts.

If you know anything about these ancestral type diets, you’ll know that there are a lot of different flavors.  The way I eat is my own version of the ideas that are out there on how best to eat.

Eat what makes you feel good.  Not crazy, sugar high good or carb induced food coma good, but healthy, clean good.

Someone once said to me that she believed that eating one’s ethnic cuisine was what was best for them.  I’m paraphrasing what I heard in another language, so it’s not really well said here, but I think that the point is clear – you should eat for your particular makeup.  I do feel better eating foods of my ethnic heritage.  I think it has to do with the fact that it’s all focused on eating fresh foods.  The only paleo determined red flags in the diet would be rice and soy.  Personally, I don’t even think those are that bad.

So, really, what I’m saying is that if you want to feel better and improve your health, don’t stress out over the details.  Look at the big picture.  The big picture is to eat better quality, fresh foods.  Start there and work on the little issues one at a time and you’ll find your self happier and healthier without the stress of traditional dieting methods.

Feel free to ask me questions, discuss, and so forth.

What Are You Putting On Your Body?

You read that title right, what are you putting on your body?  Think about it. Lotions, soaps, shampoos, shaving creams, aftershaves, perfumes, colognes, water.  There is a lot of stuff that you put on your body.

I changed a lot of the things that I put on my body since going paleo.  I changed the body wash that I use to a plain, unscented soap.  I switched out my lotions for jojoba oil and coconut oil.  I use more natural toothpaste.  The one thing that I didn’t consider much until last week was makeup and perfumes.

Now, I’m a low fuss kind of woman.  I let my hair dry on its own and I rarely wear makeup.  Despite the fact that I’m a low fuss kind of person, I am still a part of the society at large and when I go out, a little jazz with some makeup is fun.  I’m not sure how I came upon it, but I was doing some Internet research about makeup and came across rms beauty.  When I read about the founder’s health problems from being constantly exposed to chemicals in her job as a makeup artist, I realized that makeup is probably a lot more dangerous than people know.

Thus, began my hunt for makeup and beauty products that are more natural.  Even though I don’t wear makeup often, I still want to know that I’m not harming my skin and body by putting makeup on.  I found out that natural does not always mean good for you and that just like eating, people have some interesting ideas about what is okay for your skin.

With all the misinformation out there, it’s pretty hard to figure out what is right and what is just commercial propaganda to sell products.  A good source of information that a lot of places refer to is the Environmental Working Group database.  They have information on all sorts of things including cosmetics.  You might be surprised to find that what you thought was better for you than the standard stuff is still not that good for you.

When it comes to cosmetics, learning that they are harming your health is probably not the easiest pill to swallow.  The most popular blogs and websites on the internet are fashion and beauty blogs.  There are a million magazines on fashion, beauty, and fitness.  As a society we are obsessed with looking good.  I don’t blame us, but to continue looking good, we have to consider what we are doing to our bodies.

I’m a haphazard internet researcher, so I encourage you to use google to find out more about healthier alternatives to the beauty products in your cabinet.  I’ll tell you what I’m doing now and what I hope my self-care routine looks like so you have an idea, but go do some research and think about how you want to change.