Grilled, grass-fed steak salad with bleu cheese vinaigrette
I thought a follow up was in order for my real food post from last summer. Traveling and holidays were somewhat challenging, and I probably had too much sugar, too many white potatoes (in various forms, including fries), and too many seed oils while eating out. Still, despite a few setbacks, for the most part I have continued to eat primarily whole, fresh foods and very few processed foods and grains, and now I am back to eating the way I talked about in that previous post.
A few weekends ago I splurged and had a small slice of pizza. Then I went to Ikea and had some meatballs, because why would you go to Ikea and not have Swedish meatballs? I have learned my lesson, however. First of all, the meatballs were not quite as good as I remembered. Second, I'm pretty sure there is flour in some form in not only the meatballs, but also the sauce (if this is accurate, then yes, it's in both). While my first reaction to a little flour is nausea and then other digestion problems, I was surprised to wake up the following Monday with terrible aching joints. I had forgotten that I had regularly felt that way, and would wake up stiff and sore nearly every morning. As I thought back, I realized that I just accepted that feeling as part of getting older, although I wasn't really that old, and was disappointed to think that it would only get worse with each passing year. I'm not saying that I will never eat pizza again, but most of the time it's not going to be worth the consequences.
Another lesson I learned recently: I was going to run some errands, including shopping for a new pair of jeans-I needed a smaller size, which was a very happy thing. I stopped at my local coffee shop and decided to treat myself with a fancy, warm drink, since it was a cold day. The barista recommended something she had just made for herself-an egg nog steamer with hazelnut syrup. Sounds delicious, right? I've always been an egg nog fan, so I took my drink and went on my way. I sipped as I drove, and it was just so, so sweet. Still, I kept sipping and probably made it through about 2/3 of the cup before I just had to stop and throw it away. I ran my errands and stopped at the Gap outlet for my new! jeans! I took four of five pair into the dressing room and was trying them on when the sugar crash hit. It was crazy, I went from happy and energetic to completely depressed in a matter of minutes. I was so down that I just couldn't face trying on any more clothes and left empty handed. I went straight home and took a nap. I had never connected my sugar consumption to the depression I've battled with in the past, but I think there really is a correllation.
Greens and mushroom gratin
I'll be honest, I am losing weight very, very slowly. My relationship with food, however, is so much better. I always considered myself an emotional eater. The problem was that any emotion was a reason to eat, especially sugary and processed foods. Sad? How about package of Chips Ahoy? Stressed? Maybe some crunchy potato chips would help with that. Happy? Let's celebrate with a treat from the bakery! Tired? Better go to a drive-thru and pick up something for dinner. The problem was that none of those foods have enough nutrition to really feed my body, so I would just want more and more. And then of course I would beat myself up for my lack of willpower. Willpower is a bunch of nonsense when it comes to eating. Hunger is a physical need, you can't eat a thousand calories worth of cookies and expect to assuage the physical need your body has for the nutrients it wants to run and repair itself. When I eat well, I find that I have no interest in that package of cookies, and my sweet tooth is satisfied with a little bit of dark chocolate or a few bites of good ice cream. I find myself having very interesting cravings now, for things like kale or salmon. It's as if my body can really tell me what it needs to function better now.
This week I've been having a weird dairy craving. I'm not sure what it is that I need, but I'm drinking tea with cream and eating cheese like crazy. And yet I've lost two pounds this week. Which brings me to another point. Fat! I eat lots and lots of good fat (coconut oil, olive oil, butter, and egg yolks are my staples). It's what fills me up, and I think it also helps eliminate that joint pain, not to mention making my skin glow and my hair shiny and healthy. What happened when we were all told that a diet low in fat and high in "healthy whole grains" was good for us in the late 1970s? We now have an epidemic of diabeties and obesity. I really think there is a connection, not to mention the mutant strains of wheat and corn which are found in pretty much everything, and snack foods are concoctoed by "food chemists" for maximum palatability (in other words, when you eat them, you will want to continue eating them). I want to eat food made from actual food, cooked by me or a chef, not concocted in a lab by chemists. Okay, enough of that little rant, sorry!
Twice-baked cauliflower (not something I would regularly make, but boy did it help with the dairy cravings!)
I want to encourage anyone with health problems to consider the way they are eating. I'm not saying that modern medicine isn't a wonderful thing, but I really do think we can heal so many ailments by eating well. There was a comment from Adee on one of my food posts about a month after I wrote that original real food post, and it made me so, so happy:
thank you so much for your early Aug blog post about healthier eating habits and paleo/ primal eating. It really struck a chord with me - I've now been fully primal for 5 wks, lost 9lb and my fibromyalgia pain is 90% improved. Its made such a difference to my life. I've even got some lacto fermented sauerkraut brewing on the bench! (from 'Nourishing Traditions' by Sally Fallon, really great book)
I hope you're still doing well Adee! I hope that others with similar health issues will also give it a try and see the same kind of improvements!
P.S. I have lost a total of 35 pounds since I started eating this way last April and hope to lose another 25 this year, it has been painless and requires very little willpower, but does mean that I have to be dedicated to cooking for myself every day, and making good choices when I do (seldom) eat out. Grocery shopping and meal planning have gotten easier now that I have more experience cooking this way, so if it seems hard at first, just keep at it!
P.S.S. The greens and mushroom gratin is this recipe, which I found via Pink of Perfection, and it is amazingly delicious. Leftovers were a fantastic breakfast the next morning, topped with an egg, over easy.
The cauliflower recipe I found here, but I didn't use any low-fat ingredients, they seem too franken-foodish to me, I would rather just eat the real thing. It was deliciously rich and satisfying. I eat (organic and raw) dairy regularly, although not usually that much at one time, so I wouldn't consider this an every day kind of thing, but boy, was it good!