New here? Learn about my wellness project, a year-long wellness experiment.
Wow, has it been a month already? I had really planned to post a lot more frequently during nutrition month. After all, nutrition one of my favorite topics!
But this is not the time to dwell on past failures…
Since this was the first month of my wellness project, I learned both about nutrition and what works and doesn’t work for me as it relates to the wellness project as a whole.
Here are my reflections on all of this:
Eliminating Refined Sugar
I wanted to eliminate refined sugar from my diet for a couple of reasons:
- I’m kind of addicted, and it is starting to show around my waistline.
- Eating a lot of sugar uses up calories that should be spent on more nutritious food, which could make me feel even better and stronger.
Generally, I’m not a fan of eliminating any specific food from the diet. Food rules can lead to bad things like eating disorders. However, I know myself well enough that I realized that unless I went cold turkey, nothing would change.
Here is what I discovered: When I tell myself that I’m going to eliminate refined sugar, I end up avoiding it (vs. telling myself that I’m going to avoid sugar and eat it every day). The result? I’m able to trick my brain into operating in my desired “special occasion sugar” mode.
I’m definitely continuing with this resolution.
Coming from the Land of Awesome Cheese (aka Sweden), you can bet eliminating dairy was prompted by something other than an expanding waistline.
Indeed, I’ve been off milk for years, knowing it makes my tummy hurt. However, I’ve continued to eat cheese, ice cream, yoghurt, and kefir because it is, well, awesome.
But deep down in my brain, I knew that I could feel so much better if I completely eliminated dairy.
Eliminating dairy was really not that hard, except for eating out. This month, I discovered that almost everything yummy has either cream or cheese in it.
I have a feeling this will change as more and more people discover they are intolerant to casein (the main protein in cow milk). I recently learned that more people are intolerant to casein than any other food component. Go figure.
So yes, I’m going to keep avoiding dairy, because it makes me feel good.
Drinking Enough Water
This would have been the easiest resolution if the water hose to our refrigerator hadn’t broken in the middle of the month.
My husband dutifully lugged gallons of water from the grocery store to keep up with my guzzling. Drinking enough water means drinking a lot of water!
But it is such a good feeling to be completely hydrated.
You should try it.
TIP: It really helped me to pre-measure the water every day. This also allows the water to reach room temperature, which some experts claim is good for you. (I know my stomach prefers room temperature.)
Eating Five Servings of (Fruits and) Vegetables
As you may recall, I changed this resolution mid-month to make it more of a challenge. Instead of committing to eating five servings of fruits and vegetables, I changed it to be five servings of vegetables.
Phew – that was hard! I don’t think I met my resolution most days. This is one I will definitely continue to work on. Especially incorporating more greens.
I did try making vegetable pancakes though. But I think I used too much batter in each pancake, because I had a hard time getting them to firm up. I think I’ll try it again, even though shredding all those vegetables did take a lot of time.
I think my best bet is incorporating a salad with each meal. That will get me my greens.
(It would be pretty sweet to have a mini salad bar at the house…)
Keeping a Food Journal
It seemed logical to keep a food journal during a month focused on nutrition. Amidst the craziness of everyday life, it’s sometimes hard to pay attention to what one is eating. Keeping a food journal can be a good reality check.
I decided to keep my food journal on fitday.com. That was fun for about a week. As I’ve experienced in the past:
Pro: It gives you nice charts showing the breakdown of nutrition intake.
Con: It takes a good amount of time, especially if you eat home-cooked meals that are not part of their food label database.
And I really think keeping a food journal for a week is the right amount of time. It allows you to check in and see what you’re really eating. It reassures you that you’re really not chowing down 3000+ calories (like you may think). And it points out any deficiencies (e.g. I was low on iron, so I threw some roast beef into the rotation).
I can see myself coming back to this perhaps once every three months. To do another reality check and remember how I want to eat.
Other Random Discoveries
- I need a physical resolution chart hanging somewhere I can see it and easily access it. The electronic version is hidden, and I don’t like to get on the computer at night when the resolution chart updates should take place.
- Goat milk yoghurt is a great substitute for regular yoghurt. (Think plain goat milk yoghurt with berries and granola sweetened with maple syrup. Yum!)
- One of these honey-sweetened chocolate mints is the perfect punctuation to a meal. (Sold at our local co-op for 39 cents a piece. A decent knockoff is available at Trader Joe’s.)
- Thanks to eliminating dairy and sugar, I was also able to pinpoint my other food intolerance: gluten. I kind of new it, but didn’t really want to acknowledge it. However, with all other irritants out of the way, the handful of times I had gluten, it was very obviously the cause of my discomfort. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and almost sugar-free. That’s me. (This might be a good website to frequent: Simply Sugar and Gluten Free)
- It’s hard to stick with healthy, conscious eating when life is tumultuous. Pondering how to overcome this fact.
- Parties and travel are other obstacles. Perhaps those are the times to let go.
Books and Films Consumed on the Topic
This month was definitely more of a reading month than a writing month. I had grand plans to write reviews of the nutrition books I devoured this month. It clearly didn’t happen. (Doesn’t mean it won’t some time in the future…)
But I thought I’d share what I read (affiliate links):
- What’s Eating Your Child?: The Hidden Connection Between Food and Childhood Ailments by Kelly Dorfman
- Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness by Joshua Rosenthal
- Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes
- Find Your Happetite: Eat What You Want and Be Happy with Your (Perfect) Weight by Sue Zbornik (I attended the US book launch!)
I also watched all four parts of the HBO documentary series about the obesity epidemic: The Weight of the Nation.
Just between these five information sources, there was a significant difference in philosophy, approach, and general outlook on nutrition and eating. No wonder we’re confused about what to eat to live a long and healthy life!
My Work In Progress Philosophy on Eating
I really love Michael Pollan’s brief, yet solid suggestion: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
To expand on that, without creating negative food rules, I would say:
- Eat real food (i.e. whole foods that have not been processed in a factory far, far away)
- Eat organic food (as your budget permits)
- Eat local food (as the season allows)
- Eat meat and refined sugar/grains on special occasions
- Eat food that makes you feel good (and not just while you’re eating it)
- Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied
- Eat with the notion that you are nourishing your body
- Chew your food carefully and set the fork down between each bite
- Enjoy eating as the pleasurable experience it is!
My theory is that if I do all this (and continue exercising), my body will find the weight it wants to weigh, and I will adjust my wardrobe accordingly (if necessary).
Over to You!
I never get tired of reading about various nutrition philosophies. Do you have any good books to recommend?