Healthy Eating Notes
This past month saw a very large shift in my eating and health habits. It was completely intentional, and I am feeling great and very proud of myself. I am also feeling more confident than ever that lifestyle change and wellness are achievable goals.Earlier this year I learned my cholesterol was elevated. Sitting on the examination table, I was floored. I was being presented with the hard proof that my age and lifestyle are no longer getting along. I live a much lighter lifestyle than many people I know, which just compounded my disbelief. I had to confront some misconceptions and stereotypes I didn't know I'd been carrying around. I am only thirty-one, don't care much for red meat, I hardly ever drink alcohol, and don't have weight issues. So how could I have high cholesterol?! Well sweety darling, maybe it's your almost totally sedentary lifestyle and love of all things white sugar and bread-y.
My sweet tooth knows very little bounds. I hated vegetables growing up and wanted only fruit and sweets. Not much changed in adulthood. "Treat yo'self" was an unconscious motto every day, so treats were often had before and after a meal. Notice I didn't just say dinner. It was only in my mid-twenties that the urge to eat sugar cubes as Aquino treat faded away. My boyfriend and best friend both know to get as much cake as possible at a wedding, even if they don't want it - because I want it. In turn, the lack of external cues such as "weight issues" has also fostered these and other terrible habits. What weight I do gain tends to collect in my belly, which is a classic apple shape of ill health. I was also constantly bloated or had cramps.
I tried adhering to a low FODMAP diet and noticed a bit of a difference. I learned to avoid certain fruits and veggies, cut back on dairy and stopped drinking so much damned juice and soda. I started noticing which foods really got my tummy going. This in turn led me to spend September leaning even further into the fresh breeze of healthy, mostly whole clean eating. I relied on vegetables, lean protein, fruit, nuts, chia seeds, and occasionally rice, quinoa and Odwalla protein shakes. I cut out bread, cheese, butter, canola oil, pasta, cereal, sugar, ice cream, and most processed food.
I was committed to not failing this challenge and working toward feeling better. You always hear the motivational adage "you get addicted to results" and I finally really, truly wanted to find out what that felt like. After so long of being accustomed to not feeling my best physically or mentally, I kept to a program long enough to feel and see a change in myself. I don't have all the results I am hoping for (I still sleep pretty poorly), after all it's only been a month. October is devoted to a yoga challenge, and of course continuing to eat mostly plants and protein and very little, if any, daily sugar or bread.
Meal Plan Suggestions
- Coconut yogurt with chia seeds, almonds, berries & toasted coconut
- Egg, parsley, & (pre-baked or boiled) potato scramble
- Fruit & chia seed smoothies (I like small ones made with fresh strawberries, blueberries, banana & mango)
- Scrambled eggs with herbs, tomato & avocado
- Chia seed and almond milk pudding with berries or banana & honey
- Hash browns with eggs
- Leftover-steak & eggs
- Turkey & hummus wraps
Lunches & Dinners:
- Grilled salmon or chicken with a veggie salad
- Zuchinni pasta with homemade marinara
- Baked chicken or fish & veggies (I love baked green beans, carrots, asparagus, yams, and surprisingly, brussels sprouts)
- Satisfying salads: go light on dressing & plain lettuce, and go heavy on veggies, herbs, and leafy greens. My favorite salad involves a sort of chopped up mix of baby spinach, kale, cucumber, shredded carrot, tomato, avocado, chia seeds, almond slivers, & dried cranberries, with a balsamic, olive oil, mustard & honey dressing
- Steak with mashed potatoes & baked veggies with balsamic reduction
- Chicken tortilla soup (with no tortillas or cream)
- Veggie burger patties on lettuce buns with garnish
- Carrot, cucumber, tomato, quinoa, & grape salad bowl
- Turkey & hummus wraps
- Unlimited (ok, almost) fresh vegetables
- Limited fruits (stick to berries, bananas)
- Nuts & seeds in moderation