Friday, April 9, 2010

Dietary Alterations

I have a confession to make: I love to eat. Too much. I am one of those people for whom food is a comfort, something that I take in the place of drugs when I feel overwhelmed, lonely, down, or sometimes even when I'm happy and feel like a reward for doing something well.

It started all the way back in second grade, when the school bullies first seized upon me as the perfect plaything. I got bullied all the way up to high school, and the weight hopped right on board. By tenth grade, I was overweight. There weren't bullies anymore; instead, kids (not all of them; I had a few friends) at my new school mostly preferred to ignore me or maybe snicker a bit behind my back. The result was the same: I kept eating. By now, I had weight depressing me, and that just made me eat more. My new identity was etched in stone: I was the fat girl who never got asked out on dates, and who got through all the hurt with comfort food.

In college, I made some strides to reform. I went for two years where I barely ate anything (another bad choice), and dropped the weight. Then I evened out a bit, then I started going to food for comfort again. By the time I graduated, I wasn't fat, but I certainly still had a very unhealthy relationship with food. Life threw some more curve balls at me, and I eventually wound up in 2010, overweight again. Not obese, but certainly overweight. The difference is, now I eat right.

I am still 100% committed to my Sugar Busters lifestyle, with a few moderations. I have put pretzels, cereal, and occasional popcorn back in life (considering that pretzels are one of my favorite foods, we simply had to be together). I also allow a few other indulgences, such as my favorite pear jam, which has twelve grams of sugar per serving, and the occasional pineapple (they're high on the glycemic index). I have also recently chosen to allow carrots back in, since I am concerned about my eyes. I follow my plan carefully, and only buy foods that are on it. I switched over to coconut oil as my primary cooking oil, after reading reports from numerous sources as to its many health benefits, though I still use olive oil whenever its flavor would better compliment a dish. Despite making all the right choices, however, I still have one major problem: serving sizes. I eat too big of portions. And, thanks to all the coursework from grad school, I just don't have the time or energy to exercise. So, despite all the good I've been doing for three months, the weight is clinging to me like scandals on an actor. I haven't put on any more weight, but I also am not losing.

This brings me to the latest dietary change, which I will be posting about just as I do my other life experiences, in the hope of benefitting anyone else looking to make the same changes. Having read some other recent health studies, I am trying something a little different from most diets. A large breakfast with plenty of fat has been proven to be healthier than a low-fat and/or small breakfast. Not only does it keep you fuller; it also helps you eat less during the rest of the day. Studies have shown that the old adage of "eat like a king a breakfast, a queen at lunch, and a pauper at dinner" is actually the best possible way to go. Now, being hypoglycemic, I need to spread out my food a little better; my doctor has harped on me for years to eat five or six meals per day. I really don't have the time for six meals, so I'm going to go for four for a while.

Here's the new plan (which I just implemented this week):

Breakfast is now a large meal consisting of coffee, fat, protein, fiber, dairy, and occasionally fruit. I bought some turkey bacon, which has wonderful flavor and is not nearly as unhealthy as regular bacon (which I have not eaten for years). Today, for example, breakfast consisted of coffee, two slices of turkey bacon, one egg with some fat-free cheese, and some vanilla yogurt (low sugar) with frozen raspberries and All Bran flakes. Yesterday, I had the same egg and bacon, but had a slice of double-fiber toast with butter and pear jam in place of the yogurt. Since I love breakfast food, getting to indulge like this in the morning is enjoyable and practical - yesterday, I stayed full for almost twice as long as I normally would after breakfast.

Lunch is now a medium-sized meal which consists of pretty much whatever I want, so long as the sugar and fat are both low. I had chicken stir-fry yesterday, for example. Lunch will usually involve a meat, most likely chicken, and will always have at least one vegetable. Dairy products will also occasionally be served. I have decided to make another big change and try to convert myself into a seafood-eater. My entire life, I have despised fish, which actually makes me physically sick to my stomach (the smell of strong fish can even give me a migraine). I do eat and enjoy crab and shrimp, however, so those are going to be more common on my table. I also am trying some other things, like scallops (I found some on sale at the grocery store this week, in fact). And, because fish really is so-o healthy, I am going to try to make myself like some of the milder varieties, like tilapia. I really want to like them, since they are healthy and offer a whole new range of recipe experiments, but I have a lifetime of fish-hatred to overcome first. We'll see how this goes - tilapia will be experimented with either Saturday or Sunday.

Dinner will now consist of two small meals. One will be served around six, the other at eight (at which point, the kitchen will be officially closed for the night). Henceforth, dinners #1 and #2 are now vegetarian meals - absolutely no meat (I get to have that at lunch, if I want it). Last night, I made a variation on traditional green bean casserole: I added a little bit of hot sauce (about one teaspoon) to the mushroom soup, just to pep it up a pinch, stirred in pureed sweet onions with the green beans, and topped the mixture with ground almonds and sliced sweet onions instead of the traditional onion rings. The result was delicious. I had two small helpings, with a space of time in between, and allowed myself a little yogurt for dessert, as I still felt legitimately hungry after my second dinner. Tonight, I will be finishing the leftovers. Two or three nights a week, I will be having a protein shake for my first dinner, with a slice of double-fiber toast or a vegetable for the second one. With both lunch and dinner, I will be implementing far more nuts in the place of red meat (I'll still have it on occasion, just not as often).

I am also going to allow occasional snacks, so long as they are healthy. I found several recipes for healthful, 100-calorie snacks, which I will be preparing in advance and then storing in baggies, divided into the appropriate serving sizes. It sounds like I'm eating a lot, but in actuality, I have cut the portion sizes quite a bit. I am going to be eating more in terms of variety with each meal (before, I had just one dish for each meal, very seldom bothering with side dishes), but the portions will be dramatically smaller. I am hoping that the wider variety of dishes with each meal will help encourage me to keep portion sizes down. Since the weather is now heavenly outside (and beyond heavenly - we keep hitting the nineties already), I am also going to make a conscientious effort to get outside with Jasper more often. I want to be sure to take him to the park at least twice a week, and I plan to start rollerblading again in the evenings or mornings. I also want to start taking better advantage of the swimming pool at my apartment complex. I love to go hiking, so I am going to try to go about every other week, accompanied by Jasper, of course.

I'll keep you posted on how this progresses, dear readers. Let's hope this girl can get back into those cute smaller clothes (which currently hang, neglected, in the back of the closet) by mid-summer.

1 comment:

Erin said...

great post! Will and I have actually been talking about better strategies for meal times (we keep eachother accountable). And one of our new things that we are implementing is the larger breakfast. Namely, protien at breakfast making you less hungry throughout the rest of the day.

I'm also trying to get him on the "one of every color" bandwagon: fruits and veg. from every color each day. I'm also trying to make my go-to snacks yogurt, fruit, or almonds.

Keep it up! Its hard to change an eating lifestyle.

p.s. if you venture down to the pool this summer, i'll be the one with the two girls running around like they never get out.....!

"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"