Life is going by too quickly! I can't believe the holiday's are already upon us. Mia is growing so fast, such a strong, independent and happy girl. I am in love! Is there any other better feeling? I can't imagine. She astounds me daily, and I am constantly humbled that I have been entrusted with such a sweet spirit as this darling girl. Here are some newer pictures...
So I’ve been driving myself a bit crazy lately, I’m not going to lie. I am feeling more and more torn between all the different “food angles” (as I refer to them) that are out there for our information and education. As I feel pulled in a few different directions, and have for the past six months or so, I am also finding a strange sense of balance, which is what I want to share with you. It is so easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest when it comes to what we put in our mouth, or don’t. But what can you do to “stay on track” and at the same time being doing the very best thing for your own body?
I’d like to shed some light on the particular “food angles” that I am mulling through, and share with you the balance that I am finding between them. I think often we are pressured to commit our entire lifestyle around one conviction, like my fellow Vegan friends. I’ve been there –I was Vegan for two years (I recommitted to Veganism during my pregnancy, right after Food Inc., came out!), Vegetarian for 5 or 6, nearly completely Raw for one year. I’ve toyed with Macrobiotic, Alkaline, and most recently, the Chronobiotic “lifestyle” and have avoided dairy completely since just before my daughter was born, about 9 months (until recently). Back in the day, I even did a couple months of the awful (should be illegal) Atkins diet, and the Zone Diet (I still have value from that and use some principles), as well as the South Beach diet. Basically there is nothing about diets or food/nutrition that I haven’t researched and dissected completely.
Sound obsessive? I had to try everything! You’re right, I am obsessed with nutrition and optimum health and wellness, and most importantly, having an iron-clad immune system. After working in the medical field and wanting to continue doing so in the future, I’ve had plenty of microbiology/biology classes that have left me, well, a little bit worried about the amount of bacteria and viruses out there. I don’t believe they are just waiting to prey on those of us with poor immune systems however, they have no power over a healthy and alkaline digestive system, let me tell you! I have gotten off track…
I have been completely gluten free for 3+ years, and after reading Tim Ferriss’s article (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2010/09/19/paleo-diet-solution/), I’ve been totally grain free for the past 6 weeks, including rice and corn (including quinoa, even though it’s not technically a grain)… until this weekend, that is. It started with not being able to resist the cheese I bought for a party I was throwing, and of course who can eat decadent cheese without some delicious gluten free (corn) crackers, and a dish we had made for the party which included rice; I mean, a cook can’t serve without tasting, right?! And then, as a fanatical patron of my latest and greatest dining spot, Nourish (http://nourish123.com/) which caters to those of us who are gluten free, soy free, vegan, lactose free, nut free etc., I couldn’t resist a wonderful breakfast which included a gf bagel… it’s been years since I’ve had a bagel! So needless to say, I fell off the wagon of my own construction and woke up feeling “ugh” this morning. Upon reading deeper into my new slew of books, I felt this peace come over me. And I had to remind myself of the truth that has gotten me through years and years of ups and downs and different “food angles” –It’s all about the balance.
Who says we can’t take our favorite components of these different food angles and piece them together for our very own tailored lifestyle and needs?
So where am I at? That is just what I am balancing out, and using this blog to jot it down for my own sake. Bear with me.
Each of us has a delicate balance to be found in our own set of systems… endocrine, digestive, circulatory, immune, lymphatic, muscular, nervous, reproductive, etc. So the gentle balance of what may work for one of us, may not necessarily work for another. Do I believe it is a close call between what works for one and for another? Absolutely! I believe whole heartedly in some simple truths about food and the human body and disease. Like certain meats and diary. These are universally accepted as being very hard on our bodies. And as we’ve seen by the rise in celiac disease and gluten intolerance, there is certainly something to be said about the over-saturation of gluten in our food and food-like substances (how I prefer to refer to pre-packaged, processed junk food).
Another is sugar. Sugar, in all its forms, especially high fructose corn syrup and the like, is “the devil.” No joke. It should be made illegal (I’m not saying that it isn’t delicious!)
Then there are your “bad fats” of course, such as Trans and (animal) saturated… we all know about these things, or should. So what about those of us foodies who have been living a step beyond all these basic facts for a while now? We skip from one food “lifestyle” to another, or maybe stick with the same one, whether or not it is negatively affecting our health or immune system. Some of my Vegetarian and a few Vegan friends are sadly amongst the unhealthiest that I know! They avoid meats and/or dairy/animal products, but instead fill up on breads, pastas, sugar-saturated snacks, and other simple carbs!
They over-indulge in cheeses, white/brown rice and other things. They’ll stand there eating a package of Cheese-Its talking about how becoming Vegetarian was the best thing they ever did for themselves, and I’m flabbergasted.
I am in love with the recent upspringing of food knowledge and education that has been flying around the past 7-8 years or so. I love the hard work that is being put into research, studies and publications regarding super foods, alkaline living gluten free lifestyles and more. Everything is so accessible, and everyone seems to be answering the call of our sick nation with solutions and information. So what do we do with all this information? We take what makes sense for us, and leave the rest. And when/if what we’ve taken and applied is no longer effective, we revisit old information or seek out new information, and try again.
It’s very difficult for me to commit to one thing. I find so much value in so many places, that I don’t want to leave anything behind. It’s hard sometimes though to make it all work together for my body, especially in lieu of the past 18 months of my life which have been dedicated to being pregnant, than a breastfeeding new mom. I had to give up on being completely raw and vegan, which I had been back to doing for three months starting a couple of months after my daughter was born. I was simply not able to maintain the amount of calories I needed to keep up a healthy milk supply, and provide myself with enough nutrition simultaneously. Under the supervision of my Naturopath I began eating specific meats (organic, free-range/grass fed bison and turkey) a couple of times per week. It was very difficult for me to do, but my body responded so well, that I continued to keep it up. I let go of the red meat (bison, never cow) and continued on with the turkey, adding in some organic chicken here and there. She also suggested organic New Zealand lamb, but I just could not do it. With the addition of the meats, not diary, I was able to revive my milk supply, and my hair stopped falling out, my finger nails stopped flaking and breaking, my skin plumped back up and I was able to sleep again, and had daytime energy. This is what I individually had to do as a breastfeeding mom for my body and my daughter. I am now beginning to lean towards cutting certain meats back out.
I’ve not wavered from my gluten free lifestyle at all since my “diagnosis” three and a half years ago. The one or dozen times I’ve accidentally ingested gluten have sparked such uncomfortable and irritating side effects, I’m happy to avoid the stuff like a plague. Adding in the avoidance to rice and corn however, was a difficult challenge. I’ve read the book Dangerous Grains, twice (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Dangerous-Grains/James-Braly/e/9781583331293) and then along with Tim Ferriss’s article, felt that I needed to try it for my body. The results were magnificent. Do I think I will eternally be able to avoid rice, corn and quinoa? Nope. I especially love quinoa, and find that I sometimes need to include it in my diet to ensure I am getting adequate calories in a day. I make sure I always buy organic/non-GMO when it comes to the grains I do ingest, and when I don’t, I feel the difference.
Tim Ferriss advocates for meats, however, which was kind of hard for me. If you’ve ever read The China Study you can understand why (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/China-Study/T-Colin-Campbell/e/9781932100662/?itm=1&USRI=the+china+study). But without eating any grains whatsoever for 6 weeks, I had to add in organic chicken/turkey into my diet, along with fish. For me, it was a very difficult task still breastfeeding six times per day, to consider living on fruits, vegetables, nuts/legumes alone. It simply wasn’t enough for me. Without breastfeeding could I do it? Sure, but life sure wouldn’t hold much food pleasure for me!
Add in my daily attempt to stay as alkaline and Chronobiotic as possible, while ingesting optimum amounts of super foods, and I am literally walking a food angle tight rope! I don’t exactly recommend this! You will drive yourself crazy like I occasionally find myself doing. Let’s talk about the balance.
As I am approaching a milestone birthday in December, I must consider all that I am passionate about and figure out what components of these passions make up how I am going to function on day-to-day basis, which is exactly what you need to do to. Number one is to never interpersonally judge or punish for falling off whatever wagon you have built and placed yourself within. As women we tend to live in prisons of our own creation, and remain there crucifying ourselves for our failures, and falling. No more. This is the most glorious time in your life! Whether you are pregnant for the first or ninth time, single, newlywed, divorced or playing the field, embrace where you are at and punish no more! SO MUCH of what happens in our bodies is mind-related.
Our delicate female hormone balance is directly related to our thoughts and perception of ourselves. Empower yourself with the gift of grace. Grace in your own personal “food angel,” grace in letting go of your past, grace in embracing what lies before you, grace in fortifying your health and immune system. If you are struggling with a sleepless baby, let go of that last failed nap or sleepless night and remember that every minute is a change to change it all. Even if that change happens only in your mind for the moment; what we will in our minds will eventually play out in the universe, one way or another.
So all things considered, what do I take away and implement at this point in my life from all these different food angles? The best of all worlds, as applied to me, of course! Here’s a glimpse of what that looks like (in response to multiple email requests for samples of my daily routine) in order to get your own ball of balance rolling.
I start my day Chronobiotically with 11-12 organic, raw, soaked almonds before even sipping water; (1 almond for every 10 lbs of desired body weight). Why? Let me take an expert from the book: “Soaking the almonds in purified water releases the nitrogen in them to set the full strength of the hydrochloric acid in the stomach for all day protein digestion.” (Harting & Bergstrom: “Yes, No, Maybe” Chronobiotic Nutrition”)
I then have 1 cup of Cobalamin Tonic for hormone balancing (8 oz cup of organic fair trade coffee, with 1 tsp of raw cacao powder mixed with 1 tsp of grade B maple syrup). I usually follow that with a huge glass of warm water with lemon. I work out (either P90X, Sprint 8’s with Mia, weights, running, yoga, something) and then start finish up my Chronobiotic morning with some fruit and nuts. I then turn alkaline by ingesting about 1-2 oz of Aloe Vera leaf gel, followed by a cup of kombucha tea.
I have my green smoothie (there are morning where the green smoothie may be replaced by the Nana-Cacao smoothie, or the Cobalamin Tonic replaced by the Incan Warrior Hot Chocolate; again, trying not to box myself in). I usually go back to chronobiotic for lunch and dinner, eating 5-6 times per day. Chronobiotic is basically the science of eating certain foods at certain times of the day. Simply explained, you start at the top and work your way down. Breakfast is at the tree tops, meaning fruits and nuts, afternoon is 4ft to ground level, meaning vegetables, some fruits, dairy and meats (if you eat them). Evening/night is anything ground level and below, mainly root vegetables, fish/seafood, and eggs (she explains why eggs in her book: http://www.amazon.com/Yes-No-Maybe-Chronobiotic-Nutrition/dp/0971068429). This isn’t always possible for me to stick to, but I do my best. I implement my super foods as I can, and try not to eat anything after 7-8pm. With a baby, this isn’t always possible. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there weren’t many nights where we don’t get to eat until after 8pm for one reason or another. I just try and make the meal light, in that case.
For a balance on all the food angles; if I eat meat, I try and make it organic 90% of the time (this is easy at home, most difficult when traveling/eating out). I stick to fish, chicken and turkey. I avoid red meat, that’s just me. But if I had to eat it, it would be free range/grass fed/organic. I buy organic eggs, and never have them more than 1-3 times per week. I avoid all dairy, almond milk is my replacement of choice, and if I’m really craving cheese, I buy goat cheese. I try and make that local and organic. I do not eat gluten. I avoid rice and corn as much as humanly possible, but sometimes I do eat rice, and corn, and when I do, I try to make sure it is organic/non-GMO. I love quinoa. I still eat it and just try not to over-saturate my diet with it, or any one thing.
That was what was happening to me with the gluten-free products and rice. All these new delicious gluten-free products out there on the market, they are so tasty and amazing! Suddenly cinnamon rolls, muffins, chocolate cake, brownies, pancakes, waffles, bread, cookies, cereals and more, are all readily available and gluten free! It’s hard to resist, but I was over-doing it in all of my excitement over the new uprising in gf products. So I had to eliminate it, and will slowly add back in things on occasion as the exception, not the rule. I mean, let’s face it. I am going to PIG OUT on the gf birthday cake my husband promised me. :)
I try and make 60-70% of all my foods raw, with as much super food ingredients as possible. The rest I cook lightly, use grapeseed and coconut oils almost exclusively, and keep green smoothies and other handy snacks readily available. I go easy on fruit, drink gallons of water each week, and keep wine (wine is raw!) to a 1-3 glasses a week.
The only thing I’d change if I were pregnant from my lifestyle? The wine. Other than that, I can honestly say that my food lifestyle helped me to maintain a healthy pregnancy weight, and quickly shed the baby weight postpartum. I now feel like I am in the best health and shape of my entire life. But when I start striving for more, or overwhelming myself with information, I stop, step back, and remember my balance. Find your balance. Take what’s best for you, and leave the rest behind.