The Writing Detox

Writing Myself a Healthy Life

Archive for the tag “food”

Setting Goals, and Jam

I revisited the My Goals part of this blog last week after “revitalizing” the blog itself. Originally, my goals had included a huge detox and cutting out a lot of things from my diet. I’d still like to find a way to phase sugar down and out, but I’ve definitely come to the conclusion that healthy living has very little to do with sweeping restriction.

I started working from home again a few months ago after working in an office for nine months. I really enjoyed my office job and the people I worked with, but sitting at a desk for eight hours, with no windows or fresh air was making me quite sick. Now that I work at home, I can go for walks around the field, grab snacks regularly that are healthy and homemade, and I move more. I’m losing weight as a result. Not a lot, but enough to know that it was a good decision.

One of my favourite things to do growing up was to bake. My sisters and my Mom and I used to bake regularly. It’s therapeutic and social and homey and creative. The other thing about baking is that you know exactly what is going into it, so you know how much butter and sugar and flour you are ingesting, and you also know that you are not ingesting preservatives or food dyes or “natural flavours” (which usually just means MSG), or other chemicals.

I love sugar. It’s clearly one of my biggest addictions and challenges. But when I’m baking things at home and eating home baking, I feel a lot less worried about my future than when I’m grabbing a cardboard, empty-calorie treat from Tim Hortons or Starbucks. When I’m eating a real, home baked chocolate chip cookies (my ultimate kryptonite), then I at least take time to really appreciate the phenomenal experience that is a real, home-baked chocolate chip cookie.

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The peach jam we made – more sugar than fruit, but at least it set!

This weekend I had friends and family visiting and we made peach jam. There are five cups of sugar to the four cups of peaches in jam. It’s obscene. And it’s way too sweet. Sometimes, even homemade is hard to justify. But knowing exactly what was in it meant that I only ate a small spoonful and I really tasted it, so I’ll call that a victory toward my overall goal of a healthier life, even as I think about what my specific goals are going to be in and around this blog.

What I’m sure about today? Health includes enjoyment, not just restriction.

 

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Sweet Slips

Yesterday I kept my word and counted calories. I ate 1500 more than I was supposed to. The stupid thing was that I forgot to eat lunch, so most of those calories were guacamole and chips when I realized how hungry I was, and then we had bison ¬†burgers with goat cheese for dinner, which was delicious, but the cheese was too many calories again. The thing is, I’m a bigger fan of eating less of the good-for-you things that are high in calories than of cutting them out entirely. Things that are bad for you, it’s easier to cut those out, or at least restrict them to cheat days.

Today I took a friend to an event called Empty Bowls, where you pick a bowl made by a local potter and then you have soup (donated by local restaurants). The soup was fantastic. My friend has some mobility problems, so I got up to get her some desserts and tea at one point, and when I got back she offered me the meringue on her plate. I thought to myself “Oh! I can eat that – it doesn’t have any gluten in it!” I was half way through it before I remembered I also wasn’t eating sugar. Luckily it was a very small meringue so there wasn’t any major harm done, but the funny thing was how easily I completely forgot my own rules. This isn’t the first time that’s happened. A few weeks ago I stopped with a bite of a biscuit in my mouth and had to spit it out because I’d forgotten I wasn’t eating gluten.

Apparently reducing gluten and sugar intake will improve my memory. I wonder how long it will take for that to kick in!

 

 

Constant Vigilance!

It turns out that even your tools can become excuses. I haven’t been writing in the blog because I didn’t want to make excuses for any failures – so of course, I had no accountability to myself or anyone else (real or hypothetical).

I was tracking everything I ate, and I lost five pounds. I only ate sugar once in March on the boyfriend’s birthday, and I have been gluten free since the beginning of March. It’s been good. Gluten free hasn’t been too hard. My family is used to accommodating it because my Mom doesn’t eat gluten. Sugar free was harder, but I’ve been managing. I ate sugar at Easter because…well…there were jelly beans. I’m hopeless before jelly beans.

Other than that, I haven’t done too bad. But the thing was that I lost five pounds. And once I started to have some success, I stopped keeping track of my food. I decided that I must have the hang of it, and I gave up writing and tracking – the two things that will really make the difference in longevity on this project. Mad-Eye Moody was right – “Constant vigilance!” is the only way to succeed in life. With a few treat days.

I did go for a run yesterday. It felt amazing. I ran for a full 15 minutes – almost 2 km – and then turned around and walk/ran home. Today the boy and I headed out for a walk and I wanted to run. My muscles were aching to get back into it. Walking ended up being a good switch though. It felt like there were different muscles at play. I will run again tomorrow. I will start keeping track of my food again. I will write here again. I will keep going because this is a long-term investment in my own longevity, nothing less.

Mood Swings

Last week I gave in and ate three cookies. I’ve never been ¬†much for moderation. They were gluten-free cookies, so at least I’ve stuck to it on that point.

The next day I felt very out of sorts. I was grumpy. Anxious. Angry. Moody. I chalked it up to hormones and we went out to dinner and a movie. We were going to see the Hunger Games and I was excited, having looked forward to it for weeks. But I was so grumpy, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to silence, by any means necessary, all the other inane people standing in line with us. Especially the guy in front of me who wasn’t saying anything. What was his deal??

I decided that since I’d looked forward to the movie so much, I would treat myself and have a pop. I stared for a moment longingly at the Yogen Fruz, but the line was too slow and I decided just to go with the root beer. Bad choice. The root beer was unsatisfying and I kept thinking about strawberry frozen yogurt all night. Actually, I’m still thinking about it because they had a sugar-free version.

I drank half the pop and didn’t want the rest. The movie was amazing and I was cheered up for the ride home. But the next day, all the anger returned. I was a grumpy, moody, weepy mess.

I’m not entirely sure that the correlation equals causation, but it was noticeable that after I went back to not “cheating”, I started feeling better again. I’ve been a bit more even keeled the last few days, and every time I think about eating sugar, I think about how miserable I felt on Saturday morning and I decide to wait. Just in case. It’s even made me question whether I will in fact cheat and have dessert at Easter. I may just make some of my chocolate truffles with maple syrup (which, oddly, doesn’t seem to have the same effect – or at least not to the same degree).

Food affects your hormones and your mood. How, exactly, is a different question. But I’m beginning to see a link between sugar and feeling miserable, and I’ll take happiness over candy any day.

Good Alternatives

I have discovered that cutting out major food groups like gluten and sugar (sugar is a food group in my experience, whether the Canada Food Guide admits it or not) requires creative replacements. In order to manage my cravings, I’ve had to come up with treats that are like the better of two evils. I mentioned already that one of my weaknesses is cheese, and while I do try not to eat the entire block in one sitting, sometimes I’ll eat the cheese to avoid eating the cookie and I figure at least if I get a bit chubby, I won’t have osteoporosis.

Other brilliant things I’ve come up with to manage cravings include making sugar-free buckwheat pancakes. My partner found a great recipe online, which if I can find it, I’ll post here. It involves whipping the egg white and folding the egg yolk into the rice milk…brilliant. They are the fluffiest pancakes.

He also made me some chocolate truffle cookies by melting squares of unsweetened bakers chocolate in a pan, adding a few tablespoons of maple syrup and then mixing them together over the heat until they start to solidify together. Drop them onto wax paper and press an almond into the top, place in the fridge for ten minutes and voila! Delicious, chocolatey truffle cookies with no refined sugar. Maple syrup is thought to actually contain minerals that are good for your liver, and everyone knows that chocolate is really good for you.Plus, this takes less than ten minutes and is guaranteed to satisfy any chocolate craving without all the added junk. Interestingly enough, when I eat processed chocolate, my skin always breaks out, and when I eat this chocolate, it doesn’t.

I’m still working on managing calorie intake, and I know I need to up my exercise plan, but I’m really excited that finding alternatives isn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

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