Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On Eating Flexitarian

FLEXITARIAN...That word makes me laugh...we have to put a label on everything these days I guess.

This week, I planned a flexitarian diet to keep the food experiment going.  This was the plan:  Cook five dinners, have leftovers for lunch, and make smoothies or oatmeal for breakfast.  Sometimes Michael just grabs a piece of fruit as he goes out the door.  I chose five gluten free recipes.  In a very short time, I have come to realize I feel better without gluten in my diet although I occasionally splurge on a sandwich.

I selected five recipes from Gluten Free Goddess.  Let me just say how much I love reading food blogs!  I never have to buy one cookbook again for the rest of my life, and I love reading comments from readers who have tried the recipes.

I have made three of the recipes so far, and they have been easy to follow and have tasted better than I expected.  The Irish potato soup was my favorite!  Food that tastes good, is easy to make, and is good for us makes me happy, but the best part about going flexitarian was the cheaper grocery bill.  Buying less meat and dairy made a huge difference this week.

Three of the five recipes called for meat: White Chicken Chili, Irish Potato Soup, and Quinoa Taco Salad.   I decided to reduce the meat by half, which in turn made me buy a few more vegetables to add to each dish, making the dishes healthier and saving cash.

On a side note, I started adding organic whey protein and secret veggies to our morning smoothies.   Michael likes the protein, but he's not so sure about the spinach :)!

I feel like I have more energy lately.  I've been taking my vitamin D3 and B12 supplements, practicing yoga, and getting more sun.  Yesterday, my body ached a lot, and I was very fatigued, so I don't know what that's all about.  My anxiety levels have been good for the past month, so that's always welcomed news.  I hope I continue to get better, and my efforts will pay off once I go back to the doctor.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Food Experiments

It's been a while.  There's been a lot going on, but nothing too noteworthy I guess.  Except for the fact that I've become obsessed with what I eat over the past two months.  I don't really like the word obsessed.  Obsessed has a bad connotation, like I'm stalking my food or something, but I think it's true, although this obsession in a good thing.  I've always been interested in nutrition and health and have eaten well I think, but once the fast was over in January and I felt really great, I started out on a journey towards finding the best way to eat for my body and health.  I'm blessed to have a supportive husband who let's me experiment from week to week.  Though I know why he doesn't complain because he has lost weight!  Me, not so much, but I do believe I'm slowly feeling better by finding what foods make me feel best.

Let me share also that I have had some health concerns in the past few months that have made this important as well.  In December, I started having severe anxiety symptoms again, most likely due to winter blues, work stress, and holiday stress.  My doctor quickly put me on anti-depressants, which I hesitantly took for 7 weeks.  I had extreme fatigue, headaches, nausea, insomnia, muscle weakness, and irritability.  When we started the fast, some of these symptoms subsided, and I believe eating no processed foods had a huge impact on my health.  Not to mention, a closer connection to God is always  a cure for my blues, so I don't believe it was just food making me feel better.  But I did feel better, and Michael felt better.  I still experienced fatigue, headaches, and muscle tension while on the fast; however, I was making progress.

After the fast, we introduced meat and dairy back into our diets but kept the sugar and gluten to a minimum.  I started feeling much better getting more B12 and iron.  I began more research and found several success stories with the Paleo diet.  We went from stricter than vegan to paleo, but decided that was way too much meat for human consumption and too expensive to continue.  I felt great on paleo but missed beans and dairy.   We have consistently kept gluten and sugar to a minimum with the exception of a few splurges now and then.  When I eat gluten, I don't have a severe allergic reaction; however, I have a few symptoms that I believe are related to gluten.  My stomach feels full and heavy, my ears itch, my nose gets stuffy, and I develop mucus in my throat - gross and weird huh?   These symptoms aren't horrible enough for me to give up bread or desserts altogether sometimes, but I know that there are other foods that are better for me.  We did buy our first loaf of sourdough bread from Whole Foods this week.  Sometimes I just want a sandwich, and I have read lots of studies that say that gluten intolerant people may be able to eat sourdough bread because the fermentation breaks down the gluten and helps you digest the bread better than if it were wheat or white.  I'm going to try it out, and I hope for good results. We love sourdough bread, so this will be an easy and tasty experiment.

So where has all of this experimentation gotten us?  I think it leads to a flexitarian diet, yep that's a real diet these days.  It's basically a flexible vegetarian diet.  You eat meat, but you eat very little meat.  This is perfect for us.  I like meat and find it beneficial, but grass fed and organic meat can leave your budget busted, and eating too much meat is just not good for you in my opinion.  It can be easily overdone.  We lived strict paleo for two weeks, and we were so sick of meat we couldn't stand it.  We will continue to eat organic and whole - choosing no processed foods if at all possible.

In the midst of all of this, I did find a new doctor who was quicker to listen and slower to write me a prescription.  I was still feeling fatigue, and I wanted to make sure I wasn't deficient in something or I wasn't having symptoms from hormone imbalances or my thyroid.  Thankfully, he ran a full span of blood tests from mononucleosis to celiac disease.  Happily, I'm pretty healthy, but my D3 and B12 levels are astoundingly low, which is most likely the cause of my fatigue, insomnia, and anxiety.  My estrogen was also higher than normal.   I have been supplementing D3 and B12 and watching all soy or processed food intake, which increases estrogen levels.  Luckily, time changed today, which means more sun and more vitamin D!