VERY LONG POST!
TL;DR – I eat fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, no wheat, no corn fillers, limited dairy, limited starches, limited alcohol, and absolutely NO sugar.
The question I get asked the most is, “What are you eating?”
I’ll tell you. You won’t like it. No one does. I think you know the answer. I think you know the right answer. But, alas, no one wants to accept it. I promise, it took me a LONG time to come around to the right way to do this myself. I’m not trying to make you feel bad or stupid as you read this, but be aware, I had to say these things to myself. I was basically in charge of what I ate from age 18 on, so it took me about 26 years to get it right.
Not that it’s easy. To the contrary, it’s VERY hard. You have to navigate aisles and aisles of Crap In A Package™. You have to read label after label after label. The basic issue is this…you have too many choices.
Let me go ahead and put this out there; if you are vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, etc., you’re going to have to work with a doctor or dietician and figure out what you need to be healthy. I work off the knowledge I have that we are omnivores with meat cutting teeth. Also, I go with the current basic knowledge of what vitamins and minerals a healthy middle aged female adult with no food allergies needs. I think my basic approach will work for everyone. It’ll even work for those that have to be gluten free but, like all smart people who don’t want to be sued will tell you, talk to your doctor first before you take my advice or the advice of any idiot with a keyboard and a website.
If you need a title or name for my diet – modified combination of Primal/Clean/Caveman diet.
If you need to know percentages of how long I’m “good” as opposed to “bad” or “splurging”, it’s 95% on and 5% off. I literally mean for the year. I know 80% / 20% is the standard convention right now, but I believe I’m a food addict and I can’t “have just one” of anything. I can’t avoid food all together, so I have to be strict on what I eat and when I eat at all times.
Oh, and I know, you just want to splurge “for this special occasion”. I mean, it’s just this once. Right? Have you ever really thought about how many special occasions there are?
- your birthday
- each kid’s birthday
- each kid’s friend’s birthday
- your spouse’s birthday
- mom’s birthday
- dad’s birthday
- Fourth of July picnic
- summer church picnic
- the beer fest
- the food fest
- the wine fest
- the chocolate fest
- going to the ballgame(s)
- Bob leaves the company
- Tina comes into the company
- some idiot in HR you don’t even know but you got roped into their retirement party, is retiring
- long weekend working, donuts
- the cat died
- the dog died
- the fish died
…If you still don’t get it, my point is, there are way too many reasons on a weekly basis to splurge, so you have to cut out almost all of them. It sucks. Being a responsible adult sucks sometimes.
Here’s my rules…
There are exceptions to every rule, but honestly, I try very hard not to even engage those exceptions. It’s just as slippery a slope as “having just one” and then finding yourself neck deep in a binge.
1. No processed foods. No pizza, no breading, no bread, no cereal, no cookies, no cake, no pie etc. If it comes in a package, no.
2. NO SUGAR. No organic cane sugar. No high fructose corn syrup. No organic maple syrup. No rice sugar. NO SUGAR. (Here’s the key, my friends. This is the big one.)
3. Limited starchy vegetables.
4. No soda/pop/colas (no diet sodas either)
5. Limited dairy.
6. Very limited alcohol.
There you have it! TADA! Just that easy!
The next question I get is “Why do you think this method is the absolute right way to go?” and I’ll be honest, I am converted to this sugar free / no proceed foods life style of eating like a radical religious person is to their religion.
First and foremost, I feel better and my health is getting better by the day. My risk of Type 2 Diabetes is gone. My cholesterol is perfect. All the numbers that are checked in my blood and urine are perfect. I still take meds for my thyroid but even that has been adjusted to a lower dose. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against conventional medicine. I understand the need for certain medications, and again, talk to your doctor before stopping or reducing any medication they have you on.
I wasn’t expecting a lot of the benefits that I got out of this, though and I think that is what’s keeping me on track. My skin looks better. My hair and nails are stronger and nicer. My depression is under control. I have a more positive outlook on things. I am happier. I am calmer. I handle things better. I knew that exercise helps with these things, but I never considered that the food I eat would have as strong an effect that it has. (I know the food is the reason because when I do go off plan and have sugar or wheat products, I become the meanest version of me that exists, I have break outs all over my body and all I want to do is just make it stop it.)
The next thing I get asked is “How did you come to the conclusion that this would be what works the best?” It has been a long process and I continue to find sources to read or watch and will make changes as necessary. I’ll keep you posted on any changes.
I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos from diet gurus. I’ve watched “Fed Up” (here’s the trailer for the documentary) and a myriad of documentaries about the meat industry, the egg industry, the dairy industry, the wheat industry, etc. I read over many books and websites about all the diets and was trying to decide which one would help me get into better health. I totally overwhelmed myself as most of us do.
My first reactions and thoughts are usually to go with the healthiest route of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and beans. But what about taste!?
Wanting to keep the good tasty stuff, I did a lot of reading on a lot of diets and I kept seeing about healthy fats and the fact that we were wrong to go low fat, and that low fat sent us into this spiral of eating foods that had sugar added to it to make up for the crappy taste. I was looking over all the diets and I just can’t stand the “do this but don’t do that and add these things and measure this and measure that …” and I was ready to cut my own wrists just to get out of having to deal with all the freaking rules.
I had been processing all this and I got to thinking that groceries were just irritating because it’s hard to figure out what is good for you and what isn’t. I just wanted simple. I was considering I just needed to give up the idea of tastiness just to have simple. My health was so bad, I was willing to do that. But then, I thought, “What about our great- and great-great grandparents? What did they do before grocery stores? Did they have these problems?” I did some research and found out something interesting about grocery stores. We’ve only had grocery stores for about 200ish years. In the scheme of things, that is a blip in the time that humans have existed. Before that, there were butchers and bread makers and staple stores (wheat, dried beans, etc) but it was up to people to grow and raise most if not all their own foods. It’s why we came up with canning so we could harvest what we had and still have it available to us in the winter.
I then started researching recipes. Can I make my own snack bars? Can I make my own desserts without sugar? Turns out, yes. Yes I can. I went through my kitchen and tossed everything that was packaged. Yes, I’ve given up a few things and it was hard at first, but it does get better. My husband and I have even gotten to the point where we see advertisements for burgers and IHOP and other fast food things and we find the sight of them disgusting. The smell of some restaurants will turn us off so bad, that we don’t go into them anymore. It’s rough at first, but with time, it gets easier. You just need to figure out what it is that makes you keep reaching for the health goal you have.
So, for a little more depth, here is more about my diet AND the few exceptions I have. (I’m not a robot and I don’t have unlimited funds, so I have to make adjustments).
1. The number one rule: NO ADDED SUGAR – no exceptions. I’ll have fruit. Yes, I know it has sugar. It has fiber, too. The fiber keeps you from absorbing the sugar too fast and causing a blood sugar spike. A blood sugar drop always follows a spike and that’s what makes you over eat. Just get this in your head… NO ADDED SUGAR. Be careful about labels. If a product has under a certain amount of sugar, it can read ‘0 sugar’ on the label. When you look at the ingredient list, you’ll see sugar in the list. Also, read up on all the sneaky, hidden names for “sugar” that companies use to hide the fact that the product has sugar in their product.
2. I eat like a toddler. I eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds. If I can put it in a baggie and roll out, perfect. I don’t have unlimited time, so the easier the better. For example: Breakfast is sugar snap peas, baby carrots, 2 scrambled eggs, half an avocado, and an orange. (Thats fruit, vegetable, protein and fat – Boom! You’ll be good until lunch)
3. I do buy ‘some’ processed foods like canned beans and canned tomatoes. I don’t always have time to deal with dried beans or want to make my own tomato sauce or diced tomatoes for chili. However, I pay for it in the sense that I try to buy organic and it ABSOLUTELY CANNOT HAVE ADDED SUGAR. And this is harder to find than you think. Good luck finding breakfast meats like bacon or sausage without sugar on it. And when you do, it’s EXPENSIVE.
4. I don’t do any type of gluten. I chose to go this route because I’ve already decided not to have pancakes, pasta, breading, etc. and finding bread without sugar is almost impossible. My husband does keep bread in his diet because he likes a sandwich for lunch. There is one bread we found that has 0 sugar. Ezekial 4:9. You have to keep it frozen because it has no preservatives either. I found that gluten laden foods are what cause my acid reflux. I gave this up and I don’t have to take my stomach meds anymore. I also found that if I do have gluten products, I will have major acne break out all over as well.
5. No sugar substitutes except Stevia. I give Stevia the o.k. for now because initial testing shows that it doesn’t make the blood sugar spike like other artificial sweeteners and it’s not a chemical per say. Even though it may be natural (like cane sugar, honey and syrup), it’s the blood sugar spike that is the issue. I use dates to make pecan/date/cocoa bars that are delicious and absolutely help with the sweet tooth, but again, it’s the fiber in the dates that counter acts the blood sugar issues. Also, if you use stevia for your coffee or tea, make sure it’s all natural. It should be super sweet and you should barely need to use any in your drinks or recipes. The commercial products for baking and for your coffee that you find in the grocery store are sometimes full of wheat or corn starch based fillers.
6. I do have full fat cream in my coffee. I measure it and go light, but I do have it. I limit dairy. I don’t have issues with it, but it can be an issue with having too much fat in your food. I basically live by the rule that if I can’t taste the main food ingredient I’m eating, then I’m adding too much unnecessary things to my food. Keep it simple.
7. I have potatoes and brown rice but try to keep it to once a week. Starches don’t keep you full long and turn to sugar quickly in your system. I follow the basic rule of, if it roamed the earth or grew out of it, eat it. That applies to rice and potatoes but like I like to point out, cocaine and heroin come from plants and can be all natural but you don’t want to consume that.
8. For my sweet tooth, I eat the date bars mentioned above or I eat fat bombs that I make. Like the name says, they are full of fat. You really have to be conscious that you only eat one a day. The date bar is pretty small in the serving category as well. Like all super good tasty things, you have to seriously limit it or you’ll undo all the good you’re doing. The urge to snack does go away if you just cut it out and suffer through the addiction of having deserts. We have these from time to time but pretty rarely now. It boils down to laziness sometimes, though, just because I don’t want to do the cooking.
9. Finally, I do supplement with Epic and Rx Bars. They follow my rules of good, minimal ingredients and no sugar. I try to limit the use of these, but they help when you’re in a hurry and have to get stuff done and don’t have time to make breakfast or lunch or find yourself at a restaurant you can’t eat at with friends. (Watch the Epic Bars…some do have sugar)
I was going to discuss the “what-about” excuses that I get tossed at me all the time but this turned out to be a longer post than I originally intended. I’ll address the excuses, costs, etc. in another post. Stay tuned!