Month: September 2010

Day 9- Zen

Today is day 9 of my 10 day Real Food Challenge, and I can honestly say it has not been a huge challenge– but it has been incredibly enlightening.  During the first few days, I could not really appreciate the challenge, the process, or even what benefits might come since I felt so sick, but during the second half of the challenge I have hit my stride.  I can now assess and share a variety of benefits that I have experienced– some expected and some unexpected.

One benefit I expected was to lose weight.  I did that.  I have lost about 5 or 6 pounds.  I also got to lose some inches from my waist.  I noticed by day four that my stomach was less bloated and more flat, so that was great.  I did not expect to be made sick initially, but that passed and now I feel pretty fantastic.  Another unexpected benefit has been the stabilization of my mental state or what feels sort of like “zen.”  I am more confident, less emotionally labile, calmer, and more content [even in the face of stress like I experienced today, I was- what can only be described as- zen calm].  While initially, I was exhausted, I am now more energetic and feel pretty good.  I expected to have intense cravings and to have to fight them and write about them to ward them off.  I have not had intense cravings; and frankly, after the first day, have experienced almost no cravings and have not felt hungry or ravenous at any time.  I am much more satisfied by less food.

This might be the best part of all.  I suppose the main benefit of all is that I am eating because I need some fuel for my body and I am not eating to medicate.  The removal of the sugar means that I am not compelled by forces seemingly beyond my control to engage in mindless eating of empty, sugar/carb loaded, nutrient-starved foods. Before the challenge, I had reached a point that I sometimes get to when stressed where I literally feel out of control.  These are times when I don’t feel very well physically, so I reach for foods that are fast or comforting or sweet.  These foods don’t really satisfy hunger very well and they increase the desire for more like foods, and I get sucked into a vortex where I literally feel like I lose the ability to make good choices and I am on sort of an out of control autopilot.  Eating real foods has taken away that panicky loss of choice and given me a measure of control– maybe not even control so much as a detached objectivity that allows me to make good choices and not be hijacked along the way by the mad impulsivity fueled by sugar cravings.

Real Food Day 6 [& I made it through a weekend]:)

So, day 6 of the Real Food 10 Day Challenge, which means I have only four more days ’til my birthday, and four more days of the challenge.  I am not really going crazy or anything and it hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I anticipated.  Day 2-day 4 were not very fun because I was feeling so bad.  Even this weekend, I continued to suffer from nausea at various times.

So, my physical complaints during the first half of this challenge were:  headaches, body aches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and other intestinal issues.  I thought I had a virus; my son [the nurse] thought I was in detox.  He believes that the absence of sugar, artificial sweeteners, white flour, processed foods, and chemical additives and preservatives sent my body into a tailspin.  At this point, I am beginning to think he might be right.

This weekend was good.  I made the Jambalaya that I found on the Food Illusion blog and it was really good– local sausage, shrimp, onion, celery, creole seasoning, tomatoes, and brown rice.  Tonight we had whole wheat pasta and homemade spaghetti sauce, and it was pretty good.

What I miss the most is–surprisingly enough– Diet Coke.

10 Days of Real Food Day 3

I wanted to announce the first day of my Real Food Pledge adventure, however, I have been so busy I barely have the time I need to actually plan, prepare, and eat real food.  I literally have worked until 8 or 9 every work night for the past three weeks, and I am exhausted.  The only reason I have time to blog today is because my body crashed and I am home sick today.

So, here is an update of how things are going with my 10 Day Real Food Challenge

I picked Sept 21 as a start date because I needed to pick a stretch of 10 days that did not include some sort of celebration that required cake.  Bean’s birthday is the 17th and mine will be the 1st of October, so this 10 day period worked in that respect.  I also wanted a time that was after the big audit but before our trip to Cincinnati.  So, Tuesday was the big day.  I arrived at school with a large bag full of provisions so as not to have to resort to m&m’s, pizza, or diet coke in weak moments.

Here are the rules again:  I can eat:  whole foods, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products that are not sweetened artificially or with sugar, nuts, seeds, healthy meats preferably those without growth hormones that are locally raised.   I can have beer or wine within limits and can use sweeteners found in nature like maple syrup, honey, and agave nectar if used sparingly.  I cannot have:  anything processed or refined like sugar, flours, rice, no sweeteners that are refined: including white sugar and cane juice, no artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Equal, Sweet n’ Low, etc…  Nothing out of a box, can, or bag that has more than 5 ingredients [allowable ingredients only], and also no deep fried or breaded foods.

This pretty much eliminates most of what I would normally eat on a daily basis.  A normal day for me starts out pretty healthfully with cereal of some sort or toast with coffee and half and half and one sugar with a half a sweet n’ low.  It only goes downhill from there.  By lunch I am famished and I usually have a diet coke with something marginally healthy, but by mid afternoon I am craving sugar and I usually cave to something chocolate like m&m’s or hershey kisses.  Dinner is generally on the run and that means eating out a lot which means heading further south nutritionally.  If my day has been really stressful, I will soothe myself with something sweet after dinner.  The mainstays of my diet are, therefore, white flour, preservatives, processed foods, non foods, artificial flavors and sweeteners, sugar, and unhealthy fats.

Day One of the challenge was pretty easy, actually.  I had some agave nectar in my coffee, which is really actually pretty good and you don’t need a whole lot of it.  I fixed some long cooking oatmeal and sprinkled on a tiny bit of Zero, which is a natural non caloric sugar alcohol, and a pat of real butter :).  Jason stopped by at lunch and ate most of what I had for lunch with me and seemed to enjoy it immensely.  We had sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, oregano, and salt and pepper.  We also had a few triscuits [whole wheat/one of the few crackers allowed along with whole wheat matzo] and some muenster cheese and a kiwi.  After lunch I had an apple and some popcorn for snack.  At a later meeting, I had a Lara bar for snack [they are allowable if they have 5 ingredients or less and this one had dates, walnuts, apples, cinnamon, and raisins].  Later that night I stopped by Whole Foods and found a couple of prepared foods made with allowable ingredients:  pulled pork, brown rice, and greens.

The most surprising thing about the first day was that is was really pretty painless and I felt really good and not very hungry.  It is truly amazing, but when you get refined sugars out of your system, you are not jonesing for food any longer.  I actually have felt some hunger pains in the past few days, which I don’t usually get to feel because I am eating crap constantly, but they are undeniably different in that they are hunger pains but I am not crazy for food.  Normally, I don’t feel actual pains but I am irrationally craving stuff to eat when I am not even hungry.  So, what is pretty awesome is that when you take away the refined sugars, you can eat to live and not live to eat, so to speak, without the typical compulsions that do you in.

Since I had made a trip to Whole Foods and found some really good 5 ingredient whole wheat bread from the Ninth Street Bakery the night before, I started day two with toast, butter, and whole fruit wild blueberry spread.  This was the best tasting thing I have had since my love affair with toast in the UP this summer.  I had my agave coffee and was good for the morning.  Lunchtime, I had the cukes and tomatoes again but this time added some sliced sweet onion.  Then I had a big bowl of strawberries and sliced kiwi with pieces of muenster cheese on the side [yum].  Later, when our meeting for staff development began, I was still hungry, so I had a piece of the whole wheat bread folded over with some organic hummus.  It was just okay.  The new development for day two and that by 2 pm on day two, I was feeling like hell.  I was tired and just feeling off like I might be trying to come down with something.  It’s hard to describe that feeling, but you know it:  I call it feeling squirrelly and really it is just feeling really tired and hot or cold or both with a dash of nausea or dizziness thrown in.  I went home and decompressed briefly with a bowl of watermelon before heading back out to do a two hour training with a family in their home that would last until at least 8pm.  After leaving there, I was pretty darn hungry, but it was late, and I had nothing planned, so I was at a total loss and having a weak moment where I could have caved in to something completely inappropriate, and pretty much did.  I wanted to go and get a cooked chicken from Food Lion but I was literally too tired to motivate through the grocery store, so I went to KFC and bought grilled chicken for Alex and I.  I took the skin off a breast and ate it when I got home with some frozen peas that I cooked in the microwave.  I later took a peek on the website at the ingredients for grilled chicken which would seemingly be not much more than chicken, and thank God I removed the skin before I ate it, because KFC’s grilled chicken has 22 ingredients.  Nope, I am not kidding.  Here they are:

KFC® Grilled Chicken

of Turmeric, Dehydrated Carrot, Onion Powder, and Not More Than 2% Each of Calcium Silicate and Silicon Dioxide Added As Anticaking Agents ExtractivesYeast Extract,  AutolyzedFresh Chicken Marinated With Salt, Sodium Phosphate, and Monosodium Glutamate. Seasoned With: Maltodextrin, Salt, Bleached Wheat Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Monosodium Glutamate, Spice, Palm Oil, Natural Flavor, Garlic Powder, Soy Sauce (Soybean, Wheat, Salt), Chicken Fat, Chicken Broth,

But that is nothing compared to the more than 100 ingredients in the Chicken Pot Pie [no, I did not eat this] that they serve which appears to be so far from real food that it deserves a spot next to the Twinkle in the Awful Not Really Foods Hall of Fame.  Here they are [yes, you can get this on their website]:

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Stock, Carrots, Potatoes (With Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate To Protect Color), Peas, Heavy Cream, Modified Food Starch, Contains 2% Or Less Of Wheat Flour, Salt, Chicken Fat, Dried Dairy Blend (Whey, Calcium Caseinate), Butter (Cream, Salt), Natural Chicken Flavor With Other Natural Flavors (Salt, Natural Flavoring, Maltodextrin, Milk Solids, Nonfat Dry Milk, Chicken Fat, Beef Extract, Ascorbic Acid [To Help Protect Flavor]), Monosodium Glutamate, Liquid Margarine (Vegetable Oil Blend [Liquid Soybean, Hydrogenated Cottonseed, Hydrogenated Soybean], Water, Vegetable Mono And Diglycerides, Beta Carotene [Color]), Roasted Garlic Juice Flavor (Garlic Juice, Salt, Natural Flavors), Gelatin, Roasted Onion Juice Flavor (Onion Juice, Salt, Natural Flavors), Chicken Pot Pie Flavor (Hydrolyzed Corn, Soy And Wheat Gluten Protein, Salt, Vegetable Stock [Carrot, Onion, Celery], Maltodextrin, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Flavors, Dextrose, Chicken Broth), Chicken Stock, Sugar, Mono and Diglycerides With Citric Acid to Protect Flavor, Spice, Seasoning (Soybean Oil, Oleoresin Turmeric, Spice Extractives), Parsley, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Yellow 5. Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Water, Nonfat Milk, Maltodextrin, Salt, Dextrose, Sugar, Whey, Natural Flavor, Butter, Citric Acid, Dough Conditioner, L-Cysteine Hydrochloride, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate (Preservatives), Colored With Yellow 5 & Red 40. Fresh Chicken Marinated With: Salt, Sodium Phosphate and Monosodium Glutamate. Breaded With: Wheat Flour, Salt, Spices, Monosodium Glutamate, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate), Garlic Powder, Natural Flavorings, Citric Acid, Maltodextrin, Sugar, Corn Syrup Solids, With Not More Than 2% Calcium Silicate Added as an Anti Caking Agent OR Fresh Chicken Marinated With: Salt, Sodium Phosphate and Monosodium Glutamate. Breaded With: Wheat Flour, Salt, Spices, Monosodium Glutamate, Corn Starch, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate), Garlic Powder, Modified Corn Starch, Spice Extractives, Citric Acid, and 2% Calcium Silicate added as Anticaking Agent OR Fresh Chicken Marinated With: Salt, Sodium Phosphate and Monosodium Glutamate. Breaded With: Wheat Flour, Sodium Chloride and Anti-caking Agent (Tricalcium Phosphate), Nonfat Milk, Egg Whites, Colonel’s Secret Original Recipe Seasoning OR Potato Starch, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Breaded With: Wheat Flour, Sodium Chloride and Anti-caking agent (Tricalcium Phosphate), Nonfat Milk, Egg Whites, Colonel’s Secret Original Recipe Seasoning OR Potato Starch, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Breaded With: Wheat Flour, Salt, Spices, Monosodium Glutamate, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate), Garlic Powder, Natural Flavorings, Citric Acid, Maltodextrin, Sugar, Corn Syrup Solids, With Not More Than 2% Calcium Silicate Added as an Anti Caking Agent OR Potato Starch, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Breaded With: Wheat Flour, Salt, Spices, Monosodium Glutamate, Corn Starch, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate), Garlic Powder, Modified Corn Starch, Spice Extractives, Citric Acid, and 2% Calcium Silicate Added As Anticaking Agent OR

Set in Vegetable oil. Breadingof Annatto.  Extractivesof Turmeric and  ExtractivesDry Milk, Onion Powder, Dextrose,  NonfatWith: Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Salt, Dried Egg Whites, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Monosodium Glutamate, Spice and Onion Powder. Breaded With: Wheat Flour, Salt, Soy Flour, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Monosodium Glutamate, Spice,  PredustedPhosphate), Salt, Dextrose, Monosodium Glutamate, Spice and Onion Powder.  Monocalcium, Onion Powder), Soy Protein Concentrate, Rice Starch and Sodium Phosphates. Battered With: Water, Wheat Flour, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, ExtractivesSeasoning (Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Garlic Powder, Spice

Contains Egg, Milk, Wheat and Soy.

*Will contain one of the Ingredient statements above, depending upon regional suppliers

As soon as I ate dinner, I was so exhausted, literally unusually exhausted, that I headed to bed and was asleep before 10 -which is very atypical for me.

Another issue, is that since I am limited to water, milk, or natural fruit juices for regular beverages, and I am not really drinking the milk or juice, I have had only water the last couple of days and not enough of it.  I don’t particularly love water and I am not a big drinker anyhow, so I think I could be slightly dehydrated.

So, this brings us to Day 3 where I woke up feeling more than squirrelly and sick on my stomach and awful and I called in sick.  Jason came by and I told him and he thinks I am detoxing.  He attributes my sickness to the radical change in my diet, the increase in the fiber, and the decrease in the fluff– that my body is going ‘wtf’ what is she feeding me?  So, it is almost 11 am, and this morning I have had whole wheat toast with blueberry spread which is still divine and a cup of hot tea with honey, and I am still nauseous but I am sitting up and typing and my breakfast seems to be staying with me.

So, you might be thinking, wow, this diet has just made her sick!  But there are already benefits and here they are:

  • I have lost more than 3 lbs in 2 days [I know, Bean, it is probably water]
  • My skin looks better [face]
  • my eyes are brighter
  • I am not hungry

Those are the only benefits I can think of right now when my thinking is clouded by feeling not up to par, but I feel positive they will increase daily.