Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

Buddha’s Diet November 23, 2011

Filed under: Food — Meredith @ 10:30 am
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I’m a slave to protein.

That’s what this whole diet has basically boiled down to: Protein, and my endless need for it.

It’s the master of my schedule, the ruler of my moods, and the deity to which I regularly bow.

Because that’s pretty much all I can eat. And when you only eat protein, it burns up fast. See the nice thing about complex carbs like the one I typical ate – with lots of whole grain and fiber** –  is that they are slow burning. Slowly burning into sugar, yes. But slow burning nonetheless. This is an attribute of carbs I took for granted when they were a part of my life.

But when protein is king, I can go from not hungry, to starving in less than 3 seconds. Every choice I make in my day somehow relates to, or is influenced by an opportunity to intake protein.

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I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, because really, over all, this diet is the best thing that’s happened to me, health wise, in years.

Pounds and inches have been lost. (More inches than pounds actually, which seems impossible, but is apparently true and according to the doctor, not uncommon. But smaller is smaller, so I’m not complaining).

But more than anything, a lifestyle has emerged.

A lifestyle of mindfulness. Mindfulness about when I’m going to eat, what I’m going to eat, and of course, how much protein will be in the meal. I have to make daily decisions about whether and how much GF and sugar-free protein bars or apples, or cheese sticks, or nuts, I need to put in my purse.

Fast food is a thing of the past, we can’t eat anything out of a box, and very few restaurants offer us more than one or two options on the menu (although the few that do, like Mongolian BBQ, we patronize often.)

On Friday afternoon Chris and I start thinking through our weekend and what our schedule will be like, and before we can settle in for the evening, we have to make sure we at least have enough eggs, fruit and breakfast meat to make breakfast Saturday morning.

At breakfast we talk through our day in detail, thinking about where we’re going, what our food access will be, if we’ll need to bring food or come home to eat. If we’ll come home to eat, what will we eat, will we have time to cook or do we need something quicker.

Crock-pots are an invention of the gods.

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After a few weeks that all becomes second nature, especially to detail oriented planners like me and Chris.

But then there’s another level of mindfulness, having to do with correcting habitual eating and cravings.

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I realized that I used food as rewards- a diet sabotaging habit if ever there was one.

Several times a day I’d think, “I’ve made it through a hard day, I should get myself a cupcake,” or “I’ve had a great day! I should stop at Starbucks for a frap,” or “I just did the bare minimum amount of work I need to do to stay employed. Time for some M&M’s!” At first I just focused on not robotically steering into the Starbucks or bakery parking lot.

Then one day it hit me: “Why do I need a reward for every goddamn thing that happens in my life? Am I 4 years old? Should I get M&M’s for making a pee-pee in the potty?”

First I thought “Well, it wouldn’t hurt,” but then I thought “NO. This is no way for an adult to live!”Because, as an adult, I’m responsible for my life. I’m responsible for all of my choices and my actions. I shouldn’t need a reward to get through a day in a life that I created.

“But,” I asked myself, “what about when things go wrong, and you’re too sad to do anything but eat a cupcake one crumb at a time?”

That pulled me up short because, I mean, seriously, WHAT ABOUT THE CUPCAKES?

Well here’s the thing about the cupcakes:

They served as a pseudo solution for situations I didn’t want to resolve for real. Relationship trouble? Lets not look at the ways in which I’ve participated in letting him make me feel bad, that’s icky, I’ll just eat a cupcake instead. Pain from physical therapy after my car accident? Eh, getting perspective about healing time and the human body is hard, I think I’ll mope and eat a cupcake instead.

The sugar and the feeling of getting what I want would make me feel briefly better, but quickly disappear leaving me feeling lonely and sad again. A terrible cycle that has now ended.

I’m not saying I’ll never have another cupcake, but it will be when my sugar intake for the day has been low, when its GF, and when its only because I want a cupcake, not because I’m using it to hide behind. Because being mindful also means having choices. I can choose to have a peanut butter cup, or a slice of GF apple pie at Thanksgiving because I can make choices about other things I eat – skip the potatoes, go easy on the citrus fruit and pick carrots over corn so my sugar intake is as low as possible when I eat the pie.  I can pretty much do whatever I want as long as I’m always mindful of the big picture. Which makes me hate this diet a lot less.

Next, I realized that I mostly crave sugar and carbs when I’m dehydrated or just plain hungry. The body wants a quick fix, so it wants carbs and sugar. So I had to learn to ask myself what I was actually in need of – water? protein? just something in my mouth to chew?

What I didn’t expect to happen was that I eventually trained my body to crave what it actually wanted. When I’m dehydrated I crave water, when I need protein I crave cheese or meat, when I just want something to chew images of apples and carrots come to mind.

Swear to Protein, I’m telling the truth.

But it’s really easy to undo. One little slip – like eating rich chocolate desserts every night because you’re stuck in a hotel in the middle of the desert and you’ve only been able to eat like 20% of every meal and you’re sick of your protein bars and it’s not fair and a little bit of sugar isn’t going to hurt, and damnit why does everything have to be so effing hard all the time – and you kind of have to start the retraining all over again. But it is easier the second time around.

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I was explaining these details of this diet to my dad a few weeks ago, and he said “So its like a Buddha diet. It’s all about mindfulness.” Which is the first time I thought to put it into that context. Of course, if we wanted to be very literal, Buddha’s diet would be vegetarian, but I like to think he’s cool with my using his name this way. Mostly because Buddha is pretty much cool with everything.  But as soon as I re-contextualized this diet from a pain in the ass list of restrictions, to a lifestyle of mindfulness, everything got a lot easier.

For example, I’ve finally accepted that there were no short cuts anymore, that my idea of indulgent eating is adding kidney beans to my salad, and that I will spend an inappropriate amount of my life thinking about eggs.

And in exchange I have a clear mind, high energy levels, stabilized moods, a smaller waistline, and better functioning organs.

Seems a fair trade.

Except when I walk past a Starbucks and see a picture of their holiday drinks and wonder how many more times I can walk past before I run inside, order 12, and then sit in my car behind a dumpster pounding one after the other until I pass out in a pool of melted whip cream, chocolate curls and my dignity.

Those days suck. But mostly its, you know, the other way.

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**this is an after post edit for clarity. I realized that by just saying “carbs” as I did originally it was misleading and just plaing wrong. But I’d been eating complex carbs, and whole grain/fiber filled carbs instead of simple carbs like white rice, white pasta etc, for so long that I didn’t think about what I was saying.

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I’ll Never Be Accused of Being A Foodie October 31, 2011

Today is the end of the formal 30 day sugar fast that was the kickoff to my new “eating lifestyle”.
Yay! Except that I’m so over (most) of my sugar cravings, and have adapted to my options so well over the past few weeks, I don’t really want to eat outside my diet.
Did. NOT. See that coming.

I’d planned to do a deep blog about all of the things I’ve learned over the past 30 days in terms of food, my body, my brain, Chris’s body, society, and American culture as a whole. I may also have some revelations about the state of the global economy and how to stop the polar ice caps from melting.

BUT.

Work and life is really busy this week, and I’m not going to have the time to write such a deep, informative, and dare I say it, life changing blog post for a while.

So since food is kind of the center of my life right now, I decided I’d just throw a blog together about what I’m eating.

For me and Chris the keys to success on this diet, is planning and creativity. I live in fear of getting totally sick of something, like say sliced deli ham, because if I take deli ham off my list, that’s like removing 25% of my options. Or something. I don’t know, I’m not a mathematician, but I do know it would be ugly.

Breakfast

Breakfasts are the most challenging meal of my day. At work I either eat some combination of hard boiled eggs, microwave sausage, fruit, or protein drinks.

On the weekends, we try to be more creative, because the idea that we could get sick of eggs keeps us both up at night. And yet… all of our breakfasts still include eggs…so there appear to be some kinks in our plan…

Moving on. You all remember the post about our Flower Power Eggs, right? Well, since then we’ve gone with more of a “throw a bunch of veggie’s into a pan with some eggs and meat and cook it up” approach.

Scrambled eggs with some tomatoes and cheese thrown in, some bacon and fruit on the side.

This was supposed to be a fritata, but then we realized we had way more filler than eggs, so we just scrambled it all together and called it a day. Sausage, tomato, broccoli and cheese.

Lunch

Lunch is a bigger issue when I’m at work than on the weekends, because typically on a weekend we don’t eat breakfast until around noon, so “lunch” is more a snack sometime before dinner. But at work, lunch is my personal challenge.

At first I made these big elaborate salads that required I spend at least 20 minutes chopping things up.

Then I started coming up with faster lunch options. This is Amy's Organic, gluten free Chunky Tomato Bisque, and a salad of: tiny shrimp, romain lettuce, feta cheese and a touch of vinegrette dressing. Not the most flavorful lunch I've ever had, but it got the job done.

I had a few bites of a flourless chocolate torte this morning (co-worker birthday) and the sugar nearly made my head explode, so I wanted a really basic lunch. Plain shrimp, frozen sugar snap peas thawed in microwave, then tossed in the toaster oven on 450 with sea salt for 2 minutes each side. Again, not the most exciting meal, but it hit the spot. And took me less than 10 minutes to make. Win.

I also made a couple of salads last week with either pear or apple on romain lettuce, with fetta cheese, walnuts, and vinegrette dressing, but forgot to take pictures because I was starving. But they were delicious.

Snacks

I like to think that snacks bring out my true creativity. Of course we have the standard apple/organge/banana/carrots/celery, with almonds, cheese or a peanut butter substitute like Sun Butter (made from sunflowers).

But then there’s the deli meat.

Chris started me into the habit of buying deli meat and then just eating it straight from the bag. But after a few occasions of standing in the kitchen at work self conciously shoving slices of ham or roast beef into my mouth, hoping no one would walk in and comment on my unorthadox eating habits, I got an idea.

I took a slice of cheese, and pilled two slices of roast beef on it, and then wrapped the cheese around the meat to eat it like a taco. I don't know why, but somehow I felt less self-conscious eating this way. Sometimes I put a second slice of cheese on top and pretend its a sandwich. Don't judge me.

The first couple of weeks of the diet/sugar fast were challenging because I was used to having granola bars or protein bars as easy portable snacks. But none of the bars I used to eat fit into my new diet. So I went on the hunt and eventually found a couple of options. This was one of them:

This sat in my drawer for more than two weeks before I was brave enough to try it. I think the "live" part scared me. But it was actually kinda good. And nothing bit back, so there's that.

But this my favorite power bar option at the moment. They are the perfect pre- workout snack:

It says its sugar free, but it does have sugar alcohols, which means...something. I don't really get it yet except that they are better/different than actual sugar...somehow...

This weekend we went out to run a quick errand and ended up at the outlets. About an hour into the outlet experience we realized we hadn’t packed a snack or lunch because we weren’t expecting to be gone so long. And one of the major challenges to this diet is that fast food is a thing of the past, and even places like Panera Bread offer few options because I don’t trust their salad dressings to be gluten free. But we wandered into the food court anyway, thinking at worst we could split some fries to hold us over until we got home. But we were actually surprised to find some diet friendly options. (I started to type “pleasantly surprised” but that would be a lie, because we were a little disappointing when we realized we couldn’t justify french fries). And then for another installment of “what the fuck happened to us?” we sat in the middle of the food court surrounded by pizza, burgers and fries, and ate apples slices,  cheddar cheese squares, melon squares and grapes, and tried to pretend we were enjoying it.

But you know what?

We would rather have had ANYTHING ELSE IN THAT FOOD COURT.

Seriously, if I could have eaten a slice of pizza or a burger and not felt like death for the next 24 hours, I would have. And I’m pretty sure that goes double for Chris.

But this is our life now, so the only thing to do is look on the bright side. Which for me is that I did not have to spend $200 on new clothes to go to this work conference next week because I’ve lost enough weight in the last month to fit back into my old, pre-gluten-allergy-making-my-body-go-insane clothes.

So at least there’s that.

OH, AND, today at the grocery store I found carrots cut into disc shapes! I don’t know why, but I find this extremely exciting.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat an apple with some Sun Butter for my snack.

Try not to be too jealous.

 

Flower Power My A** October 24, 2011

Filed under: Food,It Ain't Easy Being Me — Meredith @ 3:45 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

There isn’t a lot of room for creativity with this diet. Especially not in terms of the variety of foods we eat.

So we’ve started looking for ways to be creative with the way we prepare and serve those same few foods. Over and Over.

Eggs are big in our lives. They’re a big part of our weekend breakfasts, and hardboiled, often serve as breakfast/snacks during the week.

We’re in danger of getting sick of eggs, which would be a disaster. I’m not exaggerating. Our carefully constructed lifestyle of grain fee/low sugar eating would crumble the first Saturday morning we woke up and couldn’t face the eggs.

So Chris has put himself in the role of “Creative Director” for our meals. All of our meals, but specifically our weekend breakfasts.

I think he’s trying to distract himself (and me) from nostalgia of weekends were we just rolled out of bed and went to the bagel place.

This week he decided we should try a “recipe” he found on-line called Flower Power Eggs. He picked it because it looked like a quick and easy way to get out protein and veggies in – the goal for every meal.

I put recipe in quotes because really it was a self-explanatory picture and a little text about how fun and easy it is.

Ok, we didn’t actually read the text about how fun and easy it was. We felt like we got it all from the picture:

The finished product we saw on the internet.

Its sliced peppers and sunny side up eggs. Easy, peasy. Right?

I sliced up the green pepper while Chris got the skillet ready, and then I was put in charge of cracking the eggs into the peppers.

The egg whites spilled over the sides of the peppers, but for all we know that happened to the blogger too, since she conveniently leaves out a cooking picture.

And then…the finished product:

Our final product

NAILED IT.

And don’t worry, I know the egg “flowers” look lonely on that big plate, but we also had bacon and the rest of the peppers for our breakfast, see:

PS. While Chris is ready to cut Flower Power from the breakfast roster, I’m planning a rematch at some point. I will not be bested by an egg and a pepper.

 

 
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