Today is Thanksgiving and for many it will be a day of food, and tomorrow may be a day of feeling tired, bloated, regretful and feeling shame. The day after any celebration is often the first day of some new eating regime. Been there many times and unfortunately without much success because I didn’t do what was best for me.
Feeling healthy and successful on this day of gratitude, there are some key points I want to share.
Your body is the only one you get, is unique and deserves to be treated as special.
Too often, when we don’t feel well, or are over or under weight, we need to make changes. Although we want to feel better, making changes which include not eating or drinking the typical menu is akin to a loss. Rather than focusing on what we can enjoy, it is easier to focus on what we can’t. No one is successful when feeling sorry for themselves. Honor your needs and gift your body with healthy whole foods that will allow it to thrive.
Because your body is unique, what works for others may not work for you. Keep making changes. When you find the right mix, you will know!
I nearly gave up on losing weight even though I had eliminated just about everything until I bought a wonderful whole food cookbook, Natural Contents Good Food for Everyone by Danielle Gaebel. It is a wonderful read from cover to cover, which I did before really reading any recipes. I love when things fall into place! Around the same time, I took an online 1 hour live seminar with Dr. Susan Blum on Facebook. I had been turned onto her earlier and was trying her elimination diet. It was going to be a breeze because I already had eliminated just about everything. Except corn. I love corn! I only ate organic so I expected that couldn’t be a problem. At the time of the seminar I was miserable. Questions could be asked in the comments section and an assistant would answer them. I asked if this meant I was allergic to corn and the reply was maybe not. Because I had eliminated so much already, corn may be the only source of sugar, and I could be having a candida issue. Naturally I searched candida and one comment that spoke to me was to go slowly and not do anything radical to eliminate sugar, so I just stayed the course. The symptoms of always being hungry, tired and achy disappeared.
To eliminate foods, replace with whole foods rather than substitutes.
Health food stores are full of substitutes, especially for gluten and dairy. I have tried so many bagels, bread and English muffins! The fact that unless you bake yourself, they come frozen, doesn’t help. Yes, you can say you had toast for breakfast, but for me it was always settling- never enjoyable. I tried quite a few gluten-free baking mixes, and didn’t feel great afterwards. Now I know that the other ingredients in the mixes may cause digestive issues for me as well. Baking powder has corn, other substitutes may be a problem as well as gluten. So if you still have issues after making substitutions, wheat gluten is not your only issue. But back to my original premise, substituting probably will leave you unfulfilled. Go for something else. I always kept seeds and some nuts in the pantry, but they did nothing for me until I roasted them. Seasonings and some healthy oil make a big difference. I made a seed and oat mixture with just enough honey to coat them lightly (not enough for the ingredients to stick together) and added chili powder and garlic powder for a sweet and savory combo. The unexpected treat was that neither these, or the roasted and salted almonds and walnuts make me crave anything. A small handful holds me for quite a while. I had been doing limited snacking of organic, gluten free, expensive crackers for a long time. Again, they served my needs, or I thought they did, but they were not a substitute for what I had originally enjoyed. I was eating but not enjoying. Now I eat limited seeds and nuts, fruit (once a day) in between my meals that sustain me, perhaps because I am eating real food, not trying to mimic what I thought I was missing.
Organic, gluten-free processed food is still processed food
I didn’t comprehend this until I gave up my cauliflower crackers and gluten-free pretzels. When I did, I lost weight, which was a huge surprise because I was eating nuts and seeds and always heard they were high in calories. This is why I have recently become a proponent of whole foods and hand baked or created sauces or snacks. One recipe at a time, I eliminated ingredients, but more importantly I have added foods I haven’t eated in a very long time, and apparantly my body was missing. Thousands of people who have made changes to the SAD (Standard American Diet) eat healthier processed foods without any affect. I am just saying that even if you shop in a health food store, you still need to read labels. Anything that is a substitute for something you should not or cannot eat may have new ingredients that you should not or cannot eat. Beware and be careful.
Be open to new eating adventures. The old standard American diet created your situation, whatever it may be, so why try to hold onto it?
By serendipity, (or the secret way the internet tracks our every move), after listening to Dr. Blum and reading Good Food For Everyone, other recipes and cookbooks, and other medical gurus started coming my way, as well as organic companies. Now I don’t suggest jumping on band wagons but I do encourage openmindedness. Set the intention before researching or reading to find what your body needs. If it doesn’t ring true for you pass. If it sounds like it might be good, read some more. Don’t go overboard buying equipment and or ingredients to the point of debt. Pick one or 2 recipes that have shared ingredients and start there. Move at your own pace.
Food traditions are big. Alter traditions to allow for new foods or create new traditions altogether.
Many evenings during the summer we would have cocktails in the gazebo. Whether or not that falls into the category of a tradition, I am not sure, but giving up alcohol created a change. I tried lemonade which was good, but perhaps I didn’t make a mental switch yet, because it was just a substitute. So we tweaked it, turned on a favorite radio program and I made a nice cup of tea. Same place, same people, but just enough of a tweak, that I didn’t miss that glass of wine.
Once I got passed the elimination part of any program, I was able to go out and pass up on what others thought was scrumptuous without too much difficulty, but during that time when my body was adjusting, it was difficult. When celebrating at the home of another, offer to bring an appetizer, or a dessert that you can eat. Or have a dessert (for me, organic berries from the frozen food section) waiting at home. From Danielle’s cookbook, I keep Aoili on hand which makes a nice garlicy dip which can go anywhere. Blanching colorful veggies makes a pretty platter with more pizazz that cut veggies. Or take a small bowl of your nuts or seeds to share.
If your celebrations only consist of grazing and drinking, come up with games the family can enjoy together. Give Pinterest a try for ideas. You know what your family will be willing to try and what they won’t. Add snowball fights, snowman making, fishing, flag football, whatever the weather is conducive to to create new traditions away from unhealthy food consumption.
Feed your body gracefully.
It is the only one you have so don’t fight change to keep it healthy. Attitude is very important so if yours stinks, improve it. Anyone can feel resentful. Allow in gratitude that you are here, that you are making change, and there is a lot of information on the internet to help. Many cookbook authors for specialty diets fill their books with words of wisdom and helpful hints that are just as important as the recipes. Check out blogs! The instructions give so much additional detail to share. Remember they have been through the change to create healthy diets for themselves and their families and are thrilled to share the experience with you! Think of change as an exploration into healthy food possiblilities and you an explorer on the forefront.
My husband cooks, we are retired and only have to feed 2 of us. If you are younger, working and raising kids, this will sound overbearing. Involve the family in preparation. Pick simply. Cook in bulk and freeze. Even if it is one healthy self made recipe a weekend to begin, it is a beginning. The key thing is again attitude. Think healthier, shop healthier so you and your family can eat healthier.
Whether you realize you need to make changes because you just don’t have the energy or stamina you had before a celebration like Thanksgiving dinner, or have had blood results that indicate you need a change, or even a diagnosis of a disease, you have the opportunity to make changes in how you fuel your body. That is a gift. So many people still don’t know that what they are eating is doing them harm. You are aware. You can change. Feel blessed!
On this Thanksgiving I am grateful that after MANY years of doing without, because that is how I saw it, I am finally making a difference in my life. I got a lot of warnings that I did not heed, but after back to back cancer experiences in 13 months, I realized my body was special- possibly intolerantly special. Now I believe I am finally discovering what my body thrives on and what it can’t tolerate. If I am going to live a good long life, I would rather live it in a body that has gracefully survived time. I wish that for all of you. Love yourself. Love your body. Happy Thanksgiving!