On fad diets, disordered eating

If it wasn’t already apparent, I have problems with disordered eating. I’m not saying that I have an eating disorder, or at least that’s what my therapist says, and I think that in some ways there is a difference. I have never been anorectic, unless you count the few months in high school where I ate a small bag of plain popcorn, Diet Coke, and a reduced-fat Oreo for lunch, and challenged myself to eat fewer calories than the day before. That clearly didn’t last long. I’ve never binged and purged, though YOU KNOW I’ve thought to myself that it’d make my life a hell of a lot easier if I could. And at the other end, I don’t think I’ve ever really had problems with binge eating. Now, I think just about everyone has a pig-out once in a while, but not full-on EAT ALL THE THINGS on a regular basis.

No, what I struggle with is more…portion sizes (and again, this is not EAT THE WHOLE CAKE, but maybe having a piece or two that maybe are just a little bigger than they should)…peer pressure (c’mon, just have ONE drink!)…the tendency to crave all the wrong things at all the wrong times (super tired? how about something crispy and fried or creamy and frozen?)…and mindfulness (I’ll just have a few crackers…whoops there goes the whole box, and I’m still hungry).

From what I understand, these are common disordered eating habits, and in combination has sort of brought me where I am now.

But I have to admit, too, that I have been extremely vulnerable to faddish diets. And as someone who is fairly intelligent, this makes me ashamed.

  • Growing up, when I first started counting calories, it was all about low-fat and keeping to a percentage of calories-from-fat. If there was a day where I had extra calories and needed to reduce the fat percentage, we’d drink a can of full-calorie soda. (Facepalm.)
  • In college, I got on the Atkins train and lost about 20#. I became obsessed with the 25-carb-per-day onboarding period, and just never moved past it. This turned into me eating basically bacon, diet soda, cheese, and tubs of Cool Whip (oh, and those Atkins shakes), because, uh, carbs.
  • After that, I said FUCK ALL DIETS and gained about 90#. Not because I was eating TONS, but because I didn’t keep track of what I was eating, wasn’t making the best choices all the time, and ate just a bit more than I should. (It adds up.)
  • Then in grad school, Weight Watchers happened. And I have to say that this is NOT a fad diet; HOWEVER, I do still disagree with a lot of the foods that they peddle. Nonfat dairy products, super-processed frozen meals, and ALL THE GRAINS being a few of them.
  • Then, to get a few more pounds off, I meticulously counted points with the Wendie Plan, and then began carb cycling.
  • Then it was all Paleo all the time. Which is totally cool and fine, especially since, you know, ALLERGIES, but I came away from that with a still-nasty case of orthorexia and judgmentalia, in which you obsess over the cleanliness, pasturedness, and organicness of your food, and then harshly judge yourself and others when this is not abided by.
  • And now? Let me get to that.

So, as I may have mentioned before, as part of BFF’s TDP, I am now back to counting calories. And he has been very conscious in his pushing of CALORIES ONLY, until I get back into a healthy routine of exercise and eating. Because, as my food tracker will show, I eat super clean about 80% of the time. The other 20% is Pizza Friday, maybe an ice cream, and possibly popcorn or gluten-free pasta during the week. And all this, aside from Pizza Friday, is balanced with lean proteins and vegetables (so gluten-free pasta nights isn’t just pasta–it’s pasta that’s been weighed out, and then eaten with copious amounts of broccoli and a few ounces of chicken breast). Because, in reality, if I don’t have these little luxuries, how am I supposed to, really, continue on?

So here I am, just chugging along. Running three times a week, light weights three times a week, and tracking like a mofo, even on Pizza Fridays. And I’m feeling pretty good about myself and my effort, even though the scale isn’t showing leaps and bounds of awesomeness.

And then I start getting bombarded. Not personally, but it seems like all of a sudden everywhere I look online, everyone is talking about Flexible Dieting and the wonders of #IIFYM (if it fits your macros). The idea being, if you eat tuna and brown rice, and it has 45 carbs, 40 protein, and 10 fat, your body doesn’t know the same as a cheeseburger, which might also have 45 carbs, 40 protein, and 10 fat. So if you have a set amount of macronutrient goals for optimum performance, why wouldn’t you eat that cheeseburger? It fits your macros!

I’m not saying that this is the WRONG way to think about food, though I will say that fundamentally I think there is a problem in thinking that you should eat cheeseburgers over brown rice and fish. HOWEVER, I AM saying that I feel I am being assaulted on a daily basis. The same people posting ridiculous before-and-after photos of a thin version of themselves versus a thin and jacked version of themselves a month later, after counting their macros. And keep in mind, these are THE VERY SAME PEOPLE who, just a year or two ago, were preaching Paleo/Zone and/or intermittent fasting as the one-size-fits-all miracle solution.

And I’m thinking to myself, Am I doing something wrong? This person who has NO weight to lose lost 4# in a week, and I’m obese and have lost 1.5# in a MONTH.

And then I start thinking, Do I need to start counting my macros meticulously?

This is about the point where BFF has smacked me upside the head and reminded me that yes, this IIFYM IS JUST ANOTHER FAD DIET. And do not get sucked in!

But to be honest, it absolutely kills me every time I see something about IIFYM and results. It kills me. It makes me anxious. It’s a SUPER trigger. It even hurts my feelings and makes me feel crappy about myself. I can’t explain it, but if you’ve ever felt like this, you’d know.

The other piece, too, is that the people who preach IIFYM/IF/PZ are notoriously people who have absolutely no idea what it means to be obese. They have never been in a situation where they have 100+# to lose. And they probably never will, god willing. They are people who have always been slim and active, and really just want a six-pack. They will never get it. Ever. Sorry if you are one of those people, because sometimes I think you just can’t help it.

So no, I will not be counting my macros right now. I won’t be intermittently fasting, and I won’t be on a meticulous Paleo/Zone diet. Because right now, I need something that is both livable and will not make me feel guilty or like shit about myself whenever I eat something non-organic.

Thank you for sharing your success, but please leave me alone.

</rant>

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Food and guilt

I’d be surprised if I haven’t written about food and guilt before. I mean, an ENORMOUS part of any sort of weight-loss journey is dealing with a relationship with food. Even more so when you throw in disordered or compulsive/addictive eating. And yes, even more so when you throw in Catholic guilt, regardless of my practicing status.

I’m still in the throes of stepping back and observing the last 18 months or so and the processes that have led me to where I am right now, and I have to admit that there were a lot of things at play, many of which I have already glossed over (HUGE life changes–one right after the other, a separation from the Crossfit community, etc., etc.). But I think that one of the things that has seriously messed with my head is/was food.

Throughout my time writing for DK Gets Fit, I think I’ve been able to stay fairly neutral about food choices. Weight Watchers being pretty flexible about what types of food you eat, and incorporating aspects of Paleo into my diet (lower carbs, higher protein!).

Then life threw me a curveball, and I discovered, definitively, that I have food allergies. Namely, wheat, milk protein, bananas, macadamias, sesame seeds, and a mild allergy to egg whites (which I still consume because it’s just so hard to get around). I continued attending Weight Watchers meetings, this time at work, and I felt SO isolated. Nobody, not even the leader, could grasp what it is like to all of a sudden not be able to eat SO many of the foods that Weight Watchers preaches. The actual nutrition approach for WW encourages nonfat dairy products (I am currently OK with higher-fat dairy, such as butter, ghee, and some cheeses, but generally avoid anything high in whey or casein), whole grains (certainly including wheat), egg whites by the cartonful, and of course bananas up the ying yang (ditto that with Paleo). I didn’t know what to do, so out of frustration I eventually quit.

AND THEN, I decided to see a dietitian, who really was awesome, emphasizing types of foods instead of tracking, HOWEVER, it became pretty evident PRETTY quickly that someone who has issues with food really does need to track, no matter what KINDS of foods you’re eating. ESPECIALLY because maybe you want to have a cheat meal–or weekend–at some point, and you need to be correctly equipped on how to deal with this. I gained weight doing this.

I also gained something else.

The Boy would argue that I also developed a (mild) case of orthorexia. With the food allergies and the new recommendations from the dietitian, AND all of a sudden really being able to get enough protein from meat sources (since egg whites and dairy were out), I started to be afraid of anything that wasn’t organic/pastured/local food. I guess it’s not a horrible way to live, but it’s certainly not inexpensive.

Again, I gained weight this way.

Then, after spiraling and free-falling for a few months, depressed, miserable, and stuck, I knew I had to do something.

I rejoined Weight Watchers. And I’ve been pretty vigilant about tracking everything, since the end of January, and I’ve lost a mere 8 pounds. Since January. Though this is also with weird food allergies that literally nobody seems to understand. Once again, I felt othered during meetings, and decided to move out of meetings, and instead to personal coaching, which I haven’t yet decided if I like or not (I get a 15-minute check in, but there really isn’t any particular theme of the week, etc.).

But, and here’s where the guilt part of this post comes in, soon after I started my new job, The Boy lost his. And all of a sudden we are paying for groceries with a set amount of cash. And all of a sudden I’m finding that my lunches are filled with rice and beans. My vegetables are no longer only organic. There’s no more Whole Foods, and we haven’t been able to afford our local farm for what seems like forever.

And I shouldn’t feel awful admitting that, but I do. I SO do.

I feel so GUILTY that I actually cannot afford, at the moment, to purchase those foods that I know to be healthiest and most nutritionally dense. And I feel GUILTY that, after an entire year almost completely grain free, I’m back to eating grains on a regular basis. I feel GUILTY.

See why The Boy thinks it’s orthorexia?

My first go-around a few years ago, I regularly ate grains and did really well. Where along this road did I decide that they just flat-out are not okay at all? And when did I start shaming myself so badly for eating REAL, ONE-INGREDIENT, WHOLE FOODS just because they don’t fit into the Paleo paradigm?

It’s really messed up! Yes, I KNOW!

So I guess that’s one of many things I’m working on right now. Doing the best I can, but more importantly KNOWING that I AM doing the best I can.

Once again, here I am. Let’s try to take the guilt out of eating, and associating eating with guilt. Because, can we all just admit that we’d be a lot happier if we did?

Got beets? I’ve got slow-cooker borscht!

Borscht!
Borscht!

Um, yeah. Beets. I’m really not super into them.

I know. Almost everyone thinks I’m nuts. Is it one of those vegetables that everyone loves to hate, but actually really truly loves? Like brussels sprouts? I don’t know. I didn’t grow up with them, and their supersweet earthiness is just really weirdly offputting to me.

But the problem is, I keep getting beets in my CSA! So I’m trying to make the best of them. So far, I’ve made a beet-based veggie burger (pretty good!) and roasted beets (meh, but edible). But by far the best beet recipe I’ve tried my hand at has been borscht.

Another food I think gets a pretty bad rap. I mean, as if beets weren’t bad enough, beet SOUP?

The first time I had borscht was last year. It was my first time visiting my boyfriend in the city where he lived, and he took me to a little Ukrainian hole-in-the-wall restaurant. We had borscht for dinner, and it was smooth and sweet and earthy, and just deliciously creamy with some rich sour cream on top. I was pleasantly surprised.

So I’ve got a bunch of beets, we’re recovering from Snowpocalypse, and we’re in the midst of Olympics at Sochi? What better way to pay homage to this unique circumstance than some slow-cooker borscht? Because, you know, why stay home and watch a pot of food all day when you don’t have to?!

Look at the pretty vegetables!
Look at the pretty vegetables!

I’ve made a few slow-cooker soups, and I’m consistently re-convinced that the crock pot is best served using it for broths. It’s simply the best.

This was no exception. The bulk of the labor was simply prepping the ingredients. But then, you just throw everything in the slow cooker and let it sit!

We’ve got carrots, beets, potatoes, and beef. And no cabbage. So, you know, maybe you think that borscht isn’t borscht without the cabbage. In that case, this recipe ain’t for you. I’m more into it tasting good, first and foremost, and this does. Holy crap, does it ever! (Though, worth noting, The Boy has spent time in both Russia and Ukraine, and he tells me that this batch was, I quote, “Exactly as it should be.” Win!)

BIG bowl for meee!
BIG bowl for meee!

And, I gotta say, this is The Boy-approved! AND there’s another super-secret no-no ingredient: Mushrooms. He questioned it for a hot second, but I told him it was just a fatty piece of beef. MUAH HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! So, if he likes it, your picky eater will like it, too. Feel good about making, eating, and sharing this recipe. Chock-full of seasonal, inexpensive ingredients. Lots of vegetables…how could it NOT be phenommmm?

Whole ingredients. Delicious. And inexpensive! Are you ready for slow-cooker borscht?

Okay. Without further ado….

Slow-Cooker Borscht

Mmm!
Mmm!

Ingredients

• 1.5 pounds stew beef
• 1.5 pounds beets, peeled and diced (about 1 bunch of beets)
• 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
• 2 sweet yellow onions
• 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 pound)
• 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
• 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
• Juice from 1/2 lemon
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon palm sugar (or honey/agave/brown sugar, etc.)
• 1 tablespoon fresh dill weed + more for serving
• 2 teaspoons sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
• 4 cups water
• Plain Greek yogurt for serving (optional)

Directions

Soak dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for about 15 minutes. Strain water into the slow cooker, and rough chop mushrooms. While mushrooms soak, prep vegetables. Put all ingredients, except for Greek yogurt, in slow cooker.

Set slow cooker to HIGH for about 4 hours, and then continue to cook on LOW for an additional 5 hours, or until vegetables are tender and stew beef is tender and cooked through.

Serve with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and fresh dill weed. Add hot sauce if you like it spicy!

Makes approximately 20 cups of borscht, giving you at least 10 entree-sized servings. Paleo friendly (omit yogurt and potato, if desired), and A-OK for WW peeps doing Simple Start/Simply Filling!

Oh, and PS. We had SO MUCH left over!! Look at my lunches for the next week:

Gorgeous lunches every day this week!
Gorgeous lunches every day this week!

PPS! Did you know that there’s a donate button to your right? If you use it, funds will go directly toward a pressure canner, so I can CAN all of these leftovers and not worry about my itty-bitty freezer.

Why CSAs rock

Kohlrabi, potatoes, portabellos, and pea sprouts! Mmm!
Kohlrabi, potatoes, portabellos, and pea sprouts! Mmm!

I mentioned last week that The Boy hates vegetables. I’m not going to try to change him, but we have an agreement that if I cook it, he will at least TRY it. So, for going from ZERO to tastes of vegetables, I call this a huge stride in an amazing direction, and I certainly have to give him props.

And me, I love my veggies and the volume they add to my meals at a low caloric cost. But I’ve gotten into the bad habit of relying on a very small pool of veg—broccoli, green beans, baby greens, bell peppers, asparagus, and cauliflower. Always fresh, and pretty much year ’round. Those are fairly versatile veggies that I could snarf down cooked or raw, and were very good for a routine.

But, purchasing these veg year ’round also meant that I frequently purchased out-of-season and foods that had been shipped from hundreds or even thousands of miles away!

I knew that to get the best-quality produce, I’d have to shop more often at farmers markets. But somehow, I rarely got over to one, and then I when I did, I always looked for similar mainstays. Yes, very boring indeed.

So, a few months ago, I had the opportunity to participate in some Community Supported Agriculture. I’d heard of CSAs before, and I knew a few people who did use CSAs, but I never had the amount of money I’d needed to commit to one.

The basic idea, if you’re unfamiliar, is that you find a local farm that participates in a CSA program, and you essentially purchase a season “share” of the farm crop. Normally, for a spring share, this means maybe $500, depending on your need. Then, once the season approaches, each week, you get a package of fresh, local vegetables and fruits, picked up normally at a farmers market.

I found another service recently, called Field Goods, which is a bit more flexible, and fits my schedule and budget, and allows to put deliveries on hold if you’re out of town or unable to pick it up. You pay weekly, which is, great, instead of buying in initially.

And, perhaps, the best part is that participating in a CSA has forced me to be a more adventurous and creative eater. So, in a sense The Boy and I have been challenged to grow together in learning to eat a wider variety of vegetables. For example, before the CSA, I had never tried beets, and have even been very scared and intimidated by them. However, I had them forced upon me a few times by now, and have learned that they’re not so scary, and actually not too bad at all! We’ve gotten squashes, loads of apples for canning, pumpkins, frozen edamame, frozen broccoli and cauliflower, celery root, kohlrabi, hydroponic lettuce greens, kale, collards, turnips, radishes, daikon, garlic, shallots, shiitakes, and more. This past week, we received potatoes, kohlrabi, pea shoots, arugula, frozen blueberries, frozen tomato puree, portobello mushrooms, and probably a few other things that I’m now forgetting. All local, all SEASONAL, and all for $25.

I call that a steal.

And that, friends, is why CSAs are freaking AWESOME. It’s providing me with ALL of the vegetables for the week (so it cuts down on my grocery shopping), I don’t have to think about it, and it forces me to try new things. Hip-hip-hooray!

Butternut squash chowder

Butternut squash chowder! Amaze!
Butternut squash chowder! Amaze!

So. This might come as a surprise, but my boyfriend neither Crossfits nor enjoys vegetables.

Yeah, I know.

I have to give him credit, though, because he will eat ALMOST anything I cook, and if I cook vegetables, we have a deal that he at least tries them. Granted, he certainly does not get the volume I’d like to see, but it’s a huge step in the right direction, especially for someone who’s gone from ZERO to dating the vegetable queen. It’s taken some adjustment on my part, too, as I’d become someone who was fine eating the same dinner all week, and lots and lots of straight-up veg. Now, I’m cooking more of a variety of things so we’re not bored, and I essentially have to treat vegetables like I would for a picky child: Hide them.

Some attempts have been more successful than others. Brussels sprouts and bacon were a huge flop, as is roasted broccoli (so sad!). Salad with homemade dressing was so-so for him, but he loved the crap out of kale cooked with whole-wheat egg noodles, vodka sauce, and ground beef (hamburger helper, anyone?). He also did impressively well with a veggie burger I made that had beets as a base. Additionally, the boy loves a good hearty soup. He’s been a fan of a few soups I’ve made this winter, including a Thai-style butternut squash and coconut soup and a carrot-ginger-cashew soup.

Well, I just conquered the mother of all challenges.

We got frozen cauliflower in last week’s CSA. Now, I LOVE cauliflower in all its incarnations, but The Boy hates it. He likens it to an allergy, saying he tastes it differently than other people and how it makes him gag. My mom made him try a FRIED cauliflower patty at Christmas and made the mistake of telling him what was in it. I say that because nothing about this patty is healthy or screams cauliflower. It’s all egg binder, herbs, and lots of romano cheese. He barely took a bite and gagged.

Knowing that cauliflower makes a good mashed faux-tato, I thought that it might go well in this soup, to give it a thick and creamy flavor and consistency.

And what happened?

The Boy went back for SECONDS and couldn’t stop saying how good it was. He renamed this soup the “Fucking Awesome Soup.”

And no, I did NOT ruin the moment and tell him there was cauliflower in it.

He’s taking soup leftovers with him to work because he liked it THAT much.

Seriously, you want to try this soup. It is thick and hearty and delicious and filling and perfect for the nasty weather we’re getting in the Northeast. In this incarnation, it’s not strict Paleo, but it IS gluten-free, and easily adaptable for vegan/vegetarians (use veg stock) or Paleo folk (omit corn and potatoes). You can even add some diced chicken boob for some extra protein! Mmmmmm!!!

Let me know how you like this. I’m telling you, if I can fool my boyfriend into thinking it’s a basic yummy chowder, I PROMISE your picky eater will lap it all up instantly, too!

Such a delicious soup!
Such a delicious soup!

Butternut squash chowder

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds butternut squash puree (I used 1 pound butternut squash puree and 1 cup of pumpkin puree), fresh or frozen
  • 1 pound cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen
  • 1 pound corn, freshly de-eared or frozen
  • 2 small white potatoes, diced
  • 32 oz low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1.5 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • Sea salt to taste (1.5–2 teaspoons)

Directions

Coat the bottom of a medium pot with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or cooking spray, and heat to a medium heat. Add diced onion and a pinch of salt, and brown, stirring occasionally, approximately 5 minutes.

Once onions begin to caramelize, add chicken stock, butternut squash puree, garlic cloves, curry powder, and cauliflower florets. Bring to a boil, and then simmer on medium-low for approximately 20 minutes, or until florets are tender and hot.

In two batches, puree soup mixture in blender until smooth. Be careful because it’s now very hot! Return pureed soup to the pot, and return to a simmer.

Now, add corn kernels and diced potatoes, along with the smoked paprika, pepper, and salt. Simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring from bottom occasionally, approximately 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Recipe makes approximately 12 one-cup servings. For WW peeps, this recipe fits within the Simply Filling/Simple Start plans.

What I learned doing a Whole30

To Paleo or not to Paleo?
To Paleo or not to Paleo?

I mentioned a few weeks back that I was in the middle of doing a Whole30. Basically, that means 30 days of super-strict Paleo.

Well, it’s over now, and I’m here to report back my specific experience on Whole30.

First, let’s talk for a second about WHY I decided to do a Whole30.

Around November, I started feeling really unmotivated to really be careful with my WW plan. I was exercising nonstop and being really strict about my carb cycling, and when you add high-stress situations to that mix (i.e., school and lots of work), it became extremely tedious really fast. I wasn’t getting where I wanted to at the scale, so somewhere that translated to going to Bountiful Bread and getting cake. Like, a lot of cake.

I was exhausted.

I was exhausted of it all.

So I just said screw it. And I did.

Things only got worse over the holidays. I thought that if I committed to a gluten-free diet when home, that would be good enough. I did okay for a bit, but a gluten-free diet in Portland also translated to going and getting a really awesome latte…accompanied by gluten-free brownies or muffins. I mean…really, DK?

Winter turned into trying to maintain after a pretty icky holiday gain.

And then my PDX box decided they were going to have a 30-Day Challenge. I was talked into giving it a shot. But every single day I attempted Paleo, I utterly failed. I refused to give up milk. And I felt sooo guilty every time my friend Shannon asked me about it. It was too much.

And then I returned to Albany. I felt totally lost. I didn’t know what to do. So I decided to re-try the 30-Day Challenge and just start a Whole30 of my own. (I had to go grocery shopping anyway, so why not just get some Paleo foods?)

At first it was fine. I was so good! I asked restaurants if their sauces had sugar in them. I was getting nasty Starbucks Americanos, unadulterated by sugars or creams. I ate eggs for breakfast instead of oatmeal. I lived on avocados, sweet potatoes, and bacon (yessss). I devoutly sent food logs to Dean, and I increased the intensity of my workouts.

After about two weeks, I was seeing clear gains at the gym. Lots of PRs, and I was feeling pretty good. But I wasn’t losing weight…AT ALL. Dean critiqued my logs, suggesting that I work more veggies in, and cut out the sweet potatoes and squash. I did that. And yet, still nothing.

And then came the small cheats. After a while, I just couldn’t do it. Even though I was making strides at the gym and feeling okay. There was just something primal and almost unconscious in the back of my brain, urging me to just stop.

And one day, I was at work, and it was one of those days where you’re just starving ALL. DAY. LONG. And I had already cleared out the food I brought, and what did I do? I mindlessly walked next door, grabbed a frickin’ red velvet whoopie pie AND a double chocolate cookie, and yes, I ate them both, and yes they were delicious. But can I emphasize that I’m not a binge eater? Even when I really want sweets, this sort of behavior is not normal for me.

So of course afterward I (1) felt like shit, and (2) recognized that there was a problem.

I continued on strict Paleo for the next few days, but then ultimately decided to officially quit the Whole30 around day 21.

Before you rag on me for being a quitter or not having the mental fortitude to just “say no,” here are a few thoughts about Paleo:

  1. Paleo is a good way to eat. It emphasizes whole foods, natural foods, healthy foods. Yay!
  2. Paleo, on the other hand, is restrictive. It’s very much all-or-nothing (we’re talking about Paleo, as opposed to Primal, okay?). There is NO space for stevia or whole milk or grassfed butter or whatever.

That being said, here is what I learned about MYSELF in doing a Whole30:

  1. A 100% Paleo diet is not right for me. Before you faint from that, hear me out. As soon as I stopped obsessing over the strictness in my diet, I started feeling better, happier, and actually started losing weight again. While eating Paleo may have helped me improve in the gym, it also took a lot of mental energy. Energy that I didn’t really have to expend on this diet. A restrictive diet is not the right diet for me in the long run.
  2. mostly Primal diet is what I gravitate toward naturally. Since officially quitting the Whole30, you may be interested to learn that my days are filled predominantly with Primal-approved foods. I’ve come to prefer the taste of my homemade almondmilk lattes (unsweetened!); I’ve come to prefer peppers and guacamole as a snack over carrots and hummus (in fact, eating them now!); I would rather eat mashed cauliflower than mashed potatoes. A few days, I’ve looked back in shock, realizing that the ONLY non-Paleo thing I’ve eaten was a nonfat latte.
  3. It’s about being happy with your decisions—making them something you can live with. Like with anything in life, your diet needs to be something you can actually live with. For me, strict Paleo all the time was mostly impractical, and did not settle well with certain cravings. Some people are able to power through cravings, but sometimes it’s just not possible. And I really hate the notion of a “cheat.” It’s food. Stop associating SHAME with food, and you won’t be overridden with guilt as soon as you eat something considered unhealthy. I think the trick, like with many other things, is simply moderation. If you have a sincere craving, have something small and of quality, instead of risking a major binge by ignoring it. Honor the craving. But work it into your day responsibly.
  4. Grains are still bad…for me. It’s true. Wheat still makes me sick. Dairy, however, does not.

So where does that leave me? I guess I’m back where I started, but down a few pounds. Last week, I sat in a diner with my friend Jennifer, who is back on the tracking train. I think it was watching her laboriously track a grilled cheese sandwich and an order of french fries, with her meager 26 points per day, that made me realize what I need to do. I’m not saying that I was pretending or making things up, but it sort of shook some sense into me. Stop cycling. Stop doing Wendie. Stop the madness. Go back to the basics. Be honest with yourself. Make good choices. Indulge once in a while. But for god’s sake…frickin’ track, lady!

And I am. And I am much happier for that.

Be healthy!

Ch-ch-ch-CHIA [Seed Pudding]!!

Delicious, delicious chia seed pudding.
Delicious, delicious chia seed pudding.

I have recently discovered chia seeds. And after reading about them, I’m pretty much convinced that they’re a miracle superfood. They are not only rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, but they also have fiber and protein up the wazoo. And since it’s a seed, it’s Paleo-OK!

Do you like chocolate? Add 2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder to the mix for a chocolatey treat.
Do you like chocolate? Add 2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder to the mix for a chocolatey treat.

A few of my friends have told me about chia in the past, and I thought that they were mostly used as an egg substitute for vegans, or to grow little window-sill pets. My first brush with them came in kombucha, actually. It was a fruity effervescent mixture with the chia seeds, which floated, suspended in a gel-like liquid. I was intrigued by the texture, which kind of reminded me of the tapioca pearls in bubble tea.

When I saw a bag of them on sale at Trader Joe’s, I nabbed it.

And then I was like…What now?

After a bit of research, I found that the egg substitute gel is made when you add water to the chia, and it creates a gel after you let it sit. And apparently these little suckers will hold 9 times its bodyweight in liquid, not just water. So I start thinking…What if I mixed it with almond milk?

Wanna know what happens?

It turns into pudding.

The trick is just in the proportions.

And when you do it right, you have something that is basically vegan Paleo tapioca-freaking-pudding with way more substance and nutrition to it. OHHHH YESSSS.

This recipe is oh-so simple.

It only has a few ingredients: chia seeds, almond milk, agave syrup, and vanilla extract, which is optional.

Simple ingredients.
Simple ingredients.

Measure out your almond milk.

Lovely almond milk.
Lovely almond milk.

Stick it in a container that will be shake-proof.

Shake-proof.
Shake-proof.

Add your agave and your vanilla extract.

Agave time!
Agave time!

Pour in the chia seeds.

Thar she goes!
Thar she goes!

Don’t be afraid now!

Mmm!
Mmm!

Put on the lid….

And shake, shake, shake! (I totally used a protein shaker!)

Shake it like a polaroid picture!
Shake it like a polaroid picture!

Your mixture won’t look exciting at first.

All shook up.
All shook up.

But stick it in the refrigerator, and go back and shake every once in a while, and after 3-4 hours, you have a delicious treat.

After a mere three hours!
After a mere three hours!

You can even add chocolate for a chocolate pudding, and I hear that it’s delicious adding fruit puree, too! The taste and texture is similar to tapioca, but there’s just the faintest hint of a crunch from the seeds. Seriously, try it! It’s divine.

Divine divine divine.
Divine divine divine.

Chia Seed Pudding

You know you want this.
You know you want this.

Ingredients

• 2.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
• 1/2 cup chia seeds
• 3 tablespoons raw agave syrup
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

Place all wet ingredients in a sealable container. Stir or shake until agave is dissolved.

Add chia seeds, and seal container. Shake until the seeds are well-distributed.

Refrigerate 3-4 hours, shaking periodically, until chia seeds absorb liquid, and pudding forms.

Enjoy!

Also try: Substitute coconut milk instead of almond milk! Add unsweetened dark cocoa powder! Add fruit puree!

For my WW peeps, a 3/4-cup serving is 4p+.