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>

Toeing a line between excuse and reality

It’s been exactly one week since I started BFF’s plan. Well…I guess almost a week. Last Friday, I was super pumped up with some music I found on Spotify that I got home and decided to go for a run. Not the best run in the world, but a run nonetheless. And then Saturday was when the real ass-kicking began.

I have vigilantly weighed, measured, and tracked what has gone in my mouth, while continuing to exercise (and not increasing calories by whatever FitBit/MyFitnessPal told me I burned). Then my schedule was thus:

Saturday – 2-mile run with BFF

Sunday – 4(ish)-mile run with BFF

Monday – Couldn’t move, so rest day

Tuesday – Short morning strength session

Wednesday – Short morning strength session + evening Vinyasa (super challenging)

Thursday – Short morning strength session

Friday (today) – rest day + cheat meal

Friday is also my traditional weigh-in day. After all the effort put in this week, I was anxious to hop on the scale. I woke up, emptied out (ahem), and hopped on. And…

What…?

Up 0.6#.

I was both shocked and not at all surprised. I mean, what has been my pattern recently, anyway? Exert effort, body works doubletime to shut it off. What it FEELS like is that I’ve just messed around so long with diet and exercise that now just everything is out of whack and nothing wants to work. The level of frustration just exploded.

And then I had what is most likely my final WW coaching call (I ended up canceling/nonrenewing, effective next week). And while Coach LG was very nice and helpful, her reaction to the weight gain was more of “What could be happening?” than going for “What did you do wrong?”

Which is fine. Which is what they’re supposed to do. But I also feel like the “What could be happening?” question just kind of gives you something to blame the gain on that is not yourself.

For example, last week, I had a tough week and was up 1.5#. I was/am super constipated (TMI, sorry). Coach LG’s suggestion? Well, it’s clearly the constipation, and just keep doing what you’re doing.

Okay!

This week?

Well, you have been exercising a lot more than your body is used to. Your muscles are probably holding on to a lot of water right now. And it’s nearing that time of the month. And you’re still constipated. Keep doing what you’re doing, and I’m sure this is a fluke.

Okay!

But I gotta wonder…does this method totally take all responsibility off me? This week, I tend to agree. I’ve been sore beyond belief and I’ve been drinking a ton of water. And my PMS is in full swing (sorry, The Boy). But if you gain and gain and gain…it can’t always be water weight or PMS.

Really, this method toes the line between reality and excuse.

What is reality?

Well…

  • Even double doses of magnesium isn’t helping my….daily rhythm.
  • My period’s due to start in about 4 days.
  • I have worked out hard 3/7 days, and done strength circuits 3/7 days.
  • I have craved salt.
  • I have tracked food, and stayed within budget, but of course can always measure more carefully.
  • This is the first week since March that I have eaten dinner every night.
  • I had four meals out this week: 2 dinners (Saturday + Sunday) and 2 lunches (Tuesday and Wednesday), plus some soft serve on Saturday, though tracked to the best of my ability.
  • I have not slept well on most nights.

And that’s the god-honest truth. What’s most important right now is being honest with myself. I have even sent nutrition screenshots to BFF to keep me on track.

I hope these are not excuses, and I hope that I AM being honest with myself. But who knows…maybe my muscles ARE being shocked and holding on to a crapton of water. We shall see.

In the mean time, I’m trying not to get wrapped up in fads. Facebook is hard. A few years ago everyone was preaching the virtues of intermittent fasting. And now–surprise, surprise–those same people are preaching the virtues of flexible dieting (i.e., If It Fits Your Macros). These sorts of people and philosophies make me SUPER uncomfortable and self-conscious. Like I’m doing something EXTREMELY wrong, and THIS IS THE ANSWER. I really don’t want to fall down that rabbit hole; while macros are important, I’m not interested in obsessively hitting each goal exactly.

The goal here is to live life, be healthy, look hot, and not obsess/encourage further eating disorders.

Triggers, man.

DK OUT.

PS, have a great and healthy weekend, all! ❤

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!

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+.

Gluten-Free Challenge: It’s happening.

The aftermath of birthday treats: massacred cupcakes....
The aftermath of birthday treats: massacred cupcakes….

The last few weeks have been brutal, mentally and physically.

I don’t want to say that I’ve had a backslide, but let’s call a spade a spade: I have. (Side note: Has this blog turned into me recounting and confessing all the things I do wrong?) I’ve been having a hard time tracking and staying on plan, and I think it’s going to get even more difficult as the holidays come closer, and I spend a full month in Portland with my friends and family.

Here’s how I’ve been feeling:

  • Tired
  • Groggy
  • Weak at the gym
  • Bored with food and exercise
  • Sore in my joints
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Indigestion (dun-dun-dunnnnn)

And yeah, I could blame it on getting older. It WAS my birthday yesterday, and today I woke up actually looking like a bona fide 28-year-old. Yikes.

But here’s where I’ve been going wrong:

  • I skipped a few WODs last week because I needed the sleep
  • I’ve been eating cake like it’s my job (honesty is the best policy, right?)
  • I haven’t been drinking enough water
  • I’ve been overloaded with stress

So, a lot of this is a mental game. I know what I need to do, which is:

  • Surround myself with people who make me happy
  • Re-commit myself to exercising like my heart is in it
  • Keep track of what I’m eating

That is the mental piece, which will translate to a physical piece. Truly.

The tangible piece at the moment, though, is to increase my water and clean up my diet. And it’s okay if that means that I can’t re-commit to carb cycling or strict Paleo. Boredom and excessive restriction isn’t good, and it leads to situations like the one I’m facing right now.

So I’m devising a plan, and I’m hoping this will be a successful one, so I’m writing it down here, and I’m hoping that YOU will help me stay accountable, and even join me on this one.

I already know that gluten is my enemy. I’ve reintroduced dairy into my diet, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that this was a good move for my body. Not only is it enjoyable for me, but  I seem to actually need it. It does not make me sick, and it does not make me gain weight.

Gluten does.

And this has become increasingly obvious each day I wake up with a gluten hangover, continue to eat it, and continue to feel like my insides are being ripped apart. Yup.

So, going into the holidays, and going home tomorrow, I’m committing to a full month without gluten.

What does that mean?

  • No bread
  • No pasta
  • No Christmas ravioli (these are homemade, too)
  • No Christmas cookies
  • No more cake….
  • No more feeling like ass
  • Being more confident approaching January 12th (more on that later…!)

But do I really need any of these things?

Do YOU need any of these things?

The answer is probably no.

Will it be difficult to stick to? Probably, considering that so much of home food involves gluten. This will be more of a mental game than anything else. Re-learning to say NO. That’s the biggest challenge.

Re-learning to say NO.

I can do this.

This is why I’m not allowed to eat gluten.

Wooo!!! Lychee martini at Basil.
Wooo!!! Lychee martini at Basil.

So I’m in Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s my last night at a conference on pragmatics, and I’m about to go to sleep.

And I feel like shit.

This is what I feel like:

Wah-wahhh!
Wah-wahhh!

Yup. Like that. Without makeup (you’re welcome), sleepy, and icky.

You see. I’m only human. I might have a really cool blog about fitness and health, but I’m still human, and I do stupid, stupid things sometimes, and that’s just the way it is.

When I travel, I always have the best of intentions. Like, this Charlotte trip? I packed with me oatmeal, jerky, nuts, and some protein bars. And I’ve taken advantage of them, definitely.

I’ve even gone out of my way to make sure that the conference I’m at gave me some gluten-free options. As in, the lunches they provided have consisted of the following: a sandwich that is mostly hoagie, pasta salad, two cookies, soda, and…wait for it…an apple. Yikes, dude! So I found the caterer, and I’m like, “I have a gluten allergy…what can you do?”

This really freaked him out, but he returned with a salad that had chicken, strawberries, and almonds. Granted, the lettuce was kind of brown, but it was far better than what the rest of the people had to eat.

A note: I do not actually have Celiac’s. But, it’s easier to tell people that you’re allergic to gluten than to say that you avoid it or are doing Paleo, or that you have a sensitivity to it. So I just went with it. Even to the point where I signed up for the conference dinner, told them I had a gluten allergy, and then didn’t go because they wouldn’t accommodate it. They also wouldn’t refund my money, but that’s another story.

But for this trip, I was just going to go with it. Because I could. And I should.

But then, obviously, life got in the way. And my weird quirks got in the way.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but I’m not much of an emotional eater. What I do do, though, is eat when (a) I’m bored, and (b) I’m tired. And I’ve been quite tired for much of this trip.

So the downward spiral happened Friday afternoon, when, being very tired and coffee-deprived, I decided it would be a good idea to have a red velvet cupcake. It was delicious, and I would much rather eat that again than a cheap conference hoagie. But I started not feeling so well after that. And then later, a salad at a Mexican restaurant, washed down with a margarita and a bunch of chips (glutenless, but not without its own drawbacks). And then Saturday, some macarons, a blondie at lunch, and Thai at dinner.

Relatively low on gluten (although it was definitely there), but high on sugar and other grains (Thai relies heavily on the starches from rice).

Pineapple mojito. Yes.
Pineapple mojito. Yes.

And I’m realizing I’m not meant to eat this way.

Not just because it’s not healthy, but because it’s making me feel like crap. I’m bloated and full and sluggish, among other myriad nasties that I don’t want to talk about. I’m realizing that even if I’m not allergic to gluten, my body is not meant to handle this kind of food. Processed, sweet, fatty and starchy…there’s a reason I used to be obese, and there’s a reason I don’t eat like this anymore.

I’m looking forward to getting back to my whole-foods routine, and I am NOT looking forward to seeing the scale when I get home. Yowza.

Deniz's pre-dinner food coma.
Deniz’s pre-dinner food coma.

But, I do have to say…in weighing the things on this trip that were or were not worth it, the things I did get gross on…well…it was better than the empty, tasteless stuff offered by the conference, so I feel marginally better about my decision there.

However, next time I decide it’s okay to eat meal after meal of junk…I hope I remember this, and I remember why I’m not allowed to eat gluten.

Guest Post: How I learned to eat clean for my kids

Editor’s note: Recently, one of my friends, Sarah, discovered that her youngest child, Ian, has a wheat allergy. She’s been talking a lot online about how she’s been needing to change things up in her home just so the kid wouldn’t get sick. I know I talk Paleo a lot, and a gluten-free diet is closely in-line with this ethos, so I invited Sarah to share her experience of bringing her kids into a world post-grain. Enjoy this fantastic guest post!

Sarah and her beautiful children, Lucy and Ian.
Sarah and her beautiful children, Lucy and Ian…and their puppy Tessa—all grain-free!

By Sarah H.

I don’t diet. In fact, if the diet had a name I wouldn’t do it because I knew I’d be miserable. And anyone who lived with me would have to live with my miserable wrath. I don’t do well on deprivation. People try to tell you it’s not deprivation… but anyone who’s ever had issues with food knows it really is. “No you can’t have that cheeseburger… but boy you’ll feel and look great… think of how healthy you’ll be… think of the PR’s”…. yeah, you lost me at no cheeseburgers. Deprivation.

I am also lazy and convenience food is, well, convenient but certainly not for weight loss or management. Don’t get me wrong- I had “tried.” I put that in quotations because inevitably I’d make some excuse or get too lazy to follow through and feel any results. I had done challenges at work, at home, and at the gym. I always blamed the money… or the planning… or the preparation… “I have two kids. I can’t eat like that. It’s too __________ (expensive, complicated, time-consuming, etc.).” And off I went. It wasn’t MY fault.

So when I suspected and later confirmed Ian had a wheat allergy it kind of turned my world of excuses upside down. Ian goes to daycare 5 days a week and their menu is usually something like: “Wheat with a side of wheat and wheat breaded with wheat topped with wheat sauce.” Yum. So I’d be lunch packing 5 days a week. And then what in the hell will I do for breakfast? The waffles, the cereals, the toasts…. And forget eating out. As I researched I found wheat is basically in everything.

But when it’s your child you find a way to do it. There is no “Well, I am too tired to pack lunches tonight. I’ll just eat KFC at work tomorrow.” With a wheat allergy that would become, “Well, I am too tired to pack lunches tonight. I’ll just let my child suffer explosive diarrhea and stomach aches so I can chill out on the couch for an hour.” You’ve heard of Moms lifting cars off their kids? I think the least I could do was pack a lunch.

It’s been 3 months now and I realize now that it was me always in the way of healthy eating. (The “I told you so’s” and “Really? Shocking!” comments can begin). I’ve always had the time to plan and prep- I just didn’t want to. And money? Well, it’s certainly a bit more money in groceries but a lot of savings in unplanned fast food stops (mainly for me), gas station snacks (definitely for me), and going out to eat cause Mom didn’t want to cook and clean. It probably balances out.

So how did I go from the “Screw it, it’s delicious” to the label-reading, farmer’s market food only eating Mom so quickly? Here’s my “I am still a novice, but it’s gotten me through” advice. None of which I actually made up, but have collected from various authorities:

  1. Need lunch? Cook extra dinner- same # of dishes, prep, clean-up, etc.
  2. Packing lunches is not rocket science: Protein, vegetable or two (with a dip like sunbutter, guac, or hummus), fruit, and nuts/seeds. Makes the 3, 5, and 31 year old happy for lunch time. Plus, takes like 10 minutes to get it all together. The batman shaped ice packs help too.
  3. Your kids will be better at this change than the adults. Has Ian cried for a cookie? Nope. Has Mommy? Almost.
  4. It does get better. You do get a new normal. I don’t want wheat now. At all.
  5. Everywhere has a gluten-free menu. Except Cheesecake Factory but at least their manager’s know what’s up.
  6. Gluten-free doesn’t mean healthy. Most diets, in fact, can be unhealthy if you really try. A friend of mine has a child with a lot of severe allergies and her best advice was to not buy the gluten-free subs for foods we were familiar with. No one “needs” bread, wheat or gluten-free. No one “needs” cookies, crackers, pretzels, bagels, pizza…. and no one needs the gluten free version either. That advice right there saved me $1000’s. She’s a pretty smart lady.
  7. You will not notice change right away. But it will happen. Some unexpectedly. I am far more energetic and productive, less frazzled, happier, and not so sickly after 3 months. My body composition is about the same even without wheat. “Abs” haven’t magically appeared because I am far from eating a clean enough diet to deserve them. I’m also not eating for abs. I’m eating to live my life and be happy.
  8. Eat knowledgeably. Eat what you are going to eat but know what you’re eating, where it came from, and why you’re eating it. Take ownership. Whether it’s a pound of bacon or a Whopper. Don’t pretend you don’t know the consequences or benefits or whatever comes with that choice.
  9. Totally disagree with me. If this doesn’t work for you, cool. Find out what does.
  10. You’ll never be perfect. Don’t get me wrong- I will NEVER give Ian wheat. Not even like an oat that was processed at a plant that processes wheat. But Chex cereal at 6:30am because 4 people need to be out of the house by 7:15am works for me. Some people would give me flak for that and suggest all sorts of other things to do for an even better breakfast. But I’m not perfect.

Yeah so this post turned into a talk about me and not my son. Why? Because he wasn’t the broken one with screwed-up food issues. He’s totally fine with the changes. Has never fussed or complained about it. Asks people if there is wheat in it before he eats. Sees cookies and if we say there’s wheat, he doesn’t want them. He’s probably been the most receptive to the changes. It’d actually be a pretty boring post: “Child has wheat allergy. Happily will not eat wheat. Feels better. The end.”

Now, if only I could be allergic to sugar…. and ice cream….

Sarah H. is a super mom and athlete, and has two super-cute kids and a super-adorable dog. Ask her more about her forays into the gluten-free lifestyle in the comments below.