Post Thanksgiving Update

HolidayHamRyanIt’s been a short while since I’ve blogged…you may have been wondering whether or not the Thanksgiving Holiday did me in.  Several folks have ask how it went for me…the eating plan…the temptations faced…successes and failures…etc. Honestly, I think it went rather well…I may have eaten too much ham but if you could have seen, smelled, and tasted the ham you wouldn’t blame me one bit…at least it’s protein, right?  I can’t stress to you how important it was to have a plan…a manageable plan.  Having a plan took a lot of the guesswork out of eating…and knowing ahead of time what food would be available truly helped me stay the course (not over-eating) during the holiday. It was also beneficial that my wife and I have become meticulous food planners since the beginning of this new way of life…so in the run-up we had some good practice.

GlutenFreeCoconutPieWhole

Gluten Free Coconut Pie

HolidayHamGoodness

HAM!

Thanksgiving day started out great…I woke up and found my wife preparing the coconut crusted pecan pie I mentioned. While not exactly healthy due to the sugar content…it was wonderful to have a gluten free option later that day. When she finished the pie, I began cooking the ham.  Let me back up just a bit…the night before I went to the grocery store to buy the ham…ended up spending a good bit of time reading and comparing labels on every one of them in the store. I ended up choosing the one with the least amount of additives…cured with water, salt, and some nitrates (gasp)…many of the others had a lot of additives so I think I chose the best of the ones available.  I cooked the ham for several hours and then added a glaze consisting of brown sugar and Dijon mustard…perhaps not the best choice…but have you had candied meat? It’s hard to resist.

When we arrived at the in-laws, my mother-in-law had baked some sweet potatoes, made the green bean bundles, spinach salad, and even went through the trouble of modifying her rice dressing recipe.  Everyone has been really supportive to all the food issues with our family (which is another part of the story I should write about). Aside from those foods, the standards were all in attendance…turkey, giblet gravy, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, coconut pie, pecan pie…but with all the great choices available these were easy to pass up.

ThanksgivingPlate2013

The Thanksgiving Plate of 2013

I was also able to eat on a smaller plate than the giant oval ones…it threw my mother-in-law for a loop…but it worked!  One plate (filled a little more than normal) and I was done…let that settle for a while before I tackled the special pie.  More about the gluten free coconut pie…it was nothing short of a slice of heaven to a dude who’s sworn off sweets and such for a little over five weeks now.  The shredded coconut had a nice crisp on the outside of the crust…the dark chocolate and pecan mixture inside was sinful…having one slice was enough…plus I was able to save several slices in the freezer to enjoy at Christmas!

All in all…compared to past holiday glutton fests…I think we did fairly well…onward to Christmas…and resisting all the office treats!  The lesson here is HAVE A PLAN…a manageable one…and everything will work out.

One last photo of the pie!

One last photo of the pie!

Breaking Eating Habits

cold-turkeyIn the spirit of Thanksgiving…this post is vaguely relevant regarding turkey…hence the classic image to the left.  I recently read a blurb from someone I follow on Twitter (one of the godfathers of the paleo/primal eating lifestyle) regarding how one changes habits…specifically when moving to a healthier lifestyle. The takeaway was something along the lines of “when making a change…do you take baby steps or go cold turkey?”

This time around (and hopefully for good) I’ve selected the “cold turkey” route…and when I say “cold turkey”…I literally haven’t touched a morsel of poultry since starting the reconstruction.  This isn’t because I believe poultry is bad for you…it’s just one of those foods I must avoid for a few months based on the food sensitivity test.  Don’t worry though…I still cook it for the other four members of my family…so that everyone doesn’t have to suffer from Dad’s food sensitivities.

It’s been said that it takes about three weeks to either break a bad habit or develop a good habit.  Finally…I’m a firm believer in this old adage.  I have on numerous occasions now successfully walked past the break room at the office…come face to face with a table full of donuts…pies…cakes…pizza…anything from Rick’s Bakery…and been able to resist the temptation.  Sometimes I get really close to these former food options and smell them…remember them…and move on…before I would have completely indulged…and felt like crap the remainder of the day. Being able to do avoid these temptations has hardened my resolve somewhat…it’s difficult…but getting easier every day.  With it being the holiday season and all…our office will be innundated with holiday treats sent over from contractors, consultants, and vendors…needless to say…I’m up for the challenge!

In my past efforts to “get healthy” I had taken the baby steps approach…sometimes having success…and perhaps if I would have stuck to it I could have made remarkable changes in my health.  The thing is…I was always a sucker for unhealthy foods and would easily gave into temptation.  I’d go a few days eating “moderately healthy”…I use that term loosely because it is laughable thinking about what I used to consider healthy…but I would feel like I deserved some sort of reward for eating well. So I would undo any progress with a little 4-piece Popeye’s here…a little up-sized Arby’s there…and hey…did you know hey have Greek froyo at TCBY now? While mildly nutritious…when you mix Greek froyo with Reese’s cups it sorta defeats the purpose. The point is…I would always find myself back where I began…unmotivated and feeling like a failure.

What’s been the game changer this time?

KnowingIsHalfTheBattleI would have to say knowledge. Making this abrupt change is partly due to the revelation that for a vast majority of my life I’ve participated in stuffing my maw with a pro-inflammatory diet.  Like I’ve said before…I was a little oblivious…not knowing or caring that certain foods were either chronically keeping me sick or contributing to the many issues I was trying to live with day-to-day.  This time…I’m learning a ton more about the foods I should be eating (reading labels and ingredients) and actually enjoying them (in correct portions)…which in turn has made everything…well…extremely doable.  Knowing is half the battle!

How have you been able to change any bad habits or develop new good habits in your life?  Baby steps?  Cold turkey?  I’d like to know!

Food Planning…Going Camping

PAN 23-HDRThis weekend I’ll be roughing it in the wilderness camping with some family members for the annual opening day of deer season…Deer Camp.  I’m not a hunter (although I think I could enjoy it)…but I thoroughly enjoy camping and being outdoors…hiking…relaxing by a campfire…and visiting with folks.  We all know one thing…CAMP FOOD IS THE BEST…there’s something magical that happens to food when you cook and eat it outdoors…perhaps there’s a scientific term for this…perhaps there’s something in all of us that makes food taste better in the wild!

While I would normally tend to want to take a hiatus from healthy eating and indulge in all the delicacies of camp food…I’m taking a different approach this year.  Gone are the days of fatty cuts of steak, fried chicken, hot dogs, sausage, chili, biscuits, pies & cakes, cookies, granola bars, soda, beer, coffee…and everyone’s favorite…s’mores!  hotdogIt’ll be a true test of will as I seek to avoid these former staples of mine…I’ll be polite about it all…and I won’t be judging and in-your-face about it…I just hope Uncle Scooter understands.

This time around I’ve put together a plan to eat healthy…hopefully it all happens without a hiccup.  I was actually up late last night making a pot of beef stew to bring (with carrots, corn, green beans, mushrooms, and tomatoes)…it turned out really well.  I also plan on bringing other healthy staples including: PORK, salmon, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, oranges, eggs, almonds & pecans, tea, water, almond milk, and a few other things…like supplements and a delicious PaleoMeal chocolate protien shake!

It’s going to be a blast…I hope to take some photos of all the eats…good or bad!

The Food Sensitivity Test

Recently, I began seeing one of those “natural doctors” down in funky Fayetteville.  She was extremely nice and our initial visit was more like what I would imagine seeing a therapist would be like.  She quizzed me about my lifestyle, asked me what I did to relieve stress (I tend to bottle stress up…so at this point I’m trying to find an activity…I’m open to suggestions), what sort of foods I typically eat (I like meats and starches), the amount of exercise I do everyday (does “none” count?), sleeping habits (I’m a night owl), etc.

Towards the end of the consultation she talked to me about taking a food sensitivity test.  I agreed (I’m pretty desperate at this point) so she extracted four vials of my blood to send off to some lab in Florida.  At the lab they would bombard my blood cells with different foods to see how my cells react, resulting in a spreadsheet of foods that I should avoid and safe foods to eat.  Turns out, almost every food I love and enjoy are ones I should avoid…here are a few highlights:

  • Chicken (probably the go-to protein in our house…I like it grilled and fried)
  • Turkey (well there goes Thanksgiving)
  • Fructose (high fructose corn syrup)
  • Peanuts and cashews (no more Reese’s cups, PB&J’s, trail mix)
  • Coffee (I’m still reeling from this as I down about 4 cups every morning)
  • Potato (as in chips, fries, baked, boiled, hash browns, home fries…you name it)
  • Beef (this one cuts like a knife…and it doesn’t feel right)
  • Shrimp (I can name all the shrimp dishes from Forrest Gump)
  • Lettuce (that’s right…I’m sensitive to salad…health conundrum?)
  • And Gluten (I can’t have gluten anymore…which is in practically everything it turns out)

There were many others but there was one saving grace on the list that turned out to be “acceptable”:

  • PORK (as in bacon, ham, pork loin, ribs, pulled pork, etc…I can eat em…in moderation of course)

So, along with one lonely animal protein…I can eat a lot of other vegetables and fruits…not to mention salmon which I do enjoy.  It’s not entirely bad news but several days later I’m struggling to find my way in the acceptable food wilderness.