My Diet Journey

I have always been diet-conscious. Since about middle school, I have been aware of my body and fat, cultural ideals, beauty, and everything that makes a young woman insecure. I was never really fat, but I gained weight easily and so from an early age I learned to watch what I ate. I went on my first actual diet junior year of high school- my mom started Weight Watchers, and I did it with her. I quit my sports senior year and started gaining weight, and was at my highest weight – about 145 – my first semester at the University of Minnesota.

Upon deciding to go to Daytona Beach for spring break with some friends, I started the Atkins diet and lost about 5 pounds by then. As effective as Atkins can be, it was not sustainable for me, so I just started to try to eat fewer calories in general. Low-calorie bread and deli meat, lots of sandwiches, oatmeal, skim milk, and lots of binging on alcohol and late night treats. I read all the articles in magazines and online about easy ways to cut 100 calories or burn more calories. I walked or rollerbladed to all my classes, started going to the gym regularly, and during the summers would go on long runs, rollerbladed, and biked. I was consistently eating between 1200 and 1600 calories per day, but the lowest my weight ever got was about 132.

Senior year of college I was so stressed out and living on a diet of Lean Cuisines, Slim-Fast mixed with coffee, Sugar-Free Red Bull, and alcohol, and I actually managed to drop down below that elusive 130 mark. I was not healthy though, and I knew it, so I started reading a lot more about healthy dieting. I moved into an apartment by myself, was done with college, and working two jobs. I started cooking regularly, whole-grain pasta and bread, tofu, tempeh, chicken breasts, brown rice, beans, lots of veggies. I ALWAYS ate breakfast, and aimed for 6 small meals per day as recommended by every women’s fitness magazine. If I went more than 2 1/2 hours without eating, I would get dizzy and start shaking, and would stuff my face with the closest snack (I carried around granola bars and whatnot just in case) to normalize my blood sugar.

In the fall of 2007, I met my husband-to-be, Lucas. He was from the East Coast and I never thought it would last, but we just clicked right from the start. He was in his last year of vet school, so after a long hard day he would come over to my apartment and I would make him dinner. Stir-fries, loaded nachos, baked chicken, not too bad! In the spring he was moving back to New Jersey, and we decided that I would move out when my lease was up.

I moved to New Jersey in the fall of 2008 with a job lined up and the closing of our house in just a month. The first month I lived in NJ I stayed at Luke’s parents house, and my stomach went through it’s own kind of hell. Coming from MN where I cooked at home all the time to NJ where Luke’s family ate out and ordered food much of the time, my stomach was constantly in pain from trying to digest this new food and I lost a bunch of weight right away. When we moved into our house together, I got back to cooking and my stomach normalized. We celebrated “Meatless Monday” with a tempeh stir-fry or veggie burgers, and I was near vegetarianism.

As always, I was very into reading about health and food, but it was less geared towards weight loss because I was pretty happy with my shape for the most part. In my research, I stumbled across Mark’s Daily Apple, and was dumbfounded. I just devoured it, everything suddenly made so much sense. I started incorporating primal principles immediately, starting with cutting the grains out of my diet. I noticed almost immediately that I no longer suffered the blood sugar swings that had plagued me for so long- my energy levels were much better! I went down the rabbit hole and haven’t surfaced since. I admit openly that I am not 100% paleo… I love wine and occasional cheats- some chocolate here, a tortilla chip or cracker there, and I still eat cheese… never a sandwich or plate of pasta though.

Luke has joined me on the journey as well- I’ve talked about it enough that I’ve effectively influenced him! He’s found that he feels much better when he eats well. Meats, fat and veggies- that’s all you need!

I think that my gut flora was a bit messed up from years of bad diet, so I would “cleanse” every week or two using senna tea. I can’t imagine that laxatives, natural or not, are very good for the gut though, and so a few months ago I started brewing Kombucha tea, thanks to my mother-in-law who has been brewing it for over 17 years. It has helped my digestion immensely! I am hoping that it will help in many other famed ways as well, but that’s yet to be seen.

Since going primal, I have also not had to watch calories at all- I don’t seem to gain or lose weight! I don’t actually know my numbers because I never weigh myself, but my clothes fit well. I think I am just staying at my body’s happy weight, and it is effortless as long as I stay eating clean.

I have also become more sensitive to foods that my body does not like… I think that my stomach was always in a constant state of defense before. It was always bloated, and I was just used to feeling a little bit yucky. Now I know the difference between feeling good and bad. I have discovered that my body does not like rice, and I am now thinking nuts may be a problem as well.

I am currently in a state of refining and cleaning up my diet, trying to get as healthy as possible before becoming pregnant, and helping Luke do the same. I am planning to make an appointment to see an allergist because I am definitely still reacting to some foods, and in the meantime am self-experimenting.

I am looking forward to seeing what, if any, cravings pregnancy will bring, and how my whole-foods diet holds up and helps me cope. I will of course report back here!

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