Miss Dropsie's food principles for maintaining a healthy weight

Friday, May 21, 2010

I was chatting with a friend this week, who from what she tells me, is a slave to calorie counting. I told her that since I changed the way I eat, I don't ever worry about calories and fat. Ever.  She seemed surprised. Instead of counting calories, I eat a certain way, and until I'm full. I monitor how my clothes are fitting and if I've had a bad patch of "cheating" I move more, and eat more plants until it settles again. If you catch it when it's a minor slip, it's a lot easier than waiting till you're looking at 10-20lbs.

Just for a little context, since I fully altered my eating habits one year ago, I initially lost and have since maintained my weight. I am lean, have energy, and am finally happy with my body.

Okay, so I've been thinking about this, trying to put into words what my "food rules" or principles are.  Let me try and sum it up:

1- Most of your food should not have an ingredient list.
The majority of what you eat should be plants (vegetable, fruit, whole grains) and should represent all the colours of the rainbow. When you start adding items that have been cooked, baked, etc.—unless in your own kitchen—the chances of it being a nutritious component of your day are slim. Limit your animal consumption to once daily- preferably at dinner.

2- Don't be afraid of fat
North America went through a "low fat" revolution several decades ago. Know what happened? We all got really fat. Know why? Diet products. Low fat products substitute sugar and other simple carbohydrates for fat to make them palatable. What happens then? You eat them, your blood sugar rises, you get an insulin spike, and the glucose surging through your blood stream gets stored as fat. Ta da! Instant spare tire. Love avocado? I eat them by the truckload. Love nuts? I eat LOADS of raw nuts. Not roasted, not salted. Raw. Sure, lots of fat and calories, but trust me, it doesn't matter when you focus on the quality of food in your diet, rather than the quantity (which brings me to my next point...).

3- Focus on the quality, not quantity of your food
Eat food with dense nutritive properties; limit food with neutral nutritive properties; avoid food with nutrient deficiencies. What you eat should contain vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre... I told you that I don't worry about calories and fat- it's true. What I DO worry about, is the nutrient-density of my food. Unless it is a food that follows my first principle, I check to see what's in it.

Here's what I avoid:
  • no significant nutrients listed (2% daily recommended calcium doesn't wow me, yanno?)
  • anything with refined sugar (except dark chocolate... :)
  • anything with strange ingredients I don't recognize and know are at least neutral (this goes back to why you HAVE to read and understand your food labels)
Here's what I limit but still occasionally indulge in:
  • food that provides only a little nutritive value (brown rice pasta is a good example of this- it's not super dense, but it's not horrible either- I eat it in moderation)
  • junk food with short ingredient lists (plain potato chips fall into this category...they are my weakness).
4- All calories are not created equal anyway
If someone asked you whether they should eat 100 calories of crackers made with hydrogenated oils, enriched wheat flour and loaded with salt, or 100 calories of apples and carrots, what would you tell them would be the wiser choice? Enough said.

5- Find acceptable "treats" and eat them every day
There should be some part of your day that involves a lovely little treat for yourself. Whether it's a few medjool dates (which I see as somewhere between nutrient-neutral, and nutrient-dense, but taste like CANDY- especially from the fridge), some dark chocolate (70% cocoa and up), a SMALL container of short-ingredient-list chips, or a treat you discovered and love, have a little each day. Just enough to pat yourself on the back for a job well done. It's all about small concessions, not being unnaturally superhero-like. Superheroes have a short life span- we're looking for a way to eat forever not just until you fit into a wedding dress, or a bathing suit.

Note: I also eat organic food whenever possible. I really believe this to be a healthier option, and once you ditch the processed food, not that cost prohibitive. However, I don't think that—in and of itself—helps me maintain my weight. I agree with the health and environmental impacts of organic farming, in the treatment of organically farmed animals, and I believe in the safety of the food. This choice is not for everyone, but it works for us.

There. Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to provide a fulsome response. What are your food rules? Did I miss anything?

Running...for dummies...and lazy butts like me

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My friend Alyson, one of the most accomplished multi-taskers the world has ever known, has now added "running teacher" to her repertoire. Her qualifications stem from a degree in kinesiology, her accreditation as an army medic and paramedic, then of course the fact that she is a life-long runner (kind of hate her for that...given that I tend toward sloth-like myself). I asked if she would put together a "running for dummies" post for those of us...recreationally-challenged folks out there. I was kind of hoping it might motivate me to get off my butt.

So for an idea of how this works, see her post entitled "Running: How to START" on her blog.

Thanks Aly!

Grocery store gross-out

Saturday, May 15, 2010

When I go shopping for groceries, I go to a local chain of grocery stores that has very little of what you'd find in the "centre section" of the supermarket. It's got fruit, veg, meat, dairy, fish, deli, bread, baked goods, coffee and some staples like a few "healthier" cereals, hand made pasta sauces and noodles, etc. There is also a small dried goods section where you can get rice, lentils, etc., one section of bagged chips and popcorn and a small smattering of bulk sweets and nuts. They also have a huge selection of organic produce, chicken and beef.

For the most part, what they have are basics, and really, over the last year, what has become most of what my family needs. Occasionally we'll run to Costco for things like juice boxes, bulk bags of raw nuts, big jugs of honey, or other things we can buy much cheaper, but for the most part this local "farm" type grocery store is more than sufficient. Since making the switch to organic, our grocery bills are certainly higher than they used to be at this store but we also used to shop more at the traditional grocery store nearby, so in the end, I still think we're saving money by cutting processed garbage out of our diets.

Mr. Pick-it-up is away visiting his brother at the other end of the country right now, so in an attempt to cut corners and stuff down the anxiety I always feel when he leaves and I'm alone with the kids for a number of days (anxiety that is usually unfounded as I almost always surprise myself by establishing a little rhythm in his absence) I decided to visit the traditional grocery store, and get some convenience foods. The first thing I did when I walked in was to go clear over to their organic section in order to stock up on produce. Here's the thing: they maybe had 10 fruits or veggies in said "section". Very disappointing. Very.  I got what I could, and very little else from rest of the shelves.

Next I walked over to the breads section. Every label had the usual "glucose-fructose" label, even if it was marketed as 100% whole grain. Sigh.  I chose the least-bad version of it and kept moving. Next I passed the fish (farmed, with only one wild choice, which was cod or some other white fish I'm not crazy about) then the meat section. All trimmed, no bones, no skin, every breast the same size, same colour...it was like going to South Beach in Miami. Chickens should not all be exactly the same size. However, if they're from a factory instead of a farm (like all the silicone in South Beach) they are scarily the same...one after the next. Gross.

So I decided I would comb the centre aisles for ideas, and as I walked by brightly-coloured packages I kept hearing Michael Pollack's words from Food Inc. in my head "the illusion of variety". It's so true. That entire store had thousands of products with the same repeated ingredients in each one: hydrogenated X oil, enriched wheat flour, sugar, salt, dextrose, sodium benzoate. It is like looking at a store with a thousand muffins, all made with the same base, but they have a different special ingredient: some are chocolate chip, some are dried cranberry, but in the end, it's the same muffin mix in each one. And that mix is full of salt, sugar, chemicals and nutritionless crap.

Really I tried. I did. I ended up with two convenience items: plain potato chips (my weakness), and Annie's organic mac'n cheese. Whole wheat noodles and cheese, all organic. It's as close as I can come. As much as I thought I could stuff down my values and my strong belief in eating REAL, NUTRITIOUS food, in the end, I just couldn't. My kids eat elsewhere (aside from my home). I know that they will get garbage food on occasion. I totally get that. So my philosophy is just not to give it to them at home. What they get other than from me, is more than enough, thank you.  And the more they see what is "the norm" in my house, the more they think it's normal. Little man was telling his sister that she should eat fruit because it's healthy and she'll grow big and strong if she does. I'm really glad it's sinking in; it makes it all worthwhile.

Great blog post on "Weighty Matters"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Oh how I love Yoni Friedhoff from Weighty Matters and his no-nonsense take on nutrition, or lack thereof, in processed foods and the way he grumbles aloud about things I silently choke on. Like this...for instance. Yet another example of why you can't just trust advertising and why you have to keep reading those labels!!!

My favourite quote from his post:

"...Of course making an argument that Bagel Bites are better to give your kids than Totinos or vice-versa is like making the argument that it'd be better to get kicked in the nuts than get punched in the nuts.

Don't buy your kids either!
Make them actual food. "

You said it.


"Man Slop"- a recipe the whole family will love (EF, GF, CF)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Alright, so- you're always searching for just the right thing that your children will actually eat and not complain about. Yes. I totally understand. Here's what I put together last night, and the troops DEVOURED it. I don't eat red meat, so I can't attest to how yummy it is, but the babysitter for whom I made the meal raved about it, and said that every bite the kids stuffed down was met with MMMMMMmmmmmmms all around.

"Man Slop" (so named by my friend Brett, even if his recipe is different- thanks dude)
1 small package organic lean ground beef
1 small jar simple organic pasta sauce (about 1.5 cups)
1/2 chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
veggies of your choice (I used 2 stalks celery, 3 Swiss chard leaves, 3 small carrots, 1 zucchini, 5 mushrooms)
pasta of your choice (As for amounts, I use enough to make it fun without using so much pasta that they ONLY pick out the noodles. Know what I mean?)
3/4 c of water

1. Okay, so first off, you put the beef in a nonstick pan and cook it on medium low. Put a lid on your pan so it stays moist.

2. Put a pot on the stove with water and set to boil (this is for the pasta). You're cooking it separately, so whenever it boils, cook your noodles and remove when "al dente", rinsing in cold water when they're done.

3. Meanwhile, in a food processor, dump all your veggies and pulse until it's all crumbs (you could do this by maniacally chopping on a cutting board, but it'd take you a long time to chop it down- remember: the point is to hide the veg so it must be a very fine dice).

4. When the beef is about 1/2 way from pink to brown, then drain off all the fat. Add in your onion and garlic on one side of the skillet but don't mix it in until it's softened a bit. Continue cooking for another minute or two after incorporating the onion and garlic into the beef. You want the beef to be almost pink but not quite.

5. Mix in your veggies, water and pasta sauce. Simmer on medium low or low for probably 20 minutes, stirring often. You want the veggies to basically disappear!

Once it's all soft, mix in your pasta (allowing it a minute to reheat) and serve.

I don't have any pictures, but I do have some shots of the sauce and noodles I used. For this recipe, I used Bioitalia.

You will note that it does have sugar on the ingredient list. This doesn't thrill me, but it's quite low on the list, so I am looking the other way on this one... :)

For the noodles, I upped the fun-factor by using farm-animal-shaped corn and rice noodles that I found at the health food store.
How fun are these??? 
Enjoy! Let me know how your "man slop" recipe turns out.


Gut inflammation and its connection to intestinal flora

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Just wanted to share a fantastic article. Thought you might enjoy this....http://www.marksdailyapple.com/gut-flora-inflammation/

Here are a few snippits:
"...Everything is connected to everything else. Chronic stress begets chronic inflammation, which chronically elevates cortisol, which induces insulin resistance and belly fat accumulation. Celiacs are usually intolerant of casein, too. Diabetics get heart disease more and have higher cancer mortality rates. Diabetics are often insulin resistant and usually overweight. Celiacs are often Type 1 diabetics. The overweight sleep less, work more, and get less sun than leaner folks....

...We do know that inflammation, especially chronic, systemic inflammation seems to be involved in nearly every disease under the sun. Obesity, cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease – if it’s killing people, increasing health care costs, and reducing quality of life, inflammation is bound to be involved at some level. That makes things easier, in my opinion, because we have a good idea how to avoid chronic inflammation, and that should take care of half the battle....

...suggests adopting an anti-inflammatory diet. His dietary recommendations are essentially identical to mine – high SFA, moderate animal protein, low O-6, O-3 supplementation, leafy greens, some fruit and nuts. He also suggests probiotic usage, either in supplement or whole food form (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut), to repopulate the gut with good flora. The next one is the most interesting: eating fibrous vegetables fresh from the garden, unwashed, in order to feed your new flora as well as introduce new bacteria and new digestive enzymes to diversify your gut’s digestive skill set (similar to how seaweed-borne bacterial enzymes taught Japanese gut flora to break down seaweed). Foods like jicama, onions, garlic, and Jerusalem artichokes provide the prebiotic inulin (a type of fiber) which gut flora consume and convert to helpful short chain fatty acids..."

If you look up the nutritional information of foods on this Web site, http://www.nutritiondata.com/, you will find not only information about nutrients like amino acids, vitamins and minerals, but you will see it gives a rating for "inflammation factor" so you can choose healthy, unprocessed foods that also reduce inflammation in the body.

Lots of good information. Lots to think about. REALLY must try harder to remember my probiotic supplement- at a bare minimum! Any thoughts?


The social aspect of food intolerances (feelin' kind of low)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When you live with food intolerances, you can easily (albeit begrudgingly) control your kitchen at home. You can choose not to have things that upset your body's balance, and you can choose not to eat out unless you know it's safe. Yeah, it's not perfect, but it's okay.  However, when you enter into a social setting and you're "that guy"- the one who can't eat anything- it's a real downer. Case in point: I went to a baby shower on Sunday for a very kind and wonderful mom-to-be. Her mother had done up a glorious spread of crackers, cheese, dips and pita, lots of yummy sweet stuff, even a chocolate fountain. So the only thing I could eat was veggies (plain of course) and plain fruit. Now, I know I should really be grateful. I mean, it was a very nice spread of both fruit and veg, and I should just be glad that I can eat them. Here it comes...BUT...these events are always about celebration, and for some reason, celebration so often brings the breaking of bread together and a lovely feast that everyone shares. It doesn't matter if not a single person notices—I still feel like an outcast when I am ostracised by what I can and cannot share. I'm "that guy"...the one who says no to all the hors d'oeuvres; the one who picks endlessly at the veggie tray because she's hungry (despite eating right before I left); and the one who —I gotta tell ya—is just a wee bit sad. So there I was, hungry, feeling sorry for myself, and I decided I'd indulge in some corn chips. I have kind of sworn off corn, but see, the thing is, when you have no official diagnosis of what you can and cannot eat, you are always thinking: "bah, can't be THAT...I'll just give it one more try". Then, invariably, you suffer the consequences (which, for the last three days has been a searing headache and the usual gut disturbances) and swear off that food again. All this in the name of wanting to feel normal- to feel like I fit in. I'll say it again: I really hate being "that guy". I wonder if the feeling of being "the outsider" will ever go away. I hope it does.

A typical Dropsie day

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's funny how a typical day has changed so much for me. When your bread costs $8/loaf, you don't use much. When you can't eat out, you cook at home. So I rarely buy my lunch at work because the salad I can buy for 10$ at the local salad place is as good as the one I make from home, and I can't really get anything else. So here's what I eat on a typical workday.

Seven + PRO supplement (on an empty stomach)

coffee with cream (my only dairy source) and honey

Two pieces of fruit

cereal (sprouted buckwheat and dried fruit, or flax crunchies) with unsweetened vanilla rice milk

Salad greens with hemp seeds, homemade dressing (olive oil, balsamic and Dijon) and sometimes a big hunk of avocado
Bag of cut veggies
crackers/hummus (sometimes)

maybe another piece of fruit, or some gluten free, whole-grain crackers
a few pieces of dark chocolate (yes, this is an almost-daily ritual- hey, there's lots of iron in dark chocolate!!) :)

home-made chicken fingers with honey for dipping
home-made oven fries
steamed broccoli
high-potency probiotic supplement (when I remember)

potato chips (yes, this is a problem, and a really have to stop, but I LOVE them...) or
a piece of toast with nut butter & honey

So, that's a work day (4 days per week). As for a weekend, it's really a big unknown. It's "go with the flow". Yesterday, for instance, I had a ton of fruit and nuts, and two home-made banana muffins until pretty much dinner. Gotta get some more veg in on weekends- that's what I have the most challenge with. During the week, I chop a huge container of veggies and we bag a handful for lunches for hubby, the boy and I. It's easier when I'm at the office and I just have all my food laid out—at home, it's a free-for-all. :)

I wanted you to see that you don't have to be perfect- obviously, I'm not. I just try to get in a lot of fruit and veg servings (90% of which is organic) and to work within my current dietary restrictions. I also think back to that episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution where they laid out the woman's food for the week and it was all brown (all deep fried, all bread- gross). I try to imagine the rainbow of colours that mine would have on it and keep that in mind. Strong colours are almost always indicative of strong nutrients, so if you have a good variety of dark green, orange, red, etc. you should have a pretty well-rounded vitamin and mineral intake.

There you go- a little peek into my day. I hope you've enjoyed this, but mostly, I hope it shows you that you don't have to be perfect, that you CAN eat chocolate or junk, but if you have a healthy balance, you can have energy, sleep well, and maintain a healthy weight. Cheers!

Healthy food, healthy mind, healthy me Copyright © 2009 Designed by Ipietoon Blogger Template for Bie Blogger Template Vector by DaPino