Hitting the Books

Believe it or not, this title is actually more fitting for the BOY who has taken over our dining room table and surrounded himself with contracts and torts books since August.

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But I too have been doing some reading of my own.  I’m not sure exactly how or when I became so interested in nutrition.  I know that it was early on.  I recognized the connection between food and how I felt in high school as I struggled with IBS during cross country.  Throughout college, I always had a lot of nutritional information spinning around in my head although I didn’t always apply it during my weekly Papa John’s and Jimmy John runs.  It was probably after college that I began to think more about a healthy lifestyle and incorporating exercise into my weekly routine.  I became more conscious of calorie counting and invested in diet and sugar free foods.  Then, 4 years ago a health scare helped me prioritize healthy living in my already chaotic life.  I replaced the diet foods that I had relied on with REAL FOODS and sought out current health research.  Over the past year, I have replaced more and more of the processed foods that I’ve been eating with real foods containing fewer ingredients.  This past month, I was even able to quit my Crystal Light habit eliminating artificial sweeteners completely.  Each season, my fascination with food continues to grow.  I am learning how to cook new and healthy recipes using unique foods that add value to my body and promote health.  This is evident  in my desire to spend afternoons working away in the kitchen and my crazy idea to start this blog.  It also shows in my choice of reading materials. 

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Although I only made it half way through this one..

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I have been devouring all of this information along with magazines and blogs searching for ideas and inspiration.  What I have learned along the way has shaped my recent eating habits.  These changes have strengthened my immune system, cleared up my skin, and allowed me to finally get a handle on my tummy troubles.  Here are a few of the tidbits that I picked up along the way.

 

From Michael Pollan’s Food Rules,

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I love this one…it is so simple and true.  It reminds me how important it is to eat real food, shop along the perimeter of the grocery store, and stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. 

 

From Tosca Reno’s Just the Rules,

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I have dabbled in flaxseed over the past few years, but haven’t been eating as much recently.  I knew about the benefits of Omega 3’s lowering cholesterol, but I had no idea that it helped in digestion.  Tosca suggests 2 Tbsp/day and I have been eating ~1 Tbsp almost every day.  After 1 week, I already noticed changes in elimination (I know…always an odd subject).  Ground flaxseed has a short shelf life, so I buy small quantities at a time from the bulk bin at Whole Foods.  I add the flax to cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, and baked goods.  It’s a little change that will make a big difference.

 

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Lean protein and complex carbohydrates at every meal and with every snack…need I say more? 

 

And my most recent favorite book, Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet,

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I think this is the BEST definition of ‘diet’ that I have ever seen.  It is from the mid 1600’s and as Alicia says, ‘It is so simple! So Sane!’  Alicia is a vegan and advocates for a meat free, dairy free lifestyle that is better for you, better for animals, and better for the planet.  When I bought the book, I never thought about becoming a vegetarian, especially not a vegan.  But I feel the book (from what I have read so far) is well written and chock full of useful information.  One of my favorite things is that Alicia doesn’t push her vegan lifestyle on you. She uses information and stories to educate the reader about her reasons for choosing this way of life.  She even breaks her recipes up into three sections.  The first is title ‘Flirting’.  As I have been eating more real food and exploring seasonal produce, I have found myself attracted to vegetarian recipes.  You could say, that I have been ‘flirting’ with vegetarianism.  Alicia says when you  are flirting, ‘the key is that you be open.’  This flirting plan is low pressure and really just suggestions to start eating a more plant-based diet.  The other two options are Becoming a Vegan and Becoming a Superhero (a vegan and macrobiotic lifestyle).  I was so inspired by the book that I stopped eating dairy for almost two weeks before traveling for Thanksgiving.  I knew that it wasn’t going to be possible to avoid dairy traveling through NY/NJ, and I took that time to enjoy some delicious cheese and tasty ice cream as a treat. 

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Since I am back in town, I have resumed my dairy-free eating and plan to give up meat (except fish) for the rest of the year. 

Now I am sure you are asking yourself, how did I get to this point?  I know my parents thought I was nuts when I announced to them on our car trip out east that I was going to become a vegetarian for the month of December.

A few things you should know…

I have been talking about going meat free for a month as a way to challenge myself to get more creative with my recipes and eat more plant-based sources of protein.  The idea to continue eating fish came from The Kind Diet book, which suggests alternating between a no-meat day and a day eating wild fish on the Flirting plan.  (a few other suggestions are to eat brown rice, make friends with vegetables, and enjoy the adventure, but I don’t want to spoil all the fun for you before you get the book for yourself).  I have a serious feeling that the lack of meat will be much harder for the BOY than it will be for me.

Over the past year, many different people and sources have mentioned the negative effects of dairy.  It was an odd topic that continued to pop up at random times in my life.  Apparently, humans are the only species who drink milk into adulthood.  The hormones in dairy have been linked to early puberty in children and possibly diabetes and cancer.  We don’t always get all of this information because the National Dairy Council is a powerful organization.  Also, it is suggested that dairy can make allergies worse and is linked with sinus infections.  As an allergy and sinus sufferer myself, I have been looking for holistic ways to avoid getting sick.

If you have been reading this blog, you are aware that I eat meat daily and have a strong love of ice cream!  So as of now, I am not planning on beginning a lifelong vegan quest.  But, I am interested to see if I eliminate some of the foods that I eat daily, if there will be changes in my energy levels, skin, health, IBS, etc.  Will getting rid of these foods help me feel like a better version of me?  Will it help me break through this weight plateau and lose those last stubborn pounds?  Can I go a few months without getting a sinus infection requiring antibiotics?  Or will I feel the same as I always do except maybe a little crankier without my post workout chocolate milk or DQ run?

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Only time will tell…

I expect that these changes will take some extra planning this month and be quite challenging for me, which is why it is my December blog goal.  I am planning to eat eggs and seafood and you know that I will still sneak some bites of my December cookies too (even though they won’t be made with vegan butter). Do not worry, I have plenty of fabulous holiday recipes to share with you this month.  I should warn you that you will most likely hear me quoting Alicia Silverstone and I am not talking about her Clueless days (‘Way Harsh Tye’) because I find her book to be so interesting and love to share the things that I learn.  I certainly don’t expect everyone to give up milk and meat with me, but do feel free to share your favorite Vegetarian/Vegan recipes with me.  Seriously…post them below…link away! 

 

Looking for inspiration, The Kind Life is a fantastic website.

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