One of the best things I’ve done on this diet is give up processed food. Even if you can’t do it all the way, please eat organically and pay attention to what you’re eating. There are lots of reasons to give it up, and if you don’t believe me, please read this article from Rodale News. Beaver anal gland juice, anyone?
Finally – I am going to write about FOOD! Yes, very exciting stuff! I’m sorry I don’t have a picture. Believe me, it looked and tasted delicious.
A few months ago I won a contest through Zester Daily (a great website for foodies – I highly recommend it!) and received a signed copy of Joe Yonan’s Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One. I love this cookbook. There are so many creative recipes for cooking for one (or two) without creating a lot of waste. In the days when I shunned leftovers, this was great! Now, I need to learn how to stretch them into two or three servings so I can eat them for lunches or breakfast. But on weekends, these recipes are PERFECT, especially some of the more decadent ones!
I was feeling a little sorry for myself last night and needed a delicious dinner to lift my spirits. (Yes, my spirits are lifted with food sometimes.) I had all the makings for a great dinner in my fridge, and with a few minor tweaks, made this recipe work for my diet. Yonan used a shallot, I didn’t have one so used a half of a yellow onion, I upped the brussels sprouts, used pre-grated ginger (so sue me, it’s the only thing I really get lazy about though), and replaced the mirin and rice vinegar with apple cider vinegar.
If you often eat on your own and hate leftovers, I highly recommend you pick up this book. I will say this though — I’m not sure what Yonan has against veggies, but I generally double (or triple) all veggies included in his recipes.
Pork Chops with Apples and Brussels Sprouts
slightly adapted from Joe Yonan
1 bone-in pork chop, about 1/2 to 1 inch thick
1/2 apple (the tarter the better – but I used a Pink Lady with great results)
1 cup or so brussels sprouts
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (if you don’t cook in your olive oil I would use grapeseed)
1 shallot lobe, finely sliced (I used 1/2 of a yellow onion)
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2-3 tbsps apple cider vinegar
Pat dry the chop and season both sides with salt and pepper. Cut the apple in half, core, and slice as thinly as possible. Cut off the brown bottoms of the sprouts, remove the tough outer leaves (if you want) and quarter (Yonan slices his thinly. I’m lazy).
Pour the oil in a large, cold cast-iron skillet (or something that you use for these purposes), press the pork chop into the cold pan, and turn the heat to medium high. When you hear it start to sizzle (a minute or two), scatter the onion around (watch the onion – mine started to burn. You might need a bit more oil). Stir the onion on occasion but don’t touch the chop! Turn over the chop after about 2-3 minutes, it should be lightly browned. Add the apples and brussels sprouts to the pan, season with salt and pepper. Let them hang out for a minute or two, then add the ginger and vinegar. Stir the veggies well. Turn the heat down to med-low, cover the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the chop is done (test with a meat thermometer – it should read 140). My veggies needed a few more minutes, so I took the chop out to rest, cooked the veggies for a minute or two more, then topped the chop with them.
It was delicious!
“How beautiful it is to do nothing, then rest afterwards.” – Spanish proverb
Today marks the beginning of the last weekend of self-imposed quiet. And I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.
There are many things I miss — I miss my friends, I miss my family, I miss that buzz you get when you’re in a busy crowded place. I miss being out, I miss getting dressed up (or at least putting make-up on).
But this quiet that I’ve lived in for the past month has done wonders for me. I could say it’s just the food, but it’s not. It’s a combination of many things — the food, the rest, the meditation, the yoga, the quality time spent with my cat. It has provided much needed space for me in a life that sometimes feels like it’s spinning outside of my control.
It’s nice to just take 30 days and be quiet. Do nothing — not even clean your house. To just stop and realize that nothing needs to be done, nobody is expecting you anywhere, and even if they did, it doesn’t matter. It feels great to go to bed at 9pm on a weekend night, to wake up early with the sun on a Sunday morning and go to the farmer’s market (your social event of the week), or to just lay in bed for hours at a time. It feels good to spend an hour on dinner during the week because you know you have the time.
Perhaps I am anxious to get back to my life. My girlfriends are heading off for a girl’s weekend today and I’m staying at home. Yes, this makes me a bit sad. But I need this one last weekend for this feeling, this space, to sink in. I need to make sure that I can come back here whenever I need it, whenever life starts to spin out of control again and I feel like I can’t find myself.
I started this month thinking it was all about the diet, all about denying myself certain things. What I didn’t realize is what I would gain.
“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.”
― Eckhart Tolle
What new is coming? Well, knowing that would take the fun out if, wouldn’t it?
You may have noticed my rant from yesterday. I think I need to put in a little context, because I have much more to say about the subject and it deserves more than just me being pissed off about someone telling me I can’t cook in olive oil.
It seems to me, as I browse through the sites like the Paleo diet sites I’ve been running across that they are the same as every other diet website out there. Everyone of them is promising them the same thing. Choose this diet and you’ll lose 10-20-30 pounds! It will change your life! You’ll be sexy, happy, successful, desirable!
Here’s something I’ve learned through this insane crazy illness. Losing the weight will not change the way you feel about yourself. Happiness doesn’t come from being skinny.
All the stories sound the same. There is always a testimonial about a woman (90% of the time it’s a woman) who’ve tried everything to lose weight. Nothing worked until this miracle product! This product could be Weight Watchers, it could be the gym down the road, it could be the Shake Weight, and yes, it could be a Paleo diet.
One story in particular talks about a woman who was very obese who lost a lot of weight though exercise and limiting calories. After losing the weight she gained much of it back. Her trainer said she had “issues”.
Well, DUH. You don’t get to be well over 300 pounds without having issues of some sort! Of course she needed to sort those out. Why on earth would you just focus on the outside without addressing what happens in her mind, and in her heart? The donuts and candy didn’t just hop in her body. She made the choice to eat them. She knew.
After a lifetime of up-and-down weight, I was probably at my most unhappy when I weighed the least. I still didn’t think I was skinny enough. (And I was skinny. My mom tells me that I scared her a little.) And do you want to know why I was unhappy? Because it had absolutely nothing to do with my weight.
I am the same person no matter what I weigh. I have the same heart, the same soul. I still love to travel. I can probably still make you laugh (hopefully, anyway). I am still smart. I still work hard. I still like to take long walks on the beach. I still have curly hair. I still talk too loud. I still love yoga. I still cry at Hallmark commercials. I am still me.
Of course, I know that much of my weight issues, my depression, my energy issues, etc. stem from Hashimoto’s. It’s impossible to say what I would weigh if I didn’t have this disease. It would be impossible to say lots of things about myself if I didn’t have this disease. It has become a part of me. And while I don’t identify as being Hashimoto’s, it still defines much of my life and my relationship with my body. But I can’t blame my all my issues on this disease. And I can’t blame my weight on the fact that I just wasn’t following the trendy diet at the time.
I was drinking too much, not getting enough sleep, under too much stress, watching too much television, worried too much about what people thought about me, and frankly ignoring what was good and healthy for me. Because I didn’t care.
There. I said it. I didn’t care.
When you don’t think you’re worthy you just don’t care. You don’t care what you put into your body. You don’t care how your body reacts. You just don’t care.
Until I made the decision that I was worth it — that I was worth feeling good, strong, healthy, happy, centered — I could never make the decision to change my diet. I could never, ever, put myself first. I couldn’t say, “Yes, I am SICK” (yes, that word again) “and yes, I am putting myself first and yes, I’m not going to eat crap because it isn’t good for me.” This sounds simple. But I know that 99% of you reading this will agree that it’s not.
Now, I’m not perfect. The last 19 days haven’t changed me that much. But I’m working more on loving me, all of me. I’m owning up to what choices I made to get myself to this point. And I’m also acknowledging that some of it isn’t my fault because I am sick. But it is now up to me, and only me, to take the steps necessary to improve my health. To show the world that yes, I am worth it.
(You are totally allowed to repeat that last sentence in your best Heather Locklear voice and do a hair flip.)
So when someone asks me why I’m doing this crazy diet, I’m going to tell them that no, it’s not because it’s the newest health trend. (Hello, gluten free is not a trend, people!) It’s because I am finally taking responsibility for myself, my choices, and my diet.
In my search for new and interesting things to eat, I am looking at more and more Paleo and Primal food blogs, posts on Pinterest, etc. to find ideas. I’ve learned about GAPS and there was another one but I don’t remember the name.
I’m having a flashback to 7 years ago or so when my mom and I went low-carb. Yes, I’m going to say it. This all sounds remarkably like Atkins.
Now, before you Paleo people get all primal on me, hear me out. Your diet consists largely of non-starchy veggies, meat, and fat. I just pinned a sandwich that was guacamole between two pieces of bacon for Pete’s sake. (And if you’re wondering, yes, I will make it, and yes, I will report back.)
Last night I spent at least two hours reading about how to go primal and paleo and GAPS, etc. It kind of made my head hurt. There are just so many RULES. For those of you who know me well you know that the thing I hate most in this world (other than pigeons) are rules. Not laws or things like that, but someone saying “you can eat this, you can eat that” etc. This is probably why it took me at least a year to finally come to terms with the fact that gluten makes me sick. This is why any old diet will not work for me. I march to the beat of my own drummer. Or my own fork.
I decided today that I will continue to read the food blogs because they have really great ideas. But the “how to start eating Paleo” links are going to stop. After a week of thinking about it, I’m not convinced I need to go strictly Paleo. I might cry if I never see sushi or pasta (even if it’s made with rice pasta) again. I can be done with the corn, but rice? Please, please let me keep my rice, even if its only once in awhile. And every once in a while, I think I should be able to eat a piece of chocolate, damn it. And you want to know why? Because it’s really f&*%$ing good with red wine. And a good bourbon. (Yes, yes, I know, GLUTEN.)
Because the truth of it is that I love food. All kinds of foods. And I think there are ways to incorporate lots of different foods without labeling anything as “bad”. Do I operate better on a high protein/low carb/no processed food diet? Of course, and I will continue to eat that way 99% of the time. But I’m not going to let someone label me based on what I eat. And I’m sure as hell not going to be one of those people who annoy servers at restaurants. I’m bad enough with my no gluten/dairy issues.
And you want to know what else? I’m freaking cooking with my olive oil. I’m Italian. My grandmother will roll over in her grave if she ever heard that I wouldn’t cook with olive oil.
I’m going to go eat a kiwi fruit now and pretend that it’s a piece of dark chocolate. Maybe chocolate will be my second thing added back in my diet before eggs (in case you were wondering, wine is first.)
- So, what are you eating anyway? (hashisanon.wordpress.com)
- The Unconventional Guide to Adopting a Paleo Lifestyle (lifehack.org)
I am very proud of myself. On Thursday I reached two weeks on this crazy diet.
TWO WEEKS! I’m thoroughly impressed with myself right now. I can barely believe it.
Here’s a check-in…
Finally, after two weeks of being seriously exhausted, on Friday I was feeling MUCH better. I had energy and was in a good mood. I was excited about spending a quiet evening at home. Happy Carmen is better than Crabby Carmen.
I’m eating really well. Most of the food I make is delicious, and feels luxurious. I’m having fun finding recipes that I can adjust to work for me and playing with them. Sometimes the results aren’t pretty (see The Ugly, below) but it’s really fun to try them out. I’m trying lots of new vegetables and having fun with it.
I’m feeling really good about doing something good for my body, for my spirit, for me. I’ve lost 5 pounds, which is really exciting, because it is really, really difficult to lose weight when you have Hashimoto’s. Other good things are happening in my body too — my hair seems to not be falling out as much and the psoriasis on my hand is going away. These are all symptoms of a larger autoimmune problem, and it’s great to see that my dietary changes are already helping.
I thought I would save lots of money… well, the money I would have saved is going to all the supplements I’m taking. It’ll be interesting to see how this changes in the future.
I thought I would be doing yoga everyday. That worked for the first week. After that I’ve been too tired to move. I’m impressed that I get to work every day. Yesterday was a good day. Today, I’m exhausted again. I’m glad it’s Saturday and I can sit on the couch all day if I want.
I do miss my social life. I miss talking with my friends over a glass of wine. I miss going out. I miss eating out. Frankly, I’m a little tired of doing dishes all the time.
Sometimes my cooking experiments don’t work. Case in point: I met some friends out the other night for a friend’s birthday (I had a Pellegrino) and didn’t get home until after 7. I’m usually cooking, if not eating, by then and I was STARVING. I didn’t plan ahead very well. I was planning on cooking Chicken Curry in a Hurry (seemed fitting) and was going to adjust the recipe to use coconut yogurt. It tasted OK, but looked AWFUL. I almost couldn’t eat it. It was brown and gross. I almost wish I took a picture just so you can see how awful it looked. Clearly, that recipe adaption needs some work. Had I not been starving and tired, I think I would have thought it through and just used coconut milk. Why in the world did I need to use yogurt?
This is super embarrassing. One of the supplements I’m taking kills all viruses, bad bacteria, parasites (ugh) and anything else bad that might be living in my digestive tract. It also makes my belly… um… not feel good at all. Let’s just say that it makes being in public difficult. I guess it’s a good think I’m not going to yoga (I don’t want to be that girl) or spending much time in public.
Overall, I think it’s been a successful two weeks. The past two weeks went really quickly, so there is no reason the next two weeks won’t be the same. I see a glass of wine in my future!
By the way, in case you were wondering, the countdown I was so excited about figuring out is wrong. I actually have 12 days to go!
That great technique I was so excited about Tuesday? Well, it doesn’t work for Acorn Squash. The squash part was DELICIOUS but the rind was inedible.
Just thought you’d like to know.
One thing is for sure. To be on this crazy diet you have to like your vegetables. Scratch that, you have to love your vegetables. And believe me, you get pretty sick of the standard veggies after you’re eating them three times a day, every day.
I’m lucky. I like most vegetables. I’m also lucky to live in Northern California where we probably have the best produce year-round in the US. One of my favorite things to do on the weekends is go to my local farmer’s market and get the best produce around. And for cheap! This isn’t an inexpensive diet to be on, and being able to buy directly from the farmers makes a HUGE difference as far as cost. I also like that I’m able to support my local farmers, ensuring that they are able to make a living and continue to provide good produce for the masses. There are lots of other benefits to buying local. Many local farmers (at least in Nor Cal) are organic, ensuring that we don’t get any added pesticides in our diet. This is really important for anyone, but especially for those of us coping with compromised digestive systems. Buying local also puts much less stress on the environment.
You can get just about anything at my local farmer’s market — olive oil, dried fruit, almond butter, flowers, chicken, rabbit, lamb, beef, honey, and my new favorite purchase, oysters. Last Sunday I came back with a TON of food for about $20. I bought:
3 squash – delicata, acorn, and something that looks like the delicata and the acorn had a baby
1/2 dozen raw oysters
I’m pretty comfortable cooking all these vegetables, with the exception of the beets and the squash. You see, for all my “I’ll eat anything” there are two things I really don’t want to eat… squash and beets. And no, I don’t really know why. Other than they’re icky.
But squash fills you up, is kind of sweet, and nicely rounds out a meal. I had to overcome the squash.
For the past week or so I’ve been doing the standard thing that I think my mom (was it my mom? I don’t even remember anymore.) taught me ages ago – cut the squash in half, scoop out the innards, put in a baking dish skin side up with some water in the bottom, throw in the oven. This was working for me. It was basic, but good. Really made a good breakfast, and an edible bowl for things like my Garam Masala scented pork and apples (recipe to come). But you know what annoyed me? There was all kinds of squash stuck to the rind that I couldn’t get to!
And then my mom taught me something else brilliant. You can eat the rinds! WHA??
So, here’s my tip for you. Don’t ditch the rind. Here’s what I did: Wash the outside of the squash (I used the delicata). Cut in half lengthwise (this obviously wouldn’t matter for round squash), scoop out the innards, and slice into about 1/2 inch pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast. I used a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Super, super delicious! Nutty, savory, slightly sweet, and YUMMY! My mom suggested doing this for the delicata, but according the Women’s Day magazine, you can do it for acorn as well. I’m assuming it will work for the baby of these two also.
My life has changed forever. I no longer fear the squash.
Next challenge… beets. Wish me luck.
To learn more about eating local, check out my friend Amber’s blog Awake at the Whisk.
(There would be pictures, but my computer is not cooperating with me. Maybe I can get them up tomorrow at work.)
It became apparent to me and my doc a few months ago that after several months of treatment (gluten/dairy free diet, several supplements) I wasn’t getting better. At all. I was feeling a bit better due to a change in diet and a little more energy from the supplements, but I still felt like crap a majority of the time.
The problem with Hashi’s is that you can’t really pinpoint what it is that feels like crap. You know when you’re coming down with the flu and just feel off? An overall feeling of exhaustion, grumpiness, fuzzy head, etc? That’s what living with thyroid disease is like. Nothing is working right. Sad to say, I was getting to the point where it didn’t seem like I could be normal again.
My doc, the amazing and wonderful Dr. Brian Jenkins, suggested that I do a 30 Day “Gut Repair Diet.” You can do the diet for as little as 3 days and as many as 60 for the most progressed cases. I needed something a bit more extreme – so 30 days for me. In addition to the diet restrictions, I’m on several supplements to support my overall digestive health. (I’ll talk more about those in a later post, but they’re not terribly appetizing and what I really want to talk about is food. I don’t want to scare you off!)
And so here I am. You could call what I’m on a restricted Paleo diet – as if Paleo isn’t restricted enough. What I can’t eat – grains, potatoes, nightshades, mushrooms, dairy, soy, eggs, sugar (including honey), high glyemic fruit (mango, pineapple, grapes, raisins), beans, seeds, nuts, legumes of any kind, gluten “compounds” (i.e. the crap you find in processed food), alcohol, coffee, processed food in general, anything from a can.
What I can eat – most veggies, poulty, fish, meat, low glycemic fruit (apples, pears, oranges, etc.), coconut, fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut yogurt, kombucha) olives and olive oil.
Yes, the list of what I can’t eat is much longer than the list of what I can eat.
But, I’m always up for a challenge! The trick I have found is to always make more food than I’ll eat. Leftovers are my friend – and usually my breakfast.
Here’s what I ate for breakfast this morning:
Looks yummy, right? And probably not like the breakfast you’re used to at all! That’s leftover kabocha squash and sauteed swiss chard from dinner last night with a cut up Applegate hot dog. I microwaved the whole bit for about 2 minutes and voila! Breakfast!
I know you’re probably wondering how I can eat hot dogs if I can’t eat all that other stuff. Applegate meat products are AWESOME – they don’t have any fillers, gluten, casein, nitrates, etc. Basically, this is just pre-cooked meat. It’s good to have something that’s already cooked around when you have to cook everything else.
For lunch today I had a leftover hamburger from some I made the other day for dinner with the sauteed onions I made to go with it on top of red leaf butter lettuce and avocado dressed in olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. Not too shabby, right?
And here’s what I had for dinner last night:
Yep, that’s the squash and swiss chard that would become my breakfast!
I will say this about eating this way. It’s work. I love to cook, so that isn’t an issue, but it would be if you couldn’t find your way around a kitchen. And it’s expensive. But I’m frequenting my farmer’s market and I’m lucky to have two wonderful butcher shops (Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op and Taylor’s Market) close by. And I’m not spending money on happy hours, cocktails, or dinners out. In the long run, I’ll probably save money.
Also, after only 9 days I would do just about anything to have a glass of wine and not be cheating. I miss my vino.
Have you done a crazy diet like this? What are your favorite recipes?
My name is Carmen, and I have Hashimoto’s Disease.
Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking. What the hell is Hashimoto’s Disease? Are you dying? Is it Japanese? You’re not Japanese. Are you contagious?
The answer to all those questions is no. Well, the first might be yes, but no more than any one of us. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease. In a nutshell, my immune system thinks that my thyroid hormones are bad and try to kill them. This causes major problems with my thyroid and my immune system. When this all happens (and it happens a lot more than I like), I feel like complete and total shit. It’s like my body is playing one big video game, with all these little rogue men running around and killing the “bad” guys, only the rogue men are the very things that are supposed to be defending me and the “bad” guys are the things that keep everything operating correctly.
Confused yet? Yeah, I empathize.
It has been a long and winding road to get to this diagnosis, and something tells me that it’s not over yet. I’ll talk more about what I’ve been through in later blog posts.
So why this blog, and why now? Well, my friends made me do it. Last week I started a 30 day “Gut Repair Diet” (sexy, huh?) and a few of my friends suggested that I document my progress in a blog. It’ll encourage me to keep moving forward. Cause, you see, I’m not drinking. I need to do something to occupy my time.
God, I must really be sick.
I’m hoping this blog is a place where I can share my thoughts on my illness, my progress towards getting better (fingers crossed!) and what is helping me along the way. Since I love to cook and I’m cooking (and eating) some random things lately I’ll share those too. And I hope to talk about some fun stuff, like music, wine (eventually! 21 days!), travel, etc. I like to think I’m a pretty fun person, and I’d rather talk about these things than being sick.
Yuck. There’s that word again.
If you have Hashimoto’s as well, or if you know someone who does, I hope this can become a conversation.
Of course that’s easy for me to say on my first blog post! I hope you follow along!