In July of last year, I decided to eat better. And because I can’t do anything in moderation, my eating better looked like this: no white sugar, no white flour, no processed food, no dairy, no caffeine.
I did this for a variety of reasons, to alleviate my anxiety symptoms chief among them, but also to just feel better. Many days, I felt bloated and weighed down and puffy and tired and draggy. I also found myself absolutely needing my coffee in the morning. Then, needing more after that, and after that, until I felt like a zombie trolling a post-apocalyptic New York City for live flesh.
Something had to change.
So, I just quit stuff cold turkey. I stopped eating the “white” products (no potatoes, cookies, cakes, yummy pre-dinner basket of bread, potato chips, etc.) and went to whole grains and foods.
I’m here to say I feel renewed. Not in the “I can tackle the world!” sense, but in the “I have my fill of live flesh, thank you,” sense. My head feels clearer and less clogged. I don’t have near as many stomach issues (except for the farting, but that’s not the stomach, unless you are anatomically incorrect). And best of all: my eyes aren’t perpetually half-shut.
So, if there’s anyone who has ever thought of cleaning up their eating, I thought I’d share some of the things I eat for inspiration and ideas. (Two things I’m not usually full of, so when I am, I like to record them for prosperity.)
And please note: what appeals to me may not appeal to you. I grew up with a mom who put brown bananas and trail mix in my lunch box. So my taste buds are not like those of my peers. Some may say they’re dead.
So a typical day of eating “good” goes like this for me:
BREAKFAST: I usually have oatmeal with Stevia and cinnamon, or a Zen Bakery Blueberry Raspberry Oat Bran Muffin with Earth Balance or a South Beach oat pancake, also with Earth Balance. A couple times a week, I have an omelet. The omelet used to be egg whites and veggies only, but about six months into my new eating, I re-introduced some dairy back into my diet and so will have cheese too. That said, my favorite egg dish is a scramble where I saute red peppers and red onions in Earth Balance (until they’re almost brown) and add eggs and scramble the whole thing. I love this. It’s a taste sensation. (But remember my taste beds are dead.) If I have toast, it’s rye toast or 100% whole wheat (you gotta check the label…many “wheat” breads are made with enriched flour, so it needs to say 100% whole wheat flour as the first ingredient to be legit).
LUNCH: Most days of the week, I eat whole wheat pita pizzas. Oh my gosh, I’m still not sick of them, and just talking about it…
OK! Here I am again. I love that the computer cannot sense absences.
As I was saying, the whole wheat pita pizza is my favorite thing in the world. And this is how I make it: take a whole wheat pita (or in my case, take two), and spread tomato paste on it, then crushed garlic. Now, add a handful of spinach and a handful of fresh basil. Throw some tomatoes (I used the yellow cherry tomatoes, cuz I like a rainbow of colors on my food!) and sundried tomatoes on it. You can also put some pitted kalamatas on top of that. And a small handful of parm cheese. I love the Trader Joe’s variety. In fact, all the ingredients above I get at TJ’s. Variations on this pizza may include adding mushrooms, zucchini or a cake. Then, I toast the whole thing in the toaster oven and sit in front of the TV to watch Dr. Phil.
Just kidding. I usually eat the pizza in between trips to the laundry room, office, and mop closet.
Just kidding again! I just love how sharp my wit has become since I started eating healthy. I am sure you agree.
When I’m not eating this pizza for lunch, I’ll have veggie chili, bean soup, a tuna sandwich (skip the mayo, add Dijon mustard, onions and sunflower seeds! Yummo), or a delightful garbanzo bean mash made with some low-fat feta, olive oil, and balsamic viniagrette, sandwiched b/w my beloved whole wheat pita.
DINNER: This one’s a bit tough. My husband is already skinny. And I think I’m killing him slowly by not fixing meat and potatoes on a regular basis. (The thought of the life insurance payout keeps me going.) So, I’ve already said I don’t have a lot of variety in my dinner. And this is true, except for the part that is exaggerated.
What I do for dinner is usually a riff on whole wheat pasta (I love the Trader Joe’s variety, NOT the Henry’s variety, FYI. The Trader Joe’s brand is more meaty and nutty.) If I’m PMSing, I will saute garlic and broccoli in olive oil and pour over the whole wheat pasta. If I’m not, I’ll saute veggies and pour over pasta, then add balsamic viniagrette and olive oil and parm cheese (cheese must be the “real” kind). I also love Rachael Ray’s whole wheat pasta with cauliflower sauce.
Other dinner items include whole wheat lavash spread with hummos and stuffed with tomatoes, cucumber, feta, onions, olives, and whatever else I think of. I also make a lot of soups and chilis. One other favorite is to layer roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and buffalo mozzarella on a whole grain baguette that I’ve sprinkled with olive oil and balsamic, salt and pepper. And a note about salt: I use the “real” kind. Not the stripped-down, whitened version. There’s a difference.
Other dinner stuff: baked ground turkey, sauteed eggplant, onions, garlic, and diced tomatoes. An occasional steak when my husband really needs it. Baked sweet potatoes sprinkled with Real Salt. Lots of salads: spinach with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes and almonds and dried cherries; cucumber, onion, tomato salad with rice vinegar on top; Spring Mix with pine nuts, whole wheat pasta, feta and olive oil. Also side dishes: my favorite is “fried” cabbage sauteed in sesame seed oil with toasted sesame seeds. Yum to the Y to the U to the M.
I think it goes without saying that my kids hate me.
Other things: Soy Tacos, and salmon baked in foil with salsa on top.
And in case you haven’t deserted me yet, a few other items that get me through: Trader Joe’s spelt and the South Beach eggplant recipe (cut eggplant into rounds, brush with olive oil, add crushed garlic. Sprinkle chili powder on top. Bake in oven. I would tell you at what temp and for how long, but I’m not a cook, dammit. When baked, sprinkle a lot of cilantro on the eggplant.)
DESSERT, SNACKS: As for dessert. Let me just say, I do not crave cookies and cakes anymore. But, I’m not all good. By a long shot. Nearly every night, I have a
cup bowl of Rice Dream or Soy Dream ice cream with all-natural peanut butter on top. These items do have white sugar in them, but rather the natural kind of sugar. Whatever that is.
I will also have dark (with at least 70% cacao) chocolate. One row. Sometimes two. Last night, I ate the whole theatre.
I’ve also found myself enjoying canned pumpkin with Stevia and cinnamon. Some evenings, I eat handfuls of just cinnamon. Try it. It works.
Once, I even made an apple pie in a whole wheat crust.
In the snack department, I eat an apple with all-natural peanut butter, or walnuts, or almonds, or baked chick peas (just rinse and drain the chick peas, add a little olive oil and salt and bake until crispy). I’ve also been known to have an avocado sprinkled with lemon and salt smeared on Rye Krisps.
–I do not make my kids eat this way for the most part. They get veggie hamburgers and hot dogs and real hamburgers, but not real hot dogs. (I read the ingredients once. That’s all.). They eat grilled cheese and chicken nuggets and Valentine’s Day candy and pretzels. Just not at every meal.
–I’m not 100% lame. I do have Chai lattes (complete with caffeine) and lots of soy/rice ice cream and the like.
–Too much soy made me sick. Does it do that to you, too? So, I cut down on it. Plus, soy can be genetically modified and screw with hormones and I just don’t have a lot of screw leeway with my hormones. They’re screwed enough.
–Be careful if you cut sugar out completely. If you have it again, just a little bit, you may end up on the pot for all of Christmas break. I do not speak from personal experience.
–Please avoid artificial sweeteners. They’re just not good for you.
–I’m not a vegetarian. I just don’t really like meat that much. Too chewy and stuff. Also, when my friend Carolyn told me her chicken salad smelled like “Buddy” (her dog), I just couldn’t dispel that imagery.
–If you don’t eat meat, remember to get your protein in other ways. A B-12 supplement, perhaps. A big bowl of brown rice and lentils. But consult with someone who really knows what their talking about. Because I’m just Going Geico™ here.
–I do believe in moderation. I think too austere of a diet is as bad for you as too rich a diet. My mom went macrobiotic when she was diagnosed with cancer and after about six months, she couldn’t even wear nail polish. Her body rejected it. Too toxic. I believe your body needs to eliminate toxins and get a work-out in this area to some degree, or it forgets how to do it, then becomes overwhelmed by the smallest micron of toxicity. And my mom died anyway.
So, that’s about it. Since I’ve eaten this way, it’s made a difference. I’m not bounding out of bed or anything. Or, gallavanting on the playground with my kids. But I’m more gallavantous than usual. And that’s good enough for me.