I’m linking up today with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.
Last Monday I gave some background on my husband’s and my decision to follow the Perfect Health Diet (PHD). Today, I’ll give a little summary of what we’ve done so far, how it’s going, and where we need to improve.
Just to recap, PHD is a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet. It eliminates all grains (except rice), legumes, sugar, and most common vegetable oils other than olive oil. It is basically a “paleo” diet except that it includes dairy.
Changes We’ve Made
- Cutting out grains, other than rice and some occasional quinoa (which the PHD authors say is a maybe-occasionally-alright food, and which I just love): no cereal or English muffins for breakfast, no bread for sandwiches at lunch, no pasta for dinner. It’s been hard, but not too hard. Fortunately, neither of us was a bread junkie before. Mainly, it eliminates a lot of quick, convenient meals and snacks (sandwiches, crackers, granola bars). Menu planning has gone a long way in overcoming that hurdle. For the most part, we’ve gotten used to being grain free.
- Cutting out sugar: this has been hard from me. I definitely am a sugar addict About a year ago, I tried cutting sugar out for a week, and I felt like life had no joy left in it. Seriously. That’s when I knew I really had a problem. I lasted maybe 6 days. This time around, it’s been soooooo much easier. I’m guessing that cutting out all grains helps curb sugar cravings. Also, eating a lot more yummy fat like heavy cream makes me miss sugar less. Finally and very fortunately dark chocolate is not only allowed but encouraged on the PHD, as long as it’s the very dark kind. We stick with 85% cocoa or higher, and it’s heavenly!
- Cutting out omega-6s: unhealthy fats, including almost all common vegetable oils like canola, peanut, soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower. We now use only butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. This isn’t hard at all when I’m cooking something from scratch. It does make finding good packaged, prepared foods difficult. Things that otherwise would be allowable–say, french fries or rice crisps–are off-limits because of the oils used in them. This has required us to eat almost no prepared foods. Instead we snack on nuts, fruit, and cheese . . . and chocolate.
Changes We’ve Seen In Ourselves
- The biggest improvement for Pat has been that he lost about 10 pounds in the course of 5 weeks, with no effort to cut calories. He was occasionally hungry for the first few weeks, simply because it took some time to find new PHD replacements for foods that were off-limits. So, that might have accounted for some of his weight loss. These days, however, he’s never hungry but he so far is maintaining his new, healthy weight.
- I, unfortunately, have not lost any weight. In fact, I think I’ve gained a pound or two, which is a bummer. I don’t have a huge amount to lose but I really want to lose it . . . without being hungry! I’m trying to stay positive, however, and focus on good nutrition first and weight loss second.
- I think I’ve noticed an improvement in my mood and energy levels. Other factors probably are contributing here, so I need to observe more before I’ll know what role the diet is playing.
- I have noticed an amazing decrease in my food cravings. My addiction to sugar has all but gone away and I’m much more able to avoid the grazing at night that I used to do. That being said . . .
Improvements We Still Need To Make
- Pat and I were pretty gung-ho and stuck to our diet quite strictly for the first 6 weeks or so. We fell off the wagon about two weeks back and we’re not 100% back on. At the same time, I’ve felt my snacking/sugar cravings come back, which makes it harder to get back on track. It’s a vicious cycle. Because of the holiday season, we’ve decided not to get all bent out of shape about this. We’ll eat as well as we can but not beat ourselves up for “cheating” occasionally. In the new year, when all the holiday goodie temptations are gone, we’ll step up our game.
- Even when I am really “good” with my food choices, I struggle with mindless eating. When I sit down to eat a meal I often have second or thirds even if I”m not really hungry. I think, subconsciously, I eat to avoid geting up to do the dishes! Also, I pop food in my mouth as I’m preparing it, and since I make nine meals a day, that’s a lot of time spent preparing food! The PHD authors say snacking isn’t a bad thing, but I know mindless snacking, disconnected from hunger, can’t be good.
- My snack of choice these days is fruit. Fruit is allowed on the PHD but limited. I’m not up to measuring or weighing or even tracking the food I eat, but I’m sure I’m eating more than the 1/2 lb. of fruit that is recommended on the PHD. Additionally, the PHD authors list apples as one of the less-healthy fruits, with the newer, sweeter hybrid varieties being the least healthy. I guess that means I need to give up my beloved honey crisps! :-(
- We still need to add more of the PHD recommended foods into our diet: more coconut oil, more fatty fish. Organ meat also is highly recommended but I just don’t think I’m ever going to go there.
- PHD recommends limiting your eating to an 8 hour window and fasting the other 16. This was getting more feasible as my nighttime snack cravings went away but is less so now. I still need to work on eating breakfast later and dinner earlier. Some PHD followers advocate skipping breakfast altogether, but I’m hesitant to do this. I’ve always heard that breakfast is crucial for getting your metabolism and blood sugar levels off to a good start. But then, every other aspect of the PHD turns mainstream nutrition guidance on its head, so why not this?
Well, there is a lot more to say about our PHD experience, but those are the highlights so far. Here’s the menu for the rest of the week:
- Breakfasts: Whole-milk yogurt with frozen fruit, Paleo pancakes, Pineapple smoothie, scrambled eggs (I’m afraid my blog is no help if you’re looking for varied breakfast and lunch options. Fortunately, eating the same breakfast every day can a beneficial ritual.)
- Lunches: Leftovers and . . . um . . . leftovers
- Snacks: Cheese sticks, pistachios, fruit
- Monday: Hamburger soup
- Tuesday: Salmon with potato or rice and a veggie
- Wednesday: Sausage, potato, apple bake with carrots
- Thursday: Parmesan crusted chicken (no breadcrumbs; yogurt instead of mayo) with rice and a veggie
- Friday: Tuna with rice noodles (didn’t get a chance to make this last week)
- Saturday: Ribeye steak
- Sunday: Cheeseburgers (with no bun)
Stay tuned next week when I relate my bone-broth making experience and discuss whether this will hamper Girl 1’s chances with her one true love . . . .
P.S. Thank you to everyone who responded to my post about Girl 1’s picky eating habits. Your comments were very encouraging and helped me realize the struggle we were having just wasn’t worth it. She does eat fruit and some vegetables and other healthy foods so she’s not malnourished. I’m taking a step back and letting her eat peanut butter and chocolate sandwiches to her heart’s content for a little while. Making her a sandwich isn’t nearly as hard as trying to get her to eat other things, and she’s almost to the point that she could make her own sandwiches. Eventually we’ll work on introducing new foods.