Books, my skinny kid, evil Nutella, & blogging under the influence

This lovely Friday night, I’m linking up with Anne for Quick Lit and with Kelly (finally!) for Seven Quick Takes.

I’ve been reading . . .

1. Cassie’s post--what do you think about the idea of sex scarcity as the primary male motivator on a societal level?  Meaning that, if we women give it up too easily, men, by and large, will devolve into oafish man-boys who while away their lives playing video games and viewing porn in their parents’ basements.  (Cassie does not put it so bluntly, but I do.)

2. This article, handed out at a parents’ night at my girls’ school recently.  I read it already some months ago, via Mary, I think.  What a blessing to have a school that shares this wisdom!

I find it fascinating that in the gospels there is not one mention of Jesus coming against immodesty, even though among his followers were prostitutes and the like.  Jesus emphasized cleaning up the inside while the Pharisees were the ones preoccupied with cleaning up the outside.  We must as ourselves: Which are we more like — Jesus or the Pharisees?

. . . .

We have gone [the Pharisees’] way when we judge others.  It is easy to miss this area of pride because we may not express our judgments “arrogantly”; we may instead wrap them in compassionate-sounding words.  Arrogance wrapped in concerned tones is deceiving. . . . We will think we are just making observations and feeling pity, when in fact, we are looking down on others from or lofty place of confident enlightenment.  It is a high view of ourselves that allows us to condescend to and belittle others in our mind.

. . . .

[W]e will also imagine others are judging us.  Consequently, we will find ourselves frequently being defensive.  We assume that others will think lowly of us for some perceived inadequacy, so we offer unsolicited explanations and clarifications for us or our children. . . . If we live under fear of judgment, not only will we tend to be on the defensive, but whenever we are in a public setting where our children might be “watched,” we will put pressure on them.

The middle paragraph–I think I will live my whole life still working on that.

3. Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub.  This was an interesting read.  It introduced me to this video (“Sugar: The Bitter Truth”) on the dangers of fructose, which was very interesting and enlightening.

4. Skinny Girl 1 (not a book): So I resolved that the whole family would be off sugar for the month of January, birthdays excepted. Pat and I also decided that the whole family would be on the Perfect Health Diet for the month of January, to see if we noticed an improvement in the girls’ health and behavior.

Up until now, Girl 1’s diet consisted primarily of wheat and fruit and carrots–bread product with Nutella for breakfast, bread product with Nutella for lunch, pasta for dinner, with fruit and carrot sticks and Goldfish crackers on the side.  I hoped that taking wheat out of the picture would whet her appetite for more nutritious food.

Well.

If Girl 1 doesn’t like what’s offered, she doesn’t eat.  She now eats egg and banana pancakes (with lots of maple syrup), but other than that, her palate has not broadened.

I weighed her on Wednesday and found she had LOST a pound since last May.  She’s now about 50″ tall and weighs only 48 pounds.  I don’t know when the weight loss started, because I haven’t tracked it until now.  Likely she lost weight when she had a stomach bug around Christmas.  She went several days hardly eating and never quite got her appetite back.  Also, a few months ago she decided she didn’t like milk and cheese; that can’t help.

So anyway, the girls are now off the Perfect Health Diet.  I ordered pizza last night and made chocolate cupcakes this afternoon.  And of course that led me to cheat on my diet, too.  But I’ll be better tomorrow.

Eat, little girl, eat!

5. Another thing on my list of things that didn’t work in 2014 was buying Nutella on the reg.  (It was on my Forever Grocery List.)  The girls got very attached to it and me, well . . .

It's been an eat Nutella straight from the jar kind of day

It’s been an eat Nutella straight from the jar kind of day

that kind of day–> every day –> I gained a lot of weight.

I appreciated Elizabeth Esther’s post for the reassurance I wasn’t the only one thwarted by the devil-in-a-jar.

6. I got this book for Girl 1 for Christmas, and she’s off to a good start with it.

I Can Draw People from Usborne books

7. Perhaps I mentioned this already, but I’m reading the Ramona books with the girls.  Sometimes I read aloud, sometimes I play the audiobook read by Stockard Channing.  So much fun.  The chapter in Ramona the Pest where Howie takes Ramona’s old stuffed bunny-turned-cat-toy to Show & Tell–hilarious!  I read it aloud to the girls and laughed so hard I cried.  (I may or may not have had a touch of PMS at the time.)  The girls were fascinated and a little scared.

Happy weekend folks!  I raise my second glass of cheap pinot noir in your honor!  (Or I would, if it weren’t empty already.)

XOXO

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What Worked in 2014

Better late than never, I’ve been thinking about what worked and what didn’t work for me in 2014.

What worked

Lexapro: I don’t know why I need to take an anti-depressant.  I’m not depressed.  It’s anxiety, I guess although for me it manifests as irritability.

Anyway, 2014 was the most peaceful year I can remember, and I’m thinking it was a chemically-induced peace.  During the homily on New Year’s day, the priest talked about how all peace comes from God.  Sometimes God even works through big, bad pharma.

Floradix: I’m mildly anemic and notice a big drop in energy when I don’t take this liquid iron supplement regularly.

What didn’t work:

Cow brain supplements (i.e., bovine pituitary gland pills): “prescribed” for me by my witch doctor by way of pressing down on my arm, these made me feel crazily irritable.  It didn’t help that I tried to wean off Lexapro at the same time (another thing that didn’t work), but even once I got back on Lexapro, these continued to make me feel irritable.  Maybe I didn’t give them a fair chance, but I’m not going back.

bitch mode

What worked:

Magnificat magazine.  I resisted subscribing to this for years because of the expense and because I already own a breviary.  Silly Laura.

Audiobooks: for the girls, mostly rented for free through a library consortium.  We are loving the Ramona series.  And Frog and Toad, read by the author, is a delight.

Chiropractic/massage: My back is the best it’s been in a long time.  It starts getting out of whack again when I don’t exercise for a while though, which brings up–

BodyFlow: I love this exercise class.  I only make it once a week and that’s only if we aren’t sick.  But it’s the perfect combination of stretching, relaxation, and strengthening.

Fabulous Forever: It’s a stretching DVD for old people, and I love it.  It feels great.

What didn’t work:

Pilates at Gold’s Gym: Hurt my back no matter how carefully I modified.

T-Tapp: A little more on that here

What worked:

Paper plates: I meant to add this to my goals post–I hereby resolve to eat more often off of paper plates!  Better to eat healthy food off of paper plates than convenience food off of fine china!

What didn’t work:

Red food dye: Girl 1 had three rough weeks at school in November, after doing really well for the first two months.  The only thing I could think of that had changed in her routine was that I had given her over the counter cough medicines regularly, and those medicines all have red dye in them.  We cut out the dye and, upon her return to school after Thanksgiving break, her behavior greatly improved.  We’re avoiding artificial food dyes now.

Every diet I “tried”:

The Christian ideal diet has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried [for more than two weeks].”

G.K. Chesterton, ed. by me

  • The No-S Diet: Ha!  Yeah, no.
  •  Calorie counting using My Fitness Pal–There was a time when I could lose weight just by keeping my daily calories under 2,000.  Not anymore.

  • Weight Watchers–I started off on their “Simply Filling” program and found myself pigging out on low-fat microwave popcorn, sugar-free jello, Weight Watchers brand shakes, and fat-free everything.  A low point was when I tried fat-free ricotta cheese.  It’s an abomination.  The alternative to the Healthy Start is the traditional point-counting method, but I didn’t feel like paying for what is basically counting calories plus weekly meetings I didn’t enjoy.
  • Thin Within–a prayer/ positive thinking method of eating only when you are hungry.  It makes sense, it really does.  And it’s still my goal.  But food has too much of a hold on me for this method to work on its own.  A dilemma I run into is trying to eating slowly and mindfully when sharing a meal with the two resident barbarians of the house.  Eating with them is stressful in itself, but it doesn’t work to eat separately from them for each meal.  So.

We’re back to Perfect Health Diet, which I went on initially because food has such a hold on me.  It’s not a panacea but it worked better than anything else I’ve tried.  Also, Pat wants to go back on it.  So here we go again.

And the barbarians are waking so I need to end this abruptly.

What worked and didn’t work for you in 2014?

Goal-Type Things for the New Year

I try to keep my ambitions realistic . . .

20140102-204235.jpg

but I’ve been thinking about goals for 2015 and they’re starting to add up.  In no particular order they are

1. Keep wearing the Fitbit I got (by request) for Christmas.  No specific exercise goal, but hopefully wearing it and checking my stats will motivate me to boost my activity.  Over the past seven days I’ve averaged just barely above 5,000 steps per day.  Under 5,000 is considered sedentary.  Yikes.

2. Redecorate my living room (whole house?) with mid-century modern-inspired look, moving my French-cottage-meets-your-grandma’s-house decor to the basement t.v. room (more on this shortly).

3. Learn how to use a power drill, which will aid in #2.  Tensions run high when I ask Pat to hang stuff (“no not there, up a bit, now down . . . no, not like that”) .

4. Go back on the Perfect Health Diet!  This is big.  We ditched the PHD about a year ago, but Pat and I haven’t felt nearly as good since then.  So I’m kicking the mental health diet to the curb.  We’re modifying the PHD slightly (beans and peanut butter are in).

5. No Sugar January: The PHD itself cuts out almost all added sugars, but I’m serious about that part for at least a month.  I’m buddying up with Ellen for support.  I might cheat on other aspects of the PHD when we go out to eat or whatnot.  But no sugar.

6. More spiritual reading, starting with Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, which I’m about 2/3 of the way through.  Next I want to read Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est.  I also want to read through the Gospels.

7.  Stop saying “sorry.”  More on this later.

8. Move this blog to a self-hosted platform.  I already have a placeholder over at http://thisfelicitouslife.com.  Two years have gone by, and I still haven’t moved my data over.  I got an error message and gave up.

9. Learn the capitalization rules for blog titles. Seriously, I never remember which of the little words like “A, At, The, If, And, But, Or” need capitalization.

10. Stay away from celebrity gossip websites and magazines.  (I made this one in October and have kept it pretty well so far.)

11. Social-media-free Sundays!!  (I wouldn’t mind getting back into What I Wore Sunday but I’ll do it on Mondays.)

12.  Cut down on the use of parentheses (for obvious reasons).

All this talk of goals made me remember–I set goals for 2014.  I wonder what they were?  😉  Oh, here they are

1. The GoalThe No-S Diet: No Ssssugar, no Sssssnacks, and no Ssssseconds, except sometimes on weekends and special days.

Outcome

Laughing hysterically

2. The Goal:  T Tapp. I’ve heard good things about this exercise routine (here and here among other places). 15 minutes a day! Easy on your joints (unlike my short-lived gambol with Jillian)! Helps balance mood, blood sugar, and hormones! 

Outcome

Not good.  I did the T-Tapp Basic Workout Plus several times a week for several weeks.  I lost close to an inch from my waist (more from tightening muscle than from burning fat).  But she has a move called the “T-Tapp twist” that did a number on my lower back.  Tried to come back to it after recovering, and it messed up my back again.  No can do.

Plus, I was hoping for some science behind all her promises and quasi-scientific terms.  Her book didn’t have any of that, just explanations for how to do the moves and a bunch of success stories.  I’d recommend the workout if you want something that will tone you up in a short time, but not if you have low-back problems.

 

3. The GoalHome command center restructuring. 

Outcome:

Nailed it!

Before:

IMG_3814 IMG_3817

After (full post on this to come):

Home command center

4. The GoalDedicate time for blogging and–sheesh!–answering email. I don’t have a game plan here yet, but it’s something I really want to do. Right now, I usually write in the evenings when the girls are asleep. 

Outcome:

Nope!

I intended to make this one of 2015’s goals, completely forgetting that it had been one of 2014’s.  Never did come up with that game plan.  Oh well.

5. The goalSwitch from plastic leftover containers to glass.

Outcome:

Nailed it!  I bought a few more pieces of Pyrex and also bought covers for three Pyrex bowls I already had.  I still have some plastic leftover containers, but I don’t use them as much and I never heat food in the microwave in them.

6. The Goal: Keep making progress in time management, especially going to bed early and not staying up late browsing the web.

Life goals vs. the internet

Outcome:

Hmm.  Not great.  I love the iPod mini my dad gave me earlier this year (thank you, veterinary pharmaceutical reps!), but that thing is dangerous when I keep it by my bed.

Basically.

from laptop to phone in bed stick figure cartoon

On that note, here’s to a successful 2015 for us all!

The Mental Health Diet

and how it made me fat:

I treat my body like a temple/ 

You treat yours like a tent.

Jimmy Buffet

I’ve definitely been in the “tent” camp lately.  (Get it?  Tent?  Camp?  Yuk yuk.)

via Wikipedia

We left the Perfect Health Diet (“PHD”), after over a year of inconsistent-but-persistent resolve.  Pat lost some weight, and we felt pretty good overall.  But I didn’t lose weight, and it seemed like a lot of work for negligible results.  So we quickly slipped from PHD to mostly whole foods to . . . what I call the Mental Health Diet (“MHD”).

The MHD consists mostly of convenience foods, take-out pizza, dinners out, and fast food (I discovered the Taco Bell cantina bowl–yum!).  I started a tasting tour of sorts, trying out all of the kids-eat-free nights at our local restaurants.

My mental health diet

 

Not surprisingly, my weight has skyrocketed.  At least I think it has.*  I haven’t weighed myself in several months.  But all my clothes are tight.  I’m kind of dreading fall because even the jeans I was so excited about recently are feeling uncomfortably snug now.

Harumph.

This got me thinking that maybe the PHD helped me more than I realized.  I didn’t lose any weight but I also didn’t gain any.  On the other hand, my weight has climbed steadily ever since coming off it.  Also–now that I think of it–my weight was starting to climb before we got on the PHD.

I stopped breastfeeding Girl 2 around September 2012.  Shortly thereafter I switched from Zoloft to Lexapro.  Due to some combination of those factors (I think), my weight started climbing.  Then in November 2012 we started the PHD and the weight gain came to a halt.

All this is making me want (“want” in a limited sense of the word) to get back on the PHD bandwagon.  Or maybe even do the Whole 30 for a clean break.  Jenny’s experience, among others, makes it sound . . . hmm, not appealing, but . . . like-a-good-idea-ing.**

{Pat is never ever critical when we fall off the healthy-eating wagon and yet he is always game for healthy eating, bless his heart.

Me: “Honey, I think maybe we should try this thing called the Whole 30.  [15 second summary of Whole 30]  What do you think?”

Pat: “Yes, I’m in.  Good idea. . . . There’s always apples and peanut butter, right?”  (PB&A being Pat’s go-to meal.)

Me: “Uh, yeah, about peanut butter . . . .”

Pat: “Um, well, how about homemade hummus??”

Me: “Well . . . .” }

At the same time, I don’t regret our stint with the Mental Health Diet.  Junk food is never good for one’s mental health in itself.  Not feeling the pressure to cook, though, was a definite boon.

The MHD has been one facet of a change of course I’m taking in life wherein I focus less on doing more.  I’m here.  I love.  I’m enough.

We ate junk; ordered out; I hardly ever cooked.  Yet the world kept on spinning.  My kids are as healthy as they ever were (not saying much), and Pat and I are fine.  There’s just more of me to love.  Nutrition and physical health are important but they’re not all-important.    (As usual, I love Amelia’s thoughts on this topic.)  Eating junk probably didn’t help my low energy woes, but the slug life led me to the MHD, rather than the other way around.

All the same, I’m sick of treating my body like a tent.  I don’t want to be forced to wear a tent.  I think it’s time for a change.  Stay tuned.

 

*Update: Since drafting this, I weighed myself and, sure enough: I’m up 10 lbs over the last four months, 20 lbs over the last 14 months.

**Update 2: I decided the Whole 30 would be setting myself up for certain failure.  I signed up for Weight Watchers instead.  More on that later.

Perfect Health Diet: The Results Are In, Part II

Why We’re No Longer Going Gluten-free

Short version: Some improvements.  Not a panacea.  Not following it closely this year.  (You can read part 1 of this post here.)

Long version:

I want to preface this by very clearly stating that we did not follow the diet exactly, or even close to exactly.  

We started out being “good” even when eating out or eating at other people’s houses.  But that fell by the wayside real fast.  And even when eating at home, we had some weeks where we fell off the wagon completely.

But for the most part, I followed the Perfect Health Diet for the meals and snacks I prepared at home for Pat and me, which make up 80- 90% of our food consumption every week.

My main reason for trying this in the first place was to help tame my sugar cravings and food addiction tendencies.

  • Result: Improved.
    • Not surprisingly, the less I eat sugar and processed foods, the less I crave them.  But the problem has not gone away completely, not by a long shot.
    • If I eat balanced meals (protein and carbs), I experience fewer cravings.
      • Not enough protein –> hungry between meals;
      • Not enough carbohydrate –> sugar cravings between meals.
    • I did seem to experience less hunger and fewer cravings when taking all the supplements that the PHD recommends, but I haven’t been doing this long or consistently enough to tell for sure.  Taking all the supplements recommended–plus a few that I’ve added for various reasons–is just too much for me to keep up.
This isn't even all of them.

This isn’t even all of them.

  • Energy/ overall sense of wellbeing: Honestly, not a huge difference.
  • Weight: Pat lost ~ 12 pounds but has started to gain it back.  I did not lose any.

  • Plan going forward: Keep following most of the general principles but not the Perfect Health Diet per se, particularly, because . . .

We’re just not gluten intolerant.

(Double negatives . . . hmmm. “We’re gluten tolerant.”  Is that better?)

We eat a lot of meat and rice and potatoes and vegetables, and that’s all well and good.  But often enough I made pizza or pancakes or pasta or muffins, and used gluten-free ingredients for them.  This requires additional expense and effort.  I found myself thinking, “Why am I bothering with this when we tolerate gluten just fine?”  I can’t come up with a good enough answer here.

(For a while I thought Girl 2’s eczema was caused my wheat, but I’ve since concluded that it isn’t.  Also, Pat’s weight loss seemed possibly due to cutting out gluten.  But given that he shows no other signs of gluten intolerance, I’m not so sure.)

The Perfect Health Diet book is insistent that all grains and legumes, other than rice and a few less common ones, are bad for all of us, in general.  I found this one of the least convincing sections.  But then, I don’t have a scientific background, nor did I do much additional research on the issue.

Regardless, it’s a lot of effort to avoid grains without a specific health problem as motivation.  Going forward, I’m going to direct my energies elsewhere.

I want to keep up the following:

  • Avoiding processed sugar as much as possible, and using honey, maple syrup, etc. only sparingly.
  • Avoiding processed foods (chips, crackers, breakfast cereal, etc.)
  • Avoiding vegetable oils (corn, soybean, etc.) and instead using butter, coconut oil, and olive oil.
  • Keeping most of our meals meat-and-vegetable based, and not making many meals based on pasta, bread, or other grains.
  • Continuing to take supplements, but just the ones that most directly address my specific nutritional needs/concerns, rather the full panoply recommended by the PHD.

This past year brought into focus one issue very clearly: my food issues (and mood and energy levels and  overall well-being) are influenced very strongly by hormones.  I can be “good” for several weeks and then it comes to be that time of the month before that other time of the month and *bam*

eat-all-the-things

So my priority for the coming year is to address this issue, and I’ll be blogging about it more in the coming weeks.

Perfect Health Diet: The Results Are In, Part 1

I’m still healthy!

I finally got bloodwork done and had my annual physical.  Here are the stats, compared to my levels from about a year ago:

HDL (“Good”) Cholesterol:

  • Then: 80
  • Now: 77

Negligibly worse.

LDL (“Bad”) Cholesterol:

  • Then: 131
  • Now: 122

Slightly better.

Triglycerides:

  • Then: 42
  • Now: 50

Slightly worse.

My triglyceride and HDL levels (both then and now) are considered really good.  My LDL levels are slightly high–in the borderline range, according to standard medical authorities.  But, both the PHD book and my physician say my LDL level is nothing to worry about considering my good HDL and triglyceride levels.

TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone):

  • Then: 1.055
  • Now: 1.674

Mainstream medical guidelines say anything below 5.5 is normal.  PHD says aim to get your TSH below 1.00.  So the increase here threw me for a loop.  I started taking an iodine supplement about two months prior, however.  Perhaps this is making my thyroid levels fluctuate?

Vitamin D

  • Then: not tested
  • Now: 29 ng/ mL

This is very very low.  I asked to have it tested,on a hunch, and am glad I did.  My doc put me on 50,000 mg weekly for three months, then I’m supposed to have it retested later.  Apparently vitamin D deficiency is very common but often undiagnosed, and related to a whole host of health problems.

The easiest, most natural source of vitamin D is sunlight, about half an hour of direct sun on the face and arms, once per day, is supposed to supply enough.  Given my family history of skin cancer and personal aversion to cold weather, however, I’ll probably need to supplement vitamin D for the rest of my life.

Glucose (blood sugar):

  • Then: Normal (not sure the exact level)
  • Now: 80 mg/dL (normal)

Hemoglobin:

  • Then: Normal (not sure the exact level)
  • Now: 12.1 g/dL (very very bottom of the normal range)

Low hemoglobin basically means you’re anemic.  My levels here confirm my feeling that iron supplementation is a good idea for me.  I definitely felt an increase in energy when taking Floradix.  I’m now taking 18 mg Ferrochel iron, which supposedly is absorbed well by the body, but I don’t feel it’s working as well as Floradix.

Weight:

  • Then: 1_6
  • Now: 1_7

Slight increase.

Womp womp womp.

*****

I’ve been thinking all of this over and have decided to make some changes to our diet in the coming year.  Stay tuned.  [For part 2 of this post, click here.]

Happy New Year!

A Perfect Health/ Primal-ish Thanksgiving

I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, for the first time.  My parents and grandparents and my brothers are coming up for the holiday, and I’m so excited!  And a little nervous about the dinner.  But mostly excited, because I do enjoy cooking for people.

Ordinarily I might skip our diet for once, but my Mom is sensitive to gluten, corn, and oats.  So, I’ll be doing this Perfect Health Diet/   primal style.

Here’s what I’m planning to make:

  • Roast turkey (duh); I’m going to try to brine it ahead of time.  (It’s my first time roasting a turkey.  Why not make something as complicated as possible the first time you do it, I always say.)  A friend suggested brining it in a styrofoam cooler, outside overnight.  That way it doesn’t take up space in the fridge.  I plan to do that so long as the weather is cold.
  • Make-ahead gravy along these lines, using rice flour and homemade chicken bone broth.
  • Make-ahead freezer mashed potatoes.  Most of the time potatoes don’t do well after being frozen.  But I tried this recipe already, and it really works!
  • Wild rice “stuffing.” I made it for Thanksgiving dinner last year with the following modifications
    • I added about a cup of toasted chopped pecans.  I think the crunchy pecans contrasted nicely with the chewy rice.
    • I used Lundberg Wild Blend Rice in place of wild rice.
    • I used jasmine rice is place of basmati.
    • I skipped the parsley.
    • I used a cup of frozen pre-chopped onion and green pepper in place of the fresh onion.
  • Homemade cranberry orange relish  (I’m going to make this ahead of time and might substitute rice syrup for honey.)
  • Green beans with mushrooms and bacon (or another simple veggie dish; Pat doesn’t like green bean casserole, and it’s better to skip the canned soup anyway).
  • Rolls: regular store-bought rolls for those who aren’t sensitive to wheat, plus a gluten and corn-free alternative if I can find one.
  • Pickle and olive tray
  • Gluten-free pumpkin pie (I’m still pondering whether to use this healthy, sugar-free recipe for the filling, or just pull out the old White Crystals O’ Death).
  • Sweet iced tea . . . because we’re Southern and it’s our life blood.  Maybe I’ll sweeten it with Stevia

No sweet potatoes!  I know!  But Pat doesn’t like them, and I like them best with brown sugar and marshmallow so . . . I’m breaking with tradition and skipping them entirely.

My game plan:

This week:

  • Buy all ingredients
  • Make and freeze potatoes
  • Make relish

Monday and Tuesday next week:

  • Make pie
  • Make gravy
  • Defrost turkey
  • Make rice stuffing

Day before:

  • Brine turkey
  • Defrost potatoes

Day of:

  • Roast turkey
  • Reheat potatoes, rice stuffing, gravy
  • Cook green beans
  • Warm rolls and pie

Also, I’m looking for ideas for a simple centerpiece.  Simple, because I’m not crafty, and because I don’t want it to clash too much with my busy blue and white china.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

 

Health & Nutrition: Whom To Trust?

I unwittingly mentioned to Girl 2’s allergist that Pat and I don’t eat gluten.  She looked at me like I had two heads.

“That is a 4 billion dollar industry,” she said accusingly, implying that I had fallen for the hype.  (“And wheat is probably a 400 billion dollar industry,” I wanted to retort, but didn’t.)   I mentioned that my husband has lost weight this way.  “Well yes,” she cut in, “cutting out gluten reduces calories.”

Well, what I meant was, he’s lost weight without any discernable reduction in overall calories.  I know that cutting out gluten-containing foods, without making up for the lost calories elsewhere, would cause weight loss.

Apparently I had my “STUPID” sign on my forehead that day, because that’s how she was treating me.

But I really don’t care what she thinks and I didn’t want to discuss Pat’s and my diet, anyway.  We were there for allergy testing for Girl 2.  (She came back “very slightly positive” for a multitude of foods, including chicken.  Chicken!  Who’s allergic to chicken??  The doc said not to treat the results as true positives and to keep feeding her as normal.  Clear as mud, as my dad likes to say.)

But the conversation got me thinking about this Perfect Health Diet experiment we’ve been on, and other alternative nutrition/ natural remedy type things I’ve been trying.  If you read enough from that non-mainstream point of view, you start thinking it’s normal.   Then, *bam* mainstream hits you in the face.

I’ve always been more of a mainstream kind of gal, when it comes to health and nutrition.  So how did I jump on this crazy train, anyway?

I guess my point of departure was the sugar craving and overeating problem I’ve had for forever.  Jennifer’s experience was so positive, it seemed worth a try.  And the Perfect Health Diet book and related nutrition authorities like Weston A. Price, etc. seem to make sense.  They address issues that mainstream nutrition authorities leave unanswered.

For instance, humanity has been eating eggs for millions of years, until we “discovered” in the 1980s (or whenever it was)

Butter and a butter knife

Butter and a butter knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

that they’re bad for you.  Then we “discovered” in the 2000s that they’re good for us after all.  Or trans fat: decades ago the common belief was that margarine and other partially hydrogenated vegetable oils were healthier than butter and lard.  Now, it turns out, the trans fat contained in those items is really bad and we were better off with butter and lard.

Maybe it makes sense to just eat eggs.  And cream, and butter, and steak.  Americans started getting so obese after we were told to stop eating this stuff that people have eaten for forever.  (Of course, people have been eating wheat for a heckuva long time, too, which is why I’m not a firm believer . . . yet . . . in the anti-gluten aspect of our diet.)

Not being a scientist, though, I feel like either “side,” so to speak, could be pulling the wool over my eyes.  For example, Perfect Health Diet et al. speak of the “lipid hypothesis.”   They pretty convincingly argue that the supposed connection between saturated fat and heart disease (and related ailments) is unfounded.  But I feel like the mainstreamers, the proponents of the “lipid hypothesis,” could argue just as convincingly (like this, perhaps).  I’ve yet to see a good side-by-side comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of each position.

Scientific data are so easily manipulated to support one position or another.  Scientific studies themselves only prove so much.  And I have neither the ability nor the patience to read the scholarly literature myself.  So most of us read a few books or articles written for laymen (“secondary sources,” if you will), and decide to toss our hat into one ring or another.

And as I buy gluten-free products for my family–none of whom has a discernible sensitivity to gluten–and toss back gaggingly large handful of supplements every day . . . I start to second guess tossing my hat into the non-mainstream ring.

IMG_4612

Or course, a lot of what we’re doing (or at least trying to do), is what everyone agrees is healthier: avoiding processed foods, avoiding sugar, eating more vegetables.  But choosing coconut oil over canola?  Ribeye steak over chicken breast?  White potatoes over whole wheat?  Cream over skim milk?  Sometimes it feels right to me, sometimes it doesn’t.  And with different authorities saying different things, all I’m really left to go by is my gut instinct.

For now my gut tells me, “So far, so good.”  I haven’t seen any drastic improvement in my health.  But Pat’s lost weight, and my sugar/ food issues are better, if not gone.  I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but soon we’ll schedule our yearly physicals.  Depending on how our blood work looks, we’ll reassess.

Until then . . . I’m enjoying all the butter.  😉

Truth, Quakers, Rats, and Fats

Four Book Reviews, Twitter Style

Here are some books I’ve read lately.  I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Twitterature and Jessica at Housewife Spice for What We’re Reading Wednesday.  Let’s see if I can keep each “review” under 140 characters.

1. The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis.

Obvious inspiration for 10 Ways to destroy the imagination of your child.  Truth! Exists! C.S. Lewis = genius.

2. I Take Thee Serenity, by Daisy Newman:

1970s college student lovers discover community, love, God, natural law through Quaker community.  Cheesy but helps me understand baby boomers.

3. Rats, by Robert Sullivan:

Rats are gross.   That is all.

4. Perfect Health Diet (2nd ed.), by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet.

Saturated fat good; veg oils and most grains very bad.  Surprise! I should eat more rice and potatoes.  Scientific but fairly readable.

Menu Plan Monday Plus Healthy Avocado “Ranch” Dressing

Lately I recalled something my sister-in-law unexpectedly said when she spent a semester Rome and was talking to us over the phone:

You know what I miss? . . . Raaaaanch dressing.

There she was in Italy, eating wonderful food every day, and she missed that uniquely American blend of soybean oil, buttermilk, and high fructose corn syrup.

I know exactly how she felt.

I am sick of oil and vinegar on my salad.  So I concocted a little Avocado-Ranch-ish concoction.  It might not taste exactly like Hidden Valley, but it’s delish and it’s Perfect Health Diet compliant (or at least it can be, if you make your own mayo).  Here it is:

Primal Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2T mayonnaise (you can make your own from olive oil and egg)
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2/3 c. whole-milk yogurt (preferably not Greek)
  • 2 T rice vinegar (or white vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried dill

Mash up the avocado and then mix everything together well.  Makes about 1.5 cups.

Primal avocado "Ranch" dressing

Primal avocado “Ranch” dressing

You can leave out the mayonnaise and increase the yogurt a bit.  It’s tangier and a bit less creamy, but still good.

I’m  linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday today.  Our menu has stayed pretty much the same the past few weeks.  Here’s what it looks like:

  • Breakfasts: Usually banana-egg “pancakes”
  • Lunches: Leftovers, plain yogurt with frozen blueberries, or rice cakes with cheese

We usually eat rice or potatoes on the side, along with either a green salad or a cooked, frozen vegetable.

Have a delicious week!