Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Sunday, 28 December 2008
I am a pretty inquisitive guy and have always been conscious of my health, but as I have mentioned before, my dietary habits significantly changed when I met my love, as I began to proactively analyze the nutritional value of my overall diet. The difference I have made is subtle but important; it is one thing to try to eat the "right" things, is quite another to understand your overall nutritional composition on daily basis and how this measures up to standards to ensure that you are getting what your body needs.
My methods in doing this certainly need refinement and I can be more explicit and scientific about my ways of tracking what I eat, but the general theme I am leaving for other wayward fellows out there is to track your food, whether formally or generally and look at these foods against nutrition factors.
Some of my guy friends get annoyed at me when I point out foods which are really not great. I don't stop though because this perspective keeps me in line and I also want them to think about these things.
I feel better when I eat less bread (which is hard because I LOVE bread) and keep a high protein, lower carbohydrate diet. I have also over 10 pounds this year as a product of diet (not exercise) and am looking to eating increasingly better that I can move towards the shape which I desire.
Friday, 26 December 2008
Thursday, 25 December 2008
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
Friday, 19 December 2008
Hard and crunchy is just not as appealing to me. Sure, in certain contexts it's nice: a crisp apple, or a nice piece of celery. But I will gravitate towards the more babyfoodish end of the textural spectrum. Just like any denture wearer ;)
One of my favourite soft slurpy foods is bitter greens like swiss chard or kale or collards. I heat up a pan with a slice of bacon. I cook the bacon, pour off some of the fat for later, saute finely diced onions and garlic with hot pepper flakes in the remainder of the grease until nice and fragrant, then I throw in the greens sliced into ribbons with some chiken broth and let it all stew together for 20 minutes. When everything looks nice and wilted, I pour the whole mess into a bowl, crumble the bacon on top, and slurp away. It's not the most attractive cuisine, but to me, a bowl of greens is a perfect comfort food, especially when you add bacon to the equation.
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
I'm traveling for work, with the SO for company (I am a lucky girl-he has that kind of flexibility with his job) and tonight we went out for dinner.
Eating out doing CRON is a challenge, as an CR'ed person can tell you, because you never really know what's in your food. I just try to order healthy and make my peace with the fact that I will not be entirely in control of what I'm getting. I figure since I eat in most nights, those nights when I do go out aren't a big deal anyways.
And I LOVE Japanese food. So when the SO allowed me to choose, I headed straight for the Japanese place around the corner from our hotel. While normally I'm a sashimi girl, it was pretty cold up here, so I didn't go all raw. I had miso soup, oshitashi with lots of bonito on top, and tuna tataki surrounded with lots of shredded daikon. Simple, filling, yummy. Oh, and nicely primal AND cr'ed.
I find that Asian cuisine in general is my favourite genre of cuisine when eating out. Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai offer lots of delicious, veggie and protein filled options with a fabulous mix of salty, sweet, and sour tastes. I could have Tom Yum soup every night with some kind of thai curry, or a nice bowl of pho (scandalously avoiding the noodles but eating the meat and broth), or bimbimbop... I have never been too into Chinese food, but I'm sure it's because I've never had truly Chinese dishes. American Chinese food is a real turn off--greasy, bland, covered in heavy overly sweet or overly salty sauces.
Hmmm. I'm inspired now. As soon as I get back, I see a homemade Thai curry in my future...
Just got back from being away from home; it is tough to be away because without my cavewoman preparing food, I am left to fend for myself. I was just at a country where the cuisine is lacking and intense carbs are offered at every corner. Before meeting my love, I would have enjoyed a lot of these bread offerings, but now that I have been a year with less bread and even limiting th amount of empty calories I previously consumed (through soda and juices), I look and feel better, so on this trip I was disciplined in avoiding those once so unavoidable breads.
The next challenge we are taking up is coming up with a daily menu for me. This way, while I am away and without the guidance of my love, I will have clear options in my mind to eat that are both nutritional valuable but also within my daily caloric range. More on this later . . .
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
I was once a gym rat. I would easily do a hour on the elliptical machine. In fact, I used the elliptical so much I started to get hip pains. I was thin, but I was tired all the time. My body fat percentage was around 20%. I was also constantly fighting hunger.
When I learned about CRON, and really started to analyze both the macro and micro nutritional content of my diet, I was amazed to see my deficiencies. B vitamins. Magnesium. Potassium. And I certainly wasn't getting anywhere near the protein I thought I was. On the other hand, I was eating waaaaaaay too much fiber. 40g and above a day.
For some people, diarying their food is a huge chore. For others, it makes them preoccupied with what they eat to the point of an eating disorder. For me, tracking my nutrition is hugely freeing. I have the comfort of knowing that I am giving my body what it needs. It also helps to guide my choices. I know if I'm low in Vitamin K, I can reach for the romaine, or pork for my B1. I also can see where I consistently have deficiencies no matter what I eat, so I can supplement appropriately. I know which foods give me the most nutritional bang for my buck, er, calorie (e.g. kale) and which don't (e.g. radishes*).
As my nutrition became more balanced, I felt less hungry. And my food cravings, which had been powerful enough sometimes to drive me out at 2 am in the middle of the winter to the 24 hour grocery store a few blocks away, faded away. Any cravings I get now are significantly more mild and manageable.
Then I discovered Mark's Daily Apple. And through Mark, the whole universe of primal/paleo eating. I consider myself to be a pragmatic, rational person, and his approach to diet and exercise struck me as ultimately sensible. And he gave me permission to quit the chronic cardio :). I stopped going to the gym and waited to see if I'd gain weight. Instead, I lost a few pounds. And my body fat percentage went down.
While the primal exercise approach was easy for me to adopt, I was unsure if I could reconcile primal eating and CRON. I have mentioned the dairy conflict in CRON/Paleo. There is also the dietary cholesterol debate (to eat the yolk or not to eat the yolk), and the saturated fat debate.
But in many ways, the two approaches jive. They both advocate eating nutritionally dense, whole, natural foods. They are not trendy, like the Cabbage Soup Diet. They both fly in the face of 'conventional' nutritional wisdom. I have become used to the raised eyebrows I get when I say whole wheat bread is nutritionally useless, that potatoes are the functional equivalent of eating sugar, and that eating meat every day is good for you. Following either approach, you adapt to being viewed as an iconoclast.
In the end the two approaches may only be reconcilable in my own head. I don't care if I'm not 'truly' primal because I eat yogurt and cheese sometimes, or I'm not 'truly' CRON because I eat egg yolks and butter. I have gained valuable insight from both sides. Moreover, what I do works for me, and that's what counts. I know I will eat the way I eat for the rest of my life. Unlike some people who have lost weight, I have no fear I will gain it back because I love both what I eat and how I feel.
*I really like radishes, they're just not nutritional powerhouses!
Monday, 15 December 2008
Speaker 1 [normal sized guy]: Dude, you're looking really buff lately.
Speaker 2 [classic American musclebound type, with big buff arms and a gut]: Yeah man, the key is getting protein every three hours. I get my alarm o'clock to wake me for my 3 am shake.
Great nutrition, good fat from the coconut oil and avocado, plenty of flavour from all the seasonings and the onion. Caramelized onions are, after all, one of the oldest chef tricks in the book, and while a lot of cookbooks advise adding a little sugar to assist the caramelization, it's not necessary, particularly when you use sweet onions. I honestly don't miss taco shells at all-like croutons and many hard cereals, they scraped the roof of my mouth, and I avoided them because of the discomfort.
Besides, without the taco shells taking up room in your belly, you can fill that space with the really yummy stuff. I remember when, in my freshman year history class in high school, my teacher explained that the reason we eat pasta or bread or rice is as a way making sure humans got adequate calories and of stretching the good stuff--the meat and veggies. It made sense to me then because I would always eat the sauce of my pasta before the pasta, or lick cream cheese off my bagel.
Now, given the abundance and access we have to meat and veggies, as well as the knowledge we have about the nutritional as well as the gustatory superiority of these foods over grains, why settle for the filler?
Sunday, 14 December 2008
Saturday, 13 December 2008
Now I know, I know, I should avoid salt, it has acidifying effects on the body, it's otherwise not good for me, etc. But I like it. And so I use sea salt in my cooking, and I buy cured meat. Everyone has to do what works for them. I can't do without salt.
Oh, I've tried. People say that if you go without for a while, things start to taste waaaaaaaaay too salty. Nope, never happened to this person. I tried many times, would make it as long as a month, but in the end, I would crack. I would buy no salt added cottage cheese and throw some salt in. A pinch of salt used to make my oatmeal rock. And you know what? I NEVER lost the taste for it.
Now, I have lost my taste for sweet stuff. Certain foods, especially processed foods, taste grossly sweet to me--especially purchased salad dressings and sauces. Seriously? Do they have to add sugar to EVERYTHING? But salt and I are together for life.
My blood pressure is fine, even lowish. And on a grand scale, I don't think I do eat enough salt for it to matter (I don't ridiculously salt my food) on a day to day basis. In the end, you have to do what works for you. For me, in the final analysis, a little bit of salt ups my enjoyment of some dishes so much that in cost/benefit balance, salt wins.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Those urges haven't gone away. But what I do now is actively question why I want what I think I want, and try to figure out what I need. Sometimes, I realize I'm just tired and I want emotional comfort. Sometimes, I feel like I just want what I want, and some part of my brains is acting like a spoiled six year old, complete with foot stomping. On those days when I can't reason with my inner six year old, I do what many parents do. I bribe me.
I buy the ingredients for french toast. I put them in my fridge. And then I look at all my food and ask myself if what I have bought is the thing I would prefer above ALL others in my fridge. In the end, rarely does the junky food win. I usually pick my Brie, or avocado, or a small square of dark chocolate. But buying the food shuts my inner six year old up. And once she shuts up, I can reason with her.
I know this approach doesn't work for everyone. For some, having that food in the house is too much temptation. But what I rebel against is the idea that I can't have what I want. In the end, when I have the option to choose what I want, I tend to reach for what I need.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
What carbs do have a tendency to do, at least in my body, is make me retain water. Because I had an Italian friend visiting a few days ago, I had pasta (a small portion) with clams, mussels, and cod. I also had a little bit of bread and a small amount of apple crisp for dessert. And sure enough, the scale was up 3 pounds the next day. Now, I know because I track my intake that I could not possibly have eaten enough for this number to be a genuine gain. So for the last couple of days I have concentrated on keeping my carb levels down.
Sure enough, this morning I'm three pounds down again. More importantly for me, I feel better. My stomach doesn't feel swollen. Days like that just drive home to me how much better my body responds when I'm feeding it the right kinds of foods: veggies, meat, nuts, oil.
I have always considered myself a relatively fit person, cognizant of the food I eat and my general health. However, my perspectives on this with regard to diet changed significantly when I met my cavewoman. How? By observing her break down daily nutrition levels using the CRON-o-meter, this made me start to reflect on similar things in my own diet . . . though I am not disciplined enough to use the tool on a regular basis, I do keep it on my Mac (we are both HUGE Apple fans w/ iPhone and Macbooks to boot). By using it as a source of information or mentally keeping conscience of the numbers helps me make better choices when eating.
The results: in keeping my routines, after 1 year of eating like this, I weigh about 15 pounds less. Thinking about what you eat matters and combined with the delicious food she makes, she has also helped me make better choices when she is not around and for that, the results speak for themselves.
Indeed, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.