Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Bigger Slip-up(s)

This week hasn't been the best for this wheat-free, dairy-free, pescetarian diet thing.  Earlier this week, Chuck Sykes (the big cheese) came in to tour the office.  Sykes ordered about a million cupcakes for the event and staff were allowed to have as many as they wanted.  I resisted ... then wavered.  I really wanted one and hadn't had any desserts in a week - that's a long time (for me)!  So I caved and had one.  To be honest, it wasn't that good, either.  Maybe because for a week, I hadn't eaten any processed foods/sweets.  Or maybe it really just wasn't that good.  All it tasted like was processed, chemical-laden food.  It definitely was like some pre-packaged cake mix and icing.  I ate most of it and threw the last bit away because I really just wasn't enjoying it.

Then I hadn't had a chance to go grocery shopping and hadn't packed a big enough lunch to keep me going for my 10 hour shift.  So I went to Tim Horton's and got a whole wheat bagel with butter.  A co-worker also offered me a Lindt easter egg (the mini kind) that day.  That was all for the slip ups!  (Not too bad, I think, considering).

Last night, I was at a party and didn't drink at all, then went to the bars and didn't drink there, either!   I think that is pretty good for me.  But after leaving the bar, I was so hungry and my girlfriends got some street meat ... so I caved and got some, too.  I figure that's better than drinking, since the sausage at least had some nutrients.

Aaaannnd this morning I may have had a bowl of ice cream.  So this week hasn't been a good week at all.  I still have been eating tons of fruits and vegetables, and until this morning had avoided dairy, which I know to be a trigger food.  Wheat (or at least gluten) has no bad effects on me.

So I have to get my ass back into gear.  I've had too many slip-ups this week.  I said when I started this week, I was going big or going home.  Actually, I am going home to my parents - I'm moving out this weekend.  But I digress!  I have to step it up and eat well.  I think tomorrow will consist of me doing a lot of cooking to prep for my upcoming week at work.  Oh well ...

Sunday, 22 April 2012

the tiny slip-up

As you know, I've been trying to follow this plan as close to the book as I can.  With the exception of eating some whole wheat pasta left over in my pantry, and 2 tbsp of sugar in my sushi rice, I have done everything to the letter!  This diet plan, however, isn't the easiest thing to maintain in terms of the social life.

I have gone to three parties in the last two days (two were hosted at my host, one somewhere else).  I got the usual questions about why I'm not drinking: "are you driving?"  When offered a beer and I replied, "I can't drink it," I was asked if I had Celiac's.  I got a lot of those questions at the first party.  And not that it's a pain in the ass to have to explain (and I mostly just say "health condition" followed closely by "not alcoholism"), but I just feel like a party outsider.  I love to party, and I still enjoyed myself sober, but it was less fun.

The parties at my house were much easier to follow the rules.  When I got hungry, I just popped into the kitchen for some natural tortillas and hummus.  But at the other party, with all the chips and dips and cookies, it was much harder.  I brought a flask and just filled it with water, so most people assumed I was drinking and didn't ask questions.  The odd person did ask what I was drinking, so I just told them I'm not (because of my "health condition ... I'm not an alcoholic").  It was a good idea to bring though because 1) people complimented it, and 2) I could keep re-filling it from the tap and didn't get dehydrated, and it also helped to feel a bit 'fuller' so I wasn't craving the snacks so much. 

However, I did cave at one point.  There were these President's Choice salsa flavoured tortilla chips.  I looked at the ingredients list and they were made from corn.  Sugar was part way down the list (so I justify it as not too much), and there were a bunch of preservatives and crap.  I was hungry, though, and hadn't had anything to eat for hours, so I dug in.  That was my slip up.  When I came home, my roommates were having another party at our house and they passsed around cupcakes.  I soooo wanted one because they looked delicious but I didn't.  Wheat and sugar and probably other stuff I'm not supposed to have.  So I passed, and just kept drinking my water.

Parties are definitely less fun without alcohol and without snacks.  But I stuck to my guns (mostly).

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Day Two

Quick post before I head off to the theatre!

It's been a day of cooking and washing all over again.  Made a big batch of granola so I can grab it quickly in the morning before work.  Made a big batch of sushi rice so I can roll some sushi quickly before I have to go to work.  Also made a big batch of potato and leek soup and it was delicious!  It'll make probably 3-4 more portions, so I'm good to go for a while.

Today for breakfast I had some of the granola (san milk so it wasn't soggy) ... much better!  Made a banana strawberry vanilla chai Vega smoothie.  Had some of that delicious soup for lunch.  Made a bit of sushi for a snack (using the rice that wouldn't fit in the jar I'm keeping it in).  Made another salmon salad with strawberries and avocados and feta ... 'twas delish.  I also bought some applesauce (only apples, nothing else ... apart from ascorbic acid ...can't seem to get away from all the preservatives) to mix the intestinal health powder with.  I'm sure that'll go down much easier tonight :)

Well, I'm off to a show!  (Passionfool's production of Three in the Back, Two in the Head).  Haven't seen a show in a few weeks so looking forward to it!  Also looking forward to spending a couple hours not thinking about food and cooking!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Near the end of Day One

Today was my first day of my new wheat-free, dairy-free, pescetarian diet!  With the exception of taking supplements and adding protein powder to a meal, I really didn't do anything too different from what I would eat normally.

Each morning, I have to take a probiotic supplement.  I think it's supposed to balance out the bacteria in the gut.  For breakfast, I made oatmeal with melted butter, cinnamon, almonds, flax seeds, honey, and almond milk.  This is something that I actually eat quite often for breakfast, except I normally put a handful of raisins in the mix as well.  I am not supposed to eat any dried fruit, so I had to omit it from the breakfast.  I added too much almond milk and it got soggy very quickly and had to chuck some of it out because it just wasn't pallatable :(

For a snack, I had a frozen banana, raspberry, and coconut milk smoothie.  Again, this is something that I actually eat quite often, except today I added the Vega vanilla chai protein powder.  As I mentioned yesterday, I am really not a fan of protein powders, especially as this particular brand makes some undoubtedly false claim that eating a Vega breakfast (rather than a bacon and egg or cereal-based breakfast) for one year is the equivalent of "turning off a 60 watt light bulb for ... 521 consecutive days!"  (I want to see whatever criteria they're basing this calculation on.) 

--But I digress! I bought the vanilla chai powder which, although actually tastes nice, was really overpowering and I couldn't really taste the banana, raspberries, or the coconut milk (which on their own are SO delicious)!

For lunch, I made pasta!  A few days ago, I bought a sundried tomato pesto from Glenda's Dips in the Covent Garden Market and it is incredible.  I added a spoonful of that to some whole wheat pasta with sauteed red and yellow peppers, zucchini, red onion, carrots, black beans, and crumbled feta!  I shouldn't be eating wheat pasta, but I had one box left on my shelf so I decided to use it rather than chuck it away.  I make this dish quite a bit, actually, except this time I added in the black beans for protein.  (I usually use black beans for nachos but, now that I can't have cheese, I won't be making those anymore and used a can for the pasta.)  I made enough for leftovers, so either tomorrow or Friday I will be having that for lunch.

I had an orange for a snack before going shopping.  I bought some baking supplies today and baked a spelt loaf with flax seeds sprinkled on top.  Spelt is a relative of wheat and in Ancient Greece is what most of their bread was made from.  It used very few ingredients and the spelt flour is quite cheap from the bulk barn.  I guesstimate I made a loaf for just over $2.00.   It is very good, too!  I had two thin slices and it has a very heavy, rich taste.  (Also, I got a steal on almond milk from the bulk store: $2.49 for 946mL ... normally, it fetches close to $4 at the market or grocery store!)

For dinner, I made a salmon fillet and a nice salad.  Again, this is something that I would make for myself normally, although not too often as it requires a bit more prep for someone lazy like me (I don't make salads very often because I hate washing and drying the leaves ... it's just a pet peeve, I don't know why it bothers me, really.)  I took a little inspiration from my Cafe One days and chopped up some organic strawberries, avocado, and red onion along with a honey-balsamic vinaigrette.  It tasted really nice ... until I chomped down on a fish bone in the fillet.  That put me off a bit.  Although I love fish, I do hate being reminded that it was once alive :( (the reason I can't eat wings or ribs except once in a blue moon).  I also made way too much and ended up throwing out some of it.  I don't like to throw food away, but the vinaigrette would have made everything soggy, anyway.

One other thing is that before my lunch and dinner meals I have to take some digestive enzyme pills.  I think the idea behind it is that when they're in my stomach they help digest the food much quicker and that gives my GI tract a bit of a break.  Before I go to bed I have to mix a scoop of some intestine-helping powder with water.  The powder is supposed to help the intestinal lining.

So that's been my day!  It basically spent the entire time in the kitchen cooking and washing dishes, then cooking and washing dishes all over again.  But with some planning, I should be able to make enough of certain foods that I can make a big batch and eat it over the course of a few days.  I know for work I plan on making California roll sushi (I'm not supposed to eat raw fish for a while), I could whip up a pasta pretty quickly, and take some fruit with me, too.

Apart from eating whole wheat pasta and not drinking nearly as much water as I should have, I pretty much did everything along the lines of my program!  And really, it wasn't very difficult.  I know it will be more of a challenge when I have to work (luckily I have today and tomorrow off).

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Farewell, chocolate ... it's been nice knowing you!

Today, I savoured the last chocolate bar that I will eat for the next six months (or possibly even longer).  It was a Reese Peanut Butter Cups.  And it was divine!

Last May, I was unofficially diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.  I say "unofficially" because the colonoscopy did not show any signs of inflamation in the intestines, although under the microscope there was evidence of past inflammation.  Hence, the unofficial diagnosis, because the condition and symptoms were not present.  But my doctors told me that it's very likely that is the condition I have.  I was told that this is a chronic, lifelong disease without a cure.  My future and my health looked bleak: frequent flare-ups, steroids and medications (which would wreck my immune system and body in unbelieveable ways), depressed immune system, higher risk of developing cancers and a whole crap-load (pun intended) of other health problems.  I was handed a few pamphlets and it was kind of insinuated that I would be coming back for medicine.

I was really shaken by it.  It hit me: I have a disease.  I was upset and weepy for a few days.  But I was determined that I would not take the medical route for treatment.  It seemed to me, having had a healthy interest in food and nutrition and some holistic practises, that if this is a digestive disorder, whatever I eat must have an effect on my body.  A + B =C, no?  So I began to do some research, and pretty quickly landed upon a few websites and blogs advocating successful treatment (dare I say "cure") of the disease with ... FOOD!

I discovered that certain foods, such as dairy, grains (those containing gluten), and spicy foods can trigger flare-ups.  I decided last July to attempt a gluten-free diet to see if it had any effect on my system.  It didn't.  I then switched to soy and/or rice milk and removed *most* dairy products from my diet (I love cheese and ice cream, so I occasionally ate those).  I noticed a bit of a difference.  I definitely noticed that cutting out spicy foods helped (sigh .... I love spicy food).

For months, I had no symptoms whatsoever!  I felt cured!  Months later, triggered by stress and falling off the health wagon resulted in another flare-up.  I decided to seek out a holistic nutritionist to help me.  The one I contacted was quite booked up and wasn't able to see me for about two weeks.  Within that time, I discovered in my research that certain foods, such as coconut, avocados, aloe plant, and tumeric contain properties that are calming and healing for the digestive tract.  Within a week of eating lots of these foods, cutting out dairy and spicy foods, I had NO symptoms.  I cancelled my appointment, happy to be able to control my symptoms on my own!

However, after a few months, other things began to happen that were bothering me: I had gained some weight (about 17 lbs compared to a year and a half ago) and had developed acne.  I attributed the weight gain to having gotten a job at a call centre, which requires me to sit at a friggin computer desk for 10 hours a day, ~40 hours a week.  I attributed the acne to going off the Pill a few months prior.  But I began to wonder if my Ulcerative colitis may also be contributing to these things - even without experiencing any flare-ups, was it an underlying cause?

Eventually, fed up with my poor skin, heavier weight, and general fatigue, I sought help from the nutritionist again.  It took a long time to finally meet up, but today we had our first meeting and I received my 6-month plan!  My new diet is, essentially, gluten-free, dairy-free, pescetarian.  For the past 3 years, I have pretty much been vegetarian, only eating meat if I go out or go back to my parents house (althought I still eat eggs and fish).  Last week, I decided to declare myself vegetarian (specifically, pescetarian).  This week (and for the next 6 months) I am a GF, DF pescetarian!

I decided that I will attempt to document some of my experiences during this diet-revolution.  I expect it will be difficult, but I am looking forward to noticing the changes and feeling healthier!  Tonight is my last night as an average, Canadian eater (save the vegetarianism).  My goals over the next six months are:

- to heal my body naturally (i.e. no medications, although I am taking supplements as per the advice of my nutritionist ... I have a rather negative view of supplements in general, believing that food should be the only source of nourishment.  However, my body needs to be healed and these supplements supposedly help with that.)
- to lose 10-15 lbs (if I can even get back to my weight from January last year, I'd be very happy!)
- to have clear skin
- to have much more energy
- to become a better cook

I imagine I might completely forget about this blog.  Or I might get really into it and share experiences, ups and downs, recipes, and advice.  So wish me luck!