My Struggle

I have been trying to read the first in the memoir series called My Struggle by Karl Ove. I gave up after about a hundred pages. Maybe I’ll get back to it but I don’t think so. It’s really a guy’s book; I don’t enjoy reading about teenage male boners. He’s an interesting writer in that he gets so into detail and that part of the reading experience can be lovely. I also felt for him as he was a teen living alone and I too had been a teen living alone. The feeling I grew up with was that my family didn’t want me. They all lived in one house and I had my own little place my dad owned. At the time, I thought it was cool to be so free from authority, but honestly, deep inside I was lonely and could have used some support and guidance. So, I did relate to that part of Karl’s struggle.

Kind of went off on a tangent there. I really do have a struggle of my own I wanted to write about today. Looking at my last post I see I had totally one hundred percent failed to take into account that I would be on the road eating restaurant food for four days in December. I am afraid to weigh myself. I had actually batch cooked some food on my diet plan and meant to bring it in my cooler but Al got me up very early to hit the road ahead of rush hour and I forgot nearly everything.

You can’t eat plant-based whole foods in restaurants. I did my best. Wait. That’s a lie. I caved in by lunch and things just went downhill from there. I had to buy stronger medication as the Lactaid alone wasn’t cutting it. You know, one thing I learned early in life is to love myself and forgive myself. So I have done that. And I have gotten back on the right eating plan. But it took five days, because we don’t keep food in our house in Florida. Bugs like it when people leave for six months. So we had nothing, not even salt and pepper, when we finally got here.

I knew exactly what to shop for our first day here and I started eating my Starch Solutions meals. So that’s half a plate of potatoes, rice, or other whole grains, a quarter plate of veggies, and a quarter plate of fruit. Al eats what I do, plus he’ll grill salmon or chicken. He also will pick up treats for himself like KIND chocolate breakfast bars and Skinny Pop popcorn. He’ll say “Look! It’s vegan!” And it is, but I can’t eat it if I’m trying to lose weight. Or even just not gain.

This part is hard to say but you’ve heard it before. Wine and vodka mess with my body more than anything, but wine has been my go-to de-stressor forever and I’ve grown fond of the occasional martini. I keep reading books about how to be more moderate in my drinking. I don’t think I’m an alcoholic. I just think I let myself have something if I really want it. And having a glass of wine always leads to two. Then I switch to water for the rest of the night. This is why I don’t think I have a serious drinking problem. I don’t drink until I pass out. I can stop after one or two drinks. I actually want to stop.

I might have a little problem, well, I know I do, because I make promises to myself and then I don’t keep them. Be it food or wine or whatever. Then I think, well, don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re human. You’re 62 years old. You’re trying to completely change the way you eat. As for alcohol, some days I’d like to just quit drinking. Other days that feels like too harsh of a punishment. And every day I’d like to quit eating outside my diet. I feel so much better eating PBWF. It is the diet my body loves. Now that I’m here and set up for cooking and eating this way, I’m sure I’ll be fine. Most of the time.

The other thing is the kids are coming. My parents are coming today, just to visit. They have their own condo not far away, like literally five minutes. My mom has always been a healthy eater and she doesn’t drink so that’s a plus. I can make us a salad and she’ll be good with that. The kids, on the other hand, are coming to stay. Al and I are in the middle of changing my office into a guest room. Mike and Jessica love sushi and so I know I can serve that, but there are bound to be times when we are eating out as a family. I am overjoyed at the prospect of seeing little Julia (just six months old now) and Owen. And of course Mike and Jessica. My parents will be meeting Julia for the first time.

It’s an exciting and happy time and I am not going to make it all about me and food. My family doesn’t read my blog; they don’t know my struggle. They know I’m always on a diet. They know I don’t eat meat or dairy. They are not food pushers. I’ll be fine with them, happy to see them and spend time with them. It’s just me I’m trying to be fine with right now.

And in keeping with that holiday spirit, we have bought a Christmas tree even though we will be back in Michigan in a week or two. I love Christmas and I knew it would be make me sad not to have at least a tree. It’s so pretty lit up at night, and our community goes all out with the outdoor lights. Last night I wasn’t sure what was shining brighter, that big gorgeous moon or the lights here below. Here’s hoping you are enjoying the lead up to the holidays, too. And if you struggle with food issues like I do, don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t be perfect. xo

 

 

Sweetsville

Last week when I stepped on the scale, I was thrilled. I’d lost two pounds after a couple of weeks of plateau. It was due, I knew, to my decision to stop drinking alcohol. Alcohol isn’t banned from plant-based whole food diets. But it has calories, lots of them, empty ones that add no nutrition. So with weight loss as my #1 goal to reverse the diabetes train, dropping wine (and the occasional martini) from my life seemed obvious.

I went without alcohol and stuck firmly to the PBWF diet and I lost weight. Then I started to eat a little bit outside the PBWF box. I didn’t drink any wine, but consoled myself with cake. Just a little square. Which led to more sugar. Because I hadn’t really wanted the cake, what I really had been craving was a chocolate chip cookie. Once the cookies were in my shopping cart, I knew I’d eat more than one.

Now it is Friday and I have done my weekly weigh in. The two pounds I lost last week are back. Even though most of the time I have been faithfully eating my vegetables and fruit, my potatoes and rice, my oatmeal and almond milk … most of the time isn’t enough.

Sure as the sun shines, eating sugar leads to eating more sugar. There is nothing like the high of losing weight unless it’s having a little something sweet to reward myself. I have done this over and over again for thirty years now. Why? Because not eating sugar is hard. And I say sugar but there is a very long list of what I am no longer eating: no meat, poultry, fish, bread, oil, no dairy or processed foods.

I looked it up. About 1% of the US population is vegan. That’s about a million people. I couldn’t find any numbers for PBWF vegans. But really how much lower can you go than 1% ??? So, even the numbers say this is hard. I’m sticking with it, though, because I want to have a healthy rest of my life. After a brief detour into sweetsville, I am back on the PBWF path.

It’s not a coincidence that taking away wine made me crave sugar. It’s replacing one treat with another. Some people who quit drinking alcohol will drink endless cups of coffee laced with sugar and cream. Others smoke two packs of cigarettes a day. That’s a trope of AA meetings, the addicts with their coffee and cigarettes. Cigarettes would solve my problem with sugar. I never had a problem with sugar until I quit smoking. Quitting smoking is harder than quitting sugar. I tried to quit at least ten times before I finally did it thirty years ago.

I am worried right now that my week of eating sugar is going to show at the doctor’s office. My next visit is in ten days. That’s when I do the fasting blood work. Meanwhile, I will not be eating any more sugar. Once you get off of it, with PBWF you don’t even want it. In that way, it’s so much easier to kick than cigarettes.

 

Diet Danger Zones

I know all about things that can get me in trouble when I go on a weight loss program. Plant based whole food really is more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle, but because my #1 directive from my doctor to avoid diabetes is to lose weight, I have to work this into the PBWF diet, and it’s not that hard to do. Except when I make it that way.

Wine is not illegal on a PBWF diet. But I have recently discovered (this didn’t use to happen to me) that if I have a couple of glasses of wine in the evening, I don’t sleep well that night. I really need a good night’s sleep to function properly. (That wasn’t always the case, either. Clearly these are age related indignities.) When I don’t sleep my brain gets lazy and I decide that I’m just going to have a little chocolate or potato chips, or both.

All of these things (empty calories, sleepless nights, junk food) ruin a diet. I did that life expectancy quiz¬†everyone my age has probably done at least once. The alcohol was set at 2.7 drinks a week and I left it there, not really wanting to know how much I drink. The quiz calculated I’d live to be 92! Not bad.

I asked my husband if I drank more than 2.7 drinks a week. He laughed. “You drink that in a day.” He has a point. I don’t drink every day, and I don’t drink 2.7 drinks every time I drink, but I know I drink more, maybe 6-8 drinks a week. That sounds high. I’m a little embarrassed by that number, but it’s pretty accurate. It’s really too many drinks for someone who has to lose 30 pounds. Or maybe more. For a person trying to lose a significant amount of weight, alcohol for the week should be zero.

And so should potato chips and chocolate and cheeseburgers. Zero, zero, zero. And yet, I am all too human. I make mistakes all the time. But it is really important to be me to straighten the curve and drinking 6-8 units of alcohol a week, which leads to eating junk food and not sleeping well, is not gonna help. I really don’t care about wine more than weight loss. I don’t care about wine more than sleeping. And so I am going to stop drinking alcohol and go with the #1 drink recommended by PBWF, a drink, as luck would have it, I really enjoy: water.

 

 

 

Changes Sad & Glad

Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, is one of my favorite TV people. Her show on the Food Network is about more than cooking. It’s about the flowers and table setting, too. Episodes that include her husband Jeffery are the best. I love the way their genuine warmth and admiration for each other beams from their faces. You just know they are still truly in love.

I like Valerie Bertinelli’s¬†cooking show too. She’s a warm and sweet person who knows her way around her charming kitchen. It’s not her home kitchen. It’s a set built using inspiration from her own kitchen at home. Ina has a “barn” out back with a deluxe kitchen and pantry. Both Ina and Valerie have cute themes to their menus, too.

Since changing my diet to mostly plant-based whole foods, I’ve avoided watching these programs, because I’d be too tempted to make the recipes. But today, instead of the increasingly depressing news, I really needed Valerie’s cheery face. Plus the Food Network was doing a repeat of Ina and Jeffery’s classic 45th anniversary dinner show. Everything Ina made related in some way to their shared history, while Jeffrey chose the wine direct from a vineyard and also picked up the wedding portrait he’d had framed for Ina.

To prepare myself, I ate lunch before watching the show. The great thing about PBWF eating is you really don’t get hungry between meals and even if you see great food (Ina made peanut better chocolate “globs” ~ something they had at a restaurant on their first anniversary ~ and Valerie made an caramel apple tart) you don’t get cravings. I used to get cravings if I even read about a food I liked. If I saw the word “wine” in a book, I’d look at the time to see if it was cocktail hour! But today I fortified with my healthy lunch and I enjoyed my favorite programs without pain. I even thought about ways I could make some of the dishes PBWF.

It helped knowing that the PBWF chocolate muffins I made a few days ago were on hand for a snack. The key to not feeling hungry between meals is to eat the vegetables and fruits first, then have your starches. Oh, and eat as much as your body needs. You should not be hungry between meals. I’ve learned just how many hash browns (my favorite lunch starch) make me happy until dinner, and just how many oats will see me safely to lunch. I eat larger portions than I used to–for so long I didn’t eat starches at all. But now that I don’t eat meat or dairy or processed foods, I can indulge my love of potatoes.

Before I give you the recipe for my muffins, I just want to add that I am not perfect on this diet. My husband and I, like Ina and Jeffery, have yearly traditions that make us feel close. And one of them is donuts and cider in the fall while the leaves are peaking. We did that, and yes I had a donut AND cider. I have often heard that if you try to be perfect on a diet, you are bound to fail; if you try to just do your best every day, you’ll be happy and healthy. And with PBWF I don’t “fall off” my diet for a week. It’s easy to just begin again after a treat.

Cindy’s PBWF Chocolate Muffins

1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 2/3 cup maple syrup, 1 cup canned pumpkin, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Combine. Use cupcake liners or silicone pan, bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until toothpick stuck into muffin comes out clean. Cool. Enjoy!

 

 

Finding Right Food

Saw my doctor a couple of months ago. Tomorrow, I’ll see her again. She’ll check my numbers and then I’ll know. Has all the work I’ve been putting in to a plant based whole food diet helped bring my sugar down? I know it’s helped with dairy intolerance because the symptoms of–and relief from–that don’t need blood work. I thought I’d miss it more, but I only miss dairy a little every once in a while.

One day I was watching High Carb Hannah and she made this amazing grilled cheese sandwich with vegan “cheese.” So I had that and while it is not unprocessed, it was really good. I’m not great at deprivation so I need a diet that helps me feel satisfied inside and out. I’ve been searching for that balance for a really long time.

It is work to change the way you shop, cook, and eat. But I’ve been doing versions of this for so long, I know most of the basics. It’s kind of a hobby, finding right food. Each time I try with the hope that the new plan, this time PBWF, will increase my health and well-being. It’s not that I even want to live longer. I want to live better. Without disease slashing away at me.

Even though I read all four of the books you see in the photo, two are recipe books and two are on the science of PBWF life, there was one thing I wasn’t doing. I was so busy learning a new way to eat, I wasn’t thinking about the weight loss aspect. I’ve been losing a pound a week, so I figured I’m doing okay.

Yesterday, my friend Sara said she eats a salad for lunch and for dinner before her carbohydrates. BTW I love eating all these carbs. I think it’s the best diet ever and feel like I could stick to it for the rest of my life. I’ve never been much of a veggie lover, but they are part of the diet, so I eat them. A plate of food on a high carb diet of whole plants measures out as half whole carbs, like potatoes, rice, whole grain bread and pasta. Then a quarter of the plate is veggie and a quarter fruit. That’s a lot of food.

The thing with eating fruit and veggie first is that it helps keep down the carb binge. One way I do this is with soups and stews where everything is mixed together. But as an overweight diabetic woman who can eat a whole plate of potatoes with no problem, I can see the benefit in salad. Also, my husband LOVES salad and he’s eating the same thing I am most of the time.

[A husband cheat is for the guy to A. cook their own meat and fish and B. eat it at lunch. Dinner too, if they want. Also Al eats dairy products and uses oil on his salad. We have worked it out.]

The featured image today shows how I set up salad for my lunch and dinner and also as part of Al’s dinner. I like fresh salad so I make it daily. I’m not crazy about lettuce so today I added spinach, tomato, cucumber, carrots, corn and blueberries. I top all this whole unprocessed food with a little salt and hemp ranch dressing or raspberry vinaigrette. Those are the two dressings I’ve tried so far, but I plan to experiment more with no-oil dressing with my Ninja blender.

So, even without the doctor saying I am no longer in danger of diabetes, I would still eat this way because my belly feels better, I’m pain-free, I have more energy and my mental mindset is more positive. My creativity is shooting off sparks. (I wrote a short story in two weeks and I think I found my next novel!) The physical stuff all happened within 24 hours of starting PBWF living and it’s only getting better. It takes about a week for the blood tests to come back, so I’ll share what’s happening with the insulin thing then. Meanwhile, I feel great, I’m writing and I’m losing weight. I’d be really surprised if my test results don’t reflect that.