Get me off this food roller coaster!!

Remember when the advice was to eat three whole meals a day? And that breakfast was the most important meal of the day? But then it changed to having six small meals a day was better for you?

Remember when we were told to avoid carbohydrates at all cost? Gluten? Or that meat was going to be the death of us? Then we were told that the Caveman Diet (Paleo) was the way to go?

But not to be outdone, from somewhere else it’s being extolled that FASTING! Fasting works wonders!

SOUTH BEACH DIET, ATKINS DIET, BODY FOR LIFE, WEIGHT WATCHERS, JENNY CRAIG, YOU ON A DIET, THE ZONE DIET, THE RAW DIET…

Aaaaaaaargh! Is your head spinning like mine is?

If it is, you’re likely choking on all the nutritional advice being shoved down your throat. It’s enough to make me want to head down to my beloved Taco Bell and beg for its forgiveness for having neglected it for so long.

The problem is behind almost every diet is a very real and rational science. With support from nutritionists and health professionals, even your doctor! You may even know people who have done well with one of the diets  – and they swear by it! And they’re all very convincing! And they all mean well! One minute you’re stuffing your face with bacon and then the next you’re eating more green, leafy things than goats and cows!

ENOUGH!

I am tired of being made to feel insecure about my food decisions. I am tired of counting calories. I am tired of jumping from one diet wagon to another. I am tired of bookmarking every single article on what to eat – for the “optimal ME!”

I just want to feel good. I want to be happy. I don’t want to be just physically healthy – I want to be emotionally healthy as well. And most of all I don’t want to waste a single moment fretting over a damn cupcake!

I am done with all the noise. I am done with all the food bullying. I am done listening to others. I need to listen to my body.

YOUR truth lies somewhere amidst the chaos. Let me reassure you that your gut is probably right. If a certain nutritional diet plan doesn’t make you feel good, then you should do something else. Humans are as unique on the outside as they are on the inside. What works for your best friend isn’t necessarily going to work for you. You have to find what does.

My friend, Joy of The Joy of Acupuncture, suggested a food journal. No, not so you can obsess over every single calorie but so that you can pay close attention to your body’s reaction to the food that you eat. Yes, tracking everything that you eat is a pain in the neck. But you might discover that raw foods just ain’t your thang. Or that eating fruits late in the day keeps you awake at night. Maybe gluten makes you gassy. From there you can build on a diet plan that works for you. With food that makes you feel good, gives you energy, lets you thrive and do all the things that you want to do.

Obviously, if you declare that you’re going on an all-McDonalds all-the-time plan because that would make you “happy,” I would probably block your way with an electrified cattle prod. If you really listen to your body, I doubt you would hear “let’s eat more junk!”

So today I am declaring myself FREE! Be the master of my own dietary fate! I am going to figure out what foods are good fuel for my body and I am going to stop worrying about what the latest and greatest is in nutritional news.

Won’t you join me? Tell me what your relationship with food has been like. Do you have any tips?

Photo via Flickr (Creative Commons) by Meredith_Farmer.

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The light at the end of the sober tunnel…

You know when Jennifer Love Hewitt on her show, Ghost Whisperer, talks about heading towards the light? And how warm, beautiful and great it’s going to be? Well, believe it or not, the end of my 30-day alcohol fast wasn’t quite that simple (or glorious). But let me start from the beginning…

Day 1 to day 12: Pretty much sucked. I’m not going to mince words. It really sucked. I was restless. I didn’t know what to do with myself. All I could think about was having a drink. I was also dreaming about drinking. It was social drinking withdrawal. I was even dreading the weekend – which is when the urge to drink hits the hardest!

Day 13 to 18: I became sullenly resigned to the experiment. I was starting to see the benefits but was still pretty salty about it. Grudgingly, I was sleeping better – feeling a bit more alert and less sluggish. I even felt thinner (even if the scale wasn’t showing it).

Day 19 to 28: I was finally in it to win it. I was getting the hang of it. Mentally I was no longer yearning for a yummy pint of beer or glass of wine. I was like a normal functioning member of society! (I said “like”… I wasn’t drinking that much before). 😉 I could also talk about it without hyperventilating or sobbing.

Day 29 to 30: As I was thinking about where I was going to have my first drink to break my fast, I started to feel a little anxious about getting back off the wagon. It was a struggle to stop depending on alcohol socially (and emotionally) and I was feeling pretty good so why get back on? Why am I throwing away this newfound feeling of wellness? Will I go right back to previous habits? What about all the money I will no longer be saving?

Cheers!

I had my first drink three days ago with a great group of friends… I was excited to be back… BUT I did end up having beer spilled on me, a sick feeling in my stomach and the worst night sleep in weeks! Ack! Remind me again why I jumped off my healthy wagon?

Overall, the drink fast was a great experience. I learned a lot about my relationship with alcohol. Mostly that I was starting to depend on it a little too much.

That I was actually drinking more than I realized…

That if I go without for a really long time, I’d be okay…

That life is possible and pretty good on and off the sauce…

And though there is no way to calculate the money I saved, I know I did save some and I am treating myself to a bicycle – at last.

Moving forward I plan on continuing to drink but cutting back a lot — maybe even reserving it for special occasions only — treating drinking as a bonus in my life rather than a requirement.  I am also planning on doing my alcohol-fast annually. Just as a way of getting me back on track and shaking things up.

Will you join me next year? How did your drink fast go?

Never say never

I am not a quitter.

I am opposed to the idea of all or nothing.

I believe in MODERATION.

Even when we’re talking about bad habits. After all, everyone has one (or, in my case, five…… thousand).

One of them was my dependency on soda. A can of soda first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I was having about 3 to 5 a day. It was my pick-me-up, my panacea, my crutch… If I didn’t get any, I would get cranky — okay, MORE cranky.

Finally, two years ago – after much nagging by family and friends – I made the bold decision to cut out soda from my life. I was getting older, gaining weight, my sleeping pattern was wacky and I was not bouncing back as quickly from the abuse I was giving my body.

At the beginning, I kept failing at it. I was sneaking it in when no one was around. I would lie if anyone asked if I had had any soda. Then I’d be plagued with guilt and shame. I felt pretty pathetic. And I really thought I couldn’t do it. That I was doomed to age badly with osteoporosis.

But then a friend pointed out that if drinking soda was one of the worst things I was doing to myself then maybe I just need to relax – to quit being so hard on myself. There were worse things I could be doing. And so I thought, “What if I just cut back instead?” A little soda wasn’t bad. It was that I was drinking it like water. Suddenly a gigantic eco-friendly light bulb went off in my head!

So when I said cut out I didn’t mean never ever. And it’s that distinction that has allowed me to dramatically cut down on my soda intake. I went from having soda every single day to once a month – if that.

The key has been not saying NEVER. Allowing myself to have it on very rare occasions has made avoiding it so much easier. It’s not draining on my self-control and I feel a lot happier. It’s a little way of tricking myself but it has made all the difference.

And when I “slip” I’m a lot kinder to myself. There’s no beating myself up. There’s no disappointment. There’s no feeling of failure. There are no late night soda benders – where I’m up all night and I wallow in self-recrimination the next day. Because no one’s perfect. I would love to tell you that as a yogi I eat well and do well all the time but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. By taking the word NEVER out of my vocabulary I am loving myself better. I don’t get as easily derailed and I’m more likely to get back on and start again. To relax, relate and RELEASE!

So write NEVER on a piece of paper, rip it up and throw it away. You can thank me later. I accept cupcakes as a form of payment.

And if you have any tips that you use to stay on track, please let me know! Let’s get some ideas going!

How to deal with your non-drinking friend

As you know, a group of us are going alcohol-free for 30 days starting February 1st. There have been a variety of reactions to my plan ranging from a congratulatory hug to visible recoil. It is pretty interesting to see them and get a feel for other people’s relationship with alcohol.

But let’s not forget that drinking has a huge social component to it so here is how you can deal with your alcohol-free friend (whether her sobriety is temporary or permanent):

1.  Do not talk her into having a drink.

2.  Do not treat her like a social pariah or like she’s lost her mind.

3.  Do not give her the “head tilt – I’m so sorry” look every time you see her.

4.  Do not hide your alcohol from her or flaunt it in her face either.

5.  Do not explain to her why you would not give up alcohol.

6.  Do ask her how she’s feeling and provide encouragement.

7.  Do continue to invite her to your parties and get-togethers.

8.  Do treat her like nothing has changed.

9.  Do buy her a juice or soda if she’s at a bar with you.

10.  Join her. You might be surprised at what you will discover about yourself.

It’s not hard. It’s not weird. And  you will help your friend accomplish something good. If you’re on Twitter, follow along and provide support with the hashtag #dry or #drinkstrike. You can also leave a comment here or on my Facebook Page.

Below is the list of intrepid individuals joining me in February:

1.  My husband, Warren
2.  My sister, Mary Jane
3.  My friend, Joylette
4.  Danny Stewart
5.  Lisa Byrne
6.  Shonali Burke
7.   Vanessa French
8 .  Michelle Nguyen
9.  Krista
10.  Jeff (aka) Malnurtured Snay
11.  Danielle Ricks

It’s not too late to join us! February 1st  is only TWO days away… Are you ready?

No Beer Make Homer (and Sam) Go Crazy

The last time I had beer was exactly 56 days ago.

The first two beer-free weeks were accidental. The second two weeks and from then on have been intentional. In the meantime, wine has been my alcoholic beverage of choice. But for 30 days starting on February 1st even that crutch will be gone. No beer, no wine, no cocktails, NOTHING. Just me, my bottle of water and a lot of teeth gritting/fist clenching.

Alcohol has been a valuable part of my life since the day I turned 21. (Yes, I was one of those geeks who didn’t engage in underage drinking). It’s been my respite after a long day, my social lubricant, and the perfect party buddy. But in February I will have to get by on pure grit and determination (and maybe a mild sedative). 😉

My reasons for abstaining are as follows:

1.  Sometimes the best way to find out how something is affecting your body is by going without it for a few weeks.

2.  Because both my wallet and my liver could use a break.

3.  To see how it affects me mentally (and socially!).

4.  To see the physical benefits of not ingesting so many “empty calories.”

5.  To prove to myself that there is still a distinction between needing a drink and wanting a drink.

I chose to do this in February for no special reasons. Though I feel like I am cheating because it’s winter time and I am already inclined to stay at home as opposed to imbibing with friends. But then again I would not have survived Snowmaggedon a few years ago without beer. So maybe we should all be praying for mild weather.

My husband, sister and a close friend will be joining me with their own reasons for being a part of my potentially kamikaze party. If you would like to join us, whatever your reasons may be, let me know! I would love to be able to provide support by email, Twitter or through Facebook! In doing something together, our chances of success increase!

But where to begin? Here are a few tips and suggestions to help get you through your 30 days:

1. Resist the urge to substitute sugary drinks or soda for the alcohol that you’re missing.

2. Remove any alcohol from your home. (Ask a very trusted friend to store it for you who won’t drink your stash). 🙂

3. Do your best to avoid incredibly tempting situations like going to a bar or having dinner at a brewery. (That one almost got me!).

4. Commit to seeing this through and it if helps buddy up with someone who will go through this experiment with you. (Like me!)

5. Find out what works for you – be it keeping this decision to yourself or sharing it with your friends so that they can help support you.

30 days of sobriety begins on Feb. 1st and will end on March 1st.

Hopefully we can all stay friends. Good night and good luck.

Why I’m never eating at Fogo de Chao again…

Fogo de Chao is a Brazilian churrascaria steakhouse chain. For $50 you can eat your weight in meat. The food is great and the service is good. It was Mecca to me. So why am I swearing to never eat there again?

I went to Fogo de Chao in May to celebrate my husband’s birthday. It was our special occasion restaurant. We were both tremendously excited to be there and when the various meats on a stick started coming we were over the moon! We couldn’t wait to stuff our faces! And then more kept coming… And more… And more… I was not done with the meat I was currently chewing before the next one came along and pretty soon my plate was piled high with half-eaten delectable, greasy pieces.

As I was chewing I started to feel sick to my stomach. I was eating too much and wasting so much more. I felt out of control. I was starting to get a headache (a meat headache?). My husband and I grew quiet during the meal… No longer so effusive… No longer feeling great… Staring at the carnage in front of us. I pushed my plate away. I flipped over my circle card to the red side to indicate that I was done. And boy was I done. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Why did that great meal make me feel so terrible? Perhaps because it was gluttony at its best. I was almost embarrassed at the ostentatious amount of food that kept coming and the amount of food that was left behind on my plate. Everyone was chowing down and since it was “all-you-can-eat” it didn’t matter whether or not you finished what was on your plate. You could just get more! Yay!

But the way I was thinking about food was changing. I was acutely aware of food – How it’s made… Where it comes from… How it’s prepared… I recently learned of livestock production’s hefty carbon footprint. (And why can’t meat processing plants be more open about their operations?!?) I just never really thought about it. But here we were at this fancy shmancy restaurant not even bothering to eat our plates clean! Ack!

At the end, I just didn’t feel good… about any of it.

No, I am not giving up meat any time soon but I can make better decisions as far as where my food comes from. I can eat less of it. And I can start demanding better for the environment.

And, yes, I realize that plenty of restaurants are not concerned with sustainable foods or locally grown produce. So I’m not necessarily targeting Fogo de Chao… It just happened to be the place that finally pushed me over the edge.

So tell me… What pushed you over the edge?

My blog on the side…

I confess to being unfaithful… I have been working on another blog. A mistress, if you please. But it had to be done. This blog is tangentially-related to this blog in that it’s solely about food… Healthy food. Technically it’s my husband’s blog and it is all about the meals he is creating at home with the vegetables that I have a love-hate relationship with. But being that I am more technologically savvy – he cooks, I take pictures and slap it on the internet. He gets all the glory while I stuff my face with mushrooms and cheese. A win-win.

Without further ado, here it is:

Yogitastic on Food

It is a work in progress. The plan is to include recipes and cooking tips. But for now it’s a little bit of food porn. Enjoy!