I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time, but I think it’s even more appropriate to use it to start off the New Year. Some much needed time off and time spent with family have inspired thoughts about eating mindfully, especially during this time of restarting and resolutions. It has been 2 years since my family has started our gluten-free journey. Two years ago, I discovered how gluten affected my son, but it also propelled my interest in nutrition and where our food comes from. Going gluten-free was a blessing beyond its impact on my son’s health. It also changed my mindset about food.
Prior to going gluten-free, I ate “pretty good” relative to what is the normal American diet. I regularly ate fruits and vegetables, I didn’t drink soda, I stayed away from fast/fried food, and I tried to eat a balanced diet. I also had some extra baby weight that would not budge, no matter how much I exercised or limited my calories. After going gluten-free, initially only to support my son, I felt great. I easily lost a few pounds without trying and I felt more energized and less bloated/foggy. This was the spark I needed to reevaluate what I was eating and why.
This journey has taught me many lessons, but one immensely important one is that everyone is different and everyone responds differently to food. That should be obvious if you are already interested in a gluten-free blog! However, it goes beyond gluten. I think we all have our own personal profiles regarding food. Whether you are interested in following a vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or grain-free lifestyle, what works for me will not necessarily work for you. However, what works for everyone is eating whole, unprocessed food. Nobody feels good eating processed, adulterated, chemical-ridden food.
I’m not sure why I feel compelled to share my diet with you. I guess I always find reading about what people eat to be fascinating. I think it is a very personal and almost intimate way to get to know somebody. I mean, we are talking about food!!! We eat or think about eating for a large part of the day. This is my personal blueprint of what works for my body now. This is subject to change and may evolve as time goes on as I learn more about food and more about my body.
I like to consider myself a veg-aleo. I fit in between a vegan and Paleo lifestyle. That sounds conflicting since one is mostly plant-based and the other is somewhat animal based, but this is why I like them both:
- I can go without dairy. My body has a hard time tolerating most dairy products, so this was an easy food group to avoid. I do tend to do ok with butter and hard cheeses (usually unpasteurized cheese). I also have a hard time eating dairy from a personally ethical standpoint. After breastfeeding my two babies for 2 years, I have a whole new perspective on cow’s milk. For me, it is not a food that humans should consume. However, it is delicious, so I make exceptions on rare occasions or if the alternative is not as healthy (a good example is butter).
- I need to eat a little meat during the day to feel good, but not much. I was never a big meat eater and going a day or several days without meat doesn’t bother me. However, I do feel better if I eat a serving of meat or seafood each day.
- I love a variety of fruit and vegetables. They are never boring, raw and cooked.
- I am ok with grain substitutes (nut flours, coconut flour, veggie noodles, etc.). Sometimes I just need bread, rice or spaghetti, but I feel better if I limit grains and substitute with healthy alternatives when possible.
- I like beans and legumes, especially chickpeas and peanuts. These are a big “no no” on the Paleo diet, but I can’t live without them. I also enjoy soy products (miso, edamame, tofu) occasionally.
So here is how I break it down:
- Fruits and Vegetables – Yes! As much as possible (Vegan/Paleo)
- Nuts/Seeds/Coconut – Yes! Healthy fats (Vegan/Paleo)
- Beans/Legumes – Yes! (Vegan)
- Eggs – Yes! (Paleo)
- Soy Products – Occasionally (Vegan)
- Meat/Seafood – 1 Serving Daily (Paleo)
- Grains – 1 Serving Daily (Vegan)
- Dairy – Avoid (Vegan/Paleo)
In general I also avoid artificial sweeteners and processed vegetable oils (canola, safflower, etc.).
Finally, just for the record, I do cheat every once in a while. So, if you see me out to dinner with my husband on a Saturday night, with no kids, you may see me scarfing down a Crème brûlée. It will be so worth it…