Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The sugar trap

Delicious ice cream...

That's not Guinness! (green smoothie with pineapple, blueberries, coconut milk, and spinach)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Building momentum

I've been grain and dairy free since Monday at dinner! Things are going pretty well, except for a little nagging hunger, which is totally unfounded since I've been eating between 2000 and 2300 calories per day. I'm trying to ignore it for now... I know I've eaten enough. I noticed tonight that my congestion is clearing up and I'm thankful for that!

I've also been working out and that seems to be going well. I've had a little trouble figuring out what to do on a day to day basis, but it's going okay so far. I'm hoping that I'll get a couple new pieces of exercise equipment for my birthday, and that should help me vary my routine a little.

Tonight's workout was: 5x5 front squats, from 45 to 70#, and 15 clean and jerks at 55#. It went okay. I do miss crossfit.

I also got clearance from my doctor for my dental work, but not without a lot of trouble. Perhaps I'll post about that later. For now, it's off to bed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm not going to give up

Well, in my last post I said I was going to eliminate grains and dairy again. And... I did. But I only lasted 4 days. How lame!

I think the big problem was that I tried to do it without much resolve and at the wrong time of the month. It's now a better time of the month again and I want to give it another go. I have some grains and dairy planned into this week's meals, so I plan to start this weekend.

I also started working out again today. Tonights workout was as many rounds as possible (amrap) in 15 minutes of: 10 squats, 5 push press (35#). I got eleven rounds, and I can tell I'm going to be sore tomorrow. But I'm welcoming it, or at least that's what I want to do. I'll see how I feel tomorrow.

Aaron and I have a trip planned in August to hike the South Sister in Oregon, so it's necessary that I start working out again. I've got 4 months to get in reasonable shape so that I can make what appears to be a demanding hike.

I also had another wake up call last week. I went to the dentist for a consultation for some procedures that I want to have done under sedation. Part of that is that they hook you up to this machine that monitors your vital signs... they look for specific markers to see if you are a healthy enough candidate for sedation.

Well, my blood pressure was high, and I couldn't get it to go down no matter how much I tried to relax. It's been high at the doctor's office too, for about the last year. If I want to do the sedation I have to get clearance from my doctor and/or get on medication to lower my bp.

I hate this. I am pretty anti-medication, especially for things that can be taken care of with lifestyle changes. And I am so mad at myself for letting my health decline this far. I guess mad isn't the right word... it's hard to explain. If I was mad, I would have the motivation to make the change, but I still feel a little apathetic about it. I'm more embarassed about the high blood pressure thing, and still don't feel that the whole situation is motivating enough to get me to act.

All I could think when I left the appointment was, "well, what is it going to take for you to wake up and realize that your health is in decline and you could suffer some serious consequences if you don't actually act and make a permanent change?"

The truth is that I am overweight, technically obese, I have insulin and blood sugar control problems, high blood pressure, and am largely sedentary and haven't been eating healthy lately. So, if that's not enough of a wake up call... what?

Anyway, so the changes I've made immediately (yes, tonight) are that I'm exercising (in training for this hike), and I'm reducing my carbohydrate servings and increasing my veggie intake. That's what I'm concentrating on for now.

I found some interesting articles today... I'm glad this stuff is finally coming out in mainstream news, but it's definitely not new information!

Added sugar increases heart risks (the last paragraph is priceless!)

Dual studies vilify sugar and salt in US diet (salt is debatable, and I could write another post on that issue!)

Subbing 'bad carbs' for 'bad fats' ups heart risk (again, some debatable content, but interesting)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Giving up grains and dairy, take 2

I have spent the last several weeks trying a more traditional foods diet. I started out doing pretty well, sticking to cultured dairy products, sourdough bread and soaked grains, but I soon slipped back into my unhealthy habits of overeating grains and allowing myself pretty much whatever I wanted.

So I can officially say that I feel better without grains and dairy. But that doesn't make avoiding them any easier. I mean, soaked cracked oats with lots of pasture butter and honey is a darn tasty thing to eat.

One of the biggest things I notice when I'm eating grains and dairy is that I am hungry almost all the time. I will get hungry within 30 minutes of finishing a decent sized meal. I want snacks all the time. I am really susceptible to giving in to cravings.

Here is a list of things that reappeared or became worse after I started eating grains and dairy again:

  • appetite
  • puffy face, swelling in ankles, legs, and hands
  • joint pain (knees and hips)
  • headaches daily
  • hypoglycemic symptoms
  • sore throat, especially in the mornings
  • congestion in ears, nose, and throat
  • sinus pain and congestion
  • earaches
  • itchy ears/infection

And I think my moods were more unpredictable and maybe even out of control at times. Okay, I know they were.

I had a couple thin buns today with lunch, but as of dinner tonight I'm going back to meat/veg/starch (primarily in the form of sweet potatoes, but also some red potatoes). Honestly, it can be really difficult to eat out when I'm eating this way. It's hard to get enough meat for a satisfying meal. It's hard to avoid dairy. It's hard to avoid vegetable oils (another thing I try to stay away from because of the really high omega 6 content), and it's hard to avoid dairy. Ordering a burger is like this, "I'd like a double/triple this, leave off the cheese and mayo, add bacon and guacamole. Oh, and wrap it in lettuce instead of a bun". And then when you get it they've left off everything but the cheese, which has melted onto the burger.

But, it's worth it if I'll feel better. Besides, we are trying not to eat out more than once a week, so maybe it will be a little easier this time.

Now, on to iodine. I'm still taking 2 drops most days of the week, but I've increased my thyroid medication from 1/2 tablet back to 1 tablet. I was on the lower dose for a couple weeks and at one point I started to feel my depression coming back, and I wasn't thinking quite straight. It really started affecting me in some bad ways, so I went back to the dose I was on before and I'm feeling lots better.

So, I'm getting back on board with my diet. I'm on a pretty slim supplement regimen right now, but I'm feeling good about it. The only thing I really need to get moving on is... moving. Exercise is next. I'm thinking about doing the CrossFit on ramp curriculum at home. Since I have about 8 or 9 months of CF under my belt from last year, I'm pretty comfortable with most of the exercises... I just need to build up my strength again. Rest assured, I'll be posting about that soon enough.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekend wrap-up

I didn't end up having any noticeable side-effects from the two drop dose of iodine on Saturday. I think what I was feeling was just normal weekend blahs and crankiness and hunger!

I've been feeling a little tired of chicken, especially the boneless skinless variety, so I decided to switch around our meals a little this week. This week's menu is heavy on beef, though we did have chicken thighs tonight.

Speaking of tonights dinnner, I tried a new recipe. I made Moroccan style chicken from Nourishing Traditions, and buckwheat and lentil pilaf. The chicken was pretty flavorful, and the pilaf may be an acquired taste... my husband and I thought it was okay. Both dishes definitely had a combination of flavors that we don't often eat, so it was kind of refreshing.

The grain and lentils were soaked for about 24 hours, as per the recommendations in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. Soaking, sprouting, and fermenting grains, lentils and beans deactivates the anti-nutrients (phytates and lectins) and makes them more digestible. These anti-nutrients are the main reason these foods are discouraged on the paleo diet.

I ate pretty awful stuff this weekend. I have noticed since reintroducing grain, sugar, and dairy, that my resolve has weakened and my cravings are a lot worse. My plan for this week is to focus on eating properly prepared grains (if I eat grain products) and to eat only cultured dairy products. I also want to cut way back on sugar and I'm even considering eliminating it almost completely (except for berries).

There is a method to my madness. Next time I post I'll explain the thoughts behind the plan and post some references.

Work week, here I come!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Update on iodine experiment and reconsidering grains and dairy

I have been taking Iodine every day since I last posted about it. Last Monday, I decided to increase to two drops in the morning and I experienced some odd symptoms. I had the same slightly increased salivation as when I first started with one drop, but when I got to work I sneezed all day long, and got a wicked bad sinus headache which lasted almost all day. I got home and did some googling and came across several resources which indicated that this condition is called iodism, or basically an overdose of iodine. Some of the sources made this sound really frightening, but a little more research indicated that there's some evidence that this reaction may be caused when there is bromide present in the body.

So, for most of the week I decreased my dose back to one drop which I had no problem with, and then tried increasing the dose again on Friday. This time, no sinus headache, sneezing, or increased salivation. I also noticed that about midmorning, I felt pretty good overall.

However, this morning the same two drop dose has me experiencing some slight sinus pressure. I just took it, so we'll see if it subsides or gets worse throughout the day.

Last Saturday we went to one of our favorite local diners and I ordered, totally on a whim, a monte cristo. I'd never eaten one, but I heard from many people that this place serves up one of the best and, figuring that I already felt like garbage, I ordered it.

For those who may not know, the monte cristo is a thick sandwich, filled with two types of cheese, ham, and turkey, and egg battered and... fried. Sometimes it's topped with powdered sugar and most I've seen are served with jam. So, this was a real departure from my no grains, no dairy diet. Like, miles away.

Well, I ate about half of the sandwich. It really was a work of art. The batter was thick, light, and crispy, unlike most fried foods you find anymore. But, I mean, it was... fried. And I haven't eaten anything that fried in who knows how long, so half plus a bite or two was all I could do. And it was quite yummy. Not something I could eat often, but probably an experience I should have at least once in my life.

Then, my stomach got super upset and I had to run off to the bathroom. When I came back, the other half of my sandwich was gone, and my husband had puffed up cheeks and canary feathers poking out of his mouth. Which was fine, because I was quite done with the sandwich!

For most of this week, I returned to my grain and dairy free diet. Thursday I made chicken soup and served it with sourdough grilled cheese sandwiches. I actually ate a fair bit of sourdough bread this week. I didn't enjoy the cheese much, though. I'm finding that typical cheeses like cheddar and colby jack aren't terribly pleasing to my palate anymore. They taste kind of... bland.

Anyway, I have been reconsidering dairy and grains in light of some podcasts I listened to, from Cheeseslave.com. I've read her blog off and on for a couple years now, and she's just recently started podcasting. I was quite suprised to hear her discuss with some of her guests the pitfalls of a paleo diet and it sort of got me thinking. It actually provided a nice counterpoint to a lot of the reading (and listening, and researching...) I've done over the past year.

The author of cheeseslave.com (maybe I'll just refer to her as cheeseslave from now on) advocates a traditional foods diet, a la Weston A Price. I won't go into the Weston A Price Foundation in this point, except to say that the diet they advocate focuses on traditional foods such as meat, animal fats, soaked and sprouted grains, cultured dairy and fermented foods. There is a fair bit of research around this (Weston Price's life work, or at least what he is most known for these days), but the diet is pretty controversial. Then again, what diet isn't controversial anymore?

So, I'm doing some research into this and have started eating grains and some dairy again, though I'll admit they are not the healthy grains and dairy recommended by WAPF. I've definitely noticed a difference in how I feel, too, and I can't say it's all good.

Anyway, this is probably long enough for now! Expect more to come in the way of traditional foods and my experiments with recipes and a new way of eating.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The iodine experiment

After a fair bit of research, I've decided to start supplementing with iodine.

Iodine is a necessary micronutrient which many people believe we don't get in sufficient amounts in our diets, due to soil depletion, absorption of heavy metals and halogens, and the fact that about 1/2 of home cooks no longer use iodized salt.

Iodine is required by many organs and glands in your body, most notably the thyroid and reproductive organs.

I'm using a product called Iosol, which is a water soluble form of iodine that also contains iodide (your body requires both iodine and iodide). One drop contains 1830 mcg of iodine, roughly 1200% of the RDA. However, many Japanese consume 13 mg of iodine on a consistent basis with no ill effects.

I took my first dose today. I'm starting with one drop in a glass of Emergen-c in the morning. I couldn't taste the iodine at all, luckily. I didn't notice much in the way of effects except for a very slight metallic taste in my mouth and slightly increased amounts of saliva, neither of which were unpleasant. Within the first hour of taking it, those effects diminished.

I'll be updating about how things are going with the supplementation. In the meantime, here are some further resources on iodine supplementation.

Two podcasts with Dr. Jorge Flechas

Jimmy Moore interviews Dr. Flechas (appx 50 mins)

Nora Gedgaudas of Primal Body, Primal Mind features a guest on thyroid and iodine

Dr. Brownstein, article on iodine supplementation

Iodine and halogens