Friday, February 24, 2012

A Wake Up Call for Food

It seems everywhere you turn these days there's another article about the dangers of food dyes, the endocrine disruptors in canned food linings, the arsenic in chicken, the added phosphates in food that's causing diabetes and high blood pressure, the antibiotics in conventional beef, the blood, pus and more found in milk, the dangers of gluten, the pesticides in our produce, the genetically-modified organisms wreaking havoc in our bodies and the tainted soil in which we attempt to grow said foods.

It's a miracle we're even alive. We're kind of like the walking dead though if you really think about it. Millions of us have auto-immune diseases, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, allergies, and every day maladies like headaches, pains, tummy troubles, low energy, depression and neurological disorders. Do you just give up, pop a pill and reside to believing that "everything's gonna kill us, so why bother getting rid of it?" I hope not!
You really can make a difference in your health. There's SO much information out there, so much to read, much to decipher what it all means and where you should even start.

I'll give you 3 simple steps to move toward the right direction for better health:
1. Read ingredient labels. Put items back that contain chemicals, trans fats, lengthy lists of food dyes, colorings, additives and words you can't even pronounce.
2. Move your body! No more excuses. 30 min a day is all you need.
3. Make at least half of your meals (or more) from scratch. That means ditch the fast food, convenience foods, packaged meals and mixes.

I finding this journey of educating myself about my own health to be eye-opening.  I find it truly amazing how our bodies react to food and how we overlook the truth that's staring us right in the eyes. It's not a pill we need to take  - it's better food we need to grow and eat.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Silently suffering...

Warning: I get slightly personal here. I talk of bathroom issues. But if you've ever suffered from tummy troubles, read on!

Since changing my lifestyle in Sept of 2010, to one of clean, whole foods, every part of my life has improved. I'm down 35 pounds and 3 dress sizes, daily headaches are gone, migraines are few and far between (used to get 2 a month), I have tons of energy, my hypothyroidism is going away (I'm down from .175 mcgs to .125 mcgs), and I just feel so much better. Everything was going perfectly - all bodily functions were normal.
Then, on Oct. 1 of last year, something changed and I have been suffering in silence ever since. I started having daily tummy troubles and it continued for months. I saw my doctor. He ran tests. Tests came back normal. Hmmmm...I decided to start researching my symptoms. From what I could discern, it sounded like a gluten-intolerance. I tested negative for Celiac, but sometimes it's hard to pick up.
So, I have been experimenting with my gut. I made attempts to go off gluten for a few weeks. Then, I would introduce it back with disastrous results. I would be in the bathroom for hours the next morning. Hmmm...I'm no doctor, I'm not even a certified Health Coach yet, but I would guess that I have developed an intolerance for gluten.

There's a faction of health-minded folks that swear gluten is a poison. I'm starting to agree with them. I'm not at all happy about this. In fact, I'm kind of depressed about it. After all, some of my favorite foods involve wheat, flour, gluten, etc... I love a good New York-style pizza, a yummy homemade pasta dish, a moist cookie straight from the oven, or freshly made Ciabatta bread from the bakery. I don't eat them all the time, but occasionally, they fill a void. For the past year, I have made my food choices. I have decided to give up processed foods, fast food, convenience food. It has been MY decision. This decision was made for me and I'm not pleased with it. I've been suffering for five months and I've been in denial. Why is this happening now? Why NOW, after making the best decisions for my health? I've been eating grass-fed meats, organic veggies and fruits, raw nuts and seeds, I've shunned dairy (and by the way, I haven't had a sinus infection or bronchitis in over a year since giving up dairy!!), and I've limited my refined carbs.
Was I already at my tipping point? Was it going to happen anyway? Before I started this journey, I was so tired all the time, overweight, sick a lot with bronchitis and sinus/allergy issues and starting to have pain in my legs (which my doctor thought was fibromyalgia). So, was Celiac just around the corner anyway?  Had I already done major damage to my immune system by years of eating a conventional American diet?
It seems that auto-immune diseases come in pairs or multiples. Hashimoto's thyroiditis can be accompanied with Celiac disease, MS, Lupus, Type 1 Diabetes, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and many more. Sufferers of one, may also get another.
I will see a gastroenterologist soon and an official diagnosis will come. Maybe it is something else. I'm hoping! But I know that I already feel better and can stay away from the bathroom when I abstain from gluten. So, I'm not that hopeful...

I'm curious if this has happened to anyone else. Who else out there has Celiac disease or a gluten-intolerance? How do you cope? Did you give up your dream of eating pasta in Tuscany and pizza in Sicily? Why does food damage us so much? I can't wait to get started with my education at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition next month. I want answers and I want better food for our society. I think I have found my lifelong mission - to rid the world of processed, chemical-laden foods that are making us all sick. Watch out - here I come!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week of Feb. 12 - 18

This week poses many challenges for me. I start teaching classes and my husband is going out of town for a couple of days and then I have to get ready for a weekend away with the girls. When my hubby travels, I always lose interest in cooking a full meal for just the kids and myself. So, I'm gonna keep it simple and super kid-friendly this week. But I still want to make a romantic dinner Tuesday night...hmmm...what to make?

Monday  - Chicken with Sun-dried tomatoes and leeks

Tuesday - Romaine Hearts Finger Salad with Balsamic dressing (recipe below), Seared Scallops, Green Beans, Parsnip Puree, Personal Molten Lava Chocolate Cakes (gluten-free)

Wednesday - Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers, Broccoli

Thursday - Dinner out with the girls (Chipotle is a safe bet)

Friday - Pork Tenderloin, Sauteed Zucchini, Quinoa

Saturday - Hubby is on his own as I head out of town...(Woo-to-the-hoo!)

Romaine Lettuce Hearts Finger Salad
  • 2 hearts of Romaine lettuce
  • 1 T pecans, toasted
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 1/4 C Italian cheese, shredded
  • 1 C Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing
  1. Separate the leaves of each heart and place them on 2 salad plates.
  2. Sprinkle the top of the lettuce with 1/2 T of the pecans per plate.
  3. Slice the red pepper in half and remove the seeds and core.
  4. Slice each half into half then cut with a heart shaped cookie cutter.
  5. Place the red pepper hearts on top of both salads.
  6. Top each salad with 1/8 C of the cheese.
  7. Divide the dressing into 2 small bowls.
Serves 2
By placing the dressing on the side you can use your fingers to dip the lettuce and pepper hearts.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Meals for Feb. 5 - 11

Last week was rough for me. I was busy with work, school projects for my daughter and I got a migraine headache out of nowhere. I hadn't had one in almost 6 months!! I only managed to hit the basement gym three times, but thankfully my weight held steady. It's been mentally defeating to be at a plateau for so long as well. So, I ramped up the repetitions and slowed down my workout with weights. I noticed I was kind of rushing through the process, so I slowed down and made every curl, kickback and squat count.
I also skipped out on dinner two nights last night, so you will see a repeat this week because I have the proteins and veggies already prepped. Sometimes, you just gotta take a break and let someone else do the cooking. I'm pretty proud of how far I have come with planning and executing meals. I mean, five years ago, the only thing I was good at making was reservations!

Meals for this week:
Sunday (early dinner before Superbowl) - Roman-style Chicken (
Monday - Shrimp Pad Thai
Tuesday - Maple-Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin (Clean Eating mag), sweet potato mash, sauteed zucchini
Wednesday - Honey Dijon Salmon, Garlic & Ginger Broccoli, Whole Wheat couscous
Thursday - Slow Cooker Short Ribs, Braised Kale/Collards
Friday - Baked Tilapia packets with veggies inside
Saturday - Date Night