Finding Balance – Part 1

As I stumble through my life, learning a new lesson every day, I realize that one of my mission’s seems to be learning how to find balance. I’ve written about this subject before and feel I could probably touch on it once a week. As I watch the news, I’ve come to learn that all is not as it seems. I read articles and status updates on facebook and realize, we are a world of extremes and the sensationalism created by click seeking media outlets are making us all crazy. This is not going to be a series on the perils of social media and news sources, I just wanted to point out that we all seemed to be a part of this sensory overload and the ability to find a middle ground just doesn’t seem to exist. I’ve eaten crow enough times to know that there is always another side to a story, and the truth is somewhere in the middle. So my goal in life is to fall somewhere in the middle.

This blog post is one of a series of examples in my life where I’ve had to consider all sides and find myself somewhere between the crazy left and crazy right. I have a tendency to take anything WAY too far, just ask my husband. But hey, how can I really figure out where the middles lies if I don’t test the limits, right? I don’t have a plan for how many posts will be in this series, so I guess we’ll just have to see. This post is going to specifically focus on nutrition and my food journey. I’ve had a lot of questions about my diet recently, simply because I’ve lost so much weight. I was 165 lbs before I got pregnant, 215 lbs at the height of my pregnancy and currently weigh somewhere around 125 lbs. I don’t make it a habit of weighing myself because that is counter productive to me, but I wanted to see how much Ellie weighed one day and that’s where I came up with the 125. That was several months ago.

 

This is the most current picture I have of myself. I'm trying to do a yoga pose for Instagram, haha.

This is the most current picture I have of myself. I’m trying to do a yoga pose for Instagram, haha.

 

My weight loss journey is really no different than the ones you read in magazines or in an advertisement for (insert trendy diet here). I grew up a fairly normal weight, probably even a little skinny, although I always thought I was fat. I look back on pictures of my growing up and I was never fat, so where that thought came from, I have no idea. I had a warped perception about a lot of things, so why not add body image to the list. I didn’t actually start to struggle with weight though, until I got sober in 2000. I did what a lot of women do when they get sober; I replaced drugs and alcohol with food. I don’t even really mean that I ate food like I drank, I mean I replaced the obsession of alcoholism with the obsession of eating poorly, dieting, exercising and all that came with that. My weight didn’t become a problem until 2005, when I graduated from college. I had 5 years of sobriety, moved into an apartment on my own, and had a brand new job. I think at the height of my weight, I was around 170 lbs. I’ve always “weighed” more because I am a muscular person by nature, but this was an unhealthy 170. At that point, I started what I will call the “participate in the diet industry” phase of my life. I dabbled in different diets such as Weight Watchers, the Zone, semi- Paleo (although it wasn’t as popular as it is now), low fat, etc etc. I tried different exercise regimens including Tae Bo, the Firm, Crossfit, Running, and finally yoga. But none of it worked… why, because it wasn’t about the food. Here’s what I wish I could tell everyone in America, IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FOOD. If it were, we would stop eating poorly and start being healthy. It’s really simple if you think about it that way. Just like alcohol was for me, food is but a symptom and the drama of setting myself up to fail so that I had one more thing to beat myself up about was a perfect distraction from having to look at myself. I had a therapist ask me once, “what would it feel like if you didn’t worry about being fat? If you didn’t worry about losing weight or obsessing about exercise?” My answer was, “I don’t know and that is a scary thought”. I couldn’t even imagine it.

 

This was when I was close to that 170.

This was when I was close to that 170.

 

I can talk about that period of my life forever and ever, so if you have questions about it, let me know and we can discuss. For the purpose of making this post bearable for people to read, I will fast forward to the solution. Being in a 12 step program and that working so well for the alcohol/drugs, I decided I would try that for the food too. It didn’t really work, although I definitely think the healing from the past and digging into myself the way the steps require was a piece of the puzzle that was very important in my recovery of all things. I sought “outside help”, meaning I went to a therapist. She was amazing and helped me realize that I was using food as a distraction from dealing with myself. Once we realized that, we began to do exercises to help me learn how to be kind to myself. One exercise that I think of often went like this:

*I sit in a chair and have an empty chair in front of me. She says that one chair is for my “body”, while the other chair is me, my mind. I had to apologize to my body (my mind part of myself) for treating it so poorly over the years (yo yo dieting, compulsive overeating, negative self talk, over stressing it, disconnecting from it, ignoring pain, etc). I had to promise that I would listen to my body and that I would never treat it poorly again. I think of that conversation often and in times where I would begin the “I’m fat” negative self talk, I would say to my body, “I’m sorry for saying that and I will not speak to you like that again”. It sounds corny, but really, it has helped because I would never say anything like that about myself now.

I’m not going to say that I instantly had a health relationship with food and that all of the sudden, I was at a healthy weight and never ate poorly again, in fact, I did the opposite. I told myself I would never “restrict” myself again. I would eat what I wanted and learn to eat mindfully. I would exercise if I felt like it, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t. The point wasn’t that I would get fat and lazy, the point was that instead of listening to what others told me I “should” be doing, I was to listen to what my body wanted me to do. There were some bumps along the way and then I got pregnant. Before I move on to the whole point of the post, the finding balance piece, I want to say that the best book I’ve ever read pertaining to this subject is called “Women, Food and God” by Geneen Roth. She is an amazing author and she basically says that when we eat poorly to the point of being unhealthy, it’s because we have a God sized hole that needs to be filled. She says that our relationship with food is a reflection of our relationship with God because we’re letting the fear take over when we overeat, or undereat, or throw up or whatever your disorder may be. So for me, turning over my will to God and asking for His guidance was crucial.

During my pregnancy, I ate a lot and gained 45 lbs, BUT, I learned how to be gentle with myself. I learned how to slow down and to be present. My eating was a lot about escape and not connecting with my physical presence. Regretting the past or living in fear of the future were always on my mind. I didn’t taste the food, I tasted the thrill of rebellion as I ate “naughty” foods. Being pregnant was the most connected physically that I’ve ever been. It gave me permission to treat myself well because I had to take care of my baby. I learned how to slow down. I got to see what it feels like to be present in my skin. Then Ellie was born and she had these food allergies. I had to do what I never wanted to or was able to do and that was go on a crazy strict diet. I lost all of my baby weight plus 40 lbs. I’m the thinnest I’ve been, really since high school but that wasn’t my goal. I honestly did not care about losing the baby weight once Ellie was born because my main goal was to be a present, happy mom to her. My goal was to breastfeed her and make sure I was healthy enough to do that. The gift that has come from the diet is not the fact that I’ve lost weight because who knows what will happen once I’m no longer breastfeeding, but it’s that I’ve learned how to think of food as fuel for my body instead of an outlet for not being happy. I don’t think about what I need to cut out of my diet, but what I need to make sure I get in and once I do that, I typically don’t have room for the other stuff. I can see how much better I feel when I eat the right balance of food in a day. 6-8 veggies is a lot of food! And I’ve found lots and lots of foods that I really love simply because I had to think outside of the box.

I follow a lot of paleo blogs because their recipes tend to leave out the 3 things I can’t eat, dairy, soy and gluten. The issue i have is that paleo people can get CRA-ZY with their paleo dogma. I see articles of how gluten is the devil and grains are killing us and I see where we’re taking it too far. I’m not going to die if I eat wheat. My stomach will get bloated and my face will break out so do I want to eat it every day, no. Can I have a sandwich every once in a while, yes. Does every single piece of meat I buy need to be grass fed, organic blah blah, no. I don’t have to be all or nothing, I can live somewhere in the middle. i cook most of my meals at home, and try to make them as healthy as possible. Sometimes, I eat a Krispy Kreme donut, you know what I’m saying? Food isn’t the devil. It’s what we do with it that is.

 

Me pregnant - obviously

Me pregnant – obviously

 

 

A pic from April

A pic from April

Meal Plan Monday

I need to do a video blog because I’d really like you all to hear how I’m saying this. Imagine Pat Sajak in the background saying:

MEAL

PLAN

MONDAY!!!

It’s obviously not as effective as if I were yelling it you. But oh well, back to our point. Here’s the meal plan for the week.

Breakfast: Eggs and bacon OR oatmeal with sunflower butter, bananas and strawberries

Lunch: Leftovers or Applegate Farms gluten free chicken nuggets with fruit or hopefully some type of veggies

Monday: Ribs – I bought the ones they had on sale at Whole foods which I’ve never done before. I think they were St Louis style or something like that, so I need to figure out a good recipe. This is what I’ve used before, sweet potatoe fries (I basically just cut sweet potatoes into fry shapes and roast them – olive oil, salt and pepper)

Tuesday: Leftover ribs

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken (olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano), beet chips (still haven’t made my beets yet), and asparagus

Thursday: leftover chicken

Friday: Turkey burgers, grilled carrots

For baby: I’m going to make pureed apples, pureed sweet potatoes and pureed avocado (some meals, I’ll mix together). I have been using some Earth’s Best food, but I hate her eating that type of stuff, so I’m trying to get it together and make stuff this week. She moves to 7 month food next week and I can try some other things

I’m going to try very very hard this week to blog more. My goal is 3 posts a week, and for them to not all be about eating. As I said earlier, I’d like this blog to be a source of information for breastfeeding diets, especially with an infant with food intolerances, a journal for those who don’t follow the standard parenting path (somewhere you read something and go, oh thank goodness someone else does that too), and hopefully, some crafts too! So far, I have been failing miserably, but hey, that is exactly what us moms do, right? (I kid)

Meal Plan Monday!

So, I strayed a bit from my meal plan last week, but ended up pretty much on task. I forgot to put the chicken in the crockpot and so Tuesday, we had to eat out. The gluten free wraps were gross, so next time, if you’re making that chicken salsa verde, put it on some rice. I did that and it was way better. I am also ditching the Rice Cereal. It’s just not what I want in the morning. I’m going to get some oatmeal next time, but for this week, it’ll be eggs, bacon and fruit. Simple and yummy.

 

Breakfast all week long: Bacon (this bacon is the bomb), eggs (organic of course, I try to buy local, but Whole Foods didn’t have the local brand out this time – when our farmer’s market starts here in Greenville, I’ll get lots of stuff from there) and some fruit. This week, I bought

  • 2 melons (they were on sale, one is cantaloupe and the other was a canary melon)
  • strawberries
  • bananas
  • and we still have some leftover apples and oranges from the week before

Lunch: I plan on having leftovers of the meals below but if for some reason, there’s nothing leftover, I bought some gluten free chicken nuggets , some avocados, and I have some frozen veggies still (365 brand)

Monday Dinner:

Pork Tenderloin – I’ll probably do an herb encrusted loin

Mashed Sweet potatoes

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

 

Tuesday:

Free night because my husband and I are celebrating a milestone for him

 

Wednesday:

Rack of Lamb

Beets – I can’t decide if I want to do beet chips, roasted beets, or a beet salad

Brown Basmati Rice

 

Thursday:

Wings – I just do an olive oil and lime marinade

Corn on the Cob

Friday:

free night

 

What are you eating this week?

Gluten Free Pasta – Yums

If you read my blog post yesterday, you know that we had Angel Hair Pasta with Scallops. I had to adapt the recipe because I need it to be gluten free, dairy free and soy free. Just a warning, a food photographer I am not, so, don’t judge me!!!

This recipe is an adaptation from one found on SkinnyTaste 

Recipe:

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 lb bay scallops, dried well – I went to Whole Foods with the intention of getting fresh scallops, but they were out so I got frozen
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided –
  • 1 tsp Earth Balance Soy Free buttery spread
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 14 oz can diced petite tomatoes, drained
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 7 oz angel hair pasta (DeBoles gluten free rice pasta)

 

photo

I had the scallops on a napkin to dry them out as much as possible

Directions:

Put a large pot of salted water to boil.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add the olive oil and butter. Once it’s very hot, place the scallops into the pan (half of the scallops at first), and allow them to brown without moving them around. After about 30 seconds, flip them over and allow them to brown on the other side. Take them out and place on paper towel or napkin to soak extra moisture. Finish the other half of the scallops.

The next time I make this, I’m going to make some changes. If you’re using high heat, olive oil is not a great choice. I was just following the recipe, but next time, I’ll use grapeseed oil or something that handles high heat better. Also, I don’t enjoy cooking on high heat because it pops in your face. I might experiment with less heat and cooking the scallops longer. 

Add the pasta to the boiling water, and follow the instructions on the box. For rice pasta, you have to be careful not to overcook it because rice pasta gets soft quickly. 

Reduce to high heat and add the remainder of oil. Add the garlic and cook until slightly brown. Add the tomatoes, wine, salt and pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of parsley, and remove from heat.

The other thing I’ll change is adding less liquid. I’d also like to cook the tomatoes a little longer because I like them to break down a bit more. The original recipe calls for white wine, but my husband and I don’t drink and I don’t like to keep wine around the house for that purpose. I bought white wine vinegar instead, which was good, but should be reduced to about half of what the original recipe says. There’s plenty of liquid with the canned tomatoes and olive oil, so reducing the wine would be fine. 

photo2

Add the scallops and remove from heat.

photo3

It was nice to eat something different and the flavors together were really good. It came out kind of like a pomodoro sauce which is one of my favs! Super healthy!!

and then I finished it off with this –

photo

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Vanilla Glazed donuts – they’re actually really really good

Yums 🙂

Meal Plan Monday

So I think I’m going to a regular post called Meal Plan Monday. I’m not sure everyone is dying to know what we eat every week, but maybe it’ll help you plan your meals. I’ve found that planning out my meals a)makes my grocery bill cheaper and 2) helps me stay on track with cooking and not eat out so much. There’s a limited number of places in Greenville that provide food that’s dairy/gluten/soy free and I’ve worn those out, believe me. So I’m hoping this little post will help as well 🙂

This week’s meal plan is inspired by a new blog that was recommended to me, SkinnyTaste. She has a gluten free section and a paleo section, so with her help and my knowledge of substitutions, I have found some things to try. At one point, I was eating dairy, gluten, soy, nut, egg and beef free and that felt impossible to find recipes. Paleo is probably closest but they LOVE nuts, so it was hard to find anything I could use there. Vegan uses a lot of soy which is what bothers Ellie the most and most gluten free things have both dairy and soy in them. Either way, I’ve learned how to substitute really well and now that I’ve reintroduced eggs and nuts, I feel a lot more free.

Monday – I actually still have to go to the grocery store because I never made it yesterday, so we’ll see what happens.

Breakfast:

  • Bob’s Red Mill brown rice cereal
  • Ellie and I shared a banana and some strawberries as well
  • Coffee with coconut creamer, french vanilla
photo

Ellie double fisting strawberries & bananas

Lunch:

  • Applegate Farms Turkey burger patty
  • leftover fingerling potatoes, roasted with olive oil
  • So Delicious coconut ice cream bar

Dinner:

(I’ll blog about substitutions later because there’s a lot I’ll have to do)

FYI – I just reintroduced scallops/shrimp with her, because I wasn’t sure how she’d react. The jury is still out, so we’ll see after tonight if she does okay. I ate salmon once and she had blood in her stool, so I’m not sure if it’s just salmon. I’ve eaten shrimp before and she was fine.

Tuesday

Breakfast

  • Brown Rice Cereal
  • Fruit of some sort
  • Coffee with coconut creamer

Lunch

  • Leftover pasta

Dinner

Wednesday

Breakfast

  • Same – I’m trying to finish the bag of rice cereal so I can get oatmeal. Or possibly quinoa – those are much better for the morning but I also don’t want to waste food.

Lunch

  • leftover chicken

Dinner

Thursday

  • Repeat breakfast and lunch

Dinner

  • Leftovers, depending on what’s left – either the chicken or the chili

Friday

  • repeat breakfast and lunch
  • Dinner is a free day, so we’ll probably go out to eat

By Friday, I’ll have to revisit the grocery store for things and I’ll re-evaluate what dinner will be for the weekend. Sometimes, we like to cook in, sometimes, we’ll go out. The goal is to have most weekly meals at home though. If you’re gluten free, dairy free, soy free or have any type of allergies, some good places to visit are:

Let me know what recipes you’re trying this week!

Meal Plan for this week!

One of the things I’ve learned from healthy eating is that my life is much simpler if I create a meal plan for the week. Using Pinterest is a life saver because I can pin yummy meals as I see them and come back to them later to decide what to cook. I’m creating a meal plan here so that if you’re wanting a healthy diet, you can take a look at what I cook and see if anything is interesting!

Monday:

*Breakfast – bacon, eggs and banana

*Lunch – Applegate gluten free chicken nuggets (they don’t contain any dairy, soy or gluten) they taste really good and they don’t use antibiotics^, green beans (I just buy the frozen beans at whole foods, the 365 brand)^^, and an orange

^I grew up southern so it’s just in my palate to have “fried/breaded things so this is my way of doing so. 

^^I use frozen veggies at lunch because while I understand that buying whole beans and snapping them then cooking them is the best option, I have to work, and I have an infant. You can do what’s best but frozen is the best alternative to fresh. Studies have shown that the metal cans are NOT GOOD. 

*Dinner – Pan Seared pork chops with apples and collard greens^, gluten free chocolate donut (I had 2 and realized that was WAY too much), coconut milk

^I didn’t have any chicken broth, vinegar, nothing so I just boiled them with 2 pieces of bacon. My husband said they were bland, but all in all, I thought they were good. Next time, I might try an actual recipe although the collards themselves are good. 

Tuesday: 

*Breakfast – Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Cereal with Earth Balance non soy spread

*Lunch – left over dinner from Monday evening, almond milk chocolate bar (dairy free/soy free, So Delicious)

*Dinner – Ribs^, broccoli^^ and carrots^^^

^I used a dry rub for this, I can’t even remember what I put in it – it was brown sugar, cayenne pepper, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, coarse sea salt, and some other stuff too

^^I just steamed it with no seasoning

^^^they were glazes (the earth balance spread and brown sugar) 

Wednesday:

*Breakfast – Brown Rice cereal again with a banana

*Lunch – ok, I messed up here because I planned on having leftover pork chops again but I forgot in all of the errands I had to do, so I ate a smoothie and forgot to eat lunch. Not good.

*Dinner – Roasted herb chicken^, roasted asparagus^^ and a sweet potato, gluten free donut

^olive oil, dried parsley, dried oregano, dried basil, and dried rosemary

^^olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper 

Thursday

*Breakfast – eggs and bacon, half of a banana (I split the other half with my daughter)

*Lunch – leftover pork chops, green beans, almond milk car

*Dinner – FREE NIGHT – this means we can do whatever we want but it will probably be leftover ribs

Friday

*Breakfast – eggs and bacon, some type of fruit, maybe a pear because Ellie is trying new things

*Lunch – Frozen grilled chicken breast (organic), frozen mixed veggies, 365 brand

*Dinner – Out to eat

I buy all of my groceries from Whole Foods and while I catch a lot of heat from this from people (oh it’s so expensive), it’s easy to shop, I know they have standards and requirements to sell food through them and everything is labeled well. Each item is specific in saying if it has soy, dairy, gluten, etc.

Also, the weekends are kind of a free for all. I need to get that under control, but when eating lots of fresh items, I usually have to go back to the store on Friday anyway.

I’ll try to post these once a week so it can help inspire your healthy meals. You can see that I’m not 100% nothing fun, and I’ve lost a lot of weight. I do eat some grains, I do eat some sugar, because in reality, who can be perfect all of the time? And who wants to?

Chicken Pot Pie Stew (non-dairy, non-soy, non-gluten)

Since I had to cut out all dairy, gluten and soy from my diet, I have been on the lookout for recipes that can, at least, make me think I’m eating the good stuff. Pinterest is my best friend! (side note, if you want to follow me, please do so). I found this recipe that was linked to the blog Stacy Makes Cents. It was really good and I actually had to change a few things to make it a little more Ellie friendly.

Chicken Pot Pie Stew

photo

(I unfortunately did not take photos but I will do better, I promise!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of boneless chicken, cubed
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped green pepper
  • 2 cups, chopped potato (I peeled mine but you don’t have to)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 can coconut milk (the can, because it’s thicker)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • gluten free bread (optional)

1) Throw the chicken, onions, carrots, potatoes, pepper, chicken broth, and salt/garlic salt into the crock pot

2)Cook for 6 hours on low

3) The last hour, add the coconut milk and peas

Serve with gluten free bread to finish the pot pie affect (my husband ate regular biscuits because he’s not eating like me)

This recipe is different from the original but I 1) had to cut out the dairy to make it Ellie friendly and 2) didn’t have garlic powder, so I just used garlic salt. It was really really good and I felt like I was eating chicken pot pie! It’s obviously not as good at my mom’s home made chicken pot pie, but since that makes my baby break out and gives her terrible reflux/stomach pain, this is what I eat!

I hope you enjoy!

p.s. next time, I’ll take pictures, I promise!