How one woman battles the challenge of eating well.
So many women I know struggle to stay off fast food, stay thin, and stay healthy. For me, my greatest frustration with food was that I’d burn right through it. I’d eat until I was full, and then 1 or 2 hours later my energy would plummet. It interfered with work, fun, you name it.
Along the way, I’ve remained a size 2, and am regularly mistaken for being several years younger than I am.
Here are a few tricks I’ve discovered in my quest for high energy, healthful, practical eating and living.
…Four years later…
One day I realized that I was overcome with sleep about 20 minutes after eating a bowl of granola. Every time. There was no fighting it. The sleep would take over and until I lay down for at least 20-30 minutes, I couldn’t think, and could hardly move. Coincidentally, a neighbor had been talking to me about her new gluten free diet and it occurred to me that I might learn something by doing some Google searches on gluten.
Long story short, I started experimenting with eliminating gluten from my diet, just to see what would happen. Within a week, I noticed a major change. I felt so much better!
It was a long and twisty road to health, though, in that I’d suddenly come down with dry, stinging eyes, sleepiness, and overall lethargy. I’d go back over what I’d eaten that day, research the ingredients, and sure enough, time and time again, there’d be a link back to gluten. Gluten is a tricky little monster. It hides in salad dressings, soy sauce, meat moisturizers that have been injected into chicken or lunch meat, soup broth and all kinds of things.
Another challenge is that unless you’re making yourself sick by continuing to eat gluten, medical tests won’t detect celiac or an allergy or sensitivity. But I am telling you, NOTHING would make it worth it for me to go back on gluten to be so tired and listless again. It truly felt like I’d been slowly, subtly poisoning myself all my life. It explained why I started getting a mono type of sleeping “flu” that would render me practically comatose for three weeks at a time. I believe it was my body’s way of shutting down and trying to fight off the toxins that were building up.
Since I’ve realized that gluten has been making me sick, I’ve started using gluten free recipes and ingredients. That’s what you’ll see posted. here. Am I still a size 2? Hmm.. maybe not quite, depending on the brand of jeans I put on.. but as I get older I don’t expect to completely escape natural shifts in size. As long as I feel good, and know I’m working out enough to stay strong.. and reasonably proportioned, I’m ok. My average size is between a 2-4, sometimes a 6 if things are cut a certain way! Oh no! Honestly, I am fine with it. And as far as I can tell, if you find a fun way to stay active and do it at least a few times per week if not more, you’re probably looking pretty good! If I can’t make it to the gym, I’ll go for a brisk 20 minute walk. If yoga seems too crowded (as it always is in January), I’ll hit the cross-country ski trails over the weekend. It’s good for the body, as well as the soul.
Why Beans, Why Yoga?
One day, I got caught in a meeting that I thought would last an hour but ended up keeping me an entire afternoon. Normally, my blood sugar would plummet about an hour and a half after eating. I’d get shaky, tired, I wouldn’t be able to think. Sometimes my speech would blur. Luckily, I’d experimented with a new recipe the day before, and had eaten the leftovers for lunch before going to the meeting. I couldn’t believe I’d lasted the whole afternoon without all the regular symptoms. It was a turning point for me. Looking back now, I see that it was as much about eating a gluten free meal (accidentally), as eating a high protein, high energy meal. What was it? The Moosewood cookbook’s recipe for home-made refried beans and rice! SO much better than anything you’ll get at a restaurant. It became a staple in my recipe file.
Yoga? I got involved one summer after I’d blown out a knee while running. Although I’d always been fit, even the entry level class was one of the hardest things I’d ever done — but in a good way. I loved my instructor, an Asian woman who was patient and a stickler for ensuring her students’ poses were in alignment so as to avoid injury. It seemed like it took forever to feel or see results from my yoga practice. One day, I realized I was doing poses that had once seemed impossible. My shoulders had that gorgeous yoga shoulder shape, and I realized that I just felt… GOOD.
Beans and yoga. Two turning points for me that brought me energy and empowerment.