I love food. I have never been driven by vanity, especially when it comes to food and weight. I have always said that I would rather enjoy my food, and my life, than be miserably under-weight. As such, that desire to simply eat what I want – coupled with my “fast metabolism” – meant that I was eating about 3,000 calories a day. Yes, you read that correctly. 3,000 calories a day for someone my size is a lot, in case that wasn’t already obvious. I grew up playing a lot of sports, or at least being really physically active at the gym. But it got to the point where I wasn’t as active, or took a break from being active, or generally wasn’t keeping track of it all. A few months ago, I decided to start working out again, but took it way too far by over-training. At the same time, I wasn’t really eating enough, surprisingly. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to eat, but mainly because I was too tired by the end of the day to make an effort to cook. This summer was also one of the unhealthiest food-summers I’ve had, with me eating a lot of junk food in general.
Recently, I started to realize that I was starting to abuse food. No, I never reached a point of obesity, but I was eating processed foods far too often. Moreover, I was training too hard and not getting in enough natural protein. I rarely read the ingredients on my food labels, and wasn’t focusing enough on greens.
Fast forward to now, and I’ve come to learn that while I’ve always loved food, I’ve never been all that educated on how to eat. Although I grew up in a household where healthy, home-cooked meals were the norm, I was sometimes lazy while living on my own. Between our work schedules, social events, and working out, it gets hard to fit in enough meal-prep time.
So, I’m starting a health journal series, where I’ll be documenting the tips and tricks I’ll be using. Starting from mid-October, I’ve slowly implemented a few changes to my lifestyle. And while the changes have been gradual, I feel a lot better, and have figured out how to calm down some of my inflammation. And if weight loss is your main motivation for eating healthier, I’ve also dropped 2 dress sizes – in a few weeks – by simply cutting a few things out. Here’s what I’ve been doing so far:
No more coffee. I used to be a huge coffee lover. I was that person who couldn’t start their day without coffee. But after extensive research, I’ve decided that caffeine does me more harm than good. I was previously drinking 1-3 cups of coffee every day, and while that’s normal for some people, I figured out that it was too much for me. My goals are to avoid irritating my gut, and to get better sleep. So, I’ve decided to experiment, to see how my body would react to coffee. My findings are such that I prefer decaf, and herbal teas. So, I stick to herbal teas on most days and alternate to decaf when I really want something that tastes like coffee.
A lot less dairy. My body simply doesn’t like cow’s milk, and never has. While lots of people drink it, I’ve never understood why humans would want to drink milk intended for a cow’s offspring. I’ve always joked that if I had actually liked cow’s milk, I might have grown to my once-projected 5’8-5’10 (ha, I’m 5’4). Luckily for me, almond milk tastes great, as does oat milk. I also haven’t had cheese since mid-October, and will probably stay away from it for the most part. I love pizza, but haven’t had it in almost two months as I’ve been on this cleanse. However, I’ll probably have pizza once a month once I’m comfortable with it. My exception to this “less dairy” rule is that I’m still okay to eat greek yogurt, and think that a lactose-free yogurt is a good alternative to anyone who wants to cut down on dairy. I’m still not entirely sure if I’m actually lactose-intolerant, to be honest. A part of me thinks that the next point is more of an issue.
Gluten, wheat, yeast: no more. A lot of people think being “gluten-free” is trendy, but it’s a reality for a lot of people who have celiac disease or who are sensitive to gluten. I’ve come to realize that I’m at least sensitive to gluten, wheat, and yeast, and will be following up with my doctor to see if I actually have celiac disease (I hope not!). But since cutting these things out of my diet, I feel better.
A lot of vegetables. I’m not a vegetarian, nor am I a vegan. In fact, I quite like steak, so I’m sorry, veggie-only people! I’m also chronically low on iron, and feel healthier with a varied diet with meat in it. However, now that I’m trying to make vegetables more of a focus, I’ve been able to get a handle on things. At the beginning, I tried to implement vegetables in every meal, but now I’m satisfied with it being a focus in 2 out of 3 of my main meals of the day. I also don’t eat all vegetables, as things like eggplants aren’t really compatible with a lot of people’s guts. It’s all about the gut!
Healthier snacks… that feel like treats. I like to eat a lot. I mentioned that already, right? I was actually out somewhere this weekend, eating a bag of almonds and chocolate while walking through a store. A couple of people looked at me like I was crazy, or at least hilarious. But you know what? I don’t care. I like to make sure I have something good to eat when I’m hungry (which is often). So, I try to have fruits, vegetables, or nuts for snacks. I’m a big fan of raspberries, bananas, strawberries, and blueberries for fruit. And I love a good bowl of almonds, walnuts, and dark chocolate with some herbal tea. While I used to love potato chips, I find they taste greasy now, so I don’t really go for them. If I’m craving something salty, I try to make popcorn, or have some gluten-free veggie crisps.
Tons of water. Water is always the focus. I’ve always been good with water, although the few months leading up to October were a little worse for me. Now, I make sure to get a couple of litres in every day, at least, to keep things hydrated.
No more junk food. This is probably the most important one for me, because I used to eat horribly. I’ve always liked to cook, but my occasional laziness and ego meant that I thought I could get away with eating trash food all of the time. The truth is, none of us “can” actually eat that stuff – it always manifests itself in some way, whether it’s through our skin, weight, breath, heart health, hair, immunity, or something else. Although I used to be a big lover of poutine (a Canadian dish – fries, cheese curds, and gravy), I haven’t had it in a while now and know it’ll be a once-in-a-blue-moon treat rather than something I eat four times a week.
So, this is just the start of my journal. I’ll keep things updated on here as I can. In the mean time, I’ll be posting some of my food snapshots and recipes on my instagram!