Thursday, May 30, 2013

Non-Crisis Changes, and Enjoying Your Food

Good morning. I thought I'd sit down and write a bit while sipping my Medifast hot cocoa. The kids are gone to school/college and the dogs are napping in the sun, so I am taking advantage of a little alone time to relax before school is out for the summer.

I have been looking at my food a little differently since the suspicious mass was found on my first mammogram earlier this month. I tend to get a bit emotional and panicky about that kind of thing because I watched my mother die from ovarian cancer less than two weeks after she was diagnosed, and that affected me deeply. And whenever I have an iffy test result in those departments... be it a mammogram spot or a bad pap or a fibroid... I suddenly "remember" how important it is to take care of myself. I think it is easy to relax and get complacent about our health when we are healthy; people tend to take things for granted until there is a risk that thing could be taken away. So every time there is a health issue I tighten up my eating, cut out more unhealthy things, and bump up the exercise and other good habits. Usually, at least *some* of those improvements stick long-term, so the cumulative result is an overall healthier lifestyle.

This time, I did a lot of reading about the effects of food (and the chemicals in food) on our bodies. It's caused me to look at every thing I put in my mouth as *medicine.* Or, at least it makes me think, "what will this food do for my body?" I try to assess every food item as it comes into my home so I do not have to reassess every time I eat. Shopping at the farmer's market makes that easier! All the veggies and fruits come in, get washed and prepped, and are ready to eat. I do believe that food is more than just fuel, though. It is pleasure, it can be comfort, and I personally believe there is nothing wrong with that *in moderation* and in the setting of emotional health. It is one thing to live the lifestyle I had when I was binge eating lots of junk to numb emotions I didn't want to feel... to shovel down candy and cakes and pizzas as if they were drugs, as a means of coping. It is entirely another to sit on the couch with a blanket, a book, and a cup of hot coffee or to sit on the deck in the sun with a  bowl of berries and cream and just relax and enjoy that quiet moment enhanced by a food or drink. It is a good thing, I think, to sit with friends and enjoy a healthy meal together. It is okay to eat things that have lots of flavors and textures and make you feel happy. Endorphins are good! That is very different from sitting in the car alone scarfing down a box of Oreos and a Dairy Queen Blizzard and calling that 'enjoyment.' It never is; it never really was. It felt sad and desperate and painful, even as it covered other pains. It was just displacing one pain with another.

Today is going to be a salad day for me. I need to finish off the bowl of greens I have in the fridge, along with some cucumbers and steamed asparagus (which is great in salad!) With the mindset I mentioned above, I've looked at my bottles of salad dressing and thought, "if and when I want some dressing with my salad, I want it to have a health benefit... not just be a useless (although tasty) condiment." I've been looking up some new recipes for homemade dressings that involve things like olive oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar, shallots, garlic, and fresh herbs. I don't always want dressing with my salad, but when I need some fat with my meal (like when I have salad and fish) I will use a dressing. I am washing my old salad dressing bottles and using those for the new, homemade dressings. I like feeling that every bite is benefiting me in some way.

I hope you are finding ways to improve your health, too. Don't wait for a crisis to make the changes!


Sunnydaze said...

Good for you for taking charge. I like the idea of washing out your old salad dressing bottles and using them for your homemade ones. Another thing you might want to check out is organic dressings. Enjoy your alone time.

Jac said...

Love that you're switching to homemade dressings! I know they may not always fit into your plan, but the reality is that much of the nutrition in vegetables is only easily absorbed in the presence of fat. And in the case of raw veggies, fat AND acid - fat + acid = salad dressing. :) A little EVOO and vinegar/lemon juice go a long way!

Anonymous said...

I have read your blog for years and LOVE all the changes you have made. Your eating is so healthy now. Kudos to you for sticking with it!

Anonymous said...

I think this is brilliant! If you can make each food item a beneficial choice, you will vastly improve your health. I am considering Medifast to help me stop eating so poorly. My mother-in-law lost 56 pounds on it so far and no longer needs insulin.

from Tamara.

Anonymous said...

Hey there! Just wondering how your feet have been feeling? I went to the doctor today and he told me I have super tight calves and bone spurs. He recommended lots of stretching and sleeping with a night splint. Have you used those before? I've heard they are painful... I'm nervous.

Suzy said...

If you are serious about eliminating unhealthy choices, shouldn't you consider giving up Medifast (which has a lot of chemicals, soy, and additives) and eating real food? It is great that you are getting your produce locally from the farmer's market and you can buy grass fed/organic meat at most grocers too. Lots of people lose weight eating real food and manage their health that way too. Maybe check out Dr Joel Furhman's books/eating programs - which also helps with inflammation (which might help your PF) and controlling auto immune diseases. Vegetables are the focus, no grains, no diary. I am not a troll - I eat this way and I am a 2x cancer survivor who also suffered from colitis for years until I changed my eating. Kids eat this way too, even my dogs eat grain free with raw vegetables for snacks. All are healthy.

Lyn said...


my feet are still very painful. I see the new podiatrist next week.

I did use the night splints; they didn't help me, but no, they don't hurt at all. They do help a lot of people.


Thank you, I will check out those books and programs. My plan is to transition to a completely whole foods diet when I get to my goal weight. I am using Medifast (4/day) to keep my protein and nutrition high and calories low enough for weight loss, and while those meals are processed, I do feel that the nutrition I get in that 400 calories of my day is helpful for weight loss and good for my health. It's a compromise I am willing to make to get the weight off.

Anonymous said...

Ok thank you. :)

Rachelle said...

I hope you postpone of the salad dressings you like. I've been trying to make everything from scratch for my family. This month. Are working on finding crackers everyone likes!

JMT said...

Have you tried any of the flavored balsamic vinegars some stores have? For example, I have a red apple balsamic vinegar that is so delicious. This one has a little more of a sweet flavor...sometimes I don't want something overly sour on my salad and this does the trick. We have a specialty vinegar an olive oil store in our town, but you could probably look at a gourmet shop.

Lyn said...


what a good idea! Thanks!

Lori said...

I'm not a big fan of salad dressing. I hardly ever eat it, but when I do, it is almost always one I've made. I like them so much better and I'm sure you will too.

Anonymous said...

This is a really really really brilliant post. The last words, "Don't wait for a crisis" are especially powerful.

I love the idea of it being okay to find comfort in food. But the cozy blanket and moment in the sun are equally important.

Thank you so much for writing this.