I have been fielding some questions lately about what on earth is there left for me to eat since I have changed my diet so much. To reiterate, a little over two months ago, I eliminated gluten, dairy, soda (again!), and fast food from my diet. I also started the process of reducing refined sugar, meats and processed foods. I am not looking to become a vegetarian at this point although that might be a wise idea. However I did discover that the term of my "semi vegetarianism" is flexitarian which means someone who eats meat on occasion. The definition of "on occasion" is quite flexible (Ha! Get it??) At the moment I would say that I am eating a serving of meat anywhere from once a day to once every several days. It really depends on if my body is wanting it or not. I am big on listening to my body these lately!
I have also been wanting to eliminate aspartame and all artificial sweeteners but that has been really tough since it appears that I have substituted those for soda at times. It is also difficult because due to my Sjogren's syndrome, I drink TONS of water and seltzer because I require so much fluids. I am not talking six- eight glasses of water here. More like eight glasses every two hours while I am awake.
However I watched an incredible movie online yesterday called Hungry For Change which talked about a lot of issues regarding the food we put in our bodies, including the hazards of sugar, processed foods, chemicals, etc. To say it was incredibly informative and interesting would be an understatement. However one of the key issues that jumped out at me was someone stating how these artificial sweeteners have been linked to symptoms similar to multiple sclerosis and other neurological issues. Call it hype, call it whatever you want. If you have been following my blog, you know that I am struggling in a major way with some neurological issues right now. So if there is even the slightest possibility that I can even MAYBE get some relief from those issues and avoid medication, I am all for it. So I am done with artificial sweeteners. Period.
Anyways, I digress. So back to what I eat. As I have mentioned in former blog entries, the change has not been easy as I have been such a picky eater my whole life. I even wrote a blog entry about it when I first started blogging called: No Tomatoes, Onions, or Peppers Please. It was ridiculous how limited my food palate was.
However when undertaking these new dietary changes, I knew I was going to have to step outside my comfort zone more than ever and find ways to incorporate whole, non-processed, healthy foods into my diet. The process actually started last year when I stumbled upon a local blogger named Rick Lebrecque who who was writing a blog called My Big Fat Life. He had lost a tremendous amount of weight and gotten healthier by eating whole foods and in particular with the use of green smoothies; which will be a different blog entry hopefully soon!
I have been finding over the past two months that the more healthy foods I consume, the more I WANT to try new foods. The more I want to cook and try more recipes. The more I stay away from the processed and crappy foods, the LESS I crave them. So here is a list of foods that I have added to my diet within the past few months that I have never eaten before and that I actually enjoy.
* Vegetables. I used to eat cucumbers, celery, and radishes; that was it. Now I have added carrots, tomatoes (in really small pieces!), kale, spinach, collard greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, all types of lettuce, mushrooms, jicama, onions, peas, green beans, green onions, broccoli sprouts, and asparagus. Veggies are a tough area for me so I am still working on adding to the list!
* Beans: red kidney beans, black-eyed peas (are they a bean? Not sure.), black beans, lentils, chickpeas. Still expanding on this area as well.
* Fruit: I eat almost all fruits; this has been the easiest for me as I grew up loving fruit but I have since added, and actually found a love for, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, currants, and goji berries.
* Nuts: The only nut I ever ate until two months ago was peanuts...no lie. I wouldn't even eat a brownie before with nuts in it. I forced myself to try them because I know they were such nutritional powerhouses (in appropriate amounts). I am now a lover of cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, and pecans. Amazing!
* Quinoa: I could write a whole blog entry on quinoa and I may! When I first tried it all I could think of was how bland it was. My bad. You can do a million and one things with quinoa and the nutritional value it packs is ridiculous. I love it.
*Other food items that may be new for me or I am eating them in a different way, such as the pizza (I realize some of these foods are processed and they are all gluten/dairy-free):
Unsweetened soy milk
Hummus (I now make my own and it is fantastic!)
Coconut milk yogurt
Dark (85%) chocolate
Gluten and dairy-free tortilla or sweet potato chips
Pizza (make my own)
Haddock and flounder
Black sesame seeds
Taco salads (make my own)
Gluten-free pastas and breads: I have dramatically cut back on these and only use them as a treat as they are they are very processed and high in calories, fat, etc.
I know there is a lot more to this list but this is what comes to my head at 7:30 in the morning. I am hoping that it is useful to anyone who is trying to change their diet. I also hope it goes to show that change IS possible and sometimes it is all about adding one new healthy food at a time.
Have a great day!