When You Eat Right Great Things Happen

     When I began this journey I was 25 pounds heavier.  I was lethargic and not too happy with myself.  It took me a while to get the hang of this lifestyle.  I tried recipes that were gross, bland and unsatisfying.  I had done some reading, but not a whole lot and I wasn't really listening to my body.  I still had those habits of my meat, and processed eating days.  I still went to friends and pigged out on whatever they were serving.  I didn't really see any progress.  Sure I lost some weight, but I thought it would happen much faster.  After all I was not eating meat, dairy, processed foods or oil.  Or was I cheating too much.  

     I don't know what clicked in my head, but lately I have been doing great.  I decided at one point that I would eat just half of whatever I was eating at the time.  So if I ate a whole sandwich I only ate half.  Then just recently I started only eating when I was hungry and it turns out that I don't get hungry at the normal breakfast, lunch and dinner times.  

     Some mornings I get up and I'm famished, and other days not so much.  So what do I eat in a day?
Yesterday I had a huge bowl of oats made with water and a smashed banana, and I threw some blackberries in and some cashew milk.  That filled me up.  Then I started making new recipes after going to the gym and working out.  I made tofu biscuits, and I had to have one.  Then I got hungry for lunch.  I think by this time it was 1:30.  I had corn on the cobb and a huge green salad with 3-2-1 salad dressing on it.  I was stuffed!!!!!  For dinner at around 5:00 I was hungry again so I made cream of potato soup with broccoli and ate a big bowl of that with roasted potatoes on top.  Around 8:00 pm I got the munchies, so I had 3 little mandarin oranges and a big hunk of banana bread from my recipes.  That seems like a lot, but it really wasn't and the scales this morning showed a loss.  

     What I have learned is this: if you eat the right foods ie starches at every meal, and lots of veggies with no oil, you become satisfied and your body doesn't get those cravings.  Many times when we eat the wrong foods we are never satisfied.  We want more and it's because of the chemicals, fat and sugar that are in the foods we eat.  They affect the dopamine in our brains telling us we want more.  Much like cocaine.  The food industries know exactly what they are doing to get us to buy more and more garbage.  

     I'm sold on a whole foods plant based diet.  It does a body good, and I feel so much better than I did.  I will never return to the foods I grew up on.  I'm not lethargic anymore, I sleep better and I'm losing weight!  As of today I'm down 23 pounds!   

This was breakfast this morning.  I was starving.  I tried to put some cooked potatoes on the griddle and I should have put a smidge of coconut oil on the griddle.  Needless to say they stuck to the pan, but they still tasted good!  Also a huge plate of stir fried veggies fried in water.  Add some garlic, onion powder and a tad of salt and pepper.  Then because I was still hungry I had a piece of Dave's Killer Bread toast with some almond butter on top and flax.  I'm still kind of hungry so I guess I will eat a banana.  Just listen to your body, and great things will happen!


     Have you ever hit a plateau while you are dieting?  Come on, tell the truth!  We have all been there!  I was there and was stuck forever!  However, my husband just kept saying don't give up, keep doing what you are doing and while I love his support I couldn't keep doing the same thing. Something had to change so I could get off of this maddening plateau.  To understand how to get off the plateau, it helps to know why it happens.

     1. You aren't getting enough water.  Your body is made up of  70% water give or take, since men and woman and children are different.  When we don't drink enough, our kidneys don't work as they should so the body turns to the liver for added support.  (Aren't our bodies amazing?)  Now because the liver is having to over compensate, it hangs onto the fat and so you don't lose.

     2. You aren't eating enough protein.  How much protein do we need?  A lot less than you might think.  10-35% of a day's calories should be from protein.  That's about 46 grams of protein for woman and 56 for men.  This is according to the CDC.

     3. You are sitting at your desk all day.  Have you noticed that most of our jobs are sitting behind a desk, and when we get home from work we are too tired to do anything else so we sit and watch TV? Experts say that if this is the kind of job you have, set a timer and get up at least every hour and move around.

     4.  When you work out, do you eat more?  Have you ever gone to the gym and then go out to eat only to undo all that you just did?  Also when you work out, your muscles get sore, and you aren't drinking enough so that causes water retention.

Image result for weight plateau     5.  Stress!  Do I need to say more?  Yes.  When you get stressed you get the munchies and to comfort yourself you eat.  Well maybe you don't, BUT I DO!  Getting better though.

     6.  Scale madness.  Some of us seem so obsessed with that scale.

     7.  Fast food.  While it tastes so good it contains a ton of sodium and added sugars that we don't need.

     Recently I joined a challenge with some friends of mine.  I decided that I was going to give it my all.  I would drink enough water.  I actually drink 1/2 my body ounces in water.  That's a LOT!  Can I just say that I'm in the bathroom all day long!  That's good right?  Also because of all the fiber I'm getting, I'm no longer backed up.  (If you know what I mean) lol.

     With eating a whole foods plant based diet, I'm getting enough protein.  Maybe more than I should.  What I do is I eat only until I'm full, and only eat when I'm hungry.  Eating this way gives me a lot more freedom as I don't count calories.

     I don't sit behind a desk which is nice.  I'm a Medical Assistant, and I get lots of exercise and I try to get in at least 30 minutes a day.  I eat before I go to the gym, that way I don't starve and eat more when I get home.  If I am a bit hungry I pick a healthy snack like a piece of fruit or veggies and hummus.  My favorite.

     Stress is a tough one.  I have heard a lot of good things about meditation, but I need to look more into that one.

     We won't even talk about the scale.  Once a week people.

     One thing that I have done that has seemed to help is having the right kinds of foods around that I can eat.  I don't buy junk anymore and I cook large batches of rice and potatoes so that I can grab something in a hurry that will satisfy me and help me to feel full.

     Since Friday when I weighed in, and now and today being Wednesday I have lost 6 pounds.  I really increased my water intake.  Hopefully I will be off of this plateau for a while until it happens again and then I will have to readjust again.  
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     For the last 3 months I have been out of work.  Last year I took a class to get certified as a Medical Assistant.  I enjoyed the classes very much and made really good grades.  Then I had to take a certification test.  I froze.  My test anxiety got the better of me, and I failed the test.  I was hired as an MA here in Idaho because the state doesn't demand that you are licensed to practice.  I worked for a government subsidized health care system.  I thought I was doing really well.  Keeping up, and helping as many as I could.  About 3 months in, they fired me, saying I just didn't fit in.

     Then about 2 weeks later, I was hired by a pediatric office.  I worked hard, and did the best that I could.  Things were getting easier, but I was always under the microscope and felt a lot of stress with this position.  They put me with a doctor that was new to this office as well so we were learning together.  Then they called me into the office to let me go.  This made twice.  I was done.

     For 3 months I looked for work, and in the interim became more familiar with a plant based diet. I was concerned about my health and had to find a way to work and stay healthy.   If you have read my introduction, you'll know I have done lots of reading on nutrition.  I just never had a chance to put it to the test.  I jumped in with both feet, but even though I've been collecting unemployment I knew I had to become employed...and soon.  I would go stir crazy, and our finances needed more than unemployment was giving us.

Image result for cna memes     I had worked for a local home care company off and on since 2008, and decided that I really needed to go back.  I went back with hopes of someday getting into the office.  I work as a CNA with the elderly, and even though I love the work, my body is getting older and I can't do things like I used to.

     Wait, what about my diet?  What would I do?  I was committed to getting more healthy, but could I keep up with all this?  I work early mornings into the afternoon, and haven't been able to pay much attention to food preparation.

     Can I just say that this is probably the easiest lifestyle I have ever lived!  It's not so much a "diet"  since diets in the past don't work.  It has to be a lifestyle.  Anyway, I have only worked now going on 3 weeks, and I have found that I have to be very organized.  This way of eating is so much easier and less complex. I don't forget to take meat out of the freezer because I don't eat that way anymore.  If I come home late, I can throw a potato in the oven or make a quick salad, and eat fruit for dessert!

     I have an Instant Pot and I can cook beans and rice in a snap.  I can use my spiralizer to make zucchini noodles and throw on some sauce with mushrooms.  I don't have to leave my crockpot on all day and wonder if what is inside is going to burn.  I can prepare my lunch the night before with lots of veggies, hummus, or whatever sounds good.

Image result for vegetarian     As I get used to my job, I can enjoy the pleasures of eating vegan and regain the health I once knew.


Processed Foods


     Who doesn't like processed food?  In all my years of living ( which is a lot ), I  have never heard anyone say that they didn't like the stuff.  We have become a society where it's all around us.  Gas stations, grocery stores, department stores have candy at the checkout!  There are stores where you can drive your car into a barn like structure to get all kinds of drinks from soda, to alcohol.  Not to mention all the fast food stores that are everywhere, and the minute you walk into Walmart the smell of Subway or another fast food store hits your nose, and smells divine!

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      Life as I knew it when I was a child has changed so much!  I was never in the house for very long except to get a drink or go to the bathroom, or to tell my mother where I was going. I was always playing outside with my friends, playing hopscotch, rollerskating, kick the can, hide and seek just to name a few, I was active then!  Childhood obesity was unheard of!   My father worked the same job for many years.  Life was stable!  I grew up in the same home for 27 years.  Fast food back then was a treat!  I remember getting Kentucky Fried Chicken once in a while. My mother always had a so called "healthy" dinner for my dad and I by the time my father came home from work. Life was simple back then.  Now look at us.  Because of the economy both parents have to work, children aren't safe to play outside anymore unattended, but children choose to stay in and play video games and surf websites online.  I never see kids outside these days.  Children now have a million of activities after school, and there is no time for mom to make a healthy sit down dinner.  Children and adults eat on the run.  Salads take too long to eat, and besides the greasy fried foods taste better, not to mention it's cheap with the dollar menus and such.

     What is the definition of fast food?  According to Merriam Webster  1. of, relating to, or specializing in food that can be prepared and served quickly.  2. "designed for ready availability, use, or consumption and with little consideration given to quality or significance.  Interesting that number 2 says with little consideration given to quality or significance.  We are feeding our families food that is low in quality.

     The first thing I did when I started this journey was to throw out all the processed junk from the house.  This included cereals, white bread, boxed easy fast meals like Mac and Cheese, Bisquick etc. Then I started reading labels.  Here is what I found on the Bisquick box.  
The ingredients in Bisquick Original consist of bleached wheat flour(enriched with niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid), corn starch, dextrose, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil, leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate), canola oil, salt, ...

     First of all bleached wheat flour.  Wheat flour is processed into white?  That doesn't sound too great, strips all the nutrients out of the wheat.  The thiamin mononitrate is a stable salt whatever that means, and thiamine is a vitamin.  Dextrose is a form of sugar.   Partially hydrogenated soybean oil.  We should avoid hydrogenated anything.  It's a form of trans fats.  In hydrogenated oils their chemical has been altered to prevent rancidity in foods.  GROSS!  Not to mention it has been altered.  What about sodium aluminum?  It's a stabilizer and it's aluminum folks!  It was been connected with infertility, and Alzheimer's disease.  Monocalcium phosphate is a chemical compound.  

     I don't know about you, but if I have to look things up and try to understand it all, if we can't pronounce things we shouldn't be eating them.  

     When I shop, I stick to the perimeter of the store, unless I'm picking up rice or beans, but I stay away from the junk.  Now I make it sound easy, but really it just takes discipline.  As I continue to eat healthy, my taste buds have changed.  I don't crave the sweets anymore, I sometimes crave salty foods, but I try to stay clear of them as well.  It's all just a process.  

     Michael Pollan, bestselling author of The Omnivoe's Delemma, has said,  "If it came from a plant, eat it.  If it was made in a plant, don't.   

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I Have Cravings!

Image result for cravings     The last couple of weeks I have had cravings, and have succumbed to a couple.  Why is it happening?  It could be a lot of things.   Easter candy is my most favorite,  and I tried to get the smallest package I could so that number one it wasn't going to wreck havoc with my new lifestyle, and number two I didn't want it sitting in the house calling my name!

     My cravings are at night.  Web MD explains that cravings can be caused from stress.  http://www.webmd.com/diet/the-facts-about-food-cravings  That makes sense to me as I'm unemployed right now.  I have been unemployed since December, and while I'm collecting unemployment we all know it isn't quite enough to cover expenses.  

     It could also happen when a woman is menstruating or pregnant, but since I'm not riding that train anymore, that couldn't be the cause.  Phew!

     So why do we crave fat, sugar or salt?  And all the other things that aren't good for you?  OF COURSE....because they taste good!  They calm our nerves, or comfort us when stressed or sad, and because they are empty calories the junk doesn't fill us up so we eat more and more until we are sick or have gained too much weight.  Have you ever noticed that you could eat junk after having a filling meal?  My mom used to say, there is always room for ice cream or pudding because it just fills in the cracks.  I sure miss her, and I used to say that to my kids!

Image result for cravings     So what do you do about these cravings?  Do you just give in?  Well, I have tried very hard to have healthy snacks in the house.  I have gotten rid of all the junk food that contains sugar.  Sugar is a big problem for me.  If it isn't in the house, then I won't eat it.  Okay, but what happens at the store? Don't even walk down those isles!  With a whole foods plant based diet, you should only be in the perimeter of the store anyway.  Fruits and veggies, frozen fruits and veggies etc.  I know, it's harder than it sounds, but I guess what has helped me is that I have to remember why I'm doing this.  I have to remember those lab results of my cholesterol and diabetes.  I have to remember that I want to get off all the medications I am on.  I want them gone for good!

     What kind of snacks do I have in my house?   I have frozen berries.  Pop them in your mouth and enjoy the sweet fruit while it melts in your mouth.  Berries are good because they are chucked full of antioxidants, and vitamin C.  Don't eat too much dried fruit, as the sugar content is concentrated in a small amount.

     Another favorite of mine is hummus!  If you don't know what hummus is, it's mushed up chickpeas.  Yeah, that doesn't sound too appetizing, but it's so good!  Stores carry it, or you can make your own that will contain less oil.  My favorite with hummus is raw broccoli, or carrots.  Because hummus is a bean, and we are suppose to eat 1/2 cups of beans a day because of the protein, it kills 2 birds with one stone.

     I LOVE nuts and seeds.  Be very careful with nuts as they contain a lot of oil, but they are good source of protein and will satisfy hunger.  I use seeds on my salads.  Hemp is my favorite and contains 10 grams of protein for 3 Tbls.

     I like to buy Medjool Dates.  I buy these at Costco, and they will last for weeks in the fridge.  When I'm craving something sweet I eat one of those.  They are creamy and really sweet, soft and chewy.  You can also make date syrup with them, and several other recipes.

     Our house loves popcorn.  This is a great snack as it's filling and satisfying.  Skip the butter and salt.

     Because I live in Idaho, we love potatoes.  My most favorite way is to cut them up in the shape of french fries, bake the in a 400 degree oven until crispy.  These are super filling.  Don't forget onion and garlic powder!  Yummy.

     All in all, we are human beings with down falls who make mistakes, but in the long haul it doesn't really matter.  A slip up is not life threatening and we shouldn't feel bad, nor give up.  We just need to climb back up on the wagon and keep riding.  

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