It’s 2014! Woohoo! Instead of a New Year Resolution, I’ve decided to take on a project, and this is that project. Welcome to itsaladafood, home of the blog “One Bit At A Time: A Journey of Clean Eating”. (It’s a lot of food…get it?)
A bit about me: I’m 29 (for 10 more days), I live in New York’s Capital Region, and I LOVE FOOD. My other love is teaching. This blog will allow me to combine my loves: to teach and share all that I’ve learned about food, nutrition, and how to live better.
My Story: I was overweight growing up. I was “the fat one” among my group of friends. I’m 5’1, and the heaviest I remember seeing on the scale was above 160. I was wearing 14/16 clothes, and in high school they were starting to get too tight. But no one could get through to me that I needed to lose weight until I saw a picture of myself. I didn’t recognize myself due to how swollen my face looked. It was the wake-up call I needed, and so my mom and I joined Weight Watchers. At the time I thought it was fantastic to be able to use their mathematical formula to figure out what foods to eat to lose weight, and I did lose weight – 25 pounds. Yay!
But then college started. And I gained it all back.
By grad school I was back to my pre-Weight Watchers weight, but I discovered I had a gluten-sensitivity, and so by not having breads, pastas, and other baked goods – only eating meats and veggies – I lost weight. Cool!
And then gluten-free products started to actually taste good. I could have my beef stroganoff again, and pizza, and bagels. So I did have them…and the weight went back on.
Fast forward a few more years to April 26, 2011. I’d been feeling pretty crappy about myself: No job, guy I was dating stopped returning my texts/calls, and physically I just felt awful. A friend on Facebook had posted a link to a website called http://www.whole9life.com, and while her purpose was to share an article about cutting out TV for a month, I saw the Whole30 challenge: cut out the poor-quality foods for just 30 days. Eat all the meat, veggies, and nuts you want, eat a moderate amount of fruit, and that’s it! No grains, legumes, added sugars, dairy, or alcohol.
If that sounds daunting to you, I totally get it because I felt daunted by the limitations at first, too. But it was another wake-up call about what I was putting into my body. The first thing I had in the morning was a coffee with loads of non-dairy creamer and two packets of Splenda. I had at least three TABLESPOONS of sugar in my coffee! The American Heart Association recommends that for women, we should have no more than two tablespoons a DAY, and here I was, having more than that in my morning coffee. I learned that I was basically setting my body up for failure by doing that: I have no energy and my sugar cravings were out of control. I was addicted to sugar.
So I did it. Cold turkey. 30 days. No cheating. (And boy, those sugar withdrawal days were ROUGH). I think I lost between 12-15 pounds in that first month from only changing my diet. And what I gained was huge: I had energy to spare at the end of the day. Foods that I hadn’t liked before I now could enjoy because my taste buds weren’t always expecting sugar and sweetness. I learned that tomatoes and carrots taste sweet! I learned the joy of cooking, and how easy it is to cook and create when all the ingredients are real foods. Not only is food fuel, but it’s an art. And it’s delicious!
I felt so good after that month that I kept going, with a little bit of “off-roading” here and there (I hate the word “cheat,” which I’ll explain in a later entry). I slowly re-introduced some foods that I missed, like cheese and popcorn. I learned that I could listen to my body and understand it’s signals: I will feel bloated after eating too much cheese, and popcorn make me itchy and twitchy. So, I eat what makes my body feel good. I treat my body like a good friend…I don’t want to make my body feel bad. If I know the food I eat is something that will make it feel really bad, I try not to eat it. This new relationship with my body makes me love it, and me, more. My total weight loss was 30 pounds, and I’ve kept most of it off since then.
In the last few months I attended a few online conferences on nutrition: Underground Wellness’s Real Food Con, The Paleo Summit, and Dr. Tom O’Bryan’s The Gluten Summit. The results of the research from the last 10 years is astonishing, and so many doctors have not learned about the research unless that doctor takes it upon him/herself to stay up-to-date. That means we have to be proactive over our own health, and we need to question if what we’ve been told all lives is, in fact, healthy. I hope that by sharing what I’ve learned you’ll start to ask yourself some questions and gain a better understanding of your own health.
But don’t forget about the food. I’ll be posting recipes, and I’m looking forward to sharing all the yummy goodness with you!