For a very long time I have been reading the tales of others who went sugar-free, grain-free or “primal” with both awe and a feeling that I should also do that. I read a ton; AndreAnna is a big source of info as is Holly. Heidi Robb has given me many pointers and my trainer, Jen Arenschield, has supplied me with many articles about going sugar-free. I read Mark’s Daily Apple and The Paleo Solution. For years my work email address was somehow subscribed to Dr. Joseph Mercola’s daily newsletter and once I discovered he was legit, I started reading it.
It still took me 5 months to finally take the plunge and cut out processed food, sugar and grains. May 9th was my first day. I promised myself I’d make it 10 days. On May 11th I thought I would die from my withdrawal symptoms (massive headache, extreme fatigue). I went to bed at 8:30 that night and got up the next day feeling a little better. By the end of the first 10 days there were no more headaches and while still tired, I wasn’t as fatigued. I decided I could do it for 30 days.
Now I’m 6 days shy of my 30 day goal and 21 pounds lighter. Other than the first week it wasn’t too bad. Yes, I was grumpy and a few times would have cut you for a baguette. I also had one day that all I could think about was making chocolate chip cookies and falling face first into the bowl of cookie dough. Up until this past week my energy level has been lower than usual (and I’m still up 1-2x a night with the Madman, so “usual” is pretty low), but that is starting to get better.
I’m not following any strict plan, which after years of Weight Watchers, is strange. I’m using loseit.com (and the iphone app) to journal my food; but I think once I get a handle on protein/sugar contents I will be able to back off of this tracking. I aim for 70-100g of protein and try to keep my sugar (from fruit/veggies) to below 20g. I don’t really pay attention to fat or fiber. I usually get about 1200-1500 calories a day.
A few people have asked me what I eat and how it works for the kids. Here’s my basic day:
Breakfast: eggs, smoothie or fasting.
I’ll make scrambled eggs (2 whole, 2 whites) with some veggies – spinach or red/yellow peppers, usually. If I’m on the run I’ll eat 4-6 hard boiled egg whites on the way to work. (The only reason I don’t eat the yolks is because I don’t like egg yolks if they aren’t runny).
Some mornings I’ll have a smoothie with whey protein, chia seeds, spinach and either strawberries or blueberries. Either way my breakfast clocks in at 20-24g of protein.
If I’m not hungry in the morning I don’t force myself to eat. Often I find that I’m not hungry until 10-11 AM.
I make a huge salad with lettuce, other veggies, cheese and some fruit. I usually use straight balsamic as the dressing. My current favorite combo is strawberries and this amazing grass-fed organic feta from the Farmer’s Market. So delicious! Then I’ll have protein on the side. Yesterday I had 3 chicken legs. Some days it will be tuna salad, egg salad (both made with a little mayo, mustard, celery, chia seeds), or leftover protein from the night before.
Going out with coworkers isn’t that hard, either. Chipotle/Qdoba are easy – meat, veggies, guac and salsa over lettuce. Or I can have a salad with grilled chicken with oil and balsamic dressing. Or a burger without the bun.
This is where I thought things would get tricky and I would be making a separate dinner for myself. But that hasn’t been the case. I usually have a salad (almost always a smaller repeat of what I had for lunch because that’s what I have on-hand). Sometimes Mark will want a salad, other times he won’t. Then, since we almost always have a protein I eat that and just not the starches.
For instance, when we have burgers I have mine either with a knife & fork or wrapped in lettuce. Last night we had spaghetti and meatballs so I sautéed some diced peppers (I keep a big bag of them in the freezer) and had my meatballs covered with marinara and peppers while Matilda and Mark had their’s over pasta. Chicken, steak and pork are easy to eat without a starch. Right now Copper River salmon is in season and I could eat that every night (so could Matilda). The night we had lemon shrimp and pasta I just ate the shrimp. For them stir-fries go over rice while I skip it. Honestly, I usually eat what everyone else is eating but I just don’t eat the grains.
I have a Paleo cookbook that I haven’t even cracked yet. And there are tons of sites for paleo/primal recipes, but so far I haven’t seen the need.
Plus, I’m getting more adventurous with my vegetables. I’m not a huge fan of many of them (I will never, ever willingly eat broccoli) but I’m trying more. After years of not touching asparagus I bought some at the Farmer’s Market for $1 (hooray for being late and catching the end of the day deals) and roasted it. It wasn’t fall of your seat delicious but it wasn’t awful and I ate it without making faces. And Matilda ate a bunch, too.
I’m looking forward to both our CSA season (starts today!!) and more vegetables coming into season at the Farmer’s Market. I think I will be challenged to eat more of the good stuff.
Almonds and blueberries are a favorite. Fresh-ground peanut butter or almond butter on celery (or off a spoon!) is another. Strawberries with cream – yum! But after the first 2 weeks my snacking needs went down. I usually have something around 3 PM and then, if I work out, something around 8-9 PM.
I haven’t had any alcohol during this 1st 90 days but between being pregnant and nursing for 50 of the last 65 months it’s not like I’ve been drinking much in the last 5 years. I gave up Diet Coke when I got pregnant with the Madman and even though I took it back up at the beginning of the year it wasn’t that hard to quit again. I had been drinking 2 cups of coffee a day but since I can only stomach coffee with cream and lots of sugar I gave that up. Right now I drink mostly water and iced tea, which wasn’t much of a shift for me. I did, however, give up most of my milk (I love milk). But I still do have a glass of Snowville whole milk a few times a week.
Over all it’s working and I can see myself sticking with this way of eating for a long time. I’m not going to lie – on June 10th I plan on having something sweet and/or grain-full. But I can see now that when I do “cheat” it won’t be with junk… it will be with awesome artisan bread or Jeni’s Ice Cream – it will be worth the splurge. I have vague plans to eat pretty clean until our vacation in July, and then I think I’ll aim for 6 days a week with 1 “cheat day” and see how I feel. But other than then 1st 10 or so days, I’m really doing just fine. I’m happy with what I’m eating, I feel better and I don’t feel deprived.