Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I don't want to speak too soon

And jinx myself.

But I think I finally know what is the cause of the stomach/gut problems I have been experiencing all these years: beans.

If nothing else, eating a wheat free diet these past weeks has forced me to really focus on my eating and how I feel after I eat a particular meal.  I noticed that typically after every meal, I'd feel bad.  Sometimes worse than others.  So I had started to suspect that wheat was not the culprit since I had not felt even a tiny bit better after cutting it out.  I started to suspect beans.  Yesterday, I didn't eat any beans at all.  No tofu.  No hummus.  No bean anything.  In other words, I had to rearrange everything I ate yesterday to exclude beans and that was actually more difficult than excluding wheat.  Three-fourths of my diet centers on beans.  

So I didn't eat it yesterday.  And I felt amazing yesterday and I continue to feel amazing now.  My stomach is settled.  I'm not in pain.  

I kind of feel a little foolish for not realizing it sooner but I had always prepped my beans properly (well soaked and cooked with kombu).  And I'd never heard anyone complain of gas associated with eating tofu or soy milk so I didn't think that could be part of the problem (although I did eliminate soy at one point to see if it was making my hair thin).

Now I have to really re-vamp my whole diet and I'm a little daunted.  See, I don't really know how to cook any other way besides vegetarian. I eat fish but it is really just as an aside:  a baked salmon fillet or some canned tuna added to a salad (that probably has beans in it).  I searched some books I have and also on the internet and came up with some recipes for raw burgers and hummus-like dips made with seeds or nuts but my intuition is telling me that this is it for me and a mainly-plant based diet.  I'm going to return to eating meat.  Of course, I have lots of standards for whatever meat I will eat and as my fortune would have it, I met a great mama a few weeks ago who runs a buying co-op.  The co-op sells all kinds of meat, milk, eggs and other groceries raised and produced at a farm nearby.  So I'm able to purchase high quality animal products (not fed soy) in a relatively inconvenient  way (pick-up is not far).  I'm not exactly sure where to start first in terms of cooking it but I figure that I can start by just adding chicken, turkey or beef to dishes where I would have used beans.  And then go from there.  Like Monday's dinner was sweet and spicy chili from Vegan Planet.  It tore my stomach up!  But I could cook the chili and before I add the beans, take out half or so to another pot and add some browned turkey or beef.  And then with the remaining half, add half the amount of beans.  

Sometimes I feel so stupid for going down the road of vegetarianism and staying on it even though I just felt worse and worse and worse as I continued.  I really wanted to be healthy but I got some micro-focused on this one way of "healthy" eating that I ignored the fact that it hasn't been healthy for me.    Yes, I had allergies and acne and all that . . . I really believed that a vegan/vegetarian/plant based diet would heal me.  Instead, I still have all that stuff and more complexities added on to it.  

I think about the spiritual aspects as well and I have to be completely honest:  not eating animals has never made me feel any closer to God or any more spiritual or connected.  I guess it's kind of hard to get connected when your gut feels like it's going to explode or something.  I actually feel that eating in a way that doesn't cause me to feel sick is the most compassionate thing I can do for myself . . . but I'm not sure how to align compassion on myself with compassion on the animals that have to die in order for me to eat.  The very least I can do is to make sure that the animals I do eat had decent lives and were killed as humanely as possible.  

It just amazes me sometimes how the ideals I had in my early twenties have just not matched up to my reality.  And it's taken this long to finally be okay with letting go and accepting what is.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wheat-Free Oatmeal Waffles and Weight Watchers Update

I'm still giving this wheat-free diet a try.  This coming Tuesday will mark 2 weeks that I've, to the best of my ability, avoided wheat.  Usually on Sundays we have pancakes and since I can't have my regular pancakes, I've been making wheat-free oatmeal waffles.  I googled and came up with a bunch of hits.  I combined 2 or 3 recipes to make up this one.  

Wheat-Free Oatmeal Waffles
Start by heating up your waffle iron.  You will need

1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds
1 medium banana
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon oil

Put everything in the blender and run it till smooth.  Spray your waffle iron with cooking spray, pour about a 1/2 cup of batter in and cook for about 8 minutes.  You should come up with 4 waffles.  
The waffles are really good.  I still have my tempeh bacon (which I marinated for the first time yesterday--they were awesome!) with them except I make sure to use wheat-free soy sauce.  By the way, the tempeh bacon recipe comes from You Won't Believe it's Vegan.

As for Weight Watchers . . . perhaps the best thing about WW is that it is adaptable to any diet: raw, wheat-free, vegan, macrobiotic, whatever.  Recently they changed the program saying that this new one accounts for new research discoveries--and it does seem to accommodate diets that have more fruit in it.  This new program assigns 0 points to fruit whereas with the old program, fruit was 1-2 points depending on the type of fruit.  I've spent this whole year that I was on WW diligently tracking my fruits and treating them with respect.  I don't eat 2 bananas a day (because that was 3 points) although before WW I would have without giving it a second thought.  In fact, all points are calculated differently (in some cases points values are higher) but you're allotted more points daily.  

I'm not one for change especially if something is working. I'm skeptical about the new program and I've considered canceling my account with them.  But I have to say that tracking what I eat with WW E-tools has kind of become a way of life for me.  I have tons of recipes on there and it's something I use every day.  In fact, I keep the window open all day long and sometimes plan out my whole week of eating.  

I realize that WW is a business and they have to change things up every so often to a) attract new customers and b) keep profits high (by keeping people from figuring out how to do WW without paying) so I can't fault them too much.  We weren't given a choice in the matter (i.e. the choice to stick with the old program or switch to the new) and so I have to get with the new plan (or quit altogether).  That in and of itself was really maddening but, I mean, if I just stick to what I've been doing more or less, I expect my weight to stay the same.  I am trying not to let the different point values change anything. I'm also thinking about using SparkPeople since they also have a recipe tracker and all that and it's free.  However, I'm comfortable with WW and I don't really feel like changing even though I fork over $12 a month to them.  

I have to admit:  when I woke up one morning and found that they had changed everything, I went into a sort of panic.  Like I said, tracking has become part of my life.  It really upset me that they had changed things.  I immediately considered canceling.  After all, I've lost the weight and I have a pretty good idea of how to eat to keep it off.  I think.  I'm not totally confident though and I like having the support of an online tracker to help me keep it visual and to keep a record.  I wish, though, that wisdom about eating were more intuitive to me.  I mean, all around not just with WW.  The WW change made me realize all too intensely that I don't know exactly what to eat to feel good and healthy. There are so many camps with different ideas about what to eat and I am willing to try different things but honestly, it's challenging.  And I seem to have no internal direction about what would make me feel good and what to eat (and how much to eat) to stay this size.  So I just keep trying this and trying that and having to rely on outside things like WW  . . . psychologically, that doesn't feel right at all.  But it's something that I think many of us struggle with since we are so disconnected from food production and traditional ways of preparing and eating foods.  We're at the mercy of those who say, "Eat this and not that."  It's all very . . . disconcerting.  

Anyway, I wanted to share that recipe and how I'm feeling about the new Weight Watchers. 

Mother's Guilt

is never too far away.

An acquaintance of mine recently said: "There's no such thing as bad weather . . . only bad clothing".  And I've sort of come to agree.  I still despise the cold (after all, I'm an African and do far, far better in the heat) but I see that if one dresses properly, one can be comfortable in some pretty extreme weather.  

I made the decision to continue running through the winter and invested a grip on appropriate winter running gear.  When I go for a run in 20 degree weather, this is what I'm wearing:

  • wool socks 
  • Underarmour base layer bottom
  • fleece pants over that
  • windbreaker pants
  • Underarmour base layer top
  • fleece vest
  • fleece windbreaking jacket
  • windbreaker
  • gaiter
  • fleece hat underneath a wool hat
  • silk liner gloves
  • windbreaker running gloves
  • fleece-lined wool mitts
And wouldn't you know it?  It works.  I'm comfortable throughout my run (although I do need to get something to protect my face--Vaseline can only do so much).  I've cut my runs down a bit.  Short runs are now 20 minutes and long runs only 40-45 minutes.  So I can be outside without asking myself what the hell I'm doing out there for about 45 minutes.  It's amazing.  I've always been the kind to hunker down once the thermometer drops--a real whimp about the cold and here I am.  

Anyway, it got me to thinking that if I can be outside for 45 minutes in freezing temperatures, so could my kids.  And heaven knows they need to get out.  All this pent up energy . . . they are just bouncing off the walls trapped inside the house because of the cold.  But they don't have appropriate winter gear--nothing made for being outside for longer than 10-15 minutes maximum.  And they should.

Uh-oh.  Whenever should comes into the conversation, guilt is soon to follow.

I started to feel terrible because I've plunked down all this money on clothes to make running in the cold possible but I really haven't invested any time or money into serious cold weather clothes for them.  Oh, they have all kinds of "warm" mittens and hats, jackets and sweaters made from polyester fleece.  It's warm.  It's good.  But it's not the best for the cold.  It's not as good as wool and other natural fibers.  That's what they should be wearing!

I've been planning to knit wool hats and gloves for my kids for a long time.  I have the patterns lined up and all.  I just haven't gotten around to it.  I checked the prices for wool long johns and socks online and it's not cheap.  I felt bad because I've spent so much on stuff for myself without buying warmer, higher quality stuff for them.  

Until I realized that I wouldn't even be considering taking my kids out to play in this kind of weather had I not challenged myself to continue running through winter.  I would never have thought it would be possible to have fun outside in the cold (even if we can't be out there for hours).  The whole re-structuring of my attitude towards the cold is a direct result of running.   Why should I feel guilty about buying the things that allow me to do this one thing that does so much for me?  So I dropped the guilt thing.

In a few weeks, I'll look into wool long johns and socks for them.  I'll slowly purchase yarn to make wool hats and mittens.  Meanwhile, they have wool sweaters I bought at the thrift store over the years, random wool hats that I've made over the years that they can wear under their fleece hats, and cotton waffle knit long johns that while not the greatest are okay.  So maybe we won't be able to be out for very long right now but at least it's a possibility in my mind.    

Facebook Folly: Just Do It

I am on Facebook and have been for a while now.  I don't get too involved.  I check it once or twice a day, read statuses, sometimes post my own status and then log off.  It's been a great tool to check on people from my past lives (i.e. elementary and high school) but I don't get too wrapped up and try to keep my friends list cropped.  Despite the fact that I don't get too involved, there are some things that are pet peeves of mine on there.  One pet peeve,  was able to take care of was all those games and things people play that were showing up in my News Feed.  

My major pet peeve though is when folks get on Facebook and post these kind of statuses:
"I'll be cutting some of you guys off here on FB so take this as a warning!"
"Some of ya'll don't ever talk to me so you will be de-friended this afternoon."
"Oh cruel world, Facebook has done me ever so wrong!  I'm taking an extended leave!"
"I hate when folks post stupid status updates!  I don't care!"
"If you don't like what I'm saying, if it pisses you off, too bad!  Take me off your friends list!"

I just don't understand the point of these types of statuses.  If you want to prune your friends list, JUST DO IT.   No type of announcement is needed.  If you just deleted them as friends, if it's true that you guys are not that close, they probably wouldn't even notice.  People collect friends on Facebook like Z1 collects rocks:  not much of a criteria so long as it's a rock.  If you need to leave Facebook because it has taken over your life, JUST DO IT.  If you don't like what folks have to say you have the option to block them so JUST DO IT.  If you have folks on your Friends List that would take offense at you being who you are, take yourself off their friend list.  JUST DO IT.  For goodness sake.  

The world of Facebook has to be the most ridiculous world ever.  People taking offense at being de-friended.  Letting the world know their most personal details because they've forgotten that Facebook is *PUBLIC*  place even if your page is private.  I'm approaching 29 but I definitely feel like I'm out of step with the times.  Facebook is just not that serious and I don't really care about what goes on there.  It doesn't affect my life that profoundly.   And I really don't understand why it gets to that level with some people.  

I know, I know, to each his own.  But if something about Facebook annoys you, feel free to JUST DO IT.  Whatever it is.  Because it's just not that serious.  
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