Monday, September 30, 2013

Day 203 How do we keep real food from being a class divider?

I've been feeling a lot of gratitude for my circumstances lately. I live in Portland where organic fruits and vegetables are readily available. I've got a Whole Foods within walking distance and two stores from our local version, New Seasons, are less than 1 mile away. I've got a farmers market down the street from May to October. I've got friends and neighbors growing things and giving them away. A close friend and I belong to a CSA (community supported agriculture/coop farm).

And I have money to buy it all with. Healthy, locally sourced beef and chicken, expensive wild-caught salmon once in a while, frozen organic fruit in the winter, all the vegetables I want in the winter (though I avoid things flown in from South and Central America or Israel). I can afford to eat very well.

I know I am an exception. And while I'm not in the 1% of the wealthy in our country, I may be in the 5% or 10% who can afford to eat this way. Fast food isn't the food of choice just because it's fast and greasy. It's also cheap and perhaps the only way many people can get a hot meal. I'd love to see that change, to see real food become a unifying factor in our culture, rather than a divider.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Day 202 A wonderful story passed along by Patti Digh

A 92-year-old man finally had to move into a nursing home after the death of his wife. The family was worried about how he would react. After waiting in the lobby for a while, his room was ready. As he walked to the elevator, the nurse described his room to him.

"I love it," he said.

"But you haven't seen it yet," the nurse replied.

"It doesn't matter," he responded. "I've decided to be happy ahead of time."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Day 201 Food: It's all in the family

I'm headed off to a long weekend with my family and of course, I'm taking the plan with me. We're celebrating my sister's 60th in a big house on Mt Hood and there will be a lot of fun as we are a movie-watching, card-playing, punning clan. We are also an eating clan. Among us siblings, most childhood memories are based on food. Remember that time we went to XXX and had that amazing peach pie, fried chicken, bacon pasta, cinnamon rolls, hot biscuits, mac and cheese. You get the picture. None of these memories center around salad, steamed vegetables, a green smoothie. My current plan, in other words.

My youngest sister has had her food stuff figured out for years. She has a strong sense of discipline around both food and exercise and knows how to indulge and how to back off. I don't. Once I start indulging, I find it hard to quit. Maybe that's the addict in me. So I find it easier to stay on the straight and green rather than popcorn or snacks for a meal. Sometimes I envy her and other family members whose relationship with food isn't so contentious.

But then again, I think I have found a way to be with food that works for me. So tonight I'm fixing a big Indian curry cauliflower bok choy soup in the crockpot and I did a peanut sauce veggie bake with potatoes and zucchini and carrots to go with the salmon on Monday night and I will stock up on salad stuff on our way out of town.

There will be cake. The same German chocolate cake as last year. The one I tried, overate, and felt sick after. No need to do that again. There will also be a blackberry pie and I may just cut the crust off my piece and eat the filling. Who knows! And one of these days, maybe our memories will be based on green smoothies!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Day 200 Giving up victory and defeat

My friend Pam emailed after her husband's 50th birthday party that she'd had a serious run-in with the triple fudge cake and was recommitting to the plan. Susan replied with concern that she'd poured cow's milk onto her cereal instead of the almond milk she'd planned to use.And I realized again what a battlefield we have made eating into, completely with landmines (cake) and friendly fire (the wrong milk).

And I wondered if we can give up the battle and the consequent victory over foods or defeat over our intentions and just eat. Choose good things for our bodies and eat them most of the time, maybe moving to almost all of the time but without fear of reprisal if we make a poor choice or make an inadvertent error.

Diets have always struck me as inherently stressful because of this very battle mentality. I don't want to fight with my body and I don't want to fight with food. I want peace, peace with food and my body. So maybe taking the victory and defeat ideas out of the picture can help.

I hope Pam really enjoyed the cake. And that Susan didn't waste the milk. And I hope I would have done the same.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day 199 Eating a variety of fruits and veggies

Many people are willing to eat more fruits and vegetables but only certain ones, ones they already know they like. They like apples, oranges, and bananas and they're willing to eat one a day. They like carrots and cucumbers and tomatoes and they're willing to eat a salad a couple of times a week. That salad.

What I'm learning is that all the fruits and vegetables offer different nutrients and different combinations of nutrients. The more variety we eat and learn to enjoy, the better health we may experience. I buy and juice all the kinds of kale, different kinds of apples, all the different dark green lettuces, cucumbers, both kinds of parsley, collard greens, mustard greens, and chard. I cook all the greens as well and if they're organic, I add the cooking water to my juices for smoothies. I eat cauliflower, brocolli, brussel sprouts, all the root vegetables, different kinds of beets. I experiment with things I see at the market, both raw and cooked.

I also eat a wide variety of fruits although I keep blueberries (frozen) and bananas (fresh and frozen--remember to peel before freezing) as staples but I smoothie with mango, peaches, nectarines, pears, grapes (freeze great), strawberries, blackberries, kiwi, figs, dates. I also eat a variety of seeds and nuts, not just a couple of kinds.

Hurray for a different palate!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Day 198 A simple idea that may well lower my sense of overwhelm

A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for Gretchen Rubin's 21-day decluttering class ($4.99). I loved Gretchen's Happiness Project book; she has a lot of great ideas and although I suspected the courses were recycled ideas, I didn't mind. One, it was cheap and two, having them all together would be helpful.

At the end of the first week, Gretchen gave us a one-minute idea. If you see something that needs to be done and it can be done in a minute or less, just do it. Don't put it on your list or groan and move on. Just do it. This is such a simple and radical concept for me. And I'm discovering how much less than a minute many things take, like:

Close all the cupboard doors in the kitchen.
Wipe the counter.
Throw something in the dirty clothes bin.
Wipe a spot of spilled pepper inside the cabinet (Instead of thinking, I need to take everything out and give that good cleaning. That may be true but in under 10 seconds, I can grab the sponge and wipe up the spill instead of seeing it every time I open that cabinet).
Hang up my coat.
Scoop out the litter box.
Put the phone back on its charger
Put away most single things that are out of place.
Make an appt on the phone or by email
Shake the kitchen mat.
Tidy the coach cover
Make the bed (yes, in under a minute)

Give it a try. It's amazing!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Day 197 The Plan and the flu

I came back from my recent trip to the coast with some kind of virus. Just felt a little off at first, then chills, fever, and no appetite. When I have no appetite, I know I'm sick. Because I have somewhat fragile lungs and can struggle with respiratory problems, I'm super careful so I immediately started taking my triple threat remedies: Viraclear from Integrative Therapeutics, Wellness Formula, and Black Elderberry extract in water twice a day. While the combo doesn't always stave it off, it generally makes the experience somewhat shorter and easier. I also cancelled most of the appointments on my calendar.

Often when I'm sick and feeling sorry for myself, my good eating habits just go out the window. But this time was different. When I get back from the beach, I went the next morning to the grocery store and stocked up on my usual salad and juice makings and some clean meats. That afternoon, I made a soup (beef broth, potatoes, celery, onions, quinoa, kale) in the crockpot and two quarts of juice (I normally make one).

For the next three days, I didn't feel like eating much but a quick bowl of soup or a green juice/fruit smoothie with extra lime juice was easy to handle plus a lot of water and herb tea. Within 48 hours I was feeling a lot better. Of course, I only have me and so there's no control group to see what would have happened, but this is the quickest and mildest experience with the flu I've ever had. Got to be doing something right.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day 196 Eating out on the Plan

In my first months on the plan, I felt baffled by eating out. My current favorite was Dove Vivi, a place with amazing gourmet pizza with a corn meal/wheat crust and a beet/gorgonzola salad that was to die for. I also liked the beef and cheese enchiladas at Esparza's, the raviolia at Pazzo' get the idea. The idea of eating a wimpy dinner salad while others munched on was off-putting to say the least. But eating out is a huge part of the Portland social life and I enjoy that, so I had to figure some things out. Here's what I learned:

1. Go online and read the menu. Nearly every place has a menu online and you can quickly see what you can get. Cobb salad, hold the cheese? Good idea. Any place with a shrimp salad or a meat salad is a good possibility.
2. Call ahead. Is the chef willing to make you a big plate of steamed vegetables and a piece of grilled fish even if it isn't on the menu?
3. Become a salad connoisseur. What places have the heartiest salads? Can you order steamed or raw veggies on the side to put on your salad? Don't hesitate to ask for no dressing. Sometimes I carry a tiny tupperware of dressing with me. Or I get lemon juice and salt.
4. Indian buffets are great at lunch. They cook with little wheat (skip the bread) and not much dairy and lots of veggies.
5. Thai restaurants too are pretty safe as they cook with coconut milk.
6. Nearly anyplace will make you a huge salad and put a hamburger patty on it or by it.
7. Vegetarian restaurants can work but you have to go vegan and still ask about wheat.

As I only eat meat once a day (sometimes only every other day), I always save my meat possibility for a lunch or dinner date, in case #6 is my best option. I'm no longer afraid to go out and have gotten good about asking for what I need. Most places are very accommodating. And if they aren't, I eat a little and go home and have a smoothie.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Day 195 Moving from snacks as treats to snacks as food

In a recent guest post, Lily Gael alluded to the idea of eating only food, not treats. Many of us know that for millennia, sugar was a rare and costly commodity. It was only in the middle of the 20th century, that chemistry allowed sugar to be cheaply created from beets and cane and it became plentiful and cheap. And many of us have gotten fat as a result.

In my childhood (1946-1956), sugary foods were rare, except for homemade jam. Ice cream was a big occasion and not eaten at home. Cakes appeared only at birthdays and was another big deal. We did eat pancakes and waffles with maple syrup. When I was 10, we moved to a neighborhood (Milwaukie, OR) that had a Little Store (that's still its name) two blocks down on the corner and I discovered candy and what my allowance could buy. And from then on treats were sugar related. And although I was addicted quickly, my allowance was limited so it still was a treat.

But when I got to college and had control over my money, I eat sugar every day: candy bars from the machne, doughnuts from the cafeteria line, dessert at lunch and dinner, soft drinks. I probably ate as many treats as food. And that went on a long time. At some point, alcohol became my main source of sugar, and because it did, I switched to salty treats (chips, popcorn, pizza) to offset the sugar overload.

And all that time, I collapsed snack into treat.

Now I'm trying to uncollapse that and make my snacks food. Real food. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, soup. A snack size portion of something real, not something special. It's a hard habit to break. I want treats, I deserve treats, I need treats. Or so I think. But I know that this too will pass and my body will thank me.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Day 194 Getting started on the Plan

A couple of blog readers have written asking for a simple way to get started on the Food Plan. Here's how I did it.

I watched the two films, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and Forks over Knives, and I immediately (within minutes) began researching juicers, and within two days, I'd ordered a Breville Juice Fountain, which I've been very happy with.

It took me about a week to get the hang of juicing (combinations that worked well for me). I never minded the greenness of the juice (I've been eating greens for years and drinking them didn't seem a big deal). I began drinking juice by itself and in a morning smoothie every day.

I also hooked up with my coach and began to contemplate giving up wheat, dairy, and soy in any form. I had the option to give them up slowly (one each month) or do it all at once. I took nearly a month to decide to do them all at once. During that month, I was making a week-long trip to Nashville and knew a new food plan might be tough. Also I wanted to eat up foods in my cupboard and freezer and so I did that. But I didn't buy any new foods with wheat, dairy, or soy. At the end of the month, what I hadn't eaten up, I gave away or threw away.

My coach had given me a basic food outline (smoothie for breakfast plus oatmeal if I wanted, a big salad every day, meat and veggies or veggie soup for the third meal, plus some safe snacks). At first, I had trouble with big salads but as my palate changed, I began to like them more and more, and I began to see the variety that could be had.

Then I started to use my crock pot and made wonderful veggie soups and started doing the veggie bakes (root and other veggies baked in broth) and found a good veggie burger and I had lots of variety. Now 7 months later, this is what I eat.

So, I recommend:

  • Get a juicer and juice and make smoothies.
  • Find the courage to go without wheat and dairy and soy for a few months. 
  • See how you feel. It's so worth it. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Day 192 Guest blog from my sister Shannon

Ireland – The home of potatoes, and more potatoes.
I have been on my own version of Jill’s plan since about the middle of April.  Though not as dedicated or strict with my menu as Jill, I have gotten into my own version of what I call the “fruits, veggies, and nuts” diet.  Juiced vegetables and fruits, salads, stir fries – no wheat, soy, chocolate.  It is working for me, have lost 45 pounds and have to admit I feel a whole lot healthier, though I do miss bread and sandwiches and I have yet to find anything good about rice cakes.
In August, I went on a dream trip to Ireland for 3-1/2 weeks, visiting new friends in Dublin.   I figured that it would not be an easy feat to stick to my program (no way was I lugging my juicer over there), but I had NO IDEA just what I was going to find.  I was staying in the home of people I had met on Facebook so was unsure what their diet was like.  Imagine my eyes when for the first breakfast I was confronted with a huge platter of eggs, bacon (rashers), 3 different types of sausage, a potato waffle, toast, and pastries.  Oh yeah – tea, lots and lots of tea (which I happen to love).  Not a fruit or a veggie to be found – well, unless you want to call processed sweetened orange juice a fruit.  Dinners included three (3) kinds of potatoes – mashed, roasted and “chips”, veggies well done, meat, and gravy to go over everything.  A baked dessert, more tea and biscuits.  Never was a salad or fresh fruit on the menu.
I did find grapes and apples in the store, in a very small section of “fresh” fruits and veggies, mostly wrapped in cellophane and not looking very fresh.  I am sure there were farmer’s markets and places in the country but I was in the city and without a car. 
Though not what I planned, I decided to make the best of the situation.  I ate as sparingly as I could, turning down desserts and continually asking for less food at each meal.  I cherished my time in Ireland.  I walked wherever I could, bought what fresh fruits that I could find. 
I met the most amazing people, enjoyed the clean air, the lovely walks, 5 amazing dog shows in different parts of the country, the wonderful sense of history, and once again fell in love with Ireland and its inhabitants. Ireland is the country of my heart, though I can’t say that my stomach was very happy.

And, on my way home from the airport, I stopped and bought lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and made my juice as soon as I got home.  I was never so glad to have my smoothie!!  On checking, I had only gained 4 pounds, but I could certainly tell how much better I felt getting back to eating my “fruits, veggies, and nuts” diet.  I have to say I learned how important my new eating plan is to me, and how glad I am that Jill introduced me to a new way of eating.  I was also proud of the fact that I didn’t freak out when I couldn’t stay on my plan but made the best of the situation, did what I could to minimize the fallout, and still had the time of my life.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day 193 A sobering article on how the medical community looks at overeating

From: Choosing Raw - vegan and raw recipes <>
Date: Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 7:21 PM
Subject: Choosing Raw

Choosing Raw

Posted: 15 Sep 2013 06:52 PM PDT

Last week, there was some media coverage of a new study, published in Pediatrics (the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics), that highlights the concurrence between obesity/overweight and eating disorders. The study sheds light on the fact that a significant number of young people who seek clinical treatment for eating disorders come from a history of overweight or obesity. At the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, where Dr. Leslie Sim, one of the authors of the study, works, 45% of adolescents seen for ED treatment in the last year came from a history of obesity. The study makes a case for recognition of obesity as a common precedent to disordered behaviors. It also illuminates the very tendency of primary care providers to overlook symptoms of disordered eating in people with history of obesity. It highlights two case studies: a fourteen-year-old boy and an eighteen-year-old girl whose eating disorders were misdiagnosed in large part because they had previously been obese.
As I read this article, I felt an enormous sense of disappointment at the way both obesity and eating disorder treatment are failing young people in this country. Because our emphasis is on weight loss at all costs (rather than the fostering of healthy habits), obese adolescents often transition directly into anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, and EDNOS. At least half of the men and women I know who have struggled with eating disorders were overweight or obese growing up, so it comes as no surprise that what I’ve observed is borne out in the 45% statistic. Still other individuals who have shared their stories with me say that the eating disorder began when they were advised to lose weight by a health care provider or school nurse. In their dutiful attempts to obey that mandate, they quickly turned to extreme forms of restrictive eating or exercise.
Sim, Lebow, and Billings’ study details the history of a fourteen-year-old boy who had lost over 87 pounds. Possessed of a significantly higher than average BMI through childhood, he’d begun dieting at the age of 12, first by eliminating sweets, fats, and carbohydrates, and ultimately resorting to eating 600 calories per day. He developed hallmark symptoms of an eating disorder: difficulty concentrating, low moods, bloating, constipation, social withdrawal, fatigue, and intolerance to cold. His health care providers tested him for a number of GI disorders (celiac sprue, GiardiaH. pylori), and thyroid abnormalities. In spite of the fact that he began to show heart irregularities and dehydration, eating disorders weren’t suggested.
The study states,
In spite of having lost over half of his body weight, the medical documentation associated with the evaluation stated, ‘there is no element to suggest that he has an eating disorder at this particular time.’ At the request of his mother, however, Daniel was referred for an ED evaluation. Of note, Daniel’s weight was a focus of discussion at all medical appointments throughout his childhood. However, during the 13 medical encounters that took place when he was losing weight, there was no discussion of concerns regarding weight loss.
Italics are mine.
The next case study is equally disturbing. An eighteen year old girl was sent to an ED evaluation because she was demonstrating extreme fear of weight gain, amenorrhea, intolerance to cold, stress fractures, excessive exercise, food restriction, and binge eating. She, too, came from a history of obesity. She had begun dieting at the age of fourteen, ultimately going from 97th percentile for weight to the 10th percentile in only three years. After the first year of her weight loss, she developed amenorrhea, but the suggested explanations were PCOS or her long distance running, and she was put on birth control pills. She was referred to a dietitian after her stress fractures developed. The dietitian didn’t suggest ED treatment or express concern over her severely low fat diet, even when the girl’s mother suggested that she might have an ED. According to the study, the girl’s physician noted, “‘given that her BMI is currently appropriate, it is reasonable to do a trial off the birth control pill and see if her menses resume.’”
Italics are mine again.
In our green recovery discussions, we have often touched on how flawed BMI is as a marker of health. The USA Today coverage of the new study discusses this problem. It notes that many of the people who need ED treatment aren’t immediately identified as being at risk because they aren’t underweight:
It’s a “new, high-risk population that is under-recognized,” says Hagman, medical director of the eating disorders program at Children’s Hospital Colorado, who was not involved in the new report.
The kids she sees in this condition “are just as ill in terms of how they are thinking” as they are in terms of physical ailments, she says. “They come in with the same fear of fat, drive for thinness, and excessive exercise drive as kids who would typically have met an anorexia nervosa diagnosis. But because they are at or a even a little bit above their normal body weight, no one thinks about that.”
These cases are no surprise, says Lynn Grefe, president of the National Eating Disorders Association. “Our field has been saying that the more we’re pushing the anti-obesity message, the more we’re pushing kids into eating disorders” by focusing on size or weight instead of health and wellness.
Medicine is not a perfect science. BMI can help physicians to quickly identify someone who is very overweight or underweight, but like any diagnostic tool, it has limitations. One way to circumvent these limitations is to use multiple diagnostic criteria when it comes to complex conditions like EDs. Weight may be telling, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Listening to a patient’s symptoms, history, and habits is equally, if not more, crucial.
It’s time for treatment providers and for society at large to stop equating eating disorders with the state of being underweight. What struck me most about this study was the bias it unearthed. It is the idea that there are two types of people– people who have been overweight, and people who are, or could become, underweight– and that those two types of people are not and cannot be one in the same. This is the bias that leads a primary care physician to miss overwhelmingly evident ED symptoms in a kid who used to be obese. It is the bias that, left uncorrected, may allow countless adolescents and adults who are in need of care to go unnoticed.
US News and World Report interviewed Dr. David Katz as a part of its coverage. Katz is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Childhood Obesity, President-Elect of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, founder and President of the non-profit Turn the Tide Foundation, and the founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. He has devoted much of his career to combating childhood obesity through education about healthy eating and a comprehensive approach to patient care. He echoed the dangers of treating obesity and disordered eating as mutually exclusive phenomena, and underscored the fact that there is quite a bit of fluidity between them:
“First, obesity itself is a risk factor for eating disorders,” Katz said. “This link is well established for binge-eating disorder, where obesity is potentially both cause and effect…Second, while weight loss in the context of obesity may appear beneficial, there is a point at which the methods used — or the extremes reached — may indicate an eating disorder,” Katz said.
“Effective treatment of obesity cannot simply be about weight loss — it must be about the pursuit of health,” Katz said. “An emphasis on healthful behaviors is a tonic against both obesity and eating disorders. By placing an emphasis on diet and activity patterns for health and by focusing on strategies that are family based, we can address risk factors for both eating disorders and obesity.”
Just as weight restoration alone cannot remedy anorexia, neither is weight loss, in and of itself, an adequate treatment for obesity. In both cases, changes in weight should be accompanied by an emphasis on the importance of nourishing foods and an attempt to foster lasting, positive body image.
✵          ✵          ✵
Between the ages of eight and ten, right after my parents’ divorce and during a turbulent moment in my childhood, I gained some weight. My pediatrician remarked on it during an annual checkup when I was eleven–he wasn’t overly worried, he said, but a diet might help me get back to a more “appropriate” weight for my frame. This was that summer that I discovered rules and restriction. It was the summer I realized that I could make my body “behave” itself. It was also the year that my weight took its first major plunge, and the roller coaster in and out of my ED began.
In bringing up my own story, I don’t mean to draw a direct or easy comparison between what I remember and what the two individuals profiled in the study experienced. I know that there is a difference between childhood obesity and moderate childhood weight gain. But I couldn’t help but feel a sense of recognition as I read, an empathy that having comes from having once felt as if someone–someone who was supposed to be taking care of my health–had given me the message that I ought to reject my body. While I recognize the seriousness of childhood obesity, and support all healthful measures undertaken to treat and prevent it, I believe that the onus is upon health care practitioners to do so in a way that will encourage children to embrace their bodies, rather than renounce them. I’m hopeful that it can be done.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the study, which can be found here (Sim LA, Lebow J, Billings M. Eating disorders in adolescents with a history of obesity. Pediatrics. 2013 Sep 9. [Epub ahead of print]).

Day 191 Food Plan on the road again

I've just come back from three days at the Oregon Coast where I took a painting workshop for three days. I chose to stay in the lower apartment of a friend's duplex so I'd have a kitchen, even though it was a half hour from the workshop location. Here's how I handled the food:

1. Made 2 full quarts of green juice the morning before  I left so I 'd have enough for the three days without having to take my juicer. Took assorted fresh and frozen fruit and spinach for smoothies.
2. Made four days of steel cut oats in the rice cooker and took that, walnuts, and coconut milk for second breakfast.

3. Had made a crock pot of sweet potato, kale, white bean soup two days before I left and I had four servings to take with me.
4. Purchased some locally made guacamole and a small bag of organic corn chips.
5. Purchased some quinoa/apple salad and took a large serving of T Joe's 8-chopped veggie/apple/sunflower seed  slaw.

Big bowl of quinoa/8-veggie salad
Two servings of soup
Purchased a Thai/chicken/cabbage salad and mixed half of it with the quinoa for the third day with the few remaining chips

First night: Soup, guac, chips
Second night: 2 veggie burgers, olive tapenade, fermented ginger carrots,
Third night: Crab Louie with vinaigrette (we ate out)

I took snacks: safe bars, cashews in prepackaged 1 oz. servings but I didn't eat any of them until the trip home (1 bar, 1 package of nuts), which happened at dinner time.

Felt like I ate great the whole time.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Day 190 How our palate's change

Jill,  I love this article about the change in palate. And it is so true for me. I remember when I got into OA, 
I'd hear people use the word treats all the time; like 'I just need a treat' or 'how 
can I possibly live without
treats in my life...'  Now I get that treats are cravings for
non-nourishing food:  sugary, buttery, creamy, salty concoctions that fuel my 
obsessive thinking but do not nourish my body. Truth is, I now refer to treat foods
by the simple phrase: non-food. Acknowledging that I want non-food items 
wakes me up every time.
Also I spent many years before OA & the Plan eating 
substitute non-foods thinking substitution was the answer to my eating problem.
I ate lots of modified treat foods back in the day: Snackwell cookies, 50% 
less fat potato chips, then organic potato chips, all manner of low-fat ice cream or Rice Dream desserts, carob instead of chocolate chip cookies...and so on & so on. I spent $1000 of dollars on non-food treats!
So part of plant-based, whole food
Plan for me is distinguishing between food,
and non-food. I'v
lived in the non-food ghetto and it is only now that I feel free from 
its hold on me. Sometimes this distinction is clearer to me than trying to wrap my 
brain around the difference between Whole vs Processed food.   
The Plan's ability to make foundational change in my eating was tested to a great 
degree on a recent trip to Chicago. I planned to eat
piece of Chicago-style deep 
dish pizza; part of the no-brainer eating plan of every kid growing up in Chicago,
you know. I did order a pizza & salad one night for dinner & ate my one piece. 
Then I cut another sliver of the pizza & ate that too. Not because I wanted 
more Pizza Pie but because I wanted to check to make absolutely sure 
that it wasn't a baking mistake or a momentary fluke that that first piece 
t rock my world. It wasn't anything special; I just didn't enjoy it much. 
In fact, I enjoyed the salad more than the pizza. Salad; the bowl of green 
& yellow & red & orange veggies in an olive oil & vinegar dressing was 
the best part of the meal. It nourished me! 
How about that for
eating a whole food diet be
the catalyst for changing not only 
what my body wants
but also what my whole body ENJOYS!  Next time I visit home, 
Italian salads are what I want to have. Who's making the best
Salad? Pizza is a treat 
I can do without; this transformation borders on unbelievable to me, really! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Day 189 A major shift in my relationship with my imagination

This time 24 years ago, I was hanging on by my fingernails. I was scheduled to go into the treatment center in Lynchburg, VA the next day at 4 pm. I spent the evening drunk, the night drunk, the next morning drunk. I was terrified. I couldn't imagine what treatment would be like or how I would get out of the terrible and unrelenting dependence that I had on alcohol. For years, I'd been trying to quit but I couldn't imagine how to really do it without terrible pain and suffering. I couldn't imagine my life without alcohol. And I suspected I was going to have to leave my long-term (10-year) relationship with my lover, who collected whiskeys and other women.

Today I spent the day in a painting workshop at Sitka on the Oregon Coast. The workshop is focussing on how to use your imagination to move from a seen landscape into an abstraction. We had a slide show, some demonstrations, and then got to play and play and play. I've got two more days of this kind of heaven coming right up.

Every year for my AA anniversary I give myself a gift. This year this workshop is the gift. Having my imagination back in full force is just one of the many gifts of sobriety. I am so lucky!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Day 188 Not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it

When I was early in sobriety, I couldn't see any way that I would stop regretting the past and wanting to forget all about it. I had made so many bad decisions, so many bad choices--not just about drinking but about sexual relationships and about my career and about where I lived, a whole dumpster of baggage. I couldn't see how I'd ever come to terms with it and forgive myself.

Of course, the saving grace was that I didn't have come to terms with it all at once. And working the 12 steps in a slow and methodical way was the key. In fact, I didn't finish the 9th step work until I'd been sober 10 years. It took me that long to accept my part in some of the the things that had happened to me, things I didn't ask for.

It also was immensely helpful for me to write my stories. That's in fact, why I wrote my memoir, Sober Truths: The Making of an Honest Woman --to heal my past. Deciding to publish it came much later.

I think it's also why telling our stories continues to be a big part of the AA program and why hearing other people's stories is so healing. As my good friend Karen Casey wrote to me recently, "Being willing to remember the past is what keeps the door to the future propped open."

More info about Sober Truths:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Day 187 How the palate changes

I found this chef's report on his food habits really fascinating. And the idea of switching from quantity of calories to quality of calories is brilliant!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Day 186 A severe test of my equanimity

Yesterday, I spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with Century Link, my phone company. I'm considering stepping into the modern world with a smart phone and wanted to find out about call forwarding from my land line and some other issues. Monday when I called, the young woman I reached after 40 minutes on hold was most pleasant and helpful and then offered to sell me additional speed on my Internet service. While my phone service has been in the Dark Ages, my Internet speed has been in the 18th century and I'd gotten tired of having Ted Talks stop after 3 minutes so I said yes. She assured me it was easy, no one needed to come here, they'd just make a simple adjustment and I'd be all set. Fool that I am, I believed her.

Yesterday morning when I turned on the computer at 7 am, instead of faster Internet, I had no Internet at all. All the appropriate lights were on on the modem and I confirmed that with Eric, the friendly Century Link technician. "Must be a problem with your ISP," he said cheerfully and wished me well. I'm still calm, still cheerful and I call SpiritOne, my local Internet Service provider, a small company I've been with for 16 years.

"They disconnected us," says Patrick. "They do it when you make a service change."

"But I didn't ask them to," I say.

"As if that matters," Patrick replies. "You'll have to call them and ask for a reconnect."

This time it took me 35 minutes on hold before I reached a representative, a very young woman by the sound of her voice, and one who could only play by the rules in front of her. She kept me on hold about 20 more minutes, said the order had gone in and I'd have Internet service by 5 pm (8 hours hence).

Trusting soul that I am, I took her at her word and went on through my day, only occasionally annoyed that I still had no Internet and that something obviously simple couldn't just happen. Finally at 4:40, I called SpiritOne. Nope, no reconnect order.

So I called Century Link back. It took me 6 tries (got part way through the annoying computer voice only to get cut off 5 different times). It all began to feel very personal and my cheerfulness was sorely tested. Finally, I got through and I got someone who knew what she was doing. Although she put me on hold several times, she actually asked for SpiritOne's number and called them and got it sorted out, and I had Internet by the time I hung up with her.

It didn't help that it was about 85 degrees in here all afternoon (we had 96 yesterday, one of the hottest of the summer) and that my phone battery died (received to charge) somewhere in that process and I had to use my ancient emergency tracphone (pay as you go) to make all these calls. But it's all sorted out and I only lost my temper once when I found out it would be all day before I had service even though they were at fault, which they never admitted). But before I've had been furious all day and instead I was just annoyed and then just okay.

PS I now know why they call it Century Link. It takes a century to get a link.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Day 185 Recipe sources and ideas

My food plan coach Elisabeth forwarded this site on to me as I'm on a quest to find interesting and fat-free dressings for the many salads I eat. Some of these sound great.

And my plan buddy Lily forwarded this review. I'm a big proponent of Pacific products, particularly their soups and broths. Now they've come up with this great idea.

My soup of the week: Oval onions from the CSA box, celery, sweet potato, navy beans, black lentils, and a new variety of kale, chicken broth, lemon salt, cumin, garlic, and italian seasoning. Cooked outside in the crockpot (it was 96 here yesterday)!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day 184 The last week before the end 24 years ago

Monday Sept 16, it will be 24 years since my last drink. An astonishing 8,760 days. At this time 24 years ago, I couldn't go more than 4 hours without a drink and I had been drunk for most of the six months before. I was in an emotionally abusive long-term relationship, I had lost my tenure-track teaching job, and I was so physically sick I could hardly function.

When this week rolls around each year, I spend some quiet time thinking of those days and all that misery--physical, emotional, spiritual--and how I was granted a new life when I got honest with my doctor about my powerlessness over alcohol.

In my memoir, the very first scene is that appointment with the doctor, her calling the treatment center to make me a reservation, and the next few days as I found out who supported me (my landlady, the bosses of my three part-time jobs, my friends and family) and who didn't (my lover). I watched the universe open doors for me and catch me as I fell into this new life.

I didn't know then all that awaited me and how my life would evolve. I would never have believed any of it if someone had told me. But I am profoundly grateful for that doctor and for my own willingness to hit bottom and stop dying and start really living.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day 183 Six months on the plan

Today, I came to the six-month mark on the Plan. No 12-step chip to pick up but still celebrating. Lots of things have changed for me, far more than I could have guessed when I watched those films 7 months ago.

What's changed:

1. I don't dairy or wheat anymore and I don't miss them.
2. I eat greens every day in juice or steamed veggies.
3. I've lost 37 pounds with little discomfort.
4. I exercise 6 days a week now instead of 3 or 4.
5. I am cheerful most all the time.
6. I have a much higher threshold for the normal irritations of life. They just don't bother me the way they used to (I assume that is because I have a healthier nervous system).
7. I have more energy and more ambition in the sense of tackling things I'd like to do.
8. I'm cooking again and really enjoying eating what I cook.
9. I don't feel guilty about what I eat, even when I eat more than I need as the foods are healthy.
10. I am slowly balancing my life better between work, play, and rest.
11. I have had only one episode of anxiety in the last six months and it was fleeting.
12. I smile a whole lot more.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Day 182 Some good combinations

Usually, I juice a number of different vegetables at a time. Always some kind of greens (kale, romaine, spinach, or chard), cucumber, and carrots, and then other things I have on end. This past week in the CSA box, there were a lot of tomatoes ('tis the season) and my plan buddy Lily didn't want hers as she was headed out of town for most of the week. After battling 6 trillion fruit flies, it occurred to me to just juice all those tomatoes. It was a gorgeous ruby color and wow! it sure beats canned tomato juice. I added the juice of half a lime. Yum!

My bake this week is a version of Chicken Marbella. I put in chicken thighs, two spoons of capers and juice, a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, about a dozen big green olives stuffed with garlic, a cup of dried prunes. I marinated that of 24 hours, then added large cubes of yellow squash and thin rounds of baby eggplant, a cup of chicken broth and baked for 45 minutes at 350. Served over brown rice. Yum!

My soup this week was replay of a favorite: TJoe's pujabi spinach sauce, a can of Amy's curried lentil soup, chopped onions, sliced cauliflower, a couple of sliced potatoes from the box, cherry tomatoes, and black lentils in the crockpot. Double yum!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Day 181 Moved and inspired by this quote

From Laurence G. Boldt's Zen Soup:

"Everyday Zen means dealing with the world as it is, not insisting that it be the way we think it should be before we will love and embrace it. The greed, the violence, the pettiness, the stupidity we see all around us--these cry out for our love and understanding, not our condemnation. Condemnation never changed anything for the better.

"If in a selfish world I remain compassionate, if in a violent world I remain peaceful, if in a shallow world I maintain depth and sincerity, if in a world of ingratitude I celebrate the gift of life, then I have done what I can do. ..Don't spend your time in idle complaint; roll up your sleeves and get to work."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Day 180 The cholesterol conundrum

Thursday I got the results of additional blood work. My doctor had wanted to recheck my cholesterol levels after I'd been off the statin drugs for a month or two. For years my cholesterol has been in the low end of abnormal (205-210) and it went up about a year ago to 235. I agreed to a low dose of statins (20 mg) and after 2 months, my cholesterol had gone down to 210 again.

But after four months on the food plan, it had dropped to 158 and all the other lipids were at healthy levels too, and I assumed it was the plan in action. So I was disappointed to find out Thursday that while the triglycerides stayed low and healthy, the LDL cholesterol went back up and put my total cholesterol back at 236.

Fortunately, with my relentless cheerfulness, I can see this as information rather than a disaster. Both too many simple carbs and too much fat in the diet can raise cholesterol levels and I don't do much of either. Genetics can also be the culprit. Hence the conundrum. Doc says back on statins. Waiting on advice to consider from my coach.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Day 179 Keeping a lid on it

My friend Kath sent this photo from her adventures with the food plan. Seems you have to keep the lid on the food processor when it's running. :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day 178 A reader's question about soy

One of the blog readers asked about soy and while I'm no expert, here's my knowledge and my decision based on my coach's advice.

Soy is a common allergen, along with sugar, wheat, dairy, and peanuts. You can also have an intolerance for all of these foods, which means you don't have a dramatic reaction but rather a low level of unhealthiness (joint problems, sleep problems, digestive problems,skins problems, etc.). Because I feel so much better off of these foods (except for peanuts), I suspect I have been intolerant for a good while.

Soy is also contraindicated if you have thyroid issues, like I do. I have Hashimoto's disease, an auto-immune issue with the thyroid. So I avoid it for that reason.

Third, the least problematic soy products are the fermented ones, like tempeh and mizo and soy sauce. However, my coach advocates minimizing the eating of highly processed foods, which these are, in favor of whole foods with little to no processing.

Last, because I still eat meat, although much less of it, I am not dependent on soy products for protein. I find quinoa, beans, rice, lentils, nuts and seeds and the protein in vegetables plus a little meat plenty of protein.

All that said, I suspect that I will gradually re-introduce some soy sauce in my diet and see what happens. I'm counting on my body telling me what works and what doesn't work.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day 177 How I used to treat vegetables

Last week, I got a chance to peruse some handmade books in Portland Public Library's rare book room. During that experience, I came across this poem and wrote to the author for permission to share it with you.

The Tyranny of Fresh Vegetables
(copied with  permission from the book I WIll Burn Candles)

The parsnips I bought eight days ago
are losing their erections,
I am responsible.

My tomatoes are bruised,
I am the abuser.

This spinach will never know
the sweet caress of my fragrant vinaigrette.
I am the murderer.

Oh God Oh God.
Every week it happens --
innocent cabbage sprouts,
broccoli spears, expensive asparagus,
artichokes, Japanese eggplant.

I make promises.
I try. I buy
woks, steamers, cookbooks,
more cookbooks, and still they die,
hundreds a year,
limp and impotent.
My compost heap,
neglected and scrawny.
The garbage bag, glad
and obscene.

I don't deserve to buy them.
I shouldn't be allowed to roam free
in the ripe and rampant produce section.

I must be punished.

Banished to frozen foods.

Deborah Fannie Miller is a poet and award winning children’s book author who lives in Calgary, Alberta. Miller’s poetry has been showcased on CBC Radio, The Women’s Television Network, and Vision TV. She has been widely published in literary journals throughout Canada, is in two anthologies: Tributes in Verse and Writing the Terrain: Travelling through Alberta with the Poets, and has three collections of poetry published: I Will Burn Candles, Grandmother’s Radio, co-authored by Susanne Heinz, and  Landing at Night. Her first children’s book, Grappling with the Grumblies,  won the Steffie Young Readers Choice Award. Juggling the Jitters comes out in the fall of 2013.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day 175 Not cured yet

I'm vacationing with my sister Kerry, who is a cake connoisseur, and when she heard that Ida's Cupcakes in Bend had won Best Dessert, we had to stop by. She bought 3 cupcakes for herself and I found myself buying one since it was gluten-free and dairy-free (both cake and frosting). We didn't eat them right away (small victory for me) but later in the evening.

The gf/df cake was not very good and I'd love to say that I took a few bites and threw the rest away but I didn't. I ate it all and then had a terrible sugar buzz and a sugar hangover the next day. Two steps forward, one step back. Keep learning, that's what I tell myself.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Day 176 Watching other people eat

Last night Kerry and her son Alex and I went to a wonderful restaurant in Bend called 5 Fusion. I hadn't checked the menu the way I usually do now to see how many choices there are for me. Turned out there weren't many because it's Asian food and they use a lot of soy. But the waitress was terrific and suggested a halibut dish with spinach and she'd ask the chef to make a sauce without soy. So that worked out well.

But K and A ordered appetizers that I had thoroughly enjoyed last year when we there: lobster fritters with cream cheese, crab cakes, and after dinner a big dessert with whipped cream and ice cream, two of my former main food groups. I had a bit of vegetarian sushi (not a big fan) as they oohed and ahhed over the fritters and cakes, enjoyed my dinner as they ate theirs, and then watched as they ate the dessert.

I didn't need any more food and the fish had been delicious. But I felt a bit of sadness watching them eat all that yumminess. My family is very food-oriented and we have shared a lot of great food. Now I feel on the outside of that circle. I didn't really want any of the dessert but I also didn't want to watch. Maybe that will get easier.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day 174 Resources for juice and smoothies

Nan Woods wrote to request a recipe for an 80/20 veggie/fruit smoothie. I'm not sure I can honor that request very easily as I don't concern myself with that mix for the smoothie I drink most days. However, I do make 80/20 juice and here's some info about that and resources.

I typically make two quarts of juice at a time (clean-up is not simple, although pretty easy) and I juice a bunch of kale or romaine or chard or a mix of all 5, a big cucumber, some parsley, an apple, carrots and then some other things I have on hand like tomatoes, turnips, kohl rabi, beets. While carrots aren't a fruit, they do contribute sweetness as do cucumbers.

I then use about 10 oz of this juice in the blender with a frozen banana, blueberries (a cup), a little pineapple or mango, the juice of a lime, and as much spinach as I can cram in the blender. So my guess is the smoothie is 60/40.

Others do just smoothie and no juice and here's a combination that's pretty close to 80/20.
1 cup cold water or almond/rice/coconut milk
2 cups greens
a peeled cucumber
4-5 small carrots
1 apple (cored)--apparently seeds have cyanide
any other veggies that appeal to you

The combinations are endless!