Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Healthy Eating Challenge - Day 1

I'm going on a diet.

Correction - on a lifestyle.

For 28 days, I am participating in a Healthy Eating Challenge through Whole Foods. This is a plant-strong way of eating from the book The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn.

My biggest challenge? I can't lose any weight.

Today, I weigh 88.4 pounds. I stand only 4' 11 1/4" tall and have always been tiny. When I first went dairy free over two years ago, I lost about three pounds. After going gluten free 11 months ago, I lost an average of 8 pounds. At my skinniest only about two months ago, I was 85 pounds.

So why go plant-strong and say no to all animal products (including meats, fish, and eggs)?

My plates have been very white lately. My diet was turning into white rice with meat. Maybe some veggies or fruit. The pictures I posted on the blog were the best-of's. Not every meal had a vegetable. I am also scared to get into a diet rut. With a limited number of gluten and dairy free packaged goods available, I was finding myself eating the same products over and over again. As I heard from the Gluten Free Expo, we eat the same foods over and over - just in different combinations. A white plate is devoid of nutrients - I need to eat a rainbow!

So for the next 28 days, my diet and blog will be:
  • Vegetarian and vegan
  • Oil free
  • Carbonated beverage free
  • Dairy free
  • Egg free
  • Fish and shell-fish free
  • Gluten free
  • White rice light
  • Devoid of (or very light on) packaged and unnecessarily processed foods (translation: I need to be able to pronounce all the ingredients)
  • Focused on healthy eating and maximizing nutrients readily available in fruits and vegetables
  • Recipe testing - one gluten free vegan bread a week!
The only three of the top 8 allergens that will be represented will be soy, peanuts and tree nuts.

And here are my obstacles:
  • I have had a soda a day since college. The caffeine in Coke and Pepsi helps my chronic headaches.
  • I will also be exercising - 20-30 minutes 5 days a week.
  • I'm skinny and cannot lose any more weight.
  • I normally do not eat any breakfast or will snack on dry cereal from a plastic bag.
  • I love white rice and haven't really enjoyed brown rice too much
  • I need to be careful with so I do not accidentally eat any gluten. My last reaction was probably from the smallest trace of gluten and yet was so severe I had to leave work early.
  • And I need to do all of this while working over 40 hours a week.
I will be one of 18 Chicago-based bloggers taking part in this 28-Day Challenge with Whole Foods. I'm excited for the opportunity to change my diet.
For those new to the blog, here are some "recap" style links: a Memorial Day versus Labor Day comparison of me on and off gluten and a year in review entry. I had an appendectomy on October 15, 2008. I was still having health problems and saw a gastro who told me to simply get on the pill. In early Spring 2009, a friend help diagnose my lactose intolerance. I tested her theory with a milk challenge and realized that milk was making my symptoms worse. (My stomach hurt, I didn't feel like eating, I drank a milk shake, my stomach hurt...it was a nasty cycle.) In December 2009, my symptoms were getting much worse even though I was completely off dairy. Three gastros, 5 tubes of blood, 2 rounds of stool testing, 1 CT scan, 1 chest x-ray, an echo later and a colonscopy and upper-endoscopy later, I self-diagnosed as gluten intolerant near the end of June 2010. The gastro agreed, wrote it in my chart, and I maintained a gluten free diet ever since. There was a major difference in my health when I was off gluten. All of my symptoms disappeared within five days. Do I think a gluten free diet is the answer for everyone? Not at all. If you are intolerant, then yes, you should follow a gluten free lifestyle. If not, enjoy your wheat, barely, rye, and (most) oats!

Here's to the rainbow!

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