It’s now been four months since I gave up processed carbohydrates, aspartame and flour. Since that time, I’ve actually decreased my workout levels a tad, trading my usual three days of running, two days of walking and four 15-minute weight training sessions each week for a little less stringent schedule of “most” days walking and two days of weights.
Those 30ish pounds look a whole lot better on Danica than they did on me!
Interestingly, in that time I’ve also dropped two jeans sizes and about 13 pounds, bringing my total weight lost since beginning my walk-run program in April 2011 to about 32 pounds … more than the full weight of my almost 4-year-old daughter.
Those changes alone would be enough to convince me to continue this “new” way of eating… but an even stronger case is made by the improvements in the way I feel, not to mention what I’ve learned about how processed foods, wheat and artificial sweeteners really do to our bodies, thanks to all of the reading I’ve done during that time.
That doesn’t mean that foregoing my favorite carb-filled breakfast foods, sandwich-based lunches or sugary desserts << every.single.day.>> is easy. Sometimes it really is not. But not for the reasons you might think…
But I LOVE bread!
In the past, when I’d run into someone who shared the story of why they gave up bread … usually not because they wanted to but instead the result of an intolerance to gluten … I found it nearly impossible to imagine what it would be like to live that way. Give up bread? No more pasta? No way… I could “never” do that, I’d think. I love(d) bread too much and just knew the cravings would eventually get the best of me. I couldn’t imagine feeling okay about passing up so many favorite foods.
But cravings have not really been an issue. I’ve found what they say to be true… when you allow yourself to eat healthy fats and quit worrying about restricting calories, you really don’t get that hungry and the cravings just kind of disappear for the most part.
I also had a hard time imagining what I would eat if I didn’t have my usual fare to turn to. As it turns out, the power of habit works both ways and once I figured out some new healthier options, it didn’t take long for me to fall into my usual (now reformed) repetitive eating patterns.
Not eating the “Frankenfood” is not the hard part. It’s living in a world that so heavily revolves around that type of food that is more of a challenge. After all, I live in Montana … land of the “amber waves of grain.”
Apparently it’s sugar that makes the world go round…
Everywhere you turn … television, restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, movie theatres (popcorn anyone?), social functions, bars, conventions, sporting events, vending machines, county fairs, ski lodges, gas stations, concession stands, even school cafeterias (including the more progressive “healthier” ones) … the environment and offerings are heavily, heavily dominated by “foods” containing processed carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, sugar and/or wheat in one form or another, even when the target customer is a health-conscious mom, outdoors fanatic or athlete. (Don’t believe me? Give it up for just a week and you’ll become hyper-sensitive to its presence.)
The food itself is a big factor, but even bigger are the continual messages we hear related to what we eat. If it’s not a commercial pushing low-fat this or multi-grain that, all in the name of “healthy” eating, it’s a reminder of how good these particular foods make you feel, at least in the short-term.
Also difficult, especially for someone like me who prefers not to rock the boat, attract attention to myself or be the difficult, hard-to-please one in the group (despite what my husband would tell you), is having to step up and request a substitution at that convention dinner or ask the family to make an additional stop on the way to the $5 pizza joint in order to have a healthier (and inevitably more expensive) option.
But perhaps most harmful … and most aggravating to me … are the messages we continually hear from supposed “experts” who, from what I’ve read and come to strongly believe, are the ones largely responsible for leading us all to this unhealthy lifestyle in the first place.
The science showing the connection between low-fat eating combined with sugar overload (including natural sugars we’ve been told are better choices and “whole grains” which eventually become sugar, albeit a bit more slowly) and a whole range of diseases (obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, all kinds of immune system diseases … the list goes on and on and ON …) has been around for DECADES, yet we are still given advice that flies directly in the face of that science… and that advice is coming from our doctors, our government and other professionals we generally trust to have our best interests at heart.
It’s disconcerting to find out just how much influence the producers of those products have on the advice disseminated through the health industry, oftentimes by doctors, nutritionists and others I believe aren’t even aware they are being fed … and then promote … inaccurate or incomplete information.
The hardest part is not avoiding the Frankenfood or passing on the bread basket or choosing iced tea over Diet Coke or being “that customer” in the mostly carb-based food establishment. The hardest part is having to continually remind yourself … despite all of these messages you hear, the mainstream low-fat/low-cal/high carb “health” reports on your favorite morning news show, and the fact that everyone around you is doing something different than you are … that what you are doing really is in your best, most healthy, interest.
I am hopeful that the field of “experts” on board with this new (if you can call the way our ancestors ate “new”) definition of “healthy” eating will continue to grow and that someday I and others who believe in their message will become the norm instead of the exception.
It sure would make a healthy lifestyle a lot easier to pursue.
Curious why wheat (including the “healthy whole grain” variety) may be far less healthy then you’ve been led to believe? Read Dr. William Davis’s book Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health.