I mentioned in my menu post that I've changed things up a bit with the way I am eating, and now I'll elaborate. First off I want to say that I am by no means and expert on food or nutrition. I can only tell you what I have learned from doing tons of reading (I did take a class about research in nursing school, so I at least know how to tell if a study is a valid study, or a lame study someone did in their college dorm room) and what I have learned from my experience.
Basically, I have chosen to follow a Paleo/Primal style diet. I'm not going to bore you with the details of what this means, but if you are interested you can read this post on Nerd Fitness (an awesome nerdy fitness blog, if you need more blogs to read), and this post on Mark's Daily Apple, or google it and sort through the 4 million results you'll get.
I say basically, because I'm pretty set in my ways on a few food items and will never give them up so long as they will not kill me directly. Mostly coffee with half-and-half and cheese. In fact, if there was a coffee and cheese diet...I'd be all over it. I also prefer not to "diet" because I think that implies deprivation, and if there's anything I hate more than being without coffee and cheese, it's being hungry. If I'm hungry, I'm going to eat.
So, how did I get this crazy idea? First of all, I gained 6 pounds on my cruise, making me officially weigh more than I've ever weighed in my life. I'm not so happy about that. I feel lousy most of the time, part of which is most likely related to working nights, but I don't think that's all of it - I'm always tired )not new but now at a new extreme), my stomach is overly sensitive, my skin is itchy (I know I live in a dry climate, but no amounts of moisturizing has been able to resolve the itchy), my nose is always drippy (possibly allergies, but I've never had issues with those before), and I have a mild headache more often than not. Also, last week at work, I had a scary incidence of having a horrible headache and feeling like I was going to pass out and found out my blood pressure was extremely high at that time (I have borderline high blood pressure most likely related to genetics, but this was higher than I've ever seen it). All of these things...along with the fact that I'll be turning 30 this year, made me decide to officially "do something" about my current situation.
The diet idea came about because I'm a fairly loyal follower of Dooce, and a couple of days ago she posted something about "that wierd/crazy/stupid diet" she's been on, which intrigued me (everything about her is pretty much intriguing to me, but this more than most things, caught my interest). I followed some of the links she posted in one of her diet related posts and started reading the stories people had about how eating this way changed their lives and I figured I would give it a shot.
Now, I know that often times stories from overweight people who try x, y, or z diet and lose a bunch of weight is often more related to them suddenly being aware of what they are putting in their mouth and less related to whatever diet they are following. The part that got me was all the weird symptoms and underlying conditions that went away while they were eating this way (again, it could be related to their overall health/weight and less related to the actual food). I was also intrigued by the idea that most people ate two or three meals a day and rarely required a snack. This seems inconceivable to me...I ALWAYS need a snack.
I'm not 100% sold on the concept behind the diet (your genes want you to not eat grains), but I do believe that there is some validity to it. I'm pretty sure that all of the foods I really like (cranberries, pickled things, cabbage, potatoes, yams, plain yogurt, lamb, etc.) can be linked to the cuisines of the cultures that make up my genetics (Finnish and a mismash of Eastern European). What I am sold on is the science behind it (science, it works!) - again, I won't bore you with details, but basically your body is more efficient when it burns fat as fuel but given the way we traditionally eat these days, you have to train it to do so since it probably relies mostly on carbs. I also agree with the information about how removing grains (not carbs, you can actually get plenty of carbs from many fruits and veggies) actually keeps your blood sugar steadier so you don't all of a sudden become ravenous.
When I was in nursing school, I spent 20 hours of clinical time with the diabetic educator at the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Clinic, and after that I said that I think we should all eat like diabetics and we would be a lot healthier. This is pretty much the same thing.
I plan following the 80/20 rule. I will eat this way 80% of the time. If I really want a piece of toast and nothing on earth will compare with the joy and satisfaction of eating that piece of toast...I'll eat it. Again, I'm not about deprivation in my eating. I like to be well fed and satisfied.
On a related side note, I had a conversation with my dad yesterday about how there is absolutely no reason why we need to eat meat. I had the opposite argument (related to my current eating endeavors). that we shouldn't eat grains (which is what we would be eating if we weren't eating meat). I promptly came home and conducted a search of scholarly articles (thank you Google) and found almost as much information in support of a paleolithic style of eating as I did in support of a vegetarian style of eating. So, do your own research and draw your own conclusions and if I come out of this with high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, you'll know I was wrong.
Here's a couple of the (not so scientific) resources I have been using:
Paleo Parents - this blog presents a strong case for the disease curing side of this diet, and they have a cookbook called Eat Like a Dinosaur (which is where I borrowed by post title from).