I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately, but this isn’t new for me. I’ve been involuntarily thinking and talking about what I eat since my Celiac diagnosis in 2012. In addition to my usual gluten free nonsense, I spent the majority of the past year making some form of dietary modification and/or weighing & tracking everything I ate. While it hasn’t always been easy, the time investment was worthwhile overall.
Here’s where I started:
I topped out at around 170 lbs, and I’m a little less than 5’6″. Not obese, but definitely not an awesome size for my frame. Going gluten free without replacing too many processed snack foods prompted a 12 lb weight loss over the course of a year.
The first major dietary shift was to low carbohydrate. For anyone who hasn’t done low carb, it can be a pain in the ass. To do low carb most effectively, you have to calculate your optimal carb to protein to fat ratios based on your weight, height, and speed of desired weight loss. Then you proceed to weigh and track everything you eat…and I mean EVERYTHING. There’s no standard size for a piece of fruit or a particular veggie, so calculating carbs by weight is best. This level of accuracy ensures that you achieve the right balance and don’t accidentally knock yourself out of your optimal weight loss range.
Tracking aside, the hardest part for me was that I actually enjoy fruit and vegetables, most of which were off limits. I found I’m sensitive to the lowest carb veggies (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc, because they are also high FODMAPs) and can only eat them in moderation (I won’t get into the symptoms!). I quickly tired of salads with certain toppings and dressings only. I tired of the overly rich dairy and meats that were needed to make sure I got my fat and protein quotas right. I don’t like artificial sweeteners, which were my only option for treats during this phase.
Even with all the downsides, there were a number of positives. I felt my blood sugar levels stabilize within a few days, and I no longer experienced that afternoon slump around 3 pm. I still needed significant amounts of coffee to keep plugging along, but I was evened out much more than I had been. Since I didn’t enjoy artificial sweeteners to begin with, I gradually phased them out and now I don’t take honey or sugar in my coffee and tea. All together, I lost about 25 lbs from April to September without exercising…at all. I continued on in my sloth-like habits and the pounds just came off.
I was so burnt out on tracking and measuring that I took a break in October. I already weighed a lot less, but I still had lingering health issues I wanted to tackle. Enter Auto Immune Protocol (AIP). I will get into more about this in another post, but the basics concept is to reduce systemic inflammation and heal your body, through eating a modified and strict paleo type diet for weeks or months, before attempting to find trigger foods through reintroductions. So far, so good. I have less headaches, more energy with less coffee, and I haven’t reacted to the few foods I’ve reintroduced so far.
Here’s a more recent picture after the bulk of the weight loss:
I’m finally maintaining at a much healthier 130 lbs. Now what?! Here’s what I’ve learned and what I need to keep working on:
- I’m coming to the realization that I need to stay vigilant about portion control. There are some days I KNOW I’m not actually as hungry as the amount of food I’ve eaten would indicate. I have not been tracking anything on AIP because of a knee jerk reaction to the whole low carb ordeal. It wouldn’t be as difficult with AIP, so I’m probably going to start.
- I need to stay very aware of my sugar intake. I have a wicked sweet tooth, and just the tiniest bit of sugar on a regular basis makes me crave sweets like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve been eating minimal amounts of processed anything for almost a year and I STILL get huge cravings in the grocery check out line.
- I need to exercise and make it count. I do some yoga, but it’s minimal exertion and I definitely don’t sweat most days. Now that my SI joint isn’t quite so much of a pain in the butt (get it?!!!!), I need to ramp it up with some cardio and weights.
So with moving in less than two weeks, I look forward to establishing new daily routines for eating and exercising around the new job and new living situation!