I'm of healthy weight and like to eat. General concepts like "everything in moderation" and "eat food, not too much, mostly plants" work better for me than psyllium husks; non-fat, food-like products; and fake sugar. I find the forced limitations of dieting to be damaging in more ways than beneficial. Not to mention that the latest new thing will be negated in a few days or years and replaced by the next, with equal and exhausting enthusiasm.
On the other hand, I'm not too fond of my poor complexion or dry eyes or other discomforts that bother me from time to time. And I have allowed myself to be convinced that if I find which foods might be causing these reactions in my body, I might just be able to clear them up. How great would that be?
Well, perhaps not so great if it is determined that I react negatively to foods I love. Like any member of the nightshade family or mushrooms or dairy. Or wheat. But, I already do not eat the foods I dislike, so I suppose that the culprits must be ones I enjoy.
Taking in all the factors, I have decided to complete a three-week regimen that is something like a modified elimination diet. I repeat, I am not interested in losing weight. I want to reiterate this fact, because I do not have a weight problem and have shocked at least four (well-rounded, intelligent, open-minded) people by stating that I do not have an innate "female" desire to be über-thin and consequentially well-liked by all. I simply want to be healthy and feel good.
Luckily, the food I am eating throughout the regimen is satisfying. Whole and low-reactive foods can still be delicious and, well, pretty! Making my meals look good makes a huge difference when I'm missing lattes and pastries. Or any of the celebratory LaMar Donuts that my coworkers brought into work last week (they're so good!). It also helps that if I feel fine after eating wheat and dairy products this week, lattes and pastries are in my near future. Woo-hoo!
It is somehow comforting that I did not feel fine after eating copious amounts of flax seeds last week. Ugh. I am supposed to start my day with a bowlful of "flax granola" (above), which is a morning routine I quickly came to dread...even the prettiness of it couldn't save that one for me. Then I realized that me practically gagging on the stuff was some sort of a negative reaction and that I should probably eliminate this "fabulous" health food. Since cutting this part out and replacing it with tasty things, like fruit and Silk Coconut milk, I feel so much better emotionally about breakfast that I feel better physically, too. Yay! First "diet" lesson learned.
Everything else has been satisfying and fulfilling. It feels wonderful to have eaten 99% whole foods for several days, but to also feel full and eat good-tasting meals. It's nice to discover that recipes that sound boring, like julienned carrots and a shredded raw beet (above, with a candy stripe beet from my garden), are actually really great.
I'm learning to put together common-sense, balanced meals and am looking forward to the end of the trial period, when I can start developing my own recipes that are based on a solid, balanced theory of eating. I think it will lead to some brand-new, delicious recipes for Omnivora!
Most importantly, figuring out what doesn't really work for me doesn't mean that anything is out of my life forever. I can learn how to manage problematic foods in a way that allows me to enjoy them if I love them. And that is what eating well is all about, right?
MANGO CUCUMBER SALSA
Adapted from The Plan, by Lyn-Genet Recitas*
- 1 mango, small dice
- 1 pickling or English cucumber, small dice
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 jalapeño
- sea salt
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
If you have a gas range (and I hope you do!), roast jalapeño over open flame, until well-blistered. Set aside to cool.
Combine mango, cucumber, and lime juice in a bowl. Mince jalapeño and stir into salsa, along with cilantro, if using. Salt to taste and serve with anything you can think of...like fish or other meat, or tortilla chips, or broiled tofu. It's delicious and you will love it. I will be making it for an upcoming salsa party.
*The dietary plan I am following is The Plan, by Lyn-Genet Recitas. I really am having a great time with it and I hope to learn about the foods I don't handle well. The book is an interesting read, but could use a cookbook editor - planning for The Plan can get out of control. The website offers shopping lists and alternate menu plans, based on previously held dietary restrictions. It definitely helps if you like to make spreadsheets and are generally analytical like I am.