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Sunday, July 24, 2011

What Am I Doing? Fundamentals

My friends are asking me about my eating-life changes. “What,” they ask, “are you doing?” This post is the first of a series that will, I believe, answer that question.
But before I get started, there are some things you should know:

  1. I don’t have a plan. I don’t have a fix—for me or anyone else.
  2. I am not a doctor or dietitian, and have forgotten nearly everything I learned in college biology and human anatomy and physiology classes.
  3. My body is not your body. How I eat is like my fingerprints: individual to me.
  4. None of this is static.Every day I learn, adopt and discard ideas and information. So, for everything you read here, add “for now,” because I do.
 Fundamental Tool #1: Observation
Mr Eyeball Popper, Guinness Book of World Records
 I didn’t know what foods worked well for me when I started this (and assumed that all foods did, in fact). It was a surprise to learn there are some foods I didn’t tolerate well (see this post) . So I’m treating myself like a living test tube, being as dispassionate (and accepting) as possible about what I'm learning.
Here are some of the ways I observe:
  • I limit the number and types of food I eat at one time. I read about food combining (see chart below) a week or so into this, and some of it made sense. I wasn’t interested in following lots of rules (and food combining has a lot of rules, and different ones, such as those for followers of Ayurveda). Rules aren’t bad, but they’d limit my investigation of what works for my body.
I benefit in many ways by keeping small the number and types of food I eat together. If I have a problem digesting one, for example, it’s easy to quickly figure out the source of the difficulty. My body seems to more easily digest single foods (and food types—I think.). I eat smaller amounts of food because the digestion is faster—as are indicators of digestion challenges.
I then get up from the table, and observe how my body reacts to what I’ve eaten. If there’s difficulty (see Indicator Elbows), it usually happens within 15 minutes. Sometimes I sit and do do nothing but experience digestion, other times I go about my business, but stay aware. This also helps me  determine if I’m still hungry.
Once I have information about my reaction to one food, I then try combining the known, acceptable foods with one another, and/or other foods.
Some food combining practices I follow: I eat protein either alone or with vegetables, not with carbohydrates (though I no longer eat many carbs) or sweets (fruit in my case). I don’t mix types of protein (e.g., eggs and cheese), or fruit and vegetables (in juice, for example, or salad).  I usually don’t mix more two or three fruits or veg at a meal, and sometimes I eat monomeals. One morning I had a breakfast of 3 bananas.
  • I begin the day eating lightly, and eat more heavily as the day progresses. I've been practicing a limited form of food sequencing, or eating different foods in certain order. My practice is quite basic.  Here's my thinking: my body might have an easier time digesting what I eat if I ease into it.My practice is quite basic (and certainly wouldn't meet the approval of Food Sequence King Dr. Stanley Bass. His "Food and Attention" article is definitely worth a read, and contains many of the values behind some of my changes.). Here's how I do it most days:
  1. I start the day with a large (16 oz or so) of water, preferably room temperature. I drink it slowly.
  2. 1 hour later, I'll eat maybe 1/2 cup of berries, or a peach, or some dried apricots or figs that I've soaked in water to reduce the sugar content. Or I drink a glass of vegetable juice (like carrot-ginger)
  3. 1-1/2-2 hours later I move into the protein: I might eat some almond butter (a couple of tablespoons), or scramble some egg whites, possibly with spinach, or have some cheese. Or a big plate of raw spinach and broiled salmon, likely with a dressing). I eat sooner if I'm hungry.
  4. Later in the day I might have more almond butter, or nuts (that I've soaked) or cheese (I have ADD, and find consuming high levels of protein help with that).
  5. Sometimes I eat another "meal" (e.g., salad or steamed vegetables and a protein, or just big  protein by itself, like free-range chicken sausage).
  6.  In the evening I might have more fruit.
  • I prepare most all of my own food. I used to love eating out, not even because of getting the opportunity to experience different types of foods well-prepared (in fact, I tended to eat in restaurants mostly food I could make at home with not much difficulty). For me it was the experience of being served, and of having others (albeit paid for the privilege) take care of me. (Expect a post on that sometime.)
    But now I am much more conscious about eating, and eat very differently than I did. Besides, when I cook it, I know what’s in it. Not that I think people are gonna spit in it, but I may not know all of the ingredients, and eat food that doesn’t work well with my body. My experience with the food at the Laughing Planet is a perfect example.
  • I look at my body every day.
  • I write about my this experience. I journal and also keep this blog. Doing both is quite beneficial.
  • I take the information in and judge it (and myself) as little as I can. Two nights ago, for example, I ate maybe 6 apricots, some dried, some previously soaked in water to remove much of the sugar. I ate too many, and my stomach felt overfull and queasy. I reflected on that experience, and determined I had taken eaten in a way that didn’t serve me. I recalled that I ate all of them standing up, not in in a plate at the table, and that I was looking for a sugar hit—a processed-sugar hit—that apricots don’t provide (good thing, too).  And I was disappointed that they didn’t, and that I kept eating.
    So now I’ve decided that it’s in my interest to eat only while sitting down at the table (although I do like drinking smoothies—fruit and coconut milk while staring out the living room window, and will probably keep doing that).

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