Work in Progress

So, yeah, I tried the coconut oil detox and failed. It was making me gag and I felt like sh!t. This doesn’t mean I don’t think it works but I just couldn’t keep it up. So then I tried my own modified version of Paleo but it included tons of fruit and beans and nuts and I felt bloated and I swear I was gaining weight! Well, duh, if you don’t do it as prescribed you shouldn’t expect the same results.

But you see, there are two problems.  First of all, diets conflict with one another!! So much so that seriously sometimes you don’t know who to believe! If you want to be anti-candida and Paleo and anti fungal and alkaline and avoid inflammatory foods and reduce cravings and lose weight and build muscle.. well you won’t know what to eat because trust me, on the internet everyone claims to be an expert.

The other problem is things that should be avoided for one reason should be added for a different reason. Case in point: if you suffer from arthritis they say you should avoid nightshades (mainly tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers) but other folks say to eat tons of tomatoes, for example, because they are high in vitamins and lycopene, which is supposed to help prevent heart disease and cancer. So, painful arthritis or cancer? How are you supposed to choose between those?

I have done hours and hours and hours of research on the subject trying to come up with some commonalities between all the health plans of the world. One says eat a lot of meat to get protein to get lean and build strong muscles, others say to avoid it completely. Some say eggs are one of the best foods one could ever consume and another will say to avoid them for possible allergens or cholesterol. Eat nuts – they are low carb and a great source of protein and fiber! Avoid nuts – they are too high in fat, Omega 6 and phytic acid! I swear it can make your head swim! But I have to say that after reading and rereading, I discovered that there is a consensus on a couple of things:

* sugars are evil and completely unnecessary

* processed foods are poison and should be avoided at all costs

* eat mostly vegetables (preferably local, sustainable and organic)

* drink lots of water

* get a decent night’s sleep

* don’t be a couch potato

I just broke it down for you, didn’t I? Really. If you want to have better health just remember those six things. Now, of course, each person is different. These tips are a gross generalization and should be tweaked for each individual. Some may want to add some dairy, others grains, others meat. Still others claim they feel better and have optimal health without vegetables at all. Others swear by a bit of sugar or wine. Some insist on eating organ meats, bone both and fermented food and some swear by coconut oil even though it’s 94% saturated fat (I’m one of them!) Figuring out what works for you through experimentation and elimination is a slow and arduous process but a necessary one. I’ve got a lot of things figured out over here, still working on others.

My diet isn’t consistent and some days I feel like a million bucks and other days I feel like crap. Most days, really. Too much stress and caffeine & too little sleep and exercise are areas where I still need work. No matter how much healthier my diet is, until I get these regulated I am not going to feel my best. Sure, I eat virtually no processed foods now and lots of vegetables but until I truly focus and keep a food diary to pinpoint how certain foods make me feel I probably won’t reach that incredible feeling that comes with good health. I’m proud of my progress but I still have work to do. To think for years I ate Lean Cu!sines, cereal, store-bought cookies and McDonaldz! Ugh, I shudder to think about it now. My meals nowadays are so much tastier and healthier! And Coco’s agrees. It’s so important to me to teach her about good nutrition and have her eating tasty, nutrient-dense meals and snacks. It’s so great that she really enjoys them.

(huge salad, grilled eggplant, pan-fried zucchini coated in almond and coconut flours and a few sections of pomello)


Today at the Saturday market I wandered over to my favorite grass-fed beef sellers. I purchased some (very expensive but pay now or pay later) sirloin and bacon.  I also bought some organic kohlrabi, pechay, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, strawberries and apples from him. I inquired about the produce delivery box that I considered doing last fall and he said they still deliver and to sign up on his website. Yay for CSA boxes! And I am even more thrilled that they carry pastured pork, native chickens, raw cheeses, organ meats and bone broths! I am not quite there yet (except for the chickens) but I am open to trying some of those things that other people swear by. I about fell off my chair if he asked me if I was familiar with the Weston A. Price foundation! Yeah, okay, there wasn’t a chair in sight in the middle of the market but I really wasn’t expecting that. I don’t necessarily agree with everything WAPF folks subscribe to but there are many positives and the best part is he carries the products they consume for when I am ready to incorporate them. I am so excited to have a viable option here in Manila! You would think it would be easier to get healthy things here but I find it much more challenging. Having this beef-seller being able to talk to me about this (in great English) and carrying the products makes me feel less overwhelmed. Going into the supermarket here is a sobering experience. Most of the products are filled with chemicals, preservatives, additives, stabilizers, fillers, dyes, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates and more. (It dawned on me, by the way, that my migraine-turned-headache of 2.5 days was likely caused by the MSG in the Pr!ngles I ate on the plane coming back from Thailand. I can’t even remember the last time I consumed anything with MSG as it is so difficult to find things with that ingredient in the States. I knew it was in there but I was hungry and not surprisingly the choices on the airplane were poor.) The products he carries though are biodynamic, sustainable and grown locally. Ah, real food.

I am so happy! I love meeting people who are like-minded. I have two friends at work who understand that diet is inextricably linked to health and I ran into a colleague at the market who seems to want to eat better too, but sadly most folks think I’m off my rocker. They just don’t get it and I understand cause I was there about a year ago. When they get wind of what I’m doing they say things like “eat all things in moderation, Joy, and you will be fine” or “after that crazy (coconut oil) detox you have no credibility” or “diets don’t work” or a number of other things. I try to explain what I am doing is not a diet. The goal is not weight loss (though I would be fine with that). The goal is health and I am either detoxing or I am eating a selection of healthy foods. Why are people so oppositional? It doesn’t matter, though. I am learning to keep my mouth shut and continuing to do what I need to do.

But back to my grass-fed man. Wait, he’s probably not grass-fed (though he does sell wheat grass). He rocks! He told me how to cook the meat so it would be tender. Grass fed meat has less fat so it can get tough really quickly. He suggested I cook it the “sous-vide” method. Have you heard of that? I hadn’t. I love when I learn something new! Sous-vide is French for under vacuum. Basically you put the seasoned meat in a plastic bag, remove the excess air and place it in water of no more than 150 degrees F. Let it cook this way for many hours (like 12). It will allow the meat to cook evenly. Then remove it and pan sear it or grill it for a minute or two. I will be trying that. And ordering that CSA box. Next week.

When I remain a hermit eating healthfully is easy but when going out -which I need to do- I slip up. I went out last weekend to a happy hour event with some friends. I ignored the chips and cookies and bread and munched on veggies instead but then I ordered tonic water thinking it was low in sugar. I learned after the fact that it is not. Should have had wine (or been more committed to my water that I started out with)! Ah, well now I know.

I went out again this weekend. My friend and I went to a great tapas place, then to see a play and then to hear some live music. A real night out! It was fun! I made good food choices, but then I ordered wine.

           Gazpacho (sans croutons) and Moroccan chicken skewers

You could say, “don’t sweat it” or “tomorrow’s another day” but the reality is I say that all the time!  For once it would be nice to commit to something 100%. To turn down the coffee or ice cream or wine for an extended period of time. At least 30 days. People do it all the time–by choice or by circumstance. They say, though, that each time you make an effort to do something, even if you fail, it is getting you closer to your goal. I sure hope so. So tomorrow: mostly veggies, lots of water and sleep; no sugars, grains, dairy or caffeine; some fruit, some meat, some exercise and of course some coconut oil!

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One Response to Work in Progress

  1. I know how hard it is! I wish there really was just one prescribed diet that would make us all look and feel great – but everyone’s tolerances are different. I am of the belief that there really is no ‘perfect food’ – there are negative effects from everything we eat. However, I only eat whole food and try to focus on grass-fed meat and organic veggies, because those are the best foods to my understanding of a good diet. Oh well,

Kind words only, please! :)

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