We all have a different definition of what ‘healthy eating’ means. In this three-part blog post I am sharing my food story and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. If you missed part 1 and part 2, you may enjoy catching up first. 

Two and a half years ago, I started dating my current boyfriend and my diet underwent the most recent and drastic set of changes. He doesn’t eat gluten, so I started becoming hyper aware of the gluten in my diet, and cutting back whenever possible. It wasn’t too difficult because I was already reducing my bread and pasta intake after watching many people around me successfully lose weight; I was learning that we consume WAY too many simple carbs.

 

After a couple months of reducing gluten and continuing to be carb-savvy, something happened to upset my progress. I went traveling for two months in South America. If you’ve never been to Peru, I’ll let yIMG_4359ou in on the secret of Peruvian cuisine: they grow over 4,000 different types of potatoes there. For real. Also, free hostel breakfasts in South America usually consist of white bread and jam. So basically we could call that trip “Carb Fest 2013.” When I got home to Canada (and my full wardrobe) I noticed my pants were fitting a bit snug. For the first time in my life I became aware of what many people struggle with. As a naturally thin person, I’ve been able to eat pretty much whatever I want without much effect on my weight. {I should qualify this by saying that I rarely eat fast food and I don’t have a sweet tooth, so its not like I was eating ice cream every day, but I do love my carbs and dairy.}

I learned from Stephen Cherniske that

about 20% of people are naturally thin, meaning their body just knows how to burn fat as energy and they have no trouble maintaining a healthy weight. About 80% of the population is the opposite.

Weight can be a struggle because their fat-burning genetic pathways have been turned down so low that their body uses sugar/carbs as a primary fuel source. Luckily I was aware of the effect carbs have on people, so I knew what to do to drop the extra 8-10 lbs I had gained on my trip. 

 

Lesson #6: The most effective way to drop a few pounds (for me and many others) is to limit carb intake putting the body into ketosis

{ketosis = fat-burning, stay tuned for a separate post on this topic}.

After my trip I moved in with my boyfriend and made one more adjustment to my diet. If you read part 1 and 2, you may remember from my picky eater days and carb obsession days that my favourite food groups were bread and cheese… well, my amazing health-savvy man also avoids most dairy.

Lesson #7: Gluten and dairy are inflammatory foods that are best eaten in moderation, or not at all


Cheese, my beloved cheese. I didn’t quit cold-turkey, but I stopped buying the giant blocks of cheddar and now save my cheese indulgences for nice chunks of brie, smoked gouda, gruyere etc, during special occasions. Yogurt is something that has been a staple in my diet for most of my life; I only ever buy plain yogurt (there’s that sugar phobia again), usually organic, never low fat. I know that the probiotics in yogurt are helpful and I’ve never had a reason to cut yogurt out of my diet.

 

Today, I’m not 100% gluten or dairy free, but in the last two years I’ve reduced my intake of these inflammatory foods by about 85%. We don’t have any gluten at home and usually the only dairy is yogurt and butter, but I still have the odd meal out that contains gluten, I still occasionally drink beer, and sometimes you just gotta hit up trivia night at the pub and eat a big plate of nachos, right?!

 

When it comes to food, I like to focus on what I DO EAT, rather than what I don’t eat.

If I were to give you a list of things to avoid, it might feel restrictive and depressing. I prefer to focus on the positive, which is all the delicious things that I keep in my home and enjoy on a regular basis.

 

So what kind of food will you typically find in our fridge?

REAL FOOD.

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  • TONS OF VEGETABLES
  • lean, healthy cuts of meat raised locally without hormones/anti-biotics
  • fish and occasionally other types of seafood
  • organic tofu, sprouted lentils/chickpeas
  • goat cheese, almond milk, plain yogurt, and butter {for popcorn, mostly}
  • nut butters
  • superfoods like hemp hearts, greens powder, pure aloe vera juice, etc
  • a few condiments: dijon mustard, Frank’s hot sauce (it doesn’t have any added sugar, so it passes my test), apple cider vinegar, braggs, horseradish puree, thai curry paste…
  • hummus, salsa, miso, kimchi or pickled something

What about the pantry?

FRUIT and AVOCADOS

I adore my collection of mason jars. You’ll typically find on our shelves:

 

quinoa, brown rice, lentils, oats  (flake and steelcut, never quick oats), gluten free flours – brown rice, chickpea, masa corn flour, millet, a variety of seeds and nuts, coconut oil, cacao powder and nibs, raw cane sugar (one bag has lasted me 1.5 years so far), honey, coconut milk, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs and spices, protein powder and other superfood-y things.

and what kind of meals can you create with these things?

So many delicious things!

Like tonight for example, we had a veggie stir-fry with tofu and homemade peanut sauce.

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I think its important to mention that we are human and we all have our guilty pleasures.’ these are the things we enjoy now and then (hopefully in moderation, but usually we devour them when they are in the house – notice how they are all carbs?!)

  • corn chips {with salsa or hummus}
  • granola
  • gluten free bread
  • crackers
  • chocolate
  • gluten free pasta

 

Let’s recap the lessons I have personally learned during my journey with food.

Foundations for a healthy diet

LESSON #1: if your diet is lacking in key nutrients, find a supplement to fill in the gaps

LESSON #2: minimize sugar

LESSON #3: be conscious of carb intake; we usually eat way more carbs than we actually need

LESSON #4: a highly varied natural foods diet is best for health

LESSON #5: humans evolved as hunter-gatherers and for thousands of years ate primarily plants (leaves, shoots, roots, fruit) and meat

LESSON #6: the most effective way to drop a few pounds (for me and many others) is to limit carb intake putting the body into ketosis

Lesson #7: Gluten and dairy are inflammatory foods and should be minimized or avoided

The next phase of my journey is to integrate way more fermented foods into my diet. I’ve already been enjoying drinking water kefir and eating kimchi and sauerkraut, but I know that I can take this further and start making my own fermented creation!

Now it’s your turn:

Which foods, superfoods, and supplements have you integrated into your diet?

Are there any foods in your fridge/pantry that are not supporting you to achieve your highest and best health?

Have you discovered which foods you personally need to avoid to feel your best?