If there’s one question I get asked all the time over DM, it’s what diet I follow. Keto and vegan are the two most popular guesses! The truth is, my diet is a mixture of choices I make, and choices that my body made for me. I understand that people are interested, and I’m so flattered, but I haven’t written about it until right now for a very good reason (er, lots of reasons)…
Why I Put Off Writing This Post
There are so many reasons that I’ve been dragging my feet on this post, and dodging questions about my diet:
- I don’t want anyone to compare themselves to me. We all tend to compare ourselves to others. A big part of the reason we all look the way we look is genetics, people!
- I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. No one wants to be “labeled” as their disease or known for their health issues. Please don’t leave a comment at the bottom of this post that says, “I’m so sorry for you.” It’s okay, it really is! We all have something (or several somethings!).
- I don’t want people to judge me. I have a lot of restrictions that have nothing to do with my own choices. And sometimes when I do make choices, they’re not always the best!
- I don’t want to field a bunch of “suggestion” emails about how someone’s probiotic supplement will cure my health issues. I’ve done plenty of my own research with regards to nutrition and my health. I’m under the care of competent physicians, and we work together to integrate the very best of “natural” and pharmaceutical solutions to tackle my health issues.
- I don’t want people to use my unique situation as an excuse to continue unhealthy habits that they know need to change.
- I don’t want to bore you! It’s pretty boring.
A Word About Body Image
Everyone’s body is different, and that’s a good thing! Bob says I’m built like a ballerina . (So sweet! I was a ballerina for many years!) But I think I’m built kind of like a pre-pubescent boy! I’m small-boned, flat-chested, and not very curvy. I think it’s pretty obnoxious to talk about size and weight, but I understand that showing you clothes and sharing styling tips is part of my job, so it’s important for you to be able to tell what would work on your body when you look at clothes on my body. I get it.
So let me just get it out there once and for all: I wear an XS or XXS (size 0 or 00) on top and an XS (or size 2) on the bottom. I’m 5’5,” and I weigh around 120.
That made me cringe the entire time I typed it, but there it is! Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to be authentic and real with you. That one took a lot of courage. It’s very personal information!
When I gain weight (Thanks, COVID!), I gain in my hips and thighs, as well as my tummy. I definitely have cellulite! (90% of women do!) I don’t pay much attention to my weight, but I don’t like it when my clothes get tight. When they do, I ease up on the bad-for-you foods (Let’s be real, we all know what those are.) and reduce my portions.
Experts have found that diet is the key to weight control, not exercise. While 100 percent of our energy comes from food, we can only burn 10-30 percent of it off with physical activity. Want to know more? THIS article explains it well. I’ve never really dieted, but Bob and our son did Noom last fall, with excellent results, if you’re looking for a program.
In order to reduce inflammation, delay aging, and gain all of the other benefits from exercise, I work out five days a week for one hour (6:30-7:30 a.m., baby!). I do pilates, walk on the treadmill, do the elliptical, lift weights , stretch, and do bodyweight strength exercises like squats and lunges. I do different things every day, but get all of those in over the course of the week. Bob and I have been into the free, low impact workouts at Team Body Project, lately, and we’ve been doing those together twice a week.
What I Can’t Eat and Why
First of all, let me say that I choose not to focus on what I can’t eat, but rather what I can. That said, there are several typically good-for-you foods that I can’t eat for health reasons.
Why I Can’t Eat Certain Foods
- Migraines – Certain foods, along with changes in barometric pressure, are my biggest triggers.
- Celiac Disease – I was okay with gluten until my early 50s, but after having serious issues with digestion and nutritional deficiencies that resulted in everything including significant weight loss and hair loss, a genetic test picked up on DNA that indicated Celiac. (The normal screening test was negative, but, thankfully, I had a very thorough doctor who took it one step further!)
- Lupus – Certain foods, like sugar, are proven to increase inflammation. (With a disease like lupus, I certainly don’t need more of that!)
- Dairy Intolerance – My digestive system doesn’t react well to dairy.
What I Can’t Eat
- Wheat (Celiac Disease) – This includes bread, rolls, crackers, pizza crust, and pasta.
- Bananas (Migraine trigger) – This is due to tyramine, a common migraine trigger.
- Cheese – (Migraine trigger + Dairy intolerance) – contain high levels of tyramine.
- Yogurt (Migraine trigger due + Dairy intolerance) – Many people with migraines can’t eat anything fermented, including yogurt.
- Avocados & Guacamole (Migraine trigger)
- Nuts & nut butters (Migraine trigger)
- Beans (Migraine trigger) – contains tyramine.
- Bacon or deli meat with nitrate as a preservative (Migraine trigger)
- Chocolate (Migraine trigger + Inflammatory)
- Apple Cider or apple cider vinegar (Migraine trigger)
- Milk, Ice Cream, Butter, Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese (Dairy intolerance)
- Raisins, Figs, Red Plums, Papaya (Migraine Trigger) – contain high levels of tyramine.
- Soy (Migraine trigger)
- Red Wine or red wine vinegar – contain tannins, which are a notorious migraine trigger.
- Beer (Celiac Disease)
- Soft Drinks (Inflammatory)
- Most Teas (Migraine trigger – tannins)
- Sugar (Inflammatory) – I try to limit this, but I do eat some!
What I Can Eat and Why
Sometimes my restricted foods are hidden within other foods. For example, there’s gluten in many salad dressings, and lots of them are also made with red wine vinegar. That means the best rule of thumb for me is to keep things pretty simple.
Why I Can Eat Certain Foods
Simple doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. I mean, big red juicy steaks are simple! Basically, the fewer ingredients, the better.
I’m a nightmare to take to a restaurant! Usually, the waiter has to go back to the kitchen multiple times to ask the chef about ingredients! It’s so embarrassing!
What I Can Eat
- Most fruits & veggies
- Bacon or deli meat with no preservatives
- Beef, chicken, pork, fish
- Gluten-Free bread, rolls, crackers, pizza crust, and pasta
- Grains like quinoa, oats, and rice
- Oat milk, rice milk, flax milk
- Potatoes and french fries
- Corn, corn chips, corn tortillas, and popcorn
- Velveeta & American Cheese (It’s so processed, it doesn’t contain real cheese! )
- Sugar substitutes (Like Splenda and Stevia)
- Herbal Tea
- Guayusa Tea – low in tannins
- Diet Soft Drinks
- Sunflower seeds & sunflower butter
- Oat Milk Ice Cream
What I LOVE to Eat
As I said, I choose to keep my focus on what I can have vs. what I can’t. That means I don’t always go for the healthy choice! Nobody wants to feel deprived, and honestly, I do, sometimes. Here are some of my favorite foods.
- Burger (In-N-Out Protein Style is my fave!)
- Fries (My faves are at Five Guys, but I also like In-N-Out fries!)
- Sunflower butter (Yes, I buy it by the case, and I like crunchy, not smooth!)
- Lance Gluten Free Baked Crackers (Also bought by the case!)
- Berries of any kind (I always buy organic.)
- Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Ancient Grain Bread
- Smucker’s Sugar Free Concord Grape Jam
- So Delicious Oatmilk “Oatmeal Cookie” non-dairy “ice cream”
- Catalina Crunch Cereal – especially Maple Waffle flavor
What I Eat on a Typical Day
Just like most people, I tend to get in a dietary rut and eat the same thing every day! I’m always trying to branch out and try new things, but with being so limited in my choices, that can be somewhat challenging!
What I Eat: Breakfast
I actually wrote an entire post about this a few weeks ago! You can read it HERE. One of the best discoveries I made about a year ago was Catalina Crunch Cereal! Most cereals that are gluten free (I’m looking at you Chex! ) are deficient in nutrition, high in carbs and low in protein. If I eat them, I get sleepy within 30 minutes (haha) and hungry again in about an hour!
Last year, I discovered Catalina Crunch cereals, and they have been the best discovery! They’re gluten free, have zero sugar, are free of nuts, soy, and lactose, and have up to 10g plant-based protein, 6g fiber, and only 5g net carbs! They’re kind of expensive, but because they’re so high in fiber and protein, the serving size is only 1/2 cup, so one bag lasts forever! My favorite flavors are Cinnamon Toast and Maple Waffle. (You can see all of the flavors HERE.)
I also love a good smoothie! I shared my recipe in THIS post.
What I Eat: Lunch
Another favorite lunch is baby carrots dipped in Sunbutter, with a bowl of berries.
Sometimes I make an açai bowl for lunch. I shared my recipe HERE.
During the past few weeks, Bob and I have headed to Chicken Salad Chick once a week, where I order a Quick Chick pack of their Classic Carol chicken salad, which lasts me four or five days! I either eat it with a fork or put it on crackers with (You guessed it!) a bowl of berries on the side.
What I Eat: Dinner
I don’t really enjoy cooking, and with my dietary restrictions it can be difficult to find recipes that work! That means I keep it pretty basic! I’ve shared lots of our favorite dinners here on Empty Nest Blessed.
- For my Slow Cooker Chili recipe, click HERE.
- For my Southwestern Shrimp recipe, click HERE.
- For my Mexican Chicken recipe, click HERE.
- For our Light & Healthy Salad, click HERE.
- For my Shrimp Salad recipe, click HERE.
- For our favorite spring & summer salad, click HERE. (We eat this once a week!)
What I Eat: Snacks
If I’m hungry, I eat a snack. If I’m not, I don’t. Some days I seem to be hungrier than others, and I’m not sure why! (Does that happen to you too?) My typical snacks are popcorn or baby carrots with a little Sunbutter on top.
I’ve never counted calories, but recently when Bob and our son did Noom to lose weight, I was so impressed with the program that I jumped on and logged my food along with them. What I found out was that I needed about 1200 calories a day to maintain my weight, and some of my portion sizes were a little too big! I’ve tried to adjust.
Well, by now you must be bored out of your mind! I hope not! This might be the most personal post I’ve ever written, but the courage it took to write it was worth it if it helped you or gave you some new ideas or it encouraged you in some way. You’re worth it to me!