Honest Food

I love food, and I love cooking, but one thing I often forget is I can’t eat like normal people. I had hepatitis (the light form) as a child, and I damaged my pancreas and gallbladder as an adult with my stupid diet choices, so now we have what we have. If I want to have a slice of pizza, I need to prepare for that with weeks of light eating. My favourite drink, coffee, is a special treat that I can indulge in no more than several times a week, and only if I stick to my strict eating plan for a while, so that I am stable. I can’t grab breakfast on the go, because most options are a no go. Work lunches, so conveniently catered to us at our company and generally healthily prepared, are also an indulgence and an exception.

What’s healthy for others is a world of digestion trouble and pain for me. I can’t eat big leafy green salads. I can’t eat legumes. My dreams of going vegan are forever just that – dreams. I can eat certain grains only sparingly. Some vegetables are out of the picture. Most cooking methods are avoided. I can’t just pick a cookbook or a recipe from Pinterest and follow it, because most of the time I would have to substitute at least something.

This isn’t a sob story, though. I know there are people out there who have it way worse than I do when it comes to their diets and digestion. This is an explanation as to why I am hesitant to share what I eat and what I cook – for the sheer boredom and formulaic simplicity of it.

But the other day I thought that this is exactly the trouble with people like me and foods we eat. We don’t think about sharing recipes from our kitchens and talking about our food patterns, because they are so irrelevant to the standard Instagram fare of food-styled flatlays of buddha bowl avocado toast matcha frappuccinos of what the hell ever or 21-day fitness food prep with the abundance of raw greens and veg, tofu, and Cruciferae.

And when I go on the internets to look for meal inspiration?

I find nothing.

Which is ridiculous, because I know I am not the only special snowflake with a capricious pancreas who has to stick to certain food patterns and products. But where are we all? Healthy meals plans are overtaken by paleo gluten-free raw vegans. I’ve nothing against these people, but their healthy is not healthy for me.

I ramble.

I wanted to fill this void at least slightly by starting a series of honest recipes and general food posts. Think of it like a food diary. If you are a person with a sensitive digestion or a problematic liver/ gallbladder/ pancreas, then I’m sure I don’t have to warn you that what works for me might not work for you. Even the least offensive grains out there (ohai white rice, ohai oatmeal, ohai buckwheat) can be problematic if eaten at a wrong time or in a wrong combination.

Everything I cook is cooked and processed thoroughly, but as light as possible, with minimal oil. My main cooking methods are steaming, boiling, and microwaving. I usually overcook grains, and give veg a lot of time to become soft. I would bake often, but I have no oven. There aren’t a lot of spices, as most of them are aggravating. Salt is minimal, and so is sugar, which is often substituted by fruit sugar, or Huxol, or stevia, or honey (all in moderation).

Etc., etc., etc.

I am not yet sure how often I am going to share posts like that – perhaps at first they will be nothing more than Instagram digests.

(Pictures in this post are the basic ingredients of one of my most favourite foods ever, okroshka. As much as I love it, I have to be careful with it, lest my stomach sends me into a special kind of hell.)

Is there anything you’d like to see in this series?

Fit Friday: Back on Track

cottage cheese berry honey bowl

With my mood slipping pre-holidays and my brother visiting (yay, dining out), I’ve slipped out of my wellness routine considerably over the last couple of weeks. Since Sunday I’ve been largely back on track, save for one beer and some ice-cream.

… OK, and Nutella.

I’m currently in the process of switching to a new schedule, so I’ve been keeping things simple, exercise and diet-wise. Food-wise, it’s been lots of fresh fruit and steamed veg, some complex carbs and as much lean protein as I can get my hands on. For exercising, I’ve been sticking to my 20 minutes a day, every day – though I admit that sometimes I substitute the 20 minutes of regular exercise with an intense 7-minute HIIT session.

Some tips if you’ve fallen off the bandwagon with your wellness routine:

  1. Don’t beat yourself up. Never helped anybody. No shame, no blame: accept and move on.
  2. If you’ve been out of your exercise regimen for a while, don’t go at it full-speed. Start at a slightly lower level than you’ve been at when you stopped.
  3. Don’t avoid the scale. It’s just a number and it helps you keep track.
  4. Diet-wise, there are two methods: the ease-in and the cold turkey. Personally, I prefer the latter. The best way for me to get back to healthy eating is with a detox day or with a short but restrictive diet. If you’re more of a first type, then start slow – eliminate the worst (cookies for breakfast, sodas…), and slowly replace everything with clean foods.

Plans for July:

  • figure out a healthy filling breakfast  recipe for work days;
  • start running again.

13 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Sugar

retro sugar lulz
retro sugar lulz

Disclaimer: The title of the post is a bit clickbaity. I eat sugar. Yes, the big bad white stuff. I love my tea sweet (nope, no builders in the family), and I prefer at least a little bit of sugar in my coffee. An occasional sweet or a biscuit do make their way to my stomach. But these days I eat about 1/5 the amount I used to. I’d wager it’s even less.

Quitting sugar is hard. Sugar is addictive, and the cravings are very hard to beat. However, the benefits are numerous. Here are some I have felt on my own.

1. Your sense of smell intensifies. I am much better at detecting odours and distinguishing differences between scents these days. I can also smell a coffee shop from five blocks away.

2. … as well as your sense of taste. Again, the nuances. I pay attention to the differences in tastes I never paid attention to before.

3. You feel less fatigued. Your body adjusts to storing and processing energy more efficiently.

4. You get less cravings. Including cravings of sugary things, cravings of tobacco, cravings of caffeine (… OK, well maybe not that one), cravings of salty and crunchy snacks, cravings of pretty much anything.

a hot chocolate with a sugar cane and two cookies

5. Your energy levels become pretty uniform. No more sugar highs, no more sugar crashes.

6. You sleep better. See above.

7. Consequently, you wake up easier. Waking up after having had a banana and a piece of dark chocolate in the evening is way easier than waking up after having had a slice o cake with a huge mug of hot cocoa.

8. You lose weight. Sugar is empty calories. You’d be amazed at how much weight you lose even if the only change you make is cut out cookies, sweet sodas, and a slice of cake here and there.

9. Your skin clears up. There’s much less congestion, redness, and pimples. Sugar aids inflammation, and your skin responds to it with – yep – inflaming.

a slice of cake with latte

10. Your breath is fresher. Because your teeth and your stomach are cleaner.

11. You get less headaches. Sugar is one of the well-known migraine triggers.

12. Your digestion, absorption, and immune system get better. Sugar messes up the natural bacterial balance, which in turn messes up digestion, which in turn messes up absorption, which in turn… Yeah. Sugar is also highly acidic.

a slice of cake with prunes in chocolate and dried cranberries

13. You spend less money. I used to spend at least $30 a month on sugary snacks and on sugar itself. I still buy both, but these days I spend around $5 on them.

Have you quit sugar? Has it made you feel better?

(I am not a medical professional. This post is based on personal experience. Please consult a health care professional before making any dietary changes.)

Fit Friday: Enjoying the Process.

fit friday enjoying the process

I try, and mostly succeed at, not writing about things that I either know little about, or know a lot about, but never practise. Practise what you preach is one of the greatest guidelines to life.

That’s the main reason I haven’t been writing any fitness and wellness posts on this blog. For the longest while I’ve been the greatest theorist on the subject. Ask me a question – I would more than likely know the answer. But when it came to putting it all to practice and having results to prove the theories, I failed.

Right now I’m still at a starting point with my fitness routine. My brother and my sporty friend laugh at me and troll me here and there, but it’s all good, since it only works as additional motivation. I’ve come a long way, but I’ve a longer way to go. What’s important, though, is that these days I’m enjoying the process.

It’s still daunting. I still want quick and permanent results with minimum effort. I still get angry with myself when I can’t do a proper push-up or run more than one block at a time. I still consider chocolate chip cookies the greatest work-out reward known to man.

But I’m seeing progress, and I’m enjoying it these days.

And enjoyment of something leads to a psychological shift and better choices.

Like not rewarding yourself with chocolate chip cookies or not trying to outrun myself if I feel that my ankle is getting all weird.