As I said before, diet fads have been the norm for as long as I can remember. It’s really hard to know what is true and what is hype. For the average dieter, you could try a little of this and a little of that and never really get anywhere, wind up frustrated, and eat a half a chocolate cake. Not that I know anything about that.
In an effort to get a handle on my health issues before they really get out of control, I started a Purification Diet. This type of diet is well-balanced because I eat normal food, instead of frozen dinners the size of a kid’s tea party plate with enough sodium to salinate a fresh-water lake. By normal, I mean fresh vegetables and fruit and small portions of meat protein, such as chicken and fish. I might have mentioned that I like meat. And sweets. Especially chocolate. But after three weeks of this diet, I have definitely curtailed my desire for much of my old eating habits. A few days I slipped into the old menu simply because that’s what there was to eat. I didn’t die from the detour, but I could tell a difference in how I felt. A little more achey and stiff. Uncomfortably full.
My early conclusion is that while my old diet wasn’t bad since I ate almost no processed food, it wasn’t as good as it could be. My portions were too large and too gluten heavy. I don’t think I’m gluten sensitive like many people I know, but by eating too much bread over a period of time it seems to have a cumulative effect where I begin feeling stiff in my hips and knees and have muscle cramps in my shoulders and back. White sugar has the same effect.
So, I’m going to continue with the diet in the following form:
- A 10-12 ounce meal replacement shake for one meal at least 5 days a week. My shakes consist of fruit, spinach, water or fruit juice, flax oil and supplements. I also invested in a green smoothie recipe book to avoid getting tired of the same drink every day. I like to be a little adventurous, but I admit I made a few duds that I had to choke down. I’ll review it later after I’ve had a chance to try a few.
- No bread or sugar at least 5 days a week.
- No caffeine at least 5 days a week.
- Smaller meat portions. The diet recommends a portion be the size of the palm of your hand. That’s pretty small for me.
I have added cheese and eggs back in with no bad effect, but I’m going to eat them in small quantities. You notice that my goal is to follow the diet 5 days a week instead of being really rigid all the time. Eating old favorites occasionally, like french toast or cookies or whatever, will be a reward for improving my diet overall. I also am looking for healthier versions of old favorites.
In addition to my goals for better eating, I have outlined four no-mores. I won’t eat any of these or fix them for my family.
- No high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). We don’t drink sodas or eat much candy, so this isn’t a huge jump for us, generally speaking. HFCS is the worst of the worst in terms of sweeteners, in my opinion. There are lots of better ways to get sweet treats. Fruit drinks at parties will be the big trick for my kids. People mean well, and my kids will likely have a hard time saying no to friends. Condiments will also be tricky. Read the labels. You’d be surprised where it shows up.
- No food dyes. This is just plain strange. Did you know they die vanilla ice cream and icing to make them white? Most food dyes (there are a few natural ones) are petroleum-based. Would you chug-a-lug a quart of Pennzoil? Ick! Food dyes pose several known health dangers, regardless of what the FDA’s official policy claims. My only problem is that one of my children takes Benadryl regularly for severe eczema. I’ve tried other brands that are dye-free, but so far Benadryl still works best for her. I’m going to keep looking, though.
- No processed food. If you pick up a box of your favorite convenience meal and read the label, you probably won’t recognize much that sounds like real food. I have a few recipes that will either have to be axed or adapted to fit this rule. Mac and cheese, for instance. I can use real cheese, but our favorite recipe calls for Velveeta, the epitome of processed cheese.
- Little to no corn or corn-based products. Most corn is genetically modified (GMO) and considering that vegetables have better nutritional value, corn just isn’t a high priority.
I definitely don’t have all the answers when it comes to a healthy diet. I’m learning more and incorporating a little at time. If you are interested in learning more, Katie at Kitchen Stewardship is a few years ahead of me on this trip. She has a great blog and several recipe books for real foods. I have her Smart Sweets book that I LOVE. Her brownie recipe with coconut oil is my all-time fave. (I’m an affiliate for her book, which means I get a cut if you buy off my link.)