Be sure to answer this month’s poll about time spent driving!
A major part of my Operation Lose Five Pounds is about figuring out exactly who I am. Not who I used to be, or who I’d like to be, but who I am now. And that means listening to my body.
I’ve noticed that when I eat something particularly carb-heavy, even if it’s a sweet potato with a smear of Laughing Cow cheese, I begin to feel lethargic. I don’t want to do anything. I get lazy.
However, if I have steamed mixed vegetables with some edamame thrown in there, I feel my whole body wanting to get up and go.
It used to be that I could virtually live off of carbohydrates with very little protein and next to no fat, and I thrived. I was full of boundless energy. I positively bounced.
Things have changed.
I started realizing the changes when I began going through a jar of peanut butter in about a week. Or less. That’s a whole lot of protein and fat in a short time frame! I also started noticing that although I would crave popcorn or bread with Earth Balance, it didn’t do much for making me feel good. It just made me feel worse, regardless of how much I ate of it.
My nutritionist Nicole lent me a book a month or two ago called The Metabolic Typing Diet by William Wolcott and Trish Fahey. Metabolic typing has been one of the dieting hypes within the past few years; the basic premise is that different people (depending on how your ancestors lived and how you currently live) metabolize fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in different ways, and that if you take some tests, you can identify which way of eating is right for you and thus clear up health problems and function at peak performance. Nicole and I view the notion of “metabolic typing” with the same attitude: some of it makes sense, other parts seem a little too intensely technical and are worthy of raised eyebrows. But this book was still an interesting read and well worth taking a look at, even if I didn’t agree with everything in it.
I took the test (I’m a “mixed type”, which means I do better with a balance between each of the macronutrients rather than overloading on one or the other), and as I was answering some of the questions (which range from “how would you rate your facial complexion?” to “what is your appetite at breakfast?” to “which climate are you most comfortable in?”), I noticed how very different some of my answers were at this point in time, compared to how they would have been a year or more ago.
The light bulb really went off for me at one of the answers in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the book, quoted from page 246:
Q: I feel sleepy and hungry shortly after eating even small quantities of… whole-grain breads, crackers… cereals… rice cakes, or granola. Yet I also get very fatigued if I go without these kinds of carbohydrates. What can I do?
A: Try substituting cooked whole-grain cereals such as rice, oatmeal, quinoa, or buckwheat for grain foods that have been baked- such as breads, dry cereals, or crackers. Any grains that have been ground into flour and baked (even whole-grain breads or crackers) break down into sugar faster than slow-burning whole-grain cereals that you cook yourself.
I could have written that question! I have the same issue where I love breads, but they don’t always love me. When I eat quinoa or oatmeal or rice, even though I don’t tend to crave those foods as much, I find that my energy levels are still high. My energy doesn’t dip down the way it often does if I eat bread or “baked” grains.
I started this challenge on a great footing; earlier this week, I was down a pound! Then I made the mistake of not bringing enough food with me to work one day, so I popped next door to the Greek Market for fresh whole wheat mini pitas and their homemade hummus. I devoured nearly the entire bag of pitas and the container of hummus.
The next day, I was craving grains like crazy- cookies and bread especially. I was also craving a lot of fats, and I wound up eating a huge pile of honey-roasted peanuts and raw almonds, followed by cheesy pepperoni pizza in the evening. The result: I woke up in the middle of the night with a horrible tummy ache. I felt really awful.
Although this was a major set back, and I ate enough that one day to undo all my hard work from previously in the week (grr!), I still learned something from it: I really do have to keep away from the aforementioned “baked” grains, and instead focus on the “cooked” grains. Along the same vein, I am also becoming more aware of my sensitivity to lactose, and I’m beginning to suspect that I may be sensitive to gluten as well. I’ll be trying to stick with spelt or kamut or other grains with a lower amount of gluten in them from now on.
I’ve also learned that a life without nuts or nut butter is a sad one indeed for my body. I managed to do just fine without them for the first part of the week, but then I really wanted that perfect combination of fats and proteins that peanut butter has to offer. So, yesterday, I went out and bought a jar of peanut butter. Wish me luck that I eat it in reasonable portion sizes!
I’ve also found this week that there were a couple times when I wanted eggs or another non-vegan food item, but I tried to repress the craving because I felt as though I’d been eating too much non-vegan food recently. However, when it comes to weight loss (or maintenance, or gain), I think it’s really important to do what the body tells us. Whole eggs and egg whites are a fantastic source of nutrients that my body wants a lot of right now, so I’m going to honour my body by eating them.
What foods does your body function the best on? Have your needs changed over time? What foods can you simply not be without? And what are your favourite weight-loss foods (natural rather than processed, if possible!)?