The Diet: NAG

October 30, 2007


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As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

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Today’s post will outline the diet plan I intend to follow for the next year and the rest of my life. 

1) NAG Diet.  As I mentioned, at school they called it “NAG”: natural, alive, good quality.  So what does this mean?

Natural:  foods that are not processed or are minimally processed.  So nothing packaged, no frozen dinners, no prepared cakes, cookies, buns, muffins, breads, nothing with preservatives, colorings, additives, chemicals, or anything like that.  Does this sound hard?  Actually, it’s the way I usually eat anyway, ever since my diagnosis with candida in 1999.  What’s great about this category is that everything is just what you see when you buy it:  an apple is an apple, quinoa is quinoa, eggs are always eggs.  Nothing added, nothing taken away. 

If you can eat this way (at least some of the time) you’ll find two things:  first, your groceries are cheaper.  When you buy brown rice and cook it yourself along with onion, peppers, and herbs, you are paying waaaaay less than buying pre-packaged rice pilaf mix.  Second, everything you eat is more filling, more substantial, and, eventually, more satisfying.  You’re getting real food, with real nutrition.  Oh, and a third, one worth mentioning:  everything takes much longer to cook.  I’ll deal with this issue throughout the blog, as I list what I’ve cooked and how long it takes.

Alive: for optimum health, “live” or raw foods are recommended.  This is not to say I’m advocating following a raw diet. No, just raw some of the time (I’m aiming for something raw with each meal, 30-50% raw each day).  This could mean a fresh apple cut up into cereal, a salad with lunch, baby carrots for a snack, cucumber slices with dinner. Or it could mean a raw almond-veggie pate as a lunch option (recipe to follow–promise!). As raw foodists know, raw foods contain health-enhancing enzymes that also help us to digest food better.  You digest faster and more efficiently with raw. . . it only makes sense to include it.

Good quality:  this trait refers to many things, but generally I think, “organic.”  I try to include as much organic food as possible in my diet.  One thing that’s absolutely essential to me is that any animal product be organic.  After learning what’s done to milk, meat, eggs, cheese, etc., I wouldn’t even give my dogs non-organic in these areas!  (Lucky for Elsie and Chaser, they get lots of organic veggies with their organic dog food for dinner.) (“We do appreciate that, Mum, really!”)

I guess I’m lucky in that I do love healthy foods, so it’s no hardship to eat this way.  The problem is that I also love unhealthy food.  So I can eat a perfectly healthy meal of my favorite almond-curry stir-fry with tofu and mixed veggies, then 30 minutes later eat 6 cookies.  Granted, the cookies are my own creations, made with spelt flour and Sucanat or maple syrup. . . but it ‘s the quantity, man, the quantity! 

Which leads me to. . . the rest of the diet. 

2) PORTION CONTROL. Ideally, if I follow the diet I see in my head, I’ll be able to eat moderate amounts of very healthy foods, with small amounts of less healthy foods (such as my beloved desserts or a glass of wine occasionally).  For me, this is probably the biggest challenge:  I don’t feel I’ve “eaten” unless I feel full (sometimes, almost to the point of bursting). So being able to eat a regular-sized meal followed by a regluar-sized dessert would be an amazing accomplishment for me.

3) EXERCISE. Technically, not part of the diet, but an integral part of the plan related to it.  The mission is to alternate my weights with aerobic exercise, 6 days a week.  This means treadmill for me, as bad knees prohibit either running or cycling.

Interestingly, I do already walk every day by virtue of my furry girls (“No problem, mum, we’re happy to remind you to take us out!”).  I generally take them out every afternoon for a minimum of 20 minutes (this in addition to their morning walk, courtesy of C., and their evening walk, which we all take together).  I see this as one of the major benefits of having dogs. Though I have to say here, that when we watch The Dog Whisperer, one of our favorite shows (“No! Don’t watch that, mum! Don’t watch that show!”), I’m always amazed that when asked how often they walk their dogs, people say things like, “Well, I manage to get out once a week. . . .”.  Huh?  Knowing that dogs were basically born to be outside running around, I would destroy myself with guilt if I didn’t take them out at least twice a day.  Strangely, though, the twice-daily dog walks don’t seem to affect my weight.  Ergo, adding in the aerobics every second day.

That’s it for now.  Tomorrow, I’ll cover the Goals section of the plan, after which I’ll really be on my way.


Radical Advice

October 30, 2007

So, how did skipping dinner (because I ate six cookies in the afternoon) work out for me?

Well, I hate to be the one to contradict virtually all of the “established” advice, but skipping that meal turned out to be a great move. 

Why?  Well, first of all, those six cookies, at about 60 or 70 calories apiece, cumulatively equalled the same calories I would have had in dinner, more or less.  So by skipping dinner, I didn’t consume any extra calories overall.  This meant that I could go to sleep knowing that I hadn’t blown it entirely, that I would likely not gain weight as a result of my impulsive mini-binge.

Second, after eating six cookies in one sitting (okay, separated by maybe three or four minutes between helpings), I felt truly full and bloated.  To force myself to eat something after that, even if it were a healthy dinner, would have been counter-productive.  And it would have contradicted my first rule, to not eat unless I am truly hungry.  (Hey! Wait!  In fact–except for the quantity–I could stretch it and say that eating those cookies did, indeed, comply with that first rule! Oh, all right. . . that’s just deluding myself).  So by skipping dinner, I was teaching my body to STOP EATING once I’d had enough.

Third, the bonus in all this was that I woke feeling okay–not bloated, full, etc.–and wasn’t even hungry for a few hours after waking.  I went about my business in the morning and had regular energy, for which I was thankful.

So, would I advocate skipping a meal if you’ve overindulged?  Well, yes and no.  It did seem to work for me personally, but of course I can’t advise anyone else to do the same.  I can, however, suggest that I will follow this very advice only if I’ve been eating properly the rest of the day, or week, or month. . . in other words, I wouldn’t go around eating cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner, then skip the next breakfast, lunch or dinner (which would also consist of cookies, or chocolate, or whatever) to compensate. 


October 29, 2007

Hmmmm. . . guess I should have made that halvah, after all.  Instead, I baked 2 batches of cookies for a last-minute customer, and ended up “taste-testing” 4 of them (okay, five.  Okay, six).  Yes, they were very delicious.  Yes, I feel like crap now and am overwhelmed with guilt.

 BUT WAIT!  No, no, no guilt.  I will never become a normal eater by hating myself for overeating.  So. . . what would a “normal” eater do in this situation?  (Oh, wait, of course, a normal eater would never have eaten six cookies in one sitting in the first place). 

Well, this may be a radical move, but I’m going to do what my slim friends would do:  I’m going to skip dinner to compensate.  So, six cookies, fine; but all the extra calories, not fine.  This is not a punishment.  This is a compensation. This is a natural consequence.  This is a re-balancing of nature.  I will survive without dinner for one evening.  Back to the “normal” routine tomorrow.

I can already see how important accountability is when trying to adhere to an eating regime:  I got home from work, desperate for something chocolate.  Yet, knowing that I’m going to be posting this to the whole world (even if the whole world isn’t reading it!)–well, that’s what basically prevented me from stopping at the local Loblaws on the way home and buying a large-sized chocolate bar.

I’m still feeling a little full from lunch, even (and a healthy lunch it was, too:  the leftover sweet potato salad, with raw almonds and a big, crunchy Gala apple), yet still have a craving for chocolate–anything chocolate.  What to do?

Well, if I’m going to be honest and stick with my original rules, then I shouldn’t eat it unless I’m really, really hungry.  Should this rule be amended, then, to include “or when you really, really want just that thing“? This is what The Solution advocates.  So maybe it’s worth including.

What I’m going to do with this craving is twofold: first, I’m going to examine it, try to figure out why it exists today, at this time.  Next, I’m going to give in to it, within limits.  I know myself well enough to know that it’s impossible for me to eat “just one piece” of chocolate (at this point in my life, anyway).  Therefore, I will attempt to assuage the craving, but with something chocolatey that fits within the parameters of the NAG diet.  So:  Halvah!

I like halvah, it’s very filling, and I do a great halvah with a chocolate swirl.  But guess what?  Having blogged about this, I no longer feel like eating it.  So it’s off to the next activity, in this case packing for our house-move (coming up in one week–yikes). 

We’re so proud of you, Mum!  And what was that about a house move??

Have you ever woken up in the morning, still feeling full from the previous night?  I have to admit it’s happened to me more than I care to remember.  Of course, all that’s over for me now, right?  Hmm.  Not right.

I really thought yesterday was a near-perfect day in terms of meals and portion control.  True, I wasn’t eating a “perfect” selection of foods according to my diet plan, but I did the best I could in terms of a restaurant meal, and my dinner was brilliant (as my friend A would say).  What did I eat, you ask?  I will swallow my pride (along with all those meals) and tell you.

Brunch:  as previously mentioned, a Cora’s skillet.  True, non-organic egg and likely oil in the veggies, but a good choice given the venue.  The only better thing I could have done would be to order the oatmeal and sweeten it with stevia.

Snack: pink grapefruit; water; faux “iced coffee” (my fave:  made with coffee substitute and vanilla rice milk).

Dinner:  raw vegan sushi (made with raw almond pate, nori sheets, cucumber, radish, red pepper, avocado) and a ginger-lemon sweet potato salad (the recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food–which, as it turns out, is a great mag for some interesting vegetarian dishes).  Forgive me the lack of photos, for now; I will post as soon as I can figure out how to do it.

So. . . note that I haven’t mentioned how much of anything I ate.  This is because The Plan allows me to eat as much as I want, until I feel “comfortably full” (I just made up that last part–I assume that’s how much “normal” eaters eat).  And last evening, I did just that–did not overeat, I thought.  Proud of myself for the fabulous minerals in the nori, the protein in the almonds, the many veggies, the beta-carotene, fibre, and low GI in the sweet potatoes.  Not to mention the ginger dressing, a great immune-booster and anti-inflammatory (my eyes said, “thanks”).  And the Girls loved the salad, too (“Yum, Mum, you can make that any time!”).

I want to be able to eat what I want, without worrying too much about how much I’m packing away.  Again, it’s my quest for normalcy:  normal people (ie, those like my honey, without weight issues) eat what they like, when they like, and how much they like.  Unlike me, they don’t overdo it on a regular basis. 

So when I woke up this morning, still feeling a bit bloated from last night’s dinner, I wondered why.  Am I unaccustomed to the additional fiber in those sweet potatoes? Did I actually eat much more than I realized?  Is my digestion so screwed up that I’m unable to process even healthy food effectively? My answer is, “probably a bit of all three.” 

Off to work today, where I’ll consume the remainder of the s.p. salad and perhaps an apple for lunch.  Will see how that leaves me by the afternoon.

For a later post: trying to eat only when I’m really hungry.

Two Constants in My Life

October 28, 2007

For a long time now, I’ve wanted to start a blog about food.  Being an organic baker and a Natural Nutritionist, I’ve learned a lot in the past few years about which foods are healthy, which aren’t, and how to bake terrific desserts that won’t harm your health.  And while I’ve enjoyed a modest amount of success at my business, there’s always been the nagging feeling behind it all that I’m a. . . . fraud.  How can I purport to be a holistic nutritionist when I’m (quite) overweight, and can’t seem to stop myself from eating foods that aren’t good for me? How can I tell others how to “eat healthy” when I can’t manage it all the time myself?

 Paired with my lifelong food issues has been a love of dogs.  I was born in the Year of the Dog,  and my honey tells me I have “dog-like qualities” (I didn’t take offense, as I think that’s a compliment!).  girlsonstoop.jpg About five years ago, we got our first furry kid, Elsie (black Lab-Border Collie cross).  Then, seven months ago, we got 6 week-old Chaser, a Lab-Border Collie-Shepherd cross.  See pix of both of them attached to this post.

When trying to decide what to blog, I realized I had to somehow combine both those things–dogs and diet.  Most of my waking hours are pretty much consumed by one or the other (not to disregard my actual job, or anything!).   I thought that writing about these two things in tandem might help me to gain a bit more personal insight, to learn why I can’t seem to stay on a healthy eating plan these days (I used to be about 40 pounds lighter–and even then, I thought I needed to lose weight!), and to figure out how to develop the emotional or psychological fortitude to get healthy again. 

I don’t know why, but I’m sure my dogs will have something to do with it.

So this blog is devoted to my quest for physical health and ideal weight, my love of food and recipes that will move me in that direction, and, of course, my two dogs.  Along the way, I’m sure I’ll mention my honey of ten years, my friends, my family. . . .but really, what it boils down to in the end is diet and dogs.