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Wheat is totally inGRAINed in my life

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup (Photo credit: Kevin H.)

Imagine if you were from an Asian cultural background and you had to remove rice from your diet. Sounds nearly impossible, right? That’s what I’m feeling right now. I had been doing very well removing wheat from my diet until I got sick last Friday night. I’ve been battling a combination of bronchial and sinus infections ever since. I have noticed that since I’ve adopted a more hydrated attitude, I do get sick less often and when I do, it is over more quickly. Thank the detox for that! However, when I’m not feeling well, I really notice how I waiver back on to wheat.

On Saturday, I didn’t feel hungry at all. I was coughing, sneezing, boucing from warm to cold and food was the last thing on my mind. Until my husband asked me what I wanted to eat for dinner. The only thing I could think of stomaching was Lipton chicken noodle soup and some saltine crackers. Once I started to eat, I felt so comforted I was able to carry on a conversation with my husband’s best friend and even watch a little tv with them. Before that, I had been lying in bed, hoping to pass out.

Our comfort foods are usually chicken noodle soup when you’re sick and saltine crackers when you are nauseous. When we’re depressed, we turn to cakes and cookies. Hard to avoid wheat in all these things. My ‘detoxed’ brain was saying that I should be drinking some nice, fresh juices to load myself up with nutrients and fight off this sickness. I still think, ‘Why didn’t I do that?’ But even the thought of having them instead of my soup made me queasy. Wheat is so ingrained in our lives, it is hard not to fall back on old habits, especially when in crisis.

I’m not going to beat myself up over this. The little germies that waged war on me all week have done a good enough job already. Craving something comforting when you feel vulnerable to the extreme is only natural. It just made me stop and wonder about how heavily wheat has factored in my life. How emotionally attached I am too it on some levels. It is like the culinary equivalent of a hug from your mother when you aren’t feeling well.

What did your mom give you when you were a kid with a cold?

I wonder what mothers feed their sick children in Asian countries…maybe I should try somma that!


Mega, inflammation fighting omegas

Salmon in a market, Seattle, USA

Here fishy, fishy, fishy!

So, as I’ve said previously, inflammation is a good thing. It is the body’s way of dealing with injuries, infections and other attacks on the body. The problem is, too much of a good thing, becomes a bad thing. In North American society, also quickly spreading around the world, our diets are so high in foods that promote inflammation that our bodies balloon up and don’t come back down. Highly processed foods are low in the nutrients that prevent inflammation and high in the ones that promote it. When we have too many dietary triggers for inflammation and not enough levelers, we suffer from chronic inflammation.

When we think of going on a diet to lose weight or to get healthy, the first thing we think of is cutting fat. That is why we’re ‘fat’, right? Wrong. It is over-consumption of fats and of the wrong kinds of fats that have that negative effect on our bodies. Our bodies need fats, but in the right ratios. There are many different types of fats, some healthy ones that reduce inflammation and some unhealthy that promote inflammation.

Pro-Inflammatory fats:

Trans fatty acids – We’ve heard of this one before, it’s been getting a lot of deserved, bad press lately. Sometimes, they are hidden in products using the term ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oils‘. Sounds relatively harmless, especially with the word vegetable in there. Trans fats are bad enough on their own, but when they are ‘partially hydrogenated”, they take on the characteristics of saturated fats. There’s a whole whack of science to understand this part of it, but I think the basic points here are that they promote inflammation in the body, raise your LDL (the bad cholesterol) and lower your HDL (good cholesterol).

Sometimes Pro-Inflammatory fats:

Omega 6 family – Omega 6 fatty acids supply the building blocks for many inflammation causing substances including prostaglandin E2 and leukotrin B4, but also supplies is with blocks to build gamma-linolenic acid which is anti-inflammatory. The catch with this fat is that the ‘parent molecule’ for Omega 6s is linoleic acid, which is essential for our health. Remember that “too much of a good thing” statement I made earlier? This is exactly what I was talking about. Think of it like a family with some fantastic people as parents, but they just keep having kids. Some kids are helpful and caring, like our little gammas but many are destructive and violent. They may be able to control one or two of them, but they keep having more and more. Eventually they destroy the entire community. Now think of that community as your body. You wanna keep those fantastic people, but make sure they don’t have too many kids in your community. The local ‘inflammatory’ law enforcement can only handle so many peter prostaglandin E2s and lucy leukotrin B4s.

Wow, that was like an ‘after school special’ explanation, but I love it!

Anti-inflammatory fats:

Omega 3 family – Much like our parents that have a mix of rotten egg and angel children in the Omega 6 family, the Omega 3 family provides the building blocks for a whole family of powerful, anti-inflammatory substances. The difference is, their children are all little angels, as far as our body is concerned. The most potent omega 3s are found in coldwater fish, so if you are not a big fan of sea food, it is time to start taking an omega 3 supplement derived from the fishies. Along with all of their angelic offspring, omega 3s also remind our body to turn off the inflammation process when it is no longer needed.

GLA or gamma-linolenic acid – As mentioned before, GLA is technically an omega 6 fatty acid, but even the worst family has a few good eggs. GLA behaves more like its omega 3 cousins, suppressing inflammation

Omega 9 family – This family is found mostly in olive oil, avocados and macadamia nuts. The omega 9s are always working with the omega 3 family to create anti-inflammatory substances to help your body.

Now that you have a better idea of what the fats do, you may be wondering why it is now becoming such a rampant problem. We never had to worry about this before, simply because we ate better. Omega 6s are not bad for us if they are balanced with omega 3s. The issues is that they are not balanced in the average person’s diet. Whereas people used to consume roughly equal amounts of omega 3s and 6s, they now consume twenty to thirty times more omega 6s. That is an astronomical number! On top of that, the quality of the omega 6s are often low. No wonder we are so inflamed! All the people walking around with a condition that ends in ‘-itis’, take note. You could be perpetuating that condition every time you eat a meal if you’re not careful.

Do you have an inflammatory condition? Have you tried the use of omega 3 supplements?

80/20 and why it fails me

I used to be a huge fan of the Biggest Loser, that show where contestants compete by losing weight and making themselves healthy with the help of trainers. Lately, I can’t watch it anymore though. The network seems to have gotten its claws into it and it has rapidly turned into a race to win the game rather than remaining focused on changing lives for the better. That’s just my humble opinion of course, but when you start to watch an episode and all this scheming happens…it’s just not fun anymore. I feel like I’m watching the plus size version of Survivor. But I digress.

I think it was Jillian Michaels, a former TBL trainer, who said that you can eat healthy 80% of the time and indulge 20% of the time. If I’m not mistaken, it’s in one of her books. I totally agree with this if you are already at your target or close to it. But if you are starting at somewhere much heavier than you should be, then you should be on 100% all of the time. I know, it is really, really, really hard to do that. Not just sometimes, but all of the time. It can be a constant struggle.

For a long time, I thought 80/20 would be a smart way to go and for some people it is. I have realized that I am not one of these people. I need to get into a stronger habit of saying no and not having in mind this ‘treat’ or ‘reward’ at the end of the tunnel. That vision is like the misguided efforts of the network to make the Biggest Loser a more riveting show with weird challenges that breed negative competition. I’m looking the wrong way, searching for the end of the tunnel instead of being aware of the journey.

I’m not saying that after having been completely sugar free (to the best of my knowledge) for 15 days that I’m ready to go the rest of my life without sugar. That’s just crazy talk! However, I am prepared to continue past the end of this month and to the end of the year doing my best to avoid sugar and let my body heal from the 29 years of sweet abuse I’ve put it through. I will be more aware of sugar in the foods that I buy, since they are everywhere! Also, I have definitely decided to be a better dinner guest by not imposing a no sugar in their cooking rule. My cousin (and dietitian) had the…ahem…pleasure of my dining company the other night and did extraordinarily well, but it isn’t fair. It is a self imposed food restriction and not a food intolerance others need to respect. I will just skip on the obvious sugar laden areas.

In the meantime, I’m also looking at different coping mechanisms. I’m someone who reaches for the sweets and finds comfort in foods when I’m down. Not being able to eat them, I need to find other ways to perk myself up. I mentioned this in an earlier blog about finding ways to get the happy flowing. So far, I think my poison of choice is movies. Ooh, I love a good movie and I’m in luck because the big summer blockbusters of every genre are coming out as we speak. I went to see the Avengers today and it was spectacular! It’s not like I’m short on film availability. My husband has a massive movie collection that will keep me in onscreen plots for years to come. I think I will also try to start walking more. I used to love it and now that the weather is more cooperative, it will be much easier. Once I close in on my goals, I can re-evaluate my diet, but for now…100% is the way to go.

Half way through the month I thought would be the worst and feeling pretty darn good!

How about you? Does 80/20 work for you, or are you more like me and need 100%, at least to start with?

Sugar at every turn, literally!

2007–present, notice that the curved lines are...

Every year, my friend Sally and I raise money for the Walk for Kids Help Phone. As a child and in the first few years of high school, I was heavily bullied, so it is important to me that kids have someone they can reach out to. The walks are always filled with great energy, music and t-shirts! I have to admit, I love getting free t-shirts and I’m so glad  the event is back to giving out participant t-shirts this year.

I’ve been doing really well on the whole, not eating sugar. I avoid that section of the store completely and we haven’t eaten out really, so it hasn’t been too hard so far. But today, as I did the walk, there were temptations at every turn! Along with water bottles to keep walkers hydrated, every kilometer or so, there were also people offering mini chocolate bars. Oh…my…gawd. Free and available chocolate. Luckily for me, Sally is also currently avoiding sugar, so I didn’t have to watch her scarf down mini kit kats. Fewf! But after being asked three or four times, my will power started to shake a bit.

The worst part of the day, however, was right afterwards. Most years, Sally and I do our walk and head off to Dairy Queen for a well deserved, ice cream blizzard. After Sally left, I sat in my car dreaming of the sweet and cool goodness of that annual blizzard treat. My dopamine started rushing in,

Ooh, Jenn, imagine how good that would taste right now? You are so warm! You need to cool down. There’s a Dairy Queen on the way to your softball practice. No one needs to know!”

After about 30 seconds believing that I could get away with it, my will power spoke up.

“No! You’ve gotten this far. And think of how gross that blizzard will make you feel for your practice. And what about all of you blog followers? You want to lie to them?”

The answer is no, I DON’T want to lie to you guys. But I’ll be honest, it was a close one!

Month 5: I’m Sweet Enough Without the Added Sugar

Well, here it is. The month I’ve been simultaneously excited for and dreading the most. Dreading because I have a notorious sweet tooth. I love sweet! It is my favourite flavour and my goodness, am I going to miss chocolate. Sweet anything makes me happy! Though I am dreading all the times I’m going to have tell that sweet tooth “NO!”, I am still excited for this month. The reason is I am certain that this month will be the month where I start to see a greater physical change in my state of health. I’ve had to cut out sugar before and I noticed a difference within a few weeks. I fully expect to lose a few pounds of fat, hopefully around my middle where that belly fat is just sitting there going along its toxic way. I also think that gaining a bit more control over my blood sugar will help in that process as well.

Here are the rules for Month 5:

1. Avoid all artificial sweeteners. The only permitted sweetener is Stevia, which is a naturally occurring sweetener that does not raise your blood sugar levels.

2. Avoid all sugars and anything that contains added sugars, including sauces, cereals, dressings, etc.

3. Have protein at breakfast so the blood sugars don’t shoot up at the first meal of the day.

4. Don’t go too long between meals, snack to keep blood sugars stable.

5. Make sure to have a light snack before and after any workouts.

Seems relatively simple when you read it, but I promise it is not as easy to implement. Start reading labels. Sugars and sweeteners are in EVERYTHING. Things you never even thought were sweetened, you’ve got sucrose, fructose or something else in there. My wrist is going to get sore flipping over all those cans and bottles, I’m sure!

While I am cutting out all refined sugars and things with added sugar, I will allow myself fruit. I’ve done this before where I’ve cut out fruits but in the long run, I’d rather keep them in there. The benefits from consuming fruits, in my opinion, outweighs the blood sugar risks. Especially since I am not diabetic or suffering from any other diagnosed blood sugar level issue. For this month, I will however be avoiding fruit juices. As I understand it, without the fiber to slow down the absorption of the naturally occurring fruit sugars, it can wreak havoc on your blood glucose levels.

What do you think, are my rules reasonable? Do you think that you could do this for a month? The rest of the year?


End of month 4 and well supplied!


Softball-battercatcherumpireready (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the last day of Month 4: Supply Myself with Supplements. It has been a crazy busy month…well, they really ALL are crazy busy, but especially now that wedding season is starting up. I’m glad to have had the extra bit of energy that I truly believe came from my new healthy eating habits and the extra supplementation that I was taking. I have to say, I don’t think that I can continue drinking chlorophyll every day. Ick! I think I will lower the frequency to every 2 or 3 days instead. Perhaps the next time I will search for some of the freeze dried pills. I still have some of my liquid chlorophyll to finish off first though.

Apart from a greater sense of energy, I haven’t felt any different that I did without the supplements. However, I do think that a lot of the changes going on internally will probably take a little while longer to manifest. The intention is to add my supplementation to the other habits I’ve formed. I feel the strongest one I’ve formed so far has been the water consumption. Maybe cause I’ve done it the longest, but my body has really began to alert me if I’m low on my water intake. Stronger signals than I ever have had before. My body definitely does not like when I skimp on the hydration. I’ve been good, but the few times I slip up, my body is right there with a headache or strong thirst sensation, well before I get any dry mouth. As soon as that happens, I’m drink some water and my body goes back to it’s happy, hydrated self. I love it!

The movement has suffered a bit, as regular YOTD followers know, sometimes that aspect is hindered by pain. I hope that you will all be proud of me though, I’ve joined a co-ed summer softball league! It will really inspire me to get moving and has a wonderful social aspect. We had a brief practice yesterday, just to see where everyone was at and I did a lot better than I anticipated doing. Apparently, I can catch. I’ve been put on 1st base. So, who’s on first? ME! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) My muscles are screaming today in protest, but I feel really good about taking another step towards getting moving.

As far as eating raw is concerned, I don’t eat as much as I’d like to, but I eat a lot more than I used to. That is the goal. Upping those enzyme counts! If I had a personal chef and unlimited budget, it would be easy. I shudder to think what the organic month is going to be like, but I will do my best and I’m sure my body will thank me for every effort…even if my bank account doesn’t!

So there is the scoop on my journey so far! Have you done anything lately, like joining a summer softball league, that will help you better reach your health goals?

Easter and the resurrection…of my detox, that is.

To be completely honest, I’ve been feeling like my detox has somewhat fallen by the wayside. I knew when I started the detox ‘easy’ wasn’t going to crop up often in my vocabulary, unless it was in the sentence ‘It’s all too easy to fall off the detox wagon’. While I was hoping to create health habits by doing it one month at a time, as I add more to my detox it seems to be harder and harder to keep the old habits with the new. I definitely have been consuming more water, but do I reach 8 cups a day? Not always. I have been having an even harder time with the get moving portion from month two. This has a lot to do with physical pain, but still, walking is easy enough and because of the cold weather, I haven’t been doing much of that either. Month three just finished and already I feel like I’m not eating as much enzyme rich food as I should be. Sigh. So right now, I am proclaiming that Easter will have another resurrection. Perhaps not as incredible as the story of Jesus, but mine will still be magnificent. I will resurrect all the past month’s goals.

You get to a point in your year where your New Year’s goals seem like they never existed. I say, let’s use the coming symbolic day to get back on the wagon! After a weekend of calorie splurging on holiday feasts, getting out of synch with our schedules as we visit family and eating as many Cadbury Mini Eggs as we can fit into our mouths, it’s time to get back to us. As of Monday, it’s time to get back to the promises we made ourselves at the beginning of the year.

Although it has a much more powerful meaning to believers in Christ, we can still all see Easter as something personal to us. A day to resurrect the health routines, the stress reduction, the emotional outreaches and anything else where you said, 2012 will be my year to ____________. 2012 is the year that I reclaim my health! I have done well so far, but I know in my heart that I can do better. I can say that it isn’t my fault, that I’ve been busy. While it is true, it is still just an excuse. If I ask myself honestly if I could have done better, the answer is yes. I don’t want to shirk the responsibility I have to myself, to get my body back to a state of health. The truth is that if I don’t do it, no one will do it for me.

Life happens, we all know this. But to take responsibility as the creator of my own little universe. That’s a scary thought…but it has to be done.

So, what are the goals I will add in addition to my month four goals?

  • Get back on the boat and surround myself with water! I want to always have at least 8 glasses a day.
  • 30 minutes of exercise a day, even if it’s leisurely.
  • Have raw food at least once a day, if not at every meal.

That’s it. Similar to all my previous goals and the habits I wanted to create RE-stated so that I can keep them clear in my mind and focus on them every day. Will it take planning? Yes. Will it be easy? No. Can I do it? ABSO-FRICKIN’-LUTELY!

How about you? Are there any goals that you set at the beginning of the year that you’d like to resurrect? How will you go about doing them?

Craving Shifts

Captain Vegetable would be proud!

It’s a two fold title, that one. The shifts in food cravings that I’ve already had and the shifts that I am still craving. I love words! But seriously, I have noticed a change in the foods I am craving as a result of incorporating more raw and fresh foods into my diet. I always thought that I had a decent diet. One that included many vegetables, but most of the time they were cooked. Now, while that actually helps make nutrients available to your body in some foods, it often sacrifices enzymes in the process. For example, sweet potatoes or legumes are cooked so that the nutrients can be properly absorbed by your body but this is not the case with all vegetables. Consciously including raw foods in your diet, you need to be creative. A salad at every meal will get boring if it’s the same one every time. Since I’m not the cook in my relationship, it means I have to step up. I’ve been trying new recipes that are completely raw. Some elements I like, others, not so much. My husband needs to work on this ‘adding a raw element’ thing. I love him dearly, but when I ask him a few times in a row what the raw component to our meal is and he replies, “Uh…baby carrots.”, it is not evidence of a mental shift for him and it shouldn’t be for you either. (Note to husband: I love you!)

Trust me, I know what a pain it can be to prepare something you are not used to, especially if the kitchen is not your favourite room in the house. But give it a little effort, you might be surprised by the things you find. For me the surprise was that my cravings are starting to shift. I say starting because I still crave some sweets, but not nearly as much as I used to. My husband bought me some chocolate peanut butter cups from the Bulk Barn and I found myself not wanting to touch them. Normally, anything with chocolate and peanut butter in the ingredient list would be devoured almost immediately. When I looked at them this time, I just didn’t want them. I’ve also found that my cravings for fried food are almost non-existent. Normally once a week I crave a good ole hamburger and fry combo. Again, I can’t even remember the last time I craved that for a meal. This may also have something to do with my watching the documentary Food Inc. , but even that can’t account for the lack of french fry cravings.

I’m starting to crave more and more fresh foods. A similar thing happened when I started drinking water. I never thought I could make it through to 8 cups a day and suddenly found myself reaching 10 or 11 cups without even trying. Sometimes I was actually still thirsting for more. I want to eat something raw at every meal. I like the feeling of energy it has given me. I am craving kale salads, hummus and universe help me, even baby carrots! Now if I can just start craving time in the kitchen, we’ll be all set.

Have you ever experienced something like this? You start off dreading what you have to do and then start to enjoy it, even craving more of it.

End of month 2 check in

report card 1944

report card 1944 (Photo credit: pjern)

I know I’ve already posted the general plan for March, but I wanted to do that first so anyone following could know the rules. Now I take a look back at Get Moving in the month of February.

What worked well:

1. I became more conscious of how much I sit in a day! It felt really great to take breaks and stretch during my day.

2. The yoga in the morning and night has limbered up my body. I’m not as sore as I used to be and I’m stretchier! (see the YOTD video page for the how-to!)

3. Though it’s far from perfect, I’m starting to build the habit of putting ‘me time’ into my schedule.


What I still need to work on: (notice I am not calling these failures, but things I still need to create better habits for)

1. I didn’t reach my 5 days of cardio per week goal. I averaged more between 3 and 4, which isn’t bad but not enough to really make the change in my life I that I am striving for.

2. Putting me into my schedule.’What? Wasn’t that in the first list of what worked well?‘, you say. Absolutely, but while I’ve started to think more about putting me into my schedule, I haven’t done very well application-wise. A work in progress!


I was being really hard on myself mentally about the fact that I didn’t make the cardio exercise goals this month. But ya know what? I did super well on the yoga and on the stretching. I also started thinking more about me. I’m going to give myself a B+ for this month. I don’t really believe I deserve an A, even for effort, but I can do with a a B+ for sure! Combining everything in the coming month should see a difference in body composition and the scale. Exercise alone is not enough, the food factor needs to be there as well. My mysterious lower abdomen pain is still present, but not as acute as it used to be. I think it has a lot to do with the water and maybe even the yoga.

Wish me luck and feel free to join in. That way, I can wish YOU luck, too!

Month 3: Replenish Enzymes

Left after my first enzyme replenishing lunch, yum.

You would figure that giving me an extra day in February before I had to start my third detox month would have meant that I had TIME to post, but no. I filled it up with other important and income producing activities. Oh well! Although I am only posting now about the rules for month three, I still started following them yesterday. At least I’m on top of that!

This month is all about replenishing enzymes and a big part of that plan is raw food.

So here are the rules:

1. Have at minimum one serving of raw food at every meal, three times a day.

2. Have one meal per week (breakfast NOT included) that is completely raw.

3. If ever it is impossible to have raw food at a meal, take enzyme supplement to continue enzyme replenishing.

I feel like I might have to add more as I do some reading, but I think this is a good start. The reason I have stipulated in #2 that breakfast doesn’t count is because it would be way too easy just to eat some fruit and call it a meal. The point is that I discover new recipes that are completely raw or find local establishments to get them at. For a start, I had a great lunch at a little restaurant called The Green Door yesterday. It is here in Ottawa on Main street and it was absolutely fantastic. I can imagine it would be a sweet relief for people who are intolerant of certain foods cause it lists things like ‘dairy free’, ‘egg free’ and ‘gluten free’ above the meals. It is also cafeteria style, so you can sample a bit of everything. When I told my husband about it, the first comment he made was something about an old, classic porno film having a similar name.  “Behind the Green Door”.  Ya. Not the reaction I was expecting, but I’m sure he’ll never forget the name now! he he he

Opinions? How does this month sound?