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Gut Health

Food, Health Posts

On Changing How We Speak to Ourselves

Unhealthy Food 3

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Think of what you say to yourself when you look in the mirror or open your closet each morning. How about when you’re in the changing room shopping for new clothes? Or when you’re going over what you ate that day. Studies show that most of us are not very nice to ourselves. Personal experience shows that we are not very nice to ourselves. Now think of that same language, but someone is saying those things about your friend. It’s not okay right? You would step in and squash that negativity, because you love your friend and know how wonderful they are and even if they have a flaw, that type of language is just plain cruel and unnecessary. If someone spoke like that about you constantly, or even once, chances are you wouldn’t be friends anymore. So why then do we talk to ourselves that way? Why do we girls find it so hard to be nice to ourselves?

I recently listened to a webinar by Marna Thall and she spoke about our use of the words “good” and “bad”. Fries, ice cream, pizza, bagels, junk food, soda, bread, sugar – BAD. Carrots, apples, oatmeal, shrimp, avocados, spinach – GOOD. (But too much of good = bad. ugh). Depending on which category we eat from that day or how our calories stack up, we say “I was good today,” or “I was bad today.” It seems harmless, but think about how you just categorized yourself. Over time we get used to calling ourselves bad and letting our inner goodness and love for ourselves depend on what we ate that day. As if by eating the pizza, I take on the negative qualities of it. If I eat beer and wings or berries and yogurt, that does not constitute who I am as a person. We know this, but after years of calling ourselves good or bad, we subconsciously start to believe it. We allow our sense of accomplishment or self worth to teeter on the scale, threatening to move from good to bad with each bite. And that one bite can ruin your whole day and make you feel awful and unhinged. Then that feeling can lead to more bites and so on until negativity is breeding negativity and you’re so far past “being bad” you can’t even see it anymore.

As I mentioned here I thought for many years that I was gluten intolerant until I found out it was the yeast in the bread and beer that I was intolerant too and not the gluten. That night I sat down to a pasta dinner, but there was something very different about that particular meal. For the first time in five years, I felt no regret, no shame, no inner dialogue of how I was harming my body and health. I felt nothing but the joy of pasta and it was freeing. It dawned on me how much my emotions are tied up in food. Not only because what you put in dictates what you put out and eating poorly can affect your mood, but also because with my constant autoimmune and health struggles I always felt like such a failure and a weak person for giving in to cravings I knew would only make me feel worse. It wasn’t until this meal that I realized how down on myself I had gotten. Even though I love myself and am my own cheerleader, I had also become the person in the crowd booing and heckling myself. After years of the seemingly simple “good” and “bad” connotations we use so mindlessly, that negativity had snuck up on me.

I’m riding that aha moment and changing my inner dialogue. I no longer use the words good or bad to describe my food or myself. Instead I say “I ate healthy today,” or “I did not eat in line with my goals for myself,” or “I don’t like eating X because it makes me feel jittery and sluggish.” It seems like such a silly and miniscule change, but it has been such a huge one. I hope this little trick helps you or a friend to be nicer to yourselves.

xo Alina

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April 6, 2016
Food

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

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Baking 1

Baking 2

 

My sister and I frequent this local coffee place and they always have the best pastries and desserts. I remember coming here on highschool mornings and hoping the scone man wasn’t running late. And then how silly happy I’d get when he’d pull up in his car with the fresh (and hot!) scones for the day. If I have one food weakness, it’s dessert! Everything about it – the presentation, the taste, the preparation. I’ve been missing it throughout the initial phases of my yeast-free life and was excited when my sister suggested trying to re-create yeast-free versions of some of the local sweets ourselves. My sister is always up for a cooking date and has been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic with every curve-ball thrown my way on my health journey. She’s kind of the best!

So these are no-bake chocolate/coconut/oatmeal macaroons. Any they’re totally addicting and guilt-free. I may or may not have made them twice in a week.

The best part about them is that by tweaking the ingredient proportions they can be either protein balls or cookies!

 

Ingredients

8 Oz. Cashews (unsalted)

1/2 Cup Steel Cut Oats

1/3 Cup Raw and Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

1/3 Cup Cacao Nibs

1/2 Cup Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup Honey

*There really is no wrong way when it comes to ingredients. Maybe you prefer a stronger honey taste than coconut oil. Maybe you want more shredded coconut than cashews. Maybe you like salted cashews, or carob chips. Play around with it!

Instructions

Grind the cashews in a mixer (we used a nutribullet) until pulverized.

Depending on what type of chocolate you use, you may want to throw that into the mixer as well so it is finely chopped.

Add the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir until blended.

Heat the coconut oil until melted and add to the dry ingredients.

Add the honey as well and mix until the dry ingredients are evenly coated and start to clump together.

Using a tablespoon, scoop rounded balls onto a baking sheet and let cool in the refridgerator or freezer until the coconut oil and honey has hardened.

Dig in to these macaroon balls of goodness that taste like samoas!

xo Alina

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The Yeast Bomb
March 8, 2016
Food, Health Posts

One Pan Salmon Roast

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One pan dinners are my jam! Seven years in a postage stamp sized NYC apartment will do that to you. They’re easy to prepare, easy to clean up, don’t require a lot of cooking gear, and are easy to prepare with limited space. They’re also great for using up ingredients before they go bad.

On a separate note, this whole yeast free diet is pretty restrictive and daunting. Home cooked, simple meals like this are no brainers because there’s nothing processed or canned involved. I don’t have to worry and wonder about mystery or unlisted ingredients.

For this dinner, I picked up a 2lb salmon at Sams Club and used the broccoli and fingerling potatos already in my refridgerator.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease the pan with olive oil. For the rub, I combined salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. I drizzled olive oil and squeezed the juice of half an orange on the salmon and then applied the rub. Feel free to add as little or much as you like.

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Cut the potatos in half. It is best to use small potatos when cooking in the same pan as fish since the cook time is low. If you choose bigger or more fibrous potato types, make sure to cut them into small enough pieces that they’ll cook through fast enough.

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Chop the broccoli into florets.

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Toss the chopped potatos and broccoli in a bowl with olive oil and the same rub as before. Then arrange evenly on the pan. Lastly, I covered the salmon in lemon slices.

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Cook time for this one pan dinner is roughly 30 minutes. Done! An easy, healthy, and stress free meal!

xo

Alina

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Health Posts

The Yeast Bomb

Food intolerances and revamping my diet

The most recent development in my ongoing effort to be healthy is that I learned I am intolerant of yeast, rye and lamb. I mentioned on the “My Story” page, under the Health tab, that I have always struggled with food, both weight-wise and in that certain foods made my body sore or made me anxious. Since these foods were beer and bread, I attributed this to gluten sensitivity. Also because my doctor and most research led me to the fact that it is good to avoid gluten if you have an autoimmune issue. When you have an autoimmune disease and the body attacks that organ, the body is stressed and causes inflammation. Since gluten is an inflammatory agent, it exacerbates the already inflamed body and resulting symptoms.

This past September I started experiencing a change in my body:

Overnight my face broke out in pimples and despite diligently washing my face and using toners and oil free creams (The same Lancôme ones that have always worked for me) those little suckers would not go away;

My digestive system became very irregular; and

I could not stop gaining weight. I got serious about portion control and I gained weight. I did a cleanse that I usually lose six pounds on and I gained weight. I cut out sugar and I gained weight. I had the stomach flu and did not eat for three days and I gained weight. I had gained 25 pounds!

In the beginning I dismissed these since I was finishing up a three month vacation and road trip, but as I finished the vacation and got back to my normal and healthy diet, it was pretty clear to me that something out of the ordinary was going on behind the scenes. I reached out to a local nutritionist (who is so amazing! She feels like a mix of nutritionist, life coach and therapist. So much of our emotions are wrapped up in what we eat!) and we began by me keeping food journals and evaluating my caloric and nutritional intake. She noted that I was actually under eating calorically (go figure!), my protein intake was way too high (and from processed sources), and my calcium/healthy fats/carbohydrate intake was too low. We addressed those issues, but my problems persisted.

The next step was to take the Pinner test. This is a blood test that determines if you have any permanent food intolerances. Many people experience temporary food intolerances for various reasons such as eating too much of a particular food, reactions while on certain antibiotics or medications, or during certain parts of the menstrual cycle. My test results came back two weeks later and revealed I was intolerant to yeast, rye and lamb. This means I lack the enzymes to digest them, resulting in an inflamed gut, weight gain, bloating, brain fog, and skin problems. The good part? Answers!! Now I had something to work on to make myself healthier. The bad part? Yeast is in everything! It is so hard to cut out! It’s not to say that I have to cut these foods out completely and forever because I’m not allergic; I’m intolerant. I.e. I won’t go into anaphylactic shock. I need to not eat them at all for a couple months so that my gut and digestive tract have time to calm down, stop being inflamed, and stop trying to kill me. Then, I can reintroduce the food on occasion. I’m toying with the idea of a monthly cheat night where I treat myself to beer, wine, cheese, balsamic vinegar, kombucha and pastries. It’ll probably end with me rolling around on the floor, shamelessly stuffing my face in fits of diabolical laughter and my guests standing around in horror.

Food that contains yeast or feeds yeast: bread, baked goods, pizza, crackers, alcohol, cheese, anything with vinegar (such as mustard, BBQ sauces, salad dressing, mayo, potato salad, chips, and salsa) dried fruits, fruit skins (such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and grapes), anything fermented (such as pickles, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi), olives, buttermilk, black tea, peanuts, tempeh, tofu, apple cider, MSG, and most canned/bottles things because most preservatives such as citric acid contain yeast (such as canned tomatoes, pasta sauces, hummus, jams, canned vegetables, and bottled juices). It is also advised to avoid mold containing foods when yeast intolerant. This includes mushrooms, cheese, nuts and so on.

I dare anyone in this world to say this isn’t hard! The ironic thing was that in an effort to be healthy, I was all about fermented foods! Kimchi? Yes. Kombucha? All the time. Kefir? My daily breakfast. I even sprinkled nutritional yeast on all my salads! And then when I cheated, I indulged in beer and sugar. I was probably eating the worst diet I possibly could.

Needless to say, I stumbled trying to revamp my diet to be yeast, rye and lamb free. I failed for the first week. The second week, I was completely yeast, rye, lamb and sugar free and I lost 4.5 pounds, my acne went away, and my digestive tract “re-regulated” itself. Answers! Progress! Then I went away for the weekend and my friend came to visit and I fell off the wagon. So here we are and I am restarting my food intolerant free diet. My plan is to completely omit them from my diet for four months. This deadline is mainly set by my five week trip to India in June and the fact that I won’t be able to cook my own food or even read the ingredients during that time.

I’m excited and determined and I even made myself a color coded calendar to track myself (I’m geeky about organization). I will check in and let you all know how I am doing and any changes in symptoms as the weeks pass.

So let’s get to it!

xo Alina

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Chocolate Coconut Macaroons
March 22, 2016