Click here to find out why I'm doing this trial and to start at the beginning.
Fruit Friendly Paleo Eating continued...
During this trial I have promised you scrupulous openness and honesty about what I'm experiencing, and so here goes:
A lot of fat in the diet, for me, doesn't feel that great.
When I start eating more fat than my body needs or craves, I begin to feel sluggish, "clogged up," tired and mentally foggy. My energy also starts to go up and down, and I get annoying cravings.
I have experimented with incorporating more fat into my diet in the past and have come to these same conclusions every time.
Here's what's interesting:
The opposite is also true: when I eat too little fat, I experience a crop of other irritating symptoms.
So for me, both A and B are true:
Too MUCH fat = declining energy, feeling "clogged up," fatigue, brain fog, unstable blood sugar, cravings
Too LITTLE fat = subtle decline in energy, thinning hair and nails, occasional unexplained "tired" days
Before I began this trial, I experienced three years of relatively good health on a very high raw/high fruit diet. One of the hallmarks of eating this way is a complete absence of cravings and very, very stable blood sugar. You genuinely do feel full and satisfied by what you're eating. You never, ever feel peckish or have the munchies or have energetic ups and downs. I also experienced, consistently, the ability to focus and concentrate for long periods of time (a strong contrast to what I experienced as a cooked vegan).
The diet, in spite of the good things it brought into my life, was still, inherently, unbalanced due to the lack of healthful proteins and fats, and over several years' time that unbalance showed itself in the form of thinning hair and nails, a slight decline in energy and occasional days of fatigue.
So what's the solution?
I am realizing more than ever that a balanced diet, which incorporates all three macronutrients (proteins, fats and healthy carbs in the form of fresh fruit and occasional starchy vegetables) is the correct path for those of us who just don't thrive on extreme diets and who don't fit comfortably in any of the current diet camps (too much fruit for strict low-carb and too many animal products for the raw and vegan camps).
In truth, I don't think this is rocket science.
For most of us, eating a diet free of grains, legumes, pasteurized dairy, refined sugar, junk food, processed food, bread and pasta, and choosing to focus, instead, on fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and high quality animal products means GREATLY improved health. If your diet meets all of these characteristics, then let me tell ya, you are way ahead of the game.
At this point it becomes a matter of tweaking and tinkering to see which quantities of these thumbs-up foods (fruits, veggies, nuts & seeds, animal products) you personally need to eat to thrive.
Some folks need way more fresh produce and only occasional animal products. Some need more animal products. This is where diet becomes highly individual and what you need to be eating to really feel your best will unfold over time through your own process of experimentation. Again, the absolute wisest thing you can do is to learn to really listen and pay close attention to what sort of feedback your body is giving you after you eat certain things. This will always guide you in the right direction.
Today, based purely on instinct, I steer away from eating more fats and I focus instead on the healthful fruit and vegetable carbs my body seems to want. No doubt, soon enough I will sense a move in the opposite direction towards more fat, and I'll listen to that instinct, as well. This could be tomorrow, or a few days from now. We'll find out.
In the morning I decide to go for my Banana Power Smoothie (a combination of room temperature bananas, frozen bananas and two raw, pasture-raised eggs):
I discovered one day last year that raw eggs combine beautifully in smoothies with bananas. This smoothie always reminds me of some delicious custard or even egg nog (especially if you add a pinch of nutmeg!). It's just so thick and creamy.
The fat-induced sluggishness I have been feeling melts away when I make it to my morning yoga class. The deep breathing and stretching is exactly what I need. I can literally feel my mind clearing out and beginning to sparkle as the class carries on. The brain fog evaporates like a stagnant mist.
I head home after class is over and find my eye caught by the lovely mini watermelon that's been ripening in my kitchen. Truly, there is nothing more tasteless than a watermelon out of season, and there is nothing sweeter and juicier than one that is in season. I decide to cut up and enjoy half of it, and lucky me! It's perfectly ripe. I can't count the number of times I've spent too much on a grocery store melon, only to open it before it's ripe, and then have to chuck the whole thing:
After the watermelon, I take my pup for a long walk around a gorgeous local pond. The day is absolutely splendid: 80 degrees and sunny. Perfect Heather weather. :-)
I'm realizing as the day is carrying on that I am on what I like to call a "healthy food high": lots of energy and jubilant emotions. And to think I needed drugs in my twenties to feel like this!
I have long felt that SAD eaters carry the false impression that a healthy eating lifestyle is all about self-denial and forcing yourself to eat tasteless, bland foods. To me, real food has all the flavor! Those prepackaged processed foods that the SAD diet revolves around are, to me, what is tasteless. They've been injected with all those unpronounceable chemicals by a flavorist in a lab somewhere because, otherwise, they taste like cardboard!
In fact, I enjoy my meals so much more now than I did when I had no consciousness at all around food and ate whatever you put in front of me. I can't even walk into the middle aisles of the grocery store anymore, as the sight of all those rows upon rows of dead, processed, refined food is frightening to me.
Speaking of real food...
I thought I would be in the mood for fish for dinner. I purchased the loveliest piece of bluefish today at the market, but as I make my way around the pond with my pup, I know what sounds truly appealing to me: another delicious yam salad. Yum!
Today I don't work on my website. In order to avoid burnout, it's always wise to take a day away from the computer, at least once a week. Spending hours and hours parked at a desk is, for me, the height of unhealthiness. In the winter, when I built this website, I was constantly in front of the computer, and this resulted in low back aches that I had to eventually consult a chiropractor to get rid of. Moral of the story: move that booty! Don't fall into the habit of living your life in front of the computer.
Now, let's get down with some tasty dinner...
First I chop crispy fresh red leaf lettuce and put it into a bowl with a diced, cherry red tomato, chopped scallions and an avocado:
I steamed one small yam, and now I add it to the salad:
And last, some steamed summer squash & mushrooms and my sun dried tomato dressing:
Words can't express how delicious and satisfying this salad is. I love the creaminess of the avocado with the soft buttery quality of the yam, and the tangy zing of the sun dried tomato dressing is the icing on the cake. Highly recommended.
Today being my "day off," so to speak, I spend the remainder of the evening focusing on some quality time with Josh and my sister, who lives with us. Working from home means you gotta make your social connections happen, because they don't come to you. You're no longer surrounded by coworkers and spending most of your day out of the house. There is suddenly an effort involved. Still, I wouldn't trade working for myself for having a boss again any day. Not in a million years.
I like to have one big meal of the day, and I like to eat it in the afternoon, sometimes as early as 3pm. The calories from this meal are so much easier to burn off if you have hours and hours of time stretching out after the meal before you head off to sleep. Then, in the later evening, I'll sometimes have one of my fruity desserts.
Tonite, it's Blackberry Peach Ice Cream:
A combination of 3 small frozen bananas, a ripe peach and a handful of fresh blackberries blended to creamy smoothness.
I ate more fruit today than I've eaten since starting this trial, and I have to admit I do feel fantastic. Full of energy, none of the annoying cravings that have bothered me from time to time throughout this trial (and that I am attributing to the increased levels of fat I've been eating).
My speculation is that my diet was becoming (for my body) unbalanced by eating more fat than it needed or craved, and that by cutting down on fat and upping fruit, that balance righted itself.
This trial is helping me to see that the body's internal rhythms move like waves. Sometimes you're going to need more fats, sometimes more protein, sometimes more healthy carbs (if you're a paleo eater, those carbs will always be from fruits and veggies).
It's an ongoing, cyclical process, and it's really quite beautiful when you think of it this way - how the body's nutritional needs move, shift and change, just like the ocean, just like the phases of the moon.
The wise eater learns to tune in to that rhythm, and by doing so, you come to know and understand what you need to be eating that day, that week, that month. By honoring this rhythm, you will flourish.
My internal rhythm is different than yours, and yours is different than mine, or anyone else reading this, and that's okay. The trick is getting in tune with your own body and what it's asking from you. Today and tomorrow your body might be calling for more nutrient-dense fats and proteins, and the day after that more fresh fruit. Or maybe some delicious starchy vegetables.
To me, learning to tune in like this, and really interpret my body's signals, is what eating healthy is all about.
Click here for Day 15.
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