We’ve all heard the saying that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise, right? Well, maybe you haven’t, but it’s freakin true. In my previous post regarding how I lost the weight I gave basic insight into the choices I made regarding food along my journey. I get asked this by a lot of people: “what do you eat on a daily basis?” Here’s the thing (and I hate when people say “here’s the thing”), no one way of eating is right for every individual. I’ve said it before and I’ll likely say it over and over, but it comes down to trial and error. You shouldn’t completely remove a food group because I said so or because it’s a fad or because it’s a celebrity “get skinny secret.” What works for one person won’t necessarily work for you. I’m just here to tell you what works for me and also how I’ve changed it up to break through plateaus.
Wheat/Gluten: I will address the gluten free lifestyle in a future post, but I wanted to share my experience briefly. I don’t have Celiac’s disease. I don’t have gluten intolerance/sensitivity. I DO have endometriosis. It is one of the foods to avoid when you have this annoying and often overlooked disease. I removed most wheat from my diet long before I was diagnosed simply as a weight loss aid. I just cut back on all simple carbs, but did eat some wheat. Eventually, when I got really serious about the weight loss, I removed it completely. I could tell when I ate it because the next day my face was puffy, my pants were tighter and I generally felt bloated. By eating no wheat I just feel better and if it helps stave off endometriosis (we’ll see…), then I’m all for it! I do occasionally have sprouted bread.It is maybe once or twice a month. If you’ve never heard about it, check this out: Sprouted Bread
Dairy: Here’s a tricky one. I LOVE CHEESE. I LOVE YOGURT. Dammit dammit dammit. Last year when I fully committed to my diet, I dramatically reduced dairy and it helped me get through a weight loss plateau. As with wheat, dairy is a NO NO with endometriosis simply because it raises your estrogen levels and that is part of the issue with people with endo. I never cut out dairy completely during my weight loss (so far.) I did, however, dramatically reduce it and changed the type I consumed. I don’t drink cow’s milk in my coffee. I do eat feta, parmesan, and some other cheese on occasion. I would typically get my dairy in the form of plain Greek yogurt as either breakfast or dessert. I recently watched a documentary, “Forks Over Knives” and it has made me re think all my dairy and animal based choices. I’m not going 100% in right now because it is such a massive undertaking. I did not have any dairy yesterday (and only 1 serving of meat) and I won’t again today, but that doesn’t mean I’m ALL IN. YET. I think it would benefit me, not only from a weight loss perspective, but from a health perspective because of my endometriosis. Many people will tell you that you need milk to get calcium, but check it out-How to get calcium without dairy
Sugar: I have really struggled with this one. It is ALSO on the endometriosis NO NO list because it causes so many health problems. This is not a surprise to anyone. It causes inflammation and weight gain- DUH. It’s addictive as a MOFO. I seriously have battled it my entire life. I pretty much subsisted on sugar as a kid/young adult. Looking back on how much I used to eat (processed food/fast food/sweets), I am surprised I didn’t have diabetes growing up. Listen, if you are going to make a change, let it be this one. THIS ONE IS IMPORTANT. You probably know why. Sugar makes you FAT. FATTY FAT FAT! Yes, you can eliminate sugar and still be overweight, but it is a HUGE step in getting healthy. Everything has sugar in it. It is disguised by many names. And, NO, artificial sweeteners are not better!! I started small by removing it from coffee, switching to unsweet tea (*unheard of in the South), and stopped eating packaged sweets (I love you, Nutty Bars.) It can be done! I’m here to tell you this one is the hardest. Your body will tell you that you need it. It will do anything to convince you to cave in. After the 3rd day, you honestly won’t crave it nearly as much. I try. I fail. I try again. I succeed. I eat a piece of candy/cake/etc and I fail. The cycle never ends. I’m on week 2 of no sugar and I’m feeling fabulous! (this does not include small pieces of 85% dark chocolate nor does it include fresh or dried fruit, which all have fructose.) EAT THE FRUIT. When I eliminate sugar I feel like a completely different person. It’s crazy how different it makes me feel. Try just reducing it by making one or two different choices and remind yourself that you are doing yourself a huge favor! If you want a little push, this will educate you a bit and give you an idea of how : Break your sugar addiction
Need help figuring out how to substitute sugar in a recipe? It’s easy!
So, yeah. Those are the things I have chosen to reduce/remove from my lifestyle that have helped me lose the weight. I will probably eat this way for the rest of my life because I honestly don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I don’t eat “rabbit food,” my food isn’t gross, and it does make me feel amazing! My energy is higher than ever. I ALMOST, ALMOST don’t need coffee (another endo NO NO- BOOOO.)
What does a typical Weekday of eating look like for me?
7:30 AM: Breakfast- Every morning before I even start the coffee I drink warm lemon water with raw apple cider vinegar. Sound great, eh? Well, once you get past the bitterness, it will become part of your routine. I squeeze half a lemon with about ¼ cup ACV in an 8 oz glass of warm water.
I wait to eat or drink anything after for as long as I can. (I’m not a morning person so I only have so long between alarm and walking out the door.) I have been trying to reduce animal products so I’ve cut back on eggs. However, when I was losing the majority of my weight I would start my day with 2 eggs (EAT THE FREAKIN YOLK, it has all the nutrients) cooked in coconut oil. Sometimes I would have 2 Applegate brand Chicken sausage links, but that was a BIG rarity. My favorite weekend breakfast was a scramble of the 2 eggs, the 2 sausages, diced sautéed sweet potatoes, and spinach all in coconut oil. It is so delicious and it is high in protein, has beneficial fats in the oil, a leafy green, and a complex carbohydrate. It is an excellent choice for breakfast. In addition, these are easy to heat up on a busy morning (if made in advance) egg muffins. You can use bacon/sausage or any combination of veggies and cheese. Kid friendly, adult approved!
Now that I’m not eating as much animal product, I’ve been eating oatmeal or Chia seed pudding. The oatmeal is NOT instant and did not come out of a little pouch (SUUUUUGGGAAARRR). Oatmeal is so versatile and can be made with an endless amount of flavors. Try this: prep these (I use non dairy milk) the night before for an easy and nutritious breakfast that will keep you full all morning:
Overnight Oats Check out the flavor combinations! There are an endless amount of ideas for flavoring these! Pinterest has tons.
Or try baked oatmeal: Here are a few ideas, but again, there are so many options!
Baked Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal Blueberry Baked Oatmeal Crockpot Peach and Blueberry Oatmeal
Make a batch on the weekend and have a small square every morning. I made apple oatmeal this weekend and last weekend I made blueberry coconut. Just remember that when they have added sugar, the recipe is no good. I use honey or maple syrup or even a tiny bit of coconut sugar (even though that is still sugar.)
Want a kid friendly easy and already portioned out oatmeal idea? These are awesome and you can use any flavors you want! Oatmeal cups/muffins
Chia seed pudding may put you off because it is a textural thing. 36 Chia Seed Pudding Recipe How I do it: Using a high speed blender or food processor, I blend about 1 2/3rd cups of unsweetened coconut milk (or other non dairy milk) with a handful of fruit (frozen or fresh), a drizzle of honey, and a ½ teaspoon of real vanilla extract. Once it is all blended I pour it in a jar, add ½ cup of chia seeds and shake. I put it in the fridge and if I’m not going straight to bed I will go back and shake it to see if the consistency is right and so it doesn’t clump. The next morning it is a pudding like consistency. This portion will make enough to share. If you haven’t delved into the world of chia, I highly recommend it. I know it is expensive, but if you have access to a bulk bin, use those stores.
10:30AM: Morning snack- I eat every few hours throughout the day. I just find it makes me eat less at major meals, and plus, I get hungry! In the middle of the morning I eat either a handful of olives with some fermented carrot sticks (SO GOOD and easy to make) and a cheese stick or a boiled egg (used to…) Lately I have been having a green juice that I make ahead of time and bring to work with me. It has spinach or kale, 1/3 cucumber, a lemon, a piece of fresh ginger, a ½ cup of mango or pineapple and some fresh herbs for flavor, such as parsley, basil, or mint. It’s freakin fantastic. I will add chia seeds (if I didn’t have any at breakfast) and hemp seeds (which really have no taste, but are so beneficial.) On other days I will have fruit such as a grapefruit or an apple. I also typically drink a cup of plain unsweetened green tea at this time.
Noon/1PM: Lunch- This is where it varies. I always, always, always come to work prepared. I meal prep on the weekends so that I always have a healthy salad side and a portion of a leftover dinner to eat. I don’t have the temptation to go out to lunch with coworkers because I work at a private residence. However, I do have the temptations of all the food in their house. If I come prepared with healthy choices, I’m really giving myself a fighting chance! This weekend I made a raw cucumber and carrot salad with chickpeas, bell pepper and sesame seeds in a light dressing. Here’s the recipe. I actually crave it, that’s how good it is. It probably sounds awful to most people, but it is one of my favorites. I also have a broccoli and apple slaw as an alternate choice this week. If by Friday they are both gone, I will default to a spinach salad with cucumber slices and my homemade Basil salad dressing (Making your own dressing takes less than 5 minutes and is so good and you know every single ingredient!) In addition to my salad, I will have some leftovers from the weekend. I always make a batch of soup, stew, or vegetarian dish that makes many portions. Sometimes it is curry, vegetable soup, chicken and rice soup, or an enchilada casserole with black beans, corn, quinoa and taco meat. This week I made a quinoa dish with Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries (apple juice sweetened), and sunflower seeds. I can’t wait for lunch today!! I also made garlic spaghetti squash with broccoli and parmesan for other days so I don’t burn out on the same lunch.
3/4PM: Snack- Around this time I may not be hungry depending on how late I ate my lunch. If I am hungry I will eat an apple or some dried fruit, celery with nut butter, a couple handfuls of a trail mix I make consisting of unsweetened coconut, raisins, raw cashews or walnuts, and raw sunflower seeds. I usually make a paleo friendly treat on the weekends as well to satisfy my sweet tooth.
Try these recipes for sweet energy ball ideas!
This may not be the best thing to aid in weight loss, but I know that if my husband and I don’t have access to something mildy resembling a cookie or dessert, we will likely both seek out processed and junky foods (or kill each other.) Some of my favorites are muffins made with oat or coconut flour. There are many variations such as cinnamon apple, pumpkin, and even one with chocolate chips that I will splurge on.
Cinnamon Muffins made with Coconut Flour Pumpkin muffins made with oat flour Apple Cinnamon muffins made with coconut flour
They keep well in the freezer and are defrosted and ready to eat by mid afternoon. If I don’t have a muffin, it is likely a no bake treat made up of the trail mix combined with oats and nut butter rolled into little balls (and stored in an old egg carton for convenience!) There’s always something mildly sweet around so that I don’t drive to the store and eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s. It’s ok to have a little. In all likelihood if you don’t allow it, you will go big and regret it. Some people are the opposite. Some people have to completely remove all things that could be a trigger food or a temptation. I get it. I’m not one of those people. I’m pretty strict in all other aspects so I’m not going to beat myself up over having some oatmeal and peanut butter cookies sweetened with honey-I could be doing SO much worse. Check out my Dessert Pinterest Board for MOSTLY (ya gotta have some indulgences) healthy ideas.
At this time of day I will also drink 8 oz of my homemade kombucha. You might not even know what that is. It’s ok. I didn’t know either a few years ago. It is a fermented tea. I make it every 2 weeks. I use frozen fruit, lemon juice, and ginger to flavor mine. Here’s some info if you are curious: 7 reasons to drink Kombucha every day!
6:30PM: Dinner- My husband is a superstar. I meal plan a week in advance, buy all the groceries, write out the plan on the fridge notepad and he 99% of the time has it ready for when I walk in the door. I know how unrealistic that sounds to many of you. I am truly a freakin lucky lady. When I switched jobs last summer it meant longer days and not getting home in time to have dinner ready. I am a stickler for eating by a certain time. With kids, I would never be able to set that time limit though. I don’t like to eat after 7/7:30. I like to give myself time to digest all my food at least 3 hours before bed. It is a luxury not many have. When life is so crazy and hectic and the laundry is piling up, the kids have projects and homework, your husband has the flu, and the car broke down, of course nothing will ever be perfect. At that point you are just lucky to eat and feed the kids at all! My situation is unique and I am grateful every single day for our silly little predictable routine and the level of awesome that he brings to my life.
We usually eat a meat 4-5 times a week (we’ll see how this starts to change), a vegetable, and sometimes a complex carb. I Like to have leftovers so that we have enough for the week’s lunches if we run out of stuff I made on the weekend. This week’s plan looks *something* like this:
M: Chinese green beans and turkey in a hoison sauce (which is so easy to make) over rice. If I had a lot of carbs throughout the day, I’ll skip the rice.
T: Usually turkey tacos. I skip the tortilla and eat my meat (with green chiles and onions) over a bed of spinach or lettuce wraps with cilantro and green onions! *sometimes I splurge and use plain Greek yogurt as sour cream. YUM.
W: I’ll sometimes bring a rotisserie chicken home (or we have baked chicken) and have it with a veggie side like broccoli, roasted cauliflower or balsamic glazed carrots. *no leftovers on these nights
T: Balsamic marinated chicken tenders over spinach with fresh strawberries, bacon, feta cheese and sunflower seeds (or almonds, but I’m allergic. DRAT.) This is a very delicious dinner. I mean, lick the plate good.
F: Sometimes we go out to eat. That’s like 1 out of every 8 Fridays though. This week we aren’t planning anything so we are having sweet potato noodles (cut with a spiralizer) with sautéed kale and chicken sausage. I’m excited to try this one; it’s new!
If I’m hungry-like starving- a couple of hours after dinner, I’ll allow myself to eat. It’s usually small, like fruit (if I haven’t already had a lot during the day) or a paleo dessert treat (again, if I haven’t already had one) or a small square of really dark chocolate. It’s not good to eat sugar right before bed as it can disrupt sleep and the ability to fall asleep.
That’s it! The realllllly long answer to the question of what the hell do I eat every day! I know you must be thinking that sounds so radically different that the lifestyle you may know, but let me tell you- I never in a million years would believe that I could live off of such nutrient dense, yet delicious whole foods. I ate fast/fried food 3 times a day just a few years ago. I ate junk, sodas, and all that crap not that long ago. Over the years I’ve found a way of doing things that has led me to where I am right now. I’m not done either. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how my diet may fluctuate. I only know that I don’t live to eat anymore, I eat to live. I STILL LOVE FOOD. I think about food most of the day. I look at a menu in advance before I go out to eat. It’s just the way I feel most prepared to tackle the temptations we all encounter.
Whether you can identify with my meal plan or it seems like a way of torturing yourself, I can say that you have to start somewhere. You have to make small decisions that will change the way you look at food. Every choice is either helping you get to your goal or keeping you stuck where you are. Eliminate or reduce something. Add in something you’ve never tried before.
Just DO it. (brought to you by NIKE. Not really, I’m just a child of the 80s/90s and can’t help myself.)
Feel free to check out my Pinterest page for tons of healthy recipes!