WEEK TWO: Adding to the Menu

My favorite thing about the last week is how I feel.  I never walk away from meals feeling sluggish or heavy.  I feel bright and clear-minded, and I have more energy than I did, which is a blessed relief (I used to skip my kids’ baths simply because I didn’t feel equipped to lean over the tub to wash them.)

That said, it took until Day Five for my headaches to fully subside (which they have, thankfully) and my wicked cravings to dissipate.  I knew I was over the hump when I enjoyed lunch at Fuddruckers with a friend and wasn’t tempted to order a burger–sincerely, I was perfectly happy with my delicious salad.  The same night, my kids were invited to Pappy Helman’s for his amazing milkshakes, and Nick and I both commented later that it was easy—surprisingly so—to help our kiddos with their shakes and not enjoy some ourselves.  If you follow my Facebook feed, you know my once single-minded affection for milkshakes—this should give you some measurement of how differently our bodies are signalling these days.  I didn’t even mind my kids downing an adult-sized shake: they have had a wonderful diet all week, so this detour was easily absorbed.

A sample shot of my groceries in the checkout line yesterday.

I’m careful to avoid thinking about this season as some sort of dietary revolution in our lives.  I have no idea how long we will persist, and I say this openly because I have learned that I like the idea of big grandiose movements—but that I fizzle out because I over-commit.  So it’s one day at a time in this house—less because of our enthusiasm, and more because I simply want room to know my own mind.

In related news, the scale also seems to agree with our week:  I’m down seven pounds (yes, that’s seven pounds in seven days.)  Obviously, I do not anticipate this to continue at this pace.  Weight loss wasn’t the motivator for this change, but it is an additional nod of encouragement.

This week we are continuing to expand: in addition to a plant-heavy menu, we’ll add in nuts, eggs, beans and seeds.  I have been using almond milk already, as well as coconut oil, coconut milk and even little bits of EVOO (as I have no intention to waste groceries I’ve already bought.)

I also need to note that I’m really thankful for Aldi’s.  I was a snob about it for a long time, but I’ve now joined the savvy.  It’s significantly less expensive than any of the area groceries.  I’ve also been gathering some new ingredients via Vitacost and Amazon.  I’m not sure how many of these items I’ll continue to use, as I will need to come to an understanding of their practicality and versatility.  These items include: palm oil, bleached almond flour, coconut crystals, and cacao butter.  I also discovered Amazon to be the cheapest price (I’ve found, so far) for cashews.  $5-$6 per pound!

So on we go–Day 1 of Week 2!


WEEK ONE: Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit Vegetables

Several people have asked about what Nick and I are doing; we aren’t really following a specific “program” or “schedule”, other than what we’ve created for ourselves based on things we’ve done in the past.


A while ago, we stumbled upon Fat Sick & Nearly Dead on Netflix, and immediately launched into a 15-Day Reboot, following the guidelines here.  We did well with it and felt terrific, partnering with some dear friends; but we found ourselves maxed out after 13 days. For several reasons:

  1. It was freaking expensive.  I have heard all the arguments for investing in health now, or paying for illness later, and largely, I agree with the premise.  I just found the list of ingredients to be so financially demanding, and unnecessarily so.  One juice, fennel and pear served over ice, was surprisingly delicious–and stunningly expensive.  I consider myself to be fairly balanced when financial conversations meet reality and value, but repeatedly I found myself stunned.  In 13 days, we spent over $300 for two people (not including feeding our children).
  2. Limits.  I just know myself, and it’s fair to say I shouldn’t have embarked on such a long reboot if I found myself disgruntled with strict limits.  During our reboot, we ate some recipes that shouldn’t have been considered recipes.  I mean, really, boiling an assortment of green vegetables in a water broth isn’t cooking.  After about day 10, I was really craving nutritional things that weren’t permitted in the program, such as nuts, beans, and eggs.  Knowing they weren’t allowed simply made this worse, and harder to overcome.
  3. The Yucky Factor.  I’m a firm believer that vegetables and fruits can be prepared in nutritious ways that are absolutely delicious.  As I alluded to above, some of the recipes in the reboot were OK, others were really difficult to swallow.


All those factors aside, I couldn’t deny that I felt terrific.  My mind was super clear and I had so much more energy.  I lost about ten pounds during that time, weight that actually stayed off until my habits digressed (at which time I made up for it, plus some.)

The truth is that I don’t really obsess about my weight.  I’m much more interested in my health.  Weight is such a fickle number, especially in women, and a great way for perfectly lovely people to negatively value themselves.  I did notice the scales creeping north, but I honestly didn’t care.  Until I started feeling icky.  I had no energy at all, and I didn’t feel good in any of my clothes.  My complexion was sallow and I was breaking out more often.

Then there was a day when I reflected over my week and realized my intake was nearly entirely of empty carbs, oil and sugar.  I noticed I was relentlessly craving processed food and salt.  It took me two weeks to come to a readiness–no amount of guilting yourself into a change will bring about true readiness.  So I just let things digress to a place that I became ready.  That was Saturday, January 18–so on January 19, we started.


I knew that our earlier reboot was really successful in resetting how we felt, so we agreed it was a good route to take, with some edits.  We had also come to an interest in pursuing a more paleo lifestyle, but without a hard reboot, those health changes were never going to stick–and we knew it.

So we drew up a plan:

  • One week, fruits and vegetables only–more vegetables than fruit as possible.  Less or no juicing this time, and more smoothies using our Ninja.  This way there was much less waste and the produce we used stretched much further and were much more filling.  Also, salads, and hot dishes however creative I could be.
  • Lots of water
  • No caffeine (though Nick has since decided to cancel this part on his efforts.  I am continuing, as I suspect it has something to do with my constant headaches and energy imbalance).

Our goal is to consider our intake with more thoughtfulness, and less stringent rules.  My sister Amanda reminded me that we rarely stick with “programs” that are too limiting or restrictive (and she’s right, I think).

Next week, our plan is to reintroduce nuts, eggs and beans.


I confided in a friend at church, Alycia, that we were doing this.  Because of health challenges, she has been gluten, dairy and sugar free for a year.  She shared with me that because of the addictive natures of gluten and casein (in dairy), not to mention sugar, that the cleansing from it was similar to what a cocaine addict experiences in detox.

After day one, I believed her.  I had a constant headache–I was shaky and grumpy, with a fuzzy mind that simply would not connect.

I made a salad for lunch on day two, using a yummy vinaigrette I’d found and topping it with avocado.  It was good, but I still fought my gag reflex—twice.  But I finished it and was thankful to put the plate in the dishwasher and walk away.

For dinner, I had a win!  I made a mirepoix in my soup pot, adding a little olive oil while the onions caramelized.  I added handfuls of carrots, celery and red-skinned potatoes (yes, Mom, I left the peel on) and salt and left it simmer in some chicken broth, eventually adding a quart of my home-canned chopped tomatoes and some frozen organic green beans.  It simmered all day; I added mushrooms in the last hour, along with cumin, oregano and pepper.  I wanted so much to add lentils or beans, but was able to hold off because I know I can include them next week.  It was soothing and so delicious that Nick and I each had two bowlfuls and it’s on tap for lunch.  The oil, broth, and potatoes would have been no-nos before; this time, we’re focusing less on the rules and more on the new habits.

We’ve had totally yummy smoothies, as well—my best one so far was banana, peach, lime, carrot, two huge handfuls of greens and almond milk (I don’t know why almond milk is ok but nuts aren’t, but since I make the rules, this is how it is. 🙂 .  I also love cucumber and celery in my smoothies.

We are on Day Three today.  I still have a remnant of a headache that comes and goes, but the brain seems to be a little more clear today.  And I’m starting to feel good–lean and strong.  And since that was the goal, it’s fuel to continue…