Vegetarian? Vegan? What the hell am I?

So, growing up, our family meals were definitely “meat, 1 starch side, 1 veggie side” and often bread to boot.  There were no salads.

In college, my food was primarily the kind I got for free from my various crappy jobs (subway, etc) or boxed mac-n-cheese or instant mashed potatoes, with some ramen noodles thrown in for good measure.  Hey, it’s what I could afford.

As a grown up, living on my own, my food tended to be mostly sandwiches, soup, a can of green beans here or there, and the occasional meat, mainly because I never could cook meat all that well.  I ate out a lot, which almost always included a meat, a bread, some kind of veg, you know, typical restaurant food.

I’ve never been a big breakfast person, so most of the time, I had no breakfast, although interestingly enough, brunch is my favorite meal, so a lot of weekend brunches were had instead of breakfast or lunch.

I’m a big girl.  How I’ve lived all these years on only 2 meals a day and still managed to gain significant weight on an annual basis, one will never know.  Although I do know that there are people who DO understand how that works.. metabolism..blah blah… it hardly seems to make sense to me that someone as big as me can be this big eating twice a day.  Even if my dinners were huge, which occasionally they were, but mostly were not, it doens’t really compute in my simple little brain.

All that is prep.

When my husband and I moved in together, eating out for so many meals stopped being affordable or even desirable.  That left us cooking.  He would pretty much like to eat meat with a side of meat and maybe a potato or corn for every meal, so my food intake became a lot… meatier.  He does most of the cooking, so he decided what we ate.  We ate what he liked.  He’s a pretty picky eater, so the menu was limited, to say the least, but I am not complaining.  He who cooks, decides.  She who eats what is given her, keeps her mouth shut.  Know what I mean?

In the 6 years we’ve been together, I’ve gained a lot of weight.  A LOT.  Lord knows why, exactly, but mostly I suspect it’s because in addition to meals that are a mimimum of half meat every night, my husband also has a huge (and I do mean huge) sweet tooth and he’d have dessert with every meal if he could.  Consequently, the incidences of cake/pie/ice cream/cookie after dinner skyrocketed for me.  For him, it remained pretty normal.  I have no idea how he’s not jumbo.  Based on how he eats, the quantities and types of food, he should’ve been pretty damn big when we met. He wasn’t, though.  He has gained a few pounds since we’ve been together but nowhere near what I have.  He still looks good and can carry that little bit of belly he’s got.

I am not a machine.  If you put pie in front of me, I’m probably going to eat it.  I’m sure anyone looking from the outside would think I’m the one driving the food bus in our house.  I mean, I look like a big eater, if you know what I mean, but truth is, my 6’4″, 250lb husband is driving it.  And driving it hard.   We eat nothing that he doesn’t like, and eat a lot of what he does like, which is all bad for you.  And I don’t think he really wants me to lose a bunch of weight.  He’s comfortable with me where I am.  You can speculate amongst yourselves why that might be.  I am totally trustworthy, mind you.  I’d end the relationship before I’d cheat, and he knows it, but we all know that our motivations are not entirely rational.  That said, he’d never stand in my way if I were dead set on something, but it’s easier to just go along.  It’s a LOT easier.  It is sort of like the difference between driving a car or pushing a car up hill on flat tires.

I’ve pretty much begged over the years that we try to be healthier.  I’ve bought supplements, made suggestions, injected some healthy stuff now and again, but nothing sticks.  There is no changing this man on what he wants to eat.  Unfortunately, going along with the hubby’s eating plan has waged total war on my health.  I have so many damn health problems it’s not even funny.  None of it is officially diagnosed, mind you, as there has been a real absence of health care benefits in our lives together.  The lack of diagnosis, however, does not equal a lack of issues.

I have a weird problem with breaking out into short-lived rashes.  A dog will accidentally scratch me and I’ll break out into a rash in that area for an hour, then it goes away.  I itch a lot.  If I scratch my back, my back itches even more and I break out in a rash (for an hour).  It affects my arms, my legs, my back, my butt.  It’s so weird and so annoying.  Sometimes my clothes shifting around on my body will cause an outbreak or just brushing up against something.

I have knee problems and feet problems. (Understandable)

I have back problems. (Also understandable)

I have severe fatigue.  Debilitating lack of energy and feeling groggy and worn out when I wake up after a full night of sleep.  It’s so bad that some mornings I want to cry, I feel so badly.

Intestinal troubles.  Indigestion.  Already lost my gallbladder a while back, so it’s not that.

Bad skin. (compared to before)

Bad hair. (compared to before)

Bad teeth. (compared to before)

Bad gas. (seriously.  terrible.)

Bad thyroid.

Eyeball problems (pressure, frequent cornea issues)

Really bad gynecological problems (no period for long spans of time, BAD cramps, excess bleeding)

Fairly frequent boils in discreet areas. (WTF?  I thought boils were a medieval times sort of problem.  like bed bugs.  Oh, those are back in vogue, too?)

Recently plagued with the uber-embarassing candida in a weird place. (yay!  my first fat-person-only problem)

Insulin resistance, possibly blossomed to full on diabetes, but it’s not been diagnosed, so who nows?

I really do not want to go on with this list.  It’s depressing. At any rate, it’s not a surprise that I don’t feel well most of the time, right?

So after reading the Wheat stuff I read, I thought I’d try that.  It was easy for the two weeks I did it, but I didn’t maintain it.  One moment of desperation and with wheat so readily available everywhere… that was that.

Then I decided to research healthier recipes.. more vegan, vegetarian type stuff.. as part of my exploration.  I tried a few things – they were good.  I watched a couple of documentaries about it.  Then it hit me..why not get rid of meat?  Of all the things that changed the most when my husband and I moved in together – the addition of so much meat was the biggest change.

So four weeks ago, I gave up 95% of all “flesh”.  I have eaten fish a handful of times since then, but have had no red meat, no poultry, and no pork in that time.   And it’s been GREAT not bad!

I am struggling a little to know what to eat all the time and also with feeling satisfied after eating.  I suspect a large part of it is just figuring out what I like and what to eat and how much to eat of it.  Also, I do know that I have to keep prepared food around at all times.  When I’m liable to eat crap that I shouldn’t is when there’s nothing easily available and I’m starving, which happens a lot.  I run around for work a LOT.  I never know where I’ll be on a given day and my meals are not at reliable times.  Hell, some days I don’t eat until 7pm.  That’s a sad fact.

As a bonus, I do think that I’ve lost a couple of pounds, but since we don’t have a scale (I wouldn’t step on it if we did, mind you), I have no real way to verify it other than a couple of articles of clothing feel looser and more comfy.

A part of me thinks that my particular set of health issues – insulin resistance and pokey thyroid – means that any sort of effects of food tend to be amplified in me.  As sluggish as my system is, things are bound to have a longer-lasting impact.  It’s just a theory, though, because no doctor would even have the time to talk about it with me, much less explain it.

Last thing, I’m starting a food journal.  I don’t know why other than I realize that I have no idea what I eat most of the time and also so I can guage the impact of having prepared foods around all the time.  How much better do I really eat when it’s already cooked and just waiting to be warmed up?



Still haven’t settled on a food plan…

But I gotta say, I’m getting there!

One of the problems that I’m having is that the information out there regarding diet and nutrition is very conflicted.

To be clear, I am not interested in a “diet”.  My goal is not weight loss.  I figure weight loss will happen naturally if I’m on the right track.  That may not be true, and there may come a time when I change my mind, but I do not believe that dieting is healthy.   Okay, scratch that.  What I am really trying to say is that I do so many things wrong health- and nutrition-wise that no diet is going to give me what I’m after.  That said, I do not believe that losing weight then gaining weight then losing weight is healthy (and I’m pretty sure the experts agree).  And a plan that restricts my caloric intake to such an extent that I lose weight because of it and will then inevitably have to return to a more normal caloric intake logically seems to imply that at the point where I return to normal, I shall gain weight.  Why would I want to do that?  Truly, why?  Aside from the negative health consequences of the yo-yo approach, there’s the whole “I’m UP, I’m down, I’m happy, I’m suicidal” thing going on.

So my weight, no matter big and blubbery I am, is NOT the focus.  I know there are a lot of people in my life who judge my weight (like, constantly) and I am sure they are flabbergasted to hear that I refuse to change what I eat based on my weight, but.. uh, screw them?  They may not be fat, but most of them are either annoying, or judgemental, or hypocritical, or selfish, or toxic is other ways.  And you don’t hear me constantly nagging them to change it.  Plus, I’m not sure I know anyone who eats as healthily as I intend to when this is all said and done.

No matter what, a person my size embarking on a nutritional change must address the weight piece with the public, at large, because one way or another, they WILL make it the focus.

So hear ye, hear ye:  my focus is on health and on what I should eat, day in/ day out, for the rest of my life.  Not, what I should eat for the next 6 months until I achieve some random weight loss goal, but what is best for me long-term.

Now, if I could just figure out what the fuck that is.

And so, my strategy is this:  As I am researching, I occasionally stumble across some sort of nutrition plan, either meant to be a lifelong plan or designed with some specific health problem in mind.  So far, the plans that I have begun researching are Veganism, Vegetarianism, Paleolithic, GAPS, the Perfect Health Diet, Insulin Resistance Diet, and Alkaline Diet.

I have dismissed vegetarianism (for me) as it is too broad.  It seems to me that it’s mostly an ethical choice and has little to do with health, although I am certain many vegetarians would disagree with me.  But you know, then we’d have to have the whole “what came first, the ethics or the health”, discussion and no one really cares why THAT chicken is crossing the road, so nevermind.

I may not have mentioned it previously, but I do actually care about the ethics of eating flesh.  I am not some rabid PETA-espousing fanatic, but I think that there are a number of problems associated with the food industry (I guess, specifically, America’s- I can’t really speak to anyone else’s since I don’t know about them) and in particular with the various environmental, health, and humane issues associated with meat in America.   But veganism captures all of these for me, and so vegetarianism is not useful for me and allows for far too much latitude with processed foods, off the shelf boxed crap, and whatnot.

Veganism has some validity, though, and is something I’m considering.  The primary difference for me being that if we’re going to make an ethical choice regarding animals and food, we probably don’t want to endorse keeping cows hooked up to milkers and kept permanently pregnant for years at a time.  Besides, there some evidence via the China Study that indicates that it has good long term effects and results in a much lower incidence of disease.  But, of course, the jury is still out on this one, too.

That said, I’m not expert on the China Study and don’t know one, so I have to make all my decisions based on my gut instinct and the limited amount of time I can devote to this project.  I am certain I will continue to learn about all aspects of food for many years to come, but for now,  I have a job and a home and a husband and  7 pets and family to look after and visit with and lots of other stuff to do.  Know what I mean?  I don’t even have time to read all the articles and all the books and what all the documentaries that I currently have tagged.  So do I wait to embark until I have all the information?  The billions and billions of bits of information out there?  Or do I just launch the ship with the info I have and hope for the best?

I am go for launch.

Rather than dig into all the details of the various diets – since I’m not an expert and don’t have time to become one – I’ll let you, the reader, research them at your leisure.  Suffice it to say, though, that I’ve read enough to be interested in the diets listed above and these are what I have started comparing.

And since I’m a bit of a nutjob, I thought that for me, the easiest thing to do would be to break each of these diets down into the food that each says you are allowed to eat, not allowed to eat, and allowed to eat in moderation.  I have done this in spreadsheet form.

I do love me a spreadsheet.

So I took dozens of foods and plotted them out and then, to add one more layer onto it, I indicated which are considered acid-forming and which are considered alkaline-forming since one of the diets suggests that diseases love acid environments and proper nutrition should be mostly alkaline, something I think has some credence to it.

What I have found with my handy spreadsheet is that there are quite a few foods that everyone agrees are healthy and allowable (in various quantities, a distinction that I really cannot be bothered to quantify since I am going to rely in part on common sense).  Most of the allowable foods are vegetables and fruits.  A couple of oils, a couple of sweeteners, and most herbs & spices are allowable, as well.  Grains, nuts, seeds and beverages are trickier, but some of them can be done.  Of the foods that all of these nutrition plans support, I have identified the alkalizing and acidifying foods and with this, I am set to really begin.

As an extra special bonus, I decided to get some ph testing strips and test my saliva and my urine.  I had my husband do it, too, just for fun.  My saliva fell into an acceptable ph range.  My urine tested extremely acidic.  Same for my husband.  Keep in mind that mine was tested after several weeks of restricted meat, sometimes restricted grains, and so on.  My husband eats a lot more meat & wheat.  So in theory, our pee is very different!

Yesterday, I went to Arden’s Garden and got their pH Solution juice.  I did not love the taste of it, but I drank it.  I also ate their Kale chips.  For dinner, I had tilapia, roasted broccoli and some leftover fried rice (which made me sick).  So far today, I’ve had coffee, roasted cauliflower, and a few raw chocolate almond balls.  I tested my PH a few minutes ago and I’m as alkaline as the guide on the box gets.  I think we can state, with some certainty, that the pH Solution worked.  And I do feel pretty good.  I’m hungry, but I’ve been hungry pretty much around the clock since I started all of this mess.  Meat and wheat are pretty much what make food satisfying, so without them, there is some suffering.  I am hoping that there will be a time when what I feel as hunger will feel normal and that real hunger feels different.  But I gotta say, despite my appearance, I do not eat enough.  I do not eat frequently and I do not eat that much.

I think that all of my life, I’ve been mostly starving myself with sporadic feasts of all kinds of bad foods and that this is probably the crux of my problems.

My goals with all this are to:  prepare more healthy foods (and learn to prepare them!), always have something healthy to eat on hand, eat more than twice per day, and eat mostly alkaline, nutritious foods.

We shall see.


Bookcase project…

I hate how dark our built-ins are and as much as I prefer white painted built-ins most of the time, I am not currently planning to paint ours because they match some of the other details in the room (fireplace mantle, exposed beams). So I had to find a why to lighten them and, hopefully, add interest.
Wallpaper it is!
$100 (for the FANCY wallpaper) and about 3 hours later….
I think I have moderate success!

(There are two sets of built-ins, but one should be enough for you to get the idea!)

Minor alternative health obsession…

So reading the book about wheat (and how one should not eat it), kind of got me on a kick about alternative research and health.  Not the “I stare at the sun instead of eat” level of alternative, (which IS, actually, a THING, by the way) but more the “things to try just by way of experiment” alternative.

By the way, I did not give up wheat, yet.  I actually did give it up for 3 days (not hard, actually) and I really think I noticed some differences in how I felt, but we have a kitchen full of food to eat as I am not willing to just throw perfectly good food away.  Plus, I am a terrible cook with very limited skills and succesful recipes.  So the new game plan, since I’ve also watched a documentary about going “whole foods” (not the store, but the type of foods) and am intrigued by it, as well, is that I am going to begin the long, arduous process of finding recipes and learning to cook them.  Since I am not much of a cook, and since my husband would eat meat, bread, potatoes, and dessert at every single meal and will be a very hard convert, I think my best plan of action is to try 2 or 3 new recipes a week (vegan & wheat-free) to see if I can even find enough recipes to keep us happy and satisfied.

This whole thing goes hand in hand with our recent turn to meal planning and targeted grocery shopping.  We never have food in our house.  I mean, we have food, but none of it makes a meal without a trip to the grocery store and every single day was a struggle to put together a breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Even snacks could be a challenge, and that’s with a full fridge and pantry.  I don’t know how it’s possible, but pasta with no sauce, a can of green beans, a head of lettuce and a popsicle don’t really a meal make.  Know what I mean?  I also have a bit of an obsession with coupons (yes, coupons) and so while I can fill a pantry, it might be with 6 bottles of BBQ sauce and 12 jars of pickles.  Because at $.15 a piece, I didn’t see a reason NOT to buy them if we’ll eat them eventually.  The coupon thing is a whole ‘nother post and one that I will get to eventually.

Anyway, back to meal planning.

The total lack of planning for meals left us in a continual aggravated dance of “what the hell are we going to do about dinner?”.  My long work hours left a lot of the decision making and cooking up to my husband, so meals were often large slabs of meat picked up at the grocery store and mounds of potatoes, and while it all tasted good – it just started to wear me down.  I don’t really want to eat that much meat, certainly not with nothing else but a starch, and my palate was seriously missing other foods.  And as I’ve said before, I’ve got health problems, a terrible metabolism, and a serious weight issue.  I am also a teeny bit concerned that I may die in the next 5 to 10 years from it.  Seriously afraid, not just casually hypochondriacal.  Since the hubs and I have pretty much argued about his steadfast refusual to consider going meatless every so often or eating more healthily (he agrees, but then ignores it), and since I work 14 hours a day, we have fought over this issue a number of times.

I don’t do repetition of discussions too well.  I don’t do repetition too well with anything.

So I performed a hostile takeover of the meal planning (or lack thereof) and true to form for me, I created a meal-grid and a customized (color-coded) grocery checklist of all the crap we normally buy and instituted a new policy.  I figure out the meals for the week (with some consulations with my hubby) and based on the week’s meals, I check off the appropriate boxes on the grocery list.  He goes and gets it.

I gotta say, it works great!  For me, anyway.  Not that hubby would tell me if he didn’t think it was great, but as far as I’m concerned, fewer “what are we gonna do for dinner” convos and fewer feelings of “wtf. eating meat with a side of meat again?” and generally having crap in the house that can make a meal, seems like a pretty successful experiment.  And I can resent him less for helping to contribute to my early death.  I don’t blame him for my food choices, don’t get me wrong, but he is the pickiest person you will ever meat (Freudian slip that I am leaving in) and there are legions of food items and food groups that are NOT on the menu, so there’s only about 5 things that he appears to want to eat which is so limiting that of the 6 things I know how to make, only 2 are acceptable.  Combined with his much shorter work week, better skills in the kitchen, and his lack of interest in yard work or house work… there you have it.

Even still – my plan is to try the new recipes, make them, and if that works out – great.  I will now have more items in the repetoire and will be making my contribution to the meals.

Food food food.  Sigh.  You gotta have it.  Most people would think that a fat person would be food obsessed and eating all the time, but I am definitely not.  I forget to eat most days until dinner time.  I really could care less what I eat.  I will eat meat with a side of meat if that’s what he makes, because I figure he who cooks it – decides it.   Right?  But the 4 years we’ve been together have me bigger, fatter, and sicker, and I’m tired of it.  I have no choice.  I have to work less so I can spend more time eating.

You heard me.

Since I can’t decide whether I should go vegan, or wheat free, or gluten free or pescetarian, or stop worrying about it and just eat normally (but with actual meals and snacks throughout the day and less really bad stuff), my plan is to rely on my choice in new recipes to learn  and to lead me down a path that works for us.  If a recipe sounds good, appears generally healthy (based on my opinion, if not on actual fact), and seems like something the hubby may possibly eat, then I’ll learn it.  How can it hurt?  And until my personal research and discovery makes me feel certain I know the path, it will have to do.

So that’s the food thing in my life.

Here’s another thing:

As a smoker and coffee drinker (I know I know – please don’t say it), I have some pretty stained teeth.  They aren’t frightening or anything, but they aren’t pretty.  I’ve tried whitening strips – they make my teeth hurt and are gross, really.  I’ve tried dentist-sold whitening trays/chemicals – disappointing and expensive.  I even tried an hour in a chair at Sams Club getting a treatment (reasonably effective, but not long-lasting and expensive even on sale).  I decided to ditch all the “sold” remedies and started swishing with hydrogen peroxide.  I haven’t been to a dentist in about 10 years, which sucks, and I have some bad dental issues brewing and figured peroxide couldn’t hurt.  It actually works pretty well!  I even dip my little toothpick flossers (purchased for dirt cheap with coupons) in it when flossing and that has worked a little bit, too.

My results were good enough that I researched some home remedy options and landed on the good old-fashioned baking soda & peroxide combo and let me tell you what… that actually works!  Wet a mound of baking soda with peroxide, GENTLY brush your teeth with it for two minutes, and voila… my teeth are quite a bit whiter after only doing it 3 times.  Keeper!

But when I say brush gently, I do mean it.  I used my natural vigorous brushing method the first time and my gums told me all about it for a few hours.

The next thing I’m going to try….  oil pulling.  Go ahead, read about it.  It’s freaky and really unbelievable for a generally rational person, but what the hell can it hurt?

First oil pulling experiment will be tonight.

I should also post about the other goofy things I’m trying.  Lord, I love the internet.  Sooo much to try on the internet.


Descent into Madness

Yo, blue shirt with dreads…. Barn door is OPEN! Coral stripes, 5th row, 7th from left…. Bat is escaping from the cave! Chick on the end, snap that gum ONE more time. … Man working ID stall 7…I see you pausing leisurely between citizens. Don’t make me come up there. Cockroach – on back – lifeless on the floor…take me with you.

Still here. Rotting in the 6th circle of hell.

The good news is that virtually nobody puts any effort into their driver license picture! Maybe 2 people in the past 2 hours that I have been here did their makeup or combed their hair. I find this very reassuring. Also, I am glad to know that I am clearly not the only person who does not think the picture on a person’s primary ID is not hair-washing worthy.

What Fresh Hell

Department of Driver Services…. 3 hour wait for license renewal and I can only get a “temporary” license which will expire in 120 days. Thus ensuring that I will have to return and wait again soon. Also ensuring that I will be forced to go to social security and get a new card issued since mine was stolen about 6 years ago. Which just goes to show both how utterly useless the card is and how totally lazy I am. And frankly, I am so convinced the apocalpyse is coming (one way or another) that I actually stood at the DDS “Welcome to Hell” desk and calculated how long I thought I could get away with not having a license at all. Not long enough, I am afraid, so I get to spend at least 10 hours of my remaining time sitting in various government issued waiting rooms and reading/rollr-ing/texting/dying inside. This is really not awesome. And I have so much work to do this afternoon that I feel like firing clients just so I can go to bed early. Not happy. Not even remotely happy.