Posts Tagged With: whole foods

Too Much of a Good Thing: whole grains vs refined vs flour

2014

Happy New Year!  2014?!  I can now say “that was 20 years ago” or at least “that was 15 years ago” very easily….it’s strange but fun at the same time.

Quick updates before we get to the topic at hand.  First, I had wonderful holidays; I love my family/friends and it was really nice to get spend time with most of them between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Some are just too darn far away but still felt the love from far away.  We also hosted and attended a lot of super fun parties.  December is one of my favorite months.

In terms of a health update, I am doing pretty well overall.  Emotionally I am getting better about my body image, about how I perceive the food I am eating, why I’m eating it, etc. which is a huge part.  But I do still have the physical damage of UC that I’m trying to heal through food, yoga and love, and not through medication.  It becomes challenging because what I eat often affects those around me…..you know, since they are around me while I’m eating.  I still struggle with keeping the majority of my diet whole, plant-based foods throughout the day, and throughout the entire preparation (i.e. no added sugars, butter, excessive oil, etc).  If I am preparing it, it is obviously much easier to control, but time management issues take us to restaurants more frequently than I’d like to admit.  Plus with the holidays there is a TON of eating out and eating at other people’s houses.  Which is fun, just not as fun for my bloody poop and burny butthole feeling.  :)  This all resulted in a mild but consistent flare during pretty much the whole November/December season.  I had a few blood-free movements but most of them had a least a little bit of blood, some a lot.  It is what it is and as I keep telling myself, it is still WAY better than when I was on medication.  I had a GI appt yesterday morning and he doesn’t see a need to have a colonoscopy this year after all.  He said if I wanted to, he could do a flexible sigmoidoscopy (much more mild procedure) but I think I’m good right now.  I can feel where my body is at and overall I’m happy.  I know what I need to do to stay healthy, it’s about sticking with it!

Onto the topic at hand.  Too much of a good thing.  I was/am very confused about “processed foods.”  Everyone in the current research says they are bad.  I know first hand that if I eat mostly processed foods, then I feel like crap.  Processed foods are hard to process!  Or is it that they are too easy?  There seems to me, two different kinds of processed.  Commercially processed and at-home processed.  Granted, I don’t have time to take whole wheat berries and pound them into flour, but if I did, would it still be “bad” for me?  If I get a smoothie at Jamba Juice, it’s going to be orange juice from concentrate and fruits picked out of season, frozen and shipped across the world, blended with yogurt.  But if I make a smoothie at home, then it’s organic fruit, small amount of fresh fruit juice and vegetables.  Inherently, blending isn’t “bad”, in fact most would agree that blended food is much easier to digest than whole foods (see: baby food vs adult food).  If you follow that logic even more, why would it be bad to take every food, mash it up into tiny little pieces and then eat it?  You are saving your body hours of time!  Some people actually do that, and with fruits and vegetables, maybe it’s not a bad plan.  It also leads to one of the arguments for juicing: your digestive system doesn’t have to work hardly at all, and it is a BOOM! effect of vitamins and minerals.  Ahhh, but then you are taking out the fiber.  Which is where we get into commercially processed foods.

wheatI’m going to be focusing on grains here, because it’s what confuses me the most and is my Achilles’ heel.  I love anything baked in an oven.  Especially sweet things out of an oven.  Bread, muffins, cinnamon rolls, scones, even pretzels (although I tend to crave sweet over salty), oh and did I mention bread?  When I do any cleanses or strict food diets for a long period of time, bread is always the #1 thing that I crave.  Why is that?  The answer is probably an entire blog post on its own, and it probably involves emotional eating, but all of the things I mentioned are flour based products.  How is it we make flour?  We pound down whole grains into powder.  But much more than just pounding is going on here (that’s what she said)….

facts_seed

In whole grains, there are three main parts of the seed that we harvest and eat (these seeds are also known as kernels, groats or berries): bran, germ and endosperm.  By buying whole wheat berries and then grabbing a meat tenderizer and smashing the hell out of them in your kitchen, you are doing more than simply getting a little aggression out (although that could be a good mental health exercise to focus your anger).  You are breaking down the outer layer or bran of the grain.  The fiber is all spread out and pre-broken down on your kitchen counter.  All of the sudden, that grain is magically now digested faster.  The body doesn’t have to worry about breaking down the hard exterior that held the grain together.  It will be processed much faster and more efficiently.  A good thing?  Maybe?  Question mark?

So you continue your demonic demonstration of power and continue to beat those poor wheat berries until there is nothing left but a fine powder or flour.  It’s not that different, right?  The nutrients are still there.  And yet if you were to eat a spoonful of that flour, it would have a radically different digestive journey than a spoonful of the original material.  Although eating a raw spoonful of either substance would be questionable behavior.

Whatever you do with it, if you leave that flour out too long, it will start to decompose, much like any food that is even halfway decent for you.  The oils and fats in the germ oxidize and become rancid.  In the 1800s, humans figured out they could merely take out the parts that would go bad!  Industrial milling started to filter out the germ and bran, leaving the endosperm by itself, sad and lonely.  The endosperm can last on a shelf (or in your freezer) for a loooong time.  Viola!  Crisis averted.

Unfortunately, there are a ton of awesome nutrients in the bran and germ that you lose in the endosperm-only flour.  They try to mechanically add a few of the vitamins back in (hello enriched and fortified products), but I think common sense would tell you that an isolated chemical nutrient isn’t going to be as welcome in the body as the real thing.  Perhaps even more relevant, the ratios are all off and they don’t even bother putting back in most of the vitamins.  It’s like anything (a beautiful piece of music, a great football team, really delicious pesto): the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

And finally, back to fiber.  Fiber makes things metabolize slower, makes you fuller longer and protects against insulin resistance.  Buuuuut, most of the fiber is in the germ and the bran which was just milled out!  Oops.  Without it, metabolism becomes lightning quick, triggers an insulin response and a dramatic drop in glucose…followed of course by a surge of hunger.  Hunger surges crave quick fixes.  Your body is craving the nutrients, not the donuts.  But unfortunately, what’s a quick fix to trick the body into thinking it’s happy?  More refined carbs, more sugar, more distilled and concentrated foods that would be more appropriate for an astronaut.  But we’re not astronauts.  Well most of us anyway.  It becomes too much of a good thing.  We process the flour like juice, it’s instant.  Except with vegetable juice it’s a boost of vitamins and nutrients.  With flour, it’s a boost of starch and basically acts as sugar.  Even the whole-grain flours that purport to have all the germ and bran in there still have the fiber all spread out, just like your now ruined kitchen counter.

At this point, for me, it comes down to preparation.  How do we humans typically prepare whole grains (brown rice, millet, quinoa)?  Boil it in water for awhile, maybe throw some spices or vegetables or even meat in there.  Then we eat it!  How do we humans typically prepare flour?  You’re not going to take flour and sprinkle it over your broccoli.  Flour is gross on its own.  It must be cooked, baked, fried, something.  And usually that “something” is going to be an even harder food to digest.  We combine it with sugar and dairy, oil and eggs.

What’s my bottom line here?  Like seemingly everything else, if you are going to eat flour-based foods, eat them in moderation.  Make those foods the minority on your plate and pair them with a bunch of veggies!  For example, we made pasta last night.  Pasta is obviously, flour based.  But we made it with 6 cups of spinach, a bunch of artichoke hearts and a pistachio-lemon “pesto” (pistachios, lemon juice, olive oil and shallots).  I felt great afterward, no bloating or hunger spikes or weird cravings.  Important to note that I made the meal with my wonderful husband, we played games and took our time through the whole thing.  I have to always keep in mind, to digest peacefully, the ritual of the meal may be just as significant as the meal itself.

Continued happy and peaceful eating to you!

Editor’s Note: I am not an expert on this stuff, but I did learn a ton by writing this post.  Hope you got something out of it too.  I encourage you to do your own research and see what resonates with you!  Please correct me if I said anything wrong on here, I want to be as accurate as possible, as I am still learning myself!  I heavily leaned on the work of the interwebs (yes, even wikipedia), this great write-up, and my awesome new book I got from Deb for Christmas: Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health.  That recipe from last night was our first try from the book and it was amazing!

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

I haven’t been into too much new music lately.  JJ Grey & Mofro have fun background funky music that I’ve been throwing on Spotify.  Or for yoga, I’ve been listening to playing a lot of Bonobo in my classes.   Other than that, oldies but goodies!  I am looking forward to the Bruno Mars halftime show at the Super Bowl.  Oh, and we went to a Reel Big Fish show last weekend.  Despite having only one original member left, they brought the house down with their still true-to-roots ska energy.  The number of teenagers there was unbelievable too!  I was a teenager when that stuff was popular.  I think the sole radio hit they had was Sell Out, but we listen to Beer after every softball victory.  Here’s both, dance your heart out!

Advertisements
Categories: Colitis, Food and Diet | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Your diet confuses me”

confused

I get this a lot.  Or variations on the theme:  “I don’t understand what you’re eating right now.” “Are you allowed to eat that?”  “Can you eat _______?”  Well, in theory, I could eat tinfoil and wash it down with bacon grease.  It’s just not a good idea for me at this point.  I got this “your diet confuses me” from my well-intentioned friend Jeff recently.  To be honest, your diet confuses me, Jeff.  haha.  Not really, yours is very straightforward: rare steak, cheddar cheese, Ritz, ranch dressing, Coke and dark beer.   Done.  Oh and Bombay Sapphire, of course.  :)

I think what confuses most people about my “diet” or what I eat is that it is not entirely consistent.  I change it a lot.  I cheat quite a bit now that I’m healthier and my colon is feeling better.  My food choices depend on the day at this point.  But in the end, my main goal is simply to eat a lot of vegetables.  It’s funny how the old, stereotypical message of “eat your vegetables” turns out to be my basic truth!  I would venture to say that we all need to be eating a stupid amount of vegetables.  And fruits of course.  But the green stuff just is going to help you.  Period.  The slick part is that the more green stuff you’re eating (and I don’t mean the apple flavored sour candy), then the less of the other stuff you’re eating.

I happened upon this article titled, “blah blah blah, recycled information that I’ve read 1000 times on mindbodygreen.com, etc., etc.”  Oh I’m sorry, my mistake, it was called Don’t Overthink Your Diet, Just Eat More Plants.  And here I am, super hypocritical, retyping the same message.  But you absolutely can’t hear it enough.  It’s like in teaching where you will say a concept 100 times and the student is not getting it.  But then a guest speaker comes in and says the exact same thing and the student’s like “hey, I wish someone would have told me that earlier!”  And then the teacher wants to punch themselves in the face…..but they are also happy the the student finally got it.  So I feel like if it gets mentioned enough, then at least one new person will get it every time.

At the hippie place in OB where I buy my tea for my kombucha, I was talking to the tea guy about food and eating this and that, and he gave me an example I definitely relate to.  He said he loves and drinks tea because it’s the opposite of nachos.  My reaction was of course, laughter.  Then: “What?  What does that even mean?” “Well, nachos taste amazing.  Sometimes, you really enjoy eating them.  Then later on?  You feel like absolute crap.  Your stomach hurts, you have to run to the bathroom.  But with tea…maybe it sometimes it’s delicious or sometimes it tastes like crap when you are drinking it.  But my goodness.  You feel amazing later on.”  That’s how I want my food to make me feel.  Like a million bucks.  It’s what I have to keep reminding myself of when I want to reach for that extra piece of bread or the free cheesecake that’s on the dinner table at the fancy event I went to tonight!  Hypothetically speaking.  (I ate the cheesecake, by the way.  And felt like crap later on.)

The other side of confusion is helping those who want to eat better but aren’t exactly sure how.  I am pretty good at knowing my body at this point, what’s going to make it feel good and not.  I call my diet “Food That Doesn’t Make Me Feel Like Crap.”  This handle on what’s good/what’s bad does not mean it’s super easy to stick to, but at least I have a little bit of that awareness.  Many people don’t, which is fine, but the lack of knowledge definitely can make picking out what to eat for meals and snacks a challenge.  Keep it simple, as mentioned before: don’t stress over it and eat more vegetables, as close to how you found them in the ground as possible.  I find that when I’m having a stretch of days like today where I’m feeling….not great….then I take stock of what I’ve been eating and it turns out to be mostly non-vegetable.  It’s a continual practice of bringing those foods back in, again and again.  Staying creative and making it interesting helps a lot.

Here’s to green foods and happy tummies.  Now if I could just kick that craving for dark chocolate….

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

This is tough because I’ve been listening to a lot of old stuff recently, nothing too new to report here.  I will say that it is the 30th anniversary of Thriller coming up in December.  I was only….1.83 years old when the video came out, which means I didn’t appreciate it right away, but I love it.  I use it often when I’m teaching College Success courses because it’s around this time of year that they learn about note taking.  I make them practice taking notes with the Thriller video!  I learned today that it was the first real music video ever aired by MTV.  Talk about setting a high standard.  Geez.  That thing is epic.  So basically, I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson today.  Truthfully, this was all set off because John Mayer covered a slow, bluesy version of “Off the Wall” when we saw the show last week.  It was great and that song has been in my head ever since!  Enjoy.

Off_the_wall

Categories: Colitis, Food and Diet, Outside viewpoints | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Food, more food!

I was a little off with my “I’ll post more recipes tonight” comment in my last post.  :)  But here I am with some more food now.

This first recipe is originally from Sisterfriend…she brought me this delicious salad on Mama’s birthday and we ate it in the parking lot of Swallow’s Inn!  haha.  It was soooo good that I’ve made it with friends multiple times since then.  We’ll be enjoying it tonight too!

Sister’s eggplant with hummus and beet salad

1 eggplant sliced to ¼ inch thick pieces
hummus
cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
slivered or sliced almonds, to taste
1 lemon, most of it for the juice, but cut 8-10 super thin slices, like paper thin
3-4 beets, diced
1 apple, diced
arugula
goat cheese (optional)

Heat the eggplant slices up in a skillet over medium heat until soft. You don’t even need oil, it softens on it’s own, shouldn’t stick. While that’s heating, toss together the arugula, apples, beets, almonds, tomatoes and goat cheese with the lemon juice and lemon slices.  Place one or two eggplant slices on the plate.  Slather hummus generously on each piece.  Top with the salad mixture and enjoy!  Serves about 4.  PS-you can buy the beets at Trader Joe’s already all done and ready to be cut.  Really easy.

Here’s a final recipe before I leave for dinner.  It’s what we had last night and it was great.  Yes, I am still eating fish from time to time because it doesn’t seem to affect my stomach like meat and dairy.

Alisa’s Traditional Salmon Dinner for 2

2 fillets of salmon
1 cup “power rice” (½ cup cooked brown rice and ½ cup cooked quinoa mixed together)
1 white or red onion, sliced into rings
2 veggies of your choice….last night we used broccoli and kale

Heat the oven to 350°.  Bake the salmon with freshly cracked pepper and a tiny bit of sea salt for 35-40 minutes.  During the last 5 minutes, throw a ton of broccoli into the oven with the fish.  Then saute the onion on low with a little bit of water (no oil required, there’s a decent amount of liquid in the onion already).  Once it’s 90% there, throw in a bunch of kale, and cover for the last few minutes.  Distribute the rice on the plates first, top with salmon. Layer the onions and kale half on the salmon, half off (it’s all about presentation).  Broccoli goes on the side!  Voila!  I also used a little bit of ponzu sauce on the kale (ponzu=equal parts lemon juice and soy sauce with diced green onions) but not too much because that is a ton of salt.

Off to the Pirazzinis for dinner!  No Music Corner tonight, just listening to the rain.  :)

Categories: Cleansing, Colitis, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Recipes!

My beautiful cousin requested some recipes for getting a healthier kick to life.  There are SO many different great websites and cookbooks for this sort of thing.  I’ll give you a bunch of resources and then also some good recipes that I’ve been making lately.

First to mention is definitely Kris Carr.  I’ve been slightly obsessed with her story, her book and her recipes lately.  I identify a lot with her and she has a fun writing style, so it’s been good to learn from her.  Here’s a link to her online recipes.

Taking a step back to educating myself about health, a big game changer for me was watching Forks Over Knives….do yourself a favor and watch it right now.  Even just the first half hour.  I’ve seen Food Inc, watched Jamie Olver’s Food Revolution, read Fast Food Nation, and still through all of that, I was a pretty ardent meat and cheese eater.  This movie either came at the right time or it just did a good job at explaining things.  Either way, it seriously shifted how I approach my plate.  I hadn’t been that woken up since Michael Pollan who also shifted me into higher thinking with his books (which I need to re-read, it’s been a few years).  His mind-numbingly simple and profound slogan on In Defense of Food reads: Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.  Man.  Can’t get more simple than that!!  Make it the caveat of eating REAL food (not overly processed crapola) and you are there!

But back to recipes….two things that I’ve learned are hugely important in trying to balance my insides are my pH levels and the amount of inflammatory food that I’m eating.  Dr. Robert Young wrote the pH Miracle and it makes so much sense.  Keep more alkaline foods in your body and disease doesn’t want to hang out there!  Also, Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid makes some sense for my body too.  Although I’m being much more strict than that in my healing phase (ie no meats, dairy or processed sugar at all).

Luckily, my new favorite person Joy Houston wrote out a ton of really good tasting, fast recipes that incorporate a lot of the concepts from all of these ideas.  She has a cookbook too that I’m sure I’ll end up getting at some point.

So there’s some homework for you to start in learning about what will (hopefully) make your body happy!  It’s a process, but with some baby steps and some giant steps, I think it’s all doable.  :)

Well crap, I am out of time and have to run.  Here is one recipe but I will put more up later tonight.  Love to all!

Healthy, Mexi-Salad

I adapted one of Joy’s recipes and made it last night for dinner.  It was quite delicious:

½ head romaine lettuce, chopped
¼ cup cooked brown rice
¼ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup black beans seasoned with cumin, pepper and chili powder
¼ cup diced mango
¼ cup diced white onion
¼ cup diced green onion
some cut up cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
dash Tapatío
½ diced avocado

In a large glass mixing bowl combine oil, lime juice, Tapatío, salt and pepper.  Taste dressing and adjust as needed.  Toss beans, rice, quinoa, mango, onions, and cilantro in the dressing.  Place a handful of lettuce on each plate, top with bean and rice mixture and some diced avocado.

You can adjust the amount of beans, rice or quinoa you are putting in depending how many peeps you are feeding.  This amount was good for me and Jon.

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNERmusic_notes

Today has been all about Stevie.  They have his entire collection on Spotify which is great.  I started backwards with the Down To Earth album, moved on to For Once In My Life, My Cherie Amour and am now halfway through Signed, Sealed, & DeliveredTalking Book next!  I don’t think I could ever hear these songs enough in my life.

Categories: Cleansing, Colitis, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

FAQs

First of all, WOW!  Thank you to everyone who has already reached out to say “hey” or “cool” or “my other friend has colitis too!” or “we don’t care if you talk about poop.”  It has been really amazing and overwhelming to remember how lucky I am to be so surrounded by love and support from my family and friends.  So thank you.

Also, a lot of questions have already come up that I will try to answer.  In my head, the blog would be very logical and either follow a timeline or at least themes, but I can tell it’s going to be much more jumpy.  Which is fine.  Works for me.

Questions that people have about me and/or UC in general:

Does it hurt?  Are you in pain all the time?

No. I am rarely in actual pain which is great.  I do have some pain, but it’s usually when I’m actually going to the bathroom and it’s few and far between.  Much more often, I feel gross, bloated, uncomfortable, gassy and anxious.  I realized that I process my emotions through my stomach and it was my body’s way of compensating for a lot of other things. The toxins in my body love to start at my digestive system.  I also feel….pressure? I think is the word I’m looking for.  I sometimes feel physical pressure right at the rectum (which is where most of my inflammation is and where it started).  It kind of feels like I have to go to the bathroom, but really I don’t.  This is really weird to talk/write about, haha.

How are you feeling right now?

Right now, today, I am feeling fantastic.  I’ve been feeling fantastic for a few months.  On August 13, I decided to make a huge change.  I stopped taking my medication.  (My parents don’t know this yet!  aah!)  The 9 pills I was taking each day were obviously doing nothing for me anymore since I still had full flare-up symptoms every single day.  That same day, I started a super strict cleansing diet for about 3 weeks which consisted of only plant-based, whole foods.  Nothing processed, nothing else except whole, living foods.  I did cook some grains, etc.  But tried to do as many raw foods as possible.  It was the second time I’d tried to do something like this.  (I did a raw-food only situation for a few weeks in 2010.  It worked well but there were still other parts of my life that weren’t in balance so it didn’t give me full remission.)  Because of all of the balance I’d created everywhere else in my life, it really worked this time.  The bloody poop I’d been working with for so long (almost 8 years at that point) went away IN EIGHT DAYS.  Seriously.  It didn’t stay for too long, but just to have one day of no bloody poop with no medication was a miracle for me.  I was so happy.  I still am!  As of today, I typically have a few days in a row of no blood, then traces of blood, then a bit more, then traces of blood, then no blood for a few days.  It follows my period which is SUPER DUPER interesting.  Anyway, I’m off topic.  More on all of that later, but had to get a little bit out there now.

What are you eating now? Is it working?

I’m on Day 6 of another plant-based, whole foods cleanse/diet.  I hate the word diet because of the negative connotations, so know that when I say “diet” I just mean, food that I’m eating.  Anyway, I had veered off of the path for a few months (late Sept-Nov) eating some bread, a little pasta, tortillas here and there, some cheese, some alcohol….not a lot of this stuff, but here and there.  In the future, I don’t see that stuff as bad in moderation, but for now, as I’m still trying to heal, I’m going to have to be super strict.  At least until I have a better balance and my body can more easily process the hard to process stuff.

Basically I’m eating mostly fruits and vegetables, but also grains, beans, nuts and seeds.  I feel amazing and fantastic.  The hardest part for me has always been the social side.  This weekend for example, I’m supposed to do all liquids for 3 days as part of the supported cleanse.  This weekend is also December Nights, a Christmas/going-away party for a guy in my building, and the annual watching of Badder Santa which usually involves a lot of white russians for some reason (probably because they are delicious).  I have a lot of social eating and drinking in my life.  Which is super fun, but it just isn’t going to work for me right now.  So I’m working on being excited about my modified diet and owning it instead of apologizing for it.  Usually when I’m doing these cleanses, I say “yeah, I know, it’s weird, it’s sucks but whatever, it’s only for a few weeks.”  This time I’m excited to say “Yeah, I know!  It’s great, it’s making me feel better and heal faster.  I’m proud of the work I am doing!”  We’ll see how that plays out in real life!!

I have so much more to talk about but I have to go to work!  We only have a few more days of the semester and my awesome students are waiting for me to give them a test and a really cool lecture on “where do I go from here with my life?”….I love my job.  :)

Talk to you all soon!

music_notesALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

I think it will be fun to also incorporate what I’m listening to right now because I love music and it’s fun to share.  I’m obsessed with Spotify recently because of the accessibility you have to everything.  Right now I’m listening to Little Dragon’s “Ritual Union” album.  They hooked me with the song “Twice” and I love to put them on in the background when I’m working on something.  Ironically, this seems like it would probably have been played on 94.9’s old Big Sonic Chill which I hated for years.  Oh well!

Categories: Colitis | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.