Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year, and a Happy Healthy New Approach!

Happy New Year!

This year, our dietary path has shifted from where it was the last couple years. I thought it was only fitting to move over to a fresh, new blog to celebrate the new focus!

Today is not just the first day of a new year. It is also the day Earnest and I begin a new sort of challenge: We are doing a Whole30 together. What's that? Well, the rules are here: http://whole9life.com/2012/08/the-whole30-program/

For one month, you eat only vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and high quality, non-dairy animal proteins. It's a particularly strict version of the currently-fashionable paleo/primal diet. Personally, I'm not so much one for labels as for just making Good, Solid Choices.

The restrictions you choose to follow when doing a Whole30 are: No grains, legumes, dairy other than ghee, alcohol, white potatoes, certain additives, or sugar (even maple and honey.) That's not all that far from how I've been eating lately, but I have been using some honey, maple, cheese, and homemade yogurt from raw milk. I've been making good progress with this approach so far. We've been gluten free for quite some time, and in fact GF has been an area of focus in my work as a personal chef. (The other primary focus for me has been delicious, wonderful veggies! Even though I'm not vegan anymore, I will always love veggies! I'll talk about them a lot more in future posts.)

From my own diet, I have already eliminated most grains and all legumes, because my body was responding to them with a range of reactions including true allergy, digestive upset, and inflammation. I was occasionally eating rice and just tasting the other gluten-free grain foods I cook for others whose digestion handles them better. By eliminating even those tiny amounts of grains, I hope to reduce inflammation in my body further, and continue my path of healing my gut. Later, I'll talk more about how far I've already travelled in search of a happy belly! I'll also talk about the challenges I run into on the way, as a professional cook with dietary restrictions.

Earnest has relied a lot more on grains and legumes, and he loves his sweets. This challenge will be harder for him, and I'm going to do my best to support him and make his experience positive and easy. There's nothing like having your own personal chef to make positive choices easier!

Those of you who have known me for a while know that I love raw veggies and fruits. I was vegan for two years, and ovo-lacto vegetarian for over ten years, split between two different times in my life. While I was vegan, I followed a very high raw approach most of the time. This was great for me at first. For the first year, I experienced high energy and abundant health.

Later, and whenever I ate too many grains or legumes, I started to experience a lot of strange symptoms, mostly of inflammation, digestive upset, and radical weight fluctuations. I started to feel fatigued and brittle, and knew I needed to make some changes again.

On top of these experiences, sensitivities, and restrictions, I have true allergies. I'm allergic to peanuts, soy, and some other legumes - and we're talking throat-closing anaphylaxis here. I actually had to quit a job once because of all the peanut and soy products on the menu. I am also sensitive to wheat and other gluten-containing grains. I have one of the genes that can cause celiac disease, and I experience lots of symptoms when I consume gluten, but I haven't received a conclusive diagnosis of celiac disease. Interestingly, Earnest experiences many of the same symptoms with gluten that I do. In fact, we stopped using gluten at home because of his sensitivities, and I only realized I was also sensitive later.

My new goals are to continue healing my digestion, tame inflammation in my body, and have abundant, glowing energy again. I am already well on my path toward meeting these big goals, and lots of little ones along the way.

I also plan to continue eating tons of fresh veggies, mostly local even in the New England winter. I will share with you tips and tricks for choosing the best produce and getting good deals. Just as importantly, I will help you navigate the different meat choices out there. Are they all healthy or ethically raised? Not by a long shot. But are there sustainable, environmentally-friendly, affordable options out there? Absolutely. I can help connect you with your local farmers, find grass-fed beef and truly, honestly free range eggs, and choose seafood that is safe for your family and sustainable for the environment.
Local Chioggia Beets

The Littlest Carrot!

If you have just found me, maybe you also have a goal. Do you want to lose weight? Get stronger? Run faster? Flush away inflammation? Learn great recipes, tips and tricks for cooking and eating great food? Ways to incorporate lots more veggies into your (or your kids') diet? Gluten free substitutions and fantastic recipes? Leave me a comment and ask me anything! I've been cooking and baking for a very long time, and I love a good challenge!

I look forward to writing for you and cooking for you a lot more soon!

Much love,
Chef Mary

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