Adventures in Eating Well

My CrossFit affiliate, the awesome CrossFit New England, began a summer shape-up challenge on March 1. From March 1 till July 1, participants keep a food journal, eat well, sleep well, take their fish oil, stretch daily, and, of course, workout at CFNE. Winners get stuff – I don’t really care what the “winners” get, since I’m not in it to win it for that purpose. Nope, I’m in it to try to see what eating even more healthy will do for me, my body, and my mental well-being. Now this isn’t something I could have easily done if Amy weren’t on-board. Why? Well, she’s the main (exclusive?) cook in our household, to the point where I wonder how I fed myself between ages 22-32! But Amy IS on-board, and even joined CFNE last week, so off we go on a grand adventure!

The “eating well” in this case involves eating the following foods:

  • lean meats
  • fish
  • eggs
  • almost all vegetables
  • fruits
  • nuts and seeds
  • good oils and fats

It does not involve eating these:

  • grains
  • legumes (peanuts and soy) and starchy veggies (potato: I’m looking at you)
  • dairy
  • processed crap
  • beer (sigh) and most other alcohol

Fortunately for me, I had a doctor’s appointment right before this began and I had (among other things) my cholesterol level checked, so I’ll go back and get it checked in July to see if eating differently makes any difference. I know when people propose cutting grains out of their diet the initial comeback is “BUT YOUR CHOLESTEROL!” So. My cholesterol will be checked again at the end of these 4 months, and then and only then will I listen to that particular concern (if it’s even necessary).

As a start to our adventure, last weekend Amy and I a.) binged on all the processed crap we weren’t going to eat come March 1 and b.) cleaned out and re-arranged our kitchen cupboards. The binge probably wasn’t a great idea, but it did clear some space in the freezer (oh Trader Joe’s frozen pizzas, you are a thing of my past…) The cleaning out and re-arranging was incredibly helpful, though. Now when we open our main food cupboard, we see a variety of nuts and seeds (pecans, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, sunflower seeds, pepitas, pine nuts), almond butter, shredded unsweetened coconut, tuna, artichoke hearts, some prepared Trader Joe’s “Indian Fare” that adheres to the eating-well principles, Larabars, and a few cans of no-salt-added/no grains/all veggie soups. Gone are: crackers, chips, cereal, mac&cheese, pasta, rice, cookies, and other sweets. The fridge didn’t take much cleaning out or re-arranging – with the exception of eating down the cheese drawer and finishing off the last of the milk and cream. We have always been pretty big on keeping mostly fresh stuff in there.

You might be wondering how it’s going, now that we’re one week in. I have to say: for me so far, great! (I’ll let Amy chime in for herself in the comments.) I apparently don’t mind drinking my coffee black, which surprised me more than you can imagine. I’m loving trying out new ways of cooking eggs and new things to have with it in the mornings. So far my favorite was the big 87-veggie-scramble from Saturday morning, although a hard-boiled egg, a sliced apple, and a glob of almond butter works too. I found a use for all the frozen nearly-rotten bananas in the freezer too: smoothies! Frozen banana, various other fruit, dollop of almond butter or unsweetened coconut, blend, and enjoy…  I’m looking forward to trying to make almond-flour pancakes next weekend. My lunches haven’t changed dramatically – no longer do I bring string cheese, but that’s about the main change. Today’s lunch was what I think will be typical: romaine lettuce with 2 varieties of tomatoes and pecans covered in a homemade dressing of olive oil, lime juice, and red pepper flakes, a hard-boiled egg, and a blueberry/mango/grape salad.

Where this has been really fun so far, though, is with dinner.  Amy really does our menu planning and the bulk of the cooking, based on recipes I find in magazines and online. Last weekend she went through the pile of recipes and pulled out all the ones that fit the eating-well guidelines or could easily be adapted to fit them. And then we talked some and I compromised on some things (yes, I’ll eat more fish even though I piss and moan about it and claim not to like fish that isn’t served raw and on a piece of rice with soy sauce and wasabi next to it; yes, I’ll participate more in the kitchen endeavors) and we set off. Here are some of the things we’ve had so far:

  • grilled steak salad with hearts of palm, orange sections, and a mustard dressing
  • sauteed chicken with raw fennel and tangerines on a bed of spinach, avocado slices on the side
  • steamed tilapia on a bed of lettuce smothered in diced mangoes and a honey-lime dressing
  • hearty winter vegetable soup with diced chicken (adapted by substituting cauliflower for potatoes and chicken for chickpeas)

My first eating-out experiment went well too. I ordered a burger (okay, not super-lean, but as close as I could get at a pub to lean) with sauteed mushrooms on it. There was actually an option to get it sans bun, avec salad, so I ordered that. It came with a gigantic mixed green salad and a three-bean salad on the side. The beans are legumes, but I elected to eat them instead of fries and feel like it was a much better choice overall. I admit, cutting out beer will be next to impossible. I just like it too much. And yes, I had one when we went out this weekend. However, I will limit when I drink it – likely either after soccer on Fridays or some one time on the weekend. No more dinnertime beers for me, alas… whatever shall we do with the beer fridge in our basement?

So we’ll see how this all goes and I’ll report back periodically. And when July rolls around I’ll see if my doctor will recheck my cholesterol and I’ll report of that as well. My hope is that in July I’ll feel better physically and mentally, and I’ll lose a little weight and get faster and stronger in the gym and at hockey. Wish me/us luck!