Monday, March 29, 2010

Eating Whole Foods

One whole day of whole foods and it was pretty much what I expected. It was easy and enjoyable and also brought about some interesting conversations and reflections.

I started out my day at the gym where I ran into my doctor, Adrian Call. I'm very lucky to have him as my doc. He's an avid marathon runner and race director and completely understands me as a woman and athlete. He came over to say hi and I couldn't wait to tell him what my day would hold. After explaining the challenge, he seemed interested and encouraging and began to share some of his own stories. Inherent to being a family practitioner, he spends his day talking to his patients about becoming healthier. All day he talks to them about diet and exercise and he's routinely met with resistance and incredulity. What he finds remarkable is how people like him and me, people who exercise daily and watch we eat are now considered abnormal by the general populace. We are looked upon as though we are crazy or odd and his patients often act as though these concepts are too difficult to grasp. They seem to think making healthy changes would be much harder than what they are already doing--which are things that are making them sick and causing them to be in his office in the first place. He told me a couple of things he shares with his patients to try to get them to consider their diets: If you have to open a package of any kind--a box, a wrapper, a can--chances are it's not good for you. If you don't recognize the ingredients, chances are it's not good for you. A serving of cornflakes has more salt than a serving of salted potato chips and even though Cheerios are made from oats, it's so much better to eat actual oats. He wished me well and told me to at least take my vitamin D and was on his way.

I thought about our conversation all day. I've always met with disbelief from people when they find out I'm vegan or don't want to have a piece of birthday cake at the almost weekly potluck at work. People can't comprehend the work outs I do, how much I run and that I actually find it enjoyable. I'm asked so often how I do it. How do you get yourself to run so much? What do you eat all day? Where do you get your protein if you don't eat meat? What I have trouble with is why this so mysterious for people. Maybe it shouldn't amaze me but I can't help it when people don't know about basic things like portion sizes, how much to exercise and what is and isn't a healthy food. I spoke about this challenge today and explained to someone if she tried it out, even a little bit each day, it might help her lose weight. She actually asked me if I'd write out a list of whole foods for her because she didn't think she'd be able to figure out what they were on her own. Even after I said to stick to the produce and bulk sections and I told her what I'd eaten that day, she was dubious and said she needed more guidance. We're almost exactly the same age and grew up fairly close to one another, so I can't say it's because she grew up too differently than me. She's a smart woman, but somehow this is too complicated for her. It's discouraging because I know she represents more people than I represent in this society. Yet I'm encouraged because she was at least interested and I will write a list out for her if it'll help.

As for the actual day, it really did go great! I'll admit I sort of expected to be hit with major hunger at some point, but it never came. I felt quite satisfied and very energetic. I didn't have any cravings, but rather just looked forward to what I'd packed for the day. One thing that made me very happy was how little waste I produced. Apparently, everyone in the US makes about 4.5 pounds of garbage every day. I don't think I even came close to that today. All together I had a banana peel, some rind from my melon and pineapple, an apple core and stems from my grapes--all of which is compostable. Then there were a few stickers off my apple, zucchini and squash and two tea bags and their wrappers. That's barely anything. Every bag or container can be reused when I buy more produce or bulk products, so I'm not wasting those. It's bonus effect of eating this way to be able to reduce what ends up in a landfill or would've needed energy to be produced in the first place. No wrappers, no cans, no boxes, no packages. Love it.

Here's what I ate:

Pre-work out snack: banana

Post-work out, quick snack to tide me over until I could make breakfast: two celery stalks with almond butter and peanut butter chopped into bit-sized pieces. Quite delightful!

Real breakfast: oatmeal with raisins, almonds and cinnamon.

Lunch: lentil salad with spinach, zucchini, squash and mushrooms. apple.

Snack: pineapple, cantaloupe and grapes.

Dinner: quinoa with edamame and roasted sweet potato.

Dessert: rhubarb and strawberries baked with a little sugar.

Drinks: coffee, water, green tea, yerba mate.

My breakdown for the day was just under 2000 calories, about 47 grams of fat and 66.5 grams of protein. Pretty good. Nutritionally, I was overall very good, but low in calcium and vitamins E and D--only 1% which Doc Call warned me about and why he advised I continue my supplement.

I hope to sustain this longer. I feel very good, inside and out and would like to see how it'll make me feel in the long term. I don't think I'll be 100% whole foods all the time. I'd like to keep my soy- and coconut milk-yogurts as I feel the probiotics are important for my system. They fight infection and help with my tummy's digestion and the versions I eat have by far less sugar than the conventional dairy yogurts. I'll also admit I still can't see completely giving up cereal for all time. My doc even says I can certainly afford to eat it and it's important to allow yourself some comfort food in moderation. I like something sweet before I go to bed and tonight the strawberries and rhubarb were indeed super tasty. But the crunch of cereal soaked in almond milk...mmm...makes me smile all over. Even so, I would like to reduce my intake by eating only one bowl thus ending my nightly statement of "I think I ate too much cereal" as I rub my full belly. I've been challenged to forego it for a week. I can do that...maybe next week. I want to be reasonable and healthy about my entire diet. Last thing I want to do is to become obessive or too strict, but I think a balance is easily obtainable. We'll see how it goes. So far I like it. I'm into it.


  1. Aw crap. I had the most eloquent comment but I screwed up the posting part. What I wanted you to know is that I always admire your new obsessions, and that - to use a runners' term - you eventually find your stride. You get to a point where you find what works for you and the obsession just becomes a part of life and not so obsession-y. Also, you don't judge others for their choices - you just are a quiet - bold, but quiet - example for the rest of us to follow should we so choose. (My other comment was so much better than this!)

  2. Less than 2,000 calories? LB that's not enough food for you for how much you work out. Not even close. I think you know that though. Glad to see you incorporating whole foods but I think it is very important to stay balanced as well.

  3. Good job, Linda! I second Devon's emotion, which was my first reaction: MORE VOLUME!

  4. Are margaritas considered whole food?


Me, Mandi and Mom in Athens, Greece