Sarah’s February 2018 Conclusion

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Photo by Tom Holmes on Unsplash

I can’t believe we’ve had our blog going for over one month already. The last month went by really fast! Now it’s time to share with you how my pledge for February went (if you haven’t read it yet, you can find my original pledge here and my mid-month update here).

The focus area for February was Food/Fuel. I decided to focus on finally completing an elimination diet by systematically reintroducing foods in order to sort out what, if any, foods I am sensitive to. Below I will share with you my what I’ve learned through this pledge. I’ve written a separate post to share more specific details on how the reintroductions of specific food groups went for me. I made it separate because I’m not sure that it will be of interest to anyone other than myself, plus this post was going to be reeeeaally long if I included it here. 🙂

1. Have a meal plan with easy to follow recipes

I’m not someone who loves looking for new recipes so, for me, having a pre-set meal plan (in particular for the first two weeks) was really key. It meant there was one less thing I had to think about (i.e., the answer to the age-old question, “what’s for dinner?”, *shudder*). Also, as a self-professed clutz in the kitchen, these recipes needed to be idiot proof.

Since I had done the elimination part of the elimination diet before, I was familiar with the 2-Week Revitalize meal plan in Young and Slim for Life (formerly, 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat ← this blunt AF title was why I bought the book initially) by Frank Lipman, MD. Whoever developed this meal plan is my hero. The recipes are dead simple, tasty, and leftovers from dinner are reimagined as lunch for the next day. The only thing I did differently, was that I made breakfast smoothies and snacks from The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution, by Aviva Romm, as I had just followed the 2-Week Revitalize meal plan in January, and I felt like I needed a little bit more variety for those meals and snacks.

2. Stock up on the basics and keep yourself well stocked

At the start of the month, I stocked up on the items that I knew I would be using on a regular basis. This included all the ingredients for the smoothie recipes in Aviva Romm’s book, pantry basics that I knew I would be using frequently (such as olive oil, avocado oil, apple cider vinegar… etc.), and fresh ingredients that I knew I would use regularly (e.g., salad fixings).

I have a dry-erase board in my kitchen that I can quickly jot down things as they run low (or out). Before I go grocery shopping, I check this board and add the items to the running list that I keep on my phone. I know this is similar to what Jennifer mentioned in her February conclusion, however, I thought it was worth mentioning because different things work for different people. The paper list didn’t work for me when I tried it, perhaps because I didn’t have a convenient place to keep it (my fridge doesn’t have anywhere to stick a magnet) but the dry-erase board method has worked like a charm to keep me from running out of stuff (or buying stuff I already have, because I can’t remember if I need it or not).

3. Have diet-friendly snacks on hand

Similar to above, I made sure to make and/or stock up on the snacks that met the requirements of my elimination diet. If I knew I was going to be out for a good part of the day, or doing a strenuous activity (like hiking), I made sure to bring some snacks along. By having lots of snacks on hand, I never felt hungry and I wasn’t tempted to eat something outside of my diet.

4. Know yourself (for me, this meant: Be flexible and don’t get ahead of yourself)

For this tip, in particular, I think you really need to know yourself, as Gretchen Rubin would say. There are so many posts on her blog about knowing yourself better, I couldn’t find just one link to send you to, but I think one key component for successfully completing an elimination diet is to know yourself and plan accordingly.

Knowing myself, I know that I can get easily overwhelmed and discouraged. To combat this, I only bought groceries for 2-3 days at a time. As someone who loathes grocery shopping (and who would rather just buy them for a week at a time and be done with it… or not buy them at all and eat out) I struggled with whether or not this was the right way to approach grocery shopping but, at least at this time, it worked well. It made the idea of going grocery shopping more palatable (because I knew I wouldn’t be in there FOR-EV-ER), I never felt like I had too much food in the house to deal with (as crazy as it sounds, sometimes the sight of a full fridge can send me into a bit of an unexplainable panic, perhaps worrying that I won’t use it all in time), and I didn’t have to stress about wasting food if plans changed, and we had an unplanned meal out, since I could just shift things back a day without too much difficulty.

That being said, I could see how someone else might need to stick to the plan 100% in order to feel happy with it. Or someone else might like knowing that they have everything they need for the week ahead in their refrigerator. If you’re not sure what will work for you, experiment with different methods. If the way you’ve always done something is no longer working, don’t beat yourself up, it may just be that a different way of doing things will work better right now. Do what works for you right now.

SIS Tip: When I was working 9-5 Monday to Friday, the approach that worked best for me was to order groceries online for the week ahead because then I could avoid the dreaded after-work grocery store crowds. It was super fast, because the grocery store’s website saved my lists, and well worth the cost of the delivery fee for the time (and displeasure) it saved.

5. Keep a food and mindful body journal

While I have done elimination diets before, I have never kept a detailed journal of what I ate and how I felt. Since I wanted to do things ‘right’ this time, I began my journal at the start of the month, even though I expected to just feel great for the first two weeks (as that is how I recall feeling in the past). I’m glad I did this because while I generally did feel pretty amazing and energized during the first two weeks, there were also times when I had a stomach ache or felt bloated so it was useful to think about why that might have been.

I tried to really tune into my body and listen to how it responded to different foods throughout the month. It was intriguing to note that although I may have felt pretty good (i.e., not my typical stomach pain) I may have felt other sensations (almost indescribable, really) that I might not have otherwise noticed. It was also interesting to pay attention to how different responses occurred at the same time (e.g., my energy may have been good, despite having a stomach ache).

Although this month is over, my journey to fully discovering my diet is not quite finished yet. I’m still trying to sort out the different responses from my body and what it might mean for me and I will still be playing around with removing and reintroducing some foods to see if they really seem to be problematic or not. If you’re interested in reading more about how the reintroductions went for me, then head over here.

6. I actually enjoy cooking for other people Cook for people who will respond enthusiastically

This was an unexpected discovery but I found it really motivating to know that I was making nourishing food for my husband. Actually, now that I think about it a bit more, I think his enthusiasm for what I was making motivated me. Thankfully, he was really appreciative of the healthy meals I was preparing, as I could see how it would be more challenging if I had to cook for someone who didn’t want to eat what I was making.

There is a flip-side to this lesson and that is that I also noticed I was slightly less motivated to make a more complex dish if it was just for myself. It’s useful to be aware of this because it means that if he is away I may want to plan for simpler meals or make sure I have something from the freezer to reheat so I don’t end up skipping a meal (not good) or eating something fast-foodish (and likely not on my-diet). Fortunately, and possibly because of the accountability of this blog post that I knew I’d be writing, I continued to make meals for myself, even if he wasn’t home.

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