Some background about me:
In March of 2008 I had appointments with 3 specialists concerning a nodule in my thyroid. I was sent for an ultrasound, a fine needle biopsy (inconclusive) and one surgery, a partial thyroidectomy, removing half of my thyroid. During the surgery a frozen biopsy section was completed and sent to pathology, while I waited in the O.R., for the decision from the pathologist. Is it malignant or not? Well good news, no malignancy, so I kept the other side of my thyroid, was stitched up, and sent home. A thyroid gland can function just fine with just half, so no thyroid meds would be needed and I could resume life as usual. The surgery was on a Saturday, so by Tuesday I was up moving around, had sent my mother home because I was fine and could manage on my own, or so I thought. My husband wasn't home either when the call came from the surgeon. Now if a doctor calls your home and first asks if someone is with you or if you're alone, he's not calling to deliver good news. He told me I had papillary thyroid cancer with a follicular tendency. I don't remember if it is the follicular or papillary, but one of those is NOT a good cancer to have. Sometimes it can be aggressive and the sheer size of mine was not a great sign.
Nothing can prepare a young mother, for such a phone call. My first thoughts, "what if my children, then 4 and 1 have to grow up without me?" I don't remember getting overly upset, as I knew God was with me and He'd see things through.
Another surgery was scheduled for a complete thyroidectomy, removal of the thyroid. Followed by a few weeks of no thyroid function (not fun), a low iodine diet, radioactive iodine treatment, then finally a whole body scan to see if the cancer had metastasized. The hardest part of this process was the unknown, waiting for the body scan. After treatment and the scan, no sign of cancer could be found, but I was told the true test would come a year later. A year rolled around and no cancer detected again. It's only by the grace of God I'm alive today! Really! My Endocrinologist admitted after treatment, he was pleasantly surprised it had not metastasized!
So what's my point? I know, you thought I was going to discuss my eating plan....well my health background is part of the puzzle and what has shaped how I eat and live my life today.
Well since thyroid cancer, wellness has been my passion. Even though I was overweight, I still researched and read everything I could get my hands on about health, nutrition, and cancer prevention. During this time in my life, my nickname among several friends was "Research Queen". During this time I tried more diets than I care to admit, some for just weight loss, some for health with the benefit of weight loss. A pattern was developing though, the diets I was trying for just weight loss were failing miserably, or actually I was failing them. I realized I needed to think about health, and what I new about health in order to stick with a given eating plan. In other words, I had to believe in it and follow it with passion. I couldn't just do a diet for weight loss and deep down not think it was healthy and something I could do the rest of my life.
While my diet could certainly be improved, I've found a balance I can live with that is health promoting AND good for weight loss. When I tried to do The Belly Fat Cure, certain aspects of the diet conflicted with my health philosophy. Since I believe fruits and vegetables should be the cornerstone of a healthy eating plan, I had a hard time limiting fruits and veggies to keep sugar below 5 grams for the meal and 15 grams in a day. I could do it in the short term, but since I really didn't believe in it I couldn't sustain it. I'm not saying I eat high sugar foods, even natural sugar with abandon. Instead I practice moderation and limit the high sugar fruits and other foods high in sugar as well. The Belly Fat Cure has definitely made a positive impact in my life and in food decisions I'll make forever. I always now consider how much sugar grams are in food and make decisions accordingly. The diet also seemed too meat and dairy focused as well. I do realize I could have done the diet, not consuming dairy and limiting meat and limiting fruit and veggies. I tried that and for me it became too restrictive. Other aspects of the diet, I believe are right on, especially consuming no artificial sweeteners. My body has an almost immediate reaction to those, with a headache and anxiety.
This is what I've finally determined after 43 years works for me.
What I normally eat:
- Eating some protein at every meal or snack
- Bulking up meals and snacks with fruits and/or veggies
- Breakfast: carbohydrate heavy with added protein. For example, this morning I ate gluten free oats, apple, maple almond nut butter, cinnamon, Sun Crystals
- Lunch: sometimes carbohydrate heavy or not, with protein.
- Snacks: a balance of protein and carbs, for example, Mary's Gone Crackers with chocolate almond butter, or carrots with hummus, or an apple with a small handful of walnuts, or a gluten free dairy free bar like Larabars or Kind Fruit and Nut bars.
- Dinner: limited or no starch and protein. For example: steak with green beans. If I crave something sweet, sometimes I'll have a spoonful of chocolate almond butter or a cookie, a small amount just enough to satisfy my cravings, or a piece of fruit.
Sometimes I'll eat treats not within this plan. If that happens I eat them until I'm satisfied and then put the rest away. Since I allow treats and nothings totally off limits, if I have a treat I don't feel guilty. And unlike a diet, I'm never "off plan" because this is just how I live and eat now.
Some pics of what I eat:
I mentioned earlier not eating dairy and gluten. If I eat something that has a substantial amount of dairy, I will have a reaction within 5 to 10 minutes, increased mucus, asthma, and sometimes stomach cramping. I'm doing a gluten free trial, although I have the occasional piece of bread. I do notice huge improvements in my physical and mental health when I avoid gluten and dairy. Do I do this perfectly? nope.
In summary, most carbs are eaten in the beginning to the middle part of the day. Then by dinner I aim for no starch, just protein and veggies. Then NOTHING to eat after dinner. I think the combination of no to limited starch at dinner with no snacking at night has had the biggest impact on weight loss.
That's the basics. I do tweak it a bit when I hit a plateau, but otherwise it's how I eat now. I don't plan to ever go back to how I lived and ate before.
I hope I answered all of the questions regarding my eating plan, but if I didn't please ask and I'll address them.
Have a happy, healthy Thursday.