Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mary's Modified Grapefruit Meal Plan, and Other Metabolic Musings

I am starting the dieting...STOP...and hold everything right there.  I know you've heard me say this before, or at least read it here...that I hate the word diet.  People get all emotionally distraught about their weight and try all these quick fix diets and they screw up their metabolisms and develop eating disorders.  All in the pursuit of thinness.

Let me say right now that I am not that kind of dieter, nor am I in favor of pursuing a certain weight or body shape.  But many of us Americans, myself included, can improve overall health with a healthier diet.

So what is a person to do and where is a person to go to discover that "healthier diet."  Right now the big thing is avoiding carbs and more specifically, avoiding wheat, and even more specifically avoiding gluten containing grains.  Many reasons are given for this.  They are as varied as the people who avoid such things.  

But throughout the years of my life, I've seen many, many switches and swings on what is considered healthful and what is considered unhealthful.  I try to prepare most of my things from scratch, rather than processed foods or ingredients.  I avoid lowfat alternatives, which are often less natural, and therefore less easily metabolized, than the natural fat versions of things.  I intentionally leave much of the fat on my meats.  I don't keep sweets around the house, or do much baking, unless it's something that can be used as part of a main meal.  For instance, I will make coffee cakes, or breakfast bread, as long as the sugar content is low enough so that it's not like we are eating dessert for breakfast. 

I do break my own rules when I need to.

I try in a probably very limited way to follow the traditional foods precepts espoused by Sally Fallon in her book, Nourishing Traditions.  I buy raw milk when we can.  We use cultured milk products like kefir, yogurt, and when I have enough milk homemade curdled milk and whey.  Since I don't bake much, and I use strange grains already, I haven't mastered the soaked grains part of baking.  But I do soak our cereal grains overnight.  And we dabble in countertop pickling methods, especially for saurkraut and kimchi, but other fresh vegetables, too, when we have them on hand.

But besides that, I don't do anything special to watch my weight.  I've never had to.  I've never been thin, but nor have I ever had any great concern about my weight.  I hold to the idea that if I'm eating reasonable portions of healthful foods, and maintaining a moderately active lifestyle, my body will find its own best weight and stick there.  Which, for the most part it has.  Until recently.   My body is all out of whack in the last several years. 

My youngest child is over three years old, and I weigh exactly what I did when I came home from the hospital.  Really.  Of course I've changed shape a little bit.  I've not changed sizes.  In fact, not counting my pregnancy hiatuses, I've worn roughly the same sized clothes since before I started having kids.  I've fluctuated between the same size and a half, or two sizes.  During probably the first ten years of my childbearing years, mostly staying on the smaller of the two, and during the last ten, closer to the larger of the two.  So, really, considering I've borne ten children, I don't think that's too terrible.  It's probably within the normal fluctuations of most women.'s the big but...(or should I say, big butt?)...I've gained, I'm sad to way, 40 lbs in those same twenty years.  I don't know how it works that I can wear the same clothes with all that extra weight hanging around.  Really I cannot begin to imagine. It's one of my life's little mysteries that I find simply astounding.

But so it is.  And it's got to change.  Is it inconsistent to say, as I did earlier on, that as long as I'm eating healthfully and moderately, I ought not to care about my weight, and then suddenly, simply becasue it's going up, get freaked out over it?  Maybe a little bit.  But here's the thing...when woman reaches a certain age, many women gain body fat.  And I fear I"m reaching that age.   So perhaps I've not yet changed sizes, but if I don't try to adjust my portion sizes to compensate for a slower metabolism, my weight will cross the line to unhealthy.  I think perhaps I'm at the age where the definition of moderate eating needs to be redefined downward.

And I'm going to add just a little aside here.  As I said earlier, I've always been kind of big, I mean, not thin, or put another way, I have never been a lithe person.  So I had incorrectly assumed I had a slowish metabolism.  But I've come to see it in a different light in the last ten years or so.  And here's why.  I eat like a horse.  Really.  I have always had a huge appetite.  I can remember my mom telling me on numerous occasions when I was young, that if I kept it up I would be as big as a barn.  But I'm not.  Thankfully.  I know women who, when we get into a conversation regarding eating habits, describe much smaller food intake than min is, and have to constantly watch their weights.  But I never have had to.  So really, I think I must have a very fast metabolism, or I would, as Mom said, be as big as a barn.

But now things are slowing down.  I can no longer eat like a horse and maintain my regular not especially thin, but not too heavy, kind of right in the middle size.  It's catching up on me.  And I do think it's still within the idea of reasonable to accustom myself to smaller portions.

So getting back to the first sentence of this post...remember, the one in which I hollered out...STOP...I'm getting back to that point now. 

The other day I described a particular set of weight and household project goals, I called Mary's 28 Day Challenge, that I hope will help me get my life in order. And really, household and weight goals are related.  Did I write that the other day?  (Nope, I just checked back.)  When I am less active, it stands to reason that I will gain weight.  The more I weigh, the harder it is to be active, so I sit more.  Then while sitting more, I begin to feel bad about myself for sitting, and I get a tad bit bored, so I succumb to the munchies.  And that leads, see where this is going...and going, and going.

So stage one on the meal plan, since we're not going to use the word "diet" is four days of Mary's Modified Grapefruit Diet...oops, there it is again.  I meant to say, Mary's Modified Grapefruit Meal plan.  See, since I'm modifying the plan, I can modify the name, too, right?  I wrote about this last year when I did the same Meal plan.  Basically, it's the grapefruit diet with a few servings of carbs added in, and for a much shorter time then the original.  But this year I've not added many carbs.  I've not felt the need. 

Monday, Day 1, was pretty much normal.  Nothing interesting to report.

Yesterday, Joe made most of the supper.  He baked fish and I steamed some rice.  Joe also made up a very thick chowder featuring shrimp and bacon and scrambled eggs, with a few potatoes and assorted vegetables.  He thickened it with cornstarch, with the idea that those who wanted to could put rice in their bowls or plates and pour the chowder over.  I avoided the rice, and just ate soup and fish.  I did get a few little chunks of potatoes in my soup, and the potato starch in probably a very small amount.  Then I filled up on fish.

This morning, instead of the prescribed two pieces of bacon, I had sausage, since that's what I was making the kids.  I baked the sausage in the oven, patted evenly into a cake pan.  I had some gluten free bread in the freezer, so I let it sit out long enough to slice, then toasted it.  When the sausage was done, I cut it into bread sized chunks.  Joe put a little slather of mayo on each toast slice, and I added the sausage and either a fried egg or a portion of scrambled egg, according to each person's preference.  We also sprinkled a little grated cheese on the sausage before adding the egg.  The cheese felt a little bit indulgent, since the only cheese I happened to have was Fontina.  It seems silly to use it for an everyday breakfast.  It feels like a fancy cheese should be saved for something special.  We also always keep a chunk of Parmesan and another of Asiago on hand for grating, so we put a little of those in the mix, too.  I suppose the Italian cheeses ended up working especially well, since in my bleary-eyed first-thing-in-the-morning fog, I had grabbed the Italian sausage rather than the breakfast sausage from the fridge.

Besides describing the somewhat complicated breakfast I served the kids this morning, there was a point to the description.  I felt as though I needed to explain my excuse for using sausage instead of bacon.  With all the busyness of such a breakfast happening, I didn't feel as though I could handle a totally separate breakfast for myself.  So I planned to just have sausage and eggs.  Somehow, though, I had miscounted, or forgotten not to count myself, or something, when I sliced the bread.  After we had all the bread toasted and the other items layered on, there was one extra.  So I ended up having a thin slice of bread along with my sausage and eggs.  That will be my carbs for the first part of the day.  As part of my modifications to the Grapefruit Diet, I allow myself a little bit of carbs either at morning or noon, and then again at supper, if I feel the need. 

Lunch today will be a salad with vinegar and oil dressing and meat of some sort.  I had a little bit of cheese left from this morning's meal, so I will probably put that on my salad.

All in all, being on day three of the four for the grapefruit meal plan, it's going well.  I feel satisfied after my meals, with maybe just a little hint of emptiness throughout the day.  That's good.  I think it's good to feel a little bit of emptiness.  Then I will more readily appreciate the controlled portions when I shift to stage two of my 28 day challenge.  And if I feel a little bit empty, it gives me that little sense of accomplishment.  I can feel as though I'm getting somewhere.

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