Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Self Care: Episode 2 -- Diet

Before any of us can do anything truly remarkable or glorious in this world, we have to learn how to do one simple thing. We need to learn how to take care of ourselves. A person can’t give the best of themselves or create their best work if they aren’t operating at their best. Do you think that Michelangelo could have painted the Sistine Chapel on only 2 hours of sleep and a granola bar? I certainly don’t think so.  
In a little creative play and experimentation, I created a collage of words with Watercolor Pencils on the topic of self-care.

I’ll address each of the things I came up with in subsequent posts.


Diet is the second most important aspect of self-care, to me. I’ve heard of and researched a lot of different sources pushing agendas on how people “should” eat. There are all these different movements from seasonal to local-vores, from vegan to paleo. I’m not a dietician, so I can’t tell you how I think you should eat, other than to say “balance in all things is good. (See: The Food Pyramid) However, my fiancĂ©e is a dietician and I can tell you what, with his advice has worked for me. 

Please keep in mind that your body may work completely different from mine and that if your diet is something you’re really interested in taking control of, I highly recommend that you consult a Registered Dietician before undertaking any major diet changes. They can help you tailor your diet to your lifestyle and goals, and can work with any medical issues that you may have.

For starters, I am Native American. That means that my system, evolutionarily speaking, is not accustomed to nor is it equipped to effectively process white flour or sugar. These two things do nothing but make me fat, which is sad because they’re in almost every food that I crave. Chocolate, ice cream, cheese and soda are my weaknesses. 

If I could, I would live entirely off sushi. There was a two week period of my life where that’s what I ate for lunch and dinner and my body has never felt more fabulous. It felt like my engine was running “cleaner” and more efficiently. Sadly, that kind of a diet is not in my budget at this time, but I did find another kind of diet which worked almost as well, for me. 

With supervision and monitoring from my dietician, I started lower carbohydrate / no sugar diet. This is not a “no carb” diet. This is a diet where most, if not all of your carbohydrates come from leafy green vegetables, seeds and nuts. Over time, I noticed that my cravings for sweets went away and I was no longer tempted by ice cream, potato chips, chocolate and peanut butter cookies. 

I, personally, don’t advocate a hard-and-fast approach to anything in life. And that includes food. I think there should always be a little wiggle room. With my lower carbohydrate diet, if I really needed chocolate, I had it. If a diet soda or a carbonated water was going to make life a little easier, I wasn’t going to deprive myself of something I really wanted and enjoyed because of strict diet “rules.” I told my dietician, “If the diet plan doesn’t have wiggle room, I won’t stick to it.” Because of my being straight-forward with him, he was able to work with me and my wiggle room.

That lower carb / no sugar diet really worked for me. I lost weight very quickly and felt like I had more energy. If you’re interested in it, I followed this diet with my dietician’s supervision. Be careful, though. You need to get the book and read it. You can’t just decide to do it. One of the problems with that diet is the lack of sodium. I did end up experiencing a sodium deficiency which causes dizziness and leg cramps, but my dietician and I fixed the issue by adding a cup of chicken broth to my lunch.

When I got pregnant, I was advised by a Nutritionist to go off that diet for the duration of my pregnancy and breastfeeding, just to be safe. My dietician agreed with her. Now that I’ve given birth to and weaned my daughter, I’m getting treatment for my chronic illness and hope to get that stabilized before I do any other dieting or weight management.

Thus, my cravings for cookies and ice cream are back. I’m still sitting at a heavier weight than I was when I got pregnant, but I’m losing the excess slowly and my doctor says that she’s happy with my progress. My medications, sometimes, cause me to not have much of an appetite but that doesn’t seem to be a major concern, at this point.

As I go through this life and figure out different goals, I am amazed at how many resources are out in the world to help me as I go along. Before I got serious about analyzing my eating habits, I would never have thought to consult a Dietician or a Nutritionist. I thought that people with those titles only worked for schools or senior centers, planning meals for institution-type environments. I’ve learned that there are so many things out there in place to help us, everything from diet planning to occupational therapy, from energy work and bio-feedback to massage therapy. And how wonderful is it that all these people in various fields whose primary purpose is to help us make our lives better?

I would urge anyone to seek out things that make this life of ours easier, more comfortable, and more fulfilling. Once we begin to look for opportunities, it’s amazing how the world opens up to us. I hope these stories of mine and links help you, my readers, in some way. Until next time, eat well, my lovelies!

And remember, we’re all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel!