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Well, I quit.

(This was uttered last week on Wednesday afternoon as I drove home from school in a complete fog with no energy.)

Couple that with a sore throat and the anticipation of upcoming weekend travel and festivities (we flew to Louisiana for my cousin’s wedding), I decided it was best to just throw in the towel.  I wasn’t giving up wheat for any ‘important’ reason, such as an allergy, and I didn’t want to experience any sort of GI distress should I begin eating wheat while out of town.

So, I promptly ate a cookie.

I’m back to eating (somewhat) normally, although being out of town always seems to wreck havoc on my diet.

Here are my observations from the second week:

-Last Sunday was the first day I felt almost totally fine eating wheat free.  While a bit fatigued on my morning run, otherwise I felt fine.  Upbeat, energy and no cravings for anything.

-Still no weight-loss.

-Limited energy.  This was to be expected and it seemed like my energy level was on the upswing, until…

-I got a cold. While I can’t say for certainty that my going wheat-free caused me to come down with a cold, I can say that a lack of wheat in the diet probably didn’t help.  Wheat germ is known for its immune-boosting properties, so I wasn’t doing myself any favors by skipping it.  It started with a slight sore throat on Wednesday, which progressed into a worse sore throat and then to full-on drainage and constant nose-blowing to present.  Let’s just say that flying with a head cold is NO FUN.  I may have been worried that incorporating wheat back into my diet would ruin my weekend with family; instead my head cold just about did.  (Disclaimer: I do tend to get sick around this time each semester from being worn-down, but the timing couldn’t have been worse on this one.)

All in all, I learned a lot from this ‘experiment.’ First of all, any diet that excludes an entire food/food group should be approached with EXTREME caution.  Removing wheat from my diet (whether I made it through the withdrawal phase or not), only brought negative side effects, such as:

-decreased regularity, energy, brain function and immunity

-zero weight loss

-decreased workout quality

On the positive side, I now have a personal experience from which to draw on when I counsel patients/clients about wheat-free and no/low-carb diets, as well as a greater understanding of what it’s like to be on a special diet for bona-fide allergies or intolerance, such as a gluten-free diet for those with Celiac’s.

I also have a desire to make sure the grains I am consuming are WHOLE grains, not just ‘empty calories’ like those found in pretzels or some crackers and things.  I’m looking forward to getting back on track with a normal diet and exercise once this cold passes.

 

 

 

 

So, this was Sunday:

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Last week was my Spring break.

(What break?  Anyone who isn’t a ‘traditional’ student living in dorms without any sort of job or responsibility doesn’t GET a break. Seriously.)

I did, however, attempt to take it easy in just about every respect.  I slept in…until Andrew’s alarm went off at 6:30.  I didn’t work out at all (!!!) nor did I count any calories (!!!!!!!) and I ate pretty much whatever I wanted.  I took Hadrian on long walks, I ran errands without worrying (too much) about the time and I stayed up late.

We spent the first weekend of break in Ohio, visiting our dear friends Emily and Dan and Jen and Dave.

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Jen and Dave (and their kiddos) are moving to MN in the next month or so, we we all teamed up on Saturday to spruce up their place before they put it on the market.  I painted trim, Emily and Dan handled the walls and Andrew helped Dave in their basement.  Jen tag-teamed their two youngsters between naps.

Afterward, we cleaned up and went out for Thai food, followed by a Graeter’s ice cream run.  Love that place.

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Love these people.

We got back Sunday night and while Hadrian was still at puppy camp, I proceeded to ‘spring clean’ the house ALL DAY.

But the fun was yet to come.

Andrew was to leave Thursday for a golfing trip, and I figured that would be the perfect opportunity to FINALLY finish decorating the fourth bedroom.  You know, the room that’s been sitting almost empty with just the bed I painted over Christmas break that I don’t even know if I blogged about?  THAT one.  I see it every day as I walk by and it’s a constant reminder that we aren’t totally moved-in yet.

(Note:  I know it takes time to furnish a house.  I know it can’t happen overnight.  But this is the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I’m in a permanent place.  This is the first time I’m actually in a house in which I don’t constantly think about packing up and leaving.  I’ve lived my live in a constant state of either just having unpacked or planning to pack up.  I’m home–for real–and gosh darn it, I want to FEEL like I’m home.)

So, I decided to just do it.  I’d been saving up my fun money to buy some items I knew I’d need for the room and I started my ‘recon’ missions to our local Home Goods, Target, Marshalls and TJMaxx Tuesday morning.  (It’s amazing the things one can get done when they don’t spend half their morning working out.)

I waited until I dropped Andrew off at the airport Thursday morning and then rushed off to get to work.  By that time, I’d already made my plan :)

Here is the room before:

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After:

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Don’t you just love it?!  Here’s the low-down:

-Rug from Home Goods; after having a terrible time trying to find the right blue/teal to complement the bedding, Emily suggested I go with a contrasting color.  This warm orange is perfect!

-Rocking chair is from the Nyes; they gave it to me a little bit ago and I knew I wanted it in this room

-Bedding is Pottery Barn; I fell in love with it FOREVER ago (we might have been in our rental in Orchard Park)

-Lamp is from Target; I’ve been in love with the white/yellow geometric one for so long, so I was excited to have an excuse to use it in this room.

-Artwork was framed at Hobby Lobby; all off-the-shelf frames but done by the framing person there; dark brown/espresso for the print of me (painting done by local artist Alix Martin)above the bed; blue with gray mats for the Jill Connor prints on the other side of the window

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-table is from a local flea market when I was getting desperate to find something Saturday morning! I bought it for $20 and primed and painted it that day.  I went with a dark brown to keep it simple.  (See pictures below.)

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-Shelves: they aren’t hanging up yet, but hopefully they will be soon.  We have two very large, very heavy brown shelves that are supposed to hang in a staggered fashion on the wall behind the bed, but we’re still in the process of trying to find smaller options.  If we can’t, the large ones will go up!

The following photos show smaller projects I did around the house throughout the week, too.

Dining room:

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-moved the beautiful plates Andrew gave me for Christmas from the table to the buffet.  I like them there SO MUCH BETTER because you can actually see the beautiful birds and flowers.  Having them on the table without a good placemat/place to put a napkin was stressing me out!  This is such a better solution.  I replaced the green plates on the table and found teal mats and navy napkins to complete the look.

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-Andrew hung what we call our ‘Penn State plates’ when he got home from his trip.  They’d been on the buffet, but I’d been anticipating hanging them there for awhile now.

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Plant love:

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-I repotted a bunch of plants this week; the two on the taller stands got brand new pots (found them at Lowe’s and they match the short one PERFECTLY.

Living room:

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-Top picture has better color; bottom pic shows the rug after we moved it a bit.

-I bought the floor lamp at Target to give myself some task lighting for reading/studying in the mornings

-Found the rug for $80 on Craigslist while I was searching for a side table.  It was only in Orchard Park so I jumped at the chance to look at it.  It’s exactly what we’ve wanted in here and just haven’t gotten around to getting, because, you know, 8×10 rugs are like $400.

And, of course, I studied. (And did the three projects that were languishing on my to-do list.)

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(But not as much as I thought I would!  All that house decorating got in the way…)

And, as if all this wasn’t enough, we FINALLY ordered an L-shaped desk for our other living space. It comes this week.

With every piece of furniture, every picture hung…I feel like I’m a bit more ‘home.’

 

 

Well, this week has been interesting.

I’ll keep my observations of going wheat-free thus far brief, as the rest of this post focuses on the recipes I’ve tried out.

Difficulty in finding things to eat:  Almost no trouble at all.  I already eat a lot of veggies and am very open to experimenting with new foods and recipes, so it hasn’t been hard to come up with things to eat.

Fullness/Satiety: Perhaps the most shocking side-effect of this experiment is how little I’ve been snaking.  Normally, I eat about 350-calorie meals, with a couple 200-calorie snacks throughout the day.  This week, my meals have been a bit higher in calories (closer to 400) with almost no need to snack in the afternoon.  Seriously.  I’ve been absolutely floored at how full I’ve felt from lunch to dinner.  I don’t know why I’m surprised; it’s the fat that leads to satiety and protein that increases how full you feel/takes longer to digest, both of which have increase in my diet.  So, it makes total sense.  Couple that with the fact that I’m eating more foods that don’t spike my blood sugar as much, which probably leads to a more even level of glucose in my blood throughout the day, thus decreasing those episodes of lower blood sugar between meals.  If I take anything from this experience, I think it will be to add a bit more healthy fat and protein to my meals.

Weight-Loss: ZERO.  (Not pleased.)  I’d anticipated a bunch of quick ‘water weight’ loss, but that hasn’t happened at all.  It could have something to do with increased protein intake, or my body adjusting to the new diet.

Energy Level:  LOW.  The first day or so seemed normal, but every day after has been tough.  My workouts have definitely suffered, and I find I’m winded after doing simple activities.  It’s not like I can’t take the dog on a walk or run or even swim, it’s just harder.  An even neater observation is that for the first minute or so of an activity, I feel great.  But after that, it’s like I crash and feel like I’m running with bricks tied to my feet.  That’s happening because I’ve depleted my glycogen (the form carbs take when they’re stored in your muscles) stores have been depleted.  The first minutes of exercise get energy from what’s quickly available in my blood, while exercise after that reaches for those stores, which aren’t really there anymore.  SO INTERESTING.

BMs: Relatively normal, but delayed perhaps?  Definitely not as regular…

Carb Intake: About 1/2 to 2/3 of usual.  I’m not aiming for no/low carb (that’s just unwise, in my opinion), but by taking out wheat and other whole grains, it’s inevitable that my carb intake will decrease.  Our brains need a minimum of 130 grams a day to function, and I think I’m coming in somewhere around 175-200 grams.  My recommended intake is about 250 grams.

Brain Function:  I’m definitely not firing on all cylinders lately.  I can’t say it’s a huge difference, but I definitely just feel a bit ‘slow.’  It’s not drastic and it’s not like I couldn’t take a test or study, but I’m just a bit off.

Other observations:

-I’m probably going through a ‘withdrawal’ phase.  It’s mentioned in the book and because I wouldn’t call myself a carb-aholic, I didn’t really anticipate there being much of a withdrawal, but I think I was wrong.  It’s a natural response, and I’m not liking it.  I anticipate my body will adjust, and I hope it’s soon.  I’d planned to only do this for two weeks, but I may have to go longer to make sure I get over whatever ‘hump’ this is and really see if there are other changes once my body fully adjusts.  I suppose a month isn’t a bad timeframe, but I don’t even want to think about that right now.

-Small bouts of nausea.  A few times I’ve suddenly felt sick at the thought of protein sources and craved cereal or something.  No actual vomiting, but an interesting mental side effect.  I can’t even say I’ve had any strong carb/bread cravings, and it’s not even difficult to pass up the pretzels Andrew eats or bread on the table.

-I miss beer.

On to the recipes:

I’ve had to change up my meals a bit, and while I’m not making Andrew go wheat-free, obviously I’ve had to re-think dinners, too.  Breakfasts and lunches have been pretty easy and really not that different from an average day, since I already eat lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as dairy.  Think smoothies and eggs for breakfast instead of a muffin or toast.

Before I forget, be sure to check out my friend Emily Tunstall Frack’s blog post about Wheat Belly.  She’s actually the student at Buff State who started the book club and her comments on the book are much more thorough than mine.

Instead of ‘Meatless Monday,’ we did ‘Wheatless Monday.’  HA!  I made a ‘wheat-free’ pizza from Wheat Belly.  The crust is steamed and mashed cauliflower with cheese and egg, topped with traditional pizza toppings.  I suppose I could have gone meatless, too, but I figured taking away Andrew’s beloved pizza crust was torture enough.  And, I thought that sausage would be an excellent flavor combo with the crust and sauce mix.

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(Don’t mind the photo: that elusive thing we call the sun was shining through our window for once.)

The verdict:  Definitely NOT pizza.  In fact, I think he/we were more disappointed because we were thinking pizza…and it wasn’t.  Honestly, the taste was fine.  If you’d called it ‘Italian Cauliflower Pizza Bake’ or something like that, I think it would be more accurate and appealing.  You can’t eat with your hands, and the ‘crust’ is a bit egg-y.

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I’ll be honest: Andrew was not a fan.  (Not that I anticipated he’d be…)  I even halved the amount of cheese in the crust and decreased the cheese and oil on top, too.  Not that there will be a next time, but if there was, I’d only use one egg instead of two.  You basically pour the mashed cauliflower/cheese/egg/oil mix onto a pan, bake it, then top with sauce and cheese and bake again.  Good flavor, odd texture, but not pizza.

For breakfast Wednesday morning, I made LIVESTRONG’s Paleo Blueberry Muffins–in the microwave!

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Look!  You can see the top rising out of the mug!

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The ‘muffin’ comes out a bit dense and certainly isn’t the crumbly, yummy blueberry muffin you imagine, but it wasn’t bad.  I ended up putting in way less blueberries because I just eye-balled it and it was fine.  Fewer calories, I say.  Whipping it up in the microwave was neat, too.  However, it felt like a brick in my stomach on my run almost two hours later.

For dinner another night, I made a stir-fry from the Wheat Belly book with rice noodles.  I won’t share the recipe because it was utterly taste-less (just not a great stir-fry), but the rice noodles were fine.  Perhaps a slightly different taste than regular, but nothing major.

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For dessert for our Bible study this week, I made the Wheat Belly Cheesecake with Wheatless Crust recipe.  (It was supposed to be a no-bake cheesecake using Ellie Krieger’s recipe and the WB pecan crust, until I realized the crust had an egg…so it needed to be baked.  So, I threw together a combo of both recipes and threw it in the oven.

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It may be wheat-free, but it’s certainly not health food; it had a whopping 700 calories per slice!  It’s all those nuts in the crust; the crust is made of pecans, eggs and sugar.  I made my inside a bite more like EK’s, so it may have been a bit lighter, but probably not by much.  Overall taste was fine, but the texture of the crust was lacking.  As I was making it, the crust was almost too gooey to shape in the pan!  I did finally get it up the sides of the dish and it baked just fine, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

The last recipe I made this week was the Wheat Belly Flaxseed Wrap.

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Flaxseed meal was also the main ingredient in the blueberry muffins and acts as a sort of ‘flour.’  Because the wrap is kind of high in calories (300), I cut it in half and used it for two meals.  It’s another quick microwave recipe–flaxseed meal, egg, oil and spices all in a pie plate and then nuked.  You could even omit the spices and throw in a little sugar and cinnamon for a breakfast wrap of sorts.

I filled mine with turkey, avocado, cheese and sprouts, which is what the recipe on the next page says to do.  Because the wrap is already high in protein, it’s not like you need to fill it with eggs or meat, (it was one of those nausea-inducing thoughts), but what else do you do??  I’m thinking of making the sweeter version next week and filling it with fruit and peanut butter maybe.

I don’t anticipate making many more WB recipes next week, but I did want to try the Apple Walnut ‘Bread’ from the book soon.

I also had my first ‘sorry I gave up wheat’ experience at a restaurant last night.  We went out with friends to a place in South Buffalo for fish fry–a Buffalo tradition Andrew and I have really embraced–and I had to pass up the beer, macaroni salad and the fried fish.  (Surprisingly, it was the beer I missed the most.)  Thankfully, the broiled fish was excellent, as was the coleslaw.  If anything, I ate a bit healthier (let’s not mention the ice cream sundae I ate later that night at Antoinette’s), drank a bit healthier, and got a taste of what those with Celiac’s Disease experience when they go out to eat.  That’s part of why I’m doing this–to know what it feels like to not be able to have certain things while at a restaurant.  So thankful this is only temporary.

Send happy thoughts my way for week 2!

wheat-free

I’m going wheat-free for the next two weeks.

No, I don’t have an allergy, nor am I jumping on the low-carb band wagon.  I’m simply experimenting.

I recently read Wheat Belly, by William Davis, as part of the Western New York Dietetics Association’s book club.  The group was actually started by a friend who is a senior in the dietetics program at Buff State, and she invited me to join in.  I’m not a member of the WNYDA yet, but I’m sure I will be once I actually some initials after my name ;)

Anyway, I loved the idea of a book club exploring the latest and greatest fad diets, since as ‘food and nutrition experts,’ we need to be informed about what our patients and clients are reading.  About 15 of us met at a local juice bar in Buffalo–about half current dietetics students and half RDs–to discuss the book.

I’ll be honest–there wasn’t a lot of positives to talk about in the book.  (Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble.)  In short, the book was an attack on modern day wheat and Dr. Davis (who is a cardiologist) asserts that it can be blamed for just about every ailment known to man.  Have acne?  It’s wheat’s fault.  Diabetes?  Definitely wheat, not those jelly beans.  Obesity?  For sure it’s your wheat bread intake that’s making you fat.

While the book appeared to be well-researched, it really wasn’t, yet Dr. Davis’s charismatic language and fear-inducing claims are sure to hook gobs of people looking for a quick fix for weight-loss or various gastrointestinal issues.

Now, were some of his points interesting?  Sure.  I agree that the wheat we eat today is definitely NOT the same wheat people were eating hundreds of years ago, thanks to genetic engineering and hyper-processing.  Could that have nutritional implications?  Sure.  Is being in a state of hyperglycemia (too much sugar in your bloodstream) good for you?  Definitely not.  But should we eat candy before we eat wheat bread (as Dr. Davis says)?  Goodness no.

In short, I definitely do not recommend this book and I would caution anyone to take a very critical look at any diet that eliminates (or severely decreases) an entire food group.  To read the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ review of Wheat Belly, click here.

That being said, I was still intrigued by some of his assertions.  While I don’t have any aches, pains or acne, nor am I overweight, lethargic or suffer from GI problems, I’m curious to see what eliminating wheat will do.  Or not do.  Dr. Davis says many of his patients lose tons of weight after following their new wheat-free diets for just a week or so.  (Of course they lose a bunch of weight!  They give up all that processed crap they were eating in favor of carrot sticks?)

Really, I’m just curious.  This is a ‘diet’ that will encourage me to eat more fruits and vegetables, curb what little ‘junk’ food I do eat, and I may even feel a little better afterward.  Because you can replace the vitamins, minerals and fiber found in wheat with those found in vegetables, this diet (especially in the short term) won’t have serious nutritional ramifications.  In the end, it will be a challenge, it’s fun and gimmicky, so why not?

This morning, I had my first wheat-free (on purpose) meal: a banana, almond milk, yogurt, avocado and protein powder smoothie.  Not bad.  A friend has been adding avocados to her meals lately and she’s loving it.  Avocados are full of healthy fats and vitamins and fiber, so I thought I’d amp up my intake, too.

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Verdict:  This smoothie kept me full til noon.  In my snack-every-two-hours book, that’s impressive.

I planned our meals this week using some recipes included in the book–some of which are wheat ‘alternative’ recipes such as a pizza made with a cauliflower crust (that’s for tomorrow) and a stir-fry with wheat-free noodles, and others are simply meals without grains, like a meat entree and roasted vegetables or a smoothie.  I’m even going to try some of the baked recipes, like the banana-blueberry muffins or apple-almond bread.  For baking, almond meal, flaxseed meal and coconut flour make many appearances.

And remember that wheat isn’t just breads–it’s cereals, pretzels, cookies, snacks and it’s even hiding in lots of things.  Dr. Davis encourages readers to give up just about anything that will send your blood sugar soaring, like anything with fructose, corn and other grain products.  He also limits rice, beans, fruit and starchy vegetables, like white potatoes and corn. (Think Atkins.)

I don’t know that I’ll be drastically limiting my fruit intake, but I am going to try to cut out all wheat products in the interest of the experiment.  The diet relies heavily on vegetables, dairy, meat and nuts, which will give me plenty of protein and will encourage satiety–both good things.  While I was on spring break this past week, I kinda took a ‘vacation’ from my normal healthy habits (there might have been some Ben & Jerry’s…), so I’m ready for a diet jump-start right about now!

So long, wheat!  See you in two weeks :)

spring clean

It’s day one of my Spring Break and I just spent the last 7.5 hours cleaning my house. Not exaggerating.

I vacuumed, mopped and scrubbed the crud (no pun intended) out of this house like no other.  I wiped walls and did no fewer than five loads of laundry, in addition to wiping out the fridge, cleaning Hadrian’s dishes and vacuuming the bottoms of the drapes. (I think I may have let the house go a bit this first half of the semester…)

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So help me, God, if my husband and dog mess it up in the first hour they’re home…  I won’t be held responsible for my actions.

rest

I’m coming up on Spring Break next week (how did we get here so fast?!), and in honor of that time off, I’m also taking some time off from my normal workout routine, too.

(This scares me immensely.)

The truth is, I’ve felt some nasty shin splints coming on for about a week now, and the walk to class yesterday was particularly uncomfortable.  Every joint–from my hips to my ankles–winced in pain.  Then and there, I decided perhaps my legs could use a little TLC, too.

And the timing couldn’t be better; between my break and associated upcoming travel, and the CAR TROUBLE we experienced last night, it’s a good time to not have the added guilt of not being able to get to the gym.

(Car trouble in a nutshell: HUGE blessing that God got Katie and me back to town from school before the car decided to shudder and click on a bunch of lights.  Car is currently in the shop and I don’t know that we’re optimistic for a quick and easy fix.  Pray we’re wrong!)

Anyway.

Starting today, I’m taking a REST.  At least from running.  I might throw some swimming and long walks in, but pounding the pavement is OUT. My joints need the break, and my mind and body need some rest.  It will be extremely liberating to not workout and NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT, but it also means I’ll need to be even more disciplined about what I’m eating.  That’s what I’m scared about.

I’m one rotation and one class away from a much-needed break, and despite having all my travel plans thrown up in the air with this car situation, I’m at peace knowing God will take care of it.  He’ll take care of the car, He’ll take care of our plans, and He’ll definitely take care of my body over the next week.

My hope and prayer is for a guilt-free, restful and rejuvenating break, and that I’ll be ready to jump back into the regular routine afterward.  (Gosh, that sounds idyllic.  Are those things even possible??)

 

 

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