dietary adjustments

Today is Snow Day #3 for me.  We were supposed to go back to school last Thursday (the 2nd), but had a few inches of snow last week that called us off both Thursday and Friday.  Yesterday, we had near blizzard like conditions with a good 10 inches of snow falling in our backyard.  Followed today with wind chills at -30 degrees.  Brrr.  I love snow but I absolutely HATE cold.  I haven’t left the house since Saturday evening and there is a good chance I won’t be leaving the house today either.  Thank goodness we have a treadmill in the basement for running!

OK, so let’s talk about my nutrition goals for this year.  I know I heard some “WHAT?!”‘s through my computer screen, especially from some of my family members and personal friends.  I’m sure once they read I was going to start cutting out gluten and add fish into my diet they were shocked.  And I’m definitely the first to admit that this is not going to be the easiest thing for me to do.

I became a vegetarian over 6 years ago – right after Matt and I got married.  I had dabbled in meatless eating while I was in college, partially because one of my roommates had been a vegetarian at one time and I always admired her healthy eating habits, but also because it was simply just cheaper and easier to prepare meatless meals when I was doing the cooking.  I was never able to really go “full vegetarian” because as soon as I would come home on the weekends my parents would cook up a huge steak that I would smother in A1 and devour.

Once I moved out and got married, it was much easier to go meatless full time and I’ve been happy that I have ever since.  And thankfully, the Hubs has been more than supportive and eats meatless more than I’m sure he wishes he did.  The reason I decided to become a “vegetarian” (I use that term loosely as I feel that everyone sort of has their own version of vegetarianism) was for my health.  I knew it would force me to add more fruits and vegetables to my diet, although I will admit that I relied on a lot of junk food to start with, because you know M&M’s certainly don’t have meat in them.

As the years have progressed, it has moved more from just being a healthier way for me to eat to caring about what exactly I am putting in my body and how it effects the planet and other animals.  But, for the most part, it has always been about healthy eating.  That has never changed.

Ever since the week of Thanksgiving, I just haven’t felt “good”.  I’m not sick, but I’ve been dealing with headaches, tummy issues, and just general blah-ness.  I’ve gained about 5 pounds and really don’t feel like I’ve done anything differently with my eating or exercise.  (And before you even ask, I am absolutely 100% NOT pregnant – there are still things in place preventing that.)

So, I’ve had to take a good hard look at exactly what I’m putting into my body that is making it feel so icky.  While I have my suspicions that it might be my thyroid causing me these issues (my circulation has been exceptionally awful lately), I’m not willing to go get the blood work done to see if I’m hypothyroid just yet.  Instead, I’ve been researching ways to naturally fix thyroid issues.  The big things I have discovered:  cutting out gluten and adding more protein.  Oh wait, the two things that I am probably the worst with – give me breads and sweets and I’m a happy girl!

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Adding fish into my diet will be the easy part.  Becoming a vegetarian was easy and since it’s always been about my health, I am OK with eating fish 1 or 2 times a week.  Matt and I have already discussed what type of fish we will be buying and I think we’re both kind of excited to have something else to add to our weekly meal plan!  Plus, I could use an extra dose of Omega-3s in my diet for sure.

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Going gluten free is going to be much harder, which is why it’s going to be a gradual thing.  I think it’s going to be harder because I look forward to pizza and beer night with Matt every Friday night, and indulging in cookies and cakes from time to time (more frequently than not).  Giving that up is going to be really freaking hard.  And to add on top that I don’t eat most meat, no one is ever going to want to feed me… ever.

My goal with reducing gluten is to eat as little as it as possible.  There will be days when that is really easy, but most days it will be more difficult.  I will still drink beer or 2 every week and eat pizza and quiche – my 2 favorite weekly meals we make.  But, I can pretty much cut it out with breakfast, lunch, and snacks fairly easily.  I also probably will not necessarily look for things that are certified gluten-free since I don’t think I have a gluten allergy or even that much of an intolerance, but I will look for things that I know aren’t made with wheat (rice crackers, etc.).  I did try a g-free pizza crust the other day that was actually pretty good, but it just wasn’t the same doughy crust that I love so much.

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I will admit that I can tell a difference between the meals that I eat with gluten and the ones without.  It makes me really wonder how I would feel if I went totally gluten free, but I’m not sure I’m ready to take that step yet.  I’m currently reading “Wheat Belly” just to get more of an understanding on the effects wheat and gluten has on the body.  Who knows, maybe it will convince me to completely cut out all grains, although my sister-in-law who grew up on a wheat farm will surely kill me.  (Love you Sara!)

  • MIZ

    I say it too often 🙂 BUT going gluten free two decades ago CHANGED MY LIFE.
    I feel so much better in all ways.
    MIZ recently posted..If one woman told the truth…

  • Amy

    Good luck with the dietary adjustments! I don’t understand, though, why you don’t want to get bloodwork to find out if your thyroid isn’t right. Wouldn’t you want to know for sure? I have had hypothyroid issues and I felt TERRIBLE. Knowing what the problem was and how I could address it was a basic first step for me, so I don’t really get why you aren’t interested in knowing for sure what might be causing your symptoms. It might not be your thyroid — it might be something else! At any rate I would think it would be worth finding that out. 🙂

    • Kristen

      Ha, I didn’t realize how silly that sounds until you brought it up. I really just hate going to the doctor, partially because he always makes me feel like my problems are stupid. (I’m looking for a new MD.) i also hate medicine – I take allergy pills daily and even that bothers me. I’m hoping that with dietary change I can not only “fix” my thyroid but also maybe fix my allergy issues as well.

      I will probably bite the bullet and go eventually though. Thanks!

  • Great minds and all! A few months ago I added fish back into my diet and have enjoyed every single bite. And, as of today, I’m gluten free for at least 30 days! I have hypothyroidism and have read so much about the connection with thyroid functioning and how it’s affected by gluten. I’m going to try and with any luck I can stop taking my prescription or at least significantly reduce it.

    I’m hosting the Make A Change challenge if you’d like to join. http://jillconyers.com/2013/12/2014-makeachange-challenge/

    I also just shared a list of restaurants with GF menus. It might be helpful > http://jillconyers.com/2014/01/12-gluten-free-restaurant-menus/

    I’m not trying to push my blog. I’m hoping you will find the info helpful 🙂
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted..P90X3 Fit Test

    • Kristen

      I will definitely check that out! I love having more options when it comes to restaurants now that I am eating fish! GF is definitely going to be much harder but I’m willing to try it if it makes me feel better without meds!

  • Good luck with what your working on! I am really working on eating healthier this year, and this week is going to be hard.
    I’ve heard its pretty hard to go totally Gluten free, but I like what your saying all things in moderation, I think that is really the key, rather than eliminating all together… but then what do I know I’ve never tried to cut something out entirely:) good luck!
    Kristy @Runaway Bridal Planner recently posted..Sign-up and join our January Giveaway BlogHop

  • julia

    Hi Kristen,
    I love reading your posts on health and food. I’m writing to say that I’m personally skeptical of most books that are written by someone who is extremely biased or who is careful to not include certain studies. I don’t know the book you mentioned, but in general I find lots of books (like the China Study) to be cherry picking studies. I’m a scientist so I’d say I’m hypersensitive to bias. In general I feel like it’s really challenging to stay well-informed so it’s good to look at quality news publications or to force yourself to glance through a book or articles w/ the opposing view. Good for you for reading up on possible thyroid issues and seeing if diet changes things. Thanks for your writings.

    • Kristen

      No worries, I take everything with a grain of salt. I won’t agree with everything they write and I know my body best. Thanks for reading!

  • I had a similar experience – I was vegetarian for most of college and off and on most of our first 5-6 years of marriage as well (my husband was easygoing like yours!) But eventually I started to get signs from my body that I was missing something and began experimenting with more meat and felt so much better. I’ve been gradually cutting way back on gluten as well, but not completely. When it’s not an allergy, you’ll probably find it’s fine to have it occasionally but yes, I do feel it when I do! Thanks for sharing!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Some exciting news…

    • Kristen

      I’m glad to hear someone in a very similar situation as myself. Yeah, I feel pretty fortunate that it’s not an allergy so it’s not a huge deal if I’m not eating completely gluten free. I am enjoying trying new things and I’m sure it will get easier as I go! Thanks for the comment (and congrats on your pregnancy)!

  • Wowzer! Those are gonna be difficult but you have to do what makes you feel good. Gradual has to be the way to go.

    I hate that we haven’t gotten together lately.
    Katie recently posted..Mommy and Me Update: 8 1/2 Months

    • Kristen

      Ugh, me too! Let’s have a meetup soon! I have gone to one since last June!

  • Thanks for sharing! I’m excited to follow along and see how it goes for you. I eliminated gluten completely for several weeks about a year ago (including all those sneaky ones like soy sauce, etc.), and since then I’ve been on a reduced-gluten diet. I avoid it when I can, but I don’t pay much attention to the sneaky ones, and if I’m really craving it I’ll go for the pizza or bread or whatever. The reduction but not elimination is what works best for me, but I hope you find what works best for you!
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