I’m learning what is ok to eat and what kills me day by day. Not surprisingly though, everything that is deemed ‘healthy’ and what I ‘should be eating’ in the first place are what does best.
The biggest key I’ve discovered… digestion time. Not surprising I suppose, considering the fact that I need food in my system for bile to work on fairly constantly… So, its easy to see that a lot of what I eat has come down to fiber, grains and veggies that take longer to break down.
What DOES surprise me is that many sites I’ve been on regarding post gall bladder removal have told people to avoid whole grains and raw veggies. Hmmm. They also say to avoid nuts and seeds that are rich in essential fats and nutrients, lumping them together will all other fats. Double Hmmm.
Heres my opinion, (but don’t follow everything I say, like I said, its all trial and error for me) as I’ve said before there is good and bad of everything. Bleached out, over processed white bread that sticks to the roof of your mouth and has to have vitamins added to it to be of any use to anyone… yeah, bad. Whole grain bread, rich in all that grainy goodness essential fats and oils and lots of fiber… good.
Think about it, for all our technology we tend to get brainwashed into thinking that everything modern is best… so we process food in the name of modern science… and we end up with all sorts of allergies and health problems on the rise. I go to my childrens’ day care and see the big reminders on the bulletin board to the teachers of each kid’s allergies. So and so is allergic to wheat… he cant have dairy… no nuts… no soy… no corn… When I was a kid I think I knew one kid that couldn’t drink milk… what has happened?
Processing… look at your labels… read the ingredient list… Many products use wheat, soy and nut biproducts as filler… it makes processing cheaper. Many foods are processed in plants that process wheat, nuts and dairy… And lets not avoid corn syrup in just about everything as well.
Whats my point? We are over saturated and we don’t even know it. We become sensitive to these ingredients because they are in EVERYTHING we eat. Our bodies are freaking out!
And thats all I’m going to say on that… I kinda got off the original topic and ranted…
The good and the bad what you ask? Everything.
The truth of the matter is we need fat, sodium, sugars and carbs in our diets… its just the KIND of fat, sodium, sugars and carbs and how much we eat of them.
We are an all or nothing country, generally speaking. For the most part, when research comes out talking about trans fats… we start to cut out as much fat in our diet as we can. Oh… soy is good for us? Lets get it in everything… wait too much can do what… well I wont eat it at all then.
People don’t like “moderation”… your either for or against… you don’t go sitting on the fence when it comes to anything.
Today we’ll talk fat.
As a basic rule of thumb, if a fat is solid at room temperature… its bad. But… fat… good? Yes… fat good. Fat in your diet helps your hair and nails… not to mention your brain, heart and cellular walls. Its the type of fats you need to watch. Think nuts and olive oil rather than bacon and butter. And, as the saying goes, everything in moderation.
Here is a recipe I came up with while fiddling around with granola recipes. I’ve cut the amout of oil in the basic recipe… it really didn’t need it. The oils in the nuts and seeds are plenty. As far as how it reacts with my ever irritable tummy… I’ve been eatting it nearly every day with no problem. The oats and nuts are digested nice and slow, giving all that excessive fluid something to work on until my next meal.
3 c oats
1 c slivered almonds
1 c sunflower kernals
3/4 cups cocoa nibs (adds a nice chocolate kick without adding sugar)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 c honey
1/8 c vegetable or canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 c of dried friut (for mine I used currants)
preheat oven to 250 F
Place all of the ingredients, except for the dried fruit into a bowl and mix together until everything is evenly coated and sticky. Make sure nothing is left dry, its easiest to use your hands. Next spread the mixture evenly between two sheet pans (lining them with some parchement paper will help you remove the granola from the pan, but you don’t have to). Place both pans into the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 min, stir every half our or so so that everything gets toasted. When the time is up, remove from the oven and let cool completely. Its going to seem like its still sticky at first… but once cooled it will be fine. Once cooled move to a storage container, add your dried fruit and stir.
Dear Jamie Oliver,
You are my hero. I consider myself fairly health conscience, but The Food Revolution really opened my eyes to things I never considered. This weekend I threw all the junk in my house into the trash.
My only issue, though, is a bit of an oversight on the part of the medical community at large. The problem is the way obesity is determined. And yes… there is a very big problem in this country with obesity and poor eating habits and fast food and processed food… But… there needs to be reform in one little area that makes people feel hopeless… one little thing that makes people feel that the odds are against them… that there is no hope… and for some, it compounds the problem.
Just as an example. Years ago, while in college, I went to the doctor to find out why I was getting chronic migraines. As it turned out it was a blood sugar issue… due to the fact that I wasn’t eating hardly anything. But, on one of my visits, my doctor sat me down for a serious talk. Was it that I was too thin? Which I was. Was it my lack of eating that was so obvious in the food journal they made me keep? No. She pulled out a height to weight ratio chart and told me I was on the verge of being morbidly obese. I was currently 5’7″ and weighed 130, I wore a size 7. She was concerned for my health and well being.
The charts are the only thing people go by these days… and for a long time… those numbers on the chart stuck out in my head like a large blinking Vegas sign. I’ve never been a stick, never will be… I’m curvy and have square shoulders. I come from a long line of strong country women and big Scotts Irish people. I worked out often and ate little, not realizing that my personal bone density wasn’t taken into account, nor was my muscle mass (which I also didn’t realize at the time weighs more than fat) so, working out I got up to 160- but I looked fit, thin and healthy.
You hear stories constantly of health care being refused to a kid for being obese, only to find out they have no body fat and play foot ball. In fact, many athletes fall into the obese category, and quite a few children endure being sent home with the “your child is obese” letter from the nurses office that clearly have no issue.
We do need to change the eating habits in this country. We need to get premature deaths due to diet under control. People need to be educated about food, and what is good and what isn’t. People need to exercise more… All this is a given. But, these height to weight ratio charts arent helping. There needs to be reform on how it is assessed. Bone density and muscle need to be taken into account. People need to know that muscle weighs more than fat… and increasing your muscle mass doesn’t make you fat… (not to mention that school budget cuts or test scores shouldn’t mean no exercise or PE)
There are many problems with our general health and well being. Lets tackle all of them.
I promised some people I would post this recipe… and I’m sorry I’ve taken so long. No excuses though.
I started making this dinner years ago after having it at a small Italian restaurant in Los Feliz. It was new years eve, I didn’t want anything heavy that would make me feel boggy while dancing the night away at the derby. I also needed protein that particular night so… this dish fit the bill.
It was perfect in its simplicity, so, I decided to try my hand at it and I’ve been making it ever since. It’s probably not exactly like the restaurants version, but I think I came pretty close… and the best part…. It is THE quickest dinner you will EVER make.
Seared Ahi Tuna with Grilled Polenta, Sauteed Spinach and Balsamic Reduction
Ingredients (for two people)
2 Ahi Tuna steaks (its a bit of a splurge… but worth it.)
Olive oil ( only a teaspoon or two)
2-4 cups spinach (depends how much you like spinach… I actually use a LOT as it cooks down more than you would think)
4 1/2 inch slices of Polenta (I have used premade, the kind in the tube, and I’ve made my own… just be sure that you make it ahead and it has cooled and firmed up so you can cut it easily)
4 Tbls balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper
The hardest part about this meal… timing. Nothing takes long at all… and over cooking the tuna is a no no.
So first start by putting your balsamic vinegar into a sauce pan and get it simmering, theres not much, so it wont take long.
While thats starting heat up a grill pan (or good skillet) it works best when its very hot.
Put your polenta slices on the grill pan and get them golden brown on the one side. And then flip them.
Time to work fast. Put your spinach into a skillet with just a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Season both sides of the tuna with a bit of salt and pepper and put onto the grill pan. Stir your spinich… it will wilt fast… dont let it burn to the pan. The tuna will only need 1 to 2 minutes on each side, your only searing the outside, you want it still pink inside. So one side with the tuna… stir spinach… other side of tuna… stir spinach…. DONE.
Plate the tuna, spinach and polenta. Your balsamic vinegar should be reduced by half and be a bit syrupy… spoon a bit over each tuna steak… then serve and enjoy.
I’m not used to eating 6 times a day… even if they are small meals and snacks. What surprised me was that I was losing weight by eating more often… but it makes sense… it has to do with digestion and metabolism and a lot of biological stuff that I sort of remember from health and science class.
But, I’m not used to it… so I tend to forget. And thats when it gets into “eww ick” and “owwww”. “Why?” you ask, “would skipping a snack of an apple and granola put Sarah in the land of ‘eww ick and oww’?”
Well, it has to do with how the gall bladder works and then, ultimately, doesn’t work once removed.
So, what is the gall bladder and what does it do?
The gall bladder is a small holding tank, really… It is attached to your liver & your liver produces bile on a constant slow flow through the day, which gets stored in the gall bladder until you need it. After you eat, the gall bladder contracts, releasing the bile into your small intestine to aid in digestion.
Now, lets say you are like me… and no longer have a gall bladder… Your liver still functions, and still releases that slow flow of bile… but without the gall bladder there’s no place to store it… so it goes directly into your small intestine. Now, this is where “eww, ick and oww” come in. Lets say that theres not much in the way of food in your digestive tract… so, nothing to digest… just a build up of digestive fluid… attacking what IS in your digestive tract and basically over processing it… I don’t want to over explain and get too graphic, but many people after having their gall bladder removed experience IBS-type symptoms. The fact that theres no where to store bile any longer is a contributing factor. So, now lets say you graze through the day… small snacks here and there give your free range bile something to work on without over processing what little is there. (Now, this example doesn’t fit everyone… not everyone reacts the same to surgery. Some people experience the opposite effect than I have, and some people have no problem what so ever… lucky… I can only speak for myself and what is happening to me.)
So, this is why I NEED to graze through the day. Otherwise I find myself exceedingly uncomfortable. Now I admit, finding the right foods for myself is a bit on the trial and error side (I’ll go over some things at a later time). For now though… Its been a couple hours since I ate last… so its time for a snack. Baby carrots and a granola bar.
First and fore most, I will state that this blog, although I am talking about diet and restrictions… Is NOT about weight loss. This blog is about health. It is about life and living it fully and enjoying what life has to offer and being happy. For me that currently involves what I eat. I love food, for me (and I’m sure many people) food is a pleasurable experience. Lets face it, a well cooked meal puts a smile on everyones face.
And although losing some weight is a benefit to me and my ultimate health… I’m not doing this to be a stick figure. I’ve tried doing that… its not fun.
Many people that know me are unaware that for a fairly long time in my life I ate one meal a day. I drank coffee for breakfast, and would either skip lunch or dinner. It started in junior high, I didn’t eat until I got home from school… it continued through high school and most of college. During most of that time I thought I was “big”, even though some people said I looked anorexic. The bottom line was I hated myself. I didn’t fit in anywhere, I thought I was ugly and fat… Then to top it off, in college I got into a “situation” that encouraged my view.
Finally, my brain woke up… “I’m not that bad” I thought when a man chased me down the street to ask for my number… I started realizing that the only person that found me unattractive, was me… and getting out of that “situation” that reinforced this view, saved my life.
So, why am I writing this? Well, a couple of reasons. First, too many people see food as an enemy, and a diet as punishment for consorting with the enemy. Many diets aren’t based in nutrition and balance, they are based in starvation, deprivation and misery. I became inspired to write this after reading about the Karl Lagerfeld diet… which encourages behavior proven as triggers to eating disorders. And, Mr. Lagerfeld comes out and says that a diet is punishment… WHY?
Heres the truth… bottom line… NO DIET will ever work for you unless you actually are HAPPY with YOU FIRST. Believe me I know… I’ve been there.
Another reason for writing today is a documentary. “America the Beautiful”… if you haven’t seen it… See it. It’s a real eye opener to see just how we are told to see beauty. I won’t give too much away here, as I really feel that everyone should watch this film for themselves. There are screenings going on in various locations around the country or you can order the DVD. I ordered the DVD myself, and when my girls are old enough I’m showing it to them.
This week was a small wake up call about my body having changed after surgery. I usually recover from colds rather quickly, can function while I have them and everything is fine and honky-dory… Yeah… about that…
I started catching a head cold last week, seemed like a one or two day thing. Felt like it was clearing out… but then it started dragging on and on. Then yesterday I woke up coughing up phlem that resembled pea soup. That is not a good thing, AT ALL. But, being the person that I am, I figured “Oh good, its all coming out… we’re getting to the end of this thing finally” But on my way to a press check, my left ear started to hurt, badly… and it got worse and worse within a short period of time. “Great,” I thought “This feels like an ear infection… I need to see the doctor” But I went to work and made my appointment for the end of the day.
Of course the pain got worse, I felt off balance as well and like general crap. But, I admit, I’m a work-a-holic… and I HATE to admit that I’m not Wonder Woman and really do need to lay down and nap… so I worked until I really did have to leave for my appointment… At which the doctor looked into my ear and promptly said these exact words “EWW GROSS! That is one bloody and distorted eardrum”
OH Fun. More meds for me. bleh.
So, why do I bring all this up? Why is this important to the general message of this blog? Well, lets face it… Surgery has affected my body, my diet and my immune system. My diet is in flux right now, having lost part of the digestive system… and having surgery… well, short story, your cutting part of yourself out and having to readjust your system on multiple levels… of course your immune system will be off. And this week was a big hit on the head of “HEY DUM DUM! YOU HAD SURGERY LESS THAN A MONTH AGO! TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!”
So, I’m adding some things to my daily intake… namely supplements and probiotics. These are things that I have taken before, but not typically on a regular basis. But, now more than ever, protecting my immune system is a huge priority… I’m not going to get over things as quickly as I used to, and I’m not really looking forward having every cold turn into some sort of infection.
As I was thinking of how to get this blog organized, I knew that kitchen tools would probably need to be a feature. For the first in the “Kitchen Tool Musts” feature, I’m going to give my two cents worth for The Kitchen Spritzer from The Pampered Chef.
When I first ordered this item, I intended only for it to help with my new years resolution to be greener. The concept is pretty straight forward, instead of buying your usual aerosol no stick sprays, fill your spritzer and pump with air when you need it. It’s refillable, there are no CO2 cartridges to worry about… just pump up and spray.
Besides helping out with my green resolution it has come in particularly handy with my current diet restrictions. A light spray of oil into the pan before putting in fish (for instance) and I’m set. I use very little now, as opposed to putting in a teaspoon or two like I did before.
I’ve recommend getting the kitchen spritzer to several people. Its handy to say the least, and has the added benefit of saving money on kitchen sprays and oils… not to mention being a bit greener in the process.
Well, here I am… About 3 months after my first gall bladder attack (that I’m aware of) and now about 1 week being gall bladder free. With heredity and two pregnancies stacking the odds against me, my doctor let me know that I had too many gall stones to count. Oh Joy.
There have been many occasions in my life where I’ve found that I had to adapt, and pretty much start over from scratch… but never for my diet. Long story short, I have to change… everything. I’m your basic American diet girl, three square meals with some dessert now and then… the occasional fast food dinner. Now I need to cut the fats, eat small meals, eat 6 times a day. Sounds like your basic diet, right? Yeah…. But Ive been informed that I can not ingest more than 2 or 3 teaspoons (yes, teaspoons…. the little spoon… not the big table one) of fats (butter, oil, cheese, nuts and nut butters, mayo…) And I can’t cheat or I will suffer the wrath of my gurgling guts. Without a gall bladder, fats can’t be broken down… and you can imagine what happens when there is an oil slick in your digestive tract.
And, yes, one doctor told me that I will be able to eat anything I want… but another told me no… and my family members that are also missing that tiny little organ, they say no too, plus a friend that had the surgery… and they have battle tales to back them up.
OH, did I mention I’m a foodie? AND my mom is southern and I’ve developed a taste for butter laden and fried wonderosities that the south has to offer? AND a life long dream is to open a cafe/bakery filled with buttercream topped sugar puffs? The supreme torment and irony of it all is killing me.
So, Away we go. A new dietary life… I’m hoping to make it as painless as possible.