This week, four seemingly disconnected events aligned to cause a shift in consciousness. You may be thinking, “Reva, what the heck are you talking about?!” Well, allow me to elaborate.
Event 1: The Conversation
This past weekend, I had a conversation that clearly had a more profound effect on me than I initially realized. We were conversing about a raw food diet and all the benefits of adopting such a diet. While you will never be able to convince me that a raw foods diet is a cure for type 1 diabetes (no matter what some documentary says), I absolutely see the benefits of that lifestyle. It is very true that a raw foods diet would require much less insulin and would drastically reduce spikes in blood sugar. Not eating breads and processed foods that immediately get turned into sugar in the body is very beneficial for controlling blood sugars. When the conversation ended, I was left with the thought that perhaps I could benefit from a less carbohydrate heavy diet, although I still don’t think a raw food diet is quite for me. While I tend to eat pretty healthy, I still use a lot of insulin for the food I eat or to chase high blood sugars. Maybe it is time to see what happens when I cut down on the carbs.
Event 2: The Documentary
My mom and I sat on the couch, surfing through movies to watch. We found ourselves in the documentary section and settled on a movie called Hungry for Change. The documentary “exposes secrets that diet, weight loss and food industries don’t want consumers to know about: deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more.”
While I think some of the claims in the movie are overstated and a bit sensationalized, the general idea of the documentary is quite compelling. Essentially, we are “overfed yet undernourished”. We are getting plenty of calories from the foods we eat, but the calories are empty and leave our body unfulfilled and still craving nutrients. But the thing that struck me the most in the documentary was the talk about the “low-fat”, “fat-free”and “sugar-free” foods. Basically that these foods may have zero fat, but they are full of sugar and as soon as you eat them, they turn into sugar in your body that later gets stored as fat. They also are full of artificial sweeteners that are not easily processed by your body and can leave you craving for more. The thing is, I thought that I was being healthier by buying the low-fat version of foods and being diabetic, sugar-free seemed like a good option. If you were to open my fridge you would find: low fat sour cream and cottage cheese, light laughing cow cheese, light greek yogurt, light dressings, sugar free jello and puddings, 100 calorie english muffins and 35 calorie light wheat bread, light lemonade, fat-free half and half, and even low fat wheat thins and granola. Basically my fridge and pantry are filled with the low-fat, sugar-free options! When the documentary was over, I walked to the fridge and pulled out some of these foods and began reading off the ingredients. Half of them I have no idea what they are. It was then that I decided that perhaps eaten in moderation, it may be worth the extra calories to not be putting all the artificial ingredients into my body. Ingredients that my body was not made to be able to process, ingredients that are probably doing more harm than good, and ingredients that are essentially making me more unhealthy when that is the complete opposite of my goal.
Event 3: The Scale
I consider myself a healthy person. I am a healthy weight, I eat well, and I exercise often (5-6 days a week). However like most people, I have a few extra pounds that I would love to lose. In an effort to achieve this, I upped the intensity of my workouts and began tracking my foods and making a conscious effort to eat healthier and cut down on the extra calories. However, in the last 3 weeks, I’ve watched as my weight increased, rather than decreased. It’s true that this may be attributed to gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat, but it seemed like something else. Over the past year, even though I am a consistent exerciser, my weight has remained relatively constant. I realized that if I really wanted to see a change, I would need to change my diet.
Event 4: The Holiday
In the back of my head, these events were telling me “eat less carbohydrate heavy and processed foods, eat more vegetables and naturally low fat and low sugar foods”. What better time to cut down on carbohydrate than the week of Passover?? It was perfect timing. This week, to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover, Jews refrain from eating unleavened foods, this includes wheat, barley, oats, rye and spelt. This means no breads, pasta, cereals, cookies/cakes, rice, oatmeal, basically all the foods high in carbohydrates. Bread is replaced with matzah and matzah meal can be used to cook various foods, but honestly, I’m not a huge fan of matzah anyway. Here is the perfect opportunity to see how my body feels when I’m not eating those high carb foods.
The Shift in Consciousness
I’m not about to completely change my diet. I’m not only going to eat raw foods, I’m not cutting out all carbohydrates, and I’m not switching to all full fat, full sugar foods. I’m also not going on a “diet”. I’m not restricting the foods that I’m eating. But here is what I am doing. Instead of taking away foods or restricting them, I’m adding foods to my diet. However, I’m adding healthy, natural, nutrient-rich foods. I’m adding more green vegetables, more fruits, more nuts, and more foods with natural fats like avocados. As I add these healthy foods that my body craves, I’m hoping that I will become less hungry for processed, artificial, and high calorie/fat foods. I’m drinking more water and making vegetable juices and drinking less diet pop and artificially sweetened juices. While I’m not replacing all my low-fat or fat-free foods, I’m making sure that the yogurts and cheeses and breads that I do buy are not filled with artificial ingredients and sweeteners. I’m giving my body the foods that it needs to function properly in a way that it can easily digest and use. And I’m working to lower the amount of insulin that I need in hopes that I can help to further stabilize my blood sugars.
None of this health information is new to me, I’ve been hearing it for years in my classes, in the news, from studies and even from other people. However it was the coming together of these 4 events that was the tipping point to motivate another healthy change in my life. I know it won’t be easy, and I know I’ll still have that piece of pizza or ice cream from time to time, but I also know that I am on a path to a healthier me.