They Call Me A Picky Eater, But …

I’m really a Mindful Eater.

My friends respect my diet choices, even if they think they’re a little quirky. They know I’ve changed my diet for the sake of better health. When I’m invited to dinner, the hosts ask what are my “restrictions.” My  mama taught us to eat anything our host offers, but… quite honestly, the situation requires some finesse. I always ask my hosts not to go out of their way to accommodate me. I contribute a dish or two, if that’s appropriate, and try to downplay my food preferences. (I’ll survive a meal with non-organic greens!)

That said, I do pay attention to what I put in my body.  Not every food I’ve loved has loved me back, and my body has let me know in some noxious ways.  If I’m lucky, I will only get bloated.

So be it — call me “picky.”

When my friends and I go out, I suggest restaurants I think will work for everyone. And, if someone else makes a suggestion, I take a quick look at the menu to see if there is at least one thing I can eat. Food brings people together and I don’t want my food preferences to make me a social repellent. I do draw the line, however, at most fast food places.

Here’s how I maintain my food “quirks” and social life. When my Maryland USTA tennis team was in Newport News, Virginia for a tournament, some teammates wanted to hit a deli for lunch. Well, the typical deli doesn’t work for me because I’m gluten-free and don’t eat processed meats. I suggested Taste, which is in both Newport News and Norfolk.  (I’d gone there with other teammates last year and remembered it as a healthier type of deli. The good folk at Taste label the gluten-free food and you can customize your salad order.) This time around, I ordered an arugula and spinach salad with sliced almonds, hard-boiled egg, goat cheese, cucumber, and onion, topped with a generous scoop of blackened tuna salad. It was huge and good and had plenty of protein.  My teammates happily ordered what they wanted and we all shared a bottle of Bitch red wine.

See…not really so picky after all!  Everybody was happy and ready to kick butt in the next match!

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Battling Breast Cancer – From Fear to Courage: Changing the Diet

A plan empowers. Mine was to immediately change my diet by cutting out sugar. Cancer cells feed on it. I had gained weight over a 10 year period, and found myself trying to lose first, 15 pounds…then 20 pounds…then 30 pounds. By cutting sugar, I actually lost seven pounds in two weeks. Weight loss was an unexpected bonus.

I had the lumpectomy in March, and a “re-do” surgery a month later so the surgeon could improve the margin between clean and cancerous tissue. I made a 100% shift to the blood type diet after the first surgery and lost another 18 pounds in nine weeks. My plan was to fortify my body for chemo.

The pounds continued to melt away at the healthy rate of two pounds per week. My facial bone structure was defined again for the first time in years.  I no longer saw rolling haunches reflected in windows I walked past. My energy and attitude were great.

Quitting wheat was probably key to the second wave of weight loss. According to Eat Right 4 Your Type, wheat inhibits the metabolism.  My weight loss skidded to a stop right at my pre-gain weight of 135. Quitting wheat was like pushing a metabolism re-set button.

Aside from pounds lost, this is what else I noticed: My stomach didn’t cramp after eating. I didn’t burp, fart, or bloat, which had been fairly chronic before the diet. I didn’t have dandruff or an itchy scalp, or achy finger joints and knees. I was also less moody. I’ll  be candid…yeast infections were also now in the past. The best part, though, was my improved mental clarity.

While my doctors worked their plan to get rid of the disease, I worked my plan to get healthier.  All my life, I had compulsively eaten sweets and baked goods until I either felt sick or crashed. Usually, a bag of cookies never made it into the house. By the time I got home from the store, I was putting an empty bag in the trash. And let’s not even talk about Girl Scout cookies, especially Thin Mints. I could kill a box in 10 minutes; then, I would feel ill. Giving up the sweets and pastries was critical…so I just did it.

I’ve been a big eater and a foodie for years. But, I began to eat differently — even eating foods I had refused to eat before, like beets and almonds. I’ll even eat  walnuts, as long as they are absolutely pulverized.  (I don’t like how they look or smell.)  My weight has been easy to maintain. Believe me, I can clean a plate! I care about what goes into my body, and I don’t count calories.

I became a mindful eater.

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