Welcome back to Part 2 of my Wellness Q&A. You can read Part 1 here.
kl_wells // I'd love to hear about your food plans! Also what book is it that your getting all your recipes from?! I know it was from a podcast you're listening to but can't remember what it's called!
The book that I've really been into on this journey so far is Body Love by Kelly LeVeque. The principles in this book have really been a jumping off point for me in creating a foundation to simplify what I choose to eat. It's about adding more to your plate rather than restricting - the goal is to elongate your blood sugar curve - with the focus is on fat, fiber, protein, and greens. I honestly can't recommend this book highly enough - it is such a well-rounded, practical approach. You can listen to her talk about her approach on Episode 3 of the Feel Good Effect Podcast and Episode 18 of That's So Maven (there is a particularly good part about sugar/insulin in this one). I keep coming back to her book again and again - reading and re-reading to actually learn more about the science behind what she is talking about (so totally not in my wheelhouse). This isn't about calorie counting, it's about fueling your body with the nutrients need.
I'll list other cookbooks I'm enjoying below in the inspiration section.
You posted recently that you
have gotten to the point where the good, healthy food is what you crave. How
long did that take to get to that place?
jenhart5 // I would like to hear more about the food side of it. How long it took you to get rid of the sugar monsters, how long before you felt better, have you tweaked it at all? Etc, I have been listening to your podcast recommendation of the Feel Good Effect and absolutely loved Kelly LeVeque's talk and it was really inspiring.
I've been consistent with my food changes for a couple of months now (gluten free/dairy free with a focus on protein, fat, fiber and greens). I think it probably took a few weeks to a month for me to really be looking forward to the clean, healthy meals. Part of it is that I started to feel better and that motivated me to keep eating this way. I also started from a generally okay place with my diet - I'd already eliminated a lot of unhealthy things over the last few years.
At this time I'm still eating some sugar (natural sugars) and soy but may take those out at some time in the future either as part of an AIP elimination diet or just to see how I feel. Having a small piece of dark chocolate at the end of the day has been working well - I'm not having huge cravings for it at other times during the day and I think this is because I'm getting the protein, fat, fiber and greens to propel me to the next meal.
I'm continually tweaking, continually seeing how I feel after eating particular foods, continually learning on this journey.
lbonahoom // I'm eager to hear if changing your diet has improved mood and/or hormonal symptoms if you ever had any trouble with those. I'm 46 & the last year has thrown me for a curve more than once regarding hormonal shifts & I'm changing my diet to see if it helps .
I know that medication has helped me with my moods/hormonal fluctuations ( see Part 1 of this series). I want to think that changing my diet has also helped but it's hard to tell when both are a part of my day. That said, I've been taking the medication longer than I've been eating pretty clean and I feel significantly better these last month without gluten and dairy in my diet.
mjbloves // What would you recommend for people who can't afford too much? It's pricey to eat healthy, and for picky eaters maybe? My husband and I are both super picky. Everything you put in your bowls look good, but not mixed together lol Absolutely loving your aewellness posts, very very inspiring. My hubby and I lost a lot of weight last year and gained half of it back.
I googled a little bit about healthy food costing more and thought these were two interesting articles. For me, eating healthy has become my priority and I'd rather move a little over into my food budget and out of a different category in order to get to eat in the way that I want to eat:
- Eating healthy vs. unhealthy diet costs about $1.50 more per day (Harvard Public Health)
- Why Healthy Food Doesn't Have To Cost More (Consumer Reports)
Do you live in an area where you can grow your own vegetables? That's definitely a more cost effective way to tackle getting more nutrients.
My experience with picky eating has long been that it's possible to become less picky via the continued introduction of the food(s). That depends a little bit on where your pickiness originates from - are you sensitive to textures or is it that you've just decided you don't like something so you are unwilling to try it again? I know for me, I went years saying how much I disliked sweet potatoes and refusing to eat or make them. Then at some point last year I tried them again and I really liked them and now I eat them regularly and am not eating white potatoes. Same with brussel sprouts. Our tastes are able to change and evolve - for me I'm definitely now motivated by wanting to feel better and am willing to try new things in order to get different nutrients into my body. I've also lived with Simon now for 15 years and he has gone from being very picky to eating just about anything - watching his evolution has been super, super inspiring.
As for my bowls, I don't mix the food all together – I just eat bites. If all the individual components of my bowls look good you could just put a pile of each on a plate and eat it that way! The bowls for me are just an easy way to see that I'm eating greens, protein, fat and fiber at each meal.
mobilenurse // I would love to know a general idea of what all you shop for all a time and how you prep for healthy meals for the week. I think time is one of the hardest things for sustaining healthy meals.
crhardin2003 // How do you shop and budget for your groceries? I ask because I have to buy different foods for my kids.
satokob74 // Thank you for keeping me motivated by sharing your wellness journey. It might be too personal but I'd like to see your grocery shopping hauls at Costco and Trader Joe's. What do you usually buy there? Also can we see not only your lunch bowls but also your dinner pictures, too?
I generally shop once or twice a week at either Trader Joes, a local grocery chain (Market Of Choice), or Whole Foods. Aaron does the Costco shopping for us and that's generally once a month, sometimes more than once depending on what's happening.
When I shop at my grocery store, Trader Joes or Whole Foods I'm generally purchasing thinks like:
- Greens (spinach and kale)
- Cucumbers (I love the Persian ones from Trader Joes)
- Vegetables: brussel sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, etc
- Lemons & Limes
- Almond Flower
- Coconut Oil
- Dark Chocolate
- Almond Milk
- Olive packs (Trader Joes)
- Cooked chicken
- Cauliflower Rice
- Broccoli Rice
- Green Salsa
- Canned salmon, tuna
- Almond Butter
From Costco we usually stock things like:
- Strawberries, Blueberries, Bananas, Sweet Potatoes, Grapes, watermelon, and frozen fruit
- Flank Steak, pork tenderloins, chicken tenderloins, whole chickens, ground beef, ground turkey, turkey burgers
- Organic Milk
- Flax, Chia Seeds
- LaCroix Sparkling Water
- Shredded Cheese
- Frozen shrimp
- Frozen salmon
- Frozen broccoli, green beans, corn
- Dessert treats (something from the frozen section)
- Dave's Bread
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Coconut water
- Greek Yogurt
From Amazon I order:
- Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides (this is the protein powder I use most in my smoothies)
- Primal Kitchen Grass Fed Collagen Protein Bars Variety Pack
- Chomps Grass Fed Beef Sticks
Sometimes I'm super organized and prep and plan meals and other times we fly by the seat of our pants. We also have kids here sometimes and sometimes we have no kids here and that plays a role in the way we plan and eat. Here are some inspiring meal plan/prep posts from Real Food Whole Life - again, my goal is simple, straightforward cooking:
- Ditch The Complicated Meal Plan And Try This Instead
- Five Meal Planning Myths And Why It's Not As Complicated As You Think
canadianlindsay // Really curious about how cutting out dairy and gluten has affected this journey.
For me it's been one of the best decisions. One of the things that was bothering me previously was feeling bloated all the time - for me that means that my stomach was sticking out and I just felt full. Removing both gluten and dairy (which I had done previously via an Autoimmune Protocol at the beginning of this post) has made a major different for me in how I feel overall. If you are curious about trying it you can go cold turkey or you can remove one at a time and see how it goes.
// im super curious how you are handling food choices in social
situations (ie, eating out w/ friends) and dealing w/ any people who are not
supportive of your choices.
desertgirl8 // I, too, want to hear how you balance eating out, particularly with friends at their homes. That is the struggle for me. Do you avoid any foods at all?
This hasn't been an issue and I've been pretty social recently. Most of the restaurants around here include gluten/dairy free options and I haven't had any trouble finding things on the menus to eat or requesting substitutions. I don't have anybody in my life right now that's not supportive of my dietary changes that I know of at least.
If I was planning to eat at a friends house I would likely have a chat with them about how I'm not eating gluten/dairy right now and could I bring a salad or contribute something for our meal? That way I would know that I would have something to eat that was going to fuel me through the meal. Eating in a way that's making you feel good is nothing to feel shame about or feel uncomfortable about sharing. It's becoming so much more common for people to have dietary restrictions.
deirdreokeating // Friday Night is Pizza Night at our house and I try to plan for it, but so often it derails me. Also, popcorn. What hurdles used to throw you and how have you overcome them this time?
I've got to the point where I just don't want to eat some of the foods that I've loved previously - pizza and popcorn included. It's just not worth it in the way that I feel afterward = just overall blah + bloated and I don't want to feel that way more than I want to eat the pizza AND I'm eating foods that are filling me up and making me feel good. I ordered pizza for the kids the other night and made steak + broccoli + avocado for Aaron and me. What we ate is something that we would often make and have the kids eat as well but last night we just wanted easy for the kids (there is always someone protesting something in one way or another and it had been a long day).
kelsterjean // Do you have any issues with food? Like digestive-type issues? I've been trying to eat healthier and good foods, but I'm restricted to what foods don't bother me, and right now I'm on a diet where I can't have any raw fruits or veggies. It makes it hard to eat healthy when there's lots of restrictions.
I do - that's why I'm eating gluten and dairy free. So far that has been enough for me to feel better but like I mentioned above it's likely I will eliminate other things at some point again to see if that makes an additional difference.
rnpluswellness // Would love to know your food plans when you travel (just done a road trip with the kids and had limited food options). Are you still drinking alcohol? Oh and the big one... have you given up Haribos?!?!?! Thanks!
Yep, still drinking alcohol (usually wine or cider) and I have given up the Haribos for now.
I'm using suggestions made in Body Love for what to do while traveling, including bringing healthy snacks. She has a whole section in there that I review before I leave for a trip. For a road trip I would probably pack a bag just for my own snacks, including protein packets to make smoothies/drinks for breakfast along with almonds, fruit, Chomps sticks, etc. I would also target some grocery stores along with way if possible vs. having to stop for fast food. Whole Foods has an awesome deli/take out section (so does our local grocery store) that I would much rather go out of my way to go to vs. ending up at fast food. It takes a little more planning but is now definitely worth it to me.
// I also would like to hear more about how your diet is helping with
Hashimoto. What you think is most effective or what was the first best step on
that side of things? I was recently diagnosed and need to craft a strategy.
vjm28 // I would love to hear more about how it has helped your thyroid, Hashimoto symptoms, etc. Have you been able to reduce medicine dosage? Has going gluten free helped with this as well? Any info on this topic would be great. Thx!
First off, for anyone living with autoimmune issues I highly recommend checking out Autoimmune Wellness and The Paleo Mom. Those were the two places where I started learning more about living with autoimmune diseases and dietary/lifestyle interventions after realizing that I actually had Hashimotos vs. just Hypothyroidism. I'm not currently following the eating portion of the Autoimmune Protocol - it's significantly more restrictive and meant to be more of an elimination diet but some people find they feel best following it even longer. It's highly possible that I will try it again in the future (I felt really good last fall when I was on it for about a month before the holidays) as I've been reading more about it again - specially How To Heal Hashimotos: An Integrative Road Map To Remission (and website here).
I haven't had my levels tested since starting my wellness journey and am still taking Levothyroxine. My goal is less about going off the medication - it's totally possible that mine is already damaged past the point of reversing the damage - but more about just feeling good (less fatigue, brain fog, etc).
borcherding // Hi Ali. I have thyroid/hasitmotos like you and I was wondering if you are using any essential oils or something else besides medication for treatment. Wondering if you are also keeping a written journal vs. just the IG feed. And what's the single, most important thing that makes you feel relaxed. I struggle with relaxing and just being ok with where I am now..
I don't use any essential oils. Medication is working for me "generally" along with gluten/free dairy free, yoga, walking, Barre3, starting to meditate more regularly and rest (this is huge for me and I am super protective of my sleep). I'm not keeping a written journal outside of my IG feed at this time.
The single most important thing that makes me feel relaxed? I think right now it's probably exercise - the kinds of working out I'm doing right now (even walking) is the kind where I feel happy and rejuvenated at the end vs. so depleted that I have to go to bed right away. I also still love to read so making time for that continues to be a high priority in the evening as well (and I don't watch a whole lot of TV).
shannonkruger // How have you incorporated theses changes into your kids' lives? Has it been a lot of extra/separate meals for yourself?
mrsmod // Yes! Interested in how you manage with the kids- i.e., rescheduling time to make it to classes and re: food- do they eat all the good stuff you do or do you essentially make 2 different meals (one for them, one for you)?
canadadiane // I'd be super interested to hear how you manage food choices when you have a family. I don't have kids but I do have a handicap senior parent who is a hugely picky eater. Managing convenient healthy meals that work with both our allergies/diets/restrictions/prejudices/biases is almost killing me.
ourlife5 // I love to hear how involved or uninvolved your fiancé and kids are in the journey. Do you make separate meals? When I was doing whole 30 my spouse and kids were not a part of that journey. I loved whole 30 and did it for 3 months but I find in summer it was too hard to keep passing on cocktails, ice cream and other things. I wish I had kept eating that way though. I felt so good!
Lots and lots of questions related to what I'm eating vs. what everyone else is eating.
Here's a general overview of what a day of food looks like around here when the kids are here:
BREAKFAST // Around here everyone makes their own breakfast. On the weekends we might cook something for everyone but most of the time everyone just makes something for themselves. The kids eat things like cereal (Aaron's kids + sometimes Anna), breakfast sandwiches (Simon has one of these just about everyday - it's a frozen version available from Costco that includes sausage, egg and cheese if I remember right), toast with Nutella or peanut butter + banana, smoothies (every once in awhile), scrambled eggs, bacon, yogurt, fruit, sausage, etc. Aaron generally has yogurt + toast and peanut butter or sometimes he'll make a poached egg and eat it with spinach and bacon or sausage. I have a Fab Four smoothie for breakfast most mornings with the recipe coming from Body Love.
LUNCH // Often leftovers from dinner or a "plate lunch" that includes protein, veggie, fruit, and something crunchy/salty (crackers, nuts, etc). I usually have a bowl for lunch that includes a protein (often leftover), greens, vegetables, and some kind of fat - often an avocado (you can see lots of examples of these on my IG account).
DINNER // Dinner is the main meal that includes everyone and generally we all eat the same thing and sit down at the table but it might look different on everyone's plates. We usually cook a protein (chicken, salmon, steak, pork, turkey burger, etc) and then have at least one vegetable (broccoli, beans, peas, corn, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, etc). They are super simple meals. The protein is often cooked in a crock pot or on the BBQ or on the stove top and the vegetables are often roasted or cooked in the microwave. Sometimes we also include a grain such as rice or quinoa. Sometimes one kid complains. Sometimes more than one kid complains. Sometimes they all just eat it. We mix those meals in with things that they all generally like such as pizza or lasagna or mandarin chicken (from the frozen section at Costco).
On those nights when the kids are eating something I'm just not going to eat (like lasagna) I'll make myself a bowl (protein, fat, fiber, and greens - these come together super quick because I generally chop stuff up at the beginning of the week or cook a protein that can be eaten for a few days added to my bowls) or I'll experiment with making something similar. On Tuesdays we have taco night so that usually includes a bunch of things out on the counter where everyone can pick and choose what they might want to have in their own burrito or taco. Things we generally have available include refried beans, a meat (ground turkey, shrimp, beef or shredded pork from the crock pot), cheese, olives, greens (spinach or lettuce), corn, salsa, avocado, etc.
chowwgn // I would like to know how you
are making time for yourself. With work and kids, I find it hard to stay
liftin4ever // I always struggle with consistency. How do you just keep going?? Between kids, work, hubby, and hobbies I find it hard to get it all in. And when it comes to eating I love all kinds of foods but feel I need to make more family meals which please my picky eaters. My hubby says to make what works for me but I am a mom who wants to be sure her kids eat good too. So for me it is the grind. .. and how to just keep putting one foot in front of the other??
This summer I've been able to be fairly flexible with my time - it's the season of life I'm in right now. Aaron works from home so that's a big help in terms of me being able to leave the house. Our kids are also getting older and some of them are able to be here on their own. Also, because I share kids with Chris I simply have times when I don't have kid responsibilities and that opens doors for getting in more body movement.
In previous years I've started and stalled fitness adventures and have also found it hard to stay committed. This time it really does feel different to my core - I talked more about that in part one of my series. The way that I'm making time for myself is honestly and simply by actually TAKING time for myself. I am prioritizing it and talking about it and making it happen because it is positively impacting my mind and body and heart and that's positively impacting my other relationships.
And it's the way I want to live my life. I'm just done living the other way - it's taken me years to make this a reality for myself.
MEDIA & INSPIRATION
kdarli // I would love to know what sources you are using for guidance and inspiration on your wellness journey. What are you finding most helpful? Anything you've found not to be helpful?
monitripa // I'm new to podcasts....could you recommend us some good ones??? About mind, body, health, happiness...
lauramacfarlanelcsw // I'd be interested in learning about where you are finding inspiration for your wellness journey. Any books, magazines, podcasts, music, conversations that are helping you "own who you are" besides the sources that you have already mentioned in IG posts.
- Feel Good Effect from Real Food Whole Life (current favorite wellness-related podcast)
- The Daily (New York Times)
- The Chasing Joy Podcast
- The Balanced Blonde
- The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast (not sure if they are adding more to these but the archives are great especially if you are interested in AIP – autoimmune paleo – related topics )
Cookbooks - all of these are ones I have in my house and have enjoyed cooking from or just browsing for general ideas. I don't try to make something new every day - maybe once a week - again, simple is my goal:
- Against All Grain, Againt All Grain Meals Made Simple, Celebrations
- Healing Kitchen
- Body Love
- Ready Or Not (from NomNom Paleo)
- The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook
Some of my favorite accounts to follow on Instagram (I love, love, love having a separate IG account where I follow a whole different group of people, brands, etc):
PLANNING & SCHEDULING & GOING WITH THE FLOW & MAKING PROGRESS
loveleeteacher // I love how you have learned and inspired us to not be so black and white or rigid about your/our exercise 'schedule' each day. For instance, you don't ALWAYS exercise at the same time of day or attend the exact same classes or do only one type of physical activity. That was an A-ha moment for me. Could you talk more about that? Also, do you do any mindfulness or meditation on your own outside of yoga classes? If so, do you use an app, do guided meditation, etc? Thanks so much for starting this! I've lost 20 lbs since following you and joining a local yoga studio.
Sure. One of the things that I think has made this "stick" more for me this time has been that flexibility. For example this week I just felt like doing yoga classes more than anything else so that's what I did most days. My goal is to simply get some movement in - and that might come in a variety of different forms. I'm choosing not to be rigid about what I do on particular days and instead listening to how my body/mind is feeling - knowing that I'll incorporate all the things over the course of a month (or week). When school starts in a few weeks it might be more necessary for me to stick to more of a schedule - I'm not sure how that will all work out just yet. I am lucky in that I work for myself and can make my own hours and leave when I want to, but as you might have read above that still isn't always easy for me to give myself permission to do that.
kg_balance // I guess my curiosity lies in your personal philosophies - on food, on health, on mental well-being. For example, my mom and I had a discussion not long ago about our personal relationships with food - she felt like she wanted to reduce her portion sizes (per the 21 day fix program) because she felt like food had become the focus of everything as opposed to secondary to enjoying time with loved ones, being present, and experiencing life. On the flip side - I have a hard time with restrictions, not for lack of willpower, but rather fear of telling myself "no" to anything. I've been trying to reframe my relationship as saying "yes" to healthy more often instead of "no" to things that aren't of value to my wellness (in all areas). So I wonder what your philosophies/relationships with these areas of wellness are like - or if you have similar challenges.
I want simple. I don't want to obsess about food - I want to open up my fridge and have it be simple and easy to pull together a bowl that includes protein, fiber, fat and greens. I want to eat and not feel stuffed or bloated and then not think about food again until the next meal time comes around.
One of the things I love about Body Love + Kelly's philosophy is that it's about adding more vs. taking things away. Adding more fat, more protein, more fiber, more greens vs. limiting, restricting or counting calories.
thestampspot // I would love to know how you are 'measuring' your success and progress.
Right now I'm measuring success simply by how I feel in my body. I'm watching the scale just to be aware but not obsessing or charting the numbers. Success to me right now is a combination of simply sticking with it and being in touch with how I actually feel in my body.
maria_sonoma // I'd love any tips on balancing my time. I work outside the home so I am on someone else's schedule daily so that coupled with kids and chores leaves literally no time for any exercise. I know you work for yourself so you have more flexibility but I am still curious about your thoughts. You are great at simplifying and I am great at complicating!
So much about this for me has been about prioritizing myself. How can you carve out 20 mins? 30 mins? Up earlier? A class during your lunch hour?
It also might be that you do what you can with what you have right now. Maybe you focus on shifting your diet because that's what you have time for in this season of your life. Or maybe it's just focusing on carving out a little time for yourself for your mental health - reading, relaxing, walking, etc.
Maybe asking yourself what the least complicated thing you could do would be? So often we think we have to do ALL THE THINGS at the same time when the reality is that you have to start somewhere with one thing and then as time goes on other things might become easier or more clear in terms of a path forward for when you could add in some exercise.
dee2501 // I would love to know if you have slip ups in your wellness journey and how do you deal with it. I went out on Saturday and had too many cocktails and felt horrendous and guilty for two days. I think because I really don't drink anymore having four drinks made me so ill.
No guilt! This is a journey and a lifestyle that's naturally going to include ups and downs and slip ups and meh times and on and on - it's just another piece of life and we should have no expectation that it will be perfect. Right now I am really focused on giving myself grace through the process of making this a lifestyle and I'm continuing to be curious. Oh, I drank too much last night - how do I feel now - hmmm, maybe next time I'll just have two. Can I still have fun if I just have one and then have sparkling water (of course).
My slip ups right now tend to be more about being motivated to get the exercise in - food has been fairly simple for me this time. I really am just trying to come at it from the standpoint of valuing myself enough to make it happen and if it doesn't then I'm planning a way to make it happen tomorrow.
abrandnewdawn2 // My questions are do you miss popcorn? Have you noticed physical changes? Not in numbers but other things? What has surprised you the most? Do you write any of your thoughts along the way?
I kinda miss popcorn but I'm so over how I would feel after eating it. It took me a long time to recognize how I was actually feeling after eating it because it just seemed normal. I know now that it's not and that my body was telling me that it wasn't a fan and I wasn't listening. Right now I feel better in my body, have lost a few pounds, and am significantly less bloated. I think the thinkg I've been writing and talking my way through this over on my IG wellness account :).
Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions in the comments. We can do this together!