There is no nutritional assessment on the UCR Wellness Group site, because it groups nutrition with physical.  While I acknowledge that the two are related, I like to keep nutrition separate.  There is so much to nutrition that I’d be doing it a disservice to lump it into a group.

There are a few nutritional assessments out there, but I’m going to just go with the basics I know:

  • I do not drink enough water (or any liquid).  This affects everything from digestion to headaches to aging.  Bad choice.
  • I do not eat enough vegetables, although I usually get enough fruit.
  • I include caffeine and sugar in my diet far too often.
  • There are too many processed foods in my diet.

So, with those things in mind, here are my goals:

Short-Term Goals (3 Months)

* Drink a minimum of 64 ounces of liquid (preferably water or plain tea) a day.  Since I’m active, it should be more, but 64 ounces is the minimum.  Dairy products and caffeinated products do not count toward this total; only 8 ounces of juice counts.

* Four servings of vegetables a day.  Yes, it should be five or more, but I can seem to manage two servings at lunch and dinner.  I don’t do well going beyond that.  I’m shooting for the moon before I shoot for Mars.

* Cut down caffeine to one 8-ounce cup a day.  Whatever it is, I can have one cup. This includes caffeinated teas.

Mid-Term Goals (1 Year)

* No more than one processed food a day.  At least one day a month completely unprocessed.

* Balance my nutritional needs with a variety of fruits, vegetables, dairy substitutes, proteins, and grains.  Probably cut out gluten entirely.

* One caffeinated drink per week, always before 2 p.m.

Long-Term Goals (5 Years +)

* Make my own food from scratch.  I’m capable; it just takes time and commitment.

* Plan my menus based on what’s in season and eat a variety largely based on that.  Only supplement with out-of-season as needed for variety and health.

* If I can’t grow it or buy it organic, learn to skip it.

The long-term goals look pretty lofty.  I’ll definitely be revisiting them.  But… it’s a start.

I am generally what you’d call a high-energy person.  My boyfriend calls me the Energizer Bunny, for example.  I usually need a little less sleep (actually need less, not just run on less).  I wake up ready to go and full of energy.  I have to wind down to make myself sleep at night.

At least, that’s what my life is like when my ulcerative colitis doesn’t take center stage.

Most of the time, UC is about food choices, reducing stress, and dealing with urgent bathroom issues most people don’t need to stress over unless they overdid the Taco Bell the night before.  Sometimes, though, UC is about energy.

Because of my UC, I can’t eat as many things.  A good-sized salad, for example, is generally a bad idea.  Because of that, I sometimes lack nutrients even though I eat with a deliberate eye toward nutrition.  Lack of nutrients can add up… and tear down.

This last week, I have been exhausted.  Some of that I can attribute to monthly hormonal fluctuations; some of it to a hard training schedule for my first half-marathon.  But most of the lack of energy, I suspect, is from the UC flare-up I had the week before.

Being this tired makes me feel like a different person.  Rather than juggling multiple items, I struggle to keep one aloft.  Maintaining relationships is always a struggle for my introvert self; when I’m tired, it becomes an “I’ll get to it later” concept.  I feel a bit disconnected from the world at large.

There’s really nothing I can do about it but ride it out, but I feel less me while I do it.  That’s one of the hidden side effects of this chronic illness.

At least I can look forward to my better days as I work my way through these more low-key ones.  For that, I am grateful.

I try to keep up with nutrition and health information.  This morning, I was skimming news and blogs before work and came across this article by Greatist.com.  They offered 44 “healthy” foods for under $1.  I put “healthy” in quotes because some of the choices are borderline.  I also thought their serving sizes were a little suspect.

For example, they included eggs, peanuts, whey protein, yogurt, milk, whole grain pasta, popcorn, cottage cheese, and edamame… all members of the Sensitive Seven list.  They also listed chicken breast, canned tuna, canned salmon, apples and canned tomatoes.  Chicken breast may contain corn and soy, hormones, and be injected with a broth-mixture.  Canned items should be limited, especially for sodium, and tuna and salmon should be watched for high levels of mercury.  Apples should only be bought organic if possible.

So… I didn’t really agree with their list.  (I won’t even go into them regularly changing serving sizes to make sure they were under the $1 limit.)

Here are my items, around $1 per serving, that were on their list:

  • Most fruits and vegetables in season can be bought for under $1 per serving, even some organic.  Just remember to buy the Dirty Dozen organic and don’t stress over the Clean Fifteen.
  • Beans, especially bought in bulk, will be under $1 per serving.  Just remember to soak them.
  • Brown rice (never white) runs about $0.25 per serving (or $5 for a 2-pound bag).
  • Quinoa will run about $10 for 24 ounces if organic; that comes out to about $1.67 per serving.
  • Lentils (very good with brown rice) should be about $1 per 16 ounces if bought in bulk; per serving, this will come out to about $0.55 per serving.
  • Organic, free-range chicken breasts can be bought for about $3.75 per serving (3.5 ounces) without any effort at all.  No, that’s not under $1… but it’s breasts.  If you want to pay about $1.25 per serving, get a whole chicken.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  It’s possible to eat healthy food, even with food sensitivities, for very little money.  It just takes a little time, a little effort, and a little more money than your Dollar Menu takeout.

After spending so much time and effort on my health, I can’t end this series without focusing on how minimalism relates to my health.

There is a lot out there about how to best stay healthy.  There are costly creams, expensive supplements, and organic foods.  Gyms, exercise equipment, and workout DVDs are another expense.  It can be exhausting just to try to stay in shape.

Staying healthy shouldn’t be that complicated.  It just shouldn’t.

My workout is pretty simple.  I run 2-3 days a week.  I bike 9 miles commuting to and from work.  I try to do a weight workout for every part of my body two times a week.  Soon I’m adding swimming.  I still don’t love yoga, but am trying to use some of the moves for flexibility.  Okay, it sounds complicated, but it usually works out to two workouts in a day (usually back-to-back) and one day completely off each week.

I’m trying to simplify my food.  I stopped worrying about the Clean 15 and focused on the Dirty Dozen.  I cut a lot of meat out of my diet and put in quinoa (cheaper).  I drink less “milk” and most of it is almond milk.  More importantly, though, I cut out most baked goods and refined sugars, coffee, and soda.  Those things up my grocery bill without providing any health benefits.

My goals in minimalist health are as follows:

1.  Observe the Sabbath.  There is a rest day proscribed in the Bible for a reason.

2. Create a minimal menu, where I eat the same type of food at certain meals each week.  No need to recreate the wheel.  By this, I mean have meatless Monday, fish Friday, soup Sunday, etc.

3. I currently need my gym membership in order to swim (and I got a good deal), but I’m trying to buy very little.  I can use what I have, buy used, or do without.

4. Figure out what supplements I truly need, what I can get from food cheaply, and how to do t inexpensively.

Beyond this, I think worrying too much about health will actually be unhealthy, so I’m going to (try) to stop.

I think it can be done…

Well, it appears to be official.  I avoided gluten for most of my 30-day cleanse.  There were small amounts here and there, but nothing significant.

Thursday night I had one-half of a foot-long Subway sandwich, thinking I was making a fairly safe choice.  I was bloated, mildly crampy, and generally unhappy in less than two hours.  My body pretty much purged itself of everything I’d eaten.

I thought, at the time, that maybe I’d just tried to come off the cleanse too fast; I went ahead and had my second half for lunch on Friday.

This time, less than a full hour and I was crampy, in the bathroom, and feeling very “off”.  Even my sinuses seemed to be worse.

I’ve never been tested for a gluten sensitivity, but empirical evidence certainly seems to point toward a strong probability.

I’m going to take most gluten back out of my diet and see how I feel in a few days.

First off, I’m doing far better now that I’m off the Primal Diet.  I do think that it has it’s good points, but it may not be a good idea for anyone suffering from Crohn’s or Colitis.  I purged green for five days straight.

My stomach is doing better, but I totally blew any concept of “diet” last night.  Monday night, my father (who has Alzheimers) had a bad night and we were up with him until 4 am.  Low sleep, lots of stress, and I woke up not wanting to eat.  Some people eat more under stress, I eat less.  Last night he did better, but he didn’t get to sleep until after midnight, at which point I needed to run and get my dog enough food to at least make it through breakfast.

As I wandered the grocery store aisles in that stupor that often comes from late night jaunts into flourescent lights, I hit the ice cream aisle.  Ice cream, in my family, is the Holy Grail.  It substitutes for meals and can even inspire world (or sibling) peace.  I almost got the tiny, single serving carton, but they only had Skinny Cow and I’m not a fan of reduced-fat, reduced-sugar ice cream (or anything).  I like Ben & Jerry’s, so I got the pint.  I prefer Pistachio Pistachio, but they were out, so I got Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

I read time and time again that one key to losing weight is to close the kitchen after dinner.  I know food substitutes for energy in my life quite often.  Stil, I thought I could exercise self-control.  I thought I could just have a few bites and put the carton away.

This is why you should dip out a few scoops and put the carton away: I ate the entire container.

One day of eating an entire carton of ice cream won’t kill me.  I shouldn’t even pack on any pounds.  But if I did that once a week and, due to the late hours and lack of sleep, moved less, I would easily put on 1-2 pounds a week… or up to 100 pounds in a year.  Just from eating ice cream.

I’m still tired today, but I’m going to go get in my very long walk anyway.  The sunshine will help me sleep better tonight and avoid another pint of ice cream.

Alright, so The Primal Diet and I don’t get along.  I’m going to take what I learned from it and move on.  The idea here is not to find a fad that will give me quick weight loss or a perfect body by swimsuit season (too late anyway!), but to find a lifestyle change that will work with my body type, digestive ailments, and exercise needs.

Body type: small on top (need some muscle) and all fat storage on bottom (plus some muscle beneath that).

Digestive ailments: I’m mildly hypoglycemic (basically, if I don’t run down the sugar stores too badly, then it’s not bad, but I get shaky and irrational if I run them down past a certain point.  No, I’m not always irrational.)

Exercise needs:  I’m training (ha!) for a 10k.  Okay, I need to be training for a 10k.  Starting tomorrow, I will resume training for a 10k.  Luckily for me, the 10k isn’t until October.  But I want to amp up my exercise without amping up my calories significantly.

Tomorrow, then, my goal is to have a scrambled whole egg, grilled potatoes with onions and peppers, and whole milk for breakfast.  There is a higher percentage of protein in that meal than normal, plus slightly more fat… but it’s all natural foods.  This will be after jogging a mile, doing sprints with strength rotation, and walking a mile back.

Lunch will be 4 oz of salmon and a handful of carrots and cherry tomatoes… after walking the 2.9 miles to the library.  Then I’ll walk back.

I need to go grocery shopping, so dinner is still up in the air.

Hopefully this will get a Primal “base” going, but still make allowances for my personal needs.  I’ll go ahead and weigh (but not measure) tomorrow, too, since it will have been a week.

Here we go again!