Date your diet

If you’ve been reading healthy living blogs for a while you’ll have noticed something. Not actually what I’d call a ‘trend’ but a phenomenon: vegan or vegetarian bloggers quitting their diets and reintroducing dairy, eggs and/or meat. Usually voicing their decision very carefully with an air of expected accusations about to rain down on them. I won’t point out any bloggers in particular here because I wouldn’t want to increase the pressure on them. What I can say, though, is that I could easily name more than half a dozen – both in the German blog world and overseas – who have made this decision in the past year.

To say it caused some attention would be a mild understatement.

Uproar. Rage. Bullies.

Why?? Why do people feel compelled to shun somebody, leave hurtful comments or even more serious threats? What is the crime those bloggers committed? They changed their diets. Neither did they:

Imply everybody had to follow their lead and stop eating a certain way.

Intend to hurt anybody’s feelings [or at least I don’t assume they did].

Shame their previous diets as disordered or out of the norm. They simply found those very diets weren’t their match anymore and that’s where we’re getting to the thoughts my mind spurred out …

The parallel between dating and diets

What I’m applauding them for is not for giving up on veganism or vegetarianism. Clearly not because it’s still the diet I follow myself and – in my dreams – the majority of people all over the world should adopt [you know I’m exaggerating]. Rather, I think anybody who can rationally see when it’s time to make changes in their lives even if they’re uncomfortable and against their beliefs deserves respect. Not public shaming in the blog world and on Instagram. Wouldn’t we even encourage our best friends to leave a guy that hurts more than he benfits them? And just like with dating  some of the points can be translated to diets.

Date Your Diet

We get blind-sided really wanting to love that one guy/diet – at the worst overlooking the fact he’s not benefitting us at all anymore.

I can see how this was true for me personally. Veganism and its principles seemed [actually still seem] so right for me and made a lot of sense. It was hard to admit – even to myself – that it wasn’t the right diet for me at this point in life.

People compliment us for what a great match we make.

On the diet side this could be praise for our vegan/raw/paleo recipes or the ‘glow’ we perspire while eating a certain way. The tons of energy we have.

We make plans for the future.

Probably more so with dating on first glance [“We’ll buy a house, then get two children, spend all holidays in our beach house …”] but in a way it’s true for diets, too. We might think about how this will influence our families, write cookbooks or build a brand around our diet. Until a potential break-up throws us into a medium life crisis.

That’s why I suggest you to consider your diet a date. No commitment, no promises to anybody. And isn’t the beauty of dating that you don’t have to settle just yet – or anytime? You can flirt with a hot guy for an evening, a month, a few years – and in the end tie the knot with a wholly different one or never commit for eternity.

Diet dating can and should be like that: accepted – normal. So go out there, date around and never feel bad for cheating on your current diet –  be it for health or any other reasons. How you eat does not define you as a person. Life’s too short to fully commit in this part of it.

Your turn: Tell me your ‘dating history’ or whichever thoughts you have on the topic.

Happiness-inducing today: Harvesting the first kabocha of the season in our garden. All mine!

No questions today but whatever comes to your mind on the topic.

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Minding my macros [and not]

Counting [solely] calories is so 2010. If there‘s one thing possibly even more popular among bloggers, on Instagram or anywhere else online [I personally haven’t experienced it much offline yet] it’s macros. There’s a whole industry thriving on the concept [food scales that tell you the macro count of an ingredient? In-sa-ni-ty!]. Tracking fat, carbs and protein and ‘balancing’ your diet seems like the next cool thing to do – or not? Just like counting calories can be helpful for some people as long as it doesn’t get out of control and turn into an obsession the same can be said about monitoring macros.

Macros_food

My take on the issue?

 I like carbs.

I like fat.

I like protein.

What I don’t like is putting any macro on a pedestal or shaming another. All macros are created equal [yes, I know this is scientifically wrong but you get my gist]. I’m all about balance and finding what works for you. That will – if you’ve let media influence you – take some experimentation. Convinced by a million blog posts and articles telling me I should opt for a protein-laden first meal I once (!) tried cottage cheese with nut butter for breakfast. Worst idea ever. For me at least. Everybody is different and that’s the beauty of it all. As long as we can agree almond butter is amazing we can be friends. Kidding. Maybe.

Almond butter 006

Back to my original topic, though: macros. Food looses its appeal and the fun it can provide to our lives when a meal isn’t seen as just that but a number. Like a number on a scale doesn’t say anything about your worth the calorie count of an ingredient or a dish can’t measure its taste. Nutrients. The way it makes you feel. The setting you enjoyed it in. Focusing on calories [and I’ll be honest and say this is a habit dying hard and still sticking with me] or macros takes from the experience.

Vapiano

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be able to tell you how I’m faring macro-wise – because I have no clue. Was it a day of many carbs? Did I get in enough protein? It doesn’t matter to me because I’m [getting closer to be*] able to trust my intuition leading me where I need to be. A little story time here: During my first night at my cousin’s I wasn’t able to sleep well. Luckily, I’d packed a few snacks and after several unsuccessful trials of falling back asleep I got up and – ate. Not something I usually do or would have felt comfortable doing a year or just a few months ago but I’m not ignoring my body’s cues anymore.

** not because I was trying to monitor my intake but some days in recovery are just plain frustrating with me unable to know what I’m craving or get satisfied.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Think about it: When you were a child did you claim being ‘low in protein’ when hungry? I’ll dare to say: no. You simply decided on eating what you craved and that meant connecting with your intuition and following suit. No planning. No considering your previous meals’ macro balance. No cutting carbs whenever possible. Eating is so simple if we allow it to be.

 

Happiness-inducing today: A very sweet mail by a blend coming in just when I needed it.
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 No questions today. Share whichever thoughts you have on the topic!

[Your kind of] Balance is best

Balance and moderation are THE buzzwords of every and any health and fitness-oriented magazine, blog, website – wherever else.  I don’t know about you but in my opinion it’s confusing to figure out an infinite definition for either of those words. There’s no one balance that’s right for everybody. We’re not just talking food here. Even when it comes to work-life balance no two people are alike.

Balance might include spending time and sharing non-work-related thoughts and experiences with your colleagues outside of the office.

But it could also mean deciding to keep work and life separated.

Balance might include only whole foods and no refined sugar with occasional nutritious homemade raw food desserts as treats.

It might also mean following the 80/20 rule. Or 70/30. 50/50 perhaps??

[If you’re like me you can’t even say it because you’ve anything involving number-crunching just exhausts just like nothing else.]

Balance might include working throughout the week and being out and about on the weekends.

It could also translate to staying in on the weekend to calm down and relax after being surrounded by others all week.

Moderation could be playing the one-bite-only rule for decadent desserts.

It could be eating sweets on the weekend only.

Or stopping at half a bar of chocolate instead of a whole.

Balance could be taking one, two, three or any number of rest days per week.

It could be working out six days a week with one active rest day spent taking a hot yoga class or walking around all day.

Running

My balance includes easy runs without paying attention to time or distance.

Moderation might mean splurging on just a  few magazines a month [I told you this wasn’t about food only] instead of every single one that catches your eye at the store [don’t tell me I was the only time having a hard time resisting!].
It could also mean buying ALL the magazines and reducing your spending elsewhere [but not on groceries if you’re anything like me].
favourite magazines
Balance could mean reading a health/fashion/fitness magazine side by side with a business one. Why, yes, I do. Some food for the brain, some mindless talk.
But it might also mean going for juicy gossip on the Kardashians in one magazine and juicy-fresh smoothie recipes in another. Not everybody likes
The time I spent searching wise old Google for answers to the question of how many squares of chocolate are still moderation or what is the perfect balance of rest and workout days: lost. Especially as – oh wonder – it didn’t result in any  answers but a million and one different. I can’t take back lost time but see it as another learning experience . We learn from our mistakes after all and decided to just create my own idea of balance and moderation. Whether you, Google or whoever else agrees or not.

And yes: When in doubt balance can be everything in moderation including moderation.

Your kind of moderation could be any of the above, something entirely different or a mix. You can find it whatever your job, diet or preferred kind of exercise [no need to do yoga to find balance].

Whatever your kind of balance and moderation are the only mandatory rule is: it should make you feel good.  Not deprived and longing for more [of life, food, rest]. Neither sluggish [sugar coma] nor bloated [hello, too many vegetables]. Do what works for you and change it if it doesn’t feel good anymore. And: accept that others’ definition might differ.  Our balance and moderation can obviously  feel like the only right one. But we shouldn’t try to push it onto anybody else. We’re all different and that’s what creates the overall great balance on this planet.

With that I’m stepping off the soap box and the stage is yours! Tell me whatever you feel like thinking and saying out loud.

Happiness-inducing today:  Watching a dad play with his little daughters in front of me in the pedestrian zone.


 

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Everybody likes food – Part I

Life/ blog realisation #293494: the more is happening in my life, the less likely I am to take pictures of said happenings. So while I could technically post a recap of the time between my move on Wednesday and today there are zero photos to document it. How else to join the marvelousness over at Katie’s? Surveys to the rescue!

MiMM_new

The perfect occasion for a no-brainer topic everybody considers marvelous and likes to talk about: food. I snagged this epic survey from Amanda – thanks! – and will also follow her lead in breaking it up into two servings parts. Expect the second part soon but first parts first so here it goes!

Grains

1) Flavour-wise, do you prefer white breads or whole wheat?
Growing up on whole grain breads from a local organic bakery these will forever be my favourite.  I’m picky, though: it has to be the kind laden with seeds.

2) What’s your favorite type of grain to eat (oatmeal, bread, wraps, etc)?:
Even though I usually struggle with naming favourites this one is clear: oats. They’re one of the most versatile grains ever: in various forms – rolled, steel-cut or [my favourite] oat bran – for breakfast,  rotis/ lolis as a side for curries and oat flour in gluten-free baked goods like these incredible brownies.

Oats_collage

3) What’s your favorite sandwich filling?
I’ll have to pass on this one: no sandwiches for me.

4) What’s your favorite kind of bread?
Like I mentioned above: the delightfully doughy pumpkin/ sunflower/ flax seed-studded loaves my mum buys.

5) Around how many servings of grain do you consume daily?
This is tricky to answer. Not because I don’t eat grains – heck do I! – but as serving sizes confuse me. Adhering to pre-defined standard serving sizes doesn’t work for me. Some days I’ll need more than those, some days they fit my appetite. What I can say, though, is that grains are a key part of my daily meals.

Grains

6) What’s your favorite cracker-topping?
You’re supposed to top crackers?! We’ve never done that in my family.

7) What’s your favorite thing to do with rice?
Sweet: rice pudding.  At best prepared by my mum using the ‘in-bed method’. Does anybody else’s mum do the same? ?
Savoury: either burrito bowls or some kind of casserole.

8) What brand of bread do you usually buy?
I buy bread once in a blue moon and preferably from local organic bakeries. Once, though, I was lucky to get a taste of the famous life-changing loaf of bread my sister had baked. It really is amazing,

Life-changing bread_my new roots

9) What’s your favorite type of cereal?
Boring but the only one I regularly buy is unsweetened puffed amaranth. It’s delicious both plain and in place of bread crumbs in savoury dishes.  The scarce choice of ‘healthy’ cereals we get over here doesn’t even closely compare to all brands available overseas.

10) What was your favorite type of breakfast cereal as a child?
Crunchy granola with chocolate chunks.

Fruits

1) Favorite fruit?
As with all those ‘favourites’: Tough question. I’ll go with most-eaten instead and say apples.

2) Least favorite type of fruit?
Papaya. It’s ridiculously expensive and tastes like nothing.  Not a fair trade.

3) Do you drink fruit juice often?
Hardly ever.

4) Do you consider tomatoes a fruit, or a vegetable?
I know it’s technically a fruit but in my mind it will always be a vegetable. And as long as supermarkets keep stocking it in the vegetable section I’ll feel proven right. (:

5) Do you think you eat enough fruit daily?:
Absolutely, yes. Maybe too much because moderation does -not- exist when it comes to fruit.

Fruit_collage_2014

6) Do you consider fruit more important than vegetables?
Not more important but sweeter so I’m more likely to eat [lots of] it. Sweet tooth right here.

7) What’s your favorite citrus fruit?
Oranges.

8) Do you like pastries with fruit in them?
Hm, I’m trying to remember if I ever had a fruit pastry before. But if we’re talking crumbles than yes to those with fruit.

9) What’s your favorite flavour of jam?
Cherry -and- strawberry. At best made by my grandma but I’ve found a good brand as a replacement, too.

My Mum’s homemade strawberry jam – made with real sugar and can’t be  beaten.

10) When do you usually eat the most fruit (breakfast, snack, etc)?:.
I’m snacking on fruit all throughout the day.

Veggies

1) When you were a kid, did you like vegetables?:
It was a tie. Neither was I the pickiest nor the most daring eater. Actually, I think I’ll ask my mum later to hear how she’d rated me there. Fingers crossed for an answer in my favour ;).

2) Do you think you eat enough vegetables now?:
Some days I could do better but for the most part: yes.

3) What’s your favorite raw vegetable?:
Carrots. But only organic ones that I’ve found to be naturally sweeter than their non-organic counterparts.

4) What’s your favorite cooked vegetable?:
Kabocha. Too bad it’s the vegetable with the shortest season over here. Just steamed and plain it’s perfection. No roasting or seasonings for me.

Kabocha

 5) What’s your least favorite raw vegetable?:
Kohlrabi. You will not see me eat that.  As a child I saw other kids snack on it and was so glad my mum never tucked it into my lunch box. Which means my children will probably be kohlrabi despisers, too.

6) What’s your least favorite cooked vegetable?:
Beets. Unfortunately because they’re super healthy and I really like their gorgeous colour but: no.

7) What’s your favorite kind of salad?
On the rare occasion I eat salad I’ll use spinach or a store-bought salad mix as a base. But you know I’m more partial to grain salads..

Taco Salad_

8) Do you buy spaghetti sauce, or do you make your own?
Always homemade. I can see how it might be handy to use store-bought when short on time but Germany most definitely doesn’t boast sketchy-ingredient-free varieties. When I was still living at home my mum would occasionally buy some organic vegan bolognese sauce at the health food store for me when the rest of the family had her homemade non-vegetarian meat sauce.

9) When/if you order a sub at subway or mr. sub, what vegetables do you get on it?:
Ironically, I used to work at Subway but never ate there. The town I grew up in didn’t have Subway so I never had it prior to going vegetarian, either.

10) Do you like vegetables more than fruit?
Generally no. Unless you asked me during kabocha season which happens to be right now…

Happiness-inducing today: Another very big hug from my grandpa. This one doesn’t get old.

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Tell me …

What’s your favourite grain?

Around how many servings of grain do you consume daily?

Favourite fruit? Least favourite fruit?

Do you like vegetables more than fruit?

 

You are not what you eat.

It’s time to think out loud again! But before I get into the post I mentioned before already I want to wish a happy birthday to this amazing blend all the way over in South Africa! Enjoy your day, girl! And now I hope Amanda won’t mind me foregoing the usual light-hearted cereal and puzzle talk for a topic that’s been on my mind for a while already.

Thinking-Out-Loud

 

Sometimes you intend to write a completely different post and then life suggests another. Life in this case being a friend asking if I wrote a vegan blog to connect with other vegans. Which I denied. Neither do I consider myself writing a vegan/ any kind of special diet blog. Nor do I want to connect with vegans only. My intentions with blogging are to share my thoughts, opinions, recipes every now and then but mainly: to get in touch with alike minds. And that’s not limited to a certain diet or type of exercise. In fact, I might disagree with the way you eat but won’t bother making a fuss about it if think you’re a sweet person in general, a witty writer or deep thinker bringing up interesting topics.

Nobody in my close family or circle of friends is vegan or even vegetarian. And that is okay. I’m not choosing my ‘real life’ friends according to their diet or running pace. In fact, none of them are runners and would probably shake their head at the mention of chia seeds or HIIT. And that’s okay, too. We still have such a lot to discuss, talk or laugh about.

Why would I choose my blogging friends with different criteria than those in real life? By now I have blends that eat vegan, vegetarian, paleo or just don’t follow any label at all. Blends that run, lift weights, do yoga, crossfit or walk. Do I like any of them better than others? Heck no. All of us are such a lot more than the food we put into our mouths or our workout achievements. In fact, I love the diversity presented in the blog world. Just like in ‘real’ life there are all kinds of different people. In different jobs. From different countries. People I might not as easily get in contact with in daily life but now get a chance to connect with every day – it’s amazing.

Tolerance_II

Tolerance is the biggest human virtue.

 

My life doesn’t revolve solely around reading, thinking or talking about food or exercise – and I assume [or hope] yours doesn’t, either. As somebody interested in healthy living and cooking I do enjoy gushing about a million ways to eat almond butter. I get excited when I find new products in unexpected places. Getting running advice from seasoned half-marathoners is great, too. But that’s not all I want to read or chat about.

Maybe you consider sugar the devil while I won’t part ways with chocolate anytime soon.

Maybe you think vegan food was boring while I would never consider paleo.

Maybe you run 60 miles a week while I currently run all of 0 and consider walks my exercise.

And yet we can still be friends. As long as you don’t talk about how your diet is so much healthier than somebody else’s or how all of us should work out hours every day. If that’s your blog’s sole focus I might not be the most loyal reader. If you share random tidbits about yourself, the great book you just finished, share your experiences with and advice on the struggles faced as a twenty-something or voice your opinion on current happenings in the world? I’ll be back regularly.

 

How What I ate Wednesday posts and mentions of food or recovery fit in there? Easy. Like I said it’s not solely about the food we eat. However, I think we can all agree food is an important and delicious part of our lives. Personally, I find WIAW to be a great way to discover new blogs and connect with other people – far beyond food-related topics. And when it comes to my recovery I could probably talk about it a lot more but that’d seem redundant. If I throw in a thought on my journey it’s when I either struggle and know others will have some advice or when I have overcome a fear [food] and want others battling an ED to see it’s possible, too. Because that’s what has been helping me personally on other blogs, too.

Amy [link to Long Drive Journey] wrote a great post about when healthy borders on obsession and I agree wholeheartedly with it. I don’t want to read about your food only but about your hobbies, job, family,  what’s on your mind, … In short: about YOU.

No questions today but your opinion on the topic.

 

Happiness inducing today: Lots of sunshine after heavy rainfalls.

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Weighing in on a heavy topic

Today’s going to be a little different from my regular posts because I just finished a book touching a weighty subject worth discussing.  ‘The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet’: Chances are you’ve heard of this book when it was first published in January 2013. The memoir by Dara-Lynn Weiss – published after she’d written an article about her daughter’s weight management plan for Vogue – sparked a lot of controversy on the topic of childhood obesity. But especially the way the author decided to tackle her daughter’s weight problem and health issues related to it.

Why did I pick it up? Not because I was the first to jump on books that caused public uproar or read every bestseller out there but because I can personally relate to the topic. While I haven’t shared my own ED story it started with weight and health struggles in early childhood, too. I actually hadn’t read more than a single article in the newspaper I’d subscribed to back then. After reading the article I was shocked and convinced Dara-Lynn Weiss wasn’t in her right mind for putting a seven-year-old on a diet. However, when I recently spotted it on the display of recent purchases at my library I decided to give it a go wanting to know the whole story.

What does the title stand for? Other than probably assumed ‘The Heavy’ isn’t referring to the weight of her daughter but Weiss herself: “Having love for your child sometimes mean being the heavy and doing unpopular things that you know are right.”

What is it about?  When her children’s pediatrician declares Dara-Lynn Weiss’ daughter Bea to be obese with a weight of 93 pounds at 4’4 the author decides to put the girl on a diet then and there. At first starting out with the advice of dietitian Dr. Johanna Dolgoff and her “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right” program to help her daughter drop some pounds but quickly putting her own more severe spin on it. Not allowing for a simple ‘eat less, move more’ diet but a strict plan cutting down Bea’s intake profoundly and not allowing for leeway. Soon enough a lot of her time – or so it appears – evolves around planning Bea’s meals to a T. Instructing other parents/ relatives/ teachers in what her daughter can and can’t eat freaking out if these people decide to forego the rules just by the slightest.

Giving her that much: yes, I understood Weiss’ worries about her daughter and believe she acted not solely to make the girl fit into society’s idea of beauty but motherly love. And yes, in general I think it’s good she took initiative for the better health of her child and whole family. But I whole-heartedly disagree with the way she went about it. As a woman with a history of dieting herself Weiss at times appears not informed enough about what exactly a healthy diet looks like.

There are numerous of them but one incident that stuck out to me most. When Bea got home from school after a day celebrating French Heritage Day telling her mum about the food served. Usually giving her daughter strict instructions on how to handle these kind of situations to fit into her low-calorie daily meal schedule Weiss had forgotten that day. What happened was that the girl mindlessly ate according to her appetite. The author has a hard time keeping calm when she hears about it and feverishly tries to add up calories. Ultimately deciding to cut down on her daugher’s dinner. Mind you: the girl is seven at that point. Can she really be blamed for wanting to eat like all the other children on a special occasion?

Browsing Dr. Dolgoff’s book online I found she actually recommended parents not to be the food police. Forgivance is necessary. Applying this to my own experiences I remember my mum and dad encouraging me to replace some – not all – of the sweets I ate with fruit. My dad went running with me and they gave me subtle hints to forego the second or third piece of cake at family gatherings. Did I loose weight fast? No – it was a slow but steady process. Did I feel deprived or embarrassed in public? Neither. It was the best way for me to understand I had control over my health and weight by opting out of chocolate bars at the school cafeteria or a second helping at lunch. Though I might be biased as we’re talking about my parents I generally think it’s best if parents actively involve their children in their journey to a healthier – not necessarily thin – self. By giving them the tools and showing them that being active and eating healthy can be fun and isn’t a black-and-white situation. Mistakes are normal and a learning experience.

Not to be all ‘healthy living blogger clichée here. However, one simple change I feel the author missed was opting to educate herself not only about calories in vs. calories out but the importance of real food. As opposed to the 100-calorie-packs of highly processed foods like or using Cool Whip Free to make fruit more appealing to her daughter. To be fair: Dara-Lynn Weiss does state her previous aversion towards handing these kinds of food to her children. She made it a point her daughter gained on healthy foods already – yet it remains a fact she decides to go for it in the end. In my opinion, the better way of not making Bea feel deprived and left out of typical childhood happenings would have been allowing her the ‘real deal’ every once in a while. Either way, this is by far not my main criticism as I mentioned above already. In my opinion Weiss set the foundation for her daughter possibly developping an eating disorder and took away the freedom and light-heartedness of childhood.

The takeaway? Especially with my eating disorder in mind it’s hard to say which route I’d choose for my own future children. Having read of certain tendencies of the children of people who once had an ED developping one themselves it’s a sensitive field to navigate. Time will tell. What I can say for a fact, though, is that I wouldn’t go as far as Weiss did. Childhood obesity is a serious topic and I could go on and on here. Yet most important to me is to allow children to be children. Enjoy a happy childhood not centered around worries about weight and calories.

Would I recommend the book? I was only able to touch a fraction of what ‘The Heavy’ entails and like I mentioned I feel to truly have a more distinguished opinion on the topic reading it was necessary for me. So if your library happens to own a copy: why not give it a go?

Have you read or heard of ‘The Heavy’ before?

What are your thoughts on diets during childhood? Maybe you even have own experiences to share?

And really whatever else you have to say on the book or the topics related to it.

 

Happiness inducing today: Talking to a very good friend.

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