Do you mind your macros [too much]?

Macros, hm? A topic that is constantly present in my life yet not. Not in that I don’t care about my macro split in the least yet present still because macro talk is an everyday given in the media and on all social media platforms, particularly blogs and Instagram.

The other day, I saw a girl, no, woman state her insecurity about eating at work. Knowing her colleagues might comment on her choices [plenty of grain-based meals aka ‘carbs’] like they had in the past. So for fear of comments this grown-up woman and mum of a little one went through her work day not eating a single bite until she got home in the afternoon. Luckily, in her post she was opening up about these struggles and making the resolution to start bringing food to work again – a small success . What is making me very sad, though, is knowing she’s no exception.

Just a short time browsing blogs, not only WIAW posts, is enough to spy a lot of macronutrient-embracing language or ‘excuses’ for cosuming ‘too much’ of a particular macros..

“I love carbs!”

“Give me alllll the carbs!” vs. “Give me allll the fats!”

and on the guilty side

“Wow, I ate a lot of carbs today. Not enough protein in there.”

“Carbs on carbs on carbs – at least I had some vegetables on the side!”

*Protein never seems to require any further explanations because it’s the one ‘good guy’ everyone seems to agree on. Which is funny as it’s the one macronutrient that – when consumed in excess – may potentially lead to kidney diseases of some individuals so it’s not  a one-fits-all recommendation.

Onto the first category: Macro-embracing so: what’s wrong with that you ask? Nothing in general and I want to stress that I am not judging you or anybody who’s using this language. What I’m curious about is the reasoning behind these statements. Why do we feel the need to enthusiastically show our fondness of certain macronutrients? What I assume is that we – collectively as a generation; our grandparents sure didn’t count macros  – want to shout from the rooftops how unafraid of the ‘big bad’ carbs/fat we are. In some cases there’s what seems to be an added justification  [“eating all the carbs because: leg day!”].  Actually a sad fact. We should not be afraid because for heaven’s sake it’s all just food. Carbohydrates. Fats. Protein. Food. We do not need to earn food or explain our choices to anybody. Period.

Yes, by now the example is way overused but: look at the way children eat. Have you ever seen a toddler call for ‘more protein, hold the bread, please!”? Carefully shove aside the rice on his plate, eating only vegetables and protein? We’re not much different from toddlers when it comes to food. Grown-up, yes. Yet our minds have been manipulated by food companies, magazines and the likes to return to an almost infant-like state. Absorbing information that more confuses than empowers us or strengthens our intuitive knowledge of what’s good for us. The more often we’re told protein was key for saturation and carbs made us sluggish, the more likely we are to accept these statements as truths; no matter if they actually are for us personally.

A car isn’t proud to tout the fact it’s slurping up allll the gas. We know the fact of the latter being its prime [or in the machine’s case: only] source of fuel much like ours/our brain’s are carbohydrates [side note: yes, I’ve heard of the keto diet but don’t agree with its idea of ‘forcing’ our organism to use fat as its main fuel]. No need to explain, much less defend a natural inclination to eat these wonderful nutrients and plenty of them.

Nut butter drizzle

The average healthy person should give a flying fudge* about macronutrient amounts. Especially since no day is different – and no, this is not related to whatever kind of workout we do or don’t do – needs for certain macros vary. Trying to preplan and manage macros is a waste of time and revelry against our bodies’ intuitive wisdom.  Whether you are keen on carbs, fancying fat or partial to protein: it doesn’t change my view or opinion of you in the very least. In fact, an inclination to eat more of one macronutrient might very well be genetically predisposed. Trying to modify our genetic preferences a) doesn’t work, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves and b) ultimately leaves us constantly feeling unsatisifed. Athletes altering their macro intake for perfomance are an entirely different topic that would justify a post on its own so I didn’t include it here.

Quark_protein

I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about food. Please, I’m a blogger after all, too. But I wish we would change the way we talk about food. Not seeing it as its macronutrients but: Colours. Visual appeal. Taste! We as a society are [mostly] in the lucky situation – different from our grandparents’ generation or the populations of other countries – to see food as far more than fuel [aka: macros or energy]. We eat for taste, pleasure, fun and all these require no explanation, no defenses. Just appreciation for good food.

*purty expression borrowed from a British friend of mine

Happiness-inducing today: A client bringing in a little food gift for me specifically in addition to cake for the whole team [which has become a regular whenever she visits]. It wasn’t so much about the food but the thoughtfulness and unexpected appreciation.

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It might not surprise you when I say I could have gone on and on about the topic. Yet this post is long enough as is already and I only spontaneously decided to join Amanda’s Thursday thinking party so I’ll hand the mic over to you. Let me know your thoughts in the comments! If you have talked about macros in similar ways as mentoned here: was there a reason? I might be wrong with my assumptions on the ‘why’ and would happily find out people’s reasons.

Merken

Merken

Merken

Merken

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Why adopting a new diet attracts us so much in recovery.

Before continuing please know that I’m not hating on any diet and say this with a certain group of people in mind. Not every follower of the vegan/paleo/raw or a similar diet is necessarily eating disordered.

Recovering from an eating disorder is hard. Very hard. Especially because it means letting go, allowing the life and appearance you had to change.

I’m not making myself an exception here. Letting go of control is the biggest struggle for me. Intuitive eating is scary for the very reason it offers no set rules. Am I eating too much? Just out of boredom or could I actually still be hungry? Does that little occasional itch mean I should cut out [insert food]? Is eating x amount of fat okay?

It’s been said a million times already but bears repeating here:

Extremes are easy, balance is not. But what exactly does that mean in terms of eating and exercise? I’m no epert but here are my thoughts on a phenomenon I’ve noticed on social media for years.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Many people all over Instagram – yes, that one neverending source of post inspiration again – are following lifestyles like vegan, high carb low fat (HCLF), paleo, ‘clean’ eating, raw or keto suddenly feel amazing and shun their previous lifestyles. They could never ever eat [insert food] again. They have so much more energy and . And oh, yes, grains/fat/dairy/insert food not compliant with new diet never worked well for their system or appealed to them. They were the child that hated candy and sugar is the devil in anyway so they’re glad they never crave it.

All nice and well. It’s your freedom to post what you want. Only: I [usually] don’t buy it. While yes, for people with a healthy mindset any lifestyle can work well – recovery is different. Or not only that but anybody who went about exploring and following one of these lifestyles primarily for health reasons.

Bremen_Vengo_stuffed eggplant_March 2015

Any kind of diet comes with a set of rules, occasionally some sort of ‘guru’ or other role models with thousands of followers on social media to look up to and ask for advice. What you’re allowed to eat and what not. The macro balance to strive for. If you’re choosing one like veganism for ethical reasons it’s not should or shouldn’t but a conscious decision to abstain from certain foods for the benefit of animals and yes, potentially your own well-being, too. The problem is that there’s a fine line for anybody recovering from an eating disorder when choosing any kind of diet.

I absolutely believe it’s possible to choose a diet different from the one you grew up on after recovery. And yes, there are always exceptions. People who can change their diet in the midst of recovery and in fact suddenly find it easier to gain, tackle fear foods or eat out again. But I’d venture to guess this is the minority. Yes, I’m lacto-vegetarian and yes, that is what some people would consider restrictive. And also yes, I do second-guess my choices every now and then to make sure they’re not coming from a place of restriction. Though I’d been vegetarian for a few years before my ED set I still consider myself in a learning process as with many things in recovery.

It’s hard to give any final advice on how to determine whether or not somebody’s choice for a certain diet comes from a healthy mindset or not. My best suggestion would be to both ask question yourself and your choices regularly as well as having an outside person – at best an expert like a dietitian – evaluate your recovery journey. Which in itself is hard to judge as a person might be long recovered physically but the mind could take years longer to heal [so the “weight-restored” claim doesn’t say much]. A time when our environment deems us healthy but we might still be easily susceptible to any kind of detox/new diet.

Baked II

We want [food and life] freedom but the idea of letting go simultaneously scares us. Hence why we’re all ears the very second we hear of a new trend: intermittent fasting? Sugar detox? HCLF? LCHF? Tell. Me. more. <- the typical – occasionally unconscious – response [= clicking on the title of a post promising information before you gave a second thought on how beneficial reading it would be for you] of anybody who has dealt with any kind of disordered eating, is recovering from an ED, body image struggles or constantly trying to improve their diet.

Potential questions to ask or let somebody else ask you: Are you still consequently following the path of recovery you did before [i.e. trying higher fat foods, “unhealthy”/less nutritious foods], socializing more instead of using food as an excuse to opt out of invitations? Are you being flexible with trace amounts of, say, dairy if you’re usually eating vegan?

Like I said: I’m not perfect here, either. Hence why I also won’t change anything about my diet in terms of cutting any more foods out. Enough about me and my ramblings, though. I’m dropping the micro and am curious for your take on the issue.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: An overall good day filled with lots of smaller and bigger happiness-inducers.

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Once more no specific question. Just tell me any thoughts you have on the issue.

 

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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Why Intuitive Eating is Making Me Sad

 Contrary to what the title suggests I like Intuitive Eating. No, scratch that, I’m absolutely fond/smitten/insert other excited exclamation here of this concept. We’ll get to my point in a minute.

And who isn’t? Look around the blog world and you’ll see dozens, hundreds, thousands of people singing the praises of this wonderful revolutionary trend. This amazing new concept that finally frees them from food worries and restriction. We’re finally allowed to eat just what we want again. Heureka! Oh and have I told you about how I intuitively ate a cupcake today yet? Yes, really, just wait for it …

Intuitive eating

Stop! That’s what is making me sad. We – myself included – are getting excited about exploring the joys of intuitive eating. We eat when hungry. Listen to our cravings. Stop when full. Only: it’s not new. It’s the oldest way of eating around. Dating from way before the first weight loss diets were invented. The way our grandparents ate. And their parents. What we do is get back to our original state. The way we were born.* The way of eating that was stolen from us by the confusing messages sent out by magazines. Blogs. Nutrional experts. Certain doctors. …

*granted, I don’t feel I ever ate truly intuitively but this is part of my own story I have yet to share.

What is making me sad is that millions of women  [and men!] have lost touch with their intuition.

What is making me sad is that we even need a term to describe the way of eating we were born to have. [That being said intuitve eating does sound a lot fancier and upscale than ‘normal’ eating so I’ll roll with it.]

What is making me sad is that we marvel at people who eat intuitively. It shouldn’t excite us but be something we do without even thinking. Just like walking. Brushing your hair. Washing your hands.

What is making me sad is that we’re willing to pay a good amount of cash for programs helping us get back to that state of mind and acting. This isn’t shunning any of these programs because while I haven’t tried them myself yet I know they worked wonders for some/many people and that’s great. The sad aspect is the fact we even need those programs.

Vapiano

Our intuition is built in like a cars engine but was since replaced with worries about calories. Doubts about which diet we should follow. Is it okay to eat x amount of sweets per day? Is gluten/sugar/fruit the devil? A whole industry is built on the fact that we’re completely confused in terms of an essential human need: food. Eating.

Why am I, why are we having such a hard time shutting out the blubber of magazines and social media and simply listen to [and trust!] our inner voice. It has no intention of harming us which I think can we’re righteously doubtful about with certain magazines …

Where does all of this rambling out loud leave me? Am I never going to mention Intuitve eating again? Far from it. Finding my way back to normal and at that intuitive eating and living is still my goal in recovery. Lost connection with your intuition? Start reconnecting. Today. It’s not easy but worth reclaiming.

 

Happiness-inducing today: The sun. Talking to a friend about potential summer holiday plans (!). Editing another family member’s work.

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No questions for you today. Just your thoughts on the issue or experiences.

Breaking the [food] rules

We’re halfway through the [work] week already!

Eat this not that. Limit carbs after lunch. Don’t eat sugar. White flour is evil. Three meals, no snacks.

Food rules. We all know them, we [might] have followed them at some point – only to end up frustrated and deprived. In light of yesterday being International No Diet Day I decided I’d further the celebration and purpose of this day. Dedicating today’s What I ate Wednesday post to looking at some food rules*. These are either ones I followed or popular ones given by the so-called dieting experts out there. Let’s throw the rule book out of the window and celebrate delicious food!

wiawphotobutton

Rule: Skip breakfast to save calories.

Going without breakfast was one of my worst habits during my ED. After my ED set in I used to skip breakfast for years and tried to make it to lunch with nothing or an apple if I couldn’t focus anymore. Eight hours of class fuelled by nothing but a piece of fruit? Not a smart idea. Nowadays I make sure to eat a satisfying breakfast and usually feel like eating again 2-3 hours later. Sometimes earlier.

oat bran_zucchini_peanut flour

Yes, I tried to be a good blogger actually getting out a bowl for the picture. However, after taking the picture I redecided, put the oats back into the pot, reheated them, added cocoa and topped everything with almond butter.

Snack time #1

Rule: Going without food for as long as possible. Hungry? Drink a glass of water.

A rumbling stomach only an hour after my last meal got me anxious. I ‘had’ to wait until the next time I was allowed to eat. The possibilty that I was actually hungry just an hour or two after my last meal? It scared me. Countless cups of tea were needed to fill my stomach. You could see me walk around clinging to a mug pretty much all day at times.

frozen yogurt_PB

As I took most of today’s pictures on a day off of work I had better snack choices than at the office. And what can I say? It might have gotten slightly chilly again over here [it’s meant to be spring, Germany!] but the frozen yogurt is still making a daily appearance. Back in the day I would have used the lowest-fat cottage cheese and probably skipped the jam altogether [sugar!] but I can tell the difference: creamy, sweet – perfect. And: satisfying.

Lunch

Rule: The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead. – or: Cut out refined flour.

Aiming for whole grains whenever possible is a good plan and I find myself enjoying whole grain options more than white most of the time, too. However, this preference shouldn’t feel like a drill and if there’s no other option white grains once in a while won’t hurt. Case in point in my lunch? White tortilla wraps. I’d been curious to attempt creating a tortilla bake for a while but whole-wheat/ high-fiber/ brown rice/ you name it … ones aren’t available over here.

Tortilla bake 1

My options were a) not having tortillas at all or ) bite the bullet and get white ones. Simple as is: I wanted tortillas. So white it was. Did I feel awful eating them? No. Uncomfortable? No. I felt happy as a clam and satisfied. I’ll admit this was a first one for me last week because the ‘no white carbs’ rule had remained stubbornly. Now I can’t get enough tortillas, though, so I made sure to stock up while they were still on offer. Whole wheat or not the Enchilada Bake above was really good so if you’re curious about the recipe come back on Friday.

Snack #2

Rules: Snack on fruit and veggies only. No processed foods.

Fruit is still one of my favourite snacks and the amounts I eat every day could single-handedly keep a few farmers in business. But as delicious as it is fruit doesn’t replace dessert for me and sometimes I just want something different, too …

Apple_Pink Lady

It’s labeling foods as ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ that ignites the dieting mentality and keeps us from giving us permission to fully enjoy eating. There are obviously foods that are more nutritious than others supplying us with vitamins, minerals and offering further health benefits. But limiting myself to just those doesn’t satisfy my soul’s cravings in the long term. Even if you strive on diet of green smoothies, sprouted bread and fruit for dessert external health can be deceiving.

Too good_chips

We’ll skip the dinner picture because I didn’t actually take one but I can let you know I went the lazy route and had oat bran again. It’s my go-to I-don’t-feel-like-cooking dinner and one of those meals I still need to work on [hello, repititiveness]. Let’s look at my bedtime snack, though.

Rule: Go to bed hungry.

Going to bed hungry? No added sugars? Forget it, Bob Harper! Try to take my daily chocolate away from me and you’ll be in trouble soon. I’ve mentioned my sweet tooth before so a small piece of chocolate just doesn’t do it for me. Three squares are my usual chocolate fix, sometimes more. You know those days when you just need that bit of extra sweetness…

Lindt_Chili

Giving up the rules and recommendations was scary for me at first. But in the end, all these food rules do is limit ourselves in living life the way we want to. When eating is bound to certain rules, plans, macros it’s no longer a pleasurable experience. Trying to outsmart our intuition and not allowing ourselves to strain from them, clinging to diet plans isn’t realistic or desirable in the long term [or at all]. Because – just like a very good blend put it so well in a recent conversation:

Dieting isn’t actually living.

And life’s too short to not live it.

* Note that this isn’t a full day of eats. I ate more than pictured and yes, there were more fruit and veggies.

Happiness inducing today: ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams playing when I walked into the gym.

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Did or do you follow any food rules?

What are some of the most ridiculous food rules you’ve heard of?