Sodium

3/22/16

Well, the good intentions... As I've been hovering around the 20 lbs lost mark, my appetite has suddenly dramatically increased this week. Part of it has to do, I'm sure, with finally getting over pneumonia and feeling like eating again. But part of it is a cycle. Eat something salty or sugary, and my body craves more salt and more sugar. For months, passing ice cream in the grocery store has not been a temptation at all. I picture allergies to the milk in it, and clogged arteries from the cream. But today, for some reason, I bought a small container and thought I'll just taste it. And that taste turned into eating 3 servings worth. Kathy made Easter sugar cookies, and just a nibble turned into eating a bunch. And those are really bad: cream cheese in the batter and shortening in the icing. Anyway, as the pounds start to inch upward again, I am re-committing to staying full of clean foods so that I can get rid of the cravings that start to intrude.





3/19/16

One concept I've been using lately is something shared with me by my son that is a principle from addiction treatment. It is called "Fast-forward the fantasy." The concept is that when we are tempted to indulge in something that we know is not good for us, the draw to it can be extremely powerful. During those moments of temptation, we seem to only think about the physical pleasure we will receive if we indulge. Our minds quickly supply all the rationalization we may need: "you can start over tomorrow," "just once won't hurt," or "you deserve it because life has been so ... (Fill in the blank...stressful, empty, etc." But, rather than giving in to the temptation, one can instead fast-forward in time past the point of indulging in whatever it is that we are trying to overcome. Often, after a moment of pleasure comes reality -- guilt, regret, emptiness, helplessness, frustration, and a literal feeling of "coming down" off of whatever artificial high the addiction has produced. The trick behind fast forwarding the fantasy is to think about and even try to experience in advance those feelings that will come if you do decide to indulge. They are much less alluring than the feelings that lead one to indulge in the first place. For me, this has been really helpful in the areas of salty foods and sugary foods. Sugary foods make me week and give me acid reflux. Instead of imagining the sugar-high produced after eating them, if I instead think of the feeling of physical weakness and the acidic feeling in my stomach, I find that the temptation loses much of its allure. Likewise, if I think of salty foods as drying up my body of the moisture it needs and raising my blood pressure, the trade off hardly seems worth it. I hope to continue assembling tools like this to fight the addictions I face relating to food, and I'm grateful to my son for sharing these ideas with me.





3/2/16

Today is Super Tuesday, when a bunch of states conduct their primary elections / caucuses to decide who will be the nation's presidential nomination from each political party. I stayed focused on work for much of the day, leading up until the results started coming in from the participating states, at which time I became distracted. I ate relatively-good food all day until the evening. I notice that if can give my mind a distraction from eating and almond milk -- not the best breakfast in the world, but ok in moderation. But as I went to eat, I pulled up the news and placed the cereal box next to me on the table. I got lost in reading different news articles and did not attend to how I felt about what I was eating or, especially, how much I was eating.  





3/1/16

Noticed a bit of progress today. I went to the grocery store late in the evening, after skipping lunch, and was very hungry. Not a good decision usually, as it probably wasn't today. But here are a few things I noticed:

  • I was mentally kind of looking for an excuse to eat junk ... "I deserve it after a long day and it wouldn't be so bad because I've hardly had much to eat today"
  • I was in a setting where "no one would know." In the past, this has involved me purchasing junk and eating it before going home
  • I am in a habit of buying things at the store to consume on the drive home, whether healthy or less healthy

But, as I wandered the store, deciding what to buy, my cravings were not for the high-sugar, highly-processed or high-sodium items. I wasn't tempted for ice cream, chips, candy or crackers, but more for granola, health-food peanut butter with dark chocolate, juice, etc. In some ways I thought this was a good sign that my tasks and desires are changing when it comes to food. There have been times in the past where the cycle of buying and eating junk food at grocery and convenience food stores led me to consuming 1,000 - 3,000 calories all just off that one shopping experience, consumed entirely by the time I got home. Not this time...my indulgence led me to some all-fruit Popsicles, a bunch of frozen no-sugar-added fruits I can blend into smoothies, and a huge bottle of water.





2/29/16

Well, here is to starting over again. This past week was somewhat disasterous. I felt like I was still trying to catch up on sleep throughout it, and didn't give my best effort to consume healthy, Daily Dozen type foods, nor to record what I was doing each day, nor to stay involved with reading new things about nutrition. As a result, the first day or two were ok and then it became progressively worse throughout the week. Too much sugar, not enough nutrition. Too much sodium. But, despite this setback, I am ready to recomit and reconnected to the clean eating lifestyle.

The good news is my weight, after a week of feeling out of it and depressed, is the same as when I started after returning from vacation, so I am thinking of it as the lost week that I can now move on from. It is frustrating, or I guess I should say, I am frustrating. But I am moving forward.





2/1 - 2/22/16

Well, we are back from our 3 week trip to Europe, which included 11 days on a cruise to Spain and Italy, followed-up by visits to Paris and London. 

The trip proved to be a mixed bag when it comes to eating and to remaining accountable for my change of lifestyle. I started out with a plan about how to eat only the healthiest foods while gone, and I resisted anything at all deviating from the plan while we traveled to Europe and in our hotel prior to the cruise. We requested ahead of time that I be given a low-sodium, vegetable-based meal plan, but since Norwegian does a flexible eating style, that would mean having to make arrangements at every meal in every restaurant. I quickly decided just to eat in moderation the best I could and choose the healthier range of choices available. 





1/27/16

Today was a day of meetings. I started the morning with an Acai smoothie and headed into the meetings. Had lunch with Bishop Remer at Taco Bell, which is a challenging place to go and eat anything nutritious. I had a pintos and cheese (yellow), a bean burrito (yellow) and water. More than the nutritional content, I am concerned about the amount of sodium -- had to be a huge amount.   





1/25/16

Frustrated with myself this morning. Weighed in at 252 lbs, and I understand there will be ups and downs in my weight based on a number of factors, but I have not done things to help myself this past week very much. I, once again, ate food right before bed last night, and once again was too liberal about what constitutes "yellow" food and how much to eat. 

I had steak, more than I planned on eating, for dinner. It was high in sodium and is clearly a yellow food, but I kept on eating it rather than only eating the amount on my plate. I also ate lemon blueberry pancakes that Bekah got out for lunch. And I even put maple syrup on them, which is either a yellow or a red food, and yet I kept eating them. And then Kathy made Strawberry bread and I nibbled at that, with the nibbles turning into eating pieces of it. So, overall, I had a day of eating much more yellow food and probably some red, rather than making it to the 80% green target.  

The lack of fresh vegetables, especially greens, in my diet this past week is really telling. I feel less hydrated and more like eating starchy foods. I also have done poorly at planning out what to eat in advance, compared with other weeks. I will get both of these back on track this week and pair them with exercise. My goal is to walk at least 5,000 steps per day each day this week and to do at least one exercise routine through an app each evening this week. 





1/24/16

Well, I have mixed feelings about how yesterday went. Once again, I had low consumption of fresh vegetables (but did fine with getting enough fresh fruit). I can feel the difference though--I feel like I have less water in my system and like I am retaining more puffiness from the food.

I missed lunch and was pretty hungry by dinnertime. Kathy and I ate at a Japanese fast food restaurant on our date, and I stuck with the healthier options -- brown rice, steamed veggies, extra vegetables, fruit juice for a drink, etc. The only thing that wasn't so good was the green curry sauce, which had a lot of salt in it. But, overall, especially in light of being hungry, I did pretty well.  

Then we went to a movie, and I brought snacks ahead of time that are healthier. So, that part went well also. The part I'm frustrated with this morning is, after we came home from the movie, I ate the crust of two slices of pizza that we had ordered for the kids while we were gone. I was a little hungry, but not enough that I should have eaten, and certainly not a starchy, yellow-ish light food that has a surprising amount of sodium in it. I also drank a no-calorie Splenda-sweetened so do and ate some peach fruit-only jam. All in all, it felt more like a craving-induced snack. The late hour and the high ratio of yellow-light foods made it something I shouldn't have done.  It just felt more indulgent than nutritious. I did the same thing the night before, so I need to stop this in its tracks and not allow it to form a habit.





1/22/16

Slept in late again this morning. The alarms went off at 5:30 - 5:45 and no one woke up. We've been getting much less sleep since the kids have been back to their school schedule (with Ryan having Seminary at 6:30 every morning), so we've been getting up to ready family scriptures together at 5:45 each morning. The late start led to me getting right to work as quickly as I could, which led to me just eating a banana for breakfast. Now, it is 12:10pm and all I've eaten for the day so far is a banana. I need to get up and go find sometimes more to eat so I don't get too weak. 

My blood pressure has been pretty good recently, with a whole string of readings below 120/80. So, I cut my Atenolol blood pressure medicine down to 25mg for one of the two doses per day, leaving the other at 50mg. That seems to have raised it back up just a bit as I've now been getting readings between 120-130 for the top number and between 80-90 for the bottom number. I notice the cleaner I eat and the more hydrated I am, the better these readings tend to be. I need to keep up the good eating and drinking lots of water and see how it responds on this new level of medicine. 

I am starting to get worried about eating on our upcoming 3 week vacation. Two of the weeks are a cruise -- to Italy and Spain -- and the remaining week is a tour of some other European countries, including France and England. Kathy indicated on our registration forms that I need a diet low in sodium, cholesterol and sugar, but Norweigian Cruise Lines operate using a freestyle dining system, meaning you aren't just going to the same dining room every day to eat, so I am not sure how they will keep track of dietary needs when they never know where or when I will be eating. But I suppose my greater concerns have to do with trying to justify myself in not maintaining my 80% green light, 20% yellow light and 0% red light food commitment. One or two steps down the slope of just indulging in whatever I want, since it is a vacation, and I will so easily tumble back into old patterns, put on 10-15 pounds and be right back where I started. So, I've got to come up with some good plans that balance a way to enjoy the freedoms of vacation while also eating healthy foods. And I want to consciously plan to be active physically as well so that I feel much better with the time adjustments that will be required.





1/13/16

Spent forever yesterday trying to get this blog to automatically generate an excerpt from a post, if none exists. Right now, I've got to go into the post settings and either type or copy/paste from the original post in order for it to show up as an excerpt in a feed from the blog. That is a minor pain, but I should not have spent 3+ hours trying to figure it out. Kept thinking I was close to getting it, only to find out I was wrong. Anyway, back to posting excerpts manually for now.

Sometimes I'm that way with food as well. I spend way too much time obsessing over tiny parts of food, like whether something has 1 g of sugar added, when there is a much larger picture to attend to. After all, avoiding that 1g of sugar today and then a month from now downing 300mg of sugar by binging puts the 1g today in perspective. But, I have a hard time being moderate sometimes. I like to go all out for something, get exhausted and then collapse and give up. I say I like to, but that isn't accurate. It actually makes me angry with myself when I do that, but it is a pattern I've repeated over and over.





1/12/16

Woke up feeling like most of the salt I ate last night flushed through my body. I ended up waking during the night to use the bathroom about 3 times, I think. Anyway, I was happy I didn't wake up feeling puffy or full. 

Started with a bowl of oatmeal with raisin sugar, soy milk and some home-made dried bananas and cranberries, totaling about 1 serving of fruit between them all.

Lunchtime is now here and I need to decide what to eat. Tons of fresh produce to cut up, if I want to put the work into it, and some butternut squash that I baked yesterday but didn't eat. I need to be sure to fit some beans in as well today--that and greens have been the two areas I haven't been doing perfectly in the past few days. Today, I'll be sure to add them, and I've already eaten a snack of edamame, so that is a good start.





1/11/16

 started by taking my blood pressure this morning and it was the best reading I have had in decades. It is interesting that it has been able to go so low so quickly. There are only two things I can think of that are different:

  • Clean eating
  • Taking a new medication at night that helps with sleep

I am sure that eating clean has been a significant contributor, since nothing in the past has worked, not even two prescriptions plus an over-the-counter medicine for blood pressure. The interesting thing, though, is I have not lost a ton of weight so far...it has mostly be in the range of 5 lbs so far. But my blood pressure has responded really well. I will need to likely go down to 25 mg for one or both doses rather than continuing at 50 mg (of Atenolol, which affects my blood pressure as well as pulse)





1/9/16

A better day today in terms of less cravings. I haven't been doing as well getting in all of the greens I need each day. Fruit is easy to eat and quick to grab. Greens and some other vegetables require more work and planning sometimes. 

I did well eating mostly green-light foods today, but even green light foods can cause trouble if I eat too much of them or the wrong balance of them (such as eating 1000 calories of nuts). I need to make some adjustments to stick to the serving amounts I'm aiming for within the different types of foods. Basically these: 





1/8/16

Tough time with cravings after a mostly-yellow eating day.

We talked about going to a movie, and I felt a powerful draw to it because it has junk food and is in isolation. Didn't end up going, but it was a little scary feeling those cravings. I also felt some strong feelings of loss and pain thinking of the upcoming cruise we are doing and the unlimited ice cream I'd be passing up (ice cream, though I'm allergic to dairy) is one of the most enjoyable desserts for me, and on a cruise they have soft-serve machines that are available nearly anytime. Plus there are all the savory foods, the local foods in European countries we'll be visiting, and the endless desserts. I am going to need to develop a strong plan to maintain my focus and motivation throughout the cruise.

For dinner on our date tonight, Kathy and I ate at Cafe Rio, a Utah-based franchise that just opened up here in Castle Rock. I ate the salad, which is served in a flour tortilla bowl. It had good stuff in it, but, like many restaurants, the sodium content is through the roof, especially in the sauces. Here is my analysis of what I ate: 

  • Water for drink (I may have normally had soda or hochata)
  • Salad for entree (I normally would have ordered a burrito, tacos, or nachos)
  • Black beans rather than pinto beans
  • Salad dressing on the side (although I did get the yellow, nearly-red, house dressing with ranch and green tomatillos)
  • Lots of lettuce
  • No cheese, sour cream or fried corn tortilla strips
  • Guacamole
  • Pico
  • Fresh hot salsa (very salty but fresh ingredients) 
  • Vegetarian rather than my normally-chosen sweet pork

Probably the biggest impacts were the volume I ate (lots of food, though I didn't feel too heavily stuffed), the high levels of sodium, and the parts of the flour tortilla and house dressing I ate. Didn't eat the whole tortilla, but nearly half. And didn't eat all the dressing, but nearly half of the side-serving portion.

In any case, if I could re-do the event, I would get no dressing, no tortilla, and would not get the added fresh hot salsa (sticking with pick instead). That would put the whole of the meal more in line with solid green light food). Oh, I did have rice as well and wasn't sure if it was white or brow, but it was seasoned (with salt most likely) and they gave me a lot of it...I probably ate half of it. 

I'm positive, due to the volume, relatively-late hour at which we ate, and high sodium content, that I will at least artificially show a few pounds gained in the morning. And I'll feel a bit puffy from water retention--a feeling I don't enjoy. Lesson learned.