I have only been on one strict diet in my life.
Back in 2013, I was wrestling with a lot of digestive issues and my doctor suggested that I try the elimination diet. If you know anything about that diet, it is extremely restrictive, to the point I was sneaking in cucumbers to eat as a snack when we went to a minor league baseball game because I knew there was nothing I “could” eat there.
After having a colonoscopy (I’m pretty sure not too many people are open about that, but I am), and doing the elimination diet, nothing came back certain. I was in Belize on a mission trip a few months prior, and I maybe picked up a parasite or something there, but to this day, we do not know. Regardless, that was my only experience with a strict diet. And it sure was eye-opening!
Then I was diagnosed with advanced heart failure. It has been quite a journey, to be honest. I have been on a low sodium diet for quite some time, but over the past few months, my blood draws have proven that my glucose levels are way out of whack. I do not have diabetes, but I am labeled “pre-diabetic,” which means I have the beginnings of what could lead to diabetes if I do not watch what I eat.
As a result, I am on a low-sodium, low-carb, no caffeine, high-potassium, low-fat, Mediterranean diet. Low-fat because I can’t clog those arteries! Now understand this though – these are all LOW…it doesn’t mean NO.
So how do I make this work? How do I feel like I am still living life when I love food, and not feel like I’m missing out? Or go hog wild when I do “cheat”? Where is the balance?
I am a moderation girl. I try to stick to this as much as I can, but when I have to watch numerous “levels,” it can get a bit tricky. But let me tell you, this is NOTHING like being gluten and/or dairy free! This is a cinch compared to that I feel like. I’ve done those restrictions before, with a few others on top of it, and it was hard. But this, I can work with.
HERE’S THE KEY: Slow and Steady
When I was put on the Mediterranean Diet, I did go out and buy some staples, but I did not clear out our cupboards of everything that didn’t fit into it. I have slowly adjusted to different items here and there, but I didn’t go crazy. When Kristin make drastic changes, they NEVER stick. But when I make slow and steady changes, it becomes life-long.
Plus, like my dietician said, when you make drastic changes, then revert back, then try again, time and time again, it can really mess with your body. And I would say she nailed it. There is even a TERM for this called “yo-yo dieting.” And indeed, I’m sure you’ve heard of this before. So what does my life look like on a “low” in-a-lot-of-categories diet? And more specifically, a Mediterranean Diet? Here is how I make it work:
- Hard-boiled egg
- 1 egg+1 egg white with spinach and mushrooms (if I have those in stock). Eggs can be the same way, so that is why I skip the yolk on the second egg.
- Cereal can be VERY high carbed, so I try to watch what kind and how much.
- Lettuce wrap
- Veggies and dip
- Low-carb tortilla with whatever we have in the house
- Fish tacos.
Supper: I have not changed my family’s diet all that much. I wouldn’t say we eat a lot of processed food to begin with though. Except for Mazy, where she will have the good ole hot dog, chicken nuggets, and mac ‘n cheese too. But I do not buy many items in a box or frozen entrees, only because I shouldn’t eat much of them considering they would probably ruin all of my levels, especially salt and carbs. Here is what I make for suppers:
- Kabobs or anything that can be grilled
- Meat in crockpot
- Really, ANY meat
- SIMPLE homemade recipes
- Burgers – just eat it without the bun if I’ve had enough carbs
- BLTs – skip the bread, put a little mayo on a lettuce leaf with bacon and tomato, and you can barely tell the difference
- Tacos – I use a low-carb tortilla or make a nacho plate and use a few tortilla chips.
- Pasta – I just eat a very small portion of noodles and have a large salad on the side.
- Pizza – I try to only eat one slice, but boy is that hard! Okay… that’s when I splurge
**I’ll be honest, I do end up cooking an added item here and there for myself, but nothing that is time-consuming. I just bought zoodles (zucchini noodles) for the first time and of course they aren’t regular noodles, but they will suffice. If I make something that I shouldn’t have a lot of, I just make sure I put a lot of veggies on the table for me to eat, and it works every time.
**It’s SO hard for me to not grab those salty and so so good Club crackers or chips! But…I try to find better options.
- If I crave the salt and carbs, I try to go for tortilla chips, which in moderation, aren’t that bad in my book.
- Veggies and a little bit of ranch
- Granola bar
- Healthier cheeses like Swiss and Monterrey jack.
- Pickles – hello sodium, which ups my intake a bit, so again, in moderation.
- Peanut butter – just a tablespoon
- Popcorn – I use an air popper or buy the healthy stuff
- Shrimp – yes, I will thaw out a handful of shrimp from Aldi, as a snack!
- Ultimate weakness: chips and queso.
- Another weakness – CFDC or DCCF – yes, I have an acronym for it – Caffeine-Free Diet Coke. I don’t drink a lot of pop, but if I do, that’s my go-to.
- Water – squeeze some fresh fruit into it if I need a little zip
- Caffeine-free tea
- Red wine, which is heart healthy in moderation.
**Thankfully we don’t eat out often, at all.
- Salads are often a good staple, but if I’m craving what I like to call “real” food, I try to just eat half of it, and have the rest put in a doggy bag.
- Any meat and a vegetable either roasted or steamed
But let me say this. I SPLURGE. About a month ago, we went out with some friends for burgers and boy I ate every last bite and all the sweet potato fries on that good ole plate. And I enjoyed every bite of it. And if we have Vitale’s, oh yes, I’ve had 3 big ole slices, with only slight regret.
It’s a PROCESS: As you can tell by this post, and the honesty in it, I am NOT perfect. Slow and steady, my friend. That’s what works for me. My blood levels the past 2 months have been amazing, and so I see it working. And of course when you see results (not necessarily on the scale), it can keep the momentum going. But this is a PROCESS for me. I am FAR from “arriving.” Every day though, finding different options or choices, has made a world of difference for me. And for me, it means my life. I plan to be around til I’m 90 and I’m not going to let advanced heart failure take my life because of what I eat. It’s something I can control and I am sure going to put up a fight!
Are you on any restrictions? If so, what are they? What are you go-to “diet” meals?