Sunday, December 28, 2014

Quick mid-holiday update

I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays! I've been busy celebrating Christmas and showing my brother around Japan. Today is one of the only days we have a bit of free time, so I managed to squeeze in this post.

My brother learning how samurai swords are made.

As expected, some of the Christmas gifts I got included food that I'm trying to avoid. And of course it was all food that I love too! So I did break my rules a couple times on Christmas Day, eating peanut butter filled pretzels (gluten) and a couple types of chocolate (dairy).

Apparently I've been naughty, because I also got some coal!

My brother is also trying to avoid gluten, but we both made one exception that was planned ahead of time, because you just can't visit Japan and not try ramen! We went to Ippudo, my favorite ramen shop in Okayama. We thoroughly enjoyed the rich pork broth of their tonkotsu ramen!

So after eating gluten, peanuts, and dairy one day, and then even more gluten the next day, I definitely wasn't feeling too well. I've been strict since then though, and have been totally sticking to my goals.

A couple weeks ago I tried making sauerkraut for the first time, and finally gave it a test today. Delicious! And hopefully those active cultures will improve my gut health.

Homemade red cabbage sauerkraut.

I probably won't write again until after my brother leaves. Here's hoping that I continue to eat well during the rest of the winter holidays!

Happy New Year everyone!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

This, that, and the other thing

Hey everyone, it’s been a while! Miss me?

I’ve been slowly writing this post a paragraph at a time over the past couple weeks, so the end result might be a bit disjointed. I was going to post this two weeks ago, but then I caught a cold and didn’t feel like doing anything. Anyway, here are some thoughts I’ve had.

I’ve been very gradually working towards improving my health over the past ten years, increasing my effort more and more as I felt less and less healthy. Since starting this blog I have focused my energy on what I’m eating, and have been doing a fairly good job overall at sticking to my goals. I think it’s finally paying off! I’ve been feeling pretty good, digestion wise, and I’m starting to notice a couple correlations that I had not realized before, so that’s exciting.

Now that I have my definite trouble-makers, dairy and gluten, mostly out of the way, it’s a lot clearer to me what else affects my digestion. Remember when I said that I was going to quit eating peanut butter and nuts because they’re expensive and I suspected hard to digest as well? So I did that, and all went well. Then I decided to test peanuts, so I had a handful with dinner. I am now fairly certain peanuts give me gas. Pretty deadly too! It’s possible there was another trouble maker in my dinner, so I’ll probably test peanuts once more after I’ve eliminated it again. We all know how much I LOVE peanut butter, so if this turns out to be true, I’ll be really disappointed.

I’ve heard that being tired can make food cravings worse. However, since I almost always crave snacks, I couldn’t really tell that it made a difference. This past week, though, I was doing surprisingly well at not having cravings, even when I felt slightly hungry. It was so strange, and so awesome! I suspect it’s possibly because my body is finally getting used to not having snacks. Eating those carbs just makes your body want more carbs! So anyway, on Sunday I went out to dinner for a friend’s birthday and was out pretty late, resulting in going to bed a lot later than usual. On Monday I didn’t feel too bad, but by the evening I had that overwhelming urge to lie around and eat and eat and eat, with very little motivation to resist it. Hmm, interesting… I guess getting a good night’s sleep is important for even more reasons! Is it totally lame that I’m always excited for bed time? Oh no, a classic symptom of getting old!

So, I realized that I haven’t written about exercise in a while. Exercise used to be my primary focus when it came to getting in better shape, but I guess recently I’ve been concentrating more on what I’m eating to improve digestion. I’m still exercising, though! After six months of recovery, I’m finally able to go jogging without suffering from shin splints. I haven’t amped up to how much I used to run, but I’m working toward it.

I’m trying to exercise at least once a day, but I hate to admit I haven’t really been staying on top of that. I feel like I don’t have enough time these days. I can think of three things that could be taking away from my exercise time. One is writing this blog! Another is the increased time I’ve been spending grocery shopping and cooking so that I can stick to this new food plan I’ve been doing for the last couple months. And finally, it’s winter and it’s cold and I have such a hard time dragging myself out of bed in the morning! Even though I wake up at the same time as always, I often don’t get up that early.

Don’t expect me to post again for another couple of weeks. My winter vacation just started!! And my brother arrives in Japan on Christmas Eve, so we’ll be busy having lots of fun!

I’m going to continue trying to eat well for my body over the holidays. I’ve learned a lot of tricks over the past few months, like making safe dishes for myself like I did at Thanksgiving and immediately giving away or throwing out anything tempting that could cause me problems. Wish me luck! And good luck to you with whatever you decide to do, including eating all the fudge if you’re so inclined!

I’ll leave you with a couple beginning of the holidays pictures.

Bonnenkai (End-of-the-year-party) #1 - raw chicken

Bonnenkai #2 - nabe

Bonnenkai #3 - sashimi, garnished with a fish head
(Bonnenkai #4 has no picture, but I ate sea cucumber for the first time!)

Christmas in Japan = fried chicken and cake. So popular,
it's even in my school lunch. Why? Because. Marketing.

My presents don't quite all fit under my tree...

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Oops, maybe I didn’t win Thanksgiving after all


The day after the party, I ate the giblets and some other leftovers, no problem. Then, later in the week I made a turkey soup with some of the bones. I ate that soup and other leftovers for the next two days, again no problem, and then finished off the last of it on the fourth day. That night, roughly four hours after dinner, I got really bad stomach cramps and felt nauseous while trying to fall asleep. I did manage to sleep, though not well, without incident and felt better in the morning. I figured it was because the leftovers had been kind of old, and honestly I hadn’t exactly followed safe food preparation rules. For example, I let the turkey bones thaw at room temperature rather than in the fridge. And after the soup cooked, I let it cool at room temperature (and forgot it on the counter overnight…) before putting it in the fridge. Granted, room temperature is pretty chilly these days since I’m cheap and haven’t used my heater yet this season, but I still don’t think it’s within safe food storage temperatures. So yeah, my bad, I figured.

This week I made another batch of turkey soup with some bones and a neck to make a nice flavorful broth. I was very careful to prepare everything properly this time, thawing the turkey in the fridge on Tuesday, simmering it for many hours on Wednesday and then promptly refrigerating it, and heating it up on the stove with some added vegetables on Thursday, after which I promptly ate it and put the leftovers back in the fridge. But, like last time, roughly four hours later while I was trying to fall asleep I got severe stomach cramps and felt nauseous. And this time I wasn’t able to sleep it off, and unfortunately was sick. Thankfully it was over quickly, and a couple hours later I fell asleep and felt better in the morning.

So, yeah. I conclude that my beloved turkey hates me. Why must it be a one-sided relationship?? Throwing all that out is going to be really hard. Much harder than the little cakes and cookies so many people felt that I wasted in my last blog.

Speaking of my last blog, it sparked quite the comment thread on Facebook! I know everyone was trying to be helpful, and I apologize for replying negatively, sarcastically, and passive-aggressively. It’s just really hard, what I’m trying to do for my health, and I felt like I was being misunderstood and criticized. That plus a number of other things going on in my life were making me have a super stressful day, so it was particularly hard on me to feel like I was getting negative feedback for something that had been difficult but that I was proud of accomplishing. I appreciate the advice, and will definitely consider taking some of your suggestions. I will also continue trying to do what I think is best for myself. Sometimes you just need to put your own health first!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tracking progress

Last week, Wednesday’s school lunch had everything I’m trying not to eat, and I couldn’t avoid it by not eating one or two of the dishes because it was ALL dangerous. So I shrugged my shoulders and ate my lunch. Up until this point I had had three or four days of feeling great. However, on Thursday I could definitely tell that at least one of the possible problem causing ingredients (dairy, gluten, or egg) was most definitely causing me a problem. I had issues for three days after that. This is the most clearly I’ve been able to notice a difference in digestion when I don’t vs. do eat dairy, gluten, and egg. So now I just need to determine which, if not all, of them is villain.

Very unsafe lunch 

Also, I’ve decided to quit buying peanut butter and nuts. They’re both just too expensive for how fast I go through them, and really packed full of calories. Plus, I think they’re hard to digest in large amounts. So if I’m gonna have something expensive and calorie-packed, it’ll be coconut oil, which shouldn’t be so hard on my guts.

On Monday this week, lunch had dairy and gluten, but not egg. I was expecting to feel the effects on Tuesday, but that was not the case. Does this mean that egg was the trouble maker last week? However, I’ve already established a while ago that both dairy and gluten can cause me problems, and yet they didn’t seem to this time. I know, some foods can cause problems even weeks after eating them, so when I don’t feel well and think it’s because of a recent meal, that might not be the case. Also, some things your body can handle in small amounts, but if you’ve been having too much recently it can be an issue. Digestion is complicated! So I’ve decided to try keeping a food diary. Here’s what I’ve made to begin with (sorry if it’s TMI):

 Tracking the foods I eat and my digestive issues, hopefully to find correlations. 

In addition to that food diary, I have another monthly calendar I use to track my progress attached to my Food Rules. I update my Food Rules every month based on how I did the previous month and what I think I need to focus on. Here’s November and December.


 December - notice a few changes.
Every month has at least a couple updates.

In good news, I've been eating well other than school lunch! Today I found cauliflower at the store, which is not very common so it was exciting, and I made cauli-rice.  Check it out.

Is that fish on rice? NOPE! No grains here, just cauliflower!

Also, I continue to resist the gifts of sweets from coworkers. One of the schools I teach at is quite small so I only go there twice a month. That means I have two weeks worth of sweets piled up on my desk. We've got quite the haul for Today's Trash!

 All of this plus three rice crackers that I could eat was waiting for me on Monday.

 I took it all out of the packages so you could see exactly what I can't eat.

 Proof that I resisted! Goodbye foods that hate my guts. (Get it? Guts? Hehehehe)


Ok, ok, sorry guys, I take it all back! I absolutely love and appreciate every single school lunch and all of the sugary treats my coworkers so generous give me, and I never EVER throw anything away. That is not, in fact, a trash can you see in that picture, but rather it is a... um... feeding receptacle! Yeah! For Bobifer! He's real, I swear. And he has guts of steel, so he can eat anything, no problem! He is also amazingly resistant to medical conditions, so he'll never have to worry about heart disease, diabetes, etc. Lucky guy! Even though he doesn't have to worry, he's still really supportive of me and this journey I'm taking to improve my physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Thanks Bobifer, you're a swell guy!