I’ve certainly tried my share of diets and health food, but many years ago decided my eating mantra was “all things in moderation”. And that’s worked pretty well for me. I enjoy all kinds of foods and cuisines, and truly enjoy cooking, baking, preserving and of course, eating! My food focus is eating in tune with the seasons and getting as much as possible from local farms. Usually that’s in my home state of Colorado, so winters are a bit of a challenge. But when I travel you’ll find me at a farmers’ market, tasting and then cooking what’s in season there.
When I arrived in Portland, Oregon, I learned that my daughter and her husband were cooking and eating from the book Always Hungry by Dr. David Ludwig. As so many both working and new parents know, having the time and energy to prepare meals at home is a challenge to say the least, and can be a real hurdle to healthy eating. After using the book for a little more than a month, they had stopped the yo yo skipping lunch (too busy) or eating out at lunch, binge snacking when arriving home and frequent takeouts for dinner. Instead, every day they ate a filling breakfast and prepared a home cooked dinner which provided the leftovers to become a wrap or salad for lunch the next day. Now, I’m not saying this change in habit was easy for them. It required some planning ahead, thoughtful shopping and cooking skills, not to mention discipline and keeping long term goals in mind. My daughter lost 2 inches from her post-baby waistline and her husband dropped 6 pounds that month without the conscious effort of dieting or feeling deprived or hungry!
I thought my husband and I might try the plan. I’d like to up my energy and fitness; both faltered during my cancer treatment (surgery and chemotherapy) almost five years ago and never returned to pre-cancer levels. And we both could reduce our heavy reliance on carbs for energy; I love breads and sweets, and he loves beer and wine. We’re in week 2 of what’s called phase 1 “Conquer Cravings”, and here’s the Pro’s and Con’s for us.
- We’ve successfully avoided our carb weaknesses and we’re still married
- Very little being hungry or feeling deprived (miss the sugar in my coffee and I’m sure hubby really wishes he can have that wine with dinner, which is allowed later)
- Detailed meal planning, shopping lists and recipes help you jump start the program
- I liked the variety of protein sources – meat, fish, vegetarian, vegan (but no pork?)
- Use of a variety of oils/fats for cooking/eating (but no butter?)
- Various make ahead sauces and dressings make vegetable sides and salads satisfying, almost luxurious if you’re used to low fat eating (like we were)
- You’ll spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking (and then cleaning up of course) so work as a team so you don’t get overwhelmed
- Some of the recipes lacked in flavor and/or texture (never in salt, I reduced somewhat); but enhancing these adds steps, cooking and cleanup time (browning protein, reducing liquid, cooking some ingredients separately); only do this if you really love cooking and have extra time
- Preparation times on the recipes are misleadingly short; don’t believe them
I would characterize our previous eating habits as heavy carb, light fat, light protein. Phase 1 focuses on high quality and adequate protein, generous fat and minimal carb, so requires some mental and physical accommodation. But I like the direction of fresh unprocessed ingredients (although not always locally seasonal) and a knowledgeable although novel approach to nutrition IMO. Here’s a sampling from last week’s menus…
Even snacks and desserts!
The jury is out as far as the scale and tape measure, but we seem to have more energy and better mood. We’ll definitely learn and hopefully benefit from this culinary and nutritional experiment!