When it comes to “diets” I’ve practically tried it all – low fat, high fat, low carb, high carb, low protein, high protein, low fiber, high fiber, grain free, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free, soy free, red meat free, IBS diet, GAPS,…you get the picture. I’m by no means an expert, but I do have plenty of experience. And my experience leads me to one conclusion…there is no one-size-fits-all diet. There is no perfect way to eat (i.e. GAPS does not work/is not necessary for everyone, paleo is lacking for some people, low carb can really deteriorate some people’s health, etc.). Not everyone needs to avoid gluten/grains. Not everyone needs to avoid dairy. Every body is different and has different needs. Even individuals have different needs at different times. I do believe there are some basic principles that pretty much everyone should follow:
Eat REAL/whole food
Avoid processed/packaged foods (most of the time)
Eat plenty of healthy fat (butter, coconut oil, evoo, lard, tallow, etc.)
Avoid vegetable oils and high omega-6 foods (canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, etc.)
Eat a balance of carb/protein/fat that works for your body (I do better with higher carb, but others do better with higher protein)
Eat animal protein sources (it doesn’t have to be a lot, but animal proteins have a lot of stuff the body really needs, even if it’s just eggs or dairy or seafood)
Aside from that you have to work with your own body and your own lifestyle. So after years and years of trial and error based on a diet that someone else said “should” work, I’ve decided to follow the Mary diet. It’s what works for me. I don’t have it totally figured out. And it will always be changing for the different seasons of my life. So this is not a diet that anyone else should follow. But I decided to give a rough idea of what works and doesn’t work for me. I know I always enjoy reading what others have figured out that works for them. So this is the Mary diet…for now.
I also want to add an update on an experiment I did. I struggled with eating disorders for years. Now I still have a very skewed mentality about food…which is a big part of my problem. For years people acted like I hardly ate anything. My mom was always trying to get me to eat, and her nervousness about it made me nervous. So to this day I always feel like I don’t eat “enough” or as much as everyone else. And I feel like I can’t waste food and that if I miss a meal or snack something horrible will happen. I have a combination of a fear of undereating (that came from others) and a fear of overeating (that came from myself/my fear of getting fat). But none of that is really true. I decided to log my calories (using a free online tool) for a few days, just to see how much I actually do eat. I was quite surprised to find that on average I eat about 2200 – 2800 calories a day! I’d say that’s plenty. The other thing I learned is that I eat a LOT of fat. Many days my fat intake is 60% of my daily calories (see that picture of me…Fat does not make you fat!!! As long as you’re eating the healthy kind – saturated and monounsaturated. When I ate very low fat years ago…that’s when I had the most weight gain. And when I ate lots of processed foods…that were typically low fat). I think I need to try to lower that a bit and increase my carb intake…even them out a little. Fat is very healthy, but I need a few more carbs I think for my body to be in balance. My protein intake is 10-20%…I think that’s about right for me. I think this is a great thing for anyone to do just to assess what your daily intake really is and see if you need adjustments.
I’m working on trying to calm my gut and reduce inflammation. It’s hard to get a good balance. If I eat very much insoluble fiber it causes gas and inflammation. If I eat very much starch it acts like glue in my intestines. If I eat much PUFA it causes major inflammation.
There are many symptoms I experience that tell me something isn’t right. I’m finally realizing that all of the small annoyances I have once in a while aren’t coincidental/random. They are caused by the food I eat and how my body handles them. Allergies, intolerances and inflammation can do major damage.
Here is a list of some of my symptoms that tell me my body is having a reaction of some kind (die off, allergy, intoleranc, inflammation, adrenal fatigue, etc.) – headache, eye pain, bloodshot eyes, itchy eyes, small cysts/bumps on edge of eyelid (makes it feel like there is something in my eye), mouth sores, cystic acne on my face, acne on my head, neck and back, sore throat, stuffy nose, leg swelling, bloated belly (that I can’t suck in…feels like a rock), weight gain, fatigue, oily skin, dull skin and hair, feeling cold/chilled, joint pain, dry/cracked skin/small cuts, constipation, stomach pain, trapped gas, intestinal spasms, rash/skin irritation, build up on my teeth, coated tongue/thrush/yeast, frequent urination, anxiety and moodiness.
So, on to the diet. I’m still figuring things out. Sometimes it’s a painful process. But I hope I’m getting there. It’s just a list of some of the foods we eat regularly, not an extensive list of all foods. Below the menu I’ve included a timeline of my diet progression over the years. I also wanted to mention that other factors such as sleep, exercise and stress reduction can play a big role in your health.
Have you had experience with all sorts of diets? Have you found anything that works for you?
spinach/most leafy greens (do ok with small amounts of kale and beet greens)
starch/gums – corn starch, potato starch, guar gum, tara gum, arrowroot, carageenan, polysorbate, etc. (ice cream, processed foods, powdered sugar, frosting)
My go-to foods:
egg yolks (especially raw) – wondering about this one (1/13)
dairy (all kinds…especially high fat)
romaine and iceburg lettuce
whole wheat (soaked or sprouted)
Here is a recap of my progression and what went wrong:
high school – fat free/low fat ice cream in large quantities, extremely low fat diet, no nutrients
college – lived on granola (oats), cereal (processed), ice cream, low fat, carrots, apples, diet pop, high sugar/processed, lots of beans, lots of snacky foods, high sugar/starch, low nutrient, lots of salads – vegetable oils/fat free dressing, peanut butter (basically in college I lived on all the foods that I now can’t eat at all – created intolerances or allergies)
2002 – 2005 – low fat, processed food, ice cream, cereal/granola, citrucel, zelnorm, anti-depressants, birth control
2005 – 2006 – IBS diet – low fat, no red meat, no dairy, no egg yolks, soy/rice milk/products, oats, cereal, graham crackers, grape juice
2006 – 2007 – colon surgery and recovery, stick to IBS diet, fertility treatments, pregnancy, thyroid meds, miralax (so many chemicals/synthetic hormones)
2008 – expand diet – finally start learning about REAL food, pregnancy, breastfeeding
2009 – breastfeeding, oats/cereal, ice cream, juice, fertility treatments
2010 – fertility treatments, tried gluten free, pregnant
2011 – grain free, GAPS, pregnant, breastfeeding, low carb/high protein
2012 – stopped GAPS, RARRF, figure out what works for me, start mineral supplements (calcium, magnesium, blends), start rotating foods more, breastfeeding
2013 – Eat for Heat – finally getting my metabolism, mineral levels and body temp up, have more energy, waiting on allergy, adrenal, mineral and thyroid test results, working on weaning so my body can fully recover, trying to get more sleep to help heal adrenals
Some of the biggest culprits/stumbling blocks/temptations for me over the years have been oats/granola, cereal (processed food), carrots, peanut butter, ice cream (boughten), packaged food (fillers/chemicals), low fat foods, artificial sweeteners, low carb; lack of sleep; synthetic hormones; anxiety. I’m still struggling with the lack of sleep and anxiety.
Here are a few good books/sites that have helped me along the way:
The Mood Cure (for some)
GAPS (for some)
Fiber Menace (for some)
Diet Recovery / 180 Degree Health
Eat for Heat
Real Food / Real Food for Mother and Baby