Confessions of an ex-junk food junkie
by Shelley Frances Deegan
Changing lifelong eating habits is not easy. But if you're up to it,
here are some tips.
re you hooked on any certain foods? Sugar? Cheese? Milk?
Wheat? In the last two articles I have focussed on replacements to dairy
and wheat. There are many adults and children who have allergies and cravings
to foods who want to change their lifestyle to feel better and stronger.
When I was diagnosed with allergies to wheat, gluten,
dairy, sugar and yeast I thought the only foods left to eat would be dry
baked potato and dressingless salad. I was wrong! If you want to switch
your lifestyle and need a starting point, read on.
Do you want to change?
You may think that you "need" to change, or
"should" change. These rarely lead to lasting action. Only the
personal experience of "wanting" to change provides the power.
I have had answers to problems come with miraculous speed once I realized
that it was in my hands to change.
Small steps are best.
Prioritize what you want to change. Put your plan down
on paper. Start by focussing on your most important goal, and move toward
that first - don't overload yourself by taking on too much at once. You
may want to carry a 3x5 card to remind you of your plan.
Use affirmations, books, friends, family, health care
practitioners, support groups, newsletters, or the internet. Create a special
interest group if you can't find one to suit your needs. Reach out, ask
questions, get involved in your well-being. Get in the network!
I count on audio tapes. Borrow tapes from friends, the library or go to
the book store to see what's new. The most important thing is to get started!
Keep a notebook
Keeping track of the dietary details of three meals
a day is more than your memory can hold. Write down what you eat, how you
feel afterward, plus any other physical signs that you think may be food
related. Keep track of foods that make you feel bad or good. Later, you
will be able to go over the information and see what works and what doesn't.
Keep the notebook close at hand (e.g., in the cupboard or on top of the
Learn your new lifestyle.
Cooking and shopping for your new lifestyle isn't difficult,
but it will be confusing until you learn the ropes. Find a cook book that
is user friendly. Check the bulletin boards at local health food stores.
Call health food restaurants and ask for cooking lessons. Be open and receptive
to new things.
Make your change enjoyable.
Whether you're cooking for yourself or your family,
swing out and have fun. I like to pick a country and cook a from their culture;
India is my latest experiment. Thai is next!
Keep it simple. If you are new to cooking, don't start with recipes that
have 15 ingredients or "far out" ingredients. The last thing you
need is mental overload.
Buy Vegetarian Times or Vegetarian Gourmet Magazine
and try a recipe or two. Experiment! Keep track of the recipes that you
like. I keep manila folders separated by category (e.g., seafood, breads,
muffins, ethnic, etc.)
Read about what's troubling you. Find your answers.
Talk to others who have experienced the same thing and ask questions. Ask
for referrals to health care practitioners.
Two final, important words: BE POSITIVE. Stay away from
negative people who are more committed to being "sick" than being
healthy. You can learn to tell the difference quickly. Getting out of a
negative cycle can be hard. I still slip back on occasion, but it's good
to know that it's just part of learning about myself.
Recipe of the month: Kamut Pilaf with Vegetables
- Bring a large pot of water to a boll. Put in the pasta and cook for
5 to 12 minutes (or according to package directions) until cooked "al
- In a large skillet, heat oil on medium high. Add squash and saute
for 2 minutes. Stir in tempeh and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in turnip, carrot,
leek, celery and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Whisk arrowroot into vegetable stock. Stir into vegetable mixture
and cook until sauce thickens. Season as desired. Toss with pasta. Makes
about 6 cups.
Shelley Frances Deegan is founder of "Solutions to Food Allergies."
They offer informational health food store tours several times per month
and "Food Police" services to support you in restocking your kitchen
with healthy foods. Individual consultations available. For more information,
please call (619) 543-0334.