Tuesday, August 9

The good, the bad and the challenge

There seems to be a name for every diet combo in the world except for mine (Dairy/Aspartame free and on Weight Watchers). What can I say? I like to live dangerously. This is all fine except that whenever I Google "Dairy Free" I get lumped in with those Glutten Free freaks. Let's be clear: I could give a crap about those Glutten people. However, all of the grocery stores are falling all over themselves to call out "GLUTTEN FREE" this and GLUTTEN FREE" that. Meanwhile, I'm left standing the in grocery aisle reading every word of every label trying to decipher what has diary and what doesn't. It's entirely annoying.

Most fun of all is the list of, oh, 35 ingredients that I'm supposed to memorize because they are all code for hidden dairy. It's a nightmare.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that I'm still going strong.

The funny news is the hushed tone my Weight Watcher leader used while discussing this whole dairy-free, reduced meat and limited processed foods kick I'm on. It seems she lost over 100 pounds eating this way. When I asked why she doesn't really talk about that fact in her meetings she shrugged and said "Nobody wants to hear it. Eating this way saved my life. It reversed my diabetes but nobody wants to hear about it." Oh dear.

Here's the challenge: I'm going to Big Bear for a Girl's Weekend. I usually pig out on these weekends. I've got a lot of planning to do to get through this one. Because I'm such a badass I'm considering leaving my "milk pills" (aka my safety net) at home so I won't be tempted to blow it. I know!

I'll try to post pix of the lake. It's supposed to be in the mid-seventies all weekend. I can't wait!

Thursday, August 4

Day three

I'm still going strong. I have one helluva headache but keep forgetting to take anything for it. I'm guessing it's some sort of Diet Coke or aspartame withdrawal symptom. Ehh, I'll get over it.

Today my resident vegan friend told me that most people who restrict their diet eliminate dairy last before becoming a vegan. She says I'm definitely taking hardest step first. It seems I'm a BADASS!

In MUCH more exciting news: Mom called today and began with one of her famous "WELL!"s. t seems the guys who are doing some repairs on the house started pounding on the door. Mom answered and they asked to come in the house because "the bears are eating our lunch!". WTF?! It was about 10:30 am. WHY are the bears wandering the neighborhood at that hour?! Mom looked out the window and watched as a mother bear with two cubs sat on our curb and casually ate from the worker's coolers. Unbelievable. Mom had an appointment and said that as she drove off, the police pulled up and people stopped for pictures. It was like the zoo in front of our house. Good Lord!

Wednesday, August 3

Dairy Free - Day Two

I woke up this morning and immediately realized that I had just had the best night's sleep ever. We're talking about a level of sleep that I haven't had (without medication) for as long as I can remember. One friend called it (quite hopefully) a "fluke". I don't know but I sure had lots of energy today. Was it the lack of dairy or Diet Coke? I don't know and I don't care. The same friend later turned to me very sadly with "You know this means you can't have chocolate anymore, right?". Well, lets not get crazy. I may have to avoid milk chocolate but I'm pretty sure dark chocolate is still in the mix. I then told her not to worry because "any day now I'll throw back a fist full of pills and go apeshit again."

But here's the deal, I'm as allergic to cats as I am dairy but I've always hated cats and have always loved dairy. Both make me feel like hell but I learned to hate one and not the other. I could easily take a Benedryl every time I see a cat but they're a-holes so I don't. On the other hand, I've taken my "milk pills" with every meal for decades. What the hell? My body literally screams "Stay away from that wretched beast!" when I encounter a cat, and I listen, but when it says the same about cheesecake I stifle it with milk pills.

So far this whole thing has freaked some people out... a lot. Mom, of course, said it best. She doesn't approve of my dairy free, whole grain squaw bread and told me so. I told her it was intended to fill me up along with my breakfast smoothie and that she was not required to eat it. I then explained that the dreaded bread had helped me eat vegetarian all day as an experiment and it worked. I did, however, plan to have shrimp with dinner so don't worry. Mom just stared at me and exclaimed "That's not the flesh of animal!". I can't be sure but I'm pretty sure that's Mom-speak for "pussy!". She was happy to find that along with my "Just Fruit" jam I had purchased some bacon. After all, I'm not insane.

Anyway, that's the progress report. I'm dairy free and feeling great. I can't tell you how upsetting this realization is.

Tuesday, August 2

Diary free - Day 1

So, I tossed my beloved diary products:

(Yes, that's FIVE containers of Laughing Cow cheese wedges, what of it?!)

I replaced it all with these:

This is gonna suck ass.

I didn't even try to substitute cheese. It all looked too gross. My resident vegetarian friend suggested I wait on trying a substitute cheese until I "forget what real cheese tastes like". Oh dear.

I find that I am able to make dietary changes when I immerse myself in supporting propaganda. I've been reading up on dairy elimination which leads to vegetarianism fun facts which leads to veganism fun facts. I'm pretty sure I love bacon too much to take those dreadful steps into vegetarianism but I might be able to cut back on beef, poultry and fish. My resident vegetarian friend (who is beside herself with joy over my recent decision) agreed that eliminating things a little at a time is the way to go. The only reason I'm even considering this is that the health benefits of sticking to a plant based diet are difficult to argue with. Everywhere I turn there are magical plant based diet claims of lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and reversing heart disease and significantly lowering our risk of cancer and diabetes (God damn it). I'm of the mindset that old age is overrated and should be avoided but I've seen people die slowly at a relatively young age and that's no picnic either. If I don't continue to lose weight I'm heading down that path so it's time to make some sort of change.

I've read the Skinny Bitch stuff, and bought a couple of vegetarian cookbooks and they are pretty intense (Jesus!). They all make the same glowing health claims but so far the book that makes the most sense to me is Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. His whole "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants" seems reasonable and the least hysterical. This appeals to me.

While immersing myself in dietary propaganda I found an absolutely hilarious blog by an honest to God meat lover who is starting a vegan diet for 30 days. You can check his story out here. He's a 51 year old carnivore who refers to himself as The Big Sexy. Sold!

The Big Sexy was inspired to change his meat eating ways by a cool story about a Texas firehouse that switched to a plant based diet to support their fellow firefighter who had a cholesterol level of 344 (yikes!). After a month of eating vegan together, their friend's cholesterol dropped to 196. Jesus! I'll be checking in on that site as well but mostly because the author is hot... and named Rip. Jesus!

Today I did without dairy and Diet Coke... and I lived to tell the tale. Well, I actually did one better. I not only avoided Diet Coke but I eliminated most sugar substitutes. (Yay me!) That meant no Splenda in my iced tea and no afternoon Crystal Light. This made me very unhappy but sugar substitutes are apparently going to make my intestines disolve and turn my uterus inside out (or something like that) so I'm getting rid of them too. I dug out that old box of Stevia since , it seems, it's the only acceptable sugar substitute (until further notice). I plan to use my Stevia in the fruit smoothie I'm making for dinner. My smoothie will be made with love, Stevia and soy milk... barf.

It's only been a day, so I feel no different, but I must say it was nice to not have to pop a pill with every meal. Stay tuned...

Monday, August 1


I've decided to give up dairy for a while. I'm violently allergic to all things dairy but I love them so. As a result I pop what I call "milk pills" to help me digest the dairy in my diet. I pop LOTS of those little pills. I know this is ridiculous but I've been doing it for years. I realize that I shouldn't have to take "medicine" to help me digest certain foods in my diet so I'm going to stop.

I have a friend who read up on how a change in her diet could help improve her complexion. She shifted to a vegetarian diet and hasn't been sick one day since she made the change. That was about 2-1/2 years ago. I don't know if I'd ever be able to go vegetarian but I think it would do me some good to ditch the dairy and, depending on how it goes, maybe give up other things down the road.

I've been on Weight Watchers since before the new year and have lost about 35 pounds. I'd hoped for more of a loss but I've fallen off the wagon a few times but I've always hopped back on. Being stubborn seems to be working. In addition to kicking dairy to the curb I plan to avoid diet sodas. There's not one real ingredient in those evil cans and the caffeine is killing my sleeping habits. This change doesn't seem like it will be as difficult to achieve. I've done it before. It's really just a matter of breaking the habit when I dine out.

I've been reading up on how dietary changes, even small ones, can make a big difference in how we feel and how they can eliminate some annoying symptoms we just put up with. I hope to see some improvement in my sleep and my frequent upset tummy issues.

Here's the creepy thing though: virtually every website I visit on the topic of eliminating dairy seems to have a Lactaid link. That's the brand of milk/milk pills created for people like me who can't digest lactose (the sugar found in milk). When I visited the LiveStrong site on the topic the sponsors were Lactaid AND Diet Coke. That's eff'd up! It seems there are political implications with this small life change (which only encourages me). I don't lean towards conspiracies but I do believe the milk, beef, pork and poultry boards in this country are very powerful and pull a lot of political weight. I am very skeptical of the claims that "Milk does a body good" since my experience has been the opposite. I'd be up for "Beef, it's what's for dinner" but I've seen Food Inc. and I'm not impressed with the way we raise beef in this country. Of course, it hasn't stopped me from eating it but I have switched to having my butcher grind beef for me. Beef may be the next to go. We'll see.

So, if you see soy or almond milk in my fridge, don't be alarmed. It's just me trying to improve my health one bite/sip at a time... and flipping off certain industries in this country. Oh joy!