Healing Protocol: What I’m Eating

January 28th, 2013 at 8:08 am
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Thanks for your support in response to my healing protocol intro post last week. Reading your comments made me glad that I decided to share about all of this, even if it feels “unlike me” at times!

So. What am I eating on this whole healing protocol thing anyways? Lots! (Up above you’ll see just a few of the delicious eats I enjoyed last week: kale with onions and peppers, a new recipe for a breakfast “tart” with lots of pesto and sauerkraut, and some carrot pancakes that I threw together one morning on a whim.)

To recap last week’s post, I’m working on supporting healthy digestion, clear skin, and good sleep. Diet obviously plays a huge role in this. (I’m also working on stress reduction/management, but I’ll save that for another day.) When it comes to my food, I haven’t made any huge changes, just small tweaks.

(Before I get too far into this post, please know that I’m not recommending that anyone else do exactly what I’m doing to heal nor am I suggesting that this is the only way to get results. I am the one person who knows my body best just like you are the one person who knows your body best, so I’m doing what I know in my mind and heart is right for me. Now that that’s out of the way…back to the food!)

After quite a bit of research and reading and research and reading and research and reading, I’ve decided to take what most people would call a Paleo approach to my healing protocol. So, I just Googled “the paleo diet” and got 4,790,000 results in 0.2 seconds. I’m not kidding! It’s a popular topic, to say the least. But I’m not doing it because it’s popular. I’m doing it because it works. I feel good eating this way.

Shortly after giving up gluten and dairy, I went vegan for about 8 months focusing on plant foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, oils, brown rice, quinoa, beans, and lentils). After a few months, my blood work came back with a lot of problems, my weight just wouldn’t stabilize, and I lacked energy. That’s not to say that a vegan diet is bad. Not at all. It just didn’t work for me.

I’ve come full circle since then and have since discovered that my body works best when I focus on produce, clean proteins, and healthy fats. The majority of the past two years, this is how I’ve eaten with the occasional addition of brown rice, quinoa, and beans.

I don’t like putting labels on the way I eat (vegan, plant-based, Paleo, etc.). I just like to eat a wide variety of whole foods. I guess you could say it’s the Hallie Diet. But to really focus on healing my digestion and getting rid of my symptoms, I’m going one step beyond a “mostly grain-free” diet and am intentionally trying to incorporate more principles of the Paleo lifestyle, such as:

  • Support digestion at every meal!
  • Don’t worry about fat. It’s good for us. Just don’t worry about it.
  • Eat a fair bit of meat.
  • But eat WAY more vegetables than meat.

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What does this look like? Well, how about we start with what I’m not eating, and then we’ll take a look at what I am.

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What’s Off the Table (for now…)

  • All grains, including gluten-free grains/flours. Grains and I have had a rocky history. I guess you could say we’re fair weather friends. Sometimes we get along and sometimes we don’t. I don’t believe that grains are inherently bad, which is why I would eat (prior to last week when I started this protocol) the occasional gluten-free grain-based baked good or scoop of rice. But for all healing intents and purposes, they’re off the table for now.
  • Beans and legumes. I don’t really have a problem digesting them, but they are definitely one of the harder foods to digest if not cooked properly, so I’ve taken them off the menu to keep things really easy on my system.
  • Dried fruit. (*Tears*) I love my dried fruit, maybe a little too much! Dates, figs, raisins, dried blueberries, superfruits, you name it I love it. But dried fruit, even if it’s completely natural and organic and packed with antioxidants, is still a hefty source of natural sugar. Sugar, no matter its form, can interfere with hormones, lead to skin problems, and effect digestion as well. So dried fruit and I are taking a temporary break. But it’s okay. I know we’ll get back together (in moderation) someday.
  • Sweeteners. To be honest, saying goodbye to dried fruit is way harder for me than saying goodbye to sweeteners. I don’t use much of them in my daily cooking anyway, so it’s no biggie. That said, I am using very small amounts of raw local honey from time to time in things like salad dressings. I don’t think it’s going to completely derail the protocol if I eat a 1/4 teaspoon of honey every few days.
  • High-sugar fruits. Sayonara bananas and oranges and pineapple. They’re higher on the glycemic index and generally have more sugar than things like green apples and berries, so I’m staying away from them for now.

 

I should point out here that I am allowing myself a treat day every 4-5 days to keep me sane. On treat days, I get to enjoy one small treat that has something a little “off limits” in it. I’m not eating a pound of dates here, people! Just a little something to reward me for my good efforts. Examples: a small bowl of banana slices with coconut milk and cacao nibs, a date stuffed with sunflower seed butter, a few raisins added to my salad.

What’s On the Table

  • Vegetables! Hallelujah, oh sweet vegetables. Greens, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, celery, carrots, squash, bell peppers, cucumbers, herbs, sweet potatoes (no white potatoes), onions, garlic. I am a veggie monster. (I’m also still eating peas. I know they’re a legume, but I don’t eat them every day or in large quantities, so I’m not sweating it.)
  • Fruit, with limitations. I’m sticking to lower-glycemic fruits like berries, apples, pears, kiwis, grapefruit, and the occasional frozen peach slices. I’m also only eating about 2 servings (sometimes less) of fruit per day, just to keep sugars low overall.
  • Meat and seafood. Beef, chicken, turkey, salmon, sardines…pretty much any animal protein. (I don’t do much with pork or lamb, though. Just never have gotten into the habit.) I get the highest quality proteins I can find, like organic/pastured poultry and grass-fed beef when possible. It is extremely important to source quality meat if you’re going to be eating a fair bit of it. I repeat, extremely important!
  • Fat. Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, but HALLELUJAH, oh sweet fat! Fat is a food savior of sorts. When you’re hungry and hankering for a handful of moist and delectable dates, get a spoonful each of coconut oil and sunflower seed butter down the hatch as fast as possible. Your cravings will be gone in a flash! I have taken to eating coconut oil and nut/seed butters by the spoonful (nothing new…) at all times of day when I need fast and easy calories. I’ve also been eating more avocados, coconut milk, ghee (clarified butter), and olive oil. When you’re eating fewer carbs, those calories have to come from something. And my body absolutely loves the fats.
  • Eggs, in moderation. Eggs and I have had a rocky relationship as well, so they are in my diet right now on a rotational basis. I eat them about twice a week, and I’m doing just fine with them in this frequency.

Super Supporters

I’m also incorporating some other foods that I’m calling “super supporters” for both their nutritive qualities and their flavor properties.

  • Homemade mayo. See that picture up there? That’s my first stab at homemade mayo! It’s a little strong because I used extra-virgin olive oil which has a strong flavor, but I actually don’t mind it. I thought I hated mayo. I never (I mean never ever) used it until last week. Then I tried my homemade mayo and my entire perspective change. I enjoy it now as a source of good fats and a good flavor boost for things that may be a tad bland.
  • Bone broth. I’m making homemade chicken broth and beef broth more regularly. I make it in big batches and freeze jars for easy use. Broth is a fabulous source of minerals and gelatin, which is soothing to the digestive tract. I sip it by the cupful and use it in cooking, too.
  • Sauerkraut. In addition to taking probiotics (I’ll tell you about my supplements in another post), I’ve been trying to get more fermented foods into my diet. I eat a few spoonfuls of raw, probiotic-rich sauerkraut per day (usually before breakfast or lunch). I’ve also been drinking a little raw kombucha here and there, but I’m not that into it, so it’s just a “once in a while” beverage at this point.
  • Cinnamon. It balances blood sugar, kills bacteria, and boosts immunity all at once. Healing or not, I can’t live without my daily doses of cinnamon!

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Why Paleo?

There is so much controversy over what is really “the right way” to heal and support good digestion. Plant-based? Juice cleanses? Paleo? Primal? Everything in moderation?

Reading through all of the opinions on the web (and believe me, there are many!) about the best approach to take can drive a person bonkers, almost leading to what I call “analysis paralysis.” You analyze every approach to the point of being paralyzed and completely unsure of what to do. In cases such as this, I think it’s best to go with your gut.

Ultimately, like I said before, we each individually know our bodies best, so determining what approach we should take is completely up to us. I chose to take a Paleo path because I’ve done elements of it before and I know my body responds well to it. Simple as that.

If you’re trying to figure out what’s best for you in terms of a healing protocol, I would encourage you to take a “media fast.” Get off the internet. Stop spending late nights on Pinterest. Take a few days to just be with yourself, to tune into what your gut is telling you, and then go with it full speed ahead. Don’t let the people on “the other side” sway you off course in your plan. Stick to it! You’ll be better for it. Lasting results only come through sticking with something for longer than a few days.

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My Results So Far

I’m committing to at least 30 days of the healing protocol before I determine what I want to adjust in terms of food, supplements, etc.

I’m about a week into it. Here’s a quick breakdown of how things are going.

  • Digestion: Feels about the same as before, but it’s not like I had any bad symptoms before, so I’m perfectly okay with the status quo. I was a little worried that incorporating more fermented foods might give me an upset stomach, but they haven’t. Oddly, I find that when I go too long between meals is when I start to feel bloated and icky. Eating good meals and snacks at consistent intervals throughout the day is key for me.
  • Skin: It actually feels really good! I still have some blemishes that I’m dealing with, and I’m guessing that will be the case for a while as skin issues can take a long time to resolve. But nothing new and horrible popped up this week, so I consider that to be progress. I will outline the skincare regimen that I’m following in a future post.
  • Sleep: I had a few nights last week where I didn’t sleep so well, and I think I’m getting to the bottom of why. I’m going to trial a few more things before I report more on the sleep front, but I’ve learned some things in the past 7 days that I think will make a difference.
  • Stress: What can I say? Stress ebbs and flows. Last week was not a stressful week. Who knows what this week will bring? I’ll tackle what I’m doing for stress relief in another post, too.

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By the way, I did take before photos of my skin, just to have them in my back pocket in case I have some amazing transformation through this whole process. I’m not sure if I’ll ever muster up the courage to blast them out on the worldwide web, but maybe someday…

Okay, I’d say 2178 words is a long enough post for now, huh?

But before I go, I have a question for YOU:

  • Is there anything in particular you’d like me to cover and blog about when it comes to this healing protocol? No topic is off limits…so let me know if there’s anything you’re dying to know!

More later…

Comments

  1. I’d like to know why you are emphasizing the fermented foods. I like sour krout occassionally but didn’t know it might be good for me.

    I’m “low-carbing” my way which means more veggies and meat. I don’t like labels either or follow specific plans but I hadn’t gotten out of control with processed gf breads so I’m with you on being grain-free. Potatoes are the hardest thing for me to give up. But I will start allowing myself treats on Sundays when I feel like I need to.

    I will say it again. Glad to be back reading your blog!

  2. Kristin A. said on January 28, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Cholesterol? Wondering if that will be an issue with all the coconut oil? I have read that it raises only the good cholesterol. However, had a doctor tell me it raises both.

  3. I’m trying to know what is best for me yet. But I’d like to know how you did your mayo.
    You are helping me much. Thanks.

  4. I’ll be patient and sit tight waiting for your first Paleo cookbook as I have been trying the same approach for just under a week. Every night so far has rendered me a good night’s sleep as well as just plain feeling good.

    Best to you, Hallie, in your journey. Looking forward to the next post.

  5. I would love to know more about why you are eliminating all natural sweeteners for your detox. I understand why no extra high glycemic fruit, dried fruit or maple syrup, or agave, or cane juice or coconut sugar.
    But why no so called “good” ones that don’t create cravings or elevate blood sugar, like stevia ( either in powdered or liquid form) or xylitol, or erythritol…?

    I’d love to cleanse for 30 days and get rid of all sweeteners too, but am freaking out about the no sweetener rule because of my massive sweet tooth :) and am afraid I won’t be able to make it if I dump them along with all fruit and dairy. Thanx!! xoxo

  6. Stephanie said on January 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Hallie, If I lived closer (and knew you personally!), these last two posts would deserve a big hug. I can’t wait to show them to my hubbie, as he is my biggest supporter as I walk this health journey I have been on. So many things you have already said have helped me tremendously! We sound like we are in the same place right now. I am anxious to follow you as you post about your journey. Thank you so much!!

  7. Hi Hallie
    I have fructose issues including sensitivity to starches. My biggest problems are apples and onions; I only eat waxy potatoes on occasion which are easier to digest. I sometimes eat Paleo food but need to limit the amount of nuts I eat due to feeling quite “heavy”. I am from Australia; why do a lot of American recipes have applesauce in their ingredients? I look forward to hearing how you progress through your healing program.

  8. Hallie, First of all, thank you for your authenticity and courage in sharing your healing journey with us. It is especially helpful to me right now. I have a lot of the same sensitivities as you described and would love any recipes that you have to share along the way to your healing or even a meal plan that you create for yourself. I know I’m on my own healing journey, so I’ll pick and chose what works for me, but I think I could really benefit from what you have to share, for example the carrot pancakes.
    Also, I ran across this cd when I was purchasing a cd for relaxing, this one was specifically to help with sleep. It was called Music for Insomnia. Here it is…https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/music-for-insomnia-alpha-delta/id506553605

    Take care, Jenilyn

  9. SherriS: Thanks for your comment. I’ll add your fermentation question to my q & a list. I’m hoping to put together a video addressing some common questions. :)

  10. Kristin A: I’ll add your question to my q & a list and try to address it in a coming video. :)

  11. Luciana: For the homemade mayo, I pretty much followed the method at the link below. It worked great! I did it in my Vita Mix on a low setting. I would definitely recommend using a light flavored olive oil, as the flavor concentrates in the emulsion process and comes through pretty strong.

    http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2012/08/19/mayo-how-to-video/

  12. Linda C.: Aw, you’re so sweet! Glad Paleo is working for you. :)

  13. Ali: Good question. I’ll add it to my q & a list and try to address it in an upcoming video. :)

  14. Stephanie: Thanks! Let’s give each other big virtual hugs for now, huh? :) I’m glad you’re learning something right along with me.

  15. Lydia: I’ve gotten this question about applesauce from other Australians before. In the US, applesauce is sold everywhere as a snack food, so it’s a common ingredient in baking (adds moisture, can be used in place of oil, etc.). If you don’t have applesauce and want to make a recipe that calls for it, any fruit puree can be used instead usually.

    It’s funny, I can hardly imagine life without applesauce since I’ve grown up with it! :)

  16. Jenilyn: Thanks for your comment. I’m hoping to share some recipes and meal ideas soon! Stay tuned. :)

  17. These sound yummy and I intend on trying them in the next couple of days as my sweet tooth is calling my name as well.

    I do have a question, though, about using dates. I know this particular recipe you mentioned that a liquid sweetener is needed. However, I’d like to convert some recipes from coconut palm sugar or even agave to dates, but I don’t know if a cup of dates is equal measure to coconut palm sugar or agave. I think I may be able to substitute dates for the agave if I’d add in applesauce for the amount of agave the recipe calls for along with the dates. Is there a standard measure for substituting dates?

    Thanks, Hallie, as always for sharing so much with us.

  18. Hi Linda: I’m assuming you’re talking about the recipe I posted today for the honey wafer cookies? There is no standard measurement for substituting dates, since they are a completely different texture than sugar or a liquid sweetener. So I’m not sure how I’d go about using them as the sweetener in the cookie recipe. There would probably have to be a lot of tinkering. Not saying it can’t be done, since it’s not a “streamlined” swap it might take some more creativity. :) Good idea, though!

  19. Hi Hallie, Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us so openly. You are a very positive person and we are fortunate to learn from you. You said no question is off limits so I hope I’m not being too personal, but I was wondering about the bloodwork you mentioned. What do you specifically test for periodically to know how you are progressing and how often? Are there special lab tests involved? (I hope you don’t mind me asking.) I have to be on supplements and my doctor always tells me that to keep doing the lab tests is expensive so he just (mainly) goes by ‘clinical observation’ of how I present at appointments. That’s why I’m interested to know because I would like to have a more concrete way of checking my health status.

  20. Would love to get your recipes for the breakfast tart and carrot pancakes!!!

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I'm Hallie Klecker, a professional recipe developer, author, and passionate gluten-free foodie. As a certified holistic nutrition educator, my goal is to inspire others to live a balanced, nourished life through eating well and living pure—one bite at a time. Learn more.