Oh wow. Do I have a lot to say on this topic, especially since I’ve had an extreme and yes, decidedly tortured relationship with food since the day I popped outta the womb and refused to eat for months. I mean, truth be told, I could never get it right. For decades lol!! It’s either been consume every decadent carb in sight – of liquid and solid variety – until I’m full-on nauseous with a belly blown out to pre infant delivery mode or, at the other insane – and insanely unhealthy end of the spectrum – tap into every last vestige of willpower to shun favorite foods for weeks and months in the hopes of cultivating a lean and mean enough temple to strut the latest fashions and trends with Bey-worthy fierce & fashitude.
There’s really never been any in between, and, it’s been, to say the least, exhausting, depleting, hair-yank-out-maddening, as I tried every regimen, every workout, every smoothie, every supplement, all in the name of getting a modicum of control over my wildly outta control relationship with our most basic fuel: food.
Sound familiar? Betting many can relate … 😉
Add to that rough terrain an incredibly consuming work schedule as writer and entrepreneur that left little to no time for proper food prep at home and you can imagine that the foodie picture got even worse: For years, I thought it was “normal” to discreetly inhale a few appetizers at an event I was covering, washed down by a flute or two of champs, topped off later by a processed, vitamin empty microwaved dinner with zero nutrients on home base or a rich and calorie dense multi course late feast at one of our many spectacular eateries (also not a gift to the temple).
Either way, I was up a creek … The sitch was dire and though I knew deep (and not so deep!) down (LOL!) that things had to change on the food front, somehow, there was never any time, or the right time, and, as is often the case in life (and world dysfunction and addiction), days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and there you are, years later, still in the same wonked out, effed up space, repeating the same wonked up, effed up bad habits and patterns. Fun!!!
But then, in my case, from one of the most dire and challenging periods in our lives – the pandemic and quarantine – came another blessing, silver lining or whatever you wanna call it: the opportunity to get to know food and make peace with it.
Forced to finally stay put, away from the constant parade, distraction and temptation of events and restaurants that had become the rhythm of my life for well over a decade, I finally had the time (another side benefit of an otherwise surreal nightmare) to not only learn more about food, engage with it at the grocers, and spend ample time mastering some healthy recipes in the kitchen, but finally, to nail down and nurture the healthy habits that have set me free at last (dramatic but true) enabling the balance I’ve been in search of for most of my life.
What did I learn? Oh wow, a ton!! Let’s just say, those countless documentaries on the streamers, brilliant reads from Amazon and next-level shares and recipes from health giants on myriad platforms (especially You Tube) had their way with me. I read and watched my way into a lifestyle that has gone the distance.
That said, while I’m anxious to share some of my pearls, I must underscore a trillion times and more, that I am, in NO way, shape or form, an expert on nutrition or a medical professional and am merely waxing poetic about some of the tricks and kicks that have worked for me. Accordingly, please consult a doctor or professional before undergoing any radical changes, or incorporating any tips.
Ok, back to those pearls: For me, the overall direction (mother pearl lol!) came in the form of the high carb, low to no oil plant based, whole food, largely vegan lifestyle (with limited sugar and salt) espoused by many well respected and revered medical doctors including John Macdougall, Michael Greger, and Dean Ornish (Bill Clinton’s go-toI) …
On this front, I also learned lots and secured all kinds of great recipes from several of their disciples like Plantiful Kiki, High Carb Hannah, and Canada’s own (and absolutely adorable!) Cheap Lazy Vegan.
Documentaries that rocked my world in this sphere include the brilliant Forks Over Knives, Gamechanger, and Seaspiracy (all on Netflix). As for books: I’m currently a proud owner of most of the bestsellers from the above-mentioned doctors (The Macdougall Program For Maximum Weight Loss and Ornish’s Undo It are notables) as well as the seriously fabulous cookbooks by Kiki and Hannah (lifechanging) and another fave, Will Yeung (also a Canuck!) who, while not a strict adherent of the lifestyle but still Vegan, does offer easily adaptable recipes with a spectacular Asan flair.
In addition to subscribing to this lifestyle, I’m also a fan of intermittent fasting, finding that it does wonders for my digestion and weight management. To that end, I start each day with a tall glass of hot water, featuring the juice of a whole organic lemon (wonderfully detoxifying) and a kick of cayenne, which jumpstarts the day in a perfect way, but hold off on any real food until lunch, enjoying an organic coffee with a dash of anti-oxidant packed cinnamon mid-morning.
For lunch, it’s always a big salad action-packed with as many colorful organic veggie and bean like ingredients I can find. (To that end, groceries like Avril, PA Organic, Lufa Farms and Leopoldo are heaven sent, offering up all kinds of healthy and local ingredients, link at end of post.). For snacks, its fruits and veggies, grabbed fresh, and air popped corn, Mary’s Crackers and Go Go Quinoa’s puffs fur crunch gratification. Finally, for dinner, it’s one of the many glorious recipes gleaned from the above mentioned rockstars, running the gamut from veggie burgers and fries, to stir fried spectaculars, to sushi, to fajitas, to vegan style eggplant parm and more. It’s truly unbelievable how many different themed meals you can enjoy of this type – AND HOW MUCH LOL! – while still respecting the parameters of the regimen. (Did I mention there are no limits to consumption?! You literally eat until satiated, big platters of carbs that please the palate and fill the tummy!! if this is a dream, don’t wake me up!!!)
So, there you have it, my friends, the almost full dump on my life changing food-epiphanies during the pandemic that, along with souped up daily workouts and mindfulness regimens (link here to check them out) definitely changed me – and my little life – in profound ways despite the chaos and devastation erupting all round.
Note that I say almost full dump because there’s one last pretty essential bit I adopted from no less than queen Supermodel Cindy Crawford herself, who is as savvy as she is stunning. When asked about her regimen in an interview awhile back, more precisely how she maintains that famously magnificent machine, she replied candidly: I live the 80/20 rule; 80% good, 20% naughty. And, it is this nugget of fab, ladies and gents, that tops it all off for me!
If you paid close attention, up there, you’ll see that I was careful to use words like “largely vegan” etc when describing my personal regimen, because sometimes, proudly in that 10-20 percent consumption, I do enjoy the odd real egg omelet, chocolate bars, cake, brownies, doughnuts, pies, chips, wine, sangria and even dare I say it pizza and Kraft dinner?!! (Especially on weekends!) You see, life is for the living my friends, and some of those naughty foods, are just darned delish and replenish the soul! The trick though is in the moderation, knowledge and proportion … Just ask Cindy!!! 😉
That’s it for now. See you next week when we wrap with sleep. Meantime, do check out the lessons here on the site and on social media and do tune in to our special H(IT) List here featuring some of the best foodie makers/suppliers in the city …