You know when keeping a food log sucks? When you get to the end of a day and realize it looks like this:
Breakfast: Sugary cereal
Snack: ~1/3 jar of Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter
Lunch: Half a bag of tortilla chips with salsa and hummus
Snack #2: Gluten-free cookies
Dinner: Frozen premade Indian dinner, peanut brittle
You know when it sucks worse? When you’ve had a week of days that look like this:
Breakfast: Unsweetened whole-grain hot cereal with flax and almond milk
Lunch: Sweet potatoes, pinto beans, carrot sticks
Snacks: Reasonable portions of nuts, fruit and vegetables
Dinner: Tempeh, apple, and onion stir fry with brown rice and spinach
Exercise: Lots of walking, plus 45 minutes on the elliptical
. . . but you still feel like crap.
Amirite? I know my paleo friends are just waiting to pounce on that second entry, much as their ancestors descended upon prey in the savanna. There are at least as many different definitions of an ideal diet as there are calories in a third of a jar of peanut butter. My own sense that a whole-foods, plant-based diet should make me feel healthy is shored up largely by dogma and selective reading. Still, at the end of most days, I feel I’ve made pretty good food choices. But does it make a difference? My answer is in black (or blue, depending on pen color) and white.
When other people go on and on about how great their unprocessed veg*n diets make them feel, I often struggle with the urge to hurl butternut squash at their heads. I know intestinal healing comes first, and I’m sure an overall healthy diet is probably working invisible heart-protective magic, yadda yadda, but I can’t help but wonder: What’s the point of eating well if an unhealthy gluten-free diet and a healthy gluten-free diet leave me feeling exactly the same? For that matter, what’s the point of eating a healthy or unhealthy gluten-free diet if I feel worse on average than I felt when I was eating gluten? Why bother doing it right if I’ll still feel wrong?
When I start asking myself this kind of question, that’s when I know it’s time to call in the big dogma. Six months to two years to feel better on a gluten-free diet, I remind myself, mantralike.
Six months to two years. That’s a lot of days worth of food logs. Might as well make them good ones . . . well, most of them, anyway.