100 Days Later

Well, it’s been 100 days since I started my challenge. I’m actually writing this post from the airport as I wait to board my flight. What better time to reflect…

Strong Start
I am really proud of the work I put into this challenge, especially when things got tough but I kept it up. There were some really frustrating patches, but I could still be proud of the work I was doing.

Weak Finish
I have to admit I did not finish strong. I struggled after Florida and never seemed to get the energy back. I attribute the struggle to a mix of short days (aka dark by 5pm) and my difficulty catching on with the low-FODMAP diet.

I also let myself relax over the last couple days when I was having meals with friends. I made it 98 days without a donut, and when I did have one, it was, well, glorious. As much as I would have liked to resist for a couple more days, I liked being surrounded with friends when I enjoyed an old favourite for the first time in months.

Impressive
Regardless of me caving a couple days early with an old vice, there were some realizations that impressed me.

1. No soda. I haven’t had pop since August, and I’m proud of it. I have craved it on a few occasions, but never acted on it.

2. Coffee-free for over 2 months. Knowing I would need to give up coffee for my elimination diet, I switched to green tea at the end of September and haven’t looked back.

3. No McDonald’s since the summer. I’m not proud that this is impressive since it should be an easy one, but I do enjoy a little visit to the golden arches once in a while. I imagine I will break this streak on my trip since I have a tradition to try McDonald’s in every country I visit.

All told, I have a lot to be proud of, and I am thankful for having done it.

Now I have a few weeks away to think of my next challenge.

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The Trip

The start date of this 100-day challenge was no fluke. I didn’t randomly pick a Tuesday. In fact, I started the challenge at a really busy time and probably would have preferred a different start date.

The start date of Tuesday, August 26th was 100 days before my trip to Australia and New Zealand. The trip is a graduation present to myself after finishing almost 3 years of part-time school while working.

While the idea of timing the challenge was to feel my best before leaving, I did not expect to end up spending months experimenting with my diet. I genuinely pictured eating “real food” for 100 days and feeling amazing. I did not anticipate having ongoing problems that would add a layer of complexity to an already ambitious undertaking.

With one week before leaving, I can safely say I won’t be leaving the country feeling my best. But, I do feel better than before. I also feel equipped to manage my eating while away.

When the challenge ends, what’s next?

I knew all along that I would be “free” on my trip – namely, not restricted to only real food. That being said, I feel good about avoiding highly processed foods and “food-like” products. I’m more discerning now, and I think that will carry on.

As for sugar, I think I will make a concerted effort to keep my sugar intake down and opt for less refined options when possible. I am, however, looking forward to enjoying a donut soon. Specifically, the candy cane donut at Tim Horton’s as that is a seasonal favourite of mine.

Gluten? Based on some experiments, I think I can safely say gluten does not cause problems for me. Although the low-FODMAP diet is supposed to avoid gluten, I have had it a couple of times since finishing the elimination diet, and I haven’t had any negative reactions or discomfort. That being said, I’m not planning to start loading up on bread and pasta.

Eating while Travelling

I’ll be away for an entire month, which means a drastic reduction in cooking and preparing my own meals. However, during the majority of the trip, there will be access to kitchens or kitchenettes, which means it will be easy to make breakfast, snacks, and other meals depending on the day’s schedule.

Now, in the past, I’ve had a tendency to go overboard on snacks and treats while travelling. I don’t think I’m alone in this, and when it’s only a few days or a week, it’s not a big deal. When it’s a whole month, that kind of behaviour could be more problematic. So, I do need to pace myself and remember I don’t need to have every pastry, baked good, and candy that “they don’t have in Canada”. Yes – I have a penchant for scanning the candy aisle for any kind of snack they don’t sell in Canada.

I’m also going to focus on relaxing. Because, well, that’s the whole point of a vacation, right?

Vegetable Stand-Off

I’ve been feeling a bit better over the last couple of weeks. When I thought about what was different, I realized – unfortunately – that I haven’t been as good at eating my vegetables.

Maybe it’s the cold weather and leaving work in the dark that have inspired more comfort foods, and meals like ‘breakfast for dinner’. Maybe it’s because I have to avoid a number of vegetables I used to eat regularly, and since it’s not easy to keep track, I just avoid most of them. I’m guessing it’s a combination of things, but ultimately, I’m starting to wonder if a big part of my problem was digesting vegetables.

If this is the case, then it’s kind of sad that I’m finding this out so late. And it could be other things, too. I am avoiding other foods – not just certain/many vegetables. Also, it’s not in my best interest to eat fewer vegetables since they are so important for my health. I’m going to experiment a bit more and see which ones are most compatible with my system.

However, I do leave for my vacation in just over 10 days, so there isn’t much time for experimentation. And yes, that’s the last day of my challenge. But more on that later.

It’s a Comfort Food Kind of Night

It’s snowy. Very snowy. And in this kind of weather, I just want to have some comfort food. And for a while, I’ve been thinking about making pancakes.

So tonight I looked up some different dairy-free, gluten-free pancake recipes. It took some time, and I was hesitant about a few. In the end, I went with a very simple recipe from dailybitesblog.com called 5 ingredient banana bread pancakes. This recipe is actually so basic I had trouble imagining how it could work. The pancakes consist of bananas, eggs, ground flax seed and cinnamon. The 5th ingredient is coconut oil for cooking the pancakes.

The “batter”, I’d you can call it that, was quite runny, which resulted in pretty flat pancakes. And, they break very easily, so the first few were a mess. I eventually got the hang of them, and they were actually quite tasty. They really did taste like banana bread.

Would I make then again? Not any time soon given the precarious nature of the pancake. But, if you want to try something simple and enjoy banana bread, I recommend giving it a try.

Unexpected Benefit?

Yesterday at my dental appointment, both my hygienist and dentist were noticeably surprised about the state of my gums. Each one commented about how much better my gums look compared to last time. Apparently at the last visit, they were more inflamed and red. Now, I feel I should mention that the previous state of my gums did not appear to warrant any action on my part – in case you were picturing gnarly, horrible gums.

After mentioning the improvement of my gums, they asked, “have you done something different?”. In all honesty, I’ve actually been flossing less that before my last visit. I still floss a lot more than the average person, but I know it has taken a dip. So, the only thing I could think of was my diet. I told them I cut out processed foods and refined sugars, and that I haven’t had coffee in almost two months. I don’t know if the changes in eating have actually been the cause of my improved gum health, but it seems possible.

So I’ll just take my healthy gums and consider that an unexpected benefit of my changed diet. And if I’m wrong, well, it doesn’t really matter.

Motivational Dip

I’ve been lacking in some motivation lately. What kind, you ask?

Not making all my meals. Not eating as many vegetables. Not planning in advance.

Since returning from Florida, I haven’t been inspired to make my own meals. It doesn’t help that the time change means it is dark by 5pm. And while I have been following the low-FODMAP diet much better since returning, when I’m eating food I haven’t made myself, I tend to eat more of it. Which means I am full more often – something that didn’t happen when I prepared all my food. It’s as if being “freed” from the elimination diet meant I needed to overcompensate to make up for lost time.

I know I need to snap out of it and make a more concerted effort to get back in the kitchen. I just need to find my motivation because it appears my “get-up-and-go” got up and left.

What Took Me So Long?

I have a new love affair.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit much. But, after many weeks of hearing the recommendation, I finally visited Health Foods & More in Waterloo. And all I could think was, why did I wait so long to come here??

The store is perfect for anyone who has food restrictions. Okay, so there are a number of health food stores, but this one has a bakery filled with amazing items that are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, no refined sugars, etc. Yesterday I decided to go over my lunch break and learned they make fresh lunch foods, including hot foods. Yesterday they had multiple gluten-free, vegan options. I tried the mac & cheese – and unlike Disney, this mac & cheese was actually gluten-free.

The only problem I can see with this new-found interest of mine is that I may go overboard with the baked goods. On the one hand, it’s nice to purchase one treat as opposed to making a batch of baked goods and having a few too many when they are still warm from the oven. On the other hand, one only needs so many baked goods. So, I will have to be careful about how often I visit since the lure of the bakery is strong.