New in Review: Fear Foods

I know some people don’t like the term ‘fear foods’. I know we shouldn’t be giving food so much power and control over our lives. But for me, fear foods are just that  — foods I’m still scared of in one way or another, but when I use them to challenge myself, I can take away some of that power.

The thing about my particular list of fear foods is that it’s changed a lot over the years. During the worst of my initial round of ED, I was scared to death of anything with fat in it. I subsisted on black beans, white rice and sugar-free Jell-O. At the beginning of my recovery, there were times that I feared almost any food my parents had me eat, since it took away my control. I remember throwing an apple across the room in anger. It shocks me now that I could be scared of an apple. Other foods have come and gone on my list. I still have fear foods to this day. Today, it’s mostly things I’ve deemed less than ‘clean’. Any added sugar, products with added oils other than coconut or olive oil, preservatives and the biggie for me, gluten and most grains. I eat gluten free not because I’ve been diagnosed with celiac or because I feel better without gluten (though generally I do) but because it’s become a fear of mine.

So for this edition of New in Review, I’m tackling a few fear foods. I can’t promise to take on the biggies but I did try some new-to-me things that still scare me to the point that it took me a few days after buying them to bite the bullet and just eat them.

  • Califia Farms Watermelon Ginger Lime Agua Fresca
Mmm, watermelon.

Mmm, watermelon.

After posting about this a few weeks ago, I honestly thought I’d never get the chance to try it out. But the Whole Foods here is pretty good about stocking new products. So when I spotted this, I knew I had to try it. Of course, I scanned the ingredient list and my heart sank a little when I saw cane sugar on the label. I guess I figured it was 100% fruit juice. Sadly, no, but luckily sugar is 4th on the short ingredient list.

Enough about my clean eating rant. I know you all want to know about the taste. It’s basically like eating a ripe, ice cold watermelon. There’s a little hint of ginger and lime, but the watermelon is the big star. And it’s definitely sweet, so I like to mix just a bit of it with water and shake it up with ice.

Pros: tasty, simple ingredients

Cons: added sugar

  • O’Dough’s Bagel Thins (sprouted whole grain flax)
Bagel thins topped with coconut butter and stevia chocolate chips. Side of Sunwarrior protein 'frosting' and berries.

Bagel thins topped with coconut butter and stevia chocolate chips. Side of Sunwarrior protein ‘frosting’ and berries.

Let me just start out by saying bagels are one of my biggest fear foods. I think the last time I ate a legit bagel was during my freshman year of college. I used to occasionally go to the bagel place in the student center and order a plain blueberry bagel, and eat half of it. I was still terrified of bagels then, but not nearly as much as I am now.

When I saw these at Sprouts, I knew I couldn’t pass them up. First of all, they’re gluten free AND vegan. It’s hard to find bread products that are both. Most have egg in them or other questionable ingredients. These are pretty standard, and healthy. And second of all, they’re bagel thins. I know I wouldn’t be able to get myself to eat a full-size bagel, but getting bagel thins means I can eat a whole bagel in one sitting. Disclaimer: it still took me three days from when I bought them to actually try them. So…the fear is still there.

As for the actual product, I’m on the fence. It toasted up well and is doughy without being overwhelming or too chewy. But the taste is off. For some reason, it has a slight fishy smell and taste, maybe from the flax, but I’m not really sensitive to the flavor of flax. It tastes fine when it’s topped with something, but I don’t think I’d buy these again because of that.

Pros: gluten free and vegan, 100 calories per whole bagel

Cons: weird flavor, they’re made with soy flour (I generally avoid soy) and have a little added sugar

  • The Gluten Free Bistro pizza crust
I love me some (gluten free, vegan) pizza.

I love me some (gluten free, vegan, homemade) pizza.

I already loved TGFB products before I tried this one. I’ve used their frozen dough to make pizza crust and cinnamon rolls, and it’s got a great texture and flavor. But I’d never seen their pre-made crust until a few weeks ago. This is yet another Whole Foods find, but if you check their website, they do sell them at other natural foods stores, and apparently some pizza places use their crust.

I’m a total pizza snob. You wouldn’t think a clean eating vegan would love pizza, right? Well, in my case, you’d be wrong. I skip the Daiya and other fake cheeses in favor of plenty of fresh veggie toppings. And when possible, I go for gluten free crust. TGFB’s crust is definitely the healthiest GF+vegan crust ever. It’s made of a mix of 4 GF flours (brown rice, sorghum, buckwheat and coconut) which adds a nice hearty flavor, tapioca starch, unsweetened applesauce, yeast, sugar (just to activate the yeast), xanthan gum, olive oil and garlic salt. No eggs or weird stabilizers needed!

The taste and texture are the best too. I much prefer thin crusts, and this one is thin while still being doughy and soft. It tastes a bit like sourdough, but it blends well with all toppings. And it reheats well the next day in the oven!

Pros: minimal ingredients, whole grain and gluten free, tastes incredible

Cons: a little expensive for just a crust

As for how I’m tackling these fear foods, the verdict is mixed. I used the pizza crust this weekend and got three solid dinners out of it. The juice I bought two weeks ago, and I’ve gotten about 1/4 of the way through it. And I’ve eaten one bagel thin so far…hopefully I can get myself to finish the rest. Luckily, they’re frozen so I don’t have to worry about them going bad before I can finish them. But I’d prefer not to toss them out  — I’ve already done that with far too many things in the past!

Do you have any ‘fear foods’? 

On Fullness, Rest Days and Intuitive Eating

You might be thinking right now, “Wow, 3 super-taboo blog world topics in one post? This girl is cray.” I can’t necessarily dispute that last statement 😉 but as much as I think these issues have been discussed to death lately, I needed to provide my own views on the topics. Amanda had a great post on this last week and it really got me thinking about how bloggers put too much emphasis on what they’re putting into their mouths and how much they’re moving their bodies. Health is important of course, but not when it becomes obsessive.

So first, my thoughts on feeling full. I have to admit, I don’t have the best relationship with this feeling. I have always had a small stomach capacity, so I’ve never been able to eat much without feeling fuller sooner than others. I’ve mostly resolved this issue by eating 5-6 small meals every day and this works for me. But, I still experience very negative emotions when I do get full. Generally, I only feel truly full after meals out, since restaurant portions tend to be larger, and even if I don’t eat the full amount, it can still be overwhelming, no matter what it was I ‘filled up’ on. Let’s look at two examples from this weekend. On Thursday night, my family came up to my apartment because my sister had a college visit at a college nearby and they wanted to save money on a hotel. We went out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants up here, and I had a delicious, individual-sized pizza with kale, garlic, figs and grilled onions on thin crust. I ate 4 out of 6 slices, along with a small orange cream vegan and gluten free cupcake following. After eating, I felt satiated but not too full. Usually, I would feel quite full for maybe half an hour, and feel some guilt over eating ‘that much’ but we ate fairly late and I hadn’t had much to eat in a few hours. However, the following day my mom and I got Qdoba for lunch. I had my usual, the naked veggie salad with black beans, habanero salsa and lots of guacamole. I ate most of the salad, and when we ran errands afterwards, I could sense that I was full, and it messed with my mind for most of the afternoon. Why was I feeling so full after basically just eating lettuce, beans and avocado? I felt guilty for eating most of my lunch, even though it was healthy and balanced.

The meal that made me feel more self-conscious about fullness.

The meal that made me feel more self-conscious about fullness.

Basically, I just have guilty feelings associated with being full, no matter what I got full from. I don’t think this is a healthy relationship to have–I’m not saying feeling full after every meal is necessarily good either, but it’s okay to feel full from a meal every once in awhile,  especially if you enjoyed it while eating. And some days, we just aren’t as hungry, and can get filled up from even little meals, and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it.

I didn't get in any tennis this weekend, but I was ok with taking a rest day on Friday.

I didn’t get in any tennis this weekend, but I was ok with taking a rest day on Friday.

About rest days. I’m bad about taking them myself, but I absolutely believe they’re essential for everyone, from pro athletes to casual exercisers. Since I’ve been exercising regularly (for about the past 2 years), I’ve rarely gone a day without some form of a workout. There were a few days when I was out all day and didn’t get in a traditional workout, but I was on my feet all day running errands or shopping and I counted that as my workout, since it was pretty strenuous after a full day. But even on the days when I exercised a little less than the day before (usually because I was too busy), I freaked out. I would love to say I work out just for the good feeling it gives me, but that’s not entirely true. I also do it for the calorie burn, and because it makes me feel okay with eating. Sad, but true. But on Friday, I worked on my exercise guilt. Since my family was up here, and then we headed back to the Springs after my sister’s college visit, I couldn’t fit in a lifting session or even a quick ab workout. I wasn’t completely sedentary (my mom and I ran errands around town for an hour or so) but I didn’t do much other than that, and surprisingly, I was kinda ok with taking a rest day. Sure, I got right back into my routine on Saturday, but it helped me realize that a rest day here and there isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it might help with exercise burnout, and in preventing overuse injuries. I’m not sure if I’m ready to take a full rest day every week, but I’m hoping to get there soon.

Finally, onto intuitive eating. This one has been discussed so much lately, so I don’t want to go into too much detail here. But I do think it’s been misconstrued a lot. I think moving away from calorie/macro counting and measuring is a great thing (and something I’ve been doing since the beginning of the year) but not when it turns into something that isn’t intuitive at all…orthorexia. I know, because I’ve fallen into it myself. I’ve become more hyper-focused on the ingredients in the foods I’m eating, and it’s been obsessive at points. It might seem healthier than calorie counting, but it can be just as destructive. When people start saying they’re eating intuitively, yet still stick with ‘safe’ foods, that could be a red flag for orthorexia. When someone’s obsessed with clean ingredients to the point that they get anxious about eating foods they don’t know the ingredients for (I’m guilty as charged), it could be a sign of orthorexia. Intuitive eating isn’t about stuffing your face with cake or ignoring all healthy eating guidelines, but it isn’t about eating ‘clean’ 24/7. It’s about being flexible, sensing fullness, enjoying your food and not letting it rule your life. I feel like I was pretty good about eating intuitively this weekend. I had everything from fancy vegan pizza, to nori wraps, to Larabars, to a vegan gluten-free cupcake, lots of guac and roasted veggies to protein smoothies. I ate pretty balanced everyday, enjoyed all of my food, didn’t freak out too much when I felt a little fuller than usual and didn’t overthink my choices as usual. I know this is something I’ll still struggle with, but feeling more free is a great thing!

A healthy weekend option, balanced by vegan desserts and pizza!

A healthy weekend option, balanced by vegan desserts and pizza!

What are your thoughts on fullness, rest days and intuitive eating? 

WIAW: I’m Baaaaack!

When I posted a few weeks back that I was done with WIAWs for awhile, I wasn’t sure how long of a break I’d be taking. Well, it’s only been 2 Wednesdays since then and I’ve caved…but only because I have a lot of food I wanted to share with you guys! I probably won’t be doing WIAW on a weekly basis, as I’m still trying to overcome my orthorexia and I’ve been making strides in eating intuitively, at least amount-wise and not counting calories, but the urges to ‘eat clean’ are still strong and I feel more pressure to eat as cleanly as possible for WIAW posts. So I’m thinking it’s best for me to not do them as often.

Anyways, this week’s WIAW is basically just a bunch of random meals I’ve been eating lately, mostly over this past weekend. I’m sensing a few trends in my recent eats: my salad-a-day goal is still going strong, I love homemade waffles for weekend breakfasts and a few old favorites have made their way back into the rotation. Oh, and an obsession with Instagram and seasonal PicMonkey effects #noshame.

Obviously, still loving the Whole Foods hot/cold bars.

Obviously, still loving the Whole Foods hot/cold bars.

Sorry this is super cheesy, but I had to put a heart around one of my fave meals ever–the WF hot/cold bar! I know I’ve said that the WF up here at school blows, at least as far as their salad bar selection goes. Well, it’s more like hit-or-miss. This box, consumed last Friday, was a hit–tofu ratatouille (a little too salty, but decent), Asian cous-cous, kale topped with maple pecans, grilled asparagus, edamame and my favorite, the in-store made vegan tortilla chips. I also added some homemade guac and it was a delicious box that was totally worth the $7 or whatever it cost. I like never go out to eat, so I think a couple of WF hot/cold bar runs a month is justified 😉

Vanilla blueberry chia pudding made with Sunwarrior protein powder, frozen blueberries, almond milk and shredded coconut.

Vanilla blueberry chia pudding made with Sunwarrior protein powder, frozen blueberries, almond milk and shredded coconut.

This was one of the few successful chia puddings I’ve made–most of them turn out to be runny, no matter how long I let them set. I think this one worked because Sunwarrior is incredibly drying, as in it soaks up liquid easily. Anyways, I love the vanilla+blueberry+coconut combo, so this will be a repeat breakfast/snack.

Southwestern-inspired salad. Spinach, green olives, pinto beans, homemade cashew cilantro dressing, hot sauce.

Southwestern-inspired salad. Spinach, green olives, pinto beans, homemade cashew cilantro dressing, hot sauce.

My salad-a-days have mostly been eaten at lunch, but on my busiest day (Wednesday) I have to eat while typing up a weather forecast in the newsroom–aka, I want something I can eat with one hand, and pack easily into my bag and not have to lug around all day. Salads are semi-portable, but they can get messy, so I usually eat a Larabar with some carrots, and then have my salad-a-day for dinner. Oh, and the salad-a-day goal was just something I decided I’d try out at the beginning of the year, and I think it’s been going strong for a month now. It’s been fun experimenting with different add-ins, greens and dressings but I have a few favorites I like to come back to often.

Return of the snack plate! PB and cacao nib stuffed date (aka best healthy dessert ever), sprouted buckwheat and ancient grains granolas, kale chip crumbs, dried apple slices, salted pistachios, Alter Eco mint dark chocolate and peanut flour paste.

Return of the snack plate! PB and cacao nib stuffed date (aka best healthy dessert ever), sprouted buckwheat and ancient grains granolas, kale chip crumbs, dried apple slices, salted pistachios, Alter Eco mint dark chocolate and peanut flour paste.

Yep, snack plates are back in my life and better than ever. I love having balanced meals (complex carbs/fruit/veggies, protein and healthy fat) so these cover all the bases, and taste delicious. Plus it gives my indecisive tastebuds a lot of different flavors at once…but I’m weird and only eat one part at a time!

Sweet potato chocolate chip buckwheat & almond flour waffle. Topped with chocolate Nuttzo and Sunwarrior 'frosting'.

Sweet potato chocolate chip buckwheat & almond flour waffle. Topped with chocolate Nuttzo and Sunwarrior ‘frosting’.

It’s official–waffles have become my weekend breakfast. I might still have them as an occasional breakfast during the week, but I’m sticking with quicker meals to maximize the time I can spend in bed before getting up 😉 Kidding, it’s really so I have more time to get ready and work out without feeling rushed. But I won’t give up my waffles. I’ve found the best flour combo is an equal ratio of buckwheat to almond, with a little tapioca starch thrown in there to keep them together. They always turn out thick and fluffy!

Nachos for dinner. Raw jalapeno popper on the side. GF multigrain sweet potato chips, sauteed spinach, green olvies, pinto beans, sprouted sunflower seeds, homemade guac and homemade nacho sauce.

Nachos for dinner. Raw jalapeno popper on the side. GF multigrain sweet potato chips, sauteed spinach, green olvies, pinto beans, sprouted sunflower seeds, homemade guac and homemade nacho sauce.

These are basically like my salads, only with less greens. I haven’t had nachos for dinner in awhile, because of my silly fear of grains, but I can’t deny that I love me some Late July multigrain sweet potato chips and honestly, they’re pretty healthy: gluten-free, made with simple ingredients like chia seeds and quinoa and nothing weird in them, and baked. So nachos will be back in the rotation, at least on the nights where I don’t feel like making dinner but have all the ingredients ready to go. I also really want to experiment with Asian and Greek inspired nachos…so stay tuned!

Cinna-mini rolls. Gluten free, vegan, and oh-so-easy.

Cinna-mini rolls. Gluten free, vegan, and oh-so-easy.

I’ve been trying to perfect the cinnamon roll for awhile. For me, it has to be vegan (duh), healthy, gluten free if possible and foolproof. I don’t do well with making my own rolls from scratch, sadly. I’ve made some tasty almond flour based cinnamon ‘rolls’ that, while delicious and simple, were super crumbly and not much like cinnamon rolls at all. Not that that’s bad, but I was still unsatisfied. Until I discovered the perfect gluten free AND vegan frozen pizza dough ball at Whole Foods. Yeah, it’s really rare to find a whole grain based pizza dough that’s GF and vegan so I was thrilled. I’ve made some great cinnamon rolls before using premade pizza dough so I knew this had to work. And luckily for me, it did! I thawed the dough, rolled it out, filled it with just cinnamon, raw honey and chopped dates, rolled it up and cut it into 8 mini rolls and baked it. They turned out a little too chewy, but delicious and pretty darn close to perfect. Finally!

Another salad...yes I'm obsessed with nooch, spinach and olives in my salads.

Another salad…yes I’m obsessed with nooch, spinach and olives in my salads.

And to end on a veggie-filled note (to go with this month’s WIAW theme, of course), yet another salad creation. At this point, I don’t necessarily make my salads based on a theme, like Mexican or Asian or whatever, but I kinda just throw things in a bowl, shake it up and see what works. I generally love a combo of sweet and salty, so I like a lot of olives, dried fruit and something spicy in there.

Do you eat salads a lot? Have you ever tried to perfect a dessert recipe? 

The “O” Word

…And no, it’s not that ‘O’ word. Get your mind outta the gutter people 😉 Today’s post is brought to you by the new ‘it’ term of the blog world, orthorexia. Thank you, Alexandra, for bringing this issue out of the dark and letting bloggers feel okay with talking about it. And now I’m going to talk about how it applies to my life.

I first heard the word orthorexia when I was diagnosed with anorexia 4 years ago. It was tossed around by my doctor and parents, who believed I was at least somewhat orthorexic, along with being anorexic. Now while I won’t say I’m fully recovered from anorexia, I am doing so much better on that front than I was in high school. But the orthorexic part of me has gotten worse, and it’s taken some honest reflection and blog reading on my part to admit that.

Orthorexia fed into my anorexic tendencies. I cut out things based on what I heard and researched was ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’. First it was fats (particularly saturated fats), and then I started seeking out sugar free and low sugar items because of the unhealthiness of sugar. But obviously, most sugar free products (other than those that are naturally sugar free) are filled with all sorts of scary chemicals and whatnot. So I was attempting to be healthy, but wasn’t necessarily choosing the healthiest items. Case in point: during the worst of my ED, I lived off black beans with white rice, and sugar free Jell-O. Neither option is really healthy (other than the black beans), but I ate them because I was told fat and sugar were bad for me.

I used to consider this healthy, just because it was low calorie and whole wheat.

I used to consider this healthy, just because it was low calorie and whole wheat.

As I entered recovery, I still looked for the healthy option wherever possible. My fear of most dairy products lingered, so I never ate anything but fat free Greek yogurt and skim milk. A lot of foods I ate prior to my ED were out the window, never to be eaten again. That’s not to say that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it was definitely orthorexic. I never ate a white carb, stuck with lean proteins like chicken and shrimp and still avoided most fats. I ate almond butter by the teaspoon, if at all.

Fast forward to a year or so ago. I made the decision to be vegan, which sadly was partially fueled by my orthorexia. Finally I had an excuse not to eat cheese, or meat, or ice cream, or any ‘unhealthy’ food. Up until recently, I still eschewed a lot of fat, eating minuscule portions of nuts and avocado and counting my calories like it was my job. But then, I had an epiphany. Not one that made me give up my orthorexic tendencies, but instead focused them in a different direction. I became completely obsessed with macronutrients and ingredients lists on products. No longer was I solely focused on the calorie count–now I wanted to micromanage my protein, fat, carbs and the ingredients I’d allow into my body. I totally bought into the ‘eat clean’ movement.

But I think I’ve started to take it a little too far. Over the past few months, I’ve eliminated more and more from my diet, based on what’s in the item in question. Weird-sounding ingredients like soy lecithin and maltodextrin have gotten the side-eye from me and been placed back on the shelf. Even products with simple ingredient lists have been tossed in the trash. I used to love quinoa pasta–made from just quinoa and corn–but it has OMG so many carbs. Enter kelp noodles as a replacement–sea veggie based and almost no carbs or calories, but full of minerals. An orthorexic’s dream! It takes me forever to get through a grocery shopping trip because I have internal debates with myself regarding the ingredients and nutritional value of products. And after hearing countless success stories by people who’ve tried paleo, I’ve adopted some of it–not the meat-eating, of course, but the eliminating of most grains from my diet. I used to love whole grains like quinoa, oats and sprouted bread…now I fear them. I make my baked goods with almond, coconut and buckwheat flours now. I’ve gone for several days with no grains in sight, and I start to freak out if I eat two servings of them in a day. I’m not saying we need 9 servings or whatever the USDA says we do, but why have I demonized grains, even the gluten free ones that I love? Why have I become hung up on balancing my macros perfectly, and feeling like a failure when I don’t? Why have I started to fear food, even though I worked so hard to overcome so many fear foods (including coconut, which I love now)?

Now most of my meals are grain free, like these almond flour pancakes, because I'm scared of grains.

Now most of my meals are grain free, like these almond flour pancakes, because I’m scared of grains.

Honestly, I just wanted to come clean and say that I’m not perfect. Behind the fun food pictures is a huge fear of most foods, even some healthy ones. I do want to say that I truly love eating healthfully, and being a produce-loving vegan. But I’ve taken the clean eating thing a little too far, and I don’t know what to do. Some of you may have already noticed my orthorexic tendencies from my blog posts or comments, but even so, I wanted to come clean and admit my issues. There’s nothing I appreciate more than honesty, and I think there needs to be a little more of that in the blog world. Everyone has some kind of issue, and it’s okay to admit to them. People will respect you all the more if you do.

And as for my orthorexic issues, I’m starting to work on them. I’ve stopped tracking my meals on MyFitnessPal, because I was just using the numbers and percentages as an unhealthy competition with myself. It’s really scary to me not to know exactly what my calories and macros are, but I need to give up the obsessive control. And I’ve decided not to do WIAWs for awhile, just to relieve the pressure on myself to have a ‘perfect’ day of eats. Other than that, it’ll be a slow process to figure out where my fears and anxieties are stemming from, but I’m willing to work them out to have a truly healthy relationship with food for the first time in 6 years.

Have you ever struggled with orthorexia or the pressure to eat clean?