Friday, March 18, 2011

I like food.

Let me preface this post by saying: It's wordy, there's only one picture, and it's really different from my usual style/fashion posts. It's about food, specifically what I eat, so if i sound high and mighty, it's not intentional. I also don't claim to be an expert. Also, I'm not a vegetarian, but I used to be (explaining the veg and vegan collection below). I'm certainly no expert at taking food shots outside of a studio, so here's a picture of my cookbooks:
(recently added to my cookbook collection: The Enchanted Broccoli Forrest & Mad Hungry and I highly recommend all of them)
As I mentioned recently (now a few weeks ago), I had a reader ask me about my diet after reading back in my posts and seeing my weightloss. Since I started blogging back in the summer of 2009, I've lost about 15-20 pounds. I didn't set out to lose weight, nor did I intentionally put myself on a diet, the catalyst for my weight-loss was finding out that I had arthritis and bone spurs in my knees, caused by years of untreated sports injuries (I ran track and was a competitive snowboarder throughout high school) and hereditary joint issues. Hearing that I may need to have knee replacement surgery by the time I'm 30 (three years from now, que uncomfortable, nervous squirming) really made me get my ass in gear, I was determined to get in shape and change my habits. I had recently started running, but the impact was too damaging for my joints and made my knees swell to the size of large grapefruits, instead I started going to the gym, and healthy eating habits just naturally followed. I find that eating well is a lot easier when I'm exercising as well, the two kind of help each other out. It was a long process, getting healthy, and is definitely something I'm still working on. But I feel happy about how I treat my body, and I feel great. Without getting too personal I've also dealt with anxiety and ADD, and I've found that exercise and healthy eating does WONDERS for your mental health. Like I said, I do not claim to be an expert, but this is what works for me:

I love breakfast, it's hands down my favorite meal of the day. And I'll preach till the sun goes down that it's also the most important. I know, everybody says that. But on days when I don't eat breakfast, I find myself listless, I make poor decisions about what I eat, and I can't concentrate, I also usually get a headache. For breakfast, I focus on getting a lot of protein and fiber. I love whole wheat english muffins, so breakfast usually centers around those.

Some english muffin combinations I like:
All natural peanut butter (I like Teddy brand), banana, honey, and cinnamon (substitute apple for banana, or 100% cocoa for honey); Egg, cheddar, sauteed or steamed vegetables (mushrooms, onions, greens); Egg and ham; Hardboiled egg

If there are vegetables or meats from the night before , I'll try to incorporate those by making an omelet or scrambled eggs. They add vitamins and proteins. I use olive oil if I'm making eggs or stir-frying, avoiding the use of butter. However, if I DO use butter, I use real butter. People have different opinions on butter vs. spreads, but I go with what has fewer artificial and processed ingredients and just eat less of it.

With breakfast I have coffee with half and half and a little agave nectar (find it in the natural foods section of the grocery store), and a small glass of orange juice to wash down my vitamins.

I take a high quality fish oil (omega-3), which is good for everything, including joint health and mental health. I also take vitamin D, which is good for keeping you happy, especially in the winter when the days are short and dark and you're not getting as much sun as usual. I'll occasionally take a glucosamine/chondroitin vitamin for arthritis, but those you have to take three times a day or else they're pointless and I never remember to take them. I get my vitamins at a local health food store, A New Leaf.

Unlike breakfast, I don't like lunch. I try to keep it light, in the winter I'll have soup (making sure there are as many veggies in that soup as possible) or a greek yogurt with granola, and raisins with carrot sticks and hummus on the side. In warmer months I like really elaborate salads, mixed greens with everything piled on top: avocado, carrot, black beans, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, and anything else in the fridge. I try to not use any salad dressing, instead I opt for hummus or homemade tabouleh. However, if I do feel like dressing, I like Annie's Goddess Dressing (found in the natural foods aisle).

I avoid heavy carbs mid-day because I noticed that when I ate something like a bagel or pizza for lunch, I was ready to take a nap right after.

That 2 o'clock slump got you down? Have a snack! I like something light, preferably fruits or veggies and maybe some healthy-fat rich nuts like almonds, that won't put you in a food coma. I also like apple and peanut butter and a couple of cheddar slices, carrot sticks and hummus, celery and peanut butter with raisins, or a greek yogurt (if I didn't already have one for breakfast or lunch).

Our dinners vary but I like to incorporate as many vegetables as possible, and if we're having grains, I like them to be whole. We usually do pizza once a week, with lots of vegetables on top. Other than that, it varies by season: In the late spring and summer, we grill a lot of our food (grilled chicken, burgers, barbeque), with grilled veggies, and salad. In the fall, we eat a lot of late vegetables, like squash, dark greens (kale, swiss chard), with quiche and casserole-type dishes. And in winter to early spring, we like soup, good bread, root vegetables, and pasta dishes. We pay attention to what looks good in the produce section of the grocery store, and what's in season (and what's cheap).

Lots of water! I found that the best method for me to get enough water, is to keep a water-bottle next to my desk. I like a clear one, so I can see how much I've drank. I also like seltzer, orange juice in the morning, coffee in the morning, mint green tea, and apple cider. We don't buy much soda or fruit juices (other than orange), sometimes Chris brings something home, but I try not to drink it because of the sugar. I do like beer and will usually have one every other night or so.

Last words:
In the end what I think is important is to focus on making healthy decisions, when I find myself hunting in the pantry for food, I try to slow myself down and say "Don't just go for the crackers and cheese, you have carrots, peppers, and humous in the fridge". But I think it's important not to deprive myself either, if I don't allow myself a little indulgence every once and awhile I'll go crazy and eat like a maniac. I'll have a cookie, or a bowl of ice cream and not allow myself to stress over it.

Anyways, for those of you who were wondering, there it is. I don't know if anyone would have any questions, but i would be happy to answer them in either the comment section or facebook or twitter. I'm planning on another post dedicated to my workout routine and arthritis within the next couple of weeks. Have a great weekend!


Nancy said...

Thanks for the great post! It's so nice to see such a healthy perspective on eating. So many blogs and magazines offer trendy or obsessive approaches and that can get so overwhelming to read. I really appreciate you sharing what seems to be really sane and logical lifestyle choices. (Also, on a more personal level, I'm vegetarian and considering eating meat again, and I was almost relieved to read about someone who also made a similar change. Nice to know I might not be the only one.)

TokenBlonde said...

I couldn't agree with you more! I just started exercising and you are so right - the two naturally just go hand in hand. Absolutely adore your blog.

Rosy (of Raindrops on Rosy) said...

Yay OG, I'm on a diet and I seriously need to start eating better, these are all great tips! And they sound delicious too:) THANKS


private investigator in toronto said...

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Tracy said...

Great breakfast ideas! I'm all for whole grain English muffins, and I love all of your variations!

Nicole said...

Your diet pretty much mirrors mine, though my dinners really vary based on what my husband wants to cook (I'm the cleaner in the relationship ;) We are probably making spaghetti squash for dinner next week, stuffed with eggplant, turkey sausage, apples, and topped with Parmesan cheese.

Have a great weekend!

Chey said...

Being healthy and cooking is fun! Your breakfast sounds so yumm!

kara said...

this is such a refreshing post =) it makes me feel good to know that there are people out there promoting a healthy, natural diet & the use of supplements daily! thanks julie =)

Gabby / Gypsy*Diaries said...

Thanks for this little peak into your life. We have more in common than I thought. :) I also used to be a vegetarian, I'm also trying to get healthier and I'm also 27) and I also adore hummus! :) I mad some bad choices in the last couple of months which I'm greatly regretting now. I started to refocus this week and finally I'm a regular in the gym too. It boosts my self esteem and I cannot wait to have the new me by the summer. I'm determined and focused but don't deprive myself from food... it is just too bad that food, especailly unhealthy food taste so good! :D

Erin and Caroline said...

Thank you for these helpful tips! And I think you did such a wonderful job taking control of your life. =)

-Erin (

Stef / Diversions said...

I have the most painstaking 3 kilo perpetual diet going on since losing a fair whack of weight a few years ago: I gain a max of three kilo then I lose them again so effectively I always weigh the same but that doesn't mean I don't diet. Like right now, I am stepping back from the biscuits once again after a month long binge. It always slays me just how quickly my body gets used to and becomes dependent on fat and sugar. It always takes a few days until my tastebuds adjust and I can taste the more subtle sweetness of fruit properly again and worse yet, realize how artificially sweet the stuff I gorged myself on and felt so "hungry" for only a few days ago tastes.

Greek yoghurt with granola is heavenly yum!

Happy weekend :)

Birta said...

You're right on the nose about mental health and eating right. I also suffer from anxiety and ADD, also depression, and I can keep them all at bay by exercising and eating right. Works wonders!

silvia said...

I loved this post!
I'm changing my eating habits and (surprisingly) I eat a lot like what you've described here!
"Surprisingly" because I live across the atlantic ocean and our diet is based on the mediterranean diet, so we eat a lot of veggies and fish, olive oil and so.
Thank God I abandoned those unhealthy habbits like MAc Donalds and stuff like that, I don't have headaches and crazy bad mood for lacking sugar anymore.
I'm very happy about my lifechanging diet!
I look forward for more posts like this! xx

Brandy said...

thanks for sharing with us! i really enjoyed reading about your diet and learned a few new things, too! :)

Orchid Grey said...

thank you everyone for the wonderful comments, I think it's important to not beat yourself up over a "slip up", we're human beings and we can't be perfect all the time! Just remember how GOOD it feels to be on the right track!

valerie said...

awesome! i really wanted to know more about daily vitamins.

Laurie said...

I have recently embarked on an exercise/healthy lifestyle change due to a wake up call about health issues (knee problems and other stuff). I have a long way to go with my changes but am working on it slowly. I think baby steps works better for me.

It is a big mindset to change to think as food as fuel and how to take care of your body rather than eating any old thing that you come across. Thanks for sharing!

styleisinfinite said...

Thank you for this post! I'm striving to become more healthy myself, and it's always good to hear how other people do it.

Dawn said...

Thank you for posting your story regarding your diet...I could not help but think about how honest and positive you are. You know I adore your blog and your style...have a great weekend as well. I am working on becoming healthier and feel encouraged by this post. Dawn Suitcase Vignettes

Gladys said...

The fact that you mentioned getting arthritis so early makes me a little concerned about my health. Ever since I got into a bicycling accident a couple of years ago, I've been getting chronic knee pain, and unfortunately, doctors haven't been much help. I'll take your words into consideration and improve my diet and exercise habits. Thank you so much for this great post!

P.S. Do you know what else would be good for joint health, in addition to fish oil?

Orchid Grey said...

Gladys, I would have your knee checked out by an orthopedic surgeon. It probably isn't arthritis, as that takes years to develop (depending on the type) or is hereditary (mine is both), but you could have torn a ligament or something else (or it could very well be arthritis). Try taking a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement, they're a pain because you have to take three a day, but that could help. But first I would see a specialist.

Annie said...

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day too, and I highly recommend Molly Katzen's Sunlight Cafe. It's dedicated solely to breakfast and it's my go-to book for Sunday morning brunches and healthy grab-and-go recipes for weekday mornings. Cheers!

wikigirl said...

Really love this post. It's good to see a realistic approach to eating. You don't seem to buy into the 100 calorie in a box snacks. Eating fresh and in season food is such a good way to go and I think it's great you've written about this on your blog :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, I was starting to hink I'd never get to read this post : ) Thanks for responding, it is VERY interesting to read about your rather excellent dietary habits!

featherfactor said...

Beautiful cookbook collection! I love looking at these types of collections, and thank you for sharing your story :)

KateLainey said...

Such an uplifting post! Love hearing how other bloggers take pride in their eating/exercise habits. I will definitely have to check out Mad Hungry for cooking for my fiancé!

Vanessa Nielsen said...

You obviously lead a very healthy lifestyle! Love your ideas.

Kristin Wyly said...

Food IS pretty cool...

S. said...

I'm loving this post! I'm a few weeks into seriously trying to be more healthy myself, and reading your take on healthy eating is so encouraging. I also completely agree about breakfast. Definitely my favorite/most crucial meal of the day. :) Can't wait to read the post about your workout routine!

Hilary Grace said...

Wow I love this post!

There's so much I want to say about it but mostly, I can really relate to a lot of what you covered. (Including ADD and anxiety.. I really need to start excercising regularly again since I experienced similar results when I was doing so in the past.) I did have a question though. How come you are no longer vegetarian? Just curious!

Orchid Grey said...

Hilary, I stopped my vegetarian diet for a number of reasons, but mostly because I just didn't feel healthy and found it limiting. I was also at a place in my life where I was traveling a lot and didn't feel it was polite to require the people I was staying with to make special arrangements for me. It just didn't fit me, and I feel healthier now. Still, we only eat meat once or twice a week.

Jackie B. said...

I really enjoyed reading this post! I too love all that is breakfast so i definitely got some ideas to spruce up my morning routine... i usually have yougart with fruit, coffee, & oj if im in a hurry but love when i can treat myself to english muffins! your over all philosophy on eating seems very healthy and fillinf. Thanks again! <3 jb.

Lindsay Beck Photography said...

loving the advice and perspective. i like food that's nourishing and enjoyable. YUM

Morgan and Lua said...

Well now I really think we would get along.
People don't believe me when I tell them how much of a difference the food I eat makes in the way I feel and look. A few years ago a specialist I was seeing suggested cutting out dairy. I had really bad skin and she said it could help. Guess what. It did. Apparently dairy was one of my triggers. Cutting it out was a million times more helpful than any product, cream, or medicine had ever done.
I'm a strong believer in that what you eat effects you in ways you never would have condsidered. I'm toying with limiting my gluten these days because it's made me feel lethargic and bloated. Especially when I have it for dinner or late at night.
And breakfast! Yes, my absolute favorite. I don't understand how people go without it. I've been making my own granola for the last 3 years and I feel strange when I don't have it. Omega-3's ... of course I take those!
I hate lunch. It annoys me, especially during the work week, but I still eat it.
Almonds and hummus are a staples for me as well. I usually snack on them when I get home from work. Almonds or carrots with hummus.

I could go on but instead I'll just say...
Can we have a dinner party now please?!

Anonymous said...

I also lost some weigh recently, but actually gained back half of it. Still it isn't easy to start exercising and paying attention of what I eat.
I love your blog and your outfits, though. It is a motivating force to get back in shape. :)

Keep up the good work

Orchid Grey said...

Meli, keep at it! making the change is half the battle, it takes a lot of work but it's worth it in the end! It takes a lot of motivation, I have to constantly talk myself into exercising, so you're definitely not alone. Don't beat yourself up over the weight you gained back, focus on the positive: you're working hard to make a healthy change in your life!

good luck!

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Thank you so much for your comment and for reading Orchid Grey! If you have a question, I will either respond in the comment section or in a future post, so check back! I also encourage questions on my blog's Facebook page, see the link on the sidebar to get there!