diet strategies

Five Reasons to Hit the Market Before It's Over for the Season

Only two Markets left for the 2016 season, and they'll be held, rain or shine. In fact, the only time I can remember the Market being cancelled was that one Saturday Market with the huge gusty winds which blew canopies away, turning them into projectile missiles... As the sun and pleasant temperatures give way to that monoseason which lasts from October to July, I thought you might need a little motivating to get out there two more times:

ONE: The apple pie contest was moved to this week, October 20! It's not too late to turn out and have your mouth water while you look on.


TWO: It's time to stock up. Last year I experimented with "cold storage" for apples. I put a cooler outside and put a couple bags in and then just ate them at a regular rate. Worked just fine. This frees up refrigerator space for the bags of pears and Asian pears! Potatoes also keep fine in the fridge, and we let squash go all winter just sitting on the floor in the pantry.

THREE: Disaster preparedness! In our home I've been assigned gathering canned/boxed food in case of The Big One. Clearly last Saturday's storm was not The Big One, which means it's still out there. If this nameless disaster were to hit today, based on the current pantry ingredients, my family would be thrown back on lots of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, tuna, a can of coconut milk, and some strange parsley sauce that was on clearance at QFC. Our Market offers tuna, of course, in more flavors and varieties than the grocery store, as well as pickled foods in jars, beef and tuna jerky, jams and honey, and beverages. Because if the power is going to be out or you've been pinned under a fallen bookcase, you might as well live a little.


FOUR and FIVE and FIVE-POINT-FIVE: Because walking and vegetables and wine will improve your health. Read a great book this week, which I'll write more about later, but the author's main point was that "healthy habits matter more than weight." And, according to author Sandra Aamodt, "four health habits predict much of the risk of dying over the next fourteen years, regardless of weight." These silver bullets are: (1) not smoking; (2) exercising at least twelve times a month; (3) eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day; and (4) light to moderate drinking. The Market can't help you with your smoking habit, but walking the stalls can be part of your exercising, and there are fruits, vegetables, and wine bottles galore. (FYI, "light to moderate drinking" was defined as a glass of wine per day for women and two glasses for men.)

So you see, I've turned the last couple weeks of the Market into a life-or-death situation for you. So please--choose life!

The Day the Diet Died

New Year's at the Needle!

 2014 is dead! Long live 2015!

(Can you tell I just started reading a book on the Tudors, and Henry VIII has just been crowned king after the death of his father Henry VII?)

But really, the death of 2014 is great because it means you're legally off the hook for any New Year's Resolutions you made in 2014, in case you were still keeping any of them. According to a University of Scranton study quoted in this Vox article,

Seventy-seven percent of the resolvers studied made it through a full week, then 55 percent stuck with their goals for a month. By June, six months into the New Year, only 40 percent of those who had made a New Year's resolution were still sticking with the goal.

That's actually way better than I would have guessed. Let me do a report card on myself and see how I fared. In my previous January 2014 post I named three food resolutions:

1. Extend Sugar-Free January for a vague, unnamed length of time. I made it to March! Well into 55% territory.

2. Give up buying one item that comes in single-use, non-recyclable plastic and make/buy an alternative. Woo hoo! I stopped buying bagged salad greens or spinach and started rinsing and making my own salads, and I've actually kept up with this one the entire year, even trying new kale salads. I am the 40%!

3. Prepare one new vegetable per week until you run out of them, and then add new favorites to your rotation. Fail. I don't know if I even made it two weeks on this one. I am the 77%.

Maybe these results make me a typical American.

In any case, I've noticed the latest trend for 2015 is dissing the diet. As in, giving up dieting, in favor of what these authors say is not dieting.

This book, for instance, tells us to lose the fad diets and hopes of fast weight-loss permanently. Instead, lose weight very gradually by tweaking your food habits. Drop the soda a day. Replace the afternoon bag of Doritos with a couple pieces of fruit. Will you lose 20 lbs in two weeks? Not a chance, but those two changes alone (if those were habits of yours) could net you 20-30 lbs in a year, and it would be permanent (unless you took up the habits again). Author Markey counsels against diets that require total elimination of any foods because, as I completely agree, those diets are unsustainable. She also advises against fasting or seriously limiting calories, lest your body go into starvation mode and pack the pounds on enthusiastically whenever you do start eating again.

Sadly, though, she's still in favor of exercise for health (not necessarily weight loss) and bypassing the bread basket (one of my chief joys in restaurant life). But you can't have everything. Markey also disdains saturated animal fat from butter, red meat, whole dairy, and so on, which I think are now off the no-no list. Nevertheless, not a bad book to start with, if you've tried diet after diet and yo-yoed your way through life.

I didn't get too far through this one:

 I think they wanted to start a social media movement about cutting yourself a break because there were instructions to connect with other "wycwycers" on the usual sites. Does the world really need more superficial connections? A question only you can answer.

As for the advice given in the book, here's a sample: if you eat the triple chocolate cheesecake at the office party, skip dessert the next two days, and so forth. It may have gone deeper (and less obvious) than that, but I didn't hang around for it.

My point being, the health trend for 2015 appears to be diet but don't call it dieting. Got it.

With this in mind, it's time to set new resolutions for the year! Connect with me superficially online and join me for any of these? Or hit me up when the Market opens in May and see if I'm still among the 40% who keep on keeping on.

1. Keep Sugar-Free January and then shift to two desserts per week.

2. Walk 20-30 minutes 3x per week. Not for weight-loss purposes, but to keep ye old body fully operational longer. I turned 45 a few days ago!

3. Let's try this one again: Serve two vegetables at dinner or a fruit and a vegetable. I won't be picky about trying new things. I just want to get it on the table.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2015!

To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse?

I went for a walk with a friend recently, who reported having joined a group of women in doing a cleanse, courtesy of an Arbonne representative among them. Apparently, the product "helps cleanse and detoxify the system and support the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Assists with the gentle elimination of toxins." Sounds good, right? (Apart from the 7-day, $50 price tag.) You drink the drinks, you skip the sugar, grains, dairy, processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine, and replace them with produce and lean protein. The promise? A cleansed digestive system with a side helping of weight loss.

Pic from Amazon

While other women in the group reported increased energy and some pounds evaporating, my friend was comparatively underwhelmed by the results and overwhelmed by the price tag. She dropped out.

Cleanses are the latest Big Thing, dietwise, and I'll be the first to admit we put a lot of garbage in our bodies. Hence, in my own family, our tradition of Sugar-Free January, to compensate for All-Sugar-All-the-Time December. This year I even went light on reintroducing sugar in February, only eating dessert about once a week and not sweating the sugar-content otherwise. Over the last two months, I've dropped six pounds. Not huge, but my pants fit more comfortably, and it's actually a net-positive diet, financially speaking, since I'm buying less sugar and butter and not replacing it with anything but a cup of herbal tea or a Satsuma.

The Wall Street Journal  ran two articles recently. One on the juice cleanse fad and one on which toxins actually do stay in our body. Their findings?

  1. Skip the cleanses and just eat more fruits and vegetables and less junk.
  2. Eat the fruits and vegetables as whole as possible, because the fiber in them keeps things moving.
  3. The toxins that linger in our body aren't the food ingredients so much as the weird plastics and chemicals we ingest through packaging and pesticides and environment, and those toxins, sadly, take 15 to 20 years to clear out!
WSJ's cool, if blurry, graphic

So, yes, you can cut certain food groups or ingredients from your diet. It may help you pinpoint a lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivity, but it won't detoxify you. And, as everyone who has made drastic dietary changes knows, the more drastic the changes are, the less sustainable they are.

Instead of a purge or a fast, how about a food-positive lifestyle change?

  • Pass over the juice or smoothie and eat a piece of fruit or some veggies with dip whole
  • Promise yourself you won't skip dessert, but you'll become a dessert connoisseur--if it's not homemade or made by a baker you love from simple ingredients, you won't bother.
  • Replace one no-fiber food you have around the house with a fiber food. Mix brown rice into your white. Replace up to 1/3 of the white flour in a recipe with whole wheat. Mix whole-grain pasta into regular pasta. (I've done all these with no one in the family even noticing.)
  • Switch to naturally-leaner pastured meat from one of our Market farmers in at least one meal a week.
  • Try making your own yogurt. Simple and un-sugary and full of great probiotics.

Wishing you all a cleaner GI tract, #TightwadOrganic style.

Lose Weight Just by Reading This Post! (YMMV)

Sneaky Little Buggers

Day 4 of Sugar-Free January.

Best Moment So Far: I'll keep you posted.

Worst Moment So Far: discovering the two dozen M&M cookies my mother-in-law sent home with us in the freezer. Why didn't I rummage through the thing on December 31?

For all you dieting readers out there, I found this good tidbit: Science Digest claims that we can reduce our food consumption by just imagining we're eating the food. I don't know about this one. Supposedly, their studies found that "people who repeatedly [imagine] the consumption of a morsel of food -- such as an M&M or cube of cheese -- subsequently [consume] less of that food than did people who imagined consuming the food a few times or performed a different but similarly engaging task." A different but similarly engaging task like slobbering over an issue of Bon Appetit? Or foraging in the freezer and licking the outside of Ziplocs full of M&M cookies? Clarification, please.

One sugar-free appetite-killer that might also bring you relief from arthritis is the home remedy of Gin-Soaked Raisins. I never heard of these things until some women brought it up at church today. Results seem to be mixed, but everyone agrees that if you use cheap gin, the raisins burn all the way down, and the discomfort is enough to distract you from your arthritis, at the very least.

And lastly, you may think I've forgotten my Amish cooking foray, but I haven't. I admit I got burned by "Mrs. Gottshall's Streusel-Filled Coffee Cake" on Christmas morning, which might better have been titled "Mrs. Gottshall's Tough-as-a-Brick Coffee Cake From Which You Will End Up Picking Out Only the Streusel," but the Turkey Bone Soup was tasty, if standard, and the Coleslaw I downright delicious. We think of coleslaw as a summer salad, but it makes a great winter vegetable side, since it calls for easily-available cabbage and carrots. This version also uses cream instead of mayo. Try my variation, which combines Coleslaw I and Coleslaw II!

Christina's Coleslaw 1.5
1 cabbage, sliced thin
4 carrots, sliced fine
2 stalks celery, sliced fine

2 T sugar
1/2 c cream
2 T vinegar
1/2 t salt

Combine dressing ingredients. Pour over vegetables. Toss. Chill through and serve. (Serves at least six.)