Food: Food and food making

I started this particular blog years ago with the idea I was going to capture my journey into eating better by showcasing recipes and ideas I encountered along the way.

What I actually encountered along the way is that, while I can cook and go through spates where I do, in general I tend to cook as an afterthought, which is to say, not at all when I have something going on. That becomes problematic because my spouse has a similar view of cooking, meaning we spend an awful lot of time staring at each other and asking what the other one wants to eat until one of us dies.

Jokes aside, the fact is I got fat by just-in-time eating of convenience foods because I always felt like I had other things to do. I still feel that way, and that has made me realize I have to rethink how I approach the whole idea of food and eating and cooking if I’m not going to be fat or starve to death.

My main realization in trying to figure this all out is that, most of the time, my food needs are simple and straightforward. I don’t tend to eat meals most of the time. Instead, I “graze” and if I have nutritious, grazing compatible foods around, I can eat those for quite a while before the desire for variety overwhelms me.

The first realization factors into the second one that I’ve been doing intermittent fasting (a combination of 16/8 and 5/2) for about a year now, and in embracing that change to my eating habits, I also need less complicated food nearly all the time.

So, where does that leave this blog? I don’t know yet to be honest. I would still like it to be a place where I catalog recipes and ideas I encounter along the way,  but more than that, I think I want this to be a place where I document my changing relationship with food and, frankly, with our cultural presumptions about eating. We’ll see.

Stay tuned. More will follow.

DLH

Read more at my Food site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Documenting Progress

I had a medical appointment yesterday, which in itself is not remarkable, but that revealed a very good result.

I should back up a step and explain that, since about June of last year, I have altered my approach to managing my physical maladies, adopting a very low-carb diet(1) and following an intermittent fasting schedule(2) along with ramping up my physical activity. These changes flowed into the fact that I also started taking a pair of antidepressants in October that helped clear my head so I could focus better on what I am trying to do. Finally, in December I started taking Trulicity in addition to insulin and metformin

When I got out of the hospital a couple of years ago, my A1C was 8.5 and my blood glucose was running in the 450s mg/dL (yes, I am aware of how dangerously high that all is). At my last appointment, my A1C was 7.1 and my blood glucose average was around 180 mg/dL.

Fast forward to yesterday, and after about 9 months of focused effort, my A1C has dropped to 6.6 and my blood glucose average sits at around 161 mg/dL.

The moral of the story is that, if you are suffering from similar issues to mine, there are methods to overcome the obstacles those issues present. The right combination of medications, diet, and exercise can pay huge dividends in a short period of time and offer the promise of remission if not recovery.

DLH

(1) I try to keep my daily intake of all carbohydrates between 20 and 40 mg a day and do so by avoiding all sugars, modern grains (basically, anything containing wheat or rice), and manufactured foods. In general, I also try to keep the foods I consume in the low Glycemic Index range (below 55). Foods called Brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and the like) are great for this.

Understand this kind of diet can be a huge adjustment, and if you decide to try it, there may be a period of transition where you experience symptoms similar to coming down with the flu. Also, if you have other health issues, be careful not to make them worse by following this diet. Be sure to consult your health care provider as you move forward.

(2) There are as many opinions on intermittent fasting as there are people who try it, and I don’t have a specific recommendation of where to start, but in general, the idea is to limit your calorie consumption to a narrow window once or twice a day. For me, this means usually eating one big meal between 2 and 4 and another smaller meal about an hour before bed (this helps level out overnight blood sugar spikes). These meals can vary somewhat based on my daily schedule, but in general results in there being at least 12 hours and as many as 16 hours between caloric intakes.

This method of eating helps encourage your body to take advantage of its already extant biological pathways that are part of the “feast and famine” experienced by our ancestors. Doing so helps our bodies use calories more effectively and, once you get into the habit, often results in eating less.

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: 2018 goes out a lot better than it came in

With the year drawing to a close, I would be remiss if I did not revisit where I find myself now after the past couple–and really the past few–years of illness and struggle.

One of the most important health changes I have ever experienced happened in the form of starting a mild anti-depressant at the end of September. The changed I experienced upon beginning that medication is real and enduring and has enabled nearly everything else that has happened since then.

The biggest subsequent change has been to dedicate myself to a series of dietary and exercise changes in the hope of wrestling my life back from my health. I have virtually given up process sugars, modern grains, and processed foods. I have begun an intermittent fasting regimen. I have starting moving more than I have in years.

Specifically, I am walking and using a bike trainer, and plan to start running and attending a yoga class after the first of the year. If those efforts go well, I plan to start trail hiking and purchase an e-bike for longer-distance rides sometime in the next year.

I have begun using light therapy as part of a daily program that involves waking up using light instead of sound and also using a therapy panel as part of my daily routine. The effect this has had on my mood and energy level cannot be understated.

Perhaps most importantly, I am confident that I can do the things I plan for the first time in a really long time. I am hopeful for the new year, and those are strange words coming out of my mouth.

More will follow.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: 2018 goes out a lot better than it came in

With the year drawing to a close, I would be remiss if I did not revisit where I find myself now after the past couple–and really the past few–years of illness and struggle.

One of the most important health changes I have ever experienced happened in the form of starting a mild anti-depressant at the end of September. The changed I experienced upon beginning that medication is real and enduring and has enabled nearly everything else that has happened since then.

The biggest subsequent change has been to dedicate myself to a series of dietary and exercise changes in the hope of wrestling my life back from my health. I have virtually given up process sugars, modern grains, and processed foods. I have begun an intermittent fasting regimen. I have starting moving more than I have in years.

Specifically, I am walking and using a bike trainer, and plan to start running and attending a yoga class after the first of the year. If those efforts go well, I plan to start trail hiking and purchase an e-bike for longer-distance rides sometime in the next year.

I have begun using light therapy as part of a daily program that involves waking up using light instead of sound and also using a therapy panel as part of my daily routine. The effect this has had on my mood and energy level cannot be understated.

Perhaps most importantly, I am confident that I can do the things I plan for the first time in a really long time. I am hopeful for the new year, and those are strange words coming out of my mouth.

More will follow.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Keep your blood sugar in check. Seriously

One of the more disconcerting experiences I’ve had in this journey so far is moments when my blood sugar has been out of check due to various factors ranging from the unknown to my own stupid behavior.

Now that I am on medication and insulin to regulate things, I can tell almost immediately when things go out of whack. When things get too low, I get weak and shaky quick, and when things get too high, I get bone-crushingly tired to the point I have to lay down or I’m going to just sleep where I am.

Unfortunately, this is a new normal for me, but one that has specific and enduring ramifications for anyone trying to be healthy. My own body’s reaction may be extreme, but you may recognize the symptoms in how your own body reacts to food and activity. Those reactions aren’t normal and I implore you to consider them carefully to avoid having to go what I have gone through.

I will be the first to acknowledge that better eating–the real key to blood sugar management and to avoiding a whole host of chronic illnesses–is time consuming, expensive, and sometimes downright boring. It is also one of the best choices you will ever make.

If I may be so bold, consider the following as a minimum: stop drinking sugared beverages of any kind and stop eating refined sugars. That change alone will pay dividends you can’t imagine. If you want to go beyond that, read food labels compulsively (there are plenty of websites out there that will help you learn to understand what’s making you sick) and eat vegetables like it’s your religion. If you want to go all the way, only eat food that you know who grew it. I promise. It will make a difference.

It will be worth it if you do. You don’t have to learn the hard lesson I have.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Experiments

Last week, I learned the hard lesson of not eating too much at one time, something I hope I don’t soon forget. But, the experience got me to thinking about the side effects, especially as they relate to my blood sugar that I am monitoring twice a day.

When I went into the hospital, my numbers were dangerously high (along with apparently everything else being dangerously out of whack…), but a regular course of insulin injections brought them down to more manageable levels. Since I’ve been home, my numbers have still been high, but far better than they were.

What I wanted to find out is whether I could affect those numbers even more by changing my approach to what, how, and when I am eating, how much water I am drinking, when I am taking related medications, and how much physical activity I am getting.

Granted, those are a lot of variables to monkey with at once, but they all have a common component of metabolism, and metabolism is a key factor in my greatest risk factor, that being the fact that I am still well overweight.

As things stand now, I am waiting to eat until I am discernibly hungry, which means that I don’t have a regular meal time schedule as it is difficult to predict when I might be hungry. Further, I am consuming massive amounts of water, right now at least a gallon to a gallon and a half a day. I also increased the time between doses of my medication to spread it more evenly through the day. Finally, I am using a regime of “natural movement” exercises to increase my physical activity as I build up the stamina to do more.

I have been following this plan for about three days now, and the result is that my blood sugar number was in the “normal” ranger for the first time in quite a while yesterday afternoon and again tonight. Granted, this plan is not without cost, as I suspect some part of my fatigue is related to the change in quantity and timing of calorie intake, but my hope is that I can retrain by body to get used to the change and also lose weight in the process.

Presuming my numbers stay where they are supposed to be, I will continue this process for as long as it works or until I come up with something better.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Small victories

I was able to eat raw greens last night for the first time since this ordeal began. Previous attempts resulting in me getting rather sick, so I had been avoiding them.

This is an exciting development as it adds salads to the the things I can eat, representing a great expansion of my diet. That is a good thing given how limited it is right now.

Some days, you just have to celebrate the small stuff because that’s what there is.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Seriously, dude, no

Of all the changes I have had to endure since this new reality began, I have struggled with none more than the fact that I will likely never be able to eat the same way I used to again. That’s an ironic struggle given the fact that how I once ate was a significant contributing factor to how I got here in the first place.

I should also clarify that the dietary changes themselves are not as difficult for me as portion control. As anyone who has been heavy knows, you get hungry, and sometimes it takes long enough for your body to realize it’s full that you eat more before it says no.

The cruelty of this new state is that feeling of satiation takes even longer than it did before for reasons I have not quite figured out yet, so managing how much I eat has become a battle of willpower that I already, on occasion, have failed to win, with predictably uncomfortable results.

It appears that one of my enduring tasks on the road ahead will be learning to master my own instinct when it comes to how much I eat. That’s going to be a difficult task, but one I must master if I am to avoid far worse consequences.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: Swinging for the fences

The one part of our farming adventure at Innisfree on the Stillwater that has dogged us since the beginning is the fact that we have continued to lease our 100 acres of tillage ground, mostly for the sake of the cash rent. Of course, that lease meant a compromise in the form the use of herbicides and pesticides on that ground every year, but the money was hard to turn down.

Taking back over that ground has always been a part of our plan, and with the upcoming end of the current lease, it has been a regular topic of conversation for us.

This year, as the result of the advent of glyphosate-resistant weeds, the ante got upped with the application of 2,4-D to the entire 100 acres, which fact proved to be a bridge too far for my wife and me. As a result, we’ve decided not to renew the lease and to start working that ground ourselves.

This is a significant step for us, mostly in that it involves a loss of about a third of the farm’s cash income over at least the next couple of years as we transition to new endeavors. Irrespective of the cost, we plan to follow through on this because it is the right thing to do.

Sure, maybe we’re radical and idealistic, but we actually want to leave our little part of planet earth better than we found it for future generations. And so, we will take that ground back over and farm it the way we believe is right.

For us, that means planting about 40 acres of it in grass hay and about another 30 acres of it in fast-growing hardwood trees we plan to sustainably lumber for a variety of farm uses, especially for fence posts for our animal operations. The remainder will function as both a prairie area and for small food plots.

This transition is going to be risky and stressful, but neither of us have any doubt it is the right thing to do. We firmly believe Innisfree represents the future of agriculture, and that fact alone makes what we have decided worth it.

Here’s to hoping and to swinging for the fences.

DLH

[UPDATE: Edited for content]

Read more at my Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater site...

Worldview: Food: The problem with making your own food…

The problem with making your own food is that you actually have to make it.

It’s amazing to me how, in certain ways, lazy we moderns are compared to our ancestors or people living in parts of the world without our standard of living. Granted, all sorts of measures say we’re the most productive humans ever, but those measures treat modernity as the pinnacle of civilization to this point, which fact remains to be proven.

It wasn’t all that long ago that failing to produce one’s own food meant starvation and death rather than a late night run to the grocery or Taco Bell even in our own culture. Perhaps our ancestors weren’t as productive on the modernity scale, but they certainly knew how to survive without the incredibly large and fragile web of dependence we’ve created for ourselves.

Nevertheless, I consider returning to a form of their productivity worth pursuing, but for me, it’s a constant battle to actually do it. I have to remember to proof my sourdough starter before the bread runs out or start my next cheese run in enough time that it’s ready when I want to eat it.

Perhaps the problem is that I have the luxury of thinking of it as a problem. For my ancestors, it was life itself. For me, at least as of yet, it’s a luxury and a novelty. I’m not saying I want to be at risk of starving, but I do want to take the undertaking more seriously.

DLH

Read more at my Food weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...