What I Eat in a Day (Or Not, as the Case May Be!)

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell
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If there’s one question I get asked all the time over DM, it’s what diet I follow. Keto and vegan are the two most popular guesses! The truth is, my diet is a mixture of choices I make, and choices that my body made for me. I understand that people are interested, and I’m so flattered, but I haven’t written about it until right now for a very good reason (er, lots of reasons)…

Why I Put Off Writing This Post

There are so many reasons that I’ve been dragging my feet on this post, and dodging questions about my diet:

  1. I don’t want anyone to compare themselves to me. We all tend to compare ourselves to others. A big part of the reason we all look the way we look is genetics, people!
  2. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. No one wants to be “labeled” as their disease or known for their health issues. Please don’t leave a comment at the bottom of this post that says, “I’m so sorry for you.” It’s okay, it really is! We all have something (or several somethings!).
  3. I don’t want people to judge me. I have a lot of restrictions that have nothing to do with my own choices. And sometimes when I do make choices, they’re not always the best!
  4. I don’t want to field a bunch of “suggestion” emails about how someone’s probiotic supplement will cure my health issues. I’ve done plenty of my own research with regards to nutrition and my health. I’m under the care of competent physicians, and we work together to integrate the very best of “natural” and pharmaceutical solutions to tackle my health issues.
  5. I don’t want people to use my unique situation as an excuse to continue unhealthy habits that they know need to change.
  6. I don’t want to bore you! It’s pretty boring.

A Word About Body Image

Everyone’s body is different, and that’s a good thing! Bob says I’m built like a ballerina ????. (So sweet! I was a ballerina for many years!) But I think I’m built kind of like a pre-pubescent boy! ???? I’m small-boned, flat-chested, and not very curvy. I think it’s pretty obnoxious to talk about size and weight, but I understand that showing you clothes and sharing styling tips is part of my job, so it’s important for you to be able to tell what would work on your body when you look at clothes on my body. I get it.

So let me just get it out there once and for all: I wear an XS or XXS (size 0 or 00) on top and an XS (or size 2) on the bottom. I’m 5’5,” and I weigh around 120.

That made me cringe the entire time I typed it, but there it is! Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to be authentic and real with you. ???? That one took a lot of courage. It’s very personal information!

When I gain weight (Thanks, COVID!), I gain in my hips and thighs, as well as my tummy. I definitely have cellulite! (90% of women do!) I don’t pay much attention to my weight, but I don’t like it when my clothes get tight. When they do, I ease up on the bad-for-you foods (Let’s be real, we all know what those are.) and reduce my portions.

Experts have found that diet is the key to weight control, not exercise. While 100 percent of our energy comes from food, we can only burn 10-30 percent of it off with physical activity. Want to know more? THIS article explains it well. I’ve never really dieted, but Bob and our son did Noom last fall, with excellent results, if you’re looking for a program.

In order to reduce inflammation, delay aging, and gain all of the other benefits from exercise, I work out five days a week for one hour (6:30-7:30 a.m., baby!). I do pilates, walk on the treadmill, do the elliptical, lift weights ????????, stretch, and do bodyweight strength exercises like squats and lunges. I do different things every day, but get all of those in over the course of the week. Bob and I have been into the free, low-impact workouts at Team Body Project, lately, and we’ve been doing those together twice a week.

What I Can’t Eat and Why

First of all, let me say that I choose not to focus on what I can’t eat, but rather what I can. That said, there are several typically good-for-you foods that I can’t eat for health reasons.

Why I Can’t Eat Certain Foods

  • Migraines – Certain foods, along with changes in barometric pressure are my biggest triggers.
  • Celiac Disease – I was okay with gluten until my early 50s, but after having serious issues with digestion and nutritional deficiencies that resulted in everything including significant weight loss and hair loss, a genetic test picked up on DNA that indicated Celiac. (The normal screening test was negative, but, thankfully, I had a very thorough doctor who took it one step further!)
  • Lupus – Certain foods, like sugar, are proven to increase inflammation. (With a disease like lupus, I certainly don’t need more of that!)
  • Dairy Intolerance – My digestive system doesn’t react well to dairy.

What I Can’t Eat

  • Wheat (Celiac Disease) – This includes bread, rolls, crackers, pizza crust, and pasta.
  • Bananas (Migraine trigger) – This is due to tyramine, a common migraine trigger. More on foods with high/low tyramine HERE.
  • Cheese – (Migraine trigger + Dairy intolerance) – contain high levels of tyramine.
  • Eggs (Migraine trigger) – tyramine
  • Raw Onions (Migraine trigger)
  • Yogurt (Migraine trigger due + Dairy intolerance) – Many people with migraines can’t eat anything fermented, including yogurt.
  • Avocados & Guacamole (Migraine trigger)
  • Nuts & nut butters (Migraine trigger)
  • Beans (Migraine trigger) – contains tyramine.
  • Bacon or deli meat with nitrate as a preservative (Migraine trigger)
  • Chocolate (Migraine trigger + Inflammatory)
  • Apple Cider or apple cider vinegar (Migraine trigger)
  • Milk, Ice Cream, Butter, Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese (Dairy intolerance)
  • Raisins, Figs, Red Plums, Papaya (Migraine Trigger) – contain high levels of tyramine.
  • Soy (Migraine trigger)
  • Red Wine or red wine vinegar – contain tannins, which are a notorious migraine trigger.
  • Beer (Celiac Disease)
  • Soft Drinks (Inflammatory)
  • Most Teas (Migraine trigger – tannins)
  • Sugar (Inflammatory) – I try to limit this, but I do eat some!

What I Can Eat and Why

Sometimes my restricted foods are hidden within other foods. For example, there’s gluten in many salad dressings, and lots of them are also made with red wine vinegar. That means the best rule of thumb for me is to keep things pretty simple.

Why I Can Eat Certain Foods

Simple doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. I mean, big red juicy steaks are simple! Basically, the fewer ingredients, the better.

I’m a nightmare to take to a restaurant! Usually, the waiter has to go back to the kitchen multiple times to ask the chef about ingredients! It’s so embarrassing!

What I Can Eat

  • Most fruits & veggies
  • Bacon or deli meat with no preservatives
  • Beef, chicken, pork, fish
  • Gluten-Free bread, rolls, crackers, pizza crust, and pasta
  • Grains like quinoa, oats, and rice
  • Oat milk, rice milk, flax milk
  • Potatoes and french fries ????
  • Corn, corn chips, corn tortillas, and popcorn ????
  • Velveeta & American Cheese (It’s so processed, it doesn’t contain real cheese! ????)
  • Sugar substitutes (Like Splenda and Stevia)
  • Herbal Tea
  • Guayusa Tea – low in tannins
  • Coffee
  • Diet Soft Drinks
  • Sunflower seeds & sunflower butter
  • Oat Milk Ice Cream
woman wearing navy graphic tee and red jeans drinking tee in her living room
I am a such a spiller! Right before we snapped this “authentic” photo of me drinking my Guayusa Tea, I spilled it on my pants!

What I LOVE to Eat

As I said, I choose to keep my focus on what I can have vs. what I can’t. That means I don’t always go for the healthy choice! Nobody wants to feel deprived, and honestly, I do, sometimes. Here are some of my favorite foods.

What I Eat in a Typical Day

Just like most people, I tend to get in a dietary rut and eat the same thing every day! I’m always trying to branch out and try new things, but since I’m so limited in my choices, that can be somewhat challenging!

woman in tie dye shirt making a smoothie in kitchen

What I Eat: Breakfast

I actually wrote an entire post about this a few weeks ago! You can read it HERE. One of the best discoveries I made about a year ago was Catalina Crunch Cereal! Most cereals that are gluten-free (I’m looking at you Chex!) are deficient in nutrition, high in carbs, and low in protein. If I eat them, I get sleepy within 30 minutes (haha) and hungry again in about an hour!

Last year, I discovered Catalina Crunch cereals, and they have been the best discovery! They’re gluten free, have zero sugar, are free of nuts, soy, and lactose, and have up to 10g plant-based protein, 6g fiber, and only 5g net carbs! They’re kind of expensive, but because they’re so high in fiber and protein, the serving size is only 1/2 cup, so one bag lasts forever! My favorite flavors are Cinnamon Toast and Maple Waffle. (You can see all of the flavors HERE.)

I also love a good smoothie! I shared my recipe in THIS post.

What I Eat: Lunch

My favorite lunch is Crunchy Sunbutter and Smucker’s Sugar Free Concord Grape Jam on Lance Gluten Free Baked Crackers with a big bowl of berries on the side. Yes really!

Another favorite lunch is baby carrots dipped in Sunbutter, with a bowl of berries.

Sometimes I make an açai bowl for lunch. I shared my recipe HERE.

During the past few weeks, Bob and I have headed to Chicken Salad Chick once a week, where I order a Quick Chick pack of their Classic Carol chicken salad, which lasts me four or five days! I either eat it with a fork or put it on crackers with (You guessed it!) a bowl of berries on the side.

What I Eat: Dinner

I don’t really enjoy cooking, and with my dietary restrictions it can be difficult to find recipes that work! That means I keep it pretty basic! I’ve shared lots of our favorite dinners here on Empty Nest Blessed.

  • For my Slow Cooker Chili recipe, click HERE.
  • For my Southwestern Shrimp recipe, click HERE.
  • For my Mexican Chicken recipe, click HERE.
  • For our Light & Healthy Salad, click HERE.
  • For my Shrimp Salad recipe, click HERE.
  • For our favorite spring & summer salad, click HERE. (We eat this once a week!)
woman sitting on the kitchen counter wearing gold dress eating carrots and sun butter
Again, with the spilling! Can you see the Sunbutter I spilled on my hemline? ????

What I Eat: Snacks

If I’m hungry, I eat a snack. If I’m not, I don’t. Some days I seem to be hungrier than others, and I’m not sure why! (Does that happen to you too?) My typical snacks are popcorn or baby carrots with a little Sunbutter on top.

Calorie Counting

I’ve never counted calories, but recently when Bob and our son did Noom to lose weight, I was so impressed with the program that I jumped on and logged my food along with them. What I found out was that I needed about 1200 calories a day to maintain my weight, and some of my portion sizes were a little too big! I’ve tried to adjust.

Well, by now you must be bored out of your mind! I hope not! This might be the most personal post I’ve ever written, but the courage it took to write it was worth it if it helped you or gave you some new ideas or it encouraged you in some way. You’re worth it to me! ❌⭕❌⭕

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Suzy Mighell

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28 Comments

  1. Thanks you for sharing your height and weight! I had you taller! It does help to know how your sizes translate for me. My kids have always made fun of me for eating carrots and peanut butter—even though they do the same now. Nice to know I have company!

    1. Lori,
      Carrots are so good with nut butters, right? Do you ever eat it with apples? That’s yummy too!
      I so appreciate your comment and I’m glad you found it helpful! Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave a comment!
      xoxo Suzy

  2. Suzy, I too share some of your health issues (lupus, migraines, dairy intolerance) and I appreciate you sharing how you eat.
    Although our body shape is totally different, I enjoy seeing what you are wearing and the things you enjoy in life.
    You’re doing a great job helping us cope in these difficult times and I love escaping my everyday struggles by reading about your life and family. Good job!!

    1. Gina,
      Thank you for your kind words! It blesses me to know that it encouraged you! How interesting to know that our issues are so similar. Hmmmm…. Hang in there, sweet girl! Don’t let it get you down. You’re still you!
      xoxo Suzy

  3. Suzy! Wow! You and I could eat out together and I would feel safe dining at your house???? I have acquired hypogammaglobulemia and severe gluten intolerance and am a migraine sufferer whose worst migraines are triggered by gluten. Other migraine triggers for me include upper respiratory allergies, weather changes, wine and stress. I admire your dedication to fitness. Thank you for the Noom recommendation—it is something I have been considering. Wishing you continued good health—Andrea Spencer, Alpharetta, Georgia

    1. Andrea,
      Come on over! Hahaha! When we go out to eat with another couple, I usually end up ordering something like a burger without the bun, because I can be fairly certain it will be safe for me. It can be embarrassing, but I just go with it. My restrictions are a part of what makes me, ME, and that’s okay. I hope it’s made me a lot more compassionate toward others!
      Thanks so much for your kind comment!
      xoxo Suzy

  4. Thank you for sharing. I think I have a gluten k tolerance. Def not celiac. Every time I eat bread or pasta, also dairy within mi used I look like I’m five months pregnant and it’s very uncomfortable. I need to try to eliminate it. Looking at your good healthy suggestions and glad you can have my favorite. Frenchfries. ????

    1. Michelle,
      Hahahah! Potatoes for the win, right?!!! ????I will warn you! One thing I didn’t realize when I was first diagnosed with celaic is that it takes about 3 months for your body to completely clear the effects from gluten from your body. I got worried that going gluten-free wasn’t working for me because I still felt so terrible! But after 3 months, I felt significantly better and my health began to improve as well. I hope you’re in the care of a really good Gastroenterologist. If not, find a new one! You need a doctor you can really trust!
      Hugs to you, Michelle, and thanks for your comment!
      xoxo Suzy

  5. I follow the same migraine diet as you (barometric pressure gets me too). You are so right about not wanting sympathy from people. I’ve made peace with the restrictions and focus more on what I CAN have. Some people are astonished at the diet and think it’s weird as well. Ugh. I’m currently working to reduce sugar to help with inflammation. I’ve recently become aware that what I thought was a caffeine craving is really a sneaky sugar addiction! I’ll try the sun butter and the GF crackers. Thanks for the post and your candor. xo

    1. Susan,
      Thank you for your encouraging words! It’s pretty weird (but good!) to have a chronic disease (or two!) that affect your life so much, but are completely hidden from the outside world. I hope this post helps people see that there is so much more (always) than what they see and assume from photos!
      I hear what you’re saying about how weird the diet is and people’s reaction. It just seems simpler to keep it to yourself and manage it in silence rather than field all of the questions and concerns.
      I hope you like the Sunbutter. I can buy individual containers at Walmart in the peanut butter section, but they only have the creamy! Still, if you want to give it a try, that’s a good option!
      Thanks so much for your comment!
      xoxo Suzy

  6. I love this post! Not boring as food is so interesting. I’ve also done diets like these to figure out my stomach issues and I understand how limiting it can feel…but I also discovered a whole new world of food I had previously refused to try. I’d love to share: Costco organic strawberry jelly, gluten free white chocolate covered pretzels, Mission corn tortilla strips (few ingredients), and salsa verde crock pot chicken which is a big hit in my house with tortilla chips on top. Sharing creative ways to eat gluten and dairy free is fun for me. Thanks for sharing and posting and kuddos to you for your exercise routine!

    1. Sarah,
      Thank you for sharing! I would love your salsa Verde crock pot chicken recipe! Please email me ([email protected]) if you’re willing to share! Your suggestions are all so good! Thank you! I’m so grateful for your encouragement and so glad you weren’t bored! Hahaha!
      xoxo Suzy

  7. Well as I read your story…except we don’t weigh the same…I wish ???? not everyone can say I completely understand. Just a few years ago in my 50’s the inflammation was out of control and with autoimmune issues myself suddenly I’m allergic to so many foods. You just described my life. I follow the Autoimune Paleo diet (AIP) and it has saved my life. When your sick of feeling sick it does make it easier. All your trigger foods are the same for me. Not that misery likes company but sometimes knowing someone else completely understands…most people don’t…but I sure do…makes you feel like your not alone!

    1. Diane,
      Thank you for that sweet encouragement! That is a good diet and lots of people are on it! Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me that I am not alone! Hang in there, girly. I GET what you’re going through!
      You were so sweet to take the time to let me know, and I”m grateful!
      xoxo suzy

  8. This was not boring at all. I like learning about others in this detail. I’m always amazed that some women’s breasts never grew after having children (mine did) and that was such a random comment by me!
    Great tips here!

    1. Nylse,
      I always love it when you leave a comment! You are just the greatest! I am definitely a AA cup and always have been! Actually filling out a little was one of my favorite things about being pregnant and probably had something to do with why I nursed each of my three kids for a year! Haha!
      Thank you for your kinds words!
      xoxo Suzy

  9. It is so sweet and brave of you to take the time to share this. I completely understand why you never wanted to share however, you are so engaging and unselfish that you think of the needs of others first. I have IBS and suffer a great deal making food choices. I am sick of the hassle most of the time and don’t want to share that I have issues. Thank you and you are an amazing and inspiring sweet person!

    1. Suzanne,
      Thank you for your precious words! Somehow, it encourages me that my dear friend the intrepid travel blogger has issues too! Mine have kept me from traveling to some of the places I’ve really wanted to go, for sure! You are so dear to me, sweet friend!
      Thank you for your kind and encouraging comment!
      xoxo Suzy

  10. Suzy,
    Thank you for sharing. 2 of my three kids have Narcolepsy with Cataplexy. It is an autoimmune disease and since their diagnosis they have both had issues with food intolerances. We have had to adjust our diets too. No dairy, no gluten, no eggs among a numerous number of other foods. Having you share your journey helps others along the way. Thank you.

    1. Diana,
      Wow. You are dealing with a lot, Mama. Thank you for taking the time to encourage me. Big hugs to you and your precious kiddos. I had no that narcolepsy was now considered an autoimmune disease. Thanks for sharing your family’s story and informing us.
      xoxo Suzy

  11. Suzy,
    Love this post. I so applaud your bravery and honesty! So many people can identify with you in different ways. We had to do major diet adjustments for our daughter in high school (which she continues) and it is a challenge to eat differently than others. Hearing how you do it is an encouragement. Keep up the great work!

    1. Carol,
      Thank you for your kind words! So often we all feel isolated with our own issues, but sharing mine has hopefully encouraged others that they’re not alone! It can be challenging, for sure, but there is a lot more to life than just what we eat, so it helps to remember that! I don’t want to be a person who overvalues food, for sure!
      You’re such a good mama, and I know your daughter felt loved when you made adjustments for her!
      Thanks for your sweet comment!
      xoxo Suzy

  12. Hi Suzy, I just found your website today ☺️ I, too, have Celiac disease, get migraines, have a dairy allergy, and another autoimmune disease. I was diagnosed with Celiac about 10 years ago now, and ch aging my diet changed everything. Last year, my husband and I embarked on a health journey changing our diets and exercising more, and we feel so much better. We are both in our 50’s and our diet is very similar to yours. We discover Sunbutter this year- so yummy! I just wanted to say hi and thank you for sharing your diet and health info- it’s nice to know I’m not alone and that we can still enjoy food despite having a long list of “can’t haves.” Blessings to you.
    Natalie

    1. Natalie,
      Your sweet comment made my day! It is amazing to know that we are so similar! I too have found that exercise has really helped with my inflammation, energy level, and overall health. Yay for Sunbutter! I eat it at least once every single day! Hahaha!
      Know that you are not alone – I’m right there with you, sister! It’s so important to focus on the can haves and not the “can’t haves,” right?
      Many blessings to you, sweet Natalie, and wishes for a healthy and happy 2021!
      xoxo Suzy

  13. Hi Suzy, I recently found you on Instagram, and subscribed to your newsletter. I too am an empty-nester, but have had one return to the nest since graduating from college. Due to health issues and Covid, he couldn’t find a job until recently. Thank the lord he’s now working, but he’s been struggling with digestive issues for the last year and it’s turned his life upside down. It’s been quite the challenge as a parent to watch this while trying to balance involvement in his health journey. Finding this post in your archives was timely, as I’ve found my own stress level and worry, increasing in recent weeks. Showing and sharing that you have cultivated a healthy and vibrant life even in the face of chronic health issues, is inspiring, and something I needed to read today. I’ve also read and saved your post regarding praying for your adult children.. Thanks for sharing your story, and for being a beacon of light!

    1. Peggy,

      Well, you are just the sweetest, and I’m so grateful you found me! Thank you for your kind words! The Lord is a lord of LIFE and He wants us to live vibrant, others-centered lives of love and service in His name!

      I am so sorry to hear of your son’s struggles! Our 24-year-old (https://www.beccamighell.com/) is a musical theater actress, and she was on tour when the pandemic struck. Her industry is totally shut down and she’s living at home with us, so I understand how you feel. It’s hard to watch them struggle, but I’ve seen the Lord use that struggle in her life to teach her, stretch her, and grow her. (Not to mention her parents!) Like me, she has lupus, and celiac, and migraines, but she perseveres through it! The Lord refines us with fire, for sure.

      Thank you for letting me know you found this article helpful, and I’m so glad you’re here!

      xoxo
      Suzy

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