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, just like most of us, my diet is a mixture of choices I make and choices that my body made for me. I understand that people are interested in what other people eat and their health choices, so I’m happy to share.
First, Let Me Say…
Before you read this post, I’d like to ask a few things of you! 😊
- Please don’t 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! I have lupus, celiac disease, and migraines. Each affects my daily life and the health and wellness choices I make in multiple ways.
- Please don’t judge. I have a lot of dietary restrictions. But in the areas where I have dietary freedom, I don’t always make the best choices. I think that’s okay!
- Please don’t send me “suggestion” emails! I don’t want to field a bunch of emails about how a certain supplement or protocol will cure my health issues. 😂 I’ve done lots of research with regard to nutrition and my health. Also, I’m under the care of a team of excellent physicians.
- Please don’t use my unique situation as an excuse to continue unhealthy habits that you know need to change.
A Word About Body Image
Everyone’s body is different, and that’s a good thing! We all tend to compare ourselves to others, but the truth is, a big part of the reason we look the way we look is genetics, friends! I’m built like a ballerina. (I was one 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 don’t really like 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. I’m 5’5,” and I weigh around 120. I wear an XS or XXS (size 0 or 00) on top and an XS (or size 2) on the bottom.
Just like a lot of women, when I gain weight, 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 (We all know what those are.😂) and watch 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 has been using a health & wellness program called Mighty Health (with excellent results) if you’re looking for a program. It’s endorsed by AARP and geared toward people over 50. I like Mighty Health’s exercise videos! To read my review of Mighty Health, click HERE.
In order to reduce inflammation, delay aging, and gain all of the other benefits from exercise, I work out five days a week for an hour (6:30-7:30 a.m., baby!). I focus on cardio on Tuesdays and Thursdays and strength training on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. For cardio, I walk on the treadmill or the elliptical. For strength training, I do bodyweight strengthening exercises like squats, lunges, and pushups. I also lift weights and do core work.
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 on what I can. That said, there are several healthy 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 migraine 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 significant weight 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 and did the DNA test!)
- 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) – Again, tyramine
- Raw Onions – (Migraine trigger)
- Yogurt – (Migraine trigger + Dairy intolerance) – Many people with migraines can’t eat anything fermented, including yogurt.
- Avocados & Guacamole – (Migraine trigger)
- Nuts & Nut Butters – (Migraine trigger) – But seeds, like sunflower seed and sunflower butter are fine.
- Beans – (Migraine trigger) – contain tyramine.
- Bacon or deli meat with sodium nitrate as a preservative – (Migraine trigger)
- Chocolate – (Migraine trigger)
- Apple Cider or Apple Cider Vinegar – (Migraine trigger)
- Milk, Ice Cream, Butter, Cottage Cheese, Sour Cream, Cream Cheese – (Dairy intolerance)
- Raisins, Figs, Red Plums, and Papaya – (Migraine Trigger) – contain high levels of tyramine.
- Soy – (Migraine trigger)
- Red Wine or Red Wine Vinegar – (Migraine Trigger) – contain tannins (a notorious migraine trigger).
- Beer – (Celiac Disease)
- Most Teas (Migraine trigger) – tannins
- Sugar (Inflammatory) – I try to limit my sugar intake, but I do eat some! (However, I feel better when I don’t!)
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. This means 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 all the ingredients! It’s so embarrassing! 🤪🤭
What I Can Eat and Why
Why I Can Eat Certain Foods
Simple doesn’t necessarily mean healthy! I mean, big juicy steaks are simple, but you wouldn’t want to eat one every day! When I say simple, I mean the fewer ingredients, the better.
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 – THIS bread is my favorite!
- Grains like quinoa, oats, and rice
- Oat milk, rice milk, flax milk – Oat milk is my favorite, and I think THIS brand is the best!
- 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 – THIS Christmas 🎄flavor is my fave! I drink it all year ’round!)
- Guayusa Tea – low in tannins. I buy the loose tea leaves and infuse my own! (See above.)
- Diet Soft Drinks – I love Dr. Pepper Zero Sugar!
- Sunflower seeds & sunflower butter – I like crunchy and buy it in bulk!
- Oat Milk Ice Cream
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.
- Burger (In-N-Out Protein Style is my fave!)
- Fries (My faves are at Five Guys, but I also like In-N-Out fries!)
- Sunflower butter
- Berries of any kind (I always buy organic.)
- Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Bread
- Smucker’s Sugar-Free Concord Grape Jam
- So Delicious Oatmilk “Oatmeal Cookie” non-dairy “ice cream”
- Catalina Crunch Cereal – especially Maple Waffle and Cinnamon Toast flavors! (More about these below.)
What I Eat on 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!
What I Eat: Breakfast
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 😴 and hungry again in about an hour!
Catalina Crunch Cereals are gluten-free, have zero sugar, are free of nuts, soy, and lactose, are keto-friendly, vegan friendly, and non-GMO. They have up to 10g plant-based protein, 6g fiber, and only 5g net carbs! They’re expensive, but because they’re so high in fiber and protein, the serving size is only 1/2 cup, so one bag lasts forever! As I told you above, my favorite flavors are Maple Waffle and Cinnamon Toast. (You can see all of the flavors HERE.)
I also love a good smoothie! I shared my recipe in THIS Instagram REEL.
What I Eat: Lunch
My favorite lunch is Crunchy Sunbutter and Smucker’s Sugar-Free Concord Grape Jelly on Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Bread (my version of a PB &J!) with a big bowl of berries on the side. Yes really! I don’t eat that every day! I also like Hormel Natural Choice deli meats, so sometimes I eat those (either as a sandwich or just alone) with berries.
Bob and I also love Chicken Salad Chick, and go about once a week. When I’m there, 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 bread 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!)
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.
I’ve never counted calories, but recently when Bob and I started using Mighty Health, I started paying more attention! Mighty Health uses a simple red/yellow/green color-coded system to help you know which foods to eat regularly, sometimes, and rarely. They also ask you to log your food into the app. The app assigns each food a color and tracks your overall nutrition. Doing this has helped me be more aware of balancing my overall daily nutrition. You can read more about it HERE.
By now you must be bored out of your minds! I hope not! This might be one of the most personal posts I’ve ever written! Honestly, it feels pretty vulnerable! Still, the courage it took to write it was worth it if it helped you or gave you some new ideas. I’m here to encourage, inspire, and bless you, and if that’s what I did today, then it was worth it!
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