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

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell
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woman wearing blue dress holding sunbutter and carrots sitting on a colorful sofa

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! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  1. 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! ๐Ÿ˜„ We ALL have something โ€” 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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. ๐Ÿ˜‚ 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.
  4. 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! ๐Ÿ˜‚ 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.๐Ÿ˜‚) 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! ๐Ÿ˜‚ Usually, the waiter has to go back to the kitchen multiple times to ask the chef about all the ingredients! It’s so embarrassing! ๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคญ

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.

woman's hand holding a cultivate kindness latte mug with blue tea infuser in front of a keurig

Cultivate Kindness Latte Mug (See below for other styles.) | Flower Tea Infusers

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 ๐ŸŸ
  • Corn, corn chips, corn tortillas, and popcorn ๐Ÿฟ
  • Velveeta & American Cheese (It’s so processed, it doesn’t contain real cheese! ๐Ÿคฃ)
  • Sugar substitutes (Like Splenda and Stevia)
  • Herbal Tea – THIS Christmas ๐ŸŽ„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.

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!

woman over 50 wearing jjill while making a smoothie

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! ๐Ÿ‘€) are deficient in nutrition, high in carbs, and low in protein. If I eat them, I get sleepy within 30 minutes ๐Ÿ˜ด 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.

woman wearing blue dress holding sunbutter and carrots sitting on a colorful sofa
Another favorite lunch is baby carrots dipped in Sunbutter, with a bowl of berries.

Denim Shift Dress | Gold Drop Earrings in Platinum Drusy | Crunchy Sunbutter

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!)
woman wearing blue dress holding sunbutter and carrots sitting on a colorful sofa
Yep! Sometimes I eat Sunbutter right off the spoon! ๐Ÿ˜‹

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 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!

If you enjoyed this post, you may have a friend or a family member that would enjoy it too! The greatest compliment to me is when you share my posts! You can share it by using the icons at the very bottom of the page where you see โ€œShare This Post.โ€ 

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Suzy Mighell

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28 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for being transparent and open about a personal subject! You’ve done a great job making choices that work for you. Instead of fighting against your issues you’ve worked through them and with them! Great testimony and example!!

  2. Thank you for your honest post! So many articles about โ€œwhat I eat in a dayโ€ seem so unrealistic. I love that you shared your realityโ€ฆIn and Out fries and all!

  3. Thank you for sharing all of this. I have been gluten-free since 2008 due to severe gluten intolerance and severe migraines from gluten. My 24 year old daughter is also gluten-free due to severe gluten intolerance. My grandfather died from stomach cancer in his early 50โ€™s so we suspect that he was celiac. Thank you for sharing about the DNA test for celiacโ€”I was not aware of that. I have acquired hypogammaglobulinemia, a rare type of respiratory immune deficiency and receive monthly IVIG and many upper respiratory allergies. The biggest challenge for me with my severe gluten intolerance is attending social functions where there is nothing safe to eat. It is especially bad during the Christmas season. I would love to know how you cope.

    1. Andrea,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your challenges. I knew from Instagram that they were significant.

      Yes! Holiday gatherings can be tricky! Not being able to eat much at those always helps me focus on the guests rather than the food, which is probably a good thing. I usually eat before I go and then load up with any veggies or fruit that I might see. Also, we usually swing by In-N-Out afterward ๐Ÿ˜‚, so that’s always something to look forward to!

      xoxo
      Suzy

      1. That is safe advice! I once brought my homemade gluten-free pecan pie to the elaborate Thanksgiving Day dinner at our country club and no one dared say a word to me about it๐Ÿ˜โค๏ธ

  4. Thank you for your honesty and openness! I can imagine that it takes a lot of courage to be so vulnerable. I got a lot of great ideas from reading your post and just ordered the Catalina Crunch cereal!

    1. Kelley,

      Aw, so sweet of you to say! I hope you like the cereal! I feel like a kid again being able to eat cereal that tastes so yummy! It’s also good for a snack and it works great to put a little in a Ziploc baggie when I travel or whatever!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  5. This is great! Our family has a lot of dietary restrictions too and people love to tell us they could never eat like us. They don’t realize that we actually eat really good food that makes us feel good too! It’s forced us to get back to eating real food more. When you listen to your body, it’s easier to make better choices. Canyon bread is our favorite too!

    1. Jenny,

      I could not agree more with you on everything you said. Sometimes I feel like having restrictions is a blessing. In our world with SO many choices on everything from streaming platforms to, well, food choices, it’s kind of nice to have a few things that narrow the options!

      Isn’t Canyon Bread delish? I’m so grateful for them! I do eat (mostly) good food!

      Thank you so much for your comment and for reading!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  6. Thank you for a great post and all your wonderful content! Have you ever checked out the food blog Iowa Girl Eats? She is a food blogger who developed celiac disease during the time she was blogging and now does only gluten free recipes. We do not need to eat gluten free in my house but I LOVE her recipes! I am not sure how her recipes would work with your migraine trigger foods, but she is a fun, very real blogger!

    1. Heidi,

      Thanks so much for your suggestion! I’ll look her up!

      I do tend to have trouble with lots of GF recipes because of the other issues. (Just like I have trouble with keto-type recipes because I can’t do nuts – including nut butters and almond flour, and things like that.) It’s crazy, but I’m so thankful for all the yummy things I can eat!

      I so appreciate your comment and thank you for reading and taking the time to leave it!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  7. Hi Suzy – I, too, have celiac disease (diagnosed in my mid-50’s), plus an allergy to corn, pork, and several other foods. I greatly understand and can empathize with your challenges! But you should never be embarrassed by asking questions! I find most restaurants and servers are very helpful and truly want you to enjoy your time there. I’m also encountering more servers with celiac so they are very helpful! Your health is most important!! Best wishes and keep smiling!

    1. Helen,

      Thank you for your kind encouragement! I do tend to frustrate lots of poor servers, because even if they suggest GF options, often I have to modify them due to my other restrictions!

      No worries! I’m grateful that I can usually find something and modify it if necessary! If all else fails, I ask for a plain chicken breast and some veggies on the side! ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and for reading!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  8. Lori,

    Apples are delicious, and they’re great with sun butter! Unfortunately, nut butters like peanut butter and almond butter are out for me, because nuts are a migraine trigger. Sunflowers seeds are seeds, so somehow they’re okay!

    xoxo
    Suzy

  9. Thank you for sharing Suzy!
    I also love the Canyon Bakehouse GF bread, have you tried the Hawaiian? Itโ€™s good if you like a little sweeter bread sometimes:)
    Gina

    1. Gina,

      Thank you for your comment! I haven’t tried the Hawaiian bread, but thank you for the recommendation!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! You’re always such a sweet encouragement to me and I’m grateful for you!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  10. I was looking forward to reading this post Suzy, and the information was wonderful. I did not know that So Delicious used Oat Milk in so many items. My problem is locating their products in my area and not just their products. I will be on the hunt though.

    Thanks again for the knowledge you share!
    xo Nancy

    1. Nancy,

      You are too sweet! I buy SO Delicious products at Whole Foods and sometimes even at Walmart, although it’s a more limited selection. You might want to reach out to the brand and ask!

      I am so glad you enjoyed the post! You’re always so encouraging!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  11. Great article and resources!

    It is nice to know I am not the only one with numerous dietary challenges.

    I am looking forward to trying the Catalina Maple Waffle cereal and SunButter!!

    Yes, eating out is definitely a different experience. I am getting better at researching menus and contacting restaurants ahead of time to see if they can make accommodations, especially when I travel.

    1. Susan,

      Oh, girl! You are NOT alone! Thank you for your comment! I hope you like the cereal and SunButter!

      We always research the restaurants before we head out too. With the ones nearby, I end up finding something that works for me and just ordering it every time we go! Do you do that? ๐Ÿ˜‚
      We’ve also really come to appreciate restaurants that will work with me! Outback Steakhouse is a good one, as is Five Guys. When we travel, we’ve found Disney amazing, along with Ritz Carlton hotels and Oceania Cruises. When I’m in New York, I love to go to Friedmans(multiple locations). They can make anything on their menu GF. When they fix fried chicken for me, I think I’m in heaven!

      Thanks again for your comment and for reading!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  12. Suzy,
    Great post. I can sympathize because I also have celiac disease and numerous food intolerances. I may try the cereal but I don’t always do well with pea protein and potatoes. Sunflower seeds may work for you (and me) because they are a low salicylate food.

    I was a little confused by the section in your post where you said you were diagnosed with celiac disease by DNA blood test. It’s my understanding that this test, which I think is the one I had, just shows that you have the gene for celiac disease but not that you have it. I was told by my doctor that you have to have the IGA antibodies (the normal screening test) and conclusive findings from an endoscopy to be diagnosed with celiac disease. People with the gene for celiac have a predisposition for the disease but don’t always get it and may have an intolerance for gluten.

  13. Ali,

    I had an endoscopy to confirm, and all the symptoms but was normal on the IGA antibody test. That does happen sometimes, although rare, and I was an example of that. My daughter has the exact same thing.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for your comment.

    xoxo
    Suzy

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