Category Archives: On the Journey


Losing Weight Without Even Trying: An Unintentional (but welcome!) Side Effect

I did not start this diet to lose weight. But somewhere along the way I seem to have misplaced 20 pounds.

Twenty. Pounds. In three months!

Gone, without even trying.

I have not been counting calories. I have not been avoiding fat. (In fact, I eat more butter, cream, and whole milk now than I did before.) I have not been exercising. I eat all day long and never, ever let myself get hungry. I don’t spend a single second thinking things like “is this fattening” but just eat whatever sounds good to me at the time and is “legal” on this diet.

Did you catch everything in that last paragraph? Go back and read it again if you need to. Take a moment to be shocked. Think “but how can that be?!” It’s all true, I swear!

The only thing that is different is that I’m eating real, whole, natural foods. And, it seems, eating real, whole, natural foods has this great side effect of dropping the pounds. It’s been coming off gradually, at a rate of about 1-2 pounds a week. I assume that I’ll continue to lose weight until my body reaches the weight it’s supposed to be, and then it’ll even out. I’m guessing, based on my height, that that’ll be after another 10 pounds.

What this says to me is that my body is basically working now the way it’s SUPPOSED to. All the systems and hormones and whatnot are healthy and happy, and as a result I’m not only feeling better, but I’m looking better too.

Pictures always illustrate things better than words in cases like this, but I don’t really have any good “before” pictures because – as I said – weight loss wasn’t remotely on my mind when I started this. So I’ve had to just pick the best I could find from old snapshots to get front and profile “before” pictures. Here they are.

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Falling Down The Rabbit Hole: Grass-fed Animal Products


I’ve been noticing that this real food thing is somewhat of a trip down a rabbit hole. You start off simple and slow, but then you learn more, and more, and more, and before you know it you’re a countercultural hippy at odds with everyone around you.

Well, maybe not that extreme.

But sort of.

(I’m kind of one step away from getting my own hens. That’s how bad it is.)

Today my rabbit hole brought me here

birchwood farmsIMG_1791 farm cows birchwood farms IMG_1793


for this

IMG_1796 milk and eggs

Eggs from pastured hens, and raw milk from grass-fed cows.

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When Will I Learn?

Seriously. When? Because I know all the facts. I know what sugar and preservatives and flavorings and artificial things do to my body. I KNOW. And, still, I find myself getting sucked in.

So, I was Christmas shopping yesterday, trying to get it all done in one fell swoop because I detest shopping in general – much less when it’s surrounded by masses of people running into me with their carts – so I wanted to get it over with. I was in Kohl’s, waiting in the long checkout line (it was like 30 people deep. Really.) and right there, taunting me, tempting me, on shelves next to the line were bags of Ghirardelli peppermint bark.


Have you ever had Ghirardelli peppermint bark? Every Christmas for the past three years, this has been our family treat. I put it in the stockings as a Christmas morning surprise. It’s, quite simply, divine. AND…it comes in a DARK chocolate variety.

Dark chocolate is my weakness.

So, I saw the bags of peppermint bark. I saw the dark chocolate option. I remembered how good it tasted last Christmas, and how much I liked it. And I thought, “Well, I COULD just pick some up so that my husband and kids can still have some. You know. For THEM.”

I brought it home. I ate lunch. And then I heard it.

“Rachel. Raaaacheeeelllll.”

It was calling me. Seriously, it was. From the depths of the Kohl’s bag.

I went and got it. I opened it. And I ate one. Just one, I told myself, and I’d be done and be good for forever and ever.

But after that one, I just needed another one. And before I knew it I’d scarfed down three of the things.

And felt immediately guilty.

Not even five minutes later the headache started. I haven’t had a headache in weeks – maybe even months – but I used to get them all the time. I’ve rather gotten used to feeling headache-free, so the pain shocked me when it hit. And it really HIT. Suddenly and hard, right above my right eye, descending without warning.

I guess it could be coincidence that the first headache I’ve had in a really long time came just after wolfing down more sugar than I’ve had at one sitting in 3 months. But that seems to be a stretch to me. It has to have been that sugar.

I suffered through the rest of the afternoon until it subsided, and kicked myself for my weakness. It’s just so hard, especially when you’re surrounded by people – a WORLD – that doesn’t understand or do what you do, who kind of think you’re crazy (or at least unnecessarily extreme) and there’s cookies and cakes and candy everywhere. Especially this time of year. It’s so hard to remember why I do what I do.

So, I’m going to try to remember! Remember the headache! And the nausea and the joint pain and the insomnia and everything that used to be part of my normal life. Because feeling good can get to be routine, and it can become easy to take it for granted and forget the reasons I went off those tempting things in the first place.

I’ve read other people commenting that they can’t understand why people are ever tempted by food, or have a hard time avoiding things that they know are poisonous to them. That must be so nice. I wish I couldn’t understand it either. But, unfortunately I can. All too well.

Maybe it will get easier with time? I hope so. Until then I just have to, as they say, “remember my chains.”

And avoid long checkout lines booby-trapped with chocolate.

Eating Out

Eating out on this diet – as with most diets – is tricky.

A couple weeks ago we went to P.F. Chang’s. I had my doubts about how much I could eat there, since American Chinese food is known to be something less than healthy, but I thought I’d be able to find something. And they’re always so good about catering to people with food allergies there, so I thought that something could be figured out.

So we went, and I asked the waiter if he could tell me what selections didn’t have sugar. He went to ask the kitchen and was gone quite a long time. Finally the manager came out and squatted down by me to be disarming, I suppose, and explained with great regret that nothing – NOT ONE THING – in the entire restaurant didn’t have sugar.

He was very apologetic, and did give me the choice of dishes that had at the least amount of sugar, and everyone was very nice and helpful and didn’t make me feel like a problem at all. I have no complaints about the way they handled the situation. But the fact that every dish in a restaurant has sugar in it just kind of boggles the mind. Sugar really IS everywhere!

So does that mean eating out is completely off limits on this diet? I don’t think so. I think it is possible – it just requires a little more thought. Here are a couple hints for dining out successfully.

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How To Cut Up A Pineapple

A lot of people are a little bewildered about how exactly to cut up a pineapple. They’re weird and spiny and have this hard core in the middle – how on earth do you get to it easily? I see a lot of silly advice about cutting off the rind, and then cutting it into rounds, and then cutting out the circle of core in each round. Nonsense! This way is much simpler. Maybe you already know this method, but for those of you who don’t, I’ll walk you through it.

First, make sure the pineapple is ripe. When you buy it, it’ll probably be mostly green, so you want to leave it out on the counter until it’s mostly yellow, like this one is. When it’s ready to cut, lay it down on a cutting mat. (Ignore the melted corner. That’s what happens when you put a hot pot on it accidentally. Don’t do that.)

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Power Outages and Stress-Induced Cravings

So, that post I wrote about how convinced I’ve become that eating sugar isn’t worth what it does to my body? Remember all that?

You can toss it out the window.

Because here’s the thing: addictions don’t care about rational thought or compelling reasons. They just want to be fed. And these past couple days my refined carb addiction has been raving.

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Changing Tastebuds

So, here’s an unexpected side effect of completely cutting sugar from your diet: your tastebuds start to change.

Or, at least mine seem to have. I taste things differently from what I used to. When I eat, I really taste the food. I had some potato salad today and really tasted the potatoes much more than I did before. And they tasted sweet to me! Strange, huh? I notice the natural sweetness of foods now incredibly more than I ever did before. When I have fruit, it tastes so surprisingly sweet. It kind of bursts on my tongue. My daily smoothies are perfectly sweet to me now without any honey. And I’m immediately aware when something has sugar in it. We got some pork barbecue the other day, and when I bit in I instantly tasted the sugar. The meat tasted weird and sweet to me. I’m sure that before it would have tasted just fine, but now, after having successfully detoxed from sugar, it just tasted strange.

All of this makes it much easier for me to avoid foods that I know will make me feel bad, and to enjoy the foods that don’t! So, if you’re starting out, or are wondering if you could make it if you tried, I hope that encourages you. After a while, regular, non-sweetened food becomes much more satisfying than you thought it could be.

I’ve also started to tolerate the taste of Stevia more. I used to think it tasted plain weird and wouldn’t use it, but now the “sweet” of the Stevia is just fine to me. In small doses, at least – in large doses it still tastes weird to me. I realized this had changed this morning when I had my husband try some of my Homemade “Nutella.” He was very aware of the Stevia taste, where I didn’t notice it at all. To me it just tasted good. (So, if you want to try it, you’ll have to taste it for yourself and see. If you find you can’t tolerate the Stevia, you can use honey instead.)

Here’s the problem: How can I create recipes for people who are currently hooked on sugar, or just coming off, when I don’t taste things the way they do anymore?! It might taste good to me, but maybe it wouldn’t to sugar-eaters. I guess I’ll just have to use my family as guinea pigs.

I find all this very interesting. It reminds me of models of people’s brains on drugs, where their pleasure receptors don’t react to normal pleasure anymore because they’re always overwhelmed from the drug. Maybe our normal tastebuds get similarly corrupted by sugar? Maybe we don’t realize that food is a lot more naturally sweet and flavorful than we think because we’ve gotten so used to the overwhelming taste of sugar? 

All this has made me start to think of sugar as a scary sort of menace more than a temptation. It ravages our bodies, corrupts our tastebuds, prevents us from enjoying ordinary food as much, and hooks us on it to the point where we feel like we’re going crazy when we don’t eat it! It’s scary stuff, man. Now, I don’t know that I’ll never cheat again. But I think that when I do cheat, I’ll do it with non-sugar alternatives – palm sugar, honey, maple syrup. Because it’s just not worth it to do that to my body.