Turning Over a New Leaf

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My daily smoothie

Deciding to eat better at the flip of the calendar to a new year is cliche, I know. But it’s become so for a reason. The older I get the more I realize that there is less time left for me to become the person I want to become (a healthy and fit one) and live the life I want to live (running around after my kids and actually keeping up with them). Maybe turning 42 recently has jumpstarted this desire. Or perhaps it’s having just had my third child and finding it three times more difficult to get back to my healthy self than it did with my first two babies. Hmmm, probably both.

These days with our household so busy and my sleep so scattered, I’ve been working in triage mode. Feeling hungry? Grab whatever you can shove down in the five minutes you get to yourself. Need exercise? Push the stroller as you run (in a completely stressed-out manner) the six blocks to school with the other two in tow trying desperately not to be late. While that second one works in a pinch, the stress of the rush in the mornings likely cancels out any benefit of the sprint down the street. Sometimes we’re in such a rush that I leave without even eating anything. And as a breastfeeding mama, that leaves two of us really unhappy.

While I’m still trying to get into an exercise rhythm that works for me, I have tried to make some changes lately to help me feel better and, hopefully, lose some weight, by shaking up my diet a bit. I love salads, but find that they take time to prepare. I was looking for a way to get more fruits and veggies in my daily diet that won’t take too much time, while maintaining adequate protein intake to keep me satisfied and sustain my milk supply.

The answer: Smoothies!

We have always consumed smoothies at our house. My husband is a big fan and usually has them a few times a week. And while he only puts in the good stuff (organic fruit, yogurt, wheat germ), I wanted to put a spin on that and see if I couldn’t make something yummy, while also adding even more good stuff.

I settled on a mix of frozen berries (strawberries and blueberries), a handful of baby carrots, a handful of mixed greens (baby spinach, kale, chard), and a bit of organic orange juice. Wow. It turned out delicious! I couldn’t believe it when the kids tried some and loved it–even though I had told them it contained kale!

Now that I’ve made that healthy change, I’m considering another one that isn’t quite so easy: going gluten-free. I’ve suffered from psoriasis since I was 18. My condition is mild, so I never really sought treatment for it and pretty much figured it was only a cosmetic issue. I was wrong. I recently read an article that described the way in which having psoriasis (which is an autoimmune disease) causes inflammation throughout the body, which is a bit like being in a constant “allergic state.” This inflammatory response then puts stress on the body and can lead to strokes and heart attacks. One study found that people with psoriasis were 18 percent more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than those without the disease.  Now if that’s not motivation to try and do something differently, I don’t know what is.

Many of the treatments for psoriasis are pharmaceutical (with unwanted side effects), unpleasant (tar-like salves that burn your skin), or photo therapy that can increase risk of skin cancer. To me, all of these treatments merely attempt to deal with the result of the psoriasis—the pink, flaky, itchy skin. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to rid my elbows of their permanent patches, but I’d prefer to do it by addressing the underlying cause.

I’m still researching the whole gluten-free diet thing and am taking baby steps. For now, I’m pairing my daily smoothies with eggs (no toast), and trying to add other carbs like rice (not too often of course, due to the issues with arsenic!), and potatoes into the mix. So far, I’m feeling good, but definitely hungry. I’m trying to snack on things like dried fruit and nuts instead of crackers. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you’ve got any advice about how to incorporate healthy changes  in meals kids might eat, let me know. And if you’ve got a favorite gluten-free recipe or product, share the love. Thanks!


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