Monday, August 30, 2010

What's been happening here

It's been a long time since my last post. My focus has gone off local foods somewhat, and onto a dual quest: lose some weight, and make some difference in my fibromyalgia by dietary changes.

As has been happening since the first year, we're still eating local food, and it has become second nature. We buy the high-quality meat from local farmers and ranchers. We have our own eggs (you can't get more local than the front yard). I'm still running the food cooperative, and we get most of our other food there: organic staples from the western U.S., organic produce mainly from Colorado with a few items coming from the western U.S. And the garden has been producing a bounty: lettuce and snap peas in the early summer, now zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes, more than we can eat.

I relaxed the rules a bit during the Spring season: I bought lettuce and avocados from California, and a few other things. I have my CSA membership, and other than that I buy more from the cooperative than from all other stores put together.

So what were my results on the weight loss? Very good, actually. I have lost 37 pounds since January. It has really made a difference in my mobility and reduced my pain. I've given away a box full of too-large clothes. That feels good! My "diet" is mainly low-carb, with a couple of high-carb meals per week. I feel that I can maintain this way of eating the rest of my life. I don't count calories, fat grams, or carb grams, but follow some simple rules.

1. No fast food, no junk food, no added sweeteners including artificial sweeteners.
2. No grains other than rice, and that once or twice a month.
3. Moderate servings of high-quality meat at each meal (3-5 oz), accompanied with a half-serving of fruit and 1-3 servings of vegetables either raw or cooked. I don't avoid the higher-fat cuts, but I keep the serving moderate. I have eggs rarely, and eat small servings of dairy products occasionally, but neither is a staple of my diet.
4. No eating after supper, no snacking between meals, and only three meals per day.
5. We do eat out occasionally; for me it's usually salads. Once in a while a cut of meat with veggies in place of potato or other starch.

And the last part is the oxalates, which I'm fortunate to find out about. I discovered that some people with fibromyalgia react to oxalates in the diet. Their bodies don't dispose of oxalates nicely like other people. This is especially true for those with celiac disease (inability to digest gluten), which I have. Other sufferers from oxalate problems include those with kidney stones, interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia, and autism spectrum disorders. So there is a lot of energy behind the research on this topic, in particular from the parents of ASD children pressing hard to find solutions to their children's problems. There is a very active Yahoo group called Trying_Low_Oxalates which is worth following if you or a family member have any of these problems.

The lists of low, medium, and high oxalate foods are extensive, and compared to ten years ago are much better researched and more consistent. As a starter, potatoes, carrots and celery are out; spinach, most hardy greens, beets, rhubarb (the high-oxalate queen), chocolate (oh no), the small grains that I was using to substitute for gluten-containing grains (this includes millet, buckwheat and amaranth). Tree nuts (except chestnuts) and peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, all dried beans (except bean sprouts), sweet potatoes, rutabaga, tomato sauce, black tea, most berries, most dried fruits, all gone. Half at least of the recipes I've posted on this blog are out of bounds for me now. Half of my CSA basket I have to give to friends or leave at the farm.

But the payoff is very good. I've been able to start a program of morning walks, which I could never consider before due to the pain. My sleep is better, my weight loss is effortless, my mood is better, my energy is higher. My fingernails have stopped shredding; they grow out so I can cut them again.

Other group members are also dealing with fibromyalgia, which responds pretty well over a period of months or years. It's tougher to make headway on the ASD kids, but people are reporting significant improvements in their child's behavior and verbal abilities.

I feel very fortunate to be putting so many puzzle pieces together now. I take loads of supplements, as recommended to cope with the oxalates and fibromyalgia. The Yahoo group has lots of information on supplements. I sometimes wish I had put it together sooner, but at least with the oxalates, this information was not even known ten years ago. But it's no good regretting the past, and rueing the constant stream of candy, chips, and assorted junk that I ate years ago. I'm finally getting them off my hips!

Local food eating works pretty well with my restrictions. It keeps me honest on the junk and fast food, the chocolate, the nuts. It keeps high-quality fresh foods on our table. A meal of pastured beef (grazed about three miles from our home), lettuce and squash from the garden, and half a beautiful Colorado peach (the best there are): who could complain about that?