My relationship with carbs has been quite the patchwork of mood swings over the past decade. In January, it will be 10 years that i stepped out in faith and followed the cues Life was suddenly giving me to make slow and steady changes toward better health.
Step 1: shelve the binge-eating and processed foods. This is a huge step in and of itself but I felt ready. And I also knew, after a lifetime of dieting and being hard on myself what NOT to do. So in the beginning this was my only rule. I didn’t place restrictions on quantity or calorie-counting, or writing my food down the day before – all of which drove me nuts.
Step 2: Going gluten-and dairy-free. This was at the advice of my mentor, Diamond Dallas Page, creator of DDPYOGA, the physical part of the equation that helped me regain my strength and physical grace (it was there all along…it only needed to be uncovered). The second step was a big one and it was taken at about month 3 of my journey. Very important detail because when I take on too many changes too soon, it backfires. I wasn’t in a race and I didn’t want overwhelm, only permanent change I could LIVE with.
Step 3: Becoming acquainted with the gluten-free and cow-dairy-free lifestyle. This was actually fun, because I had some pretty delicious times with cupcakes, cookies, baguettes, bagels…..you get the picture. But I was younger and my metabolism could take it. I didn’t over eat them though, even though I easily COULD. Being mindful of quantity and when I’ve had enough was a skill that developed over time, and the one underlying rule I still live by is no binge-eating. And when I want to eat more than my body needs I simply take it as a sign the waters are troubled and it’s time to do within.
Step 4: Keeping the weight off. I’ve been doing this for almost a decade thanks to following the formula laid out in Step 3. Which isn’t to say I’m a robot or fitness model whose weight never fluctuates. It has and it does. Which brings me to….
Step 5: Menopause. And all its attendant symptoms, including (cue the music from the shower scene in “Psycho”) WEIGHT GAIN! Yes it has happened, 30 pounds have come back, uninvited. The pasta dinners I could burn off with a longer work or harder workout don’t get incinerated like they once did. Because of this, carbs became the enemy – banished until further notice! But this wasn’t livable. I wasn’t happy and neither was my body. Which brings me to…
Step 6: Renegotiating with carbs. Let’s face it, I love ’em. They’re creamy, comforting, and nourishing…if you choose a healthy one. After listening to my body carefully and talking it over (dialoging with your body as you would a close friend is something I do and recommend to my clients, it’s a great way to glean information, as well as repair the damage from all the years I berated it), I decided adding healthy carbs back in the equation was in order. I welcomed brown basmati rice, quinoa, potatoes (red and purple in particular) to the stove with open arms. Even if some of the menopause weight is here to stay, so what? I should deprive myself of healthy food? I don’t think so. I don’t eat carbs daily, but several times a week for sure. And here’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy a bowl of comforting carbs – hot cereal. Sure, there are plenty of gluten-free hot cereals out there, try ’em all if you like! But as you know, I love not only cooking, but alchemizing food with my Vitamix. There’s a little labor involved with this one, but remember, labor in the kitchen usually translates into something that’s less processed and better for you in the long run. Make a big batch and have it for the week, or freeze part of it. Cream of Brown Rice Cereal is a blank canvas so jazz it up with shredded coconut, hemp hearts, dried fruit, pumpkin pie spice…whatever! The point is to enjoy both the process and the eating. Yes, we are allowed to ENJOY our food – what a concept!
Cream of Brown Rice Cereal
1 cup cooked brown rice (I love brown basmati rice)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of cinnamon (optional)
Sweetener of choice (I eat it unsweetened, but if you want to add maple syrup or honey, go for it)
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Scrape into a small ceramic baking dish with a lid and bake for about 20 minutes at 300. May also be cooked on the stovetop but it has to be stirred frequently or it’ll burn. Serve and enjoy. You are FUELED for the morning.