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Eat Like a Canadian January 26, 2013

Posted by starshipexercise in MIgraine, Recipes and Food.
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When I went to Victoria, BC with my dragon boat team over the summer for the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival, I bought a bag of oatmeal for the hotel suite. I am an obsessive label-reader from way back, so of course I noticed that the recommended serving size was 1/3 cup uncooked oats.

Wait, what?

It was a popular brand of oats, the same brand I buy at home, and I’ve been using 1/2 cup for my serving size all this time. Did the American oats call for a bigger portion size, or had I been eating too much oatmeal due to user error?

When I got home, I rushed to the kitchen to check, and sure enough, my US-purchased oats recommended 1/2 cup portion size. I did some quick guesstimation (I don’t really do math) and concluded that the actual nutritional info for the US oats and the Canada oats are similar. Canadians just have a smaller portion size. Why? WHY, bitches?

This has been troubling me for months. We already have major issues with portion distortion, why are we, in the US, encouraged to start with a larger portion size to begin with?(Click here for some handy ways to judge portion size visually.)

And what’s the result? Are Canadians skinnier than Americans?

Why yes, yes they are. Obesity is an epidemic across the developed world, and Canada is no exception. However, current statistics (as of Q4 2012) show that while the US tops the list of obesity rates in first-world countries, Canada is at #6.

I decided to run an experiment. For one week, I ate a slightly smaller portion of oatmeal every morning. Instead of measuring out 1/2 cup, I only took 1/3 cup. You will never believe what happened: absolutely nothing. Not only did I not starve to a slow, horrendous death, I didn’t even feel more hungry than usual.

I started my oatmeal experiment about two weeks before the holidays. Coincidentally, we had a huge yoga class that morning. We did a very basic sun salutation series set to some very lovely (but generic) background music. Going into savasana, we reflected on the crowded room, the quieter than normal music, the less complex vinyasa flow; yet we could still claim our space on our mats and feel the sweat on our skin.  Our teacher’s exact words were “Notice how little you actually need.” That’s good advice, especially when we’re surrounded by spectacle and excess.

I have also recently discovered PB2. If you’ve never had it, look it up. You used to only be able to get it online, but I’ve been seeing it in stores lately. It’s powdered peanut butter, and they’ve removed a ton of the fat and calories as part of the process, but you still get a nice hit of protein. There’s a chocolate flavor, but it’s not super chocolately or super peanut buttery. I didn’t love the chocolate. My advice is to stick with the regular PB2. And of course, if peanuts are a migraine trigger for you, skip it entirely. I find I can have it once or twice a week, especially if I stick to a half portion (and avoiding any other potential triggers, and assuming the weather holds, it’s not that time of the month, I’ve gotten plenty of sleep and fluids, and well, you know the drill), without any repercussions.

PB2 Cherry Oatmeal

Servings: 1

1/3 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats
1 tbsp PB2 powder (that’s 1/2 serving)
1/3 cup frozen dark, pitted, unsweetened cherries
dash of cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
1 cap full of vanilla extract (optional)
2/3 cup water, plus more if needed

Combine ingredients in large bowl. Nuke for three minutes. Stir, add more water if needed. Enjoy.


My Week of Eating Dangerously March 25, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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You may already know more than you want to know about my dietary woes.  I get migraines, and I have LOTS of food triggers.  Most people know about the big ones to avoid: red wine, chocolate, aged cheese, MSG.  What you may not know is that there are about a bazillion other foods that can cause migraines as well.  In my quest to be headache free, I’ve given up wheat, dairy, soy, nuts, seeds, legumes, vinegars, citrus, onions, raspberries, avocados, tomatoes, bananas, anything with carageenan, and anything fermented, smoked, dried, cured, aged, pickled, canned, or preserved any way other than refrigerated or frozen.  That’s the short list.

As you can imagine, travelling and eating out can be challenging.  The safest way for me to eat is to be in control of my own food, but at least in a restaurant I can make a pest of myself and ask how every little thing is prepared and request adjustments.

Last week that wasn’t possible, because I was at a conference.  They fed us breakfast, lunch and dinner out of large, hot, silver people-troughs.  I was lucky that the salads weren’t already dressed.  So for a couple of days, I subsisted mainly off of lettuce, fruit, and crudite.  Where I thought I could get away with it I snagged an ounce or two of meat.  And my savior in all of this – Starbucks.  Did you know you can order the oatmeal dry?  They’ll give it to you, spoon included, all nice and dry so you can take it with you and all you need is some hot water!  I ate a lot of oatmeal last week.  (Tip:  grab a dry oatmeal before getting on a plane, then ask them for hot water when they come around with the beverage cart.)

But alas, my willpower is not so strong that I can resist temptation when it’s right in front of my face for four endless days.  The thyme sugar cookies had to be sampled.  (At least I was smart about it, and only took one as I was leaving the room so I couldn’t go back for seconds.)  The cake pop wasn’t what we’ve come to know as a cake pop, but rather a small square of german chocolate cake on a stick, dipped in dark chocolate.  The braised beef -I had two small chunks – was goooooood.  I know that some of what I ate contained no-no food, but I did it anyway.  And I seemed to be getting away with it, headache free.

Then I woke up on Friday morning with the worst headache I’ve had in a while.  It got progressively worse all day, and continued on Saturday.  Finally, after two days it’s gone.  I actually got off lucky, since I’ve had headaches for as long as nine days in the recent past.

What lesson did I learn?  Truthfully, nothing I didn’t already know.  In fact, it re-enforced some lessons I have already learned the hard, painful way many times over.  But I have renewed my committment to eating only migraine-free from now on.  And please, don’t feel sorry for me because of all my dietary restrictions.  I actually eat really well, and I’d rather have no headache than an onion.

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