A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a gentleman at the gym. He knew me by my reputation as a Zumba instructor (at least I'm hoping it's that representation of me). Actually I had meet him about a year prior because he knows my husband. A retired anesthesiologist now, when he was still working my husband, then a surgical tech, had been in on many of the surgeries he performed anesthesia for. My husband was also the one who introduced him to Mystery Science Theater 3000.
After getting all that sorted out our conversation went into fitness and nutrition. He asked me what I ate for breakfast to keep my energy up. He himself had been doing smoothies in the morning and was just not getting the results he wanted. As well as feeling bloated and run down. Basically, just not satisfied. Maybe a little miserable too.
So what did I tell him?
First, here's a little about my journey to why my morning chow is what it is.
For years breakfast around my house for my kids and myself was usually a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk or toast. Sometimes the toast had a little peanut butter on it or a thin sheen of butter and some jam. Once in a while I would get fancy and make french toast or pancakes. Then there were the amazing opportunities of cold Take Home And Bake pizza from the night before.
About two going on three years ago I came across Robb Wolf's book Paleo Solution Diet: The Original Human Diet.
It kinda made sense. I was willing to give change a shot. I had been putting on weight over the last few years, although I wasn't too horrified by it. I finally had boobs! A non-dairy bra size. With that I also had a substantial ass-expansion project going on. Again, I wasn't too horrified, since for the first time in my life I was actually starting to feel comfortable in my body and for real sexy. But then again, I couldn't help but notice that I was making my way to the next size up in clothes.
The main thing that peaked my interest about changing how I ate was to feel better. I was feeling sluggish. And achy. And I really wanted an alternative to the anti-depressants I was taking (a long, thought out decision I made once I realized that I had been battling depression for most of my life. I have mentioned in the past that the choice to start or stop taking anti-depressant medications is a very serious one. Consult a doctor or other qualified expert). I'm not above wanting to "look good naked" either.
While I never dove in head first to strict "Paleoism", I did make some pretty fierce changes. One of the biggies was dragging my tired bed-headed butt out of bed and make a hot breakfast for my kids and myself. A breakfast that was based on animal protein and healthy fats (grass-fed butter and animal fats, avocado, olive oil, omega-3 rich fish oil among them). I use many of the tenets of the Paleo/Primal way of eating as a template now. I believe we each need to tinker with what works for us.
I found these via Ancestralize Me .
I found out pretty quickly that it was definitely worth getting out of bed a little earlier. Not everyone in my household is hip on eating in the morning. My husband for one. He's a big boy and can figure out what works for him (in no way does that prevent me from nagging him from time to time). My pre-teen son was another story. I wanted him to just suck it up and eat his morning chow so he wouldn't crap out during his school day.
Aside from consuming more animal proteins, healthy fats and nuts, the biggest change I made was removing gluten products from our diet. That meant removing anything that had wheat grains in it. I also removed legumes from my diet, including peanuts. My hubby and my kids still have them from time to time (what would football season be without chili beans and taco chips?). I find that I just don't feel well when I eat them. I don't worry about how to make tofu delicious because I tossed out soy as well. What about dairy? We eat dairy throughout the week. I use heavy whipping cream (preferably organic and pasture raised) in my coffee every morning. Because of what I have discovered about our body's need for healthy fats, I no longer recognize low or non fat dairy as an ideal food choice. The exception being when my kids and I get frozen yogurt. It's hard to find full fat at the fro-yo parlor, and 'round these parts that yummy frozen treat happens. Yes, I indulge in sugary yum yums, but not nearly as much as I used to. The cravings for them just are not as strong. I attribute that to the removal of gluten and just being more aware of my consumption of simple carbs. Having an adequate amount of fat in my diet helped too.
What about them carbs?
When I first went about making changes in my family's diet, carb rich foods got significantly reduced. There are carbs in vegetables, fruits and tubers (sweet potatoes). While I started off fairly low-carb, once I reached a leanness that I was comfortable with I realized that I felt a whole lot better if I had a certain amount of carbs in my diet. My kids usually have access to plenty of fruit. Corn chips and corn tortillas are somewhat of a sacred food in my house, so I didn't fret too much about their access to carbs. So throughout the week we have rice or potatoes (white) as well as sweet potatoes. Sometimes we get gluten free pizzas or make gluten free mac n cheese. They are more of a fun treat than a staple. What I have learned though, is that when you eat your carbs can have an affect on how you feel and perform.
Here are my carb strategies:
No carbs in the morning. Not even fruit. That is for me, not my kids. I remind them that they need to get their protein on at breakfast.
If I have really hit it hard at the gym I will try to have some kind of "recovery" carb available to me. Coconut water is my favorite. ZICO Chocolate Coconut Water is my absolute fav. Even a piece of fruit. I do this especially if I know there will be physical demands on me later in the day. On other days, whatever I ate for breakfast will usually carry me to lunch. I should say, will carry me without me throwing a temper tantrum and straight up losing it because I have hit my cranky and hungry mode. It used to happen all the time. Now not so often. That's a big plus in my book.
Outside of "recovery" carbs, if I feel I need them, I prioritize what I eat in the middle of the day to animal protein, vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, seeds and yes, some dark chocolate. I may gobble up some root chips (I. Love. Them.) or plantain chips (with guac. Yes!). While I will maybe have a sweet potato, I avoid foods like rice or white potatoes (except for In and Out fries. That would be straight up crazy, Yo.). Why? Because they make me sleepy, foggy and sluggish for the rest of the day. My husband and I have both found this to be true. Times that we have gone out to eat for lunch on a weekday this becomes a factor in where we chose to eat. I save the rice and taters for dinner time. For me, carbs in the evening contribute to my winding down process. Throughout the day I have feed my body protein, fats, veggies, nuts, dark chocolate and it all gets topped off with some carbs. This system has been working really well for me for the last year. I never feel deprived and I don't feel panic about falling into bad habits that will derail me (except for my love of red wine).
Fortunately for my new gym buddy, I didn't go into all the detail that I just did here. I gave a much shorter version.
Stick to animal protein and healthy fats for breakfast. My go to favorites:
I love eggs. When I have eggs for breakfast I usually have about 3. For crazy mornings when I am trying to get kids ready for school and myself ready to teach a class or classes at the gym, eggs provide a perfect solution for getting some oh so good protein as well as other important nutrients.
Here are some ideas for some quick breakfasts:
1. Eggs scrambled in Kerrygold butter, served with half an avocado, maybe even with a little splash of Tapatio. Sometimes I use coconut oil instead of butter.
2. One or two chicken apple sausages.
I get mine at Costco. They are great for lunch and dinner.
3. Breakfast sausage links or patties.
My favorite brand. They cook up fast in a skillet.
4. Eggs, however you want to prepare them, and some pieces of bacon. (By some I mean as many as I can get before my kids demolish the plate).
5. My new favorite for crazy mornings- hard boiled eggs in a bowl with avocado oil drizzled over them and some sea salt. A fork is recommended. More often than not I just use my fingers.
6. A hunk of BBQed tri tip. Hot or cold.
7. Leftover meat from dinner the night before. Meatballs!
What about some veggies? I haven't included many ideas about throwing in some veggies because, like many people, I just don't have an adventuresome palate in the morning. But you most certainly can throw some spinach or chopped up zucchini into your scrambled eggs. Or maybe munch on some cut up bell peppers, cucumbers and/or carrots. One of my daughters will quarter up a tomato with her breakfast sometimes.
8. If you can plan ahead, try making some egg dishes that can be reheated.
The following recipes are all from Everyday Paleo.
Easy and Delicious Sausage Fritta.
Family Style Frittatas
Doesn't seem like it's worth getting out of bed in the morning without some fruit? Try berries, like blueberries. You get sweetness as well as some great nutrients with a low glycemic level (~40).
So did my gym buddy try this new regiment? He did, and he felt great!
So what about gluten-free waffles and pancakes? Hello weekend mornings! Here's a little stroke of magic I learned from a friend; spread a layer of sour cream (none of that low fat crap either) over your crispy waffle. Then drizzle with maple syrup. Try not to embarrass yourself in front of your family and friends when you experience how delicious it is! I think it tastes like cheesecake.
Thoughts? What is your go to breakfast? Need a change? Lemme know what your results are.
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Enjoy the dance that is life!