Greek girl at heart…

It’s no secret I have struggled with eating issues my entire life. It’s the premise on which I started this blog in the first place — to follow my journey to better health. And even though I’ve made incredible strides in that department in the last three years, I’ve still fought against my mind.

When I had weight loss surgery, they removed a portion of my stomach, but not my brain. And I have learned my habits and thought processes are the most difficult parts of me to change. Especially when I’m functioning in stress. Like the entire past year.

Though I know I had it easier than many during the early Covid days, my world was still rocked by the sudden changes. The instant cut-off from people I normally spend time with. From social outings and date nights. The rhythm of our lives changed on a dime. And spending more time in the house, with less things to do, put my eating habits in a bit of a tizzy. I found I was nervously grazing more and more and more. To the tune of 9 pounds over the course of last year.

“NG,” as my mother would have said. No good at all.

As I’ve been slowly working on changing my habits back to balanced eating, small portions, scheduling meals and daily exercise, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the kind of foods I enjoy and what makes my body feel strong and healthy when I’m eating it. The truth is, it’s vegetables, fruits, grains, and fish.

Wait what? Where’s the beef?

Over the past three years post-surgery, my taste buds have changed — a lot. Where I used to crave red meat, and sometimes my brain still does, now, when I eat it, I can only have a very little bit and and it’s very difficult for me to digest. So, though I may think it’s what I want, it’s not what my body enjoys any longer.

But seafood…now that my body devours and enjoys.

Even the “heavier”, meatier fish like salmon, snapper, ahi. I can eat a good 3 oz. portion and enjoy it. My body embraces it. Add to that braised vegetables and a side of quinoa salad and I am a happy girl. I don’t feel weighed down but I am satisfied, which got me to thinking.

What eating “plan” fits this that I can find recipes to round out my meals. Then it dawned on me. What I’m describing is the Mediterranean diet. Which is funny, because when I think of “diet” I think of restriction. Whereas the Mediterranean way of eating is a lifestyle, literally the lifestyle of those living in Greece and Italy in the 1960’s specifically. And those people happen to be my literal family — my heritage is Greek — and I think there’s something to our DNA and our “best” eating style.

This week I’ve been toying with recipes that fit this plan. Lots of vegetables and fruits. Some grains, nuts and Greek yogurt, honey and olive oils. I had fish once and that is the extent of the meat I ate. And you know what? I feel great. I have bounce in my step, energy in my workouts and the scale is reading a friendlier number already. But the best part? I don’t feel like it’s taken much effort. I simply bought basic ingredients and I’ve combined them in ways that sounded good.

And the grazing has all but ended. Miracle.

I’m finding I’m satisfied when I eat a meal and if I’m hungry in between I simply grab…wait for it…a piece of fruit, or some nuts, or some yogurt with nuts and honey if I’m really feeling it. It makes me feel…kind…kind to my body, kind to my mind. I don’t feel deprived or restricted or punished. I just feel “normal”. Like I always envisioned “healthy” people to be. Eating to live, enjoying the moment, moving on. It’s been a good week.

Next week I start traveling. I’ve been checking out what’s around the hotel in Houston for dinners and lunches and such. I always do well with my eating while I travel. Mostly because there isn’t the opportunity to graze all day. But I really want to stick with this pattern of food choices. And thankfully, it doesn’t look like it’ll be terribly challenging.

This is the first time in a long time that I’ve been excited about eating — I think it’s because I feel so good. I have three main areas of focus this year — three goals. One, to read the bible cover to cover — it’s been seven years since I last did that and I want to experience it again, especially being that I’m in such a different spot in my life spiritually today than I was back then. I want to steward our money better this year now that we have an eye towards retirement in the next decade or so. And finally, I want to lose that last 25 pounds to hit my original weight loss goal. I was close in 2018, within nine pounds of reaching the finish line.

Then cancer visited my body and my focus shifted. And that’s okay.

But now I’m two years cancer-free and back in the swing of life and in a good place emotionally — time to get back on the horse, so to speak. I’m ready to continue the journey I began three years ago. Here we go…

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