I am a dietitian and health enthusiast so I will probably always enjoy eating healthy, but I also have to eat a certain way because of certain health problems that develop when I start eating wheat, sugar, and a lot of processed foods.  When I was 21 I went through a lot of trauma and had a huge life shift, I developed an eating disorder and had severe insomnia (still dealing with this), joint pain, IBS, all kind of skin rashes and acne started to develop. (I can go into more detail in a later post if people are interested in my eating disorder and what I did to recover.)

I could, and probably should write a book on all the implications that trauma will have on health… but I’m sure other more qualified people have already done this.

Anyways, because of these life experiences, I eat a certain way to maintain good health on a host of different levels.

  1. I typically don’t eat wheat/gluten because it gives me joint pain, IBS, and insomnia (could be celiac, never been tested)
  2. I minimize simple sugars, too much sugar will give me insomnia and a terrible painful menstrual cycle (as well as other weird symptoms, like hot flashes)
  3. I eat high amounts of protein because it gives me stable restorative energy, I wake up feeling energized instead of weak
  4. I eat a lot of vegetables because my skin looks better, I sleep great, and am more emotionally stable which is a huge + for me
  5. I minimize alcohol, as I get hung over very easily and it triggers all my symptoms 😦

If I veer too far off from this eating patter, my body will let me know pretty dramatically, so I’m not usually able to go very long without coming back to this patter. For reference, I had such severe insomnia during my undergrad I probably only got 3 hours a night, for THREE YEARS. I never felt normal or energized, it was a form of torture. So I will never go back to my old lifestyle of eating because my body simply wont let me. This is highly motivating for me to eat well.

Now I realize not everyone has this kind of motivation behind them, a lot of people sleep great and have few health complaints. But if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or something similar, it may connected to your dietary pattern. (Dietary pattern is distinguished from one off days such as parties, celebrations, feasts, etc., these activities are all normal and healthy to indulge in. What you do on most days is your dietary pattern.)

I find that if I eat healthy  80% of the time, the other 20% of the time I can have whatever indulgent snacks I want. If this ratio gets tipped in the other direction, my symptoms come back) My go to treat is chocolate- all forms, milk, dark, hot chocolate, love it all. But I also really like things like pancakes, donuts, muffins, and birthday cake.

I normally don’t track my calories, but I did enter in everything I ate yesterday to show you. See below.

I am only 5’4″ so eating 2400 kcals/day is a lot! I wish I had figured out the concept of eating for my particular needs a long time ago. But because of my health struggles in college I am better able to manage my health and weight, because I now know that every calorie is not equal. Especially for women. We have to deal with a lot of hormonal changes that influence our food choices. For me, my biggest hormonal struggle is cortisol. If I skip my veggies, or start eating a lot of wheat/sugar, my cortisol stays elevated all damn day, and I won’t be able to sleep at night. I’m sure there’s other hormonal factors at play as well, such as excess estrogen, but its pretty safe to assume my hormones go all out of wack if I veer from my usual eating pattern.

I tried to capture everything I ate visually because I am a visual person – but I did forget to add 2 things, my 2nd protein shake, and my hot chocolate. Otherwise the below picture is a days worth of eating. IMG_5066

So there you have it, what I’m eating in a day and why I do it. Hope it helps!

-Hilary

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