A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions that focus on food in one form or another. The most popular version is to eat less food with the goal of losing weight. Another popular version is to eat healthier food – grilled instead of fried, salad instead of pizza, homemade instead of packaged.
For me? I’m resolving to eat as much as I need, as much as I want.
Food is Energy
I have a very complicated relationship with food. I have spent many New Year’s resolutions on the goal of weight loss. I’ve even had success with it when I most needed it. That was when I was healthier, though. Since my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome seems to be a progressive illness for me now – I get worse and worse all the time – I’ve been inspired to look into ways to counteract the effects of time and illness.
For a while – especially after I got my Fitbit Charge HR last year (that’s my affiliate link there) – I was trying to balance my calories in with my calories out. Therefore, when I was in CFS crash mode and on modified bedrest, I tried to restrict my caloric intake so I wouldn’t put on weight that would make me feel worse. I don’t remember exactly when or how I came to the realization, but I figured out that my crashes were lasting longer, recovery spanning days and days before I could get back on my feet.
And I realized that I need to eat more.
Counterintuitively, since I’d been programmed to balance calories in with calories out, I had to start eating more on crash days in order to fuel my recovery. It worked. I’ve had some terrible CFS crashes in the past month – the worst on Christmas Day itself because I’d had to push myself too hard in the preparations – but because I started feeding my crashes, they didn’t drag on for days and days on end. The holidays almost require you to eat more food, at least in my family, and that helped me test (and prove) my theory that eating more on crash days is helpful. So no guilt about those baked goods and that candy!
Focusing on Fiber and Folate
We all have to make choices about nutrition. If you were to follow all of the various advice about “must-eat” superfoods, you’d be eating thousands upon thousands of calories every day. And although I’m embracing my “eat more” strategy for energy levels, gaining 20 pounds would be counterproductive. My gastroenterologist put me on a high fiber diet about seven years ago, and I’ve tried to stick to it ever since. I have a lot of gastrointestinal issues, and I do experience more pain and less energy when I fail to eat enough fiber on any given day. I was told to aim for 30 grams of fiber each day, but my personal experience shows that 20 to 25 grams is my ideal target. Too much abdominal pain if I have more fiber than that. Basically, I have a whole wheat bagel with natural peanut butter every day for lunch, a high fiber bedtime snack (like oatmeal or Kashi cereal), and then whatever smaller amounts of fiber I get from the rest of my daily diet. It works perfectly.
As for folate, that’s a priority because of my MTHFR mutation. Because of my genetic mutation, I take a methylfolate supplement. Because I supplement, my focus is not necessarily on eating folate-rich foods, but on not eating foods “enriched” by folic acid. The synthetic form of folic acid is not efficiently metabolized by my body, so I have to avoid any foods made with white flour, also known as all-purpose flour. I am not perfect at this. I really enjoy bread and rolls, especially when I go out to eat. I cannot say no to the biscuits at Cracker Barrel or the bread at Outback Steakhouse. That’s why I don’t buy myself anything at the grocery store that’s enriched with folic acid. Finding breakfast cereal that isn’t enriched was a research-heavy project.
Thankfully, the fact that I have Asperger’s makes me quite content to eat the same food over and over again. Currently, my cereal of choice is Kashi Cinnamon Crumble. My Thomas’s 100% Whole Wheat Bagels are not enriched. I buy King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour to bake with. Chocolate candy isn’t enriched, so junk food does less damage to my body than otherwise healthier foods do! I don’t buy candy, but my mom buys candy and sends it home with us all the time. I have very little willpower. But as mentioned above, food is fuel! Sometimes, I really do just need the calories. Sometimes, I make healthy choices to get those calories. Other times…well, it could be worse!
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This is the video I originally streamed on Periscope, as archived by Katch.me.
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