Beware of Orthorexia

Orthorexia – a proposed distinct eating disorder characterized by extreme or excessive preoccupation / obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.
The term is derived utilizing the Greek “orthos,” which means “right,” or “correct,” and is intended as a parallel with anorexia. It literally means “fixation on righteous eating.”

Even though it is not currently recognized as a clinical diagnosis, I have come across several people who fit the profile. I would like to bring awareness to it, because anything which interferes with your happiness, is not worth it. Yes, I strongly believe we should strive to eat as healthily as we can, but not obsess over it. Once it becomes an obsession, I believe it stops being healthy. Taking a holistic perspective: sure, your body is well nourished, but how about your mind? Are you happy and at peace or are you stressed about food?
Personally, I’m all for equilibrium!

I hope this post is useful for someone.

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Eating habits – how I lost 46kg

Most people assume I did some hardcore crash diet to lose as much weight as I did (46kg / 101lbs last time I checked).
People come up to me “oohh you’ve must have sacrificed 9e5f8eccc4c631a3eccdc51a504b9d4aa lot”, “I’m sure you had to keep your mouth shut”, “which weight loss supplement did you take?” (this last one is just plain offensive to me, tbh). Again, and again, I need to explain that I’m not, nor have I ever been, on a diet, I did not take ANY supplements. Instead, I corrected my eating habits for the long run. It was a painstakingly slow process, and I’m not done yet (and perhaps I’ll never be), but I “simply” made fundamental changes to what I eat, and started exercising.

Information / knowledge has been the driving force behind all the changes I’ve implemented. Learning and understandi11816300_1011699612203355_3103311428349738562_ong what certain “foods” do to your body and brain is, to me, one of the most empowering things. Once I started learning about nutrition I stopped falling prey, for example, to processed food claims of healthiness. I did not feel deprived because I didn’t eat that frozen pizza, I felt proud for making that choice for myself, but not because it “would make me fat”, rather because it would fuel inflammation, mess with my metabolism, drive blood sugar spikes, etc.

So, as many people have asked me, which were the major changes?
Keep in mind that I’m going on 2 years of this process, I did NOT introduce all these changes at once, nor quickly. I did it baby-step by baby-step, over several months, one change at a time. I changed with health rather than aesthetics in mind.

Major things I’ve removed:

  • Soft-drinks. It took me about 6 months to completely remove this from my life. You can read why on my post Soft drinks = ☠   I avoid fruit juices too, because they keep the sugar and lose the fibre of the fruit.
  • Pasta, white bread, and anything with refined flour in it. You can read why on my post Refined flour isn’t cool
  • Added sugar. To be totally honest I haven’t been able to completely remove it, but at this point the only thing I eat is dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa, which nevertheless has added sugar. You can read why on my Sugar = Drug of abuse Part 1 and Part 2
  • Pretty much all processed food: cookies, frozen meals, fast food, ice cream, pre-cooked meals, breakfast cereals, flavoured yoghurts, sausages and deli meats, chips, gelatins, salad dressings, etc. As a general rule of thumb, if it has an ingredient list I’m not eating it.

And then people look at me with that “what the hell do you eat??” face.

No, I don’t eat depressing salads and other preconceived ideas about healthy eating, I love food and cooking, and I create some pretty awesome tasting meals with the help of my bff: the Internet, which holds a humongous collective knowledge of recipes. Examples here, here, and here.

I eat real food, my friends 🙂
Protein, complex carbohydrates, real fat, fruits and vegetables.
5d849cf59097cdc1dab48dfe1192a3b3Eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, tofu, green peas, lentils, quinoa, all types of beans, chickpeas, oats, almost all types of nuts (some of them I don’t like the taste, meh, I’m picky), olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, mushrooms, cocoa powder (100%), several seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, chia, sesame; eggplant, collard, tomatoes, kale, sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, spinach, carrots, and pretty much all vegetables I can get my hands on; bananas, kiwis, oranges, pears, grapes, berries and pretty much all fruit I can get my hands on.
As for drinking: plenty of water, freshly brewed herbal tea and unsugared coffee.

Please take into account that at 1st… it was blergh, and there were a lot of setbacks, and that this doesn’t mean I don’t slip every now and then to some white chocolate covered almonds, or to a glistening orange pudding… Sugar is a hell of a drug, and I’m just human.
Correcting my eating habits was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, but it was beyond worth it and I’ll never go back. The overall way you feel everyday when you put proper nutrition together with exercise is one amazing loop, believe me.

Sorry for the long post, here’s a final thought:

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Yes, I eat fat

Following the principle that “a calorie is not a calorie”, I include healthy fats in my eating habits. Contrary to what the media, the food industry and even several doctors advocate, fat is good for you on so many levels. Just not the saturated/chemically processed kind. When I say “fat” I mean the real, the natural, kind: avocados, nuts, olive oil…

Since I started this process I have aimed for optimum nutrition. Unfortunately, aiming at something, doesn’t mean achieving it, but I strive for it and constantly look for new information with that in mind.

Of the several articles I have read this is probably my favourite one because it includes a lot of information (yes, it’s quite long, but worth reading):

Choosing Healthy Fats – Good Fats, Bad Fats, and the Power of Omega-3s

If you prefer something shorter, here’s this quick overview:

Five Reasons a Healthy Fat Diet is Good for You

And ever shorter, these 6 bullet points:

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I still strongly believe that information is key in changing anyone’s mindset. Information is power, use it.

Recipe x3 (part 3)

So, I’ve come across another couple of recipes which really come in handy. They are super quick to make, not too complicated on the ingredients and taste amazingly. I’ve done them over, and over, and over

035b8dc2a8b084d9e97359fdf236cc43Baked Eggs on a Bed of Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
This feels fresh, but it’s still super comforting. I cook 2 eggs per person, and have tried adding spinach with great results! For me, toasted bread is a must with this recipe, that liquid at the bottom of the tray just begs for it.

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One Pan Mexican Quinoa
It’s a one pan dish so you know it’s super practical. Since I don’t like spicy food, instead of the jalapeño, I use red bell pepper. It still adds that “something”, but without burning in your mouth.

2Oats, banana and cocoa cake (flourless, sugarless)
Ok, this one is from a Portuguese website, so here’s the recipe:
Ingredients for 1 small cake: 1 banana; 1 egg;  2 soup spoons of old school oats; 1 tea spoon 100% cocoa powder; 1 pinch of cinnamon; 1 pinch of baking powder. Instructions: break the banana into medium pieces into a bowl and heat it in the microwave for 1 minute. Remove. Add the remaining ingredients and with a food processor (any processor will do) mix everything. Into the microwave it goes again for 1 1/2 minute. Tah dah! It will be spongy and moist and awesome.

Enjoy!

Recipes Part 1 here
Recipes Part 2 here

Guy gives up added sugar for 1 month

Dutch TV producer LifeHunters recently created a short film (6m35s) with the highlights of an experiment where a man completely gives up added sugar,  artificial additives, and alcohol for a month.

I believe this crash approach is too extreme and completely unsustainable, but since it was just an experiment, sure, why not?

I have heard the expression “toxic environment” several times, and one of the things I like about this film is that it showcases how difficult it can be to “stay the course” when everything around you is set up to lead you into consuming food-like products, and that includes your friends. Saying one “just needs will power” is a gross understatement, and this video sort of touches that subject.
You also get a glimpse into the emotional hardship everyone should expect when first giving up sugar (even me, who took the baby-steps approach felt it). But it wears off, and afterwards you realize how much better you feel, and how the struggle was worth it.

Here’s the video, it’s short, enjoy:

Best drink EVAH

Several studies have shown that most of us simply do not drink enough water to stay hydrated. Water is the best drink you can have and when our body doesn’t get enough of it, it has to manage what is available and impair certain functions to make the supply go round. This means chronic dehydration affects us in a multitude of ways.

After looking for information on the subject, I realized I clearly (used to) fit the symptoms of chronic dehydration, but before I read about it I had no idea that what I felt were consequences of the lack of water in my body. As I’ve already shared, giving up soft drinks was a real struggle, but a successful one, and I’m not a fan of alcohol either so (for a couple of months now) the only thing I drink is water, plenty of it, and sometimes freshly brewed herbal tea. I am happy to share that this was quite possibly the change which had the strongest impact on my overall well-being.

I won’t say much more because there’s plenty to read on the article below about the body’s many cries for water. Trust me: you’ll be surprised. And no, your body doesn’t deed fluids, it needs water.

12 Symptoms of Chronic Dehydration

And you should also check out the complete version of the infographic below.

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Recipe x 3 (part 2)

Following up on my Refined Flour isn’t cool post, I would like to share some alternatives to pasta for mail meals. Here are some of my favourites:

6a868beca87f58f2cc782915bec97802Spinach, mushroom & feta crustless quiche – The key is really in the crustless part, and it works well for me because I never really enjoyed the crust anyway. I don’t actually use all those cheeses, and – like a good Portuguese – I always use extra virgin olive oil, not non-stick spray. Based on this idea, I create whichever quiche combinations come to mind.
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Stuffed Ranchero Sweet Potato – I go heavy on the cilantro and besides this full combination, I often use the ranchero stuffing as side dish to my grilled chicken breast. As a chilled salad it’s awesome for summer!

chicken-chickpeas-tastefoodSmoky Roasted Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes and Chickpeas – The key to this strong flavoured meal is in the cumin. The tomatoes provide most of the moisture, but I advise people to keep the chicken’s skin on while cooking, or it will tend to dry up. Also, I never felt the need to add the yoghurt sauce. It’s pretty tasty without it.

And these are just 3 examples, I urge you to look online for recipes! There are endless possibilities which do not use refined flour, but do not compromise flavour, are not dull salads, and still give you that comfortable feeling of a full stomach.

You can check my 1st Recipe x 3 post: here