Sunday, December 11, 2011

Moxley Monday: nutrition course, Week Three, now with protein!


Heather Moxley is a registered holistic nutritionist here in Ottawa with a private practice, and she recently offered to have me attend a four-week nutrition course that she offers. I (Jordan) am blogging the experience as I take this important step towards our NEST goal of feeding ourselves. This is Week Two. You can also follow Jordan's twitter journalling of the experience with hashtag #jordaneats; click on the hashtag to see a Visible Tweets feed.


It’s a common trait for many of us, though it’s one I’m usually better at avoiding: getting bogged down in information until you can’t even take the first step. I had two instances of this in the past week, the first at class when I found myself rattling off about six dozen questions, and getting the pitying head-tilt from Heather as she explained that for some of us, part of the learning curve was going to involve a period of ‘Food Nazism’, where we obsessed on every ingredient, measurement, and amino combination until we alienated our friends and family and drove ourselves crazy, eventually locking ourselves in the kitchen with nothing but a fork and an entire McCain freezer cake, dipping mouthfuls into a can of St Hubert’s gravy sauce.

Okay, I may be exaggerating, but that was the path I am certain I was on, until Heather gave me a sympathetic smile and reminded me that my family and I had been eating all sorts of junk for years, and so far we were all still walking and talking…so as much as this new world of food education was important, eating another loaf of Wonderbread wasn’t going to kill anyone tomorrow.

The second time I got stuck in an infinite loop was at the grocery store. Because of the big house move, this was my first real grocery shop in weeks—which means it was the first since I’d started the course. Brian dropped me off, refusing to walk the entire grocery gauntlet with me on a Saturday afternoon, and agreed to meet up with me about halfway through, after he was done another errand. I ended up feeling really glad that he hadn’t come along: no one needed to witness my frantic label-checking as I tried to figure out which types of proteins, carbs, and fats I was looking at. I kept finding myself in predicaments, muttering to myself things like, “So this granola bar has simple carbs but also has almonds, and I need plant proteins…but this one has kamut, which is a better grain, but doesn’t have any nuts…” Crackers were the most dismal section, as I suddenly realized that probably none of the crackers were on the gold-star list of foods—and yet, I adore crackers. (I compromised, by the way, choosing two types that had other grains mixed in, improving their food value.) I tweeted a couple food questions as I went but stopped myself before I went too crazy. Heather’s first words of wisdom came back to me: Relax, it’s just food.


We learned this week all about proteins. Some of this information was so novel to me that my brain is still blown. Did you know, for example, that proteins don’t turn into fat? I told Brian that and he asked, what if you eat a surplus of proteins? I don’t know, I said; But relax, it’s just food. (Wink.) But apparently, while carbs fuel your body for activity, proteins simply build that body up. So obviously, all these diets we see that limit either carbs or proteins are pretty bad for you.

Canucks fans with the Senators dudes!
We also learned about the different qualities of meat that are out there, and Heather gave us a great tip: if you get your meat from a farmer’s market or straight from a farmer, you’ll find your healthy (free-range, grass-fed, organic) meat and eggs are actually less expensive than the industrial-raised meat at the grocery store. This is exciting, though I do suspect that you may need to put out a larger sum of  money at the start, as most people seem to buy bulk amounts of this meat from the farmer.

Our homework was to eat a ratio of 1 animal protein to 5 vegetable proteins daily. I will tell you right now, I’m not succeeding at this. I am a carnivore through-and-through, and on my best day I’ve only been able to reduce my animal proteins to one meat plus one cheese. I am also terrified of some of the veggie proteins, like nuts, because of the fat content. I know this is an echo from my parents’ fat-phobic generation (ahhhh, legacies), but it’s part of me and I came to realize that it may fade with time, but I’ll need longer than a week. My advice to anyone who takes this or any other course: don’t stop practicing the steps just because the course ends and there’s no more pressure to ‘finish your homework’: the only way to incorporate such major lifestyle changes is to keep tabs and regularly review how you’re doing with them.


I ate hummus this week—three times. Hummus is something I stopped eating a couple years ago, despite a deep love, because of the amount it affects my gut. I figured, after learning about food sensitivities in Heather’s course and after recently reducing other sensitivity-inducing foods, I could give it another whirl. It’s a source of protein, and it’s freaking delicious. So I ate it, and turns out, it still gives me gas. (Sorry to go there, people, but considering this is week three and it’s the first time I’ve mentioned it, I’m doing pretty good here.) What did I discover, though? One of the benefits of being married is, apparently, no amount of flatulence will result in your partner leaving you. (Although depending on the day and the amount of lentils involved, it may only be the thought of the incredible expense and effort that divorce proceedings take that stop him from considering that route.)

I increased my veggie and fruit intake this week with greater ease than any other week thus far. I’m still finding grains to be a bit confusing, but I bought some barley to try as a side dish tomorrow. I’ve put some grocery money aside to get some almonds for snacking and some steel-cut oats. I put cinnamon on my toast this morning to help regulate my blood sugar. And, I even let myself have a ‘Relax, it’s just food’ night when we went to the Senators-Canucks game with box seats (thanks, Mom!), and I ate everything from chicken fingers to smoked meat…and I think because I’ve been better to my body in general lately, it didn’t attack me the next day with guttural distress…well, not too much, anyway.

And if Brian has any doubt about my hummus consumption, I’m pretty sure the day after the Sens game will convince him that hummus gas is nowhere near as bad as junk food gas, so he’d better count his blessings I’m sticking to the hummus.

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