Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nutrition Fail: Week Two of Moxley Monday

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.

Week Two of my Nutrition 101 course started off so well…and has ended rather badly. I didn’t simply fail to follow my homework properly, either; I literally stopped eating almost entirely for three days. It was the big move from mouldy house to freezing house that did it, though that’s a larger story for later in the week. Suffice it to say, I found myself stressed out to the point of shaking tremors, and it’s at that point that my belly shuts down. Knowing what I do now (thank you, Week One) about how the stomach stops processing food when it’s in fight-or-flight mode, I decided not to shove food down an unwilling gullet, and instead ate tiny bites of whatever I could manage. This meant that I stopped eating 3-5 colours a day. I barely managed to deep breathe at any point at all in my day, nevermind before eating. And I have failed miserably to complete my homework from Week Two. This is very uncharacteristic for me and I really do hate it; I was one of those kids in school who always finished her homework and delighted in receiving gold stars, so I’m battling my own inner critic right now. But I’m consoling myself with the assurances that I took in lots of information, and as the stress of our botched move fades, I will return to practicing what Heather’s been preaching…


Week Two of Heather Moxley’s course focused on blood sugar and carbohydrates. Heather put us on a homework plan that would have us eating a combination of carb/protein/healthy-fat at every snack and meal, which wasn’t a new thing for me. I’ve been doing this intuitively for years, because I find my blood sugar levels very sensitive and carb-protein combos always seemed to help the most—though admittedly, I hadn’t thought about fats before, and I’m finding myself hesitant to purposely add fat to my diet, unable to believe this will not result in weight gain or angry belly.

But aside from food combinations, we also learned about insulin. I think many of you readers are already familiar with insulin, and have an understanding of how it works that mentally makes sense to you. But I personally had never been able to grasp the work of insulin, until Heather explained it to us. I can’t do it justice, but simply put, she said: your insulin are taxi cabs that take the sugar from your food to your cells. If there’s too much sugar for the cells, your taxi cabs store the sugar in your fat…and frustratingly, your body will burn the sugar from the cells before it ever goes to burn the sugar from your fat. That’s why it can be so incredibly hard to lose weight. Apparently the answer is interval training, which I don’t fully understand but will try to learn more about in the coming weeks.

Finding out about insulin gave me a new respect and admiration for it. I picture all these yellow checkered cabs, and I try not to overfill them with passengers. Because of my stress levels and my resulting absent appetite, it’s been difficult to make sure the taxis have passengers at all, but after this crisis period is over, I’m going to find my balance of cab-to-sugar and try really hard to adhere to it.


We also talked about grains this week, and my homework was to try out a new one. I haven’t managed to do it yet, even though I did make two trips to The Table (a vegetarian eatery) in the hopes that they’d have something I could try. It’s hard without an assembled kitchen to try things like millet and spelt, because they’re not widely used. If nothing else, this course has made me realize just how in love we are with wheat. Which is silly, because I discovered quinoa earlier this year and it made me realize there are much more satisfying things to eat than pasta and bread. (Okay, yes, I do LOVE bread.)

I did feel a bit confused by the end of the evening, though, and I felt a bit like the remedial student when my classmates called out all these exotic carbo examples, but the list in my head was, ‘potatoes, rice, wheat, quinoa, couscous’. I’m still not sure if rice is a grain, and couscous never even came up. What is couscous, anyway? I should google it…

I also felt confused about the food combining. Heather specifically said we should eat a carb, a protein, and a healthy fat…but I find that typically, the protein also contains fat, so remembering the fat seems redundant.

There’s a point where the concepts in any subject can get very complex, and sometimes you gotta step away from analyzing. Just do it, already. Or go ask the teacher. Because my advice here would be: beware developing paralysis from analysis. If the info is getting too complex to follow, ask your teacher to bring it back to basics. I plan to do this via email to Heather later today.


This week has felt like a total failure. I haven’t worked out (unless you count moving boxes and taking a few walks), I haven’t eaten well, and I haven’t done my homework. This is normal, though. In counselling, we tell clients that the first appointment feels great, the second one okay, and the third is awful because that’s when you really start to lay your baggage out on the table. Apparently it’s the same with any sort of self-improvement work. The trick is to stay in the game. Don’t give up on yourself, and just get back on the wagon one veggie at a time. There are going to be hundreds of setbacks, but the only real failure is giving up completely.

So for lunch, I just had three differently-coloured veggies with some oil, and some tofu. I’m back in the saddle again.

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