Eat Better, Feel Even Better

Last week, I shared how I’m slowly starting to add more exercise back into my daily routine, and I’m happy to report that I’ve worked out 3x since then. On Friday morning, I woke up early and went down to the gym to do a quick 35 minutes of cardio before work. On Saturday, I did a little yoga in the morning, went for a walk after brunch with Krystal, then spent an hour or so playing in the pool with my girlfriends’ two kids. And on Sunday, I went on a 5K walk with a friend, which ended up turning into a 9K walk; my hip is still recovering from that one, so I’ve been taking it easy since then. But my alarm is set for 5:45 a.m., so by the time you read this, hopefully I’ll have squeezed in another workout.

One of my goals for this year was to “be good to my body,” which meant working out in a way that would help my body heal from my accident. I just want to get to a point where my workouts don’t hurt (more than they are supposed to) and my injuries stop limiting what I can do – that’s it. I’m obviously nowhere near reaching the end goal, but I’m working on it. However, I made another goal for this year, which was to “be good at listening to my body” and it’s proving to be more difficult.

When I talk about listening to my body, I mean paying attention to how I feel at all times – especially how I feel after eating certain foods. It’s obviously not a secret that I have a few pounds I’d like to shed, but my concerns go beyond that. There’s Type 2 Diabetes in my family, so I need to be conscious of that. I’ve also been lactose intolerant since the day I was born, which has stupidly never stopped me from eating pizza or ice cream.

I told myself I didn’t want to stress myself out with “diets” or “numbers” this year, and that’s still true. However, I can’t deny that certain foods make me feel like absolute garbage.

Let’s start with dairy. When I gave up meat back in 2009 (I have since started eating it again), I gave up most dairy along with it. I tried vegan products and hated most of them, so I just cut it out altogether. Somehow, though, most of it has crept back into my fridge. I still only drink almond milk (or soy if I’m at a coffee shop), but I have no problem picking up yogurt and cheese. Am I delusional!? I’m in denial, that’s for sure. So, dairy needs to go, once and for all. The odd bit here and there is fine, but it does not need to be in my fridge.

That’s been easy, so far. I went grocery shopping last weekend and completely skipped the dairy aisle, almost as though it didn’t even exist. The toughest thing for me to give up, however, is basically anything that has glucose in it – with chocolate at the top of the list. I could eat chocolate all day, every day of the week and not get sick of it. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen how many times I’ve baked cookies over the last few months, right? Well, at least 50% of them went straight into my belly. And then I would crash – hard.

This is what I meant when I said I needed to start paying attention to what I was putting in my body. I have experienced some intense blood sugar crashes, a few of which have made me so tired that I’ve passed out for a couple hours. They’re followed by dry mouth and increased thirst, which are both annoying and concerning. And it doesn’t actually happen with anything that has glucose in it; I seem to be fine, when I eat anything in moderation. But the problem is I have absolutely no self-control.

I can’t eat one piece of chocolate. Seriously, I can’t. One pieces turns into nine, and if there’s a bag of something, you can be sure I’ll empty it. The same goes for chips. Put a bag of Doritos Cool Ranch in front of me and it’s game over. Bread – I can stop eating. Pasta – I might make once a month. But chocolate, chips and candy. I can eat it all. And my sweet tooth is the one thing I can’t seem to shake. I’ve tried eating a little bit of fruit or peanut butter (or an apple with peanut butter), or sipping some almond milk. Nothing works.

So, this is a work in progress. My short-term goals are to: cut out dairy wherever possible, don’t add sugar to anything (like coffee) and juice daily (I’m obsessed with my juicer). The sweet tooth needs some serious work. And even though I said I didn’t want to focus on the numbers this year, I do have a long-term weight loss goal I’m going to work towards. I’m also looking forward to the day where I find myself in a routine of working out 5 days/week, with minimal or no pain.

Just like my debt repayment journey taught me how to track my spending and budget, my weight loss journey will be about working out and making healthy choices – all of which will eventually turn into a lifestyle.

How do you curb your sweet tooth?

  • Hi Cait!

    I like your determination and I wish you the best of luck. I’m in the process of doing some of those things as well. I’ve been doing a little more cooking at home and the getting outside should be starting any day now. We’ve finally been getting plus temperatures!!

    I have more of a salt tooth than a sweet tooth. I often crave regular potato chips or french fries. If there are chocolate and sweets around I will eat them until they are gone. But luckily I don’t buy them that often. That is the best way for me to avoid those foods is to just not have them in my house. The closest grocery store is about a ten minute drive from me so I don’t generally go out to fulfil a craving.

    I used to have a granola bar habit which I recently broke by eating more yogurt or apple slices. I’f you’ve never eaten Royal Gala apples you should immediately pick some up. They are so sweet you can probably trick yourself in to think they are candy. Ha ha.

    • I think the problem for me right now is that the grocery store is literally 50 steps from my front door, in the building next to my condo building. So, if I crave something, it’s not hard to talk myself into going down and getting it. But no more. I need to be good.

      And I love Gala apples. They’re only $0.88/lb. here!

  • A healthy lifestyle and a healthy financial situation are so analogous. I have my financial situation on lockdown, but seem to have more difficulties doing so with my healthy lifestyle. Exercise is no problem for me, but I have a HUGE weakness when it comes to food. I have been a vegetarian for half of my life now (went veg at 12), and I am a serial vegan dieter. I too am lactose intolerant (starting with infant formula which used to make me projectile vomit), and yet, I keep failing on the vegan front. I want to be vegan… but then someone will offer me a milk chocolate and I will wimp out.

    This has been a great reminder for me. I’m about to finish a huge financial goal, and I want to have some other smaller goals lined up so that I don’t flounder. I think a savings goal, a vegan goal, and a weight loss goal will serve me well.

    BTW – I found your blog through Gail’s website, and now I’m hooked! You have some high quality content on here.

    • I projectile vomited, too, from breast milk and regular formula. Our poor moms!

      And thanks, Samantha! :)

  • Regarding lactose- butter and hard cheeses such as cheddar and Gouda are naturally lactose free so you should be fine with them. I buy lactose free milk as I still like milk in tea and on porridge and want to keep my calcium intake up, and find the taste is fine without the symptoms.
    Regarding juicing if diabetes is a concern I’d be careful about that- if it’s an actual juicer not a blender you are removing the healthy fibre and only leaving the sugars so they can be quite unhealthy and cause sugar spikes.
    My GI doctor recently put me on the low fodmap diet which has helped me identify a fructose intolerance so I’ve cut out the sweeter fruits and stick to bananas, cantaloupe and kiwi mostly.
    This diet has had a great side effect of massively reducing my sugar cravings- the first couple of weeks were hard but I’m so used to the lower sugar diet that I find it much easier to resist sweet things now.

  • When you figure out the trick to curb your sweet tooth, I want to know! lol

    I eat a lot of fruit but according to My Fitness Pal even that is causing me to consume “too much” sugar. I love pineapple, apples, strawberies, and oranges and eat at least a few of those things every day.

    I thought about cutting dairy as a way to maybe lose a few pounds and see if it might clear up my skin, but I struggle a lot with this idea because I eat a ton of dairy, I love it, and I don’t have an intolerance. Milk, yogurt, cheese are in my diet daily! This week I’m switching to skim milk so we’ll see how that goes.

    The strategy I’m trying right now is slowly making small changes one at a time. The first one is to stop eating cookies, and I haven’t had any this month!

    Have a great day :)

    • No cookies this month? Nice work. I can’t say the same, lol.

      If you end up cutting back on dairy, let me know how that affects your skin. I found I broke out like crazy last week (when I wasn’t eating any) but now my skin is clear and soft. The same thing happened when I gave it up years ago.

  • If I baked cookies I would have the same problem, especially chocolate chip cookies. They are like my kryptonite. So I don’t bake…ever. I know that this is a trigger for me. I have a sweet tooth, and I eat just a tiny piece of trader joe’s dark chocolate a day. For some reason a little goes a long way and it’s satisfying. Then I take a big swig of almond milk. Whatever is a trigger food (I also LOVE graham crackers and peanut butter) I just don’t buy… period.

    • Almond milk does help sometimes… but not always. Maybe I’ll buy chocolate almond milk? No, stop it Cait! lol

  • This my friend is my greatest challenge as well. I found the best strategy is to slowly reduce the amount of intensely sugary things ( like toffees, skittles, anything sugar coated) and try to eat more fruit as a replacement. For me, I noticed when I reduce extremely sugary things and replace it with fruit it’s hard at first but then I become content and get my sugar fix. Then really the next step would be to even reduce the amount of foods you eat that contain sugar- including fruits, breads, etc. It isn’t easy and I always say to myself and people- be kind to your body and understand it’s a process, a journey and not an overnight thing- but it is doable.

    I also find it’s about being conscience with food consumption and making a point as you’re doing to not purchase certain items, or withhold sugar from your teas or coffees etc.

    I still do fall back in, but the trick for me is abstaining from highly intense sugary things in order to get the ball rolling.

    • It’s definitely not an overnight thing. Honestly, it’s one day – and one choice – at a time. But so far I’m doing… hmm, ok. :)

  • Great blog post Cait!

    I’ve got the same sweet tooth, I absolutely love chocolate and I still treat myself to a square of dark chocolate and it’s amazing.

    For chips, I am the same way I could eat an entire super bag every day if I could. But I always remember how bad I FEEL after I eat them. Another thing to thing about besides how bad these food make you feel- take a peak at the ingredients, if you can’t pronounce what goes into them, should you really be eating them? It always freaks me out about all the stuff that is put into the food that I have no idea what it is.

    I always try to remember that I can eat whatever I’d like, I don’t need to deprive myself. We’re human. But I CHOOSE not to have those things, because of how it makes me feel.

    Great post, love seeing these. After climbing myself out of debt as well, I think that weight-loss/healthy lifestyle is very much the same type of motivation/determination/dedication. But I also loved this post that highlights that doing too much at the same time, is hard for people to do. When I was paying off debt, it was so hard for me to focus on anything else, it was almost my personal mission. Check out the post by greatist here:

    Now I’m debt-free, and in the same boat of focusing on a healthier lifestyle. My lifestyle wasn’t terrible before, but making sure I’m taking time for myself for exercise and making it top priority.

    Good luck and keep at it!! :-)

    • I like that: choose not to have it because of how it makes you feel. And thanks for the link to the post on Greatist. I’m definitely of the belief that seeing you can make one positive change in your life helps motivate you to make another. But it’s still one at a time. The goal is to eventually combine them all into one happy, healthy lifestyle though. :)

  • My sister introduced me to a homemade chocolate candy called Chocolate Delight. It’s made with coconut oil, cacao or carob powder, stevia, and additional flavorings you choose – like cayenne or even pecans and other nuts. You can search for it as “hCG Chocolate Delight” and find several recipes. I use a vanilla flavored liquid stevia. I find it VERY satisfying, and I can totally relate to your description of trigger foods. See what you think…

  • Oh Cait, you get me. I have the same sweet tooth and complete lack of self control. I keep my fridge and cupboards filled with pretty healthy things, and I’ve told Kurt that if he wants snacks in the house he has to hide them or lock them up. :) I’m seriously that bad. It’s my office where things get messy. It feels like there is always a plate of cookies or bucket of candy available for us to pick at throughout the day, and without fail I end up eating half of it. Ugh. If you have any good tips for improving restraint, I’d love to hear them!

    At home I’ve found that using honey or maple syrup in salad dressings and glazes for fish and veggies has really satisfied my sweet tooth. It’s not a perfect solution because you’re still consuming sugar, but I’ve found it doesn’t leave me wanting dessert.

    • Yea, that picture of treats you sent me this week… a huge reminder of why I’m grateful I don’t work in an office right now, haha.

      And that’s actually not a bad solution. I also like putting fruit in salads – usually some type of berry.

  • If it’s about portion control, health food stores often sell little individual squares of high-quality chocolate like Green&Blacks, for maybe 30-50 cents. If the act of unwrapping another makes you stop and think about what you’re doing, it’s probably worth it for you. Or, you could just get one and then have to go back to the store if you wanted another.

    You could also switch to buying those overpriced little single serve bags of chips they sell by cash registers, which wouldn’t end up being more expensive if you really do eat the whole bag no matter the size.

    • No, I’ve tried that trick. I have no problem unwrapping 10 chocolates, haha. And chips are only an issue maybe once/month… but that’s not a bad idea. Thanks!

  • You can do it Cait! I’m right there with you for the dairy and sweets. I successfully cut out both and ate well for a few months last year and it was amazing how well I felt. Then laziness and convenience kicked it. You can do this, we can do this! Cheers to listening to our bodies!

  • I struggle with controlling how much I eat, too. It’s very frustrating. I open a bag of chips and it’s all over from there. “I always end up regretting it, so why do I keep doing it?” is what I say to myself every time. I think the best solution is to eliminate those foods from the house so the temptation isn’t there. Hopefully as time passes, you crave sugar less and less. I’m the same way with dairy as well. Sounds like you’re making great progress though, good luck!

    • Yea, I just don’t go near the chip aisle now. It’s too dangerous. As for dairy, I had some leftover cheese, yogurt, etc. in the fridge earlier this week… tossed it all. If it’s not there, I can’t eat it.

  • I don’t control my sweet tooth!

    I’ve realized it’s a bit of a problem now as my about-to-turn-2-years-old has been asking for chocolate every morning, and has found ALL my hiding spots. Even some I had forgotten about! We are renovating the kitchen right now, so as soon as it’s back in one piece and I have things like a fridge, microwave, stove, dishes, sinks back we are going to start eating clean. … Your post today is also helping to reinforce this. Thank you.

    I find one of the hardest things about eating well is spending the money. I’m trying to pay 50% of my income on debt (luckily my boyfriend isn’t charging me rent so I can do this) but that leaves $150/month for food for me and my daughter. I think I need to start long-term health planning and take a bit longer for debt to make sure we make it to the grocery store each week and buy fresh fruits and veggies. And break the chocolate addiction that has taken both of us! :)

    • Oh man, I remember those months of putting 50% of your income towards debt. Good for you, Leigh! But I’d say good food deserves a little extra portion of your monthly budget. I’m sure I’ll need to increase mine slightly, going forward.

  • Given that I’m typing this with a container of almond roca beside me, I’d say I’m doing a piss poor job of moderating my sweet tooth. The biggest way I used to curb my sweet tooth was by straight up not bringing any of it home. If it wasn’t home I couldn’t eat it, so the problem solved itself. Now that I’m living with my fiance its a little more difficult, because he likes keeping in the house. I’ve taken over the grocery shopping, so I’ve started buying sweets that have gluten in them. That way he has his sweet treats, but there’s still a barrier to me eating them. I wish I had a sweet tooth cure-all, but I really don’t :(

  • I love how you WILL attack this just like your debt!! AWESOME & GO YOU!!
    i guess i should say i dont have any serious sweet tooth issues..i DO bake often for family and i dont eat it most of the time..weight is an issue for me but that is because i had to have my thyroid pulled out 6 yrs ago and im still finding the thyroid pill dose that works for me..sigh…on going process….my hubby needs to stay away from chocolate though so its been tough trying to find stuff to make that is as yummo as a chocolate whatever..i dont know what it is about chocolate but it just makes everything looks soooooo sinful and i have to scarf now attitude but other treats…not so much…anyway..if i could stay away from bread, pastas, soda i would probably be better off…..i do excercise..i run with Girls On The Run program with my kids..but its not by weight issues… as YOU in progress..slow and steady..RIGHT??

    • Yep! We have to make small decisions now that turn into a lifestyle later. At least… that’s the plan, hehe. Thanks for sharing, Kelly!

  • I definitely think you can apply the same principles to being healthy as we do with paying off debt. But like Stephanie said, if you’re still paying off debt (which I am….final stretch! Should be gone in 7 months!! Went from $22,000 plus a $29,000 car loan to $8,000!!) soemtimes it feels like so much sacrifice to be putting all your money into debt AND being super healthy. A $2.50 Lindt bar to eat while I watch movies at home is MUCH cheaper than going out for dinner and/or shopping all day. I feel like if I give up those treats I’ll just be really miserable!

    However, the couple squares of chocolate daily was turning into half a bar twice a day…and I’m talking FAMILY SIZE milk chocolate! Last week I decided I wouldn’t eat chocolate for a week, and now that I’ve done it, I’m stretching it into two weeks…let’s see how long I can go! Then I’ll just start on the dark chocolate, because I have control with that. Milk chocolate just makes me go crazy…soooo yummy.

    LOVE your blog btw, Cait!! You are in my favourite list along with GMD. I’m in Vancouver too and I secretly hope I’ll run into you two one day! hehe.

    Oh and I just had an idea reading this post….wouldn’t it be so cool if they did a health tv show in the same way Gail analyzes people’s spending habits? They would track someone’s eating for a week and then reveal how many calories, sugar, etc they consumed. Because I bet a lot of people don’t REALLY know. Just like with money!

    • Oh, I hear you on those family size bars, believe me – especially if there are hazelnuts in it. Ugh, can’t think about it! lol

      That is a cool idea! I guess they kind of skip the bad food intake part in Biggest Loser and just use the person’s heaviest weight as the motivator.

      And thanks, Jacquie! GMD and I are actually hanging out on Sunday. If I knew where, I’d give you the location, hehe.

  • As someone who was also in denial about being lactose intolerant for a long time, I can highly recommend something called “Daiya,” which is a fake cheese that is way better than any of the other ones I’ve tried. I eat it all the time now and would be distraught if I couldn’t have it. Hope you like it!

    • I know I replied via email, but in case anyone reads the comments, I DO know about Daiya, I have eaten it before… and I love that you know/love it, because it’s a Vancouver product!

  • I treat myself now and then….but the treats are for weekends.

    During the week I try to eat as healthy as possible. Salads, veggies and meats. No junk food like chips and salsa, that’s my vice and even then, that’s not too bad in small doses.

    Making an effort to eat healthier and I feel much better for it.

    • Chips and salsa would be ok! I can control myself with that, so thanks for the reminder. Glad to hear you’re feeling good as a result of your food choices :)

  • I understand about the need to eat healthy, and the difficulty in doing that. I just recently found out that I am gluten intolerant, so I am having to change my whole way of eating.

    Good luck to you Cait on your healthy journey! You can do it! :)

  • I hear you on the chocolate front! I can finish a whole tablet or bag by myself in no time flat. Glad to hear your quest for a healthier 2014 is off to a good start though, waking up at 5:45AM for the gym is no easy feat (at least to me). :)

  • I hear ya. I have dairy sensitivities that upset my stomach, but if think it also just causes overall irritation in met body otherwise (makes me feel sluggish) and yet I still eat it. How dumb is that?! I don’t chug a glass of milk, but is eat yogurt and cheese regularly. I also need to drop my love-hate relationship with sweets.

    I would caution your description of your blood sugar crashes. I am no expert, and perhaps I don’t know the timing of your symptoms, but… here is my little ramble. Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia present with VERY similar symptoms, such as blurred vision, shakiness, confusion, fatigue, etc. One of the biggest differences between them (aside from testing your blood glucose levels and knowing) is a veracious thirst with high blood sugars. Like, want to drink from the toilet if that was the only source of water thirst (with super high sugars). So you might want to look into that closely.

  • I have the same problem with candy as you do with chocolate. We get some for the kids, and I decide to have one. Next thing I know it’s gone, and my kids are wondering where the candy went. Ooops. Cannot. Have. Just. One.

  • I have a massive, massive sweet tooth so it can be super hard for me to control my cravings to it, too. I know there are some foods I just cannot have in my apartment – candy, cookies, brownies, etc. The only thing I’ve found helpful for me is to buy dark chocolate. It still gives me that sweet taste, but I can’t eat more than 2-3 at a time before it’s too much. (And it’s technically “good for you!”)

    I struggle the most on the weekends because it’s not as structured and I think I’ve fallen into a habit of abandoning all healthy eating on the weekends, so now I’m trying to break that habit/mentality which is very hard!

    Good luck with giving up dairy! Sometimes, I think about doing the same even though I don’t eat a ton of dairy. Would be interested to see how my body would react, though!

    • Just reading the word “brownies” made me want one, lol. And I wish that dark chocolate trick worked for me. I CAN eat a whole bar, no matter how dark it is.

      Totally agree that weekends are the toughest – especially if I’m sitting around the house, writing, etc. I know the trick is to just not have any in the house, but I live above all kinds of restaurants, stores, etc. so everything I crave is within walking distance…

  • YES so much to this post. Yesterday, for the first time in MY LIFE I got really dizzy for what surely could only have been a few seconds but felt like it was much longer. This past weekend, my stomach was doing me in. All signs of me not taking care of myself and needing to eat better and sleep better, I know. So, time to listen up. Tonight I made a veggie stir fry and last night I got 10 hours of sleep, so here’s to taking better care of ourselves :)

    • Love a good veggie stir fry! As for sleep, I used to sleep less during the week and catch up on weekends, but I’m trying to change that so I sleep 7 hours every night instead. So far, so good!

  • Congratulations!!! what a great journey you are on.
    2 years ago I started listening to my body…eating nourishing foods, exercise for strengthening and overall just being kinder to myself. It hasn’t been easy to create new habits but I’m proud that I stuck with it because I have much more vitality and happiness.
    Best of luck,

  • I didn’t read all of the comments, so someone else may have already suggested this. Regarding the sweet tooth, I have the same issue. Oh hello bag of Easter candy…so nice to meet um, demolish you in one sitting.

    I recently heard that a magnesium supplement can help with sweet cravings, particularly chocolate. You know how you always hear that if you are craving something it probably means you are deficient in something? Well, apparently a chocolate craving means a magnesium deficiency.

    I believe this is likely truer for those of us that don’t drink milk or eat a lot of dairy because that’s where a lot of people get a dose of mag.

    I want to check more into this before I start a supplement, but thought it was worth mentioning. Let me know if you find out more about this before I do! :)

  • I have SUCH a sweet tooth, too. It causes problems with my diet. If I’m feeling super motivated, I will have half of a chocolate bar and call it a day. This is rare, though, and like you, I will eat ALL of the chips and chocolate in front of me usually.

    Lately, my favourite dessert has been fruit (berries, usually, and sometimes half of a banana cut up) with 2 tablespoons of chocolate sauce on it (there is amazing, organic dark chocolate sauce you can get at health food stores) and some walnuts. It’s not that low calorie, but it’s delicious and better than eating a donut!

  • Hey Cait, I completely sympathize with your sugar addiction and just wanted to tell you not to be too hard on yourself – it is a powerful drug and it takes a while to break the addiction, but just keep making small changes and you’ll get there! It took me nearly two years but now I can say no to sugar most of the time. Know that when you can’t stop, it’s not a mental weakness thing, but rather an addiction thing – sugar definitely makes you jones for more. Best of luck!

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