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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    somewhere between the Red & Rio Grande
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    5,310

    Giving Up Processed Foods

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    I am sure there is a thread on this but I am getting over a migraine yesterday and too run down to search....

    Anyone have tips on eliminating most processed foods? I have been thinking, wondering what triggered me to have migraines. I would have bad headaches some in college but never full blown migraines. I started wondering what changed and I can trace the migraines to my first attempt at weight watchers. At that time Weight Watchers focuses much more on diet foods, lots of fat free, artificial sweeteners. I now drink a couple diet sodas a day, eat a lot of frozen dinners.

    I am thinking now that I am close to a weight I like (still want to lose about 10 pounds) maybe cutting down on some of the processed foods will help. I can't imagine not using some things for cooking but making my own lunch, focusing on fruits and vegetables for snacks, eliminating the diet sodas. I wonder if this will help with my migraines and just generally feeling sluggish?

    I race bikes, I enjoy being active, I shouldn't feel like I got hit by a truck all the time!
    Amanda

    2011 Specialized Epic Comp 29er | Specialized Phenom | "Marie Laveau"
    2007 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Road | Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow | "Miranda"


    You don't have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great. -Lee J. Colan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    Processed food aside, have you had any blood work done lately? I applaud any attempt to limit processed foods, but I have to wonder whether they fully explain your energy issues and migraines.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    Have you ever tried a challenge diet? Eliminate all suspect foods (grain, dairy, nuts, chocolate, yeasts/mold/fungi (which includes any fermented products and processed fruits), shellfish, strawberries, eggs - what am I missing? and anything that you have a suspicion about) for four days, then reintroduce them one by one. Reintroduce grains singly, since it's common for people to be allergic to some grains and not others, or at least in differing degrees.) If you react when something's reintroduced, then tick it off, and stay clean for another four days before reintroducing the next one.

    You pretty much have to eliminate processed foods to adhere strictly to an allergy diet, but as you point out, it's worth it for so many other reasons anyway. "Hit by a truck" is a good description of how I feel if I've been significantly off the wagon (e.g. the morning after pizza and beer night ). At best I'm sluggish, which is why I always clean out before a goal event.

    Staying off processed foods is a lot less time consuming if you're willing and able to eat a fair amount of meat. But it's not really hard, just time consuming.

    (What specifically can't you imagine not using for cooking? Throw it out here and some of us will probably have suggestions for substitutes. If it's pasta, and it turns out you're allergic to wheat, Tinkyada brand rice pasta is pretty good. And unless you're on a paleo diet, I don't think most people consider pasta too highly processed.)
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 12-20-2011 at 05:05 PM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    I would encourage you to keep a food and headache diary. I suffered from migraines for a while before I finally realized that they tended to coincide with my periods. You would think it should have been obvious, but it took me a while to see the connection. You might be able to spot some patterns if you keep a diary. I would keep track of what you ate, drank and your exercise.

    Also, if you haven't already, talk to your doc about migraine specific pain relief. In my experience, OTCs will not treat a migraine. I personally take 20 to 40 mg of Relpax. The drug makes me groggy, but it works like a charm.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,351
    Diet sodas, or anything with fake sugars in it, almost immediately give me a headache. My MIL loves to cook with fake sugars to cut calories and I just can't eat a good chunk of what she cooks.

    For quick lunch fixings I'll get pre cooked frozen chicken breasts or thighs and serve it with two cups of frozen mixed vegetables. I like to cook so when I have spare time (like this week) I'll prep and freeze a bunch of stuff for us to have for lunches. Yesterday was meatball day and today was meatloaf day.

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,856
    I think the only way to cut out processed foods is to start cooking. I have found that organic processed foods tend to have regular food ingredients rather than lots of chemicals. Like Amy's organic frozen entrees and pizzas, or things from Kashi. Unfortunately they also cost more.

    For me, migraines were related to hormones, plus changes in sleep and eating habits (like not getting enough sleep or missing a meal). Also stress; I frequently developed a migraine after meeting a tough deadline at work.

    I've taken Depakote every day for more than 20 years. In recent years I've been able to decrease the dosage significantly, but I still take 250 mg per day. It has helped tremendously; before I started taking it I had a migraine almost every day. It did not suppress them completely but did significantly decrease the frequency and severity. It also helped me gain weight, but a few extra pounds are better than wanting to drive a spike through the side of my head every afternoon.

    I used to take Imitrex when I would get a migraine. However in recent years (as I get closer to menopause and my periods changed) the headaches have not been as bad and the side effects from the Imitrex hit me more with the less severe symptoms, so I've been taking extra strength Tylenol and it's worked pretty well for me.

    I have never found a link between specific foods and migraine symptoms. The important thing was not skipping meals and getting plenty of sleep. I drink plenty of Diet Coke but it has not affected the migraines.

    I went to a neurologist who specialized in headaches for years, because they tend to know more about available treatments than GPs.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,686
    What processed foods are you thinking? There are processed foods and, then, there are processed foods... My quick oatmeal is processed, but a lot less than a Twinkie...

    Sodas are the easiest thing to eliminate from your diet. It will also save you some money. Water works just fine and you don't have any sweeteners, artificial or not.

    You might do it in stages. I did not use to cook, but during the last two years, I started. I do not particularly enjoy cooking, nor do I have a huge amount of time, so I have resorted to a few "tricks":
    • I bought many 1.75 cup and 2 cup zip lock containers, as well as 1/2 cup containers. On weekends, I will prepare large batches of soups, chili and other stews which I put in single serve containers (1.75 cups or 2 cups). I will also make a large batch of ragu sauce and put that in 1/2 cup containers, which are enough for a single serving of pasta. I freeze everything, so I have home made frozen dinners. I move something from the freezer to the fridge the night before and reheat in a pot.
    • For lunch at work, I bought a bento box and I cook for the work week every Sunday. The bento box (search for "lock lock" in Amazon -- mine is a 700 ml one) allows me to take a main course, some appetizer (e.g. olives and some pieces of cheese), as well as some fruit. A lot more satisfying than something from the cafeteria. I used some Japanese guidelines to chose the size of the box.
    • For dinners, I tend to alternate salads or some steamed vegetables with a baked fish, or my home made frozen dinners.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    somewhere between the Red & Rio Grande
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    5,310
    My last bloodwork was this fall my gynecologist ordered it because for the first time in my life I had a blood pressure spike, normal as can be. I have been trying for years to find the trigger for my migraines. They aren't constant but they usually take two days of my life away. They aren't at a certain time of the month, they don't seem to be completely stressed triggered. They do respond to OTC but the next day I feel like I went on a wild bender and have the hangover from hell. It just seems weird I never had migraines or any issues until I developed a strong diet soda addiction and started eating frozen dinners nearly every day.

    My migraines are maybe 2-3 a year but overall I feel run down all the time. For instance today I slept 12 hours last night and then still took a three hour nap. This is not an abnormality for me, I will feel like I need to sleep this much several times a month. I am only 30, other than allergies and the occasional migraine my doctor thinks I am healthy.

    When I am saying processed I mean things with creepy chemicals. Diet sodas, frozen foods with weird named ingredients. Basically something that sounds more like a chemistry experiment than food when you read the ingredients.

    Locally we have two places that do 21 day challenges (My Fit Foods, Mel's Meals)they have dieticians and nutritionists that plan meals and they make the food. Usually they involve giving up things like caffeine, alcohol. The people I know that have done them to get them started and they felt like it changed their life. But the cost is a bit steep when I could give up sodas and cook for myself for a lot less! I know how to do portion control, I learned that through Weight Watchers.
    Amanda

    2011 Specialized Epic Comp 29er | Specialized Phenom | "Marie Laveau"
    2007 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Road | Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow | "Miranda"


    You don't have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great. -Lee J. Colan

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    206
    You might look up the "migraine diet." It avoids foods high in tyramine which, surprise, surprise! is found in many aged and/or processed foods.

    If you haven't already seen a neurologist, I highly recommend it. My neurologist put me on a preventative medication that I take every day. I used to have 10-15 migraine days per month. Now I have 1-2. Even though I take a pill every day, overall I am taking much less medication this way, and I am able to work and enjoy an active lifestyle.

    Definitely keep a headache journal.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,856
    Well, it's easy enough to get started. Tomorrow, drink half the amount of diet soda than you normally would. Drink water instead, or maybe iced tea (real iced tea, made with tea bags and maybe some lemon). Keep cutting back until you're not drinking any more soda.

    Once you're off the soda, you can start on the food. In the meantime you can look into some meal plans that work with your cooking interests and abilities.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Perth, Western Australia
    Posts
    5,318

    Gaps

    Amanda,

    I gave up all processed stuff & went on the GAPS diet in July as suggested by my physio/nutritionist. It's the best thing i've done for myself & I thought he & my trainer were full of sheep but i've lost 13kg's & my thyroid health has never been better. Also, there are some really yummy yummy recipes .

    Although i'm not back on the bike or in the pool & can only really run uphill (will jar my collarbone etc) the other exercises I do are SOOOO much easier!

    I'm gluten/wheat, processed sugar & dairy free. I haven't re introduced dairy as i know how my body will be after having it. I "follow" the GAPS protocol but not rigidly as one can.

    I'm not going back to how I was before...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    A long thin country
    Posts
    392

    Alternatives to diet drinks

    I gave up diet drinks years ago because I came to consider all artificial sweeteners toxic. There are lots of alternatives--the most obvious being water. In the winter, I drink hot tea, herbal tea (best made with fresh herbs), hot water with a splash of Angostura bitters or a squeeze of lemon, or the occasional cup of warm milk with a grating of nutmeg. In the summer, I keep a pitcher of water in the fridge, flavored with slices of cucumber, lemon, lime, or orange. I chill herbal teas and unsweetened ice tea. I also like a splash of bitters in sparkling water.

    I have an herb garden, which makes it easier (and more interesting) to make herbal teas. I especially like spearmint, peppermint, lemon verbena, and anise hyssop. Lemon balm (melissa) has a sort of Lemon Joy character, so I only use it occasionally for a hot tea (but it's a great filler plant in the garden). Catnip is kind of grassy, but it's nice for a change. I don't have chamomile, so I use commercial chamomile in the winter.
    ~Jen
    2008 Trek Madone 5.1/compact double/Terry Butterfly
    My family's food and winemaking blog is www.flahertywines.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,144
    Amanda, I would encourage you to start cooking. It's so much easier to control what goes into your body. While I haven't done a challenge, or have eliminated huge categories of food like wheat and dairy, I just don't buy pre-packaged foods, like Weight Watcher's dinners, or anything. I have never been a soda drinker, since my teens. My parents always served water with meals. Any desserts we had were home made.
    I read labels and tend to spend the $ if a product I need for cooking is free of chemicals. I always say it's cheaper in the long run, than taking medication!
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    St. Louis, Mo
    Posts
    119
    I very, very rarely consume any processed foods. I don't find it difficult or limiting but I've gradually tweaked the way I eat over the years to get it where it is now. It would have definitely been a shock if I had made a huge switch all at once. And I have quite a few health issues fueling my motivation. There was a time I was nearly bedridden, in too much pain to do much of anything, and 200+lbs heavier. So while food has been a challenge at times, it's a challenge I was up for as the way I eat now leaves me feeling absolutely amazing. Totally worth it!

    I don't approach things from a perspective of "I can't have this, that, this". Rather I start with what I do choose to eat (vegetables, fruit, nuts/seeds, legumes) and build meals with those foods. I eat a lot of smoothies (breakfast usually, made with greens, fruit, chia seeds), soups (the crockpot is my friend!), salad (either your typical "over lettuce" salad, often with steamed or roasted veggies too -or- a chopped salad of roasted/steamed/fresh veg (no lettuce) marinated in balsamic vinegar and seasoning blend like MrsDash), or steamed veggies with a bowl of beans on the side. I try to always have some nuts/seeds with veggies as a little fat with a meal greatly increased nutrient absorption. I keep a container of mixed nuts/seeds that I've ground in the food processor with nutritional yeast and seasoning blend that I sprinkle (a tablespoon or two) on top of my veggies. If you squint real hard you can pretend it's parmesan cheese lol.

    I do use a wee bit of stevia or xylitol to sweeten things that need it but I make an effort to opt for savory over sweet. And I use as little as possible. I'm working on slowly making the transition to using ripe banana or dates to sweeten but that doesn't work so well for coffee. (a vice I'm not sure I want to totally give up lol)

    I do cook A LOT! Luckily I'm not the sort who needs constant variety. I get into happy food ruts where I enjoy something until I eventually burn out on it and then move on to something else. Handy because I don't mind making large batches of things like soup and eating leftovers. And I prep fresh veggies all at once (well, not everything, but a lot of veggies get prepped right away) when I get home from the store and keep them in sealed containers in the fridge. Really makes assembling a meal easier.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    3,213
    Quote Originally Posted by Aggie_Ama View Post
    ... It just seems weird I never had migraines or any issues until I developed a strong diet soda addiction and started eating frozen dinners nearly every day...

    ...When I am saying processed I mean things with creepy chemicals. Diet sodas, frozen foods with weird named ingredients. Basically something that sounds more like a chemistry experiment than food when you read the ingredients.

    ...I could give up sodas and cook for myself for a lot less!

    Sounds to me like you already know where to start.
    Each day is a gift, that's why it is called the present.

 

 

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