Special Diets/Seeking Food Recommendations
I recently was diagnosed w/ hyperglycemia and I have gluten issues I had been pulling back on how I eat for about a year now to be more ... fresh.
Now, I have gastric issues (spastic colitis) and have issues with eating red meat, so I try to get my protein other ways.
My problem is I do not know much about food and I have zero imagination. I also do not have a lot of time to cook.
I bring food to work and have a fridge and I very much enjoy fresh fruits and veggies but - I do not know the correct balance so I get air sounds in my stomach.
I really want to find a middle ground but I just do not know enough about food.
Do you have any recommendations?
If I could, yes - I'd stick with fresh foods that do not need cooking. I skip breakfast and lunch often because I don't have time to cook.
So I'm hoping you have some examples of combining food that will work for me.
I have a nice lunch bag and there is no food I do not like. I shy away from dressing and shop every 2 days so the food stays fresh.
As I said, I simply have no imagination and do not group my foods together well.
Often we get food issues, seemingly out of the blue, to help us address weaknesses in our soul. Life is all about learning. Health is about balancing out the natural flaws in our character, physique, and relationship skills. We not only relate to family and friends, employers and people in the street, but in a spiritual sense to the whole world, and our inner and higher worlds. That is a lot to take on board!
In the School of Life, with the help of our guardian angels, things tend to get broken down for us in practical exercises. I believe your hyperglycaemia and gluten issues fall into this category. They are typically pre-warnings of larger and more set medical conditions - which then must be delegated to the medical profession. These types of disorder are very annoying because they affect our daily life in many ways and demand our attention anew, every day. In short, they require our full awareness. They stimulate self-knowledge and help us reassess our relationships. Diet is the one of the best classes in the School of Life: you get to exert a lot of individual self rule. It is a great way to learn about self empowerment. Above all it will teach you discipline.
Discipline seems to be a very tricky word in our day and age. It reminds us of the military or a boarding school. And if we blindly accept authority from our elders or superiors we are not being very wise and often get ourselves into trouble. But obedience is not only about following rules slavishly. It also has to do with devotion and self-respect and taking a stance in life that defines you as a unique human being with a mind of your own.
Now the funny thing is that even though we don't like to follow in the footsteps of our parents anymore, or want to be more free in the choices we make, we have become ever more enslaved to popular beliefs and media brainwashing. Even in the organic world or the spiritual professions there is no escaping it. We are all becoming fake and hyped up. This is reflected in many health issues which basically manifest a weakness of soul: hyperglycaemia is one small indication of a lack of spiritual self rule. It is an indication that our soul-household needs to be put back in order with a strong housekeeper handing out the orders.
These orders may seem to stand counterintuitive to what you call imagination. But trust me, if you get yourself a good housekeeper (sharpen up your imagination ) she will know exactly what you need and your house will be spic and span. That frees up a lot of energy to just live life - which suggests a more carefree attitude. But actually it means you are reaping the benefits of the art of awareness. It means you have understood life is one big yoga practice.
At the same time I have to say, I pick up on many positives in your Question,which point to the activation of your imagination already set in motion. True imagination, which does not create highflown fantasy worlds, with perfect bodies of size 0, or the notion that a diet can be a ladder to heaven, is actually a kind of close hearing and seeing of what you really need.
To hear and see something properly you need to be in the right mood and the right environment. It is why art hangs in a museum, and some museums are detrimental to the works hanging in them! People find it hard to marry detail with the whole. It is why it can be useful, sometimes, to strip and gut, and get down to the bare bones. But with help and advice from friends and kindly experts, hopefully, your measures need not always be so drastic and you can just move a few things around and get a fresh coat of paint to achieve a better feng shui in your home. The same can be done for the temple of your body.
Indeed, let us not be drastic! Another modern ill is that we over-dramatise our petty issues. These issues are not petty really, that is the irony of it: but when you over- dramatise them you become an actor in your own play and leave the stage sometimes dissatisfied with the work you have just done. You can end up unemployed and forget about the craft of acting and the purpose of the stage. You end up doing silly commercials and things go downhill from there on.
Now, these metaphors or depictions of energetic patternings of the soul can help you figure out what part of your life you have to take control over. You have to begin within, so there is no point in walking around bare boned: so no stripping! No actual soul-searching. That will never work.
So even though I believe your issues exist in order to give you some messages about who you really are, it is fantastic that you have sought to train your listening and seeing through the simple practice of diet! Don't put down your own imagination! But accept the challenge to work harder on it. What you must do though is become a lot more disciplined: this is the way in -and at the same time the way out. It is the path of understanding, forgiveness, and loving kindness. Life serves little more.
This is the middle ground you have to try to find. It is a place which is entirely your own domain. It is a place of understanding that you are matter and spirit. You are spirit clothed in matter. And so is everything else in nature. That is why it is important to eat fresh produce, or at least foods you can recognise and understand. This understanding I repeat a lot, for it is key to sticking at something. It is the key to belief: self-belief and the diet which supports self-belief.
It is a fact that you have little time in your life to be able to prioritise your diet and meals. You are subject to time-constraints. Or are you? Is it fact? Or habit? That is what you have to now decide for yourself. People with hyperglycaemia must definitely eat 3 meals and even up to 6 small meals a day. They have to train up the sugar processing system: make it more flexible as it were. The chief of your soul (the Ego body) is at the helm of this process, when you have sugar metabolism issues it is a sign that he's skiving off. Irregular meals or hasty snacks contribute to this. Any great number of emotional, socio-psychological issues will underlie any rigification of the soul. We all suffer from this. It's 21st century man for you! But let this persuade you it is therefore very important that you do not skip breakfast, let alone lunch. It is part of the discipline of recognising yourself as a spirit being which has to slot into a physical body every day a new.
When we sleep, a part of us leaves our physical body (the conscious part, obviously, but in esoteric science we call this part/these parts the soul). The drowsiness that comes with hyperglycaemia is typicall and extended symptom of a weak soul or, that is to say, the soul which has trouble staying in the here and now, fully present, fully accountable, fully animated. To be engaged with vibrant foods can help counter this. These foods will not always be obviously vibrant to our modern minds, full of fizz , glamorous sparkle and a saccarine trip. Even the current emphasis on fruits, specifically in smoothies and juices, is not the way forward, especially not for you. They will contribute to hyperglycaemia and gas formation. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, and berries sourced locally most certainly have health benefits but handfuls of tropical fruits stuffed into blenders only contribute to decadent consumerism, tooth decay and obesity.
So much for what you should not do! I would be interested to know what your issues are with eating red meat - whether they are digestive or idealistic. For a clue may lie therein in which direction you could turn to explore the steadfast path of diet. Your gluten issues also sounds a little vague. When in doubt whether gluten is the real cause for irritation of the bowels (spastic colitis) do NOT go all gluten free. Because then you will miss up on products I think might be key to a new balance of health for you.
I am thinking you need to start with cereals - and there is a lot to learn in that field, because I am not referring to cornflakes or whole wheat products as such. But it may be an idea to take these as your base ingredient/staple for a meal. The rest you compose around your grain of choice. You could technically choose a different one for each day of the week: that's how many there are for you to select from. Variety ensures a balance of mineral/vitamin intake.
In the school of anthroposophical nutrition there is even the idea that there is a grain best suited for each day of the week. Each day of the week is cosmically charged in a different way - the names of the days give you a clue. The idea behind this is if you align yourself to the greater cosmos you're not going to create greater friction in your life. You stimulate natural flow and find guidance in larger cycles.
Just to give you an idea I sum up here: Sunday-wheat; Monday-rice (a typical lunar plant with its watery life); Tuesday-barley (Mars-day, a very vigourous grain full of iron); Wednesday-millet; Thursday-rye; Friday-oats; Saturday-corn. Likewise we can find colours and sounds and trees and metals compatible with the energy pattern of each day. Each day is unique yet its energy pattern or ground note recurrs. This best thing about this list is that you get a feel for the existence of a cycle of life. You must not become spun around by it, but choose to step on its guiding stones consciously. That is why it can be very beneficial to follow the seasons closely in your diet. That is why we choose locally sourced products: things that only grow in your region in alignment with the movement of the sun and the stars on the moon also affecting you directly. It helps pull you out side of yourself and your personal petty drama to stimulate a feel for this. Then the details of your life become really significant and majorly important. The unique being who you are, however humble your life may be, begins to shine when you align with the divine.
Now there are a other grains easier to prepare and enjoy: think of quinoa, for which there are tons of recipes running around on the Internet. It goes well in salads, contains no gluten, and is very rich in minerals and protein. There is also buckwheat, which takes an acquired taste. Its flour makes great little pancakes (blini), and in (rice) crackers it makes a superb snack. Adding this humble little plants seeds (it's not a grain really) to your diet is fortifying. It all contributes to expanding your soul experience of the world. In turn this makes you a more balanced person. Life is built-up out of a lot of minute details. The very picture of the buckwheat plants enforces this idea.
Think of wild rice, or risotto rice, Thai, or Basmati or jasmine rice for variation. Kamut, spelt (both fall into the wheat category) and barley can be found parboiled nowadays in health food shops; couscous and tabouleh add some eastern flavour. Rye is best taken as a bread (or crispbread) and in small amounts can be very tonifying for the metabolic system. It is cooling for overheated systems.
Oats could be your lifesaver! Try to become accustomed to eating a muesli with (unsweetened) yoghurt (a drizzle of honey is optional - but can be demanding on those with hyperglycaemia, and requires careful experimentation; there are some honey types out there which are very remedial for a lazy soul, especially the darker honies, like thyme, buckwheat, chestnut, forest or manuka).
Study the ingredients of the various mueslis out there. Find ones with amaranth and spelt, buckwheat and linseed for example. Alternate with a crispy millet, buckwheat almond crunch, kamut cornflakes, rice puffs. Keep trying different combinations of cereals; nuts and seeds are fine but make sure there is no added sweetening, also not in the form of rice syrup or apple juice. You can always add a drop of maple syrup or the pinch of palm flour sugar. In any case something that makes you highly conscious of the sugars you are going to ingest. The gas you are experiencing could be related to the combination of cereals and additional sugars, so you might want to cut out on all additional sweetness for a while - even if they are natural.
Adding a fresh banana now and then is okay but you don't want to get a brand with dried banana in. Also go easy on the raisins, and other dried fruits like dates especially: they are too high in sugars for you. Curd is a good (protein rich) alernative. There are runny and set yoghurts. Even goats and sheep yoghurt (acquired taste!). You could make a yoghurt mix to go over this muesli, by blending wholesome ingredients into a natural yoghurt: think of blueberries or strawberries, some chia seed for protein, some coconut chips and mulberries, a pinch of cocoa for antioxidants, the handful of oats for extra substance.
Raw food blogs are full of such smoothie type meals, but I would advise you to make bowls of food you really need to chew on: this is important for people with hyperglycaemia and irritable bowels. It also helps activate your soul, to really engage it in the breaking down of substance, before the unconscious part in your digestive system. (Calm, meditative but westernised) Yoga teachers and macrobiotic cooks tend to have the better more balance attitude to meals. The world of Elena Brower touches upon food at times (but in a very New York frame of mind) and the world of Esther Eckhart does too, in a very unpretentious and open, more down-to-earth way. Checking out such folks and their life-styles can sometimes be further inspiring. And as always, one step will lead to another, till you find what suits your personal life-goal best. But there are certain general healthy forums (places where like-minded souls gather) which are more helpful places to start than others.
If you want to make grains your staple for lunch, you can think of whole wheat sandwiches with nut and seed pastes as a topping - you will find up to 5-7 different types in a health food store (peanuts are not really nuts). There are also tofu-based spreads, healthy sandwich spreads, organic cream cheese spreads, yeast extracts, non-sugary jams or chocolate spread for a sweet alternative if you really want to give yourself a treat every now and then - but don't make it regular. Go in search of a really good baker. It is best to cut out bread altogether if you can't find a loaf consisting only of flour water and salt - and yeast or sourdough. The latter would probably be easier for you to digest. If you're not used to the flavour it will make another great challenge for you. You must see such challengers in the light of training up your soul to be braver, trying harder in the School of Life.
For dinner, there are pasta alternatives for a really quick meal: not all pasta is made from wheat. You can source those other grains in this easy form. It is not the ideal meal, however, to have daily. If you find two days a week with 30 minutes to spend on cooking, you could be eating proper evening meals at least four days a week: you can cook up grains for multiple days (most stay fresh and up to 3 days; take care with rice: must be cooled immediately after cooking.) With a jar of tomato sauce at hand, and a herb rack, and one fresh pot of herbs (alternating, parsley, chives, basil, thyme etc) you will remain inspired to make sauces or soups. Look around in the store for what's in season and affordable, by way of vegetable, and compose a meal around that. Let plants talk to you! (Hence the fresh pot of herbs in a kitchen can be inspiring.) When stuck for ideas just toss a salad and serve with genuine bread. If you get bored of that, your body is either telling you you need something hot inside you (change to tossing the stuff into a pan of boiling water!) or you are losing focus! Great organic produce cannot ever get boring. Your senses just become lazy – or you let life wear you down (hard to prevent that from happing, granted. But that is why every house should have a mini-altar. Here you can restore your soul daily in a short meditation or mindful moment).
You need to learn that vegetables come in three groups: root, leaf/stalk, fruit. Roots are great for head-man, leaf for (respiratory) middle-man, fruit for (metabolic) lower man. It is best to include one of each every time you prepare a meal. People tend to start building up a meal around protein; but vegetables contain protein too. Vegetarian recipes tend to add-on bits of protein according to appetite or flavour. A sprinkling of nuts and seeds and salads is just what you need for a bit of body - but it is the fats in them which we really want. Roots in soups are warming and form the bulk of a winter meal. Pumpkin in autumn lifts our spirits. Broccoli and cauliflower don't even tax children.
Pulses can be heavy going on the digestive system, but try adding them here and there are couple of times a week and see how it goes. Add plenty of mediterranean herbs to aid digestion, or apples and prunes, lemon and berries (rich in oxalic acid) help break them down. Always combine with cereals to benefit from their nutritional value optimally.
You can make burgers out of adzuki beans, kidney beans go well in a chilli sauce, chickpeas are easiest to digest and you can make a hummus for a salad, or falafel balls (things you can prepare during those 30 minutes, for couple of days in advance). Lentils make great sauces and stews, you could do a "shepherdess" pie (vegetarian version to the one with mince) or a moussaka (again, sorts you out for a couple of days). If you have a bag of sweet winter carrots and a celeriac, a couple of onions and a leak, your will feel the urge to get some lentils and boil up a stew. Check out the variety of lentils! They all taste different too. Collect several recipes, try them all, and modify to taste.
Oily fish or white fish may have their place in your diet if you like them. Once a week you can make them the centre of your meal and dress them with potatoes or rice, and a delicate vegetable preferably steamed. Follow the advice on reputable chefs on how to prepare these dishes. When a living creature dies for you, it is best to honour them quite consciously. I'm not saying you have to put fish with an eye staring up at you on your plate, but it makes for a very interesting exercise to do this. It is all part of the consciousness training. This training will bear fruits in an overall imagination matching your needs, your issues with the next lessons you need to learn.
No less honour should be given to vegetables each in their own right. A salad is not just lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber. There are so many different types of lettuce leaf, some more bitter some more sweet; there is cress and ruccola; and a whole world of sprouts to explore (mustard, radish, broccoli, alfalfa, mung bean etc etc).
Spinach is great for protein (and iron, of course), but it is not something you want to eat every day. It has to be in season; but when it is you can google 3 or 4 recipes and try one out each week. It can make a pizza topping, a pie or quiche filling (for 2 days! 2nd day eaten cold – do not reheat spinach ever), stuffed in canneloni with ricotta etc. I find the (celebrity) chef Jamie Oliver quite inspiring – specifically the project of his 30 minute meals. Watch a few of his videos and maybe they will do something for you, or buy/borrow a copy of his book. He can really get the juices flowing when it comes to trusting your own cooking skills and imagination. It can spark off a new zest for preparing honest, tailor-made (original) meals. You'll pick up some basic techniques and flavour combinations which never get boring really (he has a mediterranean style which is a great way to go for your needs).
Don't forget to treat yourself every now and then. Make this a part of your shopping and preparing meals. Look forward to a desert which doesn't spoil the healthy balance you are trying to create. Find a soothing herbal tea, familiarise yourself with its every ingredient, to the point that you are almost walking through a meadow as you are sipping the tea (if you choose a blend of flowers, say). Try different brands of biscuits or (raw) chocolate. If you only have one day, you could explore the more exclusive lines (sweetened with the more sophisticated alternatives to sugar – beware of agave and corn syrup). It is best not to eat fruit after dinner (gas forming). Cut out all supermarket sweets/chips. Never go near a vending machine again. There are some great quality energy bars in healthfood stores, but study the ingredients very closely!! Remember what I said about dried fruit and additional natural sweetners: some no-nos there! Organic or healthfood shopping is no insurance policy on healthy eating nowadays. Same goes for juice bars, vegetarian restaurants, or fresh sandwiches to take away.
One final tip on how to further your imagination. Go into healthfood stores and look at what is on the shelf (raw ingredients). Then research the product. Type in the ingredient in a search engine, for example, or check out an index of a cookery book. Look for old fashioned recipes first (so study German or British recipes too) because they tend to take you back to basics better. Compare information! Trust your instincts which will grow stronger the more you study.
Instead of looking for recipes for lentils, google each type of lentil for a recipe you find in the store. It is a labour intensive operation, but this is also part and parcel of your soul-awakening. It may take a few months to bookmark some useful sites with reliable, truly healthy recipes but it's an investment for years to come. Vegan stuff, but especially Raw Food recipes can be incredibly calorie rich! Beware. Anything that needs cupfuls of expensive ingredients is probably excessive.
You can always start at BBC recipes, where a broad selection of famous chefs give you ideas, and then you can refine those ideas more specifically to your (vegetarian or organic) ideas by Googling on. Start somewhere in good faith and your guiding force will help your imagination from there on. Yes, it takes time, but that brings you back to the choice to prioritise your diet or something else.
Start mainly from what you see around you, but make sure you are looking in an inspiring place; just browsing around the supermarket might not help you out in the beginning. Go into a bookshop every now and then an open a book at random: if the picture looks tasty have a read. Pick out some keywords, go take a look in the shops. Watch a lot of different cooking shows/YouTube stuff. Find out what resonates for you and carry on from there. Learn from other people's mistakes without judging them. Be honest about what makes you feel uncomfortable and figure out why.
When uninspired gather a basket of basic ingredients that appeal to you – thinking of your staple cereals, root, leaf, fruit parts of vegetables, and nuts, or a special bit of cheese, or a tofu/seitan meat substitute, or pulses/beams, a different calibre of protein every day, depending also on your appetite and activities.
Sometimes you will have to fill the same basket with ingredients that do not appeal to you. It might not make the most exciting meal to just boil up some grains and a coulple of boring vegetables, but you will have a great pure taste-experience; and feel very empowered afterwards. You will only be filled with sound natural ingredients, great for robust health! You will also have disciplined your lazy senses, which tend to demand fabulous quick-fix sensation. It will also encourage you to do more homework and stack up on a pile of more elaborate recipes, at least with more intricate flavours, complex textures, sophistication in general, you can work your way through during the week. They won't require more shopping or cooking, just better planning and greater enthusiasm.
Obviously, you must have a healthy mindset when you are looking: you can visit the more spiritually inclined health freak blogs for some inspiration there. You don't need to join them but they might trigger off your own impulse. It is also good to acknowledge where your limits lie. Sometimes you may want to join in with the normal people around you - that's okay as long as you are aware this is a limit you have set for yourself and it does not conflict with your ultimate goal of health.
Dear Debbie, a long chat here to you on things to consider and bear in mind. I leave you with a lot of work to do, but it is the kind of work that should make your day feel more wholesome and holistic. It should turn eating into a prayer of sorts. A love affair with life even!
I wish you all the very best in the cultivation of your imagination.
Much health and happiness to you.
Enjoy your explorations!