How does a diva with a delicate constitution eat on the go?

Well, sometimes it ain’t easy. It takes extra planning, and a little creativity. I’ve recently turned to a more Paleo-ish diet. (I say -ish, because I haven’t actually read anything yet about Paleo. All I have heard is that it avoids grains.) So, these days, here’s what I’m NOT eating: dairy, grains, meat (except fish & eggs), refined sugar (& I’m very low on natural sugars, too), coffee, or alcohol. Most of you are asking, “What do you eat? Nothing good…” Well, that’s hardly true. Let me tell you, I’ve never eaten so many vegetables in my life. This has been a very good change. If you read Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book EAT TO LIVE, you’ll learn (if it hasn’t already occurred to you) that most of the nutrients available to us are found in plants. Calorie for calorie, you get a heckuva lot more out of 100 calories of broccoli than from 100 of beef. You’ll get vitamins (& protein!), without jacking up your bad cholesterol or clogging your intestines. But I digress.

So, I’m currently on Martha’s Vineyard (off the coast of Massachusetts) on a singing gig. (See my website for more info on that.) I spent a small fortune on groceries, but everything is expensive here, so I was at least expecting it. I’m pretty proud of myself, too. I’ve been making much better use of my produce here than I generally do in NYC. There, my hubs & I buy lovely produce, but then life happens & the asparagus goes bad. Next thing you know, you’ve lost the rest of the kale, and forget about the poor bananas.

(Speaking of bananas, one of the first steps I took toward ramping up my veggie intake was buying a NutriBullet. Best $100 I ever spent. (Well, $80, because I had a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon. Wahoo!) Anyway, all of a sudden I was eating spinach or kale for breakfast everyday. Mix that with a few berries & half a banana & some nuts and unsweetened soy or almond milk, and you don’t even know you’re drinking spinach!)

Going from a vaguely gluten-free diet to a grain-free diet has also kept me from snacking between meals on anything that isn’t a vegetable. Sure, it would be cheaper & easier to make myself a pb&j sandwich everyday, or even just a sandwich, but I’m so much happier & better off without the bread (& pretty much all that comes with it – refined flour, yeast & sugar, for starters…). Eating homemade salads or other vegetable-based meals (and adding digestive enzymes after every meal) has reduced the post-meal bloating I usually experience. It has controlled my sugar cravings. And some crazy dreams aside, it has improved my sleep and my stress response. Huzzah!

You see, 2010 was a rough year for my immune system. My stress level was high & my refined sugar consumption was out of control. I had also packed on significant weight, and suffered several sinus infections. The proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back was a double-whammy of sinus infections over Christmas & New Year’s, with back-to-back antibiotics to match. Even after all the meds, I had the worst phlegm in my throat & I couldn’t sing through it. I was losing the bottom part of my voice, & it hurt to talk. I went to an acupuncturist who was recommended by two good friends, and she took one look at my tongue (as they do, in Chinese medicine) and said that I had a major Candida overgrowth. I immediately gave up sugar, processed foods, coffee & fermented things, & within 3 months the Candida was under control. Oh, and (without exercising) I had lost 31 pounds. My body was finally free of the toxins I had been willingly swallowing every day! And then one day, I fell off the wagon. Apparently, I wasn’t ready yet to give myself, or to accept, the gift of optimal health. I share this personal info with the hope that I might reach one reader out there who has struggled with sugar addiction on similar symptoms of Candida overgrowth. You deserve optimal health too, and you can achieve it. Seek out a naturopath or nutritionist if any of this sounds familiar & you’re ready to change your life.

Two & a half years later, my system is still über-sensitive to sugar. I’m finally reading the sugar content of any prepared food before I buy it (& then putting most of it back on the shelf), because sugar affects my voice. Now, not everybody’s insides are as sensitive as mine. Most days, I wish I could eat whatever I want without repercussion. But I’ve finally gotten to a place where I would rather feel amazing than eat a food that’s toxic to me just because it tastes good. I’m hoping that someday I’ll get my intestinal flora back on track & will be able to enjoy the occasional vegan, GF cupcake, but for now, I’d rather be able to reach my artistic potential. If maintaining my overall & my vocal health means foregoing fruit & other sweets, so be it. I’ve found an amazing vegan protein powder (only 2g of sugar!!) that satisfies my chocolate cravings without aggravating my throat, plus it’s full of probiotics, greens, & other nutrients. If you’re on the market, check out Vega’s All-in-One protein powders. Amazing.

On the singing front, rehearsals are going well, and the show opens next Friday. Our opening night gala is sold out, and the cast has created quite a buzz on the island by singing at a handful of private parties. It’s truly an exceptional cast, and we’re planning on knocking this thing out of the park next weekend. I’ve taken advantage of our rare days off by using them as restoratively as possible. I’ve spent the day in my pj’s, crossing items off my to-do list (like completing preliminary exercises before my coursework starts at IIN(TM) in September, and finishing this blog post, which I started last week…sorry, I’m still getting the hang of this). I even treated myself to a much-needed deep tissue massage. (Shout out to Chelsey at Eclipse Massage Therapy. Thanks for the house call!)

To stay on track with my nutrition, I’ve been packing my lunch & taking healthy snacks along to rehearsals. Once I get back to the city & my day job, I’ll have to work a little harder to keep it up, but it’ll be well worth the effort. For starters, think of all the money I’ll save!!!

Well, it’s time to start thinking about dinner. I have a beautiful head of island-grown Boston leaf lettuce, & am contemplating a trip to Larsen’s Fish Market for some fresh catch. (The striped bass I bought on Thursday was out of this world!!!) You see, it isn’t hard to eat wellthfully (I just made that up – it means “well & healthfully”). It just takes simple preparation and the freshest ingredients you can find. Do your body a favor tonight, and pile those leafy greens onto your plate. By all means, combine with protein or a starchy vegetable. Keep your meal as simple as possible, and drink an extra glass or two of water this evening. Your body will thank you…

Don’t forget to chew your food. 😉

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