Sunday, February 17, 2019

Salads Make Me Fat … My Journey Into ‘Dieting’ & How That Didn’t Work For Me

Credits: Taylor Kiser @
Hello, beautiful people!

I first have to apologize because this blog post was supposed to reach you last Sunday … but I was with a huge cold last Sunday after I had overhauled my entire wardrobe using Marie Kondo’s KonMari method (I’ll tell you more on that in another post as I’m still applying those techniques to my entire house).

So, we’re back on track – fingers crossed this now lasts! You know me and plans, LOL.

You might be wondering, after reading my title, what on Earth I’m rambling about. Because everyone knows that when you want to lose weight, you opt for a salad, dressing on the side or even no dressing at all!

I thought the same, too. But I was wrong!

Let me take you back to sometime around September 2017. I had this maxi-length shirtdress that I loved to wear when going out – it had a drawstring waist that I kept pretty loose because I hate belted clothes as they just make my arse pop out too much. So, this dress wasn’t tight by any means … but one day when I was going out with my mother and I’d worn that dress, it was tight on my hips and midsection. Cue me going ‘Gaaaahhhh!’ and vowing to do everything to lose that weight (I did know how it had settled into place, though. Almost no exercise and worse, no movement in the past couple of months because I’d been at my desk almost 24/7).

Now you got the context – my usually-loose size 40 EUR & 10 US MNG jeans being tight to button on me – let’s move to what I did to lose this weight. I started working out some more, even if just doing a set of pushups every morning, and of course, food! I wasn’t eating enough veggies if the guidelines were to be believed, and fruit, let’s not even go there: most fruits, the smell alone, makes me gag. Thus, I found myself diligently, every evening, eating a salad of the type you see above in the picture (a supermarket we were going to back then had these salad tubs all ready with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, grated carrots, julienned peppers, black olives, and feta cheese cubes). I’d usually just add some salt and pepper and that was dinner. Cue me getting ready to watch those pounds and inches fade off!

Except, they didn’t fade off! Actually, I blew up almost like a fugu fish in my midsection – the only time I had looked this much like I was lugging a wine barrel around my belly was when I had been 7-9 months pregnant with my son! And let’s not even talk about the muffin top, and how I wasn’t getting into any of my jeans!

What was I doing wrong? By this point, we’re already January of 2018, and I’m frantically looking at everything that give me a solution. By chance, I landed on this Indian nutritionist, Rujuta Diwekar. Yes, she is hyped as ‘nutritionist’ to the Bollywood stars, but she also actually speaks a lot of sense and it’s not just ‘I did this for that client, and that for this other client’ and name-dropping all along. Anywayz, ye all know I am of Indian heritage, aka my ancestors 3-4 generations ago were living in India as Indians with the traditional Indian lifestyle. So Ms. Diwekar’s eye-opening revelation was that we all are products of our origins and heritage – for example, I am of Indian heritage so an Indian-type diet would better suit me, as opposed to, say, my bestie who is of Mediterranean origin. My fat of choice that would work best for me, then, is desi ghee, while hers would be extra virgin olive oil.

And ye all know that the most well-known science of food and lifestyle from India is Ayurveda. Hello, I am of Indian heritage, so what best than an Indian system to help me understand my constitution and health?

Cue me getting into Ayurveda books and research … and lo and behold, it turns out that Ayurveda doesn’t really push for eating raw food, esp. vegetables as in the typical salad we’ve been told is good for us. Apparently, raw vegetables are inherently cold foods and it takes a lot of internal digestive fire to process this cold food … and would you be surprised when I tell you that, according to Ayurveda ‘types’ upon which they base every recommendation, I am already a ‘cold’ constitution type with a very fragile and weak digestive fire? (In other words, I veer more towards Kapha – I suffer mostly from an imbalance of too much ‘cold’ in me and I need to eat and live for enhancing the already weak fire inside me – I’ll do another post soon with more details on my journey through Ayurveda and all it has taught me).

So, what this means is this – you need digestive fire to process food in your stomach. Logical, right? You’ll need less fire to process hot food (warm and/or spicy) and way more fire to process something cold (say, ice-cold drinks, ice cream, and yes, raw vegetables, esp. cold ones like salads). With less fire available, foods might not be digested properly, leading to a range of intestinal discomfort like bloating and gas and all that not-so-lovely hoop-la.

What was happening to me when I ate salads? I wasn’t digesting them properly, and on top of me not assimilating my food well, I was bloating and getting all sorts of weird in my digestive system because of that.

How do I know this was the cause? Because I stopped eating salads from that point on … and my almost-7-months-pregnant/wine-barrel-belly simply deflated! Just like that! Even my size EUR 38/US 8 MANGO/MNG jeans were starting to feel loose on me. The other EUR 40/US 10 one – well, there are days when I do feel more comfy in that; I won’t lie and brag by saying I don’t get fugu days anymore!

Now what have I been getting at all this time? That conventional ‘wisdom’ might not actually be wise counsel, after all. They say you’ll lose all nutrients in your veggies if you cook them – but what they don’t tell you is that some people are just not wired to process raw & uncooked veggies. They say you need to eat so many portions of fruits and veg each day – I say debatable again. I never eat fruit (and yes, you might say I got cancer twice) but that hasn’t killed me yet.
And instinctively, I’ve never been the fruits and veggies/salad-type of gal. I remember the actual beating I’d take (think a thin wood rod to the calves – did hurt like a mother— though!) as a kid when I refused to eat the apples my mum used to peel and cut after every dinner (half the time, they tasted awful to me, like they just burst into dry powder and weren’t juicy stuff at all, and other thing, you’re supposed to eat fruit on an empty stomach, not after an already heavy meal!). I love eating ‘dead’ veggie salads like coleslaw, though, and funnily enough, I don’t have any issue with eating coleslaw! Veggies just weren’t for me …

… and nothing compounded this notion better than when I landed on a video by Dr Stephen R. Gundry (author of The Plant Paradox), in which he stated that a lot of stuff we consider good for us is actually harmful – just because something is edible doesn’t mean it has to be eaten! He drew my attention on the fact that some plants and their edible parts contain something called Lectins which are actually like poison (some insects might eat a tomato and drop dead right after) and if not toxic, bad for the human system.

There are lectins in veggies of the nightshade family – tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, among others … and I used to eat a lot of these thinking they were healthy, and once I reckoned this idea of lectins, I paused and asked myself if these veggies were really doing me good. Turns out, no – my body just didn’t feel right after eating those. Bloating, heavy stomach, indigestion, this feeling of food on your stomach and not digesting and still there hours later? That’s what I get when I eat stuff from the nightshade family. Same with beans (high in lectins, too!) and grains (I actually feel sick when I try to eat multi-grain bread!)

Now, am I saying ‘stop eating veggies altogether?’ Hell no! But you gotta find what works for you! Remember I mentioned the ‘dead’ coleslaw above? I have no issues at all eating cruciferous vegetables, cooked usually, or else like in coleslaw. And would you believe the coincidence – I’ve had breast cancer, and I have very high levels of oestrogen/estrogen in my system … and what is recommended for this state of affairs? Cruciferous vegetables! We’re talking of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and this is all stuff I can eat tons of, enjoy it, love the feeling it gives me, and knowing it is inherently doing me good.

If you are to take something from this post, make it this – not everything that is ‘supposed’ to work well or be good for you is actually what works well and/or is good for you.

I’ll give you an example – my husband was having a lot of issues with his hands. The knuckles and then the very skin on the tips of his finger pads were splitting open and remaining raw and sometimes bleeding, too. We tried everything – changed dishwashing liquid, bathing soap, got him to wear gloves in the kitchen when he did the dishes, applied ointment, steroid cream given by the dermatologist. Nothing worked. I don’t recall how, but one day, he ate some Indian pickles that had a lot of garlic in them (think really pungent garlicky stuff!), and less than an hour later, his fingertips had split open! It was a Eureka! moment – and we watched for any other occurrence … and indeed, anytime he ate something with garlic in it, his hands would get raw once again!

But wait, you’ll tell me – garlic is good for you. I’m not saying it’s bad, but just that it isn’t that much of a good thing in my husband’s case when eaten too much.

Which brings me to – moderation. Anything, in moderation, might be okay. But where it differs for everyone is what level is your best level of moderation? Question that, poke and prod the status quo, don’t just take things as gospel because ‘they’ said it. Go and do your research, read up, but most of all, listen to what your body is telling you! Believe me, there is always that little voice telling you something – you just have to stop and pay attention to it.

Tell me – have you ever found that something ‘good’ was actually bad for you?

From Mauritius with love,



Kathy Bosman said...

This is so true, Zee. Everyone's body is different. I'm so glad you found what works for you and listened to your body.

The worst health decision I made in my life was to go on the paleo diet. I had started to put on weight in my late thirties after being skinny my whole life. I was panicking. So, a lady I knew told me how much weight she and her family had lost on the paleo diet. I went onto Mark's Daily Apple (his website on paleo) and got sucked into the cult! Yes, it literally is a cult. I was on it for 2 1/2 years and it made me so sick, but I was brainwashed, so carried on. I ate veggies, and veggies, and salad and meat (even though I've never really liked meat much and always favour cooked veggies). I lost weight initially, but then it started creeping back. I eventually realised it was harming me and broke it. But then I went up three dress sizes. I've never been able to get rid of the extra weight. It did something to my metabolism. I used to be able to run ten kilometers before I went on that diet. I now eat partly vegetarian and high-carb. That's what works for me. I'm also gluten intolerant and cannot drink milk or eat yoghurt, etc. I'm so much better without milk, yet can strangely eat butter and cheese. I really miss ice cream though! Now some people can do full-on vegetarian. That's not for me either. I tried it for six months and got sick.

You have to follow your intuition and eat what works for you. And moderation. Everything in moderation!

Strange you don't like fruit. My oldest son has never liked fruit much. Even as a baby he used to spit out the purity fruit purees. The only fruit he'll eat are strawberries, watermelon, and apples. He won't touch anything else.

Zee Monodee said...

Oh my gosh, Kathy! That sounds like a nightmare! I tried Paleo a few years ago, and found out it doesn't work for me. I literally feel like throwing up when I eat something with no or low carbs. High carb is what works for me, too.

I think it could be a strange occurrence that happens to us women as we get into our thirties and beyond. I had almost no issue with food before - my teenage son eats everything and anything at any time and he doesn't have any issue with it. I used to be like that, but as I got older, I found things not agreeing with me. It could be okay in moderation, but more than that, nope. Like ice cream - I can eat a spoonful and savour it, but any more and I start wheezing.

Everyone IS different, in the end - there is no 'one size fits all' in nutrition!

Kathy Bosman said...

I know! I used to eat anything as a kid and young woman!