Thursday, May 22, 2014

Some Pretty Talented Kids

Students at our mission's school come from many different missions and even more different countries.  A certain percentage of the students are not from missionary families, but their parents work at Embassies or in business.  I've been able to attend two events recently that I thoroughly enjoyed and that show what a talented bunch of kids we have (not to mention what a dedicated and influential staff we have!).

The first event I went to was a Talent Show.  I didn't get many pictures as I was pretty far back and the darkness of the room made it pretty challenging.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, I sure noticed how out of touch I am with current pop culture.  And my kids have only been out of the nest for five years!

The next event I went to was a combination art display/school play.  The art classes and sewing class had their creations displayed outside on the quad for all the parents and guests to admire.  

See what I mean about a talented bunch of kids at the school?!

The play the drama class put on was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  They did an excellent job with simple scenes.  

Would you like some Turkish Delight?
Dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver
It was a very fun evening.  It's also fun to see the kids that I've watched grow up now as the big kids at the school.
Aslan talks to Peter

The White Witch thinks she has won over Aslan

Monday, May 12, 2014

Another Look at What I Eat

Just for starters.....Friday night I went to a talent show at Sahel Academy.  There were refreshments at intermission and I stuck to the popcorn (not buttered), bypassing all the delicious looking sweets.  And then on Saturday I went to a bridal shower and there were lots and lots of sweets being served and I DIDN'T TAKE ANY!  Woo! hoo!  That's an accomplishment for me.  Thankfully there were raw veggies, pasta salad, popcorn, and deviled eggs.

A few years ago the doctor told me that I have a very mild case (is that the right word?) of hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain important hormones.  Symptoms may include fatigue, weight gain and the inability to lose weight, feeling cold (boy, I wish that would happen here!), constipation, dry skin, and hair loss.  When you have it as mildly as I do, you may not even have many noticeable symptoms. 

This past week I googled something like "hypothyroidism and weight loss".  What I found was quite interesting.  

First off, I've heard a lot about eating unlimited amounts of "zero calorie" foods.  These are healthy fruits and vegetables that take more calories to digest than the food actually contains, so in theory if you eat a lot of these you should lose weight. They include things like cabbage, broccoli, and spinach. So, for example, I love cole slaw and I make it with very little mayo, so it's a low calorie food.  I would make a big bunch of it and eat it for lunch every day or for a salad with my evening meal.  

Then I found out that people with thyroid disease should not eat raw "goitrogenic" vegetables because they function like an anti-thyroid drug and slow down the thyroid even more.  Hypothyroid means that the thyroid is slow and eating a lot of goitrogenic foods slows it down even more.  Some common goitrogenic foods are the cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and spinach.  Other goitrogenic foods are millet, cassava, pine nuts, and peanuts.  Thankfully all of these are still on the diet if they are cooked and eaten in moderation.  Except millet.  (Which, by the way, explains why so many people here have goiters.... the local salt is not iodized and millet is the staple food....).  Apparently even cooking millet does not remove the properties that slows down the thyroid.

Soy is most likely a goitrogen, too, and it is not recommended that people with thyroid disease eat soy, unless it is cooked.

Everything I read said that avocados and coconut, coconut milk, and coconut oil are good saturated fats for those with thyroid disease.  (Of course, one must still be careful to not exceed the fat allowance for the day!)  The saturated fats may actually stimulate thyroid function.

You shouldn't drink coffee  (not that I would ever drink coffee!) or orange juice after taking your medicine.

It's important to have salt in your diet and extremely important that it's iodized.  Other foods high in iodine include kelp, milk, eggs, and raisins.

It's also recommended to avoid wheat and gluten since hypothyroidism is also an auto-immune disease.  I'm not sure I'm prepared to go completely gluten free.  Also, John needs a high calorie diet and without pasta I'm not sure he can keep up his calories.

Lots of fiber from fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts are also essential as is drinking a lot of water.

Lots of protein is necessary and it's better to stick to three meals a day instead of the five to six mini meals that some people recommend.

This week I made a big batch of hummus and have been eating that with pita bread.  
That gives me a high fiber, high protein lunch.  I also bought an avocado and have been enjoying that.

I found this recipe for a coconut milk milkshake:
Coconut Vanilla Chai Milkshake
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 frozen banana
6 coconut milk ice cubes
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Whirl in a blender until smooth.

So, I followed the recipe exactly and it was way too thick and the consistency kind of made you want to gag.  So I tried again, this time with only two coconut milk ice cubes and the rest regular ice cubes made from water. I added some grated coconut, too. Then I froze it and ate it like ice cream.  
That was MUCH better!  This gives me a dessert that doesn't have sugar in it!  Again, one must watch calories with this.  The coconut milk is about 223 calories and the banana is 109 calories, so it is around 330 calories and 24.1 grams of fat, but no cholesterol.

I also found this great-looking recipe.   Doesn't that look good? Skip the cheese and use creamy avocado instead! Healthier and tastes amazing! (vegan)  And good for thyroid health.

And here's a recipe for a chick pea avocado spread that looks delicious, too.Chick pea/avocado spread

Has anybody else who has thyroid disease found any diet or eating tricks that have improved your health and helped you lose weight?

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar

I LOVE sugar!  I have a sweet tooth that I believe must have been inherited from my Grandma.  We used to wonder if when none of us were around she ate only cookies.  I love cookies, cake, and pie.  I love lots of brown sugar on my oatmeal.  Bread with jam.....well, let's just say you shouldn't be able to see the bread under the jam.  And I love Coke, especially the Coke we get here that's made with sugar not with corn syrup.  Oh, and candy.  Pretty much any kind of candy, but especially if it's chocolate.  Left to my own devices, I would probably be like my Grandma and eat a well-rounded diet of cookies and other sweets!  

Ironically, I don't like super sweet drinks, like juice, Kool-Aid, and the way hibiscus juice is made by many people.

However, I do know how bad sugar is for you.  I've also been trying to lose a little weight.  So, I decided to cut out sugar while John is gone and see how it goes.  It's easier when he's not here because when he's here I make him cookies and so on.  I decided my exception would be that I would have cake on coffee break day at the office.

So far I've done pretty well.  I'm drinking my tea without any sugar.... I was down to one teaspoon in my tea anyway, so I'm not sure if this is a change I'll keep or not.

I haven't had any sugar in my oatmeal.  I do put raisins in my oatmeal, so that makes it bearable.  As long as I can have raisins, I probably won't go back to adding sugar.  No sugar on my fonio (a grain found locally) porridge, though, is asking a bit much.  So I've been adding a teaspoon of honey.  I can live with that.  I already eat my yogurt without sugar and my granola does have a bit of honey and brown sugar in it, but per serving it can't be much.

I haven't drunk one single Coke the whole time John has been gone....three more weeks to go.  Honestly, this has been the hardest.  It's hot and a cold Coke would sure hit the spot.  I have some serious cravings for a Coke some days!

I've also had some cravings for chocolate candy and for ice cream (which we normally don't eat any way, so I don't know why I'm craving it!).

So, have I cheated at all?  Well, one week we had Area Council meetings for three days in a row and we had coffee break all three days.  So, that was kind of a stretch to the "coffee break rule".  My neighbors brought me Hot Cross Buns for Easter and yes, I ate them, and yes, they were amazing.  I went to a ladies' retreat and they passed around cookies and I kind of felt like I needed to participate.  And today at church there was a baby presentation and then afterwards the family served sandwiches, popcorn, and a small piece of cake.  So, I ate that. 

Sadly, none of this sugar reduction and the calorie counting I'm also doing has resulted in much weight loss.  I have some thoughts on that, but that will be for the next post.