Diet trends (and tempeh tacos)

I’m going to start out this post with something happy and light-hearted, because it’s about to get real serious up in here.

I cooked up another recipe from Veganomicon last night: Baja Tempeh Tacos.

YUM. Like every dish from this cookbook, these tacos were awesome!

You’ll have to check out the book or do some Googlingย  for the official recipe, as it is not listed on the PPK site.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Basically, the recipe calls for 3 components:

– Tempeh, which is marinated in beer and various spices (I also threw soybeans and black beans into the mix, because I only had about 1/3 of a package of tempeh) and fried (I ground it all up and sauteed it in a little olive oil.)

– Lime Crema, which calls for soy yogurt, but I used Fage 0% plain, and is mixed with lime juice, salt, cilantro and avocado oil (I used olive oil)

– Slaw, containing shredded cabbage, carrot, pickled jalepenos (which I didn’t have and used chili powder instead) and apple cider vinegar

I also made a quick salsa fresca using avocado, tomato, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, garlic + salt. We made a little assembly line on the dinner table:

I had some roasted squash mixed with garlic + cumin + chili powder on the side and Greg had jasmine rice. This is beer that we used for the marinade, and the rest was consumed with dinner. ๐Ÿ™‚

I am loving making my way through this cookbook- can ya tell?


Onto the next topic.

Guess what I did yesterday… I quit Weight Watchers!

Let me clarify- I canceled my membership because I have been paying $40 a month to go to meetings, and haven’t been to even weigh in at a center since November. I prefer to weigh-in first thing in the morning, and the hours of the weigh-in center don’t fit my schedule, as I’m already at work long before they open. I have been logging my food using eTools, because I think it’s helpful. I’m not good with writing stuff down on paper, but give me an app or a website, and I’m game. I noticed on the website that it was incredibly cheaper to just pay for eTools and do WW online like I have been. I was waiting until the end of the month to cancel my membership, because my account is auto-debited at the beginning of each month. I am planning to register a new account to just pay for WW online, but I’m using this week to decide if it will really be helpful.

Here’s my thought about Weight Watchers: I think that it can be incredibly helpful for someone that is trying to lose weight and is not already eating “healthy” foods. I like that the newer versions of Weight Watchers stress the importance of filling up on vegetables, fruits and whole grains, rather than just using all of your points for one big crappy food item.

For me personally, I have not seen a lot of success with Weight Watchers. My eating has not changed very much, and I always stay well withing my Points range. Since I started the program in November, I’ve lost about 2.5 lbs. I’ve followed all of the “rules” for the program, but clearly, something just isn’t working for me. Oh, and that 2.5 weight loss that I “toot-tooted” about last week? It was gone when I stepped on the scale a week later (I had gained it back). Really, I didn’t let it bother me though, because the scale can say one thing one day, and something else the next. So obviously, following the WW plan hasn’t really helped me, and I don’t want to keep shelling out money for it. But- if I find that I eat worse this week because I’m not logging my food intake (or points), I’ll sign up for the online thing.

I’m still taking photos of every meal/snack/bite, because that DOES help me cut back on mindless eating big time.

The bottom line is, with my lifestyle, there is no reason that I should be gaining any weight, period. I eat healthy and exercise, I don’t binge, I don’t drink much. I occasionally have a higher calorie meal, but that should easily be balanced by the amount of calories I burn in the gym. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that occasionally I write a post where I complain about my struggles with losing weight and that it just seems so much harder than me than everyone else. I am dying to get to a point where I can figure out the “key” to solving this mystery, and I’ve been searching for three years now.

I’ve been hearing about a few different diet trends lately, and started to do (a very little bit of) research. My friend/trainer Ken posted something on Facebook the other day asking if anyone had tried the “eat for your blood type diet.” I had heard of it, but really knew nothing about it, except that it listed specific foods to eat and avoid based on your blood type. I did a little Googling, and found a few interesting bits of information.

I learned that my blood type is “O” when I donated blood in the fall. (Seriously, until then, I had no idea.) This page gives an outline of some special characteristics for type O’s. Now, I can look at that page and identify with a couple of things that are listed to be typical for O’s. But, I can also look at the list for A’s and B’s and identify with just as much. Upon exploring the site a little further, I found that it says that Type O’s should eat a diet based heavily on animal proteins and avoid gluten and legumes. I once ate gluten-free for 3 months as part of an elimination diet experiment and saw no benefits. It actually just made me cranky and bitter and not any thinner.

I found a similar eating plan when researching the Paleo diet. When I first heard of the basic principles of the Paleo diet, I thought it sounded intriguing. My first thoughts were that it focused on eating “real” foods, rather than processed crap. But, the Paleo diet actually advises you to eat mostly high fat, animal proteins, nuts, no dairy (except heavy cream and butter!) and low carbs. Sounds a lot like Atkins to me! It also discourages calories counting (okay) and portion control (whhhhhaaaat???) I know that a lot of people have been raving about this diet lately, but it is definitely not something I could follow. While I definitely agree with the “rules” that you should try to eliminate stress, eat when you feel hungry and not over-exercise, I just can’t get down with a diet that bashes legumes and oats.

For the last few years, I have tried to follow Michael Pollan’s philosophies from the book Food Rules. This isn’t a “diet” plan per se, it’s just a list of “rules” of what to eat (and how to eat it) and what to avoid. He says it best in the beginning: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Pollan advises to know where your food comes from, first and foremost, and to eat foods in their purest form. This makes a lot of sense to me. Eating a bunch of high-fat animal proteins does not. Plus, my body feels better (and lighter) when I eat more vegetables and proteins in the form of legumes or other plant-based sources.

There are many similar books that stress eliminating any animal products whatsoever (and eating vegan), in which the authors brag about how amazing they feel, how clear their skin is, and how much energy they have.

With all of these conflicting opinions about which diet “works,” how is anyone supposed to know what’s right?

The main thing I want to stress here is that I am not looking for any type of elimination diet. I know that I could drop 5 lbs. in a week if I cut out carbs, but I’m not interested in a quick fix. I would not be able to (or want to and should not) live a life with no grains or sugar, and really do think that the key is choosing the right carbs. If I cut out any of these things, I would gain weight back immediately once I started eating them again. And that is the most heart-breaking thing of all (gaining back weight that you worked so hard to lose). No, thank you.

I really need to read the copy of Intuitive Eating that I bought last year. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m curious: has anyone heard of any other “revolutionary” diet plan? Or have you tried the ones that I listed above? I’d love to know your feedback!


22 Comments on “Diet trends (and tempeh tacos)”

  1. I quit Weight Watchers at the end of 2011 and I agree that it’s perfect for people who don’t know about healthy eating and potion control. I think that losing weight is more than numbers or food you eat or exercise. There are hormonal issues, emotional issues, etc. I know you really want to lose weight. Do you think it’s possible that you are focusing too hard on losing weight? The last 10-20lbs are the hardest to lose and maybe if you just let yourself be for a few weeks (without worrying about the scale or weight loss) you might feel better both physically and emotionally. I know it’s super hard! I’m trying to lose weight too but I have 60lbs to lose (the first couple of pounds come off fairly easily). But maybe if you take a weight loss break, you might be refreshed and not stressing yourself out. I don’t want to be overbearing or judgemental. I just want to see you happy and healthy ๐Ÿ™‚ At the end of the day, you need to do what will make you happy and healthy!

    I also highly recommend you read Intuitive Eating ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Lauren says:

      I’ve tried “not to focus on it” and it just made me gain even more weight. It’s frustrating at times because it seems like there’s no answer (but I’m confident that ONE day I will figure it out!).
      I know I’m healthy and fit and I’m grateful for that. I just want to be in a body that I feel reflects my hard work and lifestyle, and that I feel comfortable in. And it’s definitely not about numbers- I just sometimes like to use the scale as a measure for progress (although how my clothing fits is the number one indicator!)

      • Ah, I understand your frustration! I wish I had a magical answer for you and for all of us. I wish that I could wave a magic wand and make these insane societal pressures of being super skinny disappear. I honestly believe that that pressure is a huge part of why we women struggle so much with our weight and often go to extremes to either fit that mold, blow off the the mold, or spend our lives fighting to fit it. I’m just going to give you a huge internet hug because I understand all your frustration and anger. And I believe with all my heart that you can get through this to your happy weight!

  2. Ellie says:

    I feel like over the years I’ve tried every diet on the planet. (In reality, I probably haven’t, but it feels that way.) It wasn’t until I was recently diagnosed with poly cystic ovary syndrome and started seeing a nutritionist that I’ve had any success losing weight. I come from a big family that loves to have fily get-togethers based solely around eating polish foods so I never really learned about healthy foods or portion control. You know me in real life, so clearly, you see where that’s taken me.

    My nutritionist wrote a book “the PCOS diet plan” (Hillary Wright) and in my whole life, it’s the only thing I’ve been able to follow. The first week and a half was brutal. I felt starving all the time and I was very discouraged. So discouraged that I found myself sobbing ย on the couch thinking I couldn’t possibly do this. I kept with it, and 3 weeks later I’m feeling really great. I feel like I might be starting to see a change in my physical appearance, but definitely a change in my energy level. I plan to pick up my swimming again and start walking to more places. In the future, I may start taking a few recipes from your blog.. But small steps first ๐Ÿ™‚

    Overall, I’m not sure you’d much benefit from the same eating plan that I am, because you and I have no similarities in health issues, but this might be helpful to some of your other readers who are trying to make a change for the better.

    • Ellie says:

      Additionally.. I never tried WW because I’ve always been incredibly embarrassed by the number I knew would come up and I’m not organized enough to calculate out points. I’m more of a secret dieter I guess. Does no good at all.. but I can’t really change what I did in the past.

      • Lauren says:

        Aw, hi Ellie! I was actually tested for PCOS, amongst a million other thing (I don’t have it). I know that if you do, it can majorly effect your ability to lose weight, as your body wants to hold onto fat, and that causes a huge barrier! I would still be interested in learning more about the book, though.
        I’m proud of you for pushing through that first week and getting to where you are now! If you ever want any advice or just need to vent, let me know. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Amanda says:

    I love the Veganomicon cookbook. I’ve been so impressed with every recipe I’ve tried.

    I did WW a few years ago (the online version), after one of my co-workers had success with it. I did end up losing about 8 pounds in only 2 months and it put me at a “happy” weight, but I relied very heavily on things like string cheese, fiber one bars – basically lots of processed, low-cal crap because it was easy to track points. Now that I eat a mostly vegan diet and stay away from most packaged foods, I think the program could be a giant pain in the butt. That said, I do think there’s a lot of good that can come out of food journaling.

    I would personally like to slim down a little and cut back on sugar, but like you, my diet is already fairly healthy and I’m exercising most days. I find that my body likes its current weight (meaning it’s easy to maintain), but my mind would like it to be 10 pounds lighter, if that makes sense. It takes a serious amount of effort on my part to get below my current weight.

    As far as diets/food, I personally find that I feel my best when I’m eating a vegan diet, with lots of fresh produce. One of the things I’ve sort of been tossing around is making an effort to eat more raw meals and big salads. I’d also like to get back into the habit of juicing in the mornings – it sets a good tone for the day.

    • Lauren says:

      It sounds like you and I are at a similar point. ๐Ÿ™‚
      With the old WW, the thing I definitely didn’t like was the pushing of pre-packaged artificial foods- no thanks! The program now focuses a lot more in eating things that are “real.”
      I feel best eating vegan, too. I do eat meat, but really could take it or leave it. Eggs would be the hardest thing for me to give up, and really see no reason to (for me personally.)

  4. I love love love red cabbage on my tacos. My favorite kind!

    As for the diet programs, I’m a WW fan. For some reason it works for me. Although I will say that it worked much better for me on the old plan than the new. What didn’t work for me was when I went back to old habits instead of keeping new habits.

    Have you ever read Jackie Warner’s book or the Spark people book? Both approach eating real food with some constraints on them. I don’t know about following either of these plans full force but they are definitely worth a look.

    • Lauren says:

      I have Jackie’s book. I love it! When I read it, it really inspired me, and I like her philosophies. I followed her plan to the letter when I got it (even having the green tea every night as “dessert”) and really saw no changes with my body. That being said, maybe I should go back and read the book again… it’s been a while. And I have not read the other one.. I’ll add it to the list!

  5. Gil says:

    WW works best for me when I go to the meetings every single week. There is something about being accountable to someone else, having absolute “deadlines” every week, and having a physical paper record in my file that really kicks me into gear and ensures I make good choices every day. Im just using Etools now because of the cost factor, and it does work for me, but I have to have the discipline to stick to it….which can be hard if I know no one is going to be checking in on me.

    • Lauren says:

      I work better with deadlines, definitely. And I would be all for going to weigh in if I could do it at 5 am. Unfortunately, there’s no time that early.
      And the meetings never helped for me, because all of the issues that people talk about, I just can’t related to (like having a hard time resisting junk or fast food). There just didn’t seem to be anyone else like “me.”

      • Read Jen Lancanster’s “Such A Pretty Fat”. It’s the story of how a woman keeps trying to go on a diet and failing. It’s pretty hilarious, truthful, and inspiring. If we get together soon, Lauren, I’ll loan you my copy ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Gil says:

        Maybe some kind of buddy system? Haha, where I went to WW in Brooklyn there were 5 or 6 Polish grandmas trying to figure out how to cook their traditional foods on plan….and they would bust into Polish! I had no idea what was going on…..but the (Jamaican!) meeting leader was really cool and helpful. I bet things would be a little less multinational out here in WV…..
        I hear you though…it gets irritating. I like being in control and its hard to have this one area where I cant seem to take total command.

  6. I don’t like how WW does not emphasize real foods…it’s about points and that’s the problem. Plus a lot of the foods they endorse (and make) have crappy ingredients and are full of chemicals. Blech.

    I say focus on REAL foods as much as possible–the PALEO diet will end as do all diet trends. Let’s be honest, it is not healthy to cut out an entire food group, no matter what anyone says of how our ancestors ate.

    Love your idea of tracking it all online/via apps!

    • Lauren says:

      The WW products are definitely NOT real foods. I never buy anything that they make- but- they do promote eating real foods otherwise much more so than before. I really like the way WW is set up and I know that it can be helpful for about 95% of the population. Unfortunately, my issues and body are just very different and most of it’s due to my screwed up hormonal system.

  7. Corrie Anne says:

    I would definitely be way better with just online tracking too!! I ALMOST like Paleo, but I’m not really ready to go dairy-free. Ever. Lol. For the most part, I generally try to eat mostly “clean.” I know that’s pretty broad, but I’m working on it!! Definitely not perfect. I’ve always had a super hard time with these last 10 pounds that are hanging out on my body. I honestly probably wouldn’t fight it, but I want to maybe become a personal trainer. And I think it would be helpful for that. If for no other reason than that I can identify with the struggle!! Also, I got a Bodybugg for Christmas, and I’ve lost almost 4 pounds in January. That’s really good for me!! I wanted to get a few pounds off before I run a marathon this year!! I haven’t been doing the food logging part. But I have it set on the most difficult level for daily activity! It’s hard to get in! Even with going to the gym every day! Some nights I’m doing extra housework just to get my whole burn in!!!

    • Lauren says:

      Man, I’ve thought about getting a Bodybugg many times. How accurate is it, do you know?
      I definitely eat ‘clean’- I think I just eat too much sometimes.
      And awesome job with the 4 lb weight loss! That is definitely hard for someone at your little size!

  8. Lee says:

    I lost a lot of weight like 8 years ago by eating all processed, sugar-free foods (aka the South Beach Diet). I stopped eating like that….and gained like 15 lbs back. Annoying.

    • Lauren says:

      I hate to admit this, but I lost about 20 lbs in early 2007 from eating sugar-free everything and lots of processed crap. I just can’t go back to eating that way though and have to trust that eating real foods is much better for me!

  9. Tiffany says:

    Those tacos look awesome, it’s been too long since I’ve had some tempeh at home!

    Good for you for listening to your body and quitting WW! I tried it for a couple of months and just couldnt get down with the points system and have had more success with tracking my food on my own.

    • Lauren says:

      I actually really liked the whole tracking thing because I’m nerdy for that kind of stuff. I was following the program 100% and not seeing results, and $40 a month is a lot to pay for something that isn’t helping. I gave it a go for 3 months, can’t say I didn’t try! I’m looking into My Fitness Pal now- it’s free. ๐Ÿ™‚ (I know you appreciate that, my frugalista sista!)

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