What We Eat
Well, this is sort of our least favorite question in allllll the world. And it's not because we're possessive of diet secrets — it's the exact opposite: we don't believe there are diet secrets. As popular as Whole 30 or Paleo or Keto or whatever-diet-of-the-moment is, there's not one magic diet that works for everyone. It's not a competition of who can maintain the strictest diet for the longest time, or who can eat the most. We should all strive to have the most inclusive diet we possibly can and be okay if it doesn't line up with anyone else's! The process of finding what works for your diet is fluid, which is why it's so important to learn to listen to your body and recognize your specific needs.
Think of it this way: your skin and my skin are totally different. The same products that work for you aren't going to work for me. That's just common knowledge! Why do we think diets are any different? Our digestive systems are all different, and the most important thing we've learned is that we all need different things — and even our own bodies need different things at different times. Which makes following diets super tricky, but also allows for a lot of freedom.
This philosophy not only allows for change when our bodies change, but it also allows for diversity and an end to the small-minded, judgmental attitude that says "My diet is better than yours." Diets aren't prescriptive. We can't tell you what your body needs, only you can do that. And it takes time and practice to learn how to listen to your body, so be patient!
What Caley Eats
I've tried a LOT of diets: GAPS, Whole 30, AIP, Paleo, Keto, SCD, FODMAPS... and for all that, the thing that works best for me is simple: eating whole, plant-based foods and minimal sugar (no processed, restricted natural sugars). My diet closely aligns with Paleo, but it's not as protein-heavy, and I eat some legumes (chickpeas) and organic white rice. I jokingly call it the Caley-o Diet (cringe).
There are certain things I know help my body, as well as certain things that trigger my digestive issues, like raw cauliflower and celery. Wine takes me about 3 days to get over, but gin and tequila are fine on occasion. I do best when I am eating a good amount of fats each day, and keto doesn't work for me because my body needs a few extra carbs from veggies and fruits. Things I only figured out by trial-and-error, and paying careful attention to my body's signs by keeping a food journal.
What Katey Eats
When I look back, the start of my food journey really began in Culinary school. My 18-year-old self was learning a lot about foods I had never eaten or cooked with. I found joy in experimenting with new ingredients. And I chopped enough mise en place (chef term for food prep) to challenge most line cooks today.
After my first surgery, I got a job as a chef for Richard Joseph Salon and Spa in Mountain Brook. I worked with my BFF, April, and we served up breakfast, lunch, and afternoon hors d'oeuvres. April introduced me to couscous, wild rice, turkey burgers, juicing, almond milk, agave, and a lot of other healthier options. That job really taught me the art of adapting recipes, and also that real food was really GOOD.
Over the years, as different health issues were tossed my way, I began looking to my diet to heal, supplement, and alleviate my changing body. I spent years going through a slow elimination process. It’s only in the past two years that my diet has become more of a lifestyle choice, rather than a "why can't I" or "just this once" battle.
Today, I essentially stick to the below. Like the "Caley-o" diet, it's specific to my needs, as every diet should be. With all my cancer scares, I have come to realize that my body will not process estrogen in any way, so avoiding foods that mimmic or raise estrogen levels is a key factor to my food plan.
How to create your ideal diet
Even though we will all arrive at different places for what works for our bodies, we've found that the process for finding what works is similar across the board. We like to start with an elimination diet. An elimination diet (ex: Whole 30, AIP, GAPS Intro Diet, etc.) strategically eliminates specific groups or types of foods in your diet with the goal of resetting and healing your digestive system. Then, you slowly (very slowly) add foods while monitoring your body's responses, from obvious reactions (constipation, diarrhea) to not obvious ones (sleep quality, headaches, brain fog, fatigue). We recommend starting with the most basic diet possible that's healthy for your body and your mind, and keeping a food journal as you introduce foods to see what helps and what hurts.
We've both done a lot of experimenting with our diets, and each of us have different restrictions, but we agree on a lot, too. Here's what we recommend for everyone trying to live a healthier lifestyle:
- Real Food Always: Nothing processed or artificial. Ever. Processed foods contain endocrine disruptors and additives out the WAZOO! Buy organic, non-GMO as much as financially feasible. Check out the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen for what you can/can't skimp on when buying organic.
- Diversify: Eat mostly vegetables and a variety of different veggies. This helps you get more of the vitamins/nutrients your body needs.
- Healthy Fats: Coconut oil, coconut butter, avocado, almond oil, cod liver oil, nuts, nut butters, chia seeds (limited), sesame seeds. Fats feed your brain and curb cravings!
- Limited Starch: White rice, potato, cassava, arrowroot.
- Probiotics: Pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut yogurt, olives, kvass. These help your microbiome health, skin, and stronger immune function.
- Filtered water. We prefer the Berkey Water Filtration System.
- Organic Meat Only: This is one thing we won't budge on. For us, sustainably raised livestock is not only an issue of keeping out excess hormones, but also an issue of sustainability. We really want to be good stewards of our bodies and the earth.
- No Wheat (Over 50% of the population has a gluten/wheat/ancient grains intolerance!)
- Limited to No Dairy (Less than 50% of the population is sensitive to dairy)
- No Soy
- No Corn
- Limited Legumes (Caley eats chickpeas, Katey does not!)
- No Processed Sugar, Limited Natural Sugars
- Limited Alcohol
How to Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman
It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
WomanCode by Alisa Vitti (great for supporting your hormones!)