My diet and why I don’t eat certain foods but am open to them

My Diet

My diet and why I don't eat certain foods but am open to them

After sharing on Instagram stories yesterday that I don’t eat dairy during the weeks (after freakishly getting a craving for Greek yogurt in the afternoon) and that I don’t eat beef, I got a lot of messages asking me, “Why don’t you?”

So, I figured I would explain my diet a bit and why I choose to eat the way I do!

But first, a What I Ate Today!

What I Ate Today, May 23, 2017

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Breakfast

I started the day off with a Daily Harvest smoothie. They just came out with smoothies with oats in them, so I had the Overnight Oats – Pumpkin Chai – I’ve been meaning to try these varieties. It tastes like a subtle pumpkin pie smoothie, with a little chai note. Loved it! As always, you can enter code INSPIRALIZED to get three free smoothies.

Snack

I had a hard-boiled egg and then OF COURSE, my raw nuts! Same raw nut mixture I always have (pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews) with raisins.

Lunch

After trying these past few weeks to eat more ‘creatively’ for lunch, I have been craving my veggie sandwich, so I gave in. The usual: hummus, avocado, onion, cucumber, carrot, and spinach!

Snack

Literally the world’s most random (and sad-looking) snack, but it was SO good. Just a tablespoon of Wild Friends organic honey sunflower butter in a container of Fage nonfat plain Greek yogurt. I was craving something protein-packed and filling and I was too lazy to go to the store – there’s 18 grams of protein in that yogurt! If I had some raspberries or blueberries, I would’ve added those in, but my fridge was literally empty.

Dinner

BBQ chicken bowls night! I made BBQ chicken, roasted chili sweet potatoes, sauteed kale, homemade pico de gallo, and of course, avocado. Perfect balanced meal!

Dessert

More of my favorite dark chocolate! I ended up eating 3/4 of the bar (Lu had a few squares) while I signed some book plates (and as in some, I mean 1,000+) – I had a random sugar craving and I gave into it! #ithappens

My diet and why I don’t eat certain foods but am open to them

My diet is totally customized to what my body needs, wants, craves, and reacts to. At a specific time. There have been months where I don’t even recognize my appetite, because my body craves foods I wouldn’t normally eat. But guess what? I let myself have those foods.

So today, I’m talking about what my typical diet is like and why I never say never to any food groups.

When I eat & how I eat

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an intuitive eater, because I definitely eat at times when I’m not hungry. I’m a PROACTIVE eater. I know myself and I know that I get bad cases of hanger. If I’m ever hungry, I’m miserable to be around and I end up eating junk or gorging myself at my next chance to eat. SO, if I know I’m, for example, taking a long car ride, I’ll pack snacks or I’ll eat something right before I get in the car, even if I had breakfast an hour or two ago.

Intuitive eating is all about tuning into your body and when it’s hungry, you eat, instead of pre-arranged meal times. I do practice a bit of intuitive eating because even if it’s not one of my scheduled meal times (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner), I will have something to eat if my body is telling me its hungry. That usually means I didn’t feel myself properly.

Typically, I eat on this pattern Monday through Friday:

8/8:30am: Breakfast
10:30/11am: Snack (usually my raw nut mixture)
12:30/1:30pm: Lunch
3pm: Snack (usually fruit, a granola bar, a boiled egg and some grapes, etc)
6pm: I graze a bit as I’m cooking dinner
7:30/8pm: Dinner

Eating in these intervals helps me stay on top of my hunger. Eating JUST three meals a day does not work for me. I’ve tried it for years, and it results in over-eating and frequent hunger. It does work with a lot of people, but I’m not one of them.

What diet do I follow?

None! Well, I follow the Ali Maffucci diet. I eat the foods that I know make ME personally feel the best. The foods that make my skin glow, my energy levels high, my focus at work strong, and my general disposition happy and light.

The foods that DON’T make me feel these happy ways and therefore I avoid are:

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Fried foods
  • Processed foods

The foods that I eat every single week:

  • Fruit – apples, green grapes, cantaloupe, banana, berries
  • Oatmeal
  • Nuts – pecans, walnuts, cashews, almonds
  • Nut & seed butters – almond, peanut, sunflower
  • Quinoa, lentils & beans
  • Avocado
  • Greens – spinach and kale, mostly
  • Vegetables (ie zucchini, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, bell peppers)
  • Veggie burgers
  • Once a week: fish (usually wild caught salmon)
  • Once a week: chicken OR turkey (always organic!)
  • Once a week: eggs

My thoughts on dairy and eggs

Ahhh. The million dollar question.

Dairy is an easier one to address. I think dairy is the worst for you. HOWEVER, because I want to live a happy, unrestricted, somewhat indulgent life (aka enjoy the good things in life), I do eat dairy. As a personal rule, I abstain from dairy at LEAST 5 days a week. Typically, I’ll have dairy on the weekends, some fro-yo after dinner, those glorious nights when we go out for pizza, some manchego and crackers with friends.

I’m not a nutritionist, a doctor, or a registered dietician, so I won’t get all preachy, but if you want clear skin, high energy levels, better digestion, better calcium absorption and other marvelous benefits, ditch the dairy. OR, do what I do – limit it as best as you can.

I eat dairy when I’m absolutely craving it and I can’t resist. I’m a human! I think it’s ludicrous to deprive yourself of something every single day for the rest of your life, even if doing so makes you feel amazing 100% of the time. That’s my thought on that – some things supercede feeling your best. Sometimes, an experience is worth it. And you can enjoy it subtly, not in an out-of-control-stuff-your-face kind of way.

As for eggs, I eat them once a week, mainly because my doctor encourages it for the supposed benefits for pregnancy. So, I build it into my diet once a week. Otherwise, eggs make me farty, and I know my body doesn’t respond the best to them. And, they don’t have THAT great of a taste, so I can do without them. I don’t crave eggs.

My thoughts on meat

NOW, as for other animal protein. If you didn’t know, I was a vegan for almost 3 years. I read a lot about the dairy and meat industry, and sometimes, I just can’t bring myself to eat certain foods because of what I learned. The effects of dairy and meat consumption on the environment is horrific. Also, there’s something gross (to me, personally) about chewing on meat. It scheeves me out – seeing blood especially in a meat is enough to make me lose my entire appetite.

BUT, I do eat the occasional animal protein, so does that make me a hypocrite? Not at all. The reason I have a low animal-protein, mostly vegan diet is because of what I’ve learned. I’ve drastically changed the way I eat after being vegan and I’m so thankful for learning all that I did. Now, I apply those same principles and make it into a diet that works for me and my body.

When I was in college and my schedule was just class, homework, and party, it was easy to be a vegan. Now, with being married, living in the New York City area (aka having access to some of the world’s best chefs), being 30, working out much differently, and adulting, pure, strict veganism just does not work for me right now.

I eat organic chicken (or turkey) once a week and fish once a week (typically wild caught salmon). The rest of the time, it’s vegan. However, if it’s a week where I do intense cardio and lifting workouts and my body tells me I need something else, I may crave a turkey burger, so I’ll end up eating meat THREE times a week. Or, if I go to a restaurant and Lu orders a pork chop or a sausage dish that looks magnificent, I’ll have a bite of his. If it’s “worth it,” I’ll take a bite. Or if we find ourselves in Tuscany and I just HAVE to have this braised short rib because it is the best I’ll ever taste in my lifetime, OF COURSE I’ll have it.

However, I don’t ever eat beef. There’s just something about it – it really sits like a log in my stomach. I haven’t eaten a steak since my teenage years when I didn’t know any better and my parents made it for me. I just don’t like the taste and now knowing the negative effects it can have on my health (heart disease, blood pressure issues, etc) and the environment, I choose not to eat it.

Just think about this. It takes less than 500 gallons of water to produce a pound of chicken and just under 2,000 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef. Now, a pound of chickpeas (which will yield many more servings than a pound of meat) takes about 500 gallons of water. ALSO, farming animals ruins soil – raising crops of plants is much more sustainable and can feed more people.

Eating more plant-based makes my body and my conscious feel better, and that’s why I do it.

However, I know plenty of people (especially my Paleo friends), who don’t eat lentils, quinoa, etc because of how it makes THEM feel. And that’s totally cool. I’m just explaining how I eat, because I do get a lot of questions about my diet and I wanted to have a post to refer back to.

My thoughts on the ‘unhealthy’ stuff – processed foods

Everything in moderation, especially processed foods. I don’t keep processed foods in my home, so if I do have them, they’re a treat when I’m at someone else’s home, or I’m out and at a restaurant. We don’t keep pasta or white flour in the house, no sugars (other than honey and maple syrup), definitely no soft drinks, etc. I make my own dressings and marinades to avoid additives in the bottled versions – or, I buy clean-eating friendly products. So, it’s never in the house, so we won’t eat it at home. This eliminates 80% of the temptation (because after all, a roll of Oreos would be amazing – so I keep it out of reach.)

Of course, cheese is considered a processed food, and I enjoy that, like I said, as a treat. So. Everything in moderation works for me, but I know that some people prefer “all or nothing” and that’s okay too – whatever works for you, but most importantly, whatever works for you forever. Whatever’s is sustainable for the rest of your life, not just for a 30 day challenge or a 21 day cleanse. Forever.

And if I do crave something like chips or cookies, I’ll either make them myself or I’ll buy a clean-eating friendly version, with real ingredients I can pronounce. No added nasties.

My tips for someone trying to find a healthy diet that works for them

Listen to your body for a week or three. Notice how it reacts to certain foods. Decide which ones you can live without and which ones you just absolutely cannot. Decide which foods make you feel the absolute best. Write it all down and make yourself a mini you-diet. A diet (as in a lifestyle diet) that works for your individual body. And be sure to workout and make sure you listen to your body especially on those days so you don’t deprive yourself.

If you just NEED to have brie, reserve it for special occasions or Friday nights. If you MUST have cream in your coffee, halve the amount you use and limit yourself to only one cup a day or maybe really try to get into homemade almond milk (I say homemade because you can sweeten it yourself with vanilla extract or dates without relying on pre-made brands that have added sugars.)

But give plant-based eating a chance. If you feel like you’re never satisfied, you’re probably not eating enough fiber or protein. Vegetarians just don’t eat salads with shaved carrots and grape tomatoes. They eat lentils, beans, brown rice, avocado, sweet potatoes, and other things that are full of fiber and protein to keep you properly fueled. Don’t give up on vegetarian eating without properly eating vegetarian. I love Cookie+Kate and Minimalist Baker for vegetarian inspiration. And of COURSE, this blog (check out our recipes page.)

Hope this helps some of you! And no matter what you tell ME, I’m not going to change the way I eat, so keep the nasty comments to yourself. I’ve finally found a lifestyle diet that is sustainable, gives me the most energy, makes all of my blood levels and endocrine systems feel the best (tested by a doctor), and most importantly, tastes good and makes me glow from the inside out.

You do you and I’ll do me!

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80 comments

I absolutely loved reading this. You have to find what works for you. I used to drink like 6-8 glasses of milk a day and eat ice cream every night. That eventually caught up to me in high school and I think I am lactose intolerant now. After my denial phase, I finally switched to soy and then almond milk and for the most part am dairy free. I notice that dairy, lots of sugar and especially milk chocolate make my skin break out. I've learned more veggies and less carbs work for me to feel my best. I have been experimenting with making more vegan dishes and have loved them, even if some of my relatives give me strange looks. I have learned, like you, I have to do what is right for my body and digestion. I also feel like I finally figured out why I was always bloated as a child. Giving up milk was a big one for me, but I am thankful for alternatives like almond milk.
Sandra Rutherford says:
Thanks for all the sharing, love your insights and recipes. Look into responsibly pastured animal farming. From what I've read, it is a good thing for the planet to rotate animals and vegetables.
Meaghan says:
Thank you for your note!
Eugenia says:
All sounds good, but I think you'd feel better if you went gluten- and oat-free (oats have its own bad proteins, and are never truly gluten free, even if labeled as such -- research shows). I know you were Paleo for a while too, so how did going gluten-free worked for you? As for eggs, I'm willing to bet you money that if you buy truly pastured eggs (hens that do forage and they aren't only eating soy/grains), you won't have a problem. In fact, it's known that people with an "egg allergy", are actually allergic to soy. These hens are only fed soy, and its proteins then are found in the eggs! I find truly pastured eggs on my CA super market, but Costco now has "pastured" eggs, that aren't truly pastured (the hens don't forage, they are fed 100%, they just happen to be outside, on a place that's full of stones with no grass ). So to check if truly pastured work better for you, you'd need to research first what you buy exactly, or visit a farmer's market and ask there exactly what their hens eat. I pay $8 a dozen for mine.
Meaghan says:
Thank you for your thoughtful comment!
Katie says:
Ali - do you think if you were still single you'd be a vegetarian? I wonder if the pressure of living with a meat eater has influenced you to eat meat?
Andria Hall says:
I don't read your blog as often as I'd like to, so I'm often reading many posts at a time. I love how the majority of the "what I ate"s that I read say something about you trying to venture out for lunch, but returning to your veggie sandwich. I get a kick out of that every time.
Danielle says:
I wanted to say thank you for your Inspiralizer, blog and amazing recipes. I am thinking much more creatively about veggies, increasing my veggie intake and trying new ones. I liked this post and your encouragement to do what works for each of us. You have a very approachable way of sharing information - not preachy at all. I've told so many people about your site - and the FB group which I really enjoy. Congrats on your pregnancy! I'm a mom, a parent educator and therapist and I can tell you it is a truly transformative experience to raise a human being. Best wishes!
Maria says:
Your approach to food is similar to mine and I have always had a challenging time explaining it to people. I am going to send them to this blog post whenever someone thinks I am breaking my own rules or doesn't understand why I choose to eat the way I do. I do eat more meat and eggs than you, but other than that, I am right there with you on most fronts. Lately, I have been craving carbs like a pretzel. I finally bought a bag that has about three ingredients. This is the first bag of pretzels I've bought in probably 10 years or more. But allowing myself to have something that normally bothers my stomach (gluten bloat) is normal. I had a serving size and closed the bag up. They'll be there if I want more and if I don't, oh well! :) Thank you for being so open and honest about your food choices.

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