The Saint Diet

This post is part of a series about re-thinking my relationship to food, which I call “The Saint Diet” to remind myself that the ultimate goal is deeper union with God. You can read all the posts on the subject here (scroll down to see them all).

  • A couple weeks ago I was talking to my spiritual director about my slack prayer habits, and I happened to mention in passing how tired I am all the time. Interestingly, she wanted to focus more on addressing the tiredness situation than the specifics of the prayer issues, pointing out that if you’re exhausted it’s going to make everything an uphill battle, including prayer.

  • Then, as I wrote about here, I went to Adoration with a laundry list of concerns and ended up feeling called to one thing and one thing only: to put some serious thought into what I eat on a daily basis to help control the “carb crashes” that regularly put me in a sluggish, angry mood.
  • Then one morning I found myself acting like a maniac in my car, about to harass a weary woman in the minivan in front of me, all because I was overbooked and in a huge rush. I wrote about it at the time here.

These three lessons have been rolling around in my mind, and finally coalesced into an ah-hah moment when I realized: there are ways you can structure your lifestyle to make it more conducive to holiness.

I know this is probably obvious to a lot of people, but it was a real lightbulb-going-on moment for me. As a new convert, I’d always thought of living a life of holiness and avoiding sin as confined to the spiritual level alone, that there was nothing I could do in my physical life (other than receive the sacraments) to impact it one way or another. But, now that I think about it…


If prayer time rolls around and I’m tempted to read blogs instead of pray, am I more likely to turn to God instead of Bloglines if…
a) I went to bed around midnight, leaving me feeling exhausted, sluggish and weak.

b) I went to bed at a reasonable hour and got plenty of good sleep, leaving me with an ample store of mental and physical energy for the day.

If I am at the grocery store and someone is rude to me, am I more likely to respond in Christian charity if I have eaten a lunch that consists of…

a) Greasy pizza, Coke and a cookie.

b) A mixed greens salad with lean chicken and hardboiled eggs.

If my children misbehave and do something that costs me time and throws my schedule off track, am I most likely to resist the urge to lose my temper and start yelling if…

a) I have more on my plate than I could possibly handle and am trying to accomplish 20 hours of work in a 12 hour day.

b) If I have kept my commitments to a reasonable level and have buffer in my schedule to allow for the unexpected.

And so on. Obviously, choice (b) is going to help me do the right thing in every case.

Similar examples could be given about the spiritual impacts of not getting enough exercise, carrying too much extra weight, not getting enough sunlight and fresh air, etc. (all things that apply to me to some extent or another). It’s not to say that any of these things make it impossible to be Christ-like, but the battle against our fallen natures is certainly more of an uphill battle when our lifestyles set us up to feel stressed, overwhelmed and fatigued all the time.

Over and over again lately I’ve felt called to focus on this to the exclusion of almost everything else. I think that God is basically trying to tell me, “Look. It’s going to be hard enough for you to be a saintly person. You really, really don’t need lifestyle factors to make this any more difficult than it’s already going to be for you.”

So I’ve been attempting to embark on a lifestyle makeover, starting with my diet. Since I have some obvious insulin sensitivity issues and turn into a very angry, very tired person after I eat processed foods (seriously — we’re talking Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type stuff), I’ve realized that eating a “whole foods” diet would have a big impact not just on my physical health, but on my spiritual health as well. I’ve been calling it The Saint Diet in my head, an eating plan that consists of foods that will maximize physical health, energy levels and mental peace (and, when I’m not pregnant, I’d love to also incorporate some traditional fasting practices to help temper my attitudes toward food…but that’s the subject of another post).

So that’s what’s going on with me this week: I’m working on coming up with a list of foods, particularly lunch foods, that are nutritious and free of processed carbs, yet are also fairly easy to prepare and keep on hand. It won’t be easy to make these changes, especially with my issues with simple carb addiction, but it’s something I feel strongly called to do.

I’d love to hear any thoughts or suggestions!

RELATED: Check out the daily schedule of the Missionaries of Charity that I posted in this post (scroll down), and notice how it speaks of a life of balance and buffer. I find it so inspiring!

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Enter the Conversation...

71 Responses to “The Saint Diet”
  1. Charity Grace says:

    I’ve been seeing this with my children, and to some extent with myself too. Some people are more sensitive than others. One of my kids had a piece of cake Sunday afternoon and Monday morning was very, very bad. Seeing those reactions makes it easier for me to bite the bullet and stick to a more ideal diet for my kids’ sake. And for mine! It can be overwhelming sometimes, though.

    Great points about living in a way that’s more conducive to spiritual formation!

  2. Lucia Rosa says:

    Can you have whole wheat, or a little pasta?

  3. Monique in TX says:

    Except for the parts about having kids, once again, I think you are writing *my* life. I have the same issues with sleep, prayer, and CARBS.

    Monique in TX

  4. Susan Thompson says:

    Lately I’ve been eating canned sardines, the smoke flavored ones. They are delicious. Sometimes I warm them in the microwave a few seconds. I have also put them in a sandwich with sprouted multigrain bread.

    Also, lately I have been cooking up a whole package of brown rice or other whole grains at a time and freezing portions. This makes it easy to have a serving with a meal since it takes longer to cook brown rice.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have the same issues. What works for me is completely cutting simple carbs out of my diet. If I try to just limit them I end up tired, lazy and craving them more. I have been eating a simple vegetable soup lately that I make once a week…it has a beef or chicken broth, stewed tomatoes, celery, green beans (canned), carrots, onions, salt and pepper. I supplement with fresh fruit and fresh and/or steamed veggies. It seems to give me a steady, peaceful energy all day long. It also seems to lessen back pain (I have a lot of backpain). Have you ever read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon? It has a great healing broth recipe. By the way, thanks for writing such an inspiring blog…I check it every morning.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Hi Jennifer – I don’t know if it’s a diet worthy of the saints… but two books that have been really helpful for me are “Low Carb and Lovin’ It” by George Stella and his follow-up, “Stella Style.” If you type in “George Stella” at Amazon, you should be able to find them both. Easy meals, simple ingredients and family friendly!

  7. Bethgem says:

    So true. This reminds me of Proverbs 4:26 ~ “Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.”(NIV)

  8. papermoon says:

    i totally relate to this! my suggestions, in terms of the quick-and-still-not-a-cookie lunch variety:

    -SOUP. this is the best option for me. if you can make yourself make it on the weekend and freeze some portions of it… its a very excellent idea. if you make it hearty enough its very filling. plus rice crackers/wheat crackers etc…

    -cottage cheese and salad with apples/pears/plums and mustard dressing

    -chili

    -stir fry. may sound high maintenaince, but its really fast, especially if you have some rice leftovers around. just put some veggies/chicken in a pan with a little oil and some minimal amount of rice (if you think you can do rice). if rice is going to be a carb problem, i would honestly just suggest putting some egg in there and having a veggie fry!

    best of luck! i ate cake for breakfast, so your post hit me at just the right moment for guilt. haha.

  9. WhollyRoamin'Catholic says:

    In the last year, I started omitting meat from my diet during all of Lent and on Fridays for the whole year.

    The hard part is to not replace the cheeseburgers with bready carbs. I’d like to know what other people do too.

    I think of it as “Eating for Jesus”, that makes the sad Lentil soup a little more bearable.

  10. Cheryl says:

    I don’t know much about adult onset diabetes (other than knowing of a few people who died one body part at a time), but maybe you should get checked for it.

    You make some good points about our lifestyle choices having an impact on our capacity to follow Christ, but then again, you usually make good points. ;)

  11. Eliz says:

    I did a no-sugar, no-simple carbs experiment over the summer for about three weeks and I couldn’t believe the difference. Then we went away for a few days and I haven’t been able to get back in track since. You’d think since I already tried it and I know how much better I felt I would stick to it, but it’s incredibly hard. I can see how that could be – for me, too – the primary thing to get under control before I could think about making other changes, like regular prayer.

  12. Hope says:

    For what it’s worth you might find it helpful to check out http://www.radiantrecovery.com A carb addiction could really be a sugar addiction in hiding.

  13. Kristin T. says:

    Yes! Our physical needs and how responsible we are about them definitely affect our spiritual selves–particularly our ability to grasp the fruits of the spirit (or at least some of them, some of the time!).

    I am typically pretty good about what I eat (because I have low blood sugar and have to be), but I need to be more attentive to sleep and exercise needs. I feel like God is using your post to remind me of this. Thanks!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Wow, thank you for posting! I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours yesterday, and during my meditation,I was frustrated that I get angry at my kids too often, usually when I feel overwhelmed and busy. I offered it up to God, and then it came to me: I should structure my day to enable me to be more holy! Looking forward to reading about how you do it — I’ll need help putting this into practice!

    By the way, thanks also for posting about the LOH, it’s been helping me to pray daily.

  15. Stretch Mark Mama says:

    I too have a list of foods that cause an incredible surge of anger–not just in me but the kids too. It’s so predictable…but we still choose to eat them. How dumb is that?

    When it comes to giving myself a little treat, I have learned to reach for a small piece or two of non-junky chocolate (i.e., Dove Dark chocolate squares) versus the Halloween treats (kit kats, snickers) that have been hanging around.

    I had health issues (candida mostly) for two years where I could eat NARY a carb except rice. Yeah, THAT nearly killed me. I survived for a long time on beans, rice, meat and veggies. It was during this (very difficult) journey that I started seeing the connection btwn food and mood. Hence, I started adding recipes to my website that are a little closer to the source.

    http://stretchmarkmama.blogspot.com/search/label/recipes

  16. mmsmith says:

    Please post your menu! I would love to have some ideas for healthier lunches, especially living in the north, during the winter months…when I feel like hibernating.

  17. Martha says:

    When my oldest were very small, I was in a Regnum Christi group where we would take certain spiritual goals and each come up with a concrete way to work on that goal for a week. Usually, several of my concrete ways to work on charity, balanced temperament, etc, were mundane things that did not sound spiritual, such as exercising 3 times a week; getting enough rest; using quiet time to rest and not surf the internet… So, yes, I agree, you can structure your life so the external details are helping you with the internal. Good for you for connecting the dots.

  18. frizzy scissorhands says:

    indeed, perhaps it can start with something as simple as what one chooses to eat. and, then … mindfully eating said meal. contemplating our choices and actions, and even asking ourselves if we really need it …

    we can effect change in the way god wants us to thru lifestyle choices, for sure.

  19. Maeve says:

    Wow, it is so amazing that you are taking this journey. I happened upon this blog from a link in another post, and its amazing. It is true that everything we do is connected and so better choices (like sleeping right and eating right) can enable more good choices. I also find that having a prayer book on me (in my purse or by my bedside table) also helps me turn to prayer that way if the words aren’t coming I can use the beautiful words of others.

  20. Anne Marie says:

    I have nothing useful to add, however, I am interested in what you come up with.

    I’ve long felt called to start a Light Weigh program at my church but I’ve been back burnering it for the longest time.

    Food is an issue if wrestle with too.

  21. Susan Thompson says:

    And I assume you know about the importance of the glycemic index. Whole grains have a more favorable glycemic index than more processed grains. Honey has a more favorable glycemic index than sugar.

  22. reprehriestless warillever says:

    Your point is such a simple one — such an obvious one — but it has never occurred to me in just this way.

    Of course our physical life affects our spiritual life!

    My problem of late has been skipping breakfast because I am busy feeding and dressing the little ones, packing lunches, and trying to get my “men” off to school and work on time.

    By 9am I am tired, hungry, and knee-deep in toddler needs. The day often spirals down from there.

    I think a “Saint Diet” is just what I need!

  23. Colleen says:

    Please share with us the list of nutritious, easy to prepare lunch foods that you come up with. I find lunch to be the most difficult meal to eat healthily (is that a word?) and it has such a profound effect on my energy levels and productivity. I’m having similar issues to what you are experiencing and really need some help!

  24. Aubrey says:

    Chick peas. And cannellini beans. Any beans, really. But the first two kinds out of can and put on salad or a wrap make a great, filling, fiber-filled meal. Add some yogurt and an apple and it’s complete. I also like to make hummus (chickpeas, a little olive oil, garlic, onions, and spices of your choice – cumin is great, mixed in the blender) and eat that with veggies. And there are good whole wheat tortillas and wraps I use instead of bread that are high in protein and fiber. Eggs are always filling and healthy, as is tuna. And avocado is great on a sandwich, too, or in a wrap, or made into guacamole.

  25. Sara says:

    Watching the glycemic index of foods is enough for some people, including a good friend of mine. I, OTOH, can’t even eat whole grains without turning into an overeating, raving lunatic. Believe me, I have tested this theory many times over the years!

    I love MarksDailyApple.com for eating suggestions. And forget the lean meat. Add plenty of fat (For satiety) to a diet that doesn’t include carbs. Fat is fine. Fat + carbs = FAT mama.

  26. melanie says:

    Jen, I can really relate to this post. The benefits of regular spiritual direction/guidance of helping us to see the obvious things we miss is so helpful!

    I need to go on the saint rest diet. When I’m tired, I am cranky and just awful to people.

    I kind of like the idea of sleeping for holiness LOL

    blessings,
    melanie

  27. Betty Duffy says:

    Interesting: Before my most recent pregnancy, I was tired all the time, etc. and did the “Leptin Resistance Diet” which focuses in lean protein and fruits and veg to reduce inflamation. Definitely worked, but then I got pregnant for the 5th time. I went back to my high carby ways, and gained about 40 lbs in the first 5 months, and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes by month 6. It’s a vicious cycle: eat carbs when tired, always tired because of high blood sugar.

    The diabetic diet has made a huge difference (though I am still on insulin) in my energy levels. Similar to leptin resistance, only it cautions to be aware that fruit is also high in carbs (something I had not rationed in the past). Basically always pair carbs with protein 2 to 1 in favor of protein, and don’t eat fruit first thing in the morning. (one carb serving equals 15 actual carbs)

    One of my favorite whole foods recipes: French toast oatmeal
    (1 serving= 1 cup cooked)

    Once you’ve boiled oats add:
    eggs whites (stir until cooked)
    1 T walnut oil
    cinnamin
    1t vanilla
    sweeten with: pomegranate or cherry concentrate or honey (I use splenda for the diabetes)
    You can also add dry milk powder or wheat germ (though I find these make the carb count a little high).

    Enjoy!

  28. Hope T. says:

    I don’t do well eating carbs either. I need tons of protein, especially when I’m pregnant. I depend a lot on cottage cheese, nuts (almonds and walnuts are the best), canned sardines and canned tuna (I try to limit tuna because of mercury but it is my favorite so I don’t cut it out altogether).

    Something I did in my last pregnancy was to cook up a bunch of chicken drumsticks. They stay good for three or four days in the fridge. I could just quick pull out a drumstick and eat it as soon as I felt that sinking feeling. I found out that chicken has more protein than beef and drumsticks or thighs on sale are pretty cheap.

  29. Anne (aussieannie) says:

    Wow, what a great post! This is so true. Our body and soul are intimately connected, affecting each other. So prudent, modest, healthy eating does make life easier in all ways. (Think how healthy food doesn’t tantalise like junky food..so it starts with indulgence right there when chosing the poorer option.)

    I just understand your thoughts so much….from someone who has had mercury poisoning and had hypoglycemia issues…

  30. Anonymous says:

    I work in a busy office and late nights, and have had serious struggles with what I call “The Vending Machine” diet. Had all the same problems as you – weight, energy, fatigue. Here’s what I found that helped – basically, foods I could make quickly, and keep at my desk, or office fridge. eating on the go:
    -hard boiled eggs
    -cut up veges like celery and carrots in baggies
    -mini tomatoes (they sell ‘em by the pint)
    -Z-bars (healthy kid version of the Zone bar, all natural ingredients, no processed stuff)
    -sardines (eat right out of the can!)
    -Macintosh apples (small, easy to carry)
    -almonds (the all natural kind, raw)
    -instant oatmeal (just add hot water and eat!)
    -mini packs of cottage cheese, sometimes with fruit
    and of course
    -lots and lots of coffee

    If you graze all day, you won’t feel starved, and you’re eating pretty healthy, low-cal stuff from the above list. All easy to carry around with you during your busy day. THen at night you can actually sit down and enjoy a proper meal, you know? But grazing has worked for me.
    Also, another thing I’ve learned – if you force yourself to go to bed when the kids do – at our house that’s around 9:30 – then you can get up at 5am and exercise before the day begins. Exercise can be anything -hell, walking up and down the stairs a couple times counts! I’m investing in a Wii Fit for Xmas – I’ve heard good things. It might be something to look into, for you too!
    :-)
    Good luck!

  31. Milehimama says:

    I am often diabetic (gestational times 6!). What I’ve found helps the MOST is to exercise self control in the store, so that I don’t have to at home. It’s easier to say no to Oreos on the cookie aisle than it is during naptime after a rough morning.

    Make foods you shouldn’t have more inconvenient than the more healthful foods. If I have a fruit salad already prepared, but have to make rice pudding from scratch (cooking the rice first), then I’m much more likely to eat the fruit!

    Also would love to see your list of lunch foods!

    I found Laughing Cow cheese on a Wasa cracker was a great snack.

  32. baltimoremom says:

    Just wanted to offer what has worked for me: eating the same things everyday (or almost the same things). Once you figure out what foods you want/need to eat, try to eat the same simple meals for breakfast and lunch. The more variety, the greater the temptation I found. After I got into the habit of having the same very very short list of things to eat for my first two meals of the day, my stress level went down a lot because I already figured out the nutritional content of these foods ahead of time and I’m not fighting temptation as much at these meals. It can also be a kind of fasting – not depriving yourself of food, but limiting yourself to simple meals that don’t vary too much from day to day. I found that this has helped detach myself a little more from food. I let dinner be more varied to accomodate my family and keep me from getting bored and that’s still my challenge. Anyways, I was a bit inspired after seeing Into Great Silence which you recommended. The monks seem to eat very simple meals. As Advent approaches, I’d like to fast and thought maybe one way to do this (especially if you’re pregnant) is to give up a bit of flavor instead of giving up food…putting aside the mayo on a healthy sandwich, or leaving out the feta cheese from my salad, or putting only one dash of salt into my eggs, etc.

  33. Anonymous says:

    The book “A Mother’s Rule of Life” has been really helpful in setting up a schedule. She walks you through priorities, time management, basic for seeking holiness… It’s about seeing motherhood as a vocation. We, like nuns in convents, need to be intentional about how we use our time.

  34. Erin says:

    I’m reading through the comments, but I’d love it if you’d post some of your new recipe finds next time you talk about your progress with this Saint Diet. I struggle with carbs too, and excess weight. And… well… lots of stuff. I’d love to hear what you’re eating, because if it’s quick enough to make while you have kids on your hands, then it’s probably quick enough for me too (I have no kids, but I’m a grad student and also need “fast” nutritious food).

  35. Bethany says:

    I’m relatively new to your blog, and love this entry and your recent related posts. I totally identify! A friend loaned me the book “Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition” by Marilyn M. Shannon which is a little dated, but still helpful. The book contains two charts of daily and weekly foods women should eat. (One chart for pregnant/nursing women, one for mestruating women.) I find these charts to be useful reminders, especially when hung on the fridge.

    Oh, and by the way, this book stresses, and my own experience testifies to, the drawbacks of caffeine. The author recommends cutting it out entirely, but I haven’t managed to do that yet.

  36. Bethany says:

    I’m relatively new to your blog, and I love this post. It definitely resonates.

    A friend lent me “Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition” by Marilyn M. Shannon, and I’ve found it to be quite helpful. It contains two charts (one for pregnant/nursing mothers and one for menstruating women) that state recommended intake daily and weekly. I’ve found it helpful to hang a chart like this on the fridge so I don’t have to think so much about eating healthfully.

    One of the best single tips from this book is to avoid caffeine. I love the stuff and drink it a little, but it doesn’t help any with food-related mood swings, I can tell you!

    Best wishes on your Saint’s Diet!

  37. Anna says:

    What comes to my mind is 1 Cor 6:19-20:

    Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

  38. lizzykristine @ Uplifted Eyes says:

    An elderly nun once questioned a friend of mine who was struggling with some spiritual issues: “Are you eating right? Are you sleeping right? Are you praying right?”

    When I’m lacking in some area spiritually, often as not I’m lacking in one or more of those three areas. I can’t use it as an excuse — sin is in my heart anyway, and bad habits just encourage it to pop out more readily. But mending my ways regarding sleeping, eating, and praying sure saves a lot of trouble, spiritually.

    The only other thing I would add to that nun’s list is exercise. And that’s the hardest one of all for me… :)

  39. Kingdom Mama says:

    I didn’t read through all of the comments, but hard boiled eggs are the best. Easy. Cheap. And I really like them too. The kids favorite lunch is an egg, a slice of tomato, cheese, some kind of fruit, and some air popped popcorn with butter and salt.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Jennifer,
    I find that I’m really sensitive/moody with carbs and particularly when I’m eating too much sugar. I’ve been trying this no S diet (no seconds, no sweets, no snacks, except on days that start with S) to try to get on a regular three meal a day plan. I think it is a nice transition from the bad to the good, and from there you can try to do better :)

  41. dawna says:

    here i come out of lurkdom to say that i find lunches are easier (and generally healthier) if you make extras for supper.

  42. Jennifer says:

    Hey Jennifer! I have several books to recommend–One is called Eating Right for Your Blood Type (very interesting info to start your new lifestyle!!!) I didn’t want to buy into it, but I was amazed by what I found! A friend of mine recommended me to read “The Maker’s Diet”-It’s about what the Bible teaches us about health and eating–I’m staring to read that one this week. My friend said it’s life changing. A couple of other books I love that will help you on so many levels are Dr. Mehmet Oz’s “You Staying Young” (Hilarious–I love it!!) and Ultraprevention by Mark Liponis and Mark Hyman, I think. In case you can’t tell, I have been thinking the same thing as you lately (and I have chronic health issues on top of everything)–I’ll be praying for you. Let me know if you need more specific food ideas–I’ve got LOADS! :o)

  43. Amity says:

    Things that help me get through the day without blood sugar crashes:

    Almond butter and fruit spread (no sugar) on whole wheat bread – really helps when I only have a minute or two to make lunch.

    Beans and cheese on corn or whole wheat tortillas. I make a pot of beans and eat soft tacos for lunch for a week.

    Eating by the clock rather than waiting until I feel hungry – by that time it’s usually too late, and it takes me an hour or so to recover. I don’t get angry, but I get weak, shaky, and unable to make any kind of decision, including what to make myself to eat.

    Eating small meals five or six times a day.

    Leftovers from supper! Especially helpful for breakfast if I know that it’s going to be a long day.

    A big green salad with nuts, dried fruit, and oil and vinegar dressing is surprisingly satisfying.

  44. Lynn says:

    I am a huge fan of fish oil, especially because pregnancy and nursing suck omega-3s right out of you and they have so much to do with brain function. I think preggo/lacto brain is an omega-3 deficiency. I also really need dark green leafy veggies, but instead of eating them to an extreme, I have better luck drinking strong nettle tea. I could swear it makes me feel better within a few minutes, but I suppose that’s all in my head :)

  45. Meredith@MerchantShips says:

    Egg salad–cheap, easy, always in my fridge for this very reason.

  46. bearing says:

    You know I’ve been writing about this a lot.

    My magic foods are

    – almonds. Protein, fat, carbs, fiber, all in one. Blue Diamond puts them in these handy cupholder bottles. Sea Salt flavor rocks. Keep them in your car and purse, have a few before you get too hungry or have to make meal decisions. You may never drag again.

    – canned kippers or sardines on Wasa brand crackers. My favorite are King Oscar brand mediterranean style. All the goodness of tuna but with more healthy fat and less mercury.

    – better-quality frozen veg. Half a bag with every lunch. Pictsweet brussels sprouts, Birdseye mixed green beans/wax beans/baby carrots, cut okra — i have really developed a taste for all of it.

    I had to develop a taste for these things, but I am so glad I did.

  47. bearing says:

    One more thing Jen — You might try planning your whole day’s worth of meals and snacks ahead of time. You can use a food tracker — the sort that dieters use to count up calories — but instead of writing down what you DID eat, write what you WILL eat tomorrow.

    It’s worth trying for a week or so. I doubt it’s for everyone, but I had fantastic results with this method. You can make all your tough decisions ahead of time, and also have things ready in advance so you don’t make bad decisions when hungry.

    I recommend the nutrition tracker on Sparkpeople.com — free and easy.

  48. Anna says:

    Along the lines of what bearing said, you might want to add breakfast and lunches onto your fridge menu-plan-thing, if you’re not doing that already.

  49. Brekken says:

    Hi Jennifer!

    A diet that I found worked very well for me is called the Zone Diet – what it boils down to is making each meal equal parts fat, protein, and carbs; if you want a really fast, really simple guide to this diet, here’s a link to an article on it: http://journal.crossfit.com/2004/05/zone-meal-plans-crossfit-journ.tpl

    Having been on it myself (I lost weight while eating meals that left me feeling full, sometimes meals that had me thinking “this is more food than I want”), I think it could really help with some of the issues you’re talking about, in particular the weight and energy level problems. Hope this helps!

  50. lana says:

    i was so excited to read about this because in the last couple of months, as I continue to struggle daily to keep up with and take care of my very young, needy and extremely helpless children, I find I am a WRECK if I don’t exercise, eat well, but mostly: NAP!
    I have to leave all the “good plans” I have for pre-meal prep, catching up on work/phonecalls, or whatever, for the better good of the family.
    And so a daily nap has also become part of my efforts to “avoid whatever leads to sin” and I was so happy to hear that others also think this is not just laziness, but a desire to be a better mother and holier person.

  51. Carrien says:

    For recipes that work check out the low glycemic index cookbooks. Or the GI diet. It’s a similar eating system.

    You remind me of that passage in The Screwtape Letters when the old devil is chastising the young devil for allowing his charge to engage in to pleasures he really enjoyed, reading, and taking a walk outside, because in those moments he was lost to the “Enemy”.

  52. Erin says:

    RE: Anonymous (the one who mentioned the “No S Diet”)

    I think it’s a brilliant idea, and very straightforward, but for the life of me, I could NOT remember what the S stood for when I was hungry. LOL. The only downside was my own bad memory. It’s basically everything my mother ever taught me about nutrition (except I couldn’t remember that either).

  53. Gillian says:

    A visiting priest lectured on this very thing at our church. He introduced the acronym HALT. These are the times when you are more likely to sin and have to be extra careful. When you are:
    Hungry
    Angry
    Lonely
    Tired

    Just thought I’d share.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Hello there, I normally look but don't speak but i felt compelled to offer you some help regarding your diet and health so forth.

    Reading between the lines of some of your posts I gather you may have an intollerance of complex carbs and my wife also suffers from this (there's a whole PCOS story there and we are now blessed after several years of trying with an end of march due date yipeee!!)

    I wonder have you looked at rosemary conleys GI jeans diet(look here)

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rosemary-Conleys-GI-Jeans-Diet/dp/0099492571

    or amazon.com

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Rosemary+Conley%27s+GI+Jeans+Diet+

    diet there are excellent dishes quick and easy as well as more oinvolved dishes.

    As long as you follow the intesive detox type programme asn then get into it you'll be fine and It may well change the way you eat and your general diet as aposed to 'a diet'.

    I think you'll find you have more energy and are less erratic in your behaviour as you won't experience the crashes etc. I really hope it helps and you get some peace from these problems which can be overwhelming.

    Please don't think this is meant in a patronizing way, (I hope it will repay many of the insights you have given me over the last few months. I am sure i found your blog for a reason) and good luck.

  55. Jen S says:

    Wow, do I feel like a kindred spirit. I struggle with the same things! I love that you linked back to the January Mission Schedule post. I must have missed it in my about-to-birth State…it makes me feel MUCH better about my schedule that consists mainly of keeping my kitchen from turning into a nightmare, cooking and keeping up with laundry (INCLUDING putting it away) and playing with DD (9mos). I love reading your blog and look forward to finding out what your solutions are :)

    God Bless!

    Jen

  56. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jen, I think we were seperated at birth. It seems I can come to your blog and you post about the very things that are going on in my life. I had gestational diabetes 4 out of my 7 pregnancies. I would follow the diabetic diet to the T when pregnant because of the baby but would go back to eating junk after I had the baby. My dad is diabetic too so I know if I don’t do something drastic I will definately have diabetes. I only gained 11 pounds with my last pregnancy and felt great the whole time. Well the baby is 9 months old now and I haven’t been able to lose any weight and feel awful all the time. About 2 weeks ago I cut out all carbs except ones that occur in veggies or some fruits. I can tell you I feel so much better.
    I also wanted to thank you for all your posts. They have made a huge difference in my journey back to the Catholic church. Amy in Indiana

  57. 'Becca says:

    I think this is the reason dietary changes are so popular for Lent. When you eliminate something from your diet (or daily routine in general) its role becomes obvious, and its absence creates space for new things that may help you toward holiness.

    The link behind my name is a lentil recipe that has changed my life!! I don’t have a carb problem and don’t know the glycemic index of lentils…but if it’s okay, this stuff is delicious over salad. It’s very easy to make in just a few minutes (then you stick it in the oven and go do something else) and all the ingredients are shelf-stable and CHEAP.

  58. Ali says:

    Give me pizza, cookies, and a coke and I’ll give you a big ole’ Christian smile (and maybe a belch, sorry)!

  59. miller_schloss says:

    We try to do a generally South Beach diet for my husband (lots of lean protein, whole grains, complex carbs, fresh veggies) and I’m on the Bradley pregnancy diet. Things I like to keep on hand to make lunch time easy and healthy…

    -cottage cheese (my two year old LOVES it too)

    -string cheese (lowfat mozarella – very easy snack)

    -cooked chicken breasts (I can cook up a whole package and then cut and use them in salad throughout the week)

    -prewashed baby spinach. Mix with various lettuces for a quick salad base. Add tuna or chicken or beef (leftover) and dressing.

    -yogurt. Low sugar.

    -veggies that don’t need much prep, like celery and snow peas, with hummus or Laughing Cow spreadable cheese.

  60. Kelly says:

    Everyone has already mentioned my favorite quick snacks/lunch to keep in the fridge. Instead, I’ll let you know my favorite “cheating” dessert. It has only 1/2 cup of sugar total, and I usually divide it into 6 servings, but it’s loaded with milk for protein and so quick and easy to make.

    INGREDIENTS

    * 1/2 cup white sugar
    * 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    * 1/4 cup cornstarch
    * 1/8 teaspoon salt
    * 2 3/4 cups milk
    * 2 tablespoons butter
    * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    DIRECTIONS

    1. In a saucepan, stir together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Place over medium heat, and stir in milk. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat, and stir in margarine and vanilla. Let cool briefly, and serve warm, or chill in refrigerator until serving.

  61. Sarah says:

    I too am pregnant and am craving carbs more than normal! We normally eat a low-er-ish carb diet specifically because both my husband and I do better on it mentally and physically, but I’ve been working on making some easy dinners that turn into leftovers for lunches lately that incorporate both complex cards and protein . . . my favorites are simple right now. Three Bean Turkey chili, spaghetti with whole wheat pasta, vegetable beef soups . . .basically hearty, one-pot meals that will satisfy for a while. Snacks are simple – apple and cheese, a glass of V-8 and a hard boiled egg, leftover egg or chicken or salmon salad with some whole grain crackers . . . those are my favorites! My main goal is simply to eat some form or protein with each meal or snack and, if I eat carbs, they have to either be whole grain or a fresh fruit or vegetable. Start with that and a glass of water, and you’ll be fuller and eat better almost automatically!

    I also blogged on this a few months ago for a carnival. I’ve linked it to my comment to open directly to that post – definitely check out some of the other participants ideas for help too!

    Best,
    Sarah

    PS – Have you ever read “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon? It has changed the way we eat quite a bit! It is a tome, and a bit overwhelming at first (we don’t follow it religiously), but it is a great guide to opening your mind to a healthier way to eat!

  62. Susan Thompson says:

    I had the most delicious sandwich today…sardines and spreadable cream cheese on whole-grain toast. How can that not be healthy?

  63. Jen says:

    Wow. I’ve been exhausted, cranky and “too tired” for my prayers lately too. I NEVER thought about it coming down to how I’m eating/taking care of myself. And I’ve never put my spiritual life and my physical well being together before! But it makes so much sense!

  64. Anonymous says:

    Read all labels.
    Eliminate all foods with fructose corn syrup and/or msg.
    Try to find breads that are made without enriched or bleached wheat.
    Use a crock pot to make chicken soup with free range chicken broth and cooked chicken. Add you favorite spices or chopped vegetables.
    Instead of letting rice sit in the soup (and make msg) make it when you are ready to eat the soup.
    Sesame crackers, almonds, olives, all fruit preserves (in limited amounts), sesame sticks, canned oysters, tuna fish, buckwheat pancakes with heated all fruit preserves instead of syrup.
    Seltzer water with some 100% juice instead of soft drinks.
    Is there someone you are especially worried about?
    Give up a favorite food permanently for them – make exceptions only when it will truly inconvenience someone or hurt someone’s feelings.
    You know, when it would be a sin to say no.
    Try to reflect on how people with a serious addiction must feel when you are tempted to relent, and offer it up for them.

  65. Shannon says:

    For some with diabetes, a good way to start is the “Nothing White” diet. No pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, corn, ice cream. You get the idea.

  66. Misty says:

    You should check out Raw Food Family at http://www.rawfamily.com and also http://www.greensmoothiegirl.com

    I am not affiliated with these sites–they are just two of my favorites. Especially greensmoothiegirl.com because it really is easy to do with a family.

    I have nine children, and we have been eating 80% raw diet for about 3 years. It has changed our spiritual lives as well as physical in ways that are impossible to describe!

  67. Embo says:

    The best idea for a healthy lunch? A healthy breakfast. Seriously. My suggestion: steel-cut oatmeal (Irish style), mixed with lots of cinnamon, a little brown sugar, and chopped walnuts. Yummy and satisfyingly nutty. I make a week’s worth at a time, cause real oatmeal does take about 30 minutes to cook, time well spent because you’ll be full of good energy to start the day.

    As for lunch – anything with beans (Auntie Ann’s frozen burritos are tasty and easy), super healthy veggies like broccoli or spinach (with a good balsamic vinaigrette and toasted pine nuts), and hearty soups. And dark (like 80% cacao) chocolate for desert.

    I find that changing my diet is easier if I have the attitude that I’m adding healthy stuff, as opposed to cutting out bad stuff. It’s like it’s a lot easier not to sin if you’re busy doing something good. :)

    Thanks for your blog!

  68. Josephene T. M. says:

    Ooh! Recipes for a holy life! What a great title for a cookbook!

    Here’s a lunch idea that is amazingly delicious, nutritious, and extremely easy:

    1.boil whole wheat pasta. i like the squiggly swirls.

    2.one or two minutes before the pasta is done, throw in the florets of one head of broccoli. let boil for one minute (or so).

    3. remove broccoli from water, and drain pasta.

    4. blend (do not puree; should be grainy) broccoli with olive oil, lemon juice (for flavour), sea salt, and ground flax seed. It turns into a kind of pesto.

    5. stir pesto into pasta. add cheese if desired.

    It takes 10 minutes and you can add other vegetables, like carrots, that work with broccoli. I think you’ll really enjoy it.

    And eat fish fish fish! Frozen fillets are just fine; it’s all that we can afford in our household!
    Tilapia, for example, is not nearly as expensive as salmon is, but has about the same nutritional value.

  69. LeeAnn says:

    Are you possibly gluten-intolerant? Eating pancakes used to knock me out. I would make breakfast for everybody on Saturday mornings and then practically be in a coma for an hour or two after I ate. Also beer–very small amounts made me very sleepy and flushed. I was diagnosed with celiac disease last year and have been eating gluten-free since then. Since cutting all gluten from my diet (wheat, barley, rye) things have gotten much better, although I am very anemic due to intestinal damage. Just a thought. Looks like you have many enthusiastic commenters!

  70. Anonymous says:

    Go to http://www.kellythekitchenkop.com and check out her advice on foods. She mixes Catholicity in there, too!! Thanks for this posting!
    Sue. E.

  71. Julie says:

    Hi Jennifer and all:

    I’ve got to tell you I Love your website! Very inspiring and unique idea. I just came across it while researching. I’m a fellow blogger interested in health and natural health-related topics.

    I noticed someone’s entry on joining a CSA (Celiac Support Assoc) group, I presume that means :} I’m a Celiac, so am very well informed on the diet if anyone needs info. It is a very healthy diet; just more restrictive than I’d like, but it’s getting better all the time :}

    I also noticed your “Saint Diet” (great name!) and all of the diet and weight loss related posts. I have an informational blog about weight loss, diet, etc., and offer it as a resource to any of you that might find the information helpful. I would love your feedback, and whether it provided valuable or helpful information to you.

    Anyway, I just wanted to send my ‘kudos’ on your inspirational and unique blog! I’m bookmarking it if you don’t mind :}

    Thanks and God Bless.

    Julie