Larry Preston

Champion of Endless Optimization (CEO) at Digital Opera & Raceday. Happy stoic, aspirational minimalist, recovered big hair 80’s rock star. Author of “Star Fire Kids – Midnight Blue Express”.

The Path to Eating Better

Almost a year ago, I came back from the We Care Spa in Palm Springs, California, where I learned a lot about food and its effect on me. I also lost 18.5 pounds and felt better than I had in years.

Let me repeat that: I felt better than I had in years. I did not know it, but I had learned to live with feeling slightly like crap (physically) for so long that I didn’t remember what it was like to feel really great. It really was a revelation.

When I wrote about simple eating a year ago, I wondered if I had learned what would constitute “simple eating,” and the answer was no. I now know that “simple eating” is really the quest to find what food is best for my digestive system and keeps me feeling great.

I’ve come to learn that each of us has to figure out what works for us. No doctor, guru, dietician, or “expert” can tell you what to do. Guide you, perhaps, but they can’t make it work for you. I’ve had to do the hard work and experiment – and it’s paying off.

When I went back to Minnesota, I found it difficult to find the right kinds of foods I wanted to experiment with without driving great distances. I also wasn’t hanging around many people that could be helpful – I love those people, but I tend to eat what everyone else is having. I found myself sliding back into old habits, and by November, I had put most of that 18.5 pounds right back on.

I moved to Denver in December, and I put my food education slightly on hold while I got settled in and focused on my business. But I stayed away from two things: Dairy and Wheat.

I never got tested for celiac disease during the year, but I tried not eating any wheat or anything with gluten in it for a long time and then experimented with re-introducing it to my diet. In every case, the effects were pretty bad. Within a day or two, my gut felt like I had swallowed a football that was lodged in my stomach, followed by a day-long case of the Hershey squirts.

This matches exactly with the symptoms of Gluten intolerance detailed in William Davis’ book “Wheat Belly.” While I intend to get tested, I have removed all bread and wheat from anything I eat and avoid things I know usually contain gluten, like chewing gum and beer.

Dairy is another story. I don’t yet know if I have an issue with it, but I feel better without it. Only rarely will I have any butter; I’ve switched to almond milk (which I like better anyway), and I’ve even stopped eating cheese – something I couldn’t imagine giving up a year ago.

I was feeling pretty dang good when I went back to Minnesota for a week in late January. I had such a good time with my peeps back there that I just plain ignored the diet issues. For almost two weeks, I went back to eating more as I would normally: Meat, few vegetables, lots of grains. I knew I was going to pay for it, but I chose to ignore that thought.

When I got home to Denver, I felt like total garbage for almost a week and a half. I wanted to get back to feeling as good as I did when I got back from the spa, but I thought it might be good to get some outside help this time. I had to admit I still didn’t know what I was doing.

Fortunately, Denver is a great place to be if you’re trying to figure this all out. There are tons of people, restaurants, grocery stores, and learning opportunities. As I checked out some of the classes or specialists that I thought might help, I stumbled upon an app for my phone called “Rise.”

Rise lets you take a picture of everything you eat, and then an expert nutritionist helps you learn what was good or bad about what you ate. My coach is named “Rebecca,” and I know nothing about her except that she has been very positive and accommodating. The more I ask, the more she provides solid ideas on what I can do better.

So what do I eat? It varies, but I try to eat vegetables with every meal. I eat one decent-sized protein every morning, either eggs or a plant protein drink. I make a lot of vegetable smoothies, and I just bought a vegetable juicer. Dinner is often vegetables and chicken with some olive oil.

And I have continued to eat out – a lot. I usually stick to salads, but I am pretty careful about the dressing. I eat burgers and chicken sandwiches without the buns and add some extra vegetables to them. I eat chips and salsa. Sometimes I have a piece of steak and some vegetables, skipping the potatoes. And I am trying a lot of new foods. I still have a coffee now and then, but I’ve always just liked the black or plain espresso.. no cream or sugar and no frilly drinks from Caribou or Starbucks.

The bottom line is that I do not miss, in any way, shape, or form the dairy or the wheat. I know that sounds very odd to anyone who enjoys those foods.. and I will say I do occasionally crave cheese… but I do not feel deprived of anything.

Let me also add that at this point, I do not see myself going vegetarian or vegan, even after watching a few different movies about it and talking with several people who are doing very well with that. I’m open-minded about it and will continue to be open to it. But for now, I like meat and feel it’s good for me.

As of today, I’ve lost another 14 pounds. It’s coming off very, very slowly. But I’m not at all trying to lose weight. While I do have a goal weight in mind, my real goal is to figure out what works for me and keep me feeling good.

I’m not there yet. But I feel a whole year closer.

Got Something to Say About This? Email Me. I Respond to All.