(4 minute read)
Energy and physicality. There is nothing like it.
I write this post during a point in time where I am in recovery from having a bunionectomy on my right foot. Buinion; sexy, delicious, hot, make you want to kiss me word. I know. One really doesn't realize how much every single little thing you put into your body matters, until you notice how impacted you are when all you have is your fuel – and your own energy to sustain you, without the option of being physically mobile. Conscious awareness at its finest.
If you are interested in the details of what bunion surgery is all about (namely, my experience), I will write on the topic in a subsequent post once I've had a bit more time in observation. I am only in recovery day 21. To break it down recovery-wise, you are homebound for six weeks without being able to pursue much, if any, physical activity in the first three weeks (bone and blood vessels must heal without disrupt). Between recovery weeks six and ten, you are still not free like the wind. Your foot must stay elevated more often than not, however – physical activity of longer duration and greater impact is allowed. Moving on.
My recommendation in direct reference to optimal foods for surgery recovery is perceived (observation from my own experience), not actual. I am not a licensed practitioner in terms of stating what makes you best heal and from what type of food. What I can say, is some foods make your body and your brain far foggier than others (think: gluten, dairy, sugar, processed foods, an abundance of hormone-laden meat, alcohol, etc.). Here, we focus on the simple foods that allow you sustained energy, do not clog your mind, and allow you sustainability in the sanity department for the moments you need it most (surgery recovery, extensive travel, peak moments of performance, – and everyday!).
During recovery, my energy is reflective of a self-serve only buffet (primarily). No getting my spin on at my favourite indoor cycling joint, nor was I visiting Whole Foods, walking along the seawall, or going for lunch with friends at one of our favourite spots with great atmosphere, “vibrance”, as the Brit's say. Hawksworth and Tableau, I miss you! I also badly miss going for a steam or sauna once in a while. Again, not allowed. One does gain significant amounts of energy interacting with the rest of the world, and the elements; a true testament that everything is operating at its own vibrational frequency in relation to its surroundings. Rather, I am hanging in the rain, at home, during the winter – albeit no complaints, the view is great and I have had company for the most part.
Also to note, the choices below are all vegetarian. I am one year into living pescatarian (vegetables plus seafood). Give up sushi? I would rather cut my hand off. The day the hammer dropped (converting to a plant-based lifestyle), was Grammy's 2014. Beyonce's ‘Drunk in Love' situation on stage, après her and Jay's recent (2013) vegan stint – I thought, why not switch it up? Challenge accepted. My days of being a meat-eating protein monkey could be put on hold for a while, and so they did. Let's move onto the front lines for food and beverage reporting.
There is no denying I'm a beverage queen. Line 'em up and knock 'em down.
All day everyday I drank herbal tea with honey, lemon and Manuka Honey. If you haven't heard of Manuka Honey, look it up. It is raw and possesses anti-fungal properties. Great for proactive combat in winter illness, and life in general. And although this honey is not inexpensive, a little goes a long way.
If I needed a jolt of caffeine, I drank Yerba Mate green tea. I did not drink coffee at all during my recovery – with one exception. The day I bust loose at the end of week one, I did pop into my favourite West Van coffee shop, Crema, to grab something – likely an almond dirty chai latte. It didn't make me feel horrible, but it didn't make me feel good.
To spice things up I would have a Kombucha (this is my favourite brand). Kombucha is fermented tea which aids in digestion among other things. This was fine for the first while, though having one everyday was not optimal. Although only naturally occurring sugars were prevalent, there was still enough concentration that my system didn't respond well. I did have a glass of wine at week three, though even then – I hadn't had any alcohol in my system for three weeks, and the feeling made me sluggish.
Three hot “speciality” beverages I made on the regular and fell in love with were: 1) lemongrass, ginger, lemon and manuka honey, 2) same as the first, just add potent amounts of turmeric, and for the third, 3) warmed almond milk with matcha powder (matcha latte).
The grand dame of beverages was (and is), green juice! Drinks like a meal, practically – as there are so many variations of what you can do. Some of my favourite (and less hard core) permutations were: 1) cilantro, lemon, lime, cayenne, and filtered water (all blended), 2) spinach, coconut water, mango, and basil, 3) frozen acai, kale (or spinach), half a banana, sometimes egg whites, and filtered water, and 4) this recipe (cinnamon toast crunch taste-alike, no joke), from my favourite little health nugget, Jenny of Healthy Crush. She's rad. Follow her.
One note, adding in either an avocado or banana (to any smoothie/green smoothie, etc.), will thicken the viscosity right up.
One also cannot go wrong with raw cold pressed juice for the special occasions where I felt I need a little true and extra vitality. The super babes at The Juicery came to the rescue in literal delivery, because at this point – still no driving.
Protein shakes/drinks. Lest we forget. Some of the favourites were: 1) almond milk, one scoop of crunchy almond butter, half a banana, and a scoop of vanilla protein (Vega, Progenex, or Sun Warrior), all blended, 2) almond milk, matcha powder, vanilla protein, or 3) plain old chocolate protein. Sprinkle on top of all (that make sense): chia seeds, hemp seeds, and/or fresh grated coconut. If you want to crank the protein content up, blend in 3 egg whites. I would not try this with the matcha shake, however 😉
Though throw your berries in the sky! (And catch them in a Vitamix). There's nothing like adding raspberries (or berries of any kind) to pack an added punch of flavour, and benefit – though I myself, would rather pop a handful of burst in your mouth blackberries than blend them.
Foods You Actually Chew
In addition to the vast array of beverages I couldn't get enough of, there was plenty I consumed that ranked high (enough) on the food scale without making me sluggish.
Eggs were always a headliner. Eggs and egg whites. Poached eggs atop cooked beets, sweet potatoes, or one thin slice of perservative-free sourdough bread topped with homemade pico de gallo, or Antoinette's Wicked Fresh Hot Cilantro Salsa was part of every day. A hardboiled egg with salt & pepper fared an easy go-to snack, too.
Organic steel cut oats and egg whites. Cook the steel cut oats, add 3 egg whites into the almost cooked steel cut oat mixture. Serve sprinkled with cinnamon, chia seeds, grated coconut, and sometimes either goji berries or maple syrup. Mmm. Syrup.
Rather than popping gummy candies (the obvious choice for an eat of out boredom), dried prunes, dates, and nuts made the most satisfying snack. I'm addicted to cashews, although almonds, pistachios, and walnuts are also good choices.
Make your own trail mix. Choose your nut combo (sans peanuts. No one should be eating peanuts, or peanut butter. . . ). Add in carob chips, coconut shreds, goji berries, and pieces of dried mango and pineapple. Again, to die for.
Apples. A healthy source of fibre. Keep in mind I'm attempting to eat what fruits and veggies are in season (and it's winter), otherwise, a nectarine a day would be on tap. Back to apples. A sliced apple sprinkled with cinnamon did the trick in satisfaction, or – if I possessed an ounce of patience that day (not like I was going anywhere), I would core the apple and then bake it whole with cinnamon and raisins (in a small dish). Baking an apple like this basically turns the apple into gooey delicious faux apple crisp. I say faux, b/c there is no trace of the crisp – just gooey, apple deliciousness.
Bananas, almond butter and chia seeds. That's that. Sometimes toss in plain greek yogurt and a dollop of Manuka honey if wanting to switch things up. This concoction actually slowed me down more than the rest. I found/find bananas heavy on a good day – but again, it was something to switch up the mundane.
Home made pizza. Over and over, and over again. I would get fresh dough from Whole Foods to make into crust, and who up a a basic margherita pizza with bufalo mozzerala and basil; add cracked chiles, and chili oil.
Mashed Cauliflower with garlic and cracked pink himalyan sea salt. This was a better alternative than eating starchy, heavy white potatoes.
Soup. My go to was this ultra thick, stew-like lentil soup, though I didn't discriminate from any (made fresh, of course). Lentils are a good source of both protein and fiber. I do recommend soaking the lentils over night, or at least for an hour pre-making soup with them, however. Removes some of the nitrate content one need not absorb. Borscht soup was, and is always a fave; you can't go wrong with a cabbage and vegetable based soup any day. Cream of tomato is always heart winning, and on occasion – a full out multi-cheese laden grilled cheese to accompany had to happen. Which usually proceeded a sleep like food coma.
Fresh sliced roma tomatoes and cucumber, salt, pepper, goat cheese or feta (and olive oil). Simple salad.
An avocado with garlic salt sprinkled and chill oil drizzled on top. Sometimes turned this into a mashed avocado toast with a poached egg on top (squeeze all with lemon!).
Other variety included fried sauerkraut, pineapple and watermelon satisfied my sweet tooth. I would often have a slice of cheese with an apple – smoked apple wood cheddar (a vegetarian's dream, as this cheese basically doubles as bacon)!
Power salads. I will write a future post on the particulars of this salad, though I'll say it's primarily kale/swiss char/cilantro based, with olive oil/lemon/garlic as dressing. Add in black beans and wild rice to add some meaty texture as well. Feta, cucumber, tomatoes, red pepper, and if you wish, red onion – all diced hella' small. This was great brain food.
And for the biggest win of all – SUSHI! Fresh legit fish from my favourite (place once I could leave the house intermittently). Paired with green tea, and we were good to go. Okay, and now and then a little cold sake to warm the healing foot soul 😉 This is my fave.
Other Points to Note
One can consume as much food as they want, though when dormant in recovery mode from surgery – there's only so much you can do to not grow sideways (especially if you have a 5'0 frame!).
Once I mastered what I could eat and how much I could move, I then moved onto the timing of everything. Wake up in the morning, guzzle lemon water, go for a “hobble” down the lane for a couple rounds. Come back start with whatever egg du jour combo I felt, and then go on with my day (on the computer/phone). A snack mid morning, the lunch, snack mid afternoon, then dinner, and usually a 10 cashews before bed. Basically eating every three hours to keep the internal fire stoked (alike when I was working out at my peak and paying attention to the timing of “meals”). This truly does work in the best fashion. Beverages throughout the day. I can't say hydrate enough. After each snack or meal – a walk/hobble down the lane plus water, is seemingly becoming the drill.
In summary – eating clean without a lot of complex carbohydrates, and WITH a lot of vegetables, clean protein, and good fats – hits the mark in keeping a clear mind and sustained energy. Plus physicality (whatever the activity be). All this food talk, I've made myself hungry. Off to mack a snack!
I hope you've found my l'il list somewhat useful. & Remember, be light, and be the Light, friends 😉