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updated: 2/25/2013 11:55 AM

This picky eater discovering all kinds of new foods

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As my trainer, Josh Steckler, explained the contents of Push Fitness eating plan booklet to me, I kept waiting for him to get to the page with the pasta and bread.

Bad news, Mel. There isn't one. The diet is pretty much gluten-free.

"Uh oh. This is going to be a problem," I thought to myself.

My boyfriend, Brian, is Italian and pretty much a cultural stereotype when it comes to food. Which means, among other things, our cupboards are brimming with pasta (and many other kinds of gluten-y goodness).

There are, however, a whole lot of vegetables on the Push plan. In theory, I was OK with that. In reality? Another problem. I bought vegetables all the time, but I ate them only sometimes. They mostly ended up mushy and unidentifiable somewhere in the back of the refrigerator.

Josh also told me I'd need to be preparing all my food at home -- real food, not packaged stuff. Also a problem.

It's not that I can't cook, I just don't. I kind of hate cooking a little bit. I'm not a big fan of grocery shopping, either.

I left thinking Josh was crazy, the food plan was crazy and there was absolutely no way this was going to work for me.

But I had to. In the short term, it's for work. In the long term, it's for my health.

That first shopping trip took me to three (THREE!) grocery stores to gather everything I needed, plus several other things I wasn't sure I wanted at all. (This is where I should probably mention I'm a really, really picky eater)

Brian volunteered to do the cooking (yay!), as long as I promised to be honest about what I liked and what I didn't.

OK, but this is DEFINITELY NOT WHAT I USUALLY EAT (because what I usually eat is like somebody let a toddler do the grocery shopping) so I'd probably hate EVERY SINGLE THING.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

Just a few days into the first week, I learned I really like foods I previously considered "weird," like quinoa and Kalamata olives. I also discovered I absolutely love things I'd just never really eaten, like almonds (that weren't in a candy bar) and raspberries (that weren't jam).

By the time I started the second week of lean protein, healthy fats and fruits and vegetables, I realized something even bigger: Sure, I had more energy, and I was losing weight. That was great! But more importantly, I didn't feel sick when I ate.

Feeling sick when I eat has been a normal, lifelong thing for me. Every few years for as long as I can remember, I'd see a doctor about it. Nothing really conclusive ever came from those visits, other than about 15 years ago when I was diagnosed with acid reflux. I always chalked up any nausea or other symptoms to a combination of the reflux, not being great at dealing with stress and, of course, what my dad's side of the family not-so-lovingly refers to as "The Findlay Stomach." (We single-handedly keep antacid and ginger ale manufacturers in business, I'm pretty sure).

But here I am, going on two weeks, and I feel great.

So, after my years of whining about my eternally upset stomach -- and occasionally even missing work and other commitments because of it -- the solution was as simple as changing my diet? To a diet I'm really kind of loving?

Josh, maybe you and your eating plan aren't so crazy after all.

• Melynda Findlay is a member of the night copy desk at the Daily Herald, where she's worked for 14 years. She lives in Arlington Heights and really loves grilled cheese sandwiches.

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