NOTE: Please check with your doctor, therapist, life coach, Wiccan priestess or congressional representative before listening to anything I say.
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How about Part II? Click on this BUTTON.
In the short few days since my last installment, two unfortunate happenings occurred. First: an Alert Peep informed me that my last post about Breaking Bad Habits appeared alongside an ad for Hostess Devil’s Food Twinkies. Boy, am I ever sorry about that. As soon as I can figure out how to do it, I will politely tell the Hostess Twinkie people I don’t need their 15 cents that badly, and the ad will go away.
Second: another Alert Peep saw me in the grocery store with a box of Cheez-Its in my basket. For that I have no excuse. I can say this: I have successfully weaned myself from their allure, and buy them because they nicely round out a high-carbohydrate lunch for the Diva, who eats like a hummingbird.
I promised you that I would talk food specifics today, and I will. But please note that I am not a nutritionist, dietician, doctor, or guru of any sort. Well, I’m a little bit of a guru. But just a general guru, with no speciality. Also, this is not a DIET. It is advice for changing the way you eat for life, assuming you don’t have ailments that prevent you from ingesting and digesting food normally.
Most of the fitness classes I teach are in the morning. At least once a week, I send someone out of class because he/she hasn’t eaten breakfast. Skipping morning food doesn’t make you seem too busy to eat. It makes you seem unhealthy. And stupid. But stupid’s a bad word.
Here’s what I have every morning: a piece of whole wheat toast with butter spread – you know, like Brummel & Brown or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! – and strawberry fruit spread, formerly called jam, which I eat while I’m getting the kids ready for school. After they’re gone, I drink a protein shake – a cup of almond milk, a banana, a scoop of protein powder (I use Dymetize Elite, but there are tons of good brands) and ice, blended in a Magic Bullet. It’s like a chocolate shake for breakfast.
Other great options:
Oatmeal. A 2-egg omelet with parmesan cheese, plus toast. Fruit smoothie and a mini-bagel. Plain Greek yogurt with honey and fruit, and maybe some wheat germ on top.
Don’t like breakfast food? Try a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread. For real! Or a turkey sandwich. Some pasta and a glass of milk.
Cereal isn’t great because most have so much added sugar, and even the low-sugar brands usually lack enough protein. But it’s better than nothing: if you have to have something crunchy in cold milk, check out the Kashi brands. Avoid granola unless you’re on vacation in Vermont. It’s loaded with sugar and calories.
If you don’t eat every 2-3 hours, your body thinks you’ve been abandoned on a desert island with no food, so it starts holding on to fat, and no matter how forcefully your brain tells it to LET GO! LET GO!, it won’t listen.
So you must snack. After my morning workout I eat a handful of Emerald’s Cocoa-Roasted Almonds, which are dusted with crack cocaine. So sometimes I eat two handfuls. Be sure to pay attention, though – almonds are super-nutritious and high in protein, but also highly caloric. If you’re prone to gorging, measure out a 1/4 cup and pour them into a bowl.
Other snacks I like:
Cashews (same rules as above). I adore the Glazed Cashews from Starbucks, which come in a handy packet with just one serving. Greek yogurt (see above). Protein shake or fruit smoothie (see above). One half of a peanut butter sandwich with a glass of milk. Bowl of low-fat, low-sugar cereal with skim milk. An apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter. Hummus and carrots. A protein bar, if you’re on the go.
Do you like salads? Please say you like salad. I love salad. I love spinach and dressing and feta cheese and dried cranberries and sunflower seeds and shredded cabbage. I love blue cheese and toasted almonds and chopped hardboiled egg and carrots and blueberries and spring mixed greens. Experiment. Combine crunchy with sweet and salty, or stick to a Tex-Mex theme. Watch the dressing – stick to LITE versions of old favorites. Make sure it has 70 calories or less PER SERVING, and then limit how much you put on. Hint: I chop my salads up because I find I need less dressing when I do. Top your adventurous delectable salad with some sort of protein – leftover grilled chicken, maybe, or hard-boiled egg. No croutons.
Sometimes I don’t feel like making a salad. So I buy frozen Green Giant Steamers, which feature all sorts of vegetable mixes in light sauces. I cook it in the microwave, add some torn fresh spinach and parmesan cheese, and mix. Totally fills me up.
Sandwiches aren’t terrible – veggie burger and tomato in a whole wheat sandwich thin, anyone? But make them the exception rather than the rule, because you really need more vegetables in your life.
Same as above.
Tricky, tricky, tricky. Especially if you have hungry offspring. It’s so annoying that they need to be fed every single day, again and again. And kids need more carbs than us ancients. But you can improvise. Basically, you want to limit your dinners to protein and vegetables. If you must have grains, keep your portion to what would fit in the palm of your hand, assuming you have normal lemon-sized palms. Don’t go borrowing some giant’s hand to measure.
For example: my children love a dish we call peanutty pasta – noodles with a peanut butter/sesame sauce topped with shredded carrots and chicken. Here’s what I did the other night – I served myself a small helping of the pasta, and mixed it with a bowl full of fresh spinach. I added a little soy sauce to eliminate dryness, and topped it with crushed cashews. It was seriously delicious.
Having steak and potatoes? Make some broccoli, too. Lots of broccoli. Last night we served grilled chicken, fresh corn, salad and baguette slices. I made myself an extra-busy salad, sprinkled in some corn and grilled chicken, and didn’t feel the least bit deprived by not having bread. Num num num.
Here’s the key to all of this: sticking with it for more than a few days. Old habits are hard to break, and cravings can’t be subdued in a day. But if you change your approach to food for at least a month, you’ll probably find that blueberry muffins and bagels and bacon cheeseburgers just aren’t as attractive any more.
That’s not to say you can’t ever have those items – but they should be rare treats. And I mean rare. I ADORE cinnamon raisin bagels. I haven’t had one in years. Don’t care. I love a good fish sandwich. I have one maybe once a month.
Okay, that’s all for now. Next installment: the rules, and how to break them. Now that’s the really good stuff.
Eat well and prosper, peeps!