Monday, April 13, 2009

Healthy Eating

As I said in my hCG weight loss post, Russell and I are making some big lifestyle changes in order to maintain and improve our health. Probably the biggest change, of course, involves changing the way that we eat.

I am sharing this with you because it has been a difficult journey for me, and I am still figuring it out. When we first got married, I had no idea what kind of meals to make (as a single person I had been used to eating frozen burritos, macaroni and cheese, and quesadillas for dinner most of the time). As time went on, I developed menus based on this system:

  1. choose a meat
  2. prepare it with a yummy sauce or in a creamy casserole, usually with lots of cheese
  3. supplement it with a fruit or veggie on the side (on a good day)
As I have recently learned, this system is flawed in several fundamental ways:
  1. Meat, while it contains protein and other good nutrients, also contains a lot of fat, and we eat much more of it than we need. A serving size of meat is about 4 ounces, or half of a medium-sized chicken breast. And we can get many of the same nutrients from eating beans, whole grains, nuts, and fish.
  2. Vegetables, on the other hand, are loaded with nutrients, and have very few calories. A serving size of vegetables is much larger than what we usually eat (for instance, there are only 3 servings in one of those big pre-packaged bags of spinach). Our meals, instead of being meat-based with veggies on the side, should be vegetable-based with a little meat.
  3. A good portion of the fat and calories that we eat comes from the sauces and condiments that we use. If we flavor our foods with spices and vinegars instead of creams and oils, we can cut down significantly on the calories and fat content of our meals.

So, I am in the process of redoing my menus. I am searching for healthy and tasty meals--hopefully ones that won't cost an arm and a leg, or take hours to prepare. I will share my finds with you (later...this post is already too long), and I would love it if you would share yours with me.

Now just in case you think I am as fanatic as this post makes me sound, I must admit that I still put sour cream on my burritos, and I still eat chocolate on a regular basis. We go out for cheeseburgers sometimes, and we eat ice cream when the urge hits. The difference is that we used to eat like that all the time, and now we are trying to shift the balance so that the majority of what we eat is healthy.

I have said before that I think we often focus too much on losing weight, and we are too hard on ourselves about the way that we look. I hope you don't see my efforts toward healthy eating as hypocritical in view of that statement. Rather, I hope you can see that I am concerned for the health of my family, and I am searching for realistic ways to stay healthy while still enjoying food, because I do think eating is one of the great pleasures in life.


Kelley said...

Good post, Bonnie, and very insightful. Food isn't the enemy at all; it's just how we treat it. I'm being very uninspired in my cooking lately, and it is showing in the increased distance around my waistline. I find that when I thoughtfully prepare delicious foods, they are invariably healthier and taste better than when I'm just throwing things together. I'll send you some great recipes I've found that are healthy and delicious. It's late so I'll have to do it tomorrow. If I forget, remind me. They're really good.

Lorinda said...

Thanks for the inspiration, Bon. I would love to have some of the recipes you find. And then pass some of that determination, too. After gaining 5 lbs in the last 2 weeks, i have recommitted to healthy eating. argghhh! I know i feel better when i eat more carefully, why don't i stick with it?

Brooke said...

I will stay tuned because I would love healthier solutions, if I can just convince Jake...

Chaka said...

Nice post. I agree with you. Eating is the key and so is moderation and variety. I think we like to make good nutrition more complicated than it needs to be.

JennyFer said...

I struggle with the whole financial aspect of healthy eating too. Why do wheat foods and sugar free foods cost more, I totally could live off of p.b.&j. and noodle cups but I know that isn't healthy. Anyway I know it's hard but important. Good luck and I'll let you know of any good meal ideas when I find one. One thing for us is that we do eat the same things but in a healthier form, like wheat pancakes instead of white, and we use sugar free syrup. Like you said, less meat and more veggies. Anyway sorry for the long comment, good luck.

Amy F said...

What's sad is that I know all the health crap (my family is crazy healthy) but I don't follow it as good as I should. I do have some great recipes though so I'll have to share those. What has worked for me in whatever I'm making though is to use a small plate and fill it half with veggies and one-fourth grain (whole wheat) and the other fourth, meat. (Chicken and turkey is actually quite low in fat and not as expensive as low fat hamburger, etc). It's expensive to eat healthy oftentimes, but fat free things (i.e. sour cream) are the same price as the regular. (Same with canned goods, with no extra sugar or salt added). Now if I could only cut out the goodies and munchies I crave I could be healthy like you!

Amber said...

I find it so difficult to eat helthly when on a tight busy schedule such as ours. We have been pretty concerned about trying to eat healthier as well lately but it's been slow going. Now if only the weather would get better I would go out and exercise! It's so difficult to stay fit as my body hit 20! My metablolism totally just slowed down and things started sticking to me like crazy:0

Liz said...

You've sort of inspired me. I've been thinking about changing my diet too, and the break between semesters is a good time to start I think. I'd like to work towards a more vegetarian + fish diet. My hope is that maybe diet could help me feel a little better, since drs and medicine aren't really getting me there.

-Lizzie Edwards

Mel said...

At my school, we get free sessions with a dietician. And as I'm quite enamored with eating healthy, I took advantage of the opportunity. Here are three of my favorite things I learned:

Tree nuts and fruit:

You should always eat some sort of healthy fat with your non-fat items. That way your body can take advantage of the fat soluble vitamins and nutrients you'd otherwise lose out on. You should have a little fat in every thing you eat. There was a study done that proved that a 1/4 c of tree nuts a day helped pre-diabetic patients lose weight and stay healthier.

1/4 c (small handful) of tree nuts a day helps you lose weight!
And its a good time to pair it with a piece of fruit for a satisfying snack.

Fancy Oatmeal:

1/2-2/3 c old fashioned oats - fiber, whole grain
2 T ground flax seed - SUPER good for you (buy the whole seed, usually found in the bulk foods section, grind with coffee grinder/food processor, and store in the fridge because it goes rancid easily)
Raisins - fruit component
Cinnamon - good for digestive tract (I think)
A little more water than oats
Microwave for 2 mins
Milk: fat free or soy - protein
Microwave for another minute or two

Then comes the fat!!! The dietician asked me what my favorite kind of fat is. I paused because it felt like a trick question and finally said, "Uhhh, butter!" "No! no! no!" she said, "butter is awful. Dark chocolate is your friend!!" Oh right! Forgive me!

Last step: 1 oz. Dark Chocolate (65% cacao or the closest you can find) Ghirardelli makes dark choc. chips that I love. You can mix them in before and have chocolate oatmeal but I like the melted chocolate spots effect better.

I eat this every morning and never get sick of it because it is super easy, super fast, super healthy and most importantly super yummy. Two more terrific reasons to eat it: keeps you full for a long time, all the fiber keeps you skinny!

Lentil Vegetable Soup:

Pick all your favorite veggies, cut them up, throw them in a big pot with a bag of rinsed lentils, cover with water and cook until the soup is the consistency you like. (I like mine thick!) Here is a list of my favorite ingredients I've learned in my experiments with this soup:

A whole head of cauliflower
Sweet potatoes or regular potatoes of any variety
Bell peppers, red are my fave
Saute together:
Bouillon cubes to add some tastiness OR Curry powder
Parsley or green onions add tastiness

I always add Lawry's seasoned salt and some grated parmesan to top off my bowl.

You really can't go wrong! Its a great way to use up veggies before they go bad or try new ones you've never had before.

I make big batches and eat off it for a week or freeze it. Fast and easy and super healthy way to get your veggies.

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