FAT…why would you even use that word?

I am constantly learning and tweaking nutrition and tactics to support the healthy lifestyle my husband and I enjoy. It takes effort and time, but it is worth it. One of the reasons I work part time is to be able to do this for our family. Lifestyle decisions. My husband and I decided that a healthy lifestyle was a priority for us. We make choices to ensure we can keep it a reality. Weight management has much more to do with nutrition than activity level, and if you read my most recent post about the green cast, you will understand why I’m focused on nutrition again…

I’ve been intrigued by the potential health benefits a higher fat diet may support. After some research, I have come to believe increasing healthy fats in my diet may be key for keeping my weight under control as I age. But, there are many benefits from increasing the healthy fat intake.

Hopefully you know me well enough by now to know that I am not about extremes. Carbohydrates are important and must be included in a healthy and balanced diet. I am advocating swapping out some carbohydrates for healthy fats day to day. An important key is to swap and not just add healthy fats, here’s why. Fat has more calories per gram and while good for us, will = increased weight if not monitored. Just keeping it real, peeps! Daily caloric intake is like a bank account…choose how you spend it wisely.

Adding Fat on Purpose

Healthy-FatThere is always a “new” diet surfacing in the media. Foods have phases it seems and research about our nutrition needs continues to evolve. A healthy lifestyle includes tweaking and changing daily nutrition to best meet the needs of our body for that day. We don’t do the same thing each day, our activity varies, our hormones vacillate, our circumstances change, it makes sense then that our body’s needs will be different. When we know better, we do better, right?

Recently I’ve added more healthy fats into my diet. The initial draw was to add a new tool to the weight management toolbox. I am drawn to carbohydrates and love sweets, so the idea of swapping out some of that to curb cravings seemed like a wise move. Not easy, but wise none the less. I did the Ketogenic (Keto) Diet for 12 days to jump-start my new normal (and let’s be real, lose a few pounds). My nutrition goals, while trying the Keto Diet,  were to stay below 50 grams of carbs daily and have 70-75% of my diet come from fat. Maybe you’re asking, why 12 days? The answer is because that is all I could stand! I’m afraid I may have ruined myself on avocados for life. Not really, but I did take a break from them for several days after this experiment. The change was so big that I felt stifled & trapped which is not a good place for me in my head. These types of drastic changes can lead to binges and epic failure…noted. I knew I needed a new plan.

I learned a lot, though, and I’m very glad I did it. I learned that healthy fats really do minimize cravings and increase satiety. I learned that I can do hard things…for 12 days. I learned that there are carbs hiding in all sorts of places! For instance, sugar-free mints. Seriously? I learned that the low-fat way of eating is deeply ingrained in my mind. I was raised in the low-fat/carbs are good generation (Misguided mentality included “eat all the bagels you want, they are low-fat!”). The importance of accurate information, continued education, and adaptation cannot be overstated. All of this discovery led to conversations with my husband about what we wanted our diet to look like. We agreed that a more Mediterranean diet is best for us. This includes a larger portion of our calories coming from healthy fats. I shoot for a break down of about 45% Carbohydrates, 25% healthy fats, and 30% Protein. I use the MyFitnessPal app on my phone for easy food tracking. Carbohydrates from mainly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Protein from lean meat, dairy,  and vegetables sources. Fats that are healthy for my body and without *trans fats. Oh…and wine. All things in moderation, right?

Quick lesson on dietary fat: *Trans fat is the fat that increases our bad cholesterol and decreases our good cholesterol. A diet high in trans fats leads to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Trans fats are usually found in foods that are processed and have a good shelf life. When reading labels, look for “partially hydrogenated oil”. Baked goods, ready-to-grab snacks, chips, fried foods, refrigerated dough (think canned biscuits, pizza dough, etc) , non-dairy coffee creamers and stick margarine are common places that trans fats will be lurking. Monounsaturated fat is your friend. Look to increase this type of fat when adding fats to a healthy lifestyle.

We need healthy fats in our diet. Fat aids us in keeping healthy skin and hair, absorbing vitamins, reducing inflammation, supporting brain function, and blood clotting, just to highlight a few things. Our body uses fat for energy when carbohydrates, it’s #1 pick for energy, are limited. Therefore, by swapping out some of our carbohydrates for healthy fats, we can increase our fat burning on a day-to-day basis. Fats are a more concentrated source of energy with 9 calories/gram. Carbohydrates and Proteins have 4 calories/gram. This is an important fact to keep forefront in your mind as you add fats into your diet. Portion size should be noted so that you don’t shoot yourself in the foot trying to do the right thing for your body, but instead pile on more pounds for it to carry around (track it, peeps, MyFitnessPal). It takes awareness and effort to live a healthy lifestyle. But here’s the deal: you get one life. One body. It is important to develop habits that promote health, not just weight loss. We are not just numbers on a scale, we are complex and valuable creations.

A recent joy in my life has been my grown children returning to more healthy nutrition by their own choices. We text and visit about easy menus and the importance of planning and my heart is so full. As I’ve grown, recovered from eating disorders, and learned about healthy living, while being their mom, they have been watching. The ripple effect of our eating habits is larger than we might believe. It is challenging to create healthy habits. It takes time and trial and error and a lot of getting up after falling down, but it is worth it. No one that you see that is fit and healthy woke up that way one day! It is a process for everyone and it begins with one choice. Adding choices up day after day leads to changes and results in feeling better emotionally, physically, and mentally.

“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday” Eleanor Roosevelt

 

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Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

I made these muffins this morning and posted this picture on Facebook. A couple of people commented that they would like the recipe so I am posting it here on my blog. These have been a staple for Tom for breakfast for many years now. He also likes “Breakfast Brownies” which are chocolate zucchini muffins. I believe I have those posted on my blog somewhere, but I’ll re-post for your convenience.

I love to bake and I began making muffins instead of loaves of bread due to the built-in portion control they offer. It was just too easy to cut 1/3 of the loaf and justify in my mind that I had a “slice”of banana bread. HA! Please be sure to review the nutritional data, the information is calculated per muffin. These are made with whole wheat flour and oats which add fiber. Taking in fiber when carbohydrates are ingested slows down the impact on blood sugar levels. This leads to more stable blood sugar without spikes in insulin production. Our bodies then have more time to burn the carbohydrates before they are stored as fat. This is a good thing. If you have a muffin and one egg with coffee for breakfast, your day will be off to a great start!

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cup Oats
  • 1 TBSP. baking powder
  • 1 TBSP. baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup Splenda/Stevia
  • 1 cup no sugar added applesauce
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4 egg whites or 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (may be omitted, nutritional info. below)
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt then set aside
  3. Mix together Splenda, applesauce, milk, and egg whites until smooth
  4. Add in bananas
  5. Add dry ingredients into banana mixture and stir just until combined
  6. Stir in chocolate chips
  7. distribute batter into 24 muffin cups
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes
 Nutrition Facts
Servings 24.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 159
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4 g 6 %
Saturated Fat 2 g 9 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 25 mg 1 %
Potassium 170 mg 5 %
Total Carbohydrate 29 g 10 %
Dietary Fiber 4 g 14 %
Sugars 9 g
Protein 4 g 8 %
Vitamin A 1 %
Vitamin C 6 %
Calcium 4 %
Iron 6 %

 

Nutrition Facts (without chocolate chips)
Servings 24.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 112
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1 g 2 %
Saturated Fat 0 g 1 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 25 mg 1 %
Potassium 170 mg 5 %
Total Carbohydrate 23 g 8 %
Dietary Fiber 4 g 14 %
Sugars 4 g
Protein 4 g 8 %
Vitamin A 1 %
Vitamin C 6 %
Calcium 4 %
Iron 6 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Macros…Smackroes.

Lots of talk lately about macros. Maybe you feel silly because you don’t know what macros are or understand what they have to do with weight. I kept seeing IIFYM on blogs and social media and was clueless, so thankfully Goggle helped me out! (It stands for If It Fits Your Macros.) Macros is short for macro-nutrients: Carbohydrates (carbs), proteins, and fats used for fuel by the body. Many body builders count their macros to ensure that their intake of protein is sufficient to “make gains”. Athletes of all kinds have tweaked macro intake to “cut” or “bulk” or maximize performance. The reality is our bodies are complex machines that are built for survival. And just as an engine requires gasoline, oil, oxygen, and spark to purr…our bodies require different types of fuel to function properly.

There is nothing wrong with counting macros but you certainly don’t have to in order to be healthy or lose weight. The science continues to hold true that food intake – calories burned = weight lost or gained. If you eat 2500 calories everyday and only burn 1800 calories everyday, at the end of the year you are going to have added some pounds to your frame. Science.

Here’s how I keep it simple. I use My Fitness Pal to track my intake. There are many apps available that will track calories, macros, exercise, ovulation…you name it! The important thing is to track what you are taking in. Set some goals, pick your app, and get started.

My Fitness Pal allows custom goals to be entered. I work out regularly which includes strength training, so I set my daily macros at 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 20% fats. I do not stress about these numbers. By setting these goals, I can make educated food choices that will give my body what it needs. For instance, if I’m feeling lethargic and I note that I had eggs (protein) for breakfast, and a Baby Bell mini cheese wheel (protein and fat) for a quick snack, it quickly becomes evident that some carbohydrates would be an excellent choice for a snack to perk myself up. My body is lethargic because it needs quick fuel. Carbohydrates are our body’s #1 choice for fuel. Cue an apple, banana, carrot sticks, or hummus with red peppers. This logical approach to eating helps me to think of my body as a machine needing fuel instead of a hot mess of emotions that just wants chocolate all day, all the time. It doesn’t always work, but I keep moving forward.

I also enter my weight and my desired weight into my customized goals. The app spits out an approximate daily calorie count for me to aim towards. This is not a detailed nutritional analysis like I would receive from a dietitian, but it is certainly a helpful guide and place to begin (and free)! Once I track my intake for a couple of weeks, if I’m not getting the results I want, I can look back and figure out where I need to make changes in my plan. Maybe I didn’t stick to my calorie count or eat many vegetables. If I look back over the previous weeks and see that most days I only logged breakfast…that is a clue, right? Weight management and living a healthy lifestyle are not going to just happen…we gotta commit and work at it every day.

Key Points:

Eat regularly. Remember your body is a machine built for survival. If many hours pass without fuel, it defaults into storage mode. This is why breakfast is important. You have fasted all night, it is time to tell your body that food is abundant and it can burn it, not store it. Shoot to eat every 3-4 hours while awake. This keeps your metabolism humming.

Track your intake. Eating a large meal every 3-4 hours will not result in too much of a good thing! Portion control is critical. Variety is so important as well. By tracking intake you can see if you are getting all the nutrients that you need. A balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats is the goal.

Move! Walk, crawl, roll, jump…whatever works for you, but get your body moving. Strength training (lift those weights) is important for building muscle which keeps metabolism revved up and strengthens bones and joints. If you don’t own weights or belong to a gym, that’s alright! Get creative. Full water bottles work great as weights.

Plan for Success. Failure to plan = planning to fail, right? Plan your meals, take snacks when you run errands so that you aren’t tempted by those clever marketing tactics. One evening while the family watches TV, cut up veggies and wash fruit so that you have quick grabs that fit into your desired lifestyle. You have time, you just need to make healthy eating a priority for yourself (and your family).

AuntJodiIt is so great for me to write about all of this! It reminds me why I do what I do and encourages me to keep doing it! I don’t do what I want to every day. I don’t always eat nutritious foods or log my intake. But I’m trying. Blogging helps me to re-focus; I hope you are encouraged to create the life you really want too. Take good care of yourself, you are the only one that can be you!

 

 

 

Macros…Smackroes.

Lots of talk lately about macros. Maybe you feel silly because you don’t know what macros are or understand what they have to do with weight. I kept seeing IIFYM on blogs and social media and was clueless, so thankfully Goggle helped me out! (It stands for If It Fits Your Macros.) Macros is short for macro-nutrients: Carbohydrates (carbs), proteins, and fats used for fuel by the body. Many body builders count their macros to ensure that their intake of protein is sufficient to “make gains”. Athletes of all kinds have tweaked macro intake to “cut” or “bulk” or maximize performance. The reality is our bodies are complex machines that are built for survival. And just as an engine requires gasoline, oil, oxygen, and spark to purr…our bodies require different types of fuel to function properly.

There is nothing wrong with counting macros but you certainly don’t have to in order to be healthy or lose weight. The science continues to hold true that food intake – calories burned = weight lost or gained. If you eat 2500 calories everyday and only burn 1800 calories everyday, at the end of the year you are going to have added some pounds to your frame. Science.

Here’s how I keep it simple. I use My Fitness Pal to track my intake. There are many apps available that will track calories, macros, exercise, ovulation…you name it! The important thing is to track what you are taking in. Set some goals, pick your app, and get started.

My Fitness Pal allows custom goals to be entered. I work out regularly which includes strength training, so I set my daily macros at 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 20% fats. I do not stress about these numbers. By setting these goals, I can make educated food choices that will give my body what it needs. For instance, if I’m feeling lethargic and I note that I had eggs (protein) for breakfast, and a Baby Bell mini cheese wheel (protein and fat) for a quick snack, it quickly becomes evident that some carbohydrates would be an excellent choice for a snack to perk myself up. My body is lethargic because it needs quick fuel. Carbohydrates are our body’s #1 choice for fuel. Cue an apple, banana, carrot sticks, or hummus with red peppers. This logical approach to eating helps me to think of my body as a machine needing fuel instead of a hot mess of emotions that just wants chocolate all day, all the time. It doesn’t always work, but I keep moving forward.

I also enter my weight and my desired weight into my customized goals. The app spits out an approximate daily calorie count for me to aim towards. This is not a detailed nutritional analysis like I would receive from a dietitian, but it is certainly a helpful guide and place to begin (and free)! Once I track my intake for a couple of weeks, if I’m not getting the results I want, I can look back and figure out where I need to make changes in my plan. Maybe I didn’t stick to my calorie count or eat many vegetables. If I look back over the previous weeks and see that most days I only logged breakfast…that is a clue, right? Weight management and living a healthy lifestyle are not going to just happen…we gotta commit and work at it every day.

Key Points:

Eat regularly. Remember your body is a machine built for survival. If many hours pass without fuel, it defaults into storage mode. This is why breakfast is important. You have fasted all night, it is time to tell your body that food is abundant and it can burn it, not store it. Shoot to eat every 3-4 hours while awake. This keeps your metabolism humming.

Track your intake. Eating a large meal every 3-4 hours will not result in too much of a good thing! Portion control is critical. Variety is so important as well. By tracking intake you can see if you are getting all the nutrients that you need. A balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats is the goal.

Move! Walk, crawl, roll, jump…whatever works for you, but get your body moving. Strength training (lift those weights) is important for building muscle which keeps metabolism revved up and strengthens bones and joints. If you don’t own weights or belong to a gym, that’s alright! Get creative. Full water bottles work great as weights.

Plan for Success. Failure to plan = planning to fail, right? Plan your meals, take snacks when you run errands so that you aren’t tempted by those clever marketing tactics. One evening while the family watches TV, cut up veggies and wash fruit so that you have quick grabs that fit into your desired lifestyle. You have time, you just need to make healthy eating a priority for yourself (and your family).

AuntJodiIt is so great for me to write about all of this! It reminds me why I do what I do and encourages me to keep doing it! I don’t do what I want to every day. I don’t always eat nutritious foods or log my intake. But I’m trying. Blogging helps me to re-focus; I hope you are encouraged to create the life you really want too. Take good care of yourself, you are the only one that can be you!

 

 

 

The Best Way

 

laughing-baby Unique from the Beginning

From our first breath, we are unique. I see it every day in my job as a baby nurse. Some infants are quiet and content, some are feisty and “talkative”. Some babies want to be held all the time, other babies need a break from the cuddling. I continue to be in awe of the unique personality traits that are evident from the first moments of life. From feet to fingerprints, we are individuals and one-of-a-kind miracles from the moment we arrive on this earth until the moment we take our last breath.

In order to fully embrace our lives, we must understand, accept, and remind ourselves daily that we are unique…and that is how it supposed to be. You have been created with a unique set of gifts, talents, desires, and characteristics. When honed and mastered these skills will enrich your life and bless those who come in contact with you. So, open your heart and identify your strengths. Nurture them, refine them, use them, and relax in knowing you are exactly who you were meant to be and you are precious.

In our world buzzing with social media it is easy to get lost and believe that only other people are having fun, enjoying life, and making dreams come true. That is a bunch of b.o.l.o.g.n.a! Don’t waste time wishing you were someone else, spend your time and energy becoming your best you!

Healthy Lifestyle – My Way

A healthy lifestyle means different things to different people. That makes sense being that we are all different! Acceptance of others and their beliefs is an important component of any healthy lifestyle. For me personally, my approach to eating is one of balance and moderation. I enjoy every food group and choose to focus on portions, monitoring my macro-nutrients (Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats), and overall caloric intake (Thanks My Fitness Pal!). This approach has developed over years of frustration with fad diets and yo-yo weight loss/gain prompting research and commitment to success. It works for me. Does that mean it is the plan, morsel for morsel, that you should immediately apply to your life? Nope. You need to discover your own style, your own methods, and a lifestyle that works with your big picture of life! It is unfair and unrealistic to think that just because a certain plan or approach works for one person that it will work for everyone. Flexibility and adaptability are important components in all of life, including the development and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle.

That said, I still am passionate about sharing what I have learned over the years! Managing diet and nutrition can take up an inordinate amount of space in life and become an obsession. I got so tired of thinking about food all the time while trying to not eat! So I share, hoping to lighten your load and encourage you. If you truly desire to lose weight and eat healthfully, you can do it. It takes commitment and acceptance that habits will not change overnight, but you can do it. It takes support and willingness to be uncomfortable, but you can do it. It requires learning new things and applying that knowledge, but you can do it. You have to want it more than you want the instant gratification of a yummy morsel, but you can do it!

So what is “Your Way”?

What works for you? If you don’t have success stories, then what you do have is valuable experience. You have learned what doesn’t work for you and that is very helpful! When you fail (and we all do), realistically evaluate what happened and adjust the plan. Don’t keep trying the same thing and expect different results. This behavior modification is the difference between falling with a crash and burn vs. falling but building strength and momentum! We all run off the rails sometimes. A healthy lifestyle must include a recovery plan and realistic expectations.

baby fat If you know that you love lattes, then don’t develop a plan that completely eliminates lattes or you are setting yourself up for failure! If you are used to eating 2500 calories per day, don’t restrict yourself to 1200 calories and expect that you won’t struggle with that…be realistic and work your way down. Don’t eliminate all bread if you love bread, just commit to lunch being a lettuce wrap instead of a sandwich…small changes grow into bigger ones! Modify and adapt changes in slowly and you are much more likely to enjoy success and create true and lasting change. An additional perk to a slow and steady approach is that you are not so irritable or frustrated! You will be able to sustain changes and even continue to tweak your choices. After a while you will look back and see the emptiness in trying to find satisfaction and contentment in cookie dough or a bucket of chicken.

healthy lifestyle pic                       Some Science

While we can tweak when we eat, what we eat, and how active we are, there are some things we need to accept and apply as fact to our healthy lifestyle plans. Here are a few things to log away as “givens”:

  • All calories count. Healthy food, junk food, vacation food, food no one sees you eat, every calorie in is faithfully either utilized or stored by your amazing body.
  • Math is involved. If your caloric intake is less than your caloric output then you will lose weight. If your caloric intake is more than your caloric output you will gain weight. Friend, it is math, I’m sorry, but it is. If you honestly and consistently create a calorie deficit, you will lose weight.
  • Balance is required. Our bodies function best from a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. If you want your body to perform for you, you must fuel it appropriately. This is about more than weight loss or gain, it is for your overall health and wellness. Our immune systems, emotions and coping mechanisms, mental processes, hormone cascades, and sleep cycles all depend on a balanced diet to function at optimum settings.
  • Patience is required. Weight management is an ongoing goal. Our bodies are complex and our habits are hard-core. Be patient with yourself and take one day at a time…one choice at a time.

               “The way I live either contributes to the darkness of our world or to the light

                                               and hope of our world.”  ~ Ann Smith

 

Healthy Lifestyle vs. Diet Plan

Oh my goodness, my heart breaks when I hear friends that are discouraged and depressed when diets are embarked upon and then abandoned. The feelings of guilt and self-degradation are useless and yet overwhelming. The self talk becomes damaging and discouraging. Self-esteem plummets and self-loathing moves in. This does not need to happen, it is not helpful or productive. There is a better way and I plead with you to read these words and take them to heart. A healthy lifestyle includes room for desserts and vegetables, physical activity and rest and relaxation, fun and hard work, protein and carbohydrates! Diet plans restrict and offer merely a band-aid, but a healthy lifestyle frees and brings long-term success. There is no comparison…a healthy lifestyle is the only way to lose weight and keep it off, maintain a healthy weight, create balance, joy, health, and wellness for you and your family.

It seems a new and improved diet plan shows up every day. Headlines boast: Follow these 15 simple rules and you will reap the benefits of “easy” weight loss, non-stop fat-burning while you sleep, unlimited energy, and detoxed cells…and they’ll even throw in happiness, whiter teeth, and a group of slim, energetic friends. Seriously, anytime you see the word easy next to weight loss…stop reading! Weight loss and weight management take hard work, period. Weight management is not a temporary mission or a destination, it is a journey.

Women, seriously, please stop the beatings! We must change our focus to healthy living instead of striving for perfect bodies. This is such a passion of mine. I have lived for years in bondage to food and perfectionism, I was never thin enough, good enough, disciplined enough, smart enough…you get the picture I’m sure. I understand the trap and I also understand the depression, discouragement, and hopelessness that comes with yo-yo dieting and failing time and time again. It is ok if you don’t love broccoli. It is ok if you have chocolate every day. It is ok if you “just” take a walk after dinner for your exercise that day. It is ok! You are ok! Just keep taking steps forward and use your head. If something seems too good to be true it probably is bunk. If someone says you can lose weight without changing your diet, it is bunk! If your self-talk says you are a failure and you’ll never change, preach truth to yourself–you are unique and valuable and the only one that can offer the world you! Simple things like portion control, desserts in moderation instead of three times a day, and adding more veggies and more water to your day will help you in your journey to better health and weight loss. Please stop wasting time looking for the quick fix…there isn’t one, that is a path to discouragement.

Start today to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Take time to relax, rest, and sleep. Enjoy the relationships you have in your life and laugh, smile, and play. Eliminate extra clutter in your schedule and spend more time creating in your kitchen, taking walks and bike rides as a family, and noticing the sunset. Take care of yourself! Get to the doctor to have your physical, have lunch with a trusted friend, share life and be genuine. These are the keys to a healthy lifestyle and will result in a life that is full and breeds contentment. You can do it and you will thrive! Spend your energy and your money on creating a healthy lifestyle…the benefits are endless.

 

Healthy food…You can do it

healthy lifestyle pic Healthy food is a part of a healthy lifestyle for more reasons than just weight management. Just as a car runs best with the appropriate fuel combined with care and attention to maintenance, our bodies function best with a balanced diet, stress management, and regular exercise. As healthcare costs skyrocket and stress is in abundance, one of the easiest ways to promote wellness is to eat the foods that support health and prevent illness. Feeling better, having more energy, lower #’s on the scale, & radiant skin…just perks.

The phrase “Healthy food” can be a bit vague. Healthy food, as I see it, is food that contributes nutritionally to the body. It is easy in this day and age to get caught up in a type of healthy food (we are so blessed!) such as organic, free-range, or non-GMO and those things are good. However, for the purposes of this discussion, let’s just take it back to the basics and talk about the types of foods that will help you create your healthy lifestyle, however you choose to purchase them is up to you. I point that out because it can all be overwhelming. If walking into Whole Foods promotes panic due to the immense number of options, then just go buy an apple, wash it, and eat it…start there. Creating a healthy diet is a process and a journey. You get started and learn and as you learn more you change more and so forth. Give yourself some grace, start with small steps, and smile…you’re gonna be alright.

The Process

My husband and I began to really change our diet about 12-13 years ago. Over the years we have adjusted and then made more changes, adjusted and changed, and then we adjusted and changed. It is a process, a journey. Each time we felt like we were really making a big change, but as we got used to it, we realized we could do more. Gone were the days of living on macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches (what??…we like cheese!) and in came the days of seeing the stove as more than a shiny object to look at. This was the beginning of my new obsession…modifying my favorite recipes to make them healthier and trying new things. I can laugh now at the whole wheat pancake batter that could have been used to patch a hole in the wall and the spinach frittatas that the dog even spit out…remember, it is a process, laugh often!

So, start somewhere. We got started by changing from white flour to whole wheat and looking for whole grain alternatives. I stopped buying unhealthy snacks that were quick grabs (read chips, cookies, crackers) under the guise of “it’s for the kids”. (Ummm…so the kids need trans fats and a bunch of sugar?) I switched from ground beef as the go-to protein to using chicken, pork, or beans. Nothing too crazy, right? Then I started adding in vegetables anywhere I could. I made zucchini muffins that we ate for breakfast. I added beans into the taco meat and peppers and carrots into spaghetti sauce. We also bought a high-speed blender for protein shakes and smoothies so we could incorporate spinach and other greens more easily into our diet. Here are some things that have helped us continue on this journey:

Start with small, manageable steps and be realistic. If you are short on time, then don’t buy 5 types of vegetables that all need to be prepped and think that you are going to eat them. We are fortunate to live in a time where you can walk into the store and buy a relish tray already prepared. Look at that, veggies that are ready to eat! Buy fruit that can be eaten as is or with minimal prep, like cuties, apples, grapes, blueberries. All of these fruits are awesome alone or on top of yogurt for snacks.

Decide what your goals are. If you don’t know what your goals are how will you get there? If you want to lose weight, then log what you eat. I guarantee you will be surprised at the number of calories you ingest if you honestly document everything you eat for a week. My Fitness Pal is an app I use most days. At first it is cumbersome, but it gets easier as you get used to it and build your own meals, etc. I’m more than happy to help you if you’d like! If you want to just generally eat a healthier diet, then pick a target and set goals to hit it. Less sugar? More vegetables? More home-cooking? All great goals and you can start working on them today.

80/20. This is my survival and longevity plan. I try to make the healthiest choice 80% of the time. The other 20% is for holidays, weekend dates, birthday parties, and just that time when I need an ice cream cone. This is being realistic, having a no-deprivation plan, and committing for the long haul. Healthy eating has so many benefits but you don’t usually see the impact after just one meal. It takes time for our bodies to repair the damage we have done.

So, love yourself and your family by upping the ante…healthy lifestyles rock!

 

As you shop:

Look for fresh fruits and vegetables, however frozen has been shown to be just as nutritional usually and offers wider variety not limited by the season. If canned veggies are used, it helps to drain and rinse them. You eliminate a lot of the added salt with that simple maneuver. Bumping up your fruit and veggie intake increases your nutrients and fiber helping you to feel full and easing portion control struggles.

Look for protein sources that are lower in fat, you’ll save dramatically on calories by just switching from beef tacos to chicken tacos. Still yummy! And pile on the veggies and your tacos become a serving of vegetables too. When you make scrambled eggs, use a combination of whole eggs and egg whites, the majority of the fat and calories is in the yolk. And again, add those veggies…peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms…all easily added in and delish! Beans and rice together make a complete protein as well…get creative and enjoy, just watch your portion control.

No added sugar. Yep, the enemy is sugar. Too much sugar ramps us up and then dumps us on the curb feeling blah. It also sky-rockets our risk for diabetes and a host of health concerns. Limiting sugar is difficult at first because most of us seriously are addicted to the stuff. Give yourself time and start small, but do it, start to limit it and your body and  mind will thank you.

Variety and Balance are the most-valuable players in this game. Feeling deprived will lead to unhealthy choices and limited success; so give yourself grace and remember that perfection is not the goal. 80/20 my friends, 80/20!

 

 

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Surviving life with grace and hope

u.b.healthy

Create the life you want