Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Eating Well and Still Enjoying It

Let me go on a little bit of a diet rant here.  I have never followed a specific eating plan. I've always been of the opinion that eating should be enjoyable and not something that takes a whole lot of stress. I think a lot of diets today make eating WAY too complicated and then eating becomes a chore. It shouldn't be that hard! (I saw this on Instagram and thought it was funny and obviously true and a good reminder that we need to enjoy life and not worry so much about eating).

Also, a lot of diets are fad diets that don't work long term anyway.  Either because you get sick of the food, or tired of worrying about the food or how much you eat. Or because the food is nasty and you're pretending like it tastes good to make yourself feel better about having to eat it. (My potato chips taste way better than your kale chips, just admit it).

I get it. I know that some people need to be on a diet. I know that some have some hormonal changes they are making through food. I know that some people have allergies to certain foods. I know that Dr's put people on diets because they aren't eating healthy. And I'm not a Dr or a nutritionist so I'm aware (and you should be too) that I'm not giving health advice professionally. But I am going to share what I do to make sure I'm eating well and still enjoying it.

I'm going to admit once again that I do not eat healthy all the time. I eat sugar, once in a while, we eat out, I eat pizza and hamburgers (yes with the bun) I eat ice cream a lot and I eat a lot of other things that would be considered a no-no for other people. I enjoy food, a lot. And I really believe that's how it should be, food should be something you enjoy and get to enjoy.

All that being said, I try to keep what I eat on a daily basis, healthy and purposeful. For me, breakfast and lunch are much harder for me than dinner to be conscious of. I'm willing to bet that's the case for a lot of you reading. For me, this happens because I'm hurrying to get kids where they need to be on time or worrying about getting them fed first and I forget to worry about me until I'm starved and don't want to wait long for something to cook.  Because of this quick and easy are usually the name of the game.

Quick and Easy:

- Granola has been a lifesaver for me at breakfast time. I usually eat mine on top of a cup of yogurt. I don't put a lot on there, maybe around 1/4 of granola and the rest of the toppings are fruit (dried or fresh) and sometimes a few chocolate chips. This is quick and tastes great and it also keeps me full until lunchtime.

- Smoothies are always a great way to make sure you get your fruit and veggie servings. I'm not super great at adding veggies to my smoothies. I can do carrots in there and that's about it, haha. But at least I can add those and some fruit and I can get that ready in about 2 minutes or less. I also like to make smoothies because my kids like them and I know that I can get them to eat at least one veggie that way.

- At lunchtime, if I remember in time, I'll grab a frozen chicken breast put it in the oven while I make the kids their lunch. I will usually cut up some broccoli, drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast that alongside the chicken. By the time the kids are settled, my lunch is ready and we all get something filling and good for us.

- I roast a lot of veggies at dinner time too because it's easy to do and it's really healthy. Plus 90% of our family eats veggies best that way (J won't touch a vegetable for anything). I just spread whatever veggie of choice for the night on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and put it in the oven at 400 for 15- 20 minutes or until the veggies are tender. It makes for a really healthy, easy side dish.

- When all else fails, and my day is going crazy and I don't have time or energy to make a meal of any kind. I grab my favorite Blender Bottle, a carnation instant breakfast, and a yogurt or some fruit.

Another reason I think a lot of people are eating unhealthy has to do with portion size. We have all been taught that we can't leave the table until our food is gone. And then we overeat because we were starving before we sat down to eat and our eyes were bigger than our stomachs (my grandpa used to say that too me all the time!)

Portion Control :

- A really popular trick I've heard over and over is to use a smaller plate. It makes you think you have more than you really do on your plate so you tend to get/eat less. Never worked well for me because there's always seconds. But at least you're not getting seconds after a big full plate of food. Still portion control.

- Drink a glass of water right before you sit down for dinner. Not only does being well-hydrated help you not feel so hungry, but having something in your stomach will make you feel a little fuller and you won't need to load up so much on food.

- If you're a big snacker during the day, make sure you're eating well enough at meals that you don't feel the need to snack during the day. It's ok to have something now and then but don't go crazy. I used to work in marketing (I loved that job!) and they constantly had snacks on hand. Popcorn, M&M's, granola bars, etc. They had them all the time, and anyone was welcome to them. I constantly ate M&M's. Like ALL THE TIME. Luckily I was also running 10 miles a day at that time. After a while of noticing how much I was eating them, I stopped having the M&M's in a bowl and my desk and I started carrying a water bottle around with me instead. And every time I finished a full bottle of water, I'd go fill it back up, grab a couple of M&M's and drink the water again.

- If you need a physical way to control your portions, This product by Blender Bottle is a big help! I talked a little bit about how this product helps me pack J's school lunches, but I also use this for me too. When we are on the go (park, picnics, running errands...) and I know that my kids or I will need a snack I take it in my GoStack. I love the GoStacks because you can take as much or as little as you want and stack the whole thing together or divide it up between kids. You can pack crackers for one person, carrots for the other and they don't touch (picky eater problems).  You can pack snacks like this ahead of time and they are ready to either leave in your bag or grab out of the fridge and go. I could go on forever about the GoStacks, and I will do a full review on that soon, so I'll save that for then. If you are looking for a great way to carry snacks or control your snack portion size, this is it!

Other reasons you feel like you need to be on a diet:

- You eat too late at night. I really, truly believe that this would solve a lot of diet issues for a lot of people. I'm not saying that you can't have a bowl of ice cream after dinner once in a while, or you can't go have a piece of cake at a birthday party or something like that. I'm just saying that if you'd stop eating by 7:00 at night wait until breakfast, you wouldn't be eating around 200-300 extra calories a day and your body would lose more weight. Drink water if you feel like your stomach is empty. Indulge once in a while, but don't sit down most nights and have a snack before bed.

- You feel like you don't have time. When it's been a long day and you don't have time or energy to make dinner so you call your husband and say "pick something up on the way home". It is super convenient and it's ok to do now and then. But the quality of the food you bring home isn't as good (healthy) as what you could make at home. Even some prepackaged meals that you get and put in the oven to warm up for your family aren't as healthy as what you can make on your own. Yes, it takes more effort, but it's really not that hard if you take time to do it. Time management, remember? Make meals ahead of time and freeze them, or even just make parts of meals that you can put together when it's time to.

- To go along with the last one, make things on your own instead of buying them. Granola is, again, a good example of this for me. I make my own granola because I can control how much sugar is going into it that way. And it's cheaper.  By making your own soups, granola, cookies, basically making your own anything, you're in control of what goes in there and how healthy you want it to be.

- Last but definitely not least, workout. Exercise. Move. Do something besides sitting at your desk or on your couch all day. Because when you burn calories, it doesn't matter quite as much what you're eating.  I'm sure that one of the big reasons I can eat whatever I want is because I workout 5 times a week. What you put in your body does matter (I do try to make an effort to eat good, healthy food.) But when you are active you feel better and perform better in your daily tasks. You have more energy and you don't feel sluggish.

These are examples and not the only way to be healthy, and I know that diets have their place, but this is how I make sure I am being healthy and I'm still able to eat what I want. You know yourself, you know your body, find what works for you!

Have you ever been on a strict diet?

What is your favorite/least favorite vegetable?

What is one way you make eating easier for you?

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