I can remember when I was growing up with what would now be considered an anorexic mom, there was always my special “diet” food. My mother was trying to help me but that help translated into misery in so many ways. She might fix meat loaf, mashed potatoes, green peas and cornbread for my dad and herself and fix me a hamburger patty with a scoop of cottage cheese and green beans at the same meal. She never intended to make me unhappy but “diet” food was just awful. The worst of the worst was baked fish. While we know how to cook good baked fish here in the South now, when I was growing up, it seemed like a punishment. It was baked in a covered dish until it was too soft and it was flavorless, horrible stuff! The general consensus was that a squeeze of lemon juice would somehow work magic and this flavorless, colorless, mushy protein source would be transformed into something palatable…It didn’t work. As I grew up and mom paid for me to join a well-known weight loss group, I graduated to eating SIX (6) beef wieners in place of that horrible fish. I’m still amazed that the program that I was given actually allowed me to eat that many hotdogs, but it did. I’ve got to tell you, those six hotdogs were a certain upgrade from that dreadful fish but the sodium was exorbitant and the calories, about 780 were insane. Surely, there had to be something to eat that was pleasant AND healthy! It took me decades to discover the truth.
What’s for Breakfast?
So many people have told me that they want something sweet first thing in the morning. After fasting all night, our brains are starved for carbohydrates and we will naturally gravitate towards carbs. The problem is that so often we tend to reach for simple carbs like doughnuts, biscuits and bagels. We always teach you to avoid simple carbs. They quickly degrade into sugar in your bloodstream and cause an insulin spike which sets you up for more hunger and an insatiable appetite for the entire day. Get your carbohydrate fix from complex carbs like oats and other 100% whole grain cereals. A little fruit, not fruit juice, is good to satisfy that sweet tooth. The whole fruit has fiber which will slow the insulin release that accompanies carbohydrate metabolism.
Add some protein! The combination of fiber and protein is powerful. They bind together and keep you from being hungry for hours. Both complex carbs and protein are harder for the body to break down than simple carbs and while your body is working on that, you will stay satisfied. Eggs were demonized for years but now the medical community has changed their stance on that. I love eggs and eat at least 4 every day.
While an occasional burger and fries won’t ruin your weight management, a steady diet of this high calorie, high carb meal (that is quite often accompanied by a 1000 calorie, 100 grams of sugar milkshake or other fast food dessert) will add pounds to your frame and possibly take years off of your life. Explore other possibilities for lunch. I strongly encourage you to carry your lunch to work or school because then you have complete control over what you eat. Whatever you do, EAT! I have seen so many people show up to work, not having eaten breakfast and NOTHING with them to eat. What almost always happens is they grab any junk food that has been made available to staff and then go out at lunch and eat enough for a family. I am not exaggerating. I have seen a young woman order three entrees that were each meant for a family of five and then proceed to eat all of it. She thought that it was okay to do that because she had not eaten all day. The problem is, she ate much more than she would have eaten if she had just had a normal breakfast and lunch. When we deprive ourselves, we will always make up for it.
Carry lean protein in a salad or sandwich made with 100% whole grain bread. Hearty soups, stews and chili are great, made beforehand and heated up at work. You may carry them in a large mouth steel thermos to keep them hot and ready if you like. If you must eat out, find a healthy option. Burgers without the bun are common now. Go ahead and pair the patties with a small order of fries and a side salad or have the chili. You can’t go wrong with a good bowl of chili with meat and beans.
What’s for Dinner?
Evening is when a lot of people lose the battle in the war against obesity. Quite often it’s because they have skimped on healthy food during the day and when they get home from work, tired, wired and hungry they feel entitled to eat anything that they want. I mean, after all, you haven’t eaten all day, right? You think that it won’t hurt because you’re so empty and hungry. When you get this kind of frazzled, you will almost always crave carbs so you reach for cake, cookies and chips. Munching away while you prepare dinner, you still think that you’re okay because you’re in a calorie deficit. Well, you were, but not anymore. By the time that dinner is ready, you have inhaled about a thousand calories of mostly simple carbohydrates and then, there’s dinner. While you have lost most of your appetite, you still eat out of habit. Although you eat, you really don’t eat enough real food to be satisfied throughout the night and so before bed you find yourself back in the kitchen eating ice cream out of the carton. Sound familiar? Believe me, it sounds familiar to me. That’s how I know how this happens, I have lived it. I also know how to fix it.
Sometime in the afternoon, have a protein/fiber snack. I like string cheese and an apple, plain full-fat Greek yogurt with nuts and Swerve or Splenda sweetener or a sugar-free protein shake between meals. Recently I have started eating celery that has been pre-packaged as a ready snack with peanut butter. You can also pair it with salsa and an ounce of nuts if savory sounds better than sweet. Keep healthy snacks with you all the time. My tote always has pouches of salmon and tuna and nuts and apples inside. I’m never caught “goin’ ’round hungry” as the candy bar commercial taunts. How fitting that a candy bar commercial would capitalize on the between meal munchies! It’s a terribly vulnerable time that leads to an evening of disaster unless it’s handled appropriately. Instead of hitting the drive-through on your way home, dig into your tote for healthy nutrition that will see you through dinner preparation without self-destruction.
For your dinner have a good portion of healthy protein and a complex carbohydrate and a fiber source. The steak dinner above is a perfect example. Save those calories that you might otherwise spend on chips and cookies due to poor planning and indulge in a decadent steak dinner with all the trimmings. If steak is not your thing, experiment with new fish or chicken recipes. Determine how many calories you should eat according to your doctor or you may choose to use the Calorie Counter Pro to determine how many calories you should eat to lose 1-2 pounds per week, maintain or gain weight. We strongly recommend no more than a 1 pound loss per week. It’s easier on you in every way and you have time to learn new habits along the road to a healthier you. If you want dessert, try one of our many recipes for sugar-free favorites such as No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies They are like the ones that you may have eaten as a child made from oats and chocolate. They’re wonderful!
Keep your fridge stocked with healthy snacks and get rid of the stuff that you know that you don’t need. If there are others in your home that insist on keeping the “trigger foods” in the house, put your healthy foods in front of them so that you have to see the good stuff first.
With determination and a little pre-planning, you can win this war. Make your health your number priority and plan your menus before you do anything else. Let’s face it, you’re going to eat. You might as well make it work in your favor. Decide what kind of body you want to live in and pursue it with your whole heart.
Life is better in a healthy body.