Spotlight On Watermelon

Here in the south summer has arrived with the vengeance of  a mother in law that has swept in for a long staying vacation.  It means light foods, pool time, sandals or flip flops as main stay foot wear, plastic kiddie pools and blow up inflatables ( am I the only one who loves the smell of that cheap plastic and sniffs it like a dog sniffing a bone ?? haha)  shorts, and an endless tan till November.

Summer “officially” doesn’t start till Thursday but I guess no one told the weather that. We are¬† now in days of endless blue skies, sun, temps dancing in the high 90’s and “don’t sit on plastic furniture or you will stick to it” kinds of fun.

I really don’t like having to cook meals when it gets so warm, but my body does dig eating, so I’ve had to come to a happy balance of food, but light foods.

Todays spotlight is on one of my favorite summer treats, watermelon.

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Get a fork, I’ll share

 

Cool, sweet, refreshing and you get an arm workout lifting and tossing them into your basket, it is total win on all levels.

Sweet and healthy

Who says sweets aren’t good for you?¬† Check out some of it’s vitamin and mineral benefits

As far as fruits go, watermelon is one of the lowest in calories ‚ÄĒ only 46 calories per cup. That’s lower than even “low-sugar” fruits such as berries.

A cup (154 grams) of watermelon has may other nutrients as well, including these vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C: 21% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 18% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 5% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
  • Vitamins B1, B5 and B6: 3% of the RDI

Watermelon is also high in carotenoids, including beta-carotene and lycopene. Plus, it has citrulline, an important amino acid.

Watermelon is also loaded with anti-oxidants.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage from free radicals. Not surprisingly, watermelon contains a hefty amount of vitamin C ‚Äď 21% of the daily recommended value ‚Äď that helps your immune system produce antibodies to fight disease. There’s also a 17% daily value of vitamin A, boosting eye health and preventing such diseases as macular degeneration and cataracts. The vitamin B6 content helps form red blood cells and assures your nerves will function as they should. Your body uses vitamin B6 to help break down proteins, so the more protein is consumed, the more vitamin B6 is needed. Potassium, although a relatively small amount is in watermelon, helps balance fluids in your cells. (Low potassium levels sometimes cause muscle cramps.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are a class of plant compounds that includes alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A.

Lycopene

Lycopene is a type of carotenoid that doesn’t change into vitamin A. This potent antioxidant gives a red color to plant foods such as tomatoes and watermelon, and is linked to many health benefits.

Cucurbitacin E

Cucurbitacin E is a plant compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Bitter melon, a relative of watermelon, contains even more cucurbitacin E.

Let’s not forget one really big important factor, watermelon is made up of 92% water so it makes a perfect fruit to help keeping you hydrated.¬† Also, A high water content is one of the reasons that fruits and vegetables help you feel full. The combination of water and fiber means you’re eating a good volume of food without a lot of calories.

Nutritionally, while vitamin A and C content is significant, it’s the lycopene that takes the prize for what it does for the body, which includes anti-inflammation bone health and an ability to neutralize harmful free radicals.

The nutritional break down

Nutrition Facts

Watermelon Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup, balls (154 g)
Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories 46
Calories from Fat 2
Total Fat 0.2g 0%
Saturated Fat 0.1g 1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Potassium 171.21mg 5%
Carbohydrates 11.6g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0.6g 2%
Sugars 9.5g
Protein 0.9g
Vitamin A 18% · Vitamin C 21%
Calcium 1% · Iron 2%

 

Can we eat now?

One thing about watermelon, it requires nothing fancy to eat it. Just chill, cut and serve. If it’s for a picnic it can be cut and sliced and eaten right off the rind. Although messy, it’s one of the more fun ways to eat it, just have plenty of napkins on hand.¬† If you’re going for a more civilized way of eating it haha, it’s cut off the rind and served in a bowl where you can use utensils to dine on it ( I prefer the outdoor method, sun in my hair and juice on my face with plenty of napkins version ’cause well, that’s what summer’s about right?)

Watermelon is a very non-fussy food which perhaps in my estimation makes it perfect for laid back summer days.

Sweet, hydrating, packed with awesome invisible vitamins and minerals that are amazing for your body and crazy low in calories, all while satisfying your sweet cravings?

I think that’s a total win.

But wait…. wait a minute….

Do you know watermelon is not actually a fruit but considered a vegetable?

SAY WHAT?

We think of watermelon as a fruit because of its sweet flavor, but watermelon is actually a vegetable. It belongs to the cucurbit family, and is related to pumpkins, cucumbers and squash.

So… there’s that. I know you’re shocked.¬† Fruit? Vegetable? Let’s just call it tasty.

A few fun facts on melons…..

Seedless watermelons aren’t genetically modified. They’re actually a hybrid watermelon created by crossing a watermelon with 22 chromosomes with a watermelon with 44 chromosomes. The result is a sterile watermelon. These watermelons produce immature white seeds that are perfectly safe to eat. Seedless watermelons were first created over 50 years ago.

Watermelons have been cultivated in Egypt for more than 5,000 years. Egyptians depicted watermelon in drawings on the walls of tombs and even left watermelon with their dead to nourish them as they journeyed through the underworld

Because watermelons are native to Africa, they need hot, sunny conditions to thrive. Some varieties need up to 130 warm days to ripen. Most watermelons mature in 85 to 100 days

Watermelons usually have red flesh, but some watermelons have white, yellow, orange or even green flesh

A watermelon will not grow in your belly if you eat the seeds. In fact, the seeds are actually quite nutritious with high levels of magnesium, zinc and protein. Chew the seeds before swallowing for optimum nutrition ( all the times your mom told you that story of watermelons growing in your belly, right??)

The Japanese grow square watermelon. How? They place square glass boxes around a growing fruit so it becomes square as it grows. The Japanese like them because they’re small and don’t roll around. They fit neatly in a refrigerator. The downside? These watermelon cost about $82!

And the recipe board……

You may not think of eating watermelon in other ways than it’s easy natural form. I thought I’d add a couple recipes that showcase this great summer fruit.

 

Oh, and can you go wrong with ice cream or sherbet for a cool treat? Check out this two ingredient healthy option.

 

And of course, let’s not forget cute ways you can play with this fruit….uh…vegetable?……too ūüėČ

Watermelon-Shark_exps143376_SD2401786C10_18_3bC_RMS
A fruit shark??

 

Tell me, is watermelon an enjoyable summer fruit for you? Do you have any preferred ways of eating it or interesting recipes using it ?

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Food And Dysfunctional Thinking

You don’t have to read to far, turn on the tv, or surf the¬†web to see¬†statements like this screaming at you…..

“Grains are bad for you!”, “Bread is bad for you”, “Dairy is bad for you”, ” Sugar is the devil and will kill you”, ” Starches are bad for you”, “Carbs are bad for you”, “Detox your body from poisons (bad foods)”, “Do a “cleanse” to help your body”, “You have to be hungry to lose weight”, “You can’t lose weight unless you cut out “these” foods” “You must only eat organic foods”, “You must eat only pricey beef or other foods” ( for the best health) “Skipping meals will help you lose weight”, “You need to do this “diet” to lose weight and be successful” “I ate to much yesterday so¬†I need to workout really hard today to take away those¬†calories” (as if) ¬†“Gluten free!”¬† “Fat free!” …..

food good or bad
Truth.

 

 

Oh, I could go on but I won’t ’cause I want you to stay with me.

You get it. You’ve heard it.

So many times when I hear these things, I roll my eyes. I can’t help it, when I hear nonsense, it kinda just happens.

My mom¬†used to yell at me when I did if for something she said… haha

What on earth has happened to us that we buy into and believe such dysfunctional ¬†thinking with food and our bodies? Why are we made to feel bad or guilty for eating food and satisfying a natural hunger? ¬†Why are we taught food is bad?¬†Why do we believe foods are “bad”? ¬†How do some¬†learn to obsess over everything¬†they eat and feel bad for it?¬†¬†How do we develop this¬†dysfunctional thinking ?

Worse yet, why do we follow along with an ideology or a certain camp of thinking, especially if it’s the current trendy thing to do, or our friends are doing it?

Sometimes, maybe we are a bit like sheep, eh?

First things first.

I want to address the fact that for some people, on a completely legit level, may have particular food allergies that necessitate removing particular foods. There are a small percentage of people who truly have celiac disease and have to live a gluten free life. Some may have experimented and realized maybe they feel better without certain foods than having them.

Real food issues that involve real health issues are important and need care and attention.

This is not what I’m addressing here.

Now that issue is settled….

Food isn’t bad for you.

Seriously. Food isn’t bad. Saying something is “bad” for you is¬† more disordered thinking of the world we live in and the¬†lies we’ve bought into.

We’ve bought into feeling¬†guilty over food. We’ve bought into thinking we should feel bad about what we eat. We’ve been taught we have to obsess over calories and most of all, there has to be a level of suffering involved with losing weight and how much food we get. We’ve been told if we eat, we’ll get fat so we learn to deprive ourselves and be miserable.

diet cycle
How dysfunctional thinking begins

 

 

Where has such wrong thinking come from?

Yes, many foods do not provide the best nutritional quality for your body. Having a soda over a glass of ice water is hardly a good nutritional choice. But if you only have one when you eat pizza and you have pizza maybe once a month, then it’s really not a big deal.

Daily sodas can pack on serious pounds fast, in that situation you need to assess, is that good for you ? Are sodas impacting your health.

Soda in and of itself isn’t “bad” used in moderation. ¬†Not the best choice perhaps but not some evil thing.

Oh those carbs

I guess one of the comments I hate hearing is that “carbs” are bad for you.

I guess if we’re gonna split it out, let’s define those carbs.

Simple carbs that are found in those “not as¬†nutritional food choices” would be carbs found in cakes, cookies, pastries, muffins,¬†chips, fast foods, sodas, candy,¬†sugared drinks, etc.

You should only consume those products minimally for optimal health.

Complex carbs, now those are a different creature. Fruits and veggies are loaded with complex carbs that are good energy sources for our bodies providing tons of vitamins and minerals which also helps protect against diseases, build cells, protect our vision. help our digestive system and major organs, fill us up for minimal calories, and so many offer anti-aging benefits as well.

Whole grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans etc also offer up a dense and nutritionally packed power punch for energy.

Sadly, these carbs are often viewed as the bad and shunned. Worse yet some “diet” plans entirely¬†remove these food groups.

Real, natural, whole food labeled as “bad”.

Oh that sugar….

if there’s one thing that’s been heavily demonized is sugar. Again, as I mentioned, there are things we need to be mindful of in our daily diets. You shouldn’t be consuming a lot of sugar. That too, will pack on¬†pounds if you’re eating those cookies and muffins on the daily. Don’t forget your sugary drinks you might enjoy as well.

Sugar in a modest amount isn’t “bad”.¬† If you have a weakness for it, then it might be that you make the choice to purposefully limit or stay away from it if it cause you to stumble in your health goals or to binge.

And fat free….

speaking of sugar, it leads me to the “fat free” thought. Get rid of fat it’s “bad” for you. Don’t eat fat.

Again like the carb lies, there are good fats and “bad” fats. Ironically, the fats that are not in your best health interest are also in many of the simple carbs I listed as well.

Years ago when the fat free rage was at it’s highest point and I was beginning to navigate the waters of health I learned a sobering truth while reading a label on some “fat free” cookies.

The calorie content was ridiculous! But why?? These were fat-free.

Listen, when you remove necessary fat from baked goods, you get essentially something that tastes like a cardboard shoebox.

To sell their product it had to have some taste so they majorly upped the sugar in their “fat free” cookies.

And the people eagerly bought into it. Because  fat free certainly must mean calorie free.

I realized if I wanted two “normal” cookies, I could do so with less calories involved. But then hey, the trend was normal cookies were “bad”.

Those other things I listed….

Cleanses and detoxes are awful for your body. Those are bad. Don’t do them. They just feed our disordered thinking on food and nutrition.

Skipping meals will not help you lose weight. You WILL be hungry and think about food all the time… so it’s a bit dysfunctional to ignore your bodies physical needs.

You cannot hit the gym the next day to “work off” food and drink from the day before. You can’t “negate what you ate”.¬† What you can do is get back on track with your eating and do sensible exercise. Again, more disordered thinking that we could actually lose calories we sucked recklessly in the day before.

There is no diet that is some magic wand to help you lose weight. At the end of each day, you have a calorie deficit. THAT is how you lose weight. Run away if some product or diet is making wild promises. It just isn’t true.

You don’t have to eat organic or buy meats that cost you a weeks worth of pay. For many people, it is way out of their budget to do so. ¬†I might suggest if you started eating more fruits and veggies you’d be on the road to a healthier lifestyle and wellness. Again, we’ve been conditioned to “believe” these things by a select group.

Foods that don’t fall in those categories (organic etc)¬†¬†aren’t “bad” or “robbed” of nutrients.

Could I make a radical suggestion here?

If food in general isn’t “bad”, perhaps it’s our behaviors with certain foods that are “bad”.

Perhaps we lack a level of control with certain foods. Maybe the mere taste of something pushes us to eat more. There might be foods that trigger our eating.¬† Maybe our emotions are what cause us to indulge in things we don’t need or eat excessively. Perhaps our mouth just wants to eat even if our stomach isn’t physically hungry.

These are behavior issues we have. The food, is what’s¬†used to support those behaviors.

Withholding food from ourselves or over indulging in food is dysfunctional thinking. We can’t medicate with or without food.

We have to get real with ourselves and know where our weak areas are.

It has been easier in the world¬†to make food be “bad” then it is to examine¬†issues that cause bad behaviors with food.

The bottom line

We have to change our thinking with food and how we interact with it. We have to stop thinking of it in negative ways and look at our own behaviors with it.

If you realize you may have some struggles with how you view food or the choices you make you might consider writing those things down and then setting small goals for yourself in ways to changes those behaviors or thoughts. Perhaps you might need an accountability partner, someone who you can confide in and you could walk with you and help you with those changes.

Listen, I believe eating well the majority of the time is important to living a healthy life, having energy and looking good.

I also like cake and occasionally some French fries.¬† I’ve grown in my understanding and relationship with food to not have any guilt connected to it. Life is to be enjoyed and sometimes it means having fries or cake or whatever may float your boat.

There are things like alcohol, processed foods, excess sugar, and high fats ( not the good kind) that not only aren’t good for your health, but contribute to your aging process as well. Again, those should all be used cautiously.

Keeping a  healthy balance in your daily nutrition not only will keep you from dysfunctional thinking about food, but will let you have your cake and eat it too.

In moderation, of course ūüėČ

cake

Smart Nutrition

Good nutrition. Smart nutrition. It’s a topic that comes up a lot and it’s a topic I’ve fielded not only for myself, but talking with others who desire to live a healthier lifestyle in regards to foods.

 

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Colorful foods are always healthy choices

 

Add to that, for most of us, we have busy lives and schedules and food sometimes is well, an afterthought.

There could be a tendency to grab just whatever is convenient or at hand because we’re tired or worse yet, our hunger is on full blown overdrive.

I am notorious some days for being hungry, yet feeling to lazy to make myself something. This is especially dangerous when it’s been a day I’ve trained hard and my body is wanting some good quality nutrition for all it’s work that morning.

Someone, please admit, there are days you feel like that too. Hungry yet the idea of making food or even putting something together seems like to much trouble so you just skate by.

Not ideal, I know.  There are some days I admittedly feel that way.

I’m smart enough to know my body needs proper fuel not just post workout, but also for a busy day of activities.

Yours does too.

Smart nutrition where does it start?

I’ve had friends jokingly ask if I’d follow them around and slap wrong foods out of their hands or¬† tell them they’ve had enough at the dinner table.

It always makes me laugh. Maybe, we all want someone like that. This tough love accountability person who snatches a donut from us or reminds us we don’t really need that big Mexican platter for lunch.¬† This person would simply follow us around like some muscular side kick directing our food choices.

I hate to break the news but smart nutrition, well, that starts with you.

It has to start with you because really, ultimately you are the only one making the choices.

Maybe you want to blame the co-worker for stocking piling donuts in the break room or use the reason you’re to¬†tired to not make healthy foods so you stop at the fast food drive thru.

For example….

I’ve been helping my son at his shop this week. I ran out to do some errands for him¬†and drove through a local fast food place for lunch to take back with me.

No. Not burgers and fries.

Although, I will admit, fries are at the top of my most favorite non- necessary food items.

However, they happen to make some amazing salads and that’s what I was after.¬† I love salads, not as a “diet” food but as a “healthy, nutritious good for my body” food.

20180516_221124
Now tell me how tasty this looks…..protein, fruit, and leafy greens

 

Eating it leaves me feeling satisifed, yet also energetic and not sluggish like I’d feel from a meal heavy in more simple carbs.¬† I’ve eaten like this long enough that it’s a no brainer for me to go for healthier choices.

Although… why… why can’t salads smell as good on the wind as the smell of greasy foods??? hahaha

We encounter choices each day in how we eat. There can be an endless list to reasons why we don’t make smarter, healthier choices in our nutrition each day.

But when it comes down to what we put in our mouths, no one is standing there shoveling it in but us.

We are responsible for our own nutrition, good or bad.

Well where do I start?

No one understands better than I do that you just don’t magically develop good nutritional habits over night.

You just don’t.

You don’t undo or change a life time or years of eating certain ways without some determination and discipline to see it through. If you’re reading this I may assume you are wanting to eat nutritionally smarter.

Getting started requires a bit of a mental shift in your thinking. The foods or snacks you reach for. Your beverage choices. How much you eat. When you eat. It all takes some time and planning.

Oh yeah… planning helps. Some tips and tricks…

we live busy lives.  Planning somewhat is crucial to success in developing smart nutrition habits.

Sitting down and thinking about meals and snacks and ingredients needed when you aren’t hungry is the best place to start. Once you’ve developed a plan and utilized it for awhile you won’t have to think so much about what you’re doing.

Consider your lifestyle. Do you work? Do you need healthy easy meals that won’t take much time to prepare or could be prepped in advance? Crock pots and one pan dinners are at the top of my healthy recipe ideas. If you need creative ideas, Pinterest is loaded with them.

You would need to consider your work meals. Maybe you don’t take a lunch but really, it’s the best way to ensure you are eating foods that you’ve chosen and aren’t going to be subject to grabbing whatever is easy in the work cafeteria.

Food prep. Ok I’m not really into that. I know what I like and what works for me so I don’t make containers of food to keep in ‘fridge.¬† I’m also at home so it’s easy enough for me to make my meals based on what I want.

However, making and prepping things like fruits and veggies in advance will make it easier to grab it for lunch or to make up a easy salad if you don’t have to chop a lot of stuff, I sometimes will buy already cut and prepped veggies because I appreciate the convenience of it ( like broccoli )

Hard boiled eggs, cheese cubes, or sliced lean meats will make lunch prep quick and easy.

Try to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. ( fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc) the more colorful, the better.

Cheetos don’t count by the way ūüėČ

Learning to swap out high calorie or less nutritious foods is another way to being smart in making a healthy change. For example, swapping chips for crunchy veggies with ranch dip made with Greek yogurt is a way to not only cut calories, you get a little protein in with the yogurt. Greek yogurt is very high in protein and all I eat now days. I buy the non-fat plain and add my own fruit, nuts etc. or use it as a base for dips and cooking that requires sour cream.

Don’t forget your drinks. Sugary drinks contribute to your daily calories and are not a part of a smart nutrition plan.

In conclusion….

becoming smarter in nutritional choices takes time. Don’t get discouraged if you make choices you think you’ve “failed” in.

Really, an awareness shows you that you are trying and are aware of choices so that’s a good thing!

Take each day at a time, try to make wise choices in that day, celebrate your victories and learn from your mistakes.

Each day makes you smarter in your nutrition habits and leads to a healthier body and lifestyle.

Tell me… what tips or ideas work for you in regards to smart nutrition ?

 

 

 

Navigating The Grocery Store

groceryfail1

 

As I have learned to navigate through my own health and fitness journey I’ve obviously figured out for myself what works and what doesn’t work.

One of the things I hear from you is how hard it can be to eat well and nutritionally balanced in todays world.

I hear you.

There’s a lot of crazy ideas out there.

“Eat this, don’t eat that!”

“These foods are “bad” don’t eat them”

“Eat carbs, don’t eat carbs”

“Sugar is really bad don’t eat it”

Ah! The crazy stuff can go on and on.

Often when I’m at the store I’m blown away by the vast amounts of food and the choices that are available to us.

Where does one start? How do you get through things like the bakery, or cookie aisle?

I’ll remind you again, it all comes down to our choices we make.¬† There are LOTS of things that need never come home.¬† If you’re trying to make good choices then leave those things at the store if you know it will only tempt you.

If it’s not in your kitchen, you can’t eat it, bottom line.

You might intellectually know buying fruits are better for you than a bag of cookies, but those cookies might have a stronger pull on you. Worse yet, if they come home, you’re gonna eat them.

If you want to shop well I’ve always been told to shop the perimeter of the store since that’s where all the fresh foods are. And it’s true….

Although, you can’t dismiss the canned food aisle which offers good choices like tomatoes, beans,¬† and fruits ( always buy these in¬†natural¬†juice…read labels to make sure there’s no added¬†sugar)¬† or the bread aisle where you can pick up whole grain breads or buns. Raw nuts are of all things, on the chip aisle in my store.

If it’s a new idea to you to focus on just healthy shopping, write out a game plan before you head to the store.

Be willing to try¬†a few new things and experiment. You never know what you might find that you like ūüôā

Alright, so a plan.

Start with produce. Look for seasonal produce, it’s often cheaper. Buy a variety of bright colors. Be cautious and buy amounts you will realistically eat before it might go bad. Honestly, I’m at the store several times a week for fresh produce.

Meat. Buy lean cuts and obviously, check your local sales. I also love getting frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts. These can be pulled out as needed and used in a variety of ways. Ground beef can be purchased in larger packs and then you can separate into meals portions at home to freeze.

In the dairy section of course would be cheeses, milk, yogurts, eggs etc

After loading up on fresh foods, consider various canned foods like beans, tomatoes, sauce, tuna etc.

Pasta, brown rice, or whole grain pastas.

Shopping the bread aisle look for products that are whole grain or whole wheat as the first ingredients.

When shopping keep in mind you should strive for foods with five ingredients or less ( on a healthy level, the less stuff, the better)

Now… treats…. life is to short to not enjoy some things we love. I’m certainly not against those but¬†be aware more “empty calorie”¬†foods contribute to weight gain

Keep in mind balance and moderation. Know your limits and know what will tempt you and keep you from your health goals.

Making informed and careful decisions as you shop will lead you to nutritional success in the long run.

In summary :

  • Plan Ahead. …
  • Choose Real Foods. …
  • Avoid Processed Foods. …
  • Read Ingredient Lists. …
  • Stay on the Perimeter.

 

Happy shopping!

Do you have a healthy shopping plan when you go to the store? Do you have tricks or tips that help you?

So You Eat Healthy

green and red healthy food

 

“So you eat healthy?”¬† I heard it behind me but didn’t pay much attention ’cause I was lost in rapture at how totally gorgeous and big the red peppers were. ¬†I just assumed in a store full of people that it wasn’t directed at me.

“So you eat healthy?” that broke my concentration¬†in my study of the lovely red peppers. Still grasping one in my hand I turned around looking for the one directing the question now obviously at me.

Then I realized I had to look down somewhat as there was a young man in one of those motorized carts with his gaze fixed on me as he repeated the question again… for the third time.

I glanced at my basket that was full of produce, smiled at him, and said “yeah,¬† for the most part I do eat healthy”

“It’s so hard, isn’t it!” he blurted out

Still clutching a pepper in my hand and stuffing it into the bag,¬†I glanced at him and said “No, I don’t think so. At least it’s not for me now.”

He then started telling me how his “doctor told him he needed to start eating better and healthier” and he was trying but it was just so hard but he knew it was something he had to do for his health.

I offered him some encouraging words and a few suggestions before I left him looking kinda pathetic studying the produce.

I’ll tell you this, if he’s in one of those little carts and he has a doctor making these suggestions to him, it sounds kinda serious. I certainly didn’t probe into the details but it appeared he needed to make some changes for the betterment of his health.

If you know my story and back round, 8 years back my doctor made a suggestion that I might change some things I was doing for my health. Thankfully, I had no health issues or problems that forced me into it. Thankfully, I listened to his advice and made some changes to create a healthier lifestyle for myself.

Sometimes, people wait till it’s to late or they are dealing with issues before they are forced to recognize their bodies aren’t designed to consume to much sugar, fats, processed foods, alcohol etc that contributes to excess fat which in turn leads to all kinds of health related problems and diseases.

Our bodies need good food for health and well being.

It’s not supposed to be something horrible and torturous to eat good nutritionally dense foods. It shouldn’t be viewed as some kind of death sentence.

“I have to eat healthy”

Believe it or not, in time, you lose your desire for so much of the not so nutritionally good foods as you feed your body more healthy foods. You really will begin to crave them and want to eat them and it won’t make you feel like you’re “missing out”

Listen, what you will miss out on for having health problems and other related ills is an energetic life or having a body that is strong and able to do things with your family and for yourself.¬† There are diseases brought on by obesity that you just don’t wanna mess around with. Some of those things can’t be changed and the effects they have on your body are permanent and lasting.

You don’t wanna “miss out” on an active abundant life. That’s what you don’t wanna miss out on.

Learning to pass on foods that don’t build a healthy body shouldn’t be viewed in a negative way.

Your focus should be on caring for your body so you can fully and energetically enjoy the precious life you’ve been given.

I like being able to run and chase little kids and walk stairs and park far from the store and not be huffing and puffing. I like having energy and knowing I can take on things I have to do in my day and not be exhausted from the exertion.

No. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

But it has taken me some practice, discipline and intentional steps to get where I am.

Can I offer these words of advice to you? If you know you’re carrying excess fat ( and trust me, we ALL know when we are) please don’t wait till you’re at a doctors office and he’s giving you the ultimatum of ” you must do this now or else….”

Begin to take small steps that will lead to bigger changes.

Look for ways to get more movement into your day.

Learn to try a new vegetable. Learn how to cook them different ways ( I love roasting almost everything ! A little olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper, I’m in heaven ūüėČ

Aim to eventually get veggies in at all your meals.

Understand what proper portion sizes are. I can guarantee, it’s not what you probably think it is.

Learn to eat enough to be satisfied but not stuffed.

Watch your alcohol intake.

Be aware of how much sugar you consume. Sugary drinks are huge offenders.

Stop going through fast food places, or learn to look for healthier options if you do.

Don’t eat when you aren’t hungry. Sounds simple, yet so many people reach for food to comfort them on some level. Find other activities, remove yourself from the kitchen, or call a friend… just do anything to give yourself time to think through why you don’t need to put food in your face.

In time, with repeated practice your new habits will take over leading you to a healthier energetic lifestyle and that’s one decision you won’t regret.

 

Tell me… is eating healthy hard for you?

What Shape Is Your Diet?

2_10_16-Food-Pyramid

 

“So, what do you eat?”¬† It’s one of a few common questions I get sometimes. What the seeking person wants to know or might be asking is “tell me how to eat. Give me a plan/structure ’cause what you’re doing,¬†it seems to work for you.”

First, I personally abhor structured diets that tell me what I have to eat, how much and when. This is probably why I tossed all that nonsense 8 years ago when I started my crazy adventure.

Even when I work with people I don’t make a meal¬†plan for them. Why? They need to learn how to eat and how to make their own plan work. I want them to know and understand their body and how to listen to it.

Second, how I eat is what works for me. My nutritional needs will be different on several levels. My natural daily metabolic needs as well as what I need athletically will influence my daily diet.

Therefore, I can’t just give someone a blanket “this is what I eat” and expect it will work for them too.

There are some things I do that I think are applicable to anyone and can lead to personal success.

  1. I eat healthy 90% of the time. Meaning, I try to eat real foods as close to their natural form as I can. Of course, I leave wiggle room for those treats that make life fun or don’t make me feel restricted and deprived. This approach has worked for me and I believe has kept me successful.
  2. I drink lots of water. It’s my primary drink ( followed by coffee of course;) I don’t drink alcohol or sugary drinks of any kind. Well, only Gatorade after intense endurance workouts, but that’s a bit different.
  3. I eat when I’m hungry and I eat enough to satisfy my hunger but not make myself feel to full.
  4. Veggies or fruit take up lots of space on my plate at all my meals.
  5. I get 3 meals in and depending on my athletic load that day, healthy snacks as needed.
  6. Protein is a major thing for me at all meals and snacks to support muscle growth and maintenance as well as it doing a fine job keeping me feeling satisfied and not hungry.

And depending on my training schedule and what type of workouts I’m facing for the day, will determine what my nutritional needs are. Obviously, some days, I will require more calories than others.

See how I can’t just make a blanket statement to someone telling them what to eat?

The first step ( I believe)¬†for anyone, is knowing yourself. Be the best student of your body you can. Know what foods make you feel good and healthy. Know what your activities are and how you need to nutritionally support them. Learn to listen to your body and it’s natural signals for hunger and when it’s satisfied. I’ve learned what foods make me feel energetic, satisfied, help me athletically and help me build a strong body. It’s been a learning work in progress.

Make it your goal to eat real, whole foods and allow opportunities for the little treats in life you love ( in moderation)

How else can you make a winning eating plan for yourself that will lead to long term success and sustainability?

* Learn to eat three kinds of foods at meals. Obviously, the bigger variety of foods you eat, the more vitamins, minerals and nutrients you consume. Learn to experiment with different foods at each meal. Include plenty of veggies and fruit.

* Choose foods in their most natural states. Foods in their natural state or lightly processed have more nutritional value and less sodium, trans fats, and other non-healthy ingredients.

* Think moderation. Make a strong foundation of healthy foods, but don’t deprive yourself of things that are enjoyable to you too. Stop thinking of foods as good or bad. Think of moderation and if you enjoy something ( like an occasional coke or whatever your poison is) it¬†can fit into an overall nutritionally strong daily diet. You may be surprised though, that in time, when you start eating good food, you can lose the taste for certain foods you once found appealing.

Teach yourself to not just eat, but to learn to eat better. Look at a stronger, daily nutritional plan as a way to love and respect your body.

Making small daily changes will get you on the road to healthy, balanced and successful eating and living an overall healthier lifestyle.

Tell me, have you learned about yourself? How to feed your body in a way that supports your life and daily activities? What tips or tricks can you share?

 

Salad Bar Strategies

salad-bar

 

I heard a news story come on the other day that caught my attention. The announcer was rattling off “come back and see how salad bars can be diet sabotage.”

My first thought was… “Seriously? everyone knows what a nutritional trap those are” but then it was followed by the thought that, no, not everyone who is in the world is aware that salad bars can be the total downfall for their nutritional goals.

People with the best of intentions wanting to make better nutritional choices fall into a quagmire at the salad bar.

But first, let us also establish this. Straight up… not all salad bars are created equal. If all you’re offering me is iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, shaved carrots, some mushy looking tomatoes, with dessert offerings of bland chocolate and vanilla pudding, I’m totally passing it by.

You know what I’m talking about… you’ve seen those too ūüėČ

I remember a couple years ago being with my husband at a popular deli restaurant which also happened to have an amazing salad bar. At this point in my health and fitness journey I had already figured out what to leave behind and what to load on my plate. A woman walked by our table with, I think? a salad, I couldn’t be sure it was covered in a sea of creamy white dressing . I could see no visible vegetables.

I wanted to jump up and yell “Salad intervention!!” so very bad but my husbands restraining hand kept me in my chair. ( Nah, not really. I can honestly behave when I have to ūüėČ

I did want to tell her… “do you know how many calories and fat you have on that plate in just dressing alone??” or that you could’ve made a much better choice having a sandwich with lean meats and veggies, and probably even some chips for less calories?

First lesson in salad bar strategies: Watching out for those dressings. Ranch which is one of the most popular has  73 calories per tablespoon with 94% of those calories being fat calories.

Let that breathe over you for a second….

1 tablespoon. Have you measured out 1 tablespoon? it’s nothing.¬† Yet most people use far more than that . All those calories for dressing.

ranch
Each bowl containing 1 tablespoon

 

And not just Ranch, dressings in general are a nightmare. Opt for light vinaigrette, oil and vinegar or even dressings that might be more reduced fat ( although I think those are gross and would rather do without) if you really want Ranch, portion into a small container and dip your fork in the dressing before you grab some salad.

Second Lesson: Avoid all those pre-made salads. You know, the kinds made with mayo  or unidentifiable oils? This loads up the calories.

Third Lesson:¬† Beware of toppings. Croutons, bacon bits ( which most of the time aren’t even real bacon), ¬†and other assorted items people pile on, again, not realizing¬† a tablespoon or two is a lot of calories.

Fourth Lesson: Beware hidden sugars.¬† Fruit served on salad bars is often served in heavy sugary syrup. Also watch for dried fruits which although not overall bad pack lots of calories. Always look for fruit served in it’s more natural form.

So you’re reading this thinking… “Well, super awesome! What exactly CAN I have??”

I’ll tell you. Let’s build it from the bottom up so that your salad bar trip really is good for you.

Grab your plate and layer it with lettuce. And by that I mean, the dark green leafy kind. If you know anything about me then you might know I have little use for Iceberg lettuce. It’s just so…boring… and has virtually no nutritional value compared to the darker kinds.

However, if that’s all that’s offered then you don’t have a choice. Even better? If they have fresh spinach, mix some of that with your lettuce. For me now days, spinach has become my lettuce for salads.

So once you get your lettuce/spinach in place, feel free to add any colorful veggies onto your plate. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, radishes, mushrooms, broccoli… you get it. Whatever fresh colorful¬†veggies are offered, take them.

Veggies are your friend ūüėČ

Once you get that built, you want to consider whatever lean protein is available. Select enough that is roughly the size of a deck of  cards. Hard boiled eggs can also be included with meat.

Then you look for “healthy” fats… avocado, nuts, cheese, olives etc. Select these sparingly, like golf ball size amount.

If you want a few “extras” on top, croutons or seeds or whatever floats your boat, do it mindfully.

Finally, when you have your colorful, fresh looking salad prepared, if you want some type of dressing, assess that carefully. As mentioned earlier, a single tablespoon full can pack a whopping amount of calories and fat to your healthy built salad.

Consider servings of dressings in marble sizes. Meaning, go sparingly.

Following a few simple tricks, and knowing what to avoid, will let you have a healthy, satisfying and nutrient dense¬†meal without piling on tons of empty calories ūüôā

Tell me, do you have any healthy tricks or tips you use at the salad bar?