Eat Right, Judge Less, Love More

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The following is a list of all entries from the eat right category.

Nutrition non-Negotiables

Every health-conscious person I know has their own way of making their diet work for them – Even people on a structured diet plan tend to personalize it.  Often, though,  these methods are not universal, and may not always comply with general guidelines for healthy eating.  But if it works, it works, right?  If anything, finding a way to personalize it (within reason, of course!) may keep our interest longer.

I most certainly comply with a handful of “nutrition non-negotiables,” formulated over the years as a result of my personal preferences and experiences – and I’d be willing to bet you do too! Here are a few of my most influential ones, for better or for worse!

Breakfast – no matter what, I eat breakfast.  There have been occasions where eating breakfast seemed silly (I got up at 4am to catch a flight, or I’m meeting a friend for brunch) but trial and error has taught me that eating something (even just a handful of dry cereal) can help prevent diet meltdown later in the day.  For me, It doesn’t vary much from a cup of whole grain cereal, a banana, and some 1% milk, but honestly, even a slice of pizza would be better than nothing!

Ethnic foods and traveling – my absolute favorite part of traveling is discovering the local cuisine, so dieting is not generally on the itinerary.  However, a week of indulgent eating can leave me feeling pretty awful, so I do try to keep my indulgences in check without skipping out on the local fare.

Since traveling is something I try to do often,  I’ve come up with a few techniques to make it work for me.

  • I Don’t waste time, money or calories on things I can find at home
  • I Plan ahead for big meals, by spacing them out and trying to eat a lighter breakfast and lunch to compensate
  • I incorporate activity into travel plans – whether it’s a quick workout at the hotel gym, or discovering a city on foot, I make sure I move!
  • I’m good at sharing!  My boyfriend did not mind splitting a Parisian crepe 75%/25%, believe me! and I get to try it without ruining my appetite or my weight goals.  Win/win!
  • I carry a snack – this is particularly true for road trips.  I try not to put myself in a position where I’m hungry with no healthy choices.
  • I always hit up the local market – markets are often a fun way to get to know the cultural vibe of a city, and they’re also usually brimming with fresh fruit and vegetables, a calorie friendly and portable treat!

Diet foods – I’m sure a few dietitians are cringing right now, but I really don’t care for diet foods.  I wholeheartedly believe in quality over quantity; I’d rather have 1/8 of a cupcake than a stack of ‘low-fat’ (and, letsbehonest, low-taste) cookies or something.  There are a few exceptions  – I put equal in my coffee, I keep sugar free gum in my purse, and I crave a diet coke once in a while, for example – most of which are holdovers from a past life, but for the most part, I go for the original.  I genuinely believe that diet foods (100 calorie packs, sugar free/fat free foods, etc) do nothing to help change eating habits for the better.  Rather, I have seen so many cases of people who give up on impulse control and allow themselves to overdo it on junk food because it has been made ‘healthier.’ (I’ve definitely fallen into that trap in the past).  But a cookie is still a cookie; that is, something that should be eaten in moderation.  Furthermore, if I’m eating a cookie, I want it to be the best, most delicious cookie I can get my hands on!

which brings me to…

Butter, y’all – High five to Paula Deen on this one for keeping it real – I bet you won’t find “butter flavored spray” in her kitchen!  I love the fact that butter is so simple and yet so delicious.  Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on butter? Sweet Cream and Salt.  TWO ingredients!  Comparatively, check out the ingredient list on one of the well known butter wannabes:

“Natural oil blend (soybean, palm fruit, canola and olive oils), water, contains less than 2% of whey, salt, natural and artificial flavor, vegetable monoglycerides and sorbitan ester of fatty acids, soy lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, lactic acid, beta-carotene color, and potassium sorbate and calcium disodium EDTA.”

Yes, I know –  butter is high in calories,  most of which come from fat.  Saturated fat, to be exact.   But I decided long ago I would rather significantly reduce my portion of butter than eat the processed stuff, hands down.

And finally, fake meat – tofu, tempeh, seitan… I just can’t do it.  End of story.


A weight persona

I was talking recently with a coworker/friend about her struggles with weight.  She has made a comic schtick out of her relationship with food, and calls herself, proudly,  ‘fat bitch.’  She has taken her weight – something that might otherwise be a source of much frustration – and made it into her comedic ace-in-the-hole.

It wasn’t until she started to call me ‘skinny bitch’ that I started to understand what was really going on here.  I noticed I was starting to live up to the moniker – I wanted to bring in some leftover tortilla chips to supplement my lunch one day, but  I decided against it.  I started to get decaffeinated tea (black) instead of coffee (with half and half)  from the Starbucks next door.  I became, for T’s sake, the skinny bitch she thought I was.  Appreciating the accountability, I kinda enjoyed it.  But if I was living up to skinny bitch, was she living up to her own nickname?

Furthermore, I wondered how many people are operating under the ‘weight’ of a persona.  As a nutrition person, I feel I am often under pressure to look the part, which can sometimes give me the boost I need to cook a healthy meal, exercise more, or just generally maintain my weight. However, what about those people who are under pressure to stay fat? I mean, think about it. Comedians, truck drivers, mall Santas, nonnas, Star Jones? We expect them to look a certain way.

So I told T I thought she was pulling a Kevin James.  She laughed, of course – the comedienne always appreciates a joke – But whether anything actually changes remains to be seen.

*  *  *  *  *

January 2. The beginning of the year is our first chance to take a breath and survey life after the beautiful mess of thanksgiving and finals and christmas and the coming of the new year has passed. Traditionally, this is also the time when our plans for the upcoming year are excitedly set in motion, perhaps based on shortcomings of the previous year: starting a diet, improving relationships, and many other self-improvement goals all seem easier to follow with the momentum of an unmarked calendar upon us.

This past year was full of wonderful changes: I ended a dysfunctional relationship, started to blog, continued to dedicate myself to my studies, took up running, solidified my most meaningful friendships, and met someone wonderful who bears a striking resemblance to the man of my dreams (could it be him? we’ll see!) Nonetheless, I can also see much room for improvement.  First and foremost, I want to make better use of my time.  I’m annoyed by the amount of time I spend idly perusing the internet, while simultaneously complaining I don’t have enough time to exercise or write.  I hope 2009 is a fitter, more prolific year (even if it is at the expense of not knowing what blogger A & B ate for dinner last night… pity).

I also want to be more organized.  I can see the way my mess impacts my state of mind, especially during stressful times at school.  I look around at my bedroom with clothes all over and notebooks strewn here and there, and I have a hard time focusing my mind on whatever task is at hand.

Finally, I want to eat better.  Considering my nutrition education, my job, and my health-conscious friends, this should be a NO-BRAINER.  But somehow, I have many days where not a single vegetable makes its way onto my plate, and I subsist largely on carbs and fat. If I want to be stronger and more active, though, I need to get my eating in line.

I think all these resolutions can be categorized under a general goal:  I want to live a life I can be proud of.

Rainy Day = Soup!

So today’s eats (a reflection of my day in general) have been a bit haphazard.  I ate breakfast (Kashi U, banana, 1% milk, strawberries) in a complete haze, exhausted from my great night out with the girls and just trying to get some fuel in me before heading out in the rain to work at JC.  I was so excited to hear we got some new products in stock for October, especially the JC pumpkin spice cake (170 cal) that I’ve been looking forward to trying for MONTHS.  I must say, it didn’t disappoint 🙂  I also had a Chobani (140 cal) with some JC trail mix (120 cal, minus the 8 almonds I picked out), and a small JC turkey burger (280 cal), all of which I ate while standing up, too quickly for me to really enjoy since I had a pretty constant stream of clients from 9:00 to 12:30. 

The star of the show for today, though, was definitely the soup I made for dinner when I got home… I was trying to find a way to use a bunch of green onions I bought, and to finish some pre-cooked frozen shrimp.  I locked eyes with a box of thai rice noodles I bought a while back, and dinner was born.  

I forgot to take a picture, but I will DEFINITELY be making this again, maybe with tofu, so a picture is on its way.  Here’s the basic gist:

1) bring 1C broth (20cal) + 1C water to a boil
2) stir/wisk in 1T peanut butter (95 cal)
3) add 2oz rice noodles (180 cal), 2 sliced green onions (white/light green parts only) and 3 oz shrimp (unthawed) (80 cal)

remove from heat and cover; let sit 8-10 minutes or until noodles are tender.   Salt to taste.

~375 calories, makes a very generous portion.


I’m in a ridiculously munchy mood so I’m gonna try to lose myself in some organic chemistry and get my mind off food for a bit.  Here’s hoping!

Chilly day eats

So the theme of my diet today is definitely warmth.  During my otherwise fantastic run this morning (it was my first time in my new sneaks! yay!) I thought I’d be fine without my hoodie after a mile or so, but I just couldn’t seem to warm up… my poor knuckles were all red when I finished! So a big thanks to my hearty breakfast and lunch (and many cups of decaf coffee) which helped warm me up from the inside out: stovetop pumpkin oatmeal for breakfast and crab & corn chowder for lunch. mmmm!

I used multigrain oats from Trader Joe’s (40g, 130 cal), a small banana (96g, 85 cal), a tablespoon of unsalted peanut butter (16g, 95 cal), some raisins (20g, 65 cal), organic canned pumpkin (40g, ~20 cal), an egg white (~20 cal), and some pumpkin pie spice and splenda to make my oatmeal.  It was my first time making oats on the stovetop rather than in the microwave, and I wasn’t impressed with the difference;  After seeing them so often ongliding calm, I thought I’d like stovetop oats way better, but I think I’m gonna stick to the microwave from now on… The oats come out a little stickier and less soupy in the microwave, which for some reason is the texture I associate with oatmeal. Or maybe I just used too much water.  I dunno.  Nonetheless, breakfast was still delish!

Lunch was crab & corn chowder from Trader Joe’s (300 cal), with two “skinny dippers” crackers (25 cal each). The crackers caught my attention at Fairway because of the Apple & Honey Grain flavor; sounds intriguing, right?  You don’t really taste the apple, which is nice… It just adds a little extra sweetness to the oh-so-good ‘honey wheat’ flavor we’re all so familiar with.

So I must say I’m pretty pumped about photo-blogging my eats! I think it helps me pay more attention to savoring the foods I eat. I’m a chronic snacker, especially when I’m in school, and I wind up eating things like clif bars and apples and pretzel sticks all day.  Nothing unhealthy, but I dare you to catch me eating an actual meal. Also, it’s easier for me to overeat that way.  Lately, though, I have been making an effort to prepare food in meal form and just not eat as often (or as mindlessly, like in the middle of Organic Chem lecture or something). Taking snaps makes that even easier because, whether or not I’m at school, I don’t want to be whipping out a camera every hour and a half; instead, I’m forced to think about whether or not I want to eat at that particular moment, and more often than not the answer is no. 

I’ve also been making an effort to eat slower, thanks to a girlfriend of mine (we go out to eat together quite a bit) who clued me in that hey, If I’m always trying to watch my calories, I might wanna just slow down a little bit…  So I’m working on it: I put my utensils down, I take a drink, I stretch it out a bit.  It’s a habit, like anything else, and oats and chowder are two great meals to savor slowly. Today = great success! (insert Borat voice).

Anyway, with a nice satisfied tummy, I’m off to study Microbiology – first of 4 tests in three days next week! eep!

When I started this blog, I had every intention of making it a food journal with a few of my other random thoughts thrown in, so that I could explore the connection between my thoughts and feelings and what I subsequently put in my body.  However, as my mind wanders between things I want to write about, I find it rarely settles on food.  This frustrates me – after all, Eating Right is a third of the point of this blog.  But at the same time, I think my food obsessiveness is taking a bit of a backseat, allowing me to explore other, more productive distractions, which is definitely a good thing! 

I won’t go changing the title of my blog anytime soon, but I think the unexpected direction my blog is taking is something I’m gonna roll with for a while…

This too shall pass-over

Today is the last day of passover; I spent this week learning about yet another holiday in my boyfriend’s faith.   For the first two seder dinners, we were at his parents’ house.  Dinner was delicious both days, with an assortment of kosher meats, matzo ball soup, kugel, and other traditional fare.   On the first night, though, the actual seder – the reading of the Haggadah – left me seriously wanting more.  Considering I will need to convert to Judaism to be with their son, I expected a certain degree of reverence during such a serious holiday.  Instead, it felt as if we rushed through reading the Haggadah.  Also, I had some questions about some of the customs that nobody could answer, and the mother got up to do dishes in the midst of the final reading.  This doesn’t offend me, but certainly surprised me.  Thankfully, for the second seder, it was a little more formal (the entire family was there for the second night; my boyfriend’s sister had been with her husband’s family for the first night) and I was able to understand more of what was going on. Also, they got me a kosher for passover birthday cake, which was so sweet of them, and unexpected!

The reason I want so much to experience a real seder (or any holiday for that matter) is that I am craving a more faithful life, and I want to know that I will be met with cooperation and understanding from my boyfriend’s family.  I don’t want to half-practice any religion, and I hope that my boyfriend is on board with this!

Anyway, this past week, I attempted to keep kosher for passover with my boyfriend, which meant lots of matzo, dried fruit, and kosher for passover snacks.  Due in large part to the fact that we both have finals coming up, there wasn’t much meal preparation, leaving us snacking our way through most meals and leaving me eating way more than I would have liked.  (I did have one meal, however, that was delicious – matzo brei, with whole wheat matzo (soaked in water until mushy), 1 egg and 2 egg whites, cinnamon, skim milk and splenda… it tastes like french toast!)

I’m at a point now where I have learned enough about myself and what triggers me to eat.  I know that structure keeps me focused, and as soon as that is disrupted, I have a hard time staying on track for the rest of the day.  What I don’t know is how to combat the days – or, week, in this case – where disruptions are inevitable.  I guess it’s a work in progress.

Goal for tomorrow:  get rid of the crappy food lingering in my house, get a salad in somewhere, and take five to say “am I hungry?” before i eat something.  Let’s see how it goes!