Monthly Archives: March 2013

Small change #8: Eat a little breakfast

Don’t skip breakfast.

I hate eating breakfast.  I have a 0% fat greek yogurt (high in protein low in sugar)  just about every day with a nice cup of tea.  It makes me human.  I highly recommend it.

200 calories will do ya, with another 150 or so at 10 am so your blood sugar doesn’t fall through the floor waiting on lunch.  And obviously more if you’re not a short little middle aged woman such as myself!

Breakfast meeting?  Egg white omelette, a bready item that is NOT a muffin, or half a muffin if it cannot be helped (and sometimes, let’s face it, it cannot be helped!), and fruit, though it always pains me just a little when I order not to say Potatoes!  When possible, I poach a couple of breakfast potatoes off someone else’s plate (um, don’t do this at a meeting — but with the spouse, it’s on!).  Keep it light.  I don’t recommend a Grand Slam or anything that slams in the morning, particularly if you are already worried about over doing it.

In a couple of hours, there must be a snack!  See below for some good options: 25_Healthy_Snacks_Kids_2012_Tearpad

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Small change #7: Pack a meal or snack — or both, then achieve balance

Of course you’re busy, I know that.  Do this at night: Pack like your very best self.  You know, what you would pack a kid you wanted to keep healthy.  A sandwich and fruit and a few chips (a few chips means what the recommended serving says).  A salad with beans or a little chicken or something over the top, with carrot and cucumber and a little — 1 Tbsp — container of REAL dressing (not the fat free crap).

Snacks: Carrots with a bit of hummus, or even pretzels with a bit of hummus. A small handful of peanuts and raisins.  A small bag of chips.  And apple or banana.  Or a few.  Don’t be afraid to pack a lot of fruits and vegetables — that’s not what’s bringing this country down, you know?  A little dried fruit sometimes helps a sweet tooth.  A lot will give you diarrhea and well, a lot of gas, so be careful out there.

Do as little or as much of the above as you can.  If you only have time to lay out a little trail mix in a bag and grab that, it’s fine.  But if you can grab a few Cuties (little oranges or clementines or whatever those amazing little things are) or something that will quench your hunger, that will go a long way later when  want something to eat while you’re in front of the computer.  You won’t think it will work, but when you’re hungry you’ll eat it anyway and then be surprised when it does work.

If you need something to eat while you’re busy, make it fruit or a vegetable with a little protein (a cube of cheese — not a BLOCK of cheese, but one the size of a couple of dice), or a few nuts (5 almonds, for example), which will keep you from gnawing your hand off or raiding the doughnut box before lunch.

Make sure lunch, if you pack it, is satisfying.  it’s better to have a little of something you love than a lot of something you don’t.  One slice of that leftover pizza with a bit of salad if you can’t take the idea of just salad for lunch for example.  Or bring a little salad, eat it FIRST, then go get the kid’s size burger from fast food if that’s what you live for (skip the fries, or get a size smaller than what you normally buy.  You usually get small?  Share or throw half away.  Or ignore me and just bring the salad!).  You see?

If you work a little bit of fruit and perhaps a vegetable in there, you will eat less of the stuff you love and still get to have it — just not all at once.  The best way to do that is to pack something and be ready so you don’t raid vending machines or head for sugary drinks at the coffee place nearby.

If you like all of that, pace yourself.  Pack a lunch and allow yourself the sugary drink once a week, the vending machine once a week, and the burger once a week.  Just not all at once.  It will feel painless but it makes a LARGE difference over time.

Small change #6 – learn how to read a food label

Sure you look at these once in a while, but do you understand what you’re looking for?

Take a minute and have a look at this, from the FDA, which is a launch page.  Here is the actual food label guide.

For every 4 g of “sugars” there is the equivalent of 1 tsp of sugar in the product.  If the product contains fruit or dried fruit, some of this total will come from the fruit, but if there is not fruit, it’s likely just from added sugar.

The DV — the % on the label, does NOT tell you the percentage of fat, sodium, etc. in the product.  It tells the percentage of fat it contributes to the overall diet of a person eating 2,000 calories.  I know.  So just learn the 5 and 20 rule: If the % is 5 or less, it’s low in the nutrient — this can be good if it’s fat or sodium or cholesterol — and if it’s over 20% it’s an excellent source.  Most canned soups come in at about 18% DV for sodium — a bit high, right?  The 5/20 rule will help you decide quickly what’s up.

Look at the ingredients.  They are sorted by weight.  If sugar or fat are at the top, don’t eat too much of this product.

Small change #5 — How to handle free, awesome office food

Bring a container to work for free dessert food windfalls.  Keep the container in a desk drawer.

I used to have a rule: If it’s fruit, go ahead and eat it.  If it’s plain salad or veggies, without dressing, go ahead.  If it’s anything else, it has to come home.  Delicious brownies or cookies from that great bakery they got for the meeting even though all the executives say they’re off sugar for life, I’m talking to you.

If the treat is good enough to eat, it’s good enough to bring home later to have with a nice cup of tea after dinner instead of snorfeling it/them down in front of the computer.  This will prevent you from having another dessert later on top of the one you ate at work, while still reaping the rewards of free and delicious dessert.

What about the kids and mate?  There’s always someone with a candy dish on their desk.  Poach a few for them and you’re good to go.  All of it goes in the back seat, nowhere near your hands while you are driving.  Not that I don’t trust you, but I’ve been there myself.

If the treat is just so-so?  Don’t eat it at work or at home, because you are not a human garbage can!!

Small change #4 – Find the sweet spot between all or nothing

Eat less of one thing you normally eat but feel you probably shouldn’t.

If you go to the movies, get a small popcorn instead of a medium or a medium instead of the large you normally buy.  You can pocket the quarter that makes up the difference — I know it seems like a bargain to get the bigger one.  It isn’t in terms of your health.  If you like candy at the movies, buy a small bag of candy from a store before attending, rather than a giant box.  If you just can’t stand not “saving money” bring plastic bags to divide the candy among you and your friends, and likewise the popcorn.  It’s only a bargain if you exit as healthy as you came in.

If you eat french fries, order a size smaller than the one you usually get.  If you normally eat two doughnuts, just eat one.  If you normally order a burger with two patties and 2 slices of cheese, and 2 slices of bacon, try it with just one of each.  And if that is too much and makes your face look like a sad puppy just thinking about it, just take off ONE thing.  Even that will help, really!

In place of the food you have given up, feed yourself something from the low-calorie category — like a piece of fruit (not dried, not juiced — the real 3-D McCoy).  If you are eating fast food and trying to cut back, order a side salad and eat that ahead of the meal.  I know it’s more expensive than the dollar burger.  You’re totally worth it.  Ditch the dressing or measure 1 tsp. onto a spoon and then add it.  If that’s not palatable, ditch the salad altogether and get fresh apple — or bring your own.

Then think about the experience later in the day.  Was it enough?  Sometimes the answer will be an easy yes.  If it’s a no — and you can judge this by honestly asking yourself if you felt deprived — then make adjustments.  Will 1.5 doughnuts do the trick?  If you can find the sweet spot, you might be able to shave off just enough to enjoy the food without giving it up altogether.  Start with a bite less, if that’s what you can manage.

Don’t white-knuckle your way through it.  If the only amount of that food that will do is the amount you normally consume — change something else!

Small change #3 – eat without distraction

Small change #3: Eat a meal without doing anything else at the same time.  Don’t read.  Don’t watch TV.  Don’t play video games.  Sit quietly and eat and pay attention — just for five minutes if you can’t manage more.  See why kids eat just enough, then leave half on the plate so they can go play?

Small change #2 – Hide the goodies!

Small change #2: Store less healthy foods out of sight.  When you come into your kitchen or dining room, you should not be able to spy chips, candy, cake, etc.  Store them in the pantry, drawers, etc.  Instead, place healthier choices — such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains (bread, not too fatty, not too sugary crackers or bars), etc. out on the counter or in the front of the fridge.  You’re more likely to eat what you see first.