Tag Archives: vegetables

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.


How can I tell if a fruit or vegetable is organic, or has GMOs?

A woman asked me this as she gazed at my bag of pears a couple of weeks ago.

You can tell by looking at the PLU or Product Look-Up code on that sticker with the Kung-fu grip.  Look for a 4 digit number beginning with the number 3 or 4 if the variety was grown conventionally, and the same number with a 9 in front of it if the variety was grown organically.  For example, the PLU code for a banana is 4011, and an organic one is 94011.

Because it’s voluntary, you never really see it, but if the code begins with an 8, it means it’s genetically modified.  Organically-grown produce cannot be genetically modified so if the prospect of GMOs in your food keeps you up at night, go organic.

Those absurdly sticky stickers are good for another thing: Spotting the country where the produce was grown.  If the produce was grown half a world away, it’s an indication that you are eating something that is out of season in your part of the world.  On the other hand, if you are consuming something that came from closer to home, you will likely pay less for it, and it will likely taste better too, because it will have been picked closer to being ripe.

Now go peel off the stupid things and get eating!

Salad days

Left to my own devices, I could eat carbohydrates with bouts of protein consumption and nothing else. Usually by dinnertime my interest in going face down into a bowl of food at the end of the day when I’mYum! make-upless in my “tired pants” (nicknamed by the child for the proclamation about my mental state that usually accompanies their donning) is keen.

Turns out this is also how the vast majority of my students fill the bill when they’re left to their own devices. They work a lot, can’t afford a lot, and thus they eat breakfast and generally return home looking for food with raptor-like hunger. Many of us can finally relax at dinnertime (or lunchtime if we work the night shift, hopefully). They don’t have enough time to shop, don’t have enough time to eat, and as a result they don’t meet up with vegetables very often unless they’re in a wrapper squeezed between a piece of meat and a bun.

So how about a salad?

When you’re really hungry, this sort of thing tastes really, really good. The prep also lends itself to the popping of ingredients into one’s hungry mouth without a trace of guilt. And if one is a serious cheater like me, this can all be done rather quickly (and somewhat cheaply, but let’s not kid ourselves, produce can be expensive — but you’re worth it!! Excuse me while I put down my pom-poms). Here’s how — any or all of these: Continue reading


Oh hell, let’s get it started

I’ve been staring at my feet for a couple of days, not sure where to begin.

I went to the eye doctor today — no ordinary eye doctor, but my man at UCLA, where I’ve had to go since I was 10 because I had pesky muscular issues. My point is, the man is high end, interns falling at his feet, residents hanging on every word. But I’ve known him since I came in with my arms crossed and informed him that I was not going to have surgery again because the first time entirely sucked (vomiting continuously on my mother’s 27th birthday while she tried not to cry, only to be told that the surgery didn’t really work? Hell, no). He put up with me, and I with him, and he held off surgery for 25 more years, then performed literal magic after all those years of practice (and an IV loaded with anti-nausea meds). So he’s no dummy is my point.

I hadn’t seen him in a while, and he asked me what I was doing these days. Every time someone finds out that I know something about nutrition, the next thing out of their mouth is a question about nutrition. As a result, telling anyone that I know a damned thing is a bit like throwing a small grenade – I let the cat out of the bag and wince waiting to see what the question will be and whether I’ll be able to answer it off the cuff to prove my encyclopedic intelligence. (Which I don’t really have but which seems necessary to gain people’s trust because of the high level of total nonsense out there).

So he asked me: Is a raw diet really good for you? This was a funny question coming from this 60+ year old, very reserved man. Continue reading