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Posts Tagged ‘Health’

What exactly am I doing?

I have been asked this question by several people.  Am I following a program?  Am I on a diet?  Did I get a book?  Am I on Weight Watchers?  The answer to all these is no, I am not.  In case you have not yet read, my first post documents why I have changed how I eat.  In short, I must eat 30 to 40 grams of fiber a day, and consume 80 ounces of water.  I also must eat low fat, fat free, lean, and healthy foods instead of unhealthy foods from now on.

No program, just those orders from my doctor, and to be honest, he’s right.  I had gained fifteen pounds since March because of the foods I had been eating.  I know they weren’t healthy, but I ate them anyway.  Knowing that I had to start eating healthy foods, I needed to learn what foods were good for me and why.  I also had no clue which foods had the most fiber.

I’ve always been aware that diet plans and fad diets often make you limit certain foods.  It is true that many foods have additives, preservatives, imitation sweeteners, man-made sweeteners, and extra sodium that your body doesn’t need.  There are also certain things found in healthy foods that your body does need.  The truth is that everyone needs protein, fats (good ones), carbs, sugars, fiber, and vitamins.  The key is to learn about those daily recommended percentages so that you can know what your body needs.    As an example, our body even needs calories!

Calories are not bad for you if you allow them to do their job.  Calories help give us energy and they help enforce good cellular function, if the right amount is consumed each day.  If you consume too many calories, the calories you have left over turn into fat.  The amount of calories a person needs to consume varies depending on your lifestyle’s activity level.  A marathon runner would need more calories than a person who only mildly works out for thirty minutes a few times a week.

Most diets and fad diets mention something about cutting calories.  If a person consumes too much calories, then yes, they need to cut back on calories.  Trying to eliminate too many calories, however, can cause serious problems and send your body into starvation mode.

Above is just an example of one reason why I am not on a diet plan or following a program.  Knowing the suggestions from my doctor, I have a lot of foods that I can eat.  I just have to learn what they are and what I can do with them.  This involves some serious research, creativity, and trial and error.

One of the greatest resources for me is other healthy living blogs.  These people have tons of recipes, and they have great food tips on what’s good or bad for you.  Another good item of note about healthy living bloggers is most of them have at one point been unhealthy eaters just like me.  They offer good advice for people starting to live healthy, and if they have perfected some of their own recipes, you can try them out knowing that there’s already someone else who has gone through the trial and error process.  Also, if they’re listed, they are usually really good!

Another great resource is simply learning about healthy foods.  The Mayo Clinic states that the average person needs between 25 and 40 grams of fiber daily.  Most people don’t consume the daily recommended amount.  My amount is higher because I have digestive problems.  There are several websites that list fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains, and the amounts of fiber in these foods.  Here is a good one.  Meats are good for you, too!  We choose to eat 93% lean ground beef in our house if we eat red meat.  We also eat a lot of chicken.  Baking, broiling, and sauteing are great and tasty options if you’re looking to go healthy.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you personally is to read labels.  Labels, labels, labels.  Food companies can’t lie on them.  You will see what ingredients are in the food item as well as nutrition information.  If it has way too much sodium, your best bet is it’s not healthy.  If it’s high fiber, go for it!  You get my drift.  Labels are a great way for you to find foods that are good for you.

When you have your stash of healthy foods, then it’s time to experiment!  Here is one of ours from last night:

Brown rice, boneless skinless chicken breasts, and red and yellow sweet peppers.  Scott put a little bit of fat free chicken broth in with the rice, chopped the chicken into big chunks, and sliced the peppers.  He used a little bit of olive oil and Lawry’s to sautee the chicken and peppers.  Then he put them together:

This had awesome flavor and reminded me of stir fry.  Here is how I had the leftovers for lunch – in a whole grain tortilla with blueberries (+leftover cereal from my ride to work – I got full) and pomegranate Greek yogurt:

There you have it.  I wish I could say I’m doing something as “simple” as a program, but I’m not.  I’m learning as I go, and I think it’s great.  I’m not limited by the kinds of food I can eat since I’m not eating what my body doesn’t need.  Putting it in that perspective has helped me a lot.  There are tons, and I mean tons, of food that is good for your body and nutritious, and there are even more ways than that to prepare and enjoy them.  If you would like to know more about the resources I have found, please visit the “contact me” tab at the top of this page.

Thanks to all of my readers – let me know you’re reading!  I would love to hear from you!

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Seriously.

This is what happens when a southern girl changes her eating habits.  I’ve always known that fruits and vegetables are good for you, but really, just plain fruits and vegetables all the time would be bland.  I’m trying to learn new and creative ways to use fruits and vegetables.  I’m also learning about several other foods that are healthy for me.  And learning about fiber has been daunting, but rewarding!  Who knew that the fiber count of figs almost triples when they are dried?  Wow.

In my attempt to eat more fiber, I have eaten less meat over the past few weeks.  I’m still eating meat, but it is no longer the central focus of every meal that I eat.  I’ve eaten more beans since they are full of soluble fiber.  Soluble fiber, to me, is wonderful since it not only helps the digestive system run smoothly, it also latches on to calories and helps flush them out of the body!  I have eaten more black beans over the past two weeks since they are very high in soluble fiber.  You could say I am a black bean addict, which is fine with me – especially since Scott doesn’t like black beans.  That means more for me!

Trying to get an eight year old to start eating healthy is a challenge in itself.  Yesterday, we got Arnold multigrain sandwich thins.  We tried them out on Noah last night, and guess what – Noah really liked them!  I see a light at the end of the White Bread Tunnel.  He also asked for apples and grapes so that he could have a healthy snack.  Things are looking up!

I got to try the sandwich thins today with some chicken salad that I created in about five minutes this morning.  I got creative with some chicken tenders that Scott had lightly seasoned with some Lawry’s.  Here is my impromptu recipe, good for one serving:

2 baked chicken tenderloins, chopped

5 grapes, quartered

1 tbsp light canola oil mayonnaise

1 pinch of salt

1 dash of ground pepper

Here is the chicken once chopped:

Here is the result after mixing all of the ingredients together:

And here is the final product on sandwich thins:

This was awesome!!!  I had this with tortilla chips and hummus, and finished with some Greek yogurt:

Greek yogurt.  Ahhh, where to begin?  It is much thicker and more full flavor than American yogurt.  It almost has a pudding consistency, kind of like sour cream.  I had never tried the fruit on the bottom kind, but being all natural, the yogurt was well separated from the fruit, so I mixed it up.  Here’s what happened:

And let me tell you – it was sooo good!  It tasted like dessert as opposed to a nonfat fruit yogurt.  Oh, yeah, this stuff is nonfat.  Nonfat never tasted so good, though!  Honestly, I don’t know where the nonfat is, but unless they hadn’t put nonfat and 0% in large letters and numbers all over the container, I wouldn’t have known.  This stuff is better than yoplait.  It’s so rich and creamy, and the fruit is real, natural fruit flavor.  The way it should be.  They don’t add unnecessary sugars to it, either, which I love.  Definitely worth trying!  I had Chobani brand today, and I highly recommend it.

I am still finding out lots of information about living healthy, and I still have a lot to learn, but I am proud of the progress I’m making.  Tomorrow I will talk more about where I am getting my ideas from, and why I am not following a program.

Question: Have you tried Greek yogurt?  What do you think?

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I have lived most of my life in Upstate SC.  Being born in Kentucky, just outside of Louisville, I wasn’t surrounded by “the south” as much as I was when we moved to SC in 1989.  Somehow, I have never latched on to the southern accent.  I have had people ask me where I’m from because they can’t place the accent.  They are befuddled when I tell them South Carolina.  Others ask if I come from the North or Midwest USA.  I am still trying to understand this.

Here in South Carolina, I have had to repeat myself or explain what I mean because I don’t use southern slang.  I don’t pronounce words like others here in the south.  I say names the way they are written and the way they are generally pronounced.  Sharon, to me, is Sharon, not “Shay-run”.  You guys, or you all, replaces “y’all” for me.  It’s not that I don’t want to speak with a southern accent.  I think southern accents are beautiful.  It’s not even that it’s not me, it’s just, well, I can’t.  Ask my husband.  I try to say words with a southern drawl but it doesn’t work.  It makes him laugh.  Noah even laughs!  I sound like someone with a speech impediment.  My tongue and mouth are not made for Southern Twang.

I guess I don’t always behave like a Southern lady, either.  I grew up in a house where my Dad, sister, and I would rate each other’s burps.  We laugh at jokes, talk loudly, and we aren’t afraid to speak our opinion.  I will let you know what I think, unless it really is completely the wrong forum.  My mom would say she always tried to make us dainty, but failed.

That does not mean that I am not southern.  Trust me, I live in the south and survive each summer’s humidity right along with everyone else.  Myrtle Beach is a vacation spot for me, and I love it!  My High School had Farmer Week, and each year, I dressed to the nines as a farmer.  I even ate southern food right up until the doctor (and me) told me to stop.

So, what was I going to do when I went to the most Southern of all restaurants for dinner last night?  Cracker Barrel prides itself on Country Cookin’.  Pardon, kuuuuntry cookin’.  Scott got a gift certificate from a coworker to Cracker Barrel, and that’s where we went for dinner.  I told him I would have to plan ahead and see what they had that I could eat.  This wasn’t an easy feat.  I’m not sure exactly how healthy this is, but here is the healthiest item on the menu I could find, and it’s what I ate:

Grilled chicken tenderloin salad with a sliced macintosh apple, bacon, and bleu cheese.  I had it with fat free Italian dressing.  I could have had it with the bacon, but I wanted the bacon.  Oh well.  Still healthier than chicken and dumplings.

I also had one half of a biscuit with a little bit of blackberry preserves.

All in all, I think I did okay.  There really is no way to eat completely healthy at Cracker Barrel, especially when they overseason their veggies and they won’t steam plain ones for you.  So, in case you’re wondering, you can sort of eat healthy at Cracker Barrel.  It just takes lots of planning.  I lucked up and got an item that was seasonal.

At work today, I bypassed this glory:

And I am so proud of myself!  I just don’t need all those calories and all that sugar right now.  I smiled at the cake and walked out of the room.  I couldn’t have done that a month ago.

So. Proud. Of me!

Please feel free to leave a comment – I would love to hear from my readers!

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Fiber in the Morning

On weekday mornings, we have an interesting routine at our house. Every third week I wake up before Scott, get Noah up and ready, take a shower, and fix my lunch. The other weeks Scott gets up before me, gets Noah ready, and then I wake up with time to shower and hastily fix my lunch if I haven’t done so the night before. This leaves me hardly any time to sit down and eat breakfast.

I do still eat breakfast, but it consists of dry cereal on my way to work. I don’t mind this much since I take water with me in the car as well. The good thing about the cereals I eat is that they are high in fiber. One of my wheat shreddies has 9g of fiber, my Puffins cereal contains 5g, and an organic oat bran and psyllium seed cerereal packs a whopping 13g of fiber! Whew.

I don’t eat all of these together, mind you. I’d be a walking balloon all day long. I do like to rotate my cereals so that I don’t get stuck in a rut. On the days I eat less fiber for breakfast, I usually take a fiber bar to snack on in the mornings, or I eat a higher fiber lunch or dinner.

Since my cereals contain so much fiber, I have found myself pleasently fuller longer, and I don’t find the need to eat such a large lunch. Fiber does a great job of curbing appetite and cravings.

Wheat shreddies – these are great!  They are very good when dry, but they are really crunchy.  I think they’re a little easier to eat when they’re swimming in milk.

Same thing for this cat food (just kidding – it’s the oat bran and psyllium seed cereal).  This has 13g of fiber and is really hard to eat without milk, so this will be a weekend/I-actually-have-time-to-sit-down-and-eat cereal.

Although I eat these dry during the week, on weekends I have time to sit and eat them with milk. This is a nice break, since fiber is crunchy in cerelals. Extremely crunchy. I tried the bran and psyllium seed with honey this weekend, and I didn’t mind it, but it was almost too sweet and I didn’t want to put granulated sugar with it. Scott suggested adding cinnamon so I may do that next time.

Question: How much fiber do you eat in the mornings?

Edit: If you viewed this post around Noon today, my apologies for the huge pictures.  WordPress for Blackberry decided not to follow its orders and did its own thing.

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I have had an awesome end of the week!  Thursday’s grocery shopping resulted in some staples as well as some extra lean ground beef. Scott cooked these on the Foreman Thursday evening.  I fixed mine with light canola oil mayo, which has only 30 calories per serving!  One serving was plenty with the burger.  I also had Snyder’s tortilla chips with red pepper hummus.  The hummus was extra creamy and has great flavor.

On Friday, I had it a bit easier at work.  Some children were sick, and that left me with only three kids.  We had fun, though!  I have a new toy tool set for them to play with, and they went around the room hammering other toys and trying to unscrew the high chairs.  It was quite fun to watch them.  I also got to spend a good deal of time with them outside on the playground as the humidity was not too bad and the temperature was lower than normal.  I looove being outdoors when the weather is nice!

Yesterday evening we helped out and hung out at our church’s lock-in for our youth group.  Scott planned to meet me at the church since it was his late day at the office.  I picked Noah up from his mother’s house, where he had spent the afternoon, and the two of us met some friends at a favorite Thai place of ours for dinner.  Chef’s Secret serves up yummy Thai and Japanese food, and they also have a sushi bar.  I don’t mind sushi too much, but it’s not my first pick.  I chose to have the Pad See-U with vegetables.  I have been wanting lots of veggies since starting to eat healthy, so this really hit the spot.

We left the restaurant with Scott’s take out order and headed to the church.  We had a blast hanging out with the youth.  They played human battleship, several board games, and capture the flag before I hit a wall.  Scott and I were not expected to stay the entire night, so I came home around one.  Scott stayed to help supervise a little bit longer since he was more awake than I.  He made it home about 2:45 this morning (!).

The first part of my Saturday was spent resting and being lazy after keeping an eye on teenagers last night.  I had lunch today before I went to a get together for a close friend of mine.  I got to catch up with her and her family, and I gave some good Vegas tips to her sister.  Not wanting to be rude, I did get some small portions of the food that was offered.  It was all very tasty, but eating it, I realized that my body is really beginning to not have a taste for certain foods.  I think that’s a good thing.  It was well worth it to share some laughs and memories with great friends.

It’s been a great weekend so far!  I’ve had fun, but I am beat.  I see an early bedtime in store for me this evening.  Oh, I have another victory in the Household Healthy Living Transition to announce – Scott tried the almond butter and really liked it!  I knew he couldn’t be a hater.  That stuff is gooood.

Question: How is your weekend so far?

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Lunch break!!!

Almond Butter with Orange Marmalade on Whitewheat bread with Snyder’s Tortilla Chips

Okay, I know that’s an odd combination.  Almonds and oranges.  But, I noticed that our jelly has high fructose corn syrup and I really, really didn’t want to consume that for lunch today.  I need to look into different jelly and jam options.  I may just eat the jelly we have right now in moderation, but today, I just chose not to eat it.

High fructose corn syrup is a derivative of corn syrup, where the glucose in corn syrup is turned into fructose.  I know it’s divided as to whether or not high fructose corn syrup is healthy for you, but when I see that, I remember a commercial from a few years back where kids were putting on a play and a girl comes out with oily goop on her and says “I’m high fructose corn syrup.” Yuck.  I tend to want to stay away from it.  Today is one of those days.

The folks at Hangry Pants agree with me.

So, I opted to eat my almond butter with orange marmalade.  My husband might not like too much that I ate his marmalade, but it’s what I wanted and there’s plenty left :D.  I know it has sugar, but at least it’s just sugar and not man made gloop.  It was yummy!  It reminded me a little bit of the chocolate oranges you get at Christmastime, but with a nuttier flavor.  I’m headed to a get together for a friend of mine, and not knowing what food they are serving, I thought it best to have something on my belly so I don’t eat too much.

And speaking of corn, the chips tasted like popcorn.  In a good way.  Hope everyone is having a great Saturday!

Question:  What do you think of high fructose corn syrup?

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…who is right now diligently doing his homework.  He just asked me “I’m supposed to do the math problems on the odd pages, but there’s no problems on the first two.”  He looked sooo surprised when I suggested reading what was on those two pages.  This little guy never ceases to make me laugh!

Noah is the son of my husband, Scott, who has full custody of him, so when Scott and I got married last year, I not only became a wife, I became a full time Mom as well.  Noah keeps me company every afternoon as I get off work at two, and Scott gets off between four thirty and six, depending on the day.

Southern Fiber with SF Hubby on our Wedding Day

During the school year, our afternoons consist of errands, homework, playing the Wii, and snacks.  Ahhh, snacktime!  I have gotten into the habit of having a small bowl of shredded wheat or a Kashi bar to get me through the afternoon.  Noah eats a pop tart or peanut butter toast.  Meh.  He’s a kid, and pop tarts aren’t horrible, but Scott and I are trying really hard to think up some healthy options for his snacks (and meals, too).  We are aware that there are lots of foods to choose from, but the foods that Noah is willing to eat right now are extremely limited.

This is presenting its own set of challenges for us while we transition as a household from Eating the American Way to healthy and lean.  Thankfully, I have a good stash of food from Saturday and our trip to the store last week that I’m not lacking for breakfast and lunch, and so far, for dinner, either.  However, Noah is not in the habit of eating veggies at every meal, he eats chicken fingers at the Mexican restaurant, and he tries to gag himself on sweet potatoes.  This is going to take some work on our part to reverse his eating habits.

At the grocery store this afternoon, I was there to only pick up a couple of things to get us through the weekend since we’re not sure how much time we will actually be home to eat our own food.  I was straining my brain to find a loaf of bread that the three of us will eat.  Scott and I love to eat whole grain bread, but Noah refuses to eat anything other than white.  I picked up a loaf of whole grain bread just to see the nutrition label and Noah said “noooooo!”  This made me laugh.  I assured him I was just looking at the label so that I could find a loaf of white that had similar nutrients.  I settled for a loaf of whitewheat that has *gasp* four grams of fiber!  I know it’s not whole grain, but the label does say unbleached, and it’s “Healthy White” meaning that it has as few additives as possible.  I would like to be buying whole grain bread, but for the sake of my son and our sanity, I am willing to make this concession.  He is doing a great job of eating some foods he’s not used to eating, and I’m afraid too much of a change for him would be a shock.

We will slowly adjust Noah’s diet, and we are hoping it helps that he is at the age where many children develop “more taste buds” and appreciate a wider range of foods.  So far he hasn’t complained too much about the changes he’s had to make, but I know he’s not ready to give up some of his kid favorite foods.  And that’s fine with me.  He is supporting me and keeping me accountable with my exercising, and he is making sure I get breakfast for me and pack a healthy lunch to eat as well.  Which reminds me… my first shot at being “creative with leftovers” =

The bean part of my black bean chipotle soup, chicken from dinner the night before, and roasted red pepper hummus on whole grain flatbread.  Mmmmmm.

In the meanwhile, I am happily content to have Noah encourage me and be supportive of my lifestyle changes.  He is already making some concessions of his own in his eating.  I’m very proud of Noah :D.

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