07 November 2012

Healthy Eating Tips

Earlier this year, I recorded my food and attempted to be extra careful with my nutrition. There were ups and downs but it was helpful. I love pursuing a healthy lifestyle and I love trying to improve myself. My nutrition is not always the best, but I like to remind myself that the healthy eating wagon is always available to get back on. It is a good wagon like that. I just thought I'd share with you some of my experiences and some tips to help you love yourself a little more with sensible and good nutrition. I'd love to hear some of the tools you use to be good when it comes to leading a nutritious yet delicious healthy lifestyle.

Well the opening of the Olympics was a little decadent nutrition wise for me. My  Aaron friend provided a "make your own pizza" station. Dangerous. He also provided a delicious guacamole and bruschetta that was exceptional. Another friend Zak brought along some British style meat pies for the occasion and there was a signature cocktail of pomegranate and berry juice and Vodka.

CLEAN STRONG COCKTAILS ARE YOUR FRIEND: I mixed myself a pretty stiff drink at the beginning of the evening and went easy on the syrup juicy side and nursed it. I was able to enjoy a little buzz while staying light on the calories and then began to hydrate through the rest of the evening so by the time I left I was hydrated and very sober.

SMALL "TASTING" PORTIONS : With the pizza and pastry pie, I enjoyed a fair few very small slices. I did not feel like I was missing out and I did enjoy the food very much while not going crazy.

ENJOY THE OCCASION BUT DO IT SMART: I had a tasty evening without going crazy, the motto here is, if your lucky enough to have a friend who cares about great food, you should enjoy the flavor and you don't have to miss out. Just enjoy and really taste it and keep your portions small.

BAR FOOD OFTEN HAS A VEGETARIAN OPTION: One Saturday we went to The Well, a nice ambient bar just off Vine and Sunset before a movie at The Oscars Outdoors. Again I ordered one stiff drink and we shared a small quesadilla and a bowl full of grilled broccoli. Look for the vegetarian option with bar food, although it will probably be cooked with a fair bit of oil, it will be delicious and have more nutritional value then fried fare.

FAST FOOD HAS HEALTHY OPTIONS: One Sunday night, I was feeling pretty lazy and done so I ordered a Carl's Jr Turkey burger and had a simple side salad. Remember, if you have a fast food "moment", check out the menu and take the healthy option. These days there is a market for the health conscious and often fast food restaurants have a healthy, low calorie option...so choose it! Watch that sodium though.

GET AN AIR POPPER: A nice healthy snack is air popped popcorn. In the evening I like to with a glass of wine and some fresh popcorn. Awesome.

MORE VEGGIES, MORE WATER: It is always a good idea to hydrate more and get more veggies in. Remind yourself that these two are your best friends.

DON'T WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE HUNGRY: I got back from teaching a class and I had not eaten for  a few hours. I was really hungry and a little tired and so I just reached into the fridge. Fortunately I had some good healthy snacks. It is better to eat regular healthy meals throughout the day and not wait until you are super hungry and can devour anything in sight.

MAKE SURE YOU ONLY HAVE HEALTHY SNACKS AVAILABLE: I know if I have junk food around the house, and I get into a state where I need some energy, the first thing my brain goes for is the quick fix: simple carbs. It is only natural. Sugar makes us feel better almost instantly. They call it comfort food for a reason. If you shop smart and only have good snacks around, you are setting yourself up for success.

WHEN YOU COOK SOMETHING HEALTHY, COOK IT IN BULK: I made a whole lot of Artichoke, Spinach and Tuna Salad and this covered for a couple of meals. It tasted even better the second time. Use your tupperware and when you are cooking something HEALTHY, cook a lot of it so you can eat it for another meal and make life easier on yourself.

SHARING IS CARING AND GOOD FOR YOUR CALORIES: We went out for some Thai for lunch the other day and rather than consume a whole order we split a main and a salad. Lets face it, the helping sizes are massive here in this U.S of A and a main course is usually way to many calories for you to keep a tight diet, so, if you are dining with a friend or significant other SPLIT IT! You will still feel full I promise.

WHEN IN DOUBT, MAKE A SALAD: It was getting late at night and my body was yelling "Carbs!", but I decided to follow through and make a salad. Salads are your best friend, so easy to make, tasty and they leave you feeling fresh. If you get to a stage where you are wondering, "What should I eat?", I guarantee you will not feel bad after a salad.

TRADER JOE'S ROCKS FOR HEALTHY SNACKS: If you are going to a movie, or going for a picnic, stop off at Trader Joe's and check out their salads and healthy snacks. Very convenient to take with you and very tasty too. Before your outings pop into Trader Joe's and come prepared. You will enjoy yourself knowing you have some healthy snacks on hand and won't be tempted by evil concession stands and funky hot dogs. You also get the excitement of smuggling it in through the bag check.

DON'T WAIT UNTIL YOU ONLY HAVE CARBS AROUND: This weekend, we were supposed to go grocery shopping, but we were really enjoying the cheesy action of 24 among other relaxing weekend activities, and, when I opened up the fridge, there was not a lot of appetizing healthy stuff left in there. The lesson here is, don't wait to go the grocery store if you are running low on healthy fare. When you are hungry you are going to eat anything on hand. Get to the market and pick up the good groceries and keep yourself well stocked so you can stay on your healthy eating on track.

DON'T SACRIFICE THINGS YOU REALLY LOVE, JUST MAKE EM' HEALTHIER: Who doesn't like pancakes on the weekend? I love a pancake for breakfast, but rather then go to Ihop or a diner where you are going to get refined flour and a ton of sodium in the mix, pick up a healthy multigrain mix from the market. Trader Joe's has a good multigrain mix. This way you can enjoy a delicious treat and not feel like you are missing out on life's simple carb pleasures.

KFC HAS A 450 CALORIE MEAL? I had a mad craving for some animal protein. I knew that KFC had grilled chicken, so I pulled up and saw that the demand for health food had made these kings of greasy goodness offer a 450 calorie meal that included a side of steamed Veggies. Sold! Beware of the sodium in fast food, but you don't have to ever not eat fast food. Just go in knowing you are going to make good choices and even at fast food joints, you can come out with something nutritious and low in calorific content.

REMEMBER, THE HEALTHY WAGON IS ALWAYS WAITING: Looking at one of my bad weeks it appeared I went a bit awol here and there. Not enough veggies for sure, and a few too many stops at fast food establishments. Although I did not make excessively unhealthy choices, it did bum me out that I wasn't as nutritious as I would have liked. But so what. I have met a few people over the years where they are all or nothing with their diet. They set lofty goals (I can relate to this), but when they go a little off track, they let it all go and give up. Don't give up when you get sidetracked or have a bender. The healthy wagon is always there for you. Just get back on it.

RATION YOUR SNACKS: I love a bit of wine and cheese. Who doesn't? At the end of the day it can be really pleasant to relax with some crackers, cheese and wine. I used to just bring a selection of cheese and wine, but I found that, if it was there in front of me, I could not really stop. If I sliced the specific amount of cheese I thought was a reasonable and not gluttonous and took this with me to the table, I was still satiated, still happy and I did not gorge myself. Ration your treats, make it easy on yourself by selecting the portion you are going to eat rather then picking at a giant portion. More often then not, the temptation will be too great.

IT IS OK TO HAVE A BURGER: I had a burger the other day. Not something I do on the regular. I do eat Turkey Burgers relatively regularly but not beef. This was a beef burger. It was delicious. Its ok to treat yourself to something a little fatty and decadent once in a while. Enjoy it. Don't feel guilty but then get back to the consistent healthy diet your are used to.

DEVELOP A HEALTHY SET OF STAPLES: It is good to have a set of "go to" staples that you know are healthy and you love. For a snack, I know some celery, mini carrots and hummus will work for me. I always find this snack delicious. I know that if I have to get fast food, the Carls Jr. Turkey Burger or a sandwich from Subway are good options. I also know that I can pop into Trader Joe's and get a low calorie, nutritious salad that is ready made. I know that for breakfast I can always rely on Active Instant Oatmeal or a slice of grainy Ezekiel bread. We are all creatures of habit to some degree, make sure you have a set group of healthy staples in your life that you can rely on day in day out.

TRACKING YOUR FOOD IS A PAIN BUT EYE OPENING:  Tracking my calories and food can be a bit arduous at times, but, it has got me thinking a lot more about my diet. I have a relatively healthy diet but it could be better. My calories are not really a concern as my weight as stable and I exercise regularly, but my fat content of my meals was a little high and I tended to be a bit carby. Tracking your food is essential to weight-loss and maintaining your desired weight. It is also very enlightening to help you lead a healthier lifestyle.

EVERYTHING IN MODERATION INCLUDING MODERATION. IN OTHER WORDS ENJOY YOUR VACATION! I went away for a short trip. We stayed with my friends at a beach house they had hired to celebrate a birthday. Did I drink more then a couple? Indeed. Did I have a big slice of chocolate cake? Indeed. Did I feel guilty about it? No, not really. I gave myself a pass. I did not go crazy and on a self destructive spiral of gluttony, I just had some treats and enjoyed them as exactly that. If you are tight with your diet, when you are on vacation, don't be a stickler, enjoy a treat you would not have in your ordinary day.

A SALAD A DAY, FOREVER: Last year I did a little experiment where I had a month of eating a salad a day for a main meal. When I found myself veering off my healthy eating month, I was reminded about what a good idea it is to have a salad a day. When have you eaten a salad and felt heavy and sluggish afterward? Salads are fresh, light and full of goodness. It occurred to me that why just try and have a salad a day for a month. I should really be eating a salad a day as part of a healthy lifestyle for the rest of my life.

LET YOUR CALORIE CONSCIOUS GIRLFRIEND/PARTNER CHOOSE DINNER: If your partner is calorie conscious, you are in luck. Oftentimes, if I am unsure of what to eat for a meal, I will just copy what my girlfriend has ordered. I know it will be lighter then what I would have ordered and will be a healthy option.