As we head into 2016, I think many of us intend to better ourselves in some way - emotionally, financially, physically. Even if we don't officially say, "I am making XYZ my New Year's Resolution", the new year is always a good time for a fresh start.
I get a lot of questions about my "diet". I put it in quotations because it is not any particular diet plan. The way I eat is truly a lifestyle. I have done diets - I think Atkins was my first one. I have seen my mom and my girlfriends do diets. None of them stuck. Mine didn't either. When I stopped eating gluten, it finally clicked for me that any change in my nutritional habits would have to be permanent. It was just a switch that turned off (or on?), and now saying no to gluten is not difficult at all. People say, "Oh, you're so good to not eat that brownie." Um, no. It's poison for my body.
Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol have not been as easy of a switch. But I am working on it, and that is my intention for 2016.
Anyway, I am not in shape at all, cardio-speaking (is that a word?). Or weights. Another intention.
However, even without exercise, my body stays fairly average/slim. This could be attributed to some good metabolic genetics, but I believe it is mainly due to my food intake. Many are surprised to find out that I do not work out, and then they immediately want to know what I eat (or don't eat) in order to keep the weight off. When, honestly, I'm not necessarily trying to eat a specific way for weight loss. I'm just eating healthy overall.
The other day, one co-worker asked me for my specific meal plan. I shared with her, and she was determined to follow this so that she could lose a few pounds. However, the next day, she brought in similar items to what I had mentioned, but the absolute poorest choices! It never ceases to amaze me that people do not know the difference between healthy food and unhealthy food. They think that because something is a fruit that it is healthy. This is not so! We really need to educate ourselves more about the ingredients in our food.
What I would like to do is share with you what I do eat, and then share examples of good and bad alternatives. If you ever have a question, I would love to answer, so feel free to comment or send me a message. However, disclaimer: I am not a professional dietitian/nutritionist/health care provider. This is just what I do based on my own Google research.
I will break down each meal into one post so that you aren't overwhelmed by the information. Today we will talk about breakfast.
During the week, my breakfast is the same: plain greek yogurt, fresh fruit, nuts. On the weekend, I put yogurt into little containers and bag up nuts (meal prepping!). Then the night before, I just grab a container of yogurt, a bag of nuts, and a fruit and throw them in my lunch bag. It's super easy.
On the weekend, it can vary, but not much: tortilla (gluten free), egg, avocado, salsa. Things that require a little more prep work and are not ideal for rushed weekday mornings.
After our conversation where I discussed my breakfast meal, my co-worker brought in: canned fruit cocktail and sweetened fruit yogurt. I almost died. She is probably consuming more than her daily recommendation for sugar during breakfast alone! Yet she has no idea and believes she is being healthy because she's eating "like" me.
Let's break down the weekday breakfast. All options are things I would consider eating for breakfast. Other options will be mentioned under other meals posts.
I have a dairy, a fruit, and a protein. Dairy can be tricky, it's not my favorite as far as being the healthiest. You can read why I think this here. But I do eat it.
Also note that serving size does matter. You can't eat five eggs at breakfast and say it's healthy. To determine what you desire your calorie intake to be and to discover what each food item's calorie count is, check out Lose It. I used this until I got into a routine and then I memorized what I needed to consume each day. Much of my food is repetitive, so I don't need to record each day. If you like variety and change your meals often, their tracking program is awesome to keep your calories in check. And it's free!
Having a routine helps keep me on track as well. If I decide to have
pancakes and bacon for breakfast on a special occasion, I don't then
continue to make poor choices for the rest of the day (at least, I try not to, although sometimes #pmsbelike gimme some chocolate and wine). When I have purchased the food I normally eat, it is easy for me to go back to my routine next meal after a splurge. This may not work for everyone. Some people just spiral out of control. You have to know yourself.
Good dairy options: plain cottage cheese, sliced cheese (cheddar, provolone, etc.), eggs, sour cream, cream cheese, butter. I consume full fat products, not low fat or non fat. But this is a very small portion of my meal. One serving or less.
Bad dairy options: ice cream, American cheese, any flavored yogurt, including flavored greek yogurt. These ALL have unnecessary sugar added, or fake sugar. I don't care what the packaging says. This includes "vanilla" yogurt. You need plain. PLAIN. Add your own fresh or frozen fruit for flavor. Then you are in control of what is in your food.
Good fruit options: fresh fruit or frozen fruit. Check the ingredients to make sure the only thing listed is fruit. If you are concerned about cost, find out what produce is in season and those will usually be less expensive than out of season produce.
Bad fruit options: canned fruit of any kind, juice, jelly/jam, dried fruit (including raisins), candied fruit, fruit snacks, smoothies.
Good protein options: eggs, ham (not deli meat), chicken, salmon, quinoa, seeds, beans, natural peanut butter or almond butter.
Bad protein options: candied nuts, bacon (I know, boo), sausage.
The weekend breakfast is more of a splurge. I try to stay away from consuming a lot of carbs, as they usually come in the form of processed foods. But this is about balance. This is why "diets" don't work long term. My lifestyle overall is healthy. So a splurge here and there are acceptable for me. Tortilla (gluten free), egg, avocado, salsa.
Carbs, dairy, and veggies. We already went over the dairy.
Good carb options: corn tortillas, half a slice of whole wheat or seeded bread, sweet potato, pretzels. You are looking for things that are as natural as possible, which is difficult to find in carbs. That is why I like to stay away from them.
Bad carb options: white bread, cereal, cream of wheat, donuts, muffins, oatmeal.
Good veggie options: fresh veggies! The possibilities are endless! Spinach, zucchini, cucumber, squash, mushrooms, celery, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, etc. You could make an amazing frittata with tons of veggies. And frozen veggies, but just like the fruit, check the ingredients list. This should not include any sauces, butter, or cheese.
Bad veggie options: white potatoes, corn.
I hope these tips help you come up with some healthy breakfast ideas. Next time I will talk about lunch options!