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Posts tagged ‘eating’

Laurel’s Rules for Healthy Eating

Normally, I’m not big on “rules”.

However, people seem to like them. I have to admit, I feel so strongly about some things, I would have to almost consider them rules. Here is a list of the “rules” I eat by.

1) The #1 vegetable rule

This one is a no-brainer for me. If possible, I try to make the focus of my meals the vegetables. There is no downside to this. It keeps your weight under control, maximizes your nutrient intake and gives you lots of healthy fiber. In fact, it’s what inspired me to post tonight. I made salmon patties for dinner, and served them with a salad, as well as roasted veggies. Three quarters veggies, one quarter protein. When I successfully follow this rule, we usually have a variety of vegetable dishes at the same meal, making it feel like a feast.

2) Make in bulk to make it easy

Again, going back to tonight’s dinner, I had previously washed and torn a head of romaine lettuce, making it like the bagged stuff in the store. Yesterday, I made a variation on a Caprese salad with tomato, onion, basil and ranch dressing. I took the leftover tomato salad and put it over some of the lettuce, making the easiest salad ever. I cooked up half a head of cabbage while I was cooking the salmon patties, that we can either eat as is, or use for cabbage lasagna or stuffed cabbage. Try and make enough of anything you cook to go for the next meal(s). If you might get sick of it, freeze it.

3) Treat starch like a condiment.

I’m not anti carb, but if it isn’t a vegetable, go lightly. For example, never eat spaghetti without a big salad, and make it a small portion of pasta , same with the meatballs, compensated with lots of sauce, preferably with tomatoes added.

4) Try to make it homemade, or half the portion.

I’m specifically thinking of coleslaw, potato salad or other quasi-healthy foods. The store bought kind are generally swimming in dressing and sparing on the vegetables.

5) One starch per meal.

Many of you might consider this sacrilege, but if you are having pasta, skip the bread. Ditto a potato. In fact, I usually only eat bread if I am having a sandwich or if the bread is the focus of the meal some other way.

6) Go ahead and treat yourself, but be honest.

A treat is something out of the ordinary. It isn’t a treat if you go out to breakfast, then have a desert after lunch. Or if you go out to eat three times a week. An occasional treat won’t mess up your eating, but you have to be honest in the frequency of your treats. If you are going with frequent, they have to be small.

7) Consider the impact of what you are eating.

Sure, we all are influenced by tastes and cravings. But ask yourself, “Is this food going to benefit me, or make me sorry?” Most of us have a good idea of what’s right. Why eat something that you’ll be sorry for? This starts in the store. You can’t succumb to cravings if the junk food isn’t in your house.

I know I focus on food a lot on this blog. As soon as I tell people I’m a personal trainer, the conversation almost always veers towards weight control. The person often justifies their current eating pattern, then complains about their weight. Or, complains about their eating, but then offers reason why they can’t change. This post is incorporating facets of many of those conversations. You have to make consistent choices of what you eat if you want to be healthy. There are no other options.

The Mind Body Connection

In the world of physical fitness, the mind body connection most often refers to yoga, as if that is one of the few things that bring about a connection between the two. However, there  is no actual disconnect. Your body does nothing without the control of your mind, and you are a result of the million decisions you make each day: what to eat, wear, how much to sleep and every habit you have. What people  are really talking about in the mind body connection is making that connection more conscious and purposeful. Add the dimension of the spirit, and the conversation gets even more murky- where does that fit in? For actual yogis, yoga is a religious practice, not an exercise option.

As someone who has come rather late in life to a cordial relationship with her body, and that through karate, another practice which explores the relationship between mind, body and spirit, I often think about these relationships. As a Christian, I also try and see what the relationship between my heritage and beliefs are, and those of the eastern religions. I’ve written before of how I don’t see a difference between physical discipline and spiritual. Self control is one of the gifts of the spirit, and it leads to others. How can you have peace or joy if you are in the grip of an eating disorder, your finances are out of control, or any other addiction is running your life?

Ga 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.

The main thought I’m striving for in this post is illustrated in 1 John:

1Jo 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen.

The physical is a mirror to the spiritual. I don’t know if there is a spiritual thing you can do that is not also physical, because everything we do is expressed by our physical bodies. even our thoughts come of a chemical and electrical brain. (Don’t bring up hormones    –   just don’t go there.)

Right now, since I am practicing fasting for the first time and it certainly is a discipline, that is the focus of my ruminations (pun intended). It is denying the physical in favor of the spiritual. Adding to my contemplation is the fact that my mother was anorectic, and I flirted dangerously close to it as a teenager. Eating clearly shows this mirror to the spiritual. Balance has to be maintained for optimal health, that either extreme falls out of spiritual/mental/physical health. To be clear, I am being pragmatic about this. I am fasting certain meals and reducing my food intake over all, rather than doing a 100% fast. I do believe in the spiritual benefit, but not at the destruction of the body. I am already at the lower end of body weight, and am very active. If God wants me to sacrifice my body, it will have to be for a far greater cause than an exercise in discipline!

In any case, eating occupies a unique place in our life, It is one of the basic human needs we can temporarily abstain from, but one of the few pleasures that can slide into abuse that we cannot refrain from. Our alimentary canal cannot be ignored, it derails the most spiritually minded, bringing them back to earth. We may think we’re too cool for school, till we burp or fart, or just the funny noises our stomach makes in the quietest times. God obviously cares about our food, as I’ve posted about before, there are 163 verses mentioning feast, and 140 with the word food in. Fasting is about penitence, mourning, seeking, a reaching out to God. Feasting is about celebrating and enjoying communion with Him. God would like us to do both, in season. Now that we know how important our digestive tract is to our overall health, it makes even more sense why God is so concerned with our eating. One of the first things he tells Adam and Eve is what to eat.

The symbolic and cultural importance of food cannot be ignored either.  Watch a gathering of people with and without food. With food, people linger longer, relax quicker, act more sociable. Without it, they quickly get their business done and disperse.  Food encourages socialization. To willingly abstain from food puts a person at odds with the society at large. To have a unique diet does the same, but nowadays, that seems to be a popular trend. In the face of the overabundance we have now, people are selectively shrinking their choices, in order to regain control of their eating.

Sorry, this post rambled a bit. It’s hard to quantify some thoughts. Thanks for bearing with me.

Does God Care What we Eat?

Alert! For those for whom Christian conversation is offensive, quit reading or be prepared to be offended

From time to time, when I talk about nutrition, I get a backlash of “But who would want to  eat that stuff” or “But I hate vegetables.” I think this is sad. As I am a Christian, I believe food is from God, and how we eat directly is correlated to how God would like us to live. My purpose of this post is to demonstrate that, and to possibly persuade the anti-health food crowd to reconsider.

To begin, God has told us what to eat in His word:

pretty veggiesGe 1:29 ¶ And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

We were not given meat to eat until after the flood:

Ge 9:1 ¶ And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the air, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered.

3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

4 Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

frighttened lynx

The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth.

I would take this to mean that vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains were our original food, later, we added meat. Thus, I would say that the modern injunction to eat mostly plants, but not necessarily to be vegetarian, would be in line with God’s word.

Daniel reemphasizes this with his reluctance to eat the rich food of the king’s court:

Da 1:5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.

6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:

7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.

8 ¶ But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Da 1:12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.

13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.

14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.

15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.

16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

Mmm-mmm-love that “pulse”. (Actually translated as grain.)

What have we done with this?

We have taken the food God created, and replaced it with ersatz food, fake food. Some packages you read have no real food items in them. God gave us the intelligence to do this. He also gave us the intelligence to realize that this is harmful. If we know something is harmful and we do it anyway, what are we saying to the One who created us.

Ro 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Ro 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

What is the purpose of the food you eat?

Yes, there is a social aspect, and food is tied to culture and emotion. But foods primary purpose is to nourish our bodies, to give us strength and health. If your food isn’t doing that, try doing it God’s way. All the most popular diets that work come back to the same principles- eat real, whole food. Eat lots of vegetables, some fruit and grain, less of milk and meat. If you truly hate vegetables, try some of the smoothie recipes out there. Grind them up and add them to your meatloaf, add more to your soups, or casseroles. Choose foods based on their health benefits

If you are at the doctor’s office, and he is saying: 1. You need to lose weight. 2. Your blood pressure is too high. 3. You have type II diabetes. 4. You have metabolic syndrome. 5. You suffer from constipation or other bowel issues, maybe it’s time to reevaluate what you are eating and why. Look at all the plants God put on this earth, and try to fit more of them into your diet, without smothering them in oil, or deep fat frying them. Do you have trouble with heart burn? How many food related medicines are you taking?

Php 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose god is the stomach, and whose glory is in their shame, whose minds are fixed on the things of the earth.

If taste is the overriding factor in your choices, ignoring the health effects of those choices, maybe it’s time to ask “Is this really how God wants me to live?”

BTW, the answer to the question “Does God care what we eat?” is yes and no. Yes, he wants us to treat our bodies with respect, and eat the food he gave us. No:

Mt 6:25 ¶ Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Lu 12:22 ¶ And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.

To Vegan or Not to Vegan, That is the Question.

On top of a friend of mine going vegan, Venus Williams is too.  Vegan means nothing from an animal or fish, no eggs or dairy, on top of no meat. If you don’t care to read the article, here is a synopsis: Venus has Sjogren’s syndrome (pronounced show-grins), and this is an attempt to treat it. According to the article, vegan diets have shown some effect on fibromyalgia patients.  I don’t dispute that, but let me quote one sentence from the article:

In a show of sisterly solidarity, Serena has also chosen to follow Venus’ raw, vegan diet. That means both Williams sisters will be dining on whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains — nothing bottled, boxed or canned. And the raw distinction means nothing can be heated above 116 degrees or the nutritional value is believed to be compromised.

This is much more than a vegan diet. A raw diet is a very extreme diet by anyone’s standards. If it causes her relief, great. I don’t think most people would be able to stick with that for very long. Remember, the best diet is the one you can stick to. Also, notice one more distinction- nothing bottled, boxed or canned. There is where I think everyone could benefit from.  I’m not an absolutist, it’s winter, I can food myself and eat some canned food from the store. I eat mostly frozen, but there are some boxes in my cupboard.  Think of your diet as a continuum- from terrible- a night of pop, Doritoes, and Ding Dongs,-to great- a spinach salad, grilled salmon with almonds and an olive oil vinegrette, lightly roasted veggies with rosemary…mmmmm. But I digress. You get dozens food choices a day, from shopping, meal planning, preparation, eating out, snacking, etc. Plans or philosophies make it easier to make those choices for a lot of people. All of them cause us to make better choices, so they all work. Low carb, Paleo, Low fat, Atkins,  Vegetarian, Vegan and Raw are all diets that ban some foods, they all work for some people.

Go vegan if you want, but I would suggest that rather than ban or exclude food groups, you start thinking about what you eat, shrinking the portions, and banning sweets and deserts, rather than milk or eggs. You can make vegan muffins, which, in my opinion, is defeating the purpose.The great thing about a vegan or vegetarian diet is it makes you eat lots of vegetable, which is never a mistake. The best diets are made up of large quantities of veggies, no matter what else they change.

Most foods are a trade off, almonds have a lot of benefits, but are packed with calories. The dreaded meat and dairy- what the vegans are avoiding- are loaded with vitamins, protein, calcium and other benefits. However, they do have saturated fat and can trigger allergies. While you could avoid them completely, it may be better to treat them as condiments. A serving of meat should only be the size of your palm anyway. Think of that when you get that 1/2 a chicken at your next barbecue. Cheese? should only be the size of the last knuckle on your thumb. Think 1-2 squares from those premade cheese platters.

So I throw it out there- what are you going to do to improve your diet? Can you cut back on the harmful things, or is it easier to just ban them? Is it just easier to follow a premade diet, rather than think about all your choices? Does it make it easier to resist temptation to say  “I can’t have that, it has milk in it”, rather than just not having it since you don’t need the calories?

Why?

Recently my son and I were talking about design, and he was saying that you always have to question why you are making your design choices. I was thinking about this today as I was making my breakfast. I put a lot of things in my oatmeal, all for different reasons.  I was leaving out the peanut butter. Why? Because it only has 7 g of protein for 240 calories per serving. Bread has 5g, for 110 calories. That makes bread a better protein source than peanut butter. Which lead me to think about the assumptions we make about our food, and how good it is for you.

I just want to challenge everyone out there: why are you eating what you do? Never just mindlessly eat. Every cell in your body is made up from the food you eat. How healthy they are is determined by the choices you make about what goes into your mouth. While weight is what everyone obsesses over, it is the nutrients that come along with the calories that count for optimum health. Yes, losing weight, even on the twinkie diet, will improve your health to some degree, but do you want your health to be determined by “not dying”?

You have to think about what you eat and why, especially if you are on any kind of restrictive diet. A calorie is never just a calorie. Every calorie is also a carb, fat or protein. It is either packaged with fiber, vitamins, phyto-nutrients and water or it isn’t. Every fat calorie is either a transfat, omega-3, omega-6, omega 12, saturated or something else. The fat choices are extensive, and confusing.

If you are taking a food group out of your diet, either for weight loss or other reasons, it makes your choices more critical. Some people are anti-supplement. I would say if you are, then you would do well to only eat perfectly healthy food, never touching a cookie, candy or baked good, and never eliminating any food groups.  Most of us won’t achieve that. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you need protein supplements and B vitamins. If you are avoiding dairy, you need another source for calcium. When I was doing my diet experiment, I did fine on the “macro-nutrients”-fiber, protein, fats and carbs, but never reached most of the USDA recommended levels for vitamins without taking a supplement.

However you plan out your meals, step back and take a look at them. What are they giving you? How nutrient packed are your choices? Yes, there are some things we make and eat just for the taste, but that should be 20% or less in our diet. For example, we are having a party tonight. There are some foods I will be serving that would surprise people, since don’t appear to be nutritious. However, that is not how I eat every day, and some of those foods are more nutritious than they look, since I know some tricks to hide veggies in other things. I have vegans coming over, so I made some choices based on their protein needs. I have two recipes using crescent rolls. There is no redeeming a crescent roll, but the fillings are made from low fat products and vegetables. I’m not serving anything sweet, other than fruit. So even at a party, attempts to improve the nutritional content can be made.

Is there much of a difference between calories and money?

Frying up some dough.

Frying up some dough.

I was thinking about this topic as I made my breakfast. Mostly because the money part gets a little frustrating. When you are married, for most of us, it is “our money”. So if you are a budgeter, fusser, worrier, and believe money should only be spent after careful thought and consideration, and you are married to a “let’s spend it before we die” person, there is a little room for tension.

You can easily see where the idea of budgeting fits into eating. If you want to maintain or lose weight, you only have so many calories to “spend”. Trying to lose weight is like trying to save for a vacation, you have to not spend wherever possible. Maintenance in eating is like simply not going into debt with money.

The parallels are numerous. Different strategies work for different people in both arenas. Some are better at cutting out the little luxuries, others feel deprived, and would rather make some drastic cut in one place rather than give up the little things.

The interesting thing is in our house, my husband and I have the same differences about eating that we do about money. The same struggles we come to in reaching financial decisions are exactly the ones we have in reaching a dietary consensus. The more I reflect on this, the more obvious the similarities are.

Here is my question for you- Do you see the parallels in your spending and eating habits? Are you disciplined in one, and not the other, or do the problems in one arena mirror the other?

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