Note to Self-Meal Prep

variety of food on wooden coaster
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I know that weight loss is 80% of what you eat.  I also know that good health relies heavily how you fuel your body.  But over and over again I plan to grab something “healthy” on the run.  Even though 9 out of 10 times that doesn’t happen. The sad thing is I don’t intend to make  poor choices.  More and more I am finding that I eat unhealthily because there are no healthy choices available to me.

My cafeteria at work will advertise vegetables but then season them with bacon or ham.  So the one thing a non-meat eater can always count on instantly becomes uneatable.  Then I look at the entrees: meat, meat, or  mac’n cheese.  All poor choices for me.  So I am left grabbing a bag of chips, crackers, or a KIND bar.  Great!  The poor  breakfast and lunch choices lead to ravenous hunger after work and me opting for something quick rather than something nutritious.

I need to get it through my head that this is insanity.  Everyday I go to the company cafeteria expecting choices and most days I am disappointed.  I need to start bringing my breakfast and lunch.  I need to start meal prepping on the weekend.  Because it doesn’t matter if I wake up early every morning before work and walk.  It doesn’t matter if I track my calories religiously.  I cannot get healthy if I don’t take control of my diet.  So this weekend I will plan out a menu.  I will prep my meals.  I will making the same choice over and over again and expecting a different result.

Food Guilt

hamburger cheeseburger burger french fries
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If I had to choose one word to describe how I have felt about my diet over the past few years it would be GUILT. I felt guilty over my food choices and guilty over my portion sizes. I felt guilty that I was just grabbing fast food, and most of all guilty of the way my poor choices were harming my body. I knew my family history of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. But I still chose to eat foods that would make it hard to escape my genetic predispositions. I also have my own health issues to deal with. I have rheumatoid arthritis-an autoimmune disease. Eating a diet of high fat, high meat, low fruits and vegetables did nothing to alleviate the symptoms of this painful disease. In fact, my poor diet probably made my efforts to achieve remission of my disease harder. The foods I was eating on the regular basis were highly inflammatory- the last thing I needed.
I have made small changes over the last few months. I’ve given up red meat and poultry. Even though I’m still adjusting to a pescatarian diet I can say that I feel better giving up some of the inflammatory foods in my diet. I’m not a big seafood person but I am trying to get used to consuming fish on the regular basis for the anti-inflammatory benefit they provide. I am slowly increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables I consume.
Do I still crave the unhealthy foods that I spent so many years eating? Yes. My mind still sees the unhealthy foods as I was consuming on the regular basis as familiar. When I try to plan my meals burgers, fries, pizza (which I still eat a few times a month) are the first things to come to mind. The fact that you can easily get vegetarian versions of these foods doesn’t make it any easier. But what is helping is that when I eat healthier the guilty feelings are not present. And when I fall off the wagon and decide that a veggie burger and fries is the best I can do for dinner I accept that. I am making healthier choices than I was before. I’m choosing to focus on progress rather than perfection. Lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight but I have a new determination to practice doing things differently. I am changing my relationship with food so that guilt isn’t in the equation-even when I “mess” up.

Adventures in Tofu

For most of my life tofu has fallen into 2 categories. The first category was tofu that I would take one bite of and then move around on my plate until it was safe to throw away. And then there was tofu that I would find tolerable. Tolerable tofu meant I would eat 5 or 6 bites before moving it around on my plate and ultimately throw it out. But I kept ordering it, trying tofu at different functions and restaurants because it is a great source of protein and so many people love tofu. I was convinced that I just hadn’t had it prepared in a way that I would like.
I was proven right when I had sliced tofu in a soup. I finally was able to see how tofu was able to transform itself and take on the flavor of whatever you seasoned it. Each slice of tofu was infused with the broth. I was surprised to find myself searching out the tofu in the soup. That was the first dish prepared with tofu where I wasn’t looking to get rid of it.
The next time I had tofu that I enjoyed was at a Chinese restaurant. The tofu was smothered in a sauce giving it even more flavor than the tofu I liked in the soup. The tofu had been cubed and fried in a way that gave the outside a bit of a crunch with a tender center. I loved every bite of it!
So today I decided to buy tofu to fix it for myself for the first time ever. The whole thing seemed overwhelming-silken, firm, extra firm. I honestly only know that extra firm was for preparing it like a meat substitute and silken tofu was good for smoothies. You can see why most of my previous tofu adventures involved eating tofu someone else had prepared. I honestly have no idea of where to start with preparing tofu. I took the easy way out and grabbed the silken tofu (I also had no idea what brand to get so I went with the no GMO one) some almond milk and went home. I had heard that using silken protein in a smoothie was a great way to add protein without resorting to protein powders.
I had no real recipe, so I freestyled it. I used 3.2 oz of silken tofu, frozen fruit, and added almond milk. The smoothie ended up being thicker than I wanted it to be. I could have added more milk but I the size of the smoothie ended up being way more than the 8 oz snack I wanted so I just dealt with it. Most importantly the tofu didn’t affect the taste of my concoction. I was a healthy snack packed with fruit and protein that did not bother my stomach! I need to work on my recipe a little but all in all silken tofu in a smoothie is a keeper for me. Maybe next week I’ll try to cooking with tofu!

closeup photo of strawberry shake
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Goals

 

Believe it or not losing weight is not my main goal. I want to be as healthy as I possibly can.  That involves eating right, exercising, drinking enough water and getting enough rest.  I want to be energetic and engaged with life.   I want to be fit-meaning in the best possible health that I can be.  Right now I need to commit to a lifestyle change that will help me meet these goods.  First things first-what should I be eating nutrition wise?

 

My nutritionist’s goals for me are pretty simple:

 

·         1600 calories total

 

·         160 g carbohydrates (I’m pescatarian so she allows more carbs per day)

 

·         120 g protein (I never meet that goal-I’m trying to do better)

 

·         53 g of fat

 

·         <230 mg sodium

 

·         64 oz water (This one is EASY)

 

The calorie count and water intake is the only thing I can say that I stick to most days.  I know I routinely go over my carb goal and I don’t think I’ve ever met my protein goals.  Fat?  I don’t even bother with trying to keep that to a minimum.  I also haven’t been tracking my sodium intake but since I’ve cut out a lot of fast food I know it is lower than it used to be.

 

 I am going to focus on getting in more protein for now.  My main issue is that even though I eat seafood I am not in love with it (like pizza) and do not care to eat it in the quantities she suggested to meet my protein goals. I eat fish maybe 2 or 3 times a month instead of the 2-3 days a week that was suggested.  I’m seriously considering giving up fish all together and becoming a vegetarian so I’m not looking to increase my seafood consumption.  I’m not how to get the amount of protein she says I for this stage of my health journey.

 

 Protein shakes and my stomach don’t get along at all.  I’ve tried many varieties but I can only tolerate a vegan pea protein shake once or twice a week.  Anything more than that and my body goes into revolt.  I’m thinking of trying tofu but I haven’t yet.  I don’t know. I don’t feel that the pre-packaged faux meat products that I get the majority of my protein from are healthy in the long run. I’m also sure that their sodium content isn’t within my nutrition goals.  I need to do more research.  I know that it is possible to eat a well balanced and health diet without including meat.  I just need to branch out and try new foods and think outside the box.

 

My health is important.  I am reaffirming my commitment put my health and well being into its proper place in my life!