Inspired by my love of other health and foodie blogs (such as ohshineon.com and eatliverun.com) I have decided to write a three-part blog series on health and the three things everyone MUST do to stay healthy: Eat, Sleep, and Move.
To begin, my personal favorite: Eating.
Eating right is very difficult, probably because there is SO much information out there. One week you read that eggs are a great way to start your morning with protein and then you read that the cholesterol in eggs clog your arteries as much as smoking does (this can’t be true—but I have heard this.) A grapefruit for breakfast sounds great until you are starving an hour later. To find out what foods are right for you takes research, failed cooking experiments, and plenty of encouragement. These are just some things that I have learned that I hope will be helpful to others.
1. Eat SOME junk food. I used to believe that never buying any junk food for myself would help me not eat it. This was a great theory until I begun repeatedly finding myself in someone else’s home and inhaling their Doritos like my life depended on it (also known as babysitting.) If you indulge your craving in at least semi-healthy ways (I keep lightly buttered popcorn and low-fat frozen yogurt in the house) you will be less likely to be at the Taco Bell at midnight ordering 6 crunch-wraps because all you have at home is quinoa and frozen spinach. Keep a box of whole wheat mac & cheese or a microwavable bean and cheese burrito at home for nights like these. When you moderate yourself instead on deprive yourself, you will find a greater sense of control and greater motivation to stay on track. Trust me, it won’t do you any good to be the girl at the party whose mouth is so full of Cheetos that you can hardly utter the words “but I NEVER eat junk food!!!”
2. STOP putting tons of milk/sugar/creamer in coffee. Seriously, just get over it. There is no need for this. If you don’t like how coffee tastes, stop drinking it. It’s probably healthier not too but all of America is addicted. So measure out what you put in. I measure a tablespoon of half&half every morning for a fairly big mug of coffee. Simply pouring in Coffeemate until you think you should stop is costing you calories and money. This rule also applies for tea. I used to DUMP honey and sugar into tea. Now I add a tiny bit of honey–if anything! Tazo Sweet Cinnamon Spice tea is the most perfect tea on earth and needs nothing added to it. Go buy it. They have it at Target.
3. DON’T skip breakfast. I didn’t learn this until I was in college, thanks to my raised-on-a-farm best friend who counted on me to meet her at her dorm at 7:20 every day before class to go to breakfast. If you aren’t hungry when you wake up, wait an hour and then eat something—preferably with protein. I love cereal but I find most brands aren’t very filling, so I eat GoLean Crunch with almond milk.
4. Keep track of what you eat. I’m not saying you have to count calories. This leads to things like googling how many calories are in two bites of your friends donut and may also lead to insanity. Just try keeping a record. There are plenty of smartphone apps to help you do this. Also, write down how much water you drink! I rarely drink as much as I should, but I drink much more when I am keeping track of it.
5. Make amazing food! Miracle foods are not those over-priced Special K breakfast sandwiches that are only 240 calories. (unless you absolutely must have a breakfast sandwich in the morning and are too lazy to make a much cheaper one for yourself.) I have found that a lot of the amazing foods that help me stay on track aren’t pre-packaged meals or “diet foods” but simply real, healthy options. If you want a low calorie snack, don’t reach for a 100-calorie package of dry, thin brownies–reach for a banana or a cup of greek yogurt, which has low or zero fat and around 15 grams of protein (depending on the brand.) Don’t force yourself to eat salads if you hate lettuce and have to drown it in fatty dressing to make it edible. Make a sandwich of whole wheat bread, spicy brown mustard (5 calories in a tablespoon), thinly sliced cheese (40 calories in a slice of Sargento ultra-thin colby jack), and a couple of slices of sliced turkey. Vegetarians can substitute a hard-boiled egg, and either can add sliced tomato and spinach. Yum! My point is, create your own meals. For dinner: less Lean Cuisines, more recipes. Try some of these.
7. Food Karma. My mama wrote “food is love” in the cookbook she gave me last year. Don’t be the girl who people are afraid to give christmas cookies to because you’ll never eat them. Be the girl who cooks way too much food for your friends and sends everyone home with leftovers. When you cook for people, it is a different kind of currency. What goes around, comes around. A free meal is in your future, and some delicious love and company is in your present. Having a healthy relationship with food is so important, and an important way of developing this is by bringing people together over a meal.