Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What I Eat

I spend SO much time planning and preparing for what I'm going to eat, and even more time thinking about what I have eaten, am eating, and will eat. It's exhausting sometimes.

I've come to terms with the fact that I am a woman who will always need to be VERY conscious about what I eat. This is a good thing in some ways. I believe that it's important to pay attention to what you're putting in your body and what you're feeding your family. I believe that spending time thinking about the source of your food and the practices under which it's produced are important. And I believe that one way in which I can show the universe that I'm thankful to have such an abundance of food in my life is to slow down, think about it, enjoy every bite, and not eat more than I need to sustain and fuel myself.I also know that I have a pretty serious sweet tooth, a love of cheese and cream and butter and cheeseburgers and chocolate, and I have a severe tendency to overeat if I let myself. A lot of the emotional and logistical energy expended by my brain is devoted to food. But I'm o.k. with that.

I was raised eating pretty healthy food (no sugar cereal or candy for this girl) and sat down to a delicious homemade dinner cooked by my mother every night (almost always at the dining room table, too). I'm eternally grateful for this healthy start. My mom gardened and went to the farmer's market, and I learned a lot from joining her during these activities. But food is also a big part of my family culture. When I vacation with my extended family, we start talking about what the plan is for the next meal, before we've even finished the prior meal! In my family, we LOVE to eat, we use it as a form of celebration and community, and we show how much we care about each other through the food we prepare.

My relationship with food, and the accompanying changes in my health and weight, ebbs and flows and will probably always be in a state of flux. I've learned to accept that there are times when I am "on" and times when I am definitely "off". Sometimes, it will be circumstantial ...like when I gained 20 pounds while studying for my P.G. exam (I swear those chocolate donuts and candy are what got me through all the endless hours looking at books and running calculations).
But for right now, my relationship with food is healthy and positive and empowering. I've talked before about how much I love the Weight Watchers program. I've been a member of Weight Watchers since November of 2007 and continue to believe that it is a wonderful nutritional program that steers me toward a healthy relationship with food. I know that WW used be like a lot of other wacky, fad, "diets" (these WW cards from the 1970s make me laugh SO hard every time I look through them, make sure to read the accompanying comments). These days, though, WW is a very scientifically sound nutritional program that follows guidelines that any doctor or nutritionist would tell you to adhere to. It consists of education about portion sizes and following the 8 Good Health Guidelines:
1. Eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruits each day.
2. Choose whole-grain foods, such as brown rice and oats, whenever possible.
3. Include two servings of milk products – low fat (1%) or fat-free – each day.
4. Have some healthy oil (olive oil, canola, sunflower, safflower or flaxseed) each day.
5. Ensure that you are getting enough protein by choosing at least a serving or two of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or dried beans each day. Many dairy products are also good sources of protein.
6. Limit added sugar and alcohol.
7. Drink at least 6 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
8. Take a multiple vitamin-mineral supplement each day.
Through WW, I eat tons of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, some lean proteins and low-fat or fat-free dairy, and still have room for treats so I never feel deprived. I drink LOTS of water, and get a small amount of healthy oil in every day. I LOVE the Weight Watchers program and would recommend it to anyone!

I am currently about 10-13 pounds away from what I have set for myself as a goal and a weight I'd like to maintain for the rest of my life. This goal is within (and actually pretty close to the top) of the healthy weight and BMI range for my age and height. And boy are these last ~10 pounds tough to shed!

Brian and I are also involved in a couples weight loss challenge with three other couples. We're 7 weeks into the 12-week challenge, and at our mid-point weigh-in, we'd collectively lost 100 pounds!!! Brian and I have lost 30 pounds between the two of us, and are in a close second for the $300 reward! I am SO, SO proud of my husband for his 20+ pound weight loss....it's really exciting to be working towards better health together and he is definitely what is keeping me motivated some days.

So, back to the food. I think the reason so many people in this country are overweight or obese is in part because it takes a lot of work and time to prepare and eat healthy food. What a shame that we've made it more convenient (and sometimes cheaper) for people to be unhealthy! But it's always been worth it to me to invest the time, money, and effort that it takes to plan for and feed my family and myself wholesome food.

In addition to cooking healthy meals for my family, I'm also still struggling to find the balance as a full-time working mama...so making something easy and quick is just as important. I've gotten into a good routine with my meals throughout the day and I'm having a lot of fun trying some new recipes and playing with new flavors.

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?" "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?" "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said." — A.A. Milne

Breakfast most mornings during a work week is a bowl of fruit (always a sliced banana, and a handful of berries such as strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries), a 1/4 cup of hemp granola from the bulk section of Sprouts, and a 1/4 cup of this delicious yogurt. I go for the full fat, cream-top yogurt...it's so creamy and delicious and fine in such a small portion. I also have a cup of earl grey tea with a bit of cream and sugar, and 12 oz water with 2 teaspoons of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar. This breakfast sustains me for a few hours and gives me great energy to start off the day. I've been a loyal coffee drinker for over a decade, with the exception of during my pregnancy. But since my cleanse I haven't started completely back to drinking coffee every morning...I save it for the weekends and for a special treat for myself on Fridays sometimes. I find that I don't experience the "crash" mid-afternoon that I used to when I had coffee every morning, and I love that!

On the weekends I usually make something more exciting like an egg with some veggies in a corn tortilla.

I'm also thinking that as I try to lose these last 10 pounds I may re-incorporate green smoothies into my morning routine.

I always have a banana around 9:30/10:00 a.m. and drink most of the water in my water bottle.

"Want to have a short phone call with someone? Call them at 11:55 a.m., right before lunch. They'll talk fast. You may think you are interesting, but you are not more interesting than lunch." — Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture)

Lunch is almost always leftovers from dinner the night before or leftover soup from Sunday Soup (see below). I also have a sliced apple, and more water.

By about 2:30/3:00 I'm ready for another snack, which usually consists of a sliced pear, a cup of Caffeine Free Original Good Earth Tea, and sometimes popcorn (94% fat free Jollytime). I'd like to start popping my own popcorn and avoid all the preservatives that are surely in the store-bought low-calorie popcorn. Need to look into this....

"These are hard times. The world hurts. We live in fear and forget to walk with hope. But hope has not forgotten you. So ask it to dinner. It's probably hungry and would appreciate the invitation." —
Libba Bray (Going Bovine)

Dinner is the most exciting meal of the day for me, because it's where I get to be the most creative in the kitchen. I LOVE cooking dinner. I love planning a week's worth of dinners, shopping for the best and most affordable ingredients, and seeing how far I can stretch my grocery budget. The feeling of satisfaction I get from sitting down to a freshly prepared meal with my family every night is one of the best moments of my day.

On Sundays, after what is usually a busy weekend (they all are, for us...), I like to make a big pot of soup, "Sunday Soup". I have this book and this book which are chock full of great soup recipes. A favorite is a very easy minestrone that uses tomato juice as a base and is loaded with good veggies and whole wheat pasta. I've been making this roasted tomato soup with rosemary for years and never get tired of it. I'm quite proud of my matzoh ball soup (I use the Manichewitz mix, but also my own chicken stock and chicken and load it with veggies. My matzoh balls are floaters...as they should be). Our new favorite soup is this Avgolomeno from Time for Dinner, (my new favorite cookbook). I received this beautiful soup crock for Christmas from my in-laws and it makes Sunday Soup so pretty!On Tuesday nights, my mom brings dinner for us and it's the BEST THING IN THE WHOLE WORLD!!! She started doing this for me when I first went back to work after having Sadie, and since she's at our house watching Sadie on Tuesdays, it works out pretty well. Tuesday nights are when I go to my Weight Watchers meeting, so it's also nice because I get home later on those nights and Brian just has to throw my mom's food in the oven. Just having dinner taken care of this one night a week is such a luxury. I will never be able to adequately thank my mother for this thoughtful gesture but I hope she knows how very much we appreciate her for this! Not to mention that my mom is the best cook I know....

On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights I cook dinner, or Brian and I collaborate on dinner. A lot of nights, I'll get things started and then he'll finish up because I'm busy playing with Sadie. Brian also does the dishes almost every single night, which gives me more time with Sadie before her bedtime. Some of my favorite go-to weeknight recipes are this healthy jambalaya, fritattas (eggs with whatever veggies are around and sometimes potatoes), roasted or grilled veggies with brown rice or whole wheat pasta (I have this grill wok which I love) portabella mushroom fajitas, roast chicken, homemade spaghetti sauce, breakfast for dinner (eggs, corn tortillas, green chiles, avocado, cilantro and oven baked homfries), and sausage and peppers over polenta. Recently we tried a couple meals we really like including bacon/avocado/tomato sandwiches, and a mexican-style brown rice casserole (with homemade refried beans, corn, spinach and green chiles). I love the beans and toast recipe from Time for Dinner for a quick 5-minute dinner. Special dinners for Friday and Saturday nights include meatloaf and potatoes, and homemade pizza. We also have a lot of great restaurants in Castle Rock that we like to save for special occasions.

Other notes about dinner...
  • My mom buys a bushel or more of fresh roasted green chiles for us from a Hispanic part of Denver every fall. The freezer is full of small baggies of these chiles and we go through about a bag a week. We add them to everything!
  • We also are lucky enough to purchase (or have gifted) an 1/8th of an organic, grass-fed, free-range, local cow every fall. The meat is VERY lean and preservative free and I feel great using this as our main source of meat. We probably use a pound or two of ground beef a week but also eat vegetarian meals several nights a week.
  • We all have a glass of skim milk with dinner (including Sadie).
  • Dinner with a toddler is not peaceful, slow, or productive most nights in our house. It can sometimes be a very frustrating part of the day for the whole family. Sadie doesn't usually eat a lot at dinnertime, which we really don't worry about too much. We figure, if she's hungry, she'll eat. But she doesn't want US to eat, either, which is not o.k. I think we've finally taught her that she needs to wait until Mama is done eating before she can insist that I get up and play with her. She still wants to spend most of dinnertime climbing on the dining room table, the kitchen island, or the backs of the chairs...all unsafe activities at this point. We're continuing to try to find creative ways to to make it through the dinner hour with our sense of humor intact, possibly while having at least a minute or two of adult conversation, without all ending up screaming at each other or crying, without breaking any limbs, and without having to wolf our food down in seconds flat in order to avoid disaster. I'll keep you posted on our progress.....

1 comment:

nikki's spot said...

How funny, we both blogged on this recently! I guess you can see what's on both of our minds! :)