By: Lydia Scott
I remember being on diets as a kid, and my dinners would consist of things like baked fish with lemon, steamed plain broccoli and a scoop of plain brown rice. Lunches would usually consist of iceberg salad with some canned tuna and a drizzle of vinegar. Breakfasts revolved around a boiled egg and a slice of wheat toast.
That was the normal diet fare. And in some places, those are luxurious meals. Most of those places don’t have a population that struggles with being overweight. In this part of this country though, we are fortunate enough surrounded by a huge array of rich foods. They come at us from every angle…a variety of interesting, aromatic, flavorful foods. So, trying to force ourselves to stick to bland and boring cookie cutter “diet” foods “just until we get healthy” probably won’t last long. So don’t start what isn’t going to work.
Healthy Eating Should Not Be a Punishment
Think about it, how do you feel about foods we think of as healthy? Not all, but I’ll bet many of think less-than-happy thoughts when someone mentions good-for-you foods. And that is a big part of what contributes to so many of our unhealthy behaviors. If you struggle with that, why not start to change your relationship with good-for-you foods?
How do you know how to choose foods that will do your body, mind AND soul good? I mean, there’s about fifty kajillion different healthy eating plans out there: clean eating, low carb, low fat, primal, paleo, vegetarian, low sugar, fruitarian, vegan, ketogenic, and many more! So what do you do? Which style should you strive for? Should you even have an eating style?
Well, if you’re totally healthy and you have a healthy view of food, it seems reasonable to say that whatever you’re doing is working, so don’t change it! But if you’re not healthy and/or your view of food is causing you issues, it might be a good time to try something different, right?
Always consult with your doctor before changing anything, of course. Other than that, coming from someone who has tried what feels like every eating style out there, try this: Choose a way of eating that you think you could stick with for the rest of your life, AND FEEL GOOD DOING IT. That means you may want to try out a few different regimens for a month or three (if your doctor okays it) and gauge how you feel on them. Food should make your body and mind work better, not worse, once your body adjusts to the change.
For instance, if you just adore being able to munch on an endless supply of fruits and veggies and couldn’t care less about meats and other protein sources, then low-carb might not make you happy. Or, if you live and breathe by pre-packaged foods and totally love them, then Paleo, Primal, or clean eating probably would frustrate the daylights out of you. Basically, look at your lifestyle and look at what you really want to do, and try out plans that work in line with that. Work WITH your body, rather than against it.
If you are like I was, and need to make a healthy change, you may not know where to start. Iput together a short list of some of my favorite websites and a few of my favorite recipes that got me through different stages of renewing my relationship with food. Most of what I eat tends to not be heavily processed. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I officially eat clean, but I eat mostly clean, haha! Mainly because it just tastes better and makes me feel more energetic. Feel free to chime in with some of your favorites, too!
Low Fat and Clean:
Skinny Ms.: http://skinnyms.com/
I love this site! It’s full of a little bit of everything for beginners like me, and it’s all easy to find, with lots of instructional videos, too. I am currently doing the *exercise only* portion of the 6 Week Emergency Makeover, which you can purchase from the site for not much money. I love the workouts that Skinny Ms talks about because they are short, varied, have instructional videos, and I can change up the routine if there’s something I can’t do. I did try the diet plan on the Emergency Makeover, but found the higher carb, lower fat, lower protein content of it left me feeling empty and with a lot of cravings. However, one of my favorite snacks from this site was the Peanut Butter and Yogurt Dip. It was surprisingly delicious and filling!
Cooking Light: http://www.cookinglight.com/
Chock full of recipes that aren’t too difficult, but also tend a little more towards the gourmet side, Cooking Light was a haven for my low fat days. And if you like recipes with flair, try one of our favorites, the Thai Chicken Saute’. We loved it with Udon noodles instead of rice!
Low Carb and Clean:
I’mperfect Life: http://imperfectlife.net/category/recipes/
If you haven’t read about the wonderful woman who runs this site, you should! She is such an inspiration! I go here regularly when I need motivation, plus her recipes are yummy! She’s great about having a viewpoint of all things in moderation, rather than being a food-dictator. I like that.
I Breathe…I’m Hungry: http://www.ibreatheimhungry.com/
This site was a goldmine for me! Ohhhh, the low-carb, clean and gluten-free recipes are right up my alley, because they aren’t boring! And the owner of the blog is SO nice because she gives you detailed menu plans for getting started on the low-carb, gluten-free way for FREE! One of my favorite recipes of hers is the Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Pesto Meatballs. And they weren’t hard to make either! So good! See? You want one now, right? Oh wait…maybe that’s me, haha!
Low Carb-ing Among Friends: https://www.facebook.com/LowCarbingAmongFriends
This is a Facebook page based on the book, Low Carb-ing Among Friends. It’s actually a GREAT page, with no “try this miracle cure!” spam, a supportive group of folks that run it, and a ton of fantastic recipes and ideas. Love, love, love! So far, my favorite recipe that I’ve found from this page is the Two Minute Microwave Coffee Cake. It is so darned yummy and easy! I will admit, I don’t put the Cinnamon topping on it. Instead, I spread one tablespoon of natural peanut butter and a drizzle of sugar-free maple syrup over it. Oh yeah…really filling and no sugary funky feeling afterward!
I admit, I often have a hard time NOT lightening up the calorie-heavy meals you can find in the low-carb world. For instance, we had Pork in Flameado Queso Sauce this weekend, and I couldn’t bring myself to make it as written (with just under 600 calories per serving). I know, I know…low carb is not really one you’re supposed to count calories in. But I do anyway! So, I cut half the heavy cream with plain, unsweetened almond milk, reduced the cheese and Chorizo by half, used extra lean pork tenderloin and doubled the amount, and added more peppers (not enough to increase the carbs substantially, though). It was extremely tasty, and the calories came out to under 400 with plenty of fat and protein and very few carbs.
All of this stuff is just based on my experience. I’ll bet y’all have all kinds of cool suggestions to add for folks who were in my shoes a while back and are new to trying to take care of themselves. What things, websites, books, and tips have helped you?