14 October 2011

Fall Fix-Up: Nutrition

This week is going to be a double fall fix up, because I didn't have time to post last week! To be honest I haven't really had time to post ever, and it makes me sad. Between school, work, homework, trips to prescott to visit linn/friends/parents, housekeeping, and maintaining a wee bit of a social life, I've found I really have no time at all. I look forward to the day when I don't have to work AND go to school. just one or the other is fine with me. Anyways, I hope that one of these days I will not have so much work to do and have enough free time to blog regularly like my heart desires :)

Today I'm going to be talking about nutrition, and tomorrow, since I have my personal finance and family planning midterm, I will be talking about money.

Nutrition is something I care about a lot. I've been a vegetarian since I was 13 years old, although I've flipflopped quite a bit- sometimes going to one end of the spectrum and eating a vegan/raw diet, and sometimes "cheating" frequently, as I did in Greece over the summer. There are a few rules I always try to stick to though, and I'd like to share them with you.

1. Eat Food. If you've read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, you've heard this one before. Actually, that book has a lot of good tips and you should check it out. It's a quick read- took me an hour while lounging on the beach in mexico last winter. anyways, this isn't as simple as it seems. It rules out a lot of the things you find at the supermarket. Read the ingredients on the things you eat, and if you can't picture in your mind one of the ingredients, it's not food. If your grandmother wouldn't know what it is, it probably isn't food. This can be expanded upon by saying "eat whole food". as in, things that are one ingredient. fresh fruits and vegetables are best. The fewer ingredients listed, the better usually.

2. Don't eat until you're full. Eat until you aren't hungry anymore. In french, one says "J'ai faim", which means "I have hunger". There is no way to say "I'm full", rather, you say "Je n'ai pas faim", meaning, 'I do not have hunger". Eat with this mentality. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to process a full stomach, so if you stop eating when you're full, you're already 20 minutes too late. Something that goes along with this tip is "drink your food and chew your drink", meaning take the time to chew your food thoroughly and enjoy it, and keep your drink in your mouth long enough to fully appreciate it. Not only does this make eating more enjoyable, it slows down your pace and keeps you from scarfing everything down before your brain can process it.

3. In my experience, counting calories is the best way to lose weight. I like to think of it as science. a pound is about 3500 calories, which means if you want to lose one pound you have to burn 3500 calories more than you consume. If you figure out approximately how many calories you burn in a day just from the processes of living, you can figure out how many calories you can eat (without exercise) to maintain your current weight. Then it's just a matter of reducing that number and/or adding exercise to your daily routine. Eat like you normally do, but count your calories for a day. You will probably be amazed at how much you actually consume. This website has been very helpful to me, and a lot of restaurant websites now carry nutritional information as well. I like to keep a food diary or use the My Fitness app on my droid in order to keep track of my daily calories- it really helps to be knowledgeable about just what you're consuming each day.

4. Ignore the food pyramid. 6-11 servings of bread/grains a day? Are they kidding? when was the last time you you ate 9 slices of bread or servings of rice or pasta in one day? It was evident to me early on that this model of nutrition was not going to work for me- find something that works for you. I prefer to eat mostly fruits and vegetables, maybe 2-3 servings of grains a day, and 1-2 servings of dairy/protein. It's different for every body though and as long as you are getting the vitamins you need and are minimizing fatty, sugary, starchy foods, you should be fine.

5. "easy" doesn't mean "healthy". I'm astounded every time I look on pinterest and I see a slew of pins of "Easy weeknight meals!". They usually are some combination of chicken, cream cheese, pasta, and a crockpot. and various other dairy products. these are the kinds of meals I see as comfort food that I would make for myself while wallowing in a boatload of self pity or spending a night in with sappy movies and a snowstorm. They are not things I would ever feed my hypothetical children on a regular weeknight as a regular nutritious supper. So don't fall for quick and easy recipes that also happen to be starchy and fattening. There are plenty of almost as quick and easy recipes out these that are actually nutritious and chock full of good stuff like veggies and whole grains :)

6. If any slight part of you has ever lightly considered eating vegetarian or vegan, look into it further. I recommend the book skinny bitch, especially for younger adult women. It's a lifestyle that is so rewarding both to you and to the animals you save, and there are so many wonderful substitutes out there that you will never miss meat, dairy, eggs, etc. Of course this is not to say that you have to be a vegetarian or a vegan to be healthy. It's just one way to do it :)

7. Eat whatever you want. This is the most important tip. Yes, I count calories and try to eat vegan and look for whole, healthy foods, but if I want to eat a giant bowl of fettucini alfredo or 7 chocolate chip cookies I let myself, and I don't feel guilty. Yes, I want to be healthy so that I can look good, feel good, and live a long, healthy life, but I also want to have a good time while I'm here. Food is fun, and a lot of food that isn't very good for us is freakin' delicious. As long as you don't eat it very often, it's ok to say to hell with nutrition and let yourself eat it every once in a while. That's what life is about. The little pleasures. In general, be healthy and do what's best for your body- but don't let that stop you from enjoying life and enjoying food :)

Those are my nutrition tips for today. I will try to be back a little later in the week with a few calorie controlled recipes, and I will do my best to be here tomorrow with my fall fix up- finance post.

have a happy, healthy thursday!


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