Since I've started my healthy living push, I've had a few people ask what I'm doing about food. Counting calories? Following some sort of plan?
The answer might be kinda disappointing if you're into structure. I'm eating real food and eating intuitively. I don't count calories. I don't "diet." What is intuitive eating? Check out these guidelines. A lot of these points are true for me even if I hadn't tried to seek out a list or put them into words until now.
For me--an emotional and sometimes compulsive overeater--really stopping to observe my habits and triggers has been a huge help. I've tried to break myself from referring to foods as good or bad and as an outgrowth of that, I've stopped referring to certain days of the week as "cheat days." There's no cheating. There's food.
I mentioned those triggers. If I don't eat enough at breakfast and lunch I am far more likely to overeat in the evenings. The nights I teach are a prime example...not so much because I don't eat a filling breakfast or lunch...but because there's a huge span of time between lunch and when I get home. I try to load my bag with healthy snacks (popcorn, some peanut butter-filled pretzels, or fruit), and I give myself permission to have In-N-Out burger on the way home!
When it comes to stocking the house with food, we try to surround ourselves with stuff that's healthy, delicious, and that we actually like. David and I have both found that if we restrict ourselves a lot and start counting calories, we're quick to get frustrated and give up. We also know our gateway foods. I cannot have chips in the house (Spicy Nacho Doritos, specifically) or I will eat them in two sittings and feel sick. I know this about myself. David cannot have soda...diet or otherwise...because it's a "gateway" for him. He can't stop any more than I can avoid the chips.
We keep the kitchen, pantry, fridge, freezer stocked with as much "real food" as possible. That's basic ingredients without a lot of additives and preservatives. What are our staples? Off the top of my head:
- Whole wheat, high fiber bread
- Whole wheat "Sandwich Skinnys"
- Fresh spinach
- Lime juice
- Canned beans (lima, black, white, pinto, chickpeas)
- Quinoa or a quinoa/barley mix
- Enriched, multigrain cereal (high iron)
- Peanut butter
- Chicken, pork, ground turkey, venison, sausage, bacon
- Turkey and ham sandwich slices
- Frozen corn, carrots, squash, lima beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli (we don't like canned veggies)
- Shredded cheese
- Laughing Cow cheese wedges
- Cottage cheese
- Sour cream
- Brown sugar
- Triscuits (regular, low number of ingredients)
- Dried fruit (mango, pineapple, cherries/cranberries)
Sample Day 1: Weekday, Running Day! Work Night!Breakfast (9 am): Oatmeal cooked with milk, 1 loose tsp of brown sugar, and a tbsp of chia seeds. Added squished, fresh nectarine when it was done and hit it with a little bit of honey. Coffee with a Sweet-n-Low and two squirts of creamer. Some days I might throw an egg in a pan to dry fry for protein, but today I forgot!
Lunch (12:30 pm): A turkey sandwich on wheat seed bread with dijon mustard and a slice of Laughing Cow spreadable asiago cheese and an orange on the side. Water. Was nervous about something, so I didn't eat a very filling lunch.
Snack at work (5:30 pm): Starving. TRYING not to eat everything. Bag of low salt/light butter popcorn and a bag of bite-sized Nutter Butters. Water.
Dinner (10:30 pm): Want food. Something that's not a snack! It's In-N-Out night! Cheeseburger and fries. Water.
Sample Day 2: Weekday, Walking Day!
Breakfast (8 am): Two egg scramble with torn spinach, two thin slices of deli ham, and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar. Couple of heaping tablespoons of cottage cheese loaded with sliced strawberries and fresh blueberries. Coffee with a Sweet-n-Low and two squirts of creamer.
Lunch (noon): Leftover pulled pork burrito on a flour tortilla with cotija cheese, dollop of sour cream, fresh salsa, and a fourth of an avocado. Handful of baby carrots and pineapple jalapeno hummus for dipping. An apple. Water.
Snack (3 pm): Handful of peanut butter pretzels. Water, more water.
Dinner (6:30 pm): BBQ chicken tenders, roasted Brussels sprouts with lots of garlic, fresh strawberries.You guesssed it. WATER!
Sample Day 3: On-the-Go, Out of the House for an Early Appointment
Breakfast (7:45 am): Bowl of multi-grain cereal. Water.
Lunch (1:30 pm): Saltgrass! 6oz steak, coconut shrimp, mac-n-cheese, tortilla soup. Diet Coke.
Dinner (8 pm): Still stuffed from lunch! Water, water, water and an Outshine fruit and veggie popsicle.
So, as you can probably start to see from this, some days I eat a lot. Other days not so much. Most days look like Sample Day 2, but I threw in two eating out days to show you that we're fairly flexible and don't live by deprivation.
We try to fill the house with food that can be combined in lots of ways, and we definitely take advantage of leftovers. We probably eat out a couple of times a week. I am usually totally ready for the burger after work on Tuesdays, and we'll usually grab something on the weekend. On Sample Day 3, I was out with a friend all day, and she always treats me to a meal when we're spending the day together.
Am I losing weight as fast as I would if I were doing South Beach or Bulletproof? Probably not. But I know for a fact that this way of eating and living is sustainable for me, and having lost 40 pounds a few years ago, I've maintained that weight loss over time. THAT is worth policing less and intuiting more.