One of the biggest challenges many face in improving their nutrition is the perception that eating healthy and nutritious foods is expensive. Here are some ways that you can get both quality and quantity in your food choices:
While it may seem like it is more expensive to eat whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible, if you use the steps above, you can reduce those costs considerably. Add to that the fact that you likely will be healthier and thus may reduce costs for doctors and medications, and many find they have a net savings by making changes to their diets.
Let’s face it – many of us lead extremely busy lives, and are challenged in preparing healthy meals for ourselves each and every day. While there are ways to make that process easier (See Five KISS Steps for Easy Meal Prep http://www.fit-fab.com/finding-your-fit-fabulous/five-kiss-steps-for-easy-meal-prep), sometimes it is nice to have something in the fridge that you didn’t make and that is ready to go. Enter the meal service.
There are lots of meal services out there, some better than others, but there are a few common themes among them. First, because they are preparing food in large quantities, the quality is not likely to be the same as if you prepared it yourself. Second, the sodium content is likely to be higher than if you prepare your own food. Third, portion sizes from most meal services are not appropriate for most people, and need to be adjusted to meet your particular needs. Finally, even if a meal service is advertised as “healthy” does not mean that it is low calorie, so make sure you take a close look at the ingredients and the nutrition for each product you select.
For these reasons, I do NOT recommend using a service or plan that doesn’t give you control over what you can order. Order from the a la carte menu based on your goals and needs, portion your meals correctly, and enjoy having a night off from cooking!
One of the biggest issues people who are restricting calories face is being HUNGRY, and when people are hungry, they often make poor food choices. We’re going to talk today about how to use food volume to help you choose quality foods in sufficient quantities to make it a little easier to get through a dieting phase.
First, during any dieting phase, veggies are your best friend. Most vegetables are very low in calories, so while you still need to make mindful selections, you can eat a lot of vegetables before they become an issue. They are also full of fiber, which digests more slowly. When I am in a calorie restriction phase, I aim for two cups of vegetables at every meal. This helps me to feel full for longer periods of time.
Second, look to get the biggest bang for your caloric buck from your carbs. One three-inch bagel won’t keep you very full for very long after having eaten it. Conversely, you can eat an entire sweet potato for the same calories, more fiber, and better micronutrient profile.
Third, stay away from dried or processed items. One hundred calories of raisins are less than a quarter of a cup, while one hundred calories of grapes are nearly one full cup. That cup of grapes will help you feel full, while I don’t think the raisins will cut it for long!
The moral of the story? Think carefully about your food choices before you eat when you are in a diet phase. The more volume your foods have, the less hungry you will feel and the more successful you are likely to be while dieting.
Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) is all the rage lately. A number of the athletes with whom I work are dedicated, even obsessed, OCR racers. They are constantly picking my brain about how they should eat on race day. My answers sometimes surprise them. Here’s why:
First, if you eat well to begin with, you really don’t need to eat differently for any race that takes you less than two hours to complete. If you eat three to five meals per day with a good balance of protein, healthy carbohydrates, healthy fats and vegetables, you should be good to go. You may be hungrier than usual afterwards, and it is perfectly fine to eat several hundred more calories after completing a race than you would ordinarily, but you don’t need complicated nutrition strategies for races of shorter duration.
Second, advanced nutrition strategies only work if you have a proper nutritional foundation in place. It doesn’t make sense to give an athlete, or anyone for that matter, a complicated plan that they cannot possibly follow because they don’t have a solid understanding of how much they should be eating, and of what. Therefore, I spend a lot of time working with clients on how to make sure that they have the basics nailed (such as eating the right amounts of protein, healthy carbohydrates, healthy fats and vegetables) before they start worrying about nutrient timing, carbo loading, supplementation, and all sorts of other things.
Third, what you eat and drink on race day should NEVER be different from what you do in training. If you have developed a tried and true training regimen, that is what you should be doing on race day because you know how your body reacts to it. When my husband ran the Boston Marathon for the first time, he ate a banana at mile 19. Big mistake. What had been a fabulous race for him until that point went downhill fast because he subjected his body to something it wasn’t used to eating under those conditions.
Are there recreational OCR athletes who should be using more advanced nutrition strategies? Of course, and I love working with them, but only after we have the basics in place!
It’s Friday night. You’ve stuck to your nutrition goals all week. You’ve meal prepped, eaten appropriate portions, stayed away from processed foods, and passed up the donuts at the meeting yesterday morning in favor of some veggies, some nuts, and a nice glass of water with lemon. You’re now home with a few hours of free time for the first time all week, and you just want to relax. With a glass of wine. And a cookie. And some chips. And another glass of wine, then some take out and ice cream. Sound familiar?
Well, if it doesn’t, you are the exception rather than the rule! Most of us struggle to stay on a nutrition plan on the weekends for a variety of reasons. First, the weekends are when most of us are in social situations that likely involve food and/or alcohol. Second, the lack of structure over the course of the weekend creates more opportunities for us to do things that aren’t planned. Third, the weekend often is when we grocery shop, and if we aren’t careful about sticking to the perimeter of the store, things make it into our grocery carts that don’t aid our goals. Finally, we are home more than we usually are during the week, giving us more time to snack. So how do we avoid these pitfalls? As with many things, planning is the key. Here are a few tips:
· Choose activities that are less likely to involve food.
· Choose restaurants that you know will have healthier alternatives.
· Look at menus ahead of time, select what you will have, and stick to it.
· Decide ahead of time if you will drink, what you will drink, and how much, then stick to it.
· Make a grocery list and do not buy anything that isn’t on the list.
· Keep that pantry stocked with healthy items.
· Eat your healthy meals as planned so that you feel full and are less likely to snack.
· If you feel like snacking, have a glass of water first, then wait fifteen minutes.
Of course, life happens, even if we are trying to stick to a nutrition plan, so if you do find yourself deviating from your plan, just move on and crush your next meal, then the one after that and the one after that until you are back in the groove!
Amy Mariani is the owner of Fit & Fabulous LLC in Winchester, Massachusetts. She is also the nutrition coach at www.mountainstrength.com. Her mission is to help people eat healthy and love life.
Please note that you should consult with your physician prior to embarking on any major changes with regard to your nutrition. Unfortunately, absent authorization from a medical professional, we are unable to provide individualized nutrition coaching to anyone under the age of eighteen, or to persons with certain medical conditions. We are always happy to work with authorized medical professionals under these circumstances.