Diet tweaking.

03Jun2013

The CRUNCH:
Diet tweaking.

CRUNCH deets:
You exercise when you can – newly-mobile-baby diaper-change-wrestling counts as cardio, right? And you’ve been eating healthier for months – reducing sweets and skipping the grease. And still, STILL, your belly’s not getting the hint. It’s enough to make anyone Wonder-bread-binge.

The Fix:
Menu mindfulness.

Fix deets:
Nobody’s diet is perfect. Even GP shows signs of being slightly human on occasion. Garlic bread AND buttered rolls? Major gasp!

So, what’s a gal (or guy) to do? If you’re Tim Ferriss, you adopt a “slow-carb” diet six days a week and dedicate “Faturdays” to binge. Sort of moderation… sort of. If you’re Elizabeth Gilbert, you splurge when the splurging’s good and figure you’ll work it out later. Not a bad idea – how often do you get to eat real Italian? But… will it be easy to switch from whole-hog back to Whole Foods when the plane lands? And even though travelling makes menu-planning trickier, wouldn’t the extra energy from a balanced diet make the praying and the loving that much better?

Much like sleep, food’s a key to more energy, better health, and blah blah blah. You’ve heard it. In fact, you’ve even heard it here! We’ve had a request for more deets, and we always love taking requests. Here’s what we do most of the time so we can have our cake and eat it too:

  • Reduce simple carbs; these are the ones that don’t do a lot other than fill us up. We’re talking bread (we eat whole-wheat but still open-face our sandwiches), pasta (we try, and fail, whole-wheat pasta almost every year), and white rice (we like a brown/wild-rice mix). We quinoa regularly, so hopefully won’t discover it’s actually bad for us… like when agave broke our hearts.
  • Reduce sugar – the obvious culprits like pop, candy, juice, and jam, but also the sneaksters that lurk in yoghurt, nut butters, almond milk, bread (another reason to open-face it), and a million other products. Clever food execs use code words on nutrition labels to hide what they know we don’t want. Anything containing ‘syrup’, ‘sweetener’, or ending with ‘-ose’ is often sugar in disguise. Not cool.
  • Read those labels but more importantly, avoid buying foods that need labels! If it’s got too many ingredients and sounds like a science project it’s definitely going straight to our belly, butt, and thighs. No thanks. What’s in a tomato? Oh, that’d be… a tomato. How about an egg? Yup… it’s got one ingredient too. So this means not buying crap convenience foods from the freezer aisle and skipping that “healthier snack alternative” no matter how those same sneaky execs dress it up. Veggie-Stix may be better than chips, but they can’t touch an actual carrot.
  • Make our own meals. Our routines are so down that it’s honestly faster than a restaurant and often tastes better. One of us is still hyper-annoyed at the bland food, poor service, and lackluster ambience of the last Japanese place we overpaid at. Seriously – Miso soup is EASY and that’s the only thing the grumpy one of us was craving that night.
  • Make a few conscious subs in our kitchen. Any recipe with flour gets 50/50 whole-wheat/all-purpose and sometimes even wheat germ. Oil in baked goods is replaced with applesauce, canola oil becomes coconut/grapeseed in a pan, cream cheese is our new mayo, a little balsamic & EVOO goes a long way on our salads, and even though our boys prefer their so-called “normal” PB, we stick with it au naturel. Sure, it tastes slightly different but it’s all good once we adapt.
  • Dedicate prep-time so healthy food’s always on hand to brown-bag 03Jun2013super-fast or for a grab & go snack. This means wash and chop veggies (to store smartly so they don’t annoyingly go bad), grind nuts and seeds for oatmeal so the baby doesn’t choke, cut up blocks of cheese (cheaper than pre-cut and we burn. through. cheese), and boil eggs a dozen at a time. This isn’t really a chore – we multi-task while our preschooler’s crafting at the table, during lunch-time (the baby really likes to eat… for a looooooong time), or after the kiddos are asleep, sometimes with a glass of red and definitely listening to tunes, an audiobook, or the latest DNTO.
  • Eat about every four hours, which means four meals a day with NO snacking in-between. We know; this isn’t the five-mini-meal norm. But it’s what our personal trainer recommends and… she seems to know a thing or two.
  • Meals are portioned properly (half veg/fruit, quarters of carbs and protein) and we pay attention to food-group combos. Did you know eating an orange after an egg increases iron absorption?
  • Improve what we can and accept when we can’t. We switched from double-double to regular and replaced cream with milk successfully. But eliminate that one teaspoon of sugar entirely? Uh no. And dessert… yup, that’s a regular around here. Faturday didn’t work for us, it just wasn’t worth waiting all week for one glutton-fest (and the following crash). So we have a reasonably sized dessert most nights, and indulge at a party. We’d definitely rather be social eaters than social smokers or… worse.
  • Have a rule for temptation. As in “When I’m reaching for the third handful of chocolate chips, I will {blank}”. Some of our blank-fills: Twitter-browse, get outside, or rock out with an appropriate theme song. Distraction’s not just for kids.

Remember this:
It’s okay to indulge as long as you’re still in control. Incorporating healthier choices into your everyday “diet” allows you to bend the rules when it’s worth it. And adopting a more nutritious menu most of the time will actually make your body crave it. Just because it’s healthy doesn’t make it yuck.

Email us if you want food storage tips so your veggies won’t wilt, more info about how to combine food-groups, or the name of a Japanese restaurant to avoid!

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