Dairy, Dairy, Quite Contrary

“If you had been my first baby, you’d have been my last!”

My mother used to say that from time to time.  It wasn’t that I was a horrible baby, it was that I was allergic to milk.  So, for the first several weeks of my life, I screamed. And I screamed.  And I screamed.  Apparently, I drove nearly everyone insane.  Finally, the doctor recommended that they feed me something called lamb base (by all accounts, a vile substance) and I stopped screaming. Angels sang. Humans slept. Pretty maids grew all in a row.

Barbara Mandrell was Country Before Country Was Cool.  I was Lactose Intolerant before that was …um… cool? Okay, in vogue? Whatever.   Although, I think that perhaps I’m not lactose intolerant.  I can enjoy some dairy with its sugar.  I think that perhaps it’s the milk fat that lets me know how the garden grows!

cheeseOn the menus I publish on Sundays, you’ll find regular Greek and Australian yogurt, and regular hard cheeses. You’ll also find almond milk, reduced fat normal yogurt and fat-free cottage cheese.  I can digest most regular Greek and Australian yogurt and regular hard cheeses.  Something in the processing kills whatever it is that wreaks havoc with my system.  However, regular yogurt, milk and soft cheeses are a nightmare for me.  I go with the reduced or no fat versions of those and I’m fine.  I use almond milk on my cereal.

I’ve tried soy milk, rice drink, goats’ milk and almond milk.  The soy doesn’t work for me since it upsets my stomach nearly as much as cows’ milk.  Soy also contains some hormones I’m not crazy about adding to my diet; so, that really isn’t an option for me.  I didn’t much care for the flavor of the rice drink. As for goats’ milk, maybe I got the wrong kind, but it was, in a word, disgusting.  I am thrilled that some people like it and provide those farmers with customers; but, even thinking about it makes my lip curl.  Almond milk works for me.  The calorie count in the unsweetened almond milk is crazy low, too, which is great!  I like the dark chocolate version for an after workout recovery drink.  Almond milk also has more calcium than dairy milk.  I don’t know if that calcium is as readily absorbed as calcium in dairy milk and I’m having a hard time finding out.  If any of you knows, please share.

Brie is a soft cheese exception.  I can eat it without pain; but brie is one of those weird cheeses to me.  Sometimes I like it, sometimes….ew.  I’ve discovered, though, that it can make a nice addition to a green salad.  I’ve also discovered that I like the Ile de France brie better than the President brand.  Additionally, the Ile de France brand comes in these wee tiny little wheels that are just perfect for a single salad with spring greens, walnuts, blackberries, bits of orange and a fruit vinaigrette.  It makes for a really tasty, if somewhat girly, salad.  Sorry, guys.

Dairy is a great source of calcium, protein and, let’s face it, flavor.  I need all of those in a healthy diet and I’ve found ways of enjoying dairy without finding out just how the garden grows.

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Monday Morning…um….Yellows

Yellow-LightConfession.  Last Monday, I wasn’t annoyed that the scales showed no weight loss.  I was annoyed because they showed a seven pound gain!  I knew that wasn’t valid; however, I was still all kinds of irritated.  If you’ll notice, as of today, 22 April 2013, the weight loss counter shows a total loss of only six pounds.  So, yes, last Monday, the scales showed that for all of my efforts, I had gained a pound.

This morning, the scales show me back down at the six pound total loss.  I promise that from this point forward, I will be 100% honest with you about the scale results.  I didn’t want to do that last week, however, because I knew that the numbers were flawed and I knew that if I pushed through, they would correct.  However, if you are just starting your weight loss journey, that kind of information could just torpedo the whole project right there – or, at least, it would have for me in times past.

So, I’m back to square two, and that’s not such a bad place to be.  The momentum is heading in the right direction and the things I did last week worked; so, I will continue doing those this week:

  1. I drank LOTS of water – in the form of water or coffee, I drank at least 8 pints a day.
  2. I kept my wheat portions down to no more than two in the whole week.  I satisfied my grain needs with steel cut oats.  This week, I will add a little brown rice.
  3. I ate no more than two fruit servings per day.
  4. I got in at least four hours of exercise this week that included five days. I’ll be honest, a couple of those days were kind of phone-in efforts.  This week, I add that I will get in four hours of exercise that include me getting sweaty and include at least five days.

As ever for those of us with chronic, self-esteem related weight issues, the keys are:

  1. modify my behavior.  To get different results, I must do different things.
  2. (and this is most important) DO NOT ALLOW OLD, NEGATIVE THINKING PATTERNS TO DEFEAT ME.  

I will continue to be my own best friend and defender rather than my own worst enemy.

Let’s Eat – 2

It’s time again!  Here are some meal suggestions for the upcoming week with approximate calorie values.  Like I said last week, your calorie budget will likely be different from mine.  Make appropriate adjustments and EAT ENOUGH.  You will sabotage yourself by eating too little as surely as you will by eating too much. Our goals should be to be healthier, not to be the media’s version of beautiful.  We aren’t all built that way and it would be unhealthy for many of us if we did look that way.  My friend Amanda has beautifully delicate bones.  At a size 4, she looks fantastic.  With my medium bones, at a size 4, you can see where my ribs join my sternum.  It’s straight up nasty.  Let’s be healthy and be the beautiful we were made to be rather than the one we’ve been told to be.

For breakfast, you’ll see three meals of steel cut oats.  I like those for several reasons: 1. you can cook several servings at once and just warm them up when you need them, 2. by adding different things, you get vastly different meals, 3. they have a wonderful texture and flavor, and 4. they stick with you, providing good energy for busy mornings.

On this list, you will find crunchy natural peanut butter.  I use the natural kind because I don’t want anything other than peanuts and salt in my peanut butter. Smuckers makes a good one; but, Publix, Kroger and Walmart all sell a store brand.  It does cost a little more than homogenized peanut butter and you have to mix the oil in (or pour it off, like I do), but you’re not getting added sugar or palm oil.

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning is listed a couple of times.  If you don’t have that in your kitchen, stop right now.  Go get some and don’t let yourself ever run out again.  It’s great on nearly everything and adds either mild or frightening kick depending on your taste buds.  I use it in eggs, on chicken, on fish, on steamed vegetables…..

Thanks for reading and, please, enjoy your food, enjoy your week and share your favorite menus and recipes with us!

Breakfast

  • 1 c. fat-free cottage cheese, 1 navel orange – 290
  • 1/4 c (uncooked) steel cut oats, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp ground flax seed meal, 1 tbsp raw honey – 324
  • 1/4 c (uncooked) steel cut oats, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp ground flax seed meal, 1 tbsp molasses – 324
  • 1 whole egg, 2 egg whites, 1/4 c. chopped onion, 1/4 tsp Tony Chachere’s sesoning, 1 c. raw spinach – 110
  • 1/4 c (uncooked) steel cut oats, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp ground flax seed meal, 1 sm. mashed banana – 354
  • 1 mini bagel, 1/2 tbsp crunchy natural peanut butter, 1/2 tbsp reduced sugar raspberry jelly – 171
  • 4 oz Jenny O sweet Italian turkey sausage link, 1 egg, 1/4 c. chopped onion – 237

Mid-morning snack

  • 1 apple – 72
  • 1 apple, 1 tbsp crunchy natural peanut butter – 167
  • 1 stick light string cheese, 1 c. seedless red grapes – 154
  • 4 tbsp hummus, 20 baby carrots – 280
  • 1 stick light string cheese, 1 c. red seedless grapes – 119
  • 1 large banana – 110
  • 1 grapefruit – 120

Lunch

  • 2 c. iceberg lettuce, 1/4 c. onions, 25 g dark meat chicken, 3/4 c. black beans, 2 tbsp Marzetti Spinach salad dressing, 1 pc Laughing Cow semi-soft jalapeno cheese – 380
  • 1 c. raw spinach, 2 c. Italian salad mix, 10 boiled shrimp, 2 tbsp Ken’s Light Parmesan & Peppercorn dressing – 158
  • 1 c. fat-free cottage cheese, 1 navel orange – 290
  • 1/2 oz deli ham, 1.5 oz. genoa salami, 1/2 slice deli roast beef, 1 c. shredded lettuce, 1 tbsp. parmesan cheese – 221
  • 1 c. Italian salad mix, 1 c. raw spinach, 2 tbsp Marzetti spinach salad dressing – 88
  • 1 c. Italian salad mix, 1 c. raw spinach, 2 tbsp Marzetti spinach salad dressing, 10 boiled shrimp – 148
  • Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich – 350

Mid-afternoon snack

  • 1 whole mango – 65
  • 2 oz English Walnuts – 370
  • 4 tbsp hummus, 20 baby carrots – 280
  • Fiber One chocolate peanut butter brownie – 90
  • 1 mini bagel, 1/2 tsp crunchy natural peanut butter – 158
  • 1 c. seedless red grapes – 69
  • 1 navel orange – 62

Dinner

  • 1/3 serving grilled chicken nachos (El Pollo Loco), 6 grilled chicken wings – 582
  • 4 oz baked Swai, 2 thin slices bacon, 1 c. steamed collard greens, 1 c. steamed turnip greens, 1 medium baked sweet potato, 1/4 tsp Tony Chachere’s seasoning – 391
  • 1 c. collard greens, 1 thin slice bacon, 1/2 c. white beans – 242
  • 1 baked chicken leg quarter, 1 c. steamed yellow squash, 1 c. steamed spinach – 248
  • 6 oz baked chicken breast, 1 c. red seedless grapes, 1 c. iceberg lettuce, 2 tbsp Ken’s Light raspberry pecan vinaigrette – 324
  • 1 c. Italian salad mix, 1 c. raw spinach, 2 tbsp Ken’s light options balsamic vinaigrette, 10 boiled shrimp – 148
  • Ruby Tuesday’s Barbecue grilled chicken meal (fit & trim) – 345

Evening Snack

  • 1 pc string light string cheese – 50
  • 1 c. dark chocolate almond milk – 120
  • 1/2 c. fat-free cottage cheese, 1 navel orange – 142
  • 3 c. popped kettle corn (Pop Secret) – 105
  • 1 pc Babybel 70
  • 1 Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich – 140
  • 4 oz. Oikos caramel yogurt 110

Dressing Up

Yesterday, Christina commented, “Isn’t it crazy to look at nutrition facts and realize how many calories things can have?! Especially at restaurants!” Yes, yes, it is.  I think that salads are the biggest mine fields.

You go in, sit down, order a salad so that you can have a healthful meal. A Cobb salad – mmmmm.  Tasty and (at Chili’s) 720 calories.  You read that right. 720.  A Caesar salad with grilled chicken? 650. At Appleby’s, that same salad is 820! WHAT?!  It’s a salad!! The culprit, as you already know, is the dressing.  A grilled chicken Caesar salad at Appleby’s without dressing is a very reasonable 370.

Condiments are flavor boosters; but, we don’t tend to think of them as food.  As a result, we also don’t tend to think of them as having calories.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I pulled out some condiments from my refrigerator:

  • CondimentsKraft chipotle mayo – 1 tbsp – 35 cal
  • Sweet Baby Ray’s honey barbecue sauce – 2 tbsp – 70 cal
  • Sriracha sauce – 1 tsp – 5 cal
  • Vava hot ajvar – 1.4 oz (just over 2 tbsp) – 69 cal
  • Naturally Fresh bleu cheese dressing – 2 tbsp – 170 cal
  • French’s yellow mustard – 1 tsp – 0 cal

Obviously, mustard is a better calorie choice than mayonnaise and just about anything is a better choice than bleu cheese dressing.  Here’s the thing, though – you may adore bleu cheese dressing.  And if you do, there’s therapy available, I’m sure. Um, what I mean to say is that it may be worth it to you to cut something else out so that you can enjoy that on your salad.  Just like it’s your money in your bank account, it’s your calorie budget.  You can choose to spend it how you like.  Buying clothes on Rodeo Drive is going to blast through my budget faster than shopping at my local mall and leave my closet emptier.  Similarly, pouring that bleu cheese on is going to blast through your calorie budget faster and leave your belly emptier.  Still, Armani may be worth it to me and bleu cheese may be worth it to you.

There are ways to have a little of both worlds, though.  I can make my budget go further by dressing up an inexpensive dress with an Hermes scarf.  You can either thin your dressing or leave it on the side.  Rather than pour the dressing over the top, dip your fork into it before each bite.  You get a little of that taste you love without carpet bombing your calorie budget.

It’s your budget.  Just look before you eat so that you can be an informed consumer.

Not Such a Smart Cookie

chocolate walnut cookieYesterday, we had a training session during lunch; so, my company brought in boxed lunches from Panera Bread.  Yum!  All of the lunches were half salad and sandwich combos, which was great.  I ate my salad, ate the meat from my sandwich and I ate half my bag of chips.  That would have been a good lunch, and at 221 calories, at a great calorie count. However.

You see? There was this chocolate walnut duet cookie in there, too. (Insert movie music indicating danger.)

I ate half the cookie and congratulated myself on eating only half.  Not so bad, right? Huh.

That HALF of the cookie had 220 calories! TWO. HUNDRED. TWENTY. As much as the whole rest of my lunch!

When I got home, I walked/ran 1.3 miles in 18 minutes.  I burned about 150 calories.  I was gasping for air, sweating like a horse, and smelling like a goat herder.  And I didn’t burn off that half cookie.  It was a good cookie, don’t get me wrong, but, sugar, ain’t NO cookie THAT good.  I should have done what I used to do which was to check the cookie’s nutritional information BEFORE I put it in my gullet.

Plan food. Check the nutritional information before eating. Spend your calorie budget wisely.

Now THAT’S a smart cookie.

A Calculated Walk in the Park

My exercise yesterday was shopping.  I know.  That doesn’t count.  Actually, it does.  I walked around the store for over 90 minutes.  For 90 minutes I was walking, not sitting,  While it wasn’t strenuous exercise for me, it would have counted had I been at the part; so, it counts when I was in Target.

Now, my walk in the park with the pups on Monday was considerably more strenuous.  We walked 2 miles at 3.7 mph.  Now, you know that math is not my best subject; so, how do I know that’s how fast we walked?  I have an app on my phone called Cardio Trainer.  The free version tracks how far and how fast I go using my phone’s GPS.  It gives me updates along the walk or run to let me know how far I’ve gone.  Using the weight I’ve input, it also tells me how many calories I burned and it equates those calories to something I can relate to.  The walk on Monday burned two pears’ worth of calories!

614501_10151061091178197_789753595_oIt allows me to input all my workouts manually to track everything I do.  It will also keep track of all my walks over time; so, in a month or so, it will tell me how far I’ve walked in total and how that relates to my region.  By the end of summer, I will have walked to Chattanooga and back, two or more miles at a time, without ever leaving home!

Cardio Trainer has an associated food diary app called Noom.  I downloaded that free version last night and will let you know how that goes.

As I told you earlier, I used LoseIt to lose weight before and I’ve been using MyFitnessPal this time.  The more I use MyFitnessPal, the less impressed I am, actually.  The food diary seems really random and disorganized.  That’s such a shame!  I had such high hopes for it.

I know there are tons of these programs out there.  What are you all using and what do you think of it?

Baby Steps Count

When I first started losing weight, I can’t tell you how many people lamented that they, too, would lose weight if only they could exercise.  My thought was that unless you are a quadriplegic, you can. Then, I injured my knee.

I couldn’t exercise in the ways I had been and in the ways I wanted; so, I pretty much just stopped. I pouted, threw a little pity party complete with cake and ice cream….and elastic waistbands until I forgot how I started.

I walked the dogs.

So, you can’t run a marathon.  Walk.  So, you can’t walk far.  Walk a little and build up. You can’t walk fast.  Walk slowly. Walk the dogs. Park further from the grocery store door. Eventually, take the stairs instead of the elevator.  You don’t have to be able to climb Everest today.  It will wait while you work up to it!

I have a friend whose knees are in such hideous shape that even thinking about how they grind and pop makes me shiver.  She can swim. She can do leg lifts.  She can lift weights with her arms. She can still move.

Remember how when we were children we ran everywhere just because we could? We experienced the joy of movement! Find something that lets you feel that joy again. I felt it yesterday just walking from my office to the nearby grocery store.  I felt my muscles waking, stretching, and contracting as they corrected my balance and allowed me to move.  Our bodies are truly wondrous machines!

Heather blossoms
Heather blossoms

After work, the pups and I went to the park and had a nice, long walk like we used to. We felt the warm sun and the cool breeze. We smelled the perfume of the flowering trees.  They spotted a deer and tried to go befriend it (I’m sure that’s what they had in mind). They loved it. I loved it.

It’s a beautiful time of year to start – to remember the joy of moving and the wonder of Spring. It may be a little cliché to say that we should let the season remind us of our own potential, new beginnings and growth; but, why waste a good cliché?  Let’s use it! Let’s start again.

Monday Morning Blues

Treble clef bike stand in NashvilleSo, I weighed in this morning expecting at least a pound lost and….no. Nada. Nothing. C’mon!  As long as I’ve been doing this and as many real causes as my mind can give, this still frustrates me, particularly at 5 AM.

I’ve run into this several times during this last couple of years.  Here are some possible culprits:

  1. The fact that I’m a woman in child-bearing years.  Girls, you know what I’m talking about.  Did you know that we can retain as much as nearly five pounds of water? I feel like a camel.
  2. Too much wheat.  My first week at my new job saw me eating about 10 meals of Cheerios and a couple of meals that involved mini bagels.  While my calorie counts were okay, too many of those calories were supplied by wheat.  I don’t know if all the studies are valid; so, I don’t know that wheat causes weight gain.  I just know that, for me, too much wheat makes me feel bloated.
  3. Too much fruit. When I first switched my food choices and when I’ve had to pull myself back onto the wagon, I found that eating a lot of fruit during those first weeks was really helpful with cravings.  I had quite a bit of refined sugar in my diet, which just wreaks havoc with my blood sugar.  To help me stay with healthful food choices, I replaced the refined sugars with fruit, then decreased the amount of fruit to cut overall sugar consumption.  It’s time for me to cut my fruit consumption down to two servings a day.  I’ve seen diet plans that recommend that you not eat apples.  Apples are actually VERY helpful for me.  They are sweet, colorful, crunchy, and full of both fiber and flavor; so, they satisfy my appetite in several ways.  You just have to try it for yourself and see how your body does with them.
  4. No enough exercise.  I have pretty much been wiped out when I get home at night and have not been getting any movement in.  That simply won’t do. For my weight, for my heart, for my muscles, for my bones – I must exercise.

So, what are my solutions and goals for this week?

  1. Nothing much I can do about that whole girl thing but wait it out and drink a lot of water to keep my system flushing.
  2. I have to reduce my wheat intake. This week, I will have no more than two servings of wheat.  I will satisfy my grain requirements with oats, brown rice and quinoa.
  3. I will have no more than two fruit servings per day.
  4. I will get in at least four hours of exercise this week that will include at least five days.

If we are connected on MyFitnessPal, you can hold me accountable for my exercise – and I EXPECT YOU TO! If you don’t see me moving during the week, send me a little nudge.  If we are not connected on MyFitnessPal, why aren’t we? Connect with me and let me know your goals and how you’re doing. Let’s help each other.

The keys to breaking through this stall are:

  1. modify my behavior.  To get different results, I must do different things.
  2. (and this is most important) DO NOT ALLOW OLD, NEGATIVE THINKING PATTERNS TO DEFEAT ME.  

I have been my own worst enemy.  It is long past time I became my own best friend and defender.

Let’s Eat – 1

I apologize.  I meant to publish this yesterday, but awoke with an elephant sitting on my sinuses.  That kind of blew the whole day.  I’m hoping I got you before you did your shopping for the week.

This week, I’m listing seven breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. I am also listing seven mid-morning, mid-afternoon and evening snacks.  I am not going to break it down into meals on any given day at this point and I’m not listing calorie values.  My goal this week is to just get the menu put in.  As we move along, I’ll add calorie counts to the meals.  You can then mix and match to get close to your calorie requirement.

This is extremely important: your calorie requirement may differ from mine.  You must meet or get close to your requirement.  As I discovered, if you eat too few calories, you do not lose weight.  You get tired, cold and grumpy.  Nobody likes that.  Eat what you need.  Adjust amounts of ingredients in these meals to ensure that you are eating enough.

Now, here are some ideas for food for your week.

Breakfast:

  • 1 medium egg, whole 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup yellow sweet pepper, 1/4 cup white onion, 2 slices of thin bacon, 1 mini bagel
  • 1 cup of cooked old fashioned oatmeal, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp flax meal, 1 small mashed banana
  • 3/4 cup Cheerios, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup unsweetened Vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cantaloupe, 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese
  • 2 whole eggs, 1 slice of thin bacon
  • 1 cup of cooked old fashioned oatmeal, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp flax meal, 1 diced apple
  • 2 square waffles, 1/2 cup of diced strawberries

Morning Snack:

  • 1 serving mango Noosa yogurt
  • 1 cup strawberries, 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese
  • 1 medium apple, 1 piece Baby Bel cheese
  • 1 cup grapes, 1 piece light string cheese
  • 1 navel orange, 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese
  • 1 medium apple, 10 almonds
  • 1/2 cantaloupe, 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese

Vary your food choices to keep meals interesting
Vary your food choices to keep meals interesting

Lunch:

  • 4 oz baked chicken leg quarter, 2 cups steamed kale, 1 cup steamed zucchini, 1 cup steamed yellow squash
  • 3 cups salad greens, 1 cup seedless red grapes, 1 oz brie, 5 crushed almonds, 2 tbsp raspberry vinaigrette
  • 2 cups salad greens, 2 boiled eggs, 2 tbsp shredded carrots, 1/4 cup chopped yellow sweet pepper, 10 grape tomatoes, 1/2 cup cucumbers
  • 10 grape tomates, 3 oz mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, 1 piece Wasa bread
  • 2 cups salad greens, 1/4 cup red bell peppers, 1/4 cup yellow bell peppers, 1/4 cup onion, 1/2 cup black beans, 1 oz shredded cheese, 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 can chicken noodle soup, 1 slice Wasa bread, 1 piece Baby Bel cheese
  • 2 tablespoons hummus, 1 cup sliced red bell peppers, 10 baby carrots, 1/2 cup sliced cucumbers

Afternoon Snack:

  • 1 serving mango Noosa yogurt
  • 1 piece Wasa bread, 1 tbsp natural peanut butter, 1 tbsp sugar-free jelly
  • 1 medium apple, 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 5 dried dates, 10 almonds
  • 10 baby carrots, 2 tablespoons hummus
  • 1 piece Wasa bread, 1 piece Baby Bel cheese
  • 1 cup dark chocolate almond milk

Dinner:

  • 2 cups spaghetti squash, 1/2 cup Paul Newman’s Sockarooni sauce
  • 4 oz lean beef hamburger patty, raw baby spinach, 1 slice tomato, 1 slice onion
  • 1 cup chopped chicken, 2 cups salad greens, 1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, 1/4 onion, 1/4 cup salsa, 1 oz tortilla chips
  • 4 oz baked swai, 1/2 cup tropical fruit salsa, 1 cup steamed asparagus
  • 1 sliced eggplant, 2 tbsp lutenica, 2 oz shredded mozzarella, 1 sliced sweet onion
  • baked chicken breast, 1 cup glazed carrots, 1 cup steamed collards, 1/2 slice bacon, 1 tbsp barbeque sauce
  • 4 oz steak, 1 cup steamed green beans, 1 cup steamed yellow squash

Evening snack:

  • small apple, cinnamon
  • sliced, baked sweet potato, cinnamon
  • 1 cup blueberry Kefir
  • 1 cup grapes, 1 piece light string cheese
  • low-fat microwave popcorn
  • 1 serving Oikos caramel yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 serving Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich

Clean That Plate and Polish Those Bones

I heard it just yesterday – “All those children starving in Haiti and you’re going to leave that on your plate.”  Sister Paula’s variation for us first and second graders was, of course, the starving children in Africa.  My grandfather advised us to “polish those bones” when Nanny served chicken.  And, at the Doty dinner table, we were encouraged to belong to The Clean Plate Club.  How ever you heard it, I’ll bet you were also told to eat all of the food that you took or that was served to you.

Tacoma, WA, food bank
Shelves at the food bank in Tacoma, WA

Once upon a time, Americans didn’t have refrigerators or the electricity to power them. They had no way to preserve left-overs and, since food was a great deal more scarce then and too valuable to waste, it had to be eaten when served. Fried food was a good thing because it increased the number of calories in a single serving, providing more energy from the same dinner. When my mother was young, she and her brothers picked cotton in Mississippi.  Without that energy, it would have difficult for them to survive, much less work the farm. Waste not, want not.  Of course that is the right thing now, just like it was then.  The problem now, is that our plates are larger, our portion sizes are larger, our food is less natural and more loaded with sugar, salt and other preservatives.  We are eating ourselves to death to avoid waste!

When I first started changing my lifestyle, I left food on my plate at restaurants and even at home.  Even though doggie bags and Tupperware are options, it was physically painful for me to leave the food there. Like Pavlov’s pooch salivating at the bell, I felt physically ill when I went against my dinnertime conditioning.  It’s STILL a struggle and perhaps the source of my compulsion to finish off any open bag of Cheetos.  The thing is: it is essential to get over this false stress response.  I’ve gone back to eating all the food I’m served in a restaurant.  Even if my meal is a salad with no dressing, too much food is still too much food. In the lifestyle change, I halved my food immediately when it was served.  I ate half and brought the other half home.  I MUST return to that habit.  Otherwise, my stomach again looks for massive amounts of food to feel full.  The overeating cycle is re-enforced.

The truth that we know is that we all eat too much.  No one can break that habit but us.  We have to have a Nancy Reagan moment and “just say no” – no quart of salad, no 16 ounce steak, no Man vs Food (in my opinion one of the most disgusting displays of excess on television).  We can bring it home.  If not, the world won’t stop spinning if we just leave it at the restaurant sometimes.

Yes, we are morally bound to help the starving in Haiti, in Africa, and in our own communities (there are far more of them than we think); but, giving ourselves obesity induced heart-attacks and strokes just ain’t the way to do it.

Thoughts about everything and nothing in an effort to be a better person than I was yesterday.