Thankful For Healthy Food

I eat.  A LOT.  And I eat really healthy foods, which may or may not be a little bit pricey, if in season at all.  

I feel blessed in so many ways, and for so many reasons…but I am immensely thankful that I am able to have foods such as scallops, shrimp, and fish every so often.  It matters what we put into our bodies and I’m grateful not only that I can have these things to begin with, but also for my better half, who both supports my clean regime, and who always manages to cook them so well.

Once upon a time I harbored and intense fear that no one would be “okay with” my nutritional habits or preferences – to the point it was debilitating. I was judged – often – for my choices, and was convinced I was somehow “too different” or “too difficult” as a result.  Fortunately, I’ve learned the error of my ways!

My body is ultra-attuned to certain nutritional guidelines.  That said, it isn’t because I imposed them ON myself (back when I had eating disorders, that is exactly what I did.  But, thankfully, not now.)  

In recovery by body decided what works for it…and what doesn’t.  I’ve gained a handful of allergies and intolerances, as well as symptoms when I don’t eat frequently enough – curious, but I’ve learned to honor and respect what my physiology is asking for.  It’s changed a lot over the years, and in recovery, and that’s okay.  

When I travel, my body is therefore never 100% – being at home allows me to stick to what works best, but that doesn’t mean I can’t (or don’t want to) go anywhere!  There are always healthy options to be found, so even if I’m not having my absolute “usual” I still can make solid choices, and set myself up for the best success possible.  (Frankly, I’d say scallops multiple times in one weekend is pretty world-class!)  

Blackened catfish and turkey

My goals are maintenance – I’m not looking to gain, neither to really lose weight.  I want to support my muscles and any physical activities I’d like to do, as well as to function as optimally – and comfortably – as possible.  That includes everything from sleeping, to energy levels, to a calm tummy!

Just because I am wired to work on a very specific blueprint doesn’t mean that I can’t live freely, and happily.  It takes a little bit of foresight and work, but I love being healthy, at a good weight, and feeling like I can perform well.  

As I’ve gotten older, I need more recovery, and sometimes even more food  – allowing ourselves to evolve and grow is a beautiful thing.  Appreciating the blessings and fortune we have just makes life all the more wonderful. ❤ 

Vending Machine Update – Nutritional Stats and Calorie Counts

I’m not going to lie, I’m super happy about this…

Beginning May 5th, vending machines that are not currently posting calorie counts are going to have to display those numbers.  I’m not sure if the average person cares enough about the statistics, but perhaps it will encourage folks to be more mindful about their choices – for themselves, and their families.  A bag of M&Ms once in a blue moon won’t really hurt anyone.  But give that to your child any time you see a vending machine, and it’s going to be a serious problem.

According to Fda.gov, there are a few changes in play – for example, chain restaurants (20 or more locations nationwide) will also have to comply with posting caloric stats on their menus and menu boards.

Do I count calories?  Absolutely NOT.  Having been through two very severe eating disorders (anorexia and exercise bulimia), its dangerous territory for me to monitor myself on that micro level.  That said, I take note just enough to make healthy choices.  

After having scrutinized labels and stats to the hilt, I know probably more than I should! The benefit, though, is that I have a good sense of what an appropriate “bang for the buck” is, calorically speaking, with respect to my dietary needs.  I don’t base my needs on a number, but rather I feel out how I’m doing weight wise based on what I DO eat.  If I feel I’m seeing a little bit of weight stick to me, or my usual clothing isn’t fitting properly, I make sure I address it.  If I get too lean (that’s not really a problem), or I work out extra hard (that DOES happen!) I make sure to have more.  Typically I don’t fluctuate too much, but I also know that SOME fluctuation is totally normal – it may, in fact, just be water weight or water retention.  I’ve learned to go easy in that department and expect the tiny ups and downs, as we all should.

My personal nutritional choices are designed to maintain what I have – to fuel and support my muscle, to keep me healthy, and at a healthy – and MANAGEABLE – weight for myself.  The second we get unrealistic, that’s the second we lose the battle.

So having these statistics more available – and visible – when we need a snack in a pinch, is a wonderful thing.  I wouldn’t want to tally ad infinitum (personal choice, again based on my background) but I DO like to have a sense of the nutritional profiles of the vending machine selections – in this way I can make the best choices possible based on my goals.  Hopefully this will encourage others to choose cleaner options as well – the fuel we take it does make a difference, especially the kind we choose consistently. 

 

Updated Nutritional Labels

This article from Hungry Girl regarding updates to nutritional labels just came my way, and I actually saw the revamped format yesterday on hummus…with a much larger-than-normal, bold-faced font for the caloric numbers.

fda.gov image

I don’t count my calories, let me be clear – for me, that’s a surefire way to get into trouble.  Having had eating disorders once, I have the propensity to micromanage to the hilt when it comes to food.  Nowadays I take the much healthier approach of NOT counting or keeping track.  I DO, however, take note of the nutritional statistics – eating highly caloric foods, even healthy ones (think: avacado, nuts, salmon etc…) can add up on me quickly. So I appreciated being able to see the numbers more clearly without having to search.  

fda.gov image

The other cool thing about the change is that the serving sizes are being updated to a “more realistic” amount, AND the FULL amount (what’s in the package or container) will be listed. Portions can make a massive difference!

fda.gov image

The other major change will be that the added sugar will be more clear – sugar is bad news, period, and too much can cause a whole host of health problems you definitely don’t want. Yay for being able to seeing those details more vividly – the more educated we all can be, the more healthy also!

The Gratitude In Overcoming Difficulty

I can be far too hard on myself at times.  It’s landed me in precarious and damaging situations, so much so that I am not only more aware of it – all this time later in Life! – but, despite slipping, I am also more willing to work hard to get to the root of it.  (I’m blessed to have the support in so doing also – that makes a world of difference.) Doing so, however, means being more vulnerable, but it’s a necessary part of growth and overcoming hardship – it takes (often uncomfortable) work to get to the other side!  

screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-2-32-35-pm

I’ve come a long way, and weathered storms like most human beings (after the age of three!) and it’s important I remember that… It’s important for all of us to remember where we have been, what we have accomplished, and that we have more strength than we think – because it’s so easy to forget and beat ourselves up. 

It’s also important to remember that we are works in progress. Recovery is a journey – It doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes you can sail through the day, and others requires a moment at a time. 

screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-2-31-38-pm

What NEVER slips my mind, though, is how grateful I am.  No matter my flaws, my moods, my “humanness”…not a day goes by that I am unaware of how blessed I am to be healthy, and to be alive.  

I remember that time I fell down the stairs, and had trouble with my legs buckling every so often – my body was eating the muscle from the inside out and I could no longer support my weight at times. 

I remember waking up with eyes so swollen – one of many effects of hyponatremia – that I actually staggered back, not recognizing the stranger staring back at me.  I stared into a reflective abyss confused, terrified, and wholly unable to see myself.  What HAPPENED..?

I remember when getting coffee and adding something to it – even a drop of skim milk – felt like an impossible hurdle. 15 extra calories? Not then

So when someone offers a kind word – whether of support of my lifestyle or some result of it…or simply asks for health or fitness advice – I feel it profoundly.  At times I even want to cry because I am not only touched and honored, but I know what it’s like to NOT have health, to watch myself dying a slow and painful death. . .and what it took to get where I am today.  (I am, incidentally, choked up with tears even writing this now…all this time later.)

img_0526

To be active and fit is a gift I will NEVER take for granted. Not only in remembering my own experiences, but knowing those without the fortune to walk or speak or see. . .my eyes have been opened in a such a way that I cannot UNsee.

I am thankful to each and every person who takes the time to encourage, to ask for help, to offer a kind word – you motivate and inspire me just as much, if not more so.  I work incredibly hard at it, and try my best…but I fail plenty too.  

To know I’ve potentially lifted one other person – even if only temporarily – is an honor.  It reminds me that my suffering was not in vain, and that I can give so much more having known it.

With gratitude. . . 

 

Traveling Nutrition IV

I’m always amazed – and sincerely touched – by the support of social networks from like-minded but total strangers.  We all have different goals, needs, and circumstances…but it’s neat to see the general camaraderie surrounding the broader aim to stay healthy, and make good choices for ourselves.  I posted a few photos from a recent trip and was touched by how many folks even cared.

I’ve enumerated at length how utterly terrifying traveling used to be for me – the eating disorders that accompanied my PTSD made leaving my parents’ home, at the time, nigh impossible – forget getting in a car for hours, or – god forbid – getting on a plane.

I worried about what I would eat, if I could eat, who would be eating what types a foods around me. . . The prospect was enough to launch a generally debilitating panic attack, so to be able to travel at all now…and with some ease…is a gift I never take for granted.

What makes it a TON easier is to have the support of those closest to me – I’m not sure where I’d be without it, to be honest.

img_0886

The most recent – a rather last-minute – trip was to a car show out in California.  Long flight, several hours in the car on both sides, and lots of fast food (that my stomach couldn’t handle if I wanted it to!) When I travel I always pack a plethora of snacks, but in this case, I brought extra.

The great news beyond that, though, is that SO many places have options – they may not be main menu options, but they do exist, you need only ask. Yes, even on the plane!

Protein can be a little tricky to travel with but there are packaged options that don’t need a refrigerator, such as turkey and chicken jerky, nuts, and tuna, chicken, or salmon packs. I get a few looks sometimes but I feel my best when I eat as close to my “usual” as possible so it’s all good. 🙂 

Whole fruits like apples and freeze dried version are a sweet option to tote along, as are pre-portioned snacks like peanut butter crackers. When out to dinner, fish and chicken prepared as simply as possible are great choices, along with veggies to fill you up.  One of the restaurants had a “salsa” as cocktail sauce with their shrimp and I actually used it as a salad dressing because it was so good, and had very little in it (versus a heavier dressing whose ingredients I’d be unable to decipher.) 

img_0854

As for airports there are lots of options hiding out – turkey slices or chicken breasts are generally available where sandwiches are made, salads are always available, fruit cups are offered at coffee bars and meal establishments…even boiled eggs can be found in some places as well (sometimes they are even in pre-packaged salads too!) It may be a mix and match but you can definitely find options that work.

img_0929

So don’t lose heart if you have to be on the road or away from your usual meals at home.  It is definitely doable to eat clean and to be satisfied – a few snacks in your bag can help when cravings hit, and most of the time a restaurant is MORE than happy to prepare something more simple.  Don’t be afraid to ask!

More Deliciousness

Staying Healthy When Eating Out

It is definitely possible to eat clean when you eat out – don’t let fancy menus intimidate you, peers pressure you, or options overwhelm!  

I’ve written tons of posts about eating at restaurants and on the road because the reality is…you aren’t always going to be in the safety of your own kitchen!  When you have goals – whether to lose weight, maintain fitness, optimize performance, compete…whatever – you know how important it is to stay clean.  Nutrition IS about 85% of it – let’s not kid ourselves.

Clean, however, doesn’t have to be boring!  Nor, equally important, does it have to leave you starving!  The whole idea is to set yourself up for SUCCESS, right?!

My family visited this weekend, and we had a three meals planned at restaurants – back in the day, that would have terrified me (having eating disorders is nothing short of being held hostage by delusional thoughts – it’s a living nightmare.)  Nowadays, I feel so blessed and thankful, not only that I can eat out and really enjoy it (sans anxiety!), but that my loved ones are supportive of my choices. ❤

One of our meals was in a restaurant that made Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives…so you can imagine, it wasn’t poised as the most healthy.  Still, ordering steamed shrimp, broiled fish (no oil, no butter), and plain, steamed veggies was a CINCH!  It was delicious, filling, and totally in line with my needs.

IMG_4105

IMG_4106

Dinner was at a fancier place, where richer dishes are commonplace.  But, again, easy-peasy – basic grilled fish, grilled vegetables, and an appetizer with plain crabmeat.  Clean, delicious, satisfying! 🙂

IMG_4102 

IMG_4101

IMG_4100

Breakfast was at a hotel…with an OUTRAGEOUS buffet! The majority of foods were ones that I don’t really allow on my meal plan, but there we also many healthy, wonderful options.  I ordered my usual poached eggs, snagged some boiled shrimp, and a bowl of fruit.  

I never like to eat too much in once sitting (I CAN, but I’d rather break it up – both because I know I can overdo it easily, but also my body can better assimilate the nutrients when I leave time in between.)

IMG_4118 IMG_4117

So what preparations should you look for / ask about when you find yourself at a restaurant?

  • Steamed
  • Grilled
  • Boiled
  • Broiled
  • No sauce, oil or butter (or on the side if you must)

Trust me, they have been asked before so DON’T be embarrassed.  Sticking to what works best for you…and, most importantly, leaves you feeling GOOD about you…is always okay!

For more food-related jazz…! 

 

Hungry Girl Cruise

So I’ve followed Lisa Lilien since she founded Hungry Girl back in the early 2000’s.  Having been through two eating disorders, as a result of PTSD, I was more mindful than ever about what I ate (to get WELL, that is.)  What I loved about Lisa’s blog was that she shared healthier options, but also kept things realistic.  She isn’t a nutritionist, but she likes to eat, she likes to eat on the healthier side of things, and she loves to share what she learns along the way.

I recently read that Hungry Girl is organizing a cruise with Royal Caribbean, aiming at January 2017.  I smiled because I DESPISE cruises.  There, I said it!  I know the many people love them but…I always felt uncomfortable about being confined to a space (albeit a large one!) with the predominant focus being on FOOD.  I mean…I have awesome willpower but let’s be honest…being surrounded by goodies makes it tough to have a good time – you feel this pressure to “be good” when all you see are delicious, not-so-healthy options!

But a cruise run by Hungry Girl?!  Holy smokes, that’s AMAZING!  The concept is one I absolutely love – for people who DO enjoy cruises, this offers them the opportunity to have the best of the islands, the onboard fun, AND healthy selections for their meals.  

All too often I hear people lament after a week-long vacation that they had “too much” and went “overboard” with the food.  Well…if this cruise comes to pass, you will not only have the great vacation you are looking for but you will also come home feeling great about yourself (and not overstuffed!)

Brilliant, Ms. Lilien!

If you want to chime in with feedback, go here.