by Emma Hammond 0 comments
3 Meals a Day + 2 Snacks
6 Small Meals a Day
3 Meals + 1 Snack
3 Square Meals a Day
Eating every 2 hours..
No food after dark..Yes I have experimented with them all! Back in the day I would hear the newest guru promoting the magic number of meals you should eat each day for forever fast fat loss & jump on board. "You should eat every 2 hours to stoke your metabolism"! Of course that makes sense! "Breakfast is a must", well duh! "Don't eat 4 hours before bed?" or "Have snacks between every meal". They all can make sense in a well presented article if the author does a great job selling the idea. And that's not to say they are all wrong.But IS there a optimal amount of snacking you should do to lose weight? YES THERE IS! The magic meal plan is out there & perfect for you. What is it? Easy, whatever works for YOU & you can stick to! I have seen ALL of these formulas work for fat loss success. Ultimately the best plan is what fits within your lifestyle, keeps your hunger, energy & cravings in check & makes you feel good.So how do you know what will work best for you? Let's look at a few common snacking slip ups to see if you fall into any of these categories:
Common Snacking Snafus:
- Eating Pre-Packaged Junk Food: if you are someone on the go, hates to plan ahead or pack nutrient dense options then snacking may not be for you. People's who's only options (whether options by what they WILL eat or has readily available) are bars, crackers, chips & other lower quality foods then it might be time to rethink their snack game.
- Overeating on "snack foods": a few crackers with hummus or a handful of nuts? Eh that didn't really satisfy so let me grab another handful or two. These foods can be super easy to overdo the portions & end up calorically adding up to an extra meal or two per day. If you find that a small snack never actually happens, might be time to try a new method.
- Forcing Smaller Meals to Includes Snacks: I find from a psychological perspective, the 5-6 small meals or snacks approach can be a real negative for certain people. These tiny meals never really fill you up or provide satiety. So instead you fixate on waiting another 2-3 hours for the allowed snack, leading to a constant state of hunger & food fixation. That's not a physically or mentally healthy amount of energy to expend on food.
- Using For Non-Hunger Needs: We often start to use snacking as a way to soothe stress, boredom, sleepiness, frustration or lack of energy in the office. A bandaid to cover up the underlying issues never fixes the problem.
Tips to Avoid Unhealthy Snacking:
- Eat Bigger Meals: if you are snacking on bad options out of hunger, why not try adding some extra staying power to breakfast or lunch. Experiment with meal size to cut out the physical need to fit in that mid-day munching.
- Determine the Cause: keep a journal & start paying attention to when you snack, what you choice & the why behind it. If it's a none hunger related decision, brainstorm alternative options to begin implementing in place of food.
- Exercise Induced: overdoing cardio or other excessive exercise can wreck havoc on hunger signals. I find the incessisent hunger a big warning signs that fitness may be interfering with your hormones. If this sounds like you, I would take time to re-evaluate your regimen to consider if it's the culprit of your unhealthy eating practices.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Stop looking for other gurus to tell YOU what works for your body or lifestyle . That means you have to put in a little work & self experimentation to find the answers. Tough I know BUT it's also way more satisfying & sustainable.
Tell me your BIGGEST struggle with trying to optimize your meal timing?
Scrolling through my own Instagram page I noticed the large trend in many of my meals being what I fondly call a BAS. Aka a big ass salad. They are a staple in my diet & one of my daily DEAL breakers I have written about previously. They are an easy way to get in a big dose of veggies (yay micronutrients!), have a lot of volume (which is needed for someone who enjoy a larger quantity of food to feel satisfied) & make me take the time to sloowwww down for lunch. BUT I will admit that I don't always have time mid-day to spend 30 minutes chopping, sautéing, mixing or whatever appears to be needed for a satisfying salad. SO I wanted to share a few of my quick cheats to having everything needed ready & waiting for assembling so you too can enjoy a daily BAS.CHEAT #1: Protein - Save Small Dinner Extras OR Prep a Little MoreWe often cook a meal & just have a little bit of extra meat leftover. For example when my husband grills a few chicken breast, I often eat 1/2 or 2/3 of a piece because the serving was quite large for me. I save that extra bit, throw it in tupperware & toss is on a salad for lunch. When I am thinking a little more ahead I simple toss on an extra chicken breast or two & use it throughout the week.This is an example (nope not glamour shot of how I eat but real) of how this weeks salad toppers are looking:Sunday Dinner: We cooked grassfed burgers & I saved an extra to be used as a lettuce wrap this week.Monday Dinner: We grilled a flank steak that was around 1lb. We each had our share that night & there was a nice serving leftover which will be delicious for lunch on Wednesday. Heck I will probably just recreate the salad we ate that evening, as it turned out awesome!Monday Meal Prep: We did a little bit of meal prep on Monday, as it was a holiday weekend. Chicken was on sale so we cooked the 3 pack for him to use for 2 lunches plus enough left for me to use for 2 as well. Easy peasy!Forgot to cook? No problem. These are a few additional no cook protein options for salads that we keep on hand. Canned tuna, salmon, hard boiled eggs or quality deli meat can be easy options as well. Note: Beans such as black, chickpeas, lentils & so on are really more of a carbohydrate source. However if I am only have a small portion of meat leftover I enjoy adding some extra eggs, cheese & even beans to supplement the source of protein. Plus a little variety never hurts!CHEAT #2: Buy a Variety of Package Greens OR Pre-Wash Ahead:I love the idea of buying a beautiful head of lettuce from the farmer's market to use for my salad bases during the week. But I'll be 100% honest, I can be LAZY & hate washing greens. If I wash them too far in advance, they go bad quickly. If I wait until I am ready to eat, I get busy or don't feel like taking the time to clean. Therefore I go grab another food that is more convenient. So instead I bite the bullet, pay a little more & eat the pre-washed organic greens. I enjoy a variety to mix & match so it makes each meal a little different. Super simple but quite effective. CHEAT #3: Easy Flavorful ToppingsThere are days I have plenty of time to chop veggies to eat raw or cooked in my salads. On a Tuesday at 1pm with 30 minutes to eat, that's not going to happen. Therefore I stash a variety of easy salad toppings that add different textures, flavors & nutrients for a well balanced salad I actually WANT to eat.I do work to add as many VEGGIES first, then a small amount of fruit (with preference of fresh over dried). My next toppings include a satiating mix of healthy fats:I am MINDFUL of the portions used when I toss in a mix of nuts, seeds, cheeses, olives & avocado but I always include a serving of dietary fat in my meal. Why? These add much needed nutrients for brain function, skin health & tons of other key functions in our bodies. Not to mention they create a sense of satiety to keep you fuller, longer between meals.CHEAT #4: Easy Salad Dressings Made Ahead of TimeI won't pretend to not have a bottle or two of pre-made salad dressing in my fridge. I am careful to check the ingredients to include the shortest list possible with no gross corn syrups or added sugars/sweeteners. All common in many "light" dressing many deem as healthier options. However I prefer to either make 1 salad dressing on a Sunday to store in the fridge or simple toss a little vinegar, oil, salt & pepper on top & call it a day. A few of my favorite clean go to's include:Nothing fancy here & all are easy pantry staples to match a variety of salads. My favorite dressing is a mix of lemon juice, red wine vinegar, dijon, olive oil, salt & pepper. Sorry I totally don't measure but don't be scared to mix, taste & balance to your palate preference. However no guilt if you must use a pre-made dressing. Just take the time to read your ingredients & make a more educated choice for your goals.Takeaways:Don't overcomplicate the meal by thinking you have to create a new gourmet salad every day of the week. Follow this simple formula, pick a "theme" for the week & start with making the goal of included 2-3 BAS this week:
- BASE OF GREENS: PRE-PACKAGED READY TO GO
- PRE-COOKED PROTEIN: LEFTOVERS ARE GREAT, COOK ONCE & EAT ALL WEEK
- CHOOSE YOUR TOPPINGS: MIX OF ALL THE VEGGIES YOU LIFE + A FEW SPECIAL INGREDIENTS (INCLUDING HEALTHY FATS, FRUIT & EVEN CARBS LIKE QUINOA OR SWEET POTATOES)
- DRESSINGS: MAKE 1 HOMEMADE OPTIONS FOR THE WEEK OR KEEP A CLEAN OPTION ON HAND
I decided to start this Nutrition Roadblock Series to address the most common barriers to achieving your sustainable healthy weight that I hear across clients, friends & have personally experienced along the journey. This first topic is near & dear to my heart because I think anyone that's been in a relationship or marriage has struggled with it.My first year dating my husband was amazing! Ok yes I'm going to go all cheese ball on you but bare with me for a moment. We met via a run group going on 5 years ago now, a healthy activity right? Absolutely! But during our courtship we ran a few miles, followed by wine & dining ourselves across most of the restaurants in Savannah. For me, I had been living by myself for several years, mostly ate at home, drank only on occasion & definitely did not indulge in dessert on a nightly basis. Yet I found myself digging into the appetizer he wanted to order. Always finishing my entree just because he did. And definitely enjoying that extra glass of wine we ordered over a shared dessert to end the evening. All super romantic right? Well yes but 10lbs or more later, I was not feeling like myself or good in my body. And what about him? Yea he hadn't changed a bit. Men...After a year of dating we moved in together. I was still very much struggling to both fit in to old jeans & say no to the extra servings at dinner or dining out on a daily basis. It wasn't fair! We both ran, I went to the gym far more frequently then he did & yet even switching to more salads still wasn't making the impact on my waistline I wanted. I wasn't at an unhealthy weight by any stretch & he still thought I looked amazing, but that wasn't the point. I didn't feel good in my skin, I wasn't listening to what my body needed, I didn't stop eating when I was full or not eat when I simply wasn't hungry. It was definitely a learning curve I had to work on.So what did I do? Baby steps:
1. Communication: Yes it was uncomfortable for me to admit & I didn't want to sound like that girl saying I was fat to get a compliment. But I got 100% honest with my husband about how I was feeling & what I needed from him. I told him that constantly going out to eat was a struggle for me, that when I first said no I don't want dessert it made it hard when he insisted & that most of all I needed his support to get back to feeling my best! Also important to note, I did not BLAME him! I am responsible for my own actions & while I wanted his support, ultimately I put the food in my own mouth.
2. Evaluate: I started writing down what I ate every day to become more mindful. I used a journal to not only note what I ate, but how I felt before & after. Was I hungry or stressed when I ate? Did I say "sure I could eat" just because he asked? Did I refill my plate automatically when he did, even if I was satisfied. I worked on making notes without judgement or even making changes. I just needed to become more aware of where the problems were so I could fix it.
3. Action: It was time to take steps to slowly make better choices for ME & my needs.
~ Clean Out: first I emptied the house of any junk food that tempted me. That made the nightly ice cream habit much easier to ditch. How did my husband react? He didn't really care if it made me happy. Happy wife, happy life yes?
~ Portions: I realized my portion sizes had become as big as my husbands. That is a problem because reality is ladies, we don't have the same energy needs as our bigger male counterparts. It may feel unfair but that's a fact that's not going to change. I began eating off salad size plates as opposed to his dinner plates. Smaller bowls for soups & such. That easy swap made a HUGE difference right off the bat!
~ Dining Out: I instituted Sunday meal prep. It's wasn't the meal prep that was so important as it was taking the time to sit with my husband & discuss the week ahead. We each voiced our goals & how we could support each other. We each had a say in what meals we would make that we enjoyed & didn't leave us running for take out because we had no food in the house.
~ Simple Swaps: There were plenty of nights my husband had a specific craving that didn't really fit within my perimeters for MY nutrition needs. I got efficient at make simple swaps to keep up both happy! Spaghetti? Sure! I just may use spaghetti squash or zoodles over regular noodles. He wanted rice? No problem, I had the option of making cauliflower rice or simply doubling up on the veggies. And if he needed to go all out pizza mode, I'm a grown woman & did my own damn thing.I never went into crazy diet mode, made him feel limited & didn't beat myself up over the occasional overindulgence. Over time I started to feel better, became more in touch with my bodies hunger signals & this became our new normal. Yes, I am lucky to have a supportive spouse who is pretty patient with my needs. Not everyone does & maybe that's a red flag that needs to be considered. But I have found in most cases, a lack of honest communication & support it the problem.Couples can be each others best friends in a health journey or worst enemies. So get real with each other! Focus on the WHY behind the need to clean up your dietary intake. Is it to look good in skinny jeans (which is fine!) or to set a healthy household example? Also consider if you are being the best spouse you can be or are you just as guilty of instigating unhealthy habits. I think we have all convinced our significant other to join in on our treat to make ourselves feel less guilty. Work on changing your own habit first to be the best spouse you can be. A strong healthy team can be unbreakable!Do you struggle with mirroring your significant others eating?
In the gym, I am a big fan putting in the hard work, embracing the process & truly believe that trying to take shortcuts won't get me results! In the kitchen however, I am always seeking ways to be a bit lazy while still getting what I want. If I can skip a step or two, fine by me!! As long as the end result tastes good I am all about it.I am also relatively cheap in my grocery shopping. Don't get me wrong, I spend money on quality ingredients such as organic meats, eggs & certain veggies. Yet I still want my budget to stay on the lower side so I am often looking for ways to utilize every last bit of what I buy. I HATE throwing out food, which often leads to a bit of...creativity in the kitchen? Or as my husband call it, my special concoctions. Luckily for you this isn't that type of recipe.We found top sirloin steaks on sale at Whole Foods on Sunday & decided to cook those up but wanted a sauce to go with. We both enjoyed a chimichurri sauce at a restaurant recently & decided to give that a go. Which meant buying a big bunch of parsley, cilantro & oregano. Yes I should start growing my own herbs but I struggle with black thumb syndrome. AKA I am too damn lazy to water them daily..Instead of wasting 1/2 a bunch of each herb we doubled the recipe & ended up with a ton of sauce. We knew we didn't want steak every night this week so my brain began wondering how to reuse the extra. I saw a packet of chicken breast in the freezer & decided that would be a perfect vehicle for meal #2. This sauce is quite versatile, super easy to throw together & filled with whole food ingredients.Basic Chimichurri Recipe:
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
- 3-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or minced
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Combine vinegar, 1 tsp. salt, garlic, shallot, and jalepeno in a medium bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, parsley, and oregano. Using a fork, whisk in oil. Remove 1/2 cup chimichurri to a small bowl, season with salt to taste, and reserve as sauce.*Adapted from Bon Appetit recipe.*
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
It's easy to find yourself sneaking a bite off your child's plate or adding an extra scoop onto the dinner plate most evenings. Seems innocent enough right? Yet over the course of a day, week & month those extra servings can add up & take away from the hard work you are doing in the gym. In our supersized food world it's easy to lose site of what a reasonable serving size is. Over the past several decades, the portion sizes served at restaurants have more than doubled, not to mention that whole clean your plate mantra has managed to stick around. Leaving most people walking away from each meal feeling overly stuffed & rather uncomfortable.This is one of the first mindful eating practices I address with new clients, as well as re-evaluate once a plateau has hit in their progress. I personally get in the rhythm of buying healthy food & cooking recipes I know are good for my goals. What I can struggle with is not overdoing the amount I put on my plate! Unfortunately healthy foods can also be over consumed & interfere with our goals too. Not to mention I don't enjoy stepping away from the dinner table with a full uncomfortable belly.Fortunately there are a few quick ways to check your mindful eating habits & adjust accordingly. Here are my top 5 recommended self check ins when you find your portion sizes may be sabotaging your health.Fix Portion Distortion with 5 Simple Solutions:
- Swap out the dinner plate for a salad plate. We often fill up whatever plate we use to look visually appealing & satisfying. If we only fill that huge 12 inch plate 1/3 of the way we feel deprived & as though we are "dieting" with tiny meals. Simply swapping out the oversized dinner plate for a smaller but very reasonably size salad plated can make a huge difference in our intake. This easy swap made a HUGE difference in my nutrition & I find the same in most clients. Yes it's mostly a mind game tweak but I dare you to try it & not see a difference!
- Balance your ratio of veggies, protein, carbs & fat. This approach has been super successful with clients who were reluctant to remove certain favorite foods, such as mom's mac & cheese from their meal plan. By simply re-balancing the way they plated up meals without altering food choices left them feeling full, satisfied & kept them from feeling deprived of their favorites. It's a great place to start if you are still trying to dial in the food selection part! How to?
- Begin with 1/2 a plate of non-starchy veggies (salads, sauteed veggies, mashed cauliflower)
- Then 1/4 plate of your protein (chicken, fish, eggs, pork & so on)
- Finally 1/4 plate of starchy vegetables or carbohydrate (sweet potato, rice, risotto & such) It makes a big difference restructuring your meals from a 3/4 of a plate full of bread & mac & cheese to 1/2 plate of veggies, a 1/4 plate of roasted chicken & only 1/4 plate of mom's mac & cheese. Again start where you are!
- Break out the measuring utensils instead of eyeballing, especially when it comes to healthy fats. The scoop of peanut butter grows, extra oil thrown in the pan, 1/4 an avocado becomes 3/4, the pat of butter becomes 2-3, a palmful of nuts becomes a handful...ok you get the idea. I love healthy fats & they are a must have in our diet. In fact many people under consume the healthy forms but that's an issue for another post.This is again about being mindful of our serving size & let's be honest, how easy is it to throw back in extra serving or two of salted cashews? Keep this in check by measuring out a serving size to have a better grasp on what that looks like. No you don't have to weigh & measure every ounce you eat, but having a visual idea is a great reminder.
- Eating like your significant other or those around you. I'm going to throw this in from personal experience & one of my most common issues women especially encounter. Ladies, the unfair reality is our loving spouses need to eat more food then us. Yes they can even often get away with that extra serving, frosty beer or scoop of ice cream that seems to immediately go to your waistline when you do the same. When I first moved in with my husband, my portions began to match his for all of our shared meals. If he got seconds, I did too. He wants to go for fro-yo, sure let's do it. Unfortunately I am smaller & don't have the same nutritional needs & metabolic rate he does. Does it SUCK? Yes, but so did that extra 10lbs I put on that year. You have to adjust accordingly for your own individual needs. *Insert sad violin playing here*
- Liquid calories count. Just because you can fit 1/2 a bottle of wine in one glass, doesn't mean you just had a single serving. Sorry...but true...yes I have tested just for accuracy. Depending on the who you are & what are your goal type guidelines, a little booze can fit into a balanced diet. However that nightly glass of wine is often far bigger than the 5oz pour or 1.5oz tossed in a mixed drink. Don't fool yourself by ignoring the serving size of those adult beverages. Again stay mindful & make sure your choices reflect your goals.
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
The day has come in which you've decided enough is enough, it's time to get healthy. Monday morning starts day one of the new you!You clean out the pantry, throw out the donuts, set your alarm for 5am spin class & you are ready to go! This new diet is going to be awesome & in a month you'll drop all the weight gained over the past few years.You even have your first cheat meal planned out & can't wait to dive into a juicy burger, fries & soda. You can deal with this temporary healthy eating for just a month right?.....In full disclosure I have absolutely said all those things, made the proclamations & thrown out all the junk food. I've promised to hit the gym every day until a given date, no excuses allowed! Guess what? It usually lasted until around noon on Monday when my belly started growling & I rationalized eating a greasy sandwich because "I worked out this morning". I can truly say this approach never once worked for me. Even if I did stick to a perfectly crafted plan, the second I was stuck in a social situation or unplanned circumstance, it became all or nothing. I usually went all in with the standard mindset of "well I already blew my diet, so might as well eat all the food".Either I ate the cheese dip appetizer, enchiladas & margarita or I would sip on water & politely pretend to not be hungry. Funny how there isn't an in between allowed. Well after years of feeling like a failure I decided to try something new. What could it hurt?Don't get me wrong, there are a few people that can flip the switch on bad habits & truly overhaul their lifestyle. Yet I'd say 9 out of 10 times that isn't the case & most people succeed by taking baby steps over an extended amount of time. If you have been struggling with healthy eating (whatever that definition may mean to you) or exercise for health these are a few tips to making small changes for long term results.1. Mindset: I really believe mindset is the biggest piece to the puzzle. You can buy all the clean food, hire a trainer & check off all the boxes on the way to skinny. However if your goals aren't internally motivated by something more than skinny jeans, it's unlikely you'll sustain the change. Instead take a hard look at:
- Why it's so important to you to make a lifestyle change: low energy, can't play with kids, getting sick often, feeling uncomfortable in your own skin or preventative health? Find what matters in the big picture of life as opposed to short term aesthetics. Write that down to remind yourself when times get hard & motivation is low.
- How long did it take you to put on weight or lose fitness capacity: taking a look at how you got here in order to set up realistic expectations for goals along the way. If you don't deep down believe you can achieve a goal that you set too high, you will make a half-hearted attempt before giving it up.
- What are the barriers to success you've encountered in previous attempts: so you've tried this diet thing before & tripped over the same stumbling blocks. Learn from that!! It's the best thing we can get out of our failures is to learn so we don't repeat. Figure out what keeps getting in the way of your much deserved healthy & happiness in order to work on ways to overcome.
- Don't label foods as good or bad, or completely off limits for life. As soon as we give food that kind of power it consumes us. Instead decide you are CHOOSING not to eat a few foods for now, as they are not going to help you achieve your goals. Again go back to the internal reasons such as "eating this isn't going to allow me to chase my kids around the park without huffing & puffing". Not "I'm not allowed to eat this because I'm on a diet". See the difference? None of your favorite foods are being ripped off the shelves forever, take away the desperation & know they are always there for a better time in your journey.
- Do stick to foods you already eat, enjoy & know how to prepare. I'm not saying don't try new foods! Of course you should for a multitude of reasons. However start with simplicity. Don't plan to cook a fancy kale dish with 20 ingredients when you know you don't have time or the interest in lots of cooking. Instead make simple swaps to your current diet & incorporate new methods over time. Currently eating a burger with fries every night? Try simply dropping the bun to start with. Like broccoli & eat it frequently already? Sub the fries for a vegetable you enjoy. Small changes add up! Once you start to succeed you'll feel more than capable of additional upgrade.
- Make quantifiable goals, not general statements. For example with a client last week I asked what his nutrition goal was for an upcoming business trip? He said to drink less beer. I simply replied that's a great goal, how much beer is "less"? He was slightly disgruntled with having to give an actual number but it's really important. We can always justify "less" or i'll do "better". But what does that actually mean? As I can certainly rationalize that I drank less wine then I did at that one dinner which I don't remember much of the evening... Yea that doesn't mean I succeeded in my goal.
- Walk more. Yep this one is direct. I have so many people tell me walking doesn't matter much & isn't strenuous enough to make a big difference. Well that is completely wrong my friends. Daily movement can make a huge difference! If you are out of shape then that 30 minutes a day of walking is the perfect place to start.
- Try something new! Don't like running? Stop forcing it! You may not be enthusiastic about starting a fitness routine when you are out of shape or are feeling self conscience about your body. However there are so many different ways to get fit that I encourage everyone to try new activities. Hell dance in the living room for 20 minutes a day if that makes you happy & raises your heart rate. It's a start!!
- Schedule fitness like it's any other appointment. Again don't just say I'll exercise "more". What does that mean. Start with realistic goals of a few days a week, write it on your calendar or Google whatever & check it off when accomplished. We set aside time for work, kids, laundry, tv & so much other daily tasks yet aren't prioritizing health that allows us to do those things. Stop letting exercise be an if I have time endeavor. Your too important for that!
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Fireworks, sunshine & finger food galore! Time flies & somehow the 4th of July weekend is only a few days away. I personally love this holiday, as it's a wonderful time in history to celebrate & a great reason to throw a backyard bash! This means firing up the grill or bringing over a dish to mingle with friends over a large buffet of food & drinks.These types of weekends use to bring me major anxiety! Anytime I was working hard to stick to a healthy eating goal I would stress about what to eat & how I could avoid going overboard. As much self control as I thought I had acquired, there is always the table with 10 different desserts. How do you pick just one? Plus after a fruity cocktail or two my "oh well" attitude would slide in & my choices usually went downhill from there.Now that's not to say there is anything wrong with indulging a bit on a holiday weekend. To me it's all about who are you & what are your goals! How does that type of gathering effect your psychologically?- If you enjoy 2 slices of cake are you guilt ridden the next day or do you shrug it off & get back to your green smoothie for breakfast?- Are you at a healthy weight, active & just trying to maintain? Then maybe it's not something to even worry about. As you shouldn't go around feeling stressed about food choices if you already have healthy habits 85% of the time.- However if you are working towards a goal to lose weight for health reasons or really struggle with binge eating to the point of discomfort, then it's far more important to have some strategies going in.Again it's about what unique goals you have, not one size fits all. For me personally I don't mind an extra treat or two as long as I really enjoy them. I strive to eat mindfully & I not overdue it to the point of feeling sick. As we have all had that long lasting belly ache from ignoring our hunger cues & stuffing down an extra scoop of ice cream or two...oops!
1. Have a Plan: I don't mean you need to plan ahead every bite you are going to eat. Just having some goals going into the event will give you some parameters to work within. For myself, I may have the goal of sticking with 2 drinks while having a glass of water in between. I often share that goal with my husband to help hold me accountable. This at least helps to keep me mindful of my choices, slow down & enjoy what I am actually consuming. Other great goals may be to skip the one dish you know triggers less than healthy choices, only eat one carby side dish or choose one dessert. Even if your goal is to simply be mindful of when you are full, that may be a victory you will feel proud of!
2. Bring a Dish: I don't enjoy being stuck at a BBQ with all fried foods, mac & cheese or mayo filled potato salads. While some of those may be enjoyed, I do prefer having a fresh salad, veggies or fruit to snack on along the day. My solution? Bring what you enjoy eating! No one is going to complain about an extra dish on the table & often times the lighter fair becomes the hit of the party on a hot day. Choose a recipe you are excited to eat & not just another bland veggie tray. This will make you more likely to fill up on the good stuff & steer clear of foods that don't fit your goals.
3. Indulge in the Homemade: This is always a factor in my decision making process when I hit an event. There is a major flavor difference between the store bought 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies & that made from scratch delicious dessert. Why waste it on the foods you can grab from the store any day of the week? I am much more likely to sample a dish I know is phenomenal which I don't get the opportunity to eat often, versus the slightly stale cookie cake that's always available. In short...be picky!!!
4. Start the Day with a Workout: The reason I recommend starting the day with a workout is not about trying to burn off the extra calories you are planning to consume. As I'm not a big fan of working out to negate overdoing the eating. Guess what..that doesn't work! However the reason I love working out on a day I have a social gathering is I typically make better decisions. After a good workout in the morning I am more likely to focus on refueling my body for recovery & getting myself ready for the next. Therefore I naturally lean towards a few less drinks & a bit more healthy protein throughout the day. Plus I typically feel a bit better in the outfit I plan to wear after a good sweat session;)
5. Relax: We often get so wrapped up being afraid we might fail, that we set ourselves up for disaster. All that pressure is giving WAY too much control to the food around us. Look at your motivation, goals, have a plan & enjoy the experience. These events are about the people, fun & memories made along the way. Let the food stress take a backseat where it belongs!The good news? Fourth of July grilling can be both incredibly tasty & super nutritious! Why settle for one with you can have both. Check out a few of my favorite simple meal ideas plus recipes from around the web:Celebrate the 4th - Healthy Recipes:
Lettuce Wrap Burger: Enjoy all the goodness of a burger, just lighten it up by skipping the bun. Either grab a fork & go at it or stuff it in a crunchy lettuce wrap. Choose toppings like tomato, pickles, caramelized onions, mustard & a touch of ketchup to add tons of flavors without too much extra unhealthy fat.
Grilled Romaine Salad: Cut a whole romaine lettuce heart in half & toss on the grill flat side down. Get a quick char & top with fresh parmesan cheese plus a light drizzle of healthy caesar, balsamic or favorite salad dressing for a fun twist on a summer salad.
Chunky Greek Salad: I love this cool salad during the hot summer month. It has tons of flavor & textures that always makes it a huge party hit. I chop up chunky cucumber, grape tomatoes, sliced red onion, chunky feta, kalamata olives & an olives oil dressing with red wine vinegar. Salt & pepper to taste & you are ready to serve.
Fresh Cut Fruit + Yogurt Dip: Everyone wants a sweet treat so if you are trying to skip the heavy desserts, this is for you. Choose whatever fruit is in season (berries are my favorite) & serve with a side of vanilla greek yogurt. I love making my own dip by using plain greek yogurt & adding fun mix ins such as peanut flour, vanilla/almond extract & cocoa powder.
Lightened Up Mojito: I have a weakness for a fruity summer cocktail, especially the delicious mint mojito. The way I enjoy a lighter version is muddling mint, raspberries & stevia. Then adding club soda & vodka for a flavorful mixed drink that is a MUCH better choice than the high calorie super sugary margarita. PS mixed drinks can be anywhere from 300-800 calories PER DRINK. Don't waste all your hard work on one beverage.From the Web:
Healthy Salads, Sides & Such:
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
If you've read any of my blog post you will notice a trend. I am not a gourmet cook by any stretch of the imagination. I LOVE food, recipes, fine dining & all the foodie aspects of eating. However I absolutely lack the patience & skills to put together a fancy feast every night of the week. Instead I want to eat simple meals that I enjoy, are nutritious, satisfy my taste buds & don't stress me out to prepare.When going through my weekly meal planning routine I also look for versatility so we aren't locked into eating the exact same combo day in & day out. As I quickly noticed by the 4th day in a row of chicken, broccoli & brown rice, I am much more likely to suggest grabbing take out instead of the prepared food in the fridge. This is where I've found a basic slow cooker style chicken breast to be the perfect go to protein to incorporate into any meal. Also let's be real, who enjoys being very hands on cooking chicken? After being a vegetarian for almost 10 years (a topic for another day) I struggle to handle meat to intimately. Any options of from package to slow cooker with not handling in between is a win for me!These are a few super simple crockpot recipes to try out:
- Salsa or Salsa Verde Chicken
- 2lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (or thighs, I just prefer white meat)
- 2 Jars Favorite Salsa
- I added a tbsp of onion powder, minced garlic & cumin. Can omit if not on hand.
1. Add chicken & salsa to slow cooker.
2. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 4-6 hours until cooked through.
3. Remove from slow cooker & shred with forks. Add back to slow cooker with sauce.
Fajitas - saute onions, peppers & other vegetables. Add in chicken & serve atop a salad, lettuce or in a corn tortilla.
Rice Bowl - I love this chicken with the extra sauce atop a burrito style rice bowl. A simple layer of rice, black beans & chicken is quite hearty served with a basic side salad. Or as I usually do throw it all in a bowl with a dollup of plain greek yogurt on top!
Tacos - try a lettuce wrap or corn tortilla with a flavorful lime cabbage slaw (shredded cabbage, salt, pepper & lime juice) with diced tomato & sliced avocado.
- Basic Versatile Slow Cooker Chicken
- 2lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (or thighs, I just prefer white meat)
- 1tsp of salt & pepper.
- Splash of chicken stock or water, enough to line the bottom.
- I sometimes add 1/2 tsp of garlic powder & oregano if I'm feeling frisky.
1. Add chicken, stock, s&p to slow cooker.
2. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 4-6 hours until cooked through.
3. Remove from slow cooker & shred with forks. Add back to slow cooker with juices if desired. I usually shred the chicken & add a few splashes of fresh stock to maintain moisture.
Salads - Combos I love include:
- Spinach, chicken, feta, strawberries, walnuts & balsamic dressing.
- Cobb style chicken, hard boiled egg, gorgonzola, tomato & mustard vinaigrette.
Quesadilla, Tacos or Fajitas - to make a healthy meal balance the amount of fat, carb, vegetables & protein. Choose one carbohydrate source, aka either rice or a corn tortilla. Choose one serving of healthy fat, aka avocado or cheese (or 1/2 serving of each) & load up on lots of vegetables with the protein rich chicken.
Asian Stir Fry - any vegetables, rice if desired, tamari or stir fry sauce you enjoy (check ingredients). I love fibrous broccoli, cabbage & snap peas for a great mix of texture in this dish.
Omelets - fill up a an omelet with some extra protein! I love chicken, sundried tomato, spinach, basil & feta all sandwiched between a couple egg omelet. This is sure to hold you over all morning.
Other great ways to use: as a simple protein snack with cheese, a meat + 3 combo including your favorite healthy sides of sweet potato, asparagus or whatever floats your boat, add to a sauce to top pasta or zoodles & so many more!
What's your favorite slow cooker hack to have healthy meals all week?