Love Your Food Day #4: Showing All Foods Some Love

It’s day 3 of our Love Your Food series! How are you doing? Are you loving the food you eat today? Be sure to get caught up on Days 1-3 before reading today’s article.

Perhaps it was in a quest for organization that foods got divided into  “good” and “bad” categories. Unfortunately, the world of food things are typically not so black and white… unless you’re talkin’ beans of course, but that’s another story. The point is, the whole “good” food, “bad” food thing is just another food myth. While there are certainly foods that should be enjoyed less frequently and in smaller amounts, those said foods may still be beneficial to your meal plan. Not so much in a nutrient-rich way, but perhaps in an emotional, feel-good sort of way.

We’re taking a stance on food here, and declaring that ALL foods should be shown a little love.

Foods like deep-fried oreos, bacon wrapped hot dogs, and chicken ranch pizza, may not necessarily be considered “good” foods. They likely fall into the so called “bad” food category. However, if these foods top your foods to love list, there is no reason to not have them on the rare occasion. They may not provide much nutritionally, but they do provide something. Often the feeling of enjoyment, taste, and satisfaction. By allowing yourself to enjoy these indulgent treats every now and then, you’ll probably feel less deprived and more empowered because your food doesn’t control you. Instead, you intentionally place those foods on the back burner and look for other nutrient-rich foods to fill up the majority of your meal plan.

Cheeseburger

Just as there are “bad” foods out there with a bad reputation, there are also “good” foods that can be misleading. There are many foods labeled as “all natural“, “healthy”, and “low fat”. These do not necessarily mean these foods are good for you. An “all natural” or “low fat” food could be loaded with extra sugar, which means extra calories. There are other foods that are marketed as a “healthy” alternative that are often just as bad, if not worsethan the food they’re being substituted for.Instead of getting caught up in the food division war, focus on consuming nutritionally dense foods, and keeping consumption of foods that contain little nutritional value to a minimum. Is eating one deep-fried oreo going to instantly clog your arteries? Absolutely not.  Will eating pounds upon pounds of chia seeds make you the healthiest person of all time? Now that’s just absurd.  Although these are drastic examples, they prove a point, which is all foods are good foods as long as they’re consumed in moderation.

So go on and show all the foods you love some lovin’. Just don’t get carried away with any in particular. If you have a craving for something that’s not exactly healthy, go ahead and eat it. Just be sure to keep yourself in check and stop before eating that whole plate of deep-fried oreos.  Also keep in mind that having a diet based solely on a handful of “healthy” foods isn’t great either. It is essential to get a variety of nutrients, and therefore you must eat a variety of foods!

Day 3 Homework: Do you classify foods as good or bad? Instead, classify your foods as “everyday”, “sometimes” and “rare” foods. Start with your meal plan. How would you classify the foods on there? Are there any foods you incorporated this week not on your meal plan? Where would they fall?

 

Finding the Balance Between Sleep and Physical Activity

We’ve all been there before. It’s [insert ridiculously early time here] in the morning and you have to make the decision to sleep or workout. You’re comfortable  warm, and cozy in your bed. Waking up would not only require getting out of that comfort zone, but also missing out on valuable sleep.  On one hand, getting a morning workout in can provide energy to fuel you through your day. On the other hand, getting that extra sleep could also help to avoid the mid-afternoon caffeine binge.  So which do you choose?

Believe it or not, you don’t have to choose one over the other. All you have to do is follow a few simple steps and stay committed in order to feel fully rested and ready for your morning workout. The benefits of both sleep and exercise are well researched. Heck,  Google either one of them and you’re bound to find plenty of studies that support having a physically active lifestyle as well as maintaining healthy sleep hygiene. You don’t have to sacrifice one or the other. Living a truly healthy lifestyle consists of finding the right balance. That means choosing sleep over a workout when you truly are feeling sleep deprived, while also getting your butt out of bed on the days you’re feeling a little less motivated to do so. How do you go about finding this balance?

First, make sure you are committed to a healthy sleep routine. This means turning off electronics 30-60 minutes before bed, avoiding exciting and stimulating activities during this time as well, and maintaining a regular sleep cycle. Good sleep hygiene also includes keeping your room at a cool and comfortable temperature and avoiding the use of your bed as an area to work or watch television.  By making a commitment to maintaining a healthy sleep cycle, you’re preparing yourself to be in the best shape to become active. Because after all, everything’s easier when you’re not groggy and sluggish in the morning.

Once you have your zzz’s in a row, you’ll have the energy to make fitness a priority. Motivate yourself to workout in the morning by setting out your gym clothes, participating in a fun class with a friend, or setting your alarm across the room. Most of the time getting out of bed is half the battle. The first few days may be tough, but after sticking to the routine you’ll find that being active in the morning can help with motivation, concentration, and just generally being in a great mood all day long.

Instead of debating on which to choose, sleep or exercise, why not make a goal to include more of both in your life? Start by working on getting enough sleep, then move on to tackle becoming active. Above all, remember to focus on balance. Sometimes you just need that extra hour of sleep, and that’s okay. However, when you start choosing that snooze button over your physical health day in and day out, that’s when you need to start assessing which changes to make.

How do you stay motivated and energized through your morning workouts?

Prior Fat Girl is a blog written and maintained by Jen Emmert. Jen is one of Around the Plate’s Healthy Eating Champions and is a member of thePlate community. As a Healthy Eating Champion, Jen enjoys sharing her weight loss journey and building a community for other to be connected with those on a similar journey. Find other healthy eating champions, nutrition experts, and recipe gurus on our community blog network.

Eating Healthy While Traveling

People travel for all sorts of reasons. They may be taking a family vacation, traveling for work, or just visiting friends and family. While being on the road can be fun and all, it’s often difficult to eat a well-balanced diet when you’re always on the go.  Although sticking to a healthy diet may not be your primary concern if you’re taking a special trip or visiting a destination for the first time; it can often become a challenge if you travel on a pretty regular basis.

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice eating healthy just because you’re frequently on the go. Luckily, all you need is a little preparation and planning to ensure your health doesn’t take a hit when you set off on your next trip.

Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling

Pack Snacks. The key to avoiding unhealthy gas station foods or frequent trips to fast food restaurants, is to pack plenty of snacks to hold you over while on the go. Assorted nuts (preferably unsalted), dried fruits, jerky, and veggie chips are all great portable snacks. Fresh fruits like bananas, oranges, and apples are also convenient and nutritious. Vegetables like carrots, celery, or cauliflower are also great snacks to keep on hand.

Conscious Dining. Trying out new restaurants can be part of the fun while traveling, but you don’t have to let yourself completely go just because you’re on the go. Try to stick to something sensible; and no, this doesn’t mean you have to always have a salad, but it’s probably a good idea to pass on that double bacon cheeseburger.  If you want to order something that’s more on the indulgent side, why not eat half for lunch and save the other half for dinner?

Dining In. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a refrigerator while traveling, stick to dining in. Even if you can’t cook where you’re staying, there are still plenty of other options to make. Sandwiches, lettuce wraps, a variety of different salads, and fresh fruits and veggies can be great options. The key is to keep variety in the mix.  Don’t just eat the same ham and cheese sandwich each day. Try specialty breads, fruit for salad toppings, or  adding nuts to your pasta salad.

Jen from Prior Fat Girl knows that healthy hotel living is possible! So the next time you get ready to travel, try planning a little further beyond what you’re going to wear.  Go into your trip with a healthy eating plan in place, and be sure to stick to it.  Try to convince the people you may be traveling or staying with to make an effort to eat healthy as well. After all, everything seems easier with a little support.  Healthy eating on the go truly is possible.

What kind of tricks do you use to eat healthy while traveling?

Prior Fat Girl is a blog written and maintained by Jen Emmert. Jen is one of Around the Plate’s Healthy Eating Champions and is a member of thePlate community. As a Healthy Eating Champion, Jen enjoys sharing her weight loss journey and building a community for other to be connected with those on a similar journey. Find other healthy eating champions, nutrition experts, and recipe gurus on our community blog network.

 

Creamy Avocado Hummus

It’s football season and you know what that means- game day snackin’! Although there’s plenty of variety when it comes to a fully-loaded Super Bowl feast, game day and dips just seem to go hand in hand naturally.  Unfortunately, nutritious dips aren’t always the first to arrive at the party.  Thankfully there are plenty of healthified recipes that can serve as inspiration.  Christine’s serving up some ideas for game day low-calorie dips and spreads over on her blog, and we were inspired to join in on the party.  Allow us to present some creamy avocado hummus!

Creamy Avocado Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 can chickpeas (15.5 oz), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt (depending on desired creaminess)
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 dash of ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. That's it! This recipe is quick, easy, and delicious. The fact that it's actually good for you too makes this dip a total touchdown!
http://aroundtheplate.org/creamy-avocado-hummus/

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are loaded with fiber, protein, and iron. With added protein from the Greek yogurt, this dip will surely  fuel you through all the game day fun. Although avocados get a bad rap, they’re actually a nutrient powerhouse. They’re packed with  heart-healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin K, folate, and vitamin C.  Adding avocado to your diet helps support cardiovascular health, optimizes absorption of carotenoids (antioxidants), and also has anti-inflammatory effects, among several other health benefits.

Creamy avocado hummus pairs well with whole wheat pita bread, pretzel thins & veggies. It’s also a great addition to any game day sandwich! What will you be serving up this Super Bowl?

Oatmeal in My Bowl is a blog written and maintained by Christine McCarthy. Christine is one of Around the Plate’s Healthy Eating Champions and is a member of thePlate community. As a Healthy Eating Champion, sharing about some of her favorite things- oatmeal, yoga, hiking, and veggies. Find other healthy eating champions, nutrition experts, and recipe gurus on our community blog network.

 

Intern Elizabeth’s New Year’s Resolution: To Become More Organized

Need a little help setting a resolution that will last this year? We’re here to help! Throughout the month we will be sharing healthy resolutions from our team members, community members, and a few nutrition and health experts along the way. Want to share your New Year’s resolution with us? Send us your answers to the questions below and we’ll share your resolution with the rest of the Around the Plate community!

Many of you probably already know Intern Elizabeth. She has been with Around the Plate for quite some time.  What you might not know is that Elizabeth wears many hats. In addition to being a part of our team, she is also a community coordinator for Chobani Champions. Between the two, she talks about food and health a lot! Yet even Elizabeth has many health-oriented goals she would like to tackle. We asked her to share her 2013 resolution with us, and this is what she had to share:

AtP: This year, my resolution is to:

Elizabeth: To become more organized- specifically in my bedroom, but hopefully in all areas of my life as well.  I like to think of my current organizational methods as “organized chaos”, which is not ideal in any way.  I’m organized enough to know where something is, and by where I mean I know which pile of chaos it has been piled into.  The shirt I want to wear to work?  It’s in the pile of unfolded laundry sitting on a chair.  That important document I need? Piled with incoming mail and other important documents that have been shoved in a box under my bed.  You get the picture.

AtP: Do you expect to encounter any obstacles in achieving your New Year’s Resolution? How do you plan to overcome them?

Elizabeth: Oh heck yeah!  If it were easy, I’d be organized by this point in my life!  My problem is that I’ll take a large chunk of time to organize everything, and then as life gets chaotic and busy (as it always seems to at some point), order and organization are the first things to go.  I plan to overcome this by setting aside 15-30 minutes each night to organize an area of my life.  If I break up the organization into smaller tasks, it won’t feel like such a daunting task.  Plus, this way things will stay organized for longer periods of time.

AtP: What’s your first step towards achieving your goal this year?

Elizabeth:  The first step would be to take one day of the weekend to thoroughly go through all unorganized parts of my life and get organized.  This may not seem like a fun way to spend the weekend, but if I start out with a ‘clean slate’, then 15-30 minutes each night should be more than enough time to organize new things that come up.

AtP: How do you plan to keep yourself accountable? Do you have an accountability partner?

Elizabeth: I plan to keep myself accountable by regularly inviting my friends over- maybe to stay for dinner or just as a place to meet up before embarking on our adventures.  Seriously, is there anything more motivating to stay clean and organized than the thought of someone else seeing your chaotic mess?  I will ask some of my close friends to make plans on a weekly basis and to be sure to stay on my case if my room is looking anything less than organized.  I’ll even have them check the closet to make sure I didn’t just pile up my chaos in there. (Yes I used this trick several times as a child before my mother caught on).

AtP: What advice do you have for someone else who is looking to set a New Year’s resolution?

Elizabeth: Be sure to set S.M.A.R.T goals!  After all, a resolution really is a goal, isn’t it?  In order to measure your success and know when you have truly achieved your resolution, be sure to make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Risky (not what you may think), and Time-sensitive.  Instead of making a resolution of, for example, “losing weight”, be sure to indicate how much weight you would like to lose, a timeline for losing this amount of weight, and how you will go about losing the weight.  Be realistic.  If you set the goal to lose 50 pounds in a month, not only would this be an unhealthy amount of weight to lose in that period of time, but you may also get very discouraged considering that this resolution would be very unrealistic.  Be sure to also take chances though, and to push yourself to grow.  Achieving a resolution that doesn’t really force you to push yourself and change isn’t any better than failing at an unrealistic resolution.