Today, there are so many contradictory stories about food in terms of what is toxic and what is not. It can make your head spin faster than whatshername in The Exorcist. That’s the first movie I ever saw in a theatre. It traumatized me enough not to have to delve into details like names. Back to food that isn’t being spit up while your head is spinning 360 degrees.
My niece recently gasped, “There’s nothing to eat!” when the refrigerator and pantry in her home were full. I looked around and sure enough couldn’t find anything with any nutritional value in it. Sorry, sis.
That’s when I told her about the basket.
I like to make anything worth learning fun for the whole family. If your eyes glaze over when you’re in the supermarket or you buy two hundred dollars worth of groceries only to find you have nothing to eat when you get home –pay attention. It’s all about THE BASKET.
The best advice I’ve ever received was from a nutritionist in La Jolla, California. I had gotten too thin (haters go away right NOW) because I wasn’t paying attention to my nutrition.
At the time, I loved coffee, which I no longer drink and I was not healthy.
That’s right, Miss Health Guru learned the hard way how to be healthy. It wasn’t on purpose. I was busy working, skipped breakfast and didn’t pay attention to what I was eating. When you do that it affects how you feel, look and behave. You need to pay attention if you want those three to be at their best.
It’s been 7 years since I’ve craved a cup of coffee or soda. I haven’t had either since then. I learned a funny thing happens when you get rid of unhealthy foods or beverages. After awhile your body doesn’t crave them and actually can sense they are unhealthy. Instead, your body craves healthy foods and beverages. The energy you received from caffeine is now replaced with a natural energy. Yes, our bodies have natural energy.
I always say if you can make one positive change for your health –only one –get rid of coffee and soda in your diet. Replace it with water.
It’s not easy. The first month is the toughest and anyone that lives with you will need to move out. But it will be worth it. You will feel unbelievable when it’s all out of your system.
Back to the basket. The nutritionist explained that I needed to to place my daily nutritional food intake into a basket. Not just any food, but food that contains the daily nutrients I need. It was a great visual for me. In fact, it works as a visual for kids, teens and adults. Visualize running in a field with your lovely healthy picnic basket.
In fact, go buy one or find one after you read this article. It has to be big enough to fit food. Small enough to fit inside your refrigerator. You can use two if needed. Each member of your family can have their own. You’ll need one with handles that fold or without handles. Don’t make it complicated. Just get one.
Every day, you are going to fill this picnic basket with the foods you will eat that day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. If you eat all the contents in the basket in the morning, you’re done. The key is spreading the foods out and drinking lots of water in between.
My basket contains eggs, whole wheat bread, butter, yogurt, chicken, fish, salad, fruits and vegetables, almonds, walnuts & more.
If you eat everything in the basket in the morning —you are eating too much. You’ll need to ask yourself what void you are trying to fill with food and deal with that. Most people don’t eat when they’re hungry. They eat when they’re anxious, nervous, depressed, lonely, sad, angry or bored. So, it will take some time get your system comfortable with eating when you’re hungry and creating a healthy tool box for those times you are feeling those other emotions. More on that later.
It will also take a little while to get used to spreading the food out, so you get 3 to 5 meals out of the basket that keep you energized all day. It’s nutrition that will energize your mind and body while keeping your hair and skin healthy and glowing. Teenagers love that and need that. Products sell them on this and it amazes me that food companies do not realize they could sell a lot more of their products if they focused on how good they will make people look and feel. Instead, they lie and tell you they are a cure for cancer, which makes the FDA go nuts. Speaking of nuts, walnuts are getting attacked right now. More on that later. Back to filling your basket with great foods, so you and your kids know what to eat every day.
Have fun loading up your basket. Grocery shopping shouldn’t be a chore. And you shouldn’t even be tempted by foods that look good, but will make you sick. There are people like that too (my next article will be on healthy relationships, so my next post will be on spotting losers and players), so aim for great quality in your basket instead of poor quantity.
We start with breakfast items. I’m a huge fan of cooking ginormous egg white omeletes with veggies in them in the morning. If you don’t have time, they sell egg white mixes you pour into a pan. So easy. Eggs in any style are a great source of protein, so I include eggs in my basket. Here’s an egg white omelet recipe that makes 4 servings and only takes 15 minutes.
- 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 plum tomatoes, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, all excess water squeezed out
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons water
- Nonstick cooking spray
In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, tomatoes, spinach and a pinch salt. Cook until the onion is soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add pepper, to taste, and another pinch salt; and cook for another minute. Remove the spinach mixture from the heat to a bowl. Cover and keep warm.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites, water, and a pinch salt and pepper until frothy. Lightly coat a medium nonstick skillet or omelet pan with cooking spray and heat the skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 of the egg whites, swirling to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. Cook until set, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Using a rubber scraper lift the eggs up and let the runny uncooked egg flow underneath. Spoon 1/4 of the spinach mixture onto half of the omelet, fold over, and slide onto a serving plate. Repeat with remaining egg whites and spinach mixture.
For dinner, I love making fish with lots of veggies scattered around it and spinach on the side. Any type of fish. High in protein and filling without making you feel full. Salmon is a favorite. Here’s an easy recipe for baked salmon.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Season salmon with salt and pepper. Place salmon, skin side down, on a non-stick baking sheet or in a non-stick pan with an oven-proof handle. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes.
I love asparagus as a side dish. Here’s an easy recipe.
Break any woody ends of the asparagus spears, and steam them gently on stove top until they are JUST tender. Place them in a bowl of cold water, then drain well. Chop spears into 3-4cm pieces and set aside.
Put about ½ a cup of strawberries to one side, and chop the rest into halves. Arrange the chopped asparagus and strawberries on a platter. You can add spring onions and shallots. Blend in vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste. It looks so colorful and pretty on the side of your fish or on the side of chicken.
I’ll grill or bake chicken for dinner if I don’t have fish.
The idea is to fill your basket with yummy foods you like that again will give you energy, while making you feel and look good. I used to not eat any butter at all. Well ladies and gentlemen, a pat of butter a day keeps your hair and skin shiny. When women have frizzy or dry hair or skin –it’s often a lack of fat in the diet. A person can literally starve themselves ugly. Good foods keep your metabolism high. You lose more weight when you are consistently eating and staying active, then if you starve. Never starve. Write that down. It will mess you up mentally and physically.
Eat well. Walk at least 30-minutes a day and you are on your way to being fit and healthy. Stretch whenever you can. When you are ready to advance to another level, you’ll know it. The worst mistake you can make is going from zero to 60 when Jan. 1 rolls around.
Instead, start slow. It takes 30-days to see progress. So toss away your scale. Stop examining yourself in the mirror. Look inside your refrigerator and pantry and start making good choices. Create a daily picnic basket that you enjoy and look forward to each day.
You can make filling a healthy basket fun for the whole family.
Now, let’s take a look at the new food pyramid and what the Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin has to say about it.
“The new icon is simple and easy to understand, with more emphasis placed on fruits and vegetables,” Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said in a statement. “This new tool can be a fun way to help individuals and families make healthier meal choices.”
The US Department of Agriculture, with an assist from first lady Michelle Obama, launched this new visual guide to help you have balanced diets in an era of high concern about obesity among adults and children.
The plate-shaped diagram, essentially in the form of a pie chart, is intended to give Americans an easier way to envision a mix of food groups on plates or in bowls.
Hmmm…a plate. I wonder how much money they spent on changing a triangle into a circle. Let’s see what Michelle Obama had to say about it.
“As a mom, I can already tell how much this is going to help parents across the country,” said Mrs. Obama in helping to launch the chart. “When mom or dad comes home from a long day of work, we’re already asked to be a chef, a referee, a cleaning crew. So it’s tough to be a nutritionist, too. But we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates.”
Did she say “we’re”? Doesn’t she have a chef? Hmmm again. But okay. I don’t have kids and I have observed the same. It is absolutely tough to play nutritionist when everyone’s schedule is different. There is no time to look at your kid’s plates unless you are fortunate enough as my family was when I was growing up –to sit down and all eat dinner together.
If you do not, then it’s worth taking a little time to explain good choices to them. You can review foods they like and place them in a basket, so they are sure of making great choices if you’re not around. Back to the new food circle.
The USDA recommends about three cups of dairy products a day for most people, the same as the recommended amount of vegetables. In the new iconography, vegetables look bigger. And some people may focus more on the plate than on that cup of dairy on the side.
The new chart leaves out a couple of elements seen in recent year’s on the pyramid: A small separate category for fats and oils, and an image of a person climbing (on the old pyramid) to symbolize physical exercise alongside eating.
A website called choosemyplate.gov provides more detailed guidance on the diet advice behind the plate. Here’s a picture of it. Wow. Our government really cleared that one up.
For those times when we reach outside the CIRCLE, here’s some help from yours truly.
Let’s create a HEALTHY TOOL BOX for those times when you are eating because you are feeling an emotion you fear. When an emotion first pops up –it does so suddenly. One minute you’re fine and the next you feel anxious or depressed. Here’s what you do. Be aware of it. Say to yourself, I feel anxious. Ask yourself, WHAT EMOTION AM I FEELING RIGHT NOW? Be AWARE. That’s HEALTHY STEP.1 If you have trouble identifying it, see this chart:
The ones that will drive you to overeat are Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Contempt. Happiness could do it too, but you’re too happy to worry about it, so let’s focus on the one that make you miserable. When you recognize you are feeling one of those emotions, that’s when you need to STOP and reach into your Healthy Tool Box after you first BREATHE and s-l-o-w-l-y count to 10. Remember, make no decisions when you’re angry. None. Not even to eat.
Next, get up and instead of walking to the refrigerator drink water. While you drink water (not tap –that will kill you) make yourself a cup of hot tea. While the water is boiling –tell yourself that whatever feeling you are feeling will pass. Breathe. Repeat.
That’s right. It is not going to last forever. Stretch and breathe and smile at this thought. BELL. TEA IS READY!!! Smile again. By now, whatever feeling you had has passed. If not, go for a walk after the tea. Breathe. Walk. Repeat.
If you are going out of your mind, call a good friend and talk about how you’re feeling. Someone who will tell you that this feeling you are feeling will NOT last forever. Behind all ANXIETY is the feeling that what you are feeling will last forever. It will not.
Anxiety is behind all addictions, albeit food, drugs, alchohol (insert whatever vice you can imagine). It’s all the same. Restlessness. Nervousness. Anxiousness. You feel like you have to do something now (reach for addiction) or you will go nuts.
Well, you won’t go nuts because guess what? If you STOP. THINK. BREATHE. RELAX it will pass. Be mindful of that and have healthy distractions to your vice –and surround yourself with positive people.
Let’s recap. Do not make decisions. Do not stuff yourself with food. Have your Healthy Tool Box and Healthy Friends on Stand-by. Your food basket should contain snack items for those times when you absolutely need to reach for food.
I believe comfort foods — the ones you reach for –directly rate to your emotions. Below is a list of an emotion with a healthy comfort food to reach for during those times. Sometimes, you can identify your emotion by the type of food you are craving. Be mindful. Think about the why. If salt is a problem, have saltless pretzels, so you can still get the angry crunch without the salt. Some
- Anger = Crunch Foods = Pretzels, almonds, walnuts, cereal, veggies, rice cakes (instead of chips)
- Sad or Lonely = Soft Foods = Yogurt, Peanut Butter, fruit (instead of ice cream, donuts, cakes)
- Anxious or Bored = Picking Foods (popcorn, cereal, see Anger foods)
Below are some favorite foods I toss into my basket. I realize some of you are die-hard organic foodies. That’s great. Anytime you can shop organic or grow your own fruits and veggies, I highly recommend it. If you’re a Vegetarian that’s great too. I’ll explore those two at a later time. For now, we’re in an urban jungle supermarket with the kids and teens trying to make good choices that won’t make us a part of the obesity “epidemic”.
Full disclosure: Skippy has been a client of mine. The reason I signed them on is I’ve always loved Skippy peanut butter. It contains the good for your heart kind of fat and it’s yummy comfort food.
Hope you take something away from this that helps you live healthier in 2012! 🙂