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 also make filling a healthy basket fun for the whole family.
If you need more help, create a HEALTHY TOOL BOX for those times when you’re emotionally eating. Emotional eating is real. Stress is real, which makes people comfort themselves with food.
Before you open your refrigerator or panty, PAUSE.
When a sudden emotion first pops up like anxiety, depression or anger triggered by something you read, heard or did — here’s what you do.
First, be aware of what you’re feeling. Ask yourself, WHAT EMOTION AM I FEELING RIGHT NOW? Be honest with yourself as in “I’m feeling angry because X did Y.” If you have trouble identifying it, see this chart, look at this:
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 ones 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.
Then, make yourself a cup of tea. While the water is boiling –tell yourself that whatever feeling you are feeling will pass. Breathe. Repeat. Be present. Savor that cup of tea and say, “This too shall pass.”
That’s right. That feeling or emotion will not last forever. Stretch and breathe and smile at this thought. By now, whatever feeling you had has passed. If not, go for a walk after the tea. Breathe. Walk. Repeat.
Once calm, reach for mindful snacks you should always keep on hand: almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, veggie snacks with sea salt, cottage cheese with blueberries can replace ice cream if that’s what you’re in the mood for, tangerines –you get the idea. Kashi also makes cereals with peanut butter crunch you can eat sans milk instead of chips.
If you are still going out of your mind after the above, 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. If you have a funny friend, even better. Humor is healing. Looking at things from a different perspective is healthy.
Anxiety isn’t only behind emotional eating. It’s behind all addictions, albeit food, drugs, alcohol (insert any vice). 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. The only thing is whatever you reach for in that moment of anxiety will leave you feeling far worse.
So, remember the PAUSE.
PAUSE. BREATHE. RELAX. DISTRACT yourself with something healthy and that feeling will pass.
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.
- Anger = CHIPS and Crunch Foods – Replace with almonds, walnuts, cereal, veggies, rice cakes
- Sad or Lonely = ICE CREAM – Replace with yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, warm soups
- Anxious or Bored = PIZZA – Replace with mozzarella sticks you peel or melt cheese in a soft wrap with black beans
- Stay hydrated with water instead of soda or soft drinks
Hope you take something away from this that helps you live healthier in 2012!