Today, I am linking up with Healthy Living Blogs, as the theme for the month of September is “Health Lessons Learned Lately.”
Fact: With the food we eat serving as fuel for our bodies, it’s important that we properly fuel ourselves for our daily activities. Fact: Everyone is different.
I’ve noticed that some people feel the need to drastically change their diets and dive into a whole new way of eating, when they want to make positive changes in their overall health. Yes, if you’re only eating fried chicken wings and drinking milkshakes during every meal of every day, not too many people will deny that drastic changes in your diet will benefit you mentally and physically. A balanced diet comprised of fresh, whole foods doesn’t seem like it should really be altered, though. Most Americans simply eat too much, so changing how much you eat might make more of a difference than what you eat, if you’re already trying to eat a healthy diet.
Some ways of eating advocate very drastic changes, and others dictate specific food groups to be avoided. It seems that the Paleo way of eating (or diet) is a hot topic these days, or has been for a while, now. In the CrossFit box that I work out in, there are a lot of people eating Paleo. Many people have experienced significant changes, such as losing weight, gaining more lean muscle and improving their performance. But the question that I ask is: Could someone experience the same results by just eating “clean,” i.e. by eating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole foods (little to no processed food), lean meats, nuts, whole grains, dairy, healthy fats and practicing mindful eating? Though I am not a medical professional or Registered Dietician, my knee-jerk answer is, “Yes!”
By cutting out whole food groups, of course it will be easier for someone to lose weight, but is it necessarily healthy or sustainable for a lifetime? How do you make sure your body is getting all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that it needs if you are cutting out food groups? In addition, once your body consumes the foods that it hasn’t had in a long time, what happens? You might find your weight slowly creeping up or your body can no longer handle/digest the food as it did before.
I am a firm believer and advocate of adopting healthy eating habits that will last lifetime. When I was working as a Health Educator in physician’s offices, many patients would ask me to provide them with a list of foods that they could no longer eat and/or a specific meal plan. In addition to it being out of my scope of practice–since I am not a Registered Dietician–I would never provide anyone with a list of what they can’t eat or a set meal plan, because it is not practical in real life. In life, we are faced with eating out, dinner parties, holidays, meetings with catered food, cooking for a family, etc, so how can you eat Paleo or any other diet 100% of the time?
As I have met more and more people following “set diets,” and achieving results, I have learned that I need to do what is best for me, my body and my family. I have achieved my own results with practicing mindful eating and listening to the needs of my body (eating when I am hungry and stopping when I am full) and witnessed even greater results in my husband: My husband lost 23 pounds since he started CrossFit in January of this year, while he also ate healthier, practiced mindful eating and cut back on his portions (he used to go for “fourths”… no joke). For myself, I have put on more lean muscle and have more muscle definition, while maintaining my weight pretty consistently over the past two years. We eat “clean” by rarely eating any processed foods, except for Kashi cereal and a few pita or tortilla chips every once in a while (like special occasions when we have company over, or are on vacation). We still indulge in dessert every now and then (usually allowing ourselves one splurge a week) and drink alcohol (wine and beer). It is something that works for us, makes our bodies feel good and–most importantly–we are able to sustain it. When we travel and splurge WAY too much, such as the cupcakes last weekend, we cut back as soon as we get home by eating salads or lean protein, veggies and fruit for the first few days (until our bodies get back on track). It is a give-and-take and I like to say we eat healthy 90% of the time and allow ourselves to eat “not so healthy,” i.e. ice cream, cupcakes, gelato, french fries, milkshakes 10% of the time.
In the end, my most important lesson learned is listening to the needs of my body, not someone else, as they don’t lead my life. I eat to maintain my health, while still fueling my body for intense workouts. If someone is mainly sedentary, their daily nutritional needs are much different than someone who is working out every day–let alone an athlete! Find what works for you and your family. If you can sustain a “set diet,” then more power to you! Maybe your entire family is eating Paleo, so at family functions, you don’t have to worry about what you can and cannot make or eat. For me, it just doesn’t work. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake with almond flour these days (more often than whole wheat flour), because of the nutrition that it packs, or even sweet potatoes. At times, we do eat meals that consist of just lean protein and veggies, but we don’t limit ourselves to only eating a certain way. We eat our way, the way that works for us.
Speaking of eating, here is the recipe for the spaghetti squash tomato bake with added turkey, that I promised:
Spaghetti Squash Tomato Bake with Ground Turkey: (Adapted from Roni at Green Lite Bites)
- 1 medium spaghetti squash (cooked) *I cut mine in half, scoop out the seeds, fill the inside with a 1/2 cup water and put the top half back on and microwave (covered) for 10 minutes.
- 2 large tomatoes sliced
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- 2 lbs. ground turkey
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- Italian seasoning
-garlic (no-salt) seasoning *I use one from Costco
- salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 11 x 9 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
2. Caramelize onion and garlic in large pan and add turkey. Cook until turkey is browned.
3. Spread about one cup of spaghetti squash in the bottom of the casserole dish (using a fork to scoop out the flesh).
4. Add a layer of turkey on top of the squash (enough to cover it, but not too much, saving enough for a second layer).
5. Add six tomato slices over the turkey. Sprinkle with basil and spices.
6. Sprinkle half of the cheese on top of the tomato slices.
7. Repeat the layers: squash, turkey, tomato slices, basil, spices and cheese.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes (until the cheese is browned and bubbly on top).
*Notes: You might need to add one more layer, if you have a large spaghetti squash, thus increasing the amount of the other ingredients. The turkey makes this casserole pretty thick, which was good! I love the added turkey this time, because it added a ton more flavor and protein, making this a one-pot meal!
Well, today was “cleaning day” at our household, so after eating breakfast (something different this time…toasted pancakes with a spoonful of Fage 0% Greek yogurt for me and pumpkin butter for Keenan, in addition to slices of strawberries and a banana with a latte!) and prepping tonight’s dinner: turkey meatloaf in a crock pot with roasted sweet potatoes (I set my oven for a delay start) and sauteed kale with a red bell pepper (I washed and chopped everything, so it was ready to cook when we got home from the gym), Keenan and I cleaned house. Today, he wasn’t into helping me as he usually is, but he definitely wanted to vacuum and mop! We finished everything in time for CrossFit!
Well, it’s late and I’m exhausted after a busy day and a hard workout tonight: 5 rounds of 15 hanging power snatches (women weight: 75 lbs), 30 air squats and an alley carry of 35 pounds (weight for the women) with a 30 minute time cap. I tore my hand while doing chest-to-bar pullups on Tuesday, so I had some issues with my grip today, thus slowing me down. I was halfway done on the last alley carry (my 5th round) when the timer hit 30 minutes, ugh! Have a good night!
Oh, don’t forget to leave a comment on yesterday’s post , if you would like to be entered in the Sweaty Bands Giveway! The contest ends at noon PST tomorrow!