Tag Archives: diet

Berries are Beautiful, Baby.

Sorry for the corny, alliterative title but the nerd in me needed a good giggle.

It’s been a very trying week.

This post has, I think, been a long time coming. And by “a long time,” I mean about a week. It was a little over a week ago that I started working really hard at incorporating berries into my diet in a meaningful way. By this, I mean that instead of just a handful of blueberries here and there when I feel like it, I am consciously eating some in the morning and at night.

I’ve learned that berries are low sugar (blackberries, raspberries and blueberries) and high fiber, and supposedly are great to eat before bed because they’re a slow-release source of fiber that satiates the body during sleep. So that’s good. Plus, fiber is always good. Plus, berries have lots of vitamins and minerals.

Like I said, this is all well and good. But on a selfish/childish level, the best part: I miss eating fruit, but fruit has always slowed my weight loss if I eat it each day. This is likely because of the sugar content — my body just doesn’t process it that well, you know? So these low-sugar berries are like delicious fruity, juicy treats that have great benefits and no detractions. I can have my fruit and eat it too!

Oh, and berries are 0PP. As is all fruit, but as we all know, I don’t trust that ideology when it comes to apples and bananas.

AWWW YISSSSS.

Since becoming a berry-eater (1 cup in the morning, 1 cup in the evening, each time with 0.5 oz of almonds), I have experienced the following benefits:

1. Improved digestion.
2. Satisfaction/fullness from a pretty small amount of food!
3. Energy — I suspect this may stem from the raspberry keytones.
4. A newfound appreciation for natural sweetness — I told Chelsea that I feel like blueberries are nature’s Skittles. And, if you know me, you know that I would commit murder or high-level felonies in the name of Skittles. So this praise for blueberries is huge.
5. A very pleasant, flavorful, delicious daily ritual that I really look forward to — such juiciness, so many flavors and textures, each bite different than the bite before (I mix blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in my serving).

All in all, I’m so glad I’ve discovered them. The fiber content has been really wonderful for me and my digestion, and everything about the experience of eating fresh berries is fun, tasty and decadent! And cost-wise, for Chelsea and I to eat them each day, it’s not too terrible… We get the berries from SAM’s Club, where blueberries are $7.99 for a huge container, blackberries are $3.98, and raspberries are $4.97 (why those weird people who set the prices ask for a different penny count on each is beyond me). So basically like just shy of $20 a week. However, they’re now half my breakfast and also my evening snack (along with my frozen greek yogurt), so it’s really quite worth it when you think that $17 would buy… 3 dual-Dunkin trips for Chelsea and I, or 3 or 4 Wegman’s individual desserts, etc. The trade-off is worth the money and costs me nothing, points-wise.

Soon summer will arrive, and I’ll be able to pick up fresh stuff at the farmer’s market — I CAN’T WAIT!

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Gripes About Grains

Guys, here’s the thing.

Like, the real thing.

The thing is: I just don’t believe I MUST have grains to have a balanced diet. I am open to being told I’m wrong, but I have done not a small amount of sleuthing on the subject and here’s what I’ve learned:

1. All the “YES EAT GRAINS” people indicate that grain is a necessary thing, because of its fiber content. On the flip side of the equation, many others wrote that I can get all the fiber I need day to day from my fruit and vegetable intake, which is significant. I don’t mess around with my veggies.

2. Yes, some grains are very filling and pack much more protein than, say, white rice. Meanwhile, they still don’t pack as much protein as, say, my protein shake in the morning or my greek yogurt at lunch.

3. YES, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, I AM AWARE THAT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROCESSED CARBS AND WHOLE GRAINS. YES I KNOW. YOU DON’T NEED TO TELL ME. YOU DO NOT NEED TO MANSPLAIN. YOU DO NOT NEED TO CONDESCEND. I GET IT. That being said, I know there’s some grains that are far better than others — but they’re still quite a bit of points for not all that much punch, compared to my other alternatives. So why would I eat them? Isn’t that counter-intuitive if my fiber content is already high?

This is a serious quandry for me. I don’t believe in diets that are so restrictive that entire food groups are missing. I also don’t believe in weight loss that isn’t sustainable. I also want to make sure my body has every single thing it needs to be healthy, happy and strong. So I’m not trying to be ignorant, here, or obstinate.

But my thinking is this: If a cup of bulgur, cooked with some alfalfa sprouts and spinach, is 4 to 6 PP and leaves me feeling semi-hungry, was it worth all that hassle? Especially when a greek yogurt gives me more protein, and once I add flax seed, some Omega-3’s to boot?

Further — I’ve really taken a shine to that crock pot oatmeal I posted about. However, that gives me WAY less protein and nutrients than my breakfast shake, which contains protein powder, spinach, kale stems, flax, banana, and almond milk. So sure, I got some godforsaken grains in. But I didn’t get all that other stuff. And isn’t that other stuff more important than grains?

ANOTHER key point — I’m aware that not all grains are wheat-based; I know it’s possible to eat “gluten free” without eating “grain free,” and I am not confusing the points. Certain types of whole grain do not have gluten. And I cannot stress enough that NONE of my dietary concerns are about what gluten-free or grain-free means — but I want to add, also, that people survive JUST FINE without grains on many grain-free diets. If I’m very conscious about my veggies, fiber and nutrients otherwise, why must I have grains?

I’m saying this as someone who LIKES grains — who enjoys quinoa, who made bulgur for the first time today (that’s a post for another day though), who misses her breads and pastas. I have nothing taste-wise against them; quite the contrary.

But as someone on WW who gets a specific amount of cash to throw around, so to speak, is it really worth it to cash in entirely on stuff like oatmeal and forego my spinach smoothie?

NOTE: I can’t fit everything into a day and still lose weight. I can’t have the smoothie AND the oatmeal AND the yogurt, etc. I can’t. I am ALWAYS looking for smart ways to use my points so I’m not lying and flailing like Kim Kardashian when confronted by her failing career. I’m not making an excuse. I can’t have 6 points of oatmeal, 5 points of smoothie, and four points of yogurt and still have enough flexibility left to have dinner. Cannot. So don’t come at me all D0 b0tH GrrRRrLllL itZ fiNeeeee! Because I can’t — and it isn’t — or maybe it is.

I’m trying hard to figure out the best way to eat and the best way to keep losing weight. I’m working out regularly – 4 to 5 times a week. I’m eating right. And this past week, I only lost 0.5 lbs — which isn’t acceptable, to me. I had eaten more grains last week, and now I’m concerned they’ve had something to do with it.

Do I really need grains to be well? Or can I carry on with my whey protein shake, my yogurt, my bread-free soups/dinners and my healthy oil intake and still be just fine?

Recipe: Banana Chocolate Oat Cookies

YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS

YOU GUYS

YOU

GUYS

THERE’S SOMETHING YOU NEED TO KNOW.

I made these cookies this weekend, and they taste like mini-banana-split-chocolate-miracles. They are seriously really delicious. And they are 1PP EACH. Yeah, you read that right. ONE POINTS PLUS VALUE EACH. YOU HEARD ME.

Here’s what to do to make about 20 cookies.

Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas
1 cup quick oats
1 “heaping spoonful”* of organic peanut butter**
1/2 cup chocolate chips

* = WTF is a heaping spoonful? I used four neatly measured tablespoons, so two portions. 
** = I used Better’n Peanut Butter Low Sodium

Instructions:
– Preheat oven to 350
– Mash bananas (I pureed mine in the food processor, and then had to add some extra oats because my base was too thin)
– Pour in oats
– Pour in chocolate
– Stir in PB
– I, personally, had to leave the house before finishing making these and so I put the batter in the fridge while I was out. It thickened up a bit due to the cold — if your batter is thin, maybe try this?
– Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and plop the batter on in ugly, misshapen blobs (or something nicer, if you’re classy)
– Bake for 15-18 minutes

AND THEN IMMEDIATELY ENJOY.

PP each: 1

AAAAAAH!!!!!!

Grains ‘n Pains

I kind of wanted to call this post “Grains are a Pain,” but it wasn’t as pithy and so you got what you got and you’ll just have to deal with it.

Grains are a really weird color sheep, for Weight Watchers. We’re supposed to have some each day, yes. We’re supposed to have some of everything each day, really. But grain-based foods are often really high in points, and, in my experience, RARELY give you any bang for your buck. There are, of course, exceptions (QUINOA FOREVER), but for most of the road, grains are tricky. Bread doesn’t make me feel full — it makes me want more bread. This is problematic for someone who’s working on portion control.

 

I was on the phone with my mom the other day, and was telling her about how strange it’s been to break my profound carb addiction and be doing well, and then get a taste (literally) of my old goodies. Example: pretzels. I know nothing is bad in moderation and a serving of 17 small pretzels is 3PP. I was really craving them the other day, so I had them. To my despair, eating them didn’t make me feel full or satisfied — it just made me want to eat more of them! I was surprised how just a fifteen minute snack could put me back in a place from which I’ve worked hard to escape. Again, I can’t stress enough that I do know that all things are ok in moderation — and that includes pretzels! But man, I wish I could put into words how intensely I wanted more of them after having that 3PP portion. It was unnerving. When I eat my fruits, veggies, green smoothies and soups I always end up feeling satisfied — not “gut busting full,” but definitely comfortable and content. I’ve got more than enough energy. All is well.

But one serving of pretzels, and I was that carb-eyed monster I’ve been trying to outrun.

I feel like processed carbs are the crappy ex-girlfriend who’s totally not any good for me, but every time I see her, I end up weak in the knees. I KNOW it’s not a healthy or positive situation — yet there I am. Willing to go back for more.

So carbs — bread-based carbs, anyway — are hard for me. They’re hard for a lot of people. They’re why so many people love the Atkin’s diet, even though I’m pretty sure there’s NO way for that diet to be sustainable. And it’s not that I eat zero carbs throughout the day, I’d like to add: there are carbs in my fruit and veggies, my yogurts, my flax seed, most certainly in my dinners. I just don’t do a lot of BREAD.

Lately, I’ve been trying hard to open myself up to the possibility of having more grains in my life, since I think living without them is a little boring and plus they’re fun to experiment with. (I hate that that last sentence ended with a preposition, but I’m tired, and still sick, and ain’t got time to go rewording myself all day.) That’s why I’ve been working on learning about quinoa. My next exploration? Oats. This weekend, my mom made the most ridiculously delicious oatmeal and I’m gonna post the recipe on here later today. Oats are high in points, but they’re not (to my understanding) a “useless” grain like sandwich breads often are. I think I want to try to work them in more often.

 

Fellow Weight Watchers out there: How do you deal with carbs? I get 28 PP a day. Not much room for screwing around with bagels or sandwich bread. Which grains DO you eat? How often? How do you prepare them? Are there other ones out there besides quinoa that have anything to offer me? Rice, for example, offers NOTHING except grain-ness.

 

I want to eat a fully balanced, nutritious diet. I also don’t want to eat useless crap. I believe there MUST be a middle ground about grains and I want to know what it is! Denying myself the majority of a food group isn’t gonna help me in the long run: I’ll be like every failed Atkins person who, upon eating sandwiches for lunch again, gains back every pound.

 

Advice is welcome! Help me befriend grainy carbohydrates in a meaningful and healthy way!

WAH.

I am currently gobbling down my lunch in the brief half hour I have between teaching and my pedagogy group meeting. I don’t like rushing through meals — it’s not ideal — but it is the only option. Not that a half hour is all that bad. I don’t mind, really. But sometimes I just want a breather, and I want to eat and relax for a little bit.

I’ve found that if I rush through eating something, it’s like I don’t even know that I ate it — my body and brain can’t sync up on what’s just happened. So Tuesday lunches kinda go down that way, which is frustrating.

Also frustrating? This weekend, my dad took us out to a nice Valentine’s Day dinner — everything was really delicious, but would have been even MORE delicious had I not been sick. Congestion limits my sense of taste by like, 60% and so I’m furious that I had my ‘cheat day’ where I ate and enjoyed, but enjoyed less than I would have if I were well. I feel the same way about times when I get cornered with bad foods and have no way out — for example, being at a party where there’s only pizza being served, etc. These days, I know I just gotta move through my days prepared, with a bag of snap peas or carrots and plenty of water. But there’s really a part of me that resents when 1) I don’t have control over my own choices, when I’m working on weight loss AND/OR 2) when I have to rush through eating and not even enjoy what I’m tasting AND/OR 3) when I am too sick or too tired to enjoy my eats.

I think the reason I feel this way is because so much of weight loss is coming to understand food as nourishment, and seeing eating as an act that — while often social — should serve a more practical purpose, and never an emotional one. So times when I eat because I “don’t want to seem rude” or am tired or am too sick to enjoy a high-PP treat… I get kind of discouraged.

Thankfully, that doesn’t happen often. I know ways to make sure I always have healthy snacks on hand. I do indulge on days when I’m willing and able to do so. I’ve been working out. I’ve been eating consciously, instead of mindlessly. So here’s hoping those trends continue.

Today, as I gobble up my lunch at warp speed, I am thankful that I can taste my yogurt and the flax seed I’ve put in it (it always tastes like graham crackers, to me) and that I can go for a run on my treadmill this evening because — wait for it, waaaait for it: I CAN FINALLY BREATHE THROUGH MY NOSE AGAIN.

…With the help of a breathing strip.

….About which I am only marginally embarrassed.

#hatersgonhate

A Proud/Pathetic Moment.

I’d like to tell you a story about last night.

Some of you will think, “So?” Other will think, “Why?” Still others will think “That’s kind of pathetic.”

But anyone who has struggled with weight loss won’t think any of those things. And so, I’ll make it short and sweet.

Last night, Chelsea was offered an interview with Binghamton University’s MSW program — AKA, the first step toward getting accepted. As anybody who has endured getting a graduate education can tell you, one of the most exciting moments of life EVER is when you get that positive response — whether its an interview, an acceptance… in some ways, this is even MORE exciting than it will be when she does indeed get accepted (which I truly believe she will).

I was, of course, and am, very excited for her — I KNOW this feeling and I KNOW she has waited and worked for years to get here. So I told her I’d bring her home any treat she desired for when she got out of work. She asked for a blueberry donut from Dunkin. Okay. Fine. Usually when we celebrate with a “treat” day, we both partake. So what would my treat be? I got a medium coffee coolatta, with skim milk and caramel. Those puppies are 12 PP.

I got home and started cooking up some dinner — Chelsea wasn’t gonna be home until 11:45PM, so I experimented with quinoa because if it ended badly, I would still eat it but wouldn’t want to subject her to it. And as I was cooking, I pondered my points for the day.

I pondered “The Points Of It All,” really.

And I started finagling ways about how I could eat less dinner/cut corners to ensure that the Coolatta didn’t dip too severely into my flex points, especially because Chelsea is taking me to Albany this weekend for a concert and dinner etc.

Then, it hit me: the Coolatta was JUST. NOT. WORTH. IT. Now, I desperately wanted to drink it. Those things are so, so delicious and I was excited for it, and had paid for it, and had brought it home, and had been justifying the whole shebang by saying it was a celebration of a hugely joyful occasion.

But… 12PP? I would basically have to go without dinner or eat next to nothing.

And I knew — because I have been learning how to give my body what it needs, instead of what my brain wants — it wouldn’t make me satisfied or full. I knew that if I drank it, I wouldn’t have PP left for my frozen greek yogurt, which gives me another 12 grams of protein a night. I wouldn’t have PP left for cabbage, or kale chips, or anything else I usually nosh on in the evenings.

So I mustered all my willpower. I took two sips.

And then, I poured that whole damn Coolatta down the drain.

Immediately, I ran the hot water to melt it so that it was like it never happened.

While I was sad I didn’t get to have that frosty and delicious drink, I enjoyed my quinoa (YESSSSS), my kale chips, and my nightly greek yogurt. And I used exactly my 29 PP for the day — nary a flex point in sight.

The ability to say “No” to celebrations or treats is not amongst my strengths. I have very little willpower in that department — but I’m learning that it’s a slippery slope. One Coolatta, and then going out for dinner AGAIN on both Friday and Saturday during our trip? Or a cookie, left on my office table. That kind of thing. I have a hard time saying no. But I’m learning to do it anyway.

And you know, I don’t feel deprived or anything. I feel satiated, happy and healthy.

And I think that this learning I am doing…

Just might be the Points of It All.

Endurance.

Endurance here meaning, to endure a thing, rather than just being a measure of stamina

What am I enduring?

Emotionally: aside from missing Chelsea, not much.

Nutritionally: being away at a conference and not having complete and utter control over my meals.

This probably doesn’t sound too enthralling or disastrous to you, dear reader, but trust me — it’s an anxiety inducing hell.

You’re probably thinking, “Oh just eat salad and avoid bread!”

You’re stupid though.

Here’s why.

The salad tonight was Caesar salad, covered in dressing that’s certainly high fat. The soup offering was vegan butternut soup, of which I had a bowl only after being assured there was no heavy cream (that’s how I found out it was vegan, actually). The main dish were tasty eggplant sandwiches on ciabatta. I ate half my sandwich with the bread on, half off.

DO YOU GUYS KNOW HOW MANY POINTS BREAD IS?

So many.

SO MANY.

Bread is practically more points than the Seahawks brutalized the Broncos by. Har har har. And I don’t even follow sportsball.

Really though it’s tough – day to day I am in utter control of what I eat, and I know it’s points value down to the ounce. This is hard for me — I have no idea what my noms will be as I go. I have no idea if lunch will be pasta, is breakfast will be bagels only…

It is a Weight Watcher’s worst nightmare.

So now you’re wondering: Oh, Karen! Are you ok? Can I send you some kale, a la Hunger Games sponsor style? Whatever will you do?

Here’s what I’m doing, kids.

I made a batch of kale chips and brought them with me.

I brought for serving-portioned bags of sugar snap peas, which keep well even without refrigeration.

I brought a can opener, can of chicken, hot sauce, salt/pepper/seasoning and a Tupperware with which to make myself chicken salad to bring to lunch tomorrow.

I brought my smoothie bottle with a scoop of flax seed and a scoop of protein powder. I’ll add water and shake tomorrow.

I brought a banana to eat with my shake.

I brought three bottles of water.

In short, I have fortified myself so that I have no excuse to be starving at lunch or desperate for food. I have constructed a plan wherein I am well-fed by nutritionally dense foods so that I don’t eat crap.

Here’s hoping it works.

PS: I miss Chelsea. Going to sleep in a strange place is so lonely.

Oh, SNAP.

Forgive me the pun, dear readers.

But another thing I wanted to mention today: I’m cutting down to having only one fruit per day. Some days, it’ll be a banana in my morning smoothie. Others, an apple with lunch.

I’ll be subbing the “non-fruit” part of the day for more vegetables.

My most recent addiction?

Snap peas.

DELICIOUS.

All these foods are 0PP but I’ve already told you how little I trust the idea that fruit is a free-for-all. All foods have calories, and fruits have a lot of sugar. Vegetables are less insidious, so I’m going to continue working on adding more in/adding them instead of fruit.

That’s how I originally got on my cauliflower kick.

So let my MONTHS OF TERRIBLE SNAP PEA JOKES BEGIN.

The Tiniest Victory.

Guys, the hormones must be setting in —

because the longer I think about how frustrated at this week’s small weight gain I am, the more I feel like crying.

Isn’t that dumb?

I know it’s dumb.

But I’m sitting here at my desk with my multiple bottles of water, thinking about how my entire diet consists of green smoothies, nutritionally planned and portioned meals… And somehow, I have gained weight. And somehow, I so feel like crying about it.

Several things cross my mind:

1. Well, after that freaky 4.7 lb loss, some minor gain is probably to be expected.

2. DAMN YOU, uterus! And your stupid hormones too.

3. I did not make any mistakes. So why did I gain?

4. I still want to cry.

Sad, withered, defeated-feeling.

BUT THEN…

I left the office for a few, and when I returned, there were delicious-looking, huge chocolate chip cookies on one of our tables. I tell you: in this hormonal, emotional, biologically-ravaged moment, I wanted one of those cookies more than I wanted my own soul.

I did not eat one.

I kept walking.

I just kept walking.

 

“The Part-Time Vegan.”

Chelsea and I say all the time that we’re “kinda” vegetarians and “kinda” vegan. I recognize the contradictions inherent in those statements — those ways of life are all in/all out. But we are far more conscious, ecologically speaking and nutritionally speaking, than the average American omnivore. We’ve learned, through WW, to make a lot of small and healthy swaps that re-energized what we thought food could do for us, and we feel somewhat better knowing that our decreased consumption of animal products means we’re not buying into (as much as we used to) an economy that hurts animals and uses them for capital gain.

That all being said, I found this article from Salon to be a really great read. It’s called “Confessions of a Part Time Vegan,” and I hope you’ll all give it a read. This woman is spot-on throughout.