Category Archives: Changing Lifestyles

Eat This Instead, Part 3

Learning to eat healthier starts with understanding what you are putting in your mouth.  I used to think that all vegetables were the same – that there was no difference in an ear of corn versus a bunch of broccoli in terms of nourishing my body.  They are both veggies so what’s the big deal?  There is certainly nothing wrong with eating a couple of ears of corn with your meal, but combine that with some watermelon, bread with your BLT and maybe a spoonful of potato salad and all of a sudden you have a TON of carbs on your plate and a nap will soon follow.

That carb load will cause a glucose spike stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin. Eating this way over time stresses the pancreas – especially in someone with a family history of type 2 diabetes ( a more inheritable form of diabetes) or of a certain race:  Pacific Islander, American Indian, African American or Asian American.  These races have what we call the “thrifty gene” meaning their bodies adapted to periods of famine in the past by slowing down their metabolism in order to survive.  When these races are exposed to a heavy carb diet, this thrifty gene works against them by putting a strain on the pancreas, eventually leading to type 2 diabetes.  Furthermore, this extra insulin leads to weight gain since insulin causes our bodies to store fat.

And diabetes is closely related to heart disease.  People with diabetes not only have a problem with their insulin but they also have a problem with fat metabolism.  It is just as important to reduce the amount of saturated fat in the diet since the liver can not handle too much saturated fat.

When you look more closely at some common food choices at dinner you will understand how to reduce the amount of carbs, increase the fiber and reduce some of the unhealthy fat that can lead to diabetes and heart disease.

Eat This Instead:  Brown Rice Instead of White Rice

brown vs white rice1/4 cup dry brown or white rice, which is 1/2 cup cooked, delivers about the same amount of carbohydrates – 35 grams.  But look at the difference in fiber.  Brown rice has 4 grams of fiber while the white rice has none.  Getting enough fiber is part of feeling full.  It also reduces the amount of time that cancer causing substances stay in the GI tract.  It also has many of the B vitamins, the powerful antioxidant selenium, and manganese and helps to lower the bad LDL cholesterol.  .


Eat This Instead:  More Broccoli, Less Corn and Peas

peas, corn vs broccoliThe picture to the right:  peas, then corn, then broccoli, are nutrition values for about the same gram weight.  However there is a big difference in total grams of carbohydrates between them.  Corn and peas have 21 gms and 12 gms respectfully, in a 2/3 cup serving, while broccoli has only 4 gms of carbohydrates in 3/4 cup.  The extra carbs in peas are mitigated by the ample fiber – 4 gms in one serving.  That extra fiber helps to slow down the spike in blood sugar.  In the end, it comes down to portion sizes and how many other carbs are on your plate.  Other carb sources are milk (lactose in milk is a sugar) and sweetened drinks, fruit, breads and grains, beans, starchy veggies like potatoes and winter squashes, and obviously desserts.

How Many Carbs Should You Eat?

The percent daily value (PDV) for carbs for someone eating about 2000 calories a day is 300 mg.  This amount of carbs should be divided over the course of the day, so about 100 mg a meal.  A 20 oz coke has 65 gms, a medium banana has about 30 gms, a piece of bread has about 20 gms.  A cookie can have about 20-30 gms depending on the size.  You can see how carbs add up.  And if someone has any prediabetes or diabetes then the amount of carbs consumed should be reduced even further in order to take the work load off the pancreas.  Talk to a dietitian if you need further recommendations if you do have diabetes.

Eat This Instead:  More Ground Turkey, Less Ground Beef

ground turkey vs ground beef

ground turkey vs 85% ground beef

In a 4 oz serving of turkey, there is only 1 gm of fat.  In 4 oz of ground 85% lean beef there are 17 gms of fat with 7 of those being the heart unhealthy saturated fats.  Because there is more fat – delivering 9 calories per gram – there are twice as many calories in this beef than turkey!  On top of it notice that the ground turkey even has more protein and protein is the third component to the feeling of fullness.  Most Americans do not get enough of it at all their meals but it is a critical component to maintaining muscle mass and metabolism.  It just needs to be lean and should come mostly from fish, poultry, eggs, and plant protein.


Eat This Instead:  Hummus Instead Of Cheese

hummus vs cheeseCheese has much more fat than hummus – 9 gms vs 1.5 gms per serving.  One ounce of cheddar cheese also delivers 6 gms of heart clogging saturated fat and 110 calories.  And how many people just eat 1 oz?  Two tablespoons of hummus only delivers 40 calories and zero saturated fat.

Eat This Instead:  Edy’s Slow Churned Ice Cream Instead of Hoods

Edy's Slow Churned Ice Cream

Edy’s slow churned ice cream on the left.

Edy’s Slow Churned has much less fat, therefore fewer calories than regular ice cream.  In 1/2 cup of Edy’s there is 100 calories, with 3 gms of fat.  The same serving of Hood’s delivers 140 calories with 7 gms of fat – with twice as much coming from saturated fat.  Saturated fat is what sticks to the walls of our arteries, narrowing them and making them more rigid, therefore decreasing the amount of blood flow.



How Much Saturated Fat?

The American Heart Association advises that we keep saturated fat to no more than 5-6 % of our total daily calories, that amounts to 11-13 gms for a 2000 calorie diet.  A cup of Hood’s ice cream would deliver 9 gms, almost the daily limit.  Add a little butter on that corn and the limit has been reached.  Can you imagine what those arteries would look like in someone who is regularly eating beef and cheese on top of ice cream?  All the Lipitor in the world is not going to unclog those pipes.

How These Changes Can Add Up

Let’s compare two meals making the recommended changes versus not.  Let’s compare someone who has a hamburger, with white rice, corn, snacks on cheese and has Hood’s ice cream for dessert vs someone who has the exact same portions but substitutes it with ground turkey breast, brown rice, hummus, broccoli and 1/2 cup of Edy’s ice cream.  The first person would be eating more than 230 more calories, 27 more grams of total fat and 14 gms of it coming from saturated fat (more than the AHA recommendations), 15 more grams of carbs, 5 fewer gms of fiber while getting the exact same amount of protein.  Even if you made your burger with half turkey breast and half 85 % lean ground beef and skipped the cheese you would cut down your saturated fat by over 9 gms.

Making these substitutions don’t have to happen all at once.  Personally, I would start where the change is easiest then branch out from there.  Reduce the portions of foods with unhealthy fats and gradually add more foods with healthy higher fiber carbs from whole grains and vegetables.  Look at your desserts and find ones with fewer saturated fats and be mindful of portion sizes.  And some days of the week, skip the desserts and just have some sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon.  That might be radical, but so is having diabetes and heart disease.

Barbara can be contacted at  Enter you email address on the home page to get Barbara’s health blog delivered to your inbox or “Like” on to get blogs on your facebook page.




whole world in your hands

How To Start Eating Healthy

I hear the comment often, “I don’t know how to eat healthy”.  Packed between those words after exploration are fears of being overwhelmed with the idea of EATING HEALTHY as if that means suddenly having to transform into a Jedi Knight with the Force giving strength and determination to conquer the late night munchies, the afternoon nibbles, the morning Stars and Dunks.  Making changes in how you eat does not have to require this monumental overhaul.  There are steps you can take to make it easy but first there are some preliminary things to consider to help you have success at eating healthier.

Eat Healthy For The Right Reason

Knowing why you want to eat healthy is the first question.  Is it your desire to eat healthier to lose weight or for better health?  Are you doing it to look better or to be healthier?  If the desire is more about appearance, then the barometer for success is only the scale, not the improved blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, energy level and improved relationships as you gain confidence from your effort.  Furthermore, losing weight only for appearance tends to lead to expectations for rapid weight loss, usually from a fad diet.  And losing weight this way can lead to complications and regaining of weight once the diet is stopped.

Not that appearance can’t be part of the reason for eating healthier, but isn’t it more compelling to eat healthy in order to feel better and be healthier?  Having lab numbers, waist size, blood pressure and energy level become the barometer for success, not just the scale, sound a lot more convincing?


Make sure you have realistic expectations.  I don’t know of anyone who has said to themselves that today he/she was going to start eating three balanced meals with lots of veggies, lean protein, no refined carbs, no sweets and start exercising for 60 minutes every day.  Maybe I should qualify that, I’ve known a few who have attempted it, but they did not sustain it for long and it only added to their stress.  Eating healthier is not the same as going on a diet.  “Prescription” diets like the Blood Type, Cabbage Soup, and Master Cleanse are designed to lose weight quickly.  Even the Adkins diet and the Paleo diet will help you lose weight but can you eat that way for the rest of your life?  Once people quit eating the structured meal plan, weight is most often regained.  Furthermore many fad diets are lacking in key nutrients for health.

Knowing you are in this for the long haul will help you to have success.  Learning how to live a healthier lifestyle should be a gradual series of small changes.

Make Your Environment Safe

Where you live and work can be toxic.  The prefrontal cortex controls our inhibitory decision-making.  Parts of the prefrontal cortex are stimulated when people exhibit control over food urges.  Research in this area has shown that some people have better self-regulation because of more stimulation in this part of the brain.  If you find that you are someone who can be easily tempted by unhealthy foods, then make your environment safe.  Clear tempting foods out of your house.  Take different routes home from work.  Get your coworkers on board with keeping healthier foods around so that you can reduce temptation.  It’s better to go out and splurge on a single serving than it is to buy a larger amount (hate those 2 for 1 chip sales!) and bring it home.

Know Your Causes For Unhealthy Eating Or Overeating

Are you not making good food choices or overeating because you are stressed, bored, eating out of habit or need to decompress, or just eating mindlessly?  If any of these reasons sound familiar then you need to start here first.  Food fuels our body, but it can also alleve stress, anxiety, boredom and become an unhealthy habit.  Addressing the stress in one’s life, through time management, conversation, delegation, planning, exercise and even counselling may need to happen first.

Food Cravings

Food cravings can happen from big swings in blood sugars.  Look at your style and pattern of eating.  Are you eating too many refined carbs at lunch from white rice with the Chinese meal, white flour from the pizza or white flour and sugar from cakes, cookies and chips and notice you get hungry and have food cravings in the mid-afternoon?  That sugar spike from all those “white” refined carbs will hit you like a ton of bricks a couple of hours later making you reach for any candy lying around or that leftover donut or slice of pizza to make that feeling go away.  Looking at your hunger level and how it fluctuates during the day will convince you to try eating differently or reinforce what you are already doing well.  It may also convince you to reach for a cup of tea or go for a walk instead.

How To Start Eating Healthy

Where to begin all depends on what you are currently doing.

  • If you eat most of your meals out:   Begin by making better choices at those restaurants or switch to restaurants that will give you healthier choices.  Getting a turkey sandwich with lots of veggies and little mayo on a whole grain roll at Subway would be a much better choice than going to Burger King and getting a Whopper value meal.  The next step might be to decrease the frequency of eating fast food and stopping instead at the grocery store to buy a rotisserie chicken and hitting the salad bar (put the dressing on the side and skip the cheese and mayonnaise-packed salads)
  • For the breakfast skipper:  Begin two days a week and try eating something small like:
    • a hard-boiled egg with a piece of fruit
    • a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread
    • a low fat Greek yogurt topped with walnuts
    • a half cup of low fat cottage cheese with diced fruit
    • a package of old fashioned oatmeal  topped with walnuts                                                                                   

Notice that each of these meals includes some protein, fiber and some fat.  These are key nutrients for fullness.   Dietary fat should come from the heart-healthy fats like nuts, canola and olive oil, avocado and fish, rather than from animal fats like red meat, whole fat dairy and palm oil.  Take notice of how you feel on those days you eat breakfast.  Do you have more energy?   Do you eat less the second half of the day?  Do you think better at work?  Do you have fewer cravings?  Listen to how your body talks to you.

  • For the person who does not like to plan meals:  Plan just two healthy meals for the week with enough for leftovers for two other meals.  Write down the list of ingredients and take with you when you go shopping.  Include on the list some quick things you can take for lunch like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, whole grain crackers and pre-cut fresh veggies.  The next step might be to make foods on the weekend or days off that you can eat during the work week.  Use this cooking strategy to save you time and stress.
  • For the person who does not like to cook:  Try grilling chicken or fish for several meals and eat with lots of fresh produce around will keep it simple.  Soups and crock-pots also reduce food preparation time and can contain a whole balanced meal.  check out some of the soup recipes like my chili or chicken soup on this website for ideas.
  • For the person who does not have time to prepare meals:  If you can’t get help from family members then buy prepared veggies or frozen veggies.  Buy a rotisserie chicken or meats that are already cut up.  Buy canned beans or grains that are already cooked.  When you do cook grains, make extra and freeze.  Brown rice and other grains like bulgar and barley freeze well.  Pre-prep some of your meals on your day off.  Use a crock pot so you can get up a bit early in the morning or prepare the night before so the meal can cook while you are at work.
  • For the night snacker:  Start by eating breakfast.  Research shows that when people eat a breakfast with focus on healthy protein they remain fuller during the day and eat less at night.  Then make sure you are eating a dinner with a good amount of protein, some healthy fat, lots of non-starchy veggies and a fiber-rich starch.  Here are some ideas;
    • 4-5 oz of chicken, 1 cup of brown rice, 2 cups of broccoli or salad, and healthy fat from canola oil or olive oil on the veggies or maybe some nuts stirred into the rice or sunflower seeds topped on the salad.
    • 4-5 oz of salmon grilled or baked in the oven (salmon and other oily fish contain a lot of the heart healthy fat which will also help with fullness), 1 medium baked sweet potato, 12 asparagus and one piece of fruit
    • 3 egg omelette with 1 cup of spinach, onions and mushrooms, 2 pieces of whole grain toast(the first word under ingredients should be “whole” or 100% whole) and topped with 1 tsp each of whipped butter, and a side salad.  Try using salad spritzer dressings instead of pouring a high fat dressing on the salad.

Night snacking goes hand and hand with watching TV.  Try turning off the TV, play a game, read, go for a walk.  Even try brushing your teeth after dinner.  If you really must have a little “something something” start first with a cup of tea, seltzer water or just water and see if that hits the spot.  If you still need something then keep it to a serving by putting the food on a plate.  Do not eat out of the box!

  • For the person who does not like veggies:  Hide your veggies.
    • put them in a blender and add to soups
    • make mashed potatoes with half steamed cauliflower
    • double up on what you do like
    • puree them into tomato sauces
    • mix spaghetti squash with your pasta
    • make zucchini pasta
    • try new ways of eating them like roasting potatoes with onions and peppers in the oven
    • try seasoning them or dipping them in yogurt dips
    • try making dips out of them like salsa or a kale, berry and olive oil dip made in a blender
    • try them in a  smoothie

Forming New Healthy Eating Habits

Gradually incorporate some of these ideas into your routine.  If the changes seem unnatural then you are making changes too fast.  In general, it takes about three weeks for a new habit to feel natural.  Start with the above suggestions that you feel more confident about.  If you are telling yourself that you “should” do something, then you’re probably not ready to take that next step.  Focus on what you don’t mind doing and branch out from there.  Over several weeks and months you will begin to notice that some things are easier to do and don’t require as much thought.  This means you are ready to tackle more.  And as you take on new habits, continue to notice how your body feels.  Not only will you start to have more energy, but if you are overweight, you will lose weight as well, naturally.  No pills, no cleanses, no diets.  Just learning how to nourish and fuel your body like a Jedi.  Before you know it, these changes will become less forced and you will have the Force with you as you become that Jedi Knight on the way to conquering the world!



Free Help, Are You Ready?

I’m ready, are you ready?  This is your gift to yourself or to someone you care about.  I am ready to “pay it forward” and help 10 people individually who are interested in losing weight, especially if they have prediabetes or a family history of Type 2 diabetes.  I am a registered nurse, certified as a diabetes educator and also a health coach with extensive knowledge of prediabetes and diabetes and helping people make lasting lifestyle changes.  I know it is not easy but sometimes eliminating the burden of price while offering support in developing new habits is all it takes to get over the inertia of making lifestyle changes.

It’s Free

I have a passion for preventing diabetes.  Prediabetes is such a huge opportunity.  Address prediabetes and that person avoids developing permanent cardiovascular damage.  See, diabetes is really heart disease with a sugar problem.  Research shows that a 7% weight loss in conjunction with 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week dramatically reduces the chance of prediabetes becoming diabetes.  I will give you the tools to learn how to eat to avoid the insulin spike.  I will support you and work with you on finding an exercise routine that will work for you.  I will help you get to that 7% weight loss.

How I Will Help

I will Skype with you or meet in person for 6 hourly sessions and review your food log on myfitnesspal for free.  I will also give you useful handouts to help you understand how to fuel and move your body.  Why am I doing this?  Because I can and because I have a passion for preventing diabetes.  I think I’m good at what I do and I also have learned that people don’t know what they don’t know about health and about taking care of their bodies.  Small changes can make a huge difference.  I have the time right now, and I love what I do.  That’s it, that’s all.

What’s The Catch?

I was recommended to add this because some people might not take this offer seriously because they don’t think there never really anything free.  So, if you want, I ask that you refer me to 3 of your friends or family.  You don’t have to, but at the end of our sessions, if you are happy with what you learned, I would love the opportunity to help others.

How To Contact Me

The best way to reach me is to email me at  We can connect and see if this opportunity would work for you.  There is nothing to lose and only everything to gain. This opportunity will end October 31, 2015.  Now is the time to reach out for yourself or for someone you love.  I’d love to help and now is the time.  Pass it on so I can pay it forward.


The Best Exercise For Weight Loss

The Nutrition Action Health Letter just released the best exercises for weight loss.  This article was based on the book Exercise Testing and Prescription by exercise physiologist specialist, David Nieman.  His list of calories burned, based on a 150 pound person, also lists the effectiveness of each activity in building cardiovascular as well as muscular strength.  And of course, the heavier the person, the more calories burned.

The American Heart Association recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week or 75 minutes of high intensity.  What this article also shows is that even the activities needed be done around the house – like mowing and gardening – can burn calories and help with weight loss.

Top Contenders in Exercise

Some of the best activities were also some of the most fun to do!  Canoeing or rowing (that means kayaking) burns a whopping 815 calories in an hour and scores a 5/5 for cardiovascular health and a 4/5 for muscular health.  Get out on the water, enjoy the peacefulness, all while toning your upper body and burning a ton of calories.

Even dancing with your partner will burn 305 calories in an hour and I’m sure if that includes a little tango those numbers would go up!

For us northerners who had to put up with a very snowy, cold winter at least we can say it provided a great opportunity to burn some calories with an hour of shoveling burning up 580 calories and scoring a 4/4 in both cardiovascular and muscular benefits.  And if you enjoy the outdoors regardless of temperature, cross country skiing burns 610 calories in an hour and scores a 5/5 in cardio health and 4/5 in muscular health.  And I promise that about 10 minutes into cross country skiing you will not notice single digit temperatures!

Exercise Pace Does Matter

I’ve heard people argue that walking slow versus a faster pace, burns off the same number of calories.  Well, based on Nieman’s findings, an hour of walking at a slow pace burns off 170 calories and a faster pace burns off 270 calories.  And of course the faster pace yields a higher cardiovascular score at a 3/5 versus a 2/5 for a slower pace.  Both score a 2/5 for muscular health.  So if you can get your arms swinging and put some lively, fast beat music on your electronic device then perhaps you won’t mind picking up your pace.

Find What Works For You

There is a variety of choices when it comes to exercise.  Even the cold weather always winter activities or a shift to indoor activities in a community center.  For those who have difficulty with weight-baring activity, swimming and chair dancing provide great alternatives.

And keep in mind, that exercise isn’t just about weight loss, it’s really about slowing down the aging process of our organs, reducing the cardiovascular inflammation due to diet and stress, and having a great night’s sleep.  Now what pill can top that?  Just do it.



Salmon Shepherd's Pie

Five Easy Fish Recipes For Meal Shuffling

I’m a calculating person.  I try to save time and money by looking ahead at how I can do things in my life more efficiently and with less time.  My awareness of time passing more quickly as I get older makes it the most precious commodity in my life.  My goal for everyday cooking is to make extra portions and find creative ways to eat them again without feeling like I’m eating leftovers.  I’m a premeditated cook and you get to benefit from my way of thinking and process about meal preparation. I call my process “the shuffle” because it is like a dance where you cook an item once with extras in mind and then you shuffle the extras around to create a new meal in less time.

In the past few blogs I’ve covered a meal plan week with pork and beans, then one with chicken and barley (or you can use brown rice) and now my focus is on fish.  This is the fish shuffle week with five easy fish recipes for your busy week.  These meals are all under 500 calories and deliver almost completely heart healthy unsaturated fats.  You will do the bulk of your cooking on the first day.

Five Easy Fish Recipes

  1. Baked Salmon with Garlic Mashed Cauli-Potatoes and Green Beans
  2. Salmon Shepherd Pie
  3. Blackened Fish Tacos
  4. Blackened Fish Chowder
  5. Salmon Mediterranean Salad

Baked Salmon With Garlic Mashed Cauli-Potatoes and Green Beans

One of my goals is to add as many non-starchy veggies to a recipe as possible without compromising taste.  Mustard, Panko SalmonThis lowers the calories and carbs and adds more volume.  You will make extra of each of these items to use in the other recipes.  Buy enough fish for the three salmon meals allowing about 4-6 ounces per person.  Allow 1 medium potato per person and make enough for the first two dinners.  Roast extra garlic to add to the fish chowder.  You could also keep a little extra mashed potatoes to add to the Fish Chowder to thicken it.  You will also make double the green beans to save for the Salmon Mediterranean Salad.  These recipes will be based on making enough for a family of four.  Adjust accordingly for a smaller or larger number of people.

Ingredients for 4 servings (enough salmon for 3 meals)

  • 4 # of salmon fillets (about 1 1/3 pounds per night)
  • 9 medium white or Yukon potatoes  ( I like to leave the skin on for extra fiber and nutrients)
  • 1 head of cauliflower cut into large flowerets
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 3 tbsp of butter
  • 2 pounds of fresh green beans (use 1 pound and save the rest for the Salmon Mediterranean Salad)
  • 2 tbsp brown mustard
  • 3/4 cup Panko
  • Lemon juice from one whole lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Before you get everything out to make dinner, start on the garlic.  Preheat the oven to 400.  Take the heads of garlic and cut off 1/4″ off the top.  Drizzle olive oil the tops and wrap them in foil.  Start baking these while you gather and prepare the other ingredients.


A steamer is great way to preserve the nutrients in your veggies

2.  Cut the potatoes into eighths and break the cauliflower into 2″ flowerets.   Place both in a large pot with a steamer and fill with about an inch of water.  Steaming your vegetables preserves more of the nutrients.  Steam with the lid on until you can easily put a fork through the potatoes, but be careful not to let the water boil away.

3.  Turn the oven down to 325, leaving the garlic in there.  Place the salmon fillets on a large greased cookie sheet.  You will prepare the fillets two different ways to be used in three different recipes.  Over 1/3 of the fillets, spread the brown mustard and then sprinkle with Panko.  This is the salmon for tonight’s dinner.

In a small bowl, combine the juice from one lemon, the olive oil and the dry seasoning.  Brush this on the rest of the salmon.  Bake the salmon for about 20-25 minutes or until the fish flakes easily and the thicker side of the fillet is cooked through.

4.  While the other ingredients are cooking, trim the ends off of the green beans and cut in half.  When the potatoes and cauliflower are done place them in a large mixing bowl along with one of the roasted heads of garlic.  Then put the green beans in the pot you cooked the potatoes in and steam those on high for about 5 minutes or until the green beans are tender.  When they are done, drain the water, take out the steamer and toss the green beans with a teaspoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with garlic powder and a bit of salt to taste.  Cover with a lid and set aside off the burner.

5.  While the green beans are steaming make the mashed potatoes.  Take the cauliflower, potatoes, one head of roasted garlic, 1 tsp of salt, and 3 tbsp of butter and blend well until it is smooth.  There is a high water content in cauliflower so you probably won’t need to add any milk.  Set aside a little over half of the potatoes for the Shepherd’s Pie and a little for the chowder.

Each serving should consist of about a deck of cards worth of salmon, 1 cup of green beans and one cup of the cauli-potato mash.  If you follow this process you will have the leftover salmon seasoned with lemon juice and spices for two other meals, mashed potatoes for tomorrow night’s dinner, roasted garlic and green beans to use in the next recipes.  Refrigerate all these ingredients as soon as possible.  Cooked fish lasts about 5 days in the refrigerator.

Nutritional Information:  Calories: 389   Fat: 11g   Carbs: 40g   Fiber: 7g   Protein: 35g

Salmon Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 20 oz of salmon or half of the remaining salmon from last night
  • 1 # of fresh asparagus with woody ends removed
  • 2 garlic cloves from last night’s dinner
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Mashed potatoes leftover from last night

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large skillet mash 2 roasted garlic cloves and mix with the olive oil.  Turn the heat on medium high and roll the asparagus in the olive oil mix.  Saute for about 3 minutes and then remove from heat.  In a deep 8″ by 8″ or equivalent casserole break apart half of the salmon and spread evenly over the bottom of the dish.  Cut up the asparagus into 1″ pieces and sprinkle over the salmon.  Cover with the rest of the mashed cauli-potato from last night and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.  This is a whole meal all in one dish!

You can either continue with the Salmon Mediterranean recipe or if you need a break from salmon you can go on to the Blackened Fish Taco recipe and come back to the salmon at the end of the week.  It’s always nice to have options when you cook!

Nutritional Information:  Calories: 364   Fat: 9.1g   Carbs: 39g   Fiber: 8g   Protein: 34g

Salmon Mediterranean Salad

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 16 oz of salmon leftover from the first night
  • 2-3 cups cooked green beans, leftover from the first night
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 12 small 1″ new potatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 tbsp apple cider or rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Steam potatoes in small pot for about 10 minutes until knife easily penetrates.  Once they are done drain the water and speed up cooling by placing in cold water bath for about 15 minutes while you work on other ingredients for the meal.

In a small bowl mix the juice from one lemon, vinegar, olive oil and the spices and set aside.  In a large bowl shred the salmon and then add the green beans, cut tomatoes, capers, and chopped olives.  When the potatoes have cooled enough, cut them in half and add to the rest of the ingredients.  Pour the lemon/olive oil dressing over everything and toss well.

This makes a delicious summer meal for a hot day and is a simple all in one dish!  Serve with some thinly sliced apples with fresh lemon juice and you have the perfect meal!

Nutritional Information:  Calories: 486   Fat: 17g   Carbs: 52g   Fiber: 12g   Protein: 35g

Blackened Fish Tacos

ingredients for 4 servings (save half of the fish for the chowder)

  • 2 1/2 pounds cod, haddock, tilapia, or catfish
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 Lavash wraps
  • Chopped green cabbage or 3 cups of cole slaw mix
  • 1 avocado
  • Juice from one lime
  • Salsa
  • Blackening seasoning

Preheat skillet on medium with the canola in it.  Pat dry the white fish and sprinkle blackening seasoning on both sides of fish.  If you can’t find blackening seasoning, I like to make my own using this recipe.  Place the fish on the skillet and let cook for two minutes.  Then gently flip over, turn off the heat and cover for 2-3 more minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.  You want to handle fish as little as possible.  When done, remove for skillet.  Save the other half of fish for tomorrow night’s fish chowder – put in the frig to cool as soon as possible.

Then take 1/3 of the green cabbage and cut into very fine strips, almost shaved if possible. Using either a Lavash or some other 10″ wrap, place the cabbage, then the fish, thin slices of avocado, some lime juice, then salsa.  Wrap it up and enjoy!  With this low carb meal you could still have a serving of ice cream or even some of my blueberry-rhubarb crisp!

Nutritional Information:  Calories: 328   Fat: 1g   Carbs: 18g   Fiber: 6g   Protein: 36g

Blackened Fish Chowder

The blackening seasoning on the fish adds wonderful flavor to the chowder if you used the leftovers from the previous meal.  I also keep a bacon bank in my freezer.  We cook a pound of bacon at a time and keep the extras in the freezer to use in meals like this to saves a step.

Ingredients for 4

  • 1 1/4 white fish (use leftovers from the fish tacos) and break into pieces
  • 4 medium Yukon potatoes  with skin, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 2 tbsp butter (if you are starting with cooked bacon)
  • 1 large onion chopped finely
  • 2 celery stalks chopped finely
  • 4 roasted garlic cloves (from the first night)
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken bouillon or clam juice
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 cup of mashed potatoes (leftover from cauli-potato mash)
  • 1/2 tsp chopped thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon in a large sauce pan until crispy (unless you keep a bacon bank like we do) on medium heat.  Remove the bacon and mince finely, then add back to the pan along with the garlic, onions and celery.  If you started with previously cooked bacon then mince this and add to the pan along with 2 tablespoons of butter to saute the onions and celery in.  Once the celery and onions are translucent, add the chicken broth or clam juice along with the potatoes and thyme.  Cook until the potatoes are tender.  Then add and stir in the cup of previously mashed potatoes.  If you don’t have the mashed potatoes, then take a third of the potato mixture and mash well.  Gradually add the milk stirring constantly to keep the broth smooth.  Let simmer for 10 minutes to thicken.  Then add the cooked blackened fish, salt and pepper and gently simmer for another 5 minutes until the fish is warm.  (If you are starting with fresh fish then you would add this to the soup when you add the potatoes.)  Serve with a slice on whole grain bread and a nice romaine salad to round out your meal!

Nutritional Information:  Calories: 367   Fat: 8.4g   Carbs: 28g   Fiber: 1g   Protein: 43g

Too Much Fish In One Week?

The shuffle concept allows you to take different meals from different weeks and shuffle them around.   You could do the Fish Tacos and Fish Chowder part of one week followed by BBQ chicken, Chicken Tacos and Tikki Masala using 12 boneless chicken breasts in my Chicken Shuffle Blog.  Cooking in bulk and then freezing gives you the freedom to mix and match different meals.  It’s the concept of thinking beyond one meal.  Instead think of meals for 2-3 nights in order to save you time, yet eat tasty meals without feeling like you are eating the exact same thing over and over again.  Leftovers are boring unless you do the one step, two meal shuffle!








Fast Food And The One Step, Two Meal Shuffle….

With the average American eating nearly five meals from a restaurant each week, it’s no wonder we are less healthy and have to take so many medications for cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes.  What if you could make truly fast food at home where you know what you are eating, you can make it quickly, it’s really tasty and you can recreate some of the ingredients for additional meals later in the week?  These meals have the key nutrients for keeping you full and out of the kitchen later at night.  They have the right combination of healthy protein, high fiber, and good carbs to keep you blood sugar from spiking and your belly satiated.  It’s the magical meal shuffle to make healthy and fast food.  It goes like this.

This Week’s Magical Meal Shuffle:  Healthy Fast Food

This week we are going to work with a bean and pork focus.  To keep cost down, I prefer to use dried beans.  If you would prefer not to do this, then you can just buy four 14 ounce cans of black beans for the week.  I like to prepare 2 bags of black beans and just freeze some for another time since they freeze well.  I do that with all my grains too since it saves me a step for another time.  If you looked in my freezer you would find containers of cooked quinoa which I will use in my egg custard, brown and wild rice for a seafood saute, and beans to put in soup or wrap.  I’ve even frozen some of my homemade hummus, pesto sauce and lots of soups to eat at another time when I’m feeling lazy.

The key to the magical meal shuffle is to use the weekend to do some preparation so that the week days will be easier.  You will be preparing enough pork tenderloin for two meals.  Here is your week’s fast food instructions:

Sunday Dinner Preparation

1.  Saturday evening, using The Bean Institute’s recommended Hot Soak Method for preparing dried beans, rinse 2 packages of dried black beans in a colander, place in a large pot adding 5 cups of water for every cup of beans.  Bring to a boil and boil for an additional 3 minutes.  Remove them from the heat and let them stand covered overnight.  In the early afternoon, drain, and then rinse the beans with fresh water.  If you prepared two bags like I often do, then freeze about 5 of the 13 cups of beans for another week’s time-saving step.  Place the rest of the beans in an air tight container in the refrigerator for further recipe shuffles in the week.

2.  Make the Feisty Rub for the pork tenderloin.  This makes enough for at least 5-10 meals.  In a 2 cup sealable container (I use an empty spice container) mix the following:

  • 3 tbsp. coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 4 1/2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 4 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. ground thyme

3.  For Sunday dinner you are going to cook 1(if for 2 people) or 2( if for 4 people) pork tenderloins in a cast iron pan.  Butterfly the tenderloins and then cook them following my One Pan Dinner recipe.   If you are cooking two tenderloins then use another pan to cook the beans and vegetable.  You can use an 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes or a whole jar of salsa if you prefer.  Allow 3/4 cup black beans per person.  Double the beans and greens if you are cooking for four.  A serving of meat is 4 oz and each pork tenderloin is about 16-18 oz or 4 servings. Save half of the pork for another dinner later in the week.

Nutrient Breakdown:  

  • Pork: Serving size: 4 oz.  Calories: 120.  Fat: 2.5g.  Carbs: 0.  Fiber: 0.  Protein: 24g
  • Bean/Tomato Mix:  Serving size: 3/4 cup.  Calories: 150.  Fat: 0.  Carbs: 36g.  Fiber: 20g.  Protein: 13g.
  • Spinach:  Serving size: 1 cup cooked.  Calories 41.  Fat: 0.  Carbs: 7g.  Fiber: 4g.  Protein: 5gms
  • Total Nutrients for meal:  Calories:  311.  Fat: 2.5g.  Carbs: 43g.  Fiber:  24g.  Protein:  42g.

Monday – Black Bean Chili

When you first get up Monday morning take a 4 quart crock-pot and set to high setting.  Place the following ingredients in the crock-pot and mix well until the meat is well dispersed.

  • 2 pound ground turkey breast or 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 28 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 4 cups of the black beans
  • 1 large diced onion
  • 1 bag frozen chopped spinach, kale or collard greens
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or 1 minced jalapeno peppers(optional)
  • 1 heaping tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcester sauce

Get ready for the day and come back to the crock-pot in about 45 minutes to stir all the ingredients and turn the crock-pot down to low.  Let time take over!  This makes about 8 servings and will have enough leftover for a dinner later in the week.  Serve with Akmok crackers or make my delicious corn bread (you can use regular cornmeal if you can’t get the blue)

Nutrient Breakdown:

  • Chili:  Serving Size:  1 1/2 cup.  Calories: 242.  Fat: 1.5g.  Carbs: 32g.  Fiber: 17g.  Protein: 40gms
  • Cornbread:  (makes 9 servings)  Serving Size: 2.5″ square.  Calories: 227.  Fat: 8g.  Carbs: 33g.  Fiber: 3g.  Protein: 6g.
  • Total Nutrients per meal:  Calories: 469.  Fat: 9.5g.  Carbs: 65g.  Fiber: 20g.  Protein: 46g.

Tuesday – Tangy Bean Salad and Pork Leftovers

Set the oven to 300.  Slice the leftover pork into small slices, wrap in foil and put in the oven while you make this delicious bean salad that makes 8 servings!

In a large bowl mix the following ingredients together:

  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 cups black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • juice from one lime
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro or for ease, 1/2 tsp dried oregano

If you would like to add more vegetables to increase the volume, I’ve added a cup or two of chopped green cabbage to this mix which adds a nice crunch.  I’ve also added small pieces of cucumbers and fresh diced tomatoes from the garden in the summer.  Serve on a bed of fresh spinach or arugula with the warmed sliced pork tenderloin.

Nutrient Breakdown

  • Bean Salad:  serving size: 3/4 cup  Calories: 130  Fat: 5g.  Carbs: 27g.  Fiber: 12g.  Protein: 9g.
  • Pork: Serving size: 4 oz.  Calories: 120.  Fat: 2.5g.  Carbs: 0.  Fiber: 0.  Protein: 24g
  • Total Nutrients per meal:  Calories: 250.  Fat: 7.5g.  Carbs: 27g.  Fiber: 12g.  Protein: 33g.

Wednesday – Franks and Beans

I use Applegate organic beef hot dogs because they are made from organic grass-fed beef, have no nitrates or preservatives.  Served on a whole grain hot dog bun and topped with a small amount of the leftover chili, with a side of the above Tangy Bean Salad, this is a 2 second tasty meal!  There are 7 hot dogs in a pack – enough for everyone to split another hot dog without going overboard.

Nutrient Breakdown

  • Applegate hot dog:  Serving Size:  1.  Calories:  90.  Fat: 7g.  Carbs: 0g.  Fiber: 0g.  Protein: 6g
  • Bean Salad:  serving size: 3/4 cup  Calories: 130  Fat: 5g.  Carbs: 27g.  Fiber: 12g.  Protein: 9g
  • Hot Dog Bun: Servings Size: 1 roll.  Calories: 110.  Fat: 2g.  Carbs: 21g.  Fiber: 3g.  Protein: 5g.
  • Total Nutrients per meal:  (based on one hot dog serving)  Calories: 330.  Fat: 14g.  Carbs: 48g.  Fiber: 15g.  Protein: 20g.

Thursday – Leftover Chili and Cornbread

You can just have the chili and cornbread for dinner or you can have a salad on the side.  My husband makes the best salad in the world – everyone asks him to bring a salad to any gathering because it is so fresh and tasty.  The key is that everything is chopped.

Pete’s Chopped Salad

  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 large head romaine
  • 1 3″ wedge of green cabbage
  • 1/2 onion
  • 8 kalamata olives
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Chop all the ingredients separately into a large salad bowl, poor the olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper and mix together with tongs.  For a nice twist, roast some sunflower seeds in a pan with no oil for a few minutes stirring constantly and substitute sesame oil for the olive oil.  The calories from this salad would mainly come from the avocado and the oil which is about 400 calories but divided over 4 people then that is not too bad for this delicious salad.  You could also just skip the avocado to save about 140 calories.

Fast Food Shuffle

The key to eating healthy is to simplify steps in food preparation, make extra ingredients to freeze or use in other meals and use time to save you steps.  It’s the make once, use twice shuffle to keep you healthy and not add stress to your already crazy day.






quinoa custard for dessert!

No Guilt Desserts

A carb overhaul means making your dessert indulgences tasty and healthy.  It doesn’t mean less joy and satisfaction; it just means adopting new recipes and being creative with old ones.  The Center For Science In the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy organization whose mission is to conduct research as well as to advocate for the consumer, posted a wonderful document in their Nutrition Action Health Letter on what a typical day’s worth of food should contain in order to meet the body’s nutritional needs.  If you care about having your body perform at its best and reward you with great energy, sleep, less inflammation, less gastrointestinal issues, fewer headaches, better blood pressure, better blood sugar and less artery clogging fats, then pay attention now.

A Day’s Worth of Food is based on the Omniheart study which examined three different dietary approaches to reduce heart disease.  A day’s worth of food was a hybrid of two of the diets with emphasis on more protein and replacing saturated fats with more unsaturated fats.  The following daily guidelines is what is recommended to lower coronary heart disease risk:

  • 11 servings of fruits and vegetables (with more emphasis on the non-starchy veggies)
  • 4 servings of grains
  • 2 servings of dairy
  • 2 servings of legumes and nuts
  • 1 serving of meat, poultry or fish
  • 2 servings of oil and fats
  • 2 servings of desserts

Wow, you say, actually 2 servings of desserts.  That means one dessert after lunch and one dessert after dinner.  No problemo.

Well, look more carefully at the bottom and see what they describe as a portion of dessert:  one small cookie or 1 teaspoon sugar.  Ok, that means I could have sugar in my tea and one cookie or I could have 2 cookies and no sugar in my tea or I could have no cookie and 2 cups of tea with sugar.  All sugars are about the same whether its honey, Agave, molasses, maple syrup or brown sugar – they all deliver about 4-5 gms of carbs per teaspoon.

You Do Not Have to Desert Desserts!!

I do not despair; I look at this as a challenge.  I ask myself, how can I stay within the recommendations without compromising my taste buds?  With the list including fruit, milk, eggs, nuts and whole grains, it’s a no brainer to find ways to incorporate these into the dessert.  Fruit is a natural sweetener allowing the ability to cut back on sugar without compromising the taste.  Using whole grain flour or oatmeal is just as good in things like crisps, coffee cakes and even cookies (think oatmeal cookies).  Adding plain fat-free Greek yogurt to the batter does nothing to disturb flavor yet adds dairy and protein.  Flax seed is a nice oil substitute and adds heart healthy fiber and some inflammation reducing omega 3’s.  Using cinnamon, nutmeg and even lemon can hide the decreased amount of sugar.

Using oatmeal in a crisp topping is a nice way to get a whole grain and is as satisfying as a piece of pie made with white flour.  Adding cinnamon and nutmeg has a way of enhancing sweetness while allowing less sugar to be put in the crisp.  Making a topping of crisp with just 3 tbsp of butter blended with a pastry knife is just as tasty as a two pie crust made with a cup of shortening.  My Blueberry Rhubarb Crisp is as good as any pie and is even better if it is made from blueberries grown in your own yard.  Blueberries are so easy to grow and give such a high yield for months each season.

Want something warm and soft for dessert with just a bit of texture on a cold winter day?  My quinoa custard really hits the spot, delivers nice protein from the eggs, dairy, Greek yogurt and quinoa, has nice fiber, and tastes sweet yet is low in sugar.  It dissolves in your mouth if you are a custard kind of person.

Feel like a cake?  Try my Apple Crumb Cake.  This dessert is high in protein with the eggs, Greek yogurt, and whole grains, as well as high in fiber and the McCoun apples and cinnamon make up for the difference in less sugar than most cakes contain.  You could also use this same cake batter and make a lemon blueberry cake.  Omit the crumb topping and use blueberries and lemon juice instead of the apples.  Use plain fat-free Greek yogurt instead of the vanilla yogurt.  And once it comes out of the oven squirt the juice from one lemon over the cake and dust the top with confectioners sugar once it has cooled.  Both are so healthy you can have them for breakfast and no you are starting the day in a healthy way!

Want something cold and creamy to hit that sweet spot?  My Mango Frozen Yogurt dessert is high in protein, low in fat, delivers a serving of fruit and dairy while being low in sugar.  Even a cup of this creamy dessert would keep you within the two teaspoons of sugar allowance a day.  All you need is an electric ice cream maker that you can find for under $30.  If you want you can pour this mixture in popsicle molds to savor the taste a little longer.  You could substitute any fruit for the mango.

Delicious and Nutritious Desserts

That’s my goal.  I take ideas from old recipes that aren’t as healthy and I find a way to make them healthier depending on whether or not I want crunchy, cakie, soft or warm or creamie sensations for dessert.  I look at batter as a vehicle for delivering wholesome, healthy yumminess.  I look at Greek yogurt as a way to augment my protein.  I look at fruit as nature’s sweetener.  It’s all in the perspective.  It’s all in the attitude.  It’s all in what’s important:  choosing to give your demanding taste buds anything they want or carefully considering what surrounds them on the way to nourishing your body to keep it at peak performance.


New Year’s Goal: Get The Right Ratio

Forest Gump may believe life is like a box of chocolates, but I believe life should be like a bowl of Chex Mix – with the perfect ratio of ingredients.  I believe a happy life consists of the right balance of work, relationships, responsibilities, fun and taking care of one’s self.  An imbalance among these areas is like Chex Mix without the right ratio of ingredients.

Chex mix

Chex mix

Every holiday my family always has at least one discussion about what it takes to make the perfect Chex Mix.  We know it takes the right balance of Rice Chex, to Wheat Chex, to peanuts and pretzels.  It also takes the right amount of “hot kick” in the seasoning.  The right amount of butter(and only butter) and just the right amount of cooking time.  If one area is off-balance then I get  “the message”.  Life should be like Chex Mix – striving for the right ratio.  When too much of your life is consumed by one area (or your life consumes too much of one area), then the other areas get diminished and out of balance.  This imbalance impacts work quality, relationships, attitude, and our health due to chronic stress.

Chronic Stress Is Like Soggy Chex Mix Without The Crunch

I have learned to mix the warm, seasoned butter with the Rice Chex, peanuts and pretzels first, before stirring in the Wheat Chex.  If I put the Wheat Chex in with everything else from the start, the Wheat Chex act like little sponges and become soggy.  And if those sheets of Chex Mix are not baked for at least 20 minutes at 325 and tossed around half way, then the mix won’t crisp up.

Chronic stress leaves our thoughts half-baked, hearts soggy and life without crispness.  Short episodes of stress gives us a boost of energy from the release of hormones that prepare our bodies for action.  However, prolonged periods of stress with long-term exposure to these hormones, can not only cause headaches, indigestion, poor sleep, depression and anxiety but increased inflammation that speeds up aging.   Furthermore, chronic stress has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even a weakened immune system.

It’s Your Life – Get the Right Ratio!

It’s so easy to put off taking care of ourselves.  I hear people say frequently how unhappy they are in their job.  It always makes me wonder if they have considered all possibilities like a change in jobs, moving, or reassessing needs and wants.  It makes me wonder whether or not they have created their own financial prisons thinking they must have a certain lifestyle, house, camp, travel or multiple things that only bring temporary happiness.

I hear my clients say often that they will start exercising when  “the kids go to school” or “when I have more time” or “when I go south in the winter” instead of just finding ten minutes to go for a fast walk that week.  Or sometimes a client will talk about their loneliness instead of doing something about it by joining clubs or meet-up’s or getting active in the community.

Sometimes people take on too many responsibilities through work, family or volunteering and don’t ask for help or know when to say “no”.  And sometimes people don’t have enough responsibilities and have too much fun so that they lose out on that feeling of personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

I believe getting the right life ratio starts with knowing why it is important and then re-prioritizing.  The “life Chex Mix ratio” doesn’t happen overnight, but gradually everyone can find that balance of work, responsibilities, fun, relationships and taking care of one’s self if they really want it.  My Chex mix was not perfect the first time, but I can certainly boast that today, after 30 years of making it, it is mighty fine with just the right amount of cereal, nuts and pretzels, “spicy kick”, butter and baking that is not soggy, nor without delicious buttery crunch!

Bo Derek

Ten, A Very Important Number

Aside from Bo Derek’s movie, Ten, with her gorgeous body running on the beach knowing how good she must feel, the number 10 is important in health coaching.  The number 10 is where we want our clients to reach in terms of their energy level.  When someone rates themselves a 10, they are able to accomplish more, overcome obstacles, achieve hopes, improve health, and feel life is full of possibilities.  The number 10 is also important in some areas of health.  When these guidelines below are achieved, any individual can feel like a Bo Derek and reach a 10 in energy level.


Fiber – Ten Grams Per Meal

You laugh, but face it, without having a daily poop our comfort is compromised and we feel bloated.  The average American eats only 15 grams of fiber a day – mainly from processed foods.  The U.S. government guidelines recommend 25 – 35 grams of fiber a day.

But fiber does more than just make us happy in the morning.  Soluble fiber helps lower the artery clogging LDL cholesterol.  Insoluble fiber feeds gut flora that helps to boost our immune system and gives bulk to our morning constitution.  Fiber has been linked to body weight regulation and helps to keep people fuller longer.  Aim for about ten grams a meal by eating fruits and veggies, nuts, beans and whole grain breads, cereal, and crackers.  And watch out for isolated fibers like maltodextrin, inulin and polydextrose that are processed fibers and do not give the same health benefits and can cause gas and bloating.

Exercise – Ten Minutes At A Time

The American College of Cardiology looked at the association between jogging at a leisurely pace and it’s impact on mortality and presence of heart disease in over 55,000 patients between the ages of 18 and 100.   They concluded that even jogging at a leisurely pace for 5-10 minutes each day was associated with a significantly reduced risk of death from all causes and heart disease.  Imagine that as few as five to ten minutes will give you a healthier, extended life.  If you have bad knees or joints then try an elliptical or the Arc, these are just as effective,  and you can watch TV or be in your skivvies and no one will know.

Saturated Fat – Less Than Ten Percent Of Your Daily Calories

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 which are updated every 5 years, recommend no more than 10% of total daily calories come from saturated fat.  For a 2000 calorie diet that would mean about 22 grams a day.  For an 1800 calorie diet it tops out at 20 grams.  For a 1500 calorie diet that would mean no more than 17 grams.  Saturated fat comes mainly from animal fats, but also palm and coconut oils.  Saturated fat is only part of the total fat on the nutritional label, but along with transfats, can lead to heart disease.

Saturated fats can add up.  A Big Mac has 10 grams, a double quarter-pounder with cheese has 19 grams – adding an ounce of cheese to any sandwich will add about 6 more grams of saturated fat.  A half cup of ice cream has 4 grams of heart-clogging fat.  A venti Vanilla Latte from Starbucks has 4.5 grams of saturated fat.  An apple crumb donut from Dunkin Donuts has 9 grams of saturated fat.  You can quickly see how all these numbers add up.  Awareness is empowerment so you can make an informed decision.

It’s All About Getting to Ten

Feeling like a 10 is possible.   Eating using these guidelines along with getting even 5-10 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily is going to improve your circulation, digestion, immune system and satiety.  You will have more energy to do what makes you happy.

It doesn’t have to happen overnight.  It starts with getting familiar with food labels and eating more fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and nuts.  Increase you activity by parking further away during errands, taking the stairs more and gradually work towards that 5-10 minutes of exercise.  You don’t have to look like Bo to feel like a 10!


Do You Hate Dieting? Motivation Tip #4

I was talking to a friend this week about the process of dieting or ending any self-destructive habit is really a matter of dealing with a sense of deprivation.  Viewing dieting as just giving up foods that are loved and not looking at the whole process naturally makes one feel like the pumpkin has arrived for good and the glass slipper is gone forever.  Viewed in this manner, it is no wonder that people hate dieting.

How Are You Framing Your Dieting?

dietingDieters tend to lump the act of dieting into one process and surround it with negativity.  In reality, the process of losing weight should be viewed as a series of small steps that happen over time based on self-knowledge and planning.  From my experience the five biggest mistakes that people make in their attempt to lose weight are:  not having a clear and strong reason for losing weight, having an all or nothing mentality, not understanding what drives their unhealthy behaviors, not having a satisfying “what to do instead” plan and not defining and being aware of “the payback” for all the hard work.  Without addressing these five areas it’s no wonder that most dieters feel deprived and do not have success at keeping the weight off.

Address These Five Areas First Before Dieting

1.  Have a clear and strong reason for losing weight.  Are you losing weight just to look good?  Ask yourself why is it important for you to look good.  Get to the emotion behind it.  Are you tired of people making comments about your weight or food choices?  Are you tired of having to squeeze into small plane or theater seats?  Are you not having the passionate sex you were having before?  Are you not able to twist your body into those wonderful yoga twists without the belly fat getting in the way?

Get to the meat of why changing your physical appearance is important to you, not just “to look better”.  If your reasons include health, then know specifically why.  Is it because your father had a heart attack in his 50’s?  Is it because you’ve seen how hard it is for you mother who has diabetes to give herself insulin?  Is it because you had a close family member have a stroke?

If health is an important motivator, then have your cholesterol and fasting blood sugar done before you begin and repeat them 6 months later.   Perhaps track your blood pressure and know how any medications you are on work.  Losing weight often means some blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, gastric reflux and even asthma medications can be reduced or stopped.

If your reason is to lose weight for your spouse or significant other, then be cautious.  External motivation, especially if you are feeling pressure from your partner to lose weight, is not always a strong motivator.  Making lifestyle changes for someone else can lead to resentment and the belief that success can only be determined by the other person, not yourself.

2.  It’s not all or nothing.  Learning to eat differently is not easy.  We have to eat to live but we don’t have to live to eat.  There are many ways to reduce calories while still enjoying your favorite foods.  Dieting doesn’t have to mean giving up all those foods you love but it does mean planning for them and being strategic so that you get the outcome you want in the long run.  There are going to be some days where your willpower will be stronger.  Give yourself permission to eat more than you wanted of something or to give in to urges but look at those occasions as opportunities to learn.

So you ate a pint of ice cream.  Examine why you did it.  Were you bored?  Did you not eat enough at dinner?  Are you worried about something?  Did you stay up later than usual and you were hungry?  Did you not have a night snack back up plan?  Did you keep a really tempting ice cream in the freezer?  Could you have waited ten minutes for the craving to pass?  Could you have had some hot tea or a frozen Light and Fit Yogurt container instead?

It might take a few weeks or even a month to give up the old habit of snacking on ice cream at night.  It’s natural for it to feel uncomfortable and for you to waiver but begin to notice how you feel about yourself the next day when you have success at getting through an evening without ice cream.  Even if you can get to the point of having a serving of ice cream, in a bowl and not out of the container twice a week on the days you plan for is a huge improvement!  Life is about the journey, not the destination.

3.  Understand what drives your behaviors.  A client I worked with recently stated that she notices she eats binges on unhealthy foods when she is bored.  She realizes that she may need support for her food addictions.  This was a powerful statement that took some courage to state and wisdom to acknowledge.  She has strong personal motivation to lose weight and realizes that part of her strategy to lose weight is to address the emotional side of eating and plans on joining Overeater’s Anonymous.  I believe the more structure and outside support she puts into her daily routine the more success she will have.

The more you understand your patterns and triggers to your unhealthy food choices, the more success you will have with having lasting weight loss.

4.  Have a “what to do instead” plan.  Ok, so you have been night snacking on those crunchy, munchie, salty, crispy ,colorful chips and crackers for years.  Do you really think that beginning tomorrow you are going to suddenly give them all up?  Talk about all or nothing deprivation.  Making these kind of changes calls for some serious thinking and planning.  Can you pre-portion some snacks that are less tempting but still satisfying?  Can you experiment with different healthier foods like fruit or air popped popcorn?  Can you turn the TV off and make some nights a reading or game night?  Can you go to bed earlier?  Can you get some really nice special teas and sip on them instead?  Can you suck on one lollipop?  Can you eat a bigger, more satisfying dinner?  Can you keep the night snacking to just Wednesday and Saturday nights?  Can you get the other people in your household to get on board with you by keeping certain trigger foods out of your house?  The more you plan, the more is in your hands!

5.  Define and be aware of the payback.  What are you going to define as success in your weight loss endeavors?  Is it to not fall asleep in the afternoon?  Is it to get your fasting blood sugar or LDL below 100?  Is it to slip into that little black dress comfortably?  Is it to participate in a road race?  As you begin your weight loss journey, notice subtle shifts in food attitudes, emotions, energy level, responses from friends and family and physical changes.  Be aware of the feelings of accomplishment when you successfully navigate night snacking, exercising regularly, cooking healthier meals, mastering self talk and see changes in your body.  Notice your energy levels two hours after meals and the difference you feel when you eat balanced meals versus ones that are not.  Become aware of how your body responds with less heartburn, less belly pain, more regular bowel movements, better breathing, better energy.  Notice if you have a more positive outlook on life, you’re smiling more.  Notice if you have more success in other areas of your life – like improved relationships, more daily productivity, and better sleep.

Deprivation or Desperation

If your dieting leads you to constant feelings of deprivation then no wonder it is a drag.  But sometimes there needs to be a feeling of desperation to make lasting changes.  Sometimes it takes a feeling that “I can’t keep going on like this because I know I deserve better.”  As they say in health coaching, in order to make lasting lifestyle changes one must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.  When someone gets to that point, any action is a positive action and any feelings of deprivation are way overshadowed by the payback in making gradual lifestyle changes.