Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stressed Over a Food Budget? Maybe Less Really Is More!

I’m intrigued with the “grazing” experience. After a week of being mindful of what I eat, I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe “less is more”.

I seem to have more energy ~ and more money! How novel is that?

I made notes of what I ate for a week ~ Instead of no breakfast, I had either a hard-boiled egg, a little fruit and some tomato juice ~ or an English muffin and peanut butter and tomato juice.
Lunch was again some fruit with something like tuna/celery salad, or avocado and lemon juice with a slice of Swiss cheese on a flour tortilla, and dinner was often a salad with lots of vegetables.

Nuts and fruit were the main fillers mid-day and mid-afternoon.

If I had a hamburger for lunch or dinner, I skipped the bread and added fresh tomatoes and an ear of corn. There was no potato side dish. You get the idea.

That’s more or less the gist of it ~ but it allowed me a night of eating dinner out mid-week without that nagging guilt that I was spending too much money on food.

I admit it does feel strange not to have to run to the store as part of my meal planning, because then you have to decide what to do with that big hole in your day.

It’s also been easier to provide good nutrition for my granddaughters when they visit because kids are generally programmed to graze. A half a cheese sandwich with some sliced pears was just fine for lunch the other day ~ and so much cheaper than fast food and pop!

A caveat here. The men and women who work all day sweating calories out there in the hot sun most likely require more food for fuel. Just pay attention and eat more of those nutrient-rich foods and watch out for the packaged, processed stuff that just adds empty calories and makes you only crave more. A big hamburger at noon is probably just what you need ~ but some carrots and a bottle of cold water would be a much better choice than fries and soda pop!

Bon appetit!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Don't Worry About Rationed Health Care ~ Ration Fast Food!

There was a provocative piece in the New York Times recently examining the conundrum of rationing health care. The experts say it’s already happening. We just don’t recognize it.

True enough. Our system rations care now when people without health insurance get no care, or co-pays are too high, even with insurance. The high cost of some pharmaceutical drugs determines who can get the drugs they need. It’s all rationed by virtue of their ability to pay.

From my perspective, of course, how we eat is central to how much any of us can control. The biggest health issues ~ heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers are connected to toxic accumulations of fat, sugar and salt ~ not to mention all the chemical preservatives.

What drives it is what we as a culture believe about food ~ that If you eat enough, there’s an emotional reward that has little to do with meeting the nutritional needs of our bodies. It’s a sedative for uncertainty, depression and anxiety.

Eating is a pivotal event in the day ~ driven as much by pleasure as nourishment. It also can absorb a lot of time.

Rather than trying to put together three meals every day, I’ve found some success with grazing for the good stuff ~ meaning you eat more often ~ just in smaller quantities.

You’ll burn more calories, you’ll spend less money, and you’ll have more energy. The only thing holding you back is your thoughts. Thoughts bring emotions, and emotions seek food rewards ~ so recognize it and get past it. You’re after affordable health care!

Affordable Health Care Tips ~

Eat smaller portions five or six times a day, rather than three meals.

A hard-boiled egg or a half an English muffin with peanut butter, some fruit and a small glass of tomato juice will get you off to a good start in the morning. Even two of those options are better than nothing.

Carry some almonds, a small yogurt or a banana with you for a snack mid-morning. You could also have the other half of that peanut butter muffin.

If you’re going to eat more at any point in the day, make it lunch rather than dinner. If you want a burger, skip the fries and order fruit.

Mid-afternoon, eat a banana or drink a smoothie.

Have what used to be the lunchtime salad for dinner and add 3 oz of grilled meat or fish with a slice of bread. (Watch the salad dressing!!)

Don’t snack after 7 p.m. If TV is the culprit, turn it off!

You can adapt this for kids. If you’re going to be out in the car, just pack an insulated lunch bag with some of these options (minus the almonds if kids are small) so you resist the inclination to swing through the drive-through food stop. Instead, go to the park! You’ll save a bunch of money!

Don’t sabotage your new health care plan with soda pop! Your body craves water to do its work!

Try this out for a week. Keep some notes of what you ate and how you felt at the end of the week!

I’d love to have you comment on my blog!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shop for Health Insurance ~ Buy an Avocado!

Last week I stopped at a coffee shop to have a frappacino with my stepdaughter. I don’t usually order those ~ but it was still hot outside so I thought it would be refreshing.

I selected a toffee frappacino. It was like sipping out of a jug of pancake syrup! I don’t eat desserts often, so a straw full of this sugar assault was about all I could drink. I handed it back in exchange for an iced tea.

Of course, those kinds of food and drink choices are everywhere, making it both physically and psychologically daunting to pick something that’s good for your body. Just one frappacino with whipped cream would not likely be the “deal breaker” that sends you to the hospital ER, but a series of those types of choices adds up ~ often resulting in a diagnosis of something like heart disease or diabetes.

As a result, there’s been a lot written and discussed of late about raw foods, and I plan to say more about that later. But if you think you’re ready to change course, the easiest approach is to begin eliminating the processed stuff in your diet. It can start with your very next trip to the fridge.

After a few days of eating fresh foods, you may notice a drop in your energy level, mostly likely because your cells are detoxifying. But if you continue, that won’t last long ~ and with each healthy food choice you’ll notice your energy level will gradually pick up.

Think of it as health insurance.

It’s a delusion to think that the sum total of our future health security will be hammered out on Capital Hill. As I write, there’s political strategy in place now to insure that nothing changes. Hopefully, the current system goes away because it’s simply not sustainable. But while we watch to see what emerges, our own personal power lies in shoring up our body’s own natural defenses with energy- dense foods.

You don’t need to be a cook to do it! More about that next week.

This Week’s Suggestion ~

If you do nothing else, drink less pop and more water!

If you love carbonated drinks, here’s a nice alternative:

Mix some tonic water with a tsp or less of agave sweeter, a slice or two of lime, and some mint leaves. Or forget the agave and mint, and just drink tonic water and lime. (For diabetics, agave has a far lower glycemic index than other sweeteners and offers a much healthier alternative to diet pop!)

Next time I’ll talk about “grazing” for the good stuff!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Want Affordable Healthcare? Eat Well!

So much is about food, you know.

How we spend our money, how we spend our time, how good we feel is, in large part, connected to food. "Follow the money" is the adage to find what drives business ventures. I would say "follow the food" if you want to guage the state of your health ~ or even your bank account.

That's why I've chosen to write about it. I'll write about what's good to eat, the emotional struggle to avoid what's bad, and how to simplify that part of your life.

This is my first blog ~ so I'm going to devote a bit more space here to frame why I think our relationship with food is so terribly important. Just look at the debate surrounding health care. The scurry on Capital Hill to craft a workable health care plan has been framed as the tip of our economic sword. If lawmakers don’t come up with an effective plan, they say we’ll drain all available buckets for social security, education, and on down the line.

Yes, sick people need access to care ~ but how much care can we afford? Keep in mind that even if everyone had access, the nation barely has enough physicians to treat those who are insured now.

The issue, basically, is how do we give sick people what they need to get well? But there’s also an overarching issue ~ Why are so many Americans getting so sick in the first place? In the best of worlds, energy and dollars would go towards preventing illness and maintaining good health.

But our medical system isn’t set up that way. If it was, medical insurance would handsomely reimburse for prevention programs and practices.

Culturally speaking, it’s another matter. It’s about how we live. In that respect, individually we have more control than we realize. In this country, food is central to that. In most other cultures, people eat to live. Here, we live to eat.

The food industry has largely promoted that. In his recent book, “The End of Overeating”, Dr. David Kessler says what’s put in food fuels the desire to keep eating it. Basically, those addicting ingredients are salt, sugar and fat. Add to that the chemical overlays that can replicate any taste to enhance those reward feelings that make us want more, and we’re hooked.

You may stave off quite well during the day, because that’s when most people are busiest. But come quitting time, it’s hard to resist heading to the fridge for something tasty, turning on the TV and then parking on the couch. Those who eat lunch out may be looking forward to fries midway through the morning.

Is it because they lack will power? No. That’s where people beat themselves up way too much. What’s really going on is your cells are depleted of energy you that could be getting from food in a purer state. As a result, you feel worn out and totally unmotivated to choose broccoli over chips.

The motivation has to be there first. So consider this. Modern medicine can’t restore you to health if you’re eating junk. No amount of access to medical care is going to make you feel better until you begin paying attention to what you put into your body.

And it’s defeating to make being thinner the first goal. That will come as you get healthier. Getting healthier should be the first goal. And that process can begin with your very next bite.

Regardless of what’s decided in Washington, it’s going to take awhile to roll out a revamped health care program. In the meantime, there’s a veritable pharmacy right there in the fresh produce section of your grocery store.

That’s affordable health care. Now let's make the most of it!