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Author Topic: ways to eat healthier & avoid sweets
kitka
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I've seen a few posts on this and thought it would be good for a general topic ... feel free to add your ideas and experiences.
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kitka
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Eating good food can be difficult - a busy schedule, what your family/roommates have in the fridge, your stress level and cravings, exercise level - have a sizeable impact on how you eat.

Some ideas.

1. Search out food that's minimally processed. If you aren't near a farmer's market or can't get organic food, you can still stock up on a variety of fresh produce, raw fish, meat, poultry, etc.

The 5-A-Day program by the FDA is a decent start.
I have the list of different colors of vegetables on my fridge, and a chart of which veggies have which vitamins. I pick from each column to make sure I get a variety.

If you eat a lot of red meat and fish like me, look for a butcher or supermarket that sells meat freshly ground/cut and out of the plastic packaging.

Processed, pre-made food includes boxed dinners, most canned foods and even many of the "lean" frozen dinners. Compared to dishes made from scratch, they often contain high levels of saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

Recipies with good quality ingredients can incorporate moderate amounts of fat - cream, butter, meat - and still be healthy.

2. A great way to cook - the slow cooker.
Try "It's Not your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook" by Beth Hensperger. It has a great variety of "ethnic" recipies - Indian, Scottish, African, etc - and traditional American meals.

Slow cookers cost as low as $20 for a medium size, usually enough to feed 2-3 people. With most recipies, you chop up your ingredients, add liquid, and cook on low from 6-8 hours. By the time you get home from class or work, dinner is ready.

You can make steamed bread, boston baked beans, vegetable stews, rice pudding...

3. Eating healthy when there's other people in your pride can be difficult. This is where preparing your own meals can be helpful. Your mother may resent it when you pull out the slow cooker. Offer to make dinner instead.

4. Sweets.

Part of the fun of eating dessert can be cooking it. If you take 1/2 an hour to make a custard, your senses will be partially sated by smelling it as you cook it.

Try fresh fruit to satisfy your cravings- berries with a little sugar, melon, apples/pears with interesting cheese.

Go for high quality desserts. Instead of spending $2 on a bag of musketeers, save up a bit and buy good chocolate - the kind in specialty stores. it will be much richer than plain store-bought, and will satisfy your craving with a smaller, often healthier quantity.

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Heather
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Nice post, kitka!

One thing I'd suggest when shofting diet to a healthier level is to be sure and give efforts at least three or four months before deciding it isn't making any difference.

Obviously, it makes a difference on a lot of levels, always a positive one, but often when people don't FEEL a difference, they revert back to poorer eating habits.

When I finally weaned myself off of dairy for good, for instance, I'd say I didn't feel a major difference for almost six months. I was dedicated to do it anyway, but once my energy levels changed massively, once I felt how different I felt after eating, how much more quickly I'd build new muscle when I boxed, saw the differences in my skin, menstrual periods, the works, it made ANY temptation to go back fall right away. At this point, you literally couldn't pay me money to eat the stuff.

And weaning oneself off of unhealthy things does help. If, for instance, you're regularly eating processed or frozen foods two or three times a day, if you take them all away immediately, one is bound to feel deprived. So, cutting back slowly can be a help.

For people who don't dig vegetables, in my experience, most of those folks have only really eaten frozen or tinned veggies: not surprising not to like wet, soggy, half-flavored veggies. So, I'd suggest once a week trying something new that is either raw or very lightly steamed. Tupperware actually makes an awesome $20 microwave veggie steamer for folks in dorms who don't have a range to steam on. (I lothe microwaves, but I still dig that thing.)

Investing in a few really good cookbooks is also a great investment. I can't help meat-eaters, but for vegans and vegetarians, The Garden of Vegan and How it All Vegan are both AWESOME, and have the extra bonus of mostly being about breakfasts, lunches, snacks and such, rather than five-course dinners. For those who include dairy (or know how to made adaptations) Molly Katzen's "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, " Nava Atlas' "Vegetariana," and "The Moosewood Cookbook" are all great.

Learning to enjoy cooking is so helpful to eating well. If you can arrange your life so that cooking isn't a rush, but a nice, relaxing end to your day, or a good break in the middle, that helps. I tend to really look forward to the end of my day, because I know it means pouring myself a small glass of wine (or tea, or sparkling cider, etc.), plopping a good CD on, and spending an hour or so with beautiful ingredients, smelling up my place nicely, beingt creative with food.

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DarkChild717
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For me, the quickest way to stop eating "bad" things was to simply cut all chemicals out of my diet. Yup. All of em. And lemme tell ya, I *know* when one slips past me because more often then not, I've got a pounding head for a few hours. So, that's my continuing motivation. [Wink]

Essentially, I know have to cook all my food from scratch. I did before, but now it's every day. It's helping me become innovative in the kitchen. Call my old fashioned, but I sill swear by the red-checkerd Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I finally got one of my own, and I use it weekly.

On of my favorite recipies involves fresh peppers, ground beef (or anything you want, here, really.), onions, fresh garlic, and tomato sauce. Cook, add the sauce, and macaroni noodles. Set to low, and wait 20 minutes until the macaroni is cooked. I like to add cheese afterwards.

I still do have my snackyk-type food available, but it's seriously limited in choice. Most grocery stores sell Pirate Booty and Smart Puffs, which are free of anything nasty and very tasty. Either that, or I grab a piece of cheese, a hard-boiled egg, or some fruit.

As for sweets, I definantly am a fan of Ghiridelli's 60% dark cocoa. Yup. I'm good with one or two pieces of that, and I can't have any other. [Wink]

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StarHallie
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Oh yes...Pirates Booty is my favorite. SO light and you can eat a third of the bag and not feel guilty! :-)

The cutting chemicals out is such a good idea. I aim for that. Unfortunately, I still have a couple addictions to get rid of.

I'm glad I found this certain topic because I just recently started mapping out my daily food intake: essentially making a checklist of naturally occuring vitamins, wheat, soy protein, etc. that I need daily. I'm not vegetarian, but the only meats I eat are fish and chicken (white meat only). Ever since the mad cow thing I haven't touched red meat. Too scared.

My only obstacles right now are:

Frosted Mini Wheats (they are my obsession, and I can't stop eating them.) I don't know what to do about it, seriously. I tried not buying them but then I'd get these intense cravings and give in and stop by the store.

..and diet soda. I have been drinking much more water now than soda, especially after taking up bikram yoga, but I still drink about two cans a day. (I used to have at least 4 a day!).

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kitka
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Frosted Mini Wheats are actually pretty good for you - they have a lot of fiber and not that much sugar.

FYI, there's no reason to be scared if you buy red meat from a supermarket that cuts and grind the meat right there. It's as safe as the chicken and fish. Improperly handled meat leads to most food-borne illnesses - like leaving it out on the counter, not cooking it enough - even in areas where there is BSE disease in cattle.

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Gumdrop Girl
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I try to match my cravings to better alternatives.

Instead of eating ice cream or cheesecake, i'll have a cup of yogurt.
Instead of sugar soda, i drink diet soda.
Instead of cookies, i eat a fiber wafer or a Luna bar
Instead of candy, i eat fruit

and eating healthy doesn't mean absolute self-denial. if i want the burger, i'll eat the burger. but i'll leave some behind, and work it off later.

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StarHallie
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Yay, so I can have my mini wheats?! *Grins*

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-Lauren-
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My new best friend for eating healthy= the blender!

Making yourself tasty smoothies and shakes with fresh or frozen fruits is a great way to get more of what you need. I blend strawberries, plain yogurt, orange juice and a bit of sugar with tons of ice to make a slushie; move over jamba juice!

And when I'm really craving sweets, I'll blend some Ovaltine powder with yogurt and a few tablespoons of peanut butter to make a delicious, healthier dessert.

Of course, you can never deny yourself what you're craving. You'll just eat more when you finally do give in. I find it best to either take the time to bake/cook what I'm craving as kitka mentioned, or by satisfying the craving immediately, but with controlled amounts. For instance, instead of eating a whole candy bar, splitting it in two and putting the rest in the fridge. I hardly ever touch the other half later [Smile] .

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StarHallie
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Jamba Juice= smoothies made with juice concentrate= TONS of sugar!

For a while, I was basically addicted to this one called the "Peanut Butter Moo'd". My "moo'd" wasn't so uplifting when I walked over to the nutrition folder they had and read that the 32 ounce smoothie I'd been drinking for months had a whopping 880 calories and 149 grams of carbohydrates.

So...I'm with you on the homemade, real-deal smoothie, Lauren! [Smile] My favorite from-scratch concoction is some frozen mango chunks, a banana, a pinch of sugar, milk, and ice. You can't go wrong!

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-Lauren-
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My sah-weet LORD! And to think Jamba Juice is listed under Health Food and Supplies in the phone book! It makes sense.. most beverage chains make profits by selling subpar drinks. I personally think Starbucks tastes like crap, and privately owned stores make MUCH better coffee. Seems Jamba may see the same fate with smoothies.

Your mango-banana smoothie sounds awesome, Hallie! I'll be sure to give it a try [Smile]

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MissSmarty
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What is wrong with Dairy? I have heard that it is good for you and that it is bad? Who to believe...
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kitka
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There's nothing wrong with dairy foods - like anything else, you have to have them in moderation. Whole-fat milk, cheese, sour cream, etc., has much more saturated fat than reduced-fat varieties. If you slug the recommended 3-4 glasses of milk a day, and it's whole milk, you've shot your recommended allowance of fat for the day. Not healthy.

2% milk and other reduced fat dairy is better for you if your diet already includes fatty cuts of meat, fried foods, and other fats. Reduced fat dairy has the same level of vitamins, usually the same protein levels, but without all that fat.

Some studies suggest that milk-specific proteins & calcium help you lose more weight than just cutting calories, because those proteins/calcium break down/absorb fats in more efficient ways.

In any case, your body needs calcium, B vitamins, proteins, and a decent amount of fat to stay healthy. Dairy is a good way to get all that stuff. Vegans work around not having dairy & there's nothing wrong with that, as long as your diet makes up for the foods you're not eating.

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kitka
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Miss Lauren - yeah, that Jamba Juice will take you out, and not in a good way. A lot of the coffee drinks & smoothies produced commercially have tons of fat and sugar to make them more "palatable."

Huzzah for the mango lassi! I do the same, except without the banana and with a little vanilla extract. They are good with soy milk as well.

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Heather
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Per what is and isn't wrong with dairy, just to be clear, there isn't one take on that.

Some nutritionists/doctors feel that there IS a problem with eating dairy. Others do not. Ethical issues aside, from a sheerly health standpoint, most of that stems from the fact that a given species just isn't really designed to drink the milk of another one.

Dr. Neal Barnard, an amazing doctor, is a good person to read per a doctor with excellent credentials who is of the opinion that dairy is NOT a wise thing for people to be ingesting, no matter what form, if you're interested.

(Plus, non-dairy sources of the nutrients dairy can supply are generally better absorbed by the body, so vegans actually -- when they eat wisely -- may do nutritionally BETTER, not worse.)

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Saint_Sithney
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One thing I've found that I love snacking on is raw sugar snap peas. Instead of plopping down with a bag of popcorn, try sitting down with a bag of sugar snap peas- they're lightly sweet, delicious, crunchy, and make a really fun popping sound when you break them in half.

They're also delicious lightly steamed with a hint of butter and salt. I invited a friend to dinner one night, and sugar snap peas were on the menu. She'd never eaten them before, and while I was cooking, most of the bag emptied. We ate almost the whole thing as a snack. Sadly, my stepmother has a tendency to hide things in the fridge, so many times, I'll buy a bag of sugar snap peas and have it completely disappear, only to resurface as a bag of decayed vegetation a month later.

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StarHallie
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A new philosophy for me:

NO SNACKING AFTER DINNER.

No unneccessary snacking has done wonders for the extra weight I put on these last few months. And I feel hungry in the morning again, which is important, because breakfast is SUPER important.
Now, I make breakfast my main meal, and I take a multivitamin with it. I've been feeling great!!!

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-Lauren-
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I am so not munching on Cheese Nips right now, at near 11 PM. Not me, never.

That's some pretty good advice there; I really should follow it. Actually waking up hungry and needing breakfast would probably help get my sleep schedule back, too.

Thanks for the tip!

[ 05-03-2006, 12:57 AM: Message edited by: Miss Lauren ]

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StarHallie
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Oh gosh. Empty carbs at 11pm. Bad girl! [Wink]

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Saint_Sithney
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Sometimes I don't have the opportunity to sleep until long after "dinner". I work in a restaurant- long hours, late nights, and few breaks. Normally when I get off, I like to have multigrain toast with a little I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, or Reduced Fat Wheat Thins with cheese, or a multigrain cheese wrap, maybe with chicken if I'm really hungry. Otherwise I'm too ravenous to sleep.

I've found my energy and fullness levels are best if I start out high protien and decrease a bit through the day- with a high carb, lower protien lunch, and any food past dinner being high in carbs and low in protien. I've also felt a lot better since I set my restrictions- I can have a sweet (a piece of candy or some sugar-free ice cream) once a day, so I don't feel that I'm depriving myself, I can have a small cup of soda once a week if I feel like it, I can eat fast food (from the kid's menu) once or twice a month if I feel like it (I usually only do when I'm in a huge rush and haven't had time to make myself anything). If I eat more sweets than I usually allow myself, I have to do one more song on DDR, or walk for 10 more minutes, or do one more rep of weights. I've read that the major diet problem with women is that they tend to go gung-ho, and one misstep makes them feel like awful cheaters, and they drop off the diet. I'm doing my best not to beat myself up about cheating, as long as I make sure it's not a usual thing.

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'Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.
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StarHallie
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Wow, Saint, that menu/schedule for me would equate to EXTREME deprivation. Everyone's metabolism/plan is different, though, I suppose. If it works for you, it works for you.

I had three donuts a half hour ago. That was my "sweets" of the day! WOO! [Smile]

[ 05-10-2006, 08:38 PM: Message edited by: StarHallie ]

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LetMeBeHappy
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wow u all are a very brainy bunch, and have such good ideas. i deffinatly need to try to make a smoothy...o dear kitchen appliances...they reeli dnt like me. [Smile] al be brave [Razz]

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bluefreak44
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I hope this isn't considered spamming, but there's a website that's really helped me out.

Fitday.com has journals where you can track what you eat and what activities you are doing, to find out how many calories you are eating and burning. Also, the database knows what percentage of the FDA's RDA are in various foods, so it can calculate what percentage of that you are attaining. By tracking my nutrition on that site for several days, I discovered that I'm usually lacking in Vitamin A and folate. So I found out from other websites what foods contain those vitamins, and made a point to get more of them on my next grocery trip. It's really helped me insure that I'm getting enough of essential vitamins and minerals.

Also, watching the calories add up has encouraged me to chose lower-calorie, healthier sweets. I go for a banana or some yogurt rather than Milano cookies.

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MaryTheGypsy
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Oh, woe is me.

I found out the hard way that the faster my motabolism grows, the more I want to eat!

When I started working out more, and eating smaller snacks more often, my motabolism just. . .really sped up. Still, I feel like I'm eating constantly now. [Razz] Snacking all the time on cheerios, raw carrots, raw broccoli, apples, and bananas makes me feel like I'm cheating, though I haven't gained any wieght at all.

I guess my advice would be 'Snack often, just on healthy raw foods.'

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kitka
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Mary - when your metabolism resets itself at a faster pace, it's totally normal to eat a lot and often.

In fact, you've set a good precedent for your body. A higher metabolism will help you maintain a healthy weight as you age. Snacking on those raw healthy foods may feel odd since you're not used to it, but it's not a woe at all. Make sure that you keep eating enough to maintain a healthy weight... lots of fiber, like shredded wheat cereals, can help fill you up and get most of your whole grain requirement too.

I've always had a high metabolism and have weighed the same amount for the last 8 years or so. When I don't exercise for several weeks, I'll put on 6 or 7 pounds. Once I start exercising again, that additional weight disappears of its own accord.

bluefreak, that's not spamming... that's just good advice! All grumbling due to the FDA, the nutrition portion of their program is solid.
The "5-a-day-the-color-way" approach to fruit and veg is also a good way to track proper vitamin consumption without much thought.

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cool87
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The best way to avoid eating to much sweet is to actually stop eating those gradually. If you eat too much sugar you get addicted to it just like you do with cafeine and chocolate. It's like a drug. So first you could allow you to eat one dessert a day. And when you're able to do that, try trading your dessert with fruits. And then maybe include fruits in your collation. And try eating more proteins it stabilized your blood sugar and prevent you from craving sugar. eating too much sugar lead you to eating more sugar because it brings your blood sugar level really low. It can inhance your metabolism but if you eat a lot of simple sugar but it triggers you to eat more and more sugar because of blood sugar issues. So I thing the best way is to partially avoid it because you can't avoid it compleatly, sugar is everywhere, but saying that and doing it is two different thing. I tried it and went almost two days without eating dessert but then I had this urge craving to eat sugar. I could almost eat three donuts and two piece of chocolate cake at that time. So now I allow myself to eat a little bit of sugar daily but not too much. That's what works with me.

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domncroxd
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I usually drink a glass of water before and after meals - I find it helps with my digestion and helps me maintain my weight. I think it's because the water fills you up before your meal so you don't overeat, and it helps flush out your system after. As for sweets, I don't have a sweet tooth for some reason. Hence it's easier for me to restrict myself. I do know friends who restrict themselves by allowing themselves a serving of dessert per day, or having 'natural' sugars such as fruits. Kiwi fruits, mandarins and oranges usually are sweet enough and full of vitamin C. Otherwise, drink a bland drink, such as hot tea without sugar or water after you've had your sugar fix =).

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