If you're going to eat it, make it count.
In my quest to loose weight, I am not just concerned with the pounds. As a long-term strategy, I am also looking at my overall health. I come from a family full of diabetics (did you know that Halle Berry is diabetic?) and folks who have suffered from heart issues. My Mother-in-Law (who used to live in Berkeley AND Santa Cruz) is, by comparison to most people I know, a health food nut. I mean this in the most endearing way. She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to what is good for your body and what is not. I learn a lot from her, and from other people in my life who are also on the quest for a healthier way of being.
So in addition to keeping track of what is filled with calories and fat and carbs, I am also becoming more aware of what kinds of food are filled with essential nutrients and disease fighting substances and what foods really don't anything to your diet except calories. Most recently, I have begun to learn about nuts. (This post could easily turn into a story about hubby's recent vasectomy, but I won't even go there **she giggles**).
From Nuts for Nutrition:
Women in a Harvard School of Public Health study who reported eating 5 or more 1 ounce servings of nuts/peanuts per week reduced their risk of Type 2 diabetes by almost 30 percent compared to those who rarely or never ate nuts. Women in the study who ate five tablespoons of peanut butter each week reduced their risk for Type 2 diabetes almost 20 percent. (Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 27, 2002.)
Walnuts. One ounce of walnuts (about 14 shelled walnut halves) is all that is needed to meet the 2002 dietary recommendation of the Food Nutrition Board of the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine for omega-3 fatty acids.
However, 1/4 cup of walnuts also has 200 calories! I have taken to putting one tablespoon (about 50 calories worth) in my non-fat vanilla yogurt (Dannon Light and Fit brand has only 60 calories per serving) for breakfast. Because I don't eat any seafood (just don't like it for some reason), getting my omega-3 fatty acids is an issue for me. I also take a flaxseed oil supplement daily. I was thrilled to see how rich in omega-3 walnuts were because I'm also trying to get my nutrients from food (vs. supplements) as much as possible. This news about nuts is great for someone like me who is pre-disposed for getting diabetes AND needs a source of omega-3s!!! (omega 3's are thought to be key in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease). Walnuts have also been shown to lower your total cholesterol count).
Other foods that I am actively trying to work into my regular diet are avocados, whole grain products, tomatoes, garlic, apples, organic foods, non-processed (pre-packaged) foods, and legumes. Foods that I am actively trying to stay away from (that have little or no "bang for the buck") are white food (regular pasta, white rice, white bread, refined sugar etc.), creamy sauces and dressings, nitrate filled foods (lunch meat and hot dogs), and caffeine. What I won't give up, but will drink in moderation is my wine. I think that the stress reduction it provides for me far outweighs the empty calories.
Eating whole foods vs. pre-packaged foods makes planning and shopping sooooo important. The one area where I fall back on the processed foods is my week-day lunches. Buying a Lean Cuisine or some other frozen meal makes it so convenient and easy to stay within a certain range of calories. It is so tempting and easy to go out for lunch when I am at work. Having the ready-made lunches keeps me honest, so for now I'm sticking with it.
And the saga continues....