Sunday, December 31, 2017

Indulgence Meals: BMI = 29.5

Once a week I like to indulge in one of the foods that I used to drive my BMI up to 43. This week my choice was an A&W Teen Burger. To my mind, the Teen Burger is the ultimate Canadian burger. I love how the fat from the beef and cheese coats the inside of my mouth. I love how the onion and bacon linger on my breath. There is a thick slice of tomato hiding in there that makes the burger seem even juicier than it already is. The pickles and sauce give this burger some sweetness and tang.

I notice these subtleties more palpably now that I only eat like this once a week. The mood boost that I find in comfort foods is now more poignant than ever but I’m not desperate for it all the time because I am no longer starved of micronutrients. On my days off, I reserve the right to have one beer in the afternoon, if I so choose.

A nice cold glass of frothy beer in the middle of the afternoon is a delight that I allow myself once or twice a week. In the evenings I have red wine although I do need to curb that habit a bit. My point here is that comfort foods or a nice frothy glass of beer can be enjoyed once in a while as long as they don’t start replacing your core nutrition. As long as my other 20 meals are balanced, my BMI continues to slowly descend even though I enjoy a slice of pizza, a burger, or any other reasonable portion of comfort food once a week.

It’s becoming routine for me to seek out 2 servings of fruit/veggie, 2 servings of whole grains, and one serving of lean meat for lunch/dinner. If I go for a salad, I make sure to have whole grain bread with it, or I make croutons out of some Ryvita wafers. Rather than lettuce, I prefer to stuff my salads with broccoli, carrot, cabbage, tomato and red pepper. For a ‘vinaigrette’ I mix a bit of oil, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon – no added sugars.

Topped with some roast beef and sambal, this healthy, balanced meal was almost as pleasing as the Teen Burger. Ok, ‘almost’ might be an overstatement. It was about half as exciting as the Teen Burger, but still very pleasing.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Inverted Diet II: BMI = 29.6

You take off a few pounds but then it all comes back. It seems that the only way to slim down is to live in starvation. I know, I’ve been there and got the t-shirt. Then I needed a bigger t-shirt, so I just repeated the process. It’s embarrassing to admit that I fell into that cycle because I know, as a cook, how to prepare a balanced diet.

When I got so heavy that a little slip on the ice left me crushed by my own weight (I now miss 50% of one of my vertebrae), I finally had to face the truth. Facing that truth hurt more than my injury. When I honestly audited my diet and then looked to the Canada Food Guide to review the structure of a healthy diet, I had to admit to myself that my diet was upside down.

I got most of my calories from fat, sugar, and low-fibre carbs. Veggies were just a garnish on my plate. If I ate a serving of whole-grains in a day, then it was because I wasn’t paying attention. It’s no wonder I couldn’t lose any weight – I was malnourished. The best analogy I can think of is that bilge pumps won’t help you if your boat is capsized. If your diet is upside-down, then you’ll be so starved of nutrition that you can’t possibly expect a short-term stunt diet to do anything for you.

I honestly thought that I would never overcome my cravings for calorie-dense snack foods. I couldn’t understand why snack chips and dips were so compelling to me. The fact is that I lost my instincts to seek out veggies and whole grains. Those healthy foods would only bring me relief if I ate them regularly whereas foods like deep-fried onion rings made me feel good instantly. Well, they made me feel good for the duration I was eating them, at least, but they were making me sick, fat, and unhappy in the long-run.

I just couldn’t imagine that my groceries would ever again look like the photo above. I had stopped buying decent groceries because I knew I would just end up throwing out all the fruits and veggies after they went bad. Up-righting my diet was very hard because I had to break many bad habits and then learn to eat my veggies again. Now that my diet is back upright, and very balanced (most of the time), the cravings for unhealthy food and late-night snacks have all but vanished.

My meals are now huge but free of added sugars, processed meats, and fried food. I try to get at least 2 servings of whole grains and 2 servings of fruits/veggies in every meal. Once I got into the habit of stuffing myself with healthy, balanced meals, I was no longer starving and driven to seek out comfort from calorie-dense junk-food.

I know how scary it is to think of the prospect of living life without comfort foods (most of the time) but I promise you that I feel so much better that I no longer crave comfort foods (most of the time). My weekly indulgence meals bring me far more satisfaction than eating that food every day of the week.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Inverted Diet: BMI = 29.7

I’ve identified a diet that can radically alter your metabolism, change your life, and drastically alter your energy levels. I call it the ‘Inverted Diet’. If you are excited the hear about it, then it is likely that you are already following it.

The basics are simple. You take a balanced diet, as recommended by your doctor, and then you turn it upside down. They tell you to get most of your calories from whole grains? Well then, seek out most of your calories in low fibre carbs like sugar and Wonder Bread. If the egg-heads tell you to eat a LOT of veggies, well then avoid veggies and eat a lot of processed meat. I should warn you that the results can be rather extreme.

I managed to put on 150 lbs using that diet. It wasn’t easy; it took ten years. It took a long time to get out of the habit of eating fruits and veggies, and it actually took effort to start eating pizza for breakfast and sugary cereal before bed, but I totally inverted my diet. I don’t have any photos of my most extreme results, but the above photo should give you an idea of where it went – a BMI of 43.

At my worst, I compulsively snacked all day, trying to find some energy and hopefully a bit of comfort for my chronic pain. I felt like crap, couldn’t get up on time to cook breakfast, slept on the bus to work, and generally exhibited a bad mood. It didn’t help that I took a big cut in pay for moving to a province where my English was not appreciated yet few people would tell me the local translation of even the most basic kitchen essentials.

I’m not even obese in that photo – I’m just overweight. When they fitted me for that back brace I was 105 lbs heavier. Anyway, I used to skip meals to try to take off a few lbs. I never checked the scale because I knew I wasn’t losing anything in the long run. The Inverted Diet is like that – the more you try to lose weight, the more you gain.

My road to recovery didn’t require ‘balancing my diet’, I had to outright upright the damn capsized catastrophe that I called a diet.

I had to eliminate the added sugars, processed meat, and fried foods (especially deep fried). I didn’t need to eat less – I needed to eat more; vegetables and whole grains. I did need to eat less sugar, fat, fried foods, and meat, but I didn’t need a stunt diet. I needed the Canada Food Guide. I simply needed to get off the Inverted Diet and onto a balanced diet as recommended by Health Canada.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Self-Discipline: BMI = 29.8

My biggest fear when I set out to conquer my obesity was whether I could develop the discipline to walk past the yummy foods that taunted me, or whether they would torture me for the rest of my life. I asked myself if it would be worth living in a perpetual state of self-denial to be healthy and I have to say that prospect left me pessimistic.

I loved eating and the companionship of sharing a great meal. I think that I grew up associating great food with love, affection, and friendship. Even now that my core diet is very healthy, I really enjoy splitting a quesadilla with my workmates. Only yesterday I found some dill pickle dip at work and was compelled to taste it with some snack chips.

I really don’t have any more self-discipline than before I started this adventure, although two things have changed. The first change is that I now notice, instantly, when I start to nibble and can tell myself “NO” for the next hour or two. That voice continues to grow stronger in my head each time I heed it. The second change is that I am much more readily satisfied with a moderate snack. I don’t need to slather sour cream and guacamole on my quesadillas to enjoy them and I don’t need to eat 1000 calories of them to find satisfaction. After I tasted that left-over dill pickle dip with 3 snack chips, I was satisfied.

I attribute these changes to my ‘snack timer’ technique and my hearty breakfast. Learning to tell myself “NO” for an hour, then 1.5 hours, then two hours, built up another internal voice in my decision-making inner debates. As long as I exercise that voice once in a while by telling myself, “timer ON, one hour,” it continues to get stronger. It gets easier everyday to heed that voice because I’m no longer starving. As much as I used to eat, I wasn’t eating a balanced diet, and so I was starved of essential nutrients. Ever starved of essential nutrients, I couldn’t resist the urge for calorie dense foods.

Now that I eat a very balanced, and very hearty breakfast, I don’t show up at work fatigued and hungry. At the end of my shift I don’t panic and grab some deep-fried chicken strips because I know that I am coming home to a monster meal of mostly whole grains and vegetables.

If, in between, once or twice a week, I split a quesadilla with some great workmates, but also make sure there are some veggies in there, avoid the sour cream and guacamole, and keep the portion down to 400 calories, well then the rest of my diet seems to be compensating. Just look at my BMI on each post since I started adding one decimal place; continual progress. Yes, I had 3 chips with dip because I am weak; but that used to be a giant-sized party bag with a half litre of dip.

I don’t have the discipline to avoid all temptations yet. On the other hand, I am not tortured by the foods I used to love because I still eat them – I just don’t binge anymore. My core diet now is not calorie-dense, which makes it bulky, so I just can’t eat a whole pizza or giant-sized bag of snack chips anymore. I’ve also developed an aversion to sugar. Last night I had to taste some panna cotta and tiramisu because I planned to pair them for a dessert special; I was able to have a teaspoon of each, think about the pairing, then have another teaspoon of each to verify my evaluation and give the dessert an ok without being tempted to chow down on the combo.

If your diet is out of control, as mine once was, then this might sound as though I have built up a huge amount of self-discipline. I have not done so. I have developed a habit of seeking out fruit/veggies and whole grains and avoiding added sugars. The combination leaves me with a core diet that is very bulky – making it difficult for me to eat much else. The really tasty stuff that I used to binge on is now more tempting than ever, but I simply cannot fit much of it into me anymore given the breakfast that I eat. On top of that, snack-foods taste so much better to me now that I eat much less of them and find those small portions (3 chips) actually satisfy my cravings.

Monday, December 11, 2017

What Are We Eating? BMI = 29.9

Today as I write, I am no longer obese – if weighed before breakfast. I don’t eat ‘diet meals’ but decided to pick one up and see what was inside. There were a few meals with some whole grains, but most did not promise whole grains. I looked for a brand name that implied the meal would be healthy and help me lose weight.

That isn’t much to eat. The nutritional info on the box says that is 260 calories. I normally shoot for 500 calories at lunch. I separated everything out and weighed the various components.

That is a rather meager serving of rice. If you think you need to cut back on carbs then avoid added sugars. There are 17 grams of added sugar in this meal – that’s 68 calories, or about 26% of the calories in this meal. Without whole grains, and with so many of the calories coming from sugar, this meal isn’t going to satisfy you for long.

I found 38 grams of chicken in this meal, which is a meager but acceptable portion. The biggest let down was the amount of vegetables in the dish. The photo on the box made it seem like there would be a full serving of veggies. The veg, however, weighed in at 45 grams, which is about half a serving, so it would be hard to get 7 or 8 servings of vegetables in you if you tried to survive on these meals.

The worst part of the meal was the 470 mg of sodium. I’m fine with having that much sodium at lunch but only if it comes with two full servings of whole grains and 2 full servings of fruit/veggie. A label on the box suggested balancing my plate – by adding an apple to this meal. I guess that is one way of wiggling out of any claims that this meal suggested that on its own it could provide good nutrition. If I need to buy an apple, though, then why not pick-up a tomato and some whole wheat bread while I’m at it and leave this meal behind?

I can have two servings of whole grain, two servings of fruit/veggie, and a full serving of roast beef for less than the cost of the meal that seemed to imply it would make me skinny. There may be 450 calories lined up there, but that bread has no added sugars, and the meal is balanced. That is how I’ve been losing weight; by eating a balanced diet, not trying to starve myself with gimmicked meals.

Look at the photo below and decide which meal looks healthier to you.

If you think the meal on the left is the healthier one because it is smaller then you haven’t been reading very closely here. The one on the left may be only 260 calories but it lacks whole grains and only provides a half serving of veggie. The one on the right has about 450 calories but provides two servings of whole grain (wild rice), two or three servings of vegetables, and one serving of meat. The one on the right also has no added sugars and very little added salt – although I did add some soya sauce to it before eating.

You don’t need to starve yourself to lose weight. In point of fact, starving yourself of micronutrients will only make it harder to lose weight.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Eat Breakfast! BMI = 30.0

If you think that skipping breakfast leads to eating fewer calories, then you might also think the earth is 6,000 years old. No proven facts are more irrationally refuted than biological evolution and the benefits of a balanced diet. Ironically, both are closely related.

I used to avoid breakfast because it lead to me becoming nauseous when I tried to brush my teeth afterwards. It wasn’t breakfast that made me vomit, though – it was usually my late-night binge-eating that was the culprit. When I skipped breakfast, I had ‘panic hunger’ late in the day that drove me to binge-eat.

The more I starved myself to overcome my obesity, the less control I had over late-night snacks and that only drove my weight up. I was starving myself and over-eating at the same time. My diet was upside down. Now that I’ve inverted my nutrition, I eat my biggest meal in the morning, more produce than meat and more whole grains than diary, and I’ve lost over 100 lbs. I’m one pound away from no longer being obese even though I was obese class III just 11 months ago (BMI of 43).

I have some coworkers who show up fatigued, complaining they can’t sleep and have no energy. I have people who contact me through this blog begging for my ‘secret’ to such great discipline. I had a woman follow me off the bus because we ride at the same time each day, so she noticed how much weight I’ve lost. In each case I say the same thing, “I found this diet online. It’s not a great read, but it is put together by scientists, not celebrities. It’s called the Canada Food Guide.” Each and every time I give a quick breakdown about whole grains, fruits/veggies, reducing sugar, and all the Cliff’s notes, they respond in the same way, “That sounds like a lot of calories, and I don’t have the energy to get up and cook a breakfast like that.”

I know what it means to be tired and just trying to survive. I know what it means to look for a ‘breakfast bar’ that will make the morning easier. I even know what it is like to be tired and see something like the photo above and say, “Well, it is with all the other granola bars, and I do need some energy.” Stop! If you do not see a potential public health crisis with the above photo being taken in the breakfast food aisle, then please go back to the top and read through this entire post again.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Starving Yourself into Obesity: BMI = 30.2

You aren’t eating too much: In truth, you are starving yourself into obesity. Stop counting calories and start counting portions of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. A balanced diet won’t leave you hungry and will keep your metabolism from shutting down. That is what the health professionals have been telling us for years. Listen to what your doctor is saying and stop trying fad diets and so-called ‘diet meals’

I’ve taken off over 100 lbs and I’m just a few lbs away from no longer being obese. If my journey has taught me one thing it is that brand names that incorporate words like nutrition, health, shape, or fitness need to be thoroughly scrutinized. I doctored the photo of the ‘diet meal’ at the top of this post because I don’t want to be sued for using a photo of a real ‘diet meal’.

We are bombarded with catch-phrases that try to grab our attention at the grocery store. You need to look past the catch phrases and learn to evaluate your food for what sort of nutrition is inside. A prepared meal that has less than 300 calories is not going to fill you up. The mg of sodium should never be more than 1.5 times the number of calories. I saw one ‘diet meal’ that had less than 200 calories yet over 500 mg of sodium – there is no way such a meal should be allowed to insinuate, in any way, shape, or form that it is a ‘healthy choice’.

The photo above is my supper this evening. I have a cup of wild rice under that cup and a half of veggies. There is about 75 grams of roast beef and pork sprinkled over the top and a big dollop of Sambal. If I were to guess, I would say there is about 500 calories in that bowl. Calories aren’t really the issue, though. The important thing is that nothing is fried, the starches are whole grain, I have at least 2 servings of veggies, and the meat is just roasted meat – not processed meat – and there are only a couple ounces of it.

When you eat a typical ‘diet meal’ from the frozen-food section of the grocery store, you almost never get two servings of veggies and two servings of whole grains. The salt is usually way too high and there is almost always added sugar. An hour later you are hungry and reaching for some ‘light snack’ that still doesn’t replace the whole grains or veggies you missed out on at lunch. For all that you are eating, you are actually starving yourself of essential nutrients.

Starved of essential nutrients, you compensate by over-eating on empty-calories. Your body has no choice but to store it away – in anticipation that eventually you’ll eat a vegetable that will allow the healing to begin. Instead of adding some veggies or whole grains, though, you feel that you should eat less. The cycle is vicious.

It is insane that an obesity epidemic is plaguing the richest nations in the world and that it is being fanned by an obsession to further starve ourselves of proper nutrition. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have asked me how I’ve lost all this weight, only to be told, “Well, I don’t eat breakfast and I’m not going to start because that would just mean more calories.” It doesn’t matter that I’ve lost over 100 lbs, maybe I’m just an anomaly, sure; but if your doctor is telling you to eat exactly what I’ve been describing in this blog then maybe you should listen to her.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Eat Yourself Skinny! BMI = 30.3

Some people think that I’m starving myself skinny but they’re wrong. I am not starving myself skinny - I am eating myself skinny. In fact, I tried to speed things up a bit last week by dropping one serving of whole grains from my daily routine and for the first week in a long time I didn’t lose an ounce.

My instinct told me that if I dropped out a serving of whole grains a day my weight loss would go faster. My instinct was wrong, as it usually is. This is why I follow the Canada Food Guides in planning my diet. Science gives us much better answers than instinct. By eliminating my bad snacking habits and following the dietary advice of Health Canada, I have taken off 100 lbs. Just look at my old work uniform!

I’ve posted photos of the big meals I eat but most people just can’t get it through their heads that a full and fully balanced diet can lead to such weight loss. Part of the problem is that people start with the question, “How are you losing all this weight?” One should start with the question, “How did I put all this weight on?”

I estimate that I used to eat about 5,000 calories per day. I don’t even want to think about how many grams of fat I was taking in. At the time I would have estimated that I ate about 3,000 calories per day. That is why I began with the question, “How the hell did I get so damn fat!?” Answering that question with brutal honesty was almost traumatizing.

If you need to take off 20 lbs or so, well then maybe you can just stop taking sugar in your coffee. If you have over a hundred pounds to take off, then you really need to take an honest audit of your diet. Once I accepted the truth about how horrible my diet was, I realized how much work I had to do to get myself onto a healthy diet. There was no way that I could go from eating all that junk to eating a balanced diet overnight.

Just limiting my snack menu, and training myself to go an hour between snacks lead to me losing about 15 lbs in the first couple of weeks. It took seven weeks for me to completely eliminate snacking and get used to the old-fashioned hospital food sort of meals.

By that time, seven weeks in, I had lost about 50 lbs. That shocked me, but I knew that rate of weight loss would not continue. That radical change in calorie intake essentially took my metabolism by surprise. I knew that to continue losing weight I needed to start adding in more fruits and vegetables while swapping out my poor-carbs for whole grains.

My breakfast these days is about 800 calories but has very little fat, no added-sugars, and is packed with whole grains. Once you eliminate added sugars, fried foods, and processed meats, the calorie density of your food drops dramatically. To get all the nutrition you need to keep your metabolism up you need to eat some darn big meals.

A full and fully balanced diet keeps your metabolism running high. By dropping a serving of whole grains from my daily routine, all I did was signal my metabolism to slow down a bit and I stopped losing weight. This might seem counter-intuitive, but that’s often the case with biology; my weakest subject in school.

So many people get caught in the cycle of trying to eat tiny meals and then bridge the gap with ‘low fat’ snacks. A lot of prepared meals that are marketed as ‘lean’ or ‘healthy’ are terrible choices. Many have far more milligrams of sodium than they have calories. Most have added sugars. I’ve not seen one yet that provides 2 full servings of whole grains and 2 full servings of vegetables.

After eating a tiny meal that is high in salt and added sugars you are going to be hungry. You might turn for a yogurt cup that is labeled ‘fat free’ but it likely has more sugar in it than an old-fashioned oatmeal cookie. Even if you grab a diet soda, you are still not getting the nutrition you missed at lunch.

All of this is creating an epidemic of malnourished obese people. Does putting ‘malnourished’ and ‘obese’ together sound counter-intuitive? As I said, that is often the case where biology is concerned. For all the calories I used to eat, I wasn’t getting all my fruits, veggies, and whole grains. I was fatigued because I was carrying around an extra 150 lbs while also being starved of micronutrients.

By following the Canada Food Guides, especially the advice on limiting added-sugars and processed meats, I am keeping my metabolism running high. If I try to skip a meal or eliminate some whole grains, all I’ll do is signal my metabolism to slow down. Starvation is not healthy and will not produce healthy results. Eating yourself skinny is the only way to go.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

How to Quit Snacking: BMI = 30.3

A lot of people tell me that I must have incredible willpower to maintain my healthy diet. A year ago, I couldn’t imagine a snack-free life. It seems that being crushed by my own weight (crushed vertebra from a little slip on the ice) jarred something loose in my head.

I don’t know how my eating habits got so bad without setting off some internal alarm bells. I knew I was obese but rather than changing my diet I just stopped stepping on scales. What I didn’t realize was that my constant snacking overstimulated my sense of taste and food just became more and more bland – driving me to layer up ever more flavours and textures in a futile attempt to find pleasure in food again.

The healthy foods I needed to start eating just didn’t appeal to me anymore. Oh, sure, I loved corn on the cob, but only if it was dunked in buttermilk, covered in salt and pepper, and then maybe slathered with some goat cheese. I was out of control.

I needed to carve away at my diet and get back to basics. I started by feeding myself old fashioned hospital food. Super bland meals that I could barely stand. At the same time, I put myself in a personal ‘snack rehab’

I limited my snack menu to only three options. Originally I had 10 nibs on the menu rather than the reduced-sodium V8. After a meal or snack, I set a timer for an hour and tried to go without so much as a sip of water until that hour had passed. I kept score of how many times I made it and how many times I failed. Each day I tried to beat my score from the day before. The first week was grueling, but by the end of the week I could do the hour without fail.

The next week I set the timer for 1.5 hours. I think it took me two weeks before I could consistently go 1.5 hours without even touching my mouth. When I started succeeding with 2 hours of no oral-stimulation at a time, I began just having a sip of water at the two-hour mark and setting the timer for another hour. I then swapped out the nibs for reduced-sodium V8.

It was a struggle for about 7 weeks. It is still sometimes a bit of a struggle at work where I am handling food all day, but when I find that I’m starting to nibble again I just set a timer for two hours and taste nothing beyond what my job requires me to taste. Sometimes I feel like a recovering alcoholic working as a bartender.

The point here is that I had absolutely zero discipline when I started this journey. I also don’t have monumental discipline now. I built up some discipline using that snack timer but mostly I just broke the habit of perpetually grazing. My discipline is only a little stronger now than before, but it is now persistent. I watched myself slide a little last week, nibbling the odd crouton or stray chip at work, and now I just need to start setting the timer again and keep working at it. The big struggle is over, now I just need to be mindful to keep up the good habits and watch out for old bad habits resurfacing.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer: BMI = 30.4

I’ve had my countertop steamer for three months now and I have cooked well over 100 meals in it so it’s time to do a review. This is not just a review of this particular model of steamer, but of how useful a countertop steamer is for a single person trying to eat a healthy diet.

When I first wrote about my Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer I criticized the trays for feeling rather flimsy. After months of daily use, the trays are just fine. They are quite light but that also means they land with less force if you happen to drop them. Given the price I paid for my steamer, I feel I got a good deal on quality and I’ve gotten plenty of value out of this little appliance.

The biggest advantage I’ve found from steam-cooking at home is that it helps me eat a lot more vegetables. I really notice now if I eat boiled vegetables that a lot of flavour gets pulled from them. Steaming locks in the flavour and intensifies the colour of most veggies.

I don’t fry anything anymore, so I’ve started referring to the above sort of meal as a “steam-fry”. Rather than dousing everything in hoisin or sweet and sour sauce, I pimp up my meals with a variety of colours and textures of the vegetables themselves.

Another big advantage of steam cooking is that it produces great grains and cereals. The drawback of a small steamer like this is that you need to soak most grains for 8 to 12 hours before cooking or it just takes forever to get the grains cooked and requires topping up the reservoir several times. I’m still honing my skills with wild rice but I’m getting there.

This steamer has a timer, which is very helpful at breakfast. I can start my Red River Cereal (17 minutes) and even if I take too long in the shower the steamer switches to hot-holding mode, stopping the cooking and keeping my porridge hot for when I’m ready to eat. For oatmeal I use the delay function (30 minutes) and then cook it for 9 minutes. I sort of wish I could delay for 20 minutes, but it seems the delay function only works in 30-minute intervals.

I’ve seen other steamers that have 3 tiers, while mine only has 2. It seems that a lot of people like to cook their proteins in the steamer as well, so they prefer a 3-tier design for protein, grains, and veggies. Perhaps if I ate more fish this would be desirable, but I primarily eat roasted beef or pork so I’m happy with 2 tiers.

Overall, I highly recommend a countertop steamer to anyone who is trying to improve their diet. If you want to steam your proteins as well then perhaps a 3-tier steamer would be better than the model I have, but otherwise I highly recommend the Hamilton Beach digital steamer.