Saturday, May 26, 2018

Reverse Aging: BMI = 27.4

I ran into an old workmate today who told me I look ten years younger. The last time I saw her was about seven months ago when my BMI was around 31.5. I dug up a selfie from around the time we last met and pasted in a selfie from today. I believe I do look ten years younger. I’m glad I started adding a decimal point to my BMI in this blog because it allows me to see progress on a weekly basis.

It pains me a bit that I am still overweight and that I likely won’t get my BMI under 25 before Christmas this year – but then I remember where I started, with a BMI of 43. I’ve defeated Class III Obesity, Class II Obesity, and Class I obesity. I can look back over the numbers and see that even though my weight loss has slowed down, I’m still making progress and can realistically expect to be thin within a year.

The years of trying to starve myself, only to end up snacking all day and then binge-eating most nights, are over. All I need to do is keep eating healthy, substantial meals to keep the unhealthy cravings from coming back. At some point I might lose focus and start gaining weight again but if that happens then at least I’ll know what to do about it.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Apple Cider Vinegar: BMI = 27.6

While there is a little evidence that apple cider vinegar may offer some modest health benefits, it is not a magical elixir that is going to melt off belly-fat. Whatever you do, do NOT start slamming apple cider vinegar shooters. Drinking undiluted vinegar can erode tooth enamel, and possibly even damage the soft tissues of the mouth and esophagus. Also, don’t go ordering apple cider vinegar tablets over the internet because a study of these products has revealed that they are of unreliable quality and many may not even contain apple cider vinegar.

My primary use for apple cider vinegar is making vinaigrettes. Since cutting most added sugars out of my diet, I have found that I crave more acidity in my food. I make my own vinaigrettes to avoid, or at least control, added sugars in my diet. Most prepared mustard doesn’t have any added sugar, and neither does Huy Fong Sambal Oelek. I keep an assortment of vinegars, mustards, and hot sauces around because they are guilt-free flavour enhancers. Some mustards and hot sauces are quite high in salt, but I’m only using them as condiments, not as primary ingredients in my meals.

You can make a great, sugar-free coleslaw with vinegar, oil, and some Mrs. Dash. Add a little sugar if you need it, but if you cut back on added sugars in your diet, over time, you just might find your tastes change enough that you no longer need sugar in your coleslaw.

I also like to marinade cucumbers and red onion in apple cider vinegar.

I’ve read claims that apple cider vinegar helps regulate digestion to avoid blood sugar spikes in people with onset diabetes, but none of those claims was backed up with a link to a scientific study. The best way to avoid spikes in blood sugar is to avoid foods that have sugar added and to source your carbs, instead, from whole grains.

Generic white vinegar is part of my fitness regime, but only because I refuse to give a gym my banking information. Pick up a couple jugs and use them in a home workout if you want vinegar to help you get fit.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Balanced Meal: BMI = 27.8

Preparing a healthy, balanced meal can be quite simple. In fact, you don’t even need to know how to cook. For lunch or dinner, I like to start with a cup and a half to two cups of chopped veggies. Make sure to include a dark green veggie and an orange veggie like carrot or butternut squash. I typically start with broccoli, carrot, red bell pepper, radish, tomato, snow peas, cucumber, and red onion. That’s it – no cooking required.

For protein I buy ready-cooked, roasted meat. This week I’ve been eating chicken. I bought a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and simply deboned it and kept all the meat in reserve.

Chop up 3 ounces of ready-cooked meat and toss that on top of the veggies.

I make a vinaigrette with grapeseed oil, mustard, and apple cider vinegar. Usually I throw some Sambal in there but whatever I do I never add any sugar or honey.

Add some vinaigrette to your meal.

For whole grains, I like crisp bread. There are several varieties and they crunch up to make great croutons. So, top that salad up with freshly crumbled crisp bread to fill out this balanced meal with some carbs that will keep you full to the next meal.

So that’s it. Set the table and make sure to choose good, old-fashioned water as your beverage.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Nutrition Labels: BMI = 27.9

When my diet was at it’s worst, I dreaded reading nutrition labels. Learning to objectively evaluate the nutrition of my food was a difficult yet necessary step. Today I grabbed three boxes of healthy-looking cereals. Even now, it takes me a while to evaluate the labels. For this reason, I usually just look at the ingredients and avoid anything that has any form of sugar added to it. The problem with the above labels is they give the nutritional values for tiny portions that aren’t nearly enough to fill me up until lunch. The box on the left suggests a 160-calorie breakfast. Give me a break! I eat about 600 calories at breakfast. Even if I chose the box on the right, I would need to either eat two servings or grab a muffin on my way to work. The ingredients are mostly visible for the box in the middle and reveal sugar, corn syrup, honey, molasses, dried cane syrup, malt extract, and monoglycerides. That’s seven sources of sugar. Nope. The worst part is that the middle box is the least sugary. It has 10 grams of sugar in a 210 calories serving. Remember that sugar is 4 calories per gram. That means that 40 of the 210 calories (19%) are derived from sugar.

My Red River cereal has no added sugars, so a 140-calorie serving has a mass of 180 grams – a LOT more than the meager 50-gram portions for the above cereals. That kind of bulkiness sticks to my ribs and helps me avoid snacking. I’ve already posted about all the other things I eat at breakfast in my last entry so I’ll forego rehashing that here and move back onto labels.

I tend to avoid breaded foods like this – even though there are cooking instructions to reheat them in the oven. The problem is that, in most cases, the fat content is as high as for a deep-fried version of the same dish. The 11 grams of fat in the suggested portion constitutes 99 calories (9 calories for each gram of fat). Those 99 calories are almost half the 220 calories in the serving. I’m not trying to go super low on my fat intake but I avoid eating anything that derives more than 30% of it’s calories from fat.

Here’s a meal that doesn’t contain much fat or sugar – but also doesn’t contain much food. At 190 calories, I’m going to need to eat 2 or 3 of these things to get full and by the time I do that I’ll have had 42 to 63 percent of my fat intake for the whole day in just one meal.

Yum! A pound of mac’n’cheese! At 510 calories this is a full meal but, sadly, it is spiked with 55% of a day’s worth of salt. I avoid meals that have more than 30% of daily salt requirement. I’m not very concerned with the 18 grams of fat, but the fact that nearly half of that fat is saturated or trans fat isn’t good. This meal doesn’t claim to be healthy though, only to be a satisfying and delicious meal. I believe that claim but will look for something healthier.

Oh no, here’s the info on the snack mix that I used to wolf-down. They suggest a 50-gram serving and that wouldn’t kill me. What was killing me was that I would plow through a 280-gram bag in about an hour just before bed. That meant 1400 calories, 72 grams of fat, and 2520 mg of sodium as a bed-time snack. Ouch. After trying to starve myself all day, though, I couldn’t resist.

Stouffers calls this a ‘fit bowl’. At 340 calories, I think it is a bit shy of being a full meal. Having 24 grams of protein and yet only 8 grams of fat, I tend to agree that this bowl is fit. It isn’t loaded with sugar and has only 1/3rd of daily salt intake. It isn’t a low sodium meal, but at least it isn’t totally spiked with salt. The rice is whole grain, and there are black beans. I’ll have to stretch this meal out a bit, but I decided to buy it.

I decided to add some hulled barley, low-sodium chicken broth, and about a cup of chopped carrot and broccoli. That will bring the above meal up over 500 calories, double the whole grains, and ensure I’m getting enough veggies.

I cooked my barley in the lower part of my steamer and then put the ‘fit bowl’ in the top to heat it up.

With a little Sambal, this turned into a great and really filling meal.