Saturday, June 30, 2018

Sugar-Free Iced Tea: BMI = 26.8

On a hot summer day, nothing beats a tall glass of iced tea. Unfortunately, commercially-made, powdered iced tea has far too much added sugar. The good news is that iced tea is so easy to make that there is no reason at all to buy commercial iced tea.

All you need is a pot of boiling water and some orange pekoe tea. Simply add three teabags per liter of water and let it steep for twenty minutes. Remove the teabags and refrigerate.

When it has chilled, pour it into a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with lemon and resist the urge to add any sugar. If you really need a little sugar in there, then go ahead but try to add a little less each time and you might eventually find you don’t need that sugar as much as you had believed.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

My Daily Meal Plan: BMI = 26.9

I typically eat between 1600 and 1800 calories per day. That can be a lot of food if you avoid added sugars and go light on protein dense food. I’m not that worried about calories, though – what concerns me is getting all the servings of fruits/veggies, grains, milk, and meat as recommended by the Canada Food Guide.

Breakfast is my biggest meal everyday. I try to eat two servings of whole grains, two servings of milk, at least two types of fruit, and two walnuts. When I do an audit of my breakfast it normally totals between 600 to 700 calories. Without any added sugars, that is a lot of food but that is why I have very little cravings for snacks.

Lunch these days is usually just whole wheat pasta and sauce.

I use a scaled to portion out both the pasta and the sauce, just to avoid going over 500 calories.

It’s not a terribly exciting meal but sometimes I add some crushed pepper flakes to spice it up.

For my evening meal I like to start with a half liter of diced veggies. Make sure to include one dark green vegetable and one orange vegetable.

At least twice a week I have a half can of salmon or tuna with my veggies. Other nights I just have roasted pork, beef, or chicken.

I mix it all up with some mayo and/or my sugar-free vinaigrette. This mayo has some sugar in it, but I do allow a little added sugar from time to time for convenience.

By the time I top my salad with three slices of Wasa crispbread, my supper provides over 500 calories.

By ensuring that I eat three square meals everyday, getting all the servings recommended by the Canada Food Guide and limiting the foods against which they caution, I’ve managed to lower my BMI slowly, but consistently, almost every week for the past 18 months.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Normalization of Snacking: BMI = 27.0

Canadians now snack so much that few people sit down to three square meals in a day anymore. Stopping my snacking behavior was probably the most difficult part of my dietary rehab. Now that I no longer snack, I really notice just how often people around me snack, and how often snack and/or take-out food is shown in movies and series.

I recently watched an episode of a cop show from the 70’s. The detectives spent a lot of time with coffee cups in their hands, but no one was eating. I watched a few more episodes and finally saw an old detective eating a lunch that he had brought to work in a brown paper bag. When is the last time you saw a workmate show up with a brown bag lunch?

I decided to watch an episode of a much more recent cop show. In the first episode I picked, the cliché of cops talking about a case while eating from Chinese take-out containers popped up. This sort of scene really is cliché now but would have been very out of place just 30 years ago. It’s not just cops, though, because even the bad guys seem to need snacks to plan a robbery. I recently watched Ocean’s Eleven and noticed Brad Pitt snacking throughout the movie.

These big bags of snack chips should be for a family or guests to share. I have to wonder how many of those bags get eaten by a single person in one evening. I know I’ve wolfed down a party-sized bag of snack-mix in an evening but at least I was embarrassed about it. These days you can open a giant bag of snack chips and leave them by your monitor to graze on all day at work and no one seems to think that is strange at all.

The snack food aisle is just for the salty snacks, though, because the cookies get an aisle of there own in the middle of the store.

Even the breakfast aisle is turning into a third snack food aisle. This section used to be for granola bars, but now there is more chocolate and caramel than grains to be found here. It’s not hard to see that the snack food market is the fastest growing segment of the food industry.

The baked goods section offers us some more snacks. One of my favorites used to be the one-bite brownies – I would finish the bag in an afternoon, one bite at a time.

The yoghurt aisle is the snack food aisle for people who don’t want to admit they are snacking. Hey, look, there’s some real fruit in some of that yoghurt.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not trying to totally trash talk snacks. I just find it amazing that around half of the grocery store stock is now snack oriented food. The major problem with snacking is that it’s easy to not remember everything you ate in a day if you spent all day snacking and didn’t sit down for a meal. If you have a snacking problem, try taking a photo of everything you eat in a day. You might not like looking back on those albums but they might help you realize just how fast snacks can add up.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Tried a Weight Loss Diet: BMI = 27.2

I’ve been consistently shedding about a pound per week for the last several months, but I decided to see if I could speed things up. It’s summertime, so fruit prices have dropped, and I thought I would switch my breakfast core over from grains to fruit. I’ve done this before, and it didn’t work, so I have no idea why I thought it would work this time.

I dropped my hot cereal and began loading up on fruit in the morning. I also dropped a serving of grain from my other meals and increased my veggie intake. By the end of the first week, I realized that I wasn’t losing any weight at all. That’s when I decided to do a little experiment.

I started eating a big bowl of pasta with meat sauce in the middle of the day. It wasn’t the best choice in grains because I didn’t have whole grain pasta on hand, but I wanted to keep eating lots of fruit for breakfast and it seemed that I had to find a way fit some grain back into my diet.

The meat sauce is rather high in fat and I also often topped my pasta with a bunch of cheese. Well, second week of eating all that fruit for breakfast but with a big bowl of pasta in the middle of the day and my weight has started dropping again.

I think I’m going to go back to having a grain-heavy breakfast. I’m going to try to eat more fruit than what I was previously eating but a low-grain diet just doesn’t work for me. Why do I keep messing around with a plan that has been working?

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Binge Eating: BMI = 27.4

Yes, I was a binge-eater. Yes, I felt ashamed about it. I tried so hard to control my eating but several nights a week I just couldn’t take it anymore and I found myself across the street buying a double pack of double cheeseburgers or a large bag of snack mix. If I managed to control myself until the corner store closed, I often wound up making a chicken nugget sandwich.

I used to source my proteins from the discount freezer at the discount grocery store. These nuggets are very unhealthy. Almost half the calories come from fat, less than 16% of the calories come from protein, and the rest come from highly refined carbs and dextrose. By the time I slammed 4 nuggets into a sandwich with red onion and mayonnaise, my late night ‘snack’ would deliver around 700 calories, with half of those calories coming from fat. Did I mention that I often made a second, and occasionally a third sandwich? On nights when I ate a third one I would roll around in bed half the night feeling sick.

So why did I do it? I now know that I did it because I was starving. I had become so conditioned to high calorie-density food that I became averse to low calorie-density food like vegetables. Vegetables are very nutrient dense, but that doesn’t appeal to someone who is conditioned to eating a lot of comfort food. Without proper nutrition, I found losing weight to be impossible. Intellectually I knew what the problem was but emotionally I just couldn’t face up to it. Rather than correcting my diet, I just tried to starve myself all day – although I rarely succeeded.

I felt most in control in the morning, so I would skip breakfast. I would go as long as I could without eating and when I finally couldn’t take it anymore I typically grabbed a slice of pizza or some poutine at work. Having broken down and eaten something that was unhealthy, I just kind of said ‘screw it’ and spent the rest of the day nibbling on cheese, stray fries, and other calorie dense food – but I avoided having a meal because I was trying not to eat.

It was almost impossible for me to avoid the corner store as I arrived home, so I would try to limit myself to one pepperoni stick or maybe a small can of soda. I still refused to eat a meal even though I was still snacking on unhealthy food. By the time the corner store was closing, my willpower was eroded. It’s not as though my stomach was rumbling and my blood sugar was low – but I had spent all day trying, and failing, to avoid eating anything significant.

I now eat very substantial, yet healthy, meals. In an earlier post I discussed the importance of breakfast. For me, binge-eating was a side effect of skipping meals and trying not to eat. It was also the result of letting myself become conditioned to eating only high calorie-density foods and averse to nutrient-rich foods like vegetables. I had to put myself through a dietary rehab to learn to eat properly again. Everyone who has told me that they are a binge-eater has also admitted to skipping meals; most people brag about it, starting their sentence with, “Well, ALL I ate yesterday was...”

Eat for your health rather than starving for your vanity.