fruits and vegetables

Plate Design

What to eat?  With so many responsibilities and a “To Do” list that keeps getting longer, it can be frustrating trying to plan a healthy meal. The thought of having to add one more thing to our list is overwhelming.  The week before returning to work from maternity leave with my second child, I vividly remember having the realization of all the new responsibilities and tasks that were about to be added to my plate.  My daughter was also entering a new phase starting kindergarten, which meant we all would have to get up and out the door much earlier than the year before. Working, packing school lunches, keeping up with school work, supplies and all of those extra curricular activities like soccer and karate, along with the schedule of a new baby began to feel over whelming.

 I had desires to keep myself and my family fit and healthy and knew there would have to be a few changes. Something would have to come off of my plate if I wanted to stay healthy physically and mentally.

 At the end of the day, my priority has always been to have quality family time and provide a healthy meal.  However, I knew, at this stage of my life, an elaborate meal that took too much time in the kitchen would not happen, at least Monday –Friday. Every busy woman has different ideas, responsibilities or tasks that may need to be removed when something new is added. For me, it was the idea that a healthy meal required a lot of labor and time each night to eat healthy.

 To make things simple, when things can get hectic in the fall of the year, there a few tricks of the trade to design a quick healthy meal. 

 1. Plate Design

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, fifty percent of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, twenty-five percent proteins and twenty five percent healthy grains. Quit worrying about what you can’t eat and focus on what to add to your meal. By planning to fill half our plate with fruits and vegetables, the process and preparation can be cut in half (and healthier too).

 2. Look at your schedule

Planning is the key to eating healthy with a busy schedule, however, make sure the plan is according to your personal schedule. Before picking elaborate recipes, are you aware of what your time constraints are for the week?  Nothing is more frustrating than to realize, at the last minute, we do not have the time we had hoped to spend preparing a nice meal. Are there certain days that make more sense to cook in the crock pot? Could you double a recipe one night to have leftovers on a night you can not cook?

 3. Keep it Easy

Because our schedule can be so hectic in the evening, I chose only one item that may take a little extra work.  For example, if making a chicken dish that takes extra ingredients and time, my salad or vegetables will be steamed or simply baked.  If my sides need a little extra time, chicken or fish will be marinated to quickly throw on the grill.

 To stay consistent with healthy eating and exercise, your personal lifestyle, likes and dislikes have to be a part of your design. We each have a unique style and have to find what works for us.

I love to cook and spend time in the kitchen, but at this season of my life, my time is limited so I have to figure out what healthy design works for me right now. 

 “What’s working for you in your design”?      

 

Go Green on a Budget!

Go Green on a Budget!  I love when I can kill two birds with one stone.  There is something in me that takes great satisfaction when I can get two things accomplished with one activity.  There are so many ways to “go green” but there are a few simple tricks I try to focus on to be more eco-friendly and save money at the same time.

  • Avoid Package Products.

I am all about saving time and buying pre-packaged items can make things more convenient. However, there are so many “packaged” products that we can avoid just by taking a little extra time. Instead of buying fruit or salad in bags or containers, it only takes a few minutes at the beginning of the week to cut up your fresh fruit and have it ready to grab in the frig. It is also less expensive.

  • Cook just enough

How much food are you throwing out each day? Make a list before going to the grocery store and stick with it. If it seems like you are eating less than you buy, reevaluate your grocery needs.  Split your raw portions and freeze them before you cook once you have established the needs of your family at each meal.

  • Cut Back on Meat

It takes a lot of processing to make sure you get the quality of meat you expect. Meat needs high amounts of water, land and grain.  If you like eating meat, cut down on your portion sizes or divide your meat in freezer bags right when you get home.  It is a bargain.  It will help save the earth, your budget and your calories.

  • Eat from the colors of the season. 

Have your plate filled with many different colors of fresh fruits and vegetables and limit the number of packaged items that need to be opened.  Look at what is on sale and in season at your local markets to cut down on cost of fruits and veggies.

Don’t get overwhelmed; pick one or two things that you can do consistently

Avoid the Holiday Weight Gain (You Really Can)

I love the holidays, but let’s face it; it can be stressful in many ways.  We are so busy with all of the parties and other activities, how can we avoid the extra pounds that statistically happen during the holidays? 

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that most Americans gain about one pound during the holiday season.  That may not sound like a lot of weight, but every year this one pound accumulates.

When I think of all the events during the season, four scenarios can usually get us in trouble. To avoid the holiday weight gain, we must have a plan.  Try to put a few new practices into place.

1. The day-to-day hustle and bustle of baking, shopping and organizing our holiday events can add up to additional stress which leads can lead to emotional eating and little time to prepare our own food which can lead to mindless eating. What can you do to avoid it?

  •  Keep a food journal

       We forgot about the little handful of snacks we grab just to taste or how many added calories are in fast food. Keep a record to stay on track.

  • Do not starve yourself or shop on a hungry stomach. You may think that you are cutting back, but once hunger and exhaustion kick in, whatever is available is the first thing eaten, even the cinnamon  roll at  650 calories. 
  •  Don’t bake alone! I don’t know about you, but I definitely eat more cookie dough if I am baking alone.  Make a party out of baking.  You will eat less if someone is watching you.

2. The numerous dinner parties can be exhausting and overwhelming if you are trying to manage your weight. We have to develop a plan so they we are in control of our food and not our food in control.

  • Bring Something. Make sure there is something available that you can eat that includes healthier choices such as fruits and vegetables and fill up first on those items. 
  • Pick the smaller plate. If our plate is bigger, we will probable eat it all. Sticking with a smaller plate makes you feel you are not depriving yourself while eating less.
  • Wait at least 10 minutes. Before you decide you want seconds after eating on a small plate give yourself a break. Many things can happen in 10 minutes including the realization that a second helping is not important to you.
  • Get rid of the food. If the party is at your house, have throw-away containers so that your guests can easily pack a to-go box.

Check out my next blog to see how to manage the next two holiday scenarios that can get us in trouble. You can begin putting together your holiday weight management plan right now.

If you are ready to make lifestyle changes in 2011 and get results in your fitness, weight and/or stress, contact me to learn more about Personal Wellness Coaching with me and a free consultation at 409-550-7606 or Crystal@crystalclearchange.com.

Healthy Entertaining

Healthy Entertaining.  Is it possible as a busy woman? I have to confess, as a health conscious busy woman, it can sometimes be a challenge for me.  On one hand, you have guests who want and expect healthy choices and on the other hand, you have guests who are less interested about the nutritional content of their food. I have learned to keep three rules to entertaining for a dinner party.

Rule # 1 -  Keep it simple

To manage our calories and increase the nutritional value in our meals, a healthy plate should consist of ¼ whole grains such as pasta, rice and breads, ¼ of a lean meat or protein and ½ of fruits and vegetables.  Unfortunately, in our world today, our plate is usually the exact opposite. It consists of high fat proteins and carbs with a little salad on the side. To follow those guidelines, I like to add fruits and vegetables to a salad that may not be very common such as grapes, raw carrots, zucchini or squash to give it volume so that it is more filling. Serving fresh fruit as a part of the main meal is a simple way to add variety and provide an additional course for the table. As a southern girl, I believe a dessert is a must (plus it is my favorite), but who has the time to bake from scratch.  Think about what you can do that is semi-homemade.  Make brownies with homemade icing or a regular cookie mix and add something to it like raisins, another kind of morsel such as chocolate chips, butterscotch or peanut butter. I like serving desserts that provide a small portion and make ice cream available for those who are not watching their weight.

Rule # 2 - Never try anything new and stick with what you do well.

I remember the days of stressing out going through cook book after cook book for new ideas. After a few “flops”, having kids, and friends asking for repeats, I decided it is best to make a few of my good items  great.  Have one main dish that you do well.  Having less is more and a great way for your guest to manage their intake, reduce your stress, and enjoy your guest.

Even busy ladies, like to entertain, but sometimes feel like time will not permit.  As you are putting together your ideas for your parties over the holidays, try to start by incorporating these two rules. 

To read about my third rule that can help in weight management through the holidays and get my recipes for my successful dinner party, check out my next blog.

Another Benefit of Healthy Living

There are so many benefits to exercise and eating healthy. We can get caught up sometimes on only focusing on one benefit. But what happens if we do not achieve that benefit, such as our desired weight loss, as quickly as we want. We quite!Managing our stress and anxiety, which leads to a life of balance and wellbeing, is one of the great benefits to exercising and eating healthy. There are so many days when I don’t feel like exercising or could care less what I eat, but then I quickly remember the euphoria that exercise provides and the energy nutritious foods gives me to get through my daily task. Research has shown that even 5-10 minutes of exercise each day consistently for 12 weeks can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. Taking a few minutes in the middle of the day to take a walk around the block, walk a flight of stairs a couple of times, or conduct a few Yoga moves or light stretching can give a whole new perspective for the rest of the day. Eating High fat foods regularly can leave us feeling lethargic and greatly affect our moods. Filling our diet with fruits and vegetables, healthy carbohydrates and foods that are rich in fiber can give us energy and a feeling of satisfaction. To start the day off right, make sure to get a jump-start on your fiber for breakfast with high fiber breads or cereals and a great piece of fruit. Realizing there is more than one benefit to a healthy lifestyle can help keep us consistent in the choices that week. For more information on having a personal Wellness Coach or to receive a free consultation, contact me at 409-550-7606 or email at Crystal@CrystalClearChange.com.