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HEALTHY LIVING: Better believe it: You are what you eat

Well, results may vary but it runs along the lines of “you get what you pay for” and “garbage in, garbage out”.  Inspiration for today’s column came from Pat in Port Arthur, thank you for asking me, “What do you eat?”

Preparing for bariatric surgery almost 2 years ago, I attended classes with a registered dietician and learned how to feed myself in a healthy manner.  As I have written before, the first thing we need to do is think of food as fuel.  To help our body perform at peak levels, we need to put in premium fuel.  I will tell you what works for me and my health needs.  Of course, you must follow your health needs and your doctors’ recommendations.

I don’t eat “white”.  No white rice, added sugar, bread, potatoes, or pasta.   I rarely, maybe 2 or 3 times a year, even eat whole wheat pasta.  Let me tell you, for an Italian girl who grew up (and out) eating mounds of pasta 2 or 3 times a week, this has been quite an achievement.   I substitute zoodles, zucchini cut with a spiral slicer, to resemble noodles.  I have tried spaghetti squash but do not care for the texture.

What I do eat – High protein, low carbs.  I try to consume at least 50+ grams of good quality protein a day.  I don’t use protein drinks anymore, mainly because I am lactose intolerant.  However, if you can tolerate milk products, whey protein is the way to go.  Make sure you are getting at least 30 grams of protein and no more than 1 or 2 grams of sugar per serving.  No more than 2 or 3 servings of beef a month, lots of chicken and fish. Oh, and turkey bacon for breakfast.  We eat dark green leafy vegi’s, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, sweet potatoes, beans, eggs, and quinoa.  Quinoa is my go to for starch replacement; I substitute it for rice and potatoes.   I drink a lot of black coffee, a LOT.  For a sweet treat, sometimes I add sugar free flavored creamer and I do indulge in plain dark chocolate occasionally.  Instead of bread, we eat sprouted grain, flourless bread; you can find it in the freezer section at your larger grocery stores.  It is available in low sodium, cinnamon raisin, and even English muffins.  I use real butter, extra virgin cold press olive oil, sugar free jams and sugar free syrup.  For snacking, I eat 70 or 80 calorie lite Greek yogurt, raw almonds, and plain dry shredded wheat.  I miss chewing, so every night, I have a small bowl of raw almonds mixed with dry shredded wheat and it really satisfies that crunch/chew craving.

Eating healthy is not about living on “rabbit food”, salads are great but nobody likes to eat them all the time.  Eating healthy is all about being creative, using herbs and spices for added flavoring, and staying away from boxed or processed foods as much as possible.  Stay away from the salt and seasoned salt, you can find many low sodium or sodium free seasonings, sauces, and condiments at the grocery store.   I am a huge fan of roasted vegi’s, simply a large cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, scatter thinly sliced vegi’s of your choice, sprinkle with a little EVOO, seasonings, and fresh shaved parm, roast at 425 for about 20 minutes and enjoy!  Chicken tenders braised in diced tomatoes over quinoa, delicioso!  Experiment!  Try something new!  Think outside the mac’n’cheese box!   

And every once in a while, you can have something off the extreme healthy list, its ok.  If you are eating at least 80-85% healthy an occasional bite of something isn’t going to ruin all of your hard work.  I will tell you this, in all honesty, I can feel it when I don’t eat right, I feel bloated and sluggish.  Eating well gives me more energy and just makes me feel good.  So, choose wisely and stay healthy my friends!

Contact Jody Holton with your questions, comments, or suggestions for future columns at jholton3@gt.rr.com