San Luis Obispo Farmer’s Market bounty
Whole foods: Clean eating is about utilizing fresh foods as nourishment for the body. I have found that I feel the most energized, satisfied, and healthy when I limit the amount of packaged and processed foods I consume. It’s all about getting back to the basics and utilizing natural foods for healthy and well-balanced nutrition.
I do not believe in dieting or cutting anything out of your diet completely unless you have a doctor-directed diet restriction. Instead, I advocate for balanced nutrition. The problem with diets is that the restrictions are often too unrealistic to maintain throughout one’s busy day-to-day life. Too much depravation of something in your diet often causes more cravings. These cravings can lead to the “yo-yo effect” in which the dieter is initially successful with weight loss but then is unsuccessful in maintaining the diet long-term and ends up gaining the weight back. When the dieter attempts to lose the regained weight, the cycle begins again.
We are always going to face eating temptations. The real key is to learn how to deal with these temptations by practicing discipline and moderation.
Although I don’t think diets are the answer, I do believe that there are valuable tips and nutritional information to take away from diet programs like South Beach Diet and Weight Watchers. In the South Beach Diet, Dr. Agatston advocates for a low-carb, low-sugar diet and emphasizes how good carbs and sugars can be slowly reintroduced back into your diet upon completing the first two phases of South Beach. Also, Weight Watchers is focused on monitoring portion sizes and eating the types of foods you enjoy eating in moderation. By studying these varying diet programs, you can learn the most important takeaways from each and adapt them into your own balanced and well-rounded healthy eating lifestyle.
I believe it is important to give yourself one day per week to eat whatever you want within a reasonable portion size. I call this Sunday Funday! However, you can choose any day of the week to have your splurge-day and the particular day of the week can vary each week. For example, maybe one week your friend is having a birthday party on Friday and you know that you would like to partake on that moist chocolate birthday cake so you could choose Friday as your splurge day for that week. However, I suggest deciding your cheat-day at the beginning of the week: that way you have something to look forward to and motivation to resist temptations throughout the week.
This splurge day does two things for you. First, you will be able to satisfy a craving you have had throughout the week. For example, if you are craving cake batter ice cream from Cold Stone, you may try settling for a bunch of different healthier options throughout the week such as: frozen yogurt, smoothies, peanut butter, coffee drinks etc, in an attempt to satisfy that craving which will ultimately add up to the same amount of calories as the ice cream itself would. Then, on top of it all, you still may not have satisfied your craving with the healthier alternatives and could end up giving into the ice cream anyways. Instead, in order to avoid this dissatisfaction, you can feel comfort in the fact that you will reward yourself with a couple scoops of your favorite ice cream from your favorite ice cream shop at the end of the week. The second thing that this does for you is it helps you burn off more calories the following day to prepare you for the coming week. The slightly higher caloric intake on your cheat day helps raise your metabolism to get you back on track the next day. Keep in mind, this cheat day does not mean a binge day. While enjoying these special indulgences, remember to try your hardest to stick to smaller portion sizes and don’t attempt to fit all of your unhealthy food cravings within one day.
Is it worth it? When you contemplate splurging on something, make sure that whatever it is you’re indulging in, it’s worth the calories to you. For example, I am a “sweets person.” My three favorite sweets are Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie dough with oatmeal, coffee ice cream, and dark chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. When I am trying to decide whether or not to splurge on something, I contemplate whether or not it would taste as good as one of those three things. If not, I resist the temptation. However, to stop and think about it is easier said than done. It is particularly difficult at social events where you might not be the most comfortable and everyone else is partaking in the treats. You may know that the white cake with raspberry frosting at the party is not even in your top five desserts and it definitely wouldn’t be as satisfying as your favorite splurges. However, even though it’s not worth it to you, you will find it more difficult to resist this temptation when it is right in your face and you are craving something sweet, right now.
Most importantly, if you have decided to splurge on a treat that you love, just enjoy it, don’t beat yourself up for it or feel guilty about it!
On Eating Out
Duck from American Seasons on Nantucket island, Massachusetts
Everything in Moderation: I am a restaurant connoisseur and love to discover new and interesting restaurants. This has been one of my biggest struggles especially throughout the college years, but I have finally figured it out! It is all about enjoying the experience. Choose what sticks out to you on the menu, even if it’s not one of the healthiest of options, and either, a: try to get someone to split it with you (I have a hard time with this because I have unique tastes while others seem to stick to the basics) or b: take leftovers (I hate wasting). This way, you do not feel deprived of enjoying the restaurant experience or wishing you had ordered something besides a salad as you drool over everyone’s burgers when they come out. There are also secret ways at restaurants to make each menu option healthier. Some of these tricks include asking for your entrée to be made:
- Naked (without sauces)
- Baked rather than battered or fried
- Substitute salad or steamed veggies instead of fries, potatoes, or rice
- Without cheese
- With an oil & vinegar based dressing on the side
- Without bread or with whole wheat bread instead
Fish taco with mango salsa: Grilled fish instead of fried, corn tortilla instead of flour (I also took off one of the two corn tortillas on each taco)
Finally, I am going to let you in on one of the simplest tricks to aid in eating less at restaurants or social functions, a trick which works as a guideline for your day-to-day life in general, and that is…
Whenever I used to hear people talking about the benefits of water I always thought they were just over-exaggerating; but it is truly one of the simplest and most effective ways to practice moderation and eating less. When you drink water in-between bites of your meal it immediately makes you fuller, much faster. I’m telling you, it’s crazy how much of a difference this simple trick can make.
While I have developed an in-depth knowledge of healthy eating, I have noticed that many of my peers hold misconceptions about some fundamental healthy eating guidelines. I’ve come to discover that many people of all ages hold similar erroneous beliefs about food. I would like to try to clear up these common misconceptions with a few simple guidelines. Some foods are easy to mistake as a healthy option when in reality, not only do they have no nutritional value, but they are actually bad for you. One of the most common misconceptions I have found is the idea that just because something at the grocery store is labeled fat free or sugar free that it is healthy for you; when in reality, it’s just the opposite. When something is fat free it usually means one of two things: 1. They have just added more of the other thing. For example if it’s fat free, they’ve added more sugar and vice versa. Or 2. They have added artificial ingredients that your body cannot metabolize in order to make up for what it is lacking. Just like there is no quick-fix to lose weight, there is no quick fix in making fatty or sugary foods less fatty or sugary. The solution: practice moderation and to stick to whole, natural foods rather than the packaged, artificial stuff.
Click here for a link to my Eat This Not That post all about ways to correct these misconceptions.
On Packaged/Processed Foods
Our bodies are designed to eat whole foods in their natural state, not foods with added sugars, sodium, chemicals, and preservatives. One of the easiest ways to limit the amount of processed foods in our diet is to cook at home because then we know exactly what we are putting into our body. One of my biggest goals in creating Carly’s Clean Cuisine is to show that by using whole and natural ingredients, cooking healthy can be simple & delicious too!
However, just like anything else, it’s not practical to cut all packaged foods out of our diet. Therefore, when I am choosing which packaged foods to buy there are a few things I look for. First, I look for the product with the least amount of ingredients. Next, I try to find an all-natural version of the item I’m looking for. If there is no all-natural version, I skim through the ingredients in search of any words that I wouldn’t be able to pronounce. These are usually chemicals added to the product to keep it fresh. If possible, I try to avoid these items. An important ingredient to avoid at all costs is: high fructose corn syrup. It is found in a multitude of different grocery items including many of our sauces such as ketchup, barbeque sauce, and salad dressings.
In today’s economy, it may seem that eating healthy is too much of a strain on one’s budget. However, on a college student budget, I have learned how to be resourceful and find ways to make my fresh food last longer so that I am not letting anything go to waste. First, I have found that glass Tupperware containers are the best way to keep produce fresh the longest. I have discovered which grocery stores sell the cheapest quality produce so that my fresh food always ends up being the cheapest part of my grocery-run. I love going to the local farmer’s market in San Luis Obispo, however, since it is typically more expensive, I only buy certain foods that taste fresher than if I were to buy them at the grocery store. I have found that the best produce to buy at farmer’s market is carrots on the stalk, peaches, oranges, snap peas, and lettuce (which is actually cheaper at farmer’s market). Also, when I make a recipe, I make a big enough batch to last the whole week. By doing so, I am saving time throughout the week and I am using up all my fresh ingredients for the recipe so that they don’t spoil.
Protein should be consumed with every meal. Protein is the component of the diet that keeps you fuller longer. It keeps you going without cravings throughout the day and speeds up your metabolism. It is important to consume protein shortly after a weight-training workout in order to maximize what you have just accomplished with your muscles. There are many different forms of protein. Animal protein is the most concentrated form of protein. For animal proteins, focus on lower-fat options such as chicken, turkey, and fish and stick with a serving size of about the size of your closed fist. Save beef, pork, and lamb for special occasions. There are also many other sources of protein such as beans, nuts, legumes, and some dairy products. Some of the best options for these types of protein include: black beans, lentils, chickpeas, pistachios, and Greek yogurt.
Click here for one of my favorite high-protein meals.
100% Whole Wheat Pain Pascal loaf from Trader Joe’s
All carbohydrates contain sugars. Most people don’t realize that when they consume carbs, it turns into sugar. Our body needs carbs for energy throughout the day and to fuel our workouts, but remember: everything in moderation.
There are both good carbs and bad carbs. Carbs that contain more fiber slowly distribute sugars into our bloodstream, which is good for our bodies. If the whole grain is still present in a starch or carb it can still be good for you. Some examples of these good carbs include: 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta. White carbs without fiber including: the white flour found in most breads, cereals, white rice, crackers, muffins, sweets, and baked goods have a negative effect on our bodies as they cause our digestive system to process the sugars rapidly. White carbs cause dramatic rises and falls of one’s blood sugar which creates more cravings and triggers other negative effects including fatigue, sleepiness, headaches, and anxiety. While carbs may cause you to feel full for the time being, they will not sustain you for the day. Consuming these bad carbs actually creates more food cravings, hunger, and dissatisfaction.
However, Click here to learn about my favorite whole wheat bread.
Some examples of good sources of fat: Extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, salmon, nuts, seeds
Today it seems that everyone is extremely concerned about fats in our diet. Items that contain a lot of saturated fats such as whole milk, cheese, and butter have their health benefits and also go through less artificial processes than their lower-fat counterparts like fat-free milk. However, eating too much saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease, so these fats need to be consumed in moderation.
There are beneficial, nutritious fats that support healthy digestion and metabolism. Some of the best fats include: extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, omega-3 fish oils (found in salmon), and fats from nuts.
Click here for my Savory Salmon Burger recipe.
On Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Whole foods: I believe in using fresh foods as nourishment for the body through clean eating. Here in California, especially, we have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, yet, Americans don’t consume nearly enough vegetables in their diet. Fruits and veggies are great options for snacks throughout the day and there are many interesting ways to incorporate more produce into your diet. One of the ways I integrate vegetables into my diet is to use them as a side dish with my protein for dinner in place of a carb or starch such as rice, potatoes, or pasta.
Click here for one of my favorite salad recipes.
Cal Poly Rec Center
Although my blog mainly focuses on the nutrition side of a healthy lifestyle, exercise is a fundamental component to living life to its full potential. No matter what fitness level you are currently at, it is absolutely crucial to incorporate exercise into your day-to-day life. Most importantly, when you think you don’t have any time in the day for exercise…think again. When you work out, it gives you more energy throughout the day. Therefore, by fitting in a workout, even if it’s a short one, you will actually be more productive throughout the day and have more energy at work or school.
Some helpful tips for exercise:
Do what you enjoy. Be open to trying new workouts; however, if you hate the workout, chances are it will become a burden and you wont commit to it consistently each week. Therefore, find which exercises you enjoy, and stick with it!
Switch up your exercises. When you do the same thing every day, eventually your body is going to get used to the exercise and your progress will plateau. This is why it is important to switch it up. There are so many different kinds of workouts to explore, including some that you may not have even heard of before. For me, my three favorite workouts are spin class, BodyPump (a weight training class), and the Stairmaster. However, I switch up my workouts by taking different instructors, incorporating other classes, and conducting my own workouts. Some of the other workouts I enjoy include H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training), abs classes, weight machines, free weights, and using the elliptical.
Incorporate both cardio and weight training…This goes for you too, ladies! Get the thought out of your head that you are going to bulk up. Unless you are taking supplements and training like a body builder, it is not going to happen. So, load up the weights and pump it until muscle fatigue when you can’t do any more reps. For cardio/aerobic activity, make sure to do at least twenty minutes for your body to start burning the calories.
Find a gym that suits you, Invest in your health: It’s the best thing you could spend money on. I love taking classes at the gym so I value a gym that has quality, trained instructors who can challenge me. Taking classes at the rec center doesn’t feel like a burden or a chore to me, in fact, I look forward to them everyday.
Eat shortly after you’ve completed your workout. In general, carbs are best to consume before a workout. A high-protein snack or meal makes the most out of your workout after it is completed. Your body is still burning calories after a workout so eating shortly after will help you metabolize your food better. Within a 20-minute window is the best; if you eat more than two hours after exercising, it will be of no benefit to you.
Stay active on vacation. When I was working on Nantucket island for a whole summer, I had to find a way to stay fit without a gym. This was a difficult for me because I truly hate running. However, I made a motivating playlist, found a scenic running trail, and downloaded the app: Map My Run in order to track my speed and distance. Running became my main form of exercise that summer and I used it as a way to challenge myself and soak up the beauty of Nantucket. I also invested in a bike for the summer which was absolutely worth the opportunity to explore the island and get a workout at the same time! P90X also helped me target arms and abs while away from my gym.
This quote always inspires me, find what inspires you to continue on your journey of abundant life
Everyone has their good and their bad days. Don’t let the bad days get you down. It is easy to let one bad decision derail your whole day, or even your whole week. Instead, let it blow right off your shoulders, put it in the past, and persevere.