Plan for Dietary Variety

On Monday, I began my second semester at Adelphi, and am may be one of very few students who are looking forward to long days of classes and observations.  (If you’re not interested in it, I won’t push you; you’ll just be unemployed.)  Now, as I organize my calendar and materials for the spring, I realize that I’m facing what may be my hardest semester ever; I have 17 credits, 10 observation hours a week, and I have work commitments Monday to Friday.  If you can imagine, I’ve got everything in my Google calendar.

Thanks to my handy new Droid 2, I can track every hour of my day, and stay on top of classes, training sessions, and work.  It’s great, but there’s one thing that I don’t actually put into the calendar, and that’s my diet.  Of all the things to ‘forget’ during busy mornings, it’s probably preparing food for the day.  Last semester I relied on the same basics; Greek Yogurt, apples and bananas, and some variety of chicken with a vegetable.  I’m not exactly deviating from those this semester, but I’ve figure out a quick tip that’ll help make my planning easier, as well as making all of that food last a little bit longer.

I think of two things when I pick out any meal; a protein source and a fruit/vegetable.  Yes, I know you’re thinking about how many grams of protein are in each serving, and what the glycemic index of the carbs is, but I’m honestly not that worried about it.  If I gain unwanted weight, I eat less, and if I lose weight, I eat more.  It’s pretty simple, and I feel that sensible eating (and adjusting your bad habits) is the simplest way to control your weight.  Also, you should be smarter than thinking that your 100 calorie pack is healthy, or that low-fat [fill-in-the-blank] is a good way to diet.

To give you some examples, here’s what I ate today:

For breakfast, I had 4 scrambled eggs, about two cups of refried beans, and 12oz of low-sodium V8.  I ate about half an hour before I worked out, and that ‘meal’ consisted of 8 ounces of plain Chobani Greek Yogurt, with about 1/2 cup of Pomegranate seeds and a touch of honey.  My post workout meal was Moe’s, where I  loaded my whole grain burrito with rice, pinto beans, pulled pork, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, and cheese. (I’m adding peppers and onions to my list of veggies, because I tried my friend Zach’s burrito and it was delicious.)  After my last class, I started eating two chicken breasts and a ton of broccoli.  What’s my point here?  Eat lots of vegetables, eat lots of protein, and the other things will fit in.  (I don’t really like the Food Pyramid; I don’t think that’s the way we should eat, but that’s a point for another day.)  Now, why am I telling you all of this?

Well, do you see anything repeating?  No!  Vary what you eat meal-to-meal, and vary what you eat day-to-day!  I’m not saying that you should throw healthy eating out the window just to eat a huge variety of things, but if you rotate your protein sources and eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, you’re set for success.  It’s relatively easy for people to figure out what fruits and vegetables to eat, but I find some people rationalizing their cherry Pop Tarts or fruit in light syrup as a form of fruit in their diet.  That’s not what we’re looking for!  Instead, I’d go with this rule; fresh or frozen only, and preferably organic.  If you avoid additional ingredients and further processing, you won’t turn into one of those parents that tells their children that french fries and ketchup count as two vegetables.  If you stick with unprocessed fruits and vegetables, you’re off to a good start.

Protein tends to be a little tricky.  While most foods have some protein in them, you know that we’re not talking about the protein in broccoli here.  (Although, someone once told me that spaghetti and broccoli was a good source or protein. I kid you not!)  If you’re thinking about good sources of protein, here’s a list of my favorites: Eggs, chicken, tuna, eggs, turkey, yogurt, eggs, steak, salmon, pork, eggs, beans, milk, eggs…eggs…eggs.  Okay, so I like my eggs.  I also like my poultry, fish (I’m eating salmon as I type this) and dairy.  The simplest format for planning meals, to me, is to get a source of protein, and add a plant (fruits/vegetables).  If you stick with that format, you’ll enjoy eating healthy foods, and you’ll feel good, look good, and will eat to live, not live to eat.

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