Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A friend I worked with was told by her doctor recently to drastically cut her fat intake and concentrate on healthy eating, and she's having trouble knowing where to start. Everyone has to find the method that works for them, but here are my top suggestions:

READ EVERY LABEL on everything you buy. The whole label, not just the summary of calories and fat grams. Avoid foods that have sugar or corn syrup listed as one of the first 5 ingredients (this is hard when buying bread, so you can make an exception there if you're not too sensitive to sugar). Avoid foods that list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

Get a little notebook for your purse and WRITE DOWN EVERY FAT GRAM CONSUMED. Trust me, you'll eat too much if you don't write it down.

MEASURE YOUR PORTIONS carefully. Most diets are wrecked by incorrect portion sizes. Don't guess - measure!!

NOT ALL OILS ARE EQUAL. I use only olive or canola oil for cooking (mostly olive) and olive or sometimes walnut or grapeseed oil for dressings. Here's some info on olive oil:

Olive oil
Although more expensive than other oils, olive oil has many health benefits. It has mono-unsaturated fat and is the preferred cooking oil in Mediterranean countries. Studies have found that consumption of olive oil can lower the risk of coronary heart disease by reducing blood cholesterol levels and blood clot formation.
Research has also found that olive oil may influence body fat distribution, with less fat stored around the stomach.
Olive oil is thought to offer a number of other health benefits, including reduced risk of some cancers (such as breast cancer), reduced risk of diabetes and, possibly, a delayed onset of complications in established diabetes. It also contains many antioxidant phytochemicals that have many health benefits.
This oil is extracted by pressing or crushing olives and comes in different varieties, depending on the amount of processing involved. Varieties include:
~ Extra virgin: Considered the best, this oil comes from the first pressing of the olives.
~ Virgin: Comes from the second pressing.
~ Pure: Undergoes some processing, such as filtering and refining
~ Extra light: Undergoes considerable processing and only retains a very mild olive flavour.
When buying olive oil, it is best to select the extra virgin variety. In order to get maximum benefits, olive oil should be used to prepare salad dressings, as a seasoning for soups, for sauteing vegetables or for grilling.

DON'T EAT OUT PERIOD UNTIL YOUR CHOLESTEROL IS AT AN EXCEPTABLE LEVEL. It's too hard to control fat and sugar intake and to control portions. When you've reached your goals for weight and cholesterol, treat yourself to a single all-out meal at your favorite restaurant. After that, limit splurges to once per quarter. Once your levels are where you want them, you can eat out conservatively, but keep an eye on the scale in case you're consuming more fat and sugar than you think (happens a lot).

SUBSCRIBE TO A MOTIVATING MAGAZINE - I like Shape because it covers both diet and exercise as well as women's general health issues. They have skinny models, but there are also real women with realistic figures too. There are lots of others to choose from too.

EAT VEGGIES AS YOUR MAIN COURSE and your meat as a side dish. Choose only lean cuts and avoid the skin of chicken and turkey. Try to eat as wide a variety of vegetables as you can. I really don't like vegetables, so I've had to do a lot of experimenting to find ways to prepare them so that I like them. I often grind them up and hide them in other foods, but it's hard to get enough that way. A good way to do that is in soup (don't grind broccoli though - ick! Just cut it up really small). If you cut your veggies up small enough, you'll hardly know they're there as the flavor gets overwhelmed by the broth and spices.

EAT MOSTLY FISH, SHRIMP, AND CRAB and other seafoods (research and avoid high mercury content fish). Not only do these give you the Omega-3 fatty acids, you'll also consume much less fat for the same portions.

DON'T EAT MEAT, POULTRY OR SEAFOOD THAT'S CHARRED OR BLACKENED - the process creates carcinogens. And, of course, NOTHING BREADED AND FRIED. Tempura cooked shrimp should also be avoided.

TRY TO CONSUME A VARIETY OF GRAINS AND MAKE AT LEAST HALF OF THOSE WHOLE GRAINS. I really hate brown rice, so I use a lot of whole wheat flour, whole oat flour, oatmeal, and barley. That way I can eat white rice.

DO 20 MINUTES OF CARDIO 3 TIMES PER WEEK and work up to 30-45 minutes. I try to do my cardio every day so if something happens at the end of the week, I have it done. If I get in extra workouts - all the better!

STRENGTH AND FLEXIBILITY TRAINING are just as important to your health as cardio, especially in injury prevention such as my partial tear on my rotator cuff. That can be directly connected to my poor flexibility and poor posture. Poor conditioning is also the main culprit in back injuries such as ruptured disks. This type of training is also great for relieving gastro-intestinal symptoms and tension headaches. Okay, it just about walks on water...

Those are the biggies right now, and it's time for me to get busy writing for the day. I'll leave you with the recipe for the day:

Quick Shrimp Creole (yummy!)

7 oz. enriched white rice
28 oz diced tomatoes (can be stewed)
1/2 c. green bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 c. chopped celery
1 T olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp hot sauce (tabasco or louisiana)
1 tsp Creole seasoning (I use Chef Prudhomme's seafood magic)
1 lb peeled large shrimp (I use frozen)

Prepare rice and keep warm.

Saute green pepper, onion, and celery in olive oil until tender. Add garlic and saute another minute. Stir in tomatoes, hot sauce, and Creole seasoning. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir in shrimp, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes or until heated through (frozen may take a bit longer). Serve over hot cooked rice.

Health to you all!!

2 flies caught in my web:

Laura said...

Your donts are pretty much a long list of my favorites.

Jolie Mathis said...

I have used the brown rice in my very similar Shrimp Creole recipe and it's great! More grains. (Do you think chocolage chip cookies count as grains? Lol!)