Saturday, June 2, 2012

Lean and Green...


This morning I watched a very long infomercial on dieting and eating right. By dieting, I don't mean a fad diet where you starve yourself or eat "this or that" while turning around three times to release the magical fairies that are going to carry away your unwanted fat and calories. I mean a day to day choice of food - that is in fact your "diet"ary affairs. And this information is intended for teens and adults. Unless your child is overweight (and yeah, that's an issue I have, too), they need a good variety of food. CJ enjoys almost anything he wants, but in moderation and we always have a green or yellow veggie with every meal. He even eats brussel sprouts.

Basically, the program rolled out the same stuff I already knew. I did glean a few tiny new bits of information from it, and I thought I'd just share it with you all instead of making you watch the program. (long and boring)

Nichole Richie - skinny, skeletal arms
As most of you know, I prefer to be healthy. Healthy and thin - I won't lie. But I prefer muscle to skinny and even if I wanted to be skinny, genetically speaking, that just isn't in my genes. I am small, I am not skinny. The only people that call me skinny tend to be people that are overweight. Yes, that was a little "ouch" - but it's true. I've never had another healthy, fit person tell me I was too skinny.

Jennifer Aniston, muscular arms
I also workout, a lot. This is not because I enjoy it. I curse Tony Horton constantly while doing P90X. But I do it because it works. It is time consuming and I can only participate with him during the summers it seems, but it works. After I finish this blog, I'm off to join him for whatever is on the plan today. My entire family works out - Jerry and CJ. CJ in a more nontraditional run-around-like-a-madman-all-over-the-back yard-swim-for-hours-on-end style, but nonetheless, active. We don't drink soda (although I've seen Mr. McGowan with a few in his hand lately! Yes, I'm diming you out) and we don't eat a lot of fried or processed foods. This isn't to say we don't enjoy the occasional cheeseburger or "southern" style meals, we do. We partake in these departures from our meal plan once a week or so. We are normal, there is plenty of chocolate, wine, and beer in my house and I believe if you are craving something, eat it. If you are craving it everyday, something is wrong.

When you crave "junk food" as it were, you are actually putting your body in starvation mode. Your body is processing nothing but sugar, which it doesn't like, so it starts storing the fat you have in order to protect itself.

I'm not a nutrionist and my thoughts here aren't "law" but my original degree is in Exercise and Sports Science (yeah, I know, I teach English - an entirely different blog) and I do remember the things I learned in these classes above general health rules. As I watched the video this morning, a particular lesson returned to the forefront of my memory. The biggest enemy out there to maintaining a healthy weight and particularly, a FLAT STOMACH (who doesn't want that?):  SUGAR!

A little is okay - a lot is NOT. Basically, our bodies process sugar the same way with the exception of diabetics. Sugar goes in and then insulin kicks in to process said sugar (diabetics lack insulin which is why they have to avoid sugar, their bodies can't process it and that is quite dangerous). When you eat processed foods, or foods high in sugar (things like orange juice, whole wheat products, muffins, cakes, salad dressing, pasta) there is a sugar spike in your body and insulin comes to save the day. However, the higher your blood sugar, the more insulin your body produces to process the sugar in-take. Once the insulin takes over, your blood sugar levels drop to normal. But, too much sugar creates an abundance of insulin and this drops your blood sugar levels to low and in turn creates fatigue and you guessed it, cravings for more sugar. Your body is trying to regain the "high" it was just on. So, in a nutshell: sugar=bad.

A lot of prepackaged "health foods" are the absolute sabotage of diets. You noticed orange juice above and pasta and whole wheat products. All are jam packed with sugar. So, unless your drinking juice straight from the orange, put the glass down. Whole wheat has it's place, but it's packed with gluten (this is what gives bread is doughy consistency) and in your body, gluten turns to starch, and starch turns to sugar and "ta-da" - there is your culprit. The major downside, there is gluten in beer - lots of it (gluten comes mostly from barley and rye) - but the good news: WINE IS GLUTEN FREE! (It has sugar, though natural sugar from grapes so it's not terrible - but avoid sweet wines, champagne and sparkling wine, sucrose is added to all of those). Pasta - horrible. I know, I love it! However, take stock in the absolute fact that after you eat that big Italian meal (lasagna is on my menu this week), you feel drained and fatigued. Note cycle above with insulin and sugar. Pasta is pure starch - all of it. Unless you're a runner and off for a morning 5K or marathon, limit your intake of these very bad for your carbs. (and even runners only carb load occasionally)

You do need carbs in your diet though (good sugar) - things like rice bread (which is pretty good), sweet potatoes (YUM!), and any/all fruits and vegetables. Be aware of this - any diet that says you can't have fruits and vegetables is a NO GO! Common sense.

Another sabotage of diets is the wrong kind of fat. First of all, you need fat in your diet. Products labeled "fat-free" are TERRIBLE! A good rule of thumb to live by; if you don't know what it is and can't pronounce it, neither does your body. The chemicals used in creating "fat-free" products are far worse for you than the natural fat. Things to avoid: hydrogenated oils, canola and vegetable oils, margarine and fake butter (gross anyway - I love all natural non-salted butter, the REAL stuff). Lucky for me, real butter falls into the good fats list: butter, eggs, olive oil, avocado, nuts, and coconut oil. Canola and vegetable oil are hard to avoid, but opt for the spray rather than covering the body of the pan in liquid gold (except for fried chicken - I mean, really, there is just no other way!) As for spreadable butter, which does matter, I do like Fleischman's Olive Oil spread. It is made with olive oil, water, buttermilk, and sea salt. It's far from perfect, but it does fair well for a "non-natural" product. And it takes my family weeks to go through a little container - moderation matters.

Seriously - this looks delicious!
The information I looked at this morning basically said this: lean and green. Foods should not contain more than one ingredient (or ingredients you don't understand) - think about that. Is it 100% avoidable? No. But, can we all be a little more conscience of this? Yes.

I'm not writing this to say avoid the supermarket, but I am hoping to shed a little light on eating right. It's not as hard as it seems. A grocery manager (my favorite one at Kroger) and I had a short conversation not too long ago as he helped me unload my basket:

"You eat healthy." "Yeah, we try, but I admit it's SO EXPENSIVE." "Yes, it is. You know what costs more? The heart attack I had a few months back, so I don't mind the trade off."

Talk about a conversation bullet. He also told me this, "When you grocery shop, shop only the perimeter - that is where the healthier, fresh foods are. The minute you start down 'the aisle' you've entered processed, pre-packaged land." He's right.

So, as we kick off summer, I encourage you to "eat right" and get some exercise. After all, it is swim suit season :-).




1 comment:

  1. Hmmm....I found this to be a very informative blog. Never realized the whole perimeter of the grocery store thing, but as soon as I read it, I thought about it. Seems very true. Well mostly, not every store is set up exactly the same, but I get it. Now where's that waffle recipe?! LOL :)

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