It can be hard to get your meals in at work and it’s not always possible to sit down for 15-30 minutes to eat a full meal. Sometimes I eat my meals at my desk and fortunately I am able to step away to eat most of the time. However; today was really busy and I had to get my last snack in some way. I came up with an idea on the fly. I always strive to get a protein, carb, and fat source at each meal. I decided to combine my protein and sweet potato into a pudding. I took 50 grams of cooked sweet potato, added one scoop of protein, and a little less than 1\4 cup of coffee in a styrafoam cup. I mixed these ingredients together and it came out to be the consistency of pudding. I love pudding but the instant mixes tend to have a lot of sodium. So this was a nice way to get what I like in a healthy way….and it was fast! Here are some ideas you can try for quick meals.
-Pudding made with one scoop of protein and just enough almond milk stirred in. Great in the morning before your workout when you don’t have time to eat.
-1scoop of protein powder with 1\4 cup of dry oats. Add a little water and make a “goo.”
-Add fruit into a container of Greek yogurt. You can even add nuts for a complete meal.
-Mix cooked sweet potato in with protein powder and water and microwave for a few minutes….instant brownie!
These are just a few things I have done to make sure I sneak in a quick meal on the go. No excuses!
A very easy to make low-carb snack. Great for pre or post workout.
1 cup of canned pumpkin
5 egg whites
2 scoops of protein powder ( I used chocolate).
1\4 cup of coconut flour
A dash of stevia
1 cup of instant oatmeal
1 tablespoon of Hershey’s dark chocolate baking powder
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray
Mix all ingredients together. Add water or almond milk until desired consistency. The mix should be like pancake batter…just slightly thicker.
Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Makes 8 muffins. If you want 12 muffins add more water or milk for a thinner mix.
I have been at two opposite end of the dieting spectrum. At one point in my life I ate whatever I wanted, when I wanted, and didn’t care anything about it. I have also dieted down for a show to the point of extreme carb depletion with a very limited selection of food. I have seen what food can do to the body, both good and bad. If you ask anybody who has ever been on a diet and exercised what the hardest part is….they will tell you “the diet!” After all, we do have taste buds for a reason.
Eating is one of the most enjoyable activities in life. We plan majority of our social events around food….Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, Halloween, the Superbowl…and the list goes on. We eat mindlessly just because it is something we are expected to do and we even associate certain food with certain activities. Watch a movie and nine times out of ten you are eating popcorn. When you go on a mission to lose weight or eat healthier, it can be a very daunting task to eliminate all of the foods that you used to eat. Many people become so zealous that they avoid certain foods like the plague. But through my years of trial and error, I have learned that what we may think of as “bad” food is not necessarily bad. Living healthy is not about good vs. bad or restriction. Living healthy is about balance and better choices.
Many people at work are aware that I eat healthier than most and I workout on a regular basis. The most common question I get about my diet is whether I eat carbohydrates, if I restrict foods, or if I eat junk food. I wish I had the willpower to never eat “junk food” again but that is not happening. If I didn’t eat carbs, my body would shut down and I would not be writing this blog as we speak. After many years of struggling with food, losing weight, dieting for shows, and dealing with post-competition blues and trying to adjust to a “normal diet,”…I have decided that I am not classifying foods into good or bad categories anymore. These terms play tricks on the mind. I eat according to my goals, I eat to be healthy, I eat because I enjoy food, and I eat in a way that will leave me satisfied and feeling like I made a good decision. Unless you have allergies or a disease, or are involved in a sport that requires specific foods such as bodybuilding, you don’t need to be extreme. If there are foods you don’t like, that is fine. If you don’t want to eat them, that is perfectly fine as well. Only you know how you can control your eating.
Balance is the key to being healthy for life and as humans we like variety. Don’t get caught up in fad diets just because everyone else is doing it. Start tracking what you eat and you will see the amount of nutrients in your food and might even realize that what you thought was “bad” is not so bad. Become an educated food consumer, not just a blind follower of someone else’s diet plan.
One benefit of tracking your calories online is seeing not only the calories and macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein) that you are eating, but also the amount of vitamins and other nutrients you are consuming on a daily basis. I took a look at my food log today which gives me a grade for the day. If I get close to the proper amount of vitamins and minerals and stay within my calorie range, I receive and “A.” If I am far off, the grade goes down. I did pretty good today but while I was looking at my log, I couldn’t help but notice that I was closer to the recommended amount of fiber as well as potassium (which is really high). I ate more vegetables today than I have and I ate REAL food. I did have one granola bar and saw that it basically had no nutrients in it whatsoever….even though it is marketed as a healthy snack. Yes, it is better than a bag of potato chips but it would be far better to make your own granola than to buy a processed bar.
Even if you are not trying to lose weight, tracking your macros can help to ensure that you get all of the nutrients you need from food. You will be surprised at the difference small changes can make. To help transition to eating more whole foods here are some tips:
- Cut up veggies and fruits in advance so they are easy to grab
- Make your own “mix”…nuts and berries, dark chocolate, toasted oats and berries/nuts, anything you want to mix together
- Make your own protein bars: Example 2 cups of instant oats, 1/4 cup of nut butter, 3-4 scoops of protein powder…mix together and place in a pan. Put the mix in the freezer and voila…you have homemade protein bars!
It is not hard to eat real food. It just requires a little preparation and creativity so you don’t get bored.
Forget restriction, deprivation, and forbidden…just eat a good variety of healthy foods and make it fun. This approach will ensure healthy eating for a lifetime…not just a temporary diet. Have your processed foods in moderation.