Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Part 2 of Penelope's I Wanna Stay Alive Plan: The Diet

Welcome to Part 2 of Penelope's I Wanna Stay Alive Plan! Part 1 (which was posted yesterday) was all about exercise. (Walking!) Today's post is about my new diet. After having a heart attack in August, I completed re-vamped my eating. No more McDonald's french fries. No more nacho platters at the Mexican restaurant. I have 2 main health concerns to address: heart health and diabetes. So, according to the nutritionist at the hospital, my diet needed to be low-sodium, low-cholesterol, low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie (low-taste...hee hee). After I compared the Do Not Eat List and the Okay To Eat List, I was left with...
Celery Sticks.

And Water.

All right, maybe not that bad, but pretty damned close. Some things were okay on one list, but not okay on another. So, what did I do? I took all the lists and made up my own diet, with a heavy emphasis on the super-foods, and stuff I liked. Here is what I eat every day. You might think that eating the same thing every day sucks, but actually it's great. I don't have to think about it...I know it's healthy. And of course, I can mix it up a bit when I want to!

Breakfast: 1 piece of whole wheat toast w/ lo-fat, lo-sodium peanut butter, some walnuts, tea or coffee

Morning Snack (if needed): half an apple w/ peanut butter, or banana, or 1/2 container fat-free Greek yogurt w/ blueberries and wheat germ, or handful of walnuts; water

Lunch: mini whole wheat pita pocket stuffed with veggies (cuke, tomato, sprouts, greens, mushrooms, avocado, and hummus) or mini whole wheat pita grilled on panini maker (with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, 1 slice lo-salt, lo-fat cheese, avocado). 5-10 "healthy" chips, such as Food Should Taste Good olive chips. Water. (fruit for dessert if I want it)

Afternoon Snack (if needed): hummus and pita chips or carrots/celery to dip (part skim ricotta cheese also a good dipper!), 1/2 container fat free Greek yogurt (w/ fruit if desired).

Dinner: Bowl of greens! Use different kinds of greens...spinach, mesclun with herbs, red-leaf, whatever; add on top, grilled salmon, chicken, steak, small portion--whatever I am cooking for the family; plus, sprinkle of cheese, such as goat cheese, feta, or blue; plus walnuts, pumpkin seeds or other nuts; plus dried fruit if desired--such as dried cranberries, etc. Sprinkle olive oil and a dash of vinegar on top. Water to drink (add slice of orange in water to spiff it up a bit!) This winter I have also been roasting veggies (squash, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, fennel, beets, etc) and plopping them on top of my bowl of greens, just to have something nice and warm to eat.

This diet works for me. I love veggies. Well, I love food. But I've learned that my life can't center around my meals anymore. Being healthy is more important.

Here's my new motto: Nothing tastes as good as being alive.

Here are some more tips and ideas...please leave a comment and let me know some of your tips, too!

**Your diet needs to be about quality AND quantity. Sure, you could lose weight by eating crap at McDonald's all day--if you ate small amounts of food--but eventually you would still die from a heart attack. It's not just the number of calories you consume, but the quality of calories. You need to eat heart healthy stuff...walnuts, salmon, blueberries. Check out this great website (Heart Healthy Living) for more info about heart healthy foods.

**Sodium is a killer. Prepared foods and restaurant foods are on the no-no list. This was really hard for me. I love eating out and I love the convenience of prepared foods. Even supposedly "healthy" foods and soups have astronomically high amounts of sodium. DON'T EAT THEM. Freeze your own home-made soup, make a healthy sandwich for lunch, if you go out to eat order a salad with no dressing--ask for oil and vinegar and make your own. Also, try appetizers...better portion size. Veggie sushi is good (no soy sauce!). You'll get used to it.

**You don't need to join Jenny Craig. Any diet plan that uses prepared foods is bad (and expensive)...and worst of all, the probability of gaining all the weight back after the "diet" is over is pretty high. That totally sucks. Weight Watchers seems good to me because it's teaching people to eat healthy without using prepared foods, and there is a good support system.

**Red wine is heart healthy!--have half a glass. So is dark chocolate...have a tiny square.

**Find recipes you like and make a batch for the week. My two favorites are chick pea and feta salad (I make it with whole wheat couscous and stuff it in my pita pocket) and homemade chicken soup.

**I eat a lot of chick peas and nuts for protein. If you need more protein in your diet, try lean turkey on your sammie, or tuna (make your own salad w/ fat free mayo and lots of veggies) or egg salad (make your own!).

**Going to a party? Is it Thanksgiving? Fill up on a big salad, then have one bite of something bite of the cake, or pumpkin pie, whatever. That's all you really need. You'll already be stuffed from all the veggies!

**After every meal, I walk. It burns up calories, it increases your energy level. It makes you feel better.

This is what has been working for me. I gave up white pasta and white bread, which hurt like a bitch. I love that stuff! But I got used to this new diet pretty quickly, and I noticed right away I felt better eating this way. I no longer have horrible acid reflux, I don't get tired so easily.

I would love to hear from all of you and find out your diet tips. What works? What doesn't work? How do you incorporate healthy eating if you have a family, and your daughter only eats chicken nuggets? Stuff like that.

Let's chat!