Where You Get Your Protein Is Important 

Eating an apple can help curb your cravings for sweets.

This article addresses why getting too much protein from animal sources, especially high-fat sources, bacon and anything processed with nitrates, is harmful. And fructose (not the kind that’s added into processed foods but the kind that is naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables) may have some benefits.

I’ve been logging my food into My Fitness Pal for over 600 days and have found that my sugar intake is often over 50g. But my only source of added sugars is from breakfast cereals, bread, jam, plus a teaspoon of sugar that I add to my mug of herbal tea that I drink at night. I strive to buy the healthier cereals, I try to limit myself to two slices of bread/day because of the need to restrict carbs and calories, and I just add a dab of jam to my PB. The main source of my dietary sugar comes from fruits, veggies, and dairy.

I always strive to eat more veggies than fruit, I get my protein from varied sources such as beans, legumes, dairy (especially Greek yogurt), eggs, some chicken, and once in awhile, salmon.

If you’re on a budget, eating primarily vegetarian really stretches your food budget. I have to be careful not to over-consume beans and lentils, however, because of the high amounts of carbs and calories, both of which are detrimental especially for someone who had been pre-diabetic. I’ve reversed it, but once your body becomes insulin resistant as mine was, I believe that insulin resistance is something you always have to guard against by limiting carbs and calories.

In comparing black beans to split peas, lentils, and great northern beans, I’ve found that black beans win hands down. Black beans are lower in carbs and calories. Guess I’ll be buying more black beans again. My weight loss has stalled since my surgery, and I’ve got to get it going again.

I’d be interested in hearing from y’all about any healthy weight loss tips!

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Vegetarian vs. Eating Chicken for Weight Loss

img_9128A couple of things I want to discuss today has to do with chicken vs. vegetarian diets, weight loss, and a sale at Macy’s. Actually, there’s a tie-in. Really!

I’m excited because I just bought a new George Foreman grill online at Macy’s for $30. It’s large enough for me (4 servings) and has removable plates. I wanted red, but hey, for $30, I’ll be OK with white. Anyway, now I’ll be able to quickly grill chicken breasts for that added zap of protein. My favorite method is to sprinkle Cajun spices on a chicken breast and grill. It’s that simple.

The sale ends February 26. If you’ve been thinking about buying a GF grill, now’s your chance. The same grill costs about $60 at Kohl’s and $47 at KMart. So it’s a fantastic deal!

My next point has to do with a great article in My Fitness Pal, which gives some terrific information about eating healthy, satisfying foods. Be sure to check out the recipes, too. But boy, I’m telling ya, this next paragraph made so much sense to me:

“Lean proteins, like chicken, aid in satiety by affecting the hormones that control hunger and how quickly food empties from our stomachs,” says Keri Glassman, MS, RD. “Chicken also has the highest thermal effect of food, meaning it burns the most calories during digestion, versus carbs and fat.”

See? I KNEW I was losing weight faster when I was eating chicken as opposed to when I was sticking to a vegetarian diet! I’m making lovely, healthy vegetable and split peas or bean soups, but they’re carb-heavy. It would be more filling and would enable a more efficient weight loss to eat four ounces of grilled chicken, a cup of vegetable soup, and black forbidden rice (or brown jasmine rice), rather than a big bowl of soup and rice for dinner.

Plus, if I’m eating a chicken breast with the meal, I can halve the amount of split peas or beans in the soup and double up on the veggies. It would result in soups that have less carbs but are still healthy and delicious.

This subject has been a huge bone of contention between me and a vegan I know. I had told him that I seemed to have lost weight much faster when I had incorporated chicken into my diet. It was driving me nuts that my weight loss had slowed to a crawl.

In fact, my simple musings about this caused him to stop talking to me for two weeks. (He hates having his beliefs challenged.) This vegan was sure that his diet was healthier than mine, even though his diet is low on variety and he hasn’t gone to the doctor in over ten years. He has no idea what his blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, or CBC is.

He’s assuming he’s healthy, but since he’s 52 years old, the only way to know if his lifestyle is working well for him is to go to the doctor and get a physical. He has health insurance, but he refuses to go to the doctor for a checkup.

The guy is a vegan because he believes certain studies that I, frankly, discount as junk science. He believes eating vegan is healthier than being a vegetarian or omnivore. He also subscribes to the theory that people are not omnivorous, which is something I heartily discount.

I ate vegetarian for a year because I’m a huge animal lover and factory farming distresses me. I hate the thought of killing animals. I also can’t afford to eat chicken or salmon daily.

But I’m recovering from my second surgery in less than a year, plus I need to kickstart my weight loss program again. I got off track for the first time in over a year after this last surgery, so if I add chicken and salmon back to my diet for now, it will help kick my desire for sweets and butter.

I’d like to try this way of eating for awhile and compare it to my weight loss results just prior to surgery. Yes, there will be variables to take into consideration, but the fun of trying this experiment will have the added bonus of motivating me to lose weight. Oddly enough, I had felt like giving up the fight recently, but today, I’m finally feeling galvanized.

Being able to build muscle again is having a positive effect on my outlook, too. I went back to the gym a few days ago after my enforced, post-surgical six-week hiatus, and I’m in physical therapy for my shoulder. I’ll be feeling stronger soon—I can’t wait!

Another motivator that I plan to use is to set short-term goals. I use my Chūze Fitness app to set exercise goals for which I garner points. I’ve already earned a free month at the gym! My previous goal was to exercise three times/week, but now I’ll up it to five. And I’m setting my next weight loss goal to 30 lbs. But believe me, I’ll celebrate each ten lb. weight loss, perhaps with a new outfit. That will be fun!

But I digress—back to discussing the article.

Quinoa is on this list of foods that provide satiety, but I never felt satisfied after eating it. In fact, I usually feel hungrier. Strange, but for me, it’s true. Maybe I need to add other ingredients to it, like as pictured in the article. That dish looks yummy!

Greek yogurt and eggs: I absolutely eat them daily. Plain Greek yogurt is marvelous with fresh berries and cinnamon. If I want something to satisfy my sweet tooth and make me think I’m eating dessert, I’ll eat Triple Zero Greek yogurt (the black label). I particularly enjoy the coffee and salted caramel flavors.

Don’t buy cottage cheese if it has carrageenan added to it. Carrageenan is nasty and is believed to cause inflammation. If you find a small curd cottage cheese with NO carrageenan in it, please LMK. Frankly, I doubt there is such a product.

Steel cut oatmeal for breakfast? Absolutely! But I add no sugar or any sweetener at all. Who needs that extra jolt of carbs? Not me. I was pre-diabetic and so I worry about back sliding. For added flavor, I recommend sprinkling in ground cinnamon to the oatmeal while cooking. To keep you feeling fuller longer and to add healthy fats to your diet, mix in a tablespoon of chia seeds to your oatmeal when served.

I usually eat oatmeal with a hard boiled egg for extra protein and satiety. Tossing in some blackberries, strawberries and/or blueberries not only adds flavor and sweetness, but also provides powerful antioxidants and vitamin C.

It’s a fantastic breakfast. Not only is steel cut oatmeal with fresh berries and chia seeds fairly economical, it doesn’t spike my blood sugar. I’m benefiting in a myriad of other ways, too. I’m including whole grains in my diet, and lowering my blood pressure and cholesterol levels at the same time. Another huge plus is that this breakfast will help my skin to retain its suppleness and elasticity. Berries are loaded with vitamin C, which is necessary to produce collagen. This means I’m fighting the ravages of aging, all in one meal. Not bad, huh?

What tips do you have for weight loss and to stay motivated? I’d be very interested in reading your comments.

Healing Foods

Salmon

Tonight I made salmon with veggies in parchment paper. I had never tried this cooking method before, but my sister had served salmon using this technique and it had tasted terrific. So I thought I’d give it a try.

I chose sweet potato, Mexican and yellow squash for the vegetables and served the dish with brown jasmine rice. I drizzled a little olive oil on the vegetables and used plenty of spices, too: garlic, Cajun spices, Mediterranean Sea salt, black pepper, rosemary, thyme, and parsley.

But for some reason, my lovely dinner wasn’t baking in the timeframe that I had expected—in fact, it took four times longer than it should have. Seriously!

Oh well, it was my first try. I’ve found that I often have to tweak something the first time I attempt a new recipe. It’s always a learning experience.

I didn’t mind the fact that the whole thing was taking forever to cook. But you try taking heavy Pyrex out of the oven over and over—and over and over again, using only your non-dominant arm.

I’m tellin’ ya, it sure was hard on my poor, overworked biceps. But I dared not risk using my right hand at all.

You see, the other night I had made a big pot of homemade yellow split pea with veggies soup. Unfortunately, I aggravated my right shoulder when I transferred the soup into a large Rubbermaid container. I had to use both hands to pour it, which was something I was trying to avoid.

The PA had warned me not to lift anything heavier than a coffee cup with my right hand. I’m trying to be careful, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. It’s not like I have scores of people lining up outside, all clamoring to help me with my daily chores, right?

So yeah—because the stock pot was too heavy, I had renewed pain the next day, which meant icing and taking a few pain pills. But I worry that despite my best efforts I’m doing too much, which can result in a failed surgery. Now both shoulders hurt a bit. <sigh>

Anyway, the good news is that my salmon dish came out delish! The other good news is that because I had made entirely too much food, I have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow.

I think the next time I make this dish, I’ll eliminate the Cajun spices and add lemon slices instead for a different twist. I’d also like to try asparagus instead of the squash, but I’ll definitely keep the sweet potato. Sounds yummy, huh?

I’m glad I tried this new recipe. It’s high in protein and vitamin A while providing a healthy fat, all necessary nutrients to promote healing.

According to the article, Ten Best Healing Foods After Surgery, “Eating the right foods after surgery can promote faster healing and minimize the swelling, bruising and inflammation that often accompany a surgical procedure. Not to mention, fueling your body properly will give you the energy needed to get back to your normal routine more quickly.”

But why only eat this way after surgery? We should all strive to incorporate these amazing and nutritious foods in our daily diets.

 

Good News!

imageAs some of you know, I had a total blood panel done in May. The hemoglobin A1C, which tests your blood glucose levels averaged over a span of two or three months, came back at 6.1. This meant I was pre-diabetic. Normal is 5.6 or lower. Pre-diabetic starts at 5.7, and diabetic is 6.4. And 7.0 is when organs start failing.

Well, I was bound and determined that I was not going to become diabetic, so I changed my eating and exercise habits drastically. The next blood test I did showed no change in my A1C, although my blood pressure and cholesterol tests were now normal. So I had another complete blood panel done about two weeks ago. I kept calling the doctor’s office to find out the results. They had the test results but couldn’t tell me what my A1C was yet because the doctor hadn’t signed off on the test results. Frustrating!

I called my doctor’s office again this morning. The person who answered the phone said my results were normal. I didn’t expect such good news, so I asked for the specific number. My A1C has gone down to 5.8! That’s practically normal. There are two other blood GL tests that I’ll find out about tomorrow when I go to the doctor tomorrow. But it all sounds like my hard work has paid off!

Am I out of the woods now? Heck no. I want to get my A1C to a much lower level, such as 5.2. The problem I’m having now is because of my knee, I went from exercising 7 days/week to none. The knee has improved slightly, but I need surgery.

So how do you lower your A1C?

* Lose weight if you’re overweight. This alone can lower your A1C.
* Exercise if you don’t already. All you need to do is walk. It’s that simple. Start with 10 minutes a day. Indoors or out. Just walk. Work your way up to 30 minutes of vigorous walking 5 times a week.
* Don’t consume a lot of sugar. Ditch the soda. Read labels. Sugar lurks in places you wouldn’t dream of.
* Eat a healthy diet that is rich in fiber (plant foods), protein and healthy fats.
* Eat foods with a low glycemic load and always eat protein when you consume carbohydrates.
* Take necessary steps to ensure both blood pressure and cholesterol levels are normal.

MRI UPDATE: I got the MRI done on my knee last Tuesday. I couldn’t straighten out my knee, couldn’t put any weight on my left leg, and I could barely walk. A friend drove me to my appointment. The MRI itself was OK, but because the technician had to straighten out my knee, I felt pain radiating up and down my leg, into my hip and down into my foot. I breathed through the pain, tried to relax, and hoped my muscles wouldn’t start to spasm. They didn’t. Whew! Unfortunately, my ortho surgeon appointment to get the results of the MRI isn’t until December 16. I’d like to schedule the surgery as soon as possible, so I can start recovering.

The Watermelon Phenomenon

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Thinkin’ that WATERMELON is the new crack cocaine. Seriously, you could offer me a piece of New York cheesecake on one plate and watermelon on the other, and I’d choose the watermelon. It’s also a mood enhancer. Maybe I should get a grant to research “THE WATERMELON PHENOMENON and Its Effects on the Brain.” Bahaha!

Prevent Illness Through Diet

imageImportant info for everyone to prevent heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Since these foods fight inflammation, i would imagine that it will help those with fibro, lupus and other auto-immune diseases to feel better.

I’ve been feeling so much better since I started eating clean. The only packaged food I still eat is cereal. I recently found an organic cereal that is very low in sugar; I’ll post about that in a minute. I buy Greek yogurt. The healthiest is low-fat/non-fat plain Greek yogurt. When I get tired of that, I switch to Oikos Triple Zero Greek Yogurt.

Look for organic and non-GMO foods. STOP eating processed foods. No frozen meals, microwaveable dinners, pre-cooked rotisserie chickens (check the ingredients; often a whole bunch of junk is added to them). Fast food is unhealthy and is way too high in sodium.

No sodas. I used to buy Bai5 because I really wanted the sweet flavors. But now, all I drink is water (and coffee in the morning so I can wake up.)

Basically what this boils down to is: buy fresh veggies and cook!

Low Glycemic Load Diet

I love potatoes, but sadly, since I'm pre-diabetic, I can't eat any.

I love potatoes, but since I’m pre-diabetic, I don’t eat any.

Hmmm… A low glycemic load diet is healthy as it prevents your glucose levels from spiking, which is good for everyone to follow. But if you’re pre-diabetic or diabetic, it’s essential that you stick to foods that have a low glycemic load. And if you’re 45 years old or older, are overweight, and especially if you carry any belly fat, it’s healthier to be on a low-glycemic load diet.

This article covers some good information, but it is missing some key elements. First of all, it’s more accurate to follow a low glycemic LOAD diet as opposed to a low glycemic INDEX diet. AND always eat a protein and a healthy fat at the same time you’re eating ANY carbs.

Non-starchy veggies are very nutritious, for example, especially roasted or grilled. But, throw some feta cheese on top, and not only has the taste improved, but you’ve just added some additional protein. Even though non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and carbs, it’s good to get in the habit of always eating a balanced meal.

Feta, part-skim mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses are cheeses that are low in fat. Most cheese has too much fat, however, so if you’re trying to lose weight, cutting down on fat and cholesterol, or trying to obtain those shredded abs, skip the higher fat cheeses and stick to these low-fat cheeses. Goat cheese is yummy, but since it has more fat than feta, eat sparingly.

Here’s a list of low glycemic load foods, but if you’re concerned about your glucose levels, be sure to choose foods listed at 10 or under. Stay away from bananas and raisins, for example, and remember an average baked russet potato is 33. WAY too high. That’s why pre-diabetics like me can’t eat potatoes.

Oh, and here’s an important tip for the 45-year-old and older crowd… If you haven’t had a full blood panel done in over a year, please do so. That’s the time when metabolic changes can hit suddenly, and you could become pre-diabetic and not even know it. Believe me, taking preventive measures is so much easier than dealing with treatment measures.

I refuse to become diabetic. The last thing I want is to have to check my blood sugar daily, inject myself with glucose daily, be on a more restrictive diet than I already am, and be worried about nerve pain, or losing my eyesight or toes. No thank you! So I’m going to lose a lot more weight, get down to a BMI between 15-20%, exercise 5 times/week, and I plan on eating a low-glycemic load diet for the rest of my life.

I’m going to stare diabetes dead in the face, challenge it, and beat it. Plus, I’m going to enjoy the hell outta the added bonus of looking dead sexy for a 59/60-year-old, too. Now that’s a win-win I can wrap my head around!

Today’s Weight Loss Update: 35 lbs. Oh, btw, I’m already exercising 5 times/week. Woot!