From the Desk of The Nutty Nutritionist

All in a Day’s Eatin’

In Meal Ideas, What I ate today on January 10, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Friends, family, and clients regularly ask me what I eat on a regular basis in the effort to acquire new healthy meal ideas.  It has been quite some time since I wrote a column for the “What I ate today” category, so I am going to share with you a recent day, now that I am back on track with my usual healthy eating routine after a rather harried and indulgent holiday season.   As I reflect back on 2011, I am quite pleased with my ability to keep up with my healthy eating and exercise resolutions :  On most days, I ate at least two pieces of fruit and at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables;  I also managed to make time for exercise on most days of the week by performing strength training for 60 minutes 2-3 times a week; cardio (elliptical/treadmill/walking outdoors) for 45-60 minutes 2-3 times a week; and Bikram yoga twice a week for 90 minutes.  By constructing and following through on such a balanced exercise program (cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, and flexibility), I am feeling stronger and fitter than I have in a long time.  This is a fabulous way to begin 2012, as I am highly motivated to maintain these healthy habits and am free to focus my New Year’s resolutions on other pursuits—one of which is learning to play the steel drum.  My trip to Grand Cayman last April inspired me, and I am so excited to play authentic Caribbean tunes.  Making music is so much fun and stress relieving!!  (although my husband shudders at the thought…) I already have the drum and training videos in hand—now I just need to find time to practice.  Dig out those earplugs, Sweetie!  Camp Hatchery 5 O’clock Fridays will never be the same again! 

I will now provide examples of a meal plan I would follow on an average weekday.  Notice how I call it a meal PLAN.  Yes, healthy eating requires some forethought to decide what you will eat and how  you will get it into the house.   I spend one hour a week to plan menus and then shop from my list.  If I fail to take the time to do this, I inevitably eat more junk and restaurant food.  As a general rule, I prepare my own meals and snacks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner most days.  If I have an erratic schedule or am away from home most of the day, then I will pack food along with me so I have control over my appetite and choices, as opposed to “winging it” and risking being over-hungry and grabbing unhealthy options.  As a forty-something woman who is very active and desires to maintain her current weight and musculature, I aim for 2000-2200 calories a day.  My meals generally fall between 400-600 calories depending on my choices that day, and snacks between 150-250 calories depending on the  timing of my meals.  (Calories will be posted in parenthesis in the plan below.) Since I pretty much have a “calorie reference file” in my brain from my years as a dietitian, I typically don’t need to count calories for myself.  However, for the average person looking to manage his or her weight, counting calories and building up a “calorie reference file” in your own brain is a smart thing to do!  The more enlightened you are about your food choices, the easier it is to eat healthy and be mindful of portions, thereby keeping extra pounds at bay.

7 AM Breakfast  (460 calories)

2 slices of Ezekial sesame seed bread  (160 calories)

2 Tbsp. Parkers’ natural peanut butter  (210 calories)

1 cup blackberries or large clementine  (70 calories)

coffee with 2 Tbsp. fat free half & half (20 calories)

If I am doing Bikram yoga on this day (the kind where you sweat profusely in a 105 degree heated room while doing strenuous postures for 90 minutes), I will add 16 oz. of plain coconut water for energy, hydration, and electrolyte replacement.  This contributes an additional 150 calories for a total of 610 for breakfast.  Believe me,  I need all the help I can get, as it is often mind-over-matter to put myself through such torture!   Namaste!

10:30 AM  Morning Snack  (150-200 calories)

Plain Greek yogurt – 6 oz. (120 calories)

2 tsp. honey  (40 calories)

OR

medium organic Bartlett pear  (100 calories)

2 wedges Laughing Cow Light Swiss cheese (70 calories)

1 PM  Lunch  (555 calories)

pita pocket sandwich filled with cheddar, avocado, and spinach:

1 Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pita Pocket  (160 calories)

1/2 medium avocado (140 calories)

1/2 cup raw organic baby spinach (5 calories)

slice of Applegate Farms organic cheddar cheese (80 calories)

handful of baby carrots (40 calories)

large organic Fuji apple (130 calories)

water

4:30 PM Afternoon Snack  (200-250 calories)

Larabar —my fave is peanut butter & chocolate chip  (230 calories)

OR

“Just a handful” pack of Trader Joe’s Trek Mix—almonds, cashews, & cranberries (210 calories)

These two choices are great “grab and go” options during busy times in the afternoon.  I stash them in my purse or work bag along with a stainless steel water bottle to help me stay energized and hydrated.  Both of these options contain adequate amounts of protein and calories to tide me over until dinner, thereby giving me the strength I need to resist takeout and cook dinner after a long day!

7-7:30 PM  Dinner  (540 calories)

5 oz. baked Rainbow trout drizzed with honey and chopped pistachios  (365 calories)  (recipe to follow!)

1/2 large baked Acorn squash drizzled with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and pepper (175 calories)

water

9:15 PM  Evening Snack  (200 calories)

5 cups Skinny Pop popcorn  (200 calories)

This was a case of good old-fashioned stress eating here. I did NOT need this snack as I was not really hungry at this point.  I was watching the new season of The Bachelor, and all that girl drama was stressing me out!!! LOL  Good thing the bag was almost empty when I started, or 5 cups easily could have become 10!  Kidding aside, this is all too easy to do.  I’m making an example of myself here.  Always pre-portion your snacks so you don’t suffer from hand-to-mouth syndrome and get carried away while watching TV or engaging in other distractions.

Total Calories for the Day:  2135

If you are older than me, less active than me, or looking to shed a few pounds, 2000-2200 calories a day is mostly likely too much to meet your needs.  If you are interested in trying out this ready-made healthy meal plan, I will now offer suggestions on how to trim some calories to better suit your needs:

At breakfast, eat once slice of toast instead of two, which will then cut the peanut butter portion is half as well.  This will save you 185 calories.  (Always aim for a minimum of 300 calories at a meal, no matter what age or size you are!)

For morning snack, eat only one cheese wedge instead of two with your fruit.  This will save 35 calories.  If eating the yogurt, add one tsp of honey instead of two to save 20 calories.  These might seem like such minor changes, but at the end of the day, all these little calorie cuts add up!!

For lunch, eat the sandwich and vegetables as is, but save the apple for your afternoon snack.  This saves 130 calories at lunch, and will then provide a lower calorie snack choice for the afternoon.

If you are planning a late dinner (7 pm or later) or a late afternoon workout, a 200-250 calories snack in the afternoon is appropriate for most people to help curb your appetite and/or fuel your exercise session.  The more energy you have, you can exercise harder and burn more calories and the more likely you will feel like cooking dinner upon your return home.  You don’t want to show up at the gym starving only to have a lackluster workout, nor do you want to arrive home ready to raid the chips and cookies!  This afternoon snack may very well be your most important choice all day.

At dinner, you can save 140 calories but substituting a cup or two of steamed vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, or asparagus for the acorn squash.

In the evening, limit yourself to 3 cups of the Skinny Pop popcorn and save 80 calories.

For daily totals, most women looking to lose weight will do well aiming for 1500-1600 calories a day, while men desiring weight loss should aim for 1700-1800 calories.  Every person’s needs are different, but making the effort to track your calories, cut down portions, and choose healthful foods will ultimately result in some weight loss.

So there you have it!  A day in the life of a dietitian.  Multiple servings of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats (from nuts, peanut butter, olive oil, avocado) were all well represented.  If you have any questions or comments about any of my food choices, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Happy and healthy 2012 to you!

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