I’ve recently started a new diet (which you’ve seen some pictures of if you follow me on Instagram). I am doing a cleanse of sorts with it, and I will eventually be taking some supplements, but the point is really about developing a better relationship with food.
That is what the eating mindfully challenge from Rally, our wellness tool, is really all about. It asks you to stop and think before you eat that morning donut from the break room.
So, the rules of what I’m doing food-wise are pretty simple. I’m eating breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, dinner, and I can have another evening snack if I need it. (As a person who was eating maybe two meals a day and can’t really have dessert, I pretty much never need it.)
Within those meals, I’m trying to get a protein, a fruit or veggie, and a complex carb (whole wheat pastas and breads, potatoes, beans, etc.) in with each meal. For snacks, I’m usually mixing a fruit or veggie with some protein.
Besides that, I’m just avoiding processed foods as much as possible. Nothing with added sugar or salt, no soda, no coffee, no alcohol, and the big sacrifice, no candy! (Although, I may still be sneaking the occasional square of dark chocolate…)
(I should also add that I’m not getting rid of salt altogether. A sprinkle of salt on meat before you cook it or on fresh corn can make all the difference, but I’m going really light on this. And the good news is, I’ve always preferred pepper, so I’m just adding LOTS of that!)
What That Actually Looks Like
So, a rundown of today to give you a better idea:
For breakfast, I had a smoothie made with frozen berries and banana, oats, and pineapple coconut water. And I ate a scrambled egg for protein.
For my morning snack, I had a kiwi, blueberries, and strawberries. (Because I worked from home this morning, my snack and breakfast were closer together than normal, so I wasn’t very hungry and skipped the protein.)
For lunch, I had a half turkey sandwich on whole grain bread and a half spinach salad with lots of veggies.
For my second snack, I had homemade cinnamon apple chips (Cooking Light has some good recipes for this), and turkey lunch meat with a few red pepper strips.
For dinner, I will be using some herb pork tenderloin I made earlier in the week with some whole wheat pasta, roasted tomatoes and zucchini, and half an avocado (before it goes bad).
How I Actually Do It
And this is very much how I cook. I rarely use recipes, and I tend to throw in whatever is ripest in my kitchen. I also cook for one a lot, so I know I’m not going to want to eat the same things 8 days in a row. So I will do one thing that I can use many ways.
This week, I cut apart a pork tenderloin into 6 pieces, and I made them 3 different ways. The first way was what I’m using tonight. For that herb version, I just coated the pork in olive oil and then sprinkled it with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
Then I made a pineapple version. I just mixed about a teaspoon of soy sauce, about a tablespoon of honey, and a tablespoon of fresh pineapple juice, then I coated the meat in it. I topped each piece with a fresh pineapple ring before going into the oven.
And last, I made a quick peach reduction version. For that one, I put about a half cup of frozen peaches (fresh would be even better!) into a small saucepan and thawed them on the stove. Then I added 1-2 tablespoons of honey and brought the whole thing to a nice boil. Then I turned it down and let it simmer for at least 5 minutes to thicken. Then I just poured it over my meat.
Then I popped all of those (sectioned off with foil between the different flavors) straight into the oven. It baked at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. (Again, I don’t usually use a timer, I just check on things. So always make sure to cut your meat to see if it’s cooked through when following my slapped-together recipes!)
I served the Pineapple Pork Loin with a roasted sweet potato (which was just a sweet potato cut up, tossed in a little olive oil and seasoning, and popped in the oven at the same time as the pork) and fresh green beans. I also made a quick fresh salsa with another slice of fresh pineapple cut up and some red bell pepper that I served on top of the pork. This was delicious and the pineapple and honey got all sticky and crunchy on the outside.
I had the Peach Reduction Pork the next day, and I served it with more green beans and a Corn, Avocado, and Tomato salad, which is a super quick and tasty side. I used frozen corn which I steamed in the microwave, and then mixed it with half an avocado and a few sliced cherry tomatoes.
I’ve also done the math on those recipes for calorie tracking in my fitness binder, and the entire Pineapple Pork Loin meal was just 354 calories, and the entire Peach Pork meal was just 458 calories (based on a 4 oz. portions of pork).
So, How Can You Eat Mindfully?
Start with fruit and veggies! Skip the garlic bread side and have a salad.
Eat proper portions, because you can’t actually eat an entire bag of Cheetos and get away with it everyday once you lose the metabolism of a teenager.
Just eating better snacks can make a huge difference. Skip the donut and try one of these:
Loving my food pics on Instagram? Comment on them there when you want to see the recipes here on the blog!
You can reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol with 2 easy lifestyle changes: healthy eating and exercise.
Healthy eating habits can help you lower 3 of the major risk factors for heart attacks, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and obesity.
Tips to Help with Healthy Eating
Eat a variety of fruits, veggies, grains, and dairy, which are all good for you in the right portions, and they keep your diet from getting boring. Use MyPlate to learn more about healthy eating and portions of these foods.
If you keep track of the calories you take in and burn, you can balance them to keep a healthy weight.
Avoid foods that are high in calories and low in nutrition, like soda and candy.
Limit the foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol that you eat, like full-fat dairy, vegetable oil, and egg yolks.
Use smaller plates, which has been shown to help people eat smaller portions.
Don’t deny yourself the foods you love, just enjoy them in moderation.
Don’t eat more than 2,400 milligrams of salt a day.
Soda and Healthy Eating
The amount of soda Americans drink has risen 135% over the last 30 years.
A study from the American Heart Association found middle aged people who drink as little as one soda a day, diet or regular, are at least 40% more likely to develop risk factors for heart disease.
This could be because people who drink sodas are more likely to have a sweet-tooth and eat other sugary food.
Cutting down on soda both lowers the sugar, empty calories, and salt you’re taking in. Stick to water instead.
Say “No” to Trans Fats
Trans fats hide in a lot of prepackaged foods. Like saturated fats, they raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol levels, increasing your chances of heart disease.
Learn to avoid them for healthy eating:
Margarine: Choose margarine in a tub, which has the least trans and saturated fats.
Baking Mixes: These can have fat in them that you don’t know about. Baking from scratch can help you cut back and control what’s in your treats.
Soups: Both dried and canned soups have trans fats and lots of sodium. Try making your own with fresh veggies and meat.
Fast Food: Almost everything in the drive-thru has something bad for you in it. Order grilled chicken and skip the fries.
Frozen Foods: Even if it says low fat, it can still have trans fat. Choose frozen foods with the fewest grams of total fat.
Chips and Crackers: Go for baked chips, low-fat crackers, or fat-free alternatives like pretzels.
Breakfast Foods: Choose cereals that have no fat, and breakfast and granola bars that are low in fat.
Toppings, Dips, and Condiments: Wherever you can, sub a low-fat alternative, like oil and vinegar instead of a ranch dressing and low-fat milk instead of cream.
Alcohol and Your Heart
Drinking a lot of alcohol on a regular basis can affect your blood pressure and cholesterol. While a little alcohol every day, like a glass of red wine, may have some minor health benefits, heavy drinking can cause a number of health problems.
Heavy drinking can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of stroke and heart disease. Alcohol keeps the liver from making hormones that help control blood pressure. Heavy drinkers can lower their systolic blood pressure by 2 to 4 points just by cutting back.
Some studies do show that moderate drinking is linked to good cholesterol levels. Stick to no more than 2 drinks daily for men younger than 65, and one for women or anyone over the age of 65.
You don’t have to give up your favorite beverages, just drink them in moderation.
Healthy Eating During the Holidays
The average adult will eat nearly 3,000 calories during a typical holiday meal, and that doesn’t include snacks, appetizers, or dessert. Use these healthy eating tips to cut back:
Never go to a party hungry. Before you leave, eat a light snack full of fiber and protein so you don’t binge at the dessert table.
Prepare a healthy side. Substitute skim milk or egg whites in recipes to lower fat, cholesterol, and calories.
Survey the spread. Before choosing what to eat, check what’s available. Look for apps with fresh veggies, fruits, and whole grains. Avoid dishes like casseroles where you can’t tell what all’s inside.
Eat lean. There are plenty of ways to add flavor without the gravy. Grilled, steamed, skinless, and seasoned are the best heart-smart choices.
Don’t stay close by. Take a few items, and walk away from the food. When you’re catching up, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.
Stay active. Instead of giving into an after-meal doze, take a walk or go to the mall for some window shopping.
Potassium and Your Heart
Potassium helps lower your blood pressure in two ways:
By getting rid of extra salt through urine.
By relaxing blood vessel walls, which lets blood flow more easily.
One article in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension found that just changing how much potassium and magnesium you eat could lower your blood pressure 2 to 6 points.
Adding potassium to your diet doesn’t mean you can eat all the salt you want. But getting enough potassium, at least 4,700 milligrams a day, plays an important part in your overall healthy eating plan to control your blood pressure.
Studies also show a link between potassium and lower stroke risk, so getting more of it is good for your family members, too, even if they don’t have high blood pressure.
From fish to fruits to dairy, lots of foods have potassium. It’s easy to fit into every meal:
Avocado (1 cup)
Baked potato (8 ounces with skin)
Edamame (1 cup shelled, cooked)
Lima beans (1 cup, cooked)
Sweet potato (1 cup, cooked)
Plantains (1 cup, cooked)
Salmon (6 ounces)
Tomato sauce (1 cup)
Winter squash (1 cup, cooked)
Beets (1 cup, cooked)
Cantaloupe (1 cup)
Dried apricots (12 halves)
Dried figs (4)
Orange juice (1 cup)
Yogurt (1 cup plain low-fat)
Broccoli (1/2 cup, cooked)
Zucchini (1/2 cup, cooked)
Strawberries (1 cup)
Raisins (1/4 cup)
Dates (5 whole)
Milk (low-fat or skim,1 cup)
Chicken breast (5 ounces, roasted)
Peanut butter (2 tablespoons)
Peanuts (1 ounce, about 1/4 cup)
Heart Healthy Nuts
Mother Nature’s near-perfect snack is tree nuts. They’re one of the healthiest and easiest snack foods. From boosting memory and brain power to protecting against cancer, research has shown the power of this snack.
Studies find walnuts have the most antioxidants, about twice that of other nuts, and polyunsaturated fats, that help reduce cholesterol and protect the heart, omega-3s, melatonin, and protein.
If walnuts aren’t your first choice, munching on other kinds still has plenty of benefits. Nuts actually lower levels bad cholesterol in your blood. Try substituting a serving of nuts for a food that’s high in saturated fat, like red meat, eggs, and whole-fat dairy.
Packed with protein, fiber, calcium, and iron.
Very high in monosaturated fat, or the heart healthy fat.
One of the best sources of Vitamin E, which protects against cancer and stroke.
Per 1 ounce serving: 160 calories, 14 grams of fat.
Good source of monosaturated fat.
Per 1 ounce serving: 155 calories, 12 grams of fat.
Great source of potassium.
High in monosaturated fat (almost as much as almonds).
Per 1 ounce serving: 160 calories, 13 grams of fat.
Has more protein than tree nuts.
Per 1 ounce serving: 170 calories, 14 grams of fat.
Great choice for fighting high cholesterol because they’re low in saturated fat.
Per 1 ounce serving: 200 calories, 20 grams of fat.
Being active is one of the most important things you can do to help control your blood pressure and lower your cholesterol, as well as lower your risk of heart disease. It doesn’t have to take much time, in fact, you can easily add the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity a day simply by changing your routine.
For example, try:
Taking a 10-15 minute walk during your lunch break.
Jumping rope for 15 minutes.
Gardening or raking leaves for 30 minutes.
Going for a walk in the park with your family.
Make sure you talk to your doctor before you start a new diet or exercise routine.