Food And Energy

A friend of mine figured out something I’ve always recommended: eat small, healthful “meals” every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day.

I’ll run through this typical plan:

Eat whole-grain high fiber cereal for breakfast or another kind of breakfast that is healthful and has protein and fiber to fuel you up for the day ahead.

Two hours later have a piece of string cheese and 15 almonds. Or one banana or other piece of fruit.

Have lunch two hours later. Include a protein source with your lunch food. Two hours after you eat lunch have apple slices slathered with peanut butter.

Go home and eat a healthful dinner.

Other healthful snacks to substitute in the morning and afternoon are a Kind bar, a fistful of chocolate-covered almonds, whatever fruit is in season. A regular-sized container of raspberries is nearly two cups so it’s two servings of a fruit.

Eating smaller healthful meals throughout the day also gives us a psychological boost because it’s easier to do this than to think we have to scarf down monster portions or serving sizes all the time every day.

Little by little or as the Sicilians would say “picca a picca” is the better way to achieve consistent results: bit by bit.

The friend has one piece of string cheese every 2 hours. No kidding. One piece of string cheese if memory serves has 200 mg. of calcium so you can’t beat it as a natural source of calcium.

In a pinch, you can snack on one serving of Triscuit crackers.

Apples are one of the best kinds of fruit. They’re high in fiber and you can find a variety of apple that you like. I favor organic Fuji apples that are in season in the fall and also now in December. Apples are portable too which makes them a win-win option for when you’re traveling or on the go.

Eating smaller healthful meals throughout the day regulates your blood sugar and helps you maintain consistent energy levels without a quick dip in energy from a traditional sugar coma that certain food induce.

I’ll end here and return with a quick, easy recipe that I made for my friend for lunch.

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Optimal Wellness Challenge

In September for Recovery Month the blogger Ashley Smith threw down the challenge to set a wellness goal to achieve for her and her readers.

The point is not that we’ll always be able to do what we set out to. The point is simply to try our best.

I’m fond of the analogy of getting in the ring and trying to win even if you’re defeated. It’s better to know victory AND defeat than to not ever have gotten in the ring. Defeat is the cost of trying. It’s how you get one step closer to winning.

The idea of setting an optimal wellness challenge resonates with me as it nears winter. My goal is to eat healthful food 80 percent of the time.

Just reading ingredient labels turned me off to chocolate candy bars like Twix and Reese’s because-no surprise-they contain natural and artificial flavors. Godiva does seem to be made with real chocolate. And you can buy organic chocolate too.

The goal is not to strive to be perfect. The goal in my humble estimation is to strive for 80 percent healthful foods as part of a long-term consistent eating plan.

I will report back in here at the end of December how it goes with nixing the outright junky food from my life.

One thing I’ll end here with: ban white and processed foods if you do only one thing to start off with.

Replace baked potatoes with sweet potatoes; white rice with brown rice; and regular pasta with whole wheat or farro pasta.

Doing only this will go a long way in improving our health.

I will report back on Thursday with more food news that might just make sense too.

I’ll end here by telling everyone that if you know you go overboard at holiday time with desserts simply have less of the main meal and eat more dessert.

It’s totally true that at the holiday time it’s all about calories in and calories burned.

Try having less of the main meal if you’re going to indulge in the pastry.

Not All Natural

The term All Natural can be slapped on any product regardless of whether the product is made from natural ingredients.

Natural Flavors are actually fake chemicals used to flavor food and drink. Read the nutrition labels of most food and drink in supermarkets and you will see they’re made with “natural flavors.” Even Maryland crab soup from a big conglomerate food company is made with natural flavors.

Products labeled “organic” can also have natural flavors that are fake chemicals because companies passing their products off as organic can use any ingredients they want. Only the “certified non-GMO” label and the “USDA organic” label are truly organic products.

Agribusinesses have been lobbying U.S. elected officials to water down the qualifications for labeling a product organic. We should all be up in arms about this. The threshold now if memory serves is that a product has to be 95-percent organic to qualify.

Anything to make a buck is what motivates most companies that put profits above people.

I recommend you shop from local artisanal businesses if you have the opportunity and the money to do so. Put the money back in your community.

I’m going to sign off now. I’ll return next week with more nutrition ideas.

Food and Mood

The link between the food you eat and your mood is clear to me.

I have a foolproof recipe for an easy lunch if you’re home or near an oven: baked eggs in tomatoes.

It’s simple: hollow and core out the center of a beefsteak tomato, add a scoop of grated parmesan cheese, slip an egg into the pocket and add more parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 350 degrees for about 25 minutes depending on how hot your oven gets and how runny or firm you like your eggs.

Roasting tomatoes is always preferable to eating them raw all the time because roasting a tomato releases its lycopene, a substance thought to be a cancer-fighting agent.

I always like a caprese salad with fresh mozzarella and tomato slices drizzled with olive oil.

Yet cooking with tomatoes is also good.

Try it. See how you feel after you eat a healthful meal as opposed to processed food.

I’ll end here with two ideas that might work:

Use a larger clear glass to drink 8 oz. of almond milk or organic milk from or to drink water from. Fill it up halfway and you’ll be tricked into thinking you’re drinking a smaller amount.

This could be good when it’s sometimes an effort to squeeze in getting calcium. Almond milk has 30 calories in an 8 oz. serving and 450 mg. of calcium.

Even using a 10 oz. clear mug to drink water from seems to trick you into thinking it’s easier to do this.

I’d like to hear if this sounds like a solution.

So far it works for me.

Rather than take calcium supplements that can cause kidney stones Dr. Oz recommends having 1,000 to 1,200 mg. from food and drink sources.

Two pieces of string cheese plus a glass of almond milk plus the calcium from dark green leafy vegetables could be all a person needs to get a good daily allowance.

Run this by your primary care doctor to see if this makes sense. It makes sense to me.

Anything that can make it easier to be well by eating more healthfully to nourish a person’s body and mind:
I’m all for it.

Happy Thanksgiving

A Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers of the blogs.

I’m confident when I tell you that a person diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar or another mental illness can have things to be thankful for.

I recognize and understand that sometimes getting up and getting through the day is hard. That every time we do this we get no assist from others. We get labeled as crazy because we have a no-fault brain disorder.

The brain is a part of the body and these things are also physical illnesses that impact our lives. Why single these illnesses out as mental illnesses and not physical medical conditions like any other. The part of the body they happen to strike is the brain.

A guy I know told me once, “The brain is the most complex organ and it gives up its secrets reluctantly.”

Whether you eat turkey or not, however much you stuff yourself today or don’t, be grateful. Find things to be thankful for.

I’ll end here with my foolproof eating plan for Thanksgiving: skimp on the real food to save room for the dessert. I follow this rule at Christmas too when the platter du jour is prime rib. I don’t eat prime rib nor any other meat except chicken and turkey. So I load up on vegetables and always have the sweet potato.

Kindness helps at holiday time. We need to be kind to ourselves and others in this season when not everyone is jolly and the holiday blues could come on.

Think of one good thing you like about yourself to be grateful for.

Write a letter to or telephone the people who you’re thankful for.

I thank each and every reader for tuning in to this blog and posting comments when you’re able.

Winning

I discovered a Venus Williams quotation the other day:

“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does. That makes you a winner right there.”

What was I saying? A famous tennis star said the same thing I’ve been saying in here all along. I respect Venus Williams. She’s absolutely right.

The way to win is to not remain idle.

Sheryll Cashin in her book Place not Race also tells us the secret to winning. Buy her book because you won’t be disappointed. At the end, in a letter to her sons, she writes:

“You have to exert yourself. Everything worth doing is hard, difficult, complicated. You should welcome failure. Sometimes it is the only route to success…No one ever achieved great things in front of a TV. My goal, the goal I was taught to reach for, was an A in every class. It is the reaching, not the grade, that matters.”

That quote alone is worth the price of the book.

Reaching is what each of us can do. The striving is what counts not the result. We can be proud of our efforts even when we fail. Failure is the opportunity cost of success.

Winning involves trying. It involves making the effort that you’re able to make. It requires that we shut our ears to the hate, to the critics telling us that what we want to do can’t be done, or that we shouldn’t try to do what we want to do.

I’ll end here with another quotation from Steve Tatham:

“Confidence comes from making mistakes–the more mistakes you make, the more you know what not to do.”

The beauty of life is that a person can know victory and defeat and that’s OK. Sitting on the sidelines isn’t the way to live.

You’re not always going to win in the traditional sense of what constitutes winning.

That’s OK. Getting in the game is what matters.

That’s what my Left of the Dial ethic suggests: if other people won’t allow you on their playing field, you create a playing field of your own. Or if you want to, you try to compete in mainstream society.

Either way, victory is possible. You can do it if you try.

Rethinking Thanksgiving

I find it curious that most people don’t value expressing that they’re grateful for what other people do for them.  If they did value a person’s kindness, wouldn’t they thank the person? This doesn’t seem to be how it is.

It’s not corny; it’s not kitsch–to keep a grateful journal.  A research study revealed that people who wrote down daily or weekly the things they were thankful for weren’t as depressed and their physical and mental health improved.

In my own life I reap the benefit of writing news articles at HealthCentral for other people to read and get inspired by.

We need to rethink exactly what the hell it is we’re supposed to be thankful for at Thanksgiving.  This once-a-year tradition hardly counts as the remedy to the ongoing lack of gratitude in American society.

I can’t talk about how it is in the UK or India or elsewhere in the world.  I only see with my own eyes in America that a significant number of people take and take and take without expressing thanks or without giving things to others in return.

If you’ve had a better experience, I’d love to hear about it.

Saying “please” and “thank you” opens doors.  A quotation gets it right: “Courtesy costs nothing but buys things that are priceless.”  I write about this habit in one of my books.

Thank you for reading my blogs.  Thank you for commenting on my blog entries when you’re able to.