Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle’

The Season of Eating

By Laura Del Guerra, RD, CDE, Take Control Health Coach

We just celebrated Thanksgiving, and for me that signals the start of what I refer to as “The Season of Eating.” From Thanksgiving clear through Easter there is at least one big eating opportunity each month: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, the Super Bowl, Valentines, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter.

These events are potential landmines that can derail the most dedicated from following through on their healthy lifestyle. Having spent my career in the field of nutrition, I have had years of hearing the aftermath of how pre-planned goals and expectations often fall short of reality.

Many of us have an idea about what we will be doing on these holidays, where we will be, with whom, and the foods most likely to be served. Where people get stuck is when we just roll with the expectation that the day will unwind as it always has, and we are powerless to change anything. Then disappointment hits because our expectation was that we would have somehow handled the day differently.

Here are some tips for managing your expectations during the Season of Eating:

  • When setting a plan for the day (or weekend) think about how you handle the big dinner. Knowing how you typically handle the day and then making a goal based on modifying your typical holiday behavior will help you achieve the goal. Some people are most successful at handling the holiday season by doing just this type of thing.
  • Some of my family’s best holiday celebrations have taken us off the beaten path food-wise, exercise-wise or both. We changed to a fresh turkey years ago (a huge improvement), homemade cranberries, and often times, an after dinner game of lightning. I’m always game to try something new with the knowledge that it’s going to be great: either a great success or a great disaster! But either way, a fun family story may come from it.
  • When reflecting on how you navigated the event, don’t compare this celebration to every other day of the year; compare it to last year’s celebration. What did you do last year in terms of your lifestyle, and in what ways is this year different? Chances are you’ll see plenty of differences. Maybe you re-worked your favorite holiday dish so it contains less calories or fat (but still tastes great), or maybe you had a slice of pie, but it was a smaller slice than usual. Did you sign up for a Turkey Trot or some other fun physical activity? Did you show up for dinner with a different recipe that reflects your commitment to a healthier life?
  • Your health coach is here to serve as your guide as you change your lifestyle. Your meetings this time of year should focus on your usual holiday patterns.

Let us know how it goes. Don’t let one mistake snowball. If you get off the rails, get back on the next day. We’re here to keep you going on your journey!

Cauliflower: The Vegetable Hater’s Vegetable

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

For those of you who don’t like vegetables, consider giving cauliflower a chance. Cauliflower can take on the flavor of anything you pair it with, and it can be used in ways where you don’t even know it’s there. Cauliflower is a great source of nutrients, including vitamin C, K, thiamine, fiber, folate, and potassium. Besides the nutrition value, cauliflower adds volume to your meal, which helps you feel full longer. And, it is low in calories.

Cauliflower is trending popular right now, particularly with people who are trying to find ways to lower carbohydrates, increase vegetables, or find healthier alternatives to their favorite recipes. But if you haven’t tried cauliflower besides the usual steamed method, you might be in for a big surprise with what this versatile vegetable can do.

Below are some really great alternatives to preparing cauliflower that may be a great addition to your weekly menu.

  • Riced Cauliflower. This is probably one of my favorite ways to use cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, and put it through your food processor. Different blades make different shapes. If you don’t have a food processor, you can also put the florets into a durable plastic bag and pound it with a mallet. Cook any way you normally cook rice: steam it, boil it, stir-fry it, etc. It takes less time to cook than real rice. Riced cauliflower has a similar texture to real rice, and honestly doesn’t feel like you are missing out. It works great for taco bowls, stir-fry, or fried rice! You can even add riced cauliflower to your oatmeal for added fiber, volume, and veggies with your meal.
  • Mashed Cauliflower. A great alternative to our typical heavy mashed potatoes. Steam the cauliflower with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Once cooked, place in the food processor or blender to create a smooth consistency. Add roasted garlic if that’s how you love your mashed potatoes.
  • Roasted Cauliflower Florets or Cauliflower Steak. Roasting cauliflower creates a different flavor, because it caramelizes. It’s a big improvement from plain old steamed cauliflower. Check out All Recipes.com for a great recipe for roasted cauliflower steaks.
  • In a Smoothie or Soup. You may be thinking, a smoothie? Gross. But honestly, you don’t notice half the things you put in a smoothie when it is paired with sweet fruits and other ingredients like peanut butter. Plus, it adds extra fiber and veggies to your diet without a lot of work. Cook cauliflower the usual ways – steam, boil, microwave, and then add it to a food processor or blender to puree it. You can add pureed cauliflower to soup recipes – for example, add it to a potato soup recipe for thicker, heartier soup.

If you still aren’t convinced about eating cauliflower, then try half and half. Half regular rice and half cauliflower rice. Or half regular mashed potatoes and half mashed cauliflower next time. It makes for an easy compromise, while still adding great nutrients to your dish!

Do you have a favorite cauliflower recipe? Share it in the comments below.

World Diabetes Day – Why Checking Your Blood Sugar is So Important

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN

November 14th is World Diabetes Day  – a campaign that draws awareness to the escalating health threat posed by diabetes. The number of people with diabetes has nearly quadrupled since 1980. Prevalence is increasing worldwide, due in part to increases in the number of people who are overweight, and in a widespread lack of physical activity.

If you’re one of the many people who have been diagnosed with diabetes, you may begin a process of checking blood sugars. If this is the case, your doctor may go over a lot of information, including why you should check your blood sugar, and how often. This can be overwhelming, leading to forgetting what was said. Consider bringing someone with you to the appointment, or take notes.

Checking and understanding your blood sugar level is especially important for understanding what is happening in your body. Your blood sugar levels tell you how certain foods affect your blood sugar, how well your diabetes is being managed, if there is a problem, and whether or not your current treatment is working. This simple task of checking blood sugar provides a lot of valuable information, which is why it is so important.

Poorly managed diabetes can lead to problems with your feet, hands, kidneys and eyes. Uncontrolled diabetes also increases your risk for heart disease. This is why the one action of checking your blood sugar can help provide you with the information to manage your diabetes successfully.

Here are five tips to follow to develop good habits with checking blood sugar levels and maintaining good diabetes self-care:

  1. Talk to a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) – they are a great resource for answering questions, teaching you how to check blood sugars, and helping navigate the overall diabetes care process. All hospitals and clinics have CDE’s on staff, as does Take Control.
  1. Create a Habit. Set alarms, place sticky notes, whatever you need to do to remember to check your blood sugar. Some people only need to check 1-2 times daily, while others may need to it check more often, such as 4-6 times per day. Whatever your doctor recommends will be based on your medications, and overall care plan. Regardless of how often you check, remember to make it a priority.
  1. Track Your Numbers. Keep a notebook, spreadsheet, app, or other form of tracking accessible to track your numbers. People who are diligent about tracking are able to modify their approach with diet and lifestyle, as well as medication if needed to ensure good control.
  1. Use Good Procedure. Rotate your testing sites and use good technique. Instead of poking the same finger in the same spot, use different fingers. Line up on the side of the finger versus the fingertip – there are less nerve endings in the side, which causes discomfort. Rotate the site to prevent less development of scar tissue, which can occur from frequent pokes in the same spot. By using the right technique you can lessen the pain and fear of checking blood sugar levels.
  1. Build a Supportive Network. Include your doctor, CDE, family, and whomever else can help you stay accountable and on track. Having diabetes is not easy, but having people to support you makes the challenges easier.

In the end, choose the methods that work for you, and you will find more success overall. If you are unsure about whether or not you should be checking your blood sugar level at all, then discuss it with your doctor. They will be able to re-evaluate your needs and help you make adjustments to your care plan as needed.

#WDD
#worlddiabetesday
#Diabetes
#WomenandDiabetes
#GestationalDiabetes
#Empowerwomen
#Diabetesawareness
#T1D
#T2D
#Bluecircle
#Right2Health

 

Intuitive Eating

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Have you heard of intuitive eating? Intuitive eating is essentially what we learn as babies and children: eat when you are hungry, and stop eating when you are full. It’s listening to your body’s internal cues, and knowing what to feed your body.

Intuitive eating is an important part of leading a balanced lifestyle. Being able to eat what your body needs, and not too much or too little, is a huge accomplishment. Learning to do this after dieting is hard, but not impossible.

Anyone can try intuitive eating, as long as you understand that it may take time to learn your body’s signals. It isn’t eat anything, in large quantities until sick. It is allowing yourself to live without food rules, and focused on eating to feel your best. It is trusting your instincts, without rules, restrictions, or guidelines to tell you what you can or can’t eat. For many of us this is a foreign concept, and somewhat scary. We have learned so many food rules over our lives, and we’ve learned to restrict our eating.

If intuitive eating is something you wish to try, here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Practice asking yourself what you are hungry for. By thinking more about your food choices, you start to see what you truly want. Sometimes that may be a salad, and sometimes that may be a cookie. With intuitive eating, both of those things fit and are included in a balanced lifestyle.
  1. Practice recognizing fullness. Set the timer, or work to extend your meal for at least 20 minutes. Focus on eating and enjoying the meal you have in front of you. Turn off distractions like the TV, and put away your phone. By focusing on your meal, you can truly tune into hunger and fullness more easily.
  1. Practice eating a food you don’t normally allow yourself to eat. Work on having a healthier relationship with whatever food that is. For a lot of people it’s a carbohydrate like bread. When we demonize a food, we make it more tempting, and feel guilty if we eat it. By finding ways to incorporate food you enjoy in a healthy way, you will end up eating less. When it is no longer a food you have to give up, you are no longer obsessed with it. It simply exists as part of your life.
  1. Be patient. Just like any skill or habit, we have to repeatedly work at it.

If you think you may be ready to try intuitive eating, mention it to your health coach, or check out the resources available at intuitiveeating.org.  It’s a tool that can help you work toward creating a healthier relationship with food.

Stress Management Exercise

By Linda Hogg, RD, LN, and Julie Walker, Take Control Staff

Stress is one of the biggest roadblocks that exists when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle. It often keeps us from getting to what really matters in life, our health and wellness. We can try to exercise and eat right, but when we get overwhelmed with stress, we get distracted and tend to abandon any plans to put our energy into what truly matters: day-to-day action steps toward health and living well.

Stress roadblocks needs to be addressed head on. Otherwise, stress becomes common-place, never budging out of the way. Stress builds slowly, and since it creeps up on us, we may not see it building until it’s overwhelming. Before your stress builds so high that you’re paralyzed, use the following exercise to stay ahead of it.

Early in the morning, or by mid-day, make a quick list of today’s stressors. Divide a piece of paper into two columns: the first column is for things you have control over. The second column is for things you do not have control over. As you brainstorm today’s tasks, keep the process simple and quick. Examples of things you have control over include doing a chore, paying a bill, making an appointment – stressors where you can identify clear action steps, or that have simple solutions.

In the right-hand column, write down the things that you don’t have control over – only time could solve them, or possibly a decision or action by another person. The decision or action needed to make these go away would not be in your control. The uncontrollable stressors may consume your thoughts. They may even keep you up at night, when in fact, they need to be put to rest so you can focus on what’s controllable. If the list of uncontrollable stressors is overwhelming, take a moment to tear off that side of your paper, tear it up, and throw it away. Let it go for the day. Turn your focus to what can be wrapped up.

Ultimately, you need time to focus on what is controllable, and what actions steps you can take to chip away at those stressors. The practice of writing down your stressors makes them, well, less stressful. Often the list is shorter or more manageable than you imagine. If the list is larger than you imagined, take a moment to prioritize it. If you’ve over-committed your time for the day or the week, look for things you can reschedule or cancel.

When you take a few minutes to be pro-active with your stressors, you free yourself emotionally to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle habits. Eating healthy and exercising are two of the best ways to reduce stress. To get there, give this exercise a try. Take a moment each morning to inventory your stressors, and remove the roadblocks which build up if left unaddressed. From there, you can move on with what plans you have to make you more healthy!

 

IN CONTROL – Person of the Month: Meriem H.

By Kat Van Fossen, Take Control Health Coach

I chose Meriem as our Person of the Month because of her positivity! Her outlook is not only the glass is half full, but she also figured out how to use the other half. Meriam showed bravery every step of the way – she was not afraid or intimidated to either lose weight or to stop smoking.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? I was tired of being overweight, and tired of struggling to lose it by myself.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health?  I wanted to get healthier for both my kids and for myself. I was always on the go, so I had no idea how to fit exercise or cooking into my lifestyle. I need someone to give me some guidance on how to fit everything into my life.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started?  What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? Not only did I need to lose weight, but I was smoking to keep from gaining more weight. Smoking was my biggest obstacle, because I was so afraid that if I quit smoking I would gain weight. Enrolling in Take Control gave me the tools to take on both problems at once. I was able to quit smoking and at the same time work on losing weight. The combination of being able to do that really set things in motion.

What did you do to stay motivated? Change was really hard because I had such a routine in place. But once I started paying attention to what I was doing, I was able to bring a newfound intention and focus to my habits. That awareness allowed me to truly “TAKE CONTROL” and break the robotic-type of behavior and routine I had been following. Once I put the intention in motion, things got so much easier and easier. Once things got easier, the motivation really increased. Taking the time to stop and look at my habits, and choosing to tweak them for the better really empowered me.

What have you gained through this process? I gained a lot more confidence in myself, and the drive to do better, not only for myself, but also for my family.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? My attitude has improved, my happiness has increased, and my stress level has decreased.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? I would say try it! I was worried at first, but my health coach Kat eased that worry quickly. It didn’t matter if I had a good month or a bad month, she was positive and helped me gain confidence. Many weight loss programs want you to spend money for food, videos, or products. Take Control encourages you to work with what you have, and slowly add the changes into your life. But the key aspect was that you are a making the decisions throughout the process, not just doing what they say, you are in involved the whole way.

Results:

  • Stopped smoking!
  • Lost 33 pounds
  • Gained confidence
  • Improved attitude
  • Decreased stress
  • Gained mindfulness
  • Gained happiness

Using Costco or Sam’s Club for Healthy Meals and Snacks

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Costco and Sam’s Club are great options for buying food in bulk, especially if you live in a rural area and make fewer trips to the store. Both stores offer a lot of healthy options that can be convenient and easy to integrate into a healthier lifestyle. This includes fresh fruit, veggies, frozen fruit and veggies, and fresh meat. Besides all of those great whole food options, they have many packaged and convenient items that can also fit your goals.

When buying in bulk, look for pre-portioned servings, or plan ahead to take the time to self-portion bulk items. Portion size is often the biggest struggle for many people. If you buy in bulk, it’s important to spend 10 minutes when you get home and portion out foods for the week or the month. This will save you time later on, and will help keep your eating on track. Products that you should portion out include snacks like popcorn, crackers, and nuts.

Items that you can buy pre-portioned include hummus and guacamole. Use as a dip with vegetables, or add to a wrap for great flavor. Since they are pre-portioned, they are quick and convenient. Another healthy pre-portioned product is chicken salad made with Greek yogurt, the brands are listed below. Prepare the chicken salad on a bed of lettuce with vegetables, add to a whole wheat pita, or eat with whole wheat crackers and a side of raw veggies for a quick and easy lunch.

When buying in bulk, and particularly with pre-packaged products, be sure to check labels for sodium content. Especially if you have high blood pressure. Watch the sodium in cured or packaged meats. How do you know if it has too much sodium? A good rule of thumb is to look for something with less than 500 mg of sodium per serving. And think about how you’re combining your ingredients — if you add another packaged component to your meal, then the overall sodium may really increase. Consider adding fresh vegetables in place of another packaged item. For example, Aidell’s chicken sausage is great with a side of steamed vegetables, or on top of a salad. Jerky can be a great on-the-go snack, but ingredients matter. The brands I’ve listed below use less preservatives and better ingredients overall. Yes, they still contain sodium, so balance it by including lots of fresh foods, and stay hydrated with adequate water.

When shopping in any grocery store, it is always important to compare products. Some labels look “healthier” than a similar product, but may in fact have more sugar or sodium. Take a minute to compare similar product nutrition facts, and review the ingredients. For example, when I was at Sam’s Club, I compared two brands of squeeze fruit and veggie packs: Gogo brand and Purify brand. Purify brand had a lot more claims on the label, making you think it was the healthier option, but in fact it had a lot more sugar. So the better option is sometimes the one you don’t expect. Other foods that you would want to compare include granola bars, snack bars, cereal, and any snack food. Below I’ve listed several good products to help guide you through the endless options.

Here is a list of products that can be found at each store to help make eating healthier an easier process:

Sam’s Club

Freezer Section
Member’s Mark Alaskan Salmon Burgers
Mahi Burgers
Gardenburger Malibu Vegan Burger
Morningstar Black Bean Burger

Dry Goods
Planters Single Serve Heart Healthy Nut Mix
Member’s Mark Freeze Dried Sliced Fruit
True North Almond Pecan Cashew Clusters
Natural Oberto Beef Jerky
Epic Chicken Bites
Good Health Veggie Pretzels
Pistachios
Harvest Snaps – Baked Snap Peas
Creative Snack Company Coconut Bites
Skinny Pop Popcorn
Popchips – Ridges Asiago and Black Pepper
Crunchmaster Multi-Grain 5 Seed Cracker
Annie’s Popcorn
Nature’s Bakery Honey and Oat Soft Baked Bar
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar
Gogo Squeeze Fruit and Veggie On The Go Packs
Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
Member’s Mark Almond Butter
Dave’s Killer Bread

Refrigerated
Sargento Balanced Breaks
Sabra Hummus – Singles or Bulk
Yucatan Single Serve Guacamole
Chef Earl’s Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad
Babybel Cheese
Dietz and Watson Natural Turkey Breast

Costco

Freezer Section
Outshine Fruit Bars
Trident Alaskan Salmon Burgers
Trident Pollock Burgers
Morningstar Veggie Burgers
Hillshire Farm Naturals Deli Turkey
Kirkland Plain Greek Yogurt

Dry Goods
Bare Apple Chips
Kirkland Unsweetened Almond Milk
Stretch Island Fruit Strips
Golden Island Natural Jerky
Crunchy Rice Rollers
Vega Protein Powder
Kind Bars
Caveman Nutrition Bars
Kashi Chewy Granola Bars – Chocolate Almond Sea Salt
Premier Protein
Nature’s Path Chia Seeds
Premium Gold Milled Flaxseed
Hemp Hearts
Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice
Nature’s Path Flax Plus Pumpkin Granola
Kirkland Ancient Grains Granola with Almonds
Mary’s Gone Crackers
RW Garcia Sweet Potato Crackers
Love Crunch Dark Chocolate and Red Berries Granola
Tasty Bite Brown Rice and Lentils
Tasty Bite Madras Lentils
Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Mix
Kirkland Almond Butter
PB Fit
Adams Natural Peanut Butter

Refrigerated
Rotisserie Chicken Pieces
Good Foods Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad
Good Foods Single Portion Guacamole
Kirkland Hummus Cups
True Story Organic Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage
Amylu Kale and Mozzarella Chicken Burgers
Aidell’s Chicken Meatballs
Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages
Teton Waters Grass-fed Beef Polish Sausages
Columbus Meats Smoked Ham and Turkey Breast
Love Beats Cooked Beets
Organic Hope Hummus

 

IN CONTROL — Person of the Month: Jill B.

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

Jill is the perfect example of how addressing stress can make you physically healthier. She really focused on creating a lifestyle that would allow her to decompress to help her manage her stress levels, and manage to lose weight as she hoped, but also saw an added benefit of lower blood pressure. She’s really a great example of how simply living healthier produces the side effects of risk reduction benefits without focusing on them directly. It’s simply just a side effect of living healthy and treating herself right. Just the right amount of self-care in each day created those benefits.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? It wasn’t a conscious effort on my part, but rather a phone call from the Take Control program itself. My health screening results put me on the spectrum as a candidate for the program. When I received the phone call to join the program my reaction became, “Why not? What do I have to lose?” I was curious to see what a health professional could do to help me turn my poor health screening results around to a positive direction.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health? Simple and numerous. I did not feel comfortable in my clothes (I was already stretching for the “fat clothes” hidden in the back of my closet), I was embarrassed to see myself in photographs, I felt bloated/heavy, I dreaded wearing shorts or tank-tops in hot weather, I was always tired, and I was ALWAYS hungry.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started? What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? The biggest obstacle was my own mind. Fighting the internal struggle to tell myself to make better eating choices, and to tell myself to stop eating when I knew I had enough. There has always been an inner voice telling me it was okay to have a little bit more, have a little something else that was salty or sweet, I’m not quite full yet, etc. What a challenge to have your biggest enemy living inside you, there’s no getting away from yourself. The accomplishment was using rationale. I had great advice from Take Control health coach Linda Hogg. Once I had my healthy plate in front of me, Linda suggested that I put my fork down between each bite, add a sip of water and then wait 20 minutes after I was done with my meal to decide if I was still hungry. About 95% of the time my fullness would kick in and I wouldn’t even be thinking about my meal ~ I was ready to do something else.

What did you do to stay motivated? The best way to stay motivated is remembering how good it feels when you make the right choices. Find the activities that clear your mind, that make you smile, that make you glad you got off the couch. Eat the foods that sustain you, give you energy and nutrition. Consistency is key. Get into a routine that works for you and stick to it. If you are enjoying the routine and it melds with your lifestyle it will become a natural habit and less of a “chore”.

What have you gained through this process? I have gained the knowledge of what is healthy and nutritious for my body to function, what I enjoy doing to clear my mind and help me sleep better at night, and how to deal with the inner self that doesn’t want to break the bad habits. Most importantly I learned why I thought I wanted more food. What was the void I was trying to fill? I knew I’d had enough to eat, so why do I want more? Thanks to health coach Kelly Sedgwick for helping me realize that our dinner time was actually a social time with my family. We had family dinners at the table each and every night with my daughter. After my daughter graduated and left for college, our dinners are a lot less social. The void was actually just missing my daughter and the one part of the day when we had each other’s attention. I learned that I could get up from the dinner table and give her a quick phone call to check in and see how she’s doing.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? The difference I see in myself is a better understanding of what works for ME. I can’t follow someone else’s plan and expect to see the same results. Once I started understanding what cleared my mind, what made me smile, what made me feel better, what gave me more energy the health had no choice but to follow. After working with Take Control for a year and putting everything “behind the scenes” in place, I started losing weight. Everything fell into place once I learned why I was stress eating, why I wasn’t sleeping, why I felt so heavy, why I wanted more food. So instead of just focusing on the scale – which was the only thing I had been doing before – I went to the root of why I was making poor choices. Not only do I feel better on the inside, the shedding of the weight is a reflection of me feeling better.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? As stated above, the most helpful thing I learned was finding out what works for me and my lifestyle. I hate the gym and did not want a personal trainer, but I discovered that I absolutely love walking my dogs in our fields. I look forward to it each day. It clears my mind, I enjoy watching the wildlife that lives in our fields, I inhale the fresh (and sometimes crisp) air, and I loved watching my dogs explore and play. Additionally, understanding the reasons why you’re making poor choices can really help you identify the root of the problem and get you back on your way in a positive direction.

Jill is great inspiration to those who might struggle and feel like they should be doing more to really see big changes. Living healthy isn’t just about numbers and you’ve really learned the value of that – mental health is the ultimate reward of living healthy.

Results:

  • Weight loss of 34 pounds
  • Inches lost: 18
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased cholesterol
  • Gained nutrition knowledge and awareness of food triggers
  • Identified the activities that she enjoys that help clear her mind and reduce stress
  • Better sleep
  • Addressed background issues that blocked healthy choices

Sneaking In Veggies

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Many people don’t love vegetables. Of course we’d love it if everyone wanted to eat vegetables, but it’s hard to change your lifestyle for the long term if you’re doing things you don’t like. As health coaches and dietitians, we often encounter clients who are afraid that we are going to tell them they have to eat vegetables. We try to help people make small changes that are sustainable, and that don’t feel like punishment. There is no reason to force yourself to eat food you hate for a short while – because in the long term, you’ll just give up on the journey.

In order to help you find long-term solutions that you can stick with, we’ve put together some ideas to sneak vegetables into your meals, in ways that may work for you.

  • Smoothies. Add spinach, kale, zucchini, cucumber, beets, or any other vegetable to your smoothie. Pair with fruit, and you’ll have a hard time noticing the vegetables. A good combination is banana, berries, and spinach. For more smoothie recipes, check out our previous post “How to Build a Better Smoothie”.
  • Oatmeal. Add shredded zucchini or carrots to oatmeal. Zucchini works well because it is very mild in flavor and hard to notice. It also adds a lot of volume to food for little calories. Try shredded zucchini or carrots, walnuts, and cinnamon. Cauliflower crumbles is another option for volume and extra fiber.
  • Sauces. Add pureed vegetables to sauces, and you’ll never know they’re in there. For example, here is a great recipe on Food Network where butternut squash is added to macaroni and cheese.  You can add pureed squash, beets, or peppers to spaghetti sauce. Pureed cauliflower in a light Alfredo sauce works well. Add shredded vegetables for even more substance. Since these sauces already have strong flavor, you don’t notice the vegetables but still get the benefit.
  • Roasting. Sometimes something as simple as cooking vegetables a new way changes how you feel about them. Roasting vegetables is a fantastic way to start. Roasted vegetables taste quite a bit different from raw or steamed. This article from thekitchn.com has great information about how to roast vegetables, including a chart of roasting times.
  • Mashed or “Riced”. One of the new crazes in cooking is mashing and ricing vegetables. Cauliflower is a favorite for ricing. Cut a head of cauliflower into small pieces and run it through your food processor. Then just heat it on the stop in a wok or frying pan. When you add sauces and seasonings, it closely mimics white rice. You can also add riced cauliflower to mashed potatoes – it creates more volume, and reduces the overall calories. Mashed sweet potatoes are delicious, and as mentioned above, mashed butternut squash can be added to macaroni and cheese, or other dishes.
  • Soup. Adding vegetables to soups is a great way to increase your vegetable intake. You can keep frozen vegetables in the freezer and add to canned or homemade soups when you heat them. Using vegetables in soups can completely change the taste of the vegetables. As they cook, they take on the flavor of the seasonings in the soup. Butternut squash soup with Indian spices is a great example. Mushroom soup, tomato soup, cauliflower soup – there is a soup for almost every vegetable. Vegetable soup combines many. Find some recipes that sound great and make a batch for lunches during the work week.
  • Seasonings and Spices. Experiment with different seasonings and spices to give your vegetables a new twist. Try citrus, such as lemon, orange or lime zest. Here is a great chart from spicesinc.com for suggestions for each vegetable. Spices, herbs, and seasonings can make a huge difference in how vegetables taste.
  • Give it Another Chance. Be open to trying vegetables that you haven’t had since you were a kid. Taste buds change over time, in fact we lose taste buds, so our taste preferences also change. Things that once tasted bitter or bad may now taste great. When you give vegetables a second chance, you can discover more options, or you can confirm that you still in fact do not enjoy that vegetable.
  • Be Adventurous. Challenge yourself to try new vegetables. When you’re in the grocery store, buy something you haven’t had before. Look up a recipe or preparation method, and give it a try. You might be surprised by the options and foods you may not have known you liked.

In the end, stick with vegetables you enjoy, make them your staples. But keep these ideas in mind as a way to expand your vegetable intake. Your good health is not defined by how much kale you eat! Make good choices, but make sure they are choices that work for the long term to help you reach your health and wellness goals.

It’s Okay to Be the Turtle

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

A common frustration I hear from clients is disappointment about slow progress. Many feel like they should be further along, or expect greater change more quickly. However, habits don’t change overnight. It took months, or even years, to develop the habits we have, whether they are good or bad. So it is safe to assume that it takes just as long to change them.

In fact that is an important lesson we all learn in life at some point; that with time and commitment change can happen. It is perfectly ok to be slow, in fact, I encourage you to be slow. You have far more opportunity to really learn and evaluate what works and doesn’t work for you, versus rushing through a quick fix. Besides, how many times has a quick fix lasted long-term? Rarely, in fact, most of us become more frustrated and discouraged as a result of the quick fix schemes. And I get it, the quick fix is so tempting. It seems as if everyone around you is trying them, but remember to look at the long-term. How many stuck with it for the long term? Typically not long. And the reason is that most quick fix ideas are not sustainable or they don’t fit you.

Losing weight, making healthy lifestyle changes, or changing a habit is like a marathon. At first we are excited for the challenge and feel motivated, and head out fast. Then we hit mile 10 and wonder what we were thinking. Finally, we hit a hill and think we can’t do this, and then we finally see the end of the race, and we think I did it! All the while going slow, having ups and downs, but fighting through to the end.

As they say, nothing in life worth having is easy. Neither is your health. It takes hard work, patience, understanding and flexibility. So, the next time you feel like your progress is slow, take a step back and look at just how far you have come. Remind yourself of the big picture, what your end goal really is, and you will see that you are right on track to being successful. Truly the key to long-term results is creating change that makes sense for you and fits the lifestyle you envision.