I didn’t realize the value of a balance diet until after I graduated college. During college I was a “healthy” eater, but in a completely different way than what I am now. I think marriage changed this. Before I was married and in college, my diet consisted of a lot of low calorie foods. I didn’t have an eating disorder or anything, but I totally robbed food of value it had. I found myself never full and constantly hungry. I ate a ton of sugar-free foods, which are TERRIBLE for you. That can be another post for another day, but artificial sweeteners are so bad for you and they can actually make you hungrier!! Once I met my husband, foods like pizza, sour patch kids, and a scoop of ice cream became a regular occurrence in my diet. I never thought I would say this, but pizza, sour path kids, and ice cream saved my diet. How?? My answer to this is below:
Marriage is all about sacrifice and when I married Michael, I started eating more of the foods he likes. I am sure most wives can relate to this. If you’ve ever seen Michael, he is one of those guys who can eat anything under the sun and not gain a pound…. and just like any normal person would, when someone puts a pizza in front of you – you eat it. 😉 When we first got married, it was hard to balance the healthy and the unhealthy foods. After a year I got the hang of it. I started to realize that eating one unhealthy meal isn’t going to hurt me just like eating only one healthy meal per week isn’t going to make you “healthy”. I started to see a more enjoyable, balanced perspective on food. I saw food as a source of nourishment instead of a cage. I saw it as a way to socialize and bond instead of a way to feel comfort or to make me happy. Instead of focusing on low calorie foods, I ate more whole, organic, colorful foods. I now traded a slice of bread that was 45 calories with a whole baked potato; and I traded in that 100 calorie english muffin for 3 eggs for breakfast. I may be eating more calories, but these calories are good calories that will keep me fuller, longer. I now don’t make food the focus of dinnertime, I made the people I am with the focus. Let’s not waste any time, I am going to take you through every meal of the day followed by a sample recipes that I love.
I usually stick with some sort of protein with a fruit for breakfast. I used to be a toast and yogurt person, but a few years ago I took out dairy in my breakfast routine. Not eating dairy and replacing it with whole, protein rich foods gave me more energy in the mornings and made more full throughout the day. With my diet, I try to be real with myself, I know around dinner time I will more likely be in a situation where there will be more bread or dairy options, so I try to be proactive in the mornings by taking out as much dairy and bread. I ALWAYS make sure I drink a large glass of water BEFORE I go to work. I find that I forget to hydrate while I am working so I will do it before.
**Now I know this may goes against all nutritionists. Most will probably say eat your grains and everything in the morning and veggies and proteins in the evening. In the end, I have to be realistic with myself and not set these high standards that I probably will not achieve. I will not do everything perfectly. I want to have a life and most likely at night time I will be with friends and I don’t want to be “that person”.
[recipe title=”Breakfast Meal Options ( I usually rotate these each week)” ]
- Coffee and Sugar ALL DAY EVERY DAY! I use a Jura Coffee Maker and I WILL NEVER GO BACK. If you are a coffee drinker this is worth the investment. I will choose this coffee over any other coffee anywhere. Here are my favorites:
- Grapefruit with sugar on the raw and a protein (I LOVE the AppleGate organic chicken and apple sausage (3 links) or 2-3 eggs)
- 2 eggs with 3 sausage links (Applegate Chicken and apple sausage)
- Protein shake: I love blending a scoop of the Vega Essential Protein Shake with unsweetened almond milk and a scoop of frozen fruit (preferably blueberries or strawberries), and a handful of spinach or dark leafy green.
- ON THE ROAD: This may sound terrible but I love getting the Egg White Delight at McDonald’s – it only has 250 calories and it is a few dollars. I don’t always get this because I prefer more natural, organic foods, but it is perfect for on the road and those busy days. Stay away from muffins and be aware of breads like bagels or croissants. They have a ton of calories!
I have the same approach with lunch as I do with breakfast. I try to stick with a non dairy and non bread meal. My meals consist of proteins and veggies and less grains. My go to lunch is a salad with veggies toppings, chicken, and a light dressing (my favorites are listed below). I stay away from romaine and iceberg lettuce. I try to pick a leafy green that has more nutrients in it. I love to use spinach or a spring mix. I also love eating chicken with black beans too.
[recipe title=”Lunch Meal Options ( I usually rotate these each week)” ]
- Salad: spinach, cherry tomatoes (Cherrubs are my fave), mushrooms, shredded carrots, sometimes avocado, with grilled chicken.
Favorite dressings: Tesseme’s Ranch or poppyseed; Olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice with spices (Found in most grocery stores in the veggie section)
- Shredded Chicken: I will put a bunch of chicken breasts in the crockpot the day before with a little water, cook in crockpot on high 4-6 ours or low 8-10 hours. The last hour, shred chicken in crockpot and add any dressing, salsa, or sauce you like and cook on high for an hour.
- I will serve the shredded chicken with black beans or put on top of a salad*
I usually have a snack in between dinner and lunch. I plan on doing a separate post about this later, but in the meantime below are my favorite snacks.
[recipe title=”Snack Options” ]
- Larabar (Whole30 – not much protein in these but it is easy on your gut)
- Popcorn (I don’t use the bagged popcorn typically. I buy the kernels and pop 1/4 cups of kernels on my stove with coconut oil, and season with pink salt and pepper)
- Carrots with hummus
- Handful of Almonds (raw and natural)
- La Croix (This isn’t really a snack but its a carbonated water drink, all natural and no sugar. It fights the itch to drink pop)
- HALO TOP!!!! (Basically the best thing for an icecream fix) One PINT is around 300 calories and it tastes pretty good (ask my husband). My faves are the mint chocolate chip, strawberry, and chocolate. There are some flavors I don’t like so I would ask around to see what the best flavors are.
Because I am more proactive in the day with eating healthy, I do not put limits on what I eat for dinner. It is not about what I eat, but how much I eat. I will make sure I do not overeat. I usually find a way to add veggies in, but I don’t beat myself up about it. THIS IS KEY!!! I feel like when we deprive ourselves, we make food an idol. When I started eating what I wanted to for dinner, I slowly stopped fixating on viewing food as a “prize” and I switched it as a way to nourish the body God gave me.
[recipe title=”Some Healthy Dinner Options” ]
- Thai Coconut Chicken RECIPE (shown above)
- Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie RECIPE (Perfect for making ahead of time and finishing later)
- Pinterest board: Recipes I have Tried and LOVED (THE BEST!! I have made every single recipe on here and I love them)
So that’s it! Plain and simple. I plan on sharing more specifics later in my blog, but in the meantime I encourage all of you to not look into your diet as a source of happiness. Eat healthy out of a way to praise God for the body he gave you, not as a way to impress others and especially not in a way to make yourself feel better. That happiness is short-lived. I would love to hear your thoughts and favorite recipes! Share away below!