Sometimes means sometimes

I am currently on day four of trying to cross no. 11 “Go 1 week without a sometimes food” off this years list… and it’s actually been both easier and harder than I had imagined.  It was something that I had put on the list because I thought it was time to address another one of my bad food habits…. but what does it all mean… Well over the last couple of years there has been a push to shift the terminology around food to move from good foods and bad foods to everyday foods and sometimes foods…  in fact in the most recent update of the Australian Dietary Guidelines ‘sometimes foods’ are now referred to as ‘discretionary choices’… however the idea remains the same… it’s a pretty simple concept… you can eat what ever you want, but there some foods which you can have all the time and then others that are best left to occassionally… here enters my third bad food habit confession…

Em’s Bad Food Habit no. 3

I love sometimes foods, which is not that surprising to most… I love all the foods I shouldn’t and generally speaking the ‘sometimes food’ category has become and an everyday food.  Sure they might be different each day, but most days… oh who am I kidding… every day I have a sometimes food… in fact, if I am honest I probably have a few.  It might not be massive, it could be something simple like a couple of biscuits for afternoon tea, dessert after dinner, or some chocolate with a cuppa, but it’s always there… it’s not sometimes.  In fact most of the foods that I would associate with the word ‘treat’, aren’t really treats anymore, they have become staples.  It’s not special or exciting or sometimes even enjoyable when I have these foods because they are way too common.  If I am going to get better at this practicing what I preach business I need to make sometimes foods sometimes… not all the time.

So why can we only eat them sometimes? 

Well like all my other attempts at practicing what I preach there are a couple of reasons…

  1. I guess we should start with what exactly is a ‘sometimes food’… well according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines discretionary foods are those that are not directly necessary for a healthy body, that is they don’t contain enough nutrients that the body needs to justify their intake.  These foods are also often high in sugars, salt, saturated fat and at times alcohol and are best described as energy dense.  That is you get a lot of energy or kilojoules/calories, for not much else.

  2. ‘Sometimes foods’ or ‘Discretionary choices’ are put this in category for a reason.  The dietitians of the world aren’t food kill joys, we do actually want our and your diets to be the best choices for a long, happy and healthy life.  Having said that we know that these foods are things we are wired to like, its just the way it is… thats why they are ok sometimes… or with discretion… If we have them too often, we get too much of things we don’t need, or are detrimental to our health, and we are often displacing things we should be getting.  I know if given the choice I will always choice chocolate, whatever the other option is… but it doesn’t make it a good choice, in fact maybe I am choosing it instead of something I do need, like dairy, fruit or vegetables.

  3. They are easy to over consume, really easy… being so energy dense it doesn’t take a large volume to get lots of nutrients that our body just doesn’t need.  Foods high in fat and sugar are also high in calories and as I mentioned in my original dietitian rant ‘enough is enough’, the reality is if too many calories go in and not enough out, it causes weight gain, and excess weight leads to a whole other list of health concerns.  Also those high in saturated fat can also lead elevated cholesterol which increases risk of heart disease and stroke… not something that is conducive to a long, happy and healthy life.

When it really boils down to it… other than enjoyment they don’t offer enough of what we need to have then everyday, yes they are an important part of a healthy balanced diet, but they need to be a small part, not an everyday item.  They also can’t stop us from getting the things that we actually do need.

My goal…

Jelly SliceWell this week its to go without them all together,  which is probably a little extreme… and very unsustainable… in fact while I have found it quite easy to find alternative everyday snacks, I have been thinking about all the the sometimes foods I would prefer to be eating (I actually dreamt about gingerbread biscuits and chocolate last night)… this is why total deprivation and cold turkey tactics just don’t work, but that’s a whole different blog!  My longer term goal is to get some balance back, to make sure I get my fruit, veg and diary in by using healthier snacks rather than always picking things that I know just aren’t that good for me.  Again just like the salad goal… it’s pretty hard to measure, but here is a little list of alternative go to snacks that I can have instead of my regular sometimes go to.
– a piece of fruit or a small bowl of cut up fruit and salad
– a small tub of low fat yogurt
– some veggie sticks and low fat dip
– some air popped pop corn
– a handful of dried fruit
– a handful of nuts
– some low fat cheese on some vita weats

So I guess the rough plan is that more often I choose something from the list above or something similar… making sure I am more deliberate about getting both my pieces of fruit for the day, rather than substituting them for something best left for sometimes, practicing what I preach… sometimes means sometimes.

You Don’t Win Friends With Salad

It’s time for my first food confession of the year… and while my battle over breakfast continues – although I am glad to report that I am getting better, and so far this year I have been back at work for a week and I have had a good breakfast everyday… but summer has challenged me on another life long bad habit…

Em’s Bad Food Habit no. 2

I really don’t like eating salad…  I love vegetables – in fact I can’t think of a single cooked vegetable that I don’t enjoy… but when it comes to fresh salad… I just struggle… really really struggle… It’s always been like this… even in summer when I was younger, my brothers and I would always go for some cooked veg over salad… despite the fact that a salad would have been much more refreshing.  As I have gotten older there have been numerous occasions when I have eaten salad because I was being watched, or I was at someones house or I didn’t want to be a bad example, but at home… I still avoid it.

When it comes to getting my 5 veggies, not eating salad isn’t that big a deal, but I know that if I am going to practice what I preach… I am going to have to start eating my fresh greens.  (as a side note Dave loves salads, so learning to eat them would also make family meals over summer much more enjoyable for Davo.)

There is no reason I don’t eat them, they just don’t get me excited like roasted veggies do… the thought of sitting down to a salad makes me feel like I am missing out on something better, something more satisfying, something tasty.  But the truth is a salad can be all of those things… I just need to get creative.

So why is salad so important?

Well… it’s not really salad… it’s vegetables and if I am really honest over summer, while I would happily eat hot vegetables everyday, I often don’t want to cook them in the heat, especially in the weather we have had this week… I don’t want to be cooking anything… so I just skip them… which is not ideal… so salad needs to become the way I get my 5 veg in the warmer weather.  And why do we need to get our 5 veg? Well let me tell you…

  1. Veggies are nutrient dense – that is they are packed full of nutritious vitamins and minerals without all the extra calories.  They give us just what we need and very little of what we don’t.  Different veggies have different vitamins and minerals so the best way to make sure you are getting what you need is to eat a variety different types and colour veggies.

  2. Veggies are also high in fibre – they keep us regular and help our bodies get rid of waste as efficiently as possible.

Just like a regular breakfast, getting adequate amounts of vegetables has no downside… it helps maintain a healthy weight, assists with waste disposal and provides us with exactly what we need.   The key with vegetables is variety… lots of different colours and types, as they all offer slightly different things, but if you are including a little bit of all of them regularly you can’t go wrong.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be there.

My goal…

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The reality is I need to embrace salads, not the creamy ones filled with pasta, potato and rice, but the salad salads, filled with salad greens and what not.  I need to practice what I preach and if I can’t have cooked veg, or I can’t be bothered cooking veg, then I have to go with salad… it’s not a meal if it doesn’t have vegetables.  (In fact a good rule of thumb is to make sure half the plate at lunch and dinner is non-starchy vegetables, that is… everything except potato and corn).  I need to take some of my own advice and give it a go, try a few different salads, play around with different combos and maybe even through some fruit and cheese in there to spice it up, but not too much or it’ll be missing the whole point.

I am not really sure how I will measure this… but it is something that needs to be done… I have to be committed and give it a go… in fact the picture above is dinner from Monday night… my first attempt at a friends dressed Greek Salad recipe… maybe I can post some more pictures and some salad recipes of the favourites I find along the way… but most importantly I need to practice what I preach… walk the talk… eat my salad… and be better for it…

Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude is a pretty crazy thing… It can change a person’s whole outlook on things… on life even… Recently in a book I was reading I came across the concept of practicing gratitude. In the book it was a simple task of wearing a gratitude bracelet which reminded the wearer to be thankful whenever they noticed the band… it could have been for something big or small, it didn’t matter it was just about taking a moment to stop and be thankful.

Sometimes I think I forget this… I forget to stop and smell the roses so to speak, every now and then it hits me and I am seriously thankful for heaps of things, but then in a moment it can all be gone… back to normal, back to woe is me, or my day sucks… Practicing gratitude is something that I have been trying really hard to do this year, with some success, but not that much… I know it is something that I need to keep working on so that gratitude and seeing the good in a situation is my first response not my last… I want it to be my default position… a heart that is open to seeing the best, not the worst, to appreciating, not taking for granted… and not only noticing the massive life changing things, but being thankful for all the tiny things in between. So to try and help me do this I added it to the list… right at number 38… ‘make a gratitude jar and use it’. I used a jar idea that I found on Pinterest which means it also crosses no. 46 off the list as well, but the jar is there for me to add to… big and small… and I think it has been working to a certain extent… sometimes I forget about it and it’s weeks before I add to it, but other times I am madly scribbling things I am thankful for onto strips of paper ready for the jar. These little strips get folded into little origami stars (no. 40) and popped in the jar so that when I am feeling a little down one quick look at the jar makes me feel happy, thanks to the stars, coloured paper and the pretty fabric lid that I got from Mum’s work, but also quickly reminds me there are so many things I can be thankful for. And if I need more convincing I can always unfold a star and read what I wrote.

Gratitude Jar

I am hoping that by the end of the year I will be so good at practicing gratitude that my jar will be full… and that it will be a daily habit, where I am always looking for the good and positive. That soon I will be able to say I practice gratitude regularly… and I am truly grateful, coz lets face it, gratitude and happiness are much better than bitterness and worry.

‘Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart’
Colossians 4:2 (NLT)

Beating Breakfast

Ok… so this is my first attempt and practicing what I preach and sharing that journey with you, I have decided to set out with a little structure, just so that it is clear what to do and what not to do… because trust me, just because I am currently doing it, doesn’t mean it is ok… So here is how it will work… I will let you in on my secret bad food habits, tell you why it is bad and what needs to be done instead and then tell you my plan… coz lets face it accountability is what makes the world go round…

Em’s Bad Food Habit no. 1

Breakfast is something that I am constantly telling my clients is important, but unfortunately it is also my worst meal of the day… I just find it really hard… so hard that  last year I had 3 breakfast specific items on my list and this years list includes a breakfast ultimatum… coming in at no. 8 is ‘Stop buying breakfast regularly’… it’s time to break my bad breakky habits, which include skipping it altogether, allowing chocolate to be an appropriate choice and various forms of liquid breakfast including up & go and ice breaks.  Now if you want me to I can justify all of these choices, but the reality is its not ok… I need to start the day right… and that means a nutritious and regular breakfast.

So why is breakfast so important?

Well there are a couple of reasons…

  1. Our bodies work with a feedback system, telling us when to eat and when we are full, the second part of that feedback isn’t as quick as the first, but regular meals can help the body better regulate these systems to make them more effective.

  2. Our brains need fuel to work… no breakfast usually means a slower brain, well not exactly but you know what I mean, concentration is hard without food.

  3. Breakfast can help with weight control… research tells us that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight or obese than those who skip this meal regularly!

Basically having breakfast has no downside… it helps maintain a healthy weight, regulates our body and makes us work better… what is there to lose…  The good news is it doesn’t have to be gourmet or fancy… your best bet is a high fibre, low GI choice… from a cereal to multi-grain toast to a breaky muffin (not the store brought variety)… the hardest bit is actually doing it… or maybe that’s just me.

My goal…

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Well it is pretty much what is on the list… stop buying breakfast… when I buy breakfast I make bad choices… usually an ice break from 7-11… it not only expensive… but just lazy…  since I have started my new job I have been making a concerted effort to have breakfast before I leave the house so that I have no reason to stop… and so I don’t buy rubbish… and so far there have been some good days, but some of my old habits have snuck back in.  I have often stuffed up and brought an ice break, but there has still been a whole lot more eating breakfast at home than I have done probably in the last 4 years…  so as a little encouragement for me to stop, and a deterrent from going back… I have done some maths for my weekday breakfasts… an ice break from 7-11 costs $3.80, that’s at the very least $19 (if I don’t get tempted by all the other goodies available) which is $912 a year… wow… which also comes out of my pocket money which I could be using for much more exciting things… compared to having breaky at home… lets take some Weetbix, just as an example… 3 Weetbix with a cup of low fat milk costs about 68cents… that’s $3.40 a week… or $163.2 a year… so by just having breakfast at home I can save $749… that’s CRAZY!

So not only will I save a bunch of money… but I will be setting myself up for the day, helping improve my intake (coz lets face it, everyone knows Weetbix are better for you than iced coffee) and hopefully my weight…  but more importantly I will be practicing what I preach… walking the talk… and being better for it…

Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ SuperstarI’m not sure that if Jesus had started his ministry today I would have followed… and it worries me.  I would like to think I would, but I am just not sure… in fact I am a little worried I would have been just another Pharisee blinded by religion… Don’t get me wrong I haven’t changed my beliefs at all, I am still a Christian and that hasn’t changed, but a few weeks ago, when Dave and I saw Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar I was really challenged about how Jesus would appear, behave and move people if he had come now, rather than 2000 years ago and I actually found it really scary.

This particular version was a re-imagined or updated version of the musical, set now, and it was confronting.  The 12 disciples and Jesus were portrayed as working class revolutionaries… their slogan was ‘Follow the 12’ and the they looked almost like the ‘occupy movements’, they were different, radical and in some ways extreme.  The thing is I am a rule follower, a go with the flow kind of person, someone who does the right thing because that’s what you are supposed to do… even when breaking the rule won’t hurt anyone… it’s just the way I am wired.  I figure that rules are there for a reason, so I follow them, some people think that’s a bit boring and it probably is, but that’s ok… I like the order and clear boundaries it gives me.

Often when I watch the news, from my relatively comfortable position in life, I see things like the occupy protestors and understand their motives, but wonder if creating a tent city and fighting people is the best way to go… I often dismiss passionate protestors as crazy and go about my business with out much thought.  Now I don’t think Jesus would have been a law breaker… or fighter… most of the time, his teachings are about love for God and love for each other… but I can see why Llyod Webber has made this link… they are counter cultural, not letting the powers of the world dictate the way of the world.  Now in the musical, Jesus didn’t damage property or people, he was the same as I imagine in bible times, doing his father’s work where ever he went, changing lives, and healing the hurting, but he was peaceful.  But when I think about social movements of today, even great social movements like fair trade and anti-traffiking my response is at best underwhelming.  I am happy for these things to change, but I am not passionately seeking out ways to make it happen… just passively waiting for it to happen without me…  and it makes me wonder if it were Jesus, would I just ride him off as a loony?  Wait passively for the him to change the world around me? Or be annoyed because he was rocking the boat I was quite happy traveling in.

To be honest I am actually glad that I was born now rather than back when Jesus was around… and that even though I know Jesus is coming back, I already know and believe in him… and I would like to think that by his grace I would recognise him when he comes… I don’t have to um and ahh about whether or not he is the real deal because I already know that to be true… but it also challenges me to think about how Christlike my life actually is?  Am I still more of a Pharisee with my rules and regulations, or am I open to change when it is in love and equality… I don’t know… but it’s got me thinking.